What Is GamerGate?
It’s the Tea Party of video games. And Zoe Quinn is its Benghazi.
Okay, But What Is GamerGate Really?
GamerGate has been disingenuously framed as a grassroots campaign of gamers “concerned with the quality and integrity of video game journalism.” The campaign is, in truth, an effort to fold in, rehabilitate, and retroactively justify a previous campaign of blatant gender-based harassment against a female videogame developer for the capital offenses of having (a) a vindictive ex-boyfriend and (b) friends within the industry.
GamerGate is a campaign run by people who don’t understand what a real conflict of interest actually is, and who would institute standards of disclosure and prohibition on reporting so restrictive as to essentially disqualify all actual journalists from the space. They sincerely believe that the mere act of patronizing a developer precludes one from objectively reporting on that developer - a standard more stringent than that found in political reporting, and for a field of journalism that is far less important.
Yet even if GamerGate’s proposals were reasonable (they’re not), it wouldn’t matter, because no matter how noble its purported aims, the campaign sprung up from one of the most noxious onslaughts of sexism to rock the gaming industry in years, and a not-insignificant number of its proponents continue to engage in that harassment to this day, tarnishing the rest by association. #NotAllGamers, you say? Tough. Welcome to the word of open-invite politics, where anyone who lays claim to a movement is technically part of that movement. See also: the Tea Party. You live and die by your worst members, and right now, your worst members are utterly and openly putrid.
Admittedly, the Tea Party has managed to do well for itself in certain parts of the United States, so why couldn’t GamerGate? The answer is simple: The stakes are too low to stomach the vitriol seeping out of the movement’s underbelly. The Tea Party, laughable as it may be to some, seeks to address real-world issues impacting the country at large, where lives, jobs, and communities are actually at stake. That people within the games industry sometimes hook up doesn’t quite rise to that level of seriousness.
GamerGate, at its core, is about a woman being denied sexual agency. Yes, there is high-minded rhetoric about a lack of integrity in journalism, but with a curious inability to point to any examples of inaccurate journalism that can be traced back to any sort of influence-peddling. It is impossible to see the tenuousness of these claims and the ferocity with which they are made as anything but overcompensation for what gamers have done to Zoe Quinn. And the refusal to admit this is only making it worse.
The Unflattering Genesis
For those unaware, GamerGate can be traced back to a single event: The Zoe Post.
In short, indie game developer Zoe Quinn was recently made the subject of a novella-sized blog entry by her scorned ex-boyfriend (“The Zoe Post”), who laid out a sordid and overwrought tale of interpersonal betrayal. His professed goal was to “warn the public” as to what kind of person Quinn supposedly is. The immediate reaction was predictable: burner Twitter accounts began to pillory Quinn with cruel invective, memefying her alleged infidelity and hounding her on every corner of the Internet.
Around this time, digital hazmat teams were deployed by many websites to stop their message boards from being used as coordination hubs for harassment campaigns against Quinn. The hue and cry of “censorship” reared its head, forming one of the core conspiracies of GamerGate: that the upper echelons of the gaming industry attempted to suppress any discussion of The Zoe Post to protect “one of its own.”
This is where accusations of corruption begin to fall apart. Zoe Quinn, while certainly a colorful personality in the gaming industry, is not by any means a power-player, and her peers are not beholden to her from any sort of financial or publicity standpoint. How easy would it have been for Kotaku et al. to run stories on The Zoe Post and rake in easy ad revenue thereby? They forfeited these opportunities, however, in the name of integrity and an attempt to elevate the collective image of the gaming industry – to show the world that we are not captive to sub-TMZ levels of malicious voyeurism.
Yet as the old adage goes, you can’t save someone from themselves. With members of the press refusing to validate The Zoe Post as an actual story, schoolyard cruelty turned to outright animosity. The details of this chapter are highly disputed, yet simultaneously unimportant – whether Quinn was “doxxed,” or doxxed herself for attention, there is no doubt that the campaign against her hit a fever pitch of venom and outright misogyny. One way or another, gamers were going to make Quinn into a headline.
