It's Time to End the Long History of Feminism Failing Transgender Women

transphobia is no longer acceptable in the name of feminism

In August, a doctor in Toronto received an unexpected email.

It was from a stranger in Maryland, telling the doctor that one of the transgender patients whose care he was overseeing “regularly attacks women on social media who have a lesbian feminist polititical [sic] opinion. That is, he harasses us and establishes fake Twitter accounts to harass us… Query whether this is the kind of experience one must have to ‘live as a woman.’ - you bully other women?”

The clinic supervisor quickly wrote back, “Please be aware that our centre finds this email in violation of ethical practice, our anti-oppression principles, and offensive to trans* persons.”

That email came from Cathy Brennan, an attorney, radical feminist, and lesbian activist who is well known for her beliefs that transgender women should be considered men. In the name of feminism, Brennan has advocated against a UN policy that aims to protect transgender people from discrimination.

The Canadian patient, Emily Horsman, had been sparring with Brennan on Twitter, mocking and publicly questioning Brennan’s brand of feminism, and even setting up a Cathy Brennan parody account. In recent years, Brennan has become known for taking online arguments into real-world territory. She has contacted a trans woman’s employer, posted the OK Cupid dating profiles of trans women, and contacted the mother of an outspoken supporter of transgender issues.

“There’s something about Internet culture where everyone thinks everything they post just exists in this Internet bubble,” Brennan explained to the website Bustle in a recent interview. “And I’m not of that generation. If you are going to send me abuse, I am going to find out who you are.” 

The people who are affected by Brennan’s activism clearly disagree.  

“This kind of conduct is incredibly dangerous to trans women,” Horsman says. “We are a very marginalized minority and violence occurs to us constantly. Outing us in a workplace or school environment could easily damage our future and put us at risk for physical violence.” Horsman made the email to her doctor public because she believes “Brennan stepped past a boundary that even other radical feminists think is rash.”

• • •

the cover of the transsexual empire

The marginalization of transgender women in feminism is not new, but the decades-long debate has taken on new dimension thanks to social media and the ease of finding strangers’ personal information online.

In her 2013 article “Unpacking Transphobia in Feminism” on the website The TransAdvocate, writer Emma Allen explained that radical feminists such as Brennan assert that trans women are a problem because they perpetuate the idea that “gender roles are biologically determined rather than socially constructed” is the antithesis of feminism. “Radical feminists claim that gender oppression can only be abolished by getting rid of the whole concept of gender and they view transgender people as a threat to that ideal,” Allen wrote.

Janice Raymond’s 1979 book The Transsexual Empire: The Making of the She-Male shaped the notion that transgender rights have no place in feminism. Max Wolf Valerio reflected on the book in his 2006 memoir The Testosterone Files: My Hormonal and Social Transformation from Female to Male, writing that “Raymond postulated that all transsexuals were dupes of the patriarchy, ‘mutilating’ their bodies in order to live out stereotyped sex roles instead of changing those roles through a rigorously applied program of radical feminism.” Other feminist writing of the 1970s also hit on the anti-transgender ideas. Mary Daly’s 1978 book Gyn/Ecology compared the drag queen “phenomenon” to blackface and included assertions such as: “The surgeons and hormone therapists of the transsexual kingdom… can be said to produce feminine persons. They cannot produce women.”

Drawing from that history, Brennan, fellow attorney Elizabeth Hungerford, and other modern-day feminists continue to actively question the inclusion of trans people in women’s spaces. These feminists refer to themselves as “radical feminists” or “gender critical feminists.” In 2008, trans women and trans advocates started referring to this group as “trans-exclusionary radical feminists” or TERFs, a term Brennan considers a slur. Cristan Williams, managing editor of The TransAdvocate and founder of Houston’s Transgender Center and the Transgender Archive, asserts that TERFs should be recognized as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. (To that end, a petition calling for the Southern Poverty Law Center to track the activities of the Gender Identity Watch website as a hate group was recently circulated and garnered nearly 7,000 signatures.)

This debate is not just feminist-theory inside baseball. Though outspoken, politically active trans-exclusionary radical feminists are relatively few in number, their influence on legislation and mainstream perceptions of transgender people is powerful and real.

For example, transgender people were able to readily obtain government-funded healthcare prior to 1980. That year, Janice Raymond wrote a report for the Reagan administration called “Technology on the Social and Ethical Aspects of Transsexual Surgery” which informed the official federal position on medical care for transgender people. The paper’s conclusion reads, “The elimination of transsexualism is not best achieved by legislation prohibiting transsexual treatment and surgery, but rather by legislation that limits it and by other legislation that lessens the support given to sex-role stereotyping.” In her book Transgender History, Susan Stryker says that the government curtailed transgender access to government social services under Reagan, “In part in response to anti-transgender feminist arguments that dovetailed with conservative politics.”

These days, trans-exclusionary feminists’ voices seem louder than ever, as they use social media to amplify their message. If you start following feminist conversations online, at first it seems like there’s a chorus of individuals running websites that speak out against the dangers of accepting transgender women as women. But then it becomes clear that numerous websites and Twitter feeds come from just one person: Cathy Brennan. On her personal site, Brennan lists her numerous blogs: Gender Fatigue (which recently published a tirade about Janet Mock’s gender that would make Piers Morgan blush), Pretendbians (devoted to documenting transgender people who “oppress Lesbians”), Name the Problem (which posts mugshots of alleged sex offenders along with write-ups about trans activists), the aforementioned Gender Identity Watch (which posits to watch “legal developments that erase female reality”), and a private site called Fauxmosexuals. 

And while it’s hard to confirm who is behind social media accounts, transgender advocates suspect Brennan has been involved with tweeting from at least six Twitter handles, some of which have been suspended: @ActualDykez, @NametheProblem,  @MmePierreDugay, @JenderFatigue, @orgwomenslib, and @PegasusBug. Advocates also believe Brennan is involved with the Organizing for Women’s Liberation Facebook page, which has gained 100,000 “likes” for its mix of cheerful posts (like celebrating Zora Neale Hurston’s birthday) and commentary about how transgender women are men, often linking to Brennan’s sites.

• • •

cristan williams  is a white woman with long brown hair

Cristan Williams edits the transgender news site The TransAdvocate. Photo used with her permission.

Personally, I’m not above jumping into online arguments. After seeing Brennan’s e-mail to Emily Horsman’s doctor, I angrily tweeted that “Brennan is scum.”

After my initial outburst, the writer in me became interested in understanding more about the role TERFs plays in feminism today. I e-mailed Brennan requesting an interview. We exchanged nearly a dozen e-mails—and I made it clear that my politics do not align with hers. Soon, Brennan found my angry tweet and told me to never contact her again.

I figured I would eventually wind up on one of Brennan’s sites, but I didn’t think it would happen so quickly. Within a few hours of her email about my tweet, there I was on Gender Identity Watch. Later, I was mentioned in a separate post, where I was lumped in with other writers critical of Brennan who, the post asserts, demonstrate “that third wave feminists have no ethics when it comes to advancing their anti-woman, homophobic agenda.” The idea that I’m homophobic and anti-women was upsetting, given that I’m a queer woman. 

The belief that transgender women are “not really women” sadly finds traction among many people—not just conservative politicians, but some mainstream feminists. However, few people use the tactics of the most outspoken trans-exclusionary activists to promote their ideas. 

“TERFs do a good job of colonizing feminist discourse by framing their hate as a ‘feminist critique of gender,’ thereby representing the hate that follows as the feminist position. It’s not,” says TransAdvocate editor Williams. 

The problem is that when trans-exclusionary feminists speak, a lot of people listen. Take the Michigan Womyn’s Festival for example which takes place each August and attracts performers like Le Tigre and the Indigo Girls. Since its inception in 1976, the feminist music festival has asked that only “womyn-born-womyn” attend. In 2006, the festival’s founder, Lisa Vogel, defended her stance, writing, “As feminists, we call upon the transwomen’s community to help us maintain womyn-only space, including spaces created by and for womyn-born womyn.”

In response to a 2013 petition opposing the festival’s ongoing exclusion of trans women, Vogel continued to defend the festival’s stance, writing, “The Festival, for a single precious week, is intended for womyn who at birth were deemed female, who were raised as girls, and who identify as womyn. I believe that womyn-born womyn is a lived experience that constitutes its own distinct gender identity.”

This idea that “women-born-women” need space away from transgender women impacts not just music festivals, but legislation. As policies promoting the creation of gender-neutral bathrooms continue to gain traction around the country, Brennan and other trans-exclusionary feminists have devoted time to arguing that trans women are somehow dangerous to cisgender women in public restrooms. In 2011, Brennan and Elizabeth Hungerford teamed up to write a letter to the United Nations urging opposition to laws prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity and gender expression. In her interview with Bustle, Brennan explained her thinking:

“Our whole lives we are raised very much aware of our vulnerability as women, so I don’t understand why when a man says he’s a woman, all of a sudden the penis is no longer (an issue)… Men rape women and girls in bathrooms all the time, so it’s not like women’s concerns about that aren’t reasonable. And these laws are broadly enough written to justify the entry of anyone into a (women-only) space.”

To imply that trans women pose a threat to cisgender women in restrooms is misinformation that preys on unfounded fears. I searched for news stories in which transgender women have assaulted cisgender women in bathrooms, coming across nothing but news stories detailing the attacks on transgender women themselves. 

Indeed, if anyone is in harm’s way in public restrooms, it’s trans people, who can face abuse or assault no matter which restroom they choose. A 2011 survey of 6,000 transgender Americans found that more than half of the people surveyed reported experiencing harassment in public accommodations, including bathrooms, restaurants, and hotels. This is why there has been a push to make public restrooms a little safer for those who are trans, including legislation in Philadelphia that requires all new or renovated city-owned buildings to include gender-neutral bathrooms. There’s also California’s School Success and Opportunity Act, which mandates that transgender students must be included in school activities on the basis of their identified gender rather than their assigned sex. This extends to using bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender. The Transgender Law Center heralded the law, which passed in August 2013, as a change that will save lives.

In contrast to that positive, progressive narrative around gender-neutral bathrooms, there was one story about the “dangers” of trans girls in girl’s restrooms that popped up in the fall. In October, the right-wing organization Pacific Justice Institute altered press that a transgender teenager was harassing students in the girls’ restroom at Florence High School in Colorado. The Daily Mail, Fox Nation, and at least one local TV station picked up the story, with Fox posting a short piece including the misgendering line, “When parents complained, school officials said the boy’s rights as a transgender trumped their daughters’ privacy rights.” While some outlets referred to the minor as Jane Doe, Gender Identity Watch posted the name of the teen in question, describing her as a “male student” who “claims to be transgender.”

It turns out, the story was false. The TransAdvocate’s Cristan Williams quickly called the school’s superintendent to inquire about the story and was told that the story was based on the complaint of one parent who was opposed to allowing the transgender student to use the girl’s restroom; there were no actual reported incidents of harassment.

After this incident, the teen’s mom said her daughter was struggling with harassment because of the story and was in such bad shape, the family had her on suicide watch.

It’s clear from this example that trans-exclusionary feminists don’t just spend their days making waves on social media—some get mainstream attention and hold successful, powerful positions. Cathy Brennan has used her skills as a lawyer to threaten legal action against a magazine that published an article critical of her. She also served as a liaison to the American Bar Association’s Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity from 2008-2009. She appeared on Roseanne Barr’s weekly radio program specifically to discuss her radical feminism and beliefs on female biology and gender identity. Trans-exclusionary feminists Janice Raymond and Mary Daly worked as well-respected, tenured professors. Like-minded feminist thought leader Sheila Jeffreys is still an established professor in Australia. Her forthcoming book Gender Hurts, from major publisher Routledge, will argue that “the ideology and practice of transgenderism” is harmful.

• • •

statistics on violence against transgender people

This approach to feminism is beyond troubling—it’s downright dangerous, considering that the transgender community is one of the nation’s most vulnerable. According to a 2011 study from the Anti-Violence Project, 40 percent of anti-LGBT murder victims were transgender women. A report from the National Transgender Discrimination Survey conducted by the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality, found that transgender people faced double the rate of unemployment of the general population, with 63 percent of the transgender people surveyed reporting they experienced a serious act of discrimination that majorly affected their ability to sustain themselves. These numbers are even worse for trans people of color, especially trans women of color, the deaths of whom have been deemed a “state of emergency.” 

For these reasons, the concern these feminists elicit among trans women is serious. Trans blogger and womanist Monica Roberts has been blogging as TransGriot for years, discussing the intersections between race and the violence experienced by trans women of color and writing about the importance of knowing black trans history. Roberts routinely writes about how closely white privilege is tied to radical feminists’ ability to incite scorn toward a vulnerable minority and not only get away with it, but remain gainfully employed in the process.

Activist Prerna Lal told me recently that Cathy Brennan’s name alone strikes fear in trans people. Brennan’s brand of trans-exclusionary radical feminism activism is “a witch-hunt against people who look like me,” Lal said.

• • •

dana taylor is a blonde, white woman smiling at the camera

Dana Taylor (photo used with her permission) 

One woman who has been on both sides of this feminist debate is Dana Taylor.

Taylor has an interesting history: she is transgender and used to identify as a Transsexual Separatist—someone who thinks society will be better off if trans people dont participate in spaces meant for women. She signed Brennan and Hungerford’s letter to the UN, calling for the removal of trans protections. She also ran a website where she actively fought the transgender community. It’s a time in Taylor’s life that she is now deeply ashamed of.

“When you are a bigot, you don’t know it. Your thinking is very biased and you think that your cause is noble. You are totally unaware of the actual harm you are causing to others with your agenda,” says Taylor. “I caused real harm to a lot of my brothers and sisters and didn’t even realize it.”

In 2012, Taylor started to become disillusioned with the trans-separatist crowd. She got wrapped up in a messy online debate over what is now referred to as the Cotton Ceiling, stemming from a Toronto Planned Parenthood workshop that aimed to “explore the sexual barriers queer trans women face within the broader queer women’s communities.” Brennan and her allies sent out a press release asserting that the workshop is was a “misogynistic, anti-woman, anti-lesbian” effort and that “trans women are not entitled—individually or as a class—to have sex with ‘cis’ lesbians, as they call us.” In short: trans women were painted as potential rapists.

