Sunday, April 29, 2012

Yet another dispatch from the Trans Wars

As the arguments between trans women and trans allies and the "womyn born womyn" crowd continue apace, I thought I would take a look at some of the issues raised and offer my thoughts and clarifications.

The first thing I want to affirm is that everyone involved has the right to free association in their own space and on their own dime.  You have the right to open your circle only to trans women, to queer people, to gay men-born-men, to Jewitches, to disabled people, to cross-country runners, etc. The right to assemble with your chosen peers is an important one and I support that right 100% no matter how I might feel about your choices.  I say this because during earlier discussions here and on The Wild Hunt a few people expressed a desire to end all "exclusionary" rituals and workshops at Pantheacon and elsewhere.  I have no interest in integrating people of color space or in freeing males from the tyranny of female-only space, nor do I think that the existence of these spaces is inherently racist, sexist, etc.
I also want to note that other people have the right to question your decisions, to criticize them, and even to exclude you from their private events based on those choices.  You have the right to declare your coven  is open only to those of entirely European descent.  Your local Pagan center also has the right to refuse you access to their ritual rooms on the grounds because they dislike your membership criteria.  The right to free association does not include the right to a cheering section. And in situations where your exclusionary ritual causes a lot of controversy and hurt feelings - and might well subject your venue to legal issues in a place like San Jose where gender identity is a protected class - the organizers have the right to say "no, you can't do that in our space and on our calendar." 

If you, gentle reader, feel the need for space open only to females assigned at birth/womyn born womyn/genetic women/etc., then I am 100% behind your right to create that space for yourself.  Yes, there are some who will criticize you for that decision: their criticisms are or should be unimportant to you. As they say in Haitian Vodou, "You in, you in. You out, you stay out." You have the right to hold the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival or the Goddess Festival in your own space and on your own dime: you're free to set the attendance requirements to those events as you see fit.  But others also have the right to say "you can't hold womyn-born-womyn only circles at our events."  Because the right to free association goes both ways: just as you get to make the rules for your gatherings, others get to make the rules at theirs.

Which brings us to this latest screed from Radfemhub, courtesy of guest blogger "Dragon Dyke." 
Trans activists are co-opting political movements and the ultimate trans agenda is to remove the rights of all subordinate groups to self-determination and movements for liberation. I do not believe that most individuals who identify as trans or their allies are consciously planning the depoliticisation of class based oppressions. Trans is a structural and colonising tactic – a tool of the patriarchy, but if you buy into trans theory, that is what you are buying into.
The trans cooption of feminism and the attacks of the right of the female class to collective self-determination is the beginning of what I believe will end up being a long running movement to co-opt all struggles of subordinate groups. Trans is a growing movement and it is no longer only focused on trans sex and trans gender. New trans movements focus on trans abled and trans age, and any day now I am expecting to see the emergence of white men who claim to be trans race. As with trans genderism, these new trans movements are largely based on the sexual fetishisation of the subordinate group. So what is the scope of the trans project and what is the impact this growing movement will have on all subordinate classes?
If I'm reading this right (and I've seen similar claims from other Radical Feminists), the trans movement is part of a plot by the patriarchy.  Trans women and their allies are tools of the Learned Elders of Penis, who seek to control the objects of their sexual fetishization by infiltrating their space and co-opting their identities. To that end, thousands of male-bodied people are taking hormones, enduring years of electrolysis and decades of social scorn up to and including violence and murder, and having painful, irreversible and uninsured genital surgery so they can take over the feminist movement. And what's more, they are now trying to infiltrate daycare centers and disability advocacy movements by pretending to be wheelchair-bound children.

(As evidence of these "trans age" movements, Dragon Dyke presents a video interview with an "adult baby." Much as she and her peers seem to have difficulty distinguishing between trans women and drag queens, she also seems incapable of separating identity movements from fetish clubs. And while she correctly notes that so far none of these adult babies are engaged in any kind of political organizing, she fears it would be "problematic" if they decided to assert their right to attend local kindergartens).

Meanwhile Cedar Cat, one of the louder if not smarter Dianics posting in the Wild Hunt's comments, noted:
They are still men, with their male “I want to control everything”, “I want admission to every group” mentality. They recently managed to get a Dianic Elder and High Priestess thrown out of Pantheacon, simply for wanting to circle with “genetic women only”. meanwhile, it’s OK for other groups to exclude bleeding women from their rites.
I presume this means that when feminists assert their rights to be accepted in the boardroom, as combat soldiers on the front lines, as factory workers, etc. they are just acting male with their "I want to control everything" and "I want admission to every group" mentality.  Because if they were real wombmoons they would be passive, nurturing and accepting without seeking "power over" by means of lawsuits, protests, and other nasty masculine behaviors.

I should also note that Z Budapest has not been "thrown out of Pantheacon."  She is no longer allowed to hold "genetic women only" rituals in official Pantheacon space on their calendar.  But she is free to hold these rituals in a private suite: she is also free to present workshops, classes or rituals which are open to all attendees, or even to all attendees who identify as women.  Cedar Cat's complaints to the contrary are rather like the common Fundamentalist whine that taking Christian prayer out of public schools amounts to a War on Jeebus.

(And what's more, "bleeding women" were not "excluded" from the Vodou rite to which she alludes: they were asked not to participate in the salute to Damballah because of longstanding taboos against bleeding people of any sex saluting that particular spirit.  But of course the feminist need to be included in everything trumps the rights of African Diaspora religions to define their own spirituality or enforce their own rules).

Which brings us to the real issue many transphobic Second Wave feminists have with the trans movement: it forces them to confront their own privilege and question many of the underpinnings of their theory.  There is no way that any white college-educated middle class or higher woman-born-woman can claim that she does not have greater privilege in our society than a homeless trans woman of color.  And because so many of them have so much vested in seeing themselves as victims of the oppressive patriarchy, it chaps their asses to imagine that they may be complicit in the oppression of others or that the world might not be easily distilled into Good Wimmyn and Bad Males.  So rather than addressing those issues, they behave in the way most privileged peoples do when called on their attitudes.  Like white conservatives claiming "blacks are the only real racists nowadays" and "nobody ever gave me any affirmative action," they disparage those beneath them and act to preserve their superior position while at the same time denying their superiority.