Yes In Fact You Are a TERF

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“Gender critical” blogger Purple Sage recently wrote a post about the term “TERF”. In essence Sage argues that the term “TERF” is over-used by angry trans activists and that moreover “everyone is a TERF” because all it takes to be a TERF is to piss off a trans activist by, e.g., mentioning the fact that cis females can get pregnant. Let’s take this from the top folks cuz I’m gonna break down everything that’s wrong with her poorly reasoned post.

First of all, nobody is actually a TERF. This is not actually a descriptive acronym, it’s a slur. The way it is used in speech is the same way people use bitch, whore, cunt, or feminazi.

TERF is not a slur in and of itself in the same way f*ggot and n*gger are. The f-word and the n-word are paradigmatic examples of slurs. There is NO way to use those words without causing some kind of tacit harm. That’s what makes them slurs. But TERF is an acronym. It breaks down to Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist. None of those words in and of themselves is a slur because they can all be used in non-inflammatory sentences. The same cannot be said of “whore” and “cunt” – if these words remain in sentences the sentence becomes inflammatory in virtue of the decision to not use less inflammatory versions like “sex worker” or “vagina”. Obviously “trans” is not a slur. Nor is a slur to call someone “exclusionary”. Nor is it a slur to call someone radical or to call them a feminist. So when you break down the meaning of TERF it becomes possible to use the term TERM in a non inflammatory manner to describe those people who identify as feminists with a “radical” bent who want to exclude trans women from the category of women and trans men from the category of men. Furthermore, the term “TERF” itself was coined not by trans people but by cis feminists. It was started as a neutral term. The same cannot be said of REAL slurs like the f-word or the n-word.

Nobody identifies as a TERF and this isn’t an accurate description of anyone’s politics

This is totally false. Just because “gender critical” folks themselves don’t like the term TERF that doesn’t mean it’s not an accurate description of people’s politics. The term means “trans exclusionary radical feminist”. It basically means anyone who thinks that trans women are *really* deep down just men and trans men are *really* deep down just women. This perspective is almost universally shared by people in “gender critical” circles and thus it becomes a highly convenient tool for trans people to have a widely recognized term that describes “gender critical” politics.

I don’t actually “exclude” trans people though. I read the words of trans people, I watch their videos, I talk with them, they comment on my blog, and I have not excluded any trans people from anything in real life.

This is a hilariously bad interpretation of what the “exclusionary” element of TERF actually means. It doesn’t mean exclude trans people from your social circle, or exclude trans people from your youtube watchlist. It means exclude trans women from the category of women and exclude trans men from the category of men. “Gender critical” people believe that only assigned female at birth people are REAL women and trans women are just men/males. This is what TERF means. It means excluding trans people from the gender they identify with. Just because you talk with trans people and put on an air of politeness does not excuse you from being a TERF. It’s not about your actions – it’s about what you believe. If you don’t think trans women are women, then you’re a TERF plain and simple.

There is a second meaning behind the term “exclusionary” which has to do with things like excluding trans women from the women’s restroom and other “women only spaces”. I have not read Purple Sage’s entire blog so I am not familiar with their views on bathroom politics but if they toe the “gender critical” line then I almost guarantee they would argue that trans women should not be allowed in women only spaces. That is exclusionary. You are excluding trans women from the spaces that only women are allowed to go to. Another example is the Michigan Women’s Festival, a classic case of cis females excluding trans women because they believe that trans women are not women.

You’re a TERF if you know that women menstruate, you’re a TERF if you understand how babies are made, you’re a TERF if you know that lesbians aren’t interested in dick, you’re a TERF if you even say the words “female” or “biology.” Since reality itself is transphobic, everyone who understands reality is a TERF.

This is total bullshit – classic strawman argument meant to make trans people look deranged. I don’t know a single trans woman who thinks it’s transphobic in and of itself to talk about pregnancy or cis female biology. What’s transphobic is to say that only women can get pregnant because that erases trans men.