“I saw my sisters being dragged through the mud and publicly shamed and humiliated for being who they are,” Taylor says.

Taylor pulled away from radical feminism after the debacle and began trying to make amends to her community, though her past continues to haunt her. Brennan and Raymond recently contacted Taylor’s employer and in the days since, Taylor has been diagnosed with PTSD and General Anxiety Disorder.

“When someone is in your face all the time constantly talking about your genitalia and sexuality, telling you that you are not a woman, you are a man, and robbing you of your right to have autonomy over your own existence, it can cause severe personal problems. And I want to state that I have caused this kind of pain to my own community,” Taylor says, noting that 41 percent of all trans people attempt suicide. “Demonizing, dehumanizing, humiliating, and body shaming this vulnerable community increases that number. Pushing transphobia as acceptable is literally dangerous.”

• • •

transphobia is now even in the OED

It has been said that feminism has failed the transgender community. It’s hard to disagree. Trans women have been weathering a storm of hate and abuse in the name of feminism for decades now and for the most part, cisgender feminists have failed to speak out about it or push against it.

I’ve found it difficult myself to speak out against trans-exclusionary radical feminism. Was it my place to jump in? Would I be perceived as trying to speak for trans women? What would happen to trans women if a bigger spotlight was shined on TERFs?

Intensifying these concerns was a comment that writer Flavia Dzodan of Red Light Politics recently made on a blog post about Brennan called “Naming the Problem.” Dzodan echoed what trans activist Sophia Banks has routinely discussed on Twitter: To bring up Brennan in any way can have the effect of just making her double down on her activism. Dzodan went on to say that this mechanism makes it even more difficult to expose her, writing, “If we do, we are tangentially contributing to the violence. If we don’t, we are complicit in it,” Dzodan wrote.

Despite these seemingly overwhelming challenges, it seems the tide is turning. People in queer communities are demanding that the silencing of trans women be addressed. Cisgender feminists are speaking out about Brennan’s activism. Radical feminists like Julie Bindel are distancing themselves from trans-exclusionary groups. Healthcare is becoming more accessible for trans people, including the removal of health exclusions. Workplace discrimination bills are being expanded to encompass gender identity and as discussed previously, gender-neutral bathrooms are becoming law. “Transphobic” is now in the Oxford English Dictionary and even Facebook now has the option to set your gender to “custom.”

Though change has been far too slow and painful, trans pioneer Autumn Sandeen, who was the first to be officially recognized by the Pentagon as a transgender service member, expresses hope that transphobia is becoming less acceptable.

“Every major gay-rights organization includes trans people in their mission statements. Trans people are more public than ever before and the media is moving beyond telling transition stories. Even though we’ve experienced so much hate from certain feminists, the real support is coming from feminist and queer circles,” Sandeen said. “Transphobia is no longer acceptable in the name of feminism, so while people like Brennan are free to express their anti-trans sentiments and meet with like-minded feminists while excluding trans women, there is now a cost for expressing those viewpoints.”

a rally Supporters of transgender-inclusive healthcare coverage at a Washington, DC rally in 2013. Photo by Ted Eytan. 

A recent piece written by feminist icon Gloria Steinem reflects this slow progress. Steinem was long considered transphobic because of the stance she took in writing about professional tennis player Renée Richards, who transitioned in the 1970’s. Steinem’s 1983 book Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellion cited Janice Raymond’s work and discussed how transsexuals “mutilate their own bodies.”

In October 2013, Steinem penned a mea culpa of sorts for The Advocate, writing:

“I believe that transgender people, including those who have transitioned, are living out real, authentic lives. Those lives should be celebrated, not questioned. Their healthcare decisions should be theirs and theirs alone to make. And what I wrote decades ago does not reflect what we know today as we move away from only the binary boxes of ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’ and begin to live along the full human continuum of identity and expression.”

Trans women have been saddled with the responsibility of taking on trans-exclusionary feminists for far too long—but it’s not their issue to deal with alone. Cisgender feminists, such as myself, have to make it clear that our feminism loves and supports trans women and that we will fight against transphobia. As Williams said, it’s time to expose trans-exclusionary feminists for who they really are.

 “I’ve often wondered what their [radical feminists’] end game is. Do they really believe that they’re going to cause thousands of companies and hundreds of towns to roll back trans protections?” Williams asked. “TERFs were the first to politically weaponize the trans-bathroom meme back in 1973 and they pioneered the end of trans healthcare in the 1980s. It’s high time that 40 years of focused, unrelenting hate be pulled into the light of day.”

Tina Vasquez is a staff blogger at In The Fray and an associate editor at Black Girl Dangerous. You can follow her on Twitter @TheTinaVasquez. Text illustrations are by Michelle Leigh.

by Tina Vasquez
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Tina Vasquez is a writer and editor from the Los Angeles area. Follow her on Twitter @TheTinaVasquez.

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178 Comments Have Been Posted

Thank you.

Thank you for standing up for us Tina. We need more cis people willing to stand up like this if we want to make any progress.

I am a woman born and MtF

I am a woman born and MtF transexuals are born male. We are different. If I call you woman, what do I call me? If I call you she, what do I call me? I will not use cis, it is a form of othering. I have been othered enough. I would like to see gender models broken down, but MtF transexuals need gender. We are diametrically opposed. If this makes me transphobic, it also makes you sexist. Why is all your attention focused on women? It is men who go out of their way to make MtF transexuals lives difficult. Where's the campaign against men? Or is it simply a case of men picking on women. AS USUAL. Blackface is an offense to black people, women aren't allowed to be offended by MtF transexual?

What an incoherent reply. Cis

What an incoherent reply.

Cis as a "form of othering"? That doesn't make anything approaching sense. It's a description of your gender matching your sex, and is what the majority of people are. It's by definition impossible to be "othering" when you're part of the majority.

Why do you claim that "all" the attention is on women? The fact that an article exists to (rightly) call out a specific subset of the feminist population in no way constitutes being attention unjustly focused on women.

The "blackface" comment is just ridiculous as well; it's quite simply a category fallacy. Wearing blackface and being transgender are simply not analogous. Blackface is something someone puts on, transgender is something someone is.

"It is men who go out of

"It is men who go out of their way to make MtF transexuals lives difficult."

But it is women such as yourselves who give men the means to make trans women's lives difficult.

Without Cathy Brennan, Janice Raymond and Elizabeth Hungerford, and their followers, providing the raw, bigoted 'facts' to those who can act on them, those men who make the rules would be floundering in the dark, hating trans women but not knowing how to attack them.

If "cis" is "othering"

then so is every other adjective in the English language: heterosexual, straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual. Hint: call trans women women. Call trans women she. The difference between you on gender is about as valid as the difference between you and other races. Meaning that all women experience some things more and some things less, because women are diverse.

Haha yeah, no. Black women

Haha yeah, no. Black women still like to identify as black women. Erasing their blackness erases a huge part of their experience as women. Calling trans women just "women," erases female experience. Nice try though.

No, it does not erase female

No, it does not erase female experience. I am a cis-woman and firmly believe in breaking down gender barriers and deconstructing gender in society and the existence of transwomen in no way negates or impedes on my experience. Female experience encompasses all the variety of humanity. There is no right way to be a woman. There is no single cause for gender-identity. For one thing many people are born with ambiguous gender due to any number of conditions. Others feelbdedperately wrongly assigned by their physical bodies. I truly believe that we will someday understand that too to be a biological condition, but even if it is a choice, why shouldn't people be able to choose their gender and cross those barriers I want to break down?. I have worked closely with many transwomen and was married to one for almost 7 years (marriage failes but not because she was transgendered) and transwomen are not one dimensional gender-caricatures like some second wave feminists suggest. Their relationship with gender is as complexed and as nuanced as mine. I realize their existence challenges the idea that gender is entirely socially constructed, but so does current neuroscience and biological research. Gender is a complex tapestry of biology and society and any person who seeks to limit another based on ideas ofvgender is sexist. Transphobia is a form of sexism. It is literally denying someone's identity bases on preconceived and limited notions of sex and gender roles. Moreover transwomen are outrageously vulnerable to violence and assault compared to cis-women who are outrageously vulnerable to such things compared to cis-men. People are being killed for defying gender norms and feminists aren't supportung the right to do so? No. Women who bully an oppressed minority based on matters of sex and gender do not get to claim the mantle of feminism. Feminism stands for equality and opportunity regardless of sex and gender, not policing the gates of womenhood.

Actually we do get to claim

Actually we do get to claim the title of feminists, as we were a part of the movement first. Not everyone agrees with your newfangled ideology of gender worship and to attempt to deny a female the title of feminist because she doesn't agree to letting males be called females because they "really really feel" like they are is misogyny on your part. Check yourself.

Think through that analogy again

Your argument here has a logical error. That parallel would make sense if you were saying you want to be called a _____ (fill in the blank with whatever you want) woman, not just a woman. That's about self identification & not being erased by how others label YOU. (Which you apparently want to deny to other people.)

You can call yourself & have others call you a woman all you want. No one is erasing that identity from you, no one is saying you can't identify that way.

What is being said is, if you want to be *exclusionary,* you need a modifier to do that. You don't get to decide what womanhood is for someone else, just for yourself.

If you were to line up the analogy you gave so it logically was parallel to your situation, it would be like saying that if an Asian woman identifies as a woman, that a Black woman could claim that somehow erases her identity as a woman, because she wants to identify as just a woman, and they are different. (Pretty illogical.) You can identify however you want, but if you want to start talking about what makes you different from someone else, & you want an *exclusionary* label, you need a modifier to do that.

I'm a cis woman, and I would be being no less worse and gender essentialist saying only cis women can identify as women, than I would be saying only women who can be pregnant, or have had such and such experiences (traditional feminine career, been married, etc.), can identify as women. It astounds me that people can take such a positive thing as feminism and try to misapply it so badly for such bigoted and hurtful purposes towards an oppressed group.

You accuse transgender individuals of being gender essentialist, but they are defining gender for themselves, not trying to define it for others. You are the one doing that.

Thank goodness for those who point out what a horribly bad turn off the track this is.

Thank goodness for those who use feminism to lift us all up & make life better for us all.

No, dummy. Asian women and

No, dummy. Asian women and black women are females. Males with all the trappings of femininity and delusions of femaleness are not, and never will be, female. In fact, many of them attempt to censor females from talking about their bodies because they deem it transphobic. You look ridiculous and it's very insulting to equate being a woman of color to being a male with a mental illness. Black and Asian do not modify someone's inherent femaleness. Trans, however, means you were born and socialized male.

Your analogy regarding "only women who have been pregnant can be women" is absurd. It's not bigoted to tell the truth that someone is male (as in, sexually dimorphic, based on biology). Did you not learn biology?

To imply that someone can have a "female brain" in a male body is bigoted against females.

If we got RID of gender, males and females could be free to dress, talk, act, and do whatever they wanted...but that's still not going to change biology. Why don't you go attack the males who rape and kill transwomen, and not females who want boundaries (which is our right)?

Typical TERF

No, dummy. Qualitative reality dictates that not all women are females, while quantitative reality dictates that humans can change a majority of sex characteristics to change sex. Trans women are legally, medically female. And as of May 2013 are not considered mentally ill by any relevant body of medicine. You look ridiculous. And no. Trans means that you may have been assigned female at birth (trans man), assigned male at birth (trans woman) and/or intersex, and that your degree of male/female socialization is variable.

You're absurd, bigot. Medicine is applied biology. Did you not get past 7th grade?

No. It's not. The brain is sexually dimorphic. That's a simple fact. And it doesn't follow into any particular kind of sexism.

You'll NEVER get rid of gender, because you reinforce genderism and sexism every time you use the words: "man," "woman," "male" and "female." We in the actual feminist movement acknowledge this fact. If men and women are equal then both should be free to be "manly" or "womanly" and both are free to change their sex.


Blackness doesn't erase womanhood, nor does womanhood erase blackness. Adjectives and verbs coexist. Nice try, though :)

I am a woman born

I am a woman born. I was also born with a medical condition and birth defect which like most people born with birth defects I have fixed. My reproductive status at birth made it impossible for me to ever bear children. This has not made me any less of a woman. According to your views I am a defective woman. My view is that women have vaginas. I do not believe that we need gender to celebrate other human beings. If CIS is othering, what is the exclusion of women because of their medical conditions? Are you raising your daughters as women or as human beings? If you raise them as women aren't you perpetuating that which you wish to eradicate? It's time to raise children so they can realize their full potential not some political notion of gender and sex.

With all due respect, do you your research of the medical literature for yourself not just suck up the trans exclusionary versions of research interpretation that is done to occasion a result.

Why focus on women? Because we still live in patriarchal society and those that would fight that with us believe we are the enemy.

Seems obvious to me but mtf

Seems obvious to me but mtf are not men. They may have mens BODIES, but their gender identity (their inner sense of what their gender is) is that of a woman. They are also "women born women". Their physical sex happens to be male. If mtf are not women born women then you are reducing gender to merely physical sex and it is much , much more than that.

I know many transwomen,

I know many transwomen, including my ex-wife, whose dress is far for sterotypically female. Transwomen are not caricatures. They are individuals and dress according to a wide variety of personal styles. There is no right way to be a woman and many transwomen are butch, while many others are femme and others identify at every point on that spectrum. Try meeting a few before you presume to know what they are like. The answers is, like people: individuals.

We're not othering or denying you, but thanks for asking.

The reason we have the term 'cisgender', used along side the term 'transgender', is to stop transgender people from experiencing othering. We've had the term transgender to describe someone whose gender does not align with their birth-sex for a long time, but by not having a term for people whose gender does align with their sex, transgender people are labelled and given the impression that they are different, deviant, and therefore less than cisgender-identifying people.

We are not denying your identity by calling you cis, or picking on you by any means - we are creating a level playing field for everyone. Othering is exactly what we are aiming to obliterate.

