Discourse And Intersectionality »« Complicity Vs. Cause In Trans-Misogyny And Violence

“Ideal Bodies”

Beneath the mountains of words and ink and bile spilled over the past couple weeks over the conflict and controversy surrounding Julie Burchill and Susanne Moore’s statements in the British press, a single phrase is identifiable as the sort of keystone on which the entire mess hinges. That keystone is Moore’s petty remark about lacking a certain “ideal body shape”… that of “a Brazilian transexual”.

Lots of people have made the issue simply one of “offense” vs. “free speech”.

Lots of others have made it about the offensive nature of the term “transexual” as a noun.

Still more have discussed that this is just a bigoted, naive and lazy stereotype.

And one could also discuss the horrifying context in which the remark was made; that of Brazil having an epidemic of trans-misogynistic violence, with more trans women having been murdered there in 2012 than in the rest of the Western hemisphere combined.

That last point seems especially important and valid to me, at least far more so than “offense”, the (very obvious) dimension of stereotyping, and the question of terminology. But I’ve no desire to disrespect the deaths of the hundreds (yes, hundreds) of Brazilian trans women over the past years just for the sake of getting one-up on the TERFs. That would be crass, misleading, and unnecessary.

But what the existence of that violence, in exactly the context that generates the stereotype of the gorgeous, “ideal”, sexually irresistible trans woman, very disturbingly reveals is exactly how backwards the conceptualization of trans women’s bodies implicit to the statement is; a backwards conceptualization upon which the near entirety of the actual content of the arguments and hatred of Moore and her defenders rests.

Put simply, trans women’s bodies are by no means an “ideal” that is loved and respected by men or “The Patriarchy”, leaving “real” women passed over and neglected. Rather, trans women’s bodies are the subject of hatred, shaming, policing, pathologization, ridicule and violence by The Patriarchy (and, to a degree, feminism as well), held constantly against cis-centric standards; of beauty, of “passability”, and of being “real” or “biological” or “natural” at all.

The meme that transsexual women are artificially constructed versions of women tailor-made for the desires and fantasies of men and patriarchy, like we’re little drop-dead gorgeous bio-mechanical Stepford Wives that every man will prefer to “real”/”natural” women, is incredibly old, and indeed first emerged with Janice Raymond And Friends back in the original transphobia-fad of 70s second wave feminism. At that historical juncture, there may indeed have been just enough of an illusion of our possessing the alleged “hyper-femininity” to fuel that perception, due to how Gatekeeping enforced an incredibly strict standard of femininity (as well as excluding from transition anyone who the doctor felt would not be able to “fully assimilate” as a woman; i.e. would not have a body and appearance that conformed to what the doctor in question found feminine enough, beautiful enough, etc.). The fact that only those trans women whose bodies were already viable as objects of conventional male desire had the opportunity to seek treatment in the first place, and the fact that accessing treatment demanded strict and unwavering conformity to incredibly strict standards of how a woman is “supposed” to dress, look, walk, talk, behave, fuck, and so on, the end result was that the only trans women actually undergoing medical transition were those who would appear to be “hyper-feminine”, and be “palatable” to the male gaze and male desire. The invisibility, exclusion and suppression of trans women who didn’t fit this image created a reality that, for someone unaware of what was really going on, would appear as though to transition was to deliberately seek out becoming such a “hyper-feminine” ideal, and that this was the desired outcome of all trans women seeking treatment. It’s understandable (albeit still very stupid and presumptuous) that people like Raymond would draw the conclusion that transexuality was all about wanting to conform to male fantasies, rather than that conformity to rigid patriarchal standards was one of the prerequisites for accessing a treatment that was about one’s own comfort in one’s own body, with virtually nothing to do with wanting to please or attract men.

That was the 70s, though. In 2013, it takes willful ignorance to believe that trans women embody a patriarchal ideal, and that we’re more desirable to men and patriarchy than are cis women. That our “artificial design” is placed on some pedestal above the “natural” female shape. It’s willfully ignorant AND, far more likely than not, more about taking out anxieties about misogynistic body-shaming on an “acceptable” and vulnerable target than actually looking at what the problem actually entails, and owning up to one’s own position (and vulnerabilities) within it.

There certainly is still an illusion that helps maintain the stereotype of the transsexual supermodel with an “ideal body type” (one notices it regularly in snarky little urban myths like “you know, I hear most supermodels really have XY chromosomes!”, that are often busted out in the infinitely problematic “real women have/are [x]” forms of feminist critique). But, just like how it was cissexist gatekeeping and patriarchal policing of trans women’s bodies that produced the “hyper-feminine” trans woman caricature of the 70s, contemporary perceptions of us as such have nothing to do with what trans women’s bodies are actually like, or how our bodies are perceived and treated by men and patriarchy, and everything to do with how a cissexist culture regulates who amongst us gets seen, has a voice, has a presence, is treated as worthwhile, is treated as deserving, and who amongst us gets shuffled off out of visibility, or only trotted out for the sake of ridicule and scare-tactics.

To go on a little tangent for a moment, to help illustrate my point about who gets seen and why, I’d like to mention a similar problem that occurs within the trans community itself. There is a myth amongst white trans women (which sort of is The Trans Community, given how little power and voice is given to trans PoC within that community), of “Asian women are more passable”. Likewise, there is another myth that Thailand is a perfect, wondrous, tolerant utopia for trans women, where we’re idols and pop stars, and the Thai trans women are all just gorgeous and wonderful and revered. Both of these myths, at least in (large) part, relate to an incredibly narrow, distorted, biased perception of what the reality actually is for trans women in Asia, and Thailand specifically– primarily distorted by which trans women are going to actually be seen on Thai television and media, and which bits and pieces of Thai media get seen by North American trans women. While there are some trans (kathoey) pop stars in Thailand, those women are only the tiniest sliver of the trans population in Thailand, and the ones who had the beauty (and perhaps pre-existing wealth or privilege) to make it in media. The rules of what you’re supposed to look like before being “allowed” in front of the camera aren’t much different in Thailand than they are in Hollywood. It’s a bit like pointing to Janet Mock and saying “trans women in the United States are gorgeous and get awesome jobs in publishing!”, pointing to Jenna Talackova and saying “Canadian trans women are supermodels!”, or pointing to Kim Petras and saying “German trans women are so much more passable!”.

Needless to say, the lived realities of most kathoey are very different than that of Thai pop stars.

In a culture of media and privilege, who is permitted visibility and voice is not the same thing as who is actually out there. Learning to separate media realities from actual realities isn’t just activism 101, it’s living in the 21st century 101. The trans bodies that appear in media designed for cis (male) consumption are not the reality of trans bodies any more the cis women’s bodies that appear in Maxim or FHM reflect the reality of women’s bodies. Anyone claiming to be a feminist should be able to grasp this incredibly basic shit.

And not to put too fine a point on things, but it’s incredibly common for trans people in media to not be depicted by actual trans bodies at all. Most trans characters in film and television are portrayed by cis actors or actresses. That is just a mild example of the degree to which the trans body is policed, erased shamed and suppressed by patriarchy: hardly a case of us being adored, artificially perfect fuckdolls.

The issue of media distortions of what a given group’s actual bodies and lives are actually like becomes even more intense when speaking of minorities. Black women, for instance, don’t typically look like Halle Barry did in X-Men, the women of colour who are selected for appearance in Maxim are chosen in accordance with the degree to which they meet white-defined standards of beauty, and are typically airbrushed or done up with make-up and hair straightening to fit further into those imposed standards. Bodies that are non-normative aren’t welcome in media, and don’t get to be visible. In media, the question of diversity of women’s bodies, or even diversity in general, is answered with literally the bare minimum the platform so interrogated can get away with.

This is applied to trans bodies too, of course. Which trans women are permitted visibility are those trans women who meet the culturally normative standards of beauty. So the trans women you see are the ones that are most desirable to a generalized, bland, top-point-of-the-bell-curve male gaze. It’s that simple, and that complicated.

All of which is to say nothing of the degree to which we self-impose invisibility, due to issues of safety and privacy, of harassment and cissexism, of risk and violence, and even of emotional response to the incessant, ubiquitous shaming of trans bodies, our implicit position as the most disgusting, unfuckable, ridiculous kind of body on Earth (a position that cis women, queer cis women, feminists, and even other trans women, frequently, fiercely reinforce). It’s kinda hard to feel confident “putting yourself out there” when you’re told over and over again that it’s totally reasonable for a man to vomit for several minutes straight (TW) if he discovers he was attracted to, or (GASP!), was intimate with, someone with your kind of body.

