Tag Archives: Jeanne Neath

Identity Theft: Transgender Movement Takes Wrong Turn (Part One)

By Jeanne Neath

What does it mean that a newly-created marginalized group, transgenders, is now asking for something that no other marginalized group has ever asked for?

Over many decades Western societies have come to a clear understanding that members of minority groups should be able to live free from discrimination and be free to embrace their own cultures, ways of life and self-expression, provided no one is harmed. As one of the newest groups to claim minority status and rights, transgender people clearly deserve:

  • Freedom from discrimination in employment, education, housing, public accommodations
  • Freedom to express masculinity and femininity as they wish, regardless of their sex

But, transgender people are demanding far more than an end to discrimination and freedom of self-expression!

“Taking Back Our Hair”: Activism and Self-Love

One of the terrible effects of prejudice and discrimination is the way members of minority groups are made to feel ashamed of themselves and their own group. Sometimes group members go so far as to hide their own identities. Just think about all the lesbians and gay men who have lived or are now living in the closet. Other examples include how ethnic group members may feel embarrassed about and reject family and cultural traditions, racial minorities may desire and seek to appear similar to the dominant group (as Toni Morrison portrayed in The Bluest Eye), and women may prefer spending time with men and think men are superior to women.

Rosa Parks at front of bus

Rosa Parks’ refusal to relinquish her seat on a public bus to a white man precipitated the 1955–56 Montgomery Bus Boycott in Alabama. Her action was the spark that ignited the U.S. civil rights movement.

One of the excellent results when a marginalized group organizes and fights for its rights is that group members develop a strong identification with and pride in their group. Pride in the group leads group members to develop love and respect for their own selves. The lunch counter sit-ins, bus boycotts and marches of the Civil Rights movement, the gay pride parades, dyke marches, and disability rights activists wielding wheelchairs and protest signs in front of the Supreme Court and Congress all forced change on society. Participating in, or even knowing about, these activities changed the internal experiences and self-expression of many minority group members.

By the late 1960s and 70s the Civil Rights and Black Power movements stimulated a celebration of African roots and pride in African American history and culture. Even the physical appearance of many African Americans, such as adopting the natural afro hairstyle, began to reflect the pride they felt in being Black. As Ebony magazine explains:

“In the 1960s, Black folks finally said, “To hell with that!” After decades of subjecting ourselves to European beauty standards, we decided to take back our hair. This newfound self-acceptance was widely known as the Black Is Beautiful movement, which sprang from the Black Power movement.

With political activists such as Angela Davis, Huey P. Newton and Jesse Jackson proudly rocking Afros while fighting oppression, the hairstyle quickly emerged as a symbol for Black beauty, liberation and pride.” (From Princess Gabbara’s Ebony article on The History of the Afro)

Angela Davis with afro

Angela Davis with afro.

In the same time period women flocked to consciousness-raising groups and took to the streets. We then expanded our grassroots movement to include everything from self-health groups where we learned about our own female bodies to goddess spirituality that replaced a male god with the original female goddesses. Feminism made women proud to be women. Feminism helped us to love our female bodies. Women who’d assumed they had no choice but to be heterosexual came out as lesbians and loved each others’ female bodies.

Disability activists demanded society accommodate disabilities, but also came to value their own capabilities and what they learned from their own disabilities. They proudly claimed their identities as people with disabilities.

The pattern held true across every marginalized group – activism helped group members shed shame they felt in themselves and their group and become proud of their group and their own identities.

A Special Minority? Transgenders Ask Too Much

Over decades of activism, not a single marginalized group tried to claim any identity other than that of their own group. Each minority group was very simply proud of their own identity and demanding an end to the oppression against their group. African Americans did not claim to be Asian. Native Americans did not claim to be Black (though mixed race individuals might legitimately claim more than one identity). Lesbians did not claim to be gay men. Gay men did not claim to be women.

