I was not going to use this blog to talk about transgender issues or theory because part of the reason I started this blog was to extricate Feminism away from the constant and regressive issue of transgender identity politics. But then Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie suggested that trans women and women have different experiences, and that she never really equated trans women completely with female born women. She also refuses to use the word “cis” because it is not part of her vocabulary. Immediately she was attacked by trans gender activists and their Liberal Feminist allies – people claiming to be intersectional but in reality demanding she cave to Western transgender theory, even if it means denying the biological reasons for patriarchy. And today the attacks continue, including this bizarre comment:
“But this dialogue is not an expectation for Adichie to be perfect in her articulation because she as a cis woman has the power to appropriate a trans woman’s womanness.”
I literally cannot figure out what the fuck that means. What exactly are we appropriating from trans women? Perhaps she means their stories, by denying their identity of trans women as the same as female born women? But that’s not the definition of appropriation. Adichie is also pointing out a fact: Caitlyn Jenner in no way lived “as a woman” before her transition. She may have “felt” like a woman, but that doesn’t mean the world treated her as a woman. And he took FULL advantage of the privilege bestowed on white men. And I say “he” because I don’t believe in retroactively assigning gender to someone who was so steeped in male privilege. One can even say the way in which Bruce transitioned into Caitlyn was steeped in white male privilege: all the money she was able to spend on her transition was a DIRECT benefit of her decades-old status as a white alpha male in the good old boys club.
So, Adichie pointing out that “feeling” like a woman is not the same as actually “being” a woman, and thus being treated as a second-class citizen, is not appropriation. It is stating a fact that attributing patriarchal experience to a “feeling” is disingenuous and inaccurate. Even Jazz Jennings (and I will touch upon her again later) experiences male privilege because she does not have a reproductive system that someone can own. She does not have to worry about pregnancy in a world in which being pregnant can reduce you to the status of an incubator (and no, the sad feeling of not being able to reproduce because you are male is not the same). Yes, she is oppressed as a trans girl, BUT she can still escape the ultimate trappings of the patriarchy: reproduction. In fact, in a bizarre twist of male privilege, Jazz actually talks about how she is convincing her sister to carry her future baby for her and says, quote, “We’ll take my hubby’s sperm and throw it in there and fertilize it.” So, in this bizarre breeder scenario, Jazz still gets the freedom of her own body with the assumption her sister will have no problem acting as the incubator of her hubby’s sperm. Of course, Jazz’s sister may not view it this way, but the fact that no one is pointing out the the ways in which this statement mirrors male reproductive control of females and the assumptions attached is disturbing – particularly the words “throw it in there,” which sound like a reference to a building, not a human body.
But modern transgender theory focuses “feeling” and “identity” along with “cissexism” over actual sexism as the reason for the patriarchy. Julia Serano has even gone so far as to say that the hatred of femininity is what causes and maintains the patriarchy, not sexism itself. What she completely fails to realize is that the femininity to which she refers is femininity constructed by WESTERN patriarchy – specifically, upper class patriarchy.
If this is true, than by golly, let me dress like a man! Guess what? When I was a tomboy I was still considered “just a girl”. When I exercise outside, dressed in “masculine” clothing and using “masculine” body movements, I am still objectified and obnoxiously cat-called. Furthermore, if patriarchy was about feelings over biology, then why the fuck haven’t woman been able to “feel their way” out of patriarchy? Why do women still get raped when they take on the most masculine role of all – joining the military?
Because patriarchy is about biology. It is about men oppressing women and controlling their bodies and autonomy BECAUSE OF THEIR BIOLOGY, NOT BECAUSE OF THEIR FEMININITY. Serano is correct in that femininity is seen as negative because of it’s relationship to women. But what she misses is that the uterus, ovaries, birth and menstruation are seen as INCREDIBLY negative, and throughout Western history have been considered inferior to male reproductive organs – even viewed as existing as a punishment to women for imagined past transgressions. These biological functions have been yielded against women as recently as Hillary Clinton’s failure to win the presidency because people didn’t think a woman could handle the job. Not because she IDENTIFIED as a women. In fact, many people considered her less of a woman and more like a man because she is “cold” and “calculating.” No, she wasn’t considered able to handle the job because of female hormones and perceived lack of control due to estrogen and menstruation. It didn’t matter how “masculine” she presented herself – she still had estrogen and Aunt Flow to contend with, and that was the deal breaker (despite the fact that she undoubtedly is post-menopausal).
