I wrote this post because I wanted to be as charitable as possible to the current hegemony of transgender ideology in feminism, especially in anarchist circles, in order to make the most effective critique and strengthen our communities in the fight against capitalism. I hope that all leftists will consider stopping excommunication and abuse of so-called “TERFs”. I especially hope that leftist women will lift our voices. Liberal “feminism” is a woman-hating, man-meddled mess that we all need to discard.
One thing I need to be clear about straight away, since people reading this have called me crazy and accused me of saying that transgender people are agents, is that I am not saying that at all. This is a think piece that took weeks to write, so if you can’t bother to pay attention while reading, then just walk away. I wrote this piece with the intention of being thorough as fuck, so I’ll never have to waste time on the issue ever again. Also please note that this is not addressed to “trans people”, it is addressed to all left-wing people supportive of trans ideology and, frankly, liberal feminism in general.
If it wasn’t for my preclusion from anarchist circles, I would be a simple anarcha-feminist with transhumanist leanings. You know; the real kind of anarcha-feminist, not those liberal posers. However, because some jackasses decided to take issue with my opinion that transwomen aren’t women, I’ve been dragged into this debate — but not just this one: over a period of years I’ve also been dragged into debates over prostitution, porn, BDSM, and male violence. I know I am not the only anarcha-feminist to be shown the door over the advocacy of basic feminism. The Left remains exceedingly male-dominated and hostile to real feminism, so of course anarcha-feminists like me are not even tolerated.
Much as I would try to avoid jumping into this fight, the issue would continuously weed its way into my daily existence as a woman and lesbian — even through things that random people would say to me out of the blue. Somehow, perhaps because it’s the latest social justice fad of 2016, transgenderism as a topic just wouldn’t go away. Since I exist as a woman, and occasionally speak about women’s issues, and occasionally reveal the fact I am lesbian, “what about transwomen?” came up with grating regularity. If there is anyone I hate, it is these annoying liberals, most of them social justice warriors (read: college educated kids drinking liberal kool-aid) who are often straight or bi, and either male or female but hardly ever trans and will say anything to get as many cool points as possible and climb to the top of the cool kids ladder. They know squat about real justice, and let’s be honest, they shout down any trans people who contradict them — what’s up with that?
I would like to thank the transactivists, especially the anarchists and other radicals, who took the time to have calm, unthreatening discussions with me on this issue — a pleasant turn of events after all I’ve seen and experienced up to that point. Perhaps there is a chance we can find a resolution? Unfortunately, I fully expect to be excluded from my community for actually taking a stand on women’s issues.
I. Witch Hunting: Whom Does It Benefit?
To my fellow womyn and lesbians: Ever since political repression of anarchists began in the early 20th century, agents of the state and corporations have long been developing their skills at counter-intelligence and activist disruption. One thing to be certain is that they are very good at what they do, and they have enough capital to hire teams of scientists to support them. They want to maintain the status quo, ensure that the prevailing system can’t be challenged, and have a history of infiltrating and disrupting activists.
The state and corporations have weapons of mass psychological disruption in the form of mainstream media and a growing body of research on social engineering and crowd control. Do they employ them consciously, unconsciously, or both? Who knows, but who cares? Speaking of weapons, I am reminded of the impossible situation that is gun control for anarchists, which has always been framed in terms of the right wing being in favor of ownership while the left wing is (supposed to be) in favor of laws that restrict and control the proletariat from owning guns. But any anarchist responding to “gun ownership: yea or nay?” has no chance of offering a coherent position within that liberal paradigm, because anarchists don’t enforce rules in the same ways liberals do. Anarchists know that no matter what side you take, guns are definitely in the hands of the ruling class, or at least in the hands of their trigger-happy police force (and that this police force protects and serves the ruling class). The same goes for our treatment of election candidates and free speech: we simply aren’t speaking the same language. And the same goes for gender.
I have been stewing for a couple years now, being smack in the middle of a similarly impossible situation of false dichotomies, mismatched politics, and heated exchanges. This most unenviable political divide where I am, on the one hand, too “sex-negative”, SWERF-y, and TERF-y for the transactivist anarchists, and on the other hand, too geeky, transhumanisty, and anarchist for the radical feminists… For a long time I could not understand why I alone was monkey in the middle, destined to never belong fully. Then I had a light bulb moment. What if identity politics is being used against anarchists and leftists in general? It’s not hard to imagine a program called SWERFTERF designed to thwart leftist women and “clean” them out of radical circles. COINTELPRO is still in operation, even if by another name, and we know that cops and informants regularly infiltrate the Left as it has since 1917 when the Red Scare began.
In addition to women’s continued exploitation, the ruling class also benefits and would likely have a vested interest in maintaining a system of rivaling groups of oppressed people fighting each other to the death — doing their dirty work for them. Activists have seen this rivalry happen before with black liberationist hostility towards homosexuals, and with feminist’s respectability politics justifying the exclusion of lesbians. It also happens when liberal society draws class lines on the basis of income rather than capitalist labor exploitation, leading people to think that the class interests of people making 50K are diametrically opposed to those making 15K. Gloria Steinem, a sketchy-as-fuck, second wave, feminist liberal, is well known to have been a snitch for the feds and to have written polarizing, racist screed about black men, which I happen to think was very useful for COINTELPRO as it was effective in sowing division between black feminists and white feminists. There is no question that race, sex, class and sexual orientation are real struggles, yet as you can see they have had their gladiatorial cage matches in the liberal establishment. Why should I not find it suspect that the left is so divided when it comes to physical differences between people, especially over sex? As long as liberal society can keep us like crabs in a cage, the ruling class can secure their dominion. Why is it that anarchists can’t get their heads around radical feminist intersectionality?