What does it mean that a newly-created minority group, transgenders, is now asking for something that no other minority group has ever asked for? When male transgenders claim that they are women, they are attempting to usurp an identity that very clearly belongs to another oppressed group of people – women. This is not a legitimate claim! What does it mean that the transgender minority group is not satisfied to simply and proudly claim its own identity as “transgender”? This is all any other minority group has ever wanted.

What about females who transition (i.e. F2T or “transmen”)? The situation is different for women because they are transitioning into the dominant group – men. They are not claiming to belong to an existing minority group, but most of them support the male to transgenders’ (i.e. M2T or “transwomen”) claim to be women. Thus, both the male and female camps in the transgender movement must be considered responsible for the attempts by the M2Ts to usurp the identity of women.

The primary concerns addressed in this blog are the illegitimate claims made by M2T people and the consequences of those claims for transgender people, the transgender movement, and for women and girls.

Consequences for Transgender People

The transgender movement has stepped off the well worn path travelled by other marginalized groups with serious consequences for transgender people. Other social movements have been very clear that society is what needs to change, not the members of an oppressed group. But, what transgender people seem to want most is to change themselves enough to appear as the “other” sex or “gender.” Here we have a social movement strangely advocating change in individuals. The consequences are not pretty. Transgender people could be like other minorities and celebrate their transgender identities. Instead their impossible attempt to take on an identity that does not belong to them is destructive for transgender individuals and their movement, as described below. Even when the transgender movement does work for social change, its activity is misdirected when it targets radical feminists and other gender critics, instead of the dominant society.

Lupron bottle

Lupron is a hormone blocker prescribed for gender non-conforming children.

Changing vs. celebrating the natural body. Transgender people reject their biological sex and their own physical bodies. Other minorities celebrate their bodies and reject damaging physical regimens like hair straightening, girdles, high heels, plastic surgery, and dangerous psychiatric medications. The desire to make changes to their bodies so as to appear as the “other” sex is so strong that transgender people risk their health to take cross-sex hormones and hormone blockers and undergo risky surgical procedures. Girls as young as sixteen are subjected to double mastectomies, removing perfectly healthy breasts. Pre-adolescent children are prescribed very expensive and dangerous hormone blockers like Lupron, used to delay puberty. All these hormonal drugs are prescribed off label, untested and unapproved for use by transgender people. They all have dangerous side effects. Remember what happened to menopausal women when they were routinely prescribed hormones!

Passing vs. celebrating a transgender identity. No one can change their sex. M2T persons can never be women because women are female and they are male and they have had the life experiences of males from birth on. A large percentage of M2T persons still have a penis! Transitioning is an impossible dream. No matter what lengths transgender people go to they cannot become the woman or man they want to be.

The ethics of usurping the identity of another minority group are terrible. The psychological consequences of taking on that false identity are not much better. When M2T persons claim to be women they inevitably create for themselves a “shaky”, insecure self. They become locked in an impossible attempt to convince themselves and everyone else that they are something – a woman, female – that they can never be. Transgender people choose to transition for many different reasons, but for some males the desire to appear as female is driven by an insatiable discomfort with one’s male body. As Andrea Long Chu describes in his essay, “My New Vagina Won’t Make Me Happy”:

“Dysphoria feels like being unable to get warm, no matter how many layers you put on. It feels like hunger without appetite. It feels like getting on an airplane to fly home, only to realize mid-flight that this is it: You’re going to spend the rest of your life on an airplane. It feels like grieving. It feels like having nothing to grieve.” (From Chu’s New York Times essay, My New Vagina Won’t Make Me Happy)

Instead of simply acting as they naturally feel, M2T people go to great lengths to imitate women in their attempt to pass (or “blend” is their currently preferred term). They have to think about how they walk, their mannerisms, their speech. Some pay for voice lessons or for apps like the Exceptional Voice App (EVA), sold in 55 countries, that teach them how to sound more like women. Others hire “femme coaches” like Monica Prata of Nouveau She who assists with a complete makeover:

“For around $130 an hour, Monica’s standard rate as a stylist (“I’m not going to upsell them just because they’re trans”), she will provide hair, makeup, and wardrobe makeovers, not to mention guidance on facial feminization and gender reassignment surgery, vocal training, home redecoration, and “comportment.” (From Alex Morris’ article on How Exactly Do You Teach Femininity?)

