Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Today's Battle

This one's a scientific discussion over at Neurotopia, the Science blog on neurology.

It was going well until it attracted notable "second wave" feminist and fanatic Transphobe m Andrea, whose Feminazi (her words not mine) blog is increasingly devoted to dismissing Transsexual women as men who are mentally ill and selfish too.

Here's my take on her views, but you should read her blog for yourself, to make sure I'm not putting words in her mouth and constructing a StrawPerson.
Transsexuality cannot have a biological cause, because if it did, it would undermine Feminist Theory. Undermining Feminist Theory causes repression, persecution, and injustice. Therefore Transsexuality as a biological condition cannot be allowed to exist, and in the words of the Feminist Janice Raymond,
"I contend that the problem of transsexualism would be best served by morally mandating it out of existence."
This is about politics, not Science. It's about the post-modernist view of science (and every other activity) as being nothing but tools in a power-game, with only an insignificant correspondence to any objective reality.
...
So yes, those of us researching the genuine sexually dimorphic differences in human cognition had better be extremely careful that our work is not misinterpreted by others to further an odious and contrary-to-reality political agenda. We have a responsibility to see that it doesn't. To that extent, m Andrea is right.

To the extent that she denies the biological realities, she is wrong. To the extent that she uses her considerable intellect and wit to denigrate, insult, oppress, and devalue women belonging to a minority group even more denigrated, insulted, oppressed and devalued than her own relatively privileged one, she is dangerously wrong, and in a moral sense. Though she does it from the highest of motives, you know, can't make an omelette and all that. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. They're not *really* women anyway, they're part of the oppressive class, so deserve all they get.
The difficult thing is.. she really is witty, and intelligent, and under other circumstances, I'd both like and admire her. And like the more Fanatic Fundies, she believes she's acting in a Good Cause. One I can get behind as well, no-one knows better jut how much the Patriarchy oppresses women than transsexuals - and I mean the guys too. Some get distinctly uncomfortable at just how much unconscious privilege they acquire from transition.

Her methods though, the weapons used against transsexuals, are exactly those used by the Patriarchy to oppress women everywhere. She's not jut a useful tool of the Patriarchy, she's part of it, and doesn't even know it. In that respect, she's achieved her aim of abolishing the distinction between men and women.

21 comments:

RadarGrrl said...

When you cut off the penis and testicles, those neurons don't carry sensory information anymore, and that area of the brain just isn't getting all the stimulation that it's used to."

Shows what the author knows about actual SRS procedures. My 'bits' were not cut off. They were left neurally intact, yet reshaped and repositioned to work as my brain has always needed them to i.e. as the vagina it has become. And it works beautifully in all respects.

I have no phantom pain because, unlike the amputation of a limb, there has been nothing removed.

Chris said...

When you attach a certain power or status to something that you perceive a certain amount of exclusivity to (wealth, vagina), it unfortunately becomes in the best interests of the "haves" to keep their population as small as possible.

But...at least my rich friends take me to fancy restaurants on occasion.

sumptos devil s advocate said...

What is this male privilege thing that is constantly used to guilt-trip transsexuals?

Bad hair days said...

> What is this male privilege thing that is constantly used to guilt-trip transsexuals?

Two views
A Radical feminist:
http://radnichole.wordpress.com/2008/08/27/pet-peevishness-male-privilege-and-its-denial-by-ts-sistahs/

And a transwomans:
http://questioningtransphobia.wordpress.com/2008/07/17/transphobic-tropes-2-%e2%80%93-%e2%80%9cpatriarchal-privilege%e2%80%9d/

Sarah

Lisa Harney said...

I think you give Miss Andrea a bit too much credit.

In attempting to actually engage her in discussion, she dodges the point, shifts the goalposts, abandons logic for bald assertions, and in general doesn't seem to be aware of logic or how debate works.

Radnichole is trans, but I think she's playing into cis people's definitions and asserting that trans women experience life exactly as cis men. Of course pre-transition trans women experience male privilege, but to claim it's exactly like cis men's experiences denies that trans experiences pre-transition have any validity.

Zoe Brain said...

Radha's Post is quite accurate. Not completely, not for everyone, but far more true than not.

