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Trans women who get breast implants are “erasing flat-chested women,” Gender Critical Redditor charges

I don’t think it’s trans women who are making small-breasted cis women feel bad about their boobs

By David Futrelle

So-called “Gender Critical feminists” — aka. TERFs — are constantly coming up with new excuses to be mad at trans women. The most ingenious effort I’ve seen of late comes from a Gender Crit Redditor who has managed to convince herself that she’s being oppressed — and “erased” — by trans women getting breast implants.

“Top surgery erases women with small breasts,” Brrrontosaurus declares in a rant recently posted to the Gender Crit subreddit that so far has gotten well over 200 upvotes.

If you’re having trouble parsing that declaration — as I did at first —
Brrrontosaurus explains, sort of, what she meant:

[T]he idea that if you “identify as a woman” you need breasts in order for your body to align with that feeling implies that flat chested women are somehow less valid [as] women.

Well, not really, not any more than any cis woman getting breast implants or reconstructive surgery does. Are women — cis or trans — who grow their hair long “erasing” short-haired women? Are women who wear heels and makeup thereby declaring that women who wear neither are really men?

Somehow Brrrontosaurus never gets around to asking these sorts of questions, nor does she stop to wonder why it’s only trans women who get her “so pissed off” (as she puts it) for getting implants.

Female beauty standards are a large and complicated issue, but they weren’t created by trans women — and generally speaking it doesn’t seem terribly feminist to rage at women (cis or trans) for conforming in various ways to conventional ideas of femininity (or, in many cases, twisting them around into something empowering).

Gender critical women know this, of course, and will defend their own use of lipstick and other accoutrements of femininity — even if they often feel uneasy about it. But when it comes to trans women getting implants — or wearing lipstick, for that matter — they have no sympathy.

Trans women didn’t invent the idea that small breasts are somehow inferior or unfeminine; they’re subject to the same pressures to conform to beauty standards as cis women, thought for them the stakes are higher.

And of course the Gender Crits know this as well. The thread inspired by Brrrontosaurus is full of stories from small-breasted women describing how they were teased and bullied over their “mosquito bites” when they were teenagers.

“I was crying a lot when all of my friends in middle school were developing breasts,” reports someone called popttartopine.

I felt so disgusting and unlovable because I learned early that boys liked breasts and that you had to look a certain way to be a woman, it was horrible, I wanted to kill myself because I wasn’t like the other girls and students were talking about me and laughing, calling my breast”raisin” or “mosquito bites”.

Carmine-Warrior also had issues with bullies:

[W]hen I was growing up, I was consistently bullied by boys and girls about my small size. It started at 11 when the boys would walk up to me and ask, “Why is your chest as flat as your back??” I definitely had thoughts over the years about if augmentation would make my life easier even though I am accepting and satisfied now.

Terf_fret had a similar story:

I had no breast growth as a teen and it distressed me so much. I would literally dream of growing breasts. I spent so much effort trying to find the perfect padded bra that wouldn’t show through my clothes because I didn’t want to be harassed. Isn’t it crazy?? My distress came 100% from patriarchal messages.

None of those telling these stories report ever being bullied about their small breasts by trans women; the culprits are school bullies and the occasional rude lingerie saleswoman. But the Gender Crits take the rage they clearly and justifiably still feel about the bullying they endured (and the patriarchy itself) and direct it at trans women instead. And so the bullied become the bullies, attacking trans women regardless of whether they’re trying to live up to beauty standards or defying them.

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NOBODY
NOBODY
5 months ago

For some reason I’m reminded of listening to various trans women talk about how the ways in which they are allowed/required to perform femininity in order to prove they were “valid” was often much more narrowly defined than it was for cis women. I feel like this might factor into this particular topic in ways I’m not qualified to comment on.

One of the first transgendered people I got to know well as a friend was very clear she did not define being a woman as being feminine and girly, just a person who happens to be a woman. Rock fucking on. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her in hyper fem clothes. She typically wore jeans and casual women’s tops with light make-up.

Over the years I’ve met one too many other trans individuals who transition right past their target gender into asshole.
Particularly aggravating is the internalize sexism that comes out, like my ex’s partner who seems to be under the delusion because now he’s a man, he’s stronger than I am.

