In which I demonstrate on a volunteered document just where radical feminists go wrong

well, my last post actually attracted two radical feminists, one of which provided me this deeply flawed 2-page document which demonstrates a lot of the flaws in radfem understanding and treatment of trans issues. So I figure I might as well pick the thing apart bit by bit, for everyone’s entertainment and edumacation.

**TW for standard radfem fare**

Stereotyping is the act of making an assumption about an individual based on her membership in a specific class or group. The U.S. Supreme Court’s 1989 landmark employment decision, Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins (490 U.S. 228), held that sex stereotyping is sex discrimination:

[i]n forbidding employers to discriminate against individuals because of their sex, Congress intended to strike at the entire spectrum of disparate treatment of men and women resulting from sex stereotypes.

Internal citations omitted.

An employer who objects to aggressiveness in women but whose positions require this trait places women in an intolerable and impermissible Catch-
22: out of a job if they behave aggressively and out of a job if they do not. Title VII lifts women out of this bind.

well actually, those two quotes seem to indicate that consequential action based on stereotyping is discrimination, not that stereotyping is. But so far, that’s close enough.

Feminists do not believe that women are naturally bad at math, but good at cooking and cleaning. We do not believe that women are neurologically, biologically, or genetically programmed to behave in certain “feminine” ways. To support women’s full and equal participation in society, women need strong legal
prohibitions against these persistently damaging stereotypes.

This is where the mistake from above gets compounded. First two sentences are self-evidently true. The last sentence gets tricky. Legal protections against discrimination are pretty straight forward; legal protections against hate speech are at least feasible, if ethically and legally questionable (and in the US, pretty much unconstitutional); but what the everglorious fuck can legal protections against stereotyping possibly be, and how would they work? Rather obvious fact aside that we can’t legislate people’s conscious or subconscious thoughts/attitudes, legislating against stereotype itself would render all American cultural artifacts illegal. Every.Single.Fucking.One.Of.Them. Because no cultural artifact is stereotype-free, especially if we remember that Title VII protects not just against sex-based discrimination but against “discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin”.
Anyway, point being that this is ridiculously fuzzy language, with some seriously fucking stupid consequences as a result.

Gender Identity protections must not come at the expense of Sex

okay…? did anyone suggest otherwise…?

Feminism supports every individual’s right to be gender non-conforming and to have legal protection from sex stereotyping discrimination in employment,
housing, education, credit, and access to public accommodations.

just worth noting that here they acknowledge that it’s sex stereotyping discrimination that must be protected against.

However, advocates who frame Gender Identity as more important than Sex…

“more important”? Just like with the first segment, this is vague and thus can be accurate or not, depenting on where they’re going with it or what meaning they attach to the words/terms in that sentence. but it’s a red flag, for sure.

…reinforce stereotypes about women that feminists have fought against for decades.

citation or it didn’t happen.

GLBT organizations are, in effect, undermining critical civil rights legal precedent by developing a theory of Gender Identity that values gendered “appearance, expression, or behavior” more than biological Sex. No other class of persons seeking protection under anti-discrimination legislation has attempted to intentionally disregard another protected class— until now.

This being the conclusion based on two unevidenced, asserted premises, it’s not worth much. Granted, this is a two-page flier, but since this is the central point of it, it would have helped to actually try to demonstrate that a)Gender Identity is valued higher than Sex*, and b)that protection against discrimination based on gender identity or “gendered ‘appearance, expression, or behavior'” undermines or disregards protection based on the visible physical phenotype.

Feminists are deeply invested in maintaining hard-won protections against Sex stereotyping in the form of legally actionable Sex discrimination. Feminists seek to preserve this precedent without having the same harmful assumptions about women’s appropriate “appearance, expression, or behavior” paradoxically privileged under the guise of Gender Identity.

you’re going to show any evidence, or at least a rational argument, for how protections against discrimination on the basis of Gender Identity would undermine “protections against Sex stereotyping in the form of legally actionable Sex discrimination”, or how the concept of Gender Identity, per-se, implies anything about what “appropriate” behaviors, appearance, etc. for women are? Just making and repeating these assertions isn’t making them any truer or any more convincing…

Feminist analysis of Sex stereotypes, legally actionable Sex discrimination, Gender Identity legislation, and the importance of protecting Sex as a separate legal class.

so we’re going to actually see some proper analysis finally? Thrilling. Except since no one** is arguing against protecting sex as a separate legal class, I’m not sure what’s there to analyze in connection to Gender Identity legislation.