It would be extremely devastating to leftist groups if they became inhospitable to women — it would set us back a whole century, when the Old Left was a man’s party, and that didn’t serve them well. What precipitated from a white, straight, male-centric labor movement was the division of the working class. I think it’s extremely easy to call up a witch hunt on women because women are simply easy targets, and what we’ll see from these actions is a continuation of the division of the working class — perhaps this is even the key element to blame for the rise of fascism, something that the Left hasn’t accounted for, a warning of our defeat. The right wing is inherently masculist. One thing is certain: even the class reductionist socialist (a socialist who only cares about class — not much different from a liberal who only cares about identity) would have to admit that in a world where the majority of the working class is non-European women of color, we can’t do it without non-European women of color who likely aren’t obsessed with your stupid fucking academic identity politics, with which you keep beating us over the head like the crypto-tankies you are. Indeed, capitalism DEPENDS on the societal stratification granted by the fixed ideas of gender, race, and ability.
To patriarchal society, we are useful and those that would like to see its continuance are invested in keeping us where we are like hens in a coop, or if you like, hens in a coup. (Unfortunately this is sometimes the case with leftist men.) Merely existing as women enduring patriarchy means we are like workers under capitalism, our labor unique to us stolen by patriarchs just like capitalists steal from workers; put another way, a man is just a worker, but a woman is doubly employed/exploited as a worker and a woman, i.e. Woman, the function of her job or role under patriarchy, the occupation that occupies, possesses and colonizes. Even if we do not bear children, though, we are used all the same — particularly in this day and age of birth control and pornstitution — as bodies to be used for their boners, no matter our orientation, no matter our desire, no matter our “gender” identification.
The surest way to occupy women collectively in the sense of Occupy Women and in the sense of keeping women busy (go read what Mary Daly wrote about women’s busyness) is to erase them from all existence, to treat them as if they (WE) don’t exist, can’t exist, and our existence — if we dare name it — is an abomination. (Bonus points of course, for erasing homosexuals.) Patriarchal societies have an established history of ensuring that. So while we are used and abused, we are also erased. This erasure is something we share in common with both colonized peoples around the world, and domesticated animals (to give a nod to all the veganarchists out there). One thing we also share in common is the Left’s condemnation of us, as in the case of certain anarchists dismissing the EZLN as not anarchist.
Women, homosexuals, besieged indigenous peoples (including African slaves who were after all African!), and our fellow non-human earthlings have long been systematically erased from existence, and one very important factor of all our obliteration is control of the sexual organs to serve oppressive systems such as capitalism, patriarchy, feudalism, unabashed slavery, ecocide, and so on. Radical feminists have written various books about the effects and effectiveness of this primitive form of eugenics. The far right and fascism in particular is exceptionally patriarchal in their goal to make a permanent underclass of women, and why wouldn’t they use it since men have been tyrants since before history was recorded?
The latest in fashionable ways to walk all over women is through transgender ideology. Other fashionable oppressions, from more to less recent: glorifying pornography, glorifying prostitution, and domesticating wives. The left has had an interesting spin on patriarchy, but the world is still turning like always and women are still sickened. The only thing alarming about the Left as opposed to the right, is that women are completely fucking misled to believe that people are on her side.
We shouldn’t ask whether men or capitalists do this on purpose: we should observe the fact that women’s oppression is simultaneously so effective and so well practiced and so prevalent that misogyny is practically the air we breathe, and no one wants to stop breathing it. It seems understandable, then, why some feminists go as far as to compare misogyny to ecological crises.
Yet shills for the state are everywhere, preventing us from reaching a conclusion. Today the liberal and right wing transgender activists wear the boot, and liberal gender criticals are trying to wrest the boot back; for both groups, politics that were once socially insurgent are now used for authoritarian reform in an effort to “liberate” themselves, since they view their liberation as mutually exclusive and solely on whether they own the boot that stamps on the face of history. Yes, one of them started it first. But since they are both liberals, they simply don’t get how they’re being played against each other by the complex hierarchies that make up The System ™, how explosive these controversies are, and how unresolvable they are. They don’t see how this is all a repetition of history.
In order to resolve these things, you have to think outside of the box. Not just outside of gender, but outside of our political system, outside of our economic system, — seeing the wider context. As an anarchist, I want to step in and speak to both of you: as members of the working class, you are connected by at least one oppression. We need to learn to stop eating each other in a mad conquest of power and resolve our conflicts anarchistically. We need to do that, or we will never be able to unite to end our slavery to capital, and vultures (the fascists) will come to pick at our leftovers. As The Homoarchy said: the Left, which once supported identity movements to liberate womyn, people of color, and homosexuals, is now “eating its babies” — and this is deplorable, and must be called out.
