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Camp Trans Waging War on Michfest September 12, 2006

Posted by angryscientist in About Me, Feminism, Uncategorized.

And now for something completely different.

I think Camp Trans, an organization set up to harass and infiltrate the woman-only music festival held every August in Michigan, is way out of line. It seems not to understand the concept of a boundary, since it insists people once male but now identifying as female should be allowed to crash this festival. This has been going on to some extent all along, but now they dare laugh at the request to honor festival intent, openly demanding a ticket as transwoman. This looks to me like blatant malicious violation of the boundary of a free assembly, motivated by misogyny and perhaps envy. People can identify however they please, but I think it is deception, of oneself and others, for men to claim womanhood through a sex change operation. Sex change is not what is happening. I am no expert on trans matters, identifying as straight androgynous male, but I see loads of hot air, incivility, disrespect, tricky liberties taken with language and truth by trans and sympathizers in this long battle caused by trans determination to invade woman only space.

Consider this thought experiment. If I shaved, maybe with my long hair, I could pass. If I crashed this festival, as these ex-males think is their right, I would be around all these women in various states of dress. Would I be tempted to feast my eyes, or pretend to be a lesbian? I think in this context, trans are spies, intruders, guilty of gratifying male ego and lust at the expense of women paying to attend an exclusive festival away from males, violating the privacy boundary just like any Average Joe harassing a woman. The purpose of this festival is to provide a woman only space for a week of concerts. Maybe transwomen should think about, why is this unreasonable, or too much to ask? How is it you think you have a right to be there? Through surgical and hormonal intervention you may look and sound more like a woman than a man, but technology cannot alter biological sex, previous lived experience, attitude, behavior, depth of understanding and respect for women. You may experience life treated more like a woman than a man, after awhile read women with some recognition of experience, but always from a male perspective you cannot toss aside entirely. That can be balanced or repressed, but not escaped. What about drag queens? Why not, if any guy who feels like saying he is a woman has a right to crash woman only space? I sure would enjoy this festival blindfolded, just for the music, but I find the motives of these minted females questionable at best. I think male understanding and respect for women can only be learned, no high tech shortcuts.

Something on this misuse of science and language called transsexuality will probably get on my blog soon. Camp Trans Waging War on Michfest. Maybe you transwomen who think woman only space is unfair to you can tangle with me there, if you have the nerve to answer pointed questions. I think you have caused enough trouble for women. Their definition of woman is not for males, or once-males, to cast aside, negotiate, or usurp. If you have respect for women, show it, leave woman only space alone!

I posted the above over at the trackback, (if I can figure out how to trackback) which has much more information about what is really going on with all this. I have a correction, and also something to say about male androgyny. I used the phrase exclusive festival away from males. This is imprecise, easily misconstrued. The festival is music by women for women. It is not for male or once male entertainment. Exclusive can have connotations such as rich hideout, snobbish,or by invitation only. Michfest is far from any of that. I meant it to say, exclusively for women. Exclusive is logic jargon, vague, misplaced, superfluous, and liable to be deliberately misunderstood in this context. I should know better than to use loaded scientific terms. I actually wish I could excise it from the post, but that I could only do on this blog. It is too late now, just another lesson in the limits of my understanding. I have learned much from my mistakes, but I know I still have limits, blind spots, things hard for me to learn.

Androgyny is often considered the province of other than straight guys, but some are intrigued, and a few reject outright the idea of some cultural straitjacket of what men can and cannot be. If the assignation of traits to male and female is arbitrary, as is plain to me as a scientist by observing my generation of females, what is the point of going through all the trouble of operations and hormones? Sure it would make a man feel different; the hormones alone would suffice for that. I cannot believe there is no long-term risk of taking sex hormones. Menopausal women learned that the hard way, trusting doctors peddling the miracle treatment.

The point being, men do not have to mutilate themselves to experiment with traits our culture has gendered female, or to learn something about how women think. A man can read a book, or ask a woman he thinks he knows. He can experiment with his concept of himself. Men can be caring, affectionate, open about their feelings. It is such BS that real men must suppress their feelings. Easy way out, lots easier than facing feelings and dealing with them honestly. A man can learn ways to appreciate a woman for who she is, without having to be in control. That has nothing to do with manhood, in my view; being a decent man is a matter of personal honor, integrity, character, civility, dealing fairly and honestly with others. By those standards, I know there are not many good men around. For me, being androgynous means I do not believe in gendered roles except as determined by biology. Motherhood is the primary example, since biological males are incapable by definition. Some biological females do not develop this capacity, but this is not the norm. But women can choose not to be mothers, and mothers can be tomboys too. I have known too many tomboys in my life to believe stereotypes about women, so why should I subscribe to stereotypes about men? The benefits those confer on men are shallow temptations, undeserved power, not worth sacrificing my sense of integrity. I am weird, not like other men, by choice and love for rebellious women.

Another role determined by biology is belonging or not in woman only space. It really does not matter what gender one thinks one is, since gender is intrinsically mostly arbitrary, but not in this culture. Transwomen have pulled other outrageous stunts. One sued a Vancouver shelter for protecting its safe space for women. Nice going, Kimberly Nixon, if I recall. Sure got them back for rejecting you. That was the feminist thing to do? Sounds more like typical spite to me.

I know transsexuals will say, it has nothing to do with anything I wrote. Educate me, why you had to go through all that trouble to reject the constraints our culture puts on men. I will not pretend to understand anything about women trying to become men. My tomboy friends seemed reasonably stable and functional to me. It felt natural, their rebellion against the constraints our culture puts on females, expected to be properly subordinated to male superior wisdom. Such poppycock. Our culture has neither wise leaders nor philosophy, so the world careens wildly toward utter ruin, perhaps the loss of ability to sustain intelligent life. We ought to listen to all the dying canaries, these species going extinct, then take a long hard look at what passes for wise leadership in this culture. It is still mostly male, but those guys sure as hell do not represent me. I am a rebel, an angry scientific heretic, a man fascinated by feminists, but I digress. I cannot say I could reasonably expect anyone to represent me anyway. Maybe I cannot understand, what is the big deal about passing as a woman, unless it is to conquer lesbians. It is easy for me to relate to rejecting the popular concept of manhood. I have my own ideas about that, requiring no surgery or hormones, only hard lessons to unlearn preconceptions about gender omnipresent in our culture. A male trying to take a shortcut to that unlearning has unlearned nothing, in my estimation.

I would never say androgyny is easy for a male, but it would be easier if our culture did not link it with being gay. It may be true that most guys claiming androgyny are gay, but not all. Other linkages do not make it any easier, such as weird, wimpy, pussy, you get the picture. I am weird, but not in those ways. My longish hair is far enough for me on the outside; otherwise I look male. I really could not imagine trying to pass as a woman, except as a thought experiment. I could never recommend being like me, because my life has been no piece of cake, and my weirdness cannot be followed. I will be developing my theory of androgyny considerably over time in the My Theories section.


1. Natalie Rae - September 12, 2006

It is really interesting to read this topic from a man’s point of view! In fact, this is the first time I’ve read an article by a male that understands the need for women’s only space…

2. angryscientist - September 13, 2006

Well, Natalie, that is nice of you to say I understand that need, but it is more like I see the need, and think it deserves defending, since males typically have a big problem respecting women defining who and what women are, setting boundaries. It is that infamous fragile male ego, reacting against what he cannot control. If the right to free assembly means anything, certainly women must have the right to define their safe space, no matter how males, past or present, may feel about it.

3. StacyM - September 20, 2006


Given that you dismiss transwomen as mutilated men in a state of misogynistic self-denial, I’d say your mind is pretty darned closed on the matter.

Nevertheless, I will make four suggestions:

1) Unless you are transgender yourself, you will never truly understand what being trans is like. It is possible for you to understand what it is like on an intellectual level, but you will never understand it on an intuitive level. How do I know I’m a woman? Well, how do you know what the color green is like? How do you know what the color red is like? How do you explain the sensation of those two colors to someone who is colorblind? You can’t. You can describe which objects are generally red and which objects are generally green. However, there’s no way that you can convey the true sense of what green and red are as an experience. I can explain in words what being trans is like, but words will never convey the actual lived experience. Words will never convey the emotions and sensations of being trans.

2) You are not trans, so you have an automatic disadvantage in understanding this matter, just as a straight person has an automatic disadvantage in understanding what being gay is like, just as a man has an automatic disadvantage in understanding what being a woman is like. If you truly have an interest in understanding our lives and our experiences, you will need to set aside prejudice and approach the topic with an open mind. Read and consider the words of those who have lived the experience.

