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Old 20 January 2013, 11:10 AM
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Default Why I'm trans ... and a feminist

In the light of this week's row between two prominent feminists and the trans community, we asked four trans writers to reflect on what feminism means to them.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisf...feminist-panel

(The impetus for this is a column in last week's Observer by Julie Burchill, which was really quite breathtakingly and gratuitously insulting of trans women. The article I've posted, however, includes some perspectives that were new and interesting for me. And even the comments are interesting and mainly non-frothy).
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Old 20 January 2013, 01:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Embra View Post

(The impetus for this is a column in last week's Observer by Julie Burchill, which was really quite breathtakingly and gratuitously insulting of trans women. The article I've posted, however, includes some perspectives that were new and interesting for me. And even the comments are interesting and mainly non-frothy).
I read that and was appalled, and was tempted to read the comments just to see if everybody else was too. The language she used, the whole tone ... it was disgusting and bigoted. For the first time, it was good to have done so - the comments were a balm to the anger. I don't know of Julie Burchill, but the general tone in the comments was one of hurt and disappointment and a general cry of "she doesn't speak for feminists, she doesn't speak for me".
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Old 20 January 2013, 01:55 PM
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It was almost weird: I was reading it and thinking really?. It was the directly and insistently insulting tone of the whole thing that was so awful. It also turns me off Suzanne Moore (whom Burchill claimed to be "defending").

The upside is that I was able to read the perspectives of people like Paris Lees and Jane Fae, and I hadn't heard of them before.
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Old 20 January 2013, 02:05 PM
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It also turns me off Suzanne Moore (whom Burchill claimed to be "defending").
With friends like Burchill, who needs enemies? She did Suzanne Moore no good at all. But then again, I think Suzanne Moore dug her own grave deeply enough as it was with the 'cutting their cocks of and trying to be a bigger feminist than me' comment. The brazillian transwomen comment was bad enough, but she kept on digging and then Julie Burchill threw her in and covered her in soil.
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Old 20 January 2013, 02:13 PM
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The brazillian transwomen comment was bad enough, but she kept on digging and then Julie Burchill threw her in and covered her in soil.
I know... apparently it's too hard to say, "it was thoughtless of me and I'm sorry."
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Old 20 January 2013, 02:27 PM
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I don't know these women or what led up to their reaction and I assumed that they were responding to something that was pretty bad, in light of Burchill's response at least. Is there no one out there defending them or did they seriously misjudge this?

Last edited by Sue; 20 January 2013 at 02:35 PM.
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Old 20 January 2013, 02:41 PM
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Suzanne Moore wrote an article:

http://www.newstatesman.com/politics...r-female-anger

At one point she referred to the idealised female body shape as belonging to a "Brazilian transsexual". You can see the comments, in which some readers call her out about using that comparator.

Moore defended her use of the phrase as a "throwaway" line, and complained that the force of her piece in general (which is about constructively using anger about social injustice) had been ignored.

She wrote another article to set out her credentials as "not caring" if someone is cis or trans (but not being sorry about anything):

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisf...-if-born-woman

And a lot of the rest of the stuff happened on twitter. Paris Lees' open letter to Moore here:

http://www.divamag.co.uk/category/co...WRryGM.twitter

Last edited by Embra; 20 January 2013 at 02:43 PM. Reason: fix an apostrophe
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Old 20 January 2013, 03:51 PM
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I don't know much about Suzanne Moore, but how long has Julie Burchill been a feminist, let alone THE feminist?
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Old 20 January 2013, 06:15 PM
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But it's stuff like this:
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Feminists have long fought to protect women from violence and I wish more of those with big platforms would discuss the very real abuse trans people suffer, often daily.
that bugs me. Many cis women, often face violence daily and it is also "very real". And I would not be surprised if some of the violence trans women experience is because they are seen as women. There is also the idea that the violence cis women face is nothing in comparison, so we should drop our petty little concerns and help out transwomen. It's a rather male mindset actually.

Added to the fact that if we stop violence against all women and fight the idea that no woman is inferior, then violence against transwomen will also end, because the root of the hatred they face is misogyny.

While I understand that trans women face special issues, they should also be concerned about the entire gender they are claiming to embrace. And realize that just being a woman in our society is hard.