II. The Anarchist’s Ethics of the Body
It is not women being hateful of transgender people that has caused them to protest transgender activism: it is the erasure of women’s existence and needs and the propagation of anti-woman rhetoric that has inspired many formerly neutral or supportive women to come out in opposition to transgender activism, if not merely the complete failure of many transactivists to understand that intersectionality doesn’t mean women’s oppression becomes irrelevant whenever they want it to. I recognize that some women have gone as far as to say that trans people are all perverts or mentally ill, and yes some women have developed dehumanizing prejudices about trans people. I get it. However, the witch hunt on so-called “TERFs” has done nothing to alleviate that, and has motivated both men and women to get involved on helping one oppressed group to cannibalize another oppressed group in a most astonishing betrayal of all women and their own humanity. Radical feminism is also taking most of the blame for everything anyone has ever said or done in this conflict, and that too is unfair when most women involved have never heard of radical feminism, when men cannot be radical feminists, and when you cannot be a radical feminist if you are right wing. Even the Leftists publicly criticizing radical feminism as reactionary demonstrate that they have no idea what it is nor of its history, and can’t lie and say it’s right wing, only admit that it sounds vaguely similar to the right wing.
The rallying cry, a declaration of war, our appropriation, their newspeak: “Trans women are women.”
Let me tell you, I WISH it were true, because I’d have a lot more girlfriends, but it simply isn’t true. I wish that all men simply turned into women and there were no men at all anymore. My dating pool certainly hasn’t increased nor will I hold my breath. Short of a scientific breakthrough, trans women are not women.
How can we resolve our conflict?
- We need to accept reality.
- I think anarchism is key to determining an appropriate response.
When you’re done being marched around by apologists for Stalin, Mao, Clinton, and Mussolini, try anarchism – because the anarchist feminism, when radicalized, arrives at a wholesome and empathic convergence between all struggles and existence, and is therefore the most potent of all feminisms. It is the degree to which our feminism is not anarchist, and our anarchism not feminist, that leads anarchists and feminists away from anarchism, and leads feminists and anarchists away from true feminism.
What are the issues in this situation?:
- bodily autonomy
- cultural appropriation
- personal space
- the right to speak
- the opposition to both small and large tyrannies
- critique of capitalism as it relates to gender and sex, and medical treatments
- the meaning of true liberty
- the de facto connectedness of all individuals on this planet
How many anarchist men question what they’ve been taught? The answer should be: all of them. This sounds strange, but anarchist men should start questioning what they know to be “feminism”, in a world which domesticates and grooms women. For indeed by questioning all knowledge in good faith of supporting women’s liberation, anarchist men can do their part by opening a space for anarchist women to answer. When the male anarchist asks, “But what is an anarcha-feminist analysis of…” he raises her voice and creates a space for the woman for total liberation to distinguish herself from the authoritarians. Of course, what is necessary is for there to be a woman for total liberation to answer — she has to be in the room, in books, or somewhere. By asking questions to actively seek what is good for women rather than unquestioningly accepting whatever he is told by some vanguard is good for women by women, he pushes away ideologies which hurt them and him. Women after all are part of this reactionary tide of Tumblr-esque transgender ideology which has swept popular culture — grown women!, some of them in universities who have been writing their anti-feminist screed for decades, others walking around spreading this and playing games with social stratification. Who can you trust, if women are not their own best allies? Only yourself and your own instincts! What is an ideology, if it can’t be questioned openly? Dogma!
I know this seems counter to every liberal safe-spaces notion you’ve been taught, but that’s liberalism for you. Radical feminists know that there is no such thing as a safe space for womyn. If you want to know what counts as a safe space, I think the thing that comes closest to a safe space is one in which there are no men and there is no social hierarchy. The so-called “safe spaces” that exist today seem to me to be another way to grab power and impose a neoliberal agenda from class-aspirational sycophants. Anarchists shouldn’t copy them, because enforcement requires someone to act as the police. Even if they are enforced in a decentralized way, the hierarchy exists as long as these fixed, abstract concepts are not to be questioned. Concepts shouldn’t require brutal enforcement by majoritarian mob mentality — groupthink. To me, “safe spaces” are dangerous because they mislead women, protect nothing, and silence all. We should extricate such liberal notions and come up with our own ways which come from an anarchist premise. We could at least start by stopping comparing “TERFs” to nazis or treating them as though they deserve the same treatment that nazis do. They don’t. Most of them are liberals. They need to be brought into the Left and away from liberalism.
This is going to sound weird: People are seldom their own best advocate, since choices are not made in a vacuum. Don’t panic! We can still have anarchy. We just need to be a little cognizant of some things. The truth is, by treating all women and all feminism as equally anarchist, and not questioning the political context, anarchists create an ugly opportunity for anarchist womyn to be marginalized by centrist and right-wing interpretations of feminism that are more or less hostile to real freedom for women, because therein lies only a different type of tyranny. They also lend to the liberal-leaning analysis of reductive feminism, that is, naive feminism. By allowing people to loudly question things, we avoid unnecessary guilt for our politics such as when white anarchists were scolded by liberal black liberationists for property destruction in Ferguson, and we listen carefully when another group of white anarchists were scolded by their anarchist black liberationist comrades for cowtowing to liberal black liberationist reformism; in both cases, the white anarchists were scolded for racism; naive liberal identity politics is paradoxical because it doesn’t see connections between oppressions and doesn’t see hierarchy as the substance of oppression itself. I think any anarchist will find that clearly there is a need to listen to black anarchists, not just black people, or else anarchist politics get sacrificed in favor of the disempowerment of identity commodification, something that anarchist people of color have also written about in critiques of identity politics.