And it worked.
The press finally took notice, but not for the reasons that GamerGate proponents wanted – they had unwittingly become Exhibit A for why the gaming industry was still widely considered a cesspool, unbefitting the respect accorded to traditional media. Quinn was a victim, and the gaming community her assailant. Well done, gamers!
The Incredulous Transformation Into GamerGate
To most outside observers, the discussion of Quinn was not only highly offensive, but downright embarrassing for the community at large. It was a tawdry affair with no real public interest component, one conducted with a high school-level of maturity, and the fact that so many gamers seized on it with such fervor only reinforced the “man-baby” image that our industry has been trying to shed for years. The refusal of the gaming press to validate it was, in fact, an attempt to save the community from itself. But the community made clear that it wanted nothing more than to set itself on fire.
At this point in time, it was safe to say that the campaign against Quinn had been a failure. If the intent was to ruin Quinn’s personal life, her detractors certainly came close – she and those around her endured weeks of harassment and personal threats, made even worse by the suggestion that they not “feed the trolls” by fighting back against the torrential abuse. Yet Quinn’s professional life had never been more secure. Her Twitter followers went up by 50%, Patreon funds flowed in, and the industry realized more than ever how much it needs people like Quinn – people capable of revealing just how much adolescent rage and misogyny still exists amongst rank-and-file gamers.
Quinn’s detractors quickly found themselves on the receiving end of some well-justified scorn for how they had collectively conducted themselves. They realized that, in order to gain any sort of foothold into legitimacy, they would have to shift focus away from “Zoe Quinn is an awful person” as their mantra, as too many of their members could not resist dragging Quinn’s irrelevant sexual exploits into the discussion. Instead, they attempted to seize on the one kernel of The Zoe Post that might conceivably serve as a springboard for objective critique: Zoe Quinn once dated a video game journalist.
Seriously. That’s all they had.
Gamers Put On Their Journalism Hats
The story goes that Quinn got into a relationship with a guy shortly after he wrote a piece on her involvement in a scrapped webseries. The guy then went on to write for Kotaku, where he never reported on Quinn again. Somehow, this non-story got spun into a whole web of accusations about bias and corruption in the media, failing to identify a single instance of alleged bias in the journalist’s writing. Even now, people still accuse Quinn of sleeping with journalists to generate good press and/or reviews for her games, yet have been unable to provide any examples of this actually occurring.
The hysteria of GamerGate has, amongst other things, reduced the concept of a “conflict of interest” to absurdity. Are gamers simply unaware of how industry - not just video gaming, but any industry - functions? Do they think restaurant critics are not friendly with chefs? Film critics with actors? Music critics with musicians? Without relationships, there can be no reputation-building, no insight, no nuance or holistic understanding of subject matter. To reduce every point of interest to a presumptive conflict, as GamerGate does, both fundamentally misunderstands and kneecaps journalism, and will inevitably result in journalists getting worse, not better.
The unfortunate thing is that there is certainly corruption and a lack of ethics in many pockets of the video game industry’s journalistic wing. Suspect sponsorships and payola have been standard for years; anyone remember when Jeff Gerstmann got fired from GameSpot way back in 2007 after writing a middling review of Kane and Lynch, advertisements of which were plastered all over the website? Where was GamerGate back then? Why did it take The Zoe Post, a story utterly bereft of actual corruption, to galvanize gamers into pushing back against these entrenched practices?
No matter how desperately GamerGate proponents try to sweep this detail under the rug, the fact is that they only got truly interested in this subject when there was a woman to sexually shame for it. And that’s more damning than anything in The Zoe Post.
