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empathy deficit entitled babies gender policing lgbt not a cult penises reddit TERFs transmisogyny transphobia

Some trans women literally “get a boner from having their pronouns respected,” Reddit TERF asserts

By David Futrelle

Most people recognize it’s wrong for someone to impose their sexual fetishes on people without their consent — whether the fetishist in question is a boorish dom who demands that women to treat him with the sort of exaggerated deference that no one is obligated to provide anybody unless they’ve agreed to do so as their sub, or if he’s an outright sexual predator like Louis CK coercing younger female comedians into watching him masturbate.

Recently, though, some TERFs have taken this relatively uncontroversial proposition and turned it into something altogether different and deeply wrong. Claiming that the vast majority of trans women are really men pretending to be women just to fulfill some sexual fetish of theirs, they are now suggesting that by merely appearing in public, trans women are forcing their festish on the world much like a flasher exposing himself to children.

In a post on the GenderCritical subreddit — “gender critical feminist” being a favorite new euphemism for TERF — a Redditor called arnaq declares that “I object to being forced to participate in other people’s fetishes and delusions,” a completely reasonable objection, or so it seems, until one sees what she really means.

She starts out as reasonably as her headline at first appears, recounting her experience with a predatory sexual harasser who tried to impose his fetish on her with a series of obscene phone calls.

“Years ago,” she writes,

I had a retail management job and one day I started getting very creepy calls. It was a man who would breathe heavily and say things like “Will you be my mistress?” “Will you fucking punish me?” and all this other disturbing shit. I told him to fuck off and eventually one day he stopped calling. It was so uncomfortable that this man was using my position as a retail employee who was supposed to cater to my customers and forcing me to give him attention.

Every feminist recognizes (and, I imagine, even many non-feminists recognize) that obscene phone calls are no joke.

At this point, though, arnaq’s post takes a rather dramatic turn:

I feel the same level of creeped out being forced to acknowledge these men who fetishize womens’ bodies and their bodily functions as women themselves.

She is, of course, talking about trans women, not crossdressers.

While it is possible some of them aren’t doing this for fetish reasons, it is obvious that many, MANY of them transitioned because they got off on crossdressing or can’t wait to “touch my girltits~!” or some other extremely offensive “reason” for feeling they are a woman.

This is, of course, utter bullshit. There are of course “chasers” who fetishize trans bodies but assuming that those inhabiting trans bodies share these fetishes is absurd. This whole notion is built on the assumption, as Natalie Reed has noted,

that the “shemale” is doing it to get laid, to attract men to him with his new hot, curvy, sexual-object of a body. Either that or, as in “autogynophilia”, doing it to have himself as his very own personal sex object.

In fact, Reed explains,

It is not an act of attempting to emulate or express ourselves as The Other, we are attempting to more accurately and honestly express The Self. We don’t transition into being a new or different person. We become more ourselves.

Back to arnaq’s post:

As much as TRAs [Trans Rights Activists] like to claim that all of them are genuinely women and have known since they were in the womb, spend five minutes in a TRA reddit community and you will see post after post of how sexy they think being a woman is. Things that genuine women never even think about.

Yeah, I’m pretty sure plenty of “genuine women” admire and enjoy their “genuine female” bodies and, yes, even think of them as sexy.

I am all about gender nonconforming people and if they or anyone else wants to dress or participate in activities related to the opposite “gender” I could not care less.

The fact that you’re posting this screed kind of suggests that you do care, a lot.

But it’s the fact that I am supposed to “accept them as one of my own” and pretend that they didn’t grow up in a world that catered to people born the same sex as them while likely many of them (and men in general) preyed on women sexually that pisses me off so much.

This is an attempt to use the language of feminism to support outright bigotry — bigotry as brazen as Trump’s insistence that Mexican immigrants are a bunch of rapists. There’s absolutely no reason to assume that large numbers of trans women behave in a predatory manner towards cis women, either before their transitions or afterwards.

Why do I have to compromise my safety to satisfy someone else’s delusions?

You don’t. But TERFs trying to ban trans women from women’s bathrooms are essentially demanding that they compromise their own safety by forcing them to use men’s bathrooms, which puts them at risk of assault by transphobic men who don’t like the idea of “men wearing dresses.” This sort of violence isn’t imaginary. These assaults really do happen. (And it’s not just cis men who are the attackers; several days ago two cis women were charged with sexually assaulting a trans woman in the bathroom of a /North Carolina bar.)

Why do I have to pretend how I think and feel to appease someone who has enjoyed privilege myself and other women never have?

Trans folks face bigotry and harassment on a level that few cis people can even comprehend, both before and after transition. A staggering one third of trans teens who identify as female despite being assigned male at birth try to commit suicide. (The percentage for trans male teens is an even more staggering 50%.) Yes, as every feminist knows, cis men enjoy privilege over cis women. But the idea that trans women are somehow privileged over cis women because they once presented as boys and men is absurd.

Why do I have to stand for them weaponizing their position as a TIM to attack women and coerce lesbians into sex?

A TIM, by the way, is a “Trans-Identified Male,” TERFspeak for, yes, a trans woman. In any case, I’ve seen zero evidence that “weaponizing” transness to coerce cis lesbians into sex is an actual thing in the world, rather than simply a moral panic, outside of a tiny handful of individual cases. (TERFs who’ve brought this issue up with me have offered only a single example of a real-life trans woman who preyed on cis lesbians in this way.)