Furthermore, Sage is just confused on this point. She is confusing the idea that talk of pregnancy can trigger people’s dysphoria with the idea that talk of pregnancy is inherently transphobic. Yes it’s true that some trans women have their dysphoria triggered by discussion of cis female biology. But that’s not the same as saying such discussion is inherently transphobic. What would be transphobic is to say that just because trans women can’t get pregnant they aren’t “real” women. Or it’s transphobic to try and reduce the entirety of the concept “woman” to the biological characteristics typical of cis females because that essentially begs the question. But discussion of biology or the differences between AMAB and AFAB bodies is not inherently transphobic. Cis females and trans women have different biological properties. That is a fact. I don’t know anyone who would deny that fact. Nor do I know anyone who considers the recognition of that fact to be transphobic.

And as a matter of fact, some lesbians do in fact like dick. My ex-fiancee was a classic “goldstar lesbian” before she met me but she loved my dick. It’s simply not true that all lesbians/queer people are not interested in dick. To think otherwise is to be very ignorant of the lived reality of cis female self-identified lesbians who date preop/nonop trans women. And if it’s not just ignorance it’s outright erasure.

All humans the world over know the difference between male and female, so all of us are TERFs.

I am very skeptical that “all” humans are aware of the hidden complexities in trying to define how many sexes there are or what constitutes male or female biology when the existence of intersex conditions complicates the simplistic binary narrative believed in the Western world. Expert biologists who actually know what they are talking about are coming to a consensus that biological sex is a spectrum and cannot be so easily cleaved into two and only two utterly distinct categories.

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25 Comments

Filed under feminism, Gender studies, Trans studies

25 responses to “Yes In Fact You Are a TERF

  1. An actual woman

    Radical feminism is a form of analysis, and so it’s preposterous to say that trans women are “excluded” from it. You, for example, are just another man who insists that lesbians just love dick. Same old patriarchy. See? You’re included!

    Liked by 1 person

    • transphilosopher

      Wow great job at not responding to any of the arguments I made. Am I supposed to recoil from your name calling? Get real and learn how to engage in intelligent discussion before you comment on my blog again. Lol. Pathetic.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Natsume

      Radical Feminism is a far different animal from what TERFs like you call Radical Feminism. You support the patriarchy through support of sex essentialist views, which are literally the core foundation of oppressing women and femininity. TERFs aren’t radicals, because they support the patriarchal majority “common sense” ideas. Not feminists either, because TERFs either support female supremacy, or societal genocide of those assigned male at birth. That’s bigotry, based in hate, and has never been a component of a feminist platform. It’s sex essentialist nature is the same blanket discrimination as the patriarchy uses. The Trans Exclusionary part is absolutely true, because “gender critical” positions used by TERFs are nothing short of blatant, rabid, irrational, and purely hate mongering transphobia. You people are the tool that anti-feminists use against feminism, the tool conservatives use against LGBTQ+ equality, and the tool chauvinists use to prove women are inferior. All you do is hurt equality on all levels, simply because your bigoted lies and conformation biases are all you have. You can’t even argue a real point, like in the reply I’m responding to. Nope you have to misrepresent an entire article to fit your twisted conformation bias. Ignoring all else to make a patently false statement, without a trace of critical thought.

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      • Bimbleby

        It is *gender* essentialism that upholds patriarchal ideas, not sex essentialism. The latter is simply taking the view that only female bodies are female, which we need to do to be able to coherently discuss the fact that *sex* is the material basis of women’s oppression, not sex essentialism.

        Patriarchy was built around women’s reproductive function. Women’s economic oppression is inextricably tied up with that reproductive function. It did not arise out of a hatred for femininity or a distaste for women’s ‘identities’; femininity (and gender essentialism) are tools to maintain men’s dominance and access to women’s labour (which is bound up with their reproductive labour).

