Monday, January 01, 2007

Oh alright, since none of you asked...

I have been swept along in the recent blogwars concerning MTF transgendered people. I haven't weighed in with my two penn'orth but I will now. Just here, on my own blog space I will dispense with caution and express the basics of what I feel about transgendered people and women-only space.

I support the rights of trans men and women. I use my pronouns correctly, according to the wishes of the person I am speaking to/about. Trans rights are important and should not be dismissed casually, regardless of one's understanding of gender/patriarchy/social conditioning etc. It's not as simple as arguing that gender is culturally and socially defined. However uncomfortable I am personally with the idea of MTF transgendering and the attendant RadFem theoretical problems surrounding gender and femininity/femaleness it points to, it's not yet the perfect world where gender only matters if we want it to...

Having said that, I absolutely can't feel comfortable accepting MTFs into women-only spaces. I cannot get behind the idea that excluding MTF trans people is bad for feminism. I can hope that MTFs understand and respect how women-born-women feel about this topic. I can ask for a peaceful discussion regarding the need for women-born-women spaces.

While I'm at it, I would like to clarify my stance on the Dead Men Don't Rape blog-wrangle... I support Bea's use of this dramatic and assertive title for her blog. I was stupefied by some people's response to it and did some really scientific research* of my own. I asked the men I love and trust (there are two of them) how they felt about the title and I was not surprised at the response that I got. They both were entirely unfazed by it. They were instantly able to see what the intention was and expressed interest in exploring the blog further. But these are sort of feminist men...they get it. I knew they would.

So that's my first post of 2007. I am sorry it wasn't a Happy Monday, but I really felt that I needed to be open about how I feel about these two issues.

* i.e. not at all scientific and a bit crappy really.


Anonymous said...


Thank you for being publicly *not* intimidated by trans-activists, who will now surely condemn you as a bigot because *you* have not condemned female-born-female space.

Pippa said...

I suspected as much. I also suspect that my position on trans women is indefensible inasmuch as whatever my opinions might be, and however reasonable and open the discussion, if I have any questions or doubts about trans women in women-born-women space I will instantly be called a bigot. How can I condemn women-born-women only space? Why would I?

stormcloud said...

Thanks Pippa, esp for supporting Bea.

Anonymous said...

Interesting post. I'm starting to explore feminism in more depth and I'm really interested in why there would be a case for exluding trans women from women only spaces. Is this because the trans woman's male "background" means that she can never fully understand the position of what it's like to be a woman born woman? Just interested to find out more :)

spotted elephant said...

I agree with you, Pippa. I think it's important to have women born women only space, just as it must be important to have transwomen only space. Maybe part of the problem is we don't really have women only space that includes transwomen.

And you're right, Bea can call her blog whatever she wants, and her intention was quite clear to me.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post about spaces. While I agree women born women need spaces, it would be a fair question to define what is a "woman" in that space. Simple genetics or more complex criteria? What about F2M's? Are they ok in those space if they deny their own womanness to be and live as women? And what about intersexed people?

The reality to me is that I support transpeople, especially their integration into groups of society, and their acceptance by other groups. Our society allows them to transistion and live as the gender they see themselves, and if they fit into that gender, what's the problem?

No one denies M2F's don't have the physical experience of being born female with puberty, life experience and menopause, or the socialization history of being girls and women (ok, young transistioners do), or often the work or career experience as women (ok agains some do). And no one denies they exist as the acceptance of natal women. But don't they deserve a place for their struggle to exist? What do women have to fear?

I know some M2F's are daunting to accept, their physical presence, mannerism, personalities, etc. are difficult to identify as women, but aren't some women equally at fault there too? Aren't some women more male-like than many men, so their birth sex allows them rights?

And what if you find some "women" in the women-only spaces to be transwomen? Some, especially who transistioned 10-20+ years ago, aren't discernible from "real" women and have totally integrated into women-only spheres in the world. Should they be dismissed for not coming out?

And what about young transwomen (18-25), wanting their place as women. They'll face much of the same experiences of natal women. Don't they deserve a place for their courage to be themselves and in the group?

And what about older transwomen who can provide a wealth of personal experience to women from their perspective? Remember they're not really men, as their gender identity is female, and their perspective is unique to the women-men view. They've lived in the space in between looking for a place that fits. Don't they deserve a place?

Just some thoughts and questions from a life in the space in between. Thanks.

v said...

Maybe part of the problem is we don't really have women only space that includes transwomen.

i don't think that is true though, i think most women's spaces, such as they are, are open to transwomen as well, and also sometimes to transmen as well. most of the feminist groups i've seen discuss this online have decided to be open to transwomen. i imagine offline is similar. what we're talking about really, is is it ever okay for a group of born women to form a group or organise to meet without extending membership to transwomen? and i think it is.

i have no problem with transwomen requesting to join a group, and each group making it's own decisions about that, depending on what the group is for. i suggest that sometime born women will still want to have their own CR groups and i dont see what is wrong with that.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you Pippa, I did a similar post on my blog about women-born spaces