Please. I was in the military and could keep up with men. To this day I’m as strong as a man my height and weight. (For a guy I would be slightly shorter than avg, little fat, about 170-180#). And I’ve never taken drugs. It’s not the steroids, it’s the lifting, stupid. Something this person at best dabbles in.

The only reason someone would assume otherwise is some pretty serious internalize sexism. It clearly is a problem even in communities that consider themselves progressive.

As for the chest thing, when I was a teen I briefly was bothered by being flat chested, but I quickly got over it because it was more important to me to be active. Busty girls didn’t look like they were having fun. And pecs help make a torso look better, though they don’t really add to the bust. It’s a different outline.

Tldr, don’t let people tell you what you SHOULD look like as a woman.

/Lifelong flat-chested tomboy

NOBODY
NOBODY
5 months ago

Another interesting takeaway from the article is that while breast implants have been rather stable in popularity over the last few years, the number of butt augmentation procedures performed has increased significantly (though since multiple procedures on the same women are counted separately it’s still hard to tell how many women are doing it). I’m curious if, since some trans* women might get butt implants as well, if TERFs think that erases flat-bottomed cis women.

I try not to laugh about butt implants. I’m sure there are some non cosmetic uses. But I can’t help think if one care that much about a full posterior, the gluteus maximus is very easy to target to build. Doing squats…or similar excercise.. will be cheaper, healthier and look better.

But whatever. It’s other people’s money and bodies.

And expecting consistency from TERFs might be like playing chess with a pigeon…

LindsayIrene
LindsayIrene
5 months ago

I guess there are people who want a bigger butt without bigger thighs, so they go for implants. Unfortunately, butt enhancement is still pretty primitive and often is done by unscrupulous people and the results can run from ‘migrates to not-butt area’ to gangrene.

Naglfar
Naglfar
5 months ago

@LindsayIrene
Thigh implants are also a thing, but similarly are apparently rather unsafe. Truth is, at this point you can probably find *someone* to put silicone in any place you want, but it’s probably not very safe in many cases.

The specific case of butt implants might be due to media focusing on eroticism of the female butt and women worrying that their natural rear ends don’t measure up to models.

Sheila Crosby
5 months ago

I seem to remember reading that sports bras used to be more effective, but the most effective thing is squishing the breasts in close to the chest and that didn’t look good (at least to whoever was deciding) so now sports bras try to simulteaneously support breast and keep them prominent.

Lainy
Lainy
5 months ago

Wow these people could have a slightly rude interaction at a grocery store with someone cutting in line of them and they would go on a rant about how it was actually trans peoples fault

Naglfar
Naglfar
5 months ago

@Lainy
I recall one actually complaining about something like that, where she said someone accidentally misgendered her and somehow claimed that was trans* women’s fault.

Lainy
Lainy
5 months ago

@naglfar

I’m really not surprise. I know most terfs are women and thete for have gone through harassment that just about ever woman has gone through. But my god do they sound as whinny and privilege as an mra who has never experienced a real problem before.

Naglfar
Naglfar
5 months ago

@Lainy
I think part of it’s an issue of relative privilege. The vast majority of TERFs are white and upper middle to upper class, so even though they are women they do experience race and class-based privilege (and of course cis privilege). That’s also part of why they don’t like intersectionality, because they haven’t experienced intersections of misogyny with racism or poverty. TERFism is very closely tied to white feminism, hence why there aren’t many TERFs that are PoC (the only one I can think of is Linda Bellos).

Lainy
Lainy
5 months ago

@naglfar

It’s kind of sad in a way. You think people could have enough empathy to at least see when someone is hurting or struggling to give them kindness even if you don’t understand it. I use tp be slightly sympathetic to terfs because I had an extreme fear of penises after my rape. The ” I’ll go with you compain” was big tjen where you get a path or button a cis person would wear on their bag or jacket. To tell desercertly to trans gender people who were nervous about using the public bathrooms that they would go with them and be their look out incase someone tried to mess with them.