The Oppressors As Victims
Right out of the gate, GamerGate has only managed to find traction as a data point in a wider discussion of sexism and persecution in the video game industry. It is a desperate attempt to put a constructive gloss on what started and continues to operate in the shadows as a vehicle for gendered abuse and scorn. And so the narrative has taken another turn, this time towards “gamers” as an oppressed minority, vilified simply for wanting a certain level of decorum in discussion of them and their activities.
I’ll let the irony sink in for a moment.
The big problem with that angle is that GamerGate proponents conflate the act of gaming with their self-ascribed identify as gamers. Gamer doesn’t simply mean “one who plays games” – rather, it describes those who build a lifestyle around games, who emotionally invest in gaming subculture, and who take an active interest in the internal politics of gaming. And many of those so-called “gamers” are, in fact, the ones who were first to seize on The Zoe Post in its nascent, most prurient stage. Before anyone was interested in “journalistic integrity,” it was gamers launching incendiary volleys of slut-shaming Quinn’s way, choking her Twitter feed with blatant harassment.
Gamers are not being vilified for the mere act of playing games. They’re being vilified for constructing and nurturing a subculture that readily allows fiascos like The Zoe Post to take hold. One simply doesn’t see this level of sustained, community-based harassment in other spheres of media; not even comic book nerds would have the gall to conduct themselves in this manner. To throw up one’s hands and whine “#NotAllGamers!” is to abdicate any responsibility for taking care of one’s own house - a house that desperately needs tending before termites destroy the whole foundation.
Video gaming has come a long way in the past decades, from being a niche nerd hobby to now constituting a multi-billion dollar global industry. Attempts to shed its reputation as the #1 hobby of stunted man-children, however, have been regularly stymied by the “core” fanbase of gamers who perceive any critique of their subculture as a personal affront, one requiring not merely a retort, but retaliation. It is this childish mindset that prohibits many gamers from perceiving what is and isn’t fair game in a discussion.
In case they need it spelled out, the number of people someone has slept with isn’t fair game. Nor are weak gestures at legitimate issues when they operate as Trojan horses for gendered animosity. And until a sufficient number of community members digest that lesson, the remainder must accept that they will be judged alongside their brethren.
Don’t like it? Tell your brethren to knock that shit off.
Why GamerGate Won’t Succeed
The preceding should make it abundantly clear that the ostensible overarching goals of GamerGate have been entirely subverted by the muck and mire it crawled out from. The prevailing headline is not about any journalistic crisis in video gaming, as the GamerGate community has failed to provide any journalistic product that demonstrates inaccuracy linked to bias. Instead, the headline is about how gamers attempted to destroy a woman’s entire life (additionally targeting anyone in the blast radius for the sin of proximity) largely based on alleged crimes of gender.
(Again, #NotAllGamers is irrelevant. They were gamers. They came from the gaming community. They did it in the name of gaming. And they get away with it because of the nature of the gaming community’s prevailing subculture, which many gamers continue to defend in substance, if not in form. The community is culpable for what it births, and that culpability grows every time its member try to sweep the abuse under the rug.)
Whether or not you agree with the preceding capsule summary is irrelevant – that’s the headline. It’s the one that’s been carried from The Guardian to Time Magazine, with only a handful of low-level webzines and YouTube channels buying the GamerGate version of events. And every subsequent attempt to change the narrative has only collectively dug the community in deeper as it runs from one corner of the Internet to the next, desperate to avoid a mea culpa - to find something, anything, to exonerate it, instead of lifting a finger to try and help the people hurt by its own members.
This is the conduct of children. This is the conduct of screaming toddlers unable and/or unwilling to admit the extent to which they transgressed, desperately deflecting to purported issues of substance in the hopes that enough flailing and kicking will make everyone forget what got them in trouble in the first place. This is why gamers are infantilized – because they so often act like infants. And GamerGate won’t change this perception, because it’s an extension of that infantile aversion to responsibility.