But what’s of particular importance here is the standard by which a trans body is considered acceptable, and deserving of visibility… because it is not our transness that grants us desirability, or sets that standard. It’s the exact opposite. Our acceptability to patriarchy and male gaze is defined by cisgender standards of appearance, and precisely by the degree to which our transness ISN’T visible, by the degree to which we “overcome” our transness (“You look amazing! I never would have guessed you were trans!”), by the degree to which we appear, in that patriarchal gaze, indistinguishable from cis women. The degree to which we “pass”.

Passing = Beauty = Womanhood = Success = Passing

Cis women are never expected to live up to an “ideal” of a trans body, but every trans woman is asked to live up to, and is judged, shamed, and/or policed by, the standard of a cis woman’s body.

Trans women’s bodies are, of course, incredibly diverse. At least as much so (maybe even more so!) as cis women’s bodies. There are literally no universals to what our bodies are like. There is absolutely no such thing as “looking trans”. Even the basic trends one might assume are common to trans women (like “narrow hips”) aren’t consistent, only consistent amongst trans women who underwent the full affects of physical masculinization during adolescence and did not undergo physical feminization during adolescence (needless to say, THAT IS NOT ALL TRANS WOMEN. I’m not even in that category). And this is, of course, true of trans women of all nationalities.

Just to speak of my trans-women friends (which, you know, IS NOT ALL TRANS WOMEN), there are bodies that are tall, short, muscular, lean, skinny, fat, average-weight, able-bodied, disabled (in diverse ways), XY, XXY, XY/XX, various other chromosomal arrangements, large busted, small busted, narrow hips, broad hips, pointy noses, wide noses, little noses, blue eyes, green eyes, brown eyes, hazel eyes, curly hair, straight hair, wavy hair, large butts, skinny butts, penises, vaginas, long legs, short legs, big hands, wee little dainty hands, big feet, little feet, widow’s peaks, receding hairlines, thin hair, thick hair, dreadlocks, dimples, freckles, overbites, underbites, attached earlobes, unattached earlobes, lots of tattoos, lots of piercings, none of either, hairy pits, hairy legs, shaved pits, shaved legs, scars with interesting stories, scars with boring stories, long painted femme nails, chewed down nails, calloused fingers, smooth fingers, every complexion from super dark to pale-as-the-grave, appendices, the absence thereof, and a whole bunch of other shit.

Fuck off with your “ideal body shape”. There is no trans body shape. Draw me a picture of it sometime, I bet it’ll take me all of 30 seconds on Facebook to find a trans woman who looks nothing at all like it. EXACTLY like if someone drew you a picture of what a cis woman is shaped like. At best, you’ve come up with a picture of your normative biases.

Or, in the case of Moore’s “Brazilian transexual”… an image of her resentful, ignorant biases.

Trans bodies fit no ideal. Certainly not of the patriarchy, who have met those bodies with nothing but fear, ridicule, disgust, hatred, violence and, “at best”, fetishization (which, remember, means: “being into something I’m not supposed to be into”), since the day they came into being. Moore’s conceptualization, the entire excuse for her resentment of us, is not only willfully ignorant, not only based on an impossibly silly stereotype, not only childishly confusing media with reality (next she’ll warn us of the dangers of trans serial killers, like “Jaime Gumb”!), and not only spoken in a context of specific and horrifying violence against the precise target of her stereotype … her conceptualization was backwards. As bizarro-world as the persecuted men fighting back against feminism to defend the rights of fathers from sperm-burgling feminazis and their false accusations of rape.

The only ideal we may ever meet is that of our own self-acceptance, and self-love. To get there, it would be helpful if silly bigots like Moore stepped aside for a moment, and tried educating themselves.

Comments

  1. Hope_WA says

    As someone who has an atypical body type I’ve been regularly shouted down within the trans community for trying to dispel the myth that a woman has to be waifish with huge breasts in order to pass and be considered a RealWoman®. It is bad enough that I have had people ask me when I was getting top surgery (as if all trans women have to get implants) to finish off my transition.

    I do think it is important that trans women make sure their bodies look like the bodies of cis women. I’m just thankful that cis women come in all shapes and sizes, as you pointed out, because it makes having a body that looks like a woman’s body as easy as having a body. I want to be sure to explicitly state that I am not passing judgement on any trans person’s (male, female, neither or both) choice to have or refrain from having any type of surgery.

    I love my short, muscular, small-breasted, body. Are there things I wish were different? Like most people (cis or trans) there are a few things I wish I could change. I didn’t always love my body. In fact, I hated it; almost everything about it. It took years (and other interventions) for my attitude to change. I’m happy with my choices. My wish for other trans folks is that they can achieve the same type of peace with their body. That’s why I felt compelled to write, because far too often it is pressure from within the trans community, reinforcing the stereotypes and unrealistic standards society places on all women, that makes many trans people’s own body dysphoria so much worse.

  2. renetaprescott says

    I am with Hope on this, and with you Natalie. I did see the threads on Burchill’s post, and found it hugely distorted and bigoted that she defended Moore’s comments. I also saw a number of comments that basically amounted to “How dare you trannies challenge us ‘oppressed’ women and our bigotry”.

    But I too don’t look like their expectations. I have strong slightly broad shoulders, but I also some how managed to have wider hips too. I transitioned after puberty, so by their notions I should look very different from many peoples cis stereotypes. But even I don’t compare to a model. Not even close. My body, my character, and just who I am in general just throws most peoples stereotypes and misconceptions out the window. I can say, that I didn’t initially recognize the things about Moore’s comments that you did. I sort of did after awhile, but really, I knew something was off about it, but I couldn’t really put my finger on it. I am not always as versed as I feel I should be sometime. But the way you break it down makes it abundantly clear how ignorant and shortsighted her comment was. There is no way our bodies are seen as ideal, and you are damn right when you say it’s hard to feel happy about your body which we’re told the “It’s okay for a guy to be sickened by finding us attractive”. Believe me, I know.

    And what’s worse, is that it makes dating so hard. People approach me so often seeking to gratify a fetish that it’s laughable, and so often I am seen as little more than just a sexual experiment. My sexuality doesn’t matter. I’ve actually been told before, “Your cute enough for me to date you, but not enough for me to have sex with you”. Seriously. Thank you for this piece pointing just that out. But it’s just another reminder of how accepted and normalized cissexism is when we get demonized just for calling it out.

  3. @anna66newton says

    Yes. One of the things that helped me ‘get out there into the world’ was the concept of ‘fuck it, cisgendered women have all sizes and shapes of bodies’. And anyone looking even a little bit askance is as guilty of viewing women whether trans or not through eyes trained by a white patriarchality that STILL has unrepresentative influence in everyones lives. And a fairly superficial wander around even my smallish town would find plenty of variants of feminine bodies some of which would be taller, slimmer, fatter, shorter &c, &c, &c than mine that remains as yet without external feminizing hormonal effects.
    Moore was only guilty of this and of some rather lazy journalism. She was only foolish at worst. The villain of the piece, for me, was her ‘defender’ Julie Burchill and the trans misogynistic hatred spewed from her hateful mind. That it appeared in a left-leaning newspaper that is supposed to be all about equality and decency for all just makes the whole sorry incident all the more worrying. Had Burchill made a similar attack on PoC using analogous offensive words that we all know and needed repeat here I doubt she would even have a column anymore.

      • @anna66newton says

        Actually, thanks to Jezebel.com I saw Moore’s reply to one respondent. Far worse than her article. “Oh, you disagreed with my example? Too bad.” Not: “Oh, I didn’t realise. My bad, sorry.” Possibly Moore might have been a little over-defensive at the time but still, any intelligent person would realise their mistake and accept perfectly civil critiques in good grace.

    • says

      Yes, I agree Burchill’s piece was far more disgusting than anything Moore said, but to be honest, it’s too disgusting for me to even address. I can’t do it. At least with Moore, I can make an actual argument as to why her premise is wrong.

    • Andy says

      I have heard so many white people say that if the comments have been about POCs rather than trans folk, they would never have gotten published – this makes me vomit every time. The original comment was about WOCs, or are Brazilians now seen as white in the West? Moreover, there was such a huge backlash after the articles and they ended up getting taken down, official apologies were issues etc – I have NEVER seen this happen to a racist newspaper article. British rightwing papers publish racist trash constantly – whenever I try to bring this up with my (white) feminist / queer friends, they always shrug and say there’s nothing they can do, DailyMail et co are really racist, I should just stop reading them. This just illustrates how much our ability to get outraged at abuse / oppression is dependent on the attractiveness of the people abused, people will always jump to the defence of white queers / women a lot more quickly, and at the same time I feel like, perhaps, people more used to systematic oppression are less outraged / hurt by discursive violence – I guess a lot of white queer people / women, are so used to having privilege and power, they’re shocked more when they realize their whiteness doesn’t protect them from sexism, transphobia etc.

  4. @anna66newton says

    Oh jeez, just seen Reneta’s post. Makes approaches to me by fetishists seem harmless by comparison. From the bar owner after a ‘quickie’ while his missus was out to the guy in a car propositioning me in a car park. Seriously, dude? You didn’t even buy me dinner. And it’ll still be no. Like as if! Eww!

