Tag Archives: Transgender Movement

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)

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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)

Good-bye to Gender Identity!

By Jeanne Neath

What distresses you most about how the transgender movement is hurting women, girls and Lesbians? For many of us, it is the loss of our women-only or Lesbian-only spaces – from our festivals, to feminist organizing meetings, to Lesbian lands, to goddess circles and more.

Cotton ceiling = rape

M2T persons not only think they can become women, but also that they should be accepted as Lesbians. When Lesbians refuse to consider them as sexual partners, they accuse us of creating a “cotton ceiling” that shuts them out. The poster is saying that these demands for Lesbians to have sex with males is a form of rape. The photo is from a ReSisters United radical feminist protest at Lancaster Pride in the UK.

We may feel enraged that male-bodied transgender people are allowed to compete in women’s sports and take trophies that rightly belong to women. Knowing that M2T (male to transgender) people are pushing their way into girls’ locker rooms and women’s domestic violence shelters may worry us terribly. Personally, it makes me crazy that Lesbians are being shamed and accused of discrimination in the queer/trans world for not being willing to have sexual or intimate relations with M2T people. Lesbians are supposed to want to have sex with males just because they become transgender, even males with a penis?

Now, ask yourself, what do all these assaults on women, girls and Lesbians have in common? Every single one of these losses for women (and there are many more) is the result of the transactivists’ claim that males can become women and the widespread acceptance of that claim. If it were recognized that males can never become women, M2T people would have no claim on women’s identities or women’s spaces. There would be no basis for them to demand entry into women-only spaces, to compete in women’s sports, to invade girls’ locker rooms, to complain that Lesbians don’t want to have sex with them, and so on. Please take a look below at the informational chart that XX Amazons has developed. You can easily see the central role that the M2T claim that “transwomen are women” plays in harming women on The (Trans) Gender Problem chart displayed below. (Or see a large, easy to read copy of the chart.)

The claim that “transwomen are women” is a preposterous claim. How have transactivists managed to make this strange idea believable to so many people? You can probably guess where I am going with this and, yes, “transideology” and its concept of “gender identity” is the answer.

Trans (Gender) Problem Chart

Click on the chart above to see the (Trans) Gender Problem chart in an easy to read size. The M2T claim to be women shown in the green circle at the center of the chart creates all the many harms to women displayed on the bottom row of the chart. “Gender identity” ideology provides the rationale for the M2T redefinition of who is a woman.

The Fabrication and Selling of Gender Identity

Gender identity is defined by the American Psychological Association (APA) as “a person’s deeply-felt, inherent sense of being a boy, a man, or male; a girl, a woman, or female, or an alternative gender…” (listed under their Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Transgender and Gender Nonconforming People). Transgender people (not intersex people) are male or female, as determined by their biological sex. Their only claim to being the “other gender” is that they feel like they are that “gender” and that they present with the “appearance, mannerisms, or other gender related characteristics” prescribed for the other sex (i.e. they conform to sex stereotypes, just the supposedly wrong ones for their sex). Take away the concept of gender identity and M2T people no longer have any basis for their claim to be women.

Origins of “Gender Identity”
Gender Hurts by Sheila JeffreysSheila Jeffreys traced the origins of the concept of “gender identity” in her book, Gender Hurts. In the 1950s and 1960s the medical profession became increasingly engaged with males who wanted to take advantage of advancing medical technologies in endrocrinology and surgery to become transsexual. At that time, the medical profession could not agree on what kinds of treatments were ethical. Some medical professionals strongly believed that treatment should be limited to psychological methods. The sexologists who offered physical treatment hit upon the use of the word “gender” to justify the harms they were inflicting on healthy bodies. Jeffreys quotes Bernice Hausman, who explained in her book, Changing Sex, Transsexuality, Technology and the Idea of Gender, that this justification required “construction of a rhetorical system that posits a prior gendered self.” (p. 27, Gender Hurts) Hausman described gender as “the idea of an identity prior to and within the body that theoretically should dictate the appearance of the subject.” (p. 27, Gender Hurts) (Note: the word “gender” was being used then, but today, “gender identity” would be used.)