Let’s not mince words: GamerGate is stillborn. It will not be salvaged by a public relations cleanup. No number of cute mascots or appeals to broader principle like censorship or journalistic integrity will negate the damage its members have done to their own cause, simply because the cause is not one of sincere origin. It would be as if the Ku Klux Klan (or a group that includes members thereof) tried to convince the public that their real concern is high levels of inner city crime created by low-income residents – knowing where the Klan came from, why wouldn’t their superficially legitimate concerns immediately be seen as suspect?
(A note for the slow: No, this is not to compare all gamers or GamerGate proponents to Klansmen. It is to say that the foundational movement of GamerGate, borne of The Zoe Post, is a heinous one, and the linkage between the two still manifests to the detriment of every single constructive element of the campaign’s current form.)
If gamers really want to make a positive impact on the perception and function of their community, they will get their priorities straight. The first goal should be to make sure what happened to Zoe Quinn can never happen again – at the very least, not on the appalling scale that it did. After that, maybe we can start to talk about those ”standards of conduct” that were curiously absent from GamerGate’s entire first act.
Mass Effect 3′s art director, Derek Watts (via gaarrus)
… The efficient thing about the video game industry is that it often generates its own satire.
oh my god
someone pls stop the cishets
The thing is, if trans women acted or behaved in any of the ways radfems would like us to believe, this wouldn’t be a black and white issue for me.
Radfems want you to believe that trans women take womanhood AWAY from cis women somehow, that they dismiss experiences cis women have had, that they deny that women who happen to be cis experience any oppression at all.
Radfems want you to believe that trans women are violent because they cherry-pick times when a trans woman has expressed completely justified anger at radfems who misgender them, fail to recognize their basic human rights, want them gone from safe-spaces and call them rapists.
It’s not bends of the truth, it’s blatant lies.
Honestly, it’s so manipulative that I find radfems to be pretty much on par with MRAs.
They claim to be all about helping women, but the number of women they hate exceeds far beyond the number of women they will ever help in their lifetime.
I have absolutely no issue saying that I believe radfems hate women.
And then they coddle their little “baby radfems” (and the use of the word “baby” in the context of activism really fucking bugs me to be honest) into developing the same values.
Sorry, radfems, you’re not going to fool me.
— a “genderist” “libfem” *eats lipstick and writes a half-assed manifesto with liquid eyeliner*
A lot of trans women do regard terfs and mras to be pretty much the same thing, yeah.
Was it b8l who said that TERFs treat trans women the same way men treat women?
I think the reason a lot of white cis abled women have trouble with intersectionality is because they’re used to parsing “feminism” as “centering myself”.
Which, I mean. It’s good to finally be able to center oneself and one’s needs after a lifetime of being told you exist only for men. I get that. It’s powerful, and necessary.
But, being white, cis and abled, these particular women have enough privilege* not to understand the oppressions that other women face. And so, they learn to parse any decentering as misogyny.
Which is why, when trans women and/or WoC and/or disabled women explain that, actually, privileged women shouldn’t center themselves in marginalized women’s communities/issues/etc., they accuse us of being “anti-feminist” and “sexist” even though they’re the ones being such.
*Not the best word, I know, but my brain isn’t thinking of any other.
Ok y’all, Gail Dines has a long history of skewing, exaggerating and making up claims, diminishing the agency and voices of sex workers, just generally ignoring a lot of marginalized people if they don’t further her career, and being a transphobe and supporting other hateful transphobes. Google any of this; it’s fairly easy to find.
I know that some gifs are being made easily accessible on here, and that the content in them tugs at our justice-loving hearts. But A) you can’t trust her agenda or her numbers, and B) you’re supporting TERFS when you pass her work around. The valid points have been made better by other people; they just might not have gifs yet.
Here’s a graphic people can circulate:
In case anyone needs a refresher, Jeffreys is the person who wrote “transsexualism should be seen as a violation of human rights.”
