(Content warning for quoting transphobia and transmisogyny)
Going to talk about trans critical. No, I don’t mean the engineering issues or the mathematical concept. I mean the thing where people decide to couch their obvious and intense anxiety, animus, and/or aversion to trans people under the rubric of “trans critical” because they are critical of trans.
Let’s start out with one quote, slid out of tumblr, which I went and visited again for some damn fool reason.
Being trans critical, in my opinion, should be about criticizing the harmful aspects of transgender politics and the transgender movement as a whole. These include things like the promotion of an innate “gender identity,” the push to eliminate female only spaces, the belief that “identifying” as a man or a woman automatically makes you one, the acceptance of gender stereotypes as good and natural, and so on. It should not be about demonizing transsexual people, singling people out to mock on an individual level, denying the legitimacy of sex dysphoria, or casting transition as an illegitimate “choice” rather than a last-resort treatment for a life threatening medical condition.
Most trans critical people aren’t guilty of doing those things, but it’s more common than it should be for people to cross the line. Gleefully throwing slurs like “tranny” and “shemale” around, mocking the appearances of transsexual people who haven’t done anything to deserve it, and describing medical treatment for transsexualism as “mutilation,” are all examples of what I would consider to be transphobic. When I see people do these things I completely lose interest in listening to anything that they have to say and, frankly, any respect that I had for them beforehand.
Now for a take from a different perspective:
Being trans critical means pointing out issues within trans theory and trans feminism. Some critics might call for changes within trans theory, other critics might call for rejecting trans theory. I think allies should be more trans critical.
Examples: “I am not convinced of the limbic-system sex theory.” “I had a lot of trouble accepting my body during puberty, and I’m not sure how my body-image issues differed from their body dysphoria.” “I am convinced that butch flight is real.”
Being transmisogynistic means hurting trans womyn, degrading trans womyn, or supporting social norms which hurt trans womyn. I am disappointed that some other feminists practice transmisogyny in the name of trans-criticism.
Examples: “All transsexuals rape women’s bodies.” “Male to Constructed Female.” “They expect we’d be shocked to see statistics about them being killed, and don’t realize, some of us wish they would ALL be dead.” “Surgically and Chemically Altered Male.”
Now for two others, from the people who essentially started the whole idea of “trans-critical”, and then we’ll get on to my take on the whole concept…
Gender Identity Disorder is very much a mental illness. It causes people to:
— hate their own bodies up to and including a strong urge to cut off perfectly normal, perfectly healthy body parts, take dangerous hormones, etc.;
— be virulently jealous of people who have the body-type they wish they had or think they “ought” to have;
— be completely, self-indulgently, vociferously irrational about the simple facts of reproductive biology, unlike 99.8% of the rest of adult human beings (e.g. demanding that others agree that their penis is “really female” and that their male body is “really a lesbian’s body”, etc.);
— based on my observations, GID also causes people to engage in histrionic manipulation, to engage in obsessive behaviors (e.g. stalking people who reject them sexually, relentlessly following people on-line that they “hate”, spending thousands of hours over a period of decades endlessly obsessing over “gender” presentation) and to exhibit extremely poor impulse control, for example, lashing out with virulent death wishes or threatening/attempting suicide when socially thwarted, and entering into dangerous sex-work, drug abuse, drinking binges, homelessness, etc. rather than successfully adjusting their life-style to fit in with the basic parameters of the working world — a world that millions of (for example) lesbians, bisexuals and gay men manage to negotiate successfully despite our differences from the expected social “norm”.
GID also appears to present with the co-morbidity of clinical depression in a high percentage of cases.
the above is an example of a trans critical post from a blog that pretty much only does trans critical stuff. So that’s very much an example of what trans critical actually is. And here’s a story from another one of the leading trans critical blogs, also an example of what transcritical is in practice.
Who is trans? Who has the right to “gender-bend”? Who has the right to attempt to impersonate the opposite sex? When is trans “authentic” and when is it not?
These issues are coming to the fore as conflicts around the hastily and ill-considered “gender identity” laws which were passed in the last decade become tested by real life application.
Who are the Gender Identity laws- which are being pushed by mainstream LGBT organizations- designed to protect? It’s the heterosexuals, stupid.
In Portland a group of sexual fetishists (heterosexual men whose sexual arousal occurs by imagining themselves occupying the sexual “object” = female) filed a complaint against a bar that refused to allow them to hold gatherings there on Friday nights. The reason? These hetero male fetishists, the “Rose City T-Girls” insisted on using the women’s restroom, reportedly leaving the seats up and pissing all over and generally making the women unsafe and uncomfortable.
Now, these guys make no claim to being “men in women’s bodies”, the standard internal, subjective, self-reported claim which Gender Identity laws are intended to protect. These guys get erections pretending to be female. Do Gender Identity protections force women into nonconsensual participation in these males sexual activities? Yes. And do Gender Identity laws remove the rights of women to privacy in women’s showers, locker rooms, restrooms and other areas segregated by sex for the safety of women from predatory males? Yes. Do Gender Identity laws remove the rights of women to act defensively and “trust their gut” in situations where some creepy dude is imposing himself? Yes.