I don't deny that a cis woman like yourself has a different life experience to a trans woman. That's just the way the cards were dealt. However, that does not mean we're denying your identity as a woman, and we certainly don't want the identity of trans women to be denied. Believe it or not, but genitalia do not make you the person you are. Your birth sex is, in reality, a medical technicality - your gender, your inner sense of who you are, is what really makes you you.

I am an FtM transgender person - and I say transGENDER because the focus that the word 'transsexual' has on genitalia, on physical transitions, on sex in general, while not to be denied, has the effect of objectifying us. We have emotions, thoughts, feelings, a soul, just like every cisgender person. When we transition - if we decide to transition - we go through more than surgeries. Some of us take hormones, some of us don't. Some of us opt for surgeries to help us become who we are inside, some of us decide that surgery is either too risky or simply not necessary for that purpose. Most all of us, though, go through a personal and social transition, allowing us to live in society as ourselves, taking for ourselves the right to be as comfortable with others as in our own skin as we deserve to be.

We are real people. We are not puppets, or skin suits, or the gender equivalent of minstrels in Blackface.

I am also a feminist. Today, feminism is not just about the rights of women. Feminism is about the rights of every person of EVERY gender identity to have equal rights and the ability to live life in a safe environment how they so choose, including men. I can't deny that sexism and misogyny are still rife, and we have such a long way to go before we're free from it, but when you deny the right for everyone (including transgender and gender-non-conforming people) to identify as their gender, that is sexist as well as transphobic. When you suggest that we should campaign against men, I can't help but find that sexist: not all men are the salivating sex-beasts raping women via possession of a penis. It is only a minority of men who rape and sexually assault, and deny women equality, and that minority should not define the majority of men out there who, no doubt, are decent people. Stereotyping has harmed women for decades, so we shouldn't go out of our way to apply it to men.

Finally, to be clear: If a trans woman calls herself a woman, she is a woman. That also means when you call yourself a woman, you are a woman. If a trans woman asks that she be identified as 'she', that means we call her 'she'. That also means when you ask to be identified as 'she', we will call you 'she'. Hey, if you talk with someone, anyone, and don't know what pronouns to use, just ask. Say 'What pronouns do you prefer?' and they will tell you 'I prefer 'he'' or 'I prefer 'she'' or 'I prefer 'they'' (a gender neutral pronoun), and that's what you'll use. If someone asks you this question, don't take this to mean that your identity is under question - this means that your identity is ready to be accepted as YOU define it.

In the end, we are not trying to deny your identity. Do not try to deny ours.

What a fantastic comment.

What a fantastic comment. Yes, yes, yes. Thank you.

These last two paragraphs should be framed and mounted everywhere and displayed so people will GET IT.

If this is what you call

If this is what you call "protecting females," then this cis woman is happy to live her life without your so-called "protection."

If your sex at birth is your

If your sex at birth is your life than you are truly pathetic. What does that even mean. I am a cis-woman and barely identify with with being female. I identify with being human. Others identify strongly with their gender. THERE IS NO RIGHT WAY TO BE A WOMAN. Women have avaried experiences in terms of race, culture, socioeconomics, medical conditions, hormonal profiles, and some women are mischategorized as men at birth because our medical understanding of sex and gender is still limited. Others may evolve and become women. They do not take anything from you by existing and more than same sex marriage takes anything from heterosexual marriage by existing. You need help with your anger and to face your desire to exclude and other a vulnerable minority group. That has no place in feminism.

"If your sex at birth is your life than you are truly pathetic."

Are you really allowing people to bandy around statements like this? Feminism has always been about how female's "Sex at birth" has a profound and negative influence on their life. If we can't even acknowledge that anymore without being called "pathetic" then feminism is total bankrupt.

What is even the point of a feminist movement if we can't acknowledge common female experience based on sex?

No matter what you do, trans

No matter what you do, trans women cannot "erase" the identities of "cis" women. Sorry, we are not an identity. We're not like you in that removing gender erases our lived realities. I'm not threatened by you, because I'm the real thing and not an impostor, and nothing you do or say will change that.

I really enjoyed your post.

I really enjoyed your post. The first time I was called a cis-woman it made me uncomfortable and I am embarrasses to admit that my discomfort was the result of being asked to give up a small amount of privilege in the name of equality and exclusivity. As a woman and a lesbian I often speak about the privilege of others, but as a transadvocate and ally I must examine my own prejudice. Claiming the term ciswoman was a struggle for me, in part because my own relationship with gender identity is not as straightforward as the dichotomy implies. I think, however, as long as transwomen are not able to choose whether to include trans in their identity or whether to be simply women that it is important for me to do the same. I look forward to the day when trans is onky relevant ifbthe individual so labelles believes it to be.

A Reply To: I am a woman born and MtF....

Firstly Id like to say that being born half a world away in New Zealand and now currently residing in Australia, I haven't had very much (if any) contact or issues with The Feminist Movement, and my language may not be on the same "par" as yours in the US maybe...but Im absolutely astounded by the HATE disguised within this "so called Feminist" reply to the article relating to this matter... YES its most probably true that you were born a woman (though replying under the heading "Anon", we can never and will never really be certain....but for arguments sake, I'll go along with your theory of this) And YES I am a MtF Transexual LADY....and YES again, that means I was born biologically Male. But Biology doesn't make a person concrete in a gender role, it is the whole entirety of the person that does, not just one part...(and this, I believe, goes for all people of what ever gender, including yourself "Miss Anon") And YES we are different, intact if you haven't noticed during the years you have been breathing this planets oxygen, WE ALL ARE DIFFERENT....every colour of the Gender Kalaidescope (as we call it down here) is different from each other including those that share the same gender"umbrella"... be that Male, Female,Trans, Intersexed,Etc....No two Females are the same, or arrive at "Womanhood" exactly the same way, or even on the same path.... and my personal journey to "Womanhood" is no exception to this.... And secondly, if you cannot even have the basic human respect and dignity, to refer to another human being in a manner that they wish (especially if you are a complete stranger to them) then I totally agree with you....WHAT DO I CALL YOU??? For it definitely could not be that of "Human Being" if you do not have the basics "down pat" shall we say... You go on to mention sum jibber jabber, drool about not using "cis", as its a form of this I totally agree with you, as I don't personally like it either (Transgender/Transexual has always been to me, the "anomaly", along with the other "non conformist" (as in not Male or Female strictly) Gender Roles... and there is always and will always be an anomaly in nearly everything Nature creates, thats just the way it is and is supposed to be...(if you don't like this, I suggest you take it up with MOTHER NATURE...) Now to the point about being diametrically opposed, making you Transphobic, thus making us sexist.... what a load of codswallop!!!! Its seems to be totally OK for you to spew out this "disguised hatred and dislike and discrimination you obviously have (deeply rooted within you is the impression I get through your veil of illusional wording) but if any one of "us" Trans folk were to talk in the same way and motivations as you have, about either male or female populations, we are portrayed by people such as your ever so charming self, to be trying to "breakdown" the very fabric of what Gender is within our society... (and YES, I maybe abit dramatic in my wording, but at least mine is factual and has reasonable grounds with actual data/incidents/reports/etc to back it up.... as historically we have seen my community that of the Trans Community face and go through time and time again) And if we did break down gender roles, your statement that MtF Transexuals need gender, becomes null and void, as if theres no gender roles, Id be free to just BE, in the exact same way as every other human NO I would not need gender then, or did you not think that one out quite correctly? Now just so you know and its totally clear and understood the focus is not on women as in the general populous of woman, but you yourself seem to feel this strongly towards you as the "type" of woman that you are....and YES, I think you've hit the nail on the head with this one dear.... along with a small percentage of Males who go out of their way to cause difficulty in the lives of Trans folk (for most, unfortunately the opportunity to do so, happens to present itself, not them going out of their way to thus create that very same opportunity) But its a small percentage of Females, like that of your fine self, that do cause "difficulty" (Id like to call it an absolute offensive, disrespectful, utterly downright hateful and rude, inhumane treatment of another individual, for some sort of sick, twisted pleasure or deeply perverted and rooted sense of entitlement of control, due to a far more deeply rooted fear usually) to Trans folk.... I thought you wanted a form of equality by breaking the gender roles? well why do u insist on this, yet are not willing to pass it on, past your own boundaries???? Hypocrisy is a word that suddenly has sprung to mind.....(food for thought dear) A case of men picking on woman again....what utter CRAP and you know it!!!!! If anyones doing the picking on its you and your community (after reading the aforementioned article the noble title of "TERF", I do believe it to be....(FRET spelled backwards,lol, as thats all you seem to want to cause people with your hateful, unfounded and uneducated, false dribble) is the community Im referring too. Thus explaining why you feel the way you seem to....under the micro scope of attention, as you say... now to your last and final (thank heavens above) statement... Yes woman have the right to be offended by MtF Transexuals, as well as FtM Transexuals ( a group of my very own community that you haven't mentioned once, but Im sure you would have some hair brained biased bigoted discriminative theory and accusations to level at them as well) but back to my point... if a woman was offended by a Trans person, it would clearly show to me, that she would be ignorant, uninformed, and in this day and age extremely bigoted, and fearful of something different to that she is not accustomed to.... which in return I would would feel deep sadness and pity towards her for falling behind the evolutionary age of acceptance and tolerance toward all for our differences and uniqueness amongst one another.....(you know....same, same, but different)... ( sorry, I clearly showed in your reply to the article .... that NO, you don't know, do you dear....) And I do suggest strongly, that instead of posting your thinly disguised "hateful" views under "Anon", have the guts to stand by what you say (or should I say SPEW OUT ) into society, by putting your name to it, as I have done..... otherwise, it really doesn't make you any better or nicer than the group of spineless, hateful, cowardly,vermin, that post nasty vile things about people on the internet under fake or anonymous names/usernames.....TROLLS I think they are reffered to as.... so until you can "own up" to what you post, by assigning your real name to it, I suggest you do as the TROLLS do....hide away from view, as to be unaccountable for what you say and inflict on others....cowardly,spineless,and nastily vile, but who pronounces to be the one who is/has been victimised in some hideously foul way.... shame on you and your dignity as a human being, of the same DNA as all the rest of us, sharing this planet...

Yo what's up I wrote a book

Yo what's up I wrote a book Gyn/Ecology because I'm an certified, licensed, and practicising doctor. Of theology but don't tell my patients...

Holy crap what chutzpah to

Holy crap what chutzpah to write a book like that. Garbage!

What chutzpah to talk about

What chutzpah to talk about someone's genitals to their parent.

you got me on the ron howard

you got me on the ron howard quotes quiz bowl tournament. "what is ron howards favorite twirling snake?" "a caduceus of hermes 13."

If this is what radical feminism is, count me out

Thank you for this article.

I've never known much about radical feminism. This is the second piece about transpohobia within that movement to cross my path today.

I'll always consider myself a feminist, but I'll not align myself with any part of the movement that's so obviously rooted in exclusion and hate. And if that puts me on Cathy Brennan's shit list, I guess I'll just have to deal with it.

There are people who identify

There are people who identify as radical feminists but do not support transphobia. Some of them are quite angry that those who do have hijacked the movement.

Are you even aware that

Are you even aware that radical feminism means "the root of feminism" as in "the beliefs of the founders of feminism"? Who is hijacking who? Pretty sure the female impostors are the ones hijacking our movement. Jesus Christ, the ignorance.

You are hijacking my

You are hijacking my movement. Since I am a cis woman, by your logic, I am not an imposter, but I believe in the deconstruction of gender barriers at all costs and supporting those who are oppressed by such distinctions.

does that include racism and

does that include racism and eugenics? that used to be a big part of some people's feminism....

man, yall are good at not

man, yall are good at not responding to direct questions.

this thread is full of dodges.

answer the question: some of the people you would cite as "founders of feminism" believed in compulsory sterilization of poor women/women of color. So "radical feminist" is this something you're behind?

And no trying to respond with something asinine like, chosen sterilization is eugenics! You do realize that if that were true it would logically follow that all elective vasectomies are a form of eugenics? Which would make all forms of birth control the same thing assuming that their use is elective. After all, those years are sterile years that could have been put to reproductive use. Not to mention women who choose not to have children. They too would be practicing a form of eugenics. Which of course brings us to the gays, who are apparently gold-star eugenicists.

I urge you to look up the definition of eugenics. The more yall dodge direct questions with slogan like the one above, the more you prove your ignorance and irrelevance.

Maybe you should read more

Maybe you should read more about Radical Feminism from Radical Feminists and not liberal feminists defaming them.

On ad hominems

Sigh. So all it took was this one article to convince you, Sarah? You're thinking that if a distasteful person advocates for a particular cause, that cause should be summarily dismissed? In fact, there are many feminists that believe that the current trans narrative is bad for women. Believe it or not, most are NOT named Cathy Brennan. I urge you to keep reading. Psst... notice how even this article points out that people like Sheila Jeffreys and Mary Daly are respected academics? Start there.

Yay friendship

Spread the love and support! I'm a trans* person, I'm usually assumed by others to be female and have been marginalized and molested because I'm a "woman" throughout my entire life (only get harassed for being trans* when people know that I'm trans*), and I'm a feminist. There are lots of intersections between cis womanhood and trans* womanhood/personhood, and we should all definitely be allies to one another! Progressive feminism doesn't discriminate against trans* people and I'm so glad that people are speaking out against transphobia.

Great comment!

Great comment!


Why must we even be more divisive. We have Black, Latino, Asian, Native, White feminism, and now some other women are trying to exclude more women. Why? Why must we act like this? I understand we all have different issues because of how we were born but come on, can't we stand together? I just don't get the venom of these women.

My feminism will not be focused on trans issues

Trans folk are welcome to feminism and the empowerment it gives, same as anyone else. However, women around the world are oppressed and sexualized from infancy based on their having vulvas and vaginas. My feminism is against essentialism, which the concept of transgenderism perpetuates. I believe there is a condition trans folk have that is akin to the condition known as transabled. I do not subscribe to the notion of female and male brains, and I never will. Women, trans or otherwise, are all oppressed, but only men have cis-privilege. There is no such thing as privilege on the basis of sex or gender when one is a girl or woman. Especially when even trans activists shame us for using the word "vagina" to refer to our female parts when we protest abortion restrictions. Trans advocates have deemed the words "female" and "vagina" as "exclusionary". Sorry, but my vagina is what it is, and gives zero fucks who feels excluded by that. This is what I was born with, and what society has punished me for having. I am revolving my feminism around that struggle, not the trans entitlement to appropriate my female oppression. My feminism is about womanhood, including critical thinking about gender and trans folk can understand or not, but women don't need to change their feminism because it may aggravate some trans* person's dysphoria.