        Viewing female reproductive systems as the defining characteristic of femaleness is not upholding patriarchy, it is recognising female reproductive capacity as the basis of patriarchy (and the root of the concept of a female – you can no more have female testicles than you can have a non-mammal that breast-feeds; it’s an oxymoron). The idea that there are inherently female personality traits or sets of talents or interests (gender essentialism) does uphold a tool that supports patriarchy, because that’s what gender is.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Bimbleby

        ‘because TERFs either support female supremacy, or societal genocide of those assigned male at birth.’

        OK woahhh… where the hell is that view from? And you talk about a strawman?

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Natsume

    Yeah, no, sorry… The first act of patriarchal oppression is reducing people to their genitals. TERFs do exact the same thing. Gendering things actually doesn’t assign a social value, until you have the value that says one sex is inferior to another. While there aren’t really “female personality traits” there are feminine personality traits, and forms of expression. Because gender in the social sense is not strictly male and female, it’s a more nebulous concept of masculine and feminine. The concept of gender is similarly a nebulous spectrum, while there are factors associated by which sex expresses them most… They’re not limited by sex. The way “gender critical” types demand the use of language is to exclude people on the basis of appropriating linguistic definitions humans use to discribe things. With concepts like “Everything a woman(AFAB) does is feminine.” Which throws out the entire definition of words, for the sake of further oppressing an already chronically oppressed group.

    Also the supremacy, versus social genocide question? Well I see “gender critical” forums constantly talk about the following: How men need to have their rights taken away and be controlled by women, or how men need to be all put in medical comas and milked for their sperm. That is literally the only way men generally have value to a “gender critical” forum poster. Well that or when a man spews massive transphobia. That’s not a strawman, because it’s sort of thing so called “gender critical” “””””feminists”””””” actually say on a regular basis. It might be a minority opinion, sure, but I’ve never seen it categorically shot down and criticized by the “gender critical” groups.

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  3. Kiersten

    Great response on this topic Rachael. Very good.

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  4. I was a second wave feminist and transitioned in the 1970s. Feminism 101: Biology is not destiny.

    There is *nothing* feminist about the anti-trans people. The anti-trans folks, while decrying the patriarchy, are embracing a view opposite to feminism, The women’s movement started by looking for equality for a person’s humanness, not what’s between their legs in order to define others. Sigh!

    All women start from somewhere. As we used to say, “I am a woman giving birth to myself.” We evolve–cis and trans alike.

    The anti-trans people are totally patriarchal in their biological essentialism. So maybe TERF is the wrong term. TERP: Trans Exclusionary Rehashed Patriarchs.

    It’s like the chilling end of George Orwell’s novella about a revolution for freedom, “Animal Farm.” Like the animals who saw that the pigs were now running everything and making all policy and cozying up to the local farmers: I look from “pig” (what anti-feminist patriarchal men got called) to TERF and from TERF to pig and from pig to TERF again, but already it was impossible to say which was which.

    You don’t take down the master with the master’s tools nor do you defeat the patriarchy by embracing the patriarchy’s core beliefs.