    • renetaprescott says

      I do agree with you on Anna, on both counts: Moore, and Burchill. The defense of her piece was really not defensible though. What she should have done is make a critical dissection of why people got up in arms about it. Furthermore, she doesn’t realize that “trans* bodies” aren’t any sort of idea, even if they are palatable to the Cis Man consumer. Otherwise it would be only trans bodies not seen as palatable that end up in the mortuaries every Sunday. However, this isn’t the case. Even if we “look cis” and desirable as her analogy implies, it doesn’t make us “better than cis women”, or “more desirable”, or “better sex symbols”. Hardly. However, you’d have to stop women from hating on each other about each others “implied” beauty before you could work on that. However, she could have used the “porn star” analogy and be completely right within her right to do so.

      As in, the Photoshopped, imaginary beauty of Hollywood and the Porn Industry. Any good feminist knows that those images hurt women. I am pretty self confident, and I’d be lying if I said that it didn’t affect me. But I do my best to not let it, but I am no superhuman. In the direction of her comment, those who do see our bodies as “more desirable” seldom see us as complete people with sexual desires of our own, needs, a life story, et cetera. They just see us as something to quench their sexual curiosities, nothing more. For me, I find that quite degrading, and why I generally cut people off who tend to see me that way. I.E. The people who immediately start talking about how excited they are getting thinking about what I look like naked. Especially when I don’t know them. If we’d been dating and had already been intimate, I might forgive that, but that hasn’t been the case lately. 5 times this month, so far. It’s sad really.

      Moore completely misses the point about her comment, and acts ignorantly about it, and then reinforces it in a later article acting as though “Hey, it’s no big deal that I just appropriated your body to make a point, and totally missed the fucking point”. Moore doubled down, and so did Burchill by reinforcing her. I am no “Brazilian Transsexual”, but even if I was, I’d be no more immune to misogyny and violence, nor to being either seen as a disgusting, unworthy, unfuckable, sub-human thing, or as a fetish, a toy for others to imprint their fantasies and desires upon. There is never an instance where my trans body, regardless of how others think it looks, will ever be parallel much less seen as more valid in the eyes of the patriarchy, as Natalie said. And I fully agree with all her points on this one. Every time someone says, “Hey your cute, but I don’t do sex changes” in some form of fashion it flies in the face of any point she is trying to make with that statement.

      • says

        “Any good feminist” is down with blaming porn for “hurting women”, rather than blaming the misogyny and sexism that conditions the form most porn takes? No. Not really. One can be a good feminist without subscribing to the “porn and strippers and sex work and stuff are hurting women!” framework. In fact, I’d say it’s necessary for being a good feminist to not subscribe to that: they’re based on fundamentally the same mentality as “trans women are hurting women!”. i.e. blaming other women’s choices and bodies and sexualities for the issues those choices respond to rather than addressing the actual issues.

        • renetaprescott says

          Ah, Good point Natalie. I hadn’t considered it from that angle. But I wasn’t talking about women in porn as an issue, but the images created for commodification of women by the Porn Industry and Hollywood. I’d never make the mistake of blaming people in sex work, porn, or such as being the may problem. However, you are quite right that both of those things have another origin, and that would be the way women are treated in our society in general (Misogyny, Patriarchy, Objectification, Sex Classing, and others). Sorry for the false dichotomy within that statement.

        • renetaprescott says

          I was most certainly looking at it in the “Industrial Beauty Standards” sense, and the mostly male run industries, like Porn and Hollywood, that actively endorse the sexualization of women.

      • @anna66newton says

        The point has been made way better than I did. The whole shebang is missing the point. Women, and by extension, trans women are objectified against a ‘male pleasing standard’ of femininity. And it’s this that makes all women pick faults with their body and aspire to an unachievable goal. It’s just as bad for older woman as it is for teen girls. “I will never look like that, I hate myself.”
        When was it the last time you saw a TV show where a woman outside the male designated body ideal wasn’t there for comic effect or as something bad and after some kind of revenge?
        Yet guys like Guy Fieri (Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives) and Adam Richman (Man v Food) are all over the bloody shop. Among many others.

    • alliecat says

      Some dude once followed me off a train after dark through an unlit car park to proposition me in the bluntest way possible (literally “you, me, el sexo?”). And sure, I’m all about straight-forwardness (not that I found him the least bit attractive or wouldn’t have rejected him anyway, but I might have found a nicer way to say it than giving him the finger) but considering he was on a well-lit train with me for 20 minutes beforehand with CCTV and witnesses he didn’t have to wait until I was in a more vulnerable position. And he certainly didn’t have to rub his crotch while he was talking to me :/ Since then I tend not to go via the car park…

      • @anna66newton says

        Oh, yikes! What is with these people? These tactics didn’t work with “dur, a ‘natch’ral wumman’, maybe aye kin get wit one of these, durrr!” Like, What? Bleurgh!

        • alliecat says

          Still not sure if he read me as trans or not, it might just be how he approaches women in general. It just occurred to me that maybe he wasn’t actually playing with himself like I thought he was, maybe he was guarding himself cos he’s been kicked there 1 too few times :P

  5. resident_alien says

    I was repulsed by Suzanne Moore and Julie Burchill’s vile word-vomit.Reading something so hateful,ill-informed and arrogant from women who damn well should know better made me physically ill.
    It was the same reactionary,fact-free tripe thrown at women like Moore and Burchill when they were young.

    • Kate Middleton says

      There is a comment by Zoe Brain below Burchill’s disgusting piece saying that Julie Bindels “gender benders beware” in 2004 caused several suicides.

      The Graun apologised then after similar complaints but you can find the piece on the website. There are vile comments on Twitter from many journalists like Nick Cohen should know better and vile articles saying the “trannies should be able to take it their shoulders are broad enough”.

      In Britain we have the Malicious Communications Act 1988 which makes it illegal to send electronic communications intended to cause alarm or distress; Burchill’s appalling piece of hate speech would seem to definitely be intended to threaten.

      In 2004, I advised the Press Complaints Commission after writing him a letter about the effect of this kind of coverage which was subsequently illegally published by Christine Burns in a clear breach of Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights: PP39-40

      http://www.mediawise.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Trans_people_and_Press.pdf

      David Batty of the Graun has been campaigning against every Doctor who offers access to treatment while ignoring complaint against a man who is now media spokesman on gender dysphoria but who committed a criminal offence against me as a child:

      http://katemiddleton-lsu.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/formal-complaint-against-dr-deenesh.html

  6. alliecat says

    “Black women, for instance, don’t typically look like Halle Barry did in X-Men”
    Considering Halle Berry’s character in X-Men was a shapeshifter whose default state was blue-skinned with scales and a smooth groin, I reckon there might be better examples 0.o

  7. Marcelo says

    And one could also discuss the horrifying context in which the remark was made; that of Brazil having an epidemic of trans-misogynistic violence, with more trans women having been murdered there in 2012 than in the rest of the Western hemisphere combined.

    Can you give a link with the numbers?

    Just to be clear, this is not meant to be a rebuttal.

      • Marcelo says

        Thank you.

        But if I got it right those number are “from January 1st 2008 to December 31st 2011″ the report that is from 2012.

        So it’s 325 in 5 years = 65/year
        Bad of course, and your comparison still stands, but still, I’m less shocked now.

        And nice to have the map showing the cases on the map, the distribution on the country is almost the exact opposite of what I expected.

        • says

          Why the hell are you less shocked by a FOUR YEAR TREND OF VIOLENCE than a single year? I’m pretty sure if you add that shit up, Brazil still outweighs the entire rest-of-the-americas. Why would it be MORE shocking for 2012 in isolation? A single year could have been a fluke, but years on end? And what, you think suddenly it all came around for Brazil this year? I could pull up the TDoR stats if you want. Hint: it didn’t all come around for Brazil this year.

          • Marcelo says

            I counted wrong, it’s four years as you said.
            81,25 not 65, so it’s worse

            But my point was that I was less shocked with a 65/year number then a 325 kills in 2012.
            The “less shocked” part was a response to your comment one 7.1 not to the rest.
            Also, “less shocked” is not “not shocked” I never said it wasn’t bad, quoting another brazilian user on Ftb I don’t remember the name “social justice here is joke without a punchline”.

            As I said, your comparison still stands, the dilution of 4 years goes to all countries on that map not just Brazil.

          • says

            I never said there were 325 deaths in 2012.

            And I find the whole number-fussing about this really distasteful.

            As you say, the point that Brazil has a specific and overwhelming rate of trans-misogynistic violence stands. And the point that it has had more murders than the rest of the Americas stands.

            You have the data now. Can we please stop this line of conversation? It honestly creeps me out.