The sexologists who offered physical treatment hit upon the use of the word “gender” to justify the harms they were inflicting on healthy bodies.


Jeffreys emphasized the impact that transsexuals had on the medical profession with their demands for medical services. These “demanders” were quick to see the usefulness of the idea of an innate “gender” as a justification for their desire to become transsexual. At the time, cross-dressers and transsexuals were easily seen as sexually motivated, having a “paraphilia.” Jeffreys explains:

“The association with sexuality created problems for their access to treatment, and to the seriousness with which they were regarded in the public world. The idea of a ‘gender’ mistake, in which they mysteriously incorporated a ‘feminine essence’, washed them clean of sleaze and enabled them to constitute themselves as a confident rights-bearing minority who were just born different.” (p. 28, Gender Hurts)

According to Jeffreys, the change in language from “transsexual” to “transgender” was likewise motivated by the wish to avoid association with sex and sexual motivation. (p. 28, Gender Hurts)

Is Gender Identity a Ruse?
We have come a long distance from the sexologists of the 1950s and 1960s, but the idea of an innate gender identity has become the centerpiece of transgender ideology. The “born that way” explanation has served to garner public sympathy for both the gay and transgender movements for decades now. Today’s transactivists are well aware of the effectiveness of their essentialist argument, and use it, even though some do not believe it is true. Listen to Emi Koyama, a M2T person who identifies as a so-called “transfeminist”:

“As trans people begin to organize politically, it is tempting to adopt the essentialist notion of gender identity. The cliché popularized by the mass media is that trans people are “women trapped in men’s bodies or vice versa. The attractiveness of such a strategy is clear, as the general population is more likely to become supportive of us if we can convince them that we are somehow born with a biological error over which we have no control. It is also often in tune with our own sense of who we are, which feels very deep and fundamental to us.” (The Transfeminist Manifesto, Emi Koyama)

Koyama and, no doubt, many other transgender people understand that transgender people are not “born that way”, but instead are “made that way” by social forces and by their own choices. Here’s Koyama again:

“Transfeminism believes that we construct our own gender identities based on what feels genuine, comfortable, and sincere to us as we live and relate to others within given social and cultural constaints.” (The Transfeminist Manifesto, Emi Koyama)

Where would the transgender movement be today if the public understood that transgender people are not victims of a “biological error”?

Born or Made?
Dragon trapped in human bodyThe “born that way” ideology still provides many medical practitioners and researchers with a meal ticket. The work of these professionals props up gender identity ideology. Consider Milton Diamond’s study of transgender identical and fraternal twins published in the International Journal of Transgenderism in 2013. In Diamond’s study of 110 transgender twins (74 identical and 36 fraternal twins), 33% of the male identical twins had a transgender twin. The percentage was smaller for female identical twins; just 23% had a transgender twin. These data are damning for the “born that way” argument. Since identical twins have identical genetic makeup, all of the transgender identical twins should have had a trans twin, if the “born that way” argument were true.

Diamond did find a very low rate of “concordance” for the fraternal twins in his study (one out of 21 for male twins and zero out of 15 for female twins were both transgender). Expected discrepancies in the genetic makeup of the fraternal twins could explain these extremely low rates, far lower than that of the identical twins. But, who can say what role differences in the life experiences of identical vs fraternal twins played? Are identical twins (who typically look very similar) expected by others to be similar? And do some of them then become similar?


Finding that only 23%-33% of transgender identical twins have a trans twin suggests that the snare for “transwomen trapped in men’s bodies” is primarily set by social forces.