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  5. angryoldtrans

    Good piece, but two quibbles:
    1. Sex doesn’t have to be PiV. Lots of pre/non op gay/bi trans men and pre/non op lesbian/bi trans women who date gay/bi cis men and lesbian/bi cis women do not enjoy PiV for a variety of reasons, including extreme dysphoria and personal preference. I am one of them, and yet my bi cis partner and I enjoy ourselves. I think TERFs like to pretend that trans people like me don’t exist so they can start shrieking their bigoted, bullshit rhetoric about lesbian trans women “forcing” cis lesbians into penetration, or queer trans men “fetishizing and harrassing” cis gay men.
    2. I realize the “pregnant people” rhetoric is necessary but it really bugs me. It conflates cis women and trans men, as if both groups view pregnancy as a normative occurrence when this is far from the truth. About three quarters of cis women will have children. For many reasons, including that many trans men not only are or will go on T, will have or have had hysterectomy, do not enjoy penetration, and view pregnancy as the ultimate dysphoria inducing activity they want to avoid, pregnancy for trans men is a very rare situation. Any comparison that conflates trans people with cis people of their assigned sex at birth, IMO, is dysphoria triggering and should be avoided as much as possible. I remember hearing that some subway station in Canada had a huge ad with a bearded, muscular trans man that advertised…period underpants. Given the lack of visibility of trans men, this company decided that what could be the cis public’s first view of an out trans man in an advertisement would be one free-bleeding into his underwear?! What the hell were they smoking? Not only was it unwise, embarrassing, and dysphoria-triggering, but also inaccurate–testosterone prevents that bodily function.

    Excellent take down of PSF!

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    • Hello angryoldtrans,

      You make many good points and I agree that sexual reproduction arguments get conflated with gender identity so that the train jumps the tracks. If we had been born in another body (reproduction-wise) we wouldn’t be trans, which is the heart of the matter. Cis people, as I suggested above, are like fish in an ocean where they have no appreciation that the ocean is the world–there is nothing else (like dry land) imaginable. Sex and gender are in such total alignment that trans makes no sense–just like saying it is impossible for gay people to be together because biological babies are central. Never mind there are cis infertile couple who adopt. And it’s not just the babies–trans people have them too. It’s just the manner–or so goes the argument.

      As a former lesbian who once felt comfortable in radical lesbian circles, I have had my first-hand encounters with TERFs. (Point of clarification, I am MTF.) In my view there is more to them than to say

      I think TERFs like to pretend that trans people like me don’t exist so they can start shrieking their bigoted, bullshit rhetoric about lesbian trans women “forcing” cis lesbians into penetration, or queer trans men “fetishizing and harrassing” cis gay men.

      In my view there is way more to them than over-the-top rhetoric. I keep going back to Serano’s book title “Whipping Girl,” in contradistinction to the term “whipping boy.” As most of us remember the term, whipping boy, came from the days of royalty when if a young (child) prince misbehaved and should be punished, a whipping boy was brought forward. No one dared lay a hand on a future monarch. Heavens! So it was that innocent boy who got the beating that the young prince actually deserved.

      Yes, there is a deep strain of denial (if not madness) that runs through a theory that tries to explain transsexualism as “men” who are so driven to sleep with lesbians (the forbidden (ruby?) fruit) that they have a surgery to get access to these lesbians and do so with impunity. The TERFs (who have a longstanding strain of lesbian separatism running through them) that they believe “men” will go to these lengths to have sex with them. And yet one asks: why? What is so hot about these TERFs that drives “men” to do that?

      Although it’s anecdotal (but then so too is the TERF argument) many of the 1970s TERFs ended up married to men, raised children, and have buried their lesbian pasts. That is merely to say that sometimes the loudest voices are screaming about something else.

      I am no TERF apologist. They kiss up and kick down. “Kicking the dog,” is one way of putting it. But their central argument, minus the persiflage, is that girls and boys are raised differently and that girls go through a different puberty and socialization and that this is what makes us a gender–not a feeling that comes from inside–in my view something that probably happened pre-natally when the brain differentiated, in my case, female, but the body could not. To them the body and upbringing is everything and the brain goes along for the ride.

      I close with a thought about growing up. What if as today children were identified early and raised in the gender role that was in their brain and not their body? “Between their ears and not their legs?” And what if this were applied, like in my own case, starting from the age of three. Would that change things? Notice TERFs tend to blame things on society and patriarchy, but then jump to biology when it comes to gender role. Pretzel logic. What is trans kids were raised the right way? What if TERFs actually and honestly looked at the fractured lives of trans kids before sounding off about (unasked for and unwelcome) “privileges.”