Transgender people may obsess about how they appear and can feel desperate for confirmation from others that they have successfully “blended”. All the efforts to appear as female may just increase feelings of discomfort with one’s body, as Chu describes:

“Like many of my trans friends, I’ve watched my dysphoria balloon since I began transition. I now feel very strongly about the length of my index fingers — enough that I will sometimes shyly unthread my hand from my girlfriend’s as we walk down the street. When she tells me I’m beautiful, I resent it. I’ve been outside. I know what beautiful looks like. Don’t patronize me.” (From Chu’s essay, My New Vagina Won’t Make Me Happy)

Other minorities learn to value their natural appearance and identity, while transgender people, male and female, are caught in a lifelong act.

The act could be dropped. Transgender people can stop trying to pass and claim only their transgender identity. Then no acting is required. Transgender people would be able to just be themselves and express “femininity” or “masculinity” in the ways that come naturally to them. Those with gender dysphoria would still need to find ways to handle those feelings (as detransitioners do), but they would no longer be trapped in an act or in the false hope of transitioning. What a relief!

Like other gender non-conforming people (such as butch lesbians) transgender people would face the risks of violence and disapproval from an intolerant society, but they would do so feeling secure in who they are – transgender.

Coming soon! Part Two of this blog asks (and answers) these questions:

  • How is the transgender movement burdened by its illegitimate claims and the “shaky” selves of its members?
  • What happens to the targeted minority group – women – when another minority group lays claim to its identity?
  • What would the transgender movement be like if it fought a legitimate battle for the rights of transgender people and its members claimed only their transgender identity?

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Domination by Trans Rights Activists at Dyke March in San Fransciso

By Jeanne Neath

Twelve old lesbians marching in the June 23, 2018 San Francisco Dyke March were verbally harassed and two of them physically assaulted by transgender rights supporters. Instead of supporting the lesbians being harassed, both the Dyke March and the National Center for Lesbian Rights are falsely claiming that the old lesbians were the ones acting in a threatening and violent manner. As I understand it, the dyke marches across the country have been largely taken over by persons who are not lesbians. How has this happened?

Bats carried by transactivist group at marches

Bats carried at marches by the Degenderettes, an international transactivist group active in San Francisco. Local chapters of the Degenderettes are forming.

In her XX Amazons’ blog last week, Paula Mariedaughter described how “Lesbians [are] Not Welcome at a Women’s Center started by Lesbian Feminists.” That unnamed women’s center in Fayetteville, Arkansas is under the spell of lesbian trans supporters who have abandoned lesbian feminist politics in favor of the transgender politics of so-called “inclusion.”

So far, the board of directors there is all female and may be all lesbian. Some board members support women only space, but are unable to allow women only events due to the power of the trans supporting faction (and the fear of attack on the center by transactivists and their liberal, progressive, and “feminist” supporters). It looks to me like the Fayetteville center is in the early stages of losing its female and lesbian identity and sliding into trans domination. If they are successful in becoming increasingly “inclusive” it may just be a matter of time until lesbians who value women only space are purposefully excluded from the board and a male to transgender person is invited to join the board. Read Paula’s blog for more details of the situation there.