          • Marcelo says

            I’m really sorry for creeping you out and draging the conversation. I got defensive there.
            Shutting up now.

  8. says

    What a forthright, absorbing and honest piece of writing. I agree with everything said here and would like to add just a small idea. Why don’t we all make a concerted effort to be the person that we are and (in certain well known cases) start realising that we are all human people despite being packaged differently? Yes, some of us have to re-package ourselves to complete the whole person correctly. To those who were packaged correctly from the start, I say congratulations. At least you did not have the confusion haunting you that we elder transpeople had haunting our everyday lives a few decades ago. Being born with gender dysphoria is, in my opinion, one of the most confusing ways to grow up and I am very glad to see that medical professionals are now taking childhood transgenderism seriously. When I was a child this was treated with electric shock “therapy”. I was saved from that by a knowledgeable GP who refused to have my brain fried as a “cure”, which is what my mother would have allowed to happen. She didn’t understand the probable consequences of the “cure” until seeing the GP about me and my dressing up. Is this the kind of thing that makes a transperson what they are? No. It is their personality, which includes their gender identity, that makes the transperson what they are. The packaging and the physical gender is just flesh and bone. It is a container for the personality, nothing more and nothing less.

  9. F [nucular nyandrothol] says

    Gah. “Ideal bodies” belongs with the weird Platonic mathematical mysticism and nowhere else.

  10. renetaprescott says

    There is also another feature I’d like to point out here in this piece. It’s the fact that when people hold these “status quo” sorts of ideas, it seems to be the trend lately that the act incredibly childish about admitting fault. This goes far beyond just Burchill and Moore’s piece on this matter. This “acceptable foolishness” that is allowed to go on in the media when it comes to the status quo, verses, oh… I dunno… “Reality”. Cold hard numbers, and actual facts. There seems to be a lot of this in the media now days, and it seems if you want the truth you literally have to go look for it yourself. But pieces like the ones they wrote reinforce the status quo, and that seems to be more worthwhile and defensible in the eyes of some media outlets that present the facts, even if they aren’t convenient to their point of view.

    These individuals, like so many in the media, are permitted, without recourse it seems to engage in this sort of intellectual dishonesty. And then with their misinformation draws incredible scrutiny, they say “How dare you challenge my article”, and attempt to be above scrutiny even though they are in the wrong. I am sure the matter of things tending to follow the status quo, but never before have those in the media been so accountable to the public the inform, or in this case misinform. And never before have we had the opportunity to see how arrogantly and desperately their defend their wrongs, and end further marginalizing the groups the accidentally wrote misinformation on. I think that phenomenon is as important to this as the analogy she used that started this argument.

    And that is that people irrationally follow aspects of the status quo rather than were evidence leads you, and that it becomes acceptable to defend those positions, even if they are radically opposed to reality. Moore isn’t some idle blogger, she is a writer for a newspaper, and is held to a different standard. Perhaps, I am wrong here. That is just how I feel.

  11. Layla says

    To be honest, I agreed with everything suzanne moore was saying. I don’t think women have to defend you guys or support you. I think she was basically saying that feminists main priority is to women first. Like actual women. I’m only 14 and I don’t know much about this condition or whatever and I don’t want to be disrespectful or anything. My point is this Actual natural women and trans people have nothing in common and I don’t think we need to support you guys in order to be feminists. There are so many things happening to women around the world that is disgusting so why should we focus on this basically first world problem.. In my opinion, putting yourself on a bunch of hormones, cutting your privates off, making new fake privates, getting fake boobs, and calling yourself a woman is weird and I just don’t understand why. About all the violence towards trans people, its disgusting. But in some cases, I’ve read about men not knowing about their situation and thats why the beating occurs. I’m not trying to excuse it but come on if someone was sleeping with someone who had hiv unknowingly then finds out, i’m sure the man would get violent. I’m not saying that a disease and this are the same but a lot of people consider the same betrayal so just be honest. For any other reason, its despicable. Also there is no reason for murder, ever. I know for me if someone that was a girl but now is a boy and looks one too wanted to date me, i just couldn’t. I want to be with an actual guy who can have children and doesn’t get periods and all that no offense.

    • says

      Wow, you are a disgusting bigot.

      Thanks for putting it right up front that you don’t regard “us guys” as “actual women” though. Makes it easier to disregard your ignorant, horrible, petty, biased, misinformed opinions.

      “Don’t mean to be disrespectful” and then describing our gender as a “condition” immediately after. Hilarious.

      And “cutting off privates” and “fake boobs”? You really don’t know anything about how this actually works, do you?

      But you said “no offense” at the end, so all your disgusting ignorant transphobia is totally okay, right?

      Get the fuck off my blog.

      • @anna66newton says

        Jeez! From which rock do these alleged people crawl. What a terrible example of the next generation. I feel that your rebuttal wasn’t quite strong enough. O.o

        • renetaprescott says

          Um, that last part of your comment makes you look kind of bad. There is no excuse for it, regardless of what nasty things other people say. This girl is young and can change, and as was mentioned is probably just repeating things she’s heard. Your comments add nothing to the discourse but more bitterness. I understand that you were bothered by it (enraged, inflamed), but that isn’t an excuse. I’d recommend not talking that way, to anyone, for any reason, ever. Ovaries aren’t a privilege any more than testicles, they are just part of a state of being. All that statement does is reinforce cultural genital centrism. That part of your point is entirely invalid, over the top, unnecessary, and guilty of committing logical fallacies due to the emotional way in which her statements inflamed you. Please don’t do that sort of stuff, it’s not cool, it’s not rational, and it can derail a debate.

          That said, I am in no way innocent of occasionally allowing for logical fallacies, or making mistakes. We are all human. But your statement kind of sounds a little misogynistic towards the end, and that is something that you need to be aware of, and hopefully correct.

        • renetaprescott says

          I am referring to your ovaries comment below, not to this specific one. I don’t know why it linked to this one.

    • renetaprescott says

      Your 14, and you don’t have a clue how the actual world works. I don’t know about other trans women, but my boobs are most certainly real breasts, not implants. But hey. You know though, your opinion is arrogant, and ignorant. I am guessing someone taught you to be a bigot. However, you can wise up, get some education and understand how narrow your understanding of gender is, and how that very concept affects what you’d call ‘real women”. Genitals don’t make the person, it’s that simple. The kind of biological essentialism you have been taught is the antithesis of feminist ideals. And yes, cisgender women should consider us when they spout off at the mouth because we are marginalized by the same misogyny that you are. In fact, it is misogynistic to hold the position you do. It’s not feminism, it’s just discrimination.

      There is so many places you can go on the web and educate yourself about trans people. You really should. Your 14, there is still time to help you wise up, so that you don’t grow into a bigot and let the hateful things that fall from your mouth actually cause real harm to other people. You don’t realize this, but the world promotes a lot of things as fact that when you dig deeper just turn out wrong. Research what it means to be trans from real trans people and you’ll find out everything you currently know is wrong. Give it a try. What could it hurt? Really… You might change your mind… That’s a small price to pay for the truth.

      Layla, learn to test everything and then you won’t come off sounding like an ignorant bigot. As I said, the things you believe about us are wrong, narrow-minded, shortsighted, and downright disgusting.

        • renetaprescott says

          It wasn’t my intention to assert that “implant” = not really breasts, only to refute that “trans women only have implants”. There are plenty of times where breast in plants have meaningful, and worthwhile improvements to a persons quality of life. Breast cancer survivors are one example of that. However, breast implants for the sake of image are endemically linked to the fact that women’s bodies are judged as commodities for a male consumption, often to the detriment of their benefits to the woman being augmented… I.E. Numbness, surgical risks, scaring, ruptures, et cetera ad nauseam. Taking a normal and functional breasts and modifying them to met the standard set by the male gaze is a big problem. And while we should never belittle, degrade, or dehumanize a woman for getting implants (her desire to obtain implants is not the cause, just a symptom of misogyny, patriarchy, and the commodification of female bodies), we need to recognize the fact that, in some instances, implants aren’t for the woman’s benefit. If women were accepted as full and autonomous beings, and they weren’t judged by their sexual value and utility to men through things like their breast size, most women may never actually need or come to desire ‘breast augmentation’.

