Tag Archives: Ecofeminism

The Transgender Movement: Unfit for an Ecological Future

By Jeanne Neath

When non-essential surgeries including ‘gender reassignment surgery’ became difficult to obtain during the COVID-19 pandemic, many ‘transgender’ people became distressed. As NBC News reported, 31 year old Katalina Murrie, a Canadian ‘transgender’ male, had scheduled a facial feminization procedure “to soften one’s facial features and bone structure” with a surgeon in Guadalajara, Mexico for March 27th 2020. Even pre-COVID-19, the Canadian health system considered this cosmetic surgery non-essential and would not pay for it. With the pandemic, international travel no longer felt like an option to Murrie. Distraught at having to miss his surgery, Murrie told NBC News:

“What if all the borders closed around the world and I am stuck in a foreign country?” Murrie recalled asking herself. “My face would be covered in stitches. I’d have to travel through popular airports where there have been confirmed reports of staff members with COVID-19. My dream surgery all of a sudden became very stressful.” (NBC News, “Trans surgeries postponed indefinitely amid coronavirus pandemic“)

Murrie considered the facial feminization procedure anything but “non-essential” and groused about his situation, saying “I’m not gonna last to my 40s if I don’t have this surgery.”

facial feminization in Guadalajara Mexico

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced hospitals facing an overload of patients and procedures to prioritize what kinds of care they will provide. Cosmetic surgeries done on the healthy bodies of ‘transgender’ people became clearly inappropriate, impossible to perform in the face of an overload of sick and dying patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pandemic, a result of human-caused ecological disturbances, is providing a preview into an unfolding ecological society. With the overconsumption in the global North the Earth is being pushed to her limits and she is forcing society onto a budget. As a result, ‘gender reassignment’ medical treatments, including surgeries, puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones are likely to become socially unacceptable, even impossible for society to provide as we shift into ecological sanity. Neither the Earth nor society can afford for queer ideology and the Internet driven transgender fad to continue pushing so many young people into a life of medical complications and dependency on medical services.

Insatiable Desires

When Katalina Murrie told NBC News “I’m not gonna last to my 40s if I don’t have this surgery”, he provided a clue to the mental state of many in the transgender movement. ‘Transgender’ people have placed themselves in the very unsettling situation of building a movement and individual identities based in a lie and a theft. The lie, of course, is that sex can be changed. The theft takes place when ‘transgender’ males assume the identity of an oppressed group – women. Since ‘transgender’ people cannot change their sex, all the surgeries and hormones in the world will never give them what they want, will never allow them to feel satisfied with their bodies or secure in their identities.

The impossible goals and insatiable desires of ‘transgender’ people remind me of Robin Wall Kimmerer’s discussion of the Windigo in her book, Braiding Sweetgrass.[1] A member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, Kimmerer explains that the Windigo is the “legendary monster” of the Anishinaabe people of the north woods of North America, a human being whose inability to cope with winter’s starvation time drives them into cannibalism. In Kimmerer’s word:

“It is said that the Windigo will never enter the spirit world but will suffer the eternal pain of need, its essence a hunger that will never be sated. The more a Windigo eats, the more ravenous it becomes… its mind a torture of unmet wants.”[2]

Mimi and Eunice cartoon

Of course, the vast majority of ‘transgender’ people are in no way monsters or legendary, but Kimmerer’s description of the “mind a torture of unmet wants” seems to fit. Kimmerer uses the story of the Windigo as a powerful means of critiquing the unrestrained consumption of so many in the dominant society and their complicity in the destruction of the natural world.

“The fear for me is far greater than just acknowledging the Windigo within. The fear for me is that the world has been turned inside out, the dark side made to seem light. Indulgent self-interest that our people once held to be monstrous is now celebrated as success. We are asked to admire what our people viewed as unforgiveable. The consumption-driven mind-set masquerades as ‘quality of life’ but eats us from within. It is as if we’ve been invited to a feast, but the table is laid with food that nourishes only emptiness, the black hole of the stomach that never fills. We have unleashed a monster.”[3]

Insatiable desire “eats us from within” and leads to a person who can’t stop taking, attempting somehow to sate the desire. Like the rest of consumer society, ‘transgender’ people, who want to be what they can never be, indulge in a frenzy of taking – usurping women’s identity, pirating women’s and Lesbian spaces, snatching symbols from Lesbian-feminist culture, insisting on medical services for non-essential needs, taking Earth’s “resources” used in providing those non-essential medical services.


Like the rest of consumer society, ‘transgender’ people, who want to be what they can never be, indulge in a frenzy of taking – usurping women’s identity, pirating women’s and Lesbian spaces, snatching symbols from Lesbian-feminist culture, insisting on medical services for non-essential needs, taking Earth’s “resources” used in providing those non-essential medical services.