Finding some degree of genetic component to transsexuality would not be surprising – almost any human characteristic is influenced by both biological and social factors. But, finding that only 23%-33% of transgender identical twins have a trans twin suggests that the snare for “transwomen trapped in men’s bodies” is primarily set by social forces. Yet Diamond would have you believe that genetics are extremely important. Much of the discussion section in his research report was geared toward explaining away the role of environmental factors and then advancing genetic arguments, including his pet theory that “transsexualism will eventually be seen as an intersex variation due to brain (nervous system) intersexuality.” (See “Transsexuality Among Twins: Identity Concordance, Transition, Rearing, and Orientation” by Milton Diamond)

The American Psychological Association, despite its nearly wholesale acceptance of transideology, has come to acknowledge the importance of social forces in forming gender identity. The APA Dictionary of Psychology (2nd edition, 2015) explains gender identity as:

“[O]ne’s self identification as male or female. Although the dominant approach in psychology for many years had been to regard gender identity as residing in individuals, the important influence of societal structures, cultural expectations, and personal interactions in its development is now recognized as well. Significant evidence now exists to support the conceptualization of gender identity as influenced by both environmental and biological factors.” (See listing for “gender identity” under APA Dictionary of Psychology)

The APA would probably like to stick 100% to the trans party line, but data like that of Diamond’s twin study make it impossible to deny the role of social factors in creating a transgender identity. The rapidly growing number of detransitioners likewise cannot be accounted for by biological theories. As Carey Callahan recently wrote in The Economist:

“When I first detransitioned, my community consisted of online groups of fewer than 100 women. Five years later the detransition discussion-forum on the popular site Reddit has just hit 7,000 people of both sexes.” (See “Gender identity is hard but jumping to medical solutions is worse“)

Those numbers are set to balloon even further. As transideology gains in popularity, social factors like Internet exposure and social contagion are contributing to the new phenomenon of rapid onset gender dysphoria in teenage girls (as has been documented by Lisa Littman).

Yes! Do Away With Gender Identity (and Gender)!

Since ‘gender identity’ is influenced by social/environmental factors, this throws open the question of just where in society a transgender person’s “deeply felt inherent sense of being” the “other” gender comes from. As feminists, we know the answer to this question. The short answer is patriarchy. It’s clear that male violence plays a key role for many girls and women who become “transmen” in order to avoid being a target for males. But, a transgender gender identity could not even exist without sex stereotypes, the patriarchal standards of masculinity and femininity that no one can measure up to. Since transgender people cannot change their sex, their only means of appearing as the “other” gender is to take on the sex stereotypes associated with the desired gender, including sometimes mimicking physical appearance.

Purposeful adoption of sex stereotypes is not an innocent undertaking. But, it gets worse. As radical feminists understand, standards of masculinity and femininity result from the needs of a patriarchal social system to maintain itself. Males are trained to have “masculine” characteristics like aggressiveness so they can serve as dominators of women (and others). Females are trained to have “feminine” characteristics like submissiveness so that they will be subservient to men. No wonder feminists want to free everyone from sex stereotypes by bringing an end to gender! Yet, when transactivists push the idea of an innate gender identity, they are pushing the idea that some people are destined to dominate and others to submit. What a pernicious dogma!


When transactivists push the idea of an innate gender identity, they are pushing the idea that some people are destinedto dominate and others to submit. What a pernicious dogma!


The trans movement depends on the concept of an innate gender identity to sell itself to the public, just as the sexologists needed that frame to justify sterilization and surgery for transsexuals in the mid twentieth century. Take away the concept of an innate gender identity and the ideological underpinnings of their lie/line about being a “woman trapped in a man’s body” disappears.

rhino trapped in human body

Rhino trapped in a human body? Hmm! I thought it was a dog.

Take away the concept of gender identity altogether (including even versions like Koyama’s that emphasize choice) and M2T claims that they are women disappear. Eliminating gender identity does not mean the elimination of transgender people.There is no reason that transgender people cannot act like every other minority group and claim and celebrate their transgender identity (and abandon their efforts to steal women’s identity). If we should be so fortunate as to eliminate gender itself, then the whole idea of transgenderism would lose its meaning (though perhaps the emphasis would then return to transsexual body modifications).