Ironically, there were some Rad Fems in the 1970s, many of whom have since become TERFs, who tried to convince straight cis women to become “political lesbians,” abandoning sex with men (if not necessarily starting to have sex with women) in the name of feminism — before everyone (or almost everyone, anyway) realized that that was not how sexuality works, and that pressuring people to somehow magically change their sexual orientation for political or supposedly political reasons is creepy as hell.

I would not be surprised if many of them even get off on the fact that women like myself are placed under this sense of obligation to do cater to them unwillingly by the way many of them behave when they don’t think actual women are paying attention.

I don’t even know what the fuck she’s talking about here.

It is pure misogyny that women are placed under scrutiny and attacked for pointing out how uncomfortable all of this is. A man forcing me to acknowledge him as a “fellow sister” is a violation of my boundaries and I will not stand for it.

Trans women are women. Full stop.

Naturally, the regulars in the GenderCritical subreddit loved armaq’s manifesto. One commenter took armaq’s transphobia one step further, offering an example of alleged trans sexual fetishism that I, at least, have never heard of before.

“Yeah,” wrote a commenter called legally_cool.

I don’t care what people do in private but I’m not playing along with anyone’s fetish. Some TIMs get a boner from having their pronouns respected like wtf how is that normal behaviour.

Trans women … get boners from HAVING THEIR PRONOUNS RESPECTED? They get Pronoun Boners?

I’ve devoted much of my time over the last eight years trying to expose (and make some sense of) the weirdest sub-varieties of misogyny on planet Earth, but goddamn, TERF transmisogyny can get just as weird as manosphere misogyny, if not more so.

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Cat Mara
Cat Mara
1 year ago

@Mish: The anti-porn stuff is another angle (and another example of “convergent evolution”, where awful people end up on the same page as their supposed ideological opponents, though I don’t think the RadFems ever went so far as to blame porn on TEH JOOOZ!!1! 😂): didn’t one of the leading lights in the RadFem movement end up going to jail for firebombing a string of sex shops back in the 70s/80s? Because, apparently, any woman using a willy-shaped sex toy to get herself off was abetting teh PATRIARCHY ARGLEBARGLE!!1!! Damn, I can’t remember her name now but the Twitter TERFs were cooing over her when someone brought that up and they lost their shit (not that it takes much to make them do that but 😂)

Crip Dyke
1 year ago

I’ll talk about the Cotton Ceiling later if people want me too. Right now I just can’t get myself in the right emotional space for it.

Luzbelitx
1 year ago

Good post David! Good enough to lure me out of lurking anyway xD

Sadly TERFs usually self identify as “radfems”, thus giving a bad name to radical feminism. Whatever was radical about their branch of feminism is long extinct.

Over here in Argentina there seems to be some TERF (sorry, FART) outbreak, powered from Spain sometimes. There’s a big stain of them in the anti-human traffickin movement, despite the fact that it was pretty much founded and championed by trans women. Particularly two of them, Lohana Berkins and Diana Sacayán, were also human rights fighters with worldwide recognition for their efforts, and they were also the ones who pushed the gender identity law, which requires nothing but the will of the person to have their names and gender modified in their IDs, and free access to hormone therapy and (some) surgeries.

Sadly Diana was murdered by her ex-partner in a very violent way in 2015. Lohana, her lifetime partner in activism, died a few months later of a stomach infection, but we mostly agree it was grief. And even more sadly, that’s when the TERF backlash caught strength.

I really hate the fact that they use “science” in the same way MRAs do: i.e., not real science.

A few of them realized open transphobia won’t cut into the current feminist movement, so they ostensibly support trans people’s right to identity, but claim they should make their own movement and “not have feminism fight their fights”.

As Crip Dyke described, trans peple are not a burden to feminism, they are warriors ready to join feminist ranks and defend it with their lives.

I even had some backlash to a video I made explainig how I came to identify myself as non binary. So I guess there ain’t no TERF that ain’t NBERF as well.

It does seem their bigotry is rooted in a fear of losing their own identity. As if accepting trans women as women would make everyone suddenly forget how patriarchal oppression works and how it affects cis women.

Many are also against inclusive language, claiming that the inclusive “Todes” (everyone -with neutral declination) is just as woman-erasing as “Todos”, the “generic masculine” that in Spanish is supposed to include everyone under the male declination.

They also write many long and kind of “smart-sounding” articles to explain they don’t hate trans women, they just don’t buy that “women” is anything other than a biological condition (ignoring the historical fact that it’s, uh, actually not), and anyone suggesting otherwise is trying to destroy feminism and women themselves.

The idea of trans women having male privilege is based in a very very simplifed idea of how the world (and privilege itself) works. It usually stems from their absolute incapability of placing themselves in someone else’s shoes, and their commitment to never consider how it would be to have your identity denied.

They seem to think “identity” is something trans folk made up in order to “steal” the leadership from “real women”.

As for pronouns, I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by a lot of people (mostly cis women!) who are very kind and respectful of identities. I don’t really mind being addressed in feminine pronouns but still most of my friends when they use them will say “sorry” and switch to neutral. Which is actually more comfortable for me, but I really don’t feel they have anything to apologize for.

Sorry for the messy, ranty post hehe.

I may not post a lot but I’m always reading! So thanks David and everyon who keeps this community going. I enjoyed very much the lobster troll smackdown fest, by the way. So thanks for that too.

Cat Mara
Cat Mara
1 year ago

Sorry to post OT but it seems that Gillette have just released an ad campaign riffing off their old “Best a Man Can Get” catchphrase with “Best a Man Can Be” where they reference toxic masculinity, sexism, bullying, etc. The manflakes aren’t having it, of course:

Men: how dare ads for hygiene products tell us how to behave!