Radical feminists have developed our own culture — our women’s culture. Some parts of it are sacred. One thing that is sacred is paying respect to our history, and to the women who still suffer in this world, the women who at this very moment are weeping enormous tears and feeling the greatest despair that one could ever feel. The women who are beaten near to death. The women who are raped. The women who at this very moment are drawing their last dying breaths. It is branded in the mind of every radical feminist, whether or not she has personally suffered trauma, to be aware, always, of the war on women that continues even as you read these words. Women’s existence is sacred to us, and we will always remember, and never forget her, even as others forget her for hundreds of years.
So, you’re probably wondering…
What do I think about transgender ideology?
First of all, why the fuck would you ask? Fine. Here you go:
- It’s your body. It’s your choice. Trans people can do what they want with their bodies.
- Stop labeling trans people with our names (women, lesbian, female, etc).
- Stop censoring our biology.
- Stop threatening, degrading, and monstering us: you don’t have an excuse to let loose your misogyny or homophobia, especially lesbophobia.
- Stop shaming lesbians (especially) and gay men for being homosexual. Separation from you is not even qualifiable as an act of hate — radical feminists know quite well, from experiences with men, how bigotry-fueled hatred can manifest in close relationships.
- Transgender people who have had criticisms of the mainstream ideology have been called transphobic. Stop doing that.
- Fuck the medical establishment, and the laws that will do a hatchet job on finding a solution.
- If you agree with any part of this or think that these criticisms don’t apply to you, don’t pretend that there aren’t parts of the transgender community (or those who identify their way into it) who are guilty of the things I complain about.
- Trans women (I am being polite and generous by referring to you in this way, since women is my word) need to listen and recognize that we are not the same, that we are separate, that we have differences, you and I, biologically, and that these differences need to be acknowledged.
- By recognizing our differences and separateness, that does not justify the formation of social hierarchies.
- That’s all.
Can trans women ever be women? Yes, under the following scientifically verifiable conditions:
- Get rid of that “cotton ceiling” idea: your obstacle is physiology. I don’t speak for all lesbians, but I’d guess that lesbians would probably start being OK dating trans women (as in it won’t revoke their lesbian card) only once those trans women are completely bodily identical to natal women in all aspects, including bone structure. The only thing that could be different is having XY chromosomes, since we’re attracted to bodies not chromosomes and finding out chromosomes wouldn’t really change anything. Maybe there’s a lesbian out there who will object that she’s only attracted to the “souls” of females or something spectral like that, and I won’t knock her for not having attraction on those grounds, but I’m a materialist and I think lesbians are attracted to the likeness of women. Trans women simply haven’t crossed the, well, uncanny valley of sexual dimorphism (note that I do not speak about gender here, since no amount of gender conformity will get you across this valley). All the medical transition technology that exists today simply isn’t enough for lesbians to consider trans women as having made a full transition, and I am pretty adamant about the fact that no surgical methods of transition will ever be enough, at least not for me. Instead, we should consider pursuing other paths untraveled — technologies that don’t merely rely on the reshaping of skin and fatty tissue. This is what would be required, if trans women really do want to sleep with lesbians and have to be fully consensual. In other words, you would have to be morphologically identical to females in every way — every single piece of your anatomy, even the unsexed pieces, would have to conform to female sexual dimorphism perfectly.
- Next, biology: I will only recognize trans women as being biologically identical to natal women once full cellular transformation has been achieved, including chromosomes. So, all the criteria of 1 has to be met, and more. If trans women have only met criteria 1, then I suggest a third category.
- If this scientific breakthrough ever does occur, then I will advocate that all those who were born natal male or have spent time as biological men need to disclose how long this has been the case, in order to contextualize their behavior, because male socialization is real.
Obviously, no trans woman has ever achieved even the first step, and it remains to be seen whether it is even physically possible.
I’m not saying to go out and get bone-breaking plastic surgery. Don’t. It won’t work. It’s against your physiology. Feminists have plenty to say about the racket that is plastic surgery. Ask women, who were the first to be experimented upon surgically, and with hormonal birth control. From all of these things, trans women now benefit, at least hypothetically they do. I have my own opinions about whether the use of these technologies are actually safe and I have my own skepticism about the trustworthiness of the so-called medical professionals, but whatever, right? The only tenable anarchist position on whether to regulate the surgery of transgender people is this: fuck the state, and get your laws off our bodies. I repeat that bodily autonomy is key to anarchist society. This does not however prevent us from, at the same time, criticizing and holding with great skepticism the collusion of the medical establishment with capitalism and patriarchy by, for example, treating medicine like a business. Feminists are just being feminists and socialists are just being socialists when they condemn patriarchal and capitalist influences in the world.
Feminists have something authoritative to say about trans issues to the extent that they pertain to the definition of woman, which are the ontological boundaries of all womyn. We want to protect the clear boundaries of our own materially-based “identity”, the signifier of our unique existence, or risk denial of material reality which is a dangerous thing to do as women and as people of color and as lesbians, since it guarantees our assault, rape, and murder. We know this to be true because the roots of our oppression are several thousand years deep. Yet as women it seems we are not allowed to warn others of the dangers of the medical establishment.
Self-identified trans folk have even named the medical establishment their enemy because it alone is an agent of patriarchy upholding gender boxes, molding trans people into one or the other box and coercing the masses to feel acceptable only when they conform fully — this is why they hate “the binary”. The “binary” is one way of experiencing patriarchy wherein you’re forced to choose between one of two (perhaps impossible) alternatives in order to exist under patriarchy: thus the emphasis on its dichotomous nature. It’s patriarchy from another angle. This “binary” is likely the source of the notion that sex must be changed in order to fit in and in particular women’s identities must be appropriated.