The issue of Gender Identity has taken a prominent role in discussions, organizations, and activism supported by the Gay and Lesbian community.
Unfortunately, it’s not always clear that we have the same thing in mind when we talk about this issue. Feminist opposition to Gender Identity has been widely
misconstrued by those who don’t fully understand our concerns. This pamphlet will explain our objections and help readers engage in more productive discussions about Gender Identity that do not reinforce stereotypes or erase the legal importance of biological sex.

yeah, it’s pretty fucking obvious we’re not talking about the same fucking thing if you in any way imagine that gender identity reinforces any gender-based stereotypes or erases the legal importance of the visible physical phenotype***. I have very little hope that this pamphlet can actually manage to “explain” this false assumption into coherence.

GLBT Organizations have asked state and local legislatures around the country to take up the cause of discrimination against people of trans experience. To
do so, GLBT Organizations have offered up “Gender Identity” to protect trans people. Though familiar to people in the center of the debate, the concept has caused a lot of confusion because it’s too broad.
Prominent GLBT organizations—including the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) and the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD)—support a definition of Gender Identity similar to this one from Washington, DC:

“Gender identity” means a gender-related identity, appearance, expression, or behavior of an individual, regardless of the individual’s assigned sex at birth.

First, it’s not actually DC, it’s Iowa (the quote is from this list), but that’s a minor quibble.
Second, for clarification, I’d like to point out that these are working definitions for a protected class, rather than definitions for Gender Identity per-se. This matters, since this is anti-discrimination protection, and thus a class should include both the thing itself and also behaviors, expressions etc. of/in relation to the thing. so for example, while religion wasn’t defined in title VII itself, a later law defines it as “all aspects of religious observance and practice, as well as belief” (which, if you ask an evangelical, is not the definition of their religion, for example; faith not works, remember? :-p). Most of the definitions at that link go through the trouble of separating the thing (Gender Identity) from other things relating to it, legally speaking (Gender Expression); a few do not, and a few go even further and fold Gender Identity and Gender Expression into sexual orientation, an even more inaccurate grouping. One that doesn’t make sense if one wanted to learn what Gender Identity is (i.e. its actual definition), but might be actually an attempt to pass comprehensive LGBT protection, as opposed to attempting to do it piecemeal; a potentially strategical decision then, I guess.
Anyway, yeah, these are broad definitions, and they are certainly quite varied. One can reasonably quibble about them, their accuracy, their effectiveness, etc. and the specific example provided is “too broad” only insofar as it doesn’t separate identity from expression, the way the nearly identical one from DC does****. But considering the precedent of including not just aspects of a person but also actions and behaviors in class-definitions even when they’re not part of the word definitions, it’s I think a minor quibble.

As of March 2012, at least fifteen American states have passed Gender Identity legislation modeled after this definition (the “Stereotyping Definition”).

um. “This definition” is specific to Iowa. I somehow doubt other states have passed legislation based on an Iowan definition. Also: the only “stereotype” part of that definition is the conflation of Gender Identity with Gender Expression. I’d be very surprised if that’s why it’s labeled so here.

1. The Stereotyping Definition does not define “gender.” If one doesn’t know what a “gender identity” means, how could one know what a “gender-related
identity” means?

true; it should be noted however, that “race”, “color”, and even “sex” are not, to my knowledge, defined in Title VII either; and “religion” was only defined years after the thing passed. I suppose one could make the argument that defining “gender” even when other terms aren’t defined is necessary, better, more useful, whatever… but then one should actually make and support that argument, not vaguely hint at it.

2. The Stereotyping Definition of Gender Identity is phrased in such a way that it intentionally overrides Sex: “regardless of the person’s assigned sex at birth.”

no. English simply doesn’t work that way. Sex (the visible physical phenotype) is simply being marked as a variable independent of and separate from from Gender Identity/Gender Expression. Which it is. What I suspect is happening here is a parsing problem (whether honest or not I’ll leave up to the reader) because of the impreciseness of that regardless. better would be “a gender related identity, appearance, expression, or behavior of a person, which are independent of the person’s assigned sex at birth.”
Nonetheless, even with that imprecise “regardless”, the statement doesn’t override sex any more than the class-definitions for race, national origin, or religion do; those are also “regardless of the person’s assigned sex at birth”, they just don’t say so, because nowhere has anyone ever conflated race, national origin, or religion with sex. Gender Expression and Gender Identity on the other hand are constantly conflated with sex.

No other class of persons seeking protection under anti-discrimination legislation has attempted to literally disregard another protected class.

actually, they all do. Religious discrimination exists regardless of race of the person being discriminated against; national origin discrimination exists regardless of the sex of the person*****. I just explained why this one definition bothered to make that distinction. And I also just explained that the phrase disregards the connection between sex and Gender Identity, rather than disregarding sex as a protective class. So yeah, that sentence is fractal wrongness.

