The Master’s Tools

Super Italicised Editor’s Notes: I’ve been quite busy with schoolwork and reading of late so, to all three of you, I apologise. It’s been fulfilling but draining and I scarcely have the energy to write things for this journal. Updates will continue to be sporadic but I have some ideas knocking about.

More Editor’s Notes: Andrea James has graciously responded to this piece at length and I encourage everyone to consider what she has to say.

In the past I have mentioned trans rights activist Andrea James, a highly successful trans woman who writes for and maintains the invaluable resource of TSRoadmap.com, which for its relatively small flaws remains a compendium on trans feminine transition without compare. I still link it at the side of this website for those neophyte trans people who may be poking around the net for information that may stumble on this blog. Ms. James keeps up with it, updating it periodically, and keeping up with its news feed which is one of my sources on trans community news these days.

But I have to say I was disturbed to discover her latest venture, which appears to be an outright attack on two, admittedly dangerous and self-hating, trans people. Linked in the news section, I read this with both interest and concern. Andrea James could well be a scholar if she put her mind to it and much of her website contains comprehensive deconstructions of transphobic ideology, pseudoscientific and otherwise. This is no exception, save for the venom she injects into certain elements, which I will discuss momentarily. The two people she is attacking here are people she, with good reason, lumps together with a group I derisively call the “HBS crowd”, a group of conservative transsexual women who claim to have an intersex condition, “Harry Benjamin Syndrome,” and claim dominion over who is and is not a true transsexual. Much of their online presence is dedicated to outright assaults on the trans community, using extremely bigoted language that would not be out of place in a bar (“men in dresses” “eunuchs” etc.) and they appear to use little else besides political orientation to make these determinations.

They are the Uncle Toms of the transgender community and I do not use this term flippantly or lightly. I do not say this because they don’t think as I do; I say this because they actively reify cissexual oppression and buttress it, claiming standing as a trans person in one breath to legitimise their hatred, while in the next disowning it and appropriating an intersex identity as part of their perpetual self-loathing. I’ve seen HBSers cheer on transphobic feminists, support anti-trans legislation, and reject attempts at equality such as the promotion of the word ‘cis.’ They claim to know who is a real woman and who isn’t, using ‘standards’ that are incredibly demeaning to trans people and women as a whole. Indeed, there is precious little difference between their beliefs and the ideals of your run of the mill ignorant cissexist.

Their betrayal of other trans people is impossible for me to forgive. I do not begrudge those who wish to live in stealth and otherwise separate themselves from the political community. That’s their right, we transition to make our individual lives better and I cannot blame a trans person one jot if they elect to do so. My problem is that they then actively work against the rest of their fellows. They have so internalised cissexist hate that they then project that self-loathing onto the rest of us. They feel illegitimate because they have been so bogged down by a society and a medical establishment that told them this was so, that they’d always be second-best also rans as women. From this perspective, their condition is a sad, lamentable one. HBSers are victims of cissexism as much as the rest of us, and regrettably they turn around to assault the rest of the community in thrashing attempts at legitimising their own identities. They create hierarchies of womanhood with themselves at or near the top and the rest of the trans community towards the bottom. They absolutely must feel more legitimate than other trans people in order to feel legitimate period.

The brilliant author of the webcomic Trans Girl Diaries has some excellent satires of their mentality in these particular pieces.

After this very lengthy and deserved thrashing you may wonder, then, what my problem with Andrea James is in this instance. HBSers attack the community by creating websites and sockpuppets designed to promote  their unique flavour of transphobia, Ms. James comes in with her +10 Hammer o’ Justice and all is well, yes? Well, much as I love Ms. James for doing what so many of us can’t, there is a thorny ethical question here that ties into other such information campaigns she has run in the past.

HBSers, regardless of their self-loathing politics which are externalised onto the rest of us at every opportunity, are still trans women. They are still vulnerable to transphobic and transmisogynist violence and discrimination. The men who have sought to rape, murder and utterly destroy us don’t give a whit about what they would see as semantic political differences. HBSer, TG, WBT, TS, trans women, we’re all just trannies to them, and thus subhuman. For Ms. James to decide, by fiat, who is worthy of protection and who isn’t, I am afraid she’s simply playing into the hands of transphobes. I consider the two women she’s just outed to be odious and detrimental to our community, but I cannot countenance putting them in harm’s way, regardless of the hate they are spreading.