Women aren't oppressed based

Women aren't oppressed based having vulvas and vaginas, we're oppressed because because we live in a patriarchy. And regardless of genitals, women and things we connect to womanhood, whether it be vaginas or anything else considered feminine is seen by society as inferiorto men, men's issues, and masculinity. Our genitals are completely arbitrary. And your little cissexist rant made no sense.

We're not oppressed because

We're not oppressed because if our vaginas? Tell that to like every single woman in the history of the human race. SMH. If this is feminism, count me out.

Women are oppressed due to

Women are oppressed due to being labelled female. Those with ambiguous genitalia who are labelled female share this oppression. Yet, even oppresses groups may have certain types of privilege. I am a white, gay, cis-woman and lack male privilege, and straight privilege, but I I belong to the dominate racial group in my country, and was raised in an upper class environment and (having been married to a transwoman for 7 years) I can honestly say that being cis carries privilege: I don't have to carry around medical records to have my identity documents appear consistent with my outward expression, I have legal recourse if I am fired for being female, if I am arrested I don'tvfear being houses with male prisoners, etc. Additionally, while my risk (as a woman) of being a victim of a violent crime is unacceptably high, a transwoman's risk is even higher. Everyone has privilege, but we can't let that divide us and dustract us from the actual oppression that affects us all.

I understand what you're saying...

However, I think your conclusions are a little off.

I am a cisgender woman. Though it's taken me awhile to come to that point. When I was younger I wanted to be a man, and even talked about reassignment surgery. I also considered myself genderqueer for awhile.

While I understand trans women may have been given male priviledge, at least if they spent any portion of their time being seen as a man in our world; however, that doesn't mean they weren't women. LIke most men, they were born into that privilege. Privilege and oppression is about how the world labels us and interacts with us, it has nothing to do with your vagina. If you grew up being seen by the world as a man, even if you had a vagina, then you would have male privilege. The same goes for trans women.

So yes, trans women can have male privilege, and I hope they are able to acknowledge that once they don't have to worry about dying every day for the sheer fact they are a trans person. However, that doesn't detract from them being a woman. It's not a trans person's fault society is a jerk and tells men they're better just because they are men. Especially if they don't identify or connect with being a man.

And I don't think it is about vagina being exclusionary per say. It is about vagina = woman. A woman is not synonimous with vagina. As a cisgender woman I struggle with that too. I don't want to be defined by my sexual/reproduction organs either. Abortions are relevant to people who have uteruses and fertility, not just people who are vagina-havers. I have a uterus, yet I'm infertile, so when people talk about abortions being a woman's issue, it's kind of not the case. The same is true for trans men, who are men yet have uteruses and thus abortions are relevation to their lives. So the context these words have are what make them exclusitory, not necessarily your specific bodypart.

And female is an arbitary label assigned to us at birth based on our sex organs. That's why it's exclusitory. Especially since in like sports they'll actually test a woman's biological makeup to see if she has the right chemical composition to be officially a woman. So the label is applied without a consistent basis depending on what the instutitions want to do with the lines they've drawn. It's not /you/ being a female, or identifing as one, that makes it exclusionary. It's the way the world catergorizes and assigns us. Lucky you that you fit in with everything and never question it, but when those catergories bring distress, violence and destruction, it's important for allies to try and assuade the damage and understand why that kind of language can be harmful. We didn't make the definitions, and we operate within them as much as everyone else has to; however, we can help change them to do our part in support of our trans friends.

"Sorry, but my vagina is what

"Sorry, but my vagina is what it is, and gives zero fucks who feels excluded by that."

Has anyone ever seriously asked you not to call your vagina a vagina, or are you just creating a strawman here? Is your feminism reeeeally harmed when people point out the FACT that cis women aren't the only gender who needs abortions? If so, your feminism sounds pathetic.

You revolve your feminism around your vagina, yet trans people are the ones perpetuating essentialism? If your vagina is so central to your feminism, why not just do away with the word "woman" altogether, and just call yourself a vagina-haver?

"not the trans entitlement to appropriate my female oppression." Oh please.

"women don't need to change their feminism because it may aggravate some trans* person's dysphoria." If you are actively aggravating someone's dysphoria (which would take much more than just calling your vagina a vagina) then yes you need to change your feminism. Or else just proudly own that you are a jerk.

"You revolve your feminism

"You revolve your feminism around your vagina, yet trans people are the ones perpetuating essentialism? If your vagina is so central to your feminism, why not just do away with the word "woman" altogether, and just call yourself a vagina-haver?"

For the entire history of the English language up until very recently, "woman" has meant "vagina-haver," so why are WE being forced to change the definition instead of transwomen accepting they aren't female? Oh right, because they have male socialization, so anything they say goes.

Well said

I was about to write a very long-winded post much like yours (as a neuroscientist, the idea that someone could say "I do not subscribe to the notion of 'X difference in' brains, and I never will." as outrageous at best.

I would just like to congratulate you on your very well written post, especially the last paragraph where you concisely put a stop to the body dysmorphic disorder = gender dysphoria malarkey.


"Dysphoria", eh? Well by your own admission you now have excluded every Intersex person (born with 'mixed signal' genitalia, so to speak) from being women. Your views are unscientific, as the only thing that qualifies someone as biologically female from a scientific standpoint is XX as opposed to XY...OH BUT WAIT, what about XXY people, and other chromosomal differences??? Oh and I suppose you wouldn't know that we are about a couple years away from being able to do uterus transplants, so transwomen WILL be able to have natural-born children soon. The evidence points to your views being just as rigid and unscientific as those who believe in 6-day literal creationism.

On uterine transplants

I hope you don't actually think that uterine transplants will enable an MtF to have a natural born child in a few years. At best, a doctor could sew in an embryo somewhere along the abdominal wall and attach any resulting placenta to the bowel. This is purely theoretical, however, because the risk to the host is so high that it will never get studied. Further, there as never been a successful uterine transplant to a man or MtF person. Fertility experts reject the idea of even conducting studies for it because, again, the risk of death to the host is too high and there is no medical justification for taking such risks using human specimens.

You really shouldn't call someone ignorant of science when you're ignorant of science yourself. If you were so dedicated to this, you would keep up with the work of people like Dr. Robert Winston. I guess you'll have to find a new thing to guffaw about.

While the specifics posted

While the specifics posted may be off on the time scale, it is not outside reasonable scientific expectations.

The likely order of events, based on current advances:

The 3-D printing of a complete phallus using patient stem cells harvested from adipose tissue, initially as replacement/corrective alternatives for injured individuals (most likely soldiers), progressing to elective cosmetic procedures, and eventually available for FtM and ItM.

This would be followed by the manipulation or cloning of tissue in the creation of new viable testes, which would be further advanced by gene manipulations that control the morphology of sex differentiated cells between male and female to maintain male testes for FtM and ItM patients.

This same method would be reversible for creating/cloning ovum.

It is just a matter of time before priorities shift toward the creation/cloning/printing of the Uterus for fertility purposes, which will eventually lead for treatments for MtF and ItF patients.

The expected difference is that, whereas the current FtM surgeries are the more complex and expensive of SRS procedures, the costs will reverse due to the change in complexity of the new procedures. Regardless, as the technology emerges, they will be prohibitively expensive to most people, but will likely drop within our generation's lifetime to be moderately affordable.

While I do not foresee true "natural" birth being viable any time soon, pregnancy and birth by c-section by individuals born male or intersex through the use of a constructed uterus is highly likely within the next 40 years at the latest.

And all of this is just assuming that our rate of medical advancement stays constant, despite the evidence of continual accelerated growth in knowledge.

Never underestimate the push for advancement. Experts now may claim it won't happen, but they get replaced by new experts. Dolly the sheep was predicted by experts as being too unethical to attempt, but she was created and many more were afterward.

No. Male socialization gives

No. Male socialization gives you male privilege.

Stop using the intersex community as a token.

Oh, look...

Another cisgender person perpetuating the double standard on "essentialism." Yep, transgender people perpetuate it, but cisgender people don't, because it's okay for you to have your body and do your best to get by in the gendered world, but the instant transgender people do the same thing, it's "ESSENTIALIST!" Wait... No, it's not. It's the same dynamic of gender oppression and this is just you perpetuating it, as you put forth essentialist stereotypes of women and women's oppression. I know, let's take an aspect of stereotypical femininity and see how it applies to cis and trans women. Makeup:

Cisgender woman wears makeup? No problem...
Transgender woman wears makeup? ESSENTIALIST!
Cisgender woman feels pressured to wear makeup (date, job interview, etc.)? Oh, how oppressive.
Transgender woman feels pressured to wear makeup (to pass and avoid assault/murder)? Pfft!

Reality: transgender people are DIVERSE (like most cisgender people), some are binary (like most cisgender people), some take on stereotypical roles to get by in society (like most cisgender people), some are are queer/non-conforming in various ways (like some cisgender people). Sorry, but most trans people don't care about the words "vagina" and "female" because bits and sex characteristics are mutable. Trans people are also allies in the fight for healthcare and contraception/abortion. Why? Because they're also denied healthcare, also denied the pill, and also denied respect for their bodily autonomy.

If anyone's entitled here, it's you. Thinking that Female oppression is something that can be "appropriated" from you as if it is somehow a universal experience that rightly belongs to you. Reality: female oppression is an experience, and everyone owns their own experience of female oppression, but no one should own it as a whole because it shouldn't exist.

WORD! And exactly what I was


And exactly what I was thinking. Well said.

The TERFs aren't completely

The TERFs aren't completely crazy. Sometimes, trans-people and the concept of trans* can contribute to a gender-binary and an essentialism that we could really do without.

Cis-gendered people contribute to essentialism A LOT MORE.

I would wager that trans-people in general are more inline with my radical feminism than the majority of cis-gendered people.

On a slight, tangent, I am Female-born genderqueer and use 'they' pronouns. I usually go for an androgynous look. Sometimes I dress 'female' and sometimes I dress 'male'. Am I contributing to essentialism by consciously choosing a gendered outfit?

So... you really have not

So... you really have not ever heard that the societal requirement for women to wear makeup is indeed regarded as oppressive in classic feminist theory? Yet you would like to explain oppression to the female readers of Bitch Magazine. Great, perhaps they'll give you a place on the Editorial Board!

You misread that comment.

You misread that comment. Nothing they say implies that.

Try rereading it.

If that doesn't work for you, perhaps you can try to explain what gave you that impression from what they wrote, & we can do our best to clarify it for you.

But I was victimised for

But I was victimised for being an effeminate boy anyway, why is that different? I am a woman whether ppl like it or not and was beaten and used as an object by men, is my abuse by 'straight' men less important because I have a cock, it didn't save me I promise you.Now to be disincluded from the ranks of women because of a penisI dont even want...Just makes me feel miserable and alone. I've always been a woman, gender shouldn't exist is an easy thing to say when you haven't had to pretend to be a man at all costs.

I was thinking a similar

I was thinking a similar thing. Like, if only people born with vaginae can be oppressed via sexism than what about feminizing boys, fem boys, using feminization to humiliate boys, and in your case, beating up on transgirls?

It's too narrow a view of sexist oppression. And it's essentialist, we women are apparently just the space around our vaginae according to the original poster.

And if it helps, there are lots of us who know you are a woman and are happy/privileged to have you in the ranks and recognize the abuse you've suffered at the hands of the patriarchy as valid, sexist oppression and important to struggle against.

Yes, which is why radical

Yes, which is why radical feminists think gender needs to be abolished. The trans narrative relies on there being a gender binary.

Factually wrong.

The prefix "trans-" means both "across from" and "beyond." Meaning: trans people can cross the binary or occupy both sides of the binary or forgo the binary completely. You rely on policing identities.

No, I'm sorry, my vagina is

No, I'm sorry, my vagina is sick of your vagina's whining about essentialism while it equates your existence to its vaginahood. My vagina thinks your vagina is selfish and entitled, but since my vagina isn't my whole personhood, no excuse me, my whole womanhood, it asked me to tell your vagina that what it is is wrong. I happen to agree with my vagina on this one, so hey, lady revolving around that vagina! you're both wrong!

I think I just fell in love

I think I just fell in love with you.



how is your thinking 'women'

how is your thinking 'women' need to have vaginas not essentializing. if I haven't been oppressed because of mine, do I not a woman? will future people born with vaginas in a world without sexism be women or not? if the whole point of your feminism is that gender isn't essentializing, why would you think sex is? it's also not binary, it's also a social construct based on perceived biological differences.

and in a practical sense, what does acknowledging the womanhood of trans women do to harm you? they are more likely to be the victims of violence, discrimination and oppression. they are the most womanly by your standard.

and we need to stop pretending that patriarchy is men against women (just like racism isn't black people against white people). if women-only spaces are meant to make women more comfortable, because men intimidate them or make them fearful, then what about those of us 'women born women' whose abuse and assaults came from women? how do we find a safe space?

fuck you bigots.

Thank you

Thank you Tina for standing up for us.

This was a great piece and the amount of research and fact checking is astounding.

You are wonderful.

This is what has been going down...

<p>Just whatever you do, don't compare their calls for trans extermination to those of Nazis.

</p><p><em>I contend that the problem with transsexualism would best be served by morally mandating it out of existence</em> -- Janice Raymond: The Transsexual Empire - the making of the She-Male
I<em> hope to see the very concept of Jewry completely obliterated.</em> -- Heinrich Himmler, Memo March 23 1941. Quoted in "Murderous Science" - Page 48

</p><p>Don't take the word of their critics, just read what they proudly write themselves-

</p><p><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Bev Jo:</span> They expect we’ll be shocked to see statistics about them being killed, and don’t realize, some of us wish they would ALL be dead.
<span style="text-decoration: underline;">Luckynkl</span>: The male-born are biologically incomplete mutants, useless and obsolete; walking viruses on two legs and a cancer, spreading disease, death and destruction wherever they go. They are the walking-dead and the antithesis to life. Gyn-energy sucking vampires who have to plug into women and feed on them in order to survive. No different than a parasite who sucks the life and energy out of its host.