          As I mentioned, this is entirely different from giving someone bodily integrity through breast implants. That can be for the purposes of helping with dysphoria for trans women who can’t grow breasts for whatever reason, or for cis women who loose or don’t have breasts. Those two hardly being an exhaustive list of reasons. Breasts can be an integral part of a woman’s physical identity, and should be allow to make whatever decision she want’s to about them. In this particular instance, my statement was addressing the belief of the comment that “All trans women have to have augmentations/constructions to actually have breasts, or to state that surgery does not make one a woman”. However, I should have been more thorough and used a word other than ‘real’, and/or at least mentioned that “augmented or constructed breasts are still breasts”, and that her delineation of breast implants being something other than ‘Breasts’ was false. In this case, she was using it as a way to “degender” trans women through the belief that “Cisgender bodies = Real, Correct, Authentic, Better and Transgender bodies = False, Fake, Mutilated or Lesser”, while exercising profound ignorance of the reality that human sexual differentiation isn’t a clean A or B outcome. My statement still holds, though perhaps it was grammatically ambiguous. I am well aware that some trans women sometimes need breast augmentation, and I recognize that option as totally valid, and the recognize breast created from those surgeries to actually be breasts. But as mentioned, I recognize the fundamental flaws of breast augmentation in relation to commodification. That is all.

    • alliecat says

      You’re already admitting you know nothing about what transgender actually means. That’s a start. Now educate yourself. You’re in the right place, just don’t comment – you’ve used up your welcome in the comments I’m afraid.

      By the way, just to start you off: the question of whether or not to disclose trans history to a sexual partner is more like whether or not to disclose having had a birthmark removed than HIV. In other words, not only will it not cause the partner to get ill and die, it’s irrelevant, it’s entirely up to the trans person whether they want to disclose it or not. Actually, Natalie has written about this already.

    • Rasmus says

      I’m only 14 and I don’t know much about this condition or whatever and I don’t want to be disrespectful or anything.

      Since you’re pretty much a kid I though I might give you some tips besides thrashing your crappy comment.

      Tip #1: If you find yourself writing or saying something like “I don’t want to…”, stop and think about what you’re trying to do. I think that often times when this happens you’ll find that you’re about to perform a kind of good cop bad cop routine for the reader, with you as the ‘god cop’ and some hypothetical bad person as the ‘bad cop’. That’s a deceptive way to make the reader feel oppressed. That’s fucked up.

      Tip #2: Try to avoid expressing opinions about things that you don’t know much about. Why would anyone want to read something written by someone who doesn’t know much?

      My point is this Actual natural women and trans people have nothing in common and I don’t think we need to support you guys in order to be feminists.

      But you don’t know much about trans women, so you’re probably wrong. Cis women and trans women probably have things in common.

      Tip #3: As a general rule, consider not attacking people who are worse off than yourself. If you’re right, you’ve accomplished nothing, because the people who you are attacking are already marginalized. If you’re wrong, it’s extremely horrible and oppressive. Also never attack anyone at all unless you know what you’re talking about and have all your facts checked. (See tip #2.)

      There are so many things happening to women around the world that is disgusting so why should we focus on this basically first world problem.. In my opinion, putting yourself on a bunch of hormones, cutting your privates off, making new fake privates, getting fake boobs, and calling yourself a woman is weird and I just don’t understand why.

      Transphobia is worse in low income countries than in high income countries. Most things are worse in low income countries. Poverty makes almost everything worse.

      Tip #4: If you find yourself writing something along the lines of “I just don’t understand”, consider doing more research before you let your opinion loose. (Your teachers have probably told you something along the lines of “everyone’s opinion is important”. That’s not true. That’s just a lie that teachers tell so that you won’t feel demoralized when they tell you to write an opinion piece for school.)

      About all the violence towards trans people, its disgusting. But in some cases, I’ve read about men not knowing about their situation and thats why the beating occurs.

      No, beatings happen because someone makes a decision to beat.

      I’m not trying to excuse it but come on if someone was sleeping with someone who had hiv unknowingly then finds out, i’m sure the man would get violent.

      Yes you are. You just made two excuses, first the one about how “beatings happen” and then the one where you’re trying to equate transgenderism with HIV.

      Also: how do you know that most men who find out they’ve been having sex with someone who is HIV positive get violent? Knowingly giving someone an STD counts as battery in many countries, but that does not mean that the victim can claim self-defense after the fact. It looks like you managed to to squeeze in an excuse for men who beat their sex partners after finding out their partner has HIV, along with your excuses for men who beat trans people.

      I’m not saying that a disease and this are the same but a lot of people consider the same betrayal so just be honest. For any other reason, its despicable.

      You’re doing your good cop bad cop routine again. It’s still oppressive. You know, nobody ever publicly comes out explicitly in favor of beating people. Fred Phelps does not explicitly say that it’s good to beat gay people. They way bigots operate is they lie and do little routines like the ones you’re doing. You’re not much more than a kid and you’re probably just parroting things you’ve heard others say, but you’re still responsible for the things that you post for others to read. Judging by your post here some of the things you dump on the internet are seriously vile.

      Also there is no reason for murder, ever.

      I was almost of expecting a good cop bad cop argument for murder when I read that. You didn’t go there, at least.

    • @anna66newton says

      How very lovely for you that you can go out everyday comfortable in your own body without fear of getting a random beating, or getting stabbed, or just having people spit at you just because you don’t ‘fit’ with a cissexist ideal of ‘womanhood’. And how very lovely for you that you can sit in your private little world of privilege without making even the slightest attempt at research and making an utterly foul and uninformed attack on a whole section of society that sees so much discrimination that you will never see thanks to ACTUAL feminists who fought for the rights you enjoy but completely disreguard. You are an awful human being but you are young enough to learn better, but I doubt you care enough about anyone outside your precious little clicque of princesses.
      You don’t deserve ovaries. Go play on the Interstate, fascist.

    • Dialethia says

      Layla,

      As a women who is not trans myself, I also had a hard time understanding trans people when I was a teenager. It’s OK to have questions, and it’s OK to be confused. However, it is not OK to insult people and make ignorant remarks when you have not educated yourself about a topic. However, you are young and you can still learn.

      The truth is, trans women and cis (i.e. non-trans) women are all women, and deal with most of same issues. If a trans women is read as female, she faces the same types of discrimination as any other woman. If she is read as male, she is subject to an even greater amount of harassment and discrimination (If you’re wondering why I care, I have a very close friend who is trans and I have seen her be called horrible names by strangers when she was just walking around or sitting on the subway minding her own business. Both of us are white, middle-class law students – trans women of color and low-income women face even greater challenges).

      As for why people choose to transition – it is not my place to describe how it feels to inhabit a body that doesn’t feel like your own, but needless to say it is often very emotionally painful. Plenty of trans women and men have described their experiences and made these narratives available to the public. If you really want to understand trans people better this information is just a google search away.

      Recognizing that trans issues are important does not necessitate putting other issues that effect all women (trans and cis) on the back burner. It is possible to care about more than one thing at once – in fact, it is critical that we do so. As feminists, it is important that we stand up for the rights of ALL women – young, old, trans, cis, black, white, Asian, Latino, lesbian, bisexual, straight, well off, poor, it doesn’t matter. Moreover, as decent human beings it is important that we stand up for the rights of all people.

      I felt compelled to write something, because I saw that other people’s (totally justified, don’t get me wrong) responses were likely to put you on the defensive, and I was afraid you would ignore all of the important points that they made and continue to hold beliefs that are ignorant and untrue. Please don’t – this kind of ignorance hurts people and there is no excuse.

      • renetaprescott says

        Very well put, and thank you for being an ally as a cis woman. It’s irreducibly important, and I think you did a better job than I did. I generally try to be as nice as possible, and hopefully one of these messages will reach Layla, and people like her. And as a trans woman myself, I thank you for this.

        • Dialethia says

          Thank you, it means a lot to me to hear that – I hesitate before saying anything in these kinds of conversations, because I’m wary of appearing to speak for others when it really isn’t my place. However, seeing friends be treated horribly for being trans I just can’t stay silent. Hopefully all the thoughtful responses on this site will help to change some minds!

  12. Sinéad says

    Either I’m not seeing it, or it has been lost in the discussion, but I thought Moore’s comment was based in Brazillian “shemale/ts” porn. Regardless, the disussion of beauty standards stands. Where was the discussion of Cosmo or Victoria Secret, photoshopping, runways models…no Moore chose “Brazillian transsexual” of all the stereotypes.

    I’m coming to think I have an eating disorder. Ever since childhood, I hid my body with layers of fat and shame. It still exists that my stress therapy is food. I am fat. I have central adiposity. And dealing with my body shape and seeing the same standards that cis women see has driven me to tears. No it was never “why can’t I look good for a man” because I’m gynephilic. It was the same body standards cis women criticize other cis women for, which is indirectly or directly related to the male gaze internalized upon these people, or something.

    I don’t know how this all works. I’m not a social theorist. I took refuge in the physical sciences for a reason. Trying to understand humanity is just an exercize in cynicism for me.

    When I was too scared to come out of the closet as a child, it was because I was fat more than about fear of loss of male privilege. It was a viscious circle, because hiding in the closet and hating my male body made me over eat. I was called a “Pat” for being too androgynous and fat, like the SNL character of the time. I was able to accept myself because the cis women I knew who were of size helped me come to terms with my body.