I know that not all trans gender women have penises. I know that even less satasticly would be a bad person that would hurt me. And I did really believe that they should ve allowed to use any restroom changing room or locker room that was their gender. But i had a fear because of how bad i was hurt. I didn’t join that campaion despite wanting to help. I had to heal before i could be there to try and help anyone. When terfs would express an almost irrational fear, i could understand that because trauma doesn’t leave a person rational. But they have proven themself that it’s not a fear because of truama. It’s a hatred and wanting to hurt others. And they don’t care who they step on. It’s not about keeping themselves safe from a threat their preserving. It’s just about hurting people.

Allandrel
Allandrel
5 months ago

@Lainy

One of my core moral principals is that “capability equals obligation.” One’s obligation to do good is equal to one’s capability to do that good.

While this means that “with great power comes great responsibility,” it also means that if something is not really within your ability, for whatever reason, you are not under any moral obligation to do it.

When terfs would express an almost irrational fear, i could understand that because trauma doesn’t leave a person rational. But they have proven themself that it’s not a fear because of truama. It’s a hatred and wanting to hurt others. And they don’t care who they step on. It’s not about keeping themselves safe from a threat their preserving. It’s just about hurting people.

This is what angers me so much when people (notably my ex-therapist) would defend conservatives with “They’re just lashing out in fear.”

They’re not. They have plenty to be afraid of, but they never “lash out” at corporations, or banks, or wannabe dictators, or anyone else who might actually hurt them. They’re actually among the biggest cheerleaders for those groups.

Instead, they “lash out in fear” at poor people, racial, sexual, and religious minorities, and refugees. Caging refugee toddlers in concentration camps. Are they afraid of toddlers?

In fact, not only do the people that conservatives lack the power to hurt them, they even lack the power to prevent conservatives from harming them, or make conservatives suffer any consequences when they do so.

Oh, gee. I wonder if that is significant?

Conservatives’ choice of targets to “lash out at” don’t fit with asking “who must I hurt before they hurt me,” but they do fit with asking “who can I hurt with impunity.”

You know who else selects victims that way?

Bullies.
Abusers.
Rapists.

And gee, any time that bullying, abuse and rape end up in the news, what group comes out of the woodwork to deny, minimize, or even approve of it?

FlyByKiwi
FlyByKiwi
5 months ago

As a person who developed WAYYY too young and WAYYYY too much, I can confirm what others are saying. The bullying teasing and downright grossness of children and ADULTS who are essentially harassing CHILDREN who happen to have developed (physically) early is horrendous. Gross. It makes me hunch over and try to hide just to think of it. I also dream longingly of being able one day to afford breast reduction. The mental contortions TERFs go through to find something else to blame on the chosen victim of their hatefulness is impressive.

TacticalProgressive
TacticalProgressive
5 months ago

@Allandrel

One of my core moral principals is that “capability equals obligation.” One’s obligation to do good is equal to one’s capability to do that good.

While this means that “with great power comes great responsibility,” it also means that if something is not really within your ability, for whatever reason, you are not under any moral obligation to do it.

While on the one hand I understand the intention of the sentiment of such paradigm of ethics: I feel that such a notion may give the impression, if granted unintended, that even those who have little power and capability, should shirk their obligation and responsibility to making the world better and helping others; since at least my position is that such mindset if taken literal or to far would breed both complacency or contribute to the problems of the world in which we face that need fixing, though I’m likely just pedantically overthinking things too much.

Granted I wouldn’t remotely suggest that a very poor person struggling to make ends meat for a war meal spend their food money on a donation to a charity; as incredibly selfless and altruistic that may be; it not conducive or effective in the long run.

I guess my moral principles takes more along the lines of effective altruistic lines, or allegorically when it comes to social obligations and “altruistic acts to make the world and people’s lives better” as being the same as drinking alcohol responsibly: “know your limit: play within it” sorta deal. Basically if your not the person who has a lot of capability, power or resources to do big, grand sweeping acts of altruism and filling of obligations; than you shouldn’t have to be forced to do so to that degree. But I feel that we all have obligations to fulfill to make the world and people’s lives better; it’s just that those of us who can’t take on the big stuff by ourselves; we still do the little things that don’t demand too much of us; because, at least to me; even the smallest acts towards towards the betterment of humankind and world; can make the greatest ripples. And if everyone did a few small acts that don’t demand too much of us: one can only imagine the impacts that would leave on the world for the better.