Or how about this from her former assistant:
i had gone from weighing in on the bottom end of the recommended weight range for a girl my size and age, to teetering at the top of it, and she was encouraging it, why? to this day i still get the heebie-jeebies, thinking perhaps she wanted me fatter to officially be a part of the “anti-porn club.”
size was not the only aspect of my body dines had an opinion on. i wanted tattoos and to stretch my earlobes (i have two large pieces of ink now and ears stretched to 3/4″), but whenever i talked about body modifications, dines would get a look of disgust on her face and tell me that was a way of internalizing my abuse and re-victimizing myself by permitting the infliction of pain (it is easy once you know her perspective on this, to see why she is so vehemently opposed to BDSM – and why my interest in kinky sex wasn’t something i ever felt comfortable defending or even really discussing with her). even wearing choker necklaces made out of hemp became a choice that dines took issue with: the chokers evoked the aesthetic of a bondage collar. i remember the day i sadly removed a black leather choker that said “live in love,” in embroidery, because she chastised my style choice. i’d found it in a bathroom stall during the greatest trip of my life, out west to Portland, Oregon. i was honestly surprised she could find any issue in something so clearly *not* fetish-y.
and then, of course, the management of body hair. any maintenance of body hair, whether it be plucking my eyebrows, shaving my legs, or waxing my bush, was subject to detailed analysis, and, quickly determined to be submission to patriarchal oppression.
Gail Dines is not a feminist hero. She (like Cathy Brennan) would be just as at home amongst conservative evangelicals as she is amongst radical feminists. She’s as concerned with controlling women and controlling women’s bodies as she is about “porn culture.” She treats women like they are just tools in her fight, or else objects of scorn. She recommends people read horrific transphobes like Sheila Jeffreys and calls her “excellent.”
she’s also a raging whorephobe, check out her tag (some very generous person has screencapped some of her facebook posts for you!)
Gail Dines is shit, stop reblogging her
If you insist that lesbians are “transphobes” simply because they prefer to sleep with and/or date actual biological females, you are a fucking homophobe. Simple as that.
Lesbians are attracted solely to women. That is exactly what the term lesbian means. No, you don’t get to define what “lesbianism” means for actual lesbians. That is bullshit.
Lesbian erasure is absolutely disgusting, and if I see one more individual call lesbians “transphobes” for preferring women over trans women, I am going to scream. Fuck off, stop dictating lesbian identities and attempting to control their sexualities.
Also, you’re not “femme” if you’re a trans female. Stop it. Not only are you appropriating feminity by presenting as a female, but you are also appropriating lesbian culture by incorrectly utilising the term “femme”. You are not femme.
Why hello there!
I’m not certain that you understand that a PSA is a Public Service Announcement, and that, as a public service, it is intended to apply tot he Public — which is a vast melange of people of many different sorts, not just a particular that you happen to be an uninformed incompetent regarding.
It just so happens that your first assertion is predicated on a logical fallacy: argued that because something is ‘natural’ it is therefore valid, justified, inevitable, good or ideal. In this case, you argued that because the women lesbians are attracted to are biological, and biological is standing in here as a statement of what is valid, justified, inevitable, good, or ideal, that trans women are not possible as suitable women (this being why you used the term “actual”) despite their being just as biological as other women.
Since this fallacy is the basis of your calling them a homophobe, you are using a fallacy dishonestly as the basis for your assertion that they are homophobes, while simultaneously employing an ad hominem to attack the character and qualities of people who are, to a large extent, lesbian and bisexual themselves within a ciscentric framework.
All of which lies within a single paragraph that is, itself, an argument where you misrepresent the arguments of other people for the purpose of making it easier to attack (a strawman) and/or making yourself seem more reasonable in so doing.
All of which is phenomenally dishonest. tsk tsk.
You are correct when you say lesbians are attracted solely to women. Indeed, since trans women are women, many lesbians are attracted to trans women, since, well, they happen to be lesbians between one quarter to one third of the time themselves.