That’s fair. But transition is a binary ordeal. If you don’t like it, then don’t pretend to change to the opposite sex. Changing sex is not a job to be half-assed. Changing sex is an irrevocable commitment to overcoming your biology through technological mastery. There are no easy shortcuts. Leave the transsexuals alone — if there is anyone who will be first in line to rearrange their cells for the sake of changing to the opposite sex, it’s probably what you call a “truscum”, a true transsexual.
If you don’t want to change to the opposite sex, then leave all the pronouns and the claims to that sex alone. When “transgender” individuals and their allies complain about “the binary”, such individuals are not fighting the gender binary, they are fighting the sex binary. You can fight the sex binary, but you’ll never win. Fighting reality, even when people play along, is a losing game. And by hating and fixating on the “binary” aspect of sex and gender, the truth of the gender hierarchy is lost. By fighting the sex binary, the gender hierarchy is only reinforced.
Even those of us who don’t call ourselves “trans” face up against the “binary” dilemma of not conforming the ideal woman or man, especially when we have secondary sex characteristics that aren’t deemed acceptable. The challenge is to be accepted, and this is something that all nonconforming people face. Yes, some of us look like what they used to call he-shes, and she-hes, or whatever, and yet we make no claims of being trans. For some of us, this is what our bodies decided to grow into. Still other people may be nonconforming in their style and personalities rather than general physical appearance, yet this is could not be more normal. In either case, to mis-sex us — to call us by the opposite sex of what we are — would be an insult and a lie.
Women are forced as well to fit the male-molded ideal of woman, lest we be discarded as undesirables. Women of color are coerced to fit a white model of female beauty, and thus buy soaps and creams to bleach their skin and straighten their hair. These are all tragedies. There is no wrong way to have a body.
Next on the list is biophobia. This, I think, is a reaction to discomfort with your own body displaced onto women, lifting yourself up psychologically by pushing us under. Society has all the mechanisms in place for this to happen easily. Why else would society start seeking to control language by censoring words like: vagina, clitoris, vulva, uterus, womb, ovaries, menstruation, period, lesbian, female, woman? All of these words and their representations have at times been called transphobic and transmisogynistic. No, I would call the reaction to these words biophobic and misogynistic. I can’t imagine living in an anarchist society where my bodily autonomy is usurped by language.
Speaking of language, can I add that the vast majority of us have no need to recite our pronouns, and who the fuck decided to make it a ritual to say pronouns at every activist meeting? I think the worst part of this practice is that it is not to be questioned, not by anyone. It is simply precluded from all discussion. It seems like a suspension of common sense in favor of making sure a small group of people (who may not even be present at the meeting) don’t feel uncomfortably different, and we have to pretend we can’t learn that a person is transgender through more organic means. Asking a gender nonconforming lesbian or gay man for pronouns is a pretty good insult though. Ignoring a woman’s sex is a great way to erase her history.
I don’t have to announce my gender nonconformity, and I won’t apologize for it. The better thing is to be comfortable in your own skin. Should sexed pronouns go away from English? Well, I don’t know. As a lesbian, I kind of want them to stay because how else could I distinguish my lover when talking about her in the third person? I want that to mean something. We could invent different pronouns that don’t appropriate sexed pronouns to refer to transman and transwoman respectively, however. This will give you your freedom without taking away mine.
Transgender without gender is simply men and women defying gender roles. Some people call themselves “transgender” despite not believing in gender, and some of these individuals have dysphoria. Regardless of what you call it, there are plenty of us who defy gender roles, but if you start calling us pronouns of the opposite sex for doing so, or if you dare even ask or think of us that way, then you are strengthening the gender box that harms us all. It’s the same bullshit, we’ve all seen it: boy calls the other boy a girl as an insult for not conforming to what a man is supposed to look and act like. Family member calls girl boyish because she doesn’t conform to what a girl is supposed to look and act like. The logic of conformity to gender — what you will call the gender binary — leads to reinforce exactly that type of thinking, and yet some transgender activists make a point to aggressively name people man/woman based on their gender box. The problem is the belief that gender is real. Gender realism is a bad thing, maybe even a right wing thing since plenty of MRAs and fascists are all about it and are all about shoving people into boxes and social prisons, whether they be above ground or six feet under.
If we get rid of gender, then all we have is sex. Nothing wrong with wanting to change sex, although it’s not possible today. Every cell in the body is sexed, and sexual dimorphism means different bone structures. The female sex is hardly even a uniquely human phenomenon. You can change your body as much as you want, of course. However, another problem arises. Some people assert that sex isn’t a thing and sex realism is bad, just like race realism. Yet the ontology of sex, that is, the logical proof of its existence, is quite solid, unlike race which like gender is just another social system of control, and even DNA testing finds ethnicity to be virtually imperceptible. Anyway, we can have a very funny conversation trying to deny sex and I’ll deny your lymphatic system all the same. What isn’t funny is when you encourage sex denial which harms women, lesbians, gay men, and trans people all in one fell swoop. For women, sex denialism is female erasure, and what’s more, sex denialism is sex neutrality because it removes all meaning from sexual organs: guess which sexual organs benefit from denial and which sexual organs suffer, when one is a weapon and the other is prey? I’m talking about rape of course, which almost always involves a penis!