What creates the insatiable desire that leads to all this taking? For ‘transgender’ people, an obvious cause is a patriarchal society that forces girls and boys, women and men into suffocating sex roles. In a society that tears apart and builds over nature, society’s sex roles can seem more real, more fixed than nature. Rather than work to change society’s deadly sex role prescriptions, most ‘transgender’ people have elected to deny and reject their own sexed bodies.

Our bodies, of course, are part of the natural world – part of our internal nature [4] – as are our minds, our emotions, our selves. Denial and rejection of the physical realities of one’s body is a sign of a deep and dangerous alienation from nature. The dominant society routinely creates people who are alienated from both internal and external nature and this alienation is another root of the transgender phenomenon.

So-called sex reassignment clinics in Thailand

Western Civilization Creates the Alienated Self

What creates an alienated self? It is not just transgender people who are alienated from their bodies and from nature. The alienated self appeared in Western civilization at least as early as Homer’s era in ancient Greece when “a dominant warlike race established themselves over the mass of vanquished natives.” [5] To understand the creation of the alienated self, I want to turn to Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno’s 1945 book, Dialectic of Enlightenment. These two philosophers can be difficult to read, so Carolyn Merchant can serve as our interpreter in this section. Here’s Merchant on the central character in Homer’s The Odyssey:

“Odysseus represents the struggle to overcome the imitation of nature and immersion in the pleasures of animal life and tribal society. Through the emergence of his own identity as an individual self, he is able to break the hold of the mythic past and control his animal instincts, his men, his wife, and other women. He becomes alienated from his own emotions, bodily pleasures, other human beings and nature itself.”[6]

Where people in more peaceful societies experienced themselves as part of nature, imitated nature, and experienced nature as sacred, Merchant explained that “In the ancient world the emergence of a sense of self as distinct from the external natural world entailed a denial of internal nature in the human being.”[7]

The alienation of self increased dramatically during the European Age of Enlightenment in the 17th and 18th centuries. At this time the elevation of mind, reason, prediction and control resulted in the “disenchantment of the world”[8] (and increasing domination of nature and humans with the expansion of patriarchy, colonialism and capitalism). The deeply felt perception that nature (and women) are sacred was further lost in the West.

Today most people living in cities rarely think of nature as the provider of all the physical materials they need to live – materials for shelter, water, energy, food, medicine. Many don’t know much about the natural world and don’t feel a spiritual connection to nature. Many live “in their heads” and feel deeply dissatisfied with their bodies.

‘Transgender’ people are not that different. But, they do take alienation to an extreme when they deny the physical reality of their sexed bodies. The alienation escalates even more when they take action against their own bodies by undergoing ‘gender reassignment’ treatments. This desecration of ‘internal nature’ leads to the desecration of external nature. As Merchant explained, “The disenchantment of external nature was achieved by despiritualizing a human being’s internal nature.”[9]

Pigs Can Fly? Growth is Green?

Pigs Can Fly? Growth is Green? Males Claim To Be Women? Technology Saves All?

The only strand of the environmental movement compatible with a trans-ideology that pushes ‘gender reassignment’ and medicalization is “ecomodernism” or, more broadly, “green growth.” Environmentalists subscribing to “green growth” philosophies are, like many ‘transgender’ people, stuck in fantasies about an impossible future where technology saves the day and overcomes biological, ecological and even thermodynamic limits. Both “green growth” and transgender ideologies are based in the anti-ecological and old-fashioned Enlightenment perspective that underlies “modernity” and the myth of progress.

Ecomodernists want the living standards of industrialized societies to continue rising and for high consumption lifestyles to spread into the global South. They believe, contrary to all evidence, that economic growth can be “decoupled” from environmental damage. What magic will they use to accomplish the impossible? New and improved technology, of course, with some population reduction and efficiency improvements tossed into the mix. All this “progress” would require an increase in energy production that could only be powered by nuclear energy. The authors of “An Ecomodernist Manifesto” explain:

“Transitioning to a world powered by zero-carbon energy sources require energy technologies that are power dense and capable of scaling to many tens of terawatts to power a growing human economy. Most forms of renewable energy are, unfortunately, incapable of doing so.… Nuclear fission today represents the only present-day zero-carbon technology with the demonstrated ability to meet most, if not all, of the energy demands of a modern economy….In the long run, next-generation solar, advanced nuclear fission, and nuclear fusion represent the most plausible pathways toward the joint goals of climate stabilization and radical decoupling of humans from nature.”[10]

Nuclear energy is a dangerous technological choice to hang your hat on. At least the surgeries and drugs that many transgender people depend on do not have the power to irradiate the Earth. These technologies can never be the “cure-all” that ecomodernists and transgenderists desire. They just avoid dealing with the real problems which are social.