3) The trans community is as diverse as any other community. One person’s perspective does not represent all transpeople. Anyone who exists as an outsider to a particular community will run the risk of forming overgeneralizations and stereotypes about that community.

4) There is a wealth of information at your fingertips on transgender people and the experience of being transgender. Google is your friend. There is also a wealth of literature out there on the topic. Many trans websites have recommended reading lists.

I’m going to say something that many other minorities have said to members of a dominant group: it is not my responsibility to educate you. You have the tools at your disposal. If you keep an open mind and an open heart, you will learn more than you currently understand. If you approach the matter with prejudice and disrespect, you will learn very little.

Just to get you started, I’d suggest visiting Gender Talk’s website: http://www.gendertalk.com/

Gender Talk examines transgender, intersex, queer, and feminist issues in the format of a weekly radio program. There are literally years and years of programming archived there. There’s also a links page for various transgender resourses.

That’s all I’m going to say on this matter.

4. angryscientist - September 22, 2006

StacyM says: Given that you dismiss transwomen as mutilated men in a state of misogynistic self-denial, I’d say your mind is pretty darned closed on the matter.

I doubt you read my post carefully. I do consider transwomen mutilated biological males, but I would not dismiss all of them as being in a state of misogynistic self-denial. However, those transwomen thinking they have some right to crash woman-only space are certainly misogynistic, at least from my point of view. Not only that, but to me, they sound much more like men than women. Since you did not address the issues I raised about Camp Trans or transwomen who refuse to recognize boundaries women define for themselves, I cannot tell if you are trying to distinguish yourself from them. I know some transwomen do respect those boundaries. My post was aimed at those transwomen who think those boundaries are illegitimate. Are you one of them?

Be that as it may, I know plenty about the limitations of language, and I fully understand that I will never truly understand what being trans is like, but I really don’t care. I posted this because I care about women enough to take it upon myself to attempt to help women defend women’s boundaries. I have read enough of the words of those who have lived the trans experience to understand transwomen are a diverse lot. So? Some transwomen anger me, some make me laugh, while others seem to understand there has to be some kind of meaningful distinction between transwomen and real women. Do you?

While it is true that it is not your responsibility to educate me, if you choose to call yourself a feminist woman, I think part of your responsibility has to be to respect women’s boundaries, as women define them, not as other kinds of human beings may interpret them for their own benefit at the expense of women.

5. StacyM - September 22, 2006

If you don’t accept me as a woman—and you don’t—then there is no common ground for us to have a respectful discussion on this matter. This is a very basic part of my humanity and if you deny it’s reality, then you deny who I am as a human being. That’s why I suggested that you spend some time educating yourself by actually listening to the experiences of transwomen.

Given the attitudes and the prejudices displayed in your post, it’s obvious that you haven’t really done this, contrary to your claims otherwise. Your thought experiment and your musing upon why transpeople bother to transition show that you haven’t the remotest understanding of our lives. It’s also among the more insulting things that I’ve read lately.

Yes, I do spend time in women’s space… when I find those few spaces where a transwoman might feel safe. I have no problems with transwomen being in women’s space. Why? Because we’re women. However, that assertion will go nowhere with you because you simply don’t accept that I’m a woman.

You will attempt to delineate the ways in which I’m not a woman or perhaps the ways in which I am different from cisgender women. I will attempt to counter those claims or dismiss their relevance… and around and around we go. Except, that I’m not going to do that. I’m tired of trying to convince people of my humanity and nature of who I am. You’re the one who harbors the prejudice. It’s your responsibility to unlearn it. If you don’t, well, you are merely another voice of prejudice among millions. I’ve heard those voices since I was a small child, and out of the basic need to survive, I’ve found it necessary to ignore them.

6. angryscientist - September 23, 2006

You know, StacyM, your arguments remind me of the transwomen who have virtually destroyed the Michfest board. You sort of answered one of my questions, that you are indeed one of those transwomen who has no respect for women’s boundaries. I never denied your humanity, but I dispute the nature of who you think you are. I find the idea that surgery and hormones can alter biological sex ludicrous, if not outright delusional. Maybe you have a different definition of woman; that is irrelevant to me. It only becomes relevant when you and your smug know-it-all comrades impose that definition upon real women, to claim women should not have a problem with your invasion of their space. To me the issue is not whether you are a woman, but whether you respect the fact that some real women want to have some space to themselves, away from people like you and me. Do you have any idea what kinds of teasing and worse I have been through as a straight androgynous male? Since you claim I am a member of the dominant group without the remotest understanding of trans life, I doubt it. One gay man accosted me on the Berkeley campus late at night, refusing to believe my assertions that I was straight. I had to decide whether to fight him or run. I abhor violence, so when he lunged at me, I ran away, scared out of my wits.

It is difficult to have a respectful discussion with someone who dodges virtually every issue and question I raise. You think I deny who you are. I think you deny women’s right to define who they are. Maybe you should go read a bit on the Michfest bulletin board, to see how drearily familiar your arguments are. You certainly do not sound like a feminist woman to me. I have known enough feminists to sense the difference. I have also encountered plenty of male know-it-alls. Your insinuations of my prejudice are baseless. I happen to find it hard to respect males who disrespect women. You may no longer be male, but neither are you female, not by a long shot, and your disrespect for real women is palpable. You might as well admit you are more like typical men, at least in that regard, than you are willing to recognize. After all, you must know what terms generally describe invasion of women’s boundaries. You did not say if you have a problem with transwomen being in women’s space without disclosing their past. Since you see fit to obliterate all distinctions between yourself and real women, I surmise you see no rationale for such disclosure. That sort of mindset is why I called the trans invaders of Michfest spies. Now they are getting bolder, apparently setting up the festival for a discrimination lawsuit if it denies anyone a ticket.

7. StacyM - September 23, 2006

I just love when people tell a woman that she’s acting like a man when she stands up for herself. How utterly misogynist.

8. StacyM - September 23, 2006

You were born into a male body and you identify as a man. You may be an androgynous man, but that is very different from being transgender.

You are behaving in a way that is classic for cisgender people: you reserve for yourself the right to define a transgender person’s identity in a way that you see fit, in a way that reinforces the majority’s conception of gender and gendered bodies. You assume that a trans person’s claim to their identity is a ludicrous denial of reality. You assume that biology is destiny, that a person can not shift identity from the sex that society assigns at birth. Once a man, always a man. Once a woman, always a woman. In this way, you thoroughly align yourself with the ideologies of the dominant group (cisgender/non-trans people) and wield power just as many member of that group do.

That’s fairly ironic, given that you’ve no doubt experienced gender discrimination as an androgynous man. As one oppressed person to another, I ask that you not limit my life by wielding those privileges you still have access to against myself and others like me.

9. angryscientist - September 24, 2006

Yo, StacyM, do you consider it standing up for yourself to invade woman-only space against their desire? You seem not to want to answer that question about disclosure. I can only conclude, you fully support Camp Trans in their insistence transwomen be allowed to attend a music festival that asks people to honor women’s desire for a safe space to hear women’s music for a week.

I doubt you came here to answer questions, only to pontificate on how you have the right to define yourself as a woman in order to trespass on women’s space. You see, it hardly matters what I think about all this; my ox is not being gored. You are trying to make this about me. It is about men thinking they can have an operation, take some female hormones, then tell women they have to accept these newly minted females as sisters. BS, I say. You have no right to tell women who women are. You have no way of knowing that. This is not about my right to define a transgender person’s identity in a way that I see fit, but about women’s right to define women’s identity how they see fit. I invited you to share your point of view, but you evade my challenges by dismissing me as aligned with the ideologies of the dominant group. Since when are feminists dominant in this society? Oh I know, you think because I am male I cannot align with women. Have you read any of the rest of this blog? Some of your reasoning is so full of holes, I would be toying with you taking it apart. Maybe you don’t realize, I am a scientist, and logic is my specialty.

Also, I think men’s typical reaction to women standing up for themselves is to call them bitches or the like, as opposed to strong, self-confident, or assertive like men. Maybe you meant to say, men think such women are trying to act like men. I think women should stand up for themselves, regardless of what men may think. I have no problem with you standing up for yourself, only when you think that means you can trample on women’s desire for privacy. I am curious whether you disclose you are trans when you spend time in women’s space, those few spaces where a transwoman might feel safe, whatever that means.

What does identity have to do with biological sex? As I said above, the assignation of traits to male and female is arbitrary. You are the one who thinks biology is destiny, else you would not have bothered to try to change your biology. I said whether you define yourself as a woman is irrelevant to me, but becomes relevant when you impose that definition on real women. Don’t even try to make this about me. I repeat, my ox is not being gored. I ask you as an oppressed person, not to add to women’s oppression by disrespecting their boundaries. If you think you are oppressed by real women, I am sorry, I would have to laugh.