    What occupies my mind is not how I present myself in the world. I came to terms with my presentation long ago. It was Eddie Izzard who helped me there. I had to understand what was causing my physical dysphoria. I still don’t know why. I don’t know if it’s my hypothalamus or stria terminalis, though I believe it is. I just know that my need for physical transition is not the same as my stubborn insistance to present as “feminine” in a world that hates me for both.

    In terms of my fatness, I want to be healthy. My central adiposity is a health risk. I could complain about my double chin or my thighs rubbing together, but that concerns me less than the risk of heart disease and diabetes. I don’t care about having a bikini body for summer or whether I can fit into single digit dress sizes. I could lose all body fat and be a plus size due to my build.

    • alliecat says

      I assumed the same about Moore’s comment, but that doesn’t erase the validity of anything anyone has said here. What it erases is all Brazilian trans men, the majority of Brazilian trans women who aren’t pornstars, the violence which effects trans pornstars every bit as much as the rest of the Brazilian trans population if not more so, and the greater-than-cis-people bodily anxiety that also effects trans Brazilian pornstars

    • sheila says

      Sinéad, hugs if you want them. I hope you can find what’s at the root of it all. I battle with my weight without any gender dysphoria.

      I don’t know if you’ve already tried this, but yoga helps me. It’s not so much the calories burned as the stress relief, and I think tai chi would do the same.

      Good luck

  13. says

    In 2013, it takes willful ignorance to believe that trans women embody a patriarchal ideal, and that we’re more desirable to men and patriarchy than are cis women.

    I don’t think ti necessarily takes willful ignorance. It’s quite easy to fall into this with regular ignorance. The average person knows that not all cis women look like the women in Maxim or even the anchors on CNN, but may not be aware of knowing any trans people in real life. If one were intellectually lazy, it would be pretty easy to think the trans women in porn and the few models that make into mainstream media are typical examples. Barring the occasional plot twist in thrillers, this is the extent of the average person’s exposure to trans issues. If one comparing them to the women at the office, one could easily get the idea that all trans women embody some ideal of femininity that it’s impossible for “regular” women to live up to. Of course, this is for the ordinary person who watches TV and tries not to think about it too much. For a professional like Moore writing about how media stereotypes affect gender perceptions, it would have to be willful.

  14. Layla says

    The only reason why I stumbled on to this blog was my school went on a fieldtrip to another city for a project we’re doing and we saw these two man wearing makeup, nail polish, feminine clothing. It was weird. And i’m not gonna lie, a bunch of the guys and girls in my class were making fun of them and calling them names. We’re not used to seeing people like that where we live or even in the media. I decided to look into it and came to this blog to find out why people did stuff like that. I only asked the question because like I said I just don’t understand why people do these things. Instead of calling people bigot or ignorant, why don’t you explain why what I’m saying is wrong or offer places that can help me understand why its wrong. I mean since you guys want people not to be so trans phobic and stuff. Um Wow…@anna66newton, uhhh really? like really? Your kind of a bitch. Thanks for telling me what I don’t deserve. But at the end of the day, who has ovaries and who doesn’t. Thought so..And actually you don’t know shit about what I have to face. I’m muslim and people everyday in the media around the world disrespect, misinterept, say vile things about my religion. I’m also arab and I live in a place in the US where its like 99 percent white and non muslim people. Although I show my hair and look more European than arab and no one says things to my face ,I still have to hear and see in the media as well as around me people disrespecting where I’m from. All of my bestfriends/friends/aqquantences are white people who are jews/ christians/etc… They don’t have a misconception about where I’m from or my religion because instead of whining and cursing and demanding and acting unladylike, I inform them about the truth.

    • renetaprescott says

      The weirdness you experienced is because our societies, both the one that your heritage comes from (though less than ours) and the US impose. The belief that there is “only 2 genders, and that there is no way to change that”. So, I’ll do you the courtesy of giving you some insight. The binary gender (2 genders) thing is simply not true. Human development, in this case fetal, which leads to gender assignments is quite a bit messier than a binary system can account for, because people are born outside it all the time. Not every child is born distinctly male or female, which makes the way in which gender is determined outdated and inaccurate. Just in the way that you know that you are a woman, that you are a female, and you have no doubts about that, we also know that, though it make contradict the notions you’ve been taught to follow. This is just my perspective. There is no “one kind of trans* person”. Their are people assigned male who identify as Female, both, neither, or some other amalgamation, just as their is people assigned female that identify as male, both, neither, or some other amalgamation. Some intersexed people stick with their assignment, or altered assignment through out life, and some don’t. Some reject genders in the traditional sense altogether as they feel they don’t fit.

      The key to understanding this is that our gender identities come from deep inside us, every bit as deep as yours does for you, though you may not recognize it against the homogenous background your body and physiology presents. Our bodies as trans* people represent a heterogeneous background, and thus why we change them. It allows us to live normal lives, happy lives, and gives us what cisgender people take for granted, or as close as possible to that. Some people feel intense duress, some people just feel uncomfortable. Some of us live most of our lives as the gender we feel we are, and some of us spend decades living as a gender we aren’t. We come in as many shapes and sizes as anyone else. To understand the reaction, you’d have to understand the pain we experience. Many of us lose our families, wives, children. Some of us experience isolation on a scale that no human should bare, abuse no human should be exposed to, and crimes where we are blamed for the horrible things done to us. And why? Because human gender doesn’t fit our society’s narrow-minded conceptions, and yet we are still expected to meet a standard that never had our well-being in mind. Being trans can be incredibly painful. Imagine losing, or having taken away from you, your right to exist, identify and ensure the integrity of the gender you feel you are.

      How would you feel if someone forced you to live as a gender you didn’t feel aligned with you? How would you feel if you were demonized for declining to play the gender others wanted for you, that wasn’t yours? How far would you be willing to go to reclaim that which was taken or deprived from you? Think about that.

      Our genders are nothing to be ashamed off, but that is how we are taught to see it. It’s very painful how we are treated, and the sacrifices we are expected to make for just being ourselves. That is the pain many of us live with. So when people attack that, it’s hard to not be angry about it. So many others do, hell a good portion of the world does this to us. Most of us are not angry people, but after the abuse and isolation we have faced, we are psychologically compelled to fight back. We come in all shapes and sizes… You see us everywhere, but you may only see those of us who fit the stereotype. There is no therapy, drug, counseling, medical procedure, spell or prayer that can cure us, or give us a gender identity that makes retaining our birth assignment possible. Some of the science indicates it’s somewhere in the brain, others in some gene, and then even others somewhere else. One thing is clear to us though, is that this isn’t something we chose to be. When we discover it, we then are forced to do the best we can within it. For me that is full physical transition, for others it’s just hormones. There is no right or wrong way, but the goal is the same… To treat our dysphoria through our needed path of transition, or social change, and fight for the same opportunities and rights as everyone else.

      As for the religion bit, you are on a atheist blog. Most people here aren’t against just your religion, but all of them. There is no reason for people to attack you over that. However, my position on religion is not favorable. But that isn’t important here. I’d never treat you as less than a human because of your beliefs, though I wholehearted hold a different position. I hope that you pardon my harsher tone towards your comments before, and that you are willing to challenge your preconceptions. Showing that you are open to that makes me more than willing to help you find that. My personal recommendation is that you go up, on the side of this blog to “Essential Reading” and read more of her blogs. She is an eloquent, intelligent writer. I recommend personally her Top 3 in there, and the one called, “Bilaterally Gynandromorphic Chickens And Why I’m Not “Scientifically” Male”. But all of them are good. Others of us have blogs if you seek them out too. You can also find her blog roll and they’ll help too.

    • Hope_WA says

      Layla, you made a couple of big mistakes in your first post and because emotions were running hot you got blasted for it. I’m not defending the anger you faced but I do understand the motivation behind it.

      The first big mistake you made was dividing people into groups without the knowledge of how those groups are related and how they overlap. The further a person looks into the science the more blurred the lines become. Ask a geneticist to come up with an iron-clad definition of genetically male or genetically female that applies to everyone and they’ll tell you it can’t be done. It isn’t as simple as XX and XY. It involoves a host of genes, SRY, FOXL2, DAX, SOX-9, and a score of others. Research on the brain show that there are portions of the brain that differ in men and women (with some overlap) and that trans women’s brains are women’s brains and trans men’s brains are men’s brains. The point is that a person’s true gender, their gender identity, is who they are. In most people the body and the brian match up, but that isn’t always the case. It also isn’t always the case that someone is male or female. The important thing to take away here is if a person’s gender identity is female; she’s a woman, even if she doesn’t fit easily into society’s preconceived (and frequently wrong) assumptions. If a person’s gender identity is male; he’s a man. And if a person’s gender identity is neither, or genderqueer, or neutrosis, or whatever, then they are.