Ecomodernism debunked

Most modern technology has grown out of systems of thought belonging to a patriarchal, colonialist, and capitalist system. These technologies must always be questioned. The transgender project is a crude early step on the techno-utopian[11] path that wants to create humans who are essentially different from the species nature created many millenia ago. For example, researchers are now using CRISPR technology for germline genetic engineering to create superhumans. Researchers studying artificial intelligence may soon have machines that are smarter than humans. All these technologies, including the ones used for ‘gender reassignment,’ would be carefully controlled or outlawed if this society were not based in domination and profiteering.

Ancient Connections

The ecologically unsound transgender project will not withstand the force of nature’s revolt. Already more and more girls and women who ‘transitioned’ are in revolt against the squelching of their female nature. They are detransitioning, re-identifying as female. Nature’s revolt is forcing a paradigm shift on the dominant society and the coming ecological society will not be able to afford the non-essential surgeries, unnecessary medical dependencies, insatiable desires and thefts from women, alienation from nature and use of questionable technologies for questionable purposes. An ecological society will have to be based in hard reality and this will not leave room for fantasies of becoming a different sex.

The way “forward” in these volatile times will include a spiraling “back” toward our species’ ancient connections with Earth and with our own nature. It isn’t hard to start forming these connections. Take a walk and let your feet feel the Earth with every slow step you take.[12] Find out how to use the different species of lichen and mosses to determine direction.[13] Learn what is going on outside your house by becoming familiar with what the birds are telling you. Then listen to the bird’s language every chance you get.[14] The changing Earth and the changing times are unsettling. But this part can be an adventure!

Carolina wren

*****

Footnotes

1. Please note that I am the one making the link between ‘transgender’ people and the Windigo. Robin Wall Kimmerer does not discuss this.
2. p. 305, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants.
3. p. 308, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants.
4. As humans we are, of course, influenced by both our biology and our society in much of what we do and experience. I am using the concept of ‘internal nature’ here to include human biology, but also other aspects of our internal being. In a broad sense human society in all its many forms is part of nature. So-called ‘gender identity’ is a socially created self-perception derived from deep internalization of male or female sex roles and the belief that those socially-created sex roles are fixed, even biological. ‘Gender identity seems to be based in a self-evaluation of how well one’s physical characteristics, preferences and predispositions fit with male vs female sex roles and stereotypes of what male vs. female bodies look like. There is no fixed, essential, biological gender identity as the transgender movement claims. Take away sex roles and sex stereotypes and “poof”, ‘gender identity vanishes too.
5. p. 48, “The Concept of Enlightenment” by Max Horkheimer and theodor Adorno. In Ecology: Key Concepts in Critical Theory edited by Carolyn Merchant
6. p. 3-4, Carolyn Merchant, Introduction to Ecology: Key Concepts in Critical Theory
7. p. 3, Carolyn Merchant, Introduction to Ecology: Key Concepts in Critical Theory
8. p. 44, “The Concept of Enlightenment” by Max Horkheimer and theodor Adorno. In Ecology: Key Concepts in Critical Theory edited by Carolyn Merchant
9. p. 4, Carolyn Merchant, Introduction to Ecology: Key Concepts in Critical Theory
10. An Ecomodernist Manifesto, https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5515d9f9e4b04d5c3198b7bb/t/552d37bbe4b07a7dd69fcdbb/1429026747046/An+Ecomodernist+Manifesto.pdf
11. See Part Three, beginning on page 133 in Bill McKibben’s book Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out for a discussion of chilling technologies under development that will change what it means to be human – unless they are stopped.
12. See Tom Brown’s Field Guide to Nature Observation and Tracking
13. See The Lost Art of Reading Nature’s Signs: Use Outdoor Clues to Find Your Way, Predict the Weather, Locate Water, Track Animals―and Other Forgotten Skills by Tristan Gooley
14. See What the Robin Knows: How Birds Reveal the Secrets of the Natural World by Jon Young

American robin

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Women’s Revolution! Ending the Crisis of Patriarchal Civilization

By Jeanne Neath

“My friends, do we realize for what purpose we are convened? Do we fully understand that we aim at nothing less than an entire subversion of the present order of society, a dissolution of the whole existing social compact.”
(Elizabeth Oakes Smith, September 8 1852, 3rd National Women’s Rights Convention)

Elizabeth Oakes SmithMillions of women have worked over centuries for the “subversion of the present order of society, a dissolution of the whole existing social compact.” We have wrought vast changes to women’s situation in many parts of the world. Yet now the decades long right wing driven backlash has been joined by runaway misogyny on the Internet and in the real world, as well as “transgender” males trying to take on and take over the identity of “woman.” Transactivists want to define real women out of existence and make it impossible for women to meet in public in groups that exclude males. With the misogynist support of many of the Left, transactivists are fighting to end the revolution of women. Women now face backlash from the right and Left!

