Over the last few months (since the Women’s March and the ensuing trans backlash), I have become enlightened to how extreme trans ideology has become. It did not used to be this way. “Brain sex” and “born in the wrong body” were not traditionally used by trans individuals to describe themselves, and some trans individuals still refuse to buy into this ideology. Miranda Yardley, who uses the term “transsexual,” is an example of a trans individual who believes that sex and gender are different. Miranda presents socially as “feminine” while still acknowledging that she is a biological male. She does not consider herself a “real woman.”
I have no problem using “she” to describe Miranda. The fact that she states she is biologically male while wearing feminine clothing and acting traditionally feminine is more radical than any of the transgendered individuals who believe that if you want to present as the gender not associated with your sex, then you must LITERALLY BE the opposite sex. Mutilating bodies in unhealthy ways at younger and younger ages to try to match your sex to stereotyped gender presentations does not abolish gender – it reinforces it.
For example, gone is the day of the butch lesbians. They are all being encouraged by the trans movement, particularly online, to transition into men, and within trans ideology lesbians are considered outdated and passé. In “Female Erasure” by Ruth Barrett (a Dianic priestess whose rituals based on menstruation and female body positivity are considered “transphobic” and being invaded by trans women and their intact male genitalia), de-transitioned young lesbians lament that their generation has no butch lesbians as role models to encourage them to feel comfortable as masculine women. This is directly related to the fact that trans women have gone out of their way to destroy female-only, lesbian-friendly spaces and events such as Michfest – thus cutting off young lesbians struggling with their lesbian identities from potential role models and support. Instead, these young women turn to online trans communities for support, where “trans allies” who have never met them tell them they are really men and encourage them to mutilate their bodies. Medical professionals then give them access to hormones and surgeries, including double mastectomies at as young as 16, without even questioning the source of their gender dysphoria – in this case, a highly gender-polarized society that is now literally telling them “you must be a man if you feel this way.” These doctors also ignore the fact that a teenager’s brain is not considered to be fully developed to make sound judgments – leading to regret later in life for a worrisome proportion of these women. One de-transitioned lesbian stated in “Female Erasure” that the idea that they are really a man is easier to handle because sex reassignment surgery offers a clear path towards healing – but this doesn’t mean it actually heals.
To make matters worse, the medical establishment is attributing characteristics of autism, specifically in women, to gender dysphoria, and unquestioningly transitioning autistic girls and women. As one mother of an autistic girl explained in “Female Erasure,” when an autistic female has issues with her period, it may be due to sensory issues, not gender dysphoria – a reality ignored by what I will refer to as the trans medical industrial complex. The trans medical industrial complex cannot make money if trans identities are actually sensory issues that would be better treated with the appropriate therapy.
There is another factor that I believe may be causing more and more women to transition into men – the loss of the support provided by Women’s Studies Programs in colleges and universities. At first, I did not quite believe that we were losing Women’s Studies programs across the nation, and I did not fully realize the implications of the term “gender studies.” As I continued to do research, however, I realized this loss is quite real. It is a loss that will affect ALL women, straight or gay, because it seems that analytical studies of how patriarchy uses gender to oppress women are now transphobic and considered unnecessary to liberating women. No wonder millennial feminists blindly support extreme trans ideology – feminism is failing them as feminists and women’s studies programs continue to cave into trans ideology. No wonder young lesbians are transitioning to men – there is no available analysis to place their feelings and identity within the intersection of sexual orientation, gender expectations, and the patriarchy.
Here is what I learned about women and gender in my Women’s Studies program at the University of Pittsburgh in the early 2000’s:
- In the transnational factories of Juarez, women are seen as ideal labor due to the stereotyped passiveness of the female gender. Furthermore, all the managers are men, and they use women’s biology to further disempower the workers – i.e. sexual harassment, keeping track of menstruation to make sure the women aren’t pregnant (which will then get them fired), requiring them to wear heels to work, including in positions which involve standing all day. They further entrench this femininity by holding beauty contests and thus rewarding women who are the most stereotypically feminine. This is not unique to the factories in Juarez and it is still a reality for many female workers.
- The mail order bride industry is based on the gendered notion of the dominant husband and submissive wife. American men who order women are not only treating women as objects to be purchased, but they are specifically ordering passive women that fit the traditional, stereotyped gender of the passive female. This, of course, can lead to very abusive situations involving an extreme power imbalance.
- At the border of Mexico, masculine women, in particular lesbians, risk being denied entry into the United States for not conforming to female gender expectations.
- Women and girls asking for asylum who express cultural gender expectations, such as not looking males in the eyes, risk being viewed by American judges as dishonest – and thus losing asylum due to harmful gender norms in which they were raised.
- Women seeking asylum based on female violence must act the helpless, emotionally unhinged rape victim. If they show too much confidence or strength, then they risk being denied asylum due to the belief that rape victims must act a certain way – specifically one that involves gendered stereotypes of women.
These are all examples of the ACTUAL violence gender imposes on women all over the world.
In my women’s studies courses, I also read books such as “The Yellow Wallpaper,” was introduced to bell hooks and other feminists of color, first learned about radical feminism, and learned about the difference between self-empowerment and structural change. My women’s studies courses, because of their focus on women and women’s bodies, also became safe places for us females to talk about our oppressive life experiences directly related to being born female and having gender thrust upon us.
We did learn about how trans individuals have a difficult time seeking asylum, migrating, finding work, etc. – but these are not the same mechanisms. For example, trans women still retain male privilege over women because their employees cannot control their bodies by through their reproductive systems. Thus, queer theory and transgenderism was never a focus within Women’s Studies – that was all in Queer Studies.
