Monday, August 15, 2011

Yet another Cissexist bisexual or “political lesbian” Radfem gets it wrong

Over on Facebook, my friend Zoe Brain pointed out an interesting but sad article this morning.

Someone named Bev Jo, as a “guest” columnist on the anti-trans Gender Trender blog, writes an essay entitled  Fighting the "Lie" of Trans, which summarizes everything that’s wrong with the cissexist POV on trans people adopted by many radfems based on the patriarchist birth-genital-essentialist position of the Roman Catholic Church, imported into radfem philosophy by the false spinnings of the twice-born Athenas, Catholic college-based professors, Mary Daly and her empire-building protégé, Jan Raymond.

On Facebook, while riding on the commuter train this morning, I summarized a response as follows:

The only time I ever lied about myself was when I was trying to assimilate in accordance with societal expectations. All the writer is doing is showing a particularly malicious, clueless, institutionalized pseudo-patriarchist cissexist POV no different from the cissexist birth genital essentialiam brought into Radfem philosophy by Catholic college professors, twice-born Athena fembots Daly and Raymond, who corrupted Radfem philosophy from the inside.

But sitting at the computer in my office after work, I decided to read and analyze Bev Jo's article a little more deeply.  I have just started reading Mary Daly's book Gyn/Ecology in an effort to better understand why Radfem philosophy took a cissexist turn, beyond the surmise that I've made based on my exposure to the writings of Daly's protégé Raymond.

Right in the beginning, Bev Jo tells us she is a Lesbian, and then proves she can’t be one!

She parenthetically claims

“Who women choose to love is a choice, not something as trivial as ‘sexual orientation.’”
That is a statement that can only be made by

(a) a woman with a bisexual sexual orientation who has a natural orientation that allows for such a choice, and who chooses to suppress her heterosexual side, or

(b) a woman whose natural sexual orientation is actually heterosexual, but who is so wrapped up in radfem philosophy that she rejects her natural orientation, suppresses it, and “chooses” to assimilate – for such as make that “choice,” the choice itself can be a cause for psychological imbalances.

So I don’t know what Bev Jo’s sexual orientation is, but she proves by her own words that she herself has no place in lesbian space, except perhaps to the extent that bisexual women are welcome.

So, having appropriated the identity of a Lesbian, she proceeds to assume the patriarchal authority to exclude others who have more right to Lesbian space than she herself does. This pseudo-patriarchy is not new, it has been a hallmark of Radfem cissexist thought since even before Mary Daly wrote her metaethics book Gyn/Ecology.

If anyone has made “death threats,” they are responsible for their own behavior. There is no excuse for oppressed trans women to make futile death threats against their oppressors. I am aware of an unfortunate use of violent imagery in a Facebook conversation by two trans advocates who should know better, but I am not aware of any actual death threats.

Bev then asks a rhetorical question about women’s reactions to “men claiming to be women.” I can only ask a counter-question – where are the men who are claiming to be women? I am a woman, I am a lesbian, and I was erroneously assigned male at birth, but I am not and never was a man, even though I spent years trying to live a lie and assimilate with societal expectations based on that erroneous assignment.

Bev Jo does not have a right to call me a man. I have more of a right to deny her right to call herself a lesbian, because he own words indicate that she cannot possibly be a real lesbian.

Bev Jo in her essay shows her amazingly incredible ignorance about transsexual women. She certainly has never met me, and it seems clear to me that she has never actually met a real trans woman. If the story she tells about her “stalker” is not made up, the person she describes does not fit within the parameters of being a trans woman.

She also does not seem to understand what it is like to be a girl, growing up in a situation where everyone expects you to be a boy. Unfortunately, those of us who have had that experience resent it when someone else takes our narratives and distorts them. I have already had the dubious “honor” of being quoted more than once on the “mansplainin’ transplainin’” site. One of those quotes was an explanation of how I felt when I was four years old in the 1950’s, from the perspective of being a four-year old. The people who run that site thought that my simple child’s-eye view of the differences between boys and girls, and my realization that I was being told I was with the wrong group, was quite amusing. I am sure they enjoy their cruel little laugh at my expense.