Not that I am, in that instance, using your description, which happens to fall in line with the description created by the ciscentric patriarchy for that particular concept. I say happens to fall in line as I’m being relatively polite to you about this, when it is apparent that your goal in posting the above statement is to act as a form of fallacy where you made what could be called an appeal to purity as a way to dismiss relevant criticisms or flaws of your argument.
Which, I will note, makes the entire piece dishonest, but that’s a separate issue.
I will tell you that if your definition of women doesn’t include trans women when you speak to the notion of who you are attracted to that you are, in fact, holding on to a transphobic idea that is based in aversion, anxiety, and intense dislike, as well as actively denying to another human being the very basic core principle that governs human rights of human dignity.
Furthermore, I will note that you are almost certain to use your anxiety, aversion and intense dislike as lenses through which you will view your ideology, and that you will then use that ideology — as you have done here — to justify your own animus, aversion, and anxiety.
You may now start screaming. I will not, however, engage in sexual activities at your behest, as I generally prefer to do such consensually and I do not give you any to order me what to do sexually.
You are correct when you say that being a trans female does not, inherently, make you femme. However, there are many trans women who are femme, myself included, and while you might like to think that I am appropriating something ascribed to me by society at large, you would be wrong. Far be it from me to deny you the right to be wrong, especially when I find it more satisfying to simply point out that you are wrong in doing so, that you should just sit there for a few moments and embrace being wrong, and that I am also certain you will refuse to admit that you are wrong because someone who belongs to a class of people that you have a high degree of anxiety, animus, and aversion to just told you that you are wrong.
I am a woman. I cannot, therefore, appropriate muliebral elements, since they already are part of me. I could, and have, virile elements, in the past, but that really didn’t work out to well for me since I am, after all, a woman.
You do not get to decide for me if I am a woman or not. Your attempt at policing my womanhood is, itself, an act of oppression that serves the very severe forces of Patriarchy, as well as Ciscentrism.
When you police other women, for anything, you are doing the work of the patriarchy, and, worse, you are attacking the individual Agency of those women, which they are using in a manner that they find the best possible means for them to resist that same Structure called Patriarchy, instead of the Structure that is patriarchy itself — you are, therefore, using the tools of the oppressor to do their work for them, in your name.
So please, take your sexist patriarchy pleasing policing of women, fold until all sharp corners, and apply liberally to desensitized areas of your mind in the hopes that perhaps they will wake up and smell the fecal matter you are surrounding yourself with.
This has been a Personal Service Message.
Have an unpleasant day.
Considering you’re not a woman, I can pretty much dismiss about 98% of the shit you have just projected straight from your ass onto the page.
You’re not a woman, you are a poorly disguised man in woman’s clothing with some makeup poorly slapped across your face.
Do not call yourself a woman, that is fucking disgusting and misogynistic. You are a trans woman. Not a woman.
I don’t police women, I will, however, police men dressed as women (i.e. trans women).
As a note, I did point out that you would do the above, as well as pointing out that you are most welcome to have your uninformed and incompetent opinions even when they are wrong.
That said, what you just did is an act of sexual harassment and sexual discrimination. Fortunately not an actionable one for you, but it does indicate just how wrong you are and as a result I have great faith that your future endeavors will be seriously hampered in terms of employment.
I find it fascinating that you say I have make up poorly slapped across my face, as, at this moment, I have no makeup on.
The above statements regarding me, personally — a person you have not met, and that you do not know — all are highly indicative of a person who is incapable of defending the wrongful, dishonest, and fallacious statements they have made.
Instead, you rely on targeted and punitive actions which further seek to police and decide for others, what they are — just as you were trying to do with Lesbian in the initial statements.