Women: yeah, how dare they 🙄

More here: https://twitter.com/i/moments/1084999113819582464

So man (cough) the bilges! Batten the hatches! We’ve got a Category 5 incoming Internet Man-Trum!

Richard Gadsden
Richard Gadsden
1 year ago

The “cotton ceiling” started with one article written by a trans lesbian saying that she was fed up of cis lesbians who were trans-inclusive in theory and politically, but who would put “no trans women” on their dating profiles.

(this was a while ago, ie pre-Tinder, so I’m guessing it’s on something like OK Cupid)

The trans discourse about this is a bit complicated, in that they’re asking people to examine whether their sexual desire is motivated by transphobia, but they also don’t want to pressurise people to have sex they don’t want. There are also trans women who think it’s fine to have that preference, but not to put it on a profile because that makes for a hostile environment for trans women (as Paris Lees put it: “don’t be a dick about it”).

As an imperfect analogy, consider a straight white woman who announces “no black men” on her profile. That could be both a sincere preference and motivated by racism, which it could be a significant effort beyond her ability to root out. Obviously, that doesn’t mean that black men have the right to pressure her for sex. But also, if 50% of white women say that on their profiles, then black men are definitely going to regard that as an unwelcoming and racist space.

Melody
1 year ago

I have to say, I’ve never commented before because I usually have no response to what’s written and discussed here other than, “Preach!”

But trying to erase the privileges of being a man in a still-patriarchal society by comparing it to the internal suffering someone might experience is extremely disingenuous.

Absolutely, the turmoil of being trans deserves acknowledgement and support. Society needs to do a much better job on that front by helping our trans members to feel good about themselves and welcome to be who they really are.

But it in no way undoes the fact that male bodies are privileged. The trans and drag friends I have will vehemently acknowledge that their experience of being a woman will always be colored by the fact that they don’t have to experience it in the same way as a cis woman. That privilege is real, and they did or do have it.

One of my favorite TED talks addresses exactly this.

Privilege is privilege. Mental health is mental health. It doesn’t help anyone to say one somehow magically cancels out the other. It helps everyone to recognize the real existence of both and work to address them in positive, effective ways.

Cyborgette
Cyborgette
1 year ago

So, re this

“spend five minutes in a TRA reddit community and you will see post after post of how sexy they think being a woman is. Things that genuine women never even think about.”

This contains just enough truth to piss me off.

Yes, trans people have sex and do sex things, often unusual sex things. Some of us flirt a lot among each other, and that’s hard won – it’s often a way of finding validation in a hugely invalidating world. As long as boundaries and consent are respected, including bystander consent, that’s okay. But “bystander consent” doesn’t cover some creepy cis person stalking our spaces for their own fucked up ends.

Our sexuality is real, and often differs from yours, because we are all loaded with developmental trauma, and most of that trauma is also different from yours.

Our sexuality also, if you are a cis person, is not for you in a very big way. Our bodies are not for you, our minds are not for you, our genitals and in-jokes and lingo are not for you. Especially if you’re only in it to hate on us. We transition for ourselves alone, and your desire to have a say in the matter – to have control over our bodies – is abusive and sick and wrong.

There is a reason so many of us only date, love, and fuck other trans people. There is a reason so many of us have few straight or cisgender friends.

Also? If you as a cis person spend your time skulking around trans communities just to snoop and criticize, you might want to take a step back and evaluate your feelings and motivations there, because that is seriously fucking creepy. Especially for a community that fears political violence as much as we do.

We did not invite you, transphobic cis people, into our spaces, our conversations, or our bodies. You’re not welcome there. GTFO.

(BTW just to be clear, this isn’t aimed at folks on WHTM. Though if you find yourself taking it really personally anyway, you miiiiight want to step back and sit with that a bit.)

Surplus to Requirements, Observer of the Vast Blight-Wing Enstupidation
Surplus to Requirements, Observer of the Vast Blight-Wing Enstupidation
1 year ago

@Gijoel:

I don’t know what it’s like to under go hormone therapy and gender reassignment surgery but I imagine it would be painful and uncomfortable at times. Not to mention the financial burden.why anyone would think that you would endure these procedures just to spy on women in toilets is beyond me.

I guess for the same reason that reactionaries think if they don’t make abortions hard to access people will have them just for fun?

Reactionaries of every stripe seem to be seriously paranoid — in the colloquial, rather than the clinical-diagnosis, sense of that word, of course. Restrict, restrict, restrict, because otherwise someone might do $(thing_they_dislike) for $(insufficiently_justifying_reason) resulting in $(vaguely_specified_negative_consequence_to_society_or_else_supernatural_consequences_neither_supported_by_any_evidence).

@Cat Mara:

A portion of middle-class so-called feminists threatened to vote against the [abortion ban] repeal (!) if trans women weren’t expelled because, well, they personally could always afford the trip to the UK if they needed a termination. Their less well-off “sisters”, apparently, could fend for themselves.

Villainy level: Cartoonish. (About equal to Trump holding a whole country hostage demanding they fund his stupid wall, in fact.)

Cyborgette
Cyborgette
1 year ago

a bunch of TERFs complained that the Repeal movement was trans-inclusive. “They’ll never need an abortion!”

Trans men, and other trans people with uteri, sometimes do. Even when on testosterone HRT, let alone when they don’t have access to hormones.

It’s not just about solidarity – trying to exclude trans people from such a movement is much more directly hurtful, since that would be a set of people who actually use abortion services, having their voices and needs silenced.

That is some incredibly low and evil behavior.