You do not out a trans person, nor splash their photos, full names, and place of residence (if not exact address) on the Internet, end of story.

In digging up all of this personal information, including their personal histories and the like, I feel as if she is going too far to make her point. Can a trans woman activist like Ms. James, however well intentioned, wield the cudgel of cis violence against her (and indeed, our) enemies? Is this ethical? My answer is a resounding no. I understand she is trying to name and shame as well as hold these people accountable for their words and actions, piercing the façade of their innumerable alts and sockpuppets to prove they’re fewer in number than they appear and so forth.

But from Ms. James’ own description, Candice Elliott is apparently confused and possibly going through a midlife crisis. In attaching herself so forcefully to an identity and taxonomy used by trans-hating psychiatrists she is, in my mind, attempting to find and legitimise some identity for herself in a world deeply inimical to trans people. We all have our weak moments, and yes we should be judged by how we handle that weakness, but no you should not be put at risk of violence by other trans people for it.

When she speaks extensively about public figures in the cis scientific community like Ken Zucker and Ray Blanchard she’s mostly going over things that are on the public record. But by outing people like Ms. Holder and Ms. Elliott she’s entering far more dangerous and far more sinister territory. There is, however, other radioactive water that she is carrying:

“As shown in the photo below, Holder is passing for black about as well as passing for female.”

I’m not going to comment on Holder’s skin alterations. I put it in the same category as I do furries; fine by me, I have better things to do with my time than prove you ‘wrong’ in some cosmic sense. However the tone here taken by Ms. James clearly indicates mocking and derision. It is, in my mind, amoral for a trans woman to mock another based on one’s ability to “pass” by their standards (which are invariably influenced by the media imagery of a misogynist culture) and it simply reifies cissexism as much as any HBSer rant does (indeed, many of them do the same, as the pyramid I linked on TGD above shows). How can Andrea James indulge this for even one moment? Would Holder’s wrongdoing be any less problematic if she looked like a supermodel? Of course not. This merely feels like kicking sand at her out of spite (deserved spite, mayhaps, but spite all the same) and echoes the ugly statements made by Lynn Conway about the appearances of some trans people she disapproved of.

The objectifying before/after photos echo an ugly media trope that is often used against trans women, and although the ‘before’ pictures don’t show them in guy mode, it still has an ugly vibe to it that makes me rather uncomfortable.

You cannot fight cissexism and then turn around and indulge in it when it is convenient for you to do so. I don’t claim any right to do so just because I’m a trans woman.

I applaud Ms. James’ valiant efforts on behalf of the rest of us, but I also implore her to be careful when outing people who are otherwise private citizens. It’s a tremendous dilemma because one wants to push back against their misinformation and hate, but they are trans people all the same (whether they claim otherwise or not) and as such are vulnerable to transphobic violence and discrimination. Opening them up to that is unconscionable, unethical, and should be unthinkable for any trans activist.

It might make things harder, yes, but I learned long ago that nothing worth doing is easy, especially that which is virtuous. We must fight our enemies with dignity and without reducing ourselves to their tactics.

Comments

  1. I agree. Outing someone and posting their personal information like that just isn’t something that should be done, no matter how nasty a person the targets may be.

  2. Nicola Cowie says:

    That episode of ‘outing’ was worthy of Ms Greer and Raymond at their best.

    A very well thought out and balanced posting. Thank you.

    Nicki

  3. Nicola Cowie says:

    In what way does my wanting to get on and live my life with no wish to be involved with the ‘trans community’ and wearing the ‘trans’ label, work against others?

    My life is too full to have time to bother with the issues of gender politics and the arguments over labels and identities. I have my family, my friends and my career and these are enough to fill my life and all the hours and days that the Good Lord deems fit to send my way. I don’t hide my trans-sexed past, nor do I wear a label with the word ‘Tranny’ blazoned across it. I have found that in my experience the world does not reject those of us who transition to their identified sex and gender. Nearly all the people I meet are curious and if they ask questions, I try to answer them. I find that nearly everyone has been open to my explanations of Transsexualism and they do seem to ‘get it’ and I am treated as the person I present as.

