I am a bit late coming to this subject, but I read an article from 2017 by Aoife Martin about how he marches for choice because TIMs (trans identified males) and women are fighting for the same thing: the choice of what to do with their bodies, i.e. bodily autonomy. I was introduced to this line of thinking right after the 2017 Women’s March trans debacle, about how there is this similar thread between TIMs and women because of the bodily autonomy issues of abortion and GRS. I read another claim about these two issues being the same in an article from January 2018 connecting LGBT rights and abortion rights. It is, in my opinion, a trans trope.
These issues are not the same. AT ALL. And there are no fucking connections with LGBTQ rights and abortions other than lesbians because abortions impact WOMEN and the inability to choose is related to STRUCTURAL FEMALE OPPRESSION FOR THE REPRODUCTIVE CONTROL OF WOMEN’S BODIES.
Nobody is interested in owning the MALE bodies of TIMs, even when surgically altered.
Let’s just look at the actions of the people who oppose abortion: right-wing Christians and some Catholic liberals.
I do not see these groups, or any other group, going to gender clinics with the sole purpose of closing them while killing doctors, throwing bombs, harassing women and girls, protesting around the clock, etc etc. The gender clinic in Canada that was attacked was attacked by a pissed off TIM who had been a patient there. And although these same people who don’t want women to be able to access abortion don’t approve of trans people, affirm them, or want to share bathrooms with the opposite sex, they do not go after GRS with the same vigor as they do abortion – which is the number one crusade on every right-wing list.
Why is this? Well, I don’t think they give two shits about some dude they don’t know getting GRS. If they ever meet them they may hurt his feelings by not accepting him or not want tax money to go toward GRS – but GRS has been around since the 50s and generally conservatives have not waged any far-reaching campaigns to ban GRS as they have to ban abortion for women and girls EVERYWHERE. The minute after the Roe v. Wade victory the battle begun, and it has not abated. If abortion is illegal, it impacts the rights of women as a class. GRS impacts no one but that person who can’t get it easily.
To the right wing-crusaders, abortion is murder and the feelings of women don’t matter. To them, an unborrn fetus has more social status than a woman. TIMs who can’t get gender surgery – are still men. As are TIMs who do get it. So what the fuck do the crusaders care about GRS? Certainly not enough to go after it on the scale of anti-abortion campaigns. Because despite what trans activists think, GRS does nothing to threaten the patriarchy. In fact, as we see from Iran’s high rate of GRS and the approval of hardline conservatives such as Pat Robertson, GRS can be seen beneficial because it erases homosexuality and keeps gender roles in place – thus REINFORCING the patriarchy.
Abortion can at times be used as a tool of patriarchy, thus the support of men like Hugh Hefner. But mostly it is a threat to the patriarchal order because it threatens men’s ownership of women’s bodies. It defines women beyond reproduction, and puts them in control of reproduction instead of men. Which is why GRS surgery has not been attacked like abortion has. That’s why it was Roe v. Wade that was attacked in the 1970s and not Renee Richards – who went on to be allowed to play against women, while the right-wingers immediately launched a coordinated, full-scale attack of abortion rights.
I worked at an abortion clinic. When women got an abortion they didn’t do it to become “their authentic selves” or because they have gender dysphoria. They did it because they were poor and couldn’t provide for their child, or would lose their jobs – which, although to me a form of social coercion, shows the complexity of abortion rights and the difference in motivations between GRS and abortion. Because the fact stands that these women have much to lose FINANCIALLY, much to lose in terms of structural survival – none of which applies to TIMs. And I do not equate mental feelings of anguish and even suicide to structural issues faced by women. Including any possible financial hardship caused by getting surgeries. Because at least you could fucking get your surgery.
