Claire Anderson
msg tools
Avatar
There seems to be a similar discussion derailing the "What Did I miss?" thread so this might be a good point to split off as a similar debate is currently going on on trans and Social Justice Twitter.

It starts with these comments from Nigerian author Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie



I think transgender comedian Avery Edison gives a good explanation for why this is problematic:




2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
R. Frazier
United States
West Sacramento
California
flag msg tools
A man learns little by little in battle. Take this battle experience and become a man who can’t be beaten
badge
This flag says we will fight until only our bones are left.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Is Avery's opinion above also your position regarding the issue?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Claire Anderson
msg tools
Avatar


Quote:
Still Think Trans Women Have Male Privilege? These 7 Points Prove They Don’t

October 4, 2015 by Kai Cheng Thom

16.2K
SHARES
Comic character saying, "Women don't have male privilege. Period."
Source: Everyday Feminism
The debate is fierce, bitter, and as old second wave feminism: Do trans women experience male privilege? Meaning, do trans women receive, at the expense of cis women, much-needed resources from both within and outside of feminist movements?

This argument forms the basis of the exclusion of trans women not only from feminist activism, but also from female-only spaces in general, such as bathrooms and domestic violence shelters.

The idea is that trans women, with our “masculine” bodies and having been “raised as male,” receive all kinds of privilege that cis women don’t, such as relative safety from sexual harassment, social preference in school and the job market, and so on.

As a result of this perspective, trans women are often excluded from women-only spaces on the basis that we might be violent, or make cis women uncomfortable, or that we are already served by male institutions.

Some well-known feminist writers even go so far as to say that trans women also exhibit male entitlement by stealing the spotlight from and “redefining”cis women’s struggles.

This kind of reasoning is famously associated with the TERF (trans-exclusionary radical feminist) movement. However, it also pervades many mainstream women’s organizations and institutions.

It’s a complex issue, and I can understand why some cis women might think this way (although it kind of stings, to be honest).

Heck, even some trans women have publicly agreed that we receive male privilege from society, particularly those of us who are pre-transition or non-transitioning.

That stings even worse.

Like many feminist trans women, I’ve gone through a long and winding journey coming to my own conclusions about this. I don’t want to take space away from other women. I certainly don’t want to play the “oppression Olympics.”

There is room at the feminist table for all of us.

But the concept of trans women having male privilege has really damaging and violent repercussions: Because of it, we are excluded from women’s shelters and told to go to men’s centers instead, where we are exposed to enormous sexual violence. If incarcerated, we are put in men’s prisons, to face even more of that sexual violence.

Organizations dedicated to fighting for the rights of women will not represent us – or worse, openly attack us – leaving us unrepresented, with nowhere to turn.

I believe that solidarity between all women is possible and very necessary.

To do that, we have start recognizing that trans women’s experiences of misogyny are just as “real” and pervasive as cis women’s and that we do not receive male privilege.

Not convinced? Here are seven reasons why not:

1. Trans Women Are Real Women

There is a simple truth that a lot of folks, even allies (even queer and genderqueer ones!), tend to forget or misunderstand when thinking about how trans women are affected by privilege/oppression: We are “real” women – as much as any cis woman is.

And if we are women, that means we cannot receive male privilege – because male privilege is by definition something that only men and masculine-identified people can experience.

To say trans women receive male privilege implies that we are partially male, or less female than cis women, or falsely female. All of the above are incorrect and offensive, because trans women are women.

No ifs, no ands, no buts!

2. Trans Women Are Not ‘Socialized as Men’

The idea of trans women being socialized as male is the biggest argument that TERFs bring out when trying to justify the exclusion of trans women from feminism, and is also the most compelling. After all, it’s true that trans women are perceived as male at birth, and we are treated as such.

However, most trans feminine children experience being treated as male extremely differently from cisgender boys.

Cis boys generally do not question or feel discomfort with the way that society treats them. They are able to accept and enjoy their privilege, usually without even noticing it.

Being called boys, for them, is not accompanied by fear, self-doubt, or the feeling that there is something deeply fundamentally wrong with them.

Young trans girls, on the other hand, tend to experience being treated as male as disorienting and terrifying, because it teaches us that our identities are revolting to society.

Male socialization, for us, is actually a coded message: You’re not who you think you are. If you try to be anything other than what we say, you’ll be punished.

