Sex and Gender: A Beginner’s Guide

I’m fighting with friends over trans issues at the moment, taking the position that some radfem critique trivializes and even erases anti-trans oppression. However, I think one thing these friends and I can all agree on is that maligning all misgivings about trans identity politics as “transphobic” is thought-terminating bullshit. I think we can also agree that there is at least a smattering of penis-having assholes in the trans movement throwing their weight around in relation to biological women, and these shitheads should go fuck themselves.  I think where my friends and I differ is on just how much a part of trans movement politics an undeniably reactionary, patriarchal element is and where they belong in relation to other political priorities and concerns. My pals seem to be cherry-picking bad actors.

However, since I hate thought-terminating maneuvers in left discourse more than just about anything, and since I think a lot of people dismiss the radical feminist critique of trans identity politics without even knowing what it is, I am, without apology or qualification reblogging this very comprehensive and well-written summary of theoretical objections.  As ever, my main interest is in a smarter conversation, so please comment accordingly.

Source: Sex and Gender: A Beginner’s Guide h/t @lethaleducation

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4 Responses to Sex and Gender: A Beginner’s Guide

  1. davidly says:

    As a general observation from the level where the complexities of this conversation are not frequent, I cannot help but find problematic the result of the Democratic Party’s recent successful gaming of trans issues. It appears to anti-trans bigots to be an attempt to normalize transsexual culture, while in reality it is simply bolstering already normalized structures of oppression like marriage, the military, and limited access toilets. Appropriately to woke white women and men who respect them, Caitlyn Jenner is nothing but a advantaged hole, not because she’s a privileged person co-opting concerns of an oppressed gender or minority, but because she’s a Republican. Chelsea Manning, on the other hand, is rendered acceptable not because she heroically revealed truth at grave personal risk, but because their heroic president decreed her right to be a free human again. On its surface it seems like a selective coercion of tolerance without any necessitation toward actual understanding.

    • Tarzie says:

      Yeah. The fast mainstream uptake of trans issues — once they became visible –set off alarm bells for me. It’s redolent of same sex marriage in that it gets traction via an assault on movement radicalism. There is indisputably a retrograde element to at least its mainstream vulgarization, which is what made insipid Republican narcissist Caitlyn Jenner the perfect poster girl. Her metamorphosis was a spectacle of consumerist affluence and professional image-making, helpfully reminding us that being a woman is wearing sexy clothes and makeup. Of course, anyone who failed to applaud this vapid, reactionary spew was a trans phobe.

      Manning’s self-actualization as a woman has completely overshadowed her original beef with imperialism. She’s now the safest of liberal dullards, preaching tolerance while making the occasional anguished sales pitch for empire.

      Given that trans id politics rehabilitates gender and shoves penis into spaces formerly reserved for biological females, the coercive aspect, at least in some quarters, seems to exceed the usual liberal demand for tolerance.

  2. No soy yo says:

    Tarzie seemed to describe the disagreement between trans activists and radical feminists like other liberal/”left” political disagreements. That this involves divide and conquer with some sexism thrown in the mix. Some “bad actors” are exploiting or twisting a legitimate social justice campaign. For me it is a totally different issue and there’s a reason why this is one of the main two issues that concern me (other than general anti-capitalism and anti-imperialism for which there are many voices more eloquent than I could be). Spending the amount of time I do thinking, reading, tweeting on the topic would surely be weird and a bit pathetic if that’s all it were to me. Elevating concern about a small percentage of the population and their rights and privileges, if that’s all I thought it was, to the level of “our species and millions of other species will be wiped out” would surely be insane.

    Generally I think:
    1) The ideology of the trans movement is harmful to women and to women’s liberation. Therefore, it’s not a matter of making room for trans people in some tent. It’s not a matter of “winning the victim Olympics.” The emphasis on stereotypical gender roles is one example of how this ideology is harmful to women. Another is the silencing of women. Women can’t talk about our biology because that’s “cissexist.” Organizations that protect girls and women can’t use the word girl or the word woman. Doctors in the UK can’t use the word “mother.” We have a pussy-grabber (openly — I’d be surprised if you couldn’t count on one hand, w/ fingers to spare, the non-pussy grabber presidents before him) in the White House, yet conveniently we can’t talk about our vaginas. They want to get rid of women’s control of women’s bodies and conveniently women can’t talk about it in terms that make sense to us.

