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When Trans-Inclusivity Goes Wrong

Well now… this kind of gets weird. Remember all the awesome surrounding Girl Scouts lately? With them accepting MtF scouts? And standing behind their decision, despite the Conservative backlash? And not flinching at Bob Morris’ claims that the Girl Scouts of Indiana are promoting an evil liberal agenda?

It seems those same Girl Scouts, the Indiana ones, have gone a bit past the tipping point in turns of the awesome. Awesomeness has gone awry. They have hired a trans man as a counselor.

Now, I’m totally 100% for trans inclusivity. That should go without saying. But the Girl Scouts is an organization for women and girls. A trans man being hired into a position that is barred to cis men does not send the message of “self-identification is what counts in someone’s gender”. It sends the opposite message: “biology and assigned sex is what counts in someone’s gender”. It sends a confusing and dangerous message. It gives ammunition to those who would segregate us based on karyotype rather than who we are.

This would not be an issue for me if Caden were genderqueer, or otherwise non-binary-identified. If that were the case, I’d be all for it, and cheering him on, and buying some more Caramel De-Lites. But he isn’t. He’s a man.

I’ve mostly tried to keep my mouth shut in regards to the social differences that occur between how trans men are treated and how trans women are treated. I haven’t ignored the existence of trans-misogyny, and how it plays out, but I don’t want to get into games of oppression olympics and “who has it worst”. I don’t think any of us do; which is to say we all do. I think that trans people, regardless of where they locate their gender identity, have a pretty rough time of things no matter what, and we need to stick together and look out for one another. I prioritize our community, and the importance of overcoming our shared oppression, far above my specific experience of gender.

That said, there are some things that are really starting to bother me. One of them is how it seems that trans men can enter into women’s spaces (on the basis of their assigned sex) as well as men’s spaces (on the basis of their identified sex), while trans women are barred from both women’s spaces (on the basis of their assigned sex) as well men’s spaces (on the basis of their identified sex… or are effectively barred due to the physical risk).

I am getting very bothered especially by trans men entering or supporting women’s spaces from which trans women are specifically excluded, such as MichFest, and countless smaller women’s or feminist spaces… where all it takes is for one woman to say she’s “uncomfortable” or feels “unsafe” with a trans woman’s presence to have her pushed out. I am getting sick of trans men being treated as these totally awesome hot sex-pots in the queer community while trans women are treated with open contempt and revulsion. While trans men’s bodies are displayed as sexy or beautiful in various queer publications, when was the last time you EVER really saw a trans woman portrayed as a sexual being outside the context of degrading “shemale” pornography?  I’m sick of lesbians who one moment talk up how sexy they find trans men and the next say trans women are committing “rape by deception” if they don’t disclose to a female partner. I’m getting annoyed by trans men being perceived as radical super-duper gender rebels, smashing apart outdated norms, while trans women continue to be painted as tedious, conservative throwbacks to patriarchy- no matter how we express our gender. I’m getting annoyed by trans men receiving accolades for doing or saying or thinking things for which trans women have been ignored for years. I’m annoyed by trans men getting to be the intellectuals and trans women just the cheerleaders. I’m tired of the term ‘erasure’ being applied indiscriminately so as to tilt the conversation when what’s really being discussed is just the absence of hostility, misrepresentation and ridicule. I’m sick of femme straight trans women being pushed out of the queer community entirely while trans men are appreciated as the vanguard no matter how they present or who they fuck. I’m getting REALLY annoyed by trans men continuing to insist on their right to use the term “tranny” despite not having to face the violence and trans-misogyny with which the term is associated and loaded, and sick of how even trans men’s opposition to use of that term is taken more seriously than the feelings trans women have on the issue. I’m getting sick of trans men being the only ones who are allowed to talk about any of this.

Mostly, I’m getting sick of some trans men happily accepting male privilege when they can while also happily accepting being perceived as women wherever or whenever it’s convenient.

That’s not every trans man. Not by a long shot. Most I’m happy and proud to call my allies in our struggle. But there are enough who are exploiting their privilege, or unaware of it, and kicking their sisters to the curb in the process, that I feel something needs to be said. Caden, if you have respect for your identity as a man, and for what it means to be trans, for our community, and for how hard trans women have to fight to be able to enter women’s spaces like the one you’re casually flaunting your presence in, you would turn this position down.

Thoughts?