As you can see from the from this link , however, the Women’s Studies department at Pitt, which once nurtured feminism, is now the Gender, Sexuality and Women’s studies department – and there literally is not one event in April that focuses on women. They are all on “masculinities” and accepting transgendered persons. Perhaps there were events in other months, but the point is that women are no longer central to women’s studies. Actual women’s studies, which focuses on oppression of women as a class, are subsumed under the “trans-brella.” As you can see if you visit the site, the entire advertised course material involves transgenderism. I thought for a moment the marriage equality seminar might be of value – but alas, it was about gay marriages and half of that involved transgenderism. There was nothing about the gendered (or rather sexed) inequality that continues in heterosexual marriages.
Modern extremist transgenderism does not solve issues related to the oppression of women as a class by men (as a class). It does not recognize the contributions and legitimacy of lesbians and lesbian culture. Again, there are trans individuals who recognize this, so my conflict is not with them, but with the individuals, trans or not trans, who insist on upholding the current trans ideology that erases women’s issues, and insist that gender studies are sufficient to empower women. Here are some real-life examples of issues that ONLY affect females (some of which I witnesses in an abortion clinic, others working for a woman’s shelter, yet others volunteering to observe order of protections in court, etc.):
- Men purposely mess with women’s birth control so that their female partner will become pregnant, and thus he will be able to control her by controlling her reproduction
- Domestic abuse by men towards women often begins at pregnancy, leading women to get abortions out of fear for their own lives
- On top of being raped, women have to go through the added trauma of becoming pregnant and then undergoing an abortion
- Working class women who get pregnant get abortions for pregnancies they may otherwise carry to term if they weren’t under threat of being fired
- Women who are homeless are especially vulnerable to being prostituted. In fact, just by standing outside our shelter and smoking, our clients were targeted for recruitment by a pimp! And yes, I am aware of trans prostitutes, but the vast majority of prostitution involves men looking for women, and thus most targets of pimps are actual women – and many of these women are actually girls.
- Unlike males, women facing homelessness often put aside their needs to care for their children – leaving them trapped in cycles of poverty as their needs are “disappeared” into the needs of their children This is a reflection of unequal reproduction labor that has never been acknowledged by transgenderism – and why would it? Trans women, who dominate the discourse, do not get pregnant!
- In order of protection cases in court, if someone has a lawyer, it is most likely the man, because men still control the money in society, particularly in cases of domestic violence. Thus the women involved are more likely to be at a disadvantage.
Modern transgender ideology neither acknowledges nor attempts to eradicate any of the aforementioned issues faced by women. Violence against women as a class is not a priority to trans women, who dominate the discourse. Trans women’s threats of killing and raping (often with their intact penises) women who object to being assimilated into trans ideology on trans woman’s terms make this crystal clear. Trans and non-trans individuals alike who shout “trans women are women” must subsume women’s rights under trans rights because to highlight instances of sex-based discrimination would reveal the truth that transwomen are indeed biologically male, and can still retain male privilege. Gender Studies MUST shift focus away from the subjects I studied in women’s studies because transgenderism is based on the idea that gender is not only innate, but also neutral.
Gender is anything but neutral. Gender is forced upon women and used to enforce patriarchal norms. There is nothing natural or innate about anything I have just described, and it is all related to gender. But trans activists cannot acknowledge this because then their whole ideology becomes a house of cards. This is why adherents to extreme trans ideology so vehemently attack women with whom they disagree.
If trans women really believed in feminism, they would attack the MEN who are responsible for the violence plaguing both trans individuals and women. Instead, they target women-only spaces and any women who disagree with them. This does nothing to solve the underlying structure of patriarchy – it only enforces patriarchy by banishing spaces declared women-only and by hurling male-patterned threats towards women. This is much more akin to men’s rights activism – it certainly uses the same language.
Please understand I do not wish violence against trans individuals. I accept EVERYONE’S right not to conform to the gender related to his or her sex. I believe individuals who consider themselves trans should be able to obtain resources to build shelters and other organizations focusing on their needs. I believe that society should not discriminate against trans individuals in employment, housing, healthcare, etc.
However, I do not believe that acknowledging oppression of women according to sex, and focusing feminism on women, is discrimination, a form of violence on trans individuals, or trans oppression. I believe that as long as there is a patriarchy, there is a need for female-only spaces, and this does not constitute “violence” against trans individuals or “erasure” of their lives.
I do not believe gender is innate. I do not believe gender is neutral and that female biology does not exist. I do not believe that “penises are females” while penises continue to be used by males to oppress and threaten women – and this includes through speech used by M2T individuals. I do not believe “trans women are women.” Think of it this way: saying “women are trans women” makes no sense whatsoever, and this one-way street reveals that the two are fundamentally different.
I do not believe we should give hormones or surgeries to any minor, period. I do not believe autism equals transgender.
I do not believe the media should celebrate stories of F2T individuals in which the first paragraphs explain how familial abuse for “gender nonconforming” lead to this individual transitioning from a masculine lesbian to a man (this popped up on my Facebook feed and was the final impetus to write this article). That is not innate gender identity – that is trauma from abuse, and this abuse is due to entrenched sexed gender roles that extremist trans ideology seeks to uphold.
Most of all, I fundamentally believe that women’s studies should be about women and should not be subsumed under gender ideology. I have said this before – feminism has been most effective when focused on actual women. I do not believe that transgender rights solve women’s rights. Look no further than Veterans for Peace – an organization that created guidelines on penalties for transphobia before establishing guidelines to prevent the pervasive sexual harassment of women within their organization.
As Janis Joplin once sang:
“Women are losers; men always seem to end up on top.”
http://thewomensalliance.blogspot.com/ (on Veterans for Peace)
“Female Erasure” edited by Ruth Barrett