Honestly their have been times where I’ve struggled with the disappointments, heartache and building, beleaguered, cynical pessimism in my life; but on some level that young, hopeful, optimistic idealist I was in my younger years must still be alive inside me to want to keep finding the good in the world and humankind and fighting for that brighter, better future.

This is what angers me so much when people (notably my ex-therapist) would defend conservatives with “They’re just lashing out in fear.”

They’re not. They have plenty to be afraid of, but they never “lash out” at corporations, or banks, or wannabe dictators, or anyone else who might actually hurt them. They’re actually among the biggest cheerleaders for those groups.

Instead, they “lash out in fear” at poor people, racial, sexual, and religious minorities, and refugees. Caging refugee toddlers in concentration camps. Are they afraid of toddlers?

In fact, not only do the people that conservatives lack the power to hurt them, they even lack the power to prevent conservatives from harming them, or make conservatives suffer any consequences when they do so.

Oh, gee. I wonder if that is significant?

Conservatives’ choice of targets to “lash out at” don’t fit with asking “who must I hurt before they hurt me,” but they do fit with asking “who can I hurt with impunity.”

You know who else selects victims that way?

Bullies.
Abusers.
Rapists.

And gee, any time that bullying, abuse and rape end up in the news, what group comes out of the woodwork to deny, minimize, or even approve of it?

And it’s for those reasons why I still hold the notion, and find a truism in such notion with each passing day, and say say with frank sincerity: that bigots are nothing more than another, worse kind of bully.

Because that’s what they are when you strip them to their essence.

Allandrel
Allandrel
5 months ago

@Tactical Progressive

But I feel that we all have obligations to fulfill to make the world and people’s lives better; it’s just that those of us who can’t take on the big stuff by ourselves; we still do the little things that don’t demand too much of us; because, at least to me; even the smallest acts towards towards the betterment of humankind and world; can make the greatest ripples. And if everyone did a few small acts that don’t demand too much of us: one can only imagine the impacts that would leave on the world for the better.

I don’t think we’re in any disagreement. The point I’m trying to make, perhaps not well, is that we have to do what we can. We mustn’t shirk by doing less than what we can, but we shouldn’t feel that what we can do is not enough, either. And of course, our capability will change (often drastically).

TacticalProgressive
TacticalProgressive
5 months ago

@Allandrel

Indeed, I suppose parts of the thesis presented from what I could gather were just a bit oddly and vaguely worded that I felt a clarification may have been prudent.

But given that clarification; I feel that we are pretty much on the same page; and it’s for sure a fair stance in my book that is mutually shared.

Alan Robertshaw
Alan Robertshaw
5 months ago

@ lumipuna

I’m passingly familiar with Finnish dairy farming system and I’m pretty sure hormone supplements are not allowed here

There was a vote here yesterday.

The proposal was that we would keep the ban on hormones (and chlorinated chickens etc) in any trade deals with the US or others. Unfortunately it was defeated 🙁

https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/brexit-us-trade-deal-food_uk_5ebc1544c5b6270384a98e17

Nanny Oggs Busom
Nanny Oggs Busom
5 months ago

@Alan
Drat. I hate our parliament at the moment.

Alan Robertshaw
Alan Robertshaw
5 months ago

@ nanny eggs bosom

I hate our parliament at the moment.

Yeah; but I suspect we can keep that phrase handy 🙁

Ah well, in the other thread we’ve been saying about how good chlorine is for sanitation; so with the chickens we can find out if it also works internally. Who wouldn’t want a glistening clean colon!

epitome of incomprehensibility

*waves* Haven’t been here for a while because of an essay, which is now done. Phew.

Anyway! Cis woman with A-cup breasts here. What I find insulting is the idea that I should mind trans women getting breast surgery.

Snowberry
Snowberry
5 months ago

Occasionally I wish that I could vary my bust size. If I’m doing some sort of physical labor where having breasts are an inconvenience, voop! Gone! If I want to be more attention-grabbing, and are willing to take the risks of doing so (given how society is, which isn’t fair for a lot of people), voop! F-cups or something! I’m thankful that my C-cups aren’t too big or small for general purposes, but it would be nice to vary my physical appearance sometimes. In more ways than just bust size, but I’m trying not to go off topic here.