Feminists object to the Stereotyping Definition because Sex has objective physical, reproductive, and experiential consequences for the overwhelming majority of women assigned-female-at-birth

no, not because. The first part of that sentence doesn’t follow from the second.

Sex exists in its own right and requires unique legal protections that Gender Identity cannot explain or represent. Gender Identity cannot replace the legal concept of sex without a significant loss of legal protections for females.

oh look, a strawman.

3. Understanding the Stereotyping Definition depends on understanding how traditional sex roles and stereotypes operate. Enduring sexist assumptions about
women create stereotypes—that we’re softer, gentler, and more emotional than men; that we’re all inclined toward “femininity,” nurturing children, and wearing certain clothing. These stereotypes act as major stumbling blocks to women’s social equality. They especially damage women who don’t conform to them.

The Stereotyping Definition elevates gendered “appearance, expression, or behavior” over bodily reality. Framing gender identity—specifically, femininity—as that which fundamentally constitutes “woman” will not improve women’s social status. On the contrary, this definition of Gender Identity legitimizes as natural the social order created by traditional sex roles. This will ultimately make it more difficult for women to combat the Sex stereotypes that prevent our advancement in employment, education, and political office.

First, understanding any definition for a protective class, be it specified or not, sort of depends on understanding the roles and stereotypes involved. Can’t make sense of race discrimination protection without racism, racist stereotypes, and the harm they do to people within a racist community. Cant make sense of sex discrimination without the understanding of those stereotypes, either.
Second, Gender Identity is not Gender Expression; “femininity” is not a female Gender Identity, so the argument based on that conflation is a fucking strawman.
Third, fuck-all is being “elevated over”, as I already explained.
Fourth, Gender Identity, being an issue specifically because some individuals so thoroughly reject assigned sex roles that they end up being killed for it, cannot reinforce traditional ideas about sex. It’s doing in fact the exact opposite of that.
Fifth, Gender Identity is independent of Gender Expression, since there are femme trans men, and butch trans women; thus, it’s impossible for Gender Identity to legitimize enforcement of traditional gender roles either; which BTW aren’t the same as sex roles, since sex and gender aren’t the same, except in the patriarchal mind.
This paragraph is therefore also fractal wrongness.

We propose this alternative:

“Gender identity” means a person’s identification with the sex opposite her or his physiology or assigned sex at birth, which can be shown by providing evidence including, but not limited to, medical history, care or treatment of a transsexual medical condition, or related condition, as deemed medically necessary by
the American Medical Association.

Jesus.Fuck.
Gender Identity means “identification with the sex opposite her or his physiology or assigned sex at birth” in exactly the same way that sexual orientation means wanting to fuck people of the same sex, and race means being a Person of Color, you bigoted, privileged fucks.
The rest of that definition means that a person can be discriminated against until they have reams of paper s “proving” they’re really trans, a stipulation not present for any other protective class, and excluding people in the early stages of transition (or pre-transition); making this a completely fucking discriminatory definition and thus utterly fucking worthless as a legal definition of a protective class. And as a definition of a protective class (rather than as a definition of Gender Identity per-se), it also potentially leaves the door open to discrimination based on non-conformity with sex stereotypes for the the sex assigned at birth******, and as such it fucking contradicts your claim to be against discrimination based of sex stereotypes

This definition maintains a clear distinction between sex and gender.

so did the other one; you fucking complained about the part where it made that distinction clear though.

It also protects transsexual people from discrimination without legislatively prioritizing Gender Identity over Sex

neither did the other one, you just can’t fucking read.

and without falsely presuming that Gender Identity exists independently of sex roles and stereotypes.

Gender Identity does exist independent of sex and gender roles, and stereotypes. Just because you don’t fucking know what it is, doesn’t mean you get to claim that this independence is “false”.
Now, discrimination against people’s Gender Identities and their choices of expression and behavior stereotypically tagged as gendered would not exist without these roles and stereotypes, seeing as it’s these stereotypes and roles that are gendering these things in the first place. But that’s a separate kettle of fish which this pamphlet ignores and inverts incorrectly.

So yeah. That is why I’m done with radical feminism.