</p><p><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Bev Jo</span>: There are no words to describe them. There are tiny parasitic wasps who paralyze small animals (spiders, caterpillars, etc.) and lay their eggs on them, so the animal is alive while being slowing eaten by the growing baby. But the wasps aren’t deliberately cruel. These men remind me of a deliberately female-hating version of that. They’ve prove what I’ve been saying for decades — they are more female-hating than even many het men. The character in Silence of the Lambs who skinned women to wear really seems more accurate all the time.</p><p>

<span style="text-decoration: underline;">RoseVerbena</span>: I do not agree that you are a woman. I will never agree that you are a woman. Having GID does not make you a woman. I will go to my grave disagreeing that you are a woman. That’s final.
<span style="text-decoration: underline;">Amazon ManCrusher</span>: I don’t believe in the tooth fairy or all seeing invisible sky dude or males being born into wrong sexed bodies.

</p><p><span style="text-decoration: underline;">MaggieH:</span> Fed up with those fucking trannies saying they are womyn. They need to get blasted too. They’re men.

</p><p><span style="text-decoration: underline;">FCM:</span> Neo-Vagina? Or Second Asshole? There is absolutely NO non-patriarchal, non-misogynist reason to regard this structure as a neo-vagina rather than a second asshole… If you must, call it a second asshole, because at least that’s not misogynist.

</p><p><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Cathy Brennan:</span> The goal of “trans” whacktivists is to ERASE “woman” from reality

These insane MALES are trying to erase us, women. They are actively working night and day to ERASE us from our shared language, from our laws, from the face of the earth.
<span style="text-decoration: underline;">m Andrea:</span>
If they were to assist in dismantling a system of gender oppression, then there would be no plausible explanation for their need to transform their bodies. I suspect that whatever twisted neurons are responsible for transgenderism, would just focus on a different fetish.

</p><p><span style="text-decoration: underline;">doublevez:</span>
They are dangerously, seriously mentally ill. The fact that they are not being treated for THAT is a human rights infraction.
<span style="text-decoration: underline;">tiamathydra:</span>
And in case castrated men with dresses and lipstick insist in infiltrating female-only spaces, you know what? We should create female-only secret societies and spread our tentacles from there.

</p><p><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Mary Sunshine:</span>
Any reference to trannies as “women” is a betrayal of women who are, by definition, adult human females.

...Females don’t have to kill baby boys. Just not nurture them. Females are forced to *birth* baby boys, but beyond that a female’s physical actions are her own.

Males will die without the constant infusion of female energy that they get from our wombs and from our lives. They are perfectly welcome to take the male infants from the hands of the midwife, and what they do with it from that point is *their* decision.

</p><p><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Dawnsister:</span>
Not at all, Maggie. In fact, I’m one of those bad, shameful feminists who wish we could all just kill the fuckers(men).
</p><p>...and so on and so on, no need to cherry-pick or quote mine. The venom and naked, insane hatred is indistinguishable from the anti-Semitism in <em>Mein Kampf</em> and <em>Die Sturmer</em>. Exactly the same calls for a "Final Solution". The only difference is, they have little power.</p>

Thank you for posting this

Thank you for posting this quote mine -- I hope it is enshrined or preserved somewhere, because it's the most efficiently comprehensive list of TERF hate and Fundamentalism out there. Why the SPLC hasn't designated these people a hate cult is a mystery to me.

why not a hate group

The SPLC ruled on the petition. Basically, TERFs did not met their requirements to be classified as an organized group.

Silencing feminism?

Thinking critically about sex and gender is part of feminism. It is not transphobic to question the problematic dynamics caused by sex and gender. Refusing to conform solely to the trans* perspective of gender and sex is not transphobic, and neither is eschewing the entire concept of gender due to use as a classification which favors men and maleness while treating everyone else as "lesser than". Gender on a grand scale has not been a helpful tool for liberating women and girls.

Feminism is exactly the place for those discussions, and the demand for feminists to be silenced is a little disturbing.

Double standard

You are presenting quite a double standard in the argument you are presenting. Whenever transgender individuals question or are critical of exclusionary points of view it is considered by these feminist to be, "a silencing of legitimate debate and feminist voices," but whenever transgender people are questioned by these so call feminists it is supposed to be considered, "fighting against oppressive transgender perspectives which are anti-feminist, that these views presented are not transphobic and are vital for the critical questioning of 'problematic dynamics caused by sex and gender'." I would argue that your lumping also of transgender prospective as a single common entity and association with transgender identity with gender normative practice and behavior is highly problematic. While this isn’t an Oppression Olympics, I think this article makes it clear that transgender prospective are so often silenced by this double standard you are presenting above and a lack of mainstream vocal support. You clearly seem to be are implying that the problem is that transgender identity is not question enough, rather then what this article is arguing which is the questioning is often a coded word for transgender identity to rejected and excluded from feminist dialogue.

double standards

TERfism is all about double standards.

"Biology isn't destiny... EXCEPT FOR YOU!" Cisgender woman does some stereotypically feminine thing (like wearing makeup)? No problem! Transgender woman does some stereotypically feminine thing (like wearing makeup)? ESSENTIALISM! Cisgender women feels pressured to do this same stereotypical thing so she feels attractive on a date, or seems professional for a job interview? Oh, she's oppressed by beauty standards... Transgender woman does this same stereotypical this to pass so she's not as likely to get assaulted/harasses/murdered? Pfft! Who cares!

I don't understand why it's

I don't understand why it's double standards to say that wearing stereotypical feminine trappings doesn't make you a woman. Women shouldn't feel pressured to do so and men shouldn't feel pressured not to. If a man wants to wear makeup and a dress, fine. If a woman wants to wear no makeup, dungarees and grow a moustaches, fine. Isn't it less oppressive to aim for a world where everyone can present themselves as they wish without having to undergo surgery to change their bodies to match their presentation? Surely if society were accepting of an individual's right to look and act however they feel most comfortable, whether or not it corresponds with the stereotypes of their sex, there wouldn't be a need for confusion over gender?

"Isn't it less oppressive to

"Isn't it less oppressive to aim for a world where everyone can present themselves as they wish without having to undergo surgery to change their bodies to match their presentation?"

I didn't get surgery because I felt obligated to not be a woman with a penis: I got surgery because I'd rather have a vagina. I never enjoyed using my old genital configuration all that much, and I find sex WAY more enjoyable and satisfying now. Which is why all of this concern trolling about the gender-free paradise (coughthat'sneveractuallygoingtohappencough) is silly and reveals a fundamental lack of understanding about trans issues.

You're missing it...

It's not that stereotypically feminine things make one a woman. It's that one's identity as a woman makes one a woman. And if one identifies as a woman, then one may feel more comfortable using medicine (applied biology) to affect female anatomy/physiology/morphology/phenotype/etc. (changing sex characteristics).

Believe it or not, there exist stereotypically feminine trans men and stereotypically masculine trans women.

Thats beacause...

The thing is, its not about how you wish to present yourself. that is one thing a LOT of people get wrong. I am an example of a Trans* MtF Tomboy. I identify as Female because that is who i am BUT i don't care about looking super pretty all the time even though for many it's a requirement for safety. It's fun sometimes but it is just too much to care about. i for one, would rather be comfortable. So there really is no confusion over gender. i AM a woman, easy as that. I love the idea that one wouldn't have to undergo a transformation to feel at peace with their bodies, but its kinda like asking you to take on the role of another gender forever. you would prolly go rather insane just as one actress (Chloe Sevigny) who went to therapy after playing a trans* Man. she had said that she would cry all the time even though she knew it could come off at the end of the day. This change i am undergoing isn't so that you or anyone else can see me for how i see myself. to me, its not about anyone else but me. so that i can feel at peace with my own being. So gender roles arent all that thick here other than to help us blend in for safety, and for some its just who they are to be super feminine and or masculine. just as everyone else who are not Trans*, We are just as diverse and like yourself have a place on the gender spectrum, for both identity and expression. just as a male cross dresser may wear female clothes and act feminine, they identify as male. because they ARE male.

(PS don't forget those who are gender queer or a-gender. they don't go with gender norms because that's who they are. Easier than you might think)

Me too...

I switch back and forth between moderately feminine and tomboy. I can comfortably get away with this because of passing privilege, but not all trans people get that privilege and (for some) playing into the gender binary is a their only means of mitigating their chances of facing assault/harassment/murder... But STILL, these people have the nerve to hate on these binary trans people for doing whatever it takes to SURVIVE. -_-

I can't help but wonder if

I can't help but wonder if read the same article that I did.

You seem to be confusing

You seem to be confusing 'gender on a grand scale' with the personal experience of gender. Trans people are, as a rule, not trying to make political statements but simply trying to live their own lives. If you argue that the personal is inevitably political, I must contend that it is a highly unpleasant species of politics that requires trans people to carry the burden of your ideal society by eschewing their own existence. There are better ways to challenge oppression than by building your movement on other people's backs.

Furthermore, I think you'd be hard pushed to sustain the notion that there's a single trans perspective on gender.

so what -does- make someone a

so what -does- make someone a woman? i don't understand, if people are really down for a genderless world, why they would identify as women to begin with.

The Definition of a Woman is not your vagina

Its what gender you identify with.
Welcoming our new sisters. ♥

I think the real question we

I think the real question we need to ask is where is Cathy Brennan hiding her horcruxes


Thanks Tina for informative share! "I support trans health equality and economic justice"....

Tina, I checked out your run

Tina, I checked out your run in with the lovely Voz Latina on Twitter. This is the same Voz who wrote in Feministe that all females should be raped so they'd know what trans women go through. The piece was deleted without an apology.

Face it, honey, whether it's Voz or Janet Mock, they're never satisfied. You can never kiss their asses enough and most MTF activists will always resent you for having the "unearned privilege" of a female body. I'll make an exception for the "truscum", or assimilated transsexuals. A lot of them are very nice and good allies to women. The loud and proud non-ops like Voz, not so much.

Wake up, "cis woman".

I saw the same exchange and

I saw the same exchange and agree that Voz was out of line in her attacks on both Tina Vasquez and Andi Zeisler. As a trans woman who was satisfied with this article, I'm sorry they had to deal with that. (To Ms. Vasquez and Ms. Zeisler, thank you for writing and publishing this article. It's great.)

But to compare that behavior to Mock's complaints against Morgan? Really? To say one angry woman represents most trans activists? And what the heck are "assimilated transsexuals" that you'll "make an exception for"?

Also, as much as I disagree with what Voz said to Vasquez and Zeisler, what the hell does her operation status have to do with this, or with anything? Why even bring it up? If she makes a mistake, or says something wrong, take it up with her, not her genitals.

Trans women are not looking for someone to kiss our asses. We don't resent cis women for having the "unearned privilege of a female body." Cis women are our sisters. We simply ask that feminism accord us the same respect it accords other women. Our fights are feminism's fights, just as feminism's fights are our fights.

We're women too. Tina Vasquez clearly recognizes that, as does this magazine. Why can't you?

Kind of blew it there with

Kind of blew it there with your comparison to Janet Mock, or are you trivializing rape by comparing it with being upset at being misgendered and misrepresented during a media interview? Whoops on your part!

Fuck yeah, Zut Alors. You

Fuck yeah, Zut Alors. You notice Janet Mock didn't say anything about females, because transwomen are only concerned with their precious "identities" to care about female anything.

And yeah, assimilated transsexuals who support females are rad.

My favorite comment on here

My favorite comment on here is the Gendurr Warrior saying "the comment section should be closed." Why? It's really wacky how scared they are of people discussing different narratives. It's because their identities would be erased without gender.

Gender hurts females! The transgender ideology hurts females! Please educate yourself about radical feminism instead of assuming we're monsters and we hate trans women. That is so far from the truth.

No, when I say "the transgender ideology" I don't mean "people with body dysphoria" or "transsexuals." I mean the "gender" binary upholders that make up the bulk of vocal trans activists and stomp all over natal females.

Thanks for a great article

Well, sadly, the comments here pretty much validate the points in your article. Thanks for such a great piece and for highlighting how scary TERFs and other transphobic "feminists" are for those who do not face their hate and violence on a regular basis.

I hope more moderate folks who might not understand all the issues will be enlightened by your piece and the amazing work of so many trans* activists.

We are all going to to go down in flames at this rate if we can't get our shit together and start seeing the humanity in other human beings. For many of us, that also means recognizing privilege when we've got it--and actively work to dismantle inequality.

comments are not going to be productive in this space

you guys should disable comments in this space. every POV was presented in the WONDERFUL article, thank you Tina Vasquez. if this cathy brennan is half the terror she's made herself out to be all over the internet (sock puppet twitter accounts? really? how old are you, ms brennan?), she & her friends will seek to derail the beautifully illustrated points made in this article.

<3 y'all bitch media <3<3<3

This is a tiresome topic

This is a tiresome topic which again rehashes the same lies about women. Many women want to have their own spaces. I am not one of them but I support their rights to do as they please. I support trans women's rights to organise as they please. But the mud slinging needs to stop.

This article attacks the trans community's favorite boogie woman, Cathy Brennan, and does so with little fact. The cotton ceiling is a real phenomenon, so are the likes of Serrano who publishes it would seem uniquely about her not being able to find a woman to date her. Women have the right to say no to dating anyone they wish. All this is one politicised agenda to force women into acts they would rather not take on.

Trans should have all the equal rights the rest of society enjoys. This is not up for debate. But that we agree that gender is reproducible is. This is not transphobic--this is simply the freedom of intellectual query.

