“The phenomenon of the drag queen dramatically demonstrates such boundary violation. Like whites playing “black face”, he plays at incorporation of the oppressed role without being incorporated in it.” Mary Daly, Gyn/Ecology – 1978
Three months ago, ABC news editor Don Ennis walked into work in a dress and a wig and told colleagues he now wanted to be called Dawn. At the time, he said his “female identity” had been ‘a soul-crushing secret’. Now, apparently after a bout of amnesia, Dawn has decided he is, in fact, Don after all.
Don Ennis is a white, middle-aged, middle-class male – in other words, he is a member of the most privileged of social classes. One of the arguments frequently propounded by supporters of MtT* is that no man would *choose* to become a member of a lower social class, ergo – so the argument goes – feelings of being “a woman trapped in a man’s body” must be real and involuntary.
Some opponents of gender (and thus transgenderism – without gender, there is no transgender) counteract this argument by pointing out the autogynephilia associated with men who like to dress as women – that is, that such men derive erotic pleasure from the thought or image of themselves as women. This view is substantiated somewhat by the selfies (i.e. self-taken photographs) some men post of themselves on social media sites, in which they are posing provocatively in frilly underwear. Is it such a stretch to imagine that autogynephiles also derive erotic pleasure from their new, lowly situation in life as a ‘member’ of the oppressed class known as women?
It is my contention that this is one reason why a white, middle-class male “transitions” (i.e. takes on a ‘feminised’ appearance, adopts a ‘feminine’ name etc). First, the very act of thinking of themselves as a member of the submissive class arouses them sexually (some men derive such sexual pleasure from submission that they pay a small fortune for some women to ‘dominate’ them). Secondly, if a white, middle-class man suddenly claims (as in the case of Don Ennis) that he is a ‘woman’, he automatically shifts from the most privileged social class to one of the ‘most oppressed’ – that is, the class of people known as MtT transsexuals. This shifting of class status, this swift movement from the very top to very near the bottom, suddenly gives the white, privileged male the chance to claim ‘oppression’, ‘prejudice’ or ‘bigotry’, probably for the first time in his life. He can now claim solidarity with other oppressed people in society, with people of colour, with disabled people, with prostituted women (whom he will euphemistically term ‘sex workers’) and in doing so he can garner sympathy from third-wave feminists and liberals who have bought into Queer theory.
It is quite a trick that the white, middle-class male plays. He can now claim to be even more oppressed than women – after all, so the argument goes, women who were born female have ‘cis privilege’ – that is, their “gender identity” accords with their biological sex. They are ‘privileged’ because they have the vagina, the breasts, the womb, the ovaries. They are ‘privileged’ because they menstruate. They are ‘privileged’ not to have male-pattern baldness.
Radical feminists wish to deconstruct gender – that is, we wish to do away with ‘masculinity’ and ‘femininity’. Radical feminists believe that gender roles constrict us all, female and male. If there was no gender, if there was no ‘masculinity’ and ‘femininity’, men could wear dresses to their hearts’ content. In a post-gender world, there would be no such thing as ‘trans gender’. There would be – as there has always been – females, and males, and a small number of intersex people. In a post-gender world, all these people could ‘present’, or dress, exactly as they wished without fear of discrimination.
The problem with pandering to MtT – whether autogynephiles or otherwise – is that in doing so other people suffer. Women and girls suffer because the misogyny they face is relegated to second place behind the sufferings of the MtT, who will claim ‘trans misogyny’. I am not suggesting that MtT do not face homophobia (if they do not ‘pass’) or misogyny (if they do). I am not for one minute condoning either. But the man who has been born as a male, brought up as a male, socialised as a male should not claim that his experiences of discrimination in any way match the discrimination faced by the person born a female and brought up under the cloud of misogyny. Unfortunately, all too often such men do claim just that (which in itself is a form of misogyny).
The problem with pandering to MtT is that male-bodied people are granted access to women’s facilities, such as changing areas, public toilets, and even shelters for vulnerable female victims of domestic violence. This places greater importance on the MtT’s “gender identity” than it does on the comfort and safety of women and girls. Do you see how pandering to “gender identity” directly places women and girls in harm’s way? Do you see how, if gender was abolished, women and girls would not be put at risk in this way? (Someone asked me recently why I don’t feel so strongly about FtT using men’s facilities. Well, as you appear to have been living in cloud cuckoo land, allow me to enlighten you: men rape; women don’t.) There is no need for a male person to use the women’s toilets when there are perfectly adequate men’s facilities just next door. If biological sex was the determiner of who uses what facilities, males would be in the men’s room and females would be in the women’s. As it is, “gender identity” is increasingly becoming the determiner. This means that men like Don Ennis can claim to be a woman one day and thus be granted immediate access to women’s facilities. That’s it. Nothing else is taken into consideration. The “identity” is the determiner. The “identity” is everything.
Don Ennis, as a man, was using the male facilities. When he decided to “identify” as a woman he began using the women’s facilities. Now he “identifies” as a man again and is back to using the men’s facilities. Is this not the epitome of white, male privilege? The knowledge that his “gender identity” will be pandered to come what may? The knowledge that he can not only “identify” as a woman but in doing so he can claim membership of an oppressed group? That in purposefully placing himself in the oppressed group, liberals – feminists and otherwise – will fall over themselves to ensure he is accommodated, even at the expense of girls and women?
Liberal feminists sneer at radical feminists for being trans critical. They reject us. They reject our feminism. They ally themselves with males (trans women) and ostracise other members of their own sex. This is not feminism. Feminism is the fight for women’s liberation. The radical feminist puts her sisters first because we recognise that women are unfairly discriminated against from cradle to grave. If we don’t support each other, who else will?
If a large number of white people suddenly decided they “identified” as black, would that give them the right to claim they were more oppressed than black people? Would they claim black people had “cis privilege” for “identifying” with the colour of their skin? How about if a large number of able-bodied people said they “identified” as disabled – would that entitle them to claim Disability Living Allowance? (More pertinently, would the Department for Work and Pensions pander to this identity by *paying* them Disability Living Allowance?) Would theatres, cinemas and football stadia allow non-disabled people who “identified” as disabled to seat themselves in areas reserved for disabled people?
Of course, nobody in their right mind – not even liberals – would pander to white people who identified as black, or to able-bodied people who identified as disabled, not at the expense of black people or disabled people. They might even go so far as to say those people were being disrespectful, or appropriating. When it comes to men “identifying” as women, only radical feminists recognise this as disrespectful. Only radical feminists recognise this as appropriation. This is because only radical feminists truly recognise women as human beings who should be afforded the same rights and protections as men. As long as men want to “identify” as women, as long as men have their “identities” pandered to at the expense of our sisters and daughters, radical feminists will fight this because men’s “identities” and individual “feelings” can never be prioritised over the lives of women.
*MtT = Male to Trans. Some people use MtF (Male to Female) but I reject this term.