    I also do not see how that my successes in life and transition mean that I am full of ‘cissexist hate’ and that I am somehow projecting my self-loathing onto others? I no longer feel illegitimate, I have been validated by my experience of the medical profession. I went to them with a problem, I was diagnosed and treatment is progressing. At all times I was treated with respect, courtesy and compassion. I have never been made to feel an also-ran. My passport, driving license and National Insurance and tax documentation all states my sex as female, and that is how I am treated.

    Contrary to your statement I am not sad and no-one need lament my fate. I am alive, really alive perhaps for the first time and I am finally learning who I am and whom I can be. I am still a work in progress (as are we all) but in the words of Margie Adam there’s a Woman in the Mirror and that is enough for me.

    Regards and Best Wishes
    Nicola

    • I did initially delete the comments, yes, because this is- well- my blog and I think it’s eminently reasonable that I decide what does and doesn’t get published in this space, and I’m not in the mood at the moment for HBS apologism.

      However, I unbarred them because I had a change of heart and thought that an elucidating discussion might take place here.

      I’m not pleased with the fact that you basically gamed my filter by posting an innocuous comment and then coming back a day later with criticism that feels 180 degrees removed from the tenor of your original comment, so yes, that annoyed me. If you were going to be critical, do it up front. If I reject the comment, well, hey… what’s lost? This isn’t exactly the New York Times or the BBC here.

      This aside, however, I am going to assume that you are one of the two women that Ms. James is criticising.

      Far be it from me to deny another trans woman the happiness that can come from living as one’s true self. It is absolutely beautiful. However, that is precisely what is at issue here. You and others are participating in propping up ideas that oppress *other* trans women who are looking for that same sense of happiness and fulfilment in the name of this absurd hierarchical game wherein you get to decide who is “really” trans and who is not, based on artificial standards handed down by doctors and psychiatrists who do not think very much of any of us, and even have come to loathe us. (After his many run ins with activists, Ray Blanchard is not very fond of trans people these days, I imagine.)

      I do not ask nor compel any trans woman to identify with the larger community. As I have said, and I believe as I said in my post, we transition to be ourselves, not to join an activist movement. If one wants to simply live their individual life as best they can, bless them. That’s what we’re fighting for. I won’t guilt them.

      What I will guilt them over is claiming to be politically separated but then coming around, writing blogs and articles and comments like this one in a cockamamie attempt to police *other* trans people. In other words, politically working against every other trans person but themselves. That’s wrong, and amoral. I say self-hate because it so blatantly appears to be an attempt to reinforce one’s identity by point to all the “fake” “transgenders” out there who are “not real women” because they aren’t as good or perfect as you are.

      At base, it isn’t even really bigotry, it’s just pathetic.

      Now, let’s assume I’m wrong and that you’re neither Courtney Holder nor Candice Elliott.

      Let us also assume that you are not doing any of the things I said above.

      If this is true, I was not talking about you in this article. However, your level of defensiveness and personal identification with the statements made in my post lead me to think you’re another sockpuppet, or at least strongly sympathetic to the dogma followed by Ms. Holder or Ms. Elliott. If so, you will find no safe harbour here.

      I too am alive, really alive for the first time in my life as a learn who I am. I too am a work in progress and I too see a woman in the mirror. I will not, however, countenance a certain clique of older trans women actively working against or denying other trans women that joy over political differences.

      If you are not doing so, then I’m not talking about you.

      If you are, then since you wanted to have this little chat on my blog then you’re going to have to explain yourself and why you’re using this sockpuppet.

  4. Nicola Cowie says:

    Wow – you erased my comments?

  5. Nicola Cowie says:

    Hi,

    Firstly thank you for unblocking my comments. You are right of course, this IS your blog and your rules and decisions do and indeed should apply here.

    Secondly, I am not one of the women under discussion, neither am I anyone’s sock puppet. I am a real person, even more so since my transition. If you would care to contact me via private e-mail I’m sure I could give you ample proof of this.