– – – – – – – – – –
*I have a pretty good idea where the idea starts out from, namely that the sex assigned at birth based on the visible physical phenotype is being rejected by trans folk based on the diverging psychological sex; since radical feminists don’t seem to acknowledge the existence of this diverging sexual body mapping, they think that the “real” sex of a person is what they were assigned at birth, and disregard the sex the brain has a map for. This by itself doesn’t lead to “advocates who frame Gender Identity as more important than Sex” in the context of anti-discrimination protection, and less still to “a theory of Gender Identity that values gendered “appearance, expression, or behavior” more than biological Sex”, where “biological sex”, I assume, is the visible physical phenotype; unless CAIS women aren’t women either *snort*. There is a leap of logic here that simply does not follow from any stated or implied premises.

**well; the patriarchy defenders everywhere probably do, but this isn’t about MRAs, Fundies, Republicans, or any of their like.

***were this the kind of blog that liked to commit the fallacy of the Golden Middle and the fallacy of the False Equivalence, this would be the point where I would ramble about miscommunication, and both sides misunderstanding the each other. This is not such a blog, so I’ll just point out that it’s NOT bloody likely that Newt Gingrich knows better what atheism means than atheists do; or that Rick Santorum knows better what sexual orientation is than LGBT people do; and so, it’s not bloody likely that radfems know better what Gender Identity is than trans people do.

****”Gender identity or expression” – a gender-related identity, appearance, expression, or behavior of an individual, regardless of the individual’s assigned sex at birth.

*****because of intersectionality, a lot of people experience multiple forms of discrimination, often interconnected ones: sexism against black women for example is quite different from sexism against white women. so sometimes it would be useful to treat the different protective classes as influencing each other. Now, if the radfems would make an argument that the specific inclusion of the “regardless” phrase in the definition will make it impossible/more difficult to make the argument that sex-based discrimination and Gender Identity/Gender Expression discrimination can influence each other, and thus should be excluded or rephrased as I did above to clarify what is regardless of what, they’re welcome to do so.

******theoretically, discrimination based on sex could cover this. Since it has never done so, it obviously doesn’t cover it sufficiently well, and thus it needs to be covered elsewhere. You might wish it wasn’t so, but if we’re going to be basing legislation on wishful thinking, why bother with protected classes at all? we could just wish for there to not be any discimination at all, after all.

20 comments on “In which I demonstrate on a volunteered document just where radical feminists go wrong

  1. My eyes started to glaze over when reading their quotes, so I agree with your break down — It just sounded to me like they’re trying to say that trans-women shouldn’t get the same legal protections that “real” women get. Am I way off-base with that? I get that trans-women may not, despite their best efforts, have clear physical female characteristics, but so what, they’re still women. And likely to be on the receiving end of discrimination more often than “real” women simply because their appearance can be ambiguous. What are the radfems afraid of — straight men in drag trying to infiltrate their meetings?

  2. Jadehawk says:

    It just sounded to me like they’re trying to say that trans-women shouldn’t get the same legal protections that “real” women get.

    something like that; the surface-level argument is that protecting trans people will take away protections from women, the result of that argument is that trans women would have either no protection, or would have to just through a fuckload of hoops just to qualify for the legal definition that grants protection (unlike any other category)

    What are the radfems afraid of — straight men in drag trying to infiltrate their meetings?

    pretty much, yeah.

  3. David Marjanović says:

    However, advocates who frame Gender Identity as more important than Sex…

    Have you noticed? Together, “Gender Identity” and “Sex” have Three Capital Letters !! *snark*

    CAIS women

    ?

    ***were this the kind of blog that liked to commit the fallacy of the Golden Middle and the fallacy of the False Equivalence, this would be the point where I would ramble about miscommunication, and both sides misunderstanding the each other. This is not such a blog, so I’ll just point out that it’s NOT bloody likely that Newt Gingrich knows better what atheism means than atheists do; or that Rick Santorum knows better what sexual orientation is than LGBT people do; and so, it’s not bloody likely that radfems know better what Gender Identity is than trans people do.

    *slow clap*

    What are the radfems afraid of — straight men in drag trying to infiltrate their meetings?

    And trying to parasitize off legal-and-similar protections for women. “Oh, you want to increase your proportion of female employees? *puts on dress* Look! I’m a woman! You must give me a job now!”

    Strawmen in dresses! Most dread strawmen in dresses!

    *walks off singing “Men in Tights”, the funniest demonstration of gender identity without, well, one particular modern Western gender stereotype*

  4. Forbidden Snowflake says:

    David, CAIS is Complete Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome, an intersex condition which causes a fetus with XY caryotype to develop female external sex organs due to, IIRC, messed-up androgen receptors. They have no uteri and no ovaries, and have vaginas and testes (sometimes descended, sometimes not; in the “not” cases, the patient often doesn’t know of her CAIS until puberty, when menarche fails to come). The cells do respond to whatever amount of estrogen is present, so the teenager with CAIS grows breasts and other typically female bodily features, and no body and facial hair, since those require response to androgens.
    So, CAIS women are women, but with the “male” caryotype and none of the female indoor plumbing, which I guess is why Jadehawk presented them as an example to clarify the definition of “biological sex” as “outward anatomical presentation”.

