Who deserves equality and protection?


not sentiment shared by the Declaration of Women’s Sex Based Rights

Apparently, it’s not trans women, and trans men don’t even exist. This Declaration of Women’s Sex Based Rights is making the rounds — Richard Dawkins proudly signed it, doesn’t that make you want to put your name on it? I like the idea of supporting equal rights for all men and women, and it’s true that women need special legal protection as the targets of current and historical discrimination, but this document seems to be mainly focused on legitimizing discrimination against trans women. It practically seethes with resentment against trans women, and singles them out as the big problem that must be eradicated from society. Cast them out! They don’t deserve to have any of the rights which they want to reserve for true human females, a category that they don’t even bother to define (probably because if they tried, they’d get hung up on the boundary conditions). So women are simply specified by vague “physical and biological characteristics”, which are completely different from “gender identity”, which means their manifesto is primarily a long whine about how the existence of trans women taints the concept of lesbianism.

However, the concept of ‘gender identity’ has enabled men who claim a female ‘gender identity’ to assert, in law, policies, and practice, that they are members of the category of women, which is a category based upon sex.

The CEDAW General Recommendation No. 35 notes that, “General recommendation No. 28 on the core obligations of States parties under article 2 of the Convention as well as general recommendation No. 33 on women’s access to justice confirms that discrimination against women is inextricably linked to other factors that affect their lives. The Committee’s jurisprudence highlights that these may include…being lesbian.” (II, 12).

The concept of ‘gender identity’ is used to challenge individuals’ rights to define their sexual orientation on the basis of sex rather than ‘gender identity’, enabling men who claim a female ‘gender identity’ to seek to be included in the category of lesbian, which is a category based upon sex. This undermines the sex-based rights of lesbians, and is a form of discrimination against women.

Some men who claim a female ‘gender identity’ seek to be included in the legal category of mother. The CEDAW emphasises maternal rights and the “social significance of maternity’’. Maternal rights and services are based on women’s unique capacity to gestate and give birth to children. The inclusion of men who claim a female ‘gender identity’ within the legal category of mother erodes the social significance of maternity, and undermines the maternal rights for which the CEDAW provides.

OK, so how does the existence of trans women compromise the identities of lesbians and mothers? If a person who identifies as a woman is a primary caregiver to a child, what else do you call her but “a mother”? If she happens to be trans, how does that harm a person who identifies as a cis woman and is the primary caregiver to a child, who should also be called “a mother”? If they’re doing everything that a mother does, and if they suffer the same social disempowerment, what is the problem here, and what do you propose that people and the law should call them? I know, they may not have a uterus, and they may not have actually carried an embryo/fetus for 9 months, but are we prepared to deny the “M” word to adoptive mothers, then?

The whole thing is one special effort to carve out an exclusion and to deny one group of people the rights that they ought to share with everyone else. That’s not a good reason to sign this thing. An equal rights declaration ought not to be focused on saying “except these people, we don’t like them and we want to make sure they don’t get these same rights.” Especially when that subgroup has been specifically targeted for hatred and discrimination.

I’m also really curious to know why trans men are not mentioned, and how they handle that concept. Are trans men really women in their minds? How do they cope with their weird sexual essentialism if they accept trans men?

Oh well, one useful feature of their web page is that they list 393 organizations that really hate trans people, which is a useful reference if you want to know who you should never support (although many seem to be just disgruntled people with a website that you’ll never hear of again).

Comments

  1. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    Contradictory: Equal rights for men and women, means there is nothing special about being a woman over being a man. Why not let everyone choose which gender they want to be, instead of forcing to be the one they were born with without their consent? I do not understand

  2. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    is it equal rights for women, that all women have the same rights; and equal rights for men, all men have the same rights; meaning there are two separate sets of rights: mens rights, and womens rights, not necessarily a single set for men AND women.

  3. chrislawson says

    It’s really no different to the argument that allowing gay marriages would somehow destroy the basis for straight marriages. It’s just an etymological cover story for exclusionary hatred.

  4. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    re @3:
    Always laughed at those arguments, asking if that means they would rather be in a gay marriage because straight ones are disagreeable? and so on, with ever wilder interpretations of why straight marriage is so threatened by gay marriage.
    The only one that kinda makes sense is that marriage is a special place that has specific entrance requirement of opposite sex <NB, gender irrelevant> couples only,
    Like a pair of same sex would come in and sully the furniture, or something.
    SMH

  5. birgerjohansson says

    Slithey Tove @5
    Everyone knows Teh Gay is contagious. Just like teh trans.
    And I bet if you sit next to a black guy you soon get black, just like Zelig *.