    I did indeed find your original post interesting and well balanced. You very well expressed the concern I felt about ANY trans person being outed in such a public forum as TS-Roadmap, hence my original comment.

    Today however, I was showing your posting to someone else when this section caught my eye…

    “I do not begrudge those who wish to live in stealth and otherwise separate themselves from the political community. That’s their right, we transition to make our individual lives better and I cannot blame a trans person one jot if they elect to do so. My problem is that they then actively work against the rest of their fellows. They have so internalised cissexist hate that they then project that self-loathing onto the rest of us. They feel illegitimate because they have been so bogged down by a society and a medical establishment that told them this was so, that they’d always be second-best also rans as women. From this perspective, their condition is a sad, lamentable one.”

    To me this seemed to be criticizing any trans person wishing to live in stealth, and away from the front line of activism. As the person to whom I was showing your posting and I were engaged in an argument about this very same subject, I think that I may have transferred some of the heat from that argument into the tone of my 2nd comment.

    I am not an apologist for anything, certainly not how I choose to live my life.

    Upon reflection and discussion with my spouse, I will say that I am not totally stealth but I live quietly without a soapbox. I have been fortunate enough to have been able to transition ‘in situ’ and hence all my workplace colleagues and professional contacts know the old me and now the real me, so stealth is just not possible in my situation (if indeed it is possible at all in these days of vast information storage and retrieval via the Internet)

    I have never tried to talk of others and their experiences, motivations and objectives, only they can do that. We all have our own story to tell and our own journey to make at our own speed to our own destination. It is not my place to tell the story of anyone else, and by extension nor is it anyone elses’ to tell mine or to dictate the destination of my journey.

    I do accept your statement that you were not talking about me.

    So I will just say thank you for addressing my questions and to repeat my thanks for your original posting, taking to task someone I believe should know better for her irresponsible actions.

    Nicola

    • So it seems I was indeed entirely mistaken. :)

      I’m very sorry for being as forceful as I was and deleting your comments initially, I was a bit on edge today myself and having arguments elsewhere, so I did read the worst into things.

      To further elaborate on my point, as I said I would never begrudge a trans woman for wanting to live her life in stealth away from the fiery front lines. I did not transition to be a feminist or a trans activist, but I feel both are my calling and my *personal* obligation, so that others can have better and more comfortable individual lives. You do what you must to be happy, and so long as you are not inveighing against other trans folk to do it, please… go in peace to live life as a woman.

      The paragraph you quoted was certainly not criticising stealthy trans women. Indeed, one trans woman I speak with regularly is a huge booster of my very active politics. :) She just chooses to be stealth, and I don’t blame her. As I said, we transition to live a better life, not to fight a political war. But on the other end, someone has to do it. So I do my part.

      The people Andrea James (and I) were attacking were people who do try to undermine other trans folk and who do hurt others with gender/biological essentialist beliefs.

      Anyway, I’ll gladly take you up on your offer of email if only to give you a private, fuller apology and mayhaps make a new friend.

  6. Nicola Cowie says:

    Hi Quinnae,

    Thanks for your last comment. I guess we all have our soft spots, and it does not take much to provoke a ‘knee jerk’ reaction to stuff that manages to find them. Old wounds leave sensitive scars I guess.

    To be fair and honest with you, I do know a little bit about the HBS movement and some of the other separatist factions (The Classic Transsexual, Women Born Transsexual, etc). I have had a little contact with some of them and I do have to also admit that some of the concepts do resonate with my experience.

    However I cannot and will not condone the denigration of others and denial of their validity – from whatever side.

    I have had more than one ‘discussion’ with some HBS women about this and it has been an ‘interesting’ discussion at times. I have however found that not all of them agree with nor participate in the LGBT or TG bashing and a most of it does seem to come from a few vocal individuals. Interestingly enough though, a little while back when I was going through a VERY bad emotional time, where I really could see nothing but blackness with no future, it was some of these same HBS women who reached out and gave me support, where as others did not.

    I do hope that you don’t consider this apologist, but I am perhaps a little less antagonistic towards them than some, whilst still remaining firmly of the opinion that there has to be room for all of us in this world somewhere? Just because our stories and experiences are different – that does not make one better or worse than another. We are after all few and rare, and that makes each one of us very precious and to be valued.