They never ogled or gazed at women, never heard or believed any of the off-color and demeaning jokes and anecdotes that were and are rife in all aspects of many male-gatherings. They would never, under the direst of provocations, do what John McCain did and call their wives, girlfriends, mothers, friends, or just a troublesome boss “cunt.”

No, I never did. Seriously, I observed that around me, and just went "Wha....?". I could never understand it, and just assumed that it was all a macho act. I still think a lot of it is, but I realise now how little I know about men. Can they really think like that? Are so many of them so stereotyped? I can't believe it's all real, and not the kind of puerile boy p*ssing contest I observed since I was 6.

Another area she should have mentioned is that TS girls never do have a normal boyhood. They may have all the trappings, but the way they experience childhood is quite different from the way boys experience it. They're always on the outside looking in.

Still, on the whole, she's right in what she says, and I've personally experienced most of it.

Oddly enough, now that I'm subject to it myself, I feel less incensed about it than I did when talking with female colleagues in the past. An injustice committed against me is less important than an injustice committed to a third party. I don't feel the same cold rage.

Lisa's post - what can I say? Questioning Transphobia is a first-rate resource, and consistently excellent. This post is typical.

Lisa Harney said...

That was Emily's post.

I think that any discussion of how trans women experience male privilege prior to transition needs to acknowledge how many trans women, despite appearing to be men, may absorb stuff like body image issues, how seeing cis men as the default doesn't include trans women, how someone who sees herself as a woman (or someone who should be female) absorbs sexist messages and socialization, even if their sense of themselves as female is repressed or not obvious to them while it's happening.

I mean, I don't believe that this is only a matter of childhood socialization, and I think that her post plays too hard into the idea that trans women are just like cis men before transition - and that not transitioning somehow doesn't carry its own price.

While I think that there needs to be more conversation about male privilege in the trans community, I think the fact that "male privilege" is an accusation used to oppress and silence trans women by cis people needs to also be acknowledged, and that we need to try to explain this stuff on our terms, and not assert cissexist viewpoints to define our realities.

And that's the problem I have with radnichole's post.

Lisa Harney said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lisa Harney said...

Also, trans men use it as an accusation to silence.

I realize being told that one has privilege is not an accusation, but in this case, discussions of trans women and male privilege are accusations, and they're used as justification for exclusion, ejection, and to invalidate our sex and gender.

By that I mean, it's not "I'm calling you on privilege you're displaying right now. I'm calling you on privilege I assume you've experienced in the past, and will in fact spend time defining your life experiences for you to prove that your life as a woman is invalid and wrong."

MgS said...

As far as I can tell, mAndrea's argument is fundamentally a rehash of Judith Butler's arguments.

What that argument overlooks - and thus invalidates itself when held up against the transsexual narrative (in particular), are the attributes of persistence, and perhaps most importantly early memory of cross-gender identification.

The latter implies an essentialism about gender identification that Butler (and other "Radical Feminist" thinkers) rejects.

I had quite the interesting conversation with a professor well steeped in Butler's ideas a couple of years ago. The poor prof walked away from the conversation with a very different understanding of Butler, and some of the problems in the suppositions it is based on.

(BTW - unless mAndrea can demonstrate that transsexuals are suffering from a recognizable condition other than cross gender identity, I'd further accuse her reasoning of failing by making the fiat claim that someone else's narrative is invalid - simply because she thinks it is)

Lisa Harney said...

Also, doesn't Judith Butler explicitly avoid making judgements about transsexual people, or did I miss something in her work?

MgS said...

Generally, Butler is fairly good about not making any value judgments about people. However, her theoretical models tend to rely on declaring large parts of the transsexual narrative invalid. (I had a great time explaining this to a prof I met who was big into Butler ... until we talked for a couple of hours)

Lisa Harney said...

Good point on Butler.

OMG, I just remembered I have a half-finished comment to post on your blog.

m Andrea said...

Well thanks for bringing this up, but unfortunately this bit is quite illogical:

Transsexuality cannot have a biological cause, because if it did, it would undermine Feminist Theory.

That's pure gobbledeegook which either suggests that you lack the ability to reason or that you're uninterested in having an honest discussion. You might as well have said "Transgenderism cannot have a biological cause, because the sky is blue and I don't like blue".