10. StacyM - September 24, 2006


11. StacyM - September 24, 2006

You know, for some reason, I just can’t seem to stop coming back here. I thought my previous single syllable post would be my last here. After all, things do seem to be going in circles.

But what the heck, you want some questions answered? I’ll answer one.

Would I announce that I’m a transwoman if I’m in women’s space? Wow, not to be rude, but that’s a really ill thought out question. How likely do you think it would be for a queer person to announce her sexual orientation to a room full of strangers who are most likely heterosexual? I suppose if she was making a political statement, then yes, she would. Outside of that, it’s highly unlikely. I mean, if you’re with a group of strangers, you aren’t going to announce to all around that you are queer. Now, if a person gets to know a group of people well enough, then yes, coming out happens. Being transgender is no different in that respect. (Since I’m a lesbian transwoman, I’ve had experience with both.)

Yes, yes, I know: you think I have some kind of moral obligation to “warn” women in women’s space that I’m a member of the evil trans. At this point, you should be well aware that I think those who label me as a “fake woman” are bigots. When does a person bother to make allowances for the “moral” concerns of bigots? Rarely, if ever. I might remind you that the woman who entered Michigan’s gates this year did announce that she is trans. They sold her a ticket anyway. A lot of folks were unhappy with that, but she did “warn” folks first.

I do indeed spend time in women’s space, bigots be damned. And guess what? I was invited there. Every year, a large number of mostly queer women (and some straight women, too) come to a small town in the US to see women performers share their music, comedy, and plays for one week. Two of the women who run one of the shows invited me to come to the last gathering. So, I did. It was my first experience with women’s space, and it was wonderful. Being one of the only transwomen in town (or so I assumed), I was nervous, but I had a great time nevertheless.

I’m telling this story for a reason, of course. I’ve known the organizers of that show for years. I knew them before I transitioned twelve years ago. They know that I’m not the fire-breathing, misogynistic, sexually predatory, contrivance of science that you think I am. That’s the thing about prejudice and bigotry. When you become personally familiar with members of a hated group of people, it becomes a lot harder to hate them. They take on human form and you begin to see the similarities between yourself and them. You learn that they put on their blue jeans one leg at a time like any other human being.

So yeah, my friends don’t think I’m the horrid creature that you do. They know me. They accept that I’m a woman and they feel comfortable enough with transwomen that they’re inviting a transwoman to perform at a future gathering. I am partly responsible for that. I helped opened that door by simply being myself. Plus, she’s an awesome musician and her music has a strong focus on women’s issues. Go figure.

Here’s something else to consider before you continue your hate and invective. Until my friends invited me, I avoided women’s space. I’ve been aware of anti-trans prejudice in the women’s community for years now. But you know what, after a certain period of time, a person gets tired of crawling on her belly, trying not to offend. That’s why I’m here chatting with you. Until very recently, I’ve never actively confronted the hatred directed against me and others like me. I was curious what the experience would be like. Now I know.

Oh yes, and one more thing: I’m a feminist, too. I’ve helped organize marches for women’s issues and I’ve gone canvassing for reproductive rights. I also spent years standing in front of abortion clinics defending them against protesters. Yes, you think my “trespassing in women’s space” disqualifies me from the label. Whatever.

Goodbye, Angry Scientist. Find another target to direct your petty anger toward.

12. angryscientist - September 25, 2006

Well! Thanks for finally answering some questions, now that you have decided to leave, again! Glad to hear you have some history with feminist activism! This must be the season of the devil. Who brought up evil, horrid, hate, bigotry? You did. You sure make a lot of wild assumptions about how I see things.

You persist in misreading me. Is this deliberate? I have no problem with transwomen in women’s space invited as transwomen. Did I not make that clear? Trespassing and invitation don’t mix. However, you also now openly distort the stunt Camp Trans pulled this year. That was blackmail. If Michfest had refused to sell the ticket, what do you want to bet a lawsuit would not ensue? That may happen anyway next year, when the next phase of their strategy unveils more outrageous schemes to ruin the festival for women who want a safe space. Camp Trans exists to make trouble for the festival. Transwomen have been sneaking in for years, but now they have the gall to be open about demanding entry. To me, that smells like blackmail.

So you seem to respect women’s boundaries, but call them bigotry, so it seems you only did that to avoid offending. Camp Trans has no such compunctions. Women have no right to protect their space, or do they? Are you saying, now you will invade women’s space even when you know transwomen are not invited, because you are tired of not actively confronting anti-trans prejudice in the women’s community? That is what Camp Trans is doing, and you seem to be supporting, though you disavow having had such intentions yourself. You need not bother answering, I think you have made your positions clear enough for me. I may have more to say later.

13. StacyM - September 25, 2006

Oh no. You don’t quite understand. I was invited by my friends to their show, but it’s a town, my dear. A town with different establishments holding different events, run by different organizers—all specifically for women. I went to the other events uninvited.

I just wanted to, as Lisa Vogel says, “set the record straight.” I wouldn’t want you thinking too highly of me, now would I?

Have fun getting angry, Angry Scientist.

14. angryscientist - September 26, 2006

OK, StacyM. I think I get where you are coming from. This last post actually amused me. I am less predictable than you think. At least your position seems consistent. You and your Camp Trans buddies are on a mission I oppose. The main reason I asked all those questions was to get you to clarify your position. I can be curious even about things that anger me. See, I am above all else a truth-seeker. That to me is what science is supposed to be all about. Unfortunately, science has been severely corrupted by the allure of money and death. But that has more to do with this blog than this topic.

15. StacyM - September 26, 2006

During that week, the town was like a microcosm of the larger world. There was one space in which I knew I was safe and welcome: my friends’ show. Beyond that, I hadn’t the slightest idea if the organizers of the other events minded if a transwoman was present. So what do I do? Ask at every event if I’m welcome? How utterly humiliating that would have been.

This morning, when I woke up, it hit me: “These people are not my masters. They are not my betters. I do not need to ask them where I can and can not go.” For over ten years, I’ve worried about going where I wasn’t wanted. Now I’ve finally hit the point were I’m fucking fed up. If some of the folks who run these spaces think I’m just another example of “male entitlement run amok,” I really don’t care anymore. There are so, so many spaces in society that are gender segregated. I can’t live my life worrying about who I might offend if I enter those spaces. I am tired of hiding behind my own fear, behind the wall of exclusion that others construct around me, isolating myself from others like a social cancer. I refuse to live my life that way. Not anymore.

In a twisted way, you have my gratitude, Angry Scientist. Our exchange helped me bring certain feelings to the surface that I had never really understood, before. You’ve helped galvanize my sense of resistance in this matter.

Thank you.

16. angryscientist - September 26, 2006

Oh, the irony. I suppose pushing you to clarify your position could have caused you to clarify your position internally as well. Belief systems are like that; when pressured, they come up with ways of reinforcing themselves.

I wonder how it is you call yourself a woman and a feminist, yet can declare you really don’t care anymore how women who disagree with you feel about you entering spaces they define as off limits to you. There are some transwomen as well who disagree with you, perhaps more than you think. It is not a question of women being your betters or your masters, or you having to hide behind your fears. It is a question of you deciding your feelings and beliefs trump theirs.

17. Myca - October 27, 2006

Angryscientist, what you do not seem to understand is that setting up ‘woman only space’ and excluding transwomen because they’re ‘not real women’ is more or less analogous to setting up ‘human only space’ and excluding black people because ‘they’re not really human’. . .

. . . and then claiming that they’re being offensive when they demand inclusion.

‘We don’t hate black people, we just want white-only lunch counters.”
‘We don’t hate women, we just want men-only businesses.”
‘We don’t hate transwomen, we just want a biowomen-only festival.”

Golly, notice any similarities there?

Just as racism or sexism = prejudice + power, so does transphobia.

Your prejudice is clear, and obvious, and your power manifests as the (imagined) right to dictate the terms of someone else’s identity. You have privilege, and you are exercising it as hard and fast as you possibly can.

In short, you are a bigot.

I hope that you’re able to see it some day, but I doubt it.

18. angryscientist - October 27, 2006

Myca, your analogy is full of holes, as I pointed out to StacyM, who tried to make a similar case. Who is dictating terms of someone else’s identity here, me, women, or transwomen? I think it’s the latter dictating what the identity of woman means. I think anyone born male has no way of knowing what that means, and for a male to renounce manhood, claim womanhood, and call anyone who disagrees a bigot, is presumptuous at the very least, if not outright misogynist. Are you saying women have privilege over transwomen? As I said to StacyM, if so, I have to laugh. I’m certainly not involved in setting up women-only space, or defining what that means, though I am defending women’s right to do that, as they see fit.