      The TERFs are running from something and, alas, they think by throwing us under the bus that somehow they are saving themselves, but from whom?

      Themselves?

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      • dormantdragon

        ” Notice TERFs tend to blame things on society and patriarchy, but then jump to biology when it comes to gender role. Pretzel logic. What is trans kids were raised the right way?”

        What is the ‘right’ way to raise a boy or a girl? Here you stumble unwittingly upon the very essence of the gender-critical position, that yes, gender roles are socially constructed and imposed (in some cases, coercively, even violently) from birth onwards.

        Gender-critical feminists do claim that biology matters – for the reason that it is the basis upon which patriarchy is constructed and upon which gender roles are formulated. Biology matters to the people who believe that certain roles and behaviours and preferences are suitable only for people of one sex or the other.

        In a society that imposed no restrictions or expectations of behaviour upon people on the basis of their bodily functions, would there be any such thing as gender dysphoria?

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      • transphilosopher

        Yes I believe gender dysphoria would still exist. Trans girls with bottom dysphoria would still hate their penises and their testosterone-fueled body. Trans guys with top dysphoria would still hate their chests and their estrogen-fueled body. You have zero evidence that these types of dysphoria would disappear in your supposed gender critical future utopia.

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  6. dormantdragon

    The way a word is used in everyday discourse matters – and ‘TERF’ in particular has assumed the position, so to speak, of a slur. It is leveraged in attempts to smear and no-platform those who hold views that are inimical to trans theory or politics.

    As for the idea that ‘TERF’s are exculding trans people from the categories of men and women respectively, these are natural exclusions based upon biological categories. It’s absurd to claim that a person who was born and grew up in a male body is really the same kind of entity as a person who was born and grew up in a female body, or an intersex body, for that matter. Biology – material reality – is important, as are the social ramifications of the same.

    To say that a transwoman is a biological male or a transman a biological female is a morally neutral statement of fact that trans activists (which by no means includes all trans* identified people) have great difficulty accepting.

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    • transphilosopher

      You say “man” and “woman” are “natural biological categories” but what’s your argument for ignoring that gender is largely cultural? “Man” and “woman” have to do with gender – “male” and “female” have to do with biology. Arguably they are different concepts.

      Is “Nazi” a slur? No. It’s not a slur. It’s a shorter way of saying “national socialist”. But how you phrased it, it used to “smear” and “no-platform” Nazis. Boo-hoo. Own up to your ideas. TERF is not a slur. It’s an acronym. But it’s a perfectly accurate acronym to describe the gender critical position. But we all know “gender critical” isn’t accurate. It’s not about critiquing gender. It’s about critiquing the movement of transgenderism. Besides, the term TERF wasn’t even coined by trans people. The reason why “TERF” works as a smear is that the ideas behind TERF-ism are nasty and many people can see right through its supposed feminist trappings. That’s why TERFs get no-platformed. But they’d get no-platformed regardless of what they are called. But TERF is nothing like real slurs like the n-word or f-word.

      Whether or not trans women are “biologically male” depends on how we define “male”. And it’s an open philosophical question how that is done. “male” is not like “gold” or “tiger” – it is a more socially constructed category – much human judgment goes into cleanly defining what it means to be “male” – and there are good arguments saying that trans women should be seen as a *type* of female – not saying they are identical to cis females obviously, but a type of female.

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      • dormantdragon

        Are you intending to question the biological reality of sex, or is that just accidental? As a matter of fact, the queer-theory groupies amongst the vocal trans activist crowd would have it that sex itself is merely a social construct, whilst gender is somehow the immutable essence of a person. You could, of course, argue that ‘man’ and ‘woman’ are different concepts from ‘male’ and ‘female’ as applied to humans but it would require a great deal of denial to insist that they are unrelated.

        Really, ::do:: the clothes* make the man? I doubt it.