    *I am dating myself with that film reference. It was before LGBTQ people were invented by satanist libruls.**

    **And the protagonist is Jewish, so you know he is a baddie.

  6. says

    In this context, used to exclude a group of people, “equal rights for men and women” comes off as a cheap version of “all lives matter” or “I don’t see color…”

  7. Matthew Currie says

    So what part of a mother’s rights would be diminished if the occasional trans woman snuck into the group photo? I once knew a woman who had her first baby in her sleep. Surely that should disqualify her from the sisterhood of suffering that seems to characterize the argument, too.

    Every time I see the word “erode” in an argument like this I think “here we go again.” There’s that jealousy of a right that implies that because it was earned through some form of sacrifice, its value will be diminished if it’s shared with someone who didn’t go through the same initiation. Do you see having a kid in terms of the happy result, or in terms of the price you paid? We saw that in the civil union and gay marriage debate, and I always presumed that people who make that argument are the same as those who joke about the “ball and chain” of marriage – those who, if they were honest, would admit that they have doubts about whether the benefits they got were worth the expense.

    I think people who are actually happy are inclined to share a right, not begrudge it.

  8. says

    That was more ramble than preamble. I’ve never seen that much verbal diarrhœa at one time. And as much emetic as the TERFs are anti-semetic.

    General recommendation No. 28

    Yeah, I’ll bet they’re really big on Article 28 and want to bring it back, but only for Trans people.

  9. says

    @#9, Intransitive:

    For 9 out of 10 of these people, TERFS are just the thin edge of the wedge. If they can get people to cut the T out of LGBT, then they can move on and say “those bisexuals aren’t really oppressed, they can be straight-passing, they’re just libertines who can’t make up their minds, we shouldn’t bother to include them”. Then it will be onward to an argument against gay men and women having a united front, and then, with all the groups separated, none of them will have any political power and can be legislated against with impunity.

  10. garnetstar says

    I don’t even understand the argument that somehow all lesbians are oppressed by trans lesbians? What do they mean by “lesbian is a category based on sex”? What is “sex”, in their minds?

    They say that individuals have the right to “define their sexual orientation on the basis of sex rather than gender identity.” No one defines their orientation as towards some kind of chromosones, or whatever, so what are they saying?

    If you want to be a trans-exclusionary lesbian, you are free to do that. What’s the problem, then, with defining yourself as that? A lesbian TERF? Seems like they want to be TERFs, but don’t want to own the name.

  11. bowdsquared says

    My son came out as a trans man about two years ago. It has been definitely an adjustment for the family but at the end of the day my son is my son. The TERF’s are a huge part of the problem and just need to stay the fuck out of the way. This comes from a redneck living in TX. Abbot and his buddies need to go, but with gerrymandering the way it is I am not sure that will ever happen.

  12. Akira MacKenzie says

    I don’t even understand the argument that somehow all lesbians are oppressed by trans lesbians?

    My guess: Much like transphobic cis-hetero men who are afraid that they might be “tricked” into have “gay” sex with a person who was assigned “male” at birth, the lesbian TERF is afraid that cis lesbians are under constant threat of a man posing as a woman–which, to them are ALL trans women–will fool them into a similar position.

  13. rrhain says

    @11, garnetstar

    The claim is that lesbians are being constantly and regularly harassed by trans women to have sex and that they are then being declared “transphobic” when they say that they don’t want to have sex with a person with a penis. The BBC just had an article from a TERF who specifically made that claim with examples of lesbians who say that…all anonymous, of course.

    https://www.nbcnews.com/nbc-out/out-news/lesbians-stand-trans-women-open-letter-dangerous-bbc-article-rcna3903

  14. Amy Peterson says

    @11, TERFs pretty much just invent reasons to hate us. Logic isn’t required so long as it makes them feel justified. I’m actually surprised that they don’t mention trans men since “the trans agenda is stealing butch lesbians and turning them into men” is one of they’re favorites.

  15. lochaber says

    I think the “explanation” I’ve encountered is a tedious stringing-together of straw-person arguments.

    And it typically starts with the tired old transphobic bullshit of someone who claims they can “always tell” someone is trans, but is somehow still really worried about engaging in sexy times with a trans person, despite their perfect “can always tell” trans-detection.