I think a more appropriate analogy is some white person wearing blackface demanding inclusion as a true person of color. Ever read the book, Black Like Me? The author found out in a hurry how little he had understood what it’s like to be in the shoes of an African-American.

Be that as it may, I reiterate, my issue isn’t with transwomen calling themselves women, but when they insist women agree with that classification. I think people have the right to believe whatever they like, no matter how foolish, as long as they don’t try to impose their beliefs on others. Camp Trans, you, and StacyM, but not all transwomen, believe anyone objecting to that imposition is a bigot. I throw that right back at you, and in the case of what Camp Trans is trying to do to Michfest, I call it misogynist and harassment as well.

19. Grace - December 25, 2006

“However, those transwomen thinking they have some right to crash woman-only space are certainly misogynistic, at least from my point of view.”

The concept that somehow denying a female brain stuck in a male body access to a woman-only space is *righteous* implies that you have smoked crack.

The simple fact is that — with the extra hate I keep reading from female brains born in female bodies — I have the urge to just abandon any concept of going to the MWMF, simply because *I* would be afraid of the people there.

Any women who fear their sisters because they were raised with privilege really aren’t being sisters at all. They’re being oblivious. Their sisters — trans and otherwise — have been around them for years now, and they’ve been hiding behind the concept that *they just didn’t have to know*.

Fear is a choice, and it’s not knowing. Not knowing, in this case, means hiding from this issue behind the hopeful banner of “male fear”. What about the fear these sisters have lived with, being expected to perform in male roles for their lives, being rejected by sisters like these their whole lives?

I want to feel angry about it. I want to be hateful about it.

I had a very special friend of mine tell me some very beautiful things yesterday, though — so I’m going to try, try, try instead to feel empathy for these frightened beings.

They cannot conceive of *gender* as seperate from *genitals*, and they’re so, so frightened. So they’re scared.

I don’t know how that makes how they treat their sisters okay, but…well, if they feel they must commit such awful things, that’s their choice.

20. angryscientist - December 25, 2006

Grace, your post is condescending and insulting beyond belief, but I suppose that is par for the course with this subject. I think the women you project cannot conceive of *gender* as seperate from *genitals* have a problem with your definition of female brain. You see, to me female means female across the board, no peculiar mistakes of gender because of sex. To me, gender is virtually meaningless. I am androgynous, or did you not bother to read? Sex, however, means a great deal, because I’m heterosexual, and also because I find minds like yours distressingly disingenuously disguised as female, though sounding more male-like from my experience. You have no right to tell anyone what female means, because you are not, never have been, and are deliberately confusing female gender, which is accessible to anyone not totally hung up on how a man cannot resemble a woman in any way, with female biological sex. Women have their own reasons for wanting to retain the prerogative to define what female means. Since gender is indeed separate from genitals, one a cultural construct and the other a physical fact, why bother with surgery? This question people like you don’t seem to want to answer, because it seems you prefer to believe women have no right to their own space separate from men who think they are female.

Also, in my mind, I don’t feel sorry for your fear. To be afraid of those you hold in contempt for irrational and mistaken reasons is understandable. Some of them are plenty angry at people like you justifying pretending to be female, rightfully so. So you think you are more like a woman? Big Fucking Deal! Doesn’t mean diddly squat. Nobody cares, unless you insist women accept your definition of yourself. Guess what, that definition ends at your body. You have no right to force anyone else to agree with you, yet you see nothing wrong with invading a space declared off limits to the likes of you, for good reason. You have your nerve, claiming a higher sense of sisterhood than women about whom you want to feel angry and be hateful. Gee I wonder why.

21. lyssa - January 13, 2007

Gee I wonder why.

Um, maybe it’s because you were abusive to Stacey?

22. lyssa - January 13, 2007

Angry Scientist is only half right, BTW…

23. angryscientist - January 17, 2007

Lyssa, care to clarify? It seems to me you totally missed my point. Why on earth would Grace say, “I want to feel angry about it. I want to be hateful about it,” about being rejected by sisters, because I was allegedly abusive to Stacey? What would that have to do with that rejection? I am male, certainly nobody’s sister! Are you the same Lyssa that posted on the recent thread at womensspace about the trans trainwreck? Whose side are you on, anyway?

24. Kabukistar - March 1, 2007

Angryscientist, I read your post and I like a lot of what you said, but not all of it. Still, I’m reading through the comments and I think they’re pretty sad. So many people who challenge the PC notions of what’s a man, and what’s a woman are so fast to be labelled as bigots by others, and have their points dismissed, ad hominum, without their validity even being considered.

As far as whether transwomen are really women, I think it’s worthwhile to discuss. So much of the debate in here has been simply whether one has a write to label themselves as they wish, and whether others are obligated to accept those labels. How about looking at the validity of the labels, themselves, people?

25. angryscientist - March 3, 2007

Transwomen can say they’re really women; whether that is a valid label depends on how they define women. I wouldn’t define them as women, but my definition isn’t really the issue at hand. The problem arises because some transwomen think they’re indistinguishable from female women, or should be recognized as such by females; those refusing are deemed oppressive or bigoted. I’ve read radical feminists saying women are a class delineated by how men treat women. By that definition, transwomen are women, but not female, or as another man I’ve read defines them, transwomen may adopt gendered traits culturally defined as female, but are factually male. I’m paraphrasing, but I think I got the gist of those definitions.

Another curiosity of the trans phenomenon is, at what point does a man become a woman? Is the line of demarcation physical, mental, or both? If it’s purely mental or a matter of identification as female, why bother with surgery? The thing that gets me, people are so skillful at deluding themselves, they can convince themselves of anything with no resemblance to reality, and their thoughts will go merrily along reinforcing the delusion! If that sounds outlandish, look at the people who still believe the war in Iraq is justified and winnable!

26. Nick Chaleunphone - October 24, 2007

This is so good that I am posting this on my KS blog because as someone who is intersex and has Kallmann’s syndrome, i am often called a bigot and branded as a trans phobia because of my stance against transgender in intersex only space and the invasion and infiltration of the transgender in intersex space.

My theory also, is that the transgender will also use the intersex label as an excuse to explain away their behavior and lifestyle and even make the claim that their intersex also and demand to be part of the intersex community with they do not have a genetic medical condition to begin with.

27. Sara - October 25, 2007

I’d like to know your stance on those intersex, angryscientist. Those whose sex is not totally clear because of genitalia and/or gonads and/or hormones (levels and/or resistance, naturally) and/or chromosomes and/or other genetic factors not currently known (and believe me, a lot are unknown).

Some are raised as males, some are raised as females. The majority (depends on condition, but 75% maybe) are happy with the assignment, more or less, or at least, would not transition. 25% would or have transitioned. That’s a pretty high number isn’t it?

You seem to think that transsexual women transition to be able to have female gendered traits…but it’s to have a female body, they can be masculine or feminine as much as they want – it is the body, primarily, how it feels and this is an unnameable feeling, that one which can’t be put into words.

Many intersex individuals are not diagnosed, neither at birth, as a child, in adolescence or as an adult, and transition and get surgery. They never know of their intersex heritage, but it’s there nevertheless, in their genes. Some get to know before or after they transition.

And it was postulated scientifically, as was said above, that transsexuality may be a result of a part of the brain that reflects SEX-identification (not gender). It has been advanced as an hypothesis with two such studies, but however, the samples were small (the results were very valid in terms of probability, and the control group only enlarged and confirmed the assertion posited at first). There needs be more studies, as those studies may still leave doubts as ‘Does GID cause the brain change?’ or vice-versa, but the fact is, there was a proven physical difference.

By the way, I am intersex and transitioning to female, a combination Nick above finds ‘impossible’ (I found your blog through his and discussed with him at length). I was raised as male, have no sisters, and am the oldest of four (three younger brothers).

28. angryscientist - October 26, 2007

I don’t really have a stance on intersex, other than to distinguish intersex from transsexual. Intersex to me means someone with an extra chromosome, or reproductive biology opposing the normal expression of sex chromosomes. I don’t know what you mean by sex-identification. Sex to me is totally biological, nothing to do with identity at all. Gender to me is nearly totally artificial, how culture defines the normal personality as correlated with sexual biology. I am undoubtedly male, but that doesn’t mean I identify with males. As a straight androgynous man, in some ways I actually relate better to women, and most of my friends have been women. I think transsexuals often get sex and gender mixed up. I.e. I don’t think transwomen transition to have female gendered traits, since transitioning isn’t necessary for that, whereas many transwomen do seem to think it’s necessary, or at least they’re feeling some conflict between their bodies and their gender identification. That conflict, from my perspective, is all culturally induced.