  5. giliell says:

    I’m wondering if those people have to put their hand in their undies and get a DNA test in order to find out if they’re male or female.
    I mean, I’m cis and somehow I never felt the need to do that, never had a moment of doubt about it, even though I’m wearing men’s undies at the moment*.
    I know that’s more complicated when assigned sex and gender identity don’t match up, but I would always suppose that the person hirself knows best.

    What are the radfems afraid of — straight men in drag trying to infiltrate their meetings?

    A transwoman using the ladies’ restroom. Because they secretly want to sexually assault women. Or probably could. Because…
    Well, I’m a bit confused about that.

    *If you’re fed up with those women’s undies where the elastic gives way after 3 months, try men’s retro shorts. Better quality for less money and damn comfy.

  6. Hmm… Some of their arguments and proposed “solutions” are confused and it’s difficult to find the sense in them, but I do think you’re missing a basic concern. People should be protected from discrimination based on sex (and, as with religion and the other categories, that includes that based on practices, clothing, and so on associated with the group or category), based on not conforming to gender stereotypes, and based on being trans.

    The complications with this last come in the language of “gender-related” expressions or behaviors. I think their concern is that feminists have fought beliefs about essential sex-linked characteristics for a long time, and so they fear that the way these policies are worded potentially serves to reify them. It’s true that talking about gender-related expressions in this way doesn’t specify any expression particular to any sex, but it does somewhat presume that there is such a thing (there has to be some understanding of what it means to “act like a woman” for protections on this basis to have any meaning) and does essentialize it to some extent, or at least leave it open to that interpretation.

    This is a problem for sex in a way that it isn’t for, say, religion or ethnicity. People can be found to have discriminated against a religious or ethnic group because they discriminated against clothing or expressions that are highly associated with that group without the suggestion arising that the association is biologically essential; but gender essentialism is still a huge problem, and talking about gender-related expressions and so on can be read, even if this isn’t what is meant, as conceding that there are behaviors that are inherently sex-based. This is further complicated by the fact that physical sex is an established criterion in antidiscrimination legislation. We want protections against discrimination based on gender identity and gendered behavior added to it, but not necessarily linked to it.

    This brings to mind the chapter in Wilson’s Writing History in International Criminal Trials in which he talks about the problem the ICTR had defining Rwandan social groups for the purpose of prosecuting genocide. They had to determine that Tutsis were a “real” race or ethnic group, and thus protected under international genocide law, but – probably because they feared being understood as saying they were actually a biological race – had difficulties. Wilson discusses the obvious solution, and one that’s in keeping with social-scientific scholarship and legal history: focusing on the ideology and intent of the perpetrators.

    “If the Tribunal were to focus primarily on the perpetrator’s intent to destroy a protected group, then it does not matter whether or not the group in question is an “objectively real” group, so long as the idea of group identification is firmly established in the mind of the perpetrator who demonstrates the requisite special intent to destroy a group in whole or in part, through words and deeds. It is the act and intention of stigmatization that matters, not the object of stigmatization.” (p. 180)

    I assume this is how it works with domestic antidiscrimination law (such that you would still be liable if you disriminated against someone for being gay or Mexican or whatever and it turned out they weren’t), but I’m not a lawyer. Given the real prevalence of gender essentialism and stereotypes as a basis for discrimination, laws or discussions of discrimination based on gender identity should make explicit that when talking about “gender-related” behaviors or expressions they mean as defined by the discriminating party as part of the larger culture and that they are not suggesting that these behaviors or expressions are inherently linked to any sex.

  7. Jadehawk says:

    The complications with this last come in the language of “gender-related” expressions or behaviors. I think their concern is that feminists have fought beliefs about essential sex-linked characteristics for a long time, and so they fear that the way these policies are worded potentially serves to reify them. It’s true that talking about gender-related expressions in this way doesn’t specify any expression particular to any sex, but it does somewhat presume that there is such a thing (there has to be some understanding of what it means to “act like a woman” for protections on this basis to have any meaning) and does essentialize it to some extent, or at least leave it open to that interpretation.

    well, it presumes that people can be discriminated on such a basis, and that it exists as a social construct; both of which are in fact true. in that sense, I see very little difference between protections for “gender-related expressions and behaviors” and protections for racial minorities. Both aren’t biologically real, but both need protection as long as they are real social constructs.