How unsurprising that women and the movement for Women’s Liberation should be under such strong assault right at the moment in time when the fate of an entire civilization is twisting in the wind. You know the list of evils that have shaped the world we are living in – from patriarchy and capitalism, to racism and colonialism and on and on. The immediate repercussions for us are growing at exponential speed – from police assaults in Black communities, to the COVID-19 pandemic, to pipeline and other land grabs on indigenous and public lands, to anti-immigration atrocities, to the loss of jobs and homes in a nosediving economy, to climate chaos bringing us record-setting wildfires, floods, and more.


How unsurprising that women and the movement for Women’s Liberation should be under such strong assault right at the moment in time when the fate of an entire civilization is twisting in the wind.


Perhaps the men (mostly white) in power could have continued their exploitation of other humans indefinitely, but their exploitation of the Earth has irrevocable consequences. This civilization faces an ultimatum from the Earth and will either undergo a paradigm shift and end its practices of domination and exploitation or crumble under the pressures of climate chaos and other ecological failures.

Eco-Disaster! Scientists Call for Society’s Basic Structures to Change

Wickedary by Mary DalyAfter reading a recent report about the global state of the natural world, the word “necrophilia” began to haunt me. Defined by Mary Daly as the “hatred for and envy of Life,” Daly considered necrophilia to be the “most fundamental characteristic of patriarchy.” (Wickedary, p. 83 or online) The report, the “Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services: Summary for Policymakers,” was released in 2019 by IPBES, a U.N. international panel of 150 experts who, with the help of another 350 scientists, reviewed 15,000 publications on the state of nature. (IPBES stands for the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services.)

A kind of scientific horror story, the report details the destruction of Life. We learn, for example, that globally, “natural ecosystems have declined by 47 per cent on average, relative to their earliest estimated states” and “the global biomass of wild mammals has fallen by 82 per cent.” (p. 25) If patriarchal hatred and envy of life is not at play, it is certainly difficult to understand how we have come to create this Sixth Extinction of life on earth.

Climate change is the ecological disaster we hear the most about, but IPBES found that the two “direct drivers of change in nature with the largest global impact” were humans 1) taking over land and sea (through agriculture, building infrastructure and expanding urban areas) and 2) direct exploitation of “animals, plants and other organisms, mainly via harvesting, logging, hunting and fishing.” (p. 12) The climate crisis was the third ranked destroyer of nature, though its impacts will inevitably increase. (See cropped Figure SPM 2 below, from the IPBES report.)

IPBES Figure SPM 2, partial

What surprised me most was that these 150 experts recognized that the only way out of this ecological crisis is “transformative” and “structural” change to the economy and society: “Goals for conserving and sustainably using nature and achieving sustainability cannot be met by current trajectories, and goals for 2030 and beyond may only be achieved through transformative changes across economic, social, political and technological factors.” (p. 14) The authors explain what they mean by “transformative”: “A fundamental, system-wide reorganization across technological, economic and social factors, including paradigms, goals and values.” (p. 14, IPBES report’s footnote 4) They continue: “Since current structures often inhibit sustainable development and actually represent the indirect drivers of biodiversity loss, such fundamental, structural change is called for.” (p. 16, italics above are mine)


What surprised me most was that these 150 experts recognized that the only way out of this ecological crisis is “transformative” and “structural” change to the economy and society.


You can be sure that the IPBES authors did not call for structural change without an overwhelming reason to do so. They made projections for the earth’s and humanity’s future by considering three scenarios. The earth fared better in the global sustainability scenario (proactive environmental policy, low consumption and low carbon emissions) than in the economic optimism (rapid growth, low environmental regulation) and regional competition scenarios. In all three scenarios almost all regions of the world did have an increase in nature’s “material contributions to people” (providing food, feed, timber, bioenergy).

But, all three scenarios, including even the “global sustainability” scenario, proved to be deadly for humans and the natural world. Both biodiversity and the ability of nature to provide “ecosystem services” essential to human societies spiraled downward. (See p. 38, IPBES report, Figure SPM 8 for comparisons of the three scenarios for different regions of the world.) Don’t let your eyes glaze over at mention of the term “ecosystem services.” Yes, this is a very human-centric way of looking at Earth’s activities, but these “services,” including crop pollination, crop pest control, natural carbon storage, and protecting the soil from erosion and loss of carbon and nitrogen, are critical to human survival.


Even the “global sustainability” scenario proved to be deadly for humans and the natural world. Both biodiversity and the ability of nature to provide “ecosystem services” essential to human societies spiraled downward.


The important point here is that IPBES is calling for a paradigm change as this is the only way to keep ecosystems functioning well enough to support human life and curtail the Sixth Extinction of life on earth.

Patriarchal Civilization in Crisis: The Paradigm Must Shift

Nafeez Ahmed, a perceptive male journalist, speaks bluntly about the IPBES report: “The report concludes that human civilization is systematically destroying its own life-support systems…” He continues: “The report is by far the most comprehensive to hit home how the collapse of biodiversity ultimately entails the collapse of human civilization.”