I.e. I see it as impossible for a person with XY chromosomes and normal male sexual biology to transition to a female body, regardless of what is going on in his brain. That to me is a blatant contradiction in terms. Transwomen may look female and feel like what they imagine females feel like, but the look is cosmetic and the feeling is in their heads. Neither can make them female, yet some of them feel entitled to crash space designated women-only. Typical male sense of entitlement, that, the way I see it.

29. Sara - October 26, 2007

I have XY chromosomes, functional testes, but a resistance to testosterone. Raised as male. The condition is called Partial Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (and in my case, with male phenotype, not ambiguous genitalia).

Sex is totally biological, sure. But identification plays a part. It’s not ‘feeling like a woman’, but rather ‘not feeling like a male’ (sex, not gender). Gender may play a part, but it would not be the #1 reason, or the lone reason for someone to transition. If it was, they probably would come to regret it for reasons you named above: that of already being able to express masculinity or feminity independantly of the body.

This anti-feeling of identifying to a certain sex can only be characterized and experienced by someone who experienced dyssonance between their body and their bodymap, in their brain. Much like an amputee will have ghost-feelings in removed limbs, because their brain knows a certain part should be there, transsexual and intersex people who transition will have such a feeling that tells them their body is somehow not aligned with their brain’s bodymap. This causes gradually increasing anguish, not always attributed either in part or as a whole, to gender roles. Gender roles can be a factor that limits or constrains this desire to right the wrong (for example, a masculine transsexual woman may feel ‘ok’ as a man, at least for a time, because things she likes are sanctioned. Others will try to hide or squash the feeling by being the most stereotypically like a man, to make it go away…none have succeeded. Some will keep in pain as an affirmation of solidarity to others, some will to not lose any and all things they built during their life, that they very well may lose if they do transition (the pain could be greater, or too much to handle).

I’m infertile, and had absolutely no sexuality before taking hormones, I looked rather androgynous and lacking puberty (most of it). I was feminine, yes, but I could have lived with that as is if it wasn’t for other things. Other things which brought me on the edge of suicide.

You express a sentiment that ‘real women’ feel in a certain way, and I’d like to ask you; what does someone feel like that you can know, besides your own feelings? Women can’t know what it feels to BE a woman in the essence-of-being-a-woman sense, even if their experience differs from transsexual or intersex women. They have a particular experience, which can be described in feminist terms, as having been socialized as female, or as women – but this isn’t a feeling of belonging to a certain class of humans by an indescriptible sense of identity to femaleness, or female essence.

Also, being a woman is more than having female characteristics in biology (like childbirth), as a lot of women either don’t want or cannot have children. They are still women. Having XX chromosomes or ovaries is also not a requirement, as many AIS women could tell you.

The criteria for being recognized a woman at large is having a physiology that is recognized as more or less belonging to the class of woman. Not necessarily through stereotypes, as many such characteristics (like breasts) simply grow as a marker or female-hood and I doubt people would consciously choose to prevent their breasts from growing in order to take a political stance against gender roles.

30. Sara - October 26, 2007

Oh and you might want to inform yourself on mood-elements associated to hormones. Depending on the individual, testosterone and estrogen may cause very bad feelings because of their presence (to a high enough degree) alone. This is why some XXY individuals (most raised male) choose estrogen instead of testosterone, some transition, some keep in an androgynous state.

31. angryscientist - October 26, 2007

Sara, to my way of thinking, you are intersex and trying to draw analogies between yourself and transwomen. I don’t think your analogies are valid. Besides, this entry is about transwomen, not intersex. Camp Trans is trying to get people I would consider males unhappy with the male gender role into Michfest. That’s what I’m objecting to. You may have objections to my theories about transwomen, but they aren’t meant to apply to intersex individuals. You seem to be trying to argue with my statements about transwomen from your point of view as intersex. I don’t know if you have any more standing to know how transwomen feel than I do, since neither of us is a transwoman.

The essence of being a woman may be indescribable, but that doesn’t mean it’s meaningless or nonexistent. It isn’t valid to invalidate a feeling because of the limitations of language and logic. Transwomen have certain things in common with females, and certain things in common with males, but they’re not identical to nor indistinguishable from either sex. This is the reality many transwomen seek to erase. I object to that, strenuously. But right now I’m kind of busy and not sure where this discussion is going, if anywhere. I’ll just reiterate, this entry is not about you or intersex, and I get the feeling you’re trying to make it all about you.

Also, this culture causes very bad feelings in me. That has absolutely nothing to do with my hormones or biology. I have to wonder whether this great pain transsexuals complain about has anything to do with biology. They claim it does, but I’m dubious, just because of my own feelings, and things I’ve heard from friends.

32. Sara - October 27, 2007

Not having a formal diagnosis and following the same transitional path (hormones, surgery) as a transsexual, many would simply consider me a transsexual (well if they knew). So yes, while my experience may very well be different from a transwoman, I’m mostly seen as the same. With regards to Michfest, I would not be accepted either, since I’ve not ‘lived my whole life being seen as a girl’.

In women’s shelters and women-only space outside of Michfest, it would be debatable. Pre-surgery I may be refused, post-operative, probably not, as they won’t have anything to consider me a man anymore (I don’t look masculine at all). But that transwomen be refused in such spaces when they need said spaces, I find stupid.

The Kimberly Nixon case basically made it case law that a transwoman could be refused for being transsexual if the larger group (women) decides to. It could be said that a catholic group could also refuse gays, divorced people…and transpeople, because they do not fit their moral values…and since you can’t do a thing against private institutions, that’s fine then…but a public one, I’d have to say no.

And considerably in the same category is the bathroom issue. Transwomen are considered, for bathroom use, as either men or non-human, until the employer decides it’s ‘Ok’ to allow them (which may be post-op or later), causing a great deal of trouble to transwomen and making their bathroom usage subject to popular opinion. I’m sure you don’t need to ‘ask for permission’ to use the men’s bathroom (at all), do you?

33. angryscientist - October 28, 2007

Sara, there’s one point you seem insistent on missing. Women are an oppressed group. They are oppressed by men. This is not changed by a male deciding he can’t stand his body and wants to be accepted as a woman. He is still part male, and doesn’t belong in women-only space. Period. Catholics aren’t an oppressed group, at least not in comparable ways. There’s some bias against Catholics, but they have plenty of power and influence in this society. Their situation is more like other religious minorities, Jews for instance, who face plenty of bias but have more power and influence than their numbers might lead one to expect. You insist on making analogies I’d have to call stretched, at best. That women are a large group, actually the majority of the population, doesn’t have any impact on the fact men oppress them, as a rule.

Kimberly Nixon crashed a women’s shelter, wasting tons of their time and money. Nixon had no right to do that, but felt entitled to anyway. Why? Plastic surgery and hormones don’t alter sex nor the fact that women are oppressed by men and by people like Nixon. You keep talking about all the trouble undergone by transwomen. What about all the trouble they cause women? I see transwomen, and you in their defense, engaging in evasion, obfuscation, and a double standard to serve their interests at the expense of women.

34. Sara - October 28, 2007

Transsexual women are also oppressed, that you may seem to forget. Both as trans and as women.

As for Kimberly Nixon, I can understand a policy based on appearance, but trying to disguise it as a differing experience is a bit stretchy, for the shelter. They argued in courts that it was because she “did not have the experience of being born and raised a girl”, but it’s pretty obvious to anyone that she was simply seen as too masculine-looking. The bona-fide requirement of not looking too masculine to not trigger victims, I can understand, you see, although I think it’s discrimination, that one may be valid for the type of service they offer.

For example, I could go there, post-op and they’d never know. And unlike Nixon, I didn’t get to ‘take advantage’ of my male privilege, not for career, financial, social and what-have-you gains, seeing as I’m an unemployed, poor woman, mostly alone with few friends (in person) and in my job searching, my being male actually played against me for employers.

I’m not working for a variety of reasons, currently (I’m not considered disabled), and some of them include the fact that working for an employer implies immediately outing me by my name/sex/appearance mismatch to the employer and/or HR personel, it also includes a lack of formation and experience for specific work. I’m not really attractive to be hired, for an employer, though that does not mean I couldn’t find an employer who would hire me. But it does mean dealing with highly probable stupidity at work, with co-workers, with the boss(es), with clients (if/when word about me gets out, and we all know confidentiality is a fragile thing when its tied to that)…and I doubt I have the strength to face it now.

I’m recovering from a suicidal breakdown, I don’t want it to reoccur.