I don’t begrudge anyone for wanting to have a different physical configuration, unless it’s for the purpose of committing a crime. There have been cis men who have gotten breast implants (and not even necessarily for crossdressing purposes) and I’m fine with that. Not to be confused with pec implants, which are basically fake muscles. I might side-eye that a bit, but it’s their body.

amy
amy
5 months ago

I don’t see the comments you are quoting as hateful. She is discussing her own experiences with gender stereotypes and how they have been harmful to her. I understand that her relating this issue to transgender women is out of place and doesn’t make sense, but those comments in particular aren’t hateful. There are many hateful comments on the other side of the debate that I would more so expect to show up on your blog as they are far more extreme. https://terfisaslur.com/
I have gotten a laugh out of many of your posts and found you to be a mentor in coping with certain things in the world that feel unjust and unfair, but I think this is where we mentally part ways.
The clash between radical feminism and trans activism has a lot to do with the destruction of language and the redefinition of the word “woman.” I wonder if you are losing your foothold on identifying misogyny.

Without the ability to define sex as a reality, how is it possible to correctly use language to address sex-based oppression that biological women face as a result of their sex and not their gender?
The word “terf” is specifically directed towards women, while their is no word for men who share similar opinions or who are anti-trans. The term is often used to harass and intimidate women or to threaten them with violence to shut them up essentially. Can you show examples of threatening rhetoric (like that on the site I linked you to) coming from “terfs”? To the same extremity? I agree that the comments you tend to quote from that side are immature and don’t address the true issues, but the majority of hateful speech I see in this debate comes from the trans-community.
Thank you for taking this into consideration and not as an attack.

Naglfar
Naglfar
5 months ago

@amy
Your choice of link gives you away. Be on your way, TERF.

The clash between radical feminism and trans activism has a lot to do with the destruction of language and the redefinition of the word “woman.” I wonder if you are losing your foothold on identifying misogyny

I wonder the same of “feminists” who reinforce gender stereotypes and join forces with right wing anti-LGBT groups and actual Nazis.

Without the ability to define sex as a reality, how is it possible to correctly use language to address sex-based oppression that biological women face as a result of their sex and not their gender?

Trans* women are raped and murdered at higher rates than cis women. We can and do still talk about misogyny while acknowledging the intersection of misogyny and transphobia that affects trans* women.

The word “terf” is specifically directed towards women, while their is no word for men who share similar opinions or who are anti-trans.

TERF is an acronym for “trans-exclusionary radical feminist.” It was coined by a cis woman, and has been used to refer to men and women alike. For example, Graham Linehan, Jesse Singal, and Jonathan Rossy are men who are TERFs.

Can you show examples of threatening rhetoric (like that on the site I linked you to) coming from “terfs”? To the same extremity?

Literally everywhere there is transphobic hate speech. Just read the twitter feed of Graham Linehan, Rosa Freedman, Posie Parker, or M.K. Fain and you will find much worse. There are TERFs literally calling for trans* people to be murdered (or even outright killing them).

Cis people have far more political power than trans* people. What you are doing is gaslighting.

Edit: Here are some examples of things TERFs have said
http://theterfs.com/2013/10/09/you-might-be-a-terf-if/

Policy of Madness
Policy of Madness
5 months ago

https://terfisaslur.com/

Hah hah hah. TERF is descriptive. It’s not a slur. I wish it didn’t give non-radical feminists who are trans-exclusionary an unearned pass, but it accurately describes a very loud and influential subset of radical feminism. And I doubt that giving trans-exclusionary but non-radical feminists an unearned pass is the problem you have with the term.

Without the ability to define sex as a reality, how is it possible to correctly use language to address sex-based oppression that biological women face as a result of their sex and not their gender?

biological women

Are trans people robots or something? Radical feminists should be more mindful of their language than your average person, but when it comes to trans individuals, TERFs lose their fucking minds.

Thank you for taking this into consideration and not as an attack.

Pretty rich.