Ahmed points out that civilizational collapse is already underway: “Our democracies are in a state of collapse: incapable of addressing the systemic complexity of the crisis of civilization.” What is this systemic complexity? There are the climate and ecological crises we’ve been talking about. Then there is the question of how society can do away with the unending growth and exploitation that drives these crises when its worldviews, value systems, political and economic structures are deeply based in a paradigm of domination and profit-taking. The problems become impossibly complex as ecological and climate disruptions spawn social problems like wars and conflicts, large scale human migrations, and losses in communities wracked by wildfires and floods. As Ahmed explains, “our political leaders are preoccupied with the surface symptoms of this fundamental crisis of civilization rather then the crisis itself.”


“Our democracies are in a state of collapse: incapable of addressing the systemic complexity of the crisis of civilization.”


Ahmed argues that even the most forceful non-violent resistance cannot force fundamental changes on a system that is incapable of handling the extent and complexity of change required: “To break this paradigm requires far more than making demands of broken institutions.” He says that a paradigm shift must overturn the very basis of society, from the economic system to people’s deeply held values and beliefs to how we relate to others and live our everyday lives. Ahmed believes this paradigm shift can be brought on by individuals taking responsibility for changing ourselves, asking “how can I actually mobilize to build the new paradigm,” and taking “radical action in our own place-based contexts to build the seeds of the new paradigm, right here, right now.”

La Via Campesina Campaign to End Violence Against women

And Now…Sisterhood of Women and Earth

I don’t think the IPBES, Nafeez Ahmed, or the vast majority of radicals from the Left are looking for a women’s revolution when they call for paradigm change. It has become very clear with its pandering to the transgender movement that the Left is very willing to toss women and Lesbians under the bus. Any shift in paradigm that is not driven primarily by women would keep patriarchy in place and we know what that would mean for the Earth and for women.

As I see it, we must go further than what Ahmed suggests. Any new paradigm must move out of patriarchy and be based in Female and Earth centered societies. The tasks for women will depend on our what society or societies we are part of. We may be deeply embedded in the dominant society (globalized capitalist patriarchy) or belong, primarily or to a lesser extent, to Indigenous or other societies outside the dominant society.

Existing Matriarchal and Indigenous societies are already living in the new/old paradigm, yet women within them struggle against incursions by the dominant society and, in some societies, with a degree of male domination within. (Male domination within Indigenous societies is often the result of past and present colonization by invading patriarchal societies, but can also derive from “ancestral original patriarchy.”[1])

Women trapped within the dominant society can learn from Indigenous and Matriarchal societies and provide support for those cultures and the women in those cultures, as it is requested. Additional key tasks for women ensconced in the dominant society are to work to stop that society and all its oppressive practices and begin actively creating new Female and Earth centered systems and societies to replace the dominant global patriarchy.


Earth, the most powerful female force, is speaking clearly with every raging wildfire, hellish hurricane, or seething flood tearing at this man-made civilization. Nothing less than an equally fiery movement of women can turn the paradigm that is patriarchy into ashes.


The movement for Women’s Liberation lacks power now, thanks to decades of backlash and the divisions amongst us. The continued belief of many women in reform has always hobbled the movement, but now many reform-minded feminists are supporting transactivists and actively turning against radical feminists. The transactivists’ attempts to erase women and Lesbians and their campaign to label radical feminists as “TERFs” and cancel us are proving to be both an obstacle for Women’s Liberation as well as a consciousness raiser that draws more and more women to radical feminism.

In order to build up the international Women’s Liberation movement we must step up our organizing against queer and transgender ideologies and end the Left’s love affair with transactivism. We must stop the runaway misogyny. At the same time, our focus on a decolonizing ecofeminism, the power of our female bodies and spirits, the wisdom of women from every race and culture, and the creation of new – and defense of existing – Female and Earth centered subcultures, cultures, and societies serves as inspiration and refuge, as well as helping create the needed shift in paradigm. As women’s movement and power builds and ecological understandings come to the fore, support for transgender attempts to use excessive medical (Earth) resources and disregard biological realities will fade.

The Earth herself is now demanding “nothing less than an entire subversion of the present order of society,” the goal of women in 1852 and the goal of radical feminists today. Earth, the most powerful female force, is speaking clearly with every raging wildfire, hellish hurricane, or seething flood tearing at this man-made civilization. Nothing less than an equally fiery movement of women can turn the paradigm that is patriarchy into ashes. Yes, time is short as Earth’s temperature rises, but women are rising too. With the sisterhood of women and Earth teamed up against it, I don’t think capitalist patriarchy stands a chance. As Susan B. Anthony told us, “Failure is Impossible!”