Do transgender movement activists make a distinction between transsexuals who have undergone cosmetic medical or surgical “treatments” and hetero dudes that get erections pretending to be female? No. Do transgender movement activists make a distinction between individuals that have obtained legal “gender” recognition or otherwise objectively demonstrated a history of persistent internal self-concept of oneself as “the wrong sex” – and hetero dudes that get erections pretending to be female? No.
Let’s face it. Gender Identity is a religion. It is a personal internal belief, completely subjective, unprovable, faith-based. Gender Identity protections protect the right to personal faith and personal belief in stereotypes based on reproductive sex. But religious protections don’t provide the right to stomp on the rights of women. A man may have the right to sacrifice chickens to express his internal subjective faith-based beliefs. But he doesn’t have the right to do so in the Ladies Room at the corner pub. And he must have objective proof of authenticity of his religious belief – such as proof of duration, proof of commitment. He can’t just claim to be temporarily Jewish to force his employers to give him the day off for Yom Kippur for example.
Now, if you see a marked contrast between the way it is described in the first two examples and the second two examples, then you are seeing the difference in the way that “trans critical” is seen by trans people, and how it is seen by the people who cling to the label like it was their last salvation.
Now me, I sit there and look very closely at the whole nightmare that is tied up there. And then, because I want to be sure that I’m showing how *most* of the people who use that terminology mean it, I figure I’ll toss a few more examples out there, just to hammer home the point I make down the road here:
Feminism will be transcritical or…
will not be feminism at all.
If everyone can claim to be a woman,”woman” makes no sense as a category anymore. our opression wil be erased.
i read a text,wrote from a radfem,i guess,saying radfeminism ( a.k.a the only feminism ´cause the rest if fauxminism) should not put so much energy in being transcritical because after all there are not so many trans out there. i say we should put MORE energy on this issue,because of what i said above and because the trans ideology needs to make more trans to keep alive. maybe now they aren´t many,but soon they can be.
Why I am trans-critical
A woman is not something a man can become.
A woman is not something a man can become.
A woman is NOT something a man can become.
Being a woman is having a vagina. Being a woman is menstruating. Being a woman- and I’m talking biologically, here - is having a uterus and ovaries.
Being “female” on the other hand is something different.
But men cannot, should not and will not ever be women.
The quote I posted, to which you are referring, points out that certain interpretations of the transsexual subjective experience do indeed constitute a threat to women because they extend— rather than challenge— patriarchal logic. Specifically, the patriarchal logic promulgated by cultures that have institutionalized (a) male power over women and (b) the idea of women as objects to be owned by the powerful. This logic is very consistent with the traditional transsexual/transgender narrative. Why? Because that narrative or understanding of subjective transsexual experience is that some MAABs arewomen, that they can become women, and that they can literally have (own) female bodies, and can therefore do anything they want to them, and by extension to women as a class (e.g. define female experience and female bodies however they want even when FAABs object, challenge the traditional feminist knowledge and boundaries of FAAB feminists, and attempt to take leading, aggressive roles in our movement).
What I meant by that why I am trans critical post is:
YOU HAVE TO BE BORN A WOMAN. I sould have worded it a LOT better than I did- but you can’t just “become” a woman.
Shouldn’t have put all that stuff in about vaginas. I apologise.
They are using analysis and critique to pointedly bring into question a politics and a movement that is firmly entrenched in and reinforcing of the idea that “woman” is merely something that can be worn like a costume while the real experiences lived by females can be dismissed or erased entirely. By analyzing and critiquing the language, arguments, politics, and behaviors of transgenderism, we are firmly aligned with feminists who critique other systems and institutions that are damaging to females, such as pornography, prostitution, and phallocentric/PIV sexuality.
So what we have, in terms of how trans critical is actually used — that is, what it *really* means, as opposed to what some people would like for it to mean — is that the very idea that transness exists is being examined critical, and in a negative, hostile manner, with a focus on actively ingorning anything that the people whose very existence is the subject of that criticism might say in their defense, unless it can be used to make them look like horrible people.
So, given that is the practice, allow me to quote another trans critical statement that is not from people who claim to be trans critical, but who’s work is decidedly very much in the same arena.
In a California incident in 2008, students and parents were outraged to learn that a female music teacher at Foxboro Elementary School underwent surgery to become a man. Parents were not informed about this so-called sex change in advance so they could remove their children from her class. In addition, the kids were required to refer to her as “Mister.” The school district refused to notify parents about this she-male’s so-called sex change because of “privacy laws” – that is, federal HIPPA laws. By using the privacy laws within HIPPA as a shield, transgenders are seeking to transform laws designed to protect working mothers and those with pre-existing conditions into something HIPPA was never intended to do — push the homosexual agenda. When school districts hide behind HIPPA in order to introduce transgenders into the classroom, the alarms start going off in churches and families across the United States.