35. angryscientist - October 29, 2007

I’m not forgetting transwomen are oppressed, but that gives them no right to take it out on women. Do you think Vancouver Rape Relief should also have to serve gay men? If not, why not? What makes them so different from Kimberly Nixon? I’m no expert on that particular case, but your assertion that VRR, in their arguments why Nixon was not accepted there, was “trying to disguise it as a differing experience” is really stretched. What disguise are you talking about? Do you really think Nixon has had comparable experiences to women, or that the differences are irrelevant?

Yeah, maybe you could go there, though given your attitude, I can’t imagine why you’d want to. I don’t know what their policy is on intersex. If you went there under false pretenses, wouldn’t that bespeak a lack of integrity?

I don’t know if you’re playing for sympathy, but if my comments are aggravating your mental state, maybe you should let this drop!

36. Sara - October 30, 2007

Are you seriously suggesting that transwomen and gay men are the same thing? Maybe you also agree with Bailey’s book, “The Man Who Would Be Queen” even though it’s irked quite a few non-trans feminists (as well as transwomen, feminists or not), and not because it rings true, but because it purports to squarely insult and diminish transwomen’s struggles, it’s also based on entirely faulty research. It’s been considered junk science by basically the rest of the academic community who has to do with it, including Milton Diamond.

I’m saying there is no way to quantify or compare the experience of all women or attribute them an essence (just as the same is true for all men, or any other class of people). There is no way to know someone has the same, or a different experience. The fact is: I don’t know Kimberly Nixon, and I doubt you do, either.

The policy being about experience instead of appearance wants itself to be righteous and valid, but there is no way to know for certain someone ‘does not have that experience’, unless they tell you, or you suspect it by a physical difference.

I surmise that the only way they were able to tell about Nixon was from her appearance, and nothing else. Would she have appeared more conventionally feminine, they would never have known, or had anything against it.

What false pretense? I’m not interested in rape-counselling because I’ve never been raped (I don’t mind helping, but I’m not familiar enough with the idea), but I understand Nixon has (and has sought similar services herself not long before she volunteered).

The suicidal breakdown occurred between 2000-2006, I feel much better now and it’s not discussing in itself that would affect me. It’s finding work where my intersex and transitional status would come to be known (because of unchanged documentation), and having to defend myself constantly against prejudice, at work (and everyone knows that work can be a touchy place to debate, and that debating with clients, for example, is frowned upon).

It seems you would like to paint anyone who transitions, wether trans or intersex, as ‘mentally challenged’ or not understanding or owning to who they ‘really’ are. Most such people are fixing what is perceived as a mistake and that which NEEDS to be fixed, to even survive. It is no game, it is no invasion of someone’s space, it is survival. You seriously think a man would get rid of their male appendage to be a nuisance to others in itself? You think most men want to get rid of their genitals? Maybe some would not mind being neutered, but most would rather keep their equipment.

They see no urgent need to survive in changing their genitals, and I can understand that you are in this position yourself (as well as anyone not-transitioning would). The experience of being trans or intersex cannot be understood so easily, for anyone non-trans or non-intersex, because the feeling does not go well in language. There is a similarity between trans and intersex, including the obvious: some who transition are intersex (and know or don’t about it).

A 7% ratio of transitioning for intersex – compared to a 0.1% ratio for the general population…oh yeah, just 70x higher, that’s nothing huh?

37. Nick - October 30, 2007

This is why the transgender community are making trouble for women’s groups and community. It’s also why I am fighting the transgender because they way the transgender and their trans activist are doing to the women’s groups, i’m fighting to keep intersex separate and intersex space only.

It’s the same in intersex groups also. You have transgender who are messed up and get this idea in their head that they can call themselves not only trans, but intersex just because they think or assume they know or can identify how intersex was born or raised. You have trans activist and the trans community trying to crash into intersex groups and space because they think that their intersex when they know that they are not and they do not have a genetic medical condition to begin with.

I see it because the Trans community and activist are using the intersex label as an excuse for their thinking, behavior and lifestyle. They are trying to use intersex to explain away what they when infact they are not intersex at all and they do not have a valid genetic DNA condition to begin with.

38. angryscientist - October 30, 2007

Sara, you seem to have something in common with transwomen who’ve posted on this thread, in that you persist in distorting what I’m trying to say. Obviously gay men and transwomen are not the same, but I think they also have things in common, and neither has any right to demand rape counseling services, or to be a rape counselor, if the center defines itself as serving women only.

I mentioned that about going under false pretenses because you said if you went there post-op, they’d never know. As I said, I don’t know what policy VRR has on intersex, but if they did have a policy against serving intersex (which I consider highly unlikely) and you didn’t tell them, that would be under false pretenses, much as transwomen invading Michfest without disclosing they are trans are going under false pretenses.

This is blatant distortion of what I’ve said:

“It seems you would like to paint anyone who transitions, wether trans or intersex, as ‘mentally challenged’ or not understanding or owning to who they ‘really’ are

I’ve repeatedly distinguished between trans and intersex. I don’t understand why you obfuscate that, unless you’re deliberately being disingenuous. Obviously a much greater percentage of intersex “transition,” though I’m not sure what you mean by that. The whole point of intersex is having indeterminate biological sex, so what does it mean to transition? To me, intersex people choose one sex over the other, as opposed to transitioning from one sex to the other. Transsexuals, on the other hand, can’t stand being what they are, so they try to change (futilely, in my opinion) to the other sex.

You say there’s no way to quantify or compare the experience of all women or attribute them an essence. Maybe you can’t understand a way to do that, but I can. There may be no way to describe such things, because they are subjective and immeasurable, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Language and logic do have their limitations, though many males, trained to be linear and logical and to discount ineffable feelings, have trouble conceiving of what those limitations might be.

A whole lot of things in this world need to be fixed. I don’t buy the argument that transsexuals need to undergo plastic surgery and hormones to look like the other sex in order to survive. They may think so, but I think they really don’t understand what their problem is.

Nick seems to think many transwomen disrespect intersex people as well as women. If that’s true, and I’ve no reason to think it isn’t, it figures.

39. Sara - October 31, 2007

Well, you might want to know that Nick, even amongst intersex communities, is not of the majority voice. Many completely and totally disagree with his point of view, and yes, even the leaders of those (intersex) groups.

Nick seems to have an extreme disdain of transsexuals, saying they have ‘a behavior’ and ‘a lifestyle’ and wants to distance himself as much as possible from even the *idea* that someone might perceive him as trans (because he might choose an androgynous style, or feminine clothing while not being recognized as a girl when face-to-face, basically he’s accused of cross-dressing, and he blames it on trans for people not to recognize that he’s not like *them* he’s ‘not mentally ill’).

I mean sure, the basic premise that genderqueerness or androgeny should be more widely accepted is good, but what’s the point of blaming another class of people who have to contend with the same, that they cause it happening to you.

Quoting you:
This is blatant distortion of what I’ve said:
Me: “It seems you would like to paint anyone who transitions, wether trans or intersex, as ‘mentally challenged’ or not understanding or owning to who they ‘really’ are”

My reply is that when you say things like:
“A whole lot of things in this world need to be fixed. I don’t buy the argument that transsexuals need to undergo plastic surgery and hormones to look like the other sex in order to survive. They may think so, but I think they really don’t understand what their problem is.”

You’re basically saying you understand the problem they have personally, better than they do themselves. It’s just a step away from saying they ‘need help’ (psychiatric or otherwise) to not transition.

And you know, psychiatric treatment from forced testosterone injections, to lobotomy, electroshocks and what not barbaric treatments have been tried, as well as coercion and other psychiatric techniques. None has worked. And many intersex have also been victim of such treatments. 40% of the early transsexuals in the 60s, to see Harry Benjamin, had an intersex condition. April Ashley is a famous example (she is 72 now) and pretty well-known (because of the 1970 divorce case in the UK, Corbett vs Corbett)

Who knows what causes transsexualism? The fact is, the most humane way of treating a transsexual is to respect their identity (it’s also true for others).

“To me, intersex people choose one sex over the other, as opposed to transitioning from one sex to the other.”

Most intersex are more anatomically male or female, and have been usually (like over 99% of cases) raised unambiguously as one sex. And a good enough proportion (though still a minority) chooses to transition to the opposite of sex of rearing. Those intersex may have an easier time passing (because of more androgynous looks from the start), but they still transition.

“Obviously gay men and transwomen are not the same, but I think they also have things in common, and neither has any right to demand rape counseling services, or to be a rape counselor, if the center defines itself as serving women only.”