Sisters in Spirit book plus Black Matriarchy Project

*****

Footnotes

1. Here’s a quote from Betty Ruth Lozano Lerma: “Latin American feminisms question both Western patriarchy and the subordination of non-heterosexual women and persons within indigenous and Afro-descendant cultures. They affirm the existence of pre-Hispanic patriarchies, giving rise to concepts such as ‘ancestral original patriarchy’ and ‘low-intensity patriarchy,’ which show how women within the colonial context experienced an entanglement of patriarchies –entronque de patriarcados and, for the Afro-descendant case, ‘a black-colonial patriarchy’…” In “Latin American and Caribbean Feminisms” by Betty Ruth Lozano Lerma, an article in Pluriverse: A Post-Development Dictionary.

Justice for Women in the New Burning Times! The Earth is “On Fire”

By Jeanne F. Neath

We are living in strange times. We are facing a future of ecological disaster and probable social collapse. Our best hope is that resistance movements will succeed in forcing drastic change on global societies. The Earth is On FireWe are standing up against the powerful people and corporations determined to maintain the deadly and profitable status quo.

I can’t help wondering if the peculiar ideas pushed by the transgender movement are related to the ways many people in the industrialized world live in denial about the climate and ecological chaos underway. Why expect transgender people to respect the realities of their male and female bodies when they are living in a society where politicians, media, pundits and Internet “influencers” routinely distort and deny reality? Perhaps in a world that wasn’t on the brink of collapse, M2T (male to transgender) people would not be making the impossible claim that they can become women and there would be no conflict between transactivists and radical feminists. Yet, thanks to transactivists, here we are with our women’s voices suppressed to the detriment of women, the Earth and all of life.

Justice for Everyone

On Fire, The Burning Case for a Green New Deal by Naomi KleinIn her book, On Fire: The Burning Case for a Green New Deal, Naomi Klein makes it clear that building a social movement based in justice for everyone is the only way to stop the social forces bent on delivering us to disaster:

“To change everything, it takes everyone….

[J]ustice in the here and now is the only thing that has ever motivated popular movements to throw heart and soul into struggle…. It’s the thirst for justice – the desperate bodily need for justice – that builds movements like that….

There is no climate change breakthrough without justice.”
(p. 202, Naomi Klein, On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal)

I believe that the women who fought for women’s liberation in the early second wave felt, as I did, the profound desire for justice that Klein describes so beautifully – and had great hope that they would succeed in achieving that justice!

Justice for everyone is a tall order in a society based on turning people into “others” and setting them against one another, all for the benefit of the people hoarding power (mostly wealthy white males). Again, from Klein:

“We cannot play ‘my crisis is more urgent than your crisis’ – war trumps climate; climate trumps class; class trumps gender; gender trumps race. That trumping game, my friends, is how you end up with a Trump.”
(p. 194, Naomi Klein, On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal)

Second wave feminists have been fighting against the many forms of oppression inflicted on women for half a century now.[1] As Barbara Smith wrote many decades ago:

“Feminism is the political theory and practice that struggles to free all women: women of color, working-class women, poor women, disabled women, lesbians, old women – as well as white, economically privileged, heterosexual women. Anything less than this vision of total freedom is not feminist, but merely female self-aggrandizement.”
(p. 49, Barbara Smith, in All the Women are White, All the Blacks are Men, But Some of Us Are Brave)

But Some of Us Are BraveAfter all these many decades, feminists continue to struggle, as social divisions have proved incredibly difficult to bridge in societies rooted in privilege and division. Creating justice for all within the powerful global network of social movements envisioned by Naomi Klein and within the myriad of global societies is, perhaps, a task for a truly desperate people. Yet, desperate is what we are with the Earth at high risk.

Trans Trumps Everything Else?

No one seems to have notified transactivists about the need to work with and respect women, all women, even the women who don’t buy into transideology.

The trumping game is being played by transactivists when they make transgender people, especially M2T people, out to be more oppressed than anyone else. For example, many people now believe the trans propaganda that says there is more violence against transgender people than anyone else.

While the number of murders of transgender people is high for Brazil (103 in 2011) and some other South and Central American countries, a total of 17 transgender people were murdered in the U.S. in 2011. In that same year 3,240 U.S. women were murdered. With a population of 158 million women and perhaps 700,000 to 1.4 million transgender people, the murder rates for the two groups are roughly equivalent, perhaps higher for women. (Estimating precise numbers of transgender people is difficult.)[2]


A total of 17 transgender people were murdered in the U.S. in 2011. In that same year 3,240 U.S. women were murdered.


Fair Play for Women looked at the murder rates for transgender people in the UK and found no real differences between the murder rates for women (.64 per 100,000, 185 annual murders) and transgender people likely to want medical treatment (.68 per 100,000, fewer than 1 annual murder.) The murders of transgender people and women are all terrible. Ranking oppressions is not helpful in creating justice for everyone.