This is NOT what being an ally (or community member) looks like

There are those phrases that again that I see so often "freedom for intellectual query," and "This is not transphobic," I don't know how many times I've heard those terms when both phrases were blatantly false. Those who are not transgender do not hold the right to determine when it is tiresome or what is and isn't considered transphobic. You are entitled to your opinion, but do not expect others to share your sentiments or feel that you can speak for the community as a whole when you may not even be part of it. Nor do you have the right to claim use claim a need for freedom of discussion while suggesting that another persons opinions are tiresome and spreading lies.

What we can do to bring about change

I say these things not because I want to hurt, accusing or attack, but I want you to be aware that those who are transgender have heard phrases like the ones you used so many times and are often told we have no voice and that people are tired of hearing about our concerns. We'll quit talking about these issues when we quit being put through oppression, when we no longer have to hear reports about our siblings dying, when cisgender privilege is dead and equity is not an issue. Until that day though I will never be silent about and visible.The first step to coming together the is listening and realizing that transgender community fighting for basic human rights, and that we don't have no privilege to stop fighting for our lives (unlike cisgender people). Just like all female identifying individuals we are oppressed, silenced and are dying because of it.


Transgender is an adjective. Transgender women are women. If you call it a "women only space" then it should be open to trans women, and Jewish women, and lesbian women, and women of color and etc. If you want to discriminate, then call it what it is: cisgender women's space, or anti-Semite women's space, or hetero women's space, or white women's space and etc.


Why is a desire for ciswoman space discriminatory? I've never felt that desire, but if someone did, is it automatically oppressive? Ive loved native women space, tech women space, pagan women space, single mothers space etc etc...


Thx for the reply, well aware its not your job, appreciating your willingness.

I participate in XYZ spaces sometimes for the combatting oppresion reasons, but other times for the safety or joy of shared experiences. I assume that there are experiences that cis and trans women share, but also ones that they do not. A 'red tent' (menstruation) ritual is one example. Would asking that a red tent ritual be ciswomen space be offensive?

Why should it need to be

Why should it need to be restricted though? What reason would there be for transgender women not to have the right to attend such an event? Though transgender women don't have periods, this is all the more reason it would be a good idea to invite them to sit in and participate so they can develop a understanding. Most likely very few transgender individuals would personally choose to attend such a event, I don't see it though harmful for transgender women to be presence.

With transgender spaces, there is a safety concerns and a need for a space to speak freely, interact on a community basis, and speak honestly about experiences of prejudice based upon gender identity. We need to move away from the idea that identities need to create a place and dialogue of comfortable for those with privilege or we are either entirely privilege or oppressed. Education and change is not bred out of comfort and often comfort is used to avoid addressing inequity. We need to strive instead for understanding and dialogue between identities and recognition of intersectionalities.

Didnt need to be

The one time I was present and a transgender woman asked if it'd be ok to join, all the cis women said fine-with-me and it was great. And I suppose if someone had an issue it could have been a great conversation with lots of teachable moments. Your point abt comfort hiding discrimination is a good one. Still navigating, thx for your answers.

comfort hiding discrimination

I think you've got it now. That phrase nails it.

lots of cis-women don't

lots of cis-women don't mentstruate. are you going to list every kind of woman who can't menstruate as not being invited?


I chose it as an example of what I was asking about because its a place I have experience in and because I thought it would be helpful to go deeper than just theoretical. It has long been a space where ciswomen discuss and learn from one another about the range of topics, from first blood to menopause (so obviously includes women who no longer menstruate) and has included women who do not bleed.

So transwomen are not women

So transwomen are not women who do not bleed?


Obviously they are.

So why would they be

So why would they be excluded? You (presumably) said that such spaces included women who did not bleed.

Help us out and make clear who exactly is allowed. Bleed at least once? Had potential for bleeding but maybe never did? And what defines potential? Would a person with complete androgen insensitivity syndrome who was raised female and no one knew of that person's condition until puberty failed to commence be allowed?


I never said they were referred to as 'women's space', in my experience they are not (blood mysteries, or something that translates into moontide knowing). I asked if there was ever a time that it would be ok to ask that something be cis-women's space, or if that is always discriminatory. Ive also already said that the only time Ive ever been present when a transwoman wanted to participate she was welcomed. The assumption that these are referred to "women's space" is interesting. Is it simply the labeling/framing that is at issue? I'm inclined to think thats not the whole issue, but FWIW I understand and agree that "women's space" should include all women, and I realize it is a ongoing struggle for that to be the norm in the greater culture. In my community we are supportive of men's space (I have no idea if transmen participate) and do not consider it discriminatory. I was not talking about the US senate, or large music festivals, I was trying to find the line, if there is one, where support crosses over into oppression.

Because women have the right

Because women have the right to define our own boundaries without being bullied. I swear to fucking god, natal women are never be this abusive and pushy. I don't demand access to trans-only spaces, so leave us the fuck alone.

I am definitely this pushy.

I am definitely this pushy. More so. You know some weak willed natal women. Transwomen are women. Some of those who transitioned don't identify asbtrans at all. They just identify as women. In excluding them you are forcing an otherness and identity upon these women. Other transwomen incorporate being trans in their identity.

Let me ask you this, how would you ferl about space that was only open to white women? As a ciswoman, I fail to see any difference between whitw only space and cis only space.

I don't believe in "cis"

I don't believe in "cis" privilege, because most women would never choose to be born into a body that is considered a second class citizen. Your brainwashing is showing.

Choice is irrelevant.

The fact of the matter is that some people are privileged by society over others. Men over women, white over black, cis over trans, etc.


So any type of support group discriminates against everyoneelse? Oh, unless there are no smaller groups than the ones in their membership? Nonsense.

Cis-only space is equivalent

Cis-only space is equivalent to white-only space or straight-only space.

"Support group" my arse. If you're going to label something "women's space", and then exclude women who you have privilege over because you have the institutional power, you deserve to be called out hard.

Cheers! A perhaps even more


A perhaps even more apt metaphor would a WoC only space that insisted on 100% heritage. No mixed-race individuals at all.


Thank you! That analogy is very helpful.

WoC are allowed to have 100%

WoC are allowed to have 100% no mixed race groups. What is wrong with that? Why do you care so much about dictating what kinds of spaces WoC are "allowed" to have?

“The most fundamentally

“The most fundamentally misogynist part of “cis” is that it assumes non-trans women chose to follow their assigned gender role and that they are rewarded for it or gain privilege.”
— polarrainbow (via thentheysaidburnher)

This quote is so deeply

This quote is so deeply stupid.

If only for the REALITY that women who tow the gender role party line - or advocate loudly for it in the case of Ann Coulter as one example - ARE rewarded with certain privileges. That's just true, and trying to act as if it's not is idiotic. You can, and should, follow up that argument by stating that one of the huge flaws of the gender boxes patriarchy tries to create called "woman" "man" "child" is that they are often psychologically trying/detrimental, even while they offer certain privileges.

But also because it willfully misunderstands the definition of cis-gender - "where an individual's experience of their own gender matches their bodies." quoted from wikipedia

There's NOTHING in this widely accepted- by people who aren't bigots trying to misrepresent the reality of others to match their own discriminatory worldview - definition that says that cis-women choose the patriarchal box marked woman.

And because this is the internet, and you clearly don't give a fuck about reasoned argument, otherwise you would see through the stupidity of that fucking atrociously idiotic quote: you clearly picked the patriarchal box marked jerk and accepted all of the privileges that accompany being a bully who is somehow invested in the experiences and lives of people who do you no actual harm.

“The idea that a person can

“The idea that a person can chose their gender — in a world where millions of people, especially ‘cis-gendered’ women, are not free to choose who they marry, what they eat or whether or not their genitals are cut off and sewn up with barbed wire when they are still babies — and have their major beautification operations paid for by the National Health Service seems the ultimate privilege, so don’t tell me to check mine.”
— Julie Birchill

Yes, natal women demanding

Yes, natal women demanding privacy from males who scream "transmisogyny!" when we talk about our bodies is equivalent to "white-only" space. That makes *so* much sense.

Cis women are not privileged over trans women

In fact, we are less of a class than trans women because they were born with that magic ticket to opportunities that are never granted to us as automatically as they are to those born into the privileged class of MAAB. We can't opt-out of being oppressed for being women. Trans women can.

Well men are a minority and

Well men are a minority and women discriminate against them (rightfully so), so that's a stupid argument.

Practice what you preach.

They aren't allowed to speak for the whole community on what is tiresome, but you are allowed to speak for it on what a community member looks like?

I'm a little confused by your

I'm a little confused by your comment. So you want trans folks to have equal rights and protection, but you want their existence (reproducible gender) to be up for debate? And you want us to all stop talking about it - it being whether or not trans people are real? But if we do talk about it, trans people can't? And meanwhile women - only the cisgendered ones I assume since the other kind are still debatable - can date and fuck whomever they chose, but we're not allowed to acknowledge that refusing to be romantically involved with trans folks, even if we were attracted to them before we knew they were trans - assuming they exist - we can't talk about whether or not that is transphobic?

So white women who refuse to date black men aren't being racist, or their attraction isn't shaped by racism? If they only date white men do they get to say, it's just who I'm chose to date and that should be okay, I should never have to question it? I mean, how far does this let's all shut up about it logic go?

"All this is one politicised agenda to force women into acts they would rather not take on."

Like examine privilege? Like acknowledge the existence of other human beings? Like live with a little integrity and struggle for rights which don't necessarily directly effect their lives but which make the world more free?

No, I'd rather cherry-pick my politicized agenda, making sure it is what is most convenient and least challenging to me and my lifestyle.

Intersex people have asked

Intersex people have asked not to be tokens of the trans community, so you should respect that.

My femaleness is not an identity, it is a biological reality.

"Native American" is not a

"Native American" is not a social construct. It refers to groups of people with distinct cultures, languages, histories, etc. etc. Yes, white people suddenly deciding they are Kickapoo would be ridiculous, because being Kickapoo is a COMBINATION of factors: biology, ancestry, language, mores, religion, the list goes on.

Gender is socially and culturally constructed. Pick up any introductory anthropology or sociology text book. The idea that gender is culturally constructed is widely accepted. That means that what gender signifies and really what it is, changes culture to culture. Which is different than gender BEING the culture.

And yes, saying that people who do not identify with the gender and its roles assigned to them at birth are mentally ill or defective is borrowing heavily from a history of sexist oppression. It's borrowing the tactic of diagnosing women to keep them in line, of pathologizing being uncomfortable with gender oppression. And it's what you're doing when you call transwomen "mentally ill deluded males." Saying "no it's not" is not a cogent argument to the contrary, especially when it's so poorly phrased. Check your grammar and your privilege, you're wrong.

Educate yourself.

Medicine is applied biology. Humans can change biological sex by changing a majority of sex characteristics. Get over it, troglodyte.

Sad day for you...

Because you are legally, medically wrong. If woman is a gender and female is a sex, then all a trans woman needs to do is change her sex by changing most of her sex characteristics. Medically transitioned trans women are female.

i am maybe not familiar with

i am maybe not familiar with the people who argue that women should not be able to choose their partners. where is this argument happening?

that said, white people have the right to only find white people attractive, but that doesn't mean there is no systematic racism behind their preferences. i mean, if genitals -are- what you're attracted to or not attracted to, i guess then yeah, you would only want to date people with the genitals you liked. but that doesn't make people who don't have the genitalia you like bad for wanting to date you. it doesn't make them not women. maybe people need to admit that what they're attracted to is genitals instead of trying to argue that genitals are the defining feature or 'women'.

The original post said that

The original post said that women should be able to date whomever they chose in response to transwomen citing their difficulty in finding women willing to date them.

Obviously one can't argue with statements like women should date whomever blah blah, but my point was that it is completely valid for transwomen to call out cisgendered women for being transphobic in part based on a refusal to date trans folks and saying it, I'm just not attracted to them.

Having clarified that, I agree with what you are saying here to an extent.

Attraction is based on a lot of stuff, including things like social pressures, but reducing it to genitalia is a bit problematic.

First, there is a difference between attraction and preference. If I prefer giant cocks I can date people with small cocks or without a cock at all, provided I am attracted to them, and we can use giant dildos. My attraction is to a person and is made up of how they look, how they smell, social cues, physical cues and all manner of things before we get in each others pants. My preference for giant cocks is something I can choose to make a requirement, or I can buy a giant dildo and make using it a requirement for fucking me.

Second, and more importantly, it places genitals in a position of importance they do not deserve. Which is an aspect of patriarchy: the all important phallus, which is required for sex, privilege, power, admission to certain spaces, and is an instrument of competition between those who have them. Genitals aren't essential to attraction, if they were we would walk around with them exposed. Genitals are a component of attraction, and one that has been overemphasized by our culture. Just as genitals can, but aren't always, be a component of gender identity, but one that is overemphasized by our culture.

Beautiful Necessary Truth Telling

Thank you to Bitch Magazine and Tina Vásquez for having the courage to tell the truth about transphobia and TERF manipulation of feminist liberatory ideals. And thank you to all the trans women who had the courage to be featured in the article.

Just like unlearning sexism, unlearning transmisogyny creates more space, freedom and safety for everyone!

Here's a thought

How about we stop calling Brennan and other bigots feminists? It's not feminism that has left trans women behind. Feminism includes all people who are subject to being marginalized by global patriarchy.

Good point

Hence why I use terms so so called or anti is italics when I refer to TERF's

Good stuff!

Thanks for writing this up! Improved trans-allyship is something we would like to work on with my campus organization, but there is very little guidance on how to make that happen. Cultivating a safe atmosphere has taken time and a lot of patience on the part of close friends, but we have been successful. Now we need to move forward in actively countering acts of discrimination and harassment. In addition to all of the distinctive vitriol that trans* people experience, these can be difficult waters to navigate. I leave this article feeling better informed about how exclusionary parties think. This has been incredibly helpful, and I plan to share this with my friends. Equal rights for all. Period.

Feminist who supports Transwomen

I am totally confused. I have been a feminist since before it was a household word. I believe women should be treated equally, have equal pay,not be discriminated against, not be harassed or intimidated. Why shouldn't all feminists support the same ideas for transwomen. Why not consider transwomen one of us with the same problems and fights to fight.
As far as supporting ENDA and things like that, remember discrimination against transwomen is rooted in stereotype and misogyny. Men who identify as women should be treated as women and they should be feminists too.