I believe this process of liberal lesbian trans supporters gaining increasing sway over a lesbian organization, adopting a policy and politics of “inclusion”, welcoming transgender persons into the organization, and, finally, welcoming male to transgender persons who claim to be lesbians onto the board of directors has become commonplace. Once this process has been completed, what was once a lesbian organization begins to put the interests of transactivists front and center. If the lesbian organization is considered a valuable enough target, powerful forces from outside the organization may become involved, perhaps training transactivists to infiltrate the organization’s board, providing advice on strategy, or supplying funding.** Some are calling this kind of trans takeover a “transjacking”. Whoops, there goes another piece of our once thriving lesbian culture!


Male to transgender persons are not only appropriating our identity as women, but are stealing our organizations.


Male to transgender persons are not only appropriating our identity as women, but are stealing our organizations. Many women and lesbians are doing our best to stop these thefts. Awareness of what is transpiring is a key part of our resistance.

We offer below links to several personal accounts by lesbians of what happened to them at the San Francisco Dyke March, the Women’s Liberation Front’s (WOLF’s) open letter to the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and a link to a Change.org petition from one of the women whose sign was torn up by the trans rights activists at the San Francisco Dyke March (see photo below).

WOLF’s open letter to the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) demands that the organization retract its slanderous and false allegations against the 12 lesbians who were harassed at the 2018 San Francisco Dyke March. In a classic reversal, “demonstrating a stunning degree of anti-lesbian bias”, NCLR falsely claimed that the lesbian marchers had “chanted transphobic slogans and violently harassed and threatened other marchers.”

See Max Dashu’s account of what happened at the San Francisco Dyke March. Max Dashu writes: “All of the old lesbians in our group were quickly surrounded, subjected to chants of “TERFs go home!” and blasted with hatefulness for the entire course of the march. Young queers berated, hounded, and crowded in on us. Most of them refused to speak with us, only glaring, chanting, and screaming.”

In “Young Women Attack Dykes their Grandma’s Age” Lavenderjoan writes: “It was a nightmare scenario. Imagine the Lavender Menace meets Lord of the Flies. Twenty-something participants in the Dyke March swooped down on our small contingent of old lesbians like crazed predators thirsty for blood…”

Here is Sherri Golden’s petition calling for The San Francisco Dyke March, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the Bay Area Reporter to retract their “defamatory and libelous statements” claiming that the lesbian victims of threatening and violent behaviors by trans rights activists were instead the attackers. See Sherri Golden and what happened to the sign she carried saying “You can’t silence us with violence – Resist lesbian erasure” in the photo below.

Lesbian's sign attacked

Lesbians attacked at 2018 San Francisco Dyke March.

By Jeanne Neath

** Interview with Mary Lou Singleton, Women’s Liberation Radio News Edition 16 transcript

** Sue Donym, Inauthentic Selves: The modern LGBTQ+ Movement Is Run By Philanthropic Astroturf And Based On Junk Science

This entry was posted in Current Assaults on Women and tagged , on by .

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Women Giving, Males Taking: Who Thinks This Is A Gender Revolution?

“However patriarchies began originally, they are recreated in every male child that is born because of our practice of educating boys into a gender category opposite to that of their mothers, even at a time when mothers are intensely practicing gift-giving towards their children. Then mothers, as well as their girl children, adapt to care especially for boys who are learning to be non-giving human beings. But, actually gift giving is the basis of our humanity – men’s as well – so this gender distinction sets up some basic, important, and pervasive paradoxes that influence our lives at all levels, and which are at the root of patriarchy and capitalism.”
By Genevieve Vaughan1

Thinking about gender in terms of giving and non-giving provides considerable insight into the conflict between feminists and transactivists.

Radical feminists often think of gender as the institution in patriarchy that trains males to become dominators/exploiters and females to submit to domination. I agree. If you think about some of the characteristics associated with masculinity such as aggressiveness and competition its easy to see how these qualities are important for carrying out acts of domination and exploitation. And feminine qualities like being nice and agreeable certainly predispose girls and women to submit to domination. These feminine qualities are often instilled in girl children through abuse by men and boys.