    The fact that biological males get to speak for women is the epitome of sexism, and now this is accepted amongst the left, and promoted to the point of threats if this is questioned.

    There aren’t just a few bad apples: aggression and violence against women is mainstream in this movement. Women can’t openly support the Vagina Monologues for God’s sake for fear of retribution.

    2) Rather than this issue being an example of a disagreement amongst oppressed people that is useful for the ruling class, I believe this movement itself is a ruling class conceived, run, funded and supported campaign (ample evidence for the last two, lots of circumstantial evidence for the rest). Like all bigger ruling class movements this has different levels, layers, intermediate goals, etc. It has many victims, patsies, etc. This is a bigger issue that is probably too difficult to explain here: I’ve been trying to think this out, and also research it, for a while now. Here’s an overview: Enforcing strict gender roles is obviously useful for patriarchal capitalism. It keeps women from organizing. It sells stuff. A family with a boy and a girl need one of each of everything, for example. The trans movement also sells lifelong drugs, surgeries, special consumer goods.

    I think it goes beyond that, though. It gets down to the raison d’etre of the ruling class. They want to own things. They want to rule. But who and what and why? Why doesn’t a billionaire start giving away money once they’ve reached $10 million? $100 million? A billion? At some point, giving the illusion of “compassionate capitalism” would be in their interest, surely? They don’t just want to own things. They want to control. What is the biggest form of control? Controlling bodies. Especially sexually. There’s a reason “SWERF” goes with “TERF.” Seeing women’s bodies as existing for male pleasure is a main tenet of patriarchy and it’s a main part of third wave “feminism.” This “feminism” says prostitution is “empowering” and women should “center” men in our feminism.

    Control of bodies is very prevalent in the “transing” of kids and teens. Sexualizing children is being normalized. The fact that this is happening to teens who, studies show, would otherwise probably end up being happy gay men or lesbian women means that this abuse represents gay eugenics. The other high correlator is autistic people. The fact that numbers are increasing by the day and that it’s especially girls being affected is significant.

    Just like the ruling class protects itself by siccing unstable right wing people on Pizzagate to hide the true nature of pedophilia and sex trafficking by the ruling class, you find that in liberal/”left” circles, discussion of this is shut down immediately. Then WOLF for example has to partner with a terrible right wing organization to wage lawsuits on the behalf of women and gay people. I keep mentioning postmodernism but this is the epitome of that — changing definitions by the day, there are no definitions, etc. Harvard’s student group says gender can change daily.

    Who does any of this serve? Silencing women, cutting away the gay, sexualizing children, women, and feminine men. All for a profit? Why is this not only getting traction but such a huge issue in such a short time, with no questioning allowed?

    3) I think the effects of this movement may soon end up being irreparable and permanent. This is the meaning behind my pinned tweet:

    It’s anecdotal for sure, but I’ve read enough stories by parents that their teenage girls don’t know any lesbians but know many “trans”-identified girls. A generation of lesbians is being lost, and older lesbians are under attack.

    I come from the last generation that didn’t grow up watching porn. Porn is growing more violent by the day. This is normalizing violence against women, and is defended by liberals and communists alike, as is prostitution. Seeing kids as sexual is being normalized. Seeing vaginas as fuck-holes (“neo-vaginas are cleaner and fresher than cis vaginas”) is being normalized. Women’s victories in winning safe places, shelters, sports teams, are all being dialed back. Not by conservatives, but by liberals, “leftists” and communists. Denigrating and hurling abuse at women is commonplace in left online circles. Women can’t fight back against misogyny or violence without being called bigots. Once all these ideas about women are internalized in enough people, how will it ever be dialed back? Women are under brutal attack. And children. Sexually especially. Some non-manly men are also being victimized. But mostly they are aggressors and/or tools of aggression.

    None of this is addressing the needs of the very small number of trans people suffering from true dysphoria that would not resolve with time. This really is not the main issue at hand in my opinion. Was this a huge issue 40 years ago? They should receive the support and counseling they need. Like I said, I’m not a fan of capitalist medicine chopping people up but as a last resort this is up to the adult involved.

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