Cat Mara
Cat Mara
1 year ago

@Surplus to Requirements, Observer of the Vast Blight-Wing Enstupidation:

Villainy level: Cartoonish. (About equal to Trump holding a whole country hostage demanding they fund his stupid wall, in fact.)

Your’e not wrong in that analogy. The 8th Amendment went into our Constitution in 1983. Abortion was already illegal here but that wasn’t enough for the RWNJs– they wanted a Constitutional ban on it, despite the fact that this was well before all the clerical abuse scandals came out and the power of the Catholic Church in Ireland was still such that the chances of abortion being legalised in any near time frame were essentially zero.

Then we had scandals like the so-called X case (when a 14-yo rape victim made pregnant by her rapist was refused leave to travel to the UK for a termination), the death of Savita Halappanavar in 2012, whose medical treatment was compromised because her doctors were afraid it might kill her foetus and basically had to wait for it to die inside her before being able to treat her (bonus: I and lots of other Irish people got fucking robocalled by pro-lifers on Christmas Day the year she died saying it was all lies, paid by deep-pocketed RWNJs in the US).

After all this horror, there was enough of a shift in public opinion, then there was a successful Constitutional referendum to allow gay marriage in 2015. So there was real momentum that we’d finally repeal this inhumane law after 35 years… and the TERFs were like, “nonono, obviously our hate campaign has to take priority here!” I mean, fuck them. Fuck. Them. Women died because of this horrible law. Irish women had to travel to another country, often alone, for a medical procedure they ought to have been able to obtain in their own country, and often suffered preventable physical and psychological side-effects from doing so because they couldn’t afford to be away for too long. And when the chance to do away with it came, these people tried to turn it into a political football.

Button
Button
1 year ago

First off, ContraPoints has a heartwrenching video debunking autogynephilia:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6czRFLs5JQo

Seriously, if you’re not already following ContraPoints, just do it. Her work has a tendency to influence a lot of the discourse in leftist spaces.

Also, I wish TERFs would fuck off. Obviously the important reasons they should fuck off are all the trans people they hurt, but people have already covered that so I’m also gonna make a few personal complaints. I’m annoyed that TERFs have grabbed the “gender-critical” name, because they’re pretty fucking obviously not actually critical of gender. How are we supposed to be critical of gender when you so reactionarily defend the arbitrary, patriarchal system of gender assignment we’ve inherited?

Like, I can understand being upset that trans people and allies assign so much importance to gender, but it’s no more importance than general society does, just more visible because we’re used to seeing it expressed in cis ways. In the long run, decoupling gender from sex and expanding the genders available will still advance the end goal of gender abolition.

Cat Mara
Cat Mara
1 year ago

@Cyborgette:

Trans men, and other trans people with uteri, sometimes do. Even when on testosterone HRT, let alone when they don’t have access to hormones.

But in their world, trans men don’t really exist 🙄

It’s not just about solidarity – trying to exclude trans people from such a movement is much more directly hurtful

Solidarity was a big part of it though. I go into it in a bit more detail in my reply to @Surplus but I think there was a real feeling in the air in Ireland in the wake of the gay marriage referendum in 2015 that something had changed. That referendum had passed comfortably in all but one of the country’s constituencies. Within two years, an openly gay man would be Taoiseach (Prime Minister) of the country– a gay man, furthermore, whose father was an immigrant, in what was once one of the ethnically most homogeneous countries in Europe. There was a real enthusiasm in the wake of the marriage referendum of, “right, what’s next? Oh, yeah, the 8th Amendment! Fuck that thing already! Let’s do it!” and suddenly the TERFs were crashing the party going, “yeah, but we have to kick out the (trans slur)s first!” and everyone is like, “what? No! Gross!” It was a disgrace. Especially as a lot of the anti-trans sentiment was coming from UK feminists and Irish feminists were like, “hey, where were you during our marriage equality referendum? How come you’re only turning up now to bash trans people? Actually, come to mention it, why haven’t you had our backs when we’ve been dealing with the 8th Amendment here the past 35 years? Or the backs of your sisters in Northern Ireland, who are nominally in the UK but abortion is illegal there too?! Come back here, we’re talking to you!” Yeah, solidarity: don’t ever count on it from TERFs. 🙁

(You can probably still see a lot of it (if you have the stomach) if you look at the #repealthe8th hashtag on Twitter…)

Cyborgette
Cyborgette
1 year ago

@Cat Mara

Ack, I didn’t know the full context. That is likewise incredibly disgusting.

(And my bad, really, this is a thing I should have kept better informed about. Especially given the circles I run in.)

@Button

Oh gods, that video, oof. Just thinking about it makes me feel closer to tears. I need to work up the gumption to share it with certain cis people, some day… but not today.

Weatherwax
Weatherwax
1 year ago

@ Crip Dyke

I remember going to speak at an abortion rights rally in the mid-1990s.

Thank you for sharing this memory, thank you for having done that thing, and thank you for reminding me once again that we have more in common than that which divides us*.

* In memoriam Jo Cox ( here’s the link for non-Brits and/or those who don’t get the reference – https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jo_Cox – unless I failed at linking)

Cat Mara
Cat Mara
1 year ago

@Cyborgette:

Ack, I didn’t know the full context. That is likewise incredibly disgusting.

I know, right? It just goes to how deeply disgusting TERFs are. To have everyone– straight, gay, bi, cis, trans, everyone– all on the same page, all worked up and ready to go to get rid of the 8th Amendment– this law that had killed women— once and for all, and then for them to come along and basically try to blackmail everyone else into letting them throw the trans people under the bus or they were going to sabotage it? Unbelievable.

(And my bad, really, this is a thing I should have kept better informed about. Especially given the circles I run in.)