However, a critical part of femininity and women’s role in society is as mothers and, even if never bearing or raising children, girls are trained to have the skills needed by mothers including gift-giving, nurturing, and care-giving. Patriarchal societies depend on women to give birth and mother children, but patriarchy always exploits women’s work, including women’s care-giving. Gift-giving is, nonetheless, crucial for human societies, as Genevieve Vaughan says, “the basis of our humanity.” No society, including this capitalist patriarchy, can survive without an active subsistence economy based in gift-giving, cooperation and care. (See footnote 2 for more on the subsistence economy.)

Matriarchal societies take women’s role as mother as the model for all human behavior, so in matriarchies both female and male children are taught to give, not to take. Not so in patriarchy. Genevieve Vaughan views gender in patriarchy through a lens of gift-giving (feminine) vs. non-giving (masculine). Given all the exploitation carried out largely by men in our current society, I think it is instructive to think of the “non-giving” Genevieve Vaughan associates with masculinity as taking.

Male to transgender (M2T) persons claim to have a feminine gender identity. But, are they givers or takers?

Offering vessels from Crete

These tiny offering vessels were made of clay by human hands about 3,600 years ago. Each of the bowls filled with food was left as a gift to the great mother. The bowls were found in caves, mountain top crevices, by springs and other places sacred to the ancient peoples of Crete, the largest of the Greek islands. The bowls were photographed by Paula at the Heraklion Archeological Museum in Heraklion, the capital city of Crete in October 2017.

Women are constantly called on in our daily lives to provide emotional support for others – often men. We give up time for ourselves to focus on the needs of the people we care about. We spend endless time listening to other people’s concerns and problems. Men are often so emotionally unskilled that they are completely dependent on women’s help in finding ways of handling their own emotions or any emotionally difficult situation.

I wonder how many M2T (male to transgender) persons have taken on the feminine role of giving emotional support to others. I am thinking about this question after reading an experience described by Carey Maria Catt Callahan (a biological female) when she was first considering de-transitioning and couldn’t find any de-transitioned women to talk to. She tried to get support from a M2T friend (referred to in the quote below as “she” and as a “woman”):

“I told a trans woman friend of mine this, a woman I’d lent money to and talked down from suicidal threats, and she laughed. It was clear to me, regardless of an internal felt sense of gendered self, I’d done the caretaking work in the friendship and she couldn’t even conceive of herself as owing me same in return.” (See footnote 3.)

In this patriarchal society boys and men are given center stage and they have a lot of self-centeredness, privilege and even selfishness to overcome if they want to learn to be care-givers.

Recently I’ve started telling people that “woman is an identity that is already taken.” What does it mean for one oppressed group to claim the identity of another oppressed group? I’m not sure this has ever happened before. Certainly cultural appropriation is a big problem when, for example, white people start taking over Native American spiritual practices without permission. But M2T persons appropriate (take over) the actual identity of being a woman. As XX Amazons says in our “Who Is a Woman? Who Gets to Decide?” brochure:

“Today male to transgender persons are claiming to be women but they have never asked whether or not women want them. They want to be considered women regardless of how many women object. Where is their respect for women?”

Which gender role are M2T persons acting out when they take what belongs to women?

I was one of the lesbians de-platformed by transactivists at the Goddess Festival in March of 2017. I have to say that what I experienced from transactivists at that time – the unrelenting Facebook, phone, and email campaign, threats of picketing and invading our workshop – in no way resembled any form of giving. I certainly experienced caregiving and support from lesbians and other feminist friends. But, transactivists, both M2T and F2T persons, did everything they could to take from me my rights to speak in public and meet with other women.

M2T persons not only want to take women’s identities, they want to take from women our ability to speak about our experiences and understandings. They want to take away from us and take over for themselves the narrative of what it means to be a woman. I have heard from a reliable source that transactivists once wrote “Real Women Have Dicks” in large letters on the outside of a public tent at the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival, so I guess that is their narrative for “Who Is a Woman?” According to this version of reality we women no longer qualify as women!