Women-born-women? I'm pretty

Women-born-women? I'm pretty sure cis-women are born as girls and not women. Yee gods what a logic fail.

I just don't understand the level of hate people like Brennan show towards trans women. Is it fear? Are they scared by trans women? Are they scared by the idea that penises and vaginas aren't the be-all and end-all in life? Or maybe they just milk it because like the tabloid newspapers they know that hate and nastiness sells better than love and peace and understanding?

Have you ever thought that

Have you ever thought that perhaps women are scared by the idea that people with penises are now being allowed into spaces from which they were traditionally prohibited.

If you think there's something wrong with this, you might want to look at statistics about rape and violence perpetrated against women by people with penises.

And then perhaps you might consider the fact that people with penises present a very real threat to women, and so they are quite right to be scared when safe spaces are being invaded.

Only somebody who hasn't spent their life being subjected to sexual harrassment, rape, the threat of rape, domestic violence, and all the other miriad things that a woman puts up with on the basis of her sex, would complain about women thinking "that penises and vaginas aren't the be-all and end-all in life".


I identify as genderqueer.

I happen to own a vagina, myself. Generally I find it useful, like a good car. The uterus, too, has been handy; grew a kid in that thing. Are there times I wish I had, say, a motorcycle instead? Sure thing. But I never got around to changing anything-- except periods. I decided not to have those. Genitals make me happy. Gender itself? Not really my thing. Also happen to be an atheist. I like to remain unaffiliated.

As a white person as well as someone who possesses a vagina in my family (a matriarchy), I experience privilege. I also experience oppression as a queer poor person with no clear gender identity who has a vagina (not so great being an atheist in the South, either).

When I hear ciswomen expressing discomfort around transwomen I am simply baffled. Would I be allowed in a hypothetical red tent? Does my uterus qualify me although I do not use it for menstruation? What about my mother, who does not have a uterus? Does my lack of gender identity disqualify me from any cisgendered spaces? Or do I get a free card to enter because I am being reduced to my genitals?

Sometimes when I walk into women's bathrooms I feel like a liar. Sometimes I use men's bathrooms. The first time I saw a gender neutral bathroom I was grateful. I don't really find the idea of being locked out *offensive* so much as I find it the same old story. Over and over.

As neither a transwoman nor a ciswoman, I can't speak for those groups. Yet I want to be a good ally to ciswomen and transwomen, so I would prefer to focus my efforts on inclusion rather than exclusion. I'm fond of the socialists, and one rabble-rouser in particular said, "years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element, I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free." Sure, my struggle is not the same struggle as that of transwomen or ciswomen, and I won't pretend to understand the intricacies of your everyday experiences. However, I want to assist those who are fighting for a place at the table. I mean, you're all women to me, albeit with varied and nuanced existences. I have a hard time understanding why ciswomen would not want to assist transwomen in this fight, but like I said, sounds like the same old story. I wish humans like Cathy Brennan would just... stop.

Yeah, I may not have a place at the table. I can still appreciate why you want to be there. As usual, I'll remain unaffiliated.

Shout out to my diverse genderqueer siblings.

That is a lovely quote. Thank

That is a lovely quote. Thank you for it.

TERF are certainly upset

My PTSD this group caused has been made fun of by more than one TERF. They are even trying to claim I don't have it even after two Penn doctors diagnosed me with it. I have been told I deserved it based on lies from Brennan's site. I have never met such a nasty mean evil group of people in my entire life. Humanity doesn't even exist in this group when it comes to trans women.

Lucky for me my Effexor level was increased a week before this started happening.

Brilliant Article!

Wow--this was a breath of fresh air. As a trans woman and feminist who has been repeatedly targeted by these hate-mongers, it is nice to see more cis queer women and cis feminists coming out to decry the bigotry, threats and malice perpetrated by Brennan and her ilk. The tide really is turning. They like to speciously assert that their "movement" is gathering steam again, but it really is just an echo chamber of 50 or so women around the globe who love taking to social media, usually under the protection of anonymity, to foment rabid hatred against trans women, one of the most vulnerable and oppressed social groups in the U.S. Anyone with even a cursory understanding of social justice understands that TERFs are on the wrong side of history, and the push-back they are getting is completely deserved. I hope SPLC comes to their senses soon and labels these transphobes as a hate group. In the meantime, articles like this replace their dark hate with light and love. Thanks so much for writing this!

Thank you for the interesting

Thank you for the interesting read!

I'm a straight cisgendered male who understands that I can be wrong about things.
It's why I enjoyed reading this so much as it comes from a completely foreign view point.

I have often wondered why people would rather tear another identity group down than build theirs up?

Anyway thank you again.

Read first, then write

"In the name of feminism, Brennan has advocated against a UN policy that aims to protect transgender people from discrimination." Either you did not read the statement concerning this policy or you are misrepresenting it. She's trying to balance the rights of transgender people and women born women. She's a lawyer. She's supposed to be concerned with law.

If you don't think this is important, see:

Read the letter to the UN here:

What rights are there to

What rights are there to balance? Trans women suffer oppression and discrimination. Cis women suffer oppression and discrimination. We need to support each other, not tear our trans sisters down.

One Transsexual's Experience.

An interesting and long article. There are obviously a large and very diverse set of experiences across the nation for transgender people. Too often a darker and more violent experience for transsexual women. From my own experience as a transsexual woman living in a backwater, conservative town in Washington State, I have had no direct confrontations of any kind with transphobic feminists. My most ardent supporters have been cisgender-heterosexual women. I've gotten more grief from local lesbians and gay men who act as though I'm something beneath contempt just to look at me. Men in general seem to act as though I were invisible.

I don't understand extremists in any group, really. Feminists seem to have some. I've seen extremists in transgender groups as well. It is of course extremists who actually physically attack and hurt or kill women regardless of the women's backgrounds or even the background of the attacker. (Yes, patriarchy does still exist but the majority of U.S. males are not interested in harming and subjugating women.) The extremists in any of those groups do not represent the majority, I feel. A person might want to lash-out in frustration, fear, or anger because their perceived place in the world is being threatened. The feelings are understandable but the actions from any extremist causing harm to others is inexcusable. The undeniable reality, the bottom line is, that there are and always will be different groups of people living among each other. If you exist in a group that denies basic rights to any other group based only on your personal prejudices and vision of the world, history shows that your group will be overcome. Adapt, grow, overcome your own experience with new experience or expect to become irrelevant.

No matter what group or groups you feel you belong to in the United States, violence, physical or otherwise isn't an acceptable form of redress for your grievances. Nor is it acceptable to malign an entire other group as extremists because you have experienced or heard of such actions from within that group. Your group(s) have them too. We need to be intelligent and sympathetic in our dialogues with each other and as a group, police those within who cross unacceptable lines.

I know, I'm a dreamer.

I can reclaim feminism now.

I found this a very powerful, well documented, and moving piece of writing. I am a gay woman raised by a strong feminist mother around other strong feminist women who for years refused to use the word 'feminist" to describe myself because of these radical feminists. Even before I had knowingly met a transgendered person, let alone had an intimate relationship with one, I knew that this form of feminism was not my path. At 20 and pregnant I got handed a pamphlet which implicitly suggested that feminists pregnant with male children should have abortions and I was horrified deep in my soul. A few years later, my girlfriend became my boyfriend, much to my confusion. My next girlfriend was also transgendered and, with her, I began again to see the evil that these radical feminists were perpetrating. They began to talk about excluding transgendered women from "wymyn's dances" and the like. A dear transgendered friend, who had been the backbone of the Women's Activist Group found herself being sidelined because of what had been in her pants a few years before. And I began to fight. I was already a gay rights activist so I used my experiences to advocate against what I am now able to call TERFs, but then could only call "radical feminism". I will NEVER be silent while my transgendered friends, lovers, and sisters by all but blood are treated in this way but, finally, maybe, I can now call myself a feminist while standing with these people.


Ah yeah, boogie woman.

Ah yeah, boogie woman. Totally not obsessed in the slightest. Spending a //significant// portion of your life on the internet setting up dozens of different front sites, blogs, sockpuppets and aliases all to harass, doxx, smear and if all else fails threaten to use ones position as a lawyer to silence people you really don't like. That doesn't come off as the teensiest bit paranoid or odd when we're talking, at best, like 0.01-2% of the population which is effectively dirt poor and has no political clout.

And constantly beating trans women over the head with the cotton whatever that nobody in the trans community ever seriously gave a shit about. The horse is dead, Jim. It was a thing for all of five minutes when a few perpetually angry bloggers and a porn star nobody made a big deal out of it. The rest of us called them idiots and moved on. We and just about everyone else who isn't an able bodied white man have a lot bigger things to worry about than the fact that lesbians hate us.

For what its worth, a lot of us also wish that the vocal minority constantly banging on about the michigan festival would shut up. We get it, you want into the party, but they don't want you there. That's their prerogative. We should all have the right to associate with whomever we want. If they want to take a week off to sing folk songs in the woods without any trans people around, let them! The rest of us are tired of getting blamed for rocking that boat. We don't want to fight. We're content being invisible.

In fact, why don't we go start our own camp, preferably as far away from them as possible and make it a positive experience about women and trans women standing in solidarity against sexism, capitalism and bigotry rather than trying to get the other side to let us into an event where we will find no allies.

These people exist in a conspiracy bubble. Its gotten to the point where we're almost talking Alex Jones, maybe David Icke levels of tinfoil. Theres so much tinfoil one might be excused if they thought we'd entered a tinfoil factory. Every time you respond to them, you're giving them //exactly// the bait that they're fishing for. They want you to get angry, they want you to be full of indignation and say something stupid. And we keep giving them exactly what they want.

It never fails that they'll either find or manufacture some scrap of evidence to prove that we're all evil and that our continued existence is the worst threat to all of womankind since Moses and Jesus got together to create patriarchy.

“Cis” doesn’t “just” mean the opposite of transgender

The way you are misrepresenting the letter to the UN is atrocious. Sadly, the rest of your information doesn't get any better in your article.

Cis and trans are not equal terms. We’re not gonna pretend that the word is just the opposite of trans when it’s not. They invented it for a reason, they use it to assign privilege. We’re not going to go along with some game pretending that it is just the opposite. Male and Female are equal oposites. It exposes both sexes’ genitals. Cis and trans does not. Cis exposes only our genitals and keeps trans people’s genitals hidden and unknown. Cis is specifically used to assign the privilege meme, this is not an academic paper discussing the sociological or biological difference between trans women and cis women. Strictly under those specific circumstances we wouldn’t really take umbrage with it even though many use the less offensive non-trans, but that is NOT how cis is used. You don’t get to take something out of it’s context of use, apply something like privilege to it and pretend you’re still using it in it’s original context. Sorry. You don’t get to use it as a slur mainly at lesbians the way trans-women activists do and pretend you’re using it in some innocent innocuous context when you’re not.

For a group that is so fiercely protective of their right to identify however they feel like it, to have the audacity to not only label and identify women but to re-name women in terms of themselves is outrageously hypocritical and not to mention misogynistic. As women we now have to contrast ourselves to biologically male trans-women to define ourselves? We’re no longer women or lesbians, we’re cis women and cis lesbians and if we don’t do what the trans-women tell us to do we’re bigoted cissexist transphobes? As if transgender women are the standard?

I'm a cisgender woman

I'm a cisgender woman speaking hear. Ummm...the point is we are all women, and if you want to specifically single out & talk about whether someone's gender identity matches the sex they were assigned at birth, or not, you need an equitable word for it, that doesn't make trans *or* cis woman the standard. That is exactly what the terms do. It is not making trans women the standard. That would be if they were doing what you are trying to do to them... demand that the word "women" only be used to refer to trans women. You can still call yourself woman, but if you want to differentiate yourself, you don't get to use woman as an exclusionary term. You need a modifier to do that.

When my trans friends & I talk about me being cis or them being trans, neither one is a slur...and that has everything to do with the attitudes behind it. If I was being bigoted, they might point out that I was displaying a cis-sexist perspective borne from my cis priveledge, and rightly so!

That doesn't mean that the term cis is a slur, anymore than the term "white" or "male" or "upper-middle-class" or "right-handed" is a slur.

Lesbian Mafia Reference?

Isn't that awesome that you use an article from one of the most transpghobic groups on the Internet.

Without ad hominem attacks,

Without ad hominem attacks, you guys have nothing.

You are awesome, Nancy P!

You are awesome, Nancy P!

Feminism hasnt failed anyone

As a long time feminist, it gets tiring hearing other women saying that "feminists need to address this or that".

Feminists are you and me, not some unknown entity to do all the dirty work cuz women dont want to get their hands dirty. It is you and me.

And, feminism hasnt failed transwomen or poc or mothers or anyone else.

It is a philosophy, it is a way of looking at our society, it is a way of living your life with certain beliefs and ideals. It is a framework and methodolgy for women to use to save themselves.

Feminism is not your mommy or your savior. It does require you to get off your ass and the computer and take action. Feminism cant make you do that. But feminism isnt going to take your shit while you sit back and do nothing.

Transwomen are learning the hard way what it is like to be a woman in this society. It aint a pretty picture. All the perks they had as males are stripped away. All their idealism of what it is like to be a woman is crumbling around their ears. Welcome to the club.

Am getting sick and tired of transpeople thinking everyone else has to jump on their bandwagon. Your choice, your fight. Now pull up your big girl panties and deal with it. Just stop whining about how "tough" you have it.

I'm tired of hearing about how tired you are

I'm getting tired of hearing from cisgender women who claim they are tired of hearing about a form of oppression they don't have to face (cisgender privilege and transphobia are very much realities), speaking from a place of privilege and while actively ignoring that privilege, and telling us to that we are "whining," and accept oppression as reality. Tell me would you tell the friends and family of those who lost their lives to transphobia or suicide, or someone who has been assaulted or sexually assaulted due to their gender identity to "deal with it?" How about someone who has lost their home or job to discrimination, would you respond "stop whining?" The insensitivity of your respond is staggering, as is your ignorant implication that transgender women don't actually take part in any sort of activism, or stand up for ourselves or others. You have the privilege to walk away or turn a blind eye to these issues I and my community faces, but we live and witness these issues everyday as transgender individuals and don't have that option. You owe each and everyone of us an apology and need to develop a greater moral responsibility, awareness and sense of compassion.