Naglfar
Naglfar
5 months ago

@PoM

I wish it didn’t give non-radical feminists who are trans-exclusionary an unearned pass, but it accurately describes a very loud and influential subset of radical feminism. And I doubt that giving trans-exclusionary but non-radical feminists an unearned pass is the problem you have with the term.

I’ve also seen it expanded to trans-exclusionary reactionary feminist to try to remove that unearned pass.

Now that Graham Linehan is back on Twitter, I expect TERFism to ramp up because he’ll be getting a lot of free press and will be hailed as some sort of martyr.

Somewhat relevant is this recent article from an ex-TERF talks about her experience escaping it and reads quite similarly to various cult escape narratives.

amy
amy
5 months ago

I don’t see how anything I have said is in any way offensive. Trans people are obviously human. Where is the room for anyone to actually converse about this if it gets heated so quickly? No, I don’t think they deserve violence. Yes, they should be granted equal access to opportunities. Maybe though, not everyone is on the same page of exactly how this will look.
I’m actually a pretty sensitive person who cares about social causes and about other people, even trans women, regardless of whether or not I think they are biological women. I also don’t need hate towards me, especially from left-wingers who, up until now I felt safe around. I don’t have the energy for it. So I guess I wont be coming back here. Sorry to disrupt your comments section, David.

weirwoodtreehugger: chief manatee

Ah yes, defend hate and then play the victim when you get called out for it. Yawn.

Lainy
Lainy
5 months ago

Amy

Leave, you aren’t welcome. There are trans gender people here who you’ve hurt. Get your “oh your so mean i’m the victim” lying ass out of here.

Naglfar
Naglfar
5 months ago

@Amy

Where is the room for anyone to actually converse about this if it gets heated so quickly?

Maybe because you’re a part of a movement that constantly gaslights and abuses trans* women (and cis women)? This is heated because human rights shouldn’t be up for debate. “Gender critical” (or whatever you call yourselves these days) people don’t want a good faith discussion, they want to get rid of us.

I’m actually a pretty sensitive person who cares about social causes and about other people, even trans women, regardless of whether or not I think they are biological women.

You clearly don’t care about us. If you did, you would stop trying to downplay the transphobia in the world and stop claiming that we’re the real misogynists.

So I guess I wont be coming back here. Sorry to disrupt your comments section, David.

Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

Policy of Madness
Policy of Madness
5 months ago

other people, even trans women

So gracious of you to grant that “even” trans women deserve the bare basics of empathy. Empathy which you actually seem to lack despite your protestations:

biological women

Again, if they’re not “biological women” are they robots? Non-biological life forms? Or is this a not-very-clever way to say that you think they are actually men without using that exact phrasing?

I also don’t need hate towards me, especially from left-wingers who, up until now I felt safe around.

Boo hoo, poor you, spreading hate but unable to take even the slightest criticism against your position.

So I guess I wont be coming back here.

We’re not interested in TERFs here, so please feel free to never return.

Moogue
Moogue
5 months ago

@Amy

In the off chance that you’re being genuine in your confusion, (and are still here), I’m not sure that you realize just how passive aggressive you sound. I mean

“Thank you for taking this into consideration and not as an attack.”

Yikes.

Moving on!

“The term is often used to harass and intimidate women or to threaten them with violence to shut them up essentially.”

But why *should* there be a “debate”?

If there should be a “debate”, why not have a “debate” on how TERFs GC feminists are assholes then? Why is that bad, I thought "debates" were good?

Seems to me that everyone thinks that "debating" is all the rage until they become the subject of the "debate".

Does this mean that there's no discussions to be had? No, some trans folks are shitty people. Some trans folks use their victim status as a shield for entitled behavior. It happens in every group. I just don't think that the GC crowd would ever be capable of putting their transphobia* aside long enough so that they could have that nuanced of a discussion. It'd be like expecting the manosohere to have a nuanced debate about women.

‘The clash between radical feminism and trans activism has a lot to do with the destruction of language and the redefinition of the word “woman.” ‘

Worried about losing your cis privilege if “woman” gets defined in a way that excludes you?

I wonder who fault this is. Who could possibly benefit by dividing cis and trans women in their mutual experiences? 🤔

*Just because you think that you’re not a transphobe doesn’t mean that you don’t have transphobic attitudes.