I don’t understand the logic that whoever is calmest in an argument is winning and that somehow anger invalidates your words. I mean I can argue that your great aunt’s name is Jihinksenbob for an hour straight and be perfectly fine. It’s very easy to be calm when the topic doesn’t affect you personally or you just don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.
"Comparing yourself to others is an act of violence against your authentic self."
— Iyanla Vanzant (via aokigaharas)
I’m glad it resonated with you.
I guess we disagree on a bunch of stuff, seeing as I’m a ‘cis’* radical feminist. I hope we can find a way to be mutually respectful and supportive in spite of our differing politics.
On a political level we have differences but I assume we are both fighting for what we truly believe. On a human level I wish trans women the best lives possible.
*The word ‘cis’ is problematic to me and I feel like by either using it or not I am proclaiming my allegiances. Words are so charged in the area of radical feminism & trans activism. The main reason that I avoid using it or put it in quote marks is out of solidarity with other radical feminists, especially gender non conforming lesbians. It is not meant to be a dig at trans women.
If ‘cis’ meant simply lack of dysphoria then that makes sense, for although I have problems with body dysmorphia especially surrounding my breasts and genitals, they never felt wrong in that particular way. As in, I never felt that I should have a male body.
I mean I am a mainly gender conforming straight white female but just within my experience I have hated my breasts since I was a teenager, and although that hate has changed to hatred at societies reaction to my breasts, I still sometimes think of breast reduction surgery.
I have issues with how my genitals look. Like big, big issues. I have had body dysmorphia, and have spent wasted years with eating disorders. I tend to dissociate when engaging in sexual activity, even during masturbation, and often imagine myself to be a man. I think this is a response to childhood sexual abuse.
When I dress in tighter clothes I am highly sexualized to a point where I feel unsafe and when I dress to hide my body I am punished or looked over.
Because all of these things are damaging and painful I also tend to push back against the term ‘cis’.
I didn’t mean to write a screed, but I always feel weird about whether to use that word or not and I just wanted to let you and other trans activists who may be reading know where it comes from.
first of all, we’ve no need to be mutually respectful. i’m being that way, because honestly i started this blog partially to open up a dialogue with cis women out of curiosity (i don’t really have any hope of changing anyone’s mind, given my experiences). but i want you to recognize that i’m choosing to take a respectful tone with some stuff you’ve said despite the degree to which it does not really warrant a respectful response.
you’ve completely misunderstood what your cis privilege is. honestly, gender dysphoria is only a part of it and is very secondary. and most cis women i’ve talked to, particularly marginalized cis women, have some degree of hatred toward their bodies and their ‘gender role’ in society. that’s a pretty standard reaction to growing up under patriarchy. “cis” does not, despite some jokes made about it, mean “comfortable in skin”. to put it in as straightforward of a radical feminist analysis as i can, a “cis” person is someone who is and always was nominally the sex that they are, and a trans person is someone who is or was nominally a sex that they are not. ”sex” here refers to sex-class rather than the patriarchal construct of physical gender, and “nominally” means how we are represented, officially, to patriarchy/science/government. so i am nominally male—that’s what it says on my birth certificate—but actually female. if “nominally male but actually female” seems paradoxical to you then you’re getting some grasp of why it’s so hard for trans women to talk about our experiences. it is paradoxical in the way patriarchy constructs gender—but that’s an indication of one of the way’s patriarchy’s misleading us. (namely, that it mystifies actual experiences of sex oppression through biological essentialism)
a cis girl, growing up, is told that she is a girl as a positive identification, and is treated as a girl. when she has some degree of autonomous control over her life (although the degree to which any of us do under patriarchy is always questionable) she continues to identify herself and her life experiences as belonging to the category ‘woman’. a trans girl (or at the very least my own experiences), on the other hand, is told that she is a boy as a positive identification, and is treated as a girl. why? i have some complex theories on this, but for the moment let’s let the answer be ‘who knows?’ because there’s really no need to prove an aetiology in order to validate my own experiences; to request such a thing would be the height of patriarchal science (hence why patriarchal science is constantly devoted to figuring out why trans people exist rather than trying to help us survive). when a trans girl grows up she often (depending on life circumstances) “identifies” as a woman. this does not mean “starts becoming” a woman, merely that she recognizes the falseness of patriarchy labeling her as a man, and seeks to correct this falseness in various ways (often leading to a nominally confused category—for example, i am now listed in some places as “male” and in other places as “female”).