Let me make an analogy: Imagine that you are born with dark hair, but everyone you know – from your parents to your teacher to your friends – tells you that you are blond, starting from the moment of your birth. As you grow up, you can see that your hair is the same color as other dark-haired people, but the people around you insist on giving you compliments for being blond.

And every time you say that you think you might actually be brunette, you’re beat up, told that you’re mentally ill and immoral, and subjected to experimental medical procedures designed to “fix” you.

What would that do to your sense of self? How enjoyable would that be?

Now apply that analogy to gender identity, which is to say, every aspect of social life.

If this analogy reminds you of gaslighting (an abuse tactic that works by denying the victim’s perceptions of reality), then you are right on track.

Trans women are, from childhood, subjected to a form of emotional abuse that is carried out by an entire society – which might explain why we are vastly more likely to struggle with PTSD, anxiety, and depression.

3. Trans Women Experience Misogyny Before They Present as Women

So here’s a confession: When I was little and everyone thought I was a boy, I didn’t just love Barbie. I wanted to be Barbie (there are all kinds of internalized racism and fatphobia that went into this). This is common enough experience among children of the 80s and 90s – all the other little girls I knew wanted the same thing.

But every time I picked up or even looked at a Barbie, I was called “fag” or “gaylord” (this was the 90s!) by the other boys, reprimanded by my teachers, and punished by my parents.

The way I played, dressed, walked, and talked was scrutinized and criticized for any sign of femininity, of which, of course, there were many. Everything I was interested in, everything I did or like or wanted, was denounced as being “girly.”

I was often singled out for bullying by other children and for abuse by adults, because I was perceived as feminine, and therefore an object of entertainment and exploitation.


From this, I learned – as all girls do – that to be a girl is to be a child of a lesser god in this society.

I learned that girls were weak, stupid, frivolous, unimportant, unnecessary.

And I, of course, was a girl. Even if no one would admit it.

What I mean to illustrate with this is that trans women experience misogyny, even before we begin presenting or being read as women in society.

We receive the same messages about femininity and girlhood as cis women do, and we understand them to be about ourselves – however hidden those selves might be.

4. Trans Women Don’t Experience Less Violence or Discrimination Than Cis Women

But! I can already the TERFs crying out, Trans women who are read as male are safer from street harassment and sexual assault! Trans women who are read as male receive preferential treatment in school and employment!

This is actually not at all true.

Trans women are one of the groups most likely to be discriminated against in the job market, housing, healthcare, social services, and pretty much every other field.

And from personal experience, I can certainly tell you that we are not safer from harassment or assault. Actually, any person paying attention to the news should know that.

At a certain point in my life, it was true that if I really, really wanted to, I could put on “boy” clothes when I went out into the world and get read as male. I used to think of this as male privilege, because I could “opt out” of being street harassed, though at the cost of being misgendered.

Then I realized that this is kind of like telling women that they would be safer if they would only wear conservative clothing. It’s saying that I could trade my freedom and identity for safety.

Awesome privilege! (Not.)

In any case, this is something that I now cannot do. Having physically and medically transitioned, as many trans women do in some way or other, it doesn’t matter what I wear.

I will still be harassed just as much.

5. Trans Women Who Aren’t Perceived as Femme Don’t Experience More Privilege Than Those Who Do

A friend of mine was once involved in a nasty Facebook flame war that lasted for several days. In it, some people were saying that because she is a “butch” trans woman and doesn’t pass as cis, she experiences more gender privilege than “femme” trans women.

As a femme trans woman who passes a lot of the time, I feel the need to stand in solidarity with all my trans sisters and state first of all that “butch” is an identity (originating from the lesbian community) that people can choose to identify with or not. It is not necessarily the same thing as being a non-passing or pre-transition trans woman.

And if anything, trans women who can’t or don’t pass as cis women are even more likely to experience danger and discrimination than those of us who do, because they are more visibly marked as deviant in mainstream culture. They are more likely to be read as men who are “betraying” masculinity or as “bad” female impersonators.


Claiming that some trans women are more masculine than others because of the way they look or dress is very similar to saying that “real” women have to shave their legs and wear makeup.

It reinforces the policing of women’s bodies and excludes many women from the conversation about what womanhood means to them.

6. Trans Women May Participate in Misogyny, But They Do So as Women

None of the above exempts or excuses trans women from participating in misogyny. We are just as capable as anyone else of shaming and gender policing other women.

(Case in point, the first time I ever went to the local trans community center in my city, a trans woman I had never met before poked my chest and demanded to know why I didn’t have breasts yet. When I told her I wasn’t sure if I wanted them, she sniffed, and told me that every woman should have breasts. I would be a very pretty woman, she told me, once I had breasts.)