Transactivists are not just asking for justice. The transactivist false claim that “my crisis is more urgent than your crisis” is bad enough. But, the ideology and activities of the transgender movement demonstrate a complete failure in their ability to respect and work with other oppressed groups, women in particular.

Transactivists make death threatsTransactivists verbally attack women (and anyone else) who disagrees with transideology with screams of “TERF” (i.e. Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist). At times, these attacks include death threats and have spilled over into physical violence against women. Transactivists routinely and cruelly use tactics that should never be used against members of another minority, including intimidation, campaigns to discredit women or to get women fired, de-platforming, and silencing.


The ideology and activities of the transgender movement demonstrate a complete failure in their ability to respect and work with other oppressed groups, women in particular.


Even worse, the central premise of transideology encourages M2T people to claim that they are women.[3] This is an illegitimate claim, a theft of the identity that belongs to another oppressed minority, women. Cultural appropriation of the traditions of racial/ethnic minorities is a clearly understood ethical breech, so why should transgender people be permitted this identity grab?

Must Males Have Whatever They Want? M2T Persons Have Male Privilege!

Transactivists try to justify the claim that M2T persons can become women by attempting to remove biological sex (being female, not male) from the definition of woman. Sometimes M2T activists try to claim that they are female, but this is a tough sell since sex is biological and males lack the XX chromosomes needed to be female.

In western and most, probably all, societies, the primary qualification for being a woman is being of the female sex. Societies need the social category of “woman” in order to make a social distinction between the female and male sexes. The other qualification for being a woman that makes sense is having the experience of living as a girl or woman in a female body. M2T people can never be female and even if they attempt to live as women, their life experiences are those of a male pretending to be a woman.

Some people, including many in the transgender movement, consider adherence to female sex stereotypes to be relevant to being a woman, but this is problematic since sex stereotypes are made up (socially constructed) and are different in different societies and different time periods. For example, pink is now considered a “feminine” color, but this association only came about following World War II. In some cultures, now and in the past, sex roles have had survival value. In modern western industrialized societies sex stereotypes are useless and are limiting and harmful to everyone. The only possible claim that M2T persons have on womanhood is their compliance with harmful female sex role stereotypes.

Vintage photo of lesbians not complying with sex stereotypesIf males can be women (or female!), then being a woman loses any meaning other than being a person who complies with female sex stereotypes (and that leaves out many females who refuse to comply with those stereotypes). The transgender self-id laws currently being considered or passed in some states and countries essentially allow anyone who wants to say they are a woman to legally become a woman (and female).

Hey! If males want to say they are women, then we can’t deny them what they want, can we? After all, they have male privilege!

Without Women’s Liberation, Everyone Loses

A big problem here is that women – the real women – are oppressed in western (and many other) societies based primarily on our biological sex. We (most of us women) are the ones who have the power to reproduce! The attempt to control human reproduction by controlling women is at the very heart of patriarchal society. Stop forced sterilizationThis is why abortion laws are highly contested, why contraception is under fire, why some societies are sterilizing women of color against their will. And much more.

How are women to organize and resist our oppression if we no longer have a name and identity for our own group – women? The oppression of females will not disappear even if the category of “woman” becomes meaningless (because it includes males). Only our ability to recognize and resist our oppression will be eliminated.

Look at what is happening when women attempt to meet in women-only (female) groups! The closing down of women-only meetings and events is a primary goal of transactivism! And the transactivists are succeeding – most women-only events have been forced to move underground or semi-underground. The Women’s Liberation Movement is not even free to hold a public meeting!


The closing down of women-only meetings and events is a primary goal of transactivism. The Women’s Liberation Movement is not even free to hold a public meeting!


Klein tells us:

“Either we fight for a future in which everyone belongs, starting with those being most battered by injustice and exclusion today, or we will keep losing. And there is no time for that. Moreover, when we make these connections among issues (climate, capitalism, colonialism, white supremacy, and misogyny), there is a kind of relief. Because it actually is all connected, all part of the same story.” (p. 194, Naomi Klein, On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal)

Transactivists want to stop women's liberationHow are women to maintain our own liberation movement, let alone be powerful participants in coalitions to break the power of the forces destroying the earth? The social-economic system that is creating ecological disaster and human misery is primarily a product of the male imagination because that system has always been heavily male dominated. This system is not going to be undone without the contributions of radical feminists, the women who are specialists in understanding patriarchy. The use of the slur, “TERF,” against radical feminists is an assault against every resistance fighter and against the Earth since a broad resistance cannot succeed without radical feminism. Women’s hands must be untied if the resistance is to be successful.

Where is the justice for women?


The social-economic system that is creating ecological disaster and human misery is primarily a product of the male imagination because that system has always been heavily male dominated. This system is not going to be undone without the contributions of radical feminists, the women who are specialists in understanding patriarchy.


