When it comes to transphobia in feminism, the most common and obvious manifestation is the Janice Raymond-esque second-wave “wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing” level hatespeech. But then there are the feminists who, to their credit, notice the obvious fact that we transgenderists do not, as a rule, map nicely onto the gender binary. While this is desirable, a second, subtler form of bias that is harmful to transsexuals sometimes arrises from this: namely, there are certain feminists who value us precisely and exclusively because we subvert the gender binary.
This* passage is representative of such nonsense:
When Haraway led us out of the quagmire of gender essentialism, she promised us monsters. Through a coupling of human birth and surgical re-birth the trans-sexual monster is formed. The rage and pain of these monsters is easy to find, as they rail against both the common parlance that makes them male, and the medicalised and socialised demands made of them in order that they may be women. The truth is somewhere in between.
Grue is a colour adjective developed in 1955 by Goodman as a challenge to inductive logic. An object is grue if it is green up until time t and blue thereafter. At first sight the challenge seems weak and a simple “simplest argument” suffices, yet on closer inspection it is only an assumption that green is not grue up until time t and bleen thereafter. Trans-sexuals are grue-some. For all they may protest that their gender identity has been lifelong and stable, the change of sex, whether surgical, medical or simply social, is an event. Before time t, they were one sex; after time t became another. Grue objects may be indistinguishable from green objects prior to t, and share the same properties, they are fundamentally different.
Trans-sexuals are grue-some. As Stone points out, many transwomen do not start transitioning until their fourth or fifth decade, and the demands of “passing” mean that have to give up their histories. They must deny their grue-some nature, insisting ever more shrilly that they are blue, really blue, proper blue. But to do this is not only to deny their history, but to be complicit in the green/blue world which has no place for the grues.
These grue-some monsters present the strongest challenge yet to the patriarchy. They do not demand equality with men, nor seek to establish their superiority, but to destroy the boundaries in which women are contained….
It is time for the witches to make their peace with the monsters, for both are reviled. Just as nine million women were killed in the enforced domination of the Abrahamic tradition, now the Abrahamic countries murder the trans-sexuals – although nearly 1 in a thousand murders are of transgender people, only two are found outwith countries with an dominent Abrahamic religion.
Did you get all of that? “Trans-sexuals” are disgusting creatures who “shrilly” rage against truth and nature, and by so doing reinforce the gender binary, too stupid to realize that we are hurting our own interests. But feminists (a wholly non-overlapping category, apparently) should still make peace with us, because we can be used effectively as pawns in the unending war against the patriarchy.
How do I even begin to point out the problems with this? First of all, you will note (as is annoyingly par for the course when it comes to second wave discussions of transsexuality) that when the author talks about “transsexuals,” she is pretty much talking exclusively about transwomen; transmen, presumably, are interested in equality with men. Of course, even claiming that transwomen aren’t interested in equality with men is a complete fabrication; I know that I am. But I would guess that the author’s opinion on the subject is formed mostly out of pop-culture narratives and stereotypes.
More fundamentally though, I might point out that no matter how much cutesy academic wordplay you use to mask your bigotry, you can’t run around calling groups of people “gruesome monsters” and expect them to react positively to you! Either you respect us or you don’t, and frankly, it’s pretty clear that you don’t. Evaluating the worth of a fellow Human being based exclusively upon their value to your ideological goals is not the method of a moral person; it is what psychopaths do.
Oh, and incidentally? As a mediaeval historian, I can say that that 9 million figure is highly questionable.
*I’m not posting a link. If you must read the original, it’s at http://mhairi(dot)wordpress(dot)com/2011/11/27/in-defence-of-thegrue-some-monsters/