Don’t worry about it. Ireland is small fry on the larger world stage.

If you are interested in some of the context, this was probably one of the things that catalysed the movement that carried the marriage referendum. During a revival of a play called The Risen People (based on a notorious incident that happened in Dublin in the early 20th Century, the 1913 Lock-Out when workers were locked out of their jobs for trying to start a trade union) the year before the referendum took place, the Abbey Theatre introduced something they called the “Noble Call” where a different celebrity would be invited to give a speech after each performance. One such speech was given by drag queen and gay rights activist Panti Bliss. It’s powerful stuff:

Citerior Motive
Citerior Motive
1 year ago

Crip Dyke:

As a fellow colonial trans* entity, may I just say your correct use of the plural caused us to orgasm.

Shh! Don’t let the cis know the real reason for ‘singular’ they!

Scildfreja Unnyðnes
Scildfreja Unnyðnes
1 year ago

@Crip Dyke, I’ve probably said this before but I’m a say it again: I’ve read your writing for years, both comments and blog. I appreciate you and you’ve helped shape who I am. Thank you. Keep on fightin’.

<3

PocketNerd (but maybe it's time to retire that stupid name)
PocketNerd (but maybe it's time to retire that stupid name)
1 year ago

I think it’s time to return the term “TERF.” These folks aren’t feminists, and including that in the acronym only legitimizes them. The way they’ve cuddled up to right-wing reactionaries and misogynists over the last few years proves “TERFs” hate trans women way more than they care about cis women.

Aaron
Aaron
1 year ago

I don’t mean to derail, but I was struck by this comment in the GenderCritical thread:

If Margaret Atwood was a man she’d be recognized as the important philosopher and public thinker she really is- as a woman she’s seen as just another ‘genre’ novelist.

I don’t mean to discount the difficulties faced by women authors, but is this true? I think the mainstream literary establishment sees Atwood as a very accomplished and serious writer.

I don’t think we are well-served by a crude and unthinking universalization of social models and assumptions, and I actually think this tendency – manifest in different ways – leads to a lot of the wonkiness we see in GenderCritical and other TERF spaces.

Boob Tyrant Queen
Boob Tyrant Queen
1 year ago

Oh boy TERFs ….
I can’t stand them to be blunt.
I also can’t stand their sisters in arms SWERFs (or a lot of the more militant bastardization branches of radical feminism)

My experiences though come from personal experience (and my own time being part of what I thought was a supportive female friends group)

Crip Dyke
1 year ago

@Scildfreja Unnyðnes:

Thank you. I know that’s going to sound superficial, just two words in the electronic ether, but…

Thank you.

OxytoSin
OxytoSin
1 year ago

Re: the 8th amendment fiasco, that’s the biggest problem I have with TERFs. Even if some (SOME being the operative word) of their criticisms of the trans movement are accurate, in the end they’re just useful idiots for people who are even worse.

We saw the same thing with the antiporn feminists. Most of the laws they helped pass were disproportionately used against gay/lesbian/etc. resources. Anything in the realm of law that encourages censorship or exclusion based on sexuality (or anything, really) is going to affect vulnerable people more than genuine abusers because of the nature of law enforcement. People who volunteer to be cops or lawmakers are almost always motivated by power rather than some nebulous concept of right and wrong. If they have any human empathy at all they’re more likely to see traffickers and other unscrupulous people in the sex work industry as “one of theirs” because they are, at bottom, motivated by the same instincts, while members of the LGBT, etc. community are either powerless things they can get away with taking out their own sadistic impulses on or aberrations that threaten the social order they desire to uphold.

Speaking of being motivated by the same instincts, I’ve actually seen some TERFs admit that they feel an intellectual kinship with the political right because they’re both motivated by disgust. Which is kind of shooting themselves in the foot since common enemy or no, the right is made up of heteronormative males who view violence as a recreational activity, and still they ally with these creatures knowing they are driven by an instinctual hatred of anything they don’t consider part of themselves.

To paraphrase Sir Terry, it’s like buying a rattlesnake to take care of a mouse problem.

Snowberry
Snowberry
1 year ago

re: Cotton Ceiling

To the best of my knowledge, the actual “cotton ceiling panic” started not with the blog entry, but with a Planned Parenthood workshop named after it. The workshop was attended by cis+trans lesbian couples with the aim of helping them feel like their identities and relationships were valid at a time when the lesbian community was largely hostile to them; this got blown up as “teaching trannies to rape lesbians”.

re: Political Lesbians

Again, to the best of my knowledge, this movement was started by French feminist Simone Beauvior, or at least she provided much of the early philosophical foundation. The basic idea was that men had so much authority and/or influence over women that heterosexual relationships should not be considered uncoerced, and thus not truly consensual, and thus a form of statutory rape, philosophically if not legally. So in order to live a truly free and authentic life, women essentially had to give up men.

Second-wave feminism in general came up with a lot of ideas which about sexuality and gender which, if true, would go a long way towards justifying equality, but had no real place for trans people – they were anomalies which had no place in either feminist theory or the patriarchy. Most of those ideas have since been proven wrong or oversimplified. Note, however, that not all second-wave feminists were anti-trans – Judith Butler is the usual example of this – and a few later changed their views – Gloria Steinem is the usual example of this, though in her case she was never intentionally transphobic… she just used to have well-intentioned but wrong-headed ideas of how to “help” trans people due to ignorance.