    As Antonia Elle D’orsay says in one of her blogs (www.dyssonance.com), there is only one recognized way that someone can tell a true Transsexual. That is to become a qualified psychologist and obtain years and years of experience treating trans people and then and only then does your opinion count when talking about other people’s trans identity.

    I have to admit that like Andrea James I am a little bit of a ‘lookist’ myself and no doubt have a whole raft of other prejudices ingrained into me that I have to keep a wary eye out for and kepe under control. However, fundamental decency and diversity requires respect for others and their differences IMHO.

    Sorry if I have rambled again (hope your server storage is not too expensive – lol)

    Please feel free to contact me via Email (you should have my email address on the system here). Friends are something that one can never have too many of and I do enjoy your writings.

    Keep doing the activism as long as you enjoy it and feel called and motivated. As you say, someone has to. We all face too many and too much discrimination as it is.

    Warm Regards,
    Nicki

  7. Hi! I happened upon here because I noticed I got some referrals/clicks from here. I’m glad you liked the satire pieces you linked and didn’t grill me for it. I can never be sure if someone will take it seriously and call me out as being ignorant of the trans community, or they actually get it and get a kick out of it.

    I personally don’t enjoy getting involved in anything too political, especially since there is so much hate coming from all directions, trans and cis, but I did read your whole post (as well as Andrea’s response).

    Umm… that’s it! Take care!

    Evelyn

    • Ms. Poor, this is a pleasure! Thanks for dropping by.

      Yes, I had just read through your very well done webcomic and it crossed my mind that those satirical cartoons you made would be perfect for illustrating the thinking behind the HBS movement. We need as many trans comics as we can get, so thanks for drawing and getting yourself out there. ;)

      As to politics… I find that the old feminist slogan of “the personal is political” is all but axiomatic. Being trans is, itself, a political act and without question a lot attached to it can be considered such. So, for me, it’s hard to *not* get involved with the political end. But as for yourself, it seems that your inner polemicist does peek out sometimes! After all, who else but someone commenting on the politics of the trans community would draw those cartoons?

      Take care yourself, Evelyn and thanks once again. :)

  8. i can’t stand HBS elitism. i’m fiercely supportive of gay marriage. i am not conservative.

    You know what’s funny, tho? And by funny, i mean, hit by a car and killed on my way for a final chemotherapy session?

    Being attacked and called a Nazi, self-hating queen, and ‘worst form of coward’.

    All for speaking out against people who set up and reinforce heirarchies while decrying them, or people who insist on aggressively ‘othering’ women who just want to be left alone and live in peace, and questioning the idea that *everyone* be automatically granted full legal right to opposite sex spaces, simply by declaring themselves such.

    Like the rapist who decided he wanted to be a women after being put in prison. And was granted medical treatment as such.

    Ah well. i guess i’m going to be hated until i shut the hell up.

    i like your blog and your sense of humor.

    Just thought i’d let you know, even tho i’m someone you would despise.

  9. Like Anon, I’m sure I’m considered one of your public enemies. Like her I am a fierce proponent of the repeal of DOMA, DADT and for same sex marriage and about as far from conservative as it gets.

    I’m also a lifelong and active feminist and whether you like it or not, the trans civil rights movement is filled to the brim with mysogynonists and gynophobes. So bash away. Oh, and although I do use a couple of nicknames on the web, I’m not exactly stealth about them but do so to keep my Pagan rights work separated although like my own identity, right not to be outted etc, no one on the transgender side has ever saw fit to respect that.

    • catkisser :

      Like Anon, I’m sure I’m considered one of your public enemies. Like her I am a fierce proponent of the repeal of DOMA, DADT and for same sex marriage and about as far from conservative as it gets.

      And yet you have many times over insisted on speaking of trans people in ways that would not be out of place at a SarahPAC rally or amongst a bunch of drunken patriarchs in a pool hall. Same sex marriage support ought to be a given. You do not, with respect, deserve a cookie for that. If you think yourself a feminist too there should be three things immediately obvious to you.