so what this means is a sort of split where our lives are being parsed as women’s experiences but they are being treated as men’s experiences in a way specifically focused on removing our ability to talk about how we’ve been hurt, and teaching us that we’re awful for being girls. there’s no light way to put it: this is always traumatic. for the luckiest of us, it’s just questions of misgendering and social dysphoria. for a lot of us it means being abused in a plethora of ways, being taught to hate our bodies with absolute fury, being taught that we deserve this misery, and being taught by other women (you cis women, to be precise) that trying to talk about it is an act of violence or appropriation. and intersections with race, class, sexuality, and disability hit trans women in very rough, awful ways—at some point look at the percentage of trans women of color who’ve been incarcerated, to get an idea of how harmful it is to be forced into a criminalized existence. we are often left with literally no resources, especially if we are cut off by our families as often happens upon ‘coming out’. privileged trans women (a group in which, for the record, i am included) are ignored, left alienated from all of society or left to be the silent symbols of a ‘diverse’ middle class. marginalized trans women are, more or less, expected to die.
these are conditions you contribute to in the way you talk about and treat trans women. you can say that “on a human level” you wish us “the best lives possible” (if i recall—it’s been a bit since i read the book—janice raymond said the same thing) but i’m not interested in wishes coming from people who are literally helping to structure the one potential recourse we could have—community with other women—so that it harms us rather than helps us.
that is cis privilege—you have a community, the ability to seek healing, resources, a place in society. i do not. trans women have been cut off from the capacity to talk about our lives. literally no one believes us. they call us misogynist slurs, ableist slurs, they call us “hysterical” and enact violence against us. if we ever speak up, it is used as proof against the veracity of our claims.
yes, there is also dysphoria. some trans women consider it a medical condition. (a lot of trans men do as well because naturally they find their validation through patriarchal science.) i do not. i consider it to be a byproduct of the trauma we’ve endured, of the way we’ve been taught to think of our own bodies. and i do believe this is a universal condition—everyone, men and women, is taught to think of women’s bodies as grotesque. but in the case of trans women, we are taught this in a particularly hideous way—we are taught that our bodies incarnate the violence acted against us. not just that our bodies are objects of loathing, but also that they are subjects of loathing. and we are taught, like all women, that our bodies justify the violence enacted against us, especially insofar as they fail to live up to an ideal of femininity (which is damn near impossible for most of us) or insofar as they do live up to that ideal—as you pointed out when discussing the fetishistic male gaze, the feeling of being validated as an object is also loathsome.
the basic problem with cis women’s discussion of trans women (and i don’t care about what men have to say, so it’s cis women who concern me) is that trans women are always treated as objects. hence the questioning of “cis”—do you think we don’t know your complaints? do you think we don’t know how misogyny makes women feel about our bodies? we too are women, we feel the same things. we experience the same things. and yet we use the term—because there is a whole additional degree of oppression that we face that you don’t. and i hope you will appreciate how hard it is for me to maintain a “mutually respectful” tone in light of what your “differing politics” have done to me and the women i care about.
(incidentally i’d like to point out that i am also a lesbian, sometimes gender non-conforming—the oppression faced there is lesbophobia and misogyny but it has no relevance to cis privilege. i and a number of other trans lesbians are also radical feminists as well so i hope you will respect this gender-nonconforming lesbian radical feminist and show solidarity by removing the scarequotes from your use of the word cis)
whoever runs cis-radfems-are-a-joke is fucking amazing, holy shit
i’ve always loved that blog, yes
also, yeah, there is no such thing as a success story for trans women - any marginal success is tenacious and flimsy and is held up as an image of “why can’t you achieve this level?”, to further cast us down
trans women always lose
this is a beautiful analysis ;_;
ALSO I think awesomepossum312 has demonstrated particularly well how cis women use trans women for emotional labour, especially sexual emotional labour - craaj (nice abbreviation lol) commented on the post more or less just saying ‘yeah’, and the fact that she was a trans woman was enough for possum to write *several paragraphs* about her genitals, expecting craaj to sort it out for her… Not even a message saying ‘is it ok if I..’ whatever, nah, just, 12 straight paragraphs about her genitals. All it takes.