I personally can't support transgenderism because the tenets and principles used to bolster the arguments make no sense; and after even a casual examination it's obvious that the ideology only reinforces old-fashioned stereotypes and sexism.

But suppose if anyone was interested in an honest discussion, they would have simply expressed their objections on my own blog instead of whinging about it somewhere else. Please notice that the people who comment on my blog are treated with as much reason and respect in the comment section as they themselves display. If someone acts like an illogical ass, then I am under no obligation to pretend as if they have a brain.

Bad hair days said...

Wow m Andrea, just nearly two years for a response.

If people have the curtesey to take your words as much to heart as to discuss them elsewhere, with a broader audiance, shouldn't you be glad?
You didn't keep your comments to your blog either when you tried to enter the discussion there.

Hm.. might be we have a different stance to freedom of speech. For me it includes responses to others speeches.

m Andrea said...

(BTW - unless mAndrea can demonstrate that transsexuals are suffering from a recognizable condition other than cross gender identity, I'd further accuse her reasoning of failing by making the fiat claim that someone else's narrative is invalid - simply because she thinks it is)

That is easy. Here's an actual argument, if you want one: Gender fluidity does not validate biological sex fluidity. In other words, my assertion is that regardless how easy it is for a biological female to feel as if her character is more attuned to traits which are currently associated with masculinity, there is still no reason to claim that she is a biological male who was abducted by aliens or mistakenly inhabiting the "wrong" body.

My evidence which supports my assertion is: Any physical body is perfectly capable of expressing whatever trait it wants in the body it was born with, and is only barred from doing so by current social norms. And so my conclusion becomes: Therefore it becomes true that the transperson is merely conforming to social pressure.

Bad hair days said...

> Any physical body is perfectly capable of expressing whatever trait it wants in the body it was born with

ROFL

Zoe Brain said...

m Andrea

The last comment on your post was mine - dated March 10, 2009 at 2:18 am.

So yes, I expressed my objections on your blog at the time.

You didn't see fit to reply, as is your right of course.

Now you've made a number of assertions in your necroposting here. Flat, bald statements with nothing to back them up.

I see that you're elaborating and explaining your reasoning. That's good, and please could we have some more of that.

I'm particularly interested in your assertion that someone born with congenital paraplegia is only prevented from walking by blind adherence to social norms.

To quote you:
"Any physical body is perfectly capable of expressing whatever trait it wants in the body it was born with, and is only barred from doing so by current social norms. "

Hence the congenitally blind must actually be able to see, the deaf hear etc. Or are you saying that their lack of sight or hearing is because they don't want to see or hear?

Or that we all could run a 4 minute mile if we really wanted to?

m Andrea said...

Just now noticed this, sorry. I get so many linkbacks to each post that they scroll off the screen, and wordpress only lets me see so many of them. If there's a way to see all of them, I haven't figured it out yet.

Zoe Brain said...

No need to apologise for something I've been guilty of myself. But it was gracious of you to do that, and even more appreciated in light of our differences. If I may, I'll keep your apology in reserve, in case you ever do something that requires one.

If you're interested in this issue, then may I please suggest that you read the dialogue I had with Ron Gold, whose beliefs appear to me to be similar to yours.

The first part is at http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2009/12/ron-gold-on-transgendered-dialogue.html, and there's 7 others.

My aim is not to convince you; but to give you a good understanding of where I'm coming from, and why I hold the beliefs I do.

Best Wishes,
Zoe

m Andrea said...

Hi Zoe. :) If I didn't respond to your last comment, it was probably because it didn't make any sense. Much like this one:

I'm particularly interested in your assertion that someone born with congenital paraplegia is only prevented from walking by blind adherence to social norms.

To quote you:
"Any physical body is perfectly capable of expressing whatever trait it wants in the body it was born with, and is only barred from doing so by current social norms. "


lol I never made that assertion and you should be smart enough to know that. It is perfectly reasonable to expect that any physical body can express whatever character trait it wants, in the body it was born with. "Character trait" is a tad distinct from "physical abnormality" or whatever you prefer to call it.

Also, thanks for the compliments in the last part of your post -- I saw that first sentence and immediately went into cranky mode. Again sorry for that. You're not too bad yourself if you'd just discuss with a little more precision. :)

Ahhh, you are nice and yes, I'll go read your comment.