There are times when radical feminists and others resisting transdomination must fight back against specific assaults on our spaces and our existence as females made by TEAFs (transactivist extremists attacking feminists). But, I believe that we can be most effective by focusing on invalidating the ideology that is allowing males to make their claim that they are women. That claim is supported by transideology, specifically the concept of gender identity. If we want to go to the root of the problem (and that is what radical feminists usually strive to do), then invalidating and eliminating the concept of gender identity is a key goal.

One excellent means for invalidating the concept of gender identity is to educate people about feminist understandings of sex stereotypes. With that strategy we are working toward two critical goals: the elimination of gender and gender identity. I remain a novice in the art of framing, but I believe that a focus on gender and gender identity would be a fruitful area for radical feminists skilled in framing to explore.


One excellent means for invalidating the concept of gender identity is to educate people about feminist understandings of sex stereotypes. With that strategy we are working toward two critical goals: the elimination of gender and gender identity.


This blog began when I wrote about the modifications to the Equality Act recently developed by Feminists in Struggle (FIST). The version of the Equality Act currently under consideration in the U.S. Senate would entrench the concept of gender identity in U.S. law, making gender identity equivalent to sex and essentially eliminating female only public spaces. We need an Equality Act to protect Lesbians, gay men and transgender people, but the Senate version is a disaster for women, girls and Lesbians.

FIST’s feminist version of the Equality Act is, on the other hand, a brilliant advance for women. In FIST’s Equality Act, transgender people (and everyone else) are protected from discrimination on the basis of sex stereotypes. I was so very pleased when I discovered that gender identity is never even mentioned in the FIST document. Women-only spaces are explicitly protected. FIST has taken a critical step forward with their model Equality Act. We each now have the opportunity to support their Equality Act and the feminist goals put forward there. Good-bye to gender identity! Good-bye to gender!

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

By Jeanne Neath

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From Part One… Over decades of activism, not a single marginalized group tried to claim any identity other than that of their own group. 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.
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THE TRANSGENDER MOVEMENT appears to be very strong, but that strength largely comes from its outside support: big Pharma, the medical industry, extremely wealthy trans supporters, funding from philanthropic organizations, and run of the mill liberals who are not (yet) thinking beyond their concern with the prejudice and discrimination faced by transgender people. The transgender movement itself has a critical flaw – the refusal of the movement and its members to be satisfied with the transgender identity that they can legitimately claim.

Consequences for the Transgender Movement

A misdirected social movement. By taking a wrong turn from the path established by other minorities, the transgender movement has created strong opposition among many people who otherwise would have been allies. Almost anyone outside the right wing would support transgender people claiming a transgender identity. But, when transactivists insist that male to transgender (M2T) people have the right to usurp the identity that belongs to women, feminists who think through the implications for women, girls and lesbians become strong critics of this illegitimate claim.

Graph showing increasing referrals to gender clinic in London

Referrals to children’s gender clinics have increased from very few in 2010 to around 2000 in 2017. Data shown are for the Tavistock clinic in London.

A great mix of gender critics have emerged, many concerned with the harm inflicted on children and adults by the practice of transitioning (i.e. claiming the identity of the “other” sex instead of claiming a transgender identity). Gender critics can include anyone from parents who don’t want their children subjected to hormone treatments, to concerned teachers, men opposed to patriarchy, detransitioners, and transgender people who don’t buy the party line. Gender critics find radical feminist understandings of sex roles and gender of great use. As GenderCriticalDad writes:

“I had to learn from feminism, it was the only discourse that made sense of a transcritical perspective, but also forced some hard questions about myself and how I live my life. Encounters with feminism on my journey as GenderCriticalDad have made me realize how deep sexism goes, how it leads me to be a misogynist sometimes and how this limits me. The Radical Feminism I found teaches me that I need to reject masculinity, not as a grand gesture to the world, but in life and actions with those I care about.”[1]