    We want protections against discrimination based on gender identity and gendered behavior added to it, but not necessarily linked to it.

    hence “regardless of assigned sex”

    “If the Tribunal were to focus primarily on the perpetrator’s intent to destroy a protected group, then it does not matter whether or not the group in question is an “objectively real” group, so long as the idea of group identification is firmly established in the mind of the perpetrator who demonstrates the requisite special intent to destroy a group in whole or in part, through words and deeds. It is the act and intention of stigmatization that matters, not the object of stigmatization.” (p. 180)

    aaah, the glories of answering in a long comment piecemeal, instead of after having read it through all the way :-p

    laws or discussions of discrimination based on gender identity should make explicit that when talking about “gender-related” behaviors or expressions they mean as defined by the discriminating party as part of the larger culture and that they are not suggesting that these behaviors or expressions are inherently linked to any sex.

    well, it would certainly make things clearer, but again, it’s not like, in the US, anyone’s bothered to define what “race” is under TITLE VII, or note that race is a social construct rather than a biological reality. Do you think this lack of defining it as a social construct has caused problems? Do you think it should be defined, and defined specifically in such a way that makes it clear it’s a social construct?

  8. well, it presumes that people can be discriminated on such a basis, and that it exists as a social construct; both of which are in fact true. in that sense, I see very little difference between protections for “gender-related expressions and behaviors” and protections for racial minorities. Both aren’t biologically real, but both need protection as long as they are real social constructs.

    It presumes only that to you and me, but that’s not how it reads to people who have essentialist views or are ignorant about race and gender.

    well, it would certainly make things clearer, but again, it’s not like, in the US, anyone’s bothered to define what “race” is under TITLE VII, or note that race is a social construct rather than a biological reality. Do you think this lack of defining it as a social construct has caused problems?

    Yes, I do. The “race is [biologically] real” crowd have made good use of this. “You say race isn’t biologically real, and yet you pass laws to protect people on the basis of race! This concedes that race is real! How can someone discriminate against a race if there’s no such thing?!” I think the lack of explicit statements about its being a social construct and about perpetrator ideology and intent has contributed to many people thinking of race as having a biological reality. The Rwanda case is quite recent, and the people involved are legal scholars, and still the question of defining Tutsis as a race led them into a quandary. I think we can avoid this to some extent with regard to gender identity by being more explicit.

    Do you think it should be defined, and defined specifically in such a way that makes it clear it’s a social construct?

    Yes, I do. Like I said, I think this is the way it’s understood in case law (though I’m really not sure), so such a definition would be in keeping with this. I think it would help to advance public understanding of what antidiscrimination policy does and does not mean with regard to the “reality” of race and gender if this were made explicit.

  9. Oh – missed this:

    hence “regardless of assigned sex”

    The problem is that this doesn’t address the implicit essentialism of
    “a gender-related identity, appearance, expression, or behavior.” “Gender-related” (to anyone with essentialist leanings or who are ignorant about social construction, which is a ton of people) implies an essential relation, not a relation constructed by a culture or believed by a discriminating individual. At the very least, it doesn’t preclude such a reading, which is a problem.

  10. David Marjanović says:

    Complete Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome

    Ah, yeah, that.

    The cells do respond to whatever amount of estrogen is present, so the teenager with CAIS grows breasts and other typically female bodily features, and no body and facial hair, since those require response to androgens.

    Yep, CAIS women even look “more female” than most XX women, because most XX women do respond to whatever small levels of androgens they produce.

    I didn’t know the testes sometimes descend anyway. That must be… confusing to live through. :-S

  11. skeptifem says:

    You would get a lot of different answers from a lot of different radical feminists. I hope no one is taking the word of 2 radical feminists as a voice for all of us. There is a big rift on trans issues in the community. Some of the bigger names in radical feminism (like IBTP, Andrea Dworkin) have anti-transphobia as a part of their feminist philosophy. The people who are transphobic will usually proudly identify as being anti-trans, it may be a helpful way to label such folks.

  12. Jadehawk says:

    I hope no one is taking the word of 2 radical feminists as a voice for all of us.

    as explained in the other thread, I don’t think all radfems are transphobes, I’m simply not willing to defend that movement anymore. It has started feeling absurd to defend radfems to trans women; defending down a power gradient just feels screwy to me, the same if I trie to defend feminism to a black woman disappointed with the racism in a lot of feminism.

  13. David Marjanović says:

    Off topic: I just saw your twitter feed. I’ll be late to the demonstration.