M2T persons do not seem to be very good at giving, at performing the most basic acts associated with the feminine gender identity they claim.

Radical feminists are resisting the attacks of the TEAFS (Transactivist Extremists Attacking Feminists) and fighting for women and girls. But what of the other women, including many mainstream feminists, who are far more concerned with supporting transactivists than they are with the pain experienced by their sisters who are under attack from those same transactivists?

There are probably many reasons for the ways that trans-supporters prioritize M2T (male to transgender) needs, but why not look at their actions in terms of giving and taking? If there is one form of caregiving that women are most programmed to do in patriarchy, I expect that would be taking care of men. Many women so prioritize taking care of men that they fail to take care of their own needs.

What males could need women’s caretaking more than M2T persons? Just like other males, many M2T persons are emotionally unskilled. Many of them are experiencing gender dysphoria and gender (or gender identity) confusion, as well as emotional difficulties or crisis. They experience prejudice and discrimination on a daily basis.

Usually liberation movements are able to help their members grow strong as they fight for their group and learn to embrace their authentic selves. This strengthening process could work for transgender people, but cannot while the transgender movement pushes its members to falsely claim more than the transgender identity they have clear rights to. When males claim to be women or females claim to be men they become trapped in an endless pursuit of an identity can never have because they have the wrong biology. The result is a needy, shaky, inauthentic self forced to constantly perform a role and desperate for external validation.

Enter all the female caregivers drawn to help a movement full of males who need help and can’t give each other the help they need because of their socialization as “non-givers.” Many women trans-supporters empathize so strongly with transgender people that they put transgender personal and political needs ahead of women’s needs. They collude to end women-only and girl-only spaces because they don’t want to hurt the feelings of M2T persons by excluding them. I know feminist women who understand that M2T persons are “non-givers,” but want to invite M2T persons into women-only groups in order to teach them how to act like women – to stop dominating meetings, to stop being self-centered, to learn to be care-givers. Seriously! How could radical feminists, with our strong authentic selves, no matter how assaulted we are by TEAFs, even begin to compete for the care and concern of the women who give too much to males!

The irony here is that radical feminists offer an important gift to male and female transgender persons. We radical feminists understand that gender is a patriarchal trap. We know that nobody is naturally “masculine” or “feminine.” Males have to be forced into adopting “masculinity”, females forced into “femininity”. Transgender people try to find their way out of this gender trap by switching roles, but following any gender role prevents free self-expression. Transgender people become stuck trying to perform a gender role they weren’t even trained for. Gender roles were created by patriarchal society for the purpose of controlling women for the benefit of men (especially elite white men). The gift radical feminists offer to transgender people is the understanding that gender has been purposefully constructed by patriarchal society and that this deadly institution of gender can be just as purposefully dismantled.

Feminists and transgender people have a common enemy – gender!

Who has more to offer gender-confused and transgender people: their “yes-woman” supporters or the radical feminists whose critique of the transgender worldview offers a life-affirming path out of the gender maze?

Footnotes

1. From Genevieve Vaughan’s article, “Matriarchy and the Gift Economy,” in Societies of Peace: Matriarchies Past Present and Future edited by Heide Goettner-Abendroth.

2. For many societies, including most matriarchies and tribal societies, the subsistence economy – based in production that has only the goal of creating, re-creating and maintaining life – is the only economy. Capitalist patriarchy has installed an exploitative market economy on top of the core, gift-giving, subsistence economy. The capitalist economy would quickly falter and fail without all the work women give for free bearing and raising children, caring for households and men. See Maria Mies and Veronika Bennholdt-Thomsen’s book The Subsistence Perspective.

3. From Carey Maria Catt Callahan article, “Unheard Voices of Detransitioners,” in Transgender Children and Young People: Born in Your Own Body edited by Heather Brunskell-Evans and Michele Moore, p. 169.

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