I am a woman. The fact that I state such disgusts you , itself, is enough to make you a transphobe — literally. That is, you just admitted that you have an irrational prejudice against trans people that colors and informs your understanding of the world, and thereby, makes your statements — again, by your own admission — less trustworthy (ignoring the aspects of dishonesty I already pointed out earlier that you pointedly dismissed, again, on the basis of a pre-existing prejudice, which is itself a dishonest action where you judged something as either good or bad on the basis of where it comes from, or from whom it came.
This fallacy avoids the argument by shifting focus onto something’s or someone’s origins. It’s similar to an ad hominem fallacy in that it leverages existing negative perceptions to make someone’s argument look bad, without actually presenting a case for why the argument itself lacks merit.
So, for additional impact, I will state it again: I am a woman. I am a woman of color. I am a woman, and your bigoted and prejudiced opinions cannot change that as a matter of fact, of law, or of principle.
None of which will provide you with comfort, and personally I find that lack much sympathy for what those opinions will cost you in the years ahead.
My saying I am not a woman does not, in any way, represent or exist as an act of misogyny, either. Therefore, you are, in fact, policing women, and rather than own up to your own actions, you have doubled down on the resistance and sought to somehow anger me.
THe problem there is that there is no argument you have that I have not already heard before, that I have not already shown is a falsehood or a fallacy, and that will have any impact on the way that I continue to speak to you.
At this point, among reasonable, rational people, your assertions are going to continue to make you look bad, not I, and your absolute refusal to honor the core ideals of human rights is a rather horrific reflection on your as a person, that I wouldn’t wish on you, personally.
Again, have an unpleasant day.
Since Toni already destroyed the argument as far as trans women and lesbianism and all that in a way that I can only detract from by addressing it, I will only say that femmes are not only lesbians. Thinking that they are shows a severe misunderstanding of femme history and femme realities. There are queer femmes, there are non-binary femmes, there are even fem/me men. None of this is new so it should not be news, and yet it seems to be to so many people.
Robin Thicke (no, really)
oh but he’s white so it’s harmless instead of those *gasp* rappers
seriously there’s a huge fucking deal about misogyny in hip hop and R&B, but it only focuses on artists who are PoC, yet some fucking gangrenous white boy can get away with this shit and nobody speaks up, he gets to perform on national television and there is no backlash
[content note: transmisogyny, misgendering, rape]
I am getting more than a little tired of “allies” who only think of trans women as women until it becomes inconvenient for them and their view of gender.
You know the type:
"I know trans women are women, but gender-segregated bathrooms exist for a reason."
"I know trans women are women, but it will dilute our message if we stop talking about women in terms of vaginas (or vice versa)."
"I know trans women are women, but women have a right to their own spaces free of any masculine energy."
"I know trans women are women, but they obviously don’t have any right to call themselves lesbians."
"I know trans women are women, but you have to understand that your presence could be triggering to rape survivors."
"I know trans women are women, but I have to question the sexuality of any guy who goes out with one."
"I know trans women are women, but you have male privilege so you can’t possibly understand what women go through."
"I know trans women are women, but this is a women’s shelter, so we can’t help you here."
And so on, and so forth. If you’re a trans woman, you’ve probably heard a ton more examples.
And the thing is, I don’t think that most of these people are being deliberately disingenuous (one glaring exception, of course, being a certain radscum lady who shall remain nameless); I think they’re telling the truth as they see it. I think they really do think of trans women as women.
Except when they don’t.
Except when they feel like it would be too hard to reframe an issue in order to include us.
Except when their own unexamined prejudices come to the fore and dominate their approach to an issue.
Except when they realize that walking their talk requires a far more radical shift in their understanding of gender than they are prepared for, or than they ever wanted to attempt.
And so they decide that it’s easier to just revoke our identities situationally — to say that, yes, we’re women, and we’re just as much women as cis women are, but we’re still somehow not woman enough to fit their views, their spaces, their institutions.
It’s bullshit. But it’s bullshit that’s all too common. And it hurts.