        In practical terms, male bodies are set up to produce sperm and impregnate female bodies, which are set up to produce eggs and bear young. This distinction is applied across the entire animal kingdom. Sure, there are some animals who are genetically programmed to change sex under particular conditions – but humans are not one of them.

        Gender, by contrast, as you rightly observe, is cultural. And the reason feminists are responding to trans ideology with criticism is because trans ideology, as pushed in most public avenues, seeks to enshrine individual gender identity as an essential quality, one that trumps the shared material reality of biological sex – ie: the axis of oppression upon which patriarchy rests. Denying biology means denying the existence of patriarchal culture; denying the existence of patriarchal culture effectively means giving it free play whilst we’re all looking the other way. And so the abuse, silencing, erasing and outright destruction of women and girls rolls on.

        You’ll have to explain to me exactly how the claim that transwomen are male and transmen are female is ‘nasty’ – I’m sure it’s not up there with the threats of rape and violence and the admonitions to “die in a fire” that are frequently levelled by trans activists against anyone (usually women and transwomen) who questions their dogma.

        (*’clothes’ here being metaphorically used to refer to the generality of cultural and behavioural expectations applied to male-bodied humans)

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      • transphilosopher

        Oh I’m sorry some TERFs are getting negative comments on the mean ole interwebs – meanwhile trans women across the world are being murdered…

        No one is “denying biological reality”. Like if a trans women has a penis she’s not denying the existence of the penis. But we can rightly challenge the interpretation we give *to* those anatomical parts. And you act like hormones make no difference to “real biology”. Arguably much of male-female sexual dimorphism comes from which sex hormone is dominant. The question of what defines male and female is more complicated than there being two mutually exclusive categories. You say this applies across the animal kingdom but even in other animals it’s more complicated than there just being two sexes. It’s a spectrum. I would argue that a trans man who has been on T for ten years is more “male-bodied” than a trans woman who has been on E for ten years. No one is saying physiological properties of the sexes are themselves socially constructed. By the interpretation we give to the facts is definitely open to human judgment in the way it’s not open to human judgment how many protons exist in an atom of gold.

        The nastiness of TERFism goes far beyond the internal debate about whether trans women or trans men or biologically male or female. It goes into the very denying of our identities, the idea going back to Janice Raymond of “morally mandating trans people out of existence”, of denying us access to medical treatment, HRT, and surgery, of eradicating us from public life.

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    • Hey dormantdragon,

      I suggest scanning the article below, from Medium, “Grade-B Women”:

      Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie made two unforced errors when she spoke about trans women’s lives.

      #1 She spoke without real knowledge of the lives of actual women of transition.

      #2 She doubled-down.

      The first error showed ignorance. The second error showed arrogance.

      The women’s movement has for years wrested with the concept of privilege. For decades fingers have been pointed as to who is more privileged than whom. Adichie’s view can be distilled down to a theory that women of transition are privileged because they were assigned male at birth. Trans exclusionary radical feminists who some call TERFs have created a political ecosystem based on this view that is undergirded by biological essentialism (you are what you are at birth) coupled with (male) privileged lives — an uncritical belief that men always have it better than women. But if this were so, why would anyone transsex — fully and completely adopt a role sex different from the one assigned at birth?

      The cornerstone of Adichie’s argument is the assumption that women of transition had male privilege, as if the mere assignment of the “M” label meant that trans girls lived male lives. While there certainly are some cases where this was true, it skips past a large number of cases where this was patently untrue — a fantasy of the person looking at trans lives from the outside in.

      Attaching modifiers to women classifies them, even unintentionally. White woman. Hetrosexual women. Married women. Upper class women. Educated women. Executive women. Trustfund women. All the aforementioned women could be said to have privilege. Adichie does not single out any of these classes of women though she well might. However these are women of power whose favor she needs to curry.

      Trans women, who are largely disempowered and all too often marginalized, rarely have few, if any, of those privileges. They are the ones being murdered, disowned, disenfranchised, and despised. And now they are relegated to the class of grade-B women.