The transgender movement does not respond well to criticism. Transgender people with their “shaky” selves and easily hurt feelings (as discussed in Part One) require an unusual amount of social validation. Transgender ideology is shaky too because it is based in the defense of illegitimate claims and the need to protect the insecurities of transgender people. Transactivists are desperate to silence critics, prevent open discussion, and censor deviations from the party line. As a result, radical feminists and gender critics are the primary targets of the transgender movement, instead of the dominant society. Every other social movement has had great clarity about the need to fight its actual oppressors.

The Radical Feminist Threat: Get Rid of Gender! Radical feminists understand that gender is deadly for women and girls. Training in ‘masculinity’ creates male dominators; training in ‘femininity’ creates females who will submit to male domination. Without male dominators there could be no patriarchy, so patriarchy depends on gender for its existence. Gender does not just harm transgender people, but constricts everyone’s behavior. Gender is socially constructed; gender can, and must, be abolished.

The conflict with transideology is obvious. Radical feminists want to do away with gender while transgender people base their lives on the belief that their own gender preferences (and “gender identity”) are set in stone. They believe their only option is to change their sexed bodies to try to match their “gender identity”. Transgender people need gender to exist or “transgender” makes no sense at all. They need sex role stereotypes to provide the script for the act of appearing as the “other” sex.

The Radical Feminist Threat: Sex, Not Gender Identity.

Several years ago I ran across the “Spectrum of Spectrums” chart created by the trans-friendly Rhizome Consulting Project which depicted many forms of oppression, including colonialism, race, ethnicity, class, sexual orientation, age, religion and more.[2] The chart included “gender,” but this referred to the oppression of transgender (and intersex) people by “cisgender” people. I was stunned to find that sex oppression and male domination of women were nowhere to be found!

Sex oppression is not included in this chart showing types of oppression

The Spectrum of Spectrums chart of many, many oppressions completely leaves out sex oppression. For gender, “cisgender” oppresses transgender. This is a small slice from the entire chart.

The absence of sex oppression on that chart was no accident. The transgender movement tries to erase concern about sex oppression and replace the concept of sex with their own concept, “gender identity.” Transgender people can claim whatever “gender identity” they want to because “gender identity” is a concept made up for and by transgender people. Sex is a big problem for transgender ideology because transgender people cannot, despite all efforts, change their sex. Most don’t even try very hard: transgender males usually want to keep their “ladysticks” and “bottom” surgery has never been very effective for transgender females. The cost is prohibitive for most. Transactivists just want people to stop paying attention to that pesky sex concept.

Who stands smack in the way? Radical feminists are not about to let go of our own understanding that women are oppressed on the basis of sex and that men (males trained in masculinity/domination) oppress women. Many radical feminists are not shy about saying that women are female and that transgender males can never be women. Is this threatening to transgender people? Off the charts!

Transgender movement attacks another minority group – women! The transgender movement is not the only misogynist social movement, but transactivists have taken misogyny to an extreme with its erasure of females, erasure of sex oppression, and attacks on its critics, many of whom are women and radical feminists. Transideology has taken and twisted words of power from feminism and the gay and lesbian movement and transactivists hurl accusations like “transphobe” and “transmisogynist” at its critics to silence them.

Anti-terf children's t shirt

Anti Terf Kids Long Sleeve T-Shirt Design. This t shirt is for children!

The transactivist’s invented word, “TERF” (i.e. Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist) targets radical feminists. Slogans like “shoot a TERF today,” “kill all TERFs” and “I punch TERFs” appear all over the Internet, on t-shirts and in an exhibit at the San Francisco Public Library in 2018. Threatening language and behavior has spilled over into physical violence, as happened at Hyde Park in London on September 13, 2017 and at the 2018 San Francisco Dyke March.