Stop it

Cis women and girls are raped in every country on earth BECAUSE OF THEIR GENDER IDENTITY. Jesus H Christ.

This isn't an opression olympics

So are transgender women, one doesn't supersede the other and this fact isn't an acceptable excuse for ignorance and privilege.

Not sure you want to go there.

The "Shut up and deal with it" refrain spouted by class-privileged white women is what ultimately drove bell hooks out of radical feminism.

Take your own advice...

"As a feminist I believe it is most important to try and understand one another's struggle.
Even if you think you understand someone, try again.
and again.
Keep trying."

And yet you start your comment by abusing and demeaning a group of women.....

Is it only you that people should try to understand? Or only the people you deem worthy?

Thank you!

Thank you so much for posting this. I am a gender fluid, intersex person, AFAB, under the trans* umbrella. I spent only a weekend in a PTSD nightmare after Roseanne Barr tweeted my blog post to her TERF friends, but wow, that was enough. The threats that I would be sued were probably the scariest...though in hindsight, also the funniest, as I have almost nothing. These 'feminists' are a small group, but their voices are loud, and your allyship is most welcome.

radical feminism

Great article, thanks. The (much smaller) thing that pisses ME off is the misapplication of the phrase Radical Feminism I see happening online. Radical feminism is a real thing, and it never was and is not now the exclusionary hate-filled thing that folks like DGR or CB are now claiming it is. Yes, mary daly said something shitty, but that's never been the whole of what Radical Feminism is. If transphobic people want to create a label for themselves, fine go for it, but don't appropriate Radical Feminism for that and say it just IS.

Long rant about the dark side of the trans world

It's been a very long time since I've talked to anyone else outside my immediate family about being trans, but this reminded me of an issue that has bothered me in the past. Yes, I think it would be good if feminists were supportive of trans women, and stand up against blatant bullying and unfair exclusion, but there is some really problematic behavior by a lot of trans women, and there should be a good way for the non-trans to deal with it. I want to talk about this because I just don't see this discussion much at all.

So, a little about myself: I transitioned as a teenager, something like 13-14 years ago, back when this wasn't such a widely talked about issue, though my parents disapproved and abused me for it, and forced me to leave home the first opportunity they got. With the support of a kind lesbian couple who allowed me to live with them for a while, I managed to get my life together, and I started to get involved meeting people in the trans community, who I hoped could provide me with support and advice. That turned out to be somewhat frustrating in the end, which is why I just disappeared from that community 8 years ago.

A lot of the trans women I met in person were somewhat older, and seemed to have a bit of a resentment towards me. Most of them had previously self-identified as crossdressing men and still used that language to talk about themselves, and seemed annoyed when I spurned it. They would dominate conversations like men, but would assert their female identity with stereotypes about women. They also liked to talk about the importance of learning feminine mannerisms and were often pointing it out to me whenever I did any of them, and told me how lucky I must be to live a female life. I felt fetishized, not to mention a bit marginalized by an environment of unacknowledged male privilege.

Online, many of those I knew were younger, usually in their 20s. They were often self-identified "transbians" who also self-diagnosed themselves with Asperger syndrome. These are the ones who popularized the term "cis", but it was often used by them just to complain about "why don't cis lesbians don't accept my dick" and the like. In other words, they were the predecessors of the Tumblr and Twitter activism crowd, and every bit as full of drama.

So, I did what a lot of the trans people I respected did, and just left that world behind, but now it's become such an issue that it seems I can't go a single day without hearing about trans issues. But when I read Cathy Brennan, for example, I feel conflicted. She's drawing attention to all the sexism, fetishism, and unexamined privilege I personally observed from transgender people, and I don't think it's fair for them to play the oppression card to get away with these things. But Brennan does it in such a way that is so extremely abusive and degrading by denying any legitimacy to trans women as women -- erasing my own lived experiences in the process. And the irony is that I would now be considered "truscum" to a lot of trans people now.

I suppose my point is that feminism doesn't need to accommodate the abusive or harmful elements of the transgender community. There still needs to be a place to talk about vaginas and menstruation and pregnancy without some transgender person trying to shut down all conversation by complaining that it's not inclusive, because there's still a stigma surrounding these things. Feminism doesn't need to accept stereotypes as somehow essential to being a woman, or complaints about how trans women aren't given fair access to lesbian sexual intercourse. Instead, I think there needs to be a healthy way to say no to and call out bad behavior. But at the same time, creating a more welcoming, aware, and supportive environment within feminist discourse for trans women would be wonderful.

the thing is, menstruation,

the thing is, menstruation, pregnancy, etc. affect trans people too. I guess not most trans women, but certainly many transmen. I'm a straight cis woman (though I am not comfortable with the term "woman") who has never felt a need to be in a space with only other cis women. And I acknowledge this is because a lot of violence and oppression women experience, I haven't. And it's also because I grew up with brothers and am not any more comfortable around women than men. cis women are mean to other cis women, violent towards other cis women.

I think that sexism is a useful framework for addressing the dominating tendencies you describe transwomen engaging in. but it isn't the only framework and isn't always the -most- useful framework. Older people, white people, younger people, thinner people, more educated people, etc. often feel entitled and superior to others. and sometimes people who have experienced more pain (like the whole 'fake geek' discussion) feel resentment and superiority over those who have not experienced as much marginalization.

If you think that cis-women never dominate conversations over other cis-women you are wrong. Being dominating does not make those transgender people not women, as cathy brennan asserts. Even as a cis-woman, I have experienced male privilege, because sometimes people think I'm a boy.

the fact is, trans women are -more- likely to be vicimized by our patriarchal power structures than cis-women. they are more likely to be denied healthcare, more likely to engage in criminal activity for survival and more likely to be murdered because of who they are than cis-women, and nothing about that marginalization and violence is not a result of misogyny and patriarchy.

cathy brennan is not a feminist. she is a hateful cis woman who cannot think past her own issues. I would not be surprised if her supposed "feminism" doesn't do much to support women of color or immigrants either. and in fact, spending any time tearing down transfolks is time spent spinning your wheels in the fight against oppressive power structures. TRANSWOMEN ARE NOT OPPRESSING CISWOMEN. crossdressing men aren't even oppressing us.

you can criticize a transwoman's politics or behaviors without calling her a man or questioning her gender identity, just like you can criticize any other woman that way.

Of course

I don't disagree, but I don't think that the fact that cis women are sometimes jerks too should give a vocal part of the trans population the right to shut down legitimate conversations and deflect all outside criticism. Especially not when it becomes abusive. It's not that I think the hatemongers are right, but that they shouldn't be the only ones addressing this issue.

OH PLEASE. Trans women are

OH PLEASE. Trans women are more oppressed than females? Give me a fucking break. You have no idea. Wake up, cis-women!

Yes. They. Are. It is just a

Yes. They. Are. It is just a fact. They have a 1 in 7 chanve of beibg the victim of a violent crime, face significant barriers to employment and housing and almost always lose custody disputes with cis gendered ex-partnerd...... as a ciswoman who lived with a tran partner for 7 years, she was just more oppressed by me. She got into a car accident once and I had to beat the ambulance there because it would not have been safe for her to be helpless during transport and in the emergency room. Thank goodness I was, too because I diverted two significant sexual assaults. Before ahe could pass easily she was terrified to use public restrooms because men would act sexually inappropriateky and women would sometimes react violently. I spent years escorting her to restrooms. When is the last time you needed an escort at a mall bathroom? The last time I needed one, I was living in Jaipur, India a place where eve teasing is rampant.

The fact trans women are more oppressed does not diminish the very real oppression face by cis women.

Thank you for pointing this

Thank you for pointing this out and being an awesome female ally.

Growing up in a small

Growing up in a small community I really didn't come across any of this. Except discrimination against women. At first I was in love with feminism, and soon embraced the radical feminism. But something wasn't right. If women and men are inherently different, there should be an absolute line between man and woman. And there wasn't, because there is and always have been, intersexual persons.

From this realization, it was easy to deduct that the gender identity isn't always clear cut either. Neither is sexuality. I couldn't draw an absolute line between heterosexual and homosexual. It was the sexuality who appeared in the form of a line, where hetero- and homo- is on opposite ends and bisexuals are somewhere in between.

There are things I don't like and never will understand. For example how anyone can find it enjoyable to humiliate and degrade the one they are supposed to love by calling it S&M. Why pornography has to contain violence and misogyni. Why disabled people like myself shouldn't be sexual at all.

My view is the cisgendered, white, middle-class, mostly heterosexual womans view. Which means I have to work harder to understand other people, not the other way around. That much I have gathered so far. Nowadays I am mostly confined to a wheelchair, and my view of the world has changed yet again. But in all fairness, I'm sort of getting used to it.

Everything changes. Evolves. New knowledge and new perspectives opens up new possibilities. That is a good thing! War, oppression, discrimination and hate are bad things. Why defend your views with violence, when all it does is confirm that the view itself isn't valid enough to stand on it's own merits, so to speak?

Just want to point out

Just want to point out that SM goes beyond "humiliation" and "degradation". A lot of aspects of BDSM involve playfulness, exploring fantasies, and trust. And many SM practitioners do, in fact, love their partners and have no desire to abuse or hurt them, even if pain is part of their sex play.

I know this is tangential to the larger issue we're talking about here, but I just wanted to stand up for SM a bit.

Having to prove your PTSD and wish of suicide to "feminists"

This is really getting old. I have received a lot of abuse lately over my diagnosis of PTSD as well as my thoughts of suicide a couple of weeks ago. Even from a "feminist" such as Julia Vigo! I have now updated my site to include all proof so there can be no doubt in anyone's mind. I want this abuse to stop. Cathy Brennan contacted my doctor recently and I want her to stay out of my personal life. She "may" have also contacted the police at work again as well as philadelphia police during one of my PTSD episodes. Can someone please tell me, from a legal standpoint, how I can force her to stop meddling in my life?

Perhaps, Miss Sudo, you

Perhaps, Miss Sudo, you should acknowledge that most people in the US can obtain a diagnosis of PTSD (myself included). That, however, does not make you immune from critique if you are willing to dole it out.

it sounds like you can get a

it sounds like you can get a restraining order.

also, you could use social media in a different way. i know that the word has been changing on us and what's acceptable today is different, but people didn't used to post everything they thought and felt on public forums. and i think we were better off for that.

I will simply ask the

I will simply ask the question “what is in the best interests of feminism?” What will move us forward to the total equality we all seek? Do we want inclusion and unity in this struggle or to humor a small group of individuals pushing arcane and dated theories that are in-fact hateful and hurtful? I think it is time to turn our backs on the TERFs, or whatever you want to call them, and their distractions. It is 2014 and women are still seen as the lesser, no matter what their backgrounds may be.

"What is in the best

"What is in the best interests of feminism?"

It seems odd that prioritizing females isn't the answer in liberal feminist's minds, but of course it's not "politically correct."

When has feminism ever been politically correct in the mainstream? If you want to make feminism more palatable to males, then by all means force females to dissolve their boundaries, but calling it feminism is insulting.

"Beliefs" about transgender women

<i>The belief that transgender women are “not really women” sadly finds traction among many people—not just conservative politicians, but some mainstream feminists.</i>

"Finds traction among many people?" The "belief" that you speak of is hardly one from the fringe -- quite the opposite. The idea that "identifying as a woman" makes it undeniably so has not even begun to "find traction," to use your own term. By all means, argue that biology is irrelevant to the classification of "women" and "men." Argue that penises can often be found on women, and that someone who decided last week that they felt female must be regarded as such in all social and legal contexts. But realize that these ideas have not even been heard by most people on the planet, much less settled.

Ho hum

Logical fallacy alert: Cathy Brennan's sins do not invalidate all feminist criticisms of the trans narrative. Try again.

It's not being put into

It's not being put into context. This article portrays the trans community as innocent victims, when I've never witnessed more silencing and hate of women from any group outside Men's Rights.

Example? I have known dozens

Example? I have known dozens ofbtrans women and never seen anything like this. Obviously some transpeople are jerks just like some cis people are, but it is hardly endemic. Advocating for inclusion and acceptance as women does not constitute silencing and hate. Show me the transwomen who are commiting rapes or threatening the lives or safety or livelihood of cis women. Show me the cis women who have been fired for not being transgenered or denied housing on that grounds. Show me the campaigns to deny cis women essential servicesbor the deliberate and systematic bullying of cis women byvtranswomen.


Presuming you are asking in good faith for examples, take a look here at what happened when a blogger invited people to speak about the rift between feminists and the transgender community:

If you believe this was isolated, please show me one rational, civil discussion of feminist vs. trans theory where there are no claims of transphobia, where the word "HATE" isn't immediately invoked, where the word TERF isn't hurled, where big bad Cathy Brennan isn't mentioned. Show me ONE example where a blogger or writer dares to examine the quite extraordinary claim that being a woman is a completely subjective experience that doesn't immediately get met with angry cries of transphobia. Yes, childish, hostile discourse is absolutely endemic among trans advocates.

These comments are a bomb site

Bitch, shame on you for allowing the rife misogyny in these comments. Call yourself a feminist mag? Did a trans woman just join your editorial team or something. What the hell?

uh, no, these comments are

uh, no, these comments are less than civil, but they are not a bomb site. no dead bodies, no homes reduced to rubble. no livelihoods lost, no families destroyed. so, you know, maybe stop trying to compare yourself to people whose lives are actually devastated by acts of war.

Comments Are Now Closed

<p>There have been some good and interesting conversations in response to this article, but several people have derailed the discussion here in the comments over the past 48 hours. We’ve deleted numerous comments that violate our <a href="" target="_blank">commenting policy</a> and have decided to shut down comments to discourage this conversation from spiraling further.

Thank you to those readers who have contributed to a sincere and productive conversation about this article and the issues it raises.</p>