If you identify as transgender or a transgender ally, the only truly tenable anarchist position is to live how you want to live without making it impossible for women and homosexuals to live. Again, let’s stop taking turns wearing the boots of oppression. The great cosmic irony of this whole situation is that you see your liberation as antithetical to mine. Your liberation does not and should not come at the expense of our liberation.
It is not that women have any specific issue with you living your life how you want to live, as if I haven’t said that enough. We don’t have to even believe all the same things. We don’t have to be friends. To people like me, gender is just another religion. There are plenty of atheists who live side by side with religious people, even though the atheists find religious beliefs incorrect. Some religious people manage to not export oppressive ideology despite being deeply religious. Atheists even recognize at times the good things religious people do, even while it is motivated by religion, yet it is atheists who are more likely to be persecuted for their unbelief. Christian anarchists and atheist anarchists still manage to be comrades.
Unlike religion and gender however, what is a fact is that under patriarchy, women are in a state of constant war with men, even as we fight side-by-side with men to end other tyrannies, because of widespread battery, rape, and prostitution (redundant!). Female erasure is unacceptable and not anarchist: it is manarchist. Oh you women and men who call us “TERFs” and “manarchists” in the same breath, take notice! Women-and-Lesbian-Exclusionary People (WALEP) (yes, the acronym is a joke) cannot be anarchists. WALEPs are the true reactionaries! We are not manarchists because we are not men! “Don’t man me!”, said the lesbian. Stop taking cues from liberal society, for you should know that their stance on womyn is necessarily centrist at best.
III. Look What You’ve Done To Us!
Specifically, we take issue with the following ways this liberal feminist dogma that you have all unquestioningly internalized has cannibalized oppressed groups, particularly women:
- Butch lesbians and nonconforming women being treated like pre-op transmen
- Saying that trans people are dying, dying, dying — and then ignoring the women who are murdered every year, especially those in prostitution, and the regular assault of people of color; I would like to see a comparative analysis on the murder ratios of women, people of color, LGB, and transgender people.
- Using such a wide definition of transgender that literally anyone could be transgender, even without knowing it or fulfilling most of the usual criteria (begging the question), contributing to an erasure of people suffering from acute gender dysphoria as well as the erasure of all gender defiant individuals including homosexuals and women
- Same thing goes for “queer” in the above sentence – it has become common for people to identify as queer for a variety of mundane reasons, even calling themselves queer because they have sexual fetishes, as though that has anything to do with homosexuality, contributing to an erasure of homosexuals in a variety of social contexts
- The collapsing of women into the above-mentioned group (“Women, queers, and trans”). This is insidious and irritating.
- The fraudulent/false advertising of transwomen as lesbians and transmen as gay men; this is appropriation and a dilution of our selves, forcing heterosexuality onto our homosexual lives, which are already living daily in a heterosexual world where their normal is not our normal and our normal is not their normal.
- The censorship of the distinction between women/female and men/male
- The censorship of the distinction between heterosexual and homosexual sex
- The censorship of women’s sexual organs
- The pushing of forced sterilization on children through shallow promises of sex change (Leading to such idiocy as the pedophilic: What if the child consents though? as if women don’t see right through that, so of course the next step is to promote the separation of the child by painting unwilling parents as abusers)
- Abusive pushing of gender identity onto children below the age of consent (brain development of long-term thinking and understanding consequences only completes by about age 25!), what we consider an enhanced form of gender indoctrination
- Active censorship of the distinction between women, men, and trans people
- Silencing of dissent and the concerns women have for their own safety in a world that blurs the boundaries of sex where they will be more impacted by such changes
- Wishing that homosexual people don’t exist, denying their existence, or hoping they will cease to exist at some point in the future when the whole world buys into this homophobic, sexually coercive, worldview (which isn’t far behind us).
- Promoting homogender instead of homosexual – yes, for real.
- Exploiting tensions between homosexual and bisexual people by insisting on bi-washing homosexuals with the propaganda that everyone is bisexual “even a tiny bit” — this is the new “everyone is straight”.
- Revisionism and pseudoscientific misinformation of biology, anatomy, history, and anthropology.
- Helping along patriarchy to destroy the few remaining female-only and lesbian-only spaces and resources that existed.
- Encouraging homophobic attitudes and for lesbians and gays to feel ashamed about being exclusively homosexual! We’re not sorry and we’re not bigoted!
- Revisionism of the term “gender” to mean “spectrum” or “binary” instead of hierarchy, the way most feminists used it. We should not forget the meanings of words.
- “Die Cis Scum” and devaluing of “cis” people solely for their existence, and I include with this all the threats and hate that women have receive.
- Bringing up male-biased homophobic fears of lesbians in the women’s restroom and proposing that lesbians have their own restroom since that’s apparently the same thing — yet this only inflames the old stereotypes about predatory lesbians, when lesbians do not prey upon women, straight or otherwise
- Butch lesbians and transmen being excluded from your LGBTIAWTF group on the basis of being too “masculine” and therefore no different from males
There are hundreds of examples – this list could go on for pages. Multiple books can be written on the detrimental effects of liberal transgender rhetoric on women’s and homosexuals’ lives. I have seen mention of ableist and ageist consequences, and of women of color becoming alienated from liberal feminist rhetoric on transgenderism. There are thousands of firsthand accounts of women hitting “peak trans” and peak libfem, becoming fed up for these and other reasons. Not all women’s views are the most “respectful” and free of prejudice, but their grievances are real and you should take them as seriously as any man’s. The question here is how many women’s reports will it take to count as one man’s?