Now, I understand that there are women who are naturally into maternity, knitting, and other stereotypical female activities, and that is fine. But these same women may not be FEMININE – they may hate makeup and heels and feel most comfortable in in jeans and combat boots. There is nothing inherently female about the image with which this post opens. The femininity many prominent trans women talk about is a very WESTERN stereotyped femininity. All you have to do is witness Laverne Cox’s actions in her show “TRANSForm Me” to understand that when modern trans activists talk about the essence of womanhood, this is to what they mostly refer. You can blame it partly on the media, but Laverne Cox and other trans leaders are fully embracing this Western form of femininity as essential to womanhood. Please note, I am not judging the actual preference for this femininity. I am critiquing it as the current transgender definition of womanhood.
And yet this femininity is not universal. In fact, femininity is not universal to patriarchies. There are VERY patriarchal cultures in which women perform hard labor all day and thus are quite physically strong. These women also in no way come across as feminine – they have wrinkled skin, no makeup, no heels, etc. They are not “dainty,” as Jazz Jenning’s coach described the way in which she ran and thus marked her as a girl, and they are not “girly.” Their clothes might be different from men, but these clothes may not necessarily be what we think of as feminine. In hot climates, they actually may not wear much clothing at all. But they are still oppressed – because their culture believes that as a class that is FEMALE – that is, the class that gives birth, that has female genitalia and reproductive organs – they are inferior to men, can be beaten by their husbands, can be raped by their husbands, and basically married off to their husbands when they are children. In some cultures women are not feminine because they are required to cover themselves so completely (think Taliban) that they have no identity with which to publicly present as feminine. It is the biological female, not femininity, they are attempting to erase, and to conflate the two as Serano and other transgenderists do is completely counter to what Feminism has been trying to accomplish for half a century.
Thus, modern transgender theory posits a very rigid form of binary gender roles. They THINK they are being non-binary, but in fact they are upholding the very stereotypes feminism has been trying to escape. And I say “modern” because the whole “female brain in a man’s body” is relatively new. This isn’t how trans women originally described themselves, and not all trans women adhere to this line of reasoning.
And this line of reasoning has absolutely no science to back it up and is regressive to women’s rights. Although I originally supported Jazz wholeheartedly, I cringed at her use of “a woman’s brain.” For one thing, a “woman’s brain” was and still is the reason for considering women inferior. A “women’s brain” was used to justify oppressive treatment of women. For another thing, there literally is no “woman’s brain.” Modern transgenderists cherry-pick brain studies that have found sex-based brain differences as proof that women’s and men’s brains are wired differently. This isn’t true. Any differences between men and women’s brains are due to averages. Thus studies have found that men and women’s brains are more similar than different, overlapping in ways that make male and female brains indistinguishable from one another.
So what do we do? In order to truly accept the ideology of Julia Serano, Jazz Jennings, and Valli (source of the above quote), I have to not only throw out everything I know about the patriarchy according to anthropology, I have to throw out everything I know about science. In order to truly be trans inclusive, I have to suspend facts and material realities and accept “feelings.” Despite the fact that these “feelings” are not even shared universally among trans women. Miranda Yardley and Aoife Assumpta Hart are two trans women who consider themselves Feminists but do not view the gender dysphoria as a “women’s brain in a man’s body.” They see it as an issue of faulty synapses (which frankly sounds more scientifically plausible).
There is one other thing I would have to throw out to accept modern transgender theory: my own fucking experiences. Transgenderists assume that their “feeling” is due to some biological innate knowledge of being “woman” – thus they were never “biologically male,” although the question then becomes from what did they transition. But what innately makes you female? Because for me, it sure isn’t anything “taught” by Laverne Cox on TRANSform. Growing up I was a tomboy because I reveled in my athleticism and strength, and had no interest in hanging out with girls that sat around and talked. I had no interest in makeup, and still have no interest in makeup – I eventually started wearing lipstick and mascara to conform, and I continue to wear to make my eyes look more green (which has to do with being unique, not feminine). I wear platforms – but so did men in the 1970s. The above picture, which Cox and her cohorts push women on her show to imitate, looks like a physical nightmare that will only restrict my movements and feel unnatural. Furthermore, I have the stereotypical male traits of dominance, analytical reasoning, aggression, etc., and when I publicly speak I am apparently very matter of fact and distant – which feels completely natural. So please tell me – what in this situation translates into “a woman’s brain?” Nothing. Nothing at all. Everything that Cox and Caitlyn and to a certain extent Jazz – makeup, “girliness,” heels, etc. – promote were used to change me from a free-wheeling tomboy to an over-sexualized teen. Guess what? That was fucking miserable. I do not relate to this version of being a woman. But I don’t feel like I have a “man’s brain” in a women’s body. And even as a tomboy I was never able to escape being a girl – which by my preteens I desperately wanted to do. I even scratched the words “I want to be a boy” onto the wall in my parent’s upstairs bathroom. Because as a female I was expected to be feminine, and for me, femininity was miserable. In other words, being born with a vagina sucks in our society and no amount of being a tomboy changes this.