Transactivists feel threatened by the most basic understandings of feminism and their response has been a desperate, vindictive attack. Sadly for those in the spell of transideology, radical feminism is the only system of thought that offers people troubled by sex roles and gender (everyone!) an understanding of the the roots of these problems and directs resistance at the actual enemy – patriarchal society.

Consequences for Girls, Women and Lesbians

We have here an odd case study. What happens to the targeted minority group – women – when another minority group lays claim to its identity? What happens when the intruders are, yes, a minority group – transgender – but also male (i.e. M2T) and therefore part of the dominating group in this patriarchal society? The consequences for girls, women and lesbians unfortunately could fill a book, but here is a partial overview:

  • Women and girls lose their rights to privacy and safety in public places previously reserved for females: public restrooms, locker rooms, shelters for battered women and homeless people, women’s prisons, semi-private hospital rooms, nursing homes, services for women who have been raped.
  • The grassroots women-only groups that are the backbone of the Women’s Liberation Movement are harassed, invaded, prevented from meeting, and forced underground.
  • Feminist women are silenced, censored, de-platformed, erased, threatened and physically assaulted by transactivists, most of this with the strong backing of liberals.
  • Male-bodied transgenders unfairly outcompete women in women’s sports and win scholarships and awards meant for female athletes.
  • Lesbian culture is disappeared and lesbians are accused of discrimination for wanting sexual/emotional relationships only with females.

Conclusion

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? There would be an end to dangerous medical treatments for transgender people. Transgender people could proudly embrace their own biological sex as male or female. If they did not want to identify as a man or woman, they could proudly proclaim they are transgender.

Blood and Visions booklet of stories by detransitioners

Blood and Visions contains the stories of detransitioners.

Anyone experiencing gender dysphoria could use coping techniques pioneered by detransitioners. Transgender people could stop performing an act and be free to be themselves, behaving in whatever “masculine,” “feminine,” or other ways come naturally to them.

The transgender movement would be able to turn its full attention to ending prejudice, discrimination and violence against gender non-conforming children and adults. Instead of viewing sex roles and gender as immutable, transgender people could join feminists in changing society so that no one is forced into “masculine” or “feminine” behaviors on the basis of their sex. The movement could follow the lead of gender critical transgender people, like Miranda Yardley, who reject transgender ideology as it exists today. Yardley sounds like a radical feminist:

“Here are some of the things that transgender ideology needs to do so that it may support the lives of women: …Accept that innate gender identity is based on ideas with such a tenuous link to observed science it is barely a conjecture. The transgender claim to womanhood (or manhood) is completely dependent on this concept of an innate gender identity, and taking this away strips the movement of its cloak of being a civil rights movement, championing the fight of an oppressed minority… [A]ccept that sex and gender are not the same thing. Sex is a biological reality based on reproductive potential, and gender is a social system that harms women through stereotyping behaviour, by giving women the negative stereotypes and men those that are positive; gender itself is oppression, not a civil liberty. All transwomen by definition are biologically male…”
(From “Transgender Ideology Does Not Support Women by Miranda Yardley”)

Transactivists could develop a new ideology based in an understanding that the dominant patriarchal society is the problem. The movement and many of its members (and supporters) would need to do some serious work dealing with their sexism and misogyny. The transgender movement would then be free to fight against its actual enemy instead of attacking radical feminists. When radical feminists criticize the transgender movement we are extending a hand to assist transgender people back on a time-tested path toward liberation. We could become powerful allies in the fight to end patriarchy and free everyone from sex roles and gender.

Footnotes

1. Quote from GenderCriticalDad is taken from “I’m not a hideously bigoted parent who doesn’t ‘get’ it’” in Transgender Children and Young People: Born in Your Own Body edited by Heather Brunskell-Evans and Michele Moore.

2. “Spectrum of Spectrums,” by Rhizome Consulting Project. In Earth First, March-April 2015, p. 20-21.

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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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