When Bev Jo describes how some women look (referring to them as “female impersonators”) she does not realize that there are many trans women who don’t need artifice. It would seem that she gets her ideas about what trans women are like by poring over the writings of the notorious Opus Dei psychiatrist Dr. Paul McHugh, an eating disorders specialist who advised the Vatican abut trans issues. Her description is almost exactly what McHugh wrote:

McHugh wrote in a 2004 article entitled “Surgical Sex” in First Things:

“The post-surgical subjects struck me as caricatures of women. They wore high heels, copious makeup, and flamboyant clothing;”

Bev Jo writes similarly:

“they look like drag queens with their heavy, ugly makeup, plucked unnatural eyebrows, garish costumes, etc.”

Bev Jo’s apparent reliance on yet another patriarchist source like McHugh is more evidence of the nefarious influence the Roman Catholic Church has exerted on radfem philosophy.

Bev Jo rejects those of us who have surgery, and she rejects those of us who do not or cannot have surgery as well.

Bev Jo has apparently not been exposed to the mass of scientific evidence that shows that trans women are not, and never were, men, regardless of whether we have GRS.

Bev Jo has shown herself by her words to be an agent of the patriarchy.

She even writes. “It’s a basic weapon of patriarchy to divide women.” And then she proceeds to do just that – making sure that there continues to be a barrier between cissexual women and transsexual women.

I know who I am. I know that the scientific research backs me up. I have developed self-confidence. I am a woman, I am a lesbian, and no pseudo-patriarchist cissexist radfem is going to steal my identity, just because they themselves don;t know what a woman is.

You’ll note I am not using the term “transphobia.” The better terms to use are “cissexist” and “cissexism.” The relationship, particularly that of the institutionalized variety cause by a lack of understanding of trans lives, is eerily similar to institutionalized racism – and just as white people have to work very hard to see institutionalized racism, cissexual people have to look very hard to see the institutiopnalized cissexism that permeates the society.

If not by virtue of being cissexist, how is it that the Roman Catholic Church and the Radfem philosophers are so totally aligned on the issue of trans women?

One thing Bev Jo gets right – the alliance between some Radfems and their fellow separatist TS separatists, is still a variety of cissexism. Just as radfem philosophy as it relates to trans women is pseudo-patriarchist, the position of TS separatists is a pseudo-cissexist imitation of the radfem position, which makes it pseudo-pseudo-patriarchist. The willingness of the TS separatists to oppress other trans women as a means to gain entry for themselves into radfem circles, is pretty disgusting.

Bev Jo wants to organize het women to join with radfems. Um, that strategy is probably a non-starter – particularly with what Bev Jo already wrote in the beginning of her article about straight and bisexual women.

One would think that women – all women, straight, bi, asexual and lesbian, cissexual and transsexual, ought to be able to get along.

Why should Bev Jo be strategizing at marginalizing the most marginalized women, just because we are different and not cissexual?

Bev Jo should know that the National organization for Women already supports trans women – maybe she should get a clue from them.

As to being in opposition to NAMBLA, I am surprised that is an issue. Even the gay men I know are condemnatory of NAMBLA, why should women hesitate to condemn child abuse?

Well, when we get to Bev Jo’s conclusion – even RuPaul would acknowledge that female impersonators are not women. But RuPaul identifies as a gay man, even though he does costume very well. RuPaul is not a trans woman. I doubt that RuPaul would want to be called a trans woman or a transsexual, or a transgender person.

On the other hand, if one were to watch the RuPaul Drag Race show, some of the people who work as “drag performers” actually *are* trans women – and while they are involved in drag culture they are often working toward transition.

It may be hard to tell the difference by looking at them, and Bev Jo has already shown that she can't tell the difference, but all anyone has to do is ask.

So, when Bev Jo asks for lesbians to put females and lesbians first, she should be inclusive of trans women who are lesbians.  The fact that she isn't?  That is very, very sad.

But when you start with false premises, as Bev Jo does, it is really difficult to come to a correct conclusion.