      1) What the exercise of privilege looks and sounds like; what its rhetorical expressions are and what underlies it.
      2) That many liberals who consider themselves pro-gay can still be tremendously misogynist (and transphobic, racist, etc. etc.)
      3) That misogyny is a very pervasive social ill and that you’ll likely find enough to keep you busy amongst even pagans.

      There are a million and one things that I could say to you, but perhaps it can be distilled into a very simple concept:

      You had to transition to be who you are. Everything- *everything* you have ever said to belittle, insult, and attack trans people with whom you’ve disagreed could have been (and Goddess knows, perhaps even *has*) been said to you. Why do you thrive on attacking trans people and their rights with the same fervour that your run of the mill Republican bigot would?

      To invoke the title of this blog post: Master’s tools, master’s house. You can’t destroy the latter with the former.

      You may revel in attacking crossdressers who you feel are sexist men appropriating femininity or whatever your privilege requires you to interpret them as. Yet time and again I have watched you wither and wilt under the sustained defence of feminists, cis and trans, who know what time it is and can check your every faux-social justice oriented argument. Have you never stopped to consider *why* that is?

      I don’t want this.

      I can’t imagine any of us want this. Why must you make enemies out of other trans people? Why do this when you can be a sister? We cannot afford this, none of us can. I have had enough of pulling my hair out in dealing with the innumerable hordes of cis misogynists and transphobes, rushing over the hills like endless waves of Orcs. They just keep coming. Why do you want to add yourself to their ranks, of people that have to be debated and countered at every turn merely to keep the integrity of what dignity we have?

      I beseech thee, in the bowels of the Goddess, think it possible that you might be mistaken.

      This is an acrimonious community because, as I have said proudly many a time before, in trans people is reflected the infinite diversity of humanity. So, why divide yourself from us? Why act as a judge over who is and who isn’t a woman? Why fight that? Why? So you can feel like your past tormentors did? That power, Cat, is evil- and surely you know that now. Surely you’ve felt that it gives you no joy, to argue what you do.

      Truth be told, I have no problem with HBSers. As is ever the case with any group that arouses my ire it is only ever because of what they seek to impose on others. By politically attacking and undermining other trans people they are chiselling at a very fragile foundation of dignity and justice. That, I cannot abide.

      I want to bash, oh yes I do. And yet, through it all, through gritted teeth, in you I see a sister.

      If nothing else, please just think about how you regard other trans people you don’t even know.

      From a cis person this makes sense, this behaviour, this attitude. But from you? It kills me, Cat. It kills me in a way words can’t describe. You’re a feminist, you say. You should know all about internalising systems of oppression, and how awful that can be. You have the tools. Not the master’s tools, certainly, but tools of liberation to hack at the patriarchal web you’ve spun yourself into. Free yourself again, Catkisser.

      I do not wish to fight you or any other trans woman.

      It doesn’t have to be like this.

  10. You did bash…..and Feminism is not the study of inter-weaved oppressions if it was I would not be a feminist. You have never seen me “wilt”. What you have seen is me walk away from entrenched dogma that cannot be changed. The fact of the matter is every experience I have in my life tells me that dogma is garbage, that I never have any of these supposed universal oppressions put on me, that even radical lesbian separatist have no problem with me as sister on a one to one basis. The vast vast majority of discrimination and hatred I have experienced in a long life as an “outsider” and civil rights crusader have come from trannys, you might want to consider that…. and it started as bad as it is now when I was a trans activist myself.

    Regarding “trans” people I’ve never met, I take people as individuals exactly as I find them, always have, always will. Regarding make trans people my enemies, you have apparently no idea at all of my personal history and clearly have either not read or failed to understand what I write. And I live what I believe as a feminist day to day in a fashion far beyond most. I did far more than the vocal idiots out there today for trans civil rights as a matter of fairness and was rewarded with the most unbelievable abuse you can imagine for my troubles, by trans people…. because I never bought into the dogma.

    I won’t bother you again but if the scales fall from your eyes, do feel free to contact me. I don’t hold grudges.

    • “and Feminism is not the study of inter-weaved oppressions if it was I would not be a feminist.”