    And then there are the demands that trans people always mention they are trans before engaging in sexy times, before going on a date, before talking to someone, before entering a restaurant, before leaving their house, etc.

    And then they go on about how they don’t want to engage in sexy times with a trans person, so therefore if they don’t know someone is trans, and their absoperfect “detect trans people” ability fails to be absoperfect, and the trans person doesn’t disclose they are trans, and then they go on to have sexy times…

    Then they think they get to claim they were raped, because they never consented to sexual activity with a trans person, despite never bringing that up, or objecting until after the fact. As far as I know, this is always presented as a hypothetical scenario.

    I’ll be one of the first to say a person has the absolute right to decline sex with anyone for any reason. I would think it’s a little weird, but it’s perfectly fine to not want to have sex with people who’ve been to California. But if that is important to that person, it’s on them to bring it up and ask people if they’ve been to California, and not expect people to start every conversation with a list of states they’ve visited.

    Yeah, not a great analogy, but I’m just getting tired of all this nonsense. It was fucking tired decades ago, we should be past this as a society. I know it’s overly simplified, but in general I think “don’t be a dick” has a lot of merit…

  16. Silentbob says

    @ 11 garnetstar

    I don’t even understand the argument that somehow all lesbians are oppressed by trans lesbians? What do they mean by “lesbian is a category based on sex”? What is “sex”, in their minds?

    A few years ago it was chromosomes and they all had “XX” in their social media handles. Then they belatedly realised chromosomes aren’t binary and it’s very important to their ideology that “sex” be binary, so they all decided it’s actually “gametes” that define “sex”. You may wonder, “what about infertile people?”, but then just flail their hands and appeal to metaphysics, claiming that infertile people are intended to produce gametes, they just somehow failed in their quest.

    They say that individuals have the right to “define their sexual orientation on the basis of sex rather than gender identity.” No one defines their orientation as towards some kind of chromosones, or whatever, so what are they saying?

    Yes they do! Or pretend to. They literally claim sexual attraction is to sex assigned at birth only. Somehow. Here’s a quote from TERF propaganda (PDF)content warning for that link it goes to extreme transphobia.

    If a “transwoman” can be a lesbian how can lesbians retain sexual autonomy? If the LGBT support “transwomen” they de facto deny lesbian rights to exclusive same sex orientation.

    (Page 6)
    The bizarre claim is literally that trans women’s womanhood somehow makes lesbians unable to have a “same sex orientation”. Just by existing.

    @ 11 garnetstar

    If you want to be a trans-exclusionary lesbian, you are free to do that. What’s the problem, then, with defining yourself as that?

    Right? You can define yourself as only attracted to people born on a Thursday if you believe such a thing is possible. Nobody has a problem with that. The problem is when you try to police other people’s orientations and tell women attracted to women that they’re not allowed to use the common English word “lesbian” to communicate that, if one of them is trans.

    Also notice the implication that this somehow only affects lesbians. As bizarre as they are, their arguments should apply to anyone equally. Straight people, gay men. But it’s always lesbians, because the goal is to try to demonise trans people by turning the tables and claiming trans people are the ones harming a minority. Bigots always do that. It’s never, “we’re coming for the gay people”, it’s always, “the gays are coming for our Christian family values, we must beat them back”!

  17. Silentbob says

    @ 15 rrhain

    The claim is that lesbians are being constantly and regularly harassed by trans women to have sex and that they are then being declared “transphobic” when they say that they don’t want to have sex with a person with a penis. The BBC just had an article from a TERF who specifically made that claim with examples of lesbians who say that…all anonymous, of course.

    Yes, and not only was this all anonymous hearsay about unnamed trans people, but in an ironic twist that almost makes one believe in karma, the one named source in that BBC story, Lily Cade, a cis lesbian, turned out to be a serial rapist and sexual abuser notorious for pressuring women into sex. So the only actual verified instance of “pressure” was multiple instances… by a cis woman. The BBC response was to quietly edit Lily Cade out of the article and append an opaque footnote, leaving the rest of the hate piece intact.

    The majority of lesbians, of course, are not bigots and were as appalled by that article as everyone else: Lesbians stand by trans women in open letter after ‘dangerous’ BBC article

  18. Silentbob says

    … Also (sorry for comment hogging – last one)…

    The hate group responsible for that BBC article makes clear that they consider people simple saying online, “trans women are women”, to be “pressure”. Again, content note for link going to extreme transphobia:

    A woman described feeling violated when she realised the person she had shared intimate messages with on-line was “a man”. Another respondent reported that 90% of the messages she receives come from “transwomen”. Although she stated that she has never felt coerced or intimidated, many women experience the very presence of “transwomen” as a violation.