      So, a trans woman is a woman, and therefore is exactly the type of person feminists whould be concerned about, women. And, it is important to note, that feminism is really about the struggle to give everyone the same rights, opportunities, and responsibilities as everyone else, regardlesss of their gender (and ideally regardless of their race, religion, or socio-economic status).

      The second mistake you made was victim-blaming. No one deserves to be beaten or raped. No one is “asking for it”. You’re a Muslim. I’m a Christian. We’re both writing on a blog dominated by atheists. You mentioned you look European (caucasian) lthough you aren’t. Imagine if you, or someone like you, met someone, things moved rapidly, and the night ended with sex. The next morning, the person you (or someone else who looks caucasian but isn’t) gets beaten by the person they slept with because that person is a virulent racist and is furious that he, or she, slept with someone who isn’t ‘white’. It really is similar. Racial categories aren’t neat little boxes that people fit into. A person can say they are white even though they have some black ancestors or black with somewhite ancestors. The same holds true for Asians, Arabs, and any other racial category. Women come in all shapes and sizes. Some are thin, some are obese, and many are in-between. Some have huge breasts, some have tiny breasts, and many are in-between. Many women have vaginas, some have penises, and some are in-between. None of them deserve to be beaten or raped because of who they are.

      My last point is this: You came here because you saw people who don’t look like the people you see on a day-to-day basis. That doesn’t mean you don’t see trans people every day. The thing about most trans women after they transition is that they don’t look any different than any other woman you see and therefore there’s no way to tell if any woman you see is cis or trans. The same holds true for men. It is extremely unlikely you can tell if a man is cis or trans just by looking at them.

    • says

      Layla, while other people here are willing to be patient with you and explain things carefully, I’m not. This is my blog and my platform, and I don’t like it being filled with transphobia and cissexism. It’s *your* responsibility to educate yourself about other minority groups, not *our* responsibility to patiently educate you. For instance, if someone approached you and said something about “all dirty towelh—s are terrorists, they’re barely even human”, how much would you be in the mood to patiently talk it out with them, and give them a lesson in Islam?

      You also came to this blog, but apparently didn’t take much time to actually learn from it.

      So, all of the above considered, if you continue saying insulting, transphobic, sexist, and, yes, BIGOTED and IGNORANT things like “yeah, well, who has the ovaries?” or “acting unladylike”, I will ban you. If your interest in learning is *at all* genuine, I recommend you tread much much more carefully in your choices of words, and put a lot more effort into listening to what people are telling you.

      And I don’t even remotely regret the anger of my initial response. People like Reneta and Hope may ELECT to offer you a patient explanation, but again, nobody owes you that, and I don’t react kindly to transphobia being posted on my blog. As for your age: giving kids a pass on bigotry is part of what helps them grow up to be bigoted adults, and the “she’s only 14″ seems like a flip-side of the same kind of age-ism that is used to dismiss the *positive* insights and contributions of young people to discussions.

  15. alliecat says

    ^I’m glad to see some people are finding things like this blog rather than (don’t even wanna go there) when they decide to satisfy their curiosity about trans* :)

  16. Layla says

    renetaprescott: As far as the whole two genders thing, from my understanding of gender, a girl is someone who is born with a vagina, has periods, goes through female puberty, develops boobs regardless of how big they are, naturally tends to have more of a feminine build. She has eggs/uterus and can give birth to children unless she has a problem. A guy obviously has a penis, testicles, sperm, adam’s apple, deeper voice, does not have a period, cannot give birth, so on and so forth. Girls have XX and guys have XY for the most part. I know there’s something called inter sex or hemprodiate or something. For one example, say they would be born a girl with a vagina and testicles or something. They would cut off the testicles. She would naturally go through female puberty. I don’t see anything wrong with that. Maybe it was something chemical or gene hay wiring that happened but she’s a girl nonetheless. As far as people born with no sex, never hear of that. Like they have no penis or vagina. How do they pee? loool. Along the lines of people identifying with no gender, that just doesn’t make sense. Like say I take myself for example. I’m physically a girl. Now say I just decide I don’t want to be a girl? I want to be a dude or I want to be a dude and a girl. I can say I’m not arab but clearly I still would be. Anyone can express themselves how ever you want. Just cause i’m a girl doesn’t mean I have to wear pink, makeup, high heels, grow my hair out, girly clothing. So maybe these people are saying just because they’re physically a girl doesn’t mean they have to conform to how people think girls should act. Although just to be truthful, I’m totally a girlygirl and love all those things. But Your completely right. If I was physically to be a guy right now, It would be a fucking nightmare for me. Like I would suicidal. I just wouldn’t be able to live as a dude. The way people can treat people is heartbreaking but I can’t lie. If my future kids were to be transgender god forbid, I would be suicidal and ashamed. I couldn’t see myself loving them. I just couldn’t. It’s really sad that I think like that and I guess I have to work on that because even though I hold my beliefs very strongly and steadfastly, people shouldn’t be treated like that.

    Hope_WA: Like I said previously, I can myself black or white or asain regardless of what my racial makeup is, but I still would be arab. I mean yeah there is cosmetic surgery out there now for anyone to do virtually anything but does that change your gender? I could bleach,darken myself, change my eyes/nose, etc… So what decides gender then other than one proclaiming it. Since there is overlap between female and men brains, what is the deciding factor? As far as the victim blaming, thats where you and I differ. I’m an arab. I love and I’m proud of my country, my culture, my religion, my language, etc.. Although I tend to get confused for being from European countries such as russia, I proudly proclaim my arabness. I don’t believe in sex before marriage but even if I did, I wouldn’t want to have sex with someone who doesn’t want to have sex with me. Its deceitful for him because while I have the right to live how I see fit and decide who to have sex with, the guy in this scenario does as well. He’s sleeping with me under false pretenses because if had he know the full information, he wouldn’t. You can’t choose for people whats ok for them. Trans woman are the minority so its natural for him to think a women he sees is a cis women. I also don’t think cis women are going to have sex with him after he asks that. I also don’t think trans women will be honest when its probably just them alone with this guy and it could end up fatally. Plus its disrespectful and pathetic to myself. I think better of myself. I want to be with someone that I accept and who accepts me.

    To Natalie Reed: It wasn’t my intention to come across as harsh as I did. I guess I didn’t factor in that you all are people with real emotions and feelings and how it could be seen as upsetting. I have beliefs but I want to respect people for their beliefs as they would respect mine. And actually if someone did that, I would defintely give them a lesson if they were willing to listen. They would hear about the beautiful religion they’re missing out on due to the media. The only reason I pointed out my age was because I just turned 14, I’m in the 8th grade in middle school, I live in a small christian/white town and we just don’t see things here or in television/internet/songs, etc.. Transgender may be among many things I don’t know about I’m sure there are a lot of things I am well versed in that you know nothing about. But this is your blog and you have every right to moniter how you see fit. I will gladly leave seeing as this has no effect on me. I just wanted to broaden my horizons and learn a little so to speak.

    • alliecat says

      “As far as the whole two genders thing, from my understanding of gender…”
      You’ve explained your understanding of gender already, and I think it’s been explained to you already that your understanding is wrong and why. Maybe take a step back from the comments threads and read what’s already been written, both on Natalie’s blog and others:
      http://www.thefword.org.uk/
      http://cisnormativity.wordpress.com/
      http://transfeminism.tumblr.com/
      http://cisgingertransgender.wordpress.com/
      http://tranarchy.wordpress.com/
      http://juliaserano.blogspot.com (and her book – also called whipping girl – is worth a read as well)
      http://tranarchism.com/ (and this post in particular http://tranarchism.com/2010/11/26/not-your-moms-trans-101/ is key)

    • alliecat says

      As for “I also don’t think cis women are going to have sex with him after he asks that”, is it trans women’s fault our cis-patriarchal society sees us as a living insult? No. Let him get rejected. Let transmisogynistic cis women be insulted by an innocent value-neutral question. But don’t put the responsibility for cisnormative assumptions and transmisogynistic reactions on trans women. Actually this is something else Natalie has already written about ( http://freethoughtblogs.com/nataliereed/2012/03/22/being-the-pejorative/ ).

    • renetaprescott says

      You are still missing the point. Your definition of a man (guy) and a woman (girl) is inaccurate. Men and women have significant amounts of physiological overlap, thus why the the traits you describe are innate of all women or men. All you are defining is the traits that would pertain to a cisgender person, but even that isn’t accurate all the time. Many people assigned female at birth or male at birth vary form your definition, and that excludes a lot of people (perhaps as much as 1% of the populace). Sex goes way beyond what you are born with, or your chromosomes alone. All you did was reinforce what society says about gender, which is what I was telling you is… WRONG. It isn’t right, no matter how you address or redress it. Just like you’d be suicidal if you were forced to be a gender that you are not, we are suicidal when we don’t transition. It’s not something that is in our head, it’s not a figment of our imaginations. And yes, I recommend you doing some serious education before you post comments again. It would seem, to me at least, that there is a part of our gender that is in our brains, and it makes those. Being female, having a vagina, and XX chromosomes aren’t required to be mutually exclusive for someone to be a woman. Furthermore, gender identity my guide gender expression, but they also aren’t the same thing.