What do you propose she do if she is raped? Go to a men’s shelter? (They don’t even exist) Call a battered man’s services? (They won’t have any expertise whatsoever dealing with her case, and are also much rarer) For being a counselor, I cannot speak for that really, because I don’t have experience in professional counseling.

“Nick seems to think many transwomen disrespect intersex people as well as women. If that’s true, and I’ve no reason to think it isn’t, it figures.”

I don’t how ‘many’ that is, I know there’s a cold between the two communities in some groups (ISNA for example), but I think most of the perceived disrespect is simple theory to that point. It’s all academia, and people in *real life* don’t get to confront academia directly unless they work in it or have a particular interest in it.

I think the point he might be the most against is those who claim HBS (Harry Benjamin Syndrome) as a neurological intersex condition, because it crumbles his separatist stance. Given HBS is unproven, so I don’t give it more credit than a theory, though it sounds a lot more convincing than works about primary or secondary transsexuals, or Ray Blanchard’s autogynephilia theory (which he pulled out of his ass, literally); mainly theories that have been discredited for their lack of explaining and precision. HBS lacks physical proof (or at least *enough* of it) to be considered a fact, other theories also have none.

So it’s still a ‘We don’t know (the causes)’, but HBS is an interesting model to improve on (ie find proof).

The treatment of transsexualism, however, has been proven to be very effective (over 90%). By treatment I mean hormones, living as the target sex, and maybe surgery (not everyone wants it, or can afford it). Some may be fine living in-between (maybe not living as, even, but just hormones), but from the other side of the fence – and yes, it does matter. How your body feels to you can be important, important enough to die for it.

40. Nick - November 1, 2007

Sara, It seems that you are distorting the facts. I have to say that it seems that you are a trans activist that are hell bent on distorting the intersex and womens groups. I see that you are those who back camp trans and want trans to invade women’s only space and intersex only space.

I am not trans or will ever be trans. I am intersex. Also according to the APA which is the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM V manual intersex can not be transgender because according to the APA they consider intersex to be a totally separate from the GID definition and as such, intersex is classified as more of a endocrine and genetic medical condition. In plain English, You can be born intersex, but you can’t be transgender at the same time. Current psychiatric science and medical science out their says you can’t be both at the same time. You have to have one of the other

41. Nick - November 1, 2007

I believe that their are trans activist within that community I thinkl are trying to push the idea that intersex and transgender are the same, perhaps because intersex is more concrete in terms of being proven as something one is born with, in other words more about the physical than the feelings or desires that are more common to transgender people. We are NOT the same as the transgender. I am intersex I am NOT transgender, I am in no way trying to be something or someone opposite of how I was physically born. My body is exactly the same now at 31 as it was when I was born and I LOVE it! It might not be “normal” but is also isn’t a product of actively deciding to live as a different person than I once was. That is why I think the two cannot be lumped into one category, it can only be an individual perspective because the rest of us don’t want to hear i

42. kate - December 6, 2007

Wow, it’s amazing this thread has slowly stayed alive for over a year. Crazy! I have to admit, I can’t help but put in my $.02…

So, for the sake of disclosure, lemme admit that I have a MtF-spectrum person who believes that trans women deserve to be (and naturally should be) included in women’s space, and has attended Camp Trans.

angryscientist, you say that gender is meaningless, but that’s just obviously not true. it may be in many (perhaps most) cases arbitrary and constructed, but that makes it neither fake nor meaningless. gender is very real, and dictates much of the world around us. depending on what gender a person is perceived as, there are vastly different expectations of that person, about everything from personality, behavior, interests, etc…

but apart from any particular details, members of the different social classes of “male” and “female” are (often) treated differently, in a fundamentally qualitative way.

some people don’t match up with their expectations so well, and may be androgynous, or be considered “too assertive” or a “sissy,” or whatever, but internally they still feel comfortable with belonging to the social class they were assigned.

some people, though, have much deeper problems with their gendered assignment. the idea of being called a boy, and classed with boys, is just abhorrent and profoundly unsettling, while being considered one of the girls just feels normal and right (or, switch words “boy” and “girl” around). some children express strong feelings like this from VERY early ages, as soon as they can speak.

the body is clearly sexually dimorphic in many cases – the mind is part of the body, for sure, so who’s to say that the mind cannot also be sexually dimorphic in certain ways? is it so unreasonable to imagine that in some cases the brain develops sexually in a manner “discordant” with the body’s development?

I don’t support essentialism, but you seem to be espousing a kind of hard anti-biological-essentialism, in which social classifications of gender are ENTIRELY fabricated and anyone claiming any membership of/in a class not assigned to them is deluded or has ill intent. Also, I’m confused – you say that gender is meaningless, but then go on to tell someone that “I find minds like yours distressingly disingenuously disguised as female, though sounding more male-like.” Is that not a contradiction?

I guess it ultimately comes down to our own views on what constitutes sex and gender. If you believe that gender categories are entirely socially constructed, and that the only such meaningful classification is by physical attributes (and assuming that mind-related ones don’t exist), it’s hard to imagine the validity and reality of trans people’s experience.

But some of us don’t have the privilege of conceptualizing things that way; some of us have these feelings that go beyond simple “not fitting in,” and have severe trouble trying to fit into their assigned categories (suicide is a not-uncommon cause of death for trans people). The only way we can figure out how to get by sanely is by changing how we operate in the world (and oftentimes this means physical changes, because sex and gender are so conflated that physical changes are required for people to understand and see our genders)

I’ve avoided a lot of ambiguity in this post (such as genderqueer people, my own genderqueer identity, my lack of belief in the archetypal categories of “man” and “woman,” etc) because this discussion is mostly operating on the surface level of gender theory, but I’d like to acknowledge that nobody has a monopoly on the word “woman,” in my opinion. Not trans women, not white class white lesbians, not men, not anyone. I believe that anyone who feels genuine affininty with the word, and genuinely feels that it describes their life’s experiences, deserves the label. At the same time, if a group of people organize an event with the intent of excluding me, then I will not attend – MichFest is a complicated example, because even many festies do not support transwoman exclusion (many are simply unaware of the policy), and the policy is controlled by a single person, Lisa Vogel. The fact is, the festival was NOT designed specifically for “women-born-women,” it was designed for women – the policy was tacked on when transphobic organizers decided that trans women made them uncomfortable and wanted them out.

Some strands of feminism have an unfortunate history of exclusion of the “wrong” kinds of women, whether they were lesbian women, women of color, working women… all of these groups have been considered in the past unfit for “real” womanhood. This denial of trans women seems familiar in that regard *shrug*

I respect your right to disagree, and I’m not going to personally attack you for doing so, but I do think that you are unaware of the ways in which you are supporting a system that devalues and disrespects trans people. I’m not sure that you’ve fully examined cissexual privilege and how it’s systemically used to exclude trans people from discourse and space.

Hopefully respectfully,

43. angryscientist - December 6, 2007

Kate, you say

depending on what gender a person is perceived as, there are vastly different expectations of that person, about everything from personality, behavior, interests, etc…

See, to my mind, that’s what gender is. That’s all it is. It has almost nothing to do with biological sex. Some feminists do not mind MTF people calling themselves women, but draw the line at them calling themselves female. Woman is the gender constructed by males of the female.

Your comment is interesting. You seem to understand some of the nuances of this issue a bit more than some of my other commenters. However, I have to take exception to you calling the Michfest policy transphobic. Females fear males, for good reasons. What a male may have done to appear more like a female doesn’t change any of that. I also don’t buy this idea of females having privileges over MTF people. White females have privileges over nonwhite females, and lesbians suffer from some forms of bigotry straight females generally escape, but the analogy breaks down applied to MTF people, in my opinion, simply because they have male history and biology, with all that implies. MTF people may give most of that up, but their history and sex can’t be changed.

Sex is immutable. Males will always be male. Females will always be female. Intersex will always be intersex. Technology can’t change any of that. It can only change appearances and how somebody feels about oneself.

44. kate - December 7, 2007

Well, we clearly have very different ideas about what constitutes sex and gender.

As far as I understand it, in your mind, once a person is assigned a sex at birth, that is their identity forever, and that’s the only actually meaningful aspect of sex/gender. Correct?

I just don’t agree. I really do believe that there are things going on in the brain in gendered ways. It’s vastly more complicated than I could ever attempt to understand or explain, but I really do believe there’s something biological/chemical/physical/genetic/whatever about our genders on some level. I mean, I really can’t claim to be able to explain it, but I believe there is SOMETHING that a person inherits and grows up experiencing. It ends up getting twisted and distorted and messed up beyond belief by what our culture considers to be “masculine” or “feminine” or “male” or “female,” but certain personality traits seem to just be a part of who we are, and can be correlated on some level with gender.