    Much of this pressure happens online. Lesbians are routinely harassed for stating that their sexuality excludes males regardless of their “gender identity”. Most respondents reported being subjected to such rhetoric directly or indirectly, and have experienced it as a form of “psychological coercion” with the general feeling that it is “online everywhere” and “relentless”.

    (Page 19)

    It should be noted that even in the extremely transphobic UK, most women agree trans women are women. These are cranks.

  19. John Morales says

    Bah.

    Who the hell care whether there’s a few more women and a few more men?

    Who the hell care whether there’s a few more men and a few more women?

    Sheesh!

  20. says

    How, exactly, are “sex-based rights” different from “human rights” or “constitutional rights?” Like I said elsewhere, it sounds very…complementarian. Do men have “sex-based rights” too? Being a man, I’d love to know what they are…

  21. says

    When I hear people starting to talk about “women’s unique capacity to gestate and give birth” and the “social significance of maternity,” I am looking for the exits.

    Raging Bee @ #24:

    How, exactly, are “sex-based rights” different from “human rights” or “constitutional rights?” Like I said elsewhere, it sounds very…complementarian. Do men have “sex-based rights” too? Being a man, I’d love to know what they are…

    They have to make it convoluted in order to turn universal rights into particularized oppression. They could of course recognize that we all have sexual and reproductive rights – involving consent, self-identification, medical care, etc. – but that everyone’s “use” of these rights will differ due to varying characteristics, choices, and circumstances. But this wouldn’t allow them to pit people’s actualization of their rights against their conception of some (politically and rhetorically useful) category’s vague, mystical rights.

  22. says

    lochaber @18:
    Here’s a few more ways why the “if we treat trans women as women, then lesbians will be raped” is complete and utter nonsense.

    First of all, lesbians are attracted to other women, right? But are they willing to have sex with EVERY woman? No, of course not; lesbians can always refuse to have sex with anyone, for any reason. But transphobes think that, if we allow trans women to be women, then cis lesbians will have no choice but to have sex with them.
    (Fun fact: this transphobic belief is based on the lesbophobic assumption that lesbians are sex-crazed nymphomaniac who jump on every woman they see. So transphobes are also lesbophobic as well.)

    Second: there has been a discussion over the Cotton Ceiling. Basically, it was a combination of two things:
    1) There was a workshop at Planned Parenthood Toronto that basically coined the term. It was a discussion about why queer trans women get excluded from discussions about sexual matters (usually due to the assumption that sex involving trans people is somehow disgusting); and what can be done to solve this problem.
    2) There also were a few discussions about how, if you’re initially attracted to someone, but you immediately change your mind and become repulsed by them as soon as you discover that they’re trans, then you aren’t rejecting for their appearance (because you were perfectly fine with that appearance for cis people), or their personality (same), or even their genitals (because you have NO idea what their genitals are, so you can’t reasonably make a judgment about them); the only reason why you’re rejecting them NOW, is because you are repulsed by transness.

    TERFs just… massively misinterpreted this. Ironically, I’m pretty sure that other groups made similar discussions (for example: black people pointed out how many white people find certain physical appearances attractive or not depending on whether they’re looking at a white or a black person), and bigots misinterpreted those discussions in the exact same way. Further proof that TERFs are closer to bigots – including anti-feminist religious fundamentalists – than to the average feminist.

  23. says

    Forgot to add a few links for context:
    The Cotton Ceiling Is Real and It’s Time for All Queer and Trans People to Fight Back (Queer Feminism)
    https://queerfeminism.com/2012/03/27/the-cotton-ceiling-is-real-and-its-time-for-all-queer-and-trans-people-to-fight-back/
    Cotton Ceiling: Uncovering the trans conspiracy to rape lesbians (the Trans Advocate)
    https://www.transadvocate.com/cotton-ceiling-uncovering-the-trans-conspiracy-to-rape-lesbians_n_10251.htm
    And then there’s Crip Dyke‘s comment at We Hunted The Mammoth:
    https://wehuntedthemammoth.com/2019/01/14/some-trans-women-literally-get-a-boner-from-having-their-pronouns-respected-reddit-terf-asserts/comment-page-2/#comment-2413322

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