Then there are women who are raped, women whose male partner messes with the birth control so they then “own the woman, teens too young to have children, women who have health risks or whose fetuses have no chance of survival; and there are women who aren’t ready to bear a child at that moment in time because of the permanent way in which a child can negatively impact their lives forever. And not in the same ways as not getting GRS. Having your career derailed, going into post-partem depression, experiencing injuries or death, being unable to take care of a child due to mental illness or because you didn’t want one – none of these are the same as not getting GRS because not getting GRS DOES NOT BRING A BABY INTO THE WORLD. At that point, another human being has become involved, and not getting GRS is not comparable to the drastic change in a woman’s life, and the resulting tension between herself and her now born child. TIMs might think their mental anguish is the same as these mental AND structural issues, but they are not. Even if one loses their job because they don’t pass or whatever, it’s not the same. And quite frankly, the support for trans rights in the workplace, particularly that of TIMs, has dwarfed that of pregnant women and mothers, even in today’s political climate. Because, after all, TIMs are men, and still benefit from the male privilege of the group as a whole that enables TIM billionaires to fund the ideology that has allowed men, with or without GRS, to be able to do and go basically wherever they please. As a class, TIMs who have trouble accessing GRS do not face the structural and social reprucussions as women who can’t get abortions.
As a class, women are the demographic most impoverished – and lack of access to abortions can increase that class poverty. Lack of access to abortion can lead to death or sterility when women get illegal abortions. And I want to emphasize that an abortion is related to the natural reproductive process of ALL women, even those that might be sterile – while GRS is unnatural and is not part of most other men’s lives, and does not impact at the class level as do abortion rights. The reason women aren’t allowed the freedom to choose what to do with their bodies, particularly in regards to abortion, is because in patriarchy, their bodies belong to men and are for the sole purpose of reproduction. It isn’t just pregnancy women can’t control – denying abortion to women is part of the larger goal of denying women ANY choice of what happens to their body – through rape, sexual harrassment, child marriage, etc. THOSE are the bodily autonomy issues related to abortion – not the issue of men unable to get GRS. One has NOTHING to do with the other.
And it is an insult to equivocate the two. If a man can’t get GRS surgery, he doesn’t lose bodily autonomy. He can still do whatever the fuck he wants. He is not going to face the risks of a nine month pregnancy, the arrival of a baby, the control of a male partner, etc. In fact, given that the far right has no interest in making GRS illegal as they do with abortion, this is an issue of finance and being allowed to travel, etc. No one is seriously threatening to OUTLAW GRS as they are abortion. This is not the same battle, and the stakes are not the same. They might SEEM the same to the mentally troubled TIM, but they are not. Germiane Greer and others’ belief that TIMs are not women is not the same as denying a woman an abortion. As far as “forced sterility” with GRS – sterility kind of comes with the territory when you mutilate genitalia. As for REQUIRING to be sterilized before gaining legal recognition of of their “gender” – this is not the same as denying women an abortion because THEY ARE SECOND CLASS TO A FETUS. Hell, even this act of requiring sterilization for recognizing gender (something Aoife and others tout as comparable to denying an abortion) gives TIM higher status than women, as it acknowledges them as humans with feelings and gives them the go-ahead to actually get the surgery. Denying women an abortion literally means THEY CAN’T GET AN ABORTION. There are no “you can get an abortion on the condition you also do this to your body.” You either get an abortion or you don’t, and many anti-choicers believe that a woman should not be allowed to get an abortion even at risk of death. Hey, you might be sterile, but at least you would be alive and autonomous. Nobody gives a shit about regulating your AUTONOMY, about keeping you oppressed to have babies. Women are denied abortions precisely to KEEP THEM FROM AUTONOMY and keep them in a reproductive role. Denying women’s autonomy, especially reproductive autonomy to which abortion is related, is a life-long process and constant battle for women and it is entrenched in structural oppression. To compare the inability for a MALE, or really anyone but especially a male, to get GRS surgery to any part of women’s fight for reproductive autonomy is insulting and belittling.
It also shows the true intentions of TIMs “allying” with women on abortion – in their head, it will also benefit THEM. Kind of like Hugh Hefner. If you are allying with me because you believe being denied GRS is equivalent to being denied an abortion, your allyship is misplaced and I do not want your help. And this whole narrative just needs to stop.