      The women’s movement needs to look at what unites us rather than to start setting up a hierarchical system within itself. Let’s leave that sort of behavior to the patriarchy.

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      • Gender behavior is cultural. Gender identity is innate. It’s why arguments, exorcism, logic, perks of male privilege, shaming, and beating’s can’t change a person’s identity.

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      • transphilosopher

        I once took a class from a very smart biologist and he convincingly argued that the term “innate” is poorly defined and difficult to pin down. Does it mean “present at birth”? Not necessarily. Puberty isn’t present at birth but arguably “innate”. As are wisdom teeth. But when it comes to the brain, it seems unlikely that anything is truly “innate” except for basic neurological cytoarchitectural foundations. Everything else involves input from the environment. For that reason I seriously doubt that gender identity is truly innate. But that’s not to say that gender identity has no biological basis. I just don’t think it’s so easy to say it’s either innate vs not-innate. I think it’s mixed.

        Liked by 1 person

      • You are quibbling. Read the article in Scientific American.

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      • transphilosopher

        I’m aware of all the evidence surrounding the biological basis of gender identity….still not convinced it points to any conclusion about “innateness”.

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      • I have only my experience. I was a toddler and knew I was a girl. I did not think it was any more remarkable than breathing or eating. It just was. How did I know this? I just did. I knew what mommies and girls were. I knew what daddies and boys were, nothing wrong with the latter, I just wasn’t one of them.

        I protested in my child’s way that there was a “mistake” in their perception of me. They wouldn’t hear of it and forced me to live as a boy. In short, I was raised as a Tomboy. As one therapist astutely suggested to me, “You were raised lesbian,” and in a manner of speak we are the outcome of culturally imposed sex role stereotypes, but not like trans exclusionary types think. They tried to make us boys but it didn’t stick. Something deep inside said “no!” That’s what I mean by “innate.” It is “baked in” another vague term.

        The Oxford English Dictionary, the unabridged one, the OED in definition 1 of innate says: . . . essential constitution (of body or mind) . . .

        I am not much for dictionary definitions of science, but I do attach the definitions below.

        It resides inside the brain and it is why tran-ness cannot be therapized, drugged, prayed, exorcised, logiced, coerced, or beaten out of a child. Nor can it be nurtured out. If the nurture argument were valid, our Tomboy upbringings might take hold and often times some folks get overwhelmed and actually believe, at least for a while, that they are boys, or in the case of trans men, girls. But it is metastable at best.

        Yes, like good lesbians we date girls, marry them, even have kids, and one day it all comes apart. It has nothing to do with gonads. It has to do with structures in the base of the brain and short of killing the subject, it can’t be rooted out. It’s why trans people can’t shake it no matter how hard they try.

        Being raised as Tomboys is a huge exercise in “reparative therapy,” and we know how successful THAT is!

        From the OED

        innate, a.

        (ˈɪnneɪt, ɪnˈneɪt, ɪˈneɪt)

        Also 5 innat.

        [ad. late L. innātus (Tertullian), f. in- (in-2) + nātus, pa. pple. of nāscī to be born.]

        1.1 Existing in a person (or organism) from birth; belonging to the original or essential constitution (of body or mind); inborn, native, natural. a.1.a Of qualities, principles, etc. (esp. mental).
           Opposed to acquired, esp. in innate ideas, the nature, character, and even existence of which have been the subject of philosophical dispute, from the times of the Stoics.

        †b.1.b Of inborn material substances or formations. (In quot. 1718 app. misused for ‘internal’ or ‘hidden within’.) Obs.

        c.1.c Of a vegetable formation: Originating within the matrix or the substance of the plant. Of a mineral: Originating within the matrix; native.

        2.2 transf. Originally or properly existing in the thing spoken of; belonging to the essential nature or constitution of a thing; inherent. ? Obs.