IV. Comrades, Hear My Plea
I don’t call myself a man, I call myself butch, and I am a woman; my existence defies gender boxes and I am — and I stress this — no closer to being male (or “masculine”, as they call it) than a femme is. Even a femme can be labeled transgender, so no closer are butches or femmes to the transgender label. We are transgender to the extent that we defy the mystical conformism to gender, to the point that people question the correctness of our existence. What is exceedingly rich is the only thing that makes me different from a transgender person is I haven’t sought technologies to enhance my gender defiance and I’m not a gender realist like most of them are. Even if I were to use technologies to enhance my defiance of gender, I would not be a gender realist. In my most natural, comfortable, unmodified and unshaven state I qualify as “transgender”, even by people who merely glance at me, have received repeated harassment for gender nonconformity, constantly worry about how it affects my employment, and get clocked as potentially trans by people before we even exchange words. I qualify but do not identify as transgender by the most prevalent definition of transgender. I suffer the same maltreatment for defying gender, and yes that includes the murders of butch lesbians. And yet, you exclude me from your activism and call me a cisbian when I dissent, you utter hypocrites!
Because of my experiences, I want to puke every time I hear the word “gender”, as in the phrase “gender violence” instead of male violence. I would like to be able to express concepts like “woman”, “sex”, and “sexism” without this being interpreted as a red flag to leftists. I would like to not have to tiptoe around and avoid sharing that I am a “lesbian”, “homosexual”, and “butch”, and what that means. I would like people to stop asking me for my “pronouns”: you’re either insulting me, or you need glasses. Of course, in the area of sexual attraction, people have no problem identifying me as a female: I would like for men to banish any thought that I’m game for a relationship because they secretly believe that all “queers” are at least somewhat heterosexual. I would like not to be expelled from a feminist group for expressing distrust of all men, i.e. males, i.e. people with penises, i.e. people born with penises, you know, those men, right? I would like not to have to recursively explain what I mean by “men”. I would like to talk about my female biology without being derailed. I would like to not get derailed, period. I would like to not live in fear of displeasing the wrong person, and I would like for that wrong person to not have so much control over my life that an entire community could wall me out just for my having the wrong thoughts and feelings. Transgender dogma is untenable if as a lesbian and regular admirer of female anatomy I am transphobia incarnate. I would like to live in my short term and long term female-only spaces.
Do not underestimate how disruptive this TERF-tarring has been to the Left — what some feminists are calling the new McCarthyism. Unsurprisingly, our patriarchal university system has had a hand. I do not know if it is mere liberalism or consciously-planned crowd control, but it is cunning nonetheless! Years ago, second wave feminists were let into the universities to teach their wisdom, and state capitalism has absorbed and defanged a once radical movement and produced its own antithesis. Now wide eyed students who got their first breath of something faintly non-meninist are distributing this warped feminism — this anti-feminism. The right wing, of course, are leaping at the chance to look reasonable for once and this is probably a great recruiting tool for them, since disagreeing with transgenderism tends to result in being unceremoniously expelled from the left in the most aggressive, vindictive, and potentially traumatizing manner. MRAs are laughing as we tear each other apart, making their work so easy for them. It is even a way for MRA manarchists to hide their oppressive values. If we leftists did this to ourselves, we’re giving our enemies reason to keep our punishing liberal (!) identity politics going — when they’re not annoyed, they’re quite pleased with the whole thing and even want to shill for it to further disintegrate us. Oh, lesbians feel it now, and that’s apparently OK because (like always) we don’t exist, but what happened to “an injury to one is an injury to all”? The Left does not need to create its own bogeymen; it needs to smash the institutions of capitalism, patriarchy, and white supremacy.
I’m ranting about the desire to be left in peace, not in pieces, neither by my limbs (in being beaten up) nor my mind (in being screamed at). Just because some people feel discomfort with their own body doesn’t give them a license to abuse, nor to fudge the facts to feel better about themselves. Discomfort with your own body and/or mind is no justification for biophobia (the phobia of unmodified bodies) and good old-fashioned misogyny. The simplest thing that aspiring transsexuals (those that want a full sex change), dysphorics (those that simply want to stop suffering), and gender defiant gender realists (i.e. “transgender”) can do for women and lesbians is to acknowledge our biology, stop moving the goal posts for what counts as biological sex, stop appropriating our sex, and hold fast to the simple principle of opposing hierarchies between people by allowing us our separate minds, lives, space, resources, opinions, language, perspectives, and struggles without you rallying for The Left to eradicate us. The first step you can take, right now, even if you take no other steps, is to stop defrauding women by calling yourself by the opposite sex. Invent new words, if you must. The second thing you must do, is to let women speak, and stop interrupting them and silencing them. If you can do these two things, congratulations, you are being a decent person.
If you can’t stand to think about us, well think about yourself. You have been hoodwinked by liberal propaganda! Radical feminists have, too, been hoodwinked by liberal propaganda! Yes, I know you won’t listen to me, a crazy anarchist. To think that our interests are diametrically opposed, mutually exclusive, and need to be wrestled over in front of the cameras of this capitalist empire, as they laugh at us and we make ourselves miserable! You do not benefit in the long run by benefiting at our expense.