    Still no Internet at home (that’ll come after Easter!), and I didn’t have a reason to go to the museum yesterday.

    Things I like about Germany: 1) The very first comment to the article fulfills Godwin’s Law. =8-)

  14. David Marjanović says:

    Was a rather small demonstration. :-( Lots of loud music, a speaker who read off an endless sheet of paper…

    Best sign:

    “Which is worse:
    O racism
    O transphobia
    X no”

    Scary stories were told. Apparently, in his university lectures, that chief resident dude considers being trans* not just an illness, but explicitly a lower-class phenomenon.

    The whole scandal is probably unconstitutional several times over, breaking the UN convention on children’s rights about 5 times.

  15. Jadehawk says:

    Was a rather small demonstration. :-(

    I was afraid of that *sigh*

  16. A human being is a human being, and all human beings are entitled to the same respect. Just which part of that do people have such a problem with, exactly?

    If you claim that another human being deserves less respect than you, then you’d better have a bloody good reason for claiming that if you want to be taken seriously.

    If you claim that an entire, identifiable subset of human beings deserve less respect than you by sole virtue of belonging to that subset, then I put it to you that it is you who has a problem.

  17. David Marjanović says:

    Perhaps 50 people, I’d estimate; not even blocking the street. Almost everyone around our age. About 5 police officers (who, at least, clearly considered us harmless).

    Sign (English in the original:)
    “I am not a woman
    I am not a man
    I am something you will never understand”

    Sign:
    “Let Alex live”
    I laughed for half a second. Then I abruptly stopped.

    Pink sticker seen on a handbag (English in the original):
    “YES
    MEANS
    FUCK ME

    NO [in surprisingly small print]
    MEANS
    FUCK YOU”

    First lesbian couple I’ve ever seen in meatspace. Impossible to overlook, because – like many women here – they were both quite a bit taller than I.

  18. David Marjanović says:

    *scrolls up* Huh. I actually forgot to mention the guy with the Pirate Party T-shirt who showed up* at the protest.

    I was reminded of the Pirates because the conservatives tried some domain-squatting with them in some town in northwestern Germany. German news feature here. A Social Democratic politician mocked them for being “rather ’90s”, a commenter to the article wonders how Christian this was of the Christian-Democratic Union (as the conservative party calls itself).

    * At least briefly. Not sure if he went away or managed to disappear in the small crowd; I didn’t look for him.

  19. giliell says:

    On the Alex case:
    Fortunately the media got it wrong, she’s not institutionalized.
    The court decided against the mother who tried to win back healthcare custody.
    (Big shitty fuck-up nevertheless)
    Whether the residency custody will be transferred to the Jugendamt, too, which would allow them to commit her to the hospital is another trial.
    From what I can gather from various sources, the problem might be that legally the whole process as such might be OK: People with health care custody are allowed to seek medical care for children and decide what to do together with healthcare providers.
    So far, so good.
    Problem is (among others) that the leader of the Charité clinic for sexual healthcare seems to be a fuckweasel who actually believes that you can reeducate transpeople.

  20. te says:

    after a long wave of inconsequential web shit more random than i am willing to explain, and also it’s like 7 in the morning huh, i happened to come across this article and decided to read it.

    personally, i love this approach to a takedown: unfold every line and every word of it, inspect the meaning, and eventually bridge the by-default gap in opposing parties’ communication to where you can very exactly specify to what you agree and what you reject, in which ways.

    might not help with the aforementioned communication itself, but it’s aesthetically pleasing to me, a feeling i’d describe like that of successfully debugging glitches that are difficult to identify in a test setting. (alas, even in that case some involved component or party may ‘disagree’ so strongly with one that no amount of understanding on one’s part will lead to an elegant resolve for all involved.)

    much like you mentioned in one or another entry about yourself, i used to have high hopes for the whole of radical feminism, until i actually learned about varied ideological basics and figured out that (among other topics of which they’re often “critical”) most of them hate^H^H^H^H^H are ideologically “critical” of me for what i assert to be (a woman) andor for what they consider me (a man). from our similarity in that interest, i’d recommend for you to check out radtransfem’s work (on wordpress and tumblr using that nym). disclaimer: haven’t kept up with her lately or most of the time, really, but that what i did read always seemed apt.

    anyway, the point i actually meant to make was that aside my personal interest in this style of dissection of a text, i’ve also for a while now considered that it might be a valuable resource to refine our own thinking; a thoroughly-detailed critical inspection of writing with which we disagree, that we oppose vehemently, and even our own and each others’ (with which we agree). while being critical is of course always valued, i think there’s space for really sinking into every detail, as well – and that’s seldom done.