Most current TERFs don’t appear to be original second-wavers, but later-generation offshoots of them. I would also like to point out that sometimes it helps to understand where they’re coming from when you realize that most of them don’t appear to distinguish any of the various forms of male-bodied, non-gender conforming people – crossdressers, drag queens, sissies, and so on, and lump transwomen along with them. I will admit that, when I was younger, I did feel threatened by crossdressers and sissies (though not drag queens for some reason) due to their often describing their femininity as “transgressive” – women don’t exist to be your transgressive boundaries, you jackasses! …but I eventually got over it, in part by adopting a healthier view of gender performance.

Scildfreja Unnyðnes
Scildfreja Unnyðnes
1 year ago

<3 Crip Dyke. Don't worry, I parse it.

kupo
kupo
1 year ago

Even if some (SOME being the operative word) of their criticisms of the trans movement are accurate

This is like saying, “Even if some (SOME being the operative word) of their criticisms of the feminist movement are accurate” when discussing MRAs.

Cyborgette
Cyborgette
1 year ago

@Melody

I’m a bit late to this, but:

Please don’t do that here. Please.

I’m not even going to try to rebut what you’re saying. I’m too tired. Please just take your entryism and sealioning and concern trolling somewhere else. My kind are already used to seeing our supposed allies betray us, over and over again, and we are just tired beyond tired.

Melody
1 year ago

@Cyborgette

Well, thanks for making me feel extremely unwelcome in a space I’ve enjoyed for years. I’ll be sure to stay out of the comments moving forward.

kupo
kupo
1 year ago

The trans and drag friends I have will vehemently acknowledge that their experience of being a woman will always be colored by the fact that they don’t have to experience it in the same way as a cis woman.

You’re right. They experience significantly more abuse for expressing their own gender. (And seriously, talking like drag and trans are the same? Really?)

Scildfreja Unnyðnes
Scildfreja Unnyðnes
1 year ago

<3 Cyborgette

I'm usually too wordy. Lemme try to do this in a single sentence here:

While it’s true that trans people don’t have the life experiences of their cis counterparts, they don’t have the privileges of their assigned gender, either.

Okay, not great for just one sentence. I can’t really write a bit thing though ’cause I’ve got a meeting at work. Just – well. Trans women don’t have the privilege of cis men. If them saying so isn’t evidence enough, there’s piles of it statistically, too.

All my love, my ducks <3

PocketNerd (probably? I don't even know any more)
PocketNerd (probably? I don't even know any more)
1 year ago

Melody wrote:

Well, thanks for making me feel extremely unwelcome in a space I’ve enjoyed for years. I’ll be sure to stay out of the comments moving forward.

Wow. I must say, it’s gutsy of you to post what you posted and then complain other people are making you feel unwelcome.

Ooglyboggles
Ooglyboggles
1 year ago

@Melody

I kind of have a hard time feeling that privilege when at any moment my family could kick me out if they knew I was trans.

Well, thanks for making me feel extremely unwelcome in a space I’ve enjoyed for years. I’ll be sure to stay out of the comments moving forward.

I find it concerning how you managed for years to ignore the anti terf sentiments in the comments and blog posts.

Crip Dyke
1 year ago

So… the “Cotton Ceiling”.

I’m frequently all about knowing the history of things, but in this case I think even more important than knowing the history is just getting the Freuding metaphor right.

The analogy is to the “Glass Ceiling” metaphor used in more familiar feminist discussions about workplaces where an organization appears to have gotten over sexism enough to hire women, perhaps even to pay comparable wages for comparable work, and yet the organization never actually hires women for its most important and/or most powerful positions. Many excuses are given for this, and many lines of thought may affect how decisions are made by people such as members of the board of directors that have the power to change it, but frequently they come down to, “We’re not sexist! Really! It’s just that [insert sexist thing here].”

Importantly for what comes next, the “Glass Ceiling” metaphor is not an argument that a company must hire a 16 year old mail room assistant for CEO by next thursday whether it’s good for the corporation or not. The point is that even when a woman is perfect for the job, even when she has had an amazing education, even when she has had all the best preparatory experience, even when her personal skill set could not be a better match, somehow sexism sneaks in and ruins the possibility that she might get the job. Tellingly, and importantly for our analogy, very often the rationale for not hiring a perfectly qualified woman that a company would be lucky to have as CEO is something like, “We’re fine with women. We hire women all the time. Wall Street, however, still has some backwards ideas and even if she’s good for the company in the long run, right now we can’t afford the stock hit we’d get for hiring a non-traditional CEO.”

The Cotton Ceiling metaphor recognizes that there are women who are attracted to trans* folks, who would love to date or marry or just fuck some hot trans* person, but who find themselves in a community where taking to the streets against police brutality targeting trans* folks is perfectly acceptable, but inviting a trans* person into your sheets is not. This is true in different ways in different communities, but is particularly heartbreaking in “lesbian/bi women’s communities” (making the distinction here between them and “queer women’s communities”).

Lesbian communities have a long history of policing the sexual orientation identities of their “members”. A bi woman who is dating a woman long term in a monogamous relationship? You can accept her, but just call her a lesbian, b/c that’s what she really is. A bi woman who goes out on a single date with a hot guy she’s thinking of using for casual sex? Kick her out of the club.

In communities that police membership via sexual orientation, there are people who find themselves attracted to a trans* person but afraid to act on that attraction for fear it will costs friendships, community, support.

The Cotton Ceiling metaphor attempts to function as an analogy to the Glass Ceiling metaphor where groups (communities in one, corporations in the other) appear to many measurements to be anti-discrimination but tellingly still have lines that may not be crossed where those lines are drawn by the hands of prejudice and stereotype. This community behavior can be critiqued even when there is a particular case where anyone might acknowledge that the best candidate for ACME corp’s next CEO is a guy or a particular woman has no interest in one (or any) trans* person.