      Also, do no mistake race for gender, there is no comparison. Identifying as a white when your really Arab isn’t the same thing as having a gender identity different than your body. There is no “innate sense of race”, however, gender certainly does have a innate basis to it. Men have all the genes, parts and things needed to make a female. There is not clear dichotomy biologically. If you took testosterone your voice would deepen, your breast would shrink (not all the way, but some), and you’d grow facial hair. After enough time your clitoris would elongate, but it wouldn’t become completely a penis, that still given medical science requires surgery.

      There are people who are agender, meaning they don’t identify as either gender, some who identify as genderqueer, or bigender. It is a deeply rooted feeling you get in respect to your gendered body. It’s safe to say that many people are born with congruent genders, meaning they all line up. Be people like me don’t. After birth, any changes to our gender identity are virtually impossible. For many of us with incongruent genders there is no other option for us but to transition. Just as you wouldn’t want to live as another gender, neither do we. We didn’t get to decide what we were assigned, so the fault lies with the medical establishment, not with trans people for having gender identities that are aligned with our bodies. The idea of living as the other gender bothers you… That is because your gender identity demands you live as the gender you are. Our gender identities demand us in many cases to physically change our bodies. Just as you would fight to reclaim your gender, we’ll fight to claim and define our gender for ourselves.

      So really, take some time to do some research. You clearly don’t have a clue what you are talking about in this matter, and I can’t seem to make it clear enough for you. Save your comments for a point when you have actually taken the time to understand, please.

    • says

      Yes, trans issues, (and gender/sex, and their definitions), are something you don’t seem to know very well.

      I recommend then that you take some time to read through this blog, and it’s archives, to educate yourself *before* making any further comments.

      Like your description of how you define man/woman, for instance, is also, still, inaccurate, poorly informed, insulting and ignorant… do women stop being women after menopause, because they no longer have periods/eggs? What about a woman who gets a hystorectomy, does she stop being a woman? Or if a woman has an Adam’s Apple -which DOES happen- is she suddenly partially a man? If a woman has CAIS, and is born with a vagina and vulva, a “feminine” build, grows up to develop female secondary sex characteristics, etc. and everyone thinks of her as female, treats her as female, she LOOKS female, she was raised female, and she feels herself to be female, but after a medical test regarding the fact that at 13 she still hasn’t had her period, it turns out she has XY chromosomes and undescended testes instead of ovaries, is SHE a woman or a man, and why or why not? Do you actually KNOW what your own chromosomes are? Have you had a karyotype done? Have you tested multiple tissues to make sure you don’t have chimerism? It’s entirely possible that YOU have some XY DNA somewhere in your body, and you just don’t know it. But you’re a woman, right? And you don’t need a fucking DNA test to prove that, right? So, ff these concessions are okay, where do you draw the line, and why?

      There is NO means of defining “woman” in such a way that ALL trans women are exluded and ALL cis (non-trans) women are included without it being a tautology (like “women are women who aren’t trans!”). So try to think a bit more carefully about how you define these things, how much diversity exists in women’s and men’s bodies, and who you might be saying doesn’t “count” as a woman/man.

      Here’s some starting points on this blog. Try to read them with an open mind, and try to LEARN before commenting further:

      13 Myths and Misconceptions About Trans Women-

      http://freethoughtblogs.com/nataliereed/2012/03/27/13-myths-and-misconceptions-about-trans-women/

      A Beginner’s Guide to Trans Misogyny-

      http://freethoughtblogs.com/nataliereed/2012/03/06/a-beginners-guide-to-trans-misogyny/

      Bilaterally Gynandromorphic Chickens and Why I’m Not “Scientifically Male”-

      http://freethoughtblogs.com/nataliereed/2012/03/28/bilaterally-gynandromorphic-chickens-and-why-im-not-scientifically-male/

      Trapped In A (Wo)man’s Body-

      http://freethoughtblogs.com/nataliereed/2012/03/19/trapped-in-a-womans-body/

  17. Layla says

    Renetaprescott: Your saying my definition of sex is not right but its the definition of science. A human who is XX, has female genitalia externally and internally, and develops female secondary sex characteristics has been the definition of female and it is what has kept civilization alive. If there were no females, humans would be extinct. If you believe being a female is through your brain and feeling like one, fine. It’s your prerogative but lets not dispute science. And again I already said with modern medicine, virtually anything is possible. I can get surgery or use certain chemicals that make me look like a different gender, race, person. But the point is I don’t naturally have a penis nor the huge amounts of testosterone males have among many other things. My older sister who is a mother now is described as a tomboy. She’s very athletic, hates makeup, wears neutral sex clothing, has short hair like Anne Hathaway in Les Miserables, etc… She does not identify with the “typical female”. But she is XX, has female genitalia, and secondary sex characteristics so she is atleast scientifically female. Now for people who don’t identify with no gender, that fine but what I’m seen and read from them, its society’s demands on how to live based on their gender is what they don’t identify with. You also didn’t answer my previous question on how people are born with no gender considering they have to be pee at some point. If physical transition is what has kept you from being suidical, than thats awesome. No one should be unhappy. Anyways I respect and will acknowledge your right to self identify how ever you feel. I will not misgender you because that is disrespectful of me.

    Alliecat: See I don’t think its simple as that. On one hand, I completely understand your view point. Anytime who you are is being used as an insult or a punchline, it freakin sucks. But I think everyone desires self respect and self love. So why would anyone want to even be on such an intimate level with someone who does think they are a living insult? Also I have started reading a couple of the sites you mentioned.

    Hope: My only point was that people should respect others on how they want to live their lives as you should want the same done for you. Whats wrong with that? The question I had was is proclamation of gender the only criteria to be defined as a female? If it is, then what does being a female entail that a mail doesn’t. If its the brain, what parts of a cisgender female brain is the same to a transwoman that would be different to a cisgender male. Now if thats stupid to you, fine. But I thought there was no better way to learn about something other than the sources mouth so to speak.

    • renetaprescott says

      No, your definition is still wrong… XX isn’t “scientific” gender. It’s one aspect of sex, one of many. Depending on which aspect you look at that isn’t always the way you seem to believe it is… Really, do some research already and quit reinforcing the same old sexist garbage that we are “well aware of being wrong”. Additionally, sex isn’t this immutable absolute thing… Your still wrong, repeating it doesn’t make you right… Seriously, read Natalie’s post called “Bilaterally Gynandromorphic Chickens And Why I’m Not “Scientifically” Male” up in the “Essential Reading”. Even I did a post on this… Please, go learn something… Stop commenting until you have taken the time to actually learn something. If you can’t at least do some basic reading to understand why and what we are saying you should really stop commenting. I don’t care what you think you know on this subject, you don’t have a clue. And they aren’t going to teach that in your high school health class. The erasure of that information is exactly why we have to go on “Rants” to explain this basic shit. Human gender isn’t some black or white dichotomy, and that is a SCIENTIFIC FACT.

  18. Layla says

    Natalie: Going through menopause is apart of the female aging process so I don’t know why you would bring that up. Seems like a straw man. A hysterectomy unfortunately can be apart of a female’s medical problems. That doesn’t change the fact that she was born with a uterus. Just like someone who was born with two legs and had them amputated after war. They still were born with two legs right? Both Males and Females have adam apples. But Female’s are rarely the size of the typical male. Yet another strawman… As far as your example which was the woman with CAIS, is she scientifically female? No. She’s intersex. It’s unfortunate that these type of situations happen just as it is unfortunate that people are born with down’s syndrome, etc.. But how she in anyway similar to you or the other countless trans women who I assume is XY, was born with male genitalia, and naturally developed or would have naturally developed male secondary sex characteristics if it weren’t for blockers? Yes, I had my karyotype done. My mom’s an RE. But that’s beside the point. I am a female because I am XX, born with female genitalia externally and internally, and has/is going through female secondary sex characteristics. Same as my mother, my sisters, my grandmother, my aunts, my female cousins, my female friends. So yes at least for us there is a uniform way of defining a female. Could you define what it means to be female to you?

    • says

      Layla, I’m putting you on moderation, and won’t be approving any further comments from you, until you demonstrate a willingness to put READING and LEARNING from this blog, and from trans women, ahead of simply reasserting your pre-existing (still ignorant, still bigoted) opinions over and over and over again. There is TONS of information on THIS blog ALONE regarding how and why your perspectives are flawed. Until you show that you can listen as well as talk, I’m not going to give you the option of the latter. Sorry.

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