The truth is, men, women, and everyone all benefit from a system that is better to the most vulnerable in society, and which does not take from one in order to give to the other. We know this from the fact that men wind up materially better off when feminists fight for women’s liberation. Dig deeper, and you might find that children, pets, and grandparents — heck, everyone — are better off too. It also happens that women’s and transgender people’s needs are connected. Consider the implications of forbidding sex-segregated bathrooms, locker rooms, sports teams, and other sex-segregated spaces that women struggled to obtain: this is indeed the hill true feminists will die on, because female-only space is the source of female power and healing. Womyn already lost their cafes, book stores, clubs, and other female-only social spaces — now we’re losing basic necessities? When you take this away from us, you do a great injury. But when you take this away from us, you take something away from yourself that you do not yet see. An injury to you is an injury to me, an injury to me is an injury to you.
I suppose we’ll have to go with some concrete examples.
First, using laws to desegregate/de-sexing bathrooms and other private places prevents all people including transgender people from questioning anyone whether they have the right to be in those private places. This constitutes a loss of freedom for everyone including trans people, who are an apparently vulnerable people since that’s what everyone keeps telling us. Well what this all comes down to, behind the progressive facade, is it harms everyone’s ability to disassociate from anyone in private, physically vulnerable places, since there’s now the trump card of criteria-less gender identity enshrined in law. Either way, using the legal system to enforce who can associate where only strengthens the state’s ability to use that as a precedent to control the movement of our bodies. Any true anarchist and feminist would accept that state solutions will always have shitty consequences, even the “good” laws they pass.
Secondly, and I’ll go out on a limb here, the forced desegregation of these places means you’ve lost your right to freedom of association, meaning if you are the one nice transwoman in a group of women and you want to exclude “cis men”, a man can object to his exclusion based on his made up gender identity and coercively insinuate himself into the group. It has already become illegal for lesbians to associate without a man present, but I could see this going in a bad direction not just for some people, but for everyone. Illegalizing the free association of lesbians and women is just the canary in the coalmine — you’ll be next. Face it, liberals have carried transgender people as a totem sacrifice to please the gods of capital and encroach on privacy, and it’s now going to be even easier to police people in ways that were never justifiable before, in ways left only to the imagination. This happens every time. Long after this fad blows over (yes, recognize you are being treated by liberal politics as a fad, which is also objectifying), they will tell you that you’re free because they “gave” you bathrooms. Likewise, women wishing to legislate the medical acceptability of trans people will invite further encroachment on all our bodies. Who but the rich and famous truly benefit from this charade?
Lastly, when women fight prostitution to protect women — which many anarchists today simply don’t seem to comprehend, since they have such an obviously shallow analysis of prostitution in spite of anarchists having an old history of fighting it — it just so happens that transgender people also get saved from prostitution, meaning they get saved from a system of rape, torture, humiliation, beatings, trafficking, slavery, and murder. So why the fuck would you even hate us? Look at the true perpetrator! Even men supportive of feminism know that their enemy is the male sex, when it is males who are more likely to murder literally anyone on this planet. And again, you pick a fight with women? You send us death threats and abuse? Stop it!
Yes, it is possible to be anti-gender and believe in sex without being fundamentally opposed to the existence of trans people, an inconvenient truth that many liberal feminists would rather censor, since there are a lot of brownie points to be gained from further polarization. Trans people, to me, will always simply be gender defiant people, and I think that is why many lesbians and gays welcomed trans people into the “LGBT”: many of us share in common the defiance of gender. There’s a very small minority of feminists who are opposed to trans people rather than ideology: regardless, it’s all a distraction. Every concern raised about trans people is ultimately a concern about men: because that’s exactly what it’s about. Women’s battle is with men. Trans people’s battle is with men. Yes, even men’s battle is with men. Any feminist who takes the anarchist position, and indeed any tranarchist with great wisdom, knows well that the issues we raise with transgenderism are ultimately issues with men and male supremacy; our liberation is intertwined. I would like to see an end to the label “transgender” because of its loaded meanings so that it is replaced with something more scientific, and there are also trans people who have said as much, but most importantly I want to show that the Left can learn not to eat its own children. Anarchists haven’t lapsed into outright bans on discussion of abortion, thankfully.
Any tranarchist, no matter how much we may disagree with each other, can be a comrade in the ways I have described, on the condition that the appropriation of the female sex by claiming our biology, e.g. “female” and “lesbian”, is ceased, and verbal and physical abuse of natal women is flatly opposed. As soon as that line is crossed, I hear the beating of war drums. This is not a pithy call for unity: this is a peace negotiation. If you want to win against the capitalists, we have to be more coordinated, and that means tolerating people with different views. It is with much effort that I have tried to walk the line between defending my people and reaching out for peace. I hope that by raising my concerns and setting these two overarching conditions for peace, we can organically draw boundaries that satisfies our needs mutually. I fully believe my demands are not unreasonable and are not an oppressive imposition of my will, nor an act of colonization, nor do they overreach. Until such a time as my demands are met… I will not be moved to support trans identity politics as long as women and lesbians are sacrificed culturally, legally, and existentially.
People who agree with me are probably wondering what to do about it. I say, we should agitate within our communities. Anarchist communities are some of the most receptive communities to critique. But it needs to start with the people who have the least to lose. So get out there! Organize women’s groups!