The point is not about one hiring decision. The point is about what certain patterns say about a community. The point is that when you create a community where someone is afraid to hire/fuck someone because of someone else’s prejudice, the effect is the same as being prejudiced yourself.

The point is that we want CEOs hired for their value as managers and we want trans* people fucked for their value as lovers. Along the way, many things that communicate a general community intolerance – whether its gossip when someone starts fucking a CEO or job descriptions that state, “broad-shouldered, aggressive trans* candidates preferred” – have an intimidating effect that contradicts a groups own statements about how open, inclusive, and non-discriminatory it is.

There are difficult interpretations of this idea, about which people can disagree, that assert that its probably better to leave “no trans* folk” off your OK Cupid profile. You certainly have other deal breakers? Why does this one particular one need to be listed prominently? What do you get from it? Do you gain more than your community loses when you communicate to your friends you might not accept them if they’re honest about their own attractions & loves?

There are other specifics that can be discussed as well.

But at bottom, this has nothing to do with any individual choice to grab your friendly, neighborhood Crip Dyke by the hair and smash her mouth up against something interesting. Any individual choice might be fine. But given that we know that some people who are attracted to at least one trans person (each, one presumes) have passed on the opportunity to tap that trans* ass because of what the neighbors might think, isn’t it time that neighbors who like to think of themselves as trans* positive consider whether their attitudes towards dating trans* people are entirely isolated personal preferences?

Put another way, when you ask “Does momma really wants me straight merely because she always dreamed I’d pass down my beautiful eyes to some bio-babies? Or is there maybe, possibly some heterosexism going on there, no matter how much momma protests otherwise?” do you think that’s the only bit of deeper thinking that questions surface denials of discrimination that we should undertake? or should we, perhaps, also think a bit about how our assertions of trans* positivity in communities where trans* people mysteriously can’t ever get a date might also need some investigation?

The point of the Glass Ceiling metaphor isn’t to force the hiring of one CEO. The point of the Cotton Ceiling metaphor isn’t to force the fucking of one hot Crip Dyke. The point of both is to get people to question whether they are, in fact, living up to their values since statistics suggests that certain outcomes wouldn’t really be expected for those values.

If you undertake the (communal/community/organizational) self-reflection and you come out comfortable with your answers, then fine. But the facts on the ground suggest that we at least ask the questions.

And that’s what the Cotton Ceiling metaphor is about. Unless you think that the Glass Ceiling metaphor is about forcing one particular candidate on one particular company for one particular management position, then criticizing the Cotton Ceiling metaphor for being anti-consent or rape-y is thoughtless bullshit.

Cyborgette
Cyborgette
1 year ago

@Scildfreja (and friends)

<3

Your single sentence is about the size of it.

I'll write more later, probably, with the caveat that my viewpoint tends to come more from bitter personal experience than from scholarly study.

weirwoodtreehugger: chief manatee

Sigh. We were doing so well not having to have a “but TERFS have a point though” conversation.

I have to wonder if Melody’s trans fans who assure her that they totally had male privilege while closeted are just appeasing her because they don’t have the spoons for trying to argue or educate. Just speculation but it’s definitely possible.

And yeah, cis men who do drag have male privilege. Because they’re men. I don’t see why they’re even in the conversation?

PocketNerd
PocketNerd
1 year ago

weirwoodtreehugger wrote:

I have to wonder if Melody’s trans fans who assure her that they totally had male privilege while closeted are just appeasing her because they don’t have the spoons for trying to argue or educate. Just speculation but it’s definitely possible.

Always a classic: Browbeat your minority friend into agreeing with you, then point to her as proof you’re right about your bullshit racist, misogynist, or transphobic ideas.

“But my friend Sam is X, and she AGREES there are problems with X culture!”

Yeah. Maybe Sam just doesn’t want to have that fucking conversation with you yet again, my dude.

Rhuu - apparently an illiterati
Rhuu - apparently an illiterati
1 year ago

Wow, thanks for that explanation, Crip Dyke!! TIL!

Cat Mara
Cat Mara
1 year ago

@weirwoodtreehugger: chief manatee:

Sigh. We were doing so well not having to have a “but TERFS have a point though” conversation.

Even if we were for a nanosecond to accept the bizarro-world premises of TERFs’ cruel and arbitrary worldview, the splash damage caused by their crusade is unacceptable. Their mindset is totally of the “we had to destroy the village in order to save it” kind.

I’ve seen TERFs mock trans women because they can’t have children. That’s cis women (who let’s not forget, are who the TERFs invoke as the justification for their abuse) who’ve had hysterectomies and ovarectomies under the bus. I’ve seen them mock trans women because they can’t lactate, which is not only inaccurate but throwing cis women who’ve had mastectomies under the bus too!

I’ve seen them mock trans women for their supposed excess of body hair. That’s cis women with polycystic ovary syndrome, hypertrichosis and any number of endocrine conditions under the bus (not to mention, as IIRC @Crip Dyke pointed out on the other thread, a huge fucking racist dog-whistle), as well as repeating an old right-wing trope against feminists in general.

And, as I mentioned on this thread, they were willing to throw economically underprivileged women here in Ireland under the bus when it came to accessing abortion services just to get at trans women.

You have to ask after this litany: will there be any cis women left in the world by the time the TERFs have finished their persecution of trans women?!

Pen
Pen
1 year ago

Yeah, I’m pretty sure plenty of “genuine women” admire and enjoy their “genuine female” bodies and, yes, even think of them as sexy.