This is because trans women are exposed to so much cultural misogyny and patriarchy that we inevitably end up internalizing it – sometimes we even make conscious decisions to uphold patriarchy so that we can better fit in with the rest of society.

News flash: Cis women do the very same things.

Women – all women – have to struggle to survive and thrive in a male-dominated world. Sometimes we make ugly choices and swallow harmful ideas because it seems that there is no other option.

So trans women aren’t off the hook for perpetuating misogyny – but when we do so, that doesn’t make us any less “real” as women.

7. It’s Not Up to Cis People to Define Trans Women’s Experiences

There is a very vocal community of cis folks who are, for whatever reason, highly invested in talking about and criticizing trans women’s experiences.

Many, many cis academics and media-makers have spent a lot of time writing articles, books, and films about what they think we are.

But in the end, it is not up to cisgender people to define trans women and our lives. It isn’t up to cis feminists to tell us when we may or may not call ourselves women.

Trans women are entitled to the right to decide for ourselves what we believe and who we are, even when it is complicated, even when we disagree.

And isn’t self-determination, even in the midst of a complicated and violent world, the point of feminism?

***

So let’s end the debate and get back to the struggle

Trans women have so much to offer the feminist movement: our entire history, our whole lives, are stories of struggle and resilience. We deserve to tell those stories – and cis women deserve to hear them.

We have more in common than we think. And there truly is room for all of us at the table.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Claire Anderson
msg tools
Avatar
rylfrazier wrote:
Is Avery's opinion above also your position regarding the issue?


Pretty much.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
R. Frazier
United States
West Sacramento
California
flag msg tools
A man learns little by little in battle. Take this battle experience and become a man who can’t be beaten
badge
This flag says we will fight until only our bones are left.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I have a really hard time with the TERF position. I feel like this is a "the revolution eats its own children" moment. We should all be allies and yet for some reason there's this desire to say "no no no this is just our space you are not allowed in this space." Why not just make the space a little bigger?
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Kelsey Rinella
United States
Rochester
New York
flag msg tools
I am proud to have opposed those who describe all who oppose them as "Tender Flowers" and "Special Snowflakes".
badge
Check out Stately Play for news and reviews of games worth thinking about.
Avatar
mbmb
If the problem is that some issues apply only to cisgender women, some only to trans women, and some to both, why not refer to them as cisgender women's issues, trans women's issues, and women's issues, respectively? The bogeyman that we'll have no way to refer to cisgender women's issues if we call transgender women simply women strikes me as the sort of illusion you can only construct for yourself if you're looking for an excuse, rather than a reason.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Claire Anderson
msg tools
Avatar
rylfrazier wrote:
I have a really hard time with the TERF position. I feel like this is a "the revolution eats its own children" moment. We should all be allies and yet for some reason there's this desire to say "no no no this is just our space you are not allowed in this space." Why not just make the space a little bigger?


I'll preface this with that I don't think Adichie is a TERF, but her position here seems very uninformed.

As far as the straight up TERFs in feminism go: a feminism that excludes or otherwise treats trans women as a lesser form of women ultimately does not have my best interest at heart and I have no time for it.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Khalid Shabazz
United States
NYC
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmb
This is a bit of the male privilege idea biting itself in the ass. Being male certainly has some advantages, but it's not like that applies to everyone individually. A trans woman most likely was not an "ordinary" man up until transition.

That's my problem with identity politics in general. I think it encourages stereotyping. It should be possible to acknowledge and remedy discrimination on a societal level without casually assuming privileges on an individual level.

If a transgender person wants to emulate gender norms strictly and not be placed in an own transgender category, that is understandable, but me personally I don't care much for normative behavior anyway. Personally abandoning them without incurring disadvantages is a privilege as well though.

Based on my understanding of how the human brain works, I'm not surprised that even supposed opponents of prejudice want to think in categories. Not doing so is trained not natural behavior, in my opinion, and consuming certain radical literature doesn't help in that regard. Even though the outcome may be the same for the ones doing so, there's a difference between empowering yourself and suppressing everybody else.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Trey Chambers
United States
Houston
Texas
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb

A good friend of mine who is a pretty radical feminist activist has been ostracized by most of the "SJW" community because her opinion is much like that of the first video, she does not think transwomen should be able to claim the identity of "woman" because she spent her whole life suffering for that cause and being treated as a woman. She doesn't think a person should be able to willfully assume that label who hasn't lived through all of those experiences since birth.

