Patriarchy pushes everyone, female and male, into constricting gender roles that do not come naturally to any of us and are harmful to all of us. When girls and boys are socialized into gender roles, they are actually being trained to act as dominators (masculine males) and dominated (feminine females). Both gender roles are terrible! Feminist have been aware that gender is a cornerstone of patriarchy and working to abolish gender for decades. But, with the backlash against feminism gender roles are once again strictly enforced by society.
People who choose to transgender often do so because of great discomfort with their female or male bodies and/or with the masculine or feminine social roles they are expected to follow. For many, the decision to transgender does not end the discomfort. Bodies are altered via hormones or surgery, but can never really change from one biological sex to another. Switching from masculinity to femininity (or vice versa) only gets rid of one straight jacket to replace it with a different one. Changing the self is simply not an effective means of dealing with a problem that is caused by society and changing the self is the only real prescription offered by the transgender movement.
As more and more people choose to become transgender, many end up coming to the decision to detransition and reclaim their biological sex. Others remain transgender, but have strong regrets for making that choice. More women who were once “transmen” are choosing to detransition. Detransitioning women share their experiences in the booklet, Blood and Visions: Womyn Reconciling With Being Female.
Davina Anne Gabriel was one of the pioneers of the transsexual movement and the first transsexual person that Paula and Jeanne knew. He was one of the first transsexuals to break into the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival. In Kansas City, he was the main reason that the Lavendar Umbrella lesbian center closed down as the lesbians there were unable to agree on whether or not he was welcome there. Yet on his death he asked that his letter be read refuting all his decades of activism for transgender causes and expressing his feelings that becoming transsexual had been a terrible choice. Read our background on his story and his letter. Davina’s story is of special interest because he had a strong interest in feminism and played an important role in the transgender movement.