ETA: One thing I love, love, love about the younger generation is that gendered behavior is becoming less important and that these kids and young adults just accept things that used to be considered as startling. Perhaps will be the generation to sort a lot of this out. But they also have to realize that part of the reason things have gotten that way are partly through the efforts of second wave and third wave feminists.
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Old 20 January 2013, 07:22 PM
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TurquoiseGirl, I didn't interepret that to mean 'very real as opposed to the abuse suffered by other women' but 'very real despite the way abuse against transgendered people is marginalised and ignored'.
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Old 20 January 2013, 07:32 PM
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Yeah, from what I've heard from transexual awareness stuff, the sentiment is that too often the big, visible women's rights advocates are dismissive and hostile to transwomen and refuse to help them or downplay what happens to them as unimportant despite their being at risk of all the same things that cis women are.
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Old 20 January 2013, 07:42 PM
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Originally Posted by TurquoiseGirl View Post
Many cis women, often face violence daily and it is also "very real". And I would not be surprised if some of the violence trans women experience is because they are seen as women. There is also the idea that the violence cis women face is nothing in comparison, so we should drop our petty little concerns and help out transwomen. It's a rather male mindset actually.
I see this attitude as well in terms of domestic violence. Women, apparently are supposed to take on all the cares of men suffering domestic violence, even going so far as to acknowledge that it's worse when it happens to men so we should stop focusing on battered womens shelters and do something for the men. Really? Do we have to fight everyone's battles? Is it always going to be a contest to see who has it worse?
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Old 20 January 2013, 08:14 PM
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Women, apparently are supposed to take on all the cares of men suffering domestic violence, even going so far as to acknowledge that it's worse when it happens to men so we should stop focusing on battered womens shelters and do something for the men. Really?
Where exactly did you see that?
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Old 20 January 2013, 08:59 PM
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Originally Posted by TurquoiseGirl View Post
Added to the fact that if we stop violence against all women and fight the idea that no woman is inferior, then violence against transwomen will also end, because the root of the hatred they face is misogyny.

While I understand that trans women face special issues, they should also be concerned about the entire gender they are claiming to embrace. And realize that just being a woman in our society is hard.
I think I second Blatherskite's interpretation of the passage you quoted (I'm not sure if it came from one of the linked articles, would be handy to have a link). I think it sounds more hopeful than demanding.

Yes, the root of the hatred of trans women is rooted in misogyny, but the "special issues" they face are surely quite significant. The level of vitriol on display in Burchill's piece, and some of the comments that followed (from people whose (gender) politics I would otherwise in general agree with), I found kind of disturbing.

There seems to be an idea that trans women somehow have to knock on the door and ask nicely to be allowed into the house of women before feminism should support their particular struggles. I find echoes of it in your complaint that the rather innocuous statement you posted is somehow "rather male", or that trans women are only "claiming to embrace" their gender.
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Old 20 January 2013, 09:17 PM
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I agree completely, Embra.
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Old 20 January 2013, 09:32 PM
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While I understand that trans women face special issues, they should also be concerned about the entire gender they are claiming to embrace.
Did you seriously just say that with a straight face.

-Tabby
the princess with claws
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Old 20 January 2013, 10:13 PM
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I didn't expect my interpretation to be widely accepted or popular. But that's how I read it. Given my history, I may be a little touchy about it.

And no, Tabby, I didn't write that with a straight face. It was probably a very annoyed face. If you are going to live as a woman(and welcome if you are) and expect us to welcome you with open arms, then the arms have to be open in return. What is so horrible about that? Why not join in discussions of the things that affect us all, rather than telling us how we fail to meet the mark? ETA: Thinking about it, perhaps I should have said "claim sisterhood" which is more of what I meant.

I understand, totally, that transwomen face issues I don't. But I sometimes feel that there this assumption going on that any issue they face once they transition is a result of them being transwomen and not simply women.

I am sure I am part of the problem, in many of your eyes. Part of the hateful old guard.

I think I am also partly pissed because when I was talking to a transwoman I consider a friend about being upset over the whole shaming of Sandra Fluke as a slut, I was told pretty firmly, that as she will never get pregnant, it was "not an issue I really care about". She couldn't see the bit about how slut shaming affects all of us.

Last edited by TurquoiseGirl; 20 January 2013 at 10:26 PM.
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Old 20 January 2013, 10:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Embra View Post

There seems to be an idea that trans women somehow have to knock on the door and ask nicely to be allowed into the house of women before feminism should support their particular struggles. I find echoes of it in your complaint that the rather innocuous statement you posted is somehow "rather male", or that trans women are only "claiming to embrace" their gender.
I am not expecting anyone to knock on a door. But is it wrong to state that someone who grew up as male in our society, grew up with a certain feeling of privilege that those of us who grew up female did not?

Like I said, I brought my own baggage to that statement. It did seem to me that describing the issue of violence against transwomen as "very real" implied that faced by the rest of us as "less real". I don't disagree that transwomen face a whole extra sort of helping because of how they arrived at being female.
I never denied that.

Or maybe I am just a bad, bad feminist. For which I thought there was not only one view allowed.
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Old 20 January 2013, 10:49 PM
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It's a rather male mindset actually.
I wasn't aware males had a mindset. And it never fails to tickle me how little throwaway comments like this get dropped into discussions about outrage over little throwaway comments.
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Old 20 January 2013, 10:51 PM
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I'd be more likely to agree you have a point if you left out the word "outrage," which you were the first person to use.
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