The inherent fallacy of a “sex change” operation is simple. A person can have as much cosmetic surgery as they please, but their DNA remains unchanged. Maleness and femaleness remain firmly rooted in the DNA of a person. The very idea that a slight touch-up here or there somehow alters the essence of a person approaches the absurd — unless there’s a government bureaucrat and a federal judge giving a “thumbs up” in the background.
Fascinating, isn’t it?
Those who pay close attention will note that the heart and soul of what Trans critical means in practice — again, in the way that it is actually used, in the ideas and efforts that surround the way that people who claim to be transcritical actually perform the criticism part — will likely see the disconnect between the trans people who talk about it and the people who are, well, just bigots saying they are trans critical and using that to make their statements seem less like what they actually are:
I’ve been threatened before for pointing this out: the book written by Raymond, where all the people who are trans critical find their core ideas about transness and trans people, calls for a moral extermination of trans people — for genocide, bluntly. I’d say that in court, and, given the process of one person (not whom you might expect), I may even find myself doing so.
The kind of stuff that is claimed and said by people who say they are trans critical and that is defended as being trans critical is that exact kind of effort that she was calling for.
It uses a moral judgment to make the case for transness being labelled an aberration and stopped from being possible — look at the stuff above, once more. We have people saying that trans women are not women. That they are predatory. That they are violent and terrible — and the small handful of perhaps 500 people the world over who are brutally active in this have created sites in all manner of ways and forms that basically take the time to call out trans people for anything that they can claim a moral leg to stand on over those trans people — and by extension, all trans people.
Which tells us, at least a little, why the initial two quotes strive to make it into something other than that.
Now, there are ways to criticize aspects of trans culture, things about the ideas that some trans people have, and so forth that could be called such, but at this point, to use that terminology is very much akin to using the term tranny.
Say it, and people know right off the bat that you are, no matter what you claim, a complete and utter bigot who has serious issues with trans people and transness.
Now, I’ve run into this “trans-critical” commentary in other places — it begins, as most ideas do, to take on a life of its own. Which is fine, in and of itself, but at this point in things, the meaning of the concept trans critical is to be critical of trans people.
But even if the idea was to be critical of transness, it is going to run into the problem of it being widely considered as a factual concept that transness is innate. And not just by trans people.
How it is innate, no one truly, really knows — there is some aspects of biology involve,d but it is not a simple thing and it is not easily determined or tested for.
I’m not above pointing that out, but I’m also not above pointing out that walking down the path of essentialism that’s there is pretty fucking stupid, because, in the end, it is biological essentialism.
Comes in handy in arguments on that realm (“Born female”), but then you are using two really fucking asinine arguments against each other, neither of which has any real value intellectually. Essentialism is avoided like mad even by biologists, who know far too well how stupid that argument is and how long ago all arguments based on that were pretty much shut down.
The same thing, by the way, applies to evo-psych. At the very core, arguments which rely on something being “biological” or physiological are deeply, deeply flawed when it comes to dealing with people.
Cats, too, probably.
Once you step out of that realm, however, you find yourself on ground that hasn’t been well tread, that isn’t as pretty and simple and “clean”, and above all else, those people who are trans critical are looking for and seeking something clean, and sharply defined, and will, ultimately, contort themselves into all manner of fashions to prove their points, with moving the goalposts just the start.
What’s moving the goal post, you ask?
It’s “special pleading” — creating exceptions when a point is shown to be wrong. For example, the statement “All women are born with Vaginas”. Well, not all women are born with vaginas. Point that out, and they say “well, all women have a cervix” and so forth — constantly moving the point at which they appear to accept being wrong further and further out.
That is also a no true Scotsman fallacy, so things like that give you a two-fer on the stupid scale. And in these kinds of arguments, you run into stupids a lot.
Trans-critical arguments are also not truly critical — they are, almost uniformly and no matter how one sees them, emotional pleadings. That is, they have no link to logical truth, they are all about the emotional feel of something.
Like the Republicans who were all swearing that they won and even spending 25,000 donated dollars on fireworks the day of the election, or Karl Rove who was on FOX news saying that he didn’t believe in the models and the tools that FOX news was using to call Ohio for Obama (after everyone else already had), for them it is all about the emotional argument that is in play at that time, the way they feel about it, the way they believe.
I often say and stress that Belief isn’t what I argue on. I argue on facts. What I believe may guide me down the long haul (and is important, because I look to the future), but getting there requires me to use facts, and reason, not what I believe.
that is the luxury of those who have genuine privilege, not false privilege. The luxury of those in a position of a dominant class — and those not in those classes who have been fooled by the others.
So remember this when you see commentary by people who call themselves “trans critical — even if they are trans.
Critical thought doesn’t rely on emotional pleadings. Critical thought doesn’t present scotsman fallacies. Critical thought doesn’t move the goal posts or false causes or slippery slope arguments.
Trans critical, in practice, isn’t’ critical at all.
It’s just being a really big fucking asshole.