Every time we hang out she inevitably rants about the situation for about an hour because it has caused so much turmoil in her life between her and her friends, and she's very well educated on gender issues so it's always pretty interesting.

I see both points, but I don't pretend to know enough about the issue to offer an opinion of my own.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mike Stiles
United States
California
flag msg tools
badge
Shaman
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Shampoo4you wrote:

A good friend of mine who is a pretty radical feminist activist has been ostracized by most of the "SJW" community because her opinion is much like that of the first video, she does not think transwomen should be able to claim the identity of "woman" because she spent her whole life suffering for that cause and being treated as a woman. She doesn't think a person should be able to willfully assume that label who hasn't lived through all of those experiences since birth.

Every time we hang out she inevitably rants about the situation for about an hour because it has caused so much turmoil in her life between her and her friends, and she's very well educated on gender issues so it's always pretty interesting.

I see both points, but I don't pretend to know enough about the issue to offer an opinion of my own.


It's complex because it ties in so much with the issue of identity.

To me it seems (as I said in the other thread) that their struggles are different and their experiences are different, which it makes it weird to me that they can claim ownership of struggles that are simply substantially foreign. The catcher is that it's part of the culture and identity, so it's naturally very painful for someone to say that.

~~~

That said, male privilege is something you're raised into and you can't unlearn. This isn't a 'hardship olympics' thing, but simply if you're raised as male, especially in the older generations, you're given a ton of opportunity and avoid a ton of judgement just because you're being raised as a male.

Sure you can have struggles and identities and depression and all kinds of ugly things (just like say a gay kid can, or a kid on the autism spectrum for that matter), but it doesn't change the different forces put upon you.

So I guess I'd have to agree with the basics of the position that Claire Shreved against up there, even as I empathize with how distasteful she would find the idea.

~~~

Edit: Privilege is absolutely the hardest to see by people that are marginalized in different directions. The thing is, it's an infinite number of privilege sliders, not a set of 2 or 3 binary switches.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Khalid Shabazz
United States
NYC
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmb
Shampoo4you wrote:
A good friend of mine who is a pretty radical feminist activist has been ostracized by most of the "SJW" community because her opinion is much like that of the first video, she does not think transwomen should be able to claim the identity of "woman" because she spent her whole life suffering for that cause and being treated as a woman. She doesn't think a person should be able to willfully assume that label who hasn't lived through all of those experiences since birth.

Every time we hang out she inevitably rants about the situation for about an hour because it has caused so much turmoil in her life between her and her friends, and she's very well educated on gender issues so it's always pretty interesting.

I see both points, but I don't pretend to know enough about the issue to offer an opinion of my own.

I think it's dumb because a woman growing up in the same suburbs of an American city with a trans woman will share a lot more "experiences" with her than a woman growing up in an African village.

This whole focus on identity purity is giving me a bad vibe. It's like we've hit an apex of egalitarianism and are now driving off fast the other side. Defining what it takes to be a woman is not that dissimilar from defining what it takes to be an Aryan.

The goal should be to treat everyone with the same courtesy but as individuals.

Combating prejudice used to be driven by the idea that superficial categories don't determine an individual. This is the opposite; we're supposed to believe an individual's character is fundamentally shaped by their race, gender, sexuality, ... and that the individual is powerless to those influences. To accept that people are shaped irreversibly according to their set of characteristics is to accept that stereotypes assigned to these are more than arbitrary social constructs.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mike Stiles
United States
California
flag msg tools
badge
Shaman
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
crescent_gamer wrote:

I think it's dumb because a woman growing up in the same suburbs of an American city with a trans woman will share a lot more "experiences" with her than a woman growing up in an African village.

This whole focus on identity purity is giving me a bad vibe. It's like we've hit an apex of egalitarianism and are now driving off fast the other side. Defining what it takes to be a woman is not that dissimilar from defining what it takes to be an Aryan.

The goal should be to treat everyone with the same courtesy but as individuals.

Combating prejudice used to be driven by the idea that superficial categories don't determine an individual. This is the opposite; we're supposed to believe an individual's character is fundamentally shaped by their race, gender, sexuality, ... and that the individual is powerless to those influences. To accept that people are shaped irreversibly according to their set of characteristics is to accept that stereotypes assigned to these are more than arbitrary social constructs.


I feel the reverse of that trend: The need to closely align/identify ourselves with the biggest, most essential groups possible pulls many people away from self-actualization.