So, to conclude with my experience, this wasn’t an example of a girl believing she was a boy. It was an example of a girl wanting to be gender non-binary, and eventually having femininity in the gender binary ingrained into her by society at the expense of her mental health. And transgenderism is EXCEPTIONALLY binary. One thing that has changed my mind about Jazz Jenning, for example, is the fact that she doesn’t necessarily want “bottom surgery.” In other words, is this really about a “girl’s brain in a woman’s body,” or is it about a boy whose personality and sexual preferences led him to a “feminine” lifestyle and possible homosexuality? Many trans women are okay with their male genitalia, although they still want to erase biology by insisting people refer to their penises as female. Let’s be clear – trans women such as Miranda Yardley don’t consider themselves biological women because no matter what they do to their bodies, it is impossible, so they instead view themselves as transsexual – which is ACTUALLY being gender non-binary, as they are thus males living “feminine” lives.
That is actually revolutionary in the true sense of Feminism. Trans women such as Miranda Yardley recognize that although dressing in a stereotypical feminine manner makes them feel better in terms of their gender dysphoria, it does not make them the same as biological women. It is also important to note that these individuals are not nearly as stereotyped as Laverne Cox and Caitlyn Jenner. They are truly living gender non-binary lives and truly breaking down restrictive ideas of gender for both women and men.
I am glad I found these gender apostates, as they call themselves, because I have finally found a way to support trans folks without throwing away everything I believe to be true about science, anthropology, patriarchy and my own experiences. I am also beginning to agree with them that Jazz’s whole transition happened too early. I may not agree that it entails child abuse, as some of the trans women on the website actually called gender apostates believe, but it does bring up ethical questions about having children undergoing treatments for which we do not know the outcomes. Yes, she could be suicidal – but it seems the vast field of psychology would be a safer bet to deal with such thoughts rather than treatments and surgeries that could be harmful, especially to pre-pubescent children.
So, to circle back to Adichie. I stand by you, Chimamanda. I believe that patriarchy is the result of biology, and we cannot just erase biology to prioritize Western feelings and gender identities. I do not believe there is a “woman’s brain” or universal feeling of being a woman. I do not believe trans women and women have a completely “shared experience,” nor do I believe solving trans issues solves women’s issues.
I believe that feminism must prioritize females, as does Adichie and all the gender apostates, and that if this is “trans exclusionary” – well, all movements are “exclusionary.” Movements are created to solve certain problems, and if a movement suddenly started accommodating and equally fixating on everyone’s issues, that movement is now useless to the people it was meant to originally serve. I care about trans rights, but I believe the trans movement is the movement in which these specific rights should be centered. Sure, Feminism and trans rights overlap in some aspects – but they are far from the same. I also strongly believe in abolishing the structure of binary gender – and I strongly believe that current transgender theory strongly reinforces it to the possible detriment of females.
No other movement has been demanded to be as accommodating to possible conflicting interests as the Feminist movement. Although transgender activists claim to be supportive of feminists and Feminism, they respond to ANY dissent, including thoughtful statements such as Adichie’s, with reactions ranging from accusations of “betrayals” to threats of rape, assault, suggestions to commit suicide, doxxing, gas lighting, and slurs like TWERF.
And you know what’s worse? Many on the left and many Liberal Feminist completely ignore this violence towards dissenting women – yes, I am referring to females – and often join in, slinging accusations of TWERF and, in Adichie’s case, continually demand they “clarify,” which is code for agree, while completely discounting what has been said.
If anyone has been doing appropriating, it is the modern transgender activists such as Julia Serano, Laverne Cox (who insists trans issues should be in every aspect of feminism) and this Valli of the above quote.