    something i couldn’t left uncommented while already contributing, however:

    > ” Fourth, Gender Identity, being an issue specifically because some individuals so thoroughly reject assigned sex roles that they end up being killed for it, cannot reinforce traditional ideas about sex. It’s doing in fact the exact opposite of that. ”

    (oh also the “that they end up being killed for it” is obviously a rhetorical exaggeration, but it’s kind of important to stress that actual risk of murder is either confined to very specific situations (“trans* panic” defence, typically invoked for cis men murderers of trans* women in relation to sexual encounters) and also in these or else too, the risks highly correlate with intersections; such as the fact that trans* women and also dmab trans* people of colour locally are at much higher (indeed actual) risks of stranger violence than white ones such as my self. so i have a feeling that this exact rhetorical is unfortunate.)

    i think this critique is insufficient. as a short prelude, i prefer considering an unspecified amount of differing sex-gender aspects to replace what i consider the less helpful terminology of “sex as opposed to gender” (both are vague categories into which sex-gender aspects are sorted but then conflated intra-category; in most laypeople’s everyday (and often, legal) usages the distinction of “sex as opposed to gender” is either lacking entirely or much more vague; ignoring the previous clause when using specialised definitions allows misgendering to occur via misleading phrasing, to cover the essential basics). okay not so short prelude eh. here goes: considering sex-gender as one complex concept, or as the two sex and gender categories, it might seem unintuitive that so-called “gender identity” (or the similar andor overlapping “sex identity”, “neural sex”, whathaveyou) as used in order to mark non-cis people would contribute to reinforcing traditional ideas about sex-gender.

    however, out of cissexism and cisnormativity, there is actually an associated transnormativity observable, as in, norms that prescribe the “(more) acceptable” trans* narratives. this is known among trans* women of my (radical) perspective, if not by that term, then by the phenomenon that there are some of us with differing perspectives who are, while only perhaps generally conservative, in any case sexist due to buying into traditional sex-gender roles (much like any cis woman might).

    then, as long as they’re asserting their own womanhood, they do reject the traditional ideas about some specific sex-gender aspects and their relation (ie they assert their womanhood despite cissexist designations of their persons and specific anatomical_biological_genetic features as “male” and in that supposedly contradictory to womanhood), but they might otherwise think and act to reinforce many traditional ideas about sex-gender, if other aspects of it.

    worse yet is when, intentionally or by unfortunate wording, any of us (and in particular those with lots of conscious traditionally-sexist ideas about some of sex-gender) communicate assertions of our womanhood by adherence to sex-gender roles or stereotypes for women. at worst fully intentionally claiming such as “proof”. (spoiler: the ideal solution is to smash (reject) the cissexism that puts pressure on us for any “proof” in the first place.)

    and THAT, if it occurs to any degree andor is popularly ascribed to us (if implicitly), is what terf seem to usually be going on about when they criticise “transsexualism” or whatever choice term, as well as the concept of and applications of the term “gender identity”, as reinforcing traditional & oppositional sexism.

    actually something else which is related is that the narrative that “gender expression” or “gender identity” being associated with and ascribed to trans*/transgender terms would pressure “gender-non-conforming” people (usually framed as “non-conforming” to sex-gender roles or stereotypes in behaviour, expression, &c; ie perceived as differently or “less” non-conforming than those claiming conventional transnormative narratives) to consider themselves trans* or transgender. in that regard terfs seem more concerned about (dfab persons they call) “women”/”females” who consider themselves trans* and potentially guys and men, whom terfs consider as misled or whatever.

    hmm, let me try finally to put my main point into words using your here terminology: it’s very specific ‘sex roles’ that are necessarily rejected by a trans* person asserting their “gender identity” in contradiction to their designated “gender identity”. therefore, the same person, specifically in how they are positioned as trans* or in how they claim their “gender identity”, might actually or purportedly act so as to reinforce traditional ideas about ‘sex'(, ‘sex roles’, ‘gender roles’, …) — with the exception of these aforementioned very specific ones. {i don’t know that this gets across my point as well as the previous, and while it is much more concise, i think that’s to do with the terminology as well; either due to its fitting less well, or my lack of understanding of or practice with it.}

    i’m somewhat sorry as what a wall of text this turned out, but i also hope you might appreciate some of it! i’m sensing that the length was helped by my avoidance of writing on the more intricate sex-gender topics for the last several months, due to bad experiences. i’m aware i should get, like, my own blog or something. been working on that somewhat but. hmm. sometimes it is easier to act as somewhat of a spectre. i’m also aware that i am. so. wordy.

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