I don’t argue that hormones or surgery do anything more than they do. They give certain physical characteristics, and make people look different in certain ways. They don’t “make” someone into a man or a woman, of course; they give/take away breasts, redistribute fat, grow hair/reduce hair growth, etc… These visual effects just end up socially classing the person more frequently as “male” or “female.” The definitions of “man” and “woman” are too nebulous to be tied to a specific biology.

You’re right, they only change “appearances” and “how somebody feels about oneself.” What more is there to gender than that? If someone is perceived as a a man, and feels comfortable as a man, what could make that person not a man?

Most trans/genderqueer theorists these days don’t seem to place a lot of necessary signifying power in the body as far as gender goes. Society does, and you do, and MichFest does, and I guess that’s just a difference of opinion. I don’t know that it can be resolved…

This bothered me though:
“Females fear males, for good reasons. What a male may have done to appear more like a female doesn’t change any of that.”

There is general systemic oppression of women by men, but this does not mean all women are oppressed by all men, and it certainly does not mean that all male-bodied people are oppressors, and all female-bodied people are victims. I’m actually honestly not sure what you’re trying to say here. Are you saying that men are inherently dangerous and/or oppressors, and anyone born male is as well? Many male-bodied people are victims of patriarchal, misogynist, and homophobic violence.

And in terms of privilege? Trans women are rather underprivileged, by and large. A trans woman’s male privilege doesn’t get her very far once she’s transitioned, and her variant body can (and often does) put her at a serious risk of harassment and violence.

It’s not that “females” have privilege over “MTF people,” it’s that non-trans people have privilege over trans people with respect to gender. You can’t deny this, as you support it yourself – “females” in your opinion have primary access to “woman” identity over trans women. A trans woman’s identity and gender is fair game for disrespect and analysis in your eyes. There’s the privilege, or lack thereof.

45. kate - December 7, 2007

(P.S. Sorry for such long posts! Sometimes the words just get away from me.. And I wish I knew how to use the quote function – sorry if it’s confusing to read)

46. angryscientist - December 8, 2007

Kate, I don’t think sex has much to do with identity, but there are circumstances when sex is important, like the subject of this entry. I don’t think being female is any kind of privilege, though it has its compensations. The ability to give birth, for example. I’m not saying men are inherently anything, but it can’t be denied that enough men have done enough horrible things to enough women to give women good reasons to be afraid of men. I don’t see much signifying power in the body as far as gender goes. Sex only determines itself, not how one constructs one’s personality. Sex determines gender only in the eyes of those who believe there’s something intrinsic about gender, which is most men and many women who haven’t realized what the purpose of constructing gender norms means for women. If trans people don’t attach signifying power to the body, why alter it? Kind of drastic for something with so little significance! I don’t necessarily disrespect the identity of trans people, but I question what they make of it. I’ve no respect for conventional theories of gender whatsoever. I think they amount to biology is destiny, which is a setup to benefit males at the expense of females.

The quote function works by enclosing the quote between blockquote tags. I.e. blockquote enclosed by the less than character and the greater than character starts the quote, and to end it, put / before blockquote. A comment awaiting moderation can sometimes be seen by the poster, but not always. I’m guessing that’s what confused you about the previous long comment appearing and disappearing?

47. Deeply Offended - February 7, 2008

Wow. What a spectacular transphobic circlejerk. Couldn’t get any responses with issues that are any of your business so like a typical man you felt like putting your nose in women’s business? Nice.

48. angryscientist - February 7, 2008

Don’t you think it’s a bit ironic that you’re taking me to task for putting my nose in women’s business, when I’m protesting males who insist their belief in their womanhood entitles them to put their nose in women’s business? I do find it ironic, but these kinds of reversals seem to be typical of trans activists. The countless ways males abuse women are all my business, because I’m a male who deplores male abuse of women. Maybe if more men spoke up about this abuse, it’d shame males into taking a good hard look at the way they treat women. Camp Trans in particular has no respect for women, or it’d let them have their festival unperturbed by males insisting they are entitled to barge in, just because they don’t think they are any different from actual females. I’m a scientist and truth-seeker, a pro-feminist and somewhat androgynous man. In so many ways, this whole scenario offends me. I’m anything but a typical man, but you can cast unfounded aspersions all you like. I have a thick skin, so I couldn’t care less if a male, or trans activist, attacks me for defending the rights of women.

49. Monica - March 31, 2008

I’m sorry, but this is for the person who compared blacks/humans to transwomen/natural women.

I’m sorry, but that is the weakest analogy I have ever heard.

I have lots of lgtb friends and I will encourage them in every aspect of their lives, but as a woman, I can understand wanting to keep an All-Women’s festival open only to women. There are some aspects of being a women that a trans individual will never experience and understand.

I don’t think it’s about exclusion at all.

50. Hazel - June 25, 2008

We aren’t invading our own space–it’s been taken from us by force, and now when we arrive at the border to go home we’re told we have no right to be here. We’ve been in “women’s space” since it was first created–since the 19th century. White cissexual women sent death threats to other white cissexual woman feminists to make them expel Sandy Stone from Olivia Records in the late 70s, despite the collective’s support of her part in the organization. We’re oppressed as women, we’re paid less, we’re condescended to, we’re harassed and raped and fetishized and derided. We’re not listened to and told not to stand up for ourselves, both by the hegemonic, anti-feminist discourse and by cissexual feminists. If women’s space is for healing from & resisting sexism and misogyny, it’s for us. If a space is an “all women’s” festival, then it’s for us, and we have equal right to say who can enter and who can’t–a right you don’t have. If Vogel gets to say who can come in and who can’t, then why doesn’t she just say able, cissexual, white, middle class women can come–they’re the only ones whose perspectives matter in that movement anyways.

51. angryscientist - June 25, 2008

Hazel, I agree it’s none of my business who Lisa Vogel decides to allow into the festival, because I’m male. I’m arguing, it’s none of transwomen’s business either, because they are still partly male, though society treats them like women, more or less.

You like to mix up sex and gender, so you call female women cissexual. No, they’re female. Sex is biological and fixed, except in the rare cases of genetic abnormality. Gender is arbitrary, set by cultural presumptions about what’s normal for each sex.

Your presumption about whose perspective matters in the movement is absurd, but a common slander. I call it absurd for many reasons. One is because so many of the women you describe voted for Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton. Another is because the big feminist organizations, which are mostly white, are only a small part of the movement. Another is because white women have never monopolized this music festival, though it’s true that poor women can’t afford it. Also, what about the relatively wealthy women? Their perspectives cease to matter if they have money? What planet are you living on?

Who’s told you not to stand up for yourselves? Feminists may object when that’s taken to mean invading female-only space, or defining what woman means, but otherwise very few feminists (generally those who despise any kind of male) would do anything but encourage transwomen to stand up against all forms of oppression directed their way. If you think that’s absurd. I’d encourage you to read Heart’s new blog, Fight the Lies.

52. Mia - January 8, 2012

Angryscientist, if we are not woman, then what are we? There’s no toilet with a sign “MtF”, and we don’t want to be men, to the point of “mutilating” our “indicators” (you can’t understand what it feels like; at least I feel strong disgust towards the features I got in birth). There’s nothing reserved for us in public – and we have to use the restrooms and dressing rooms as well. Sure, there are happenings organized by the LGBTQ community, but not everywhere, only major cities, and not very often either. So, we use faculties for women, because we identify with them, or at least close. And have to take their hate because of that.

53. angryscientist - January 9, 2012

You answered your own question. You identify with women. This doesn’t make you female. Nothing can change your biology, though hormones can change the way your biology functions to some extent. My question is, is it you didn’t like being a man, or being like a man? I think this distinction gets lost, and it isn’t so trivial as to be easily dismissed. For me that distinction means a man doesn’t have to be like other men. That’s a choice that has nothing to do with biology or hormones. It’s a matter of who and what one wants to be, which as I understand feminism, is the choice everyone has, regardless of their genital configuration. So your choice is to take not being like a regular guy to the extreme. Surgery and hormones have limits. You’re not like men, but not like women either. You’re strange. So what? Is being strange a bad thing, in your eyes? I’m stranger than you can imagine, but not in such obvious ways. Or is it being strange seems bad in society’s eyes? That’s what I’d think is the larger issue. I don’t think you’d have a problem with women hating you if you didn’t claim to be one of them, or just like them. You don’t belong at Michfest. It’s for women, not for those who want to be women. Women don’t have a choice about being female. The fertilizing sperm just happened to have an X chromosome. You can disown your gender as easily as your friends or family, but changing your sex chromosomes is impossible.

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