      Then you may as well stop calling yourself one now. It is, increasingly, precisely that. Why, you may ask? Because while you have the luxury of being a white woman who prefers to believe she’s cis, many many women do not have the luxury of being marginalised along just one axis of disadvantage. The rich scholarship of black, disabled, or First Nations feminists is a testament to the virtue of the intersectional perspective.

      Why? Because there is more than one way to be a woman. Muslim women, or other women of faith, older women, they all have unique stories to tell. If feminism is to have *any meaning at all* it must be a study of interwoven experience. Not simply reliant on a nonexistent universal womanly experience.

      And, of course, transgender feminists.

      You seem content to make yourself the embodiment of everything that was wrong with Second Wave feminism: white cis women uber alles, and one unitary definition of ‘woman’ that just so happens to be a classist and Eurocentric one.

      Has it also not occurred to you that by attacking other trans people as “trannies” and men in dresses and TG invaders that you might earn their ire?

      You make yourself sound almost blameless yet it’s quite clear that you’re plenty happy to reify the oppressive behaviour of a dying breed of cis feminists. That apologism is not endearing.

      “I did far more than the vocal idiots out there today for trans civil rights as a matter of fairness”

      For that I thank you.

      Do you, however, honestly believe that this should inoculate you against charges of unfairness? You wouldn’t be the first activist I’d met who’d become addicted to the tools of power and privilege.

      What is most curious about you is that you deal very heavily in dichotomies. “I fought for civil rights, therefore I’m blameless.” and so on.

      Finally, there is this, which I posted publicly because there was a good deal that could be gleaned from it:

      “Freeing yourself from oppression is as simple as being free. A free person cannot be enslaved, only their body, a free soul is always free. As long as you insist on seeing the world as oppressing you, you will feel oppressed. As long as you see non trans women as opposite you, you will never “be” a woman.”

      A lovely thought. Except, hmm, what if a man were saying that to a feminist cis woman?

      I get the distinct sense you’d disapprove.

      This is what I mean, Cat. When it suits you, you revert right back to thoroughly uninterrogated, unreconstructed rhetorical measures that would not be out of place coming from your average claque of misogynist good ol’ boys. What’s even funnier is that this way of thinking comes largely from individualist capitalism, something that as a pagan I’m sure you have more than a few reservations about.

      But, the master’s tools, they are so shiny, no?

      I appreciate the sentiment, Cat, but no, I do not oppress myself, never have. I will not be *silenced*, no, so I’ll write polemics until kingdom come, protest, and speak forthrightly. But do I carry on with my life? Yes. I live. I am. It’s a wonderful feeling, the wholeness of womanhood. Do you sincerely believe I don’t know it can never be taken away from me? I would never so lightly cast aside the Goddess’ gifts, nor see them as being so fragile.

      I am free.

      The trick is getting various other groups to recognise that. ;)

      “As long as you see non trans women as opposite you, you will never “be” a woman.”

      As I said earlier about you and dichotomous thinking… Here it is once more. Where have I ever said that cis women were the “opposite” of me? Just as I reject the phrase “opposite sex” as needlessly polarising I also see any notion of being the opposite of cis people as essentialising and unhelpful.

      As you clearly evoke, Cat, there are some trans people that I have precious little in common with at all.

      What else is funny is that you remind me a lot of the misogynist men I have to constantly moderate on a women’s forum I mod at. Like them you’re fond of waltzing into a space and talking about how much activists oppress you, are sure to say “my views may not be popular around here” and all the other usual self-pitying cliches. How many guys I’ve seen step into that forum and say “Hey ladies, I know *guys* aren’t welcome here and my opinions ain’t popular but [sexism!]” To see you, a woman, a pagan luminary doing the same… it saddens me greatly. But doing the same *to other trans women.* To other feminists!

  11. Oh, and please consider this personal communication via your moderation system rather than a comment.

    Please think on this: The Goddess part of you cannot be oppressed unless you allow it to be. Freeing yourself from oppression is as simple as being free. A free person cannot be enslaved, only their body, a free soul is always free. As long as you insist on seeing the world as oppressing you, you will feel oppressed. As long as you see non trans women as opposite you, you will never “be” a woman.

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