As a ‘genuine (straight) woman’, at least by arnaq’s standards, I find that concept hard to wrap my head around. I honestly don’t know what other women think in general, but I’m very much attracted to men on a sexual level. My relationship with my own body is entirely asexual. I’m interested in its ability to move in the world, especially the natural world. I couldn’t care less what it looks like. The closest I get to caring about its gendered characteristics is knowing that my upper body strength will let me down if I have to haul myself up a rock by my arms but my overall stamina on limited food and water is very, very high. Sometimes, the world seems so obsessed with the sexualized aspect of bodies that I feel these different experiences need emphasizing.

Having said all that, it’s perfectly possible and reasonable for transwomen (and ciswomen) to be lesbian and I don’t know how that would affect a person’s relationship with their own body..

Weird (and tired of trumplings) Eddie
Weird (and tired of trumplings) Eddie
1 year ago

re: TERFs…

I’m a white, xian-integrated, able-bodied, cis, het, middle-class, employed, male….

I recognize “MY FEELINGS ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN YOUR IDENTITY” when I see it, and this bullshit just reeks of it.

I’m too angry to say more

Snowberry
Snowberry
1 year ago

@Pen: Hey, I totally think my body is sexy, and occasionally play lingerie dress-up in front of a mirror. Then again, I’m bisexual, and I don’t know much what other women do either, so that doesn’t exactly refute your statement.

Shadowplay
1 year ago

@Crip Dyke and @Cyborgette

Thank you.

Troubelle: Moonbeam Malcontent, Bard of the New Movement
Troubelle: Moonbeam Malcontent, Bard of the New Movement
1 year ago

That ‘Melody’ we had sure was a stinker for the…two posts she laid down, eh?

I could make a better Melody in just over half an hour!

In fact, I did.

comment image

An antidote to all the lousy Melodies out there! (Also pixel art practice.)

Aaron
Aaron
1 year ago

There’s a really bizarre little graphic on the GenderCritical sidebar that attempts to equate “patriarchy” (“You must change your personality to match your sex”) and “trans identity politics” (“You must change your sex to match your personality”).

I suppose it’s one thing to object to real aspects of “trans identity politics” (whatever that means), but I’m fairly certain that literally no trans activist in the history of ever has declared transitioning a moral obligation.

This subreddit is even less intellectually impressive than I thought it would be. There are MRAs and incels who argue better.

Sheila Crosby
1 year ago

I’m cis. Talking to my trans friends, they did have a few tiny islands of male priviledge growing up in an ocean of hurt. For example, one of them joined the ATC – a free pilot training program for the UK air force, which at the time was boys only. I’d have loved to do that. They both got their interest in electronics validated.

Of course that came with galloping gender dysphoria that they had no words for back then, several other interests being constantly invalidated, a permanent feeling of being wrong and never fitting it and that they never ever would be able to fit. I absolutely wouldn’t want to swap.

And of course since they’ve transitioned, they have anti-priviledge. They have their gender expression policed much more severely than I do. They suffer more employment and wage discrimination and they’re at far more risk of violence.

I used to think that TERFs were women who’d been desperately hurt by men, and were lashing out in panic. The more I see of them, the more most of them look like simply nasty people looking for someone to bully.

Aaron
Aaron
1 year ago

I will preface this by admitting that I am not an expert when it comes to trans politics.

But I think that if a transwoman is read as man, they will benefit from whatever privileges may be afforded to a man in that context. These privileges may or may not be substantial depending on the context, frequency, level of passing (ie, effeminate man vs normative man), etc.

I don’t think it’s useful or productive to litigate “how much” male privilege transwomen have and/or at one point had. It’s a nonsense question with no answer, since individual transwomen will be read in different ways and will hence have vastly different experiences. (Indeed, I think that’s true for cisgendered men as well.)

Catalpa
Catalpa
1 year ago

But I think that if a transwoman is read as man, they will benefit from whatever privileges may be afforded to a man in that context.

Being erased and assumed to be something that you’re not isn’t a privilege.

Ariblester
Ariblester
1 year ago

@Melody

But it in no way undoes the fact that male bodies are privileged. The trans and drag friends I have will vehemently acknowledge that their experience of being a woman will always be colored by the fact that they don’t have to experience it in the same way as a cis woman. That privilege is real, and they did or do have it.

Once again, I have to observe that the terms “did have privilege” and “do have privilege” are treated as interchangeable, with no explanation as to why exactly this is so.

The analogy is very imperfect (for one, it’s verging on essentialism, which is not my aim), but it would be as if an adult Japanese immigrant to the US is said to “have Japanese privilege” because they lived most of their lives in a country where their ethnicity was the majority and held power.

Aaron
Aaron
1 year ago

Being erased and assumed to be something that you’re not isn’t a privilege.

But this has nothing to do with the privilege afforded to men. It has to do with one’s lack of privilege as a trans person. These are two different things.

Alexis Filth
1 year ago

Ok:
I’m nonbinary. I tend to use she/her or they/them as my pronouns.
My husband is a trans men. He is binary trans, where I am nonbinary trans.
Do I have male privilege when I move around in the world not dressed femme?
I mean, maybe? I guess? Insofar as having people react to me as though i’m a man, which is painful every time it happens.
Does my husband have male privilege now that hormones have changed his body to the point that others see him as the man he is? Maybe so, but he had to fight for 43 years to even start becoming the man he was born as.

So I don’t want to hear concern trolling about his or my privilege and if that gives Melody a sad, tough.

Bakunin
Bakunin
1 year ago

Thank you to Cyborgette, Scild, et al. for shutting that down so quickly.