“Trans is Trans” and Nothing More

Transwomen are menHow will women get the justice we deserve with a rogue minority group at our throats and a misogynist Left helping transactivists tear into us? Klein is correct that we all need justice and that we all are needed in the fight to stop the capitalist, colonialist patriarchy destroying the planet. This need for justice includes transgender people, of course. Every feminist I know supports transgender people’s right to live free of violence, free from discrimination in jobs and housing, and free to act in any masculine or feminine way they want.

The problem is that M2T transactivists are not asking for simple justice, but to take more than is rightly theirs – women’s identity. As I’ve explained in an earlier blog, transgender people deserve exactly what every minority group deserves – fairness, together with an unspoiled group identity that allows them to claim power for their group and love and value themselves as members of their minority group. The transgender movement has missed the mark. The identity that rightly belongs to M2T people is their transgender identity, not women’s identity.

Fortunately transgender people and their movement are not all of one mind. Transgender people who disagree with the trans party line are subjected to nasty tactics from transactivists, but some are identifying as gender critical and speaking out. For example, the author(s) of the Transrational Manifesto say that “[w]e believe that the wisest course of action is to seek recognition in our own right – as trans people.” There’s more:

“1. Trans is Trans

Principally, we have chosen to build our philosophical foundation on the idea that trans people are neither men nor women, but a third category….

Transmen are transmen. They’re not men, and they’re not women.

Transwomen are transwomen. They’re not women, and they’re not men….”
(Transrational Manifesto)

Transrational clarifies their position about sex by saying, “Transwomen are not a variation of females, but of males.”

Working Together

The earth is on fireThe feminist movement and a movement of transgender people embracing their transgender identity (and not grabbing anyone else’s identity) would have many concerns in common, especially with undoing harms caused by patriarchy and sex role stereotypes. Women and transgender people could be natural allies, just as gay men could be allies to Lesbians. But, these alliances require everyone under the GBTQ umbrella to drop their misogyny and focus on dismantling patriarchy (along with capitalism, racism, colonialism…). Women could certainly use the help in getting the entire network of resistance movements working with us to end patriarchy. The assaults on the Earth come from patriarchal social systems and patriarchy must be undone if we are to avert ecological disaster.

I’ll let Naomi Klein close up here (with a few asides from me in [brackets]):

“The bottom line is this: As we get clean [avert ecological disaster], we have got to get fair. More than that, as we get clean, we can begin to redress the founding crimes of our nations: Land theft, genocide, slavery [and gynocide] [4]. Yes, the hardest stuff. Because we haven’t just been procrastinating climate action all these years. We’ve been procrastinating and delaying the most basic demands of justice and reparation. And we are out of time on every front.”
(p. 201, Naomi Klein, On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal)

*****

Footnotes

1. See, for example, Radical Feminism: A Documentary Reader edited by Barbara A. Crow; This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color edited by Cherríe Moraga and Gloria Anzaldua; Nice Jewish Girls: A Lesbian Anthology edited by Evelyn Torton Beck; Shadow on a Tightrope: Writings by Women on Fat Oppression edited by Lisa Schoenfielder and Barb Wieser; Out of the Class Closet: Lesbians Speak edited by Julia Penelope; With the Power of Each Breath: A Disabled Women’s Anthology edited by Susan E. Browne, Debra Connors and Nanci Stern.

2. The 1.4 million figure is an estimate of the transgender population in the U.S. provided for 2014 by the pro-trans Williams Institute at UCLA. According to the Williams Institute, studies using data collected from 2003 through 2009 estimated about 700,000 transgender people in the U.S. I used 2011 because data were available about murder of both transgender people and women in the U.S. in that year. See https://transrespect.org/en/map/trans-murder-monitoring/?submap=tmm_2011 for murder statistics by country of transgender people from 2008 through mid 2016. See “Homicide in the U.S. Known to Law Enforcement, 2011” by Erica L. Smith and Alexia Cooper for homicide data on women and men in the U.S.

3. Females who become transgender are also falsely claiming an identity – being a man. However, this claim does not injure a minority group since men are the dominant group in this society. The situation of females and males who become transgender have very little in common. This blog post focuses primarily on the dynamics that result from males claiming to be women.

4. Definition of gynocide: “The fundamental intent of global patriarchy: planned, institutionalized spiritual and bodily destruction of women; the use of deliberate systematic measures (such as killing, bodily or mental injury, unliveable conditions, prevention of births), which are calculated to bring about the destruction of women as a political and cultural force, the eradication of Female/Bio-logical religion and language, and ultimately the extermination of the Race of Women and all Elemental being; the master model of genocide; paradigm for the systematic destruction of any racial, political, or cultural group.” (p. 77, Mary Daly with Jane Caputi, Websters’ First New Intergalactic Wickedary of the English Language)