        3.3 Bot. Said of a part or organ borne on the apex of another; esp. of an anther that is a direct continuation of the apex of the filament. (Cf. adnate

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      • dormantdragon

        I’ve yet to hear any explanation of how a male-bodied person, regardless of age, can have any concept of what it means to be a female-bodied person, much less believe that they should be one.

        I’m by no means denying that many trans* people have it rough – not least because many of them suffer from comorbid mental health issues and because many of them are forced into prostitution and dead-end employment (or worse) because of a lack of acceptance in other lines of work.

        Yes, there are differences in women’s experiences – I am extremely lucky to have been born and grown up in a country where I was afforded an education and where I was not expected to be married whilst still a child…or aborted because of my sex. But by the same token, there are vast differences in the experiences of trans* people too – Leelah Alcorn is a world away from Caitlyn Jenner, just to give an obvious contrast.

        All women – regardless of wealth, race, or other privilege, are vulnerable to abuse in ways that transwomen, by virtue of being male, are just not. There is overlap in experiences – both are disproportionately subject to acts of violence, most often perpetrated by men – but trans activists cannot seem to accept anything short of having their particular concerns (getting to use the right facilities, having access to women’s segregated spaces, not being ‘misgendered’) centred by a political movement that was established by and for women – because of biologically-based oppressions, both physical and social.

        Transwomen are not ‘B-grade’ women – they’re men, men who for whatever reason, prefer to inhabit the social role and assume the external trappings of womanhood. And if by saying so, you really believe I am saying something reprehensible, I would have to ask: what’s wrong with being a biological male, a man?

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      • Did you read the scientific article? Because you don’t understand something about transn-ess is not an argument.

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      • transphilosopher

        You admit there is overlap but fail to explain why some overlap but not others defines what it means to be a woman. But you already have your definition of “woman:” a human adult born with the capacity to generate eggs. That’s your definition of “woman”. Which of course refuses to think about how “woman” is in fact a category of gender and how cultures across the planet across historical time have had different conceptions of womanhood and gender, none of which can be said to be the “most true” – no more than the value of one dollar bill can be “more real” than the value of another.

        You keep talking about trans women but conveniently ignore trans men. On your logic, a trans man who has been on T for ten years, is totally stealth, treated as a cis man everywhere he goes socially, is actually a “woman”. IF your gender theory says that this trans man is in fact a woman yet everyone treats him as a man and he himself as a self-identity as a man, I think it’s safe to say that your theory is flawed. It’s much more congenial to say that this trans man is in fact a man, despite having non-typical body parts and a non-typical childhood.

        You’re still conflating manhood with biological maleless without having a convincing argument for why sex is identical to gender when many smart people, including many radical feminists like Judith Butler, would take issue with.

        I personally don’t care either way whether you think of my body is being “male” based on how you want to define that term, what I really care about is pronouns. Are you going to respect my pronouns? If so, great. If not, I want nothing to do with you because you can’t even give me that basic respect. But since you put “misgendered” in quotes I suspect you are a lost case. But, ok, so I work at Starbucks. And all my co-workers use she-her pronouns for me. You come in, know I am trans, and use “he” pronouns to refer to me. They’re all going to think you’re an asshole – rightly so. Do you really want to be the asshole in that situation?

        There is nothing “wrong” with being a man for people who are men/want to be men/have positive associations with masculinity/etc. But is it surprising to you that people who identity as women, cis or trans, don’t want to be men? Like, if given a magical button to switch into being a man forever, most women probably woudn’t hit that button. I certainly wouldn’t. I would be looking for the button that turns me into a woman forever. You call it “assuming the external trappings” – I call it “living my life as I see fit”. Aren’t feminists supposed to care about autonomy? I want the autonomy to make my own health care decisions, the autonomy to use the public spaces I think are most appropriate for me to use, the autonomy to be myself and express myself, and the respect from others to use the pronouns and name I ask them to use.

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