To go all '60s childrens book;

Quote:
“I saw myself.... In the time I watched, I saw strength—and frailty. Pride and vanity, courage and fear. Of wisdom, a little. Of folly, much. Of intentions, many good ones; but many more left undone. In this, alas, I saw myself a man like any other.

But this, too, I saw.... Alike as men may seem, each is different as flakes of snow, no two the same. You told me you had no need to seek the Mirror, knowing you were Annlaw Clay-Shaper. Now I know who I am: myself and none other. I am Taran.”


There's something I find unsettling about people needing to say "I'm actually x" and being unable to say "I'm me".
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
フィル
Australia
Ashfield
NSW
flag msg tools
designer
badge
I've got an 808 and a 303 and a record collection like the ABC
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
crescent_gamer wrote:
I think it's dumb because a woman growing up in the same suburbs of an American city with a trans woman will share a lot more "experiences" with her than a woman growing up in an African village.

A good point. Thinking about it further, I imagine a woman in NYC would have more shared beliefs and experience with a man in NYC than with a woman in an African villiage. Even around basic feminist stuff like equal pay or domestic violence or single mothers or lesbians.

In the 90s I used to live with a young gay chap who had been bullied at school, got bashed in our neighbourhood (which was probably the most gay friendly place in Australia), and so forth. So he would have experienced some of what Claire was alluding to, of being male on the birth certificate but not being considered a man by some. The same streets that were safe for me were unsafe for him. Did he have male priviledge? Clearly he had less of it than me, but I think he had more than zero.

I think it probably depends on how society perceives you. If you're a trans man who looks like Buck Angel, then probably you are getting male priviledge. If you're a beautiful Thai ladyboy, then feminism is suddenly relevant as you are getting pinched on the ass and paid half as much. Those are the rare folks who 'pass'. For the folks who don't (or don't want to, or can't afford to), like the trans woman on my bus, then I think they get the shitty low priviledge life of the queer and the weirdo. Not sure if feminism is the answer to that (given that some women seem to be part of the problem per the OP), but they could use something.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Claire Anderson
msg tools
Avatar
Laverne Cox is Tweeting about this now



(It's a thread, go click on it for the whole thing )
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
R. Frazier
United States
West Sacramento
California
flag msg tools
A man learns little by little in battle. Take this battle experience and become a man who can’t be beaten
badge
This flag says we will fight until only our bones are left.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
twitter is such a lousy way to communicate I cannot make heads or tails of this.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Claire Anderson
msg tools
Avatar
rylfrazier wrote:
twitter is such a lousy way to communicate I cannot make heads or tails of this.


Try going to the end of the thread here https://twitter.com/Lavernecox/status/840715713257988096 and scroll up to the top. That might be easier to follow.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
R. Frazier
United States
West Sacramento
California
flag msg tools
A man learns little by little in battle. Take this battle experience and become a man who can’t be beaten
badge
This flag says we will fight until only our bones are left.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Clairebot wrote:
rylfrazier wrote:
twitter is such a lousy way to communicate I cannot make heads or tails of this.


Try going to the end of the thread here https://twitter.com/Lavernecox/status/840715713257988096 and scroll up to the top. That might be easier to follow.


Ah yeah that's better.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mike Stiles
United States
California
flag msg tools
badge
Shaman
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
rylfrazier wrote:
twitter is such a lousy way to communicate I cannot make heads or tails of this.


I find facebook better than twitter for long contemplations; those random sentence breaks make my eyes bleed (and maybe more importantly make me not want to follow the line of thought due to the related annoyance).
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mike Stiles
United States
California
flag msg tools
badge
Shaman
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
One struggles through though:

Disclaiming feminists for being essentialist and ending with discussing your "true gender" is on a very basic level contradictory.

~~~~

To her point, I'd read her description this way:

She probably did in many ways benefit from male privilege.

As a separate issue from that, she does not have a great deal of what you might call "straight" (non-queer) privilege.

Like I said above, there's a million little sliders of privilege, all moving at once.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Josh
United States
flag msg tools
Heart full of soul, head full of shit
badge
Snob of the People
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Complex business, this.

I know a woman well, SJW from small times, who is deeply skeptical of trans women, and considers that topic to be non-overlapping with feminism per se. Also, to confess the sins of another, considers it inadvisable to allow gay men to adopt, not due to abuse concerns, but rather that femininity is the Miracle-Gro that allows children to thrive.

As I said, complex business, this.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.