Which Stereotypes of a Woman are Acceptable?

In the New York Times on Sunday, a feminist writer worried that we trans women stake our “…claim to dignity as transgender people by trampling on [hers] as a woman.” She is worried that trans women and some men are redefining women by putting them “into tidy boxes, to reduce us to hoary stereotypes.” She goes on to discuss what are apparently the essential differences between women and men thusly:

Their truth is not my truth. Their female identities are not my female identity. They haven’t traveled through the world as women and been shaped by all that this entails. They haven’t suffered through business meetings with men talking to their breasts or woken up after sex terrified they’d forgotten to take their birth control pills the day before. They haven’t had to cope with the onset of their periods in the middle of a crowded subway, the humiliation of discovering that their male work partners’ checks were far larger than theirs, or the fear of being too weak to ward off rapists.

Oh. Okay, so her stereotypes are somehow less hoary (meaning ‘old and trite’ and not ‘grey and white’)? So while being a woman in the world, to this writer, should not be reduced to definitions regarding “our brains, our hearts, our bodies, even our moods,” it should be reduced to definitions regarding workplace struggles (regarding our bodies), sexual worries (still bodies), menstruation (bodies again), and the potential dangers of being raped (bodies bodies bodies).

So just to be clear, while I have not had to deal with the birth control thing nor menstruation issues, I have dealt with men talking to my breasts (made worse by my height, which places them at eye level or above for most), being thought less of at work (pay only an issue in that the teaching profession is traditionally a career chosen by women and, thus devalued and underpaid as a whole when the salaries of similarly educated professionals are taken into account). Most trans women, having given up their male lives, travel through the world as women, experience the world as women, fear rape as other women do – perhaps more (6’2″ women get raped as well and trans women are often murdered after the rape if they are discovered to be trans).

She takes great pains to state that she supports trans women, but doesn’t want us to be defined as women because our apparent “disregard for the fact that being a woman means having accrued certain experiences, endured certain indignities and relished certain courtesies in a culture that reacted to you as one.”

Now I have been living as a woman full time since 2011. I have accrued 4 years of experiences, indignities and courtesies. Is that enough for me to be a woman now? Can we add the additional indignities of being a trans woman to my score sheet? How many years does one need in the game to earn the title? She says, “the very definition of female is a social construct that has subordinated us.” But she has defined it and I find her definitions to be equally guilty of subordination of the female experience.

Worse, she breaks out the tired argument that being trans, suffering being trans, can be compared to a white person who thinks they were born black. She does this because she does not accept structural differences in the brains of males and females, even those these things are documented. She tries to make an argument that if cab drivers and musicians have aspects of their brain structure enhanced by lived experience, it is proof of nurture over nature. Having no experience with dysphoria, she simply negates it.

What she really wants to do in this article is make an argument that only cis women can be called women and that trans women should refrain because we don’t have the right kind of experiences. She brings up a few other points about her dissatisfaction with trans activists whilst ignoring that many of the arguments being made are being made by and for trans men or gender queer folks. It’s easy to leave them out of these kinds of articles. They are inconvenient to feminists such as this author, just as they are to to those making bathroom arguments.

What this is really a response to is Caitlyn Jenner’s pretty cover photo and the false argument that trans women reinforce gender stereotypes regarding expected appearance and behavior. It fails to acknowledge that for trans women, if we wish to blend in and not be clocked, attacked, or mocked, we have to pay extra attention to gender indicators such as hair, clothes, make-up. Yesterday at my theatre, a trans person came to see the play who, to me, was not making an attempt to blend and I had that little judgey voice in the back of my head criticizing that I had to quiet. It’s not my place to judge. Just because I want to exist in the world a certain way or be treated a certain way, it doesn’t make my truth or experience the essential one, just as this writer’s experience with birth control panic does not make her experience essential.

The fact is, she does not know what kinds of pressure are on Caitlyn Jenner to appear as she does or embrace very femme stereotypes. She does not live in that spotlight of judgement. Nor do I (thankfully!). It’s also easy to blame Jenner and trans woman in general for reinforcing femme stereotypes, but I notice that at no time at all does she take any cis woman to task for doing the exact same thing. There are many more cis women on magazine covers and in photo spreads who talk about and present aspects of being very femme that are often unattainable to anyone. While I am sure this author has aimed her feminist gaze at these women as well, in this article, she is presenting an indictment of trans women as being in league with Men to subordinate women. It is entirely unfair and does not even begin to take into account our lived experience as women and how we are at best a sub-class of women, treated far worse and subordinated to a much greater degree. She and her fellow feminists that she speaks of can shake their hoary heads (meaning ‘grey and white’ and not ‘old and trite’ – I assume she does not dye the grey from her head to satisfy the societal expectation of women to remain youthful in appearance for as long as possible) at Jenner’s remarks about nail polish, but they do not get the metaphor that being able to wear it until it chips away is a signifier for not having to hide being a woman anymore, not having to constantly put the male costume back on.

What she can never understand or experience is what it is to have to fight for her right to be accepted as a woman.

Science Projects and the Problems with Believing

For the record, I’m an atheistic humanist who holds that science will someday work everything out, including the “spirit world,” which may or may not be the result of quantum entanglements and residual energy (my current unproven/untested theory of choice). I’m not a Bright. But I get them.They make a lot more sense to me than theists.

And also for the record, I generally have no issue with theists. When they pray for me or mine, I thank them. It is a positive thought action and I’d rather the world be full of positive thought actions than negative ones.

Where I do have issues is this:

I am supposed to accept that their beliefs are as valid as my reality. I do not accept the Bible as anything other than a collection of words written by a lot of different people for a lot of different reasons, many of them synchronically political, and finally compiled by a collection of clerics to reinforce their primacy in a regressive society. Anytime anyone tells me that they believe it is infallible or the literal “Word of God,” I know who I am dealing with and act accordingly. More often than not, to disengage from conversations about religion, which are dodgy at best and mostly belligerent because even Atheists fight over what it means to not believe in a deity (see the Brights).

I am supposed to accept that they can believe I am some sort of science project or my existence as a woman in negated because their deity is infallible and made men men and women women (and we won’t ask these folks to think too long on intersex people or any other non-binary, non-image-of-deity way in which people are born). I am supposed to accept their beliefs about me and other Trans folk because they are allowed to believe what they believe and I am supposed to smile and continue to have them in my life in any manner when their belief is a fundamental denial of who I am based on nothing more than their intractable position that someone who read an old book told them the old book said something that they should believe.

Sorry. You don’t get to be in my life. I accept that you have beliefs, but I don’t have to accept you in my life.

I accept that people have superstitions and need the comfort of religion. And I love many folks who are believers in deities and it may seem like I am being a judgemental ass or that I feel that I am superior having achieved a deity-free enlightenment (for the record: I am a judgemental ass and do feel that I am superior, but not because of my lack of deity-dependencies…just because I’m particularly awesome), but I can love them and have them in my life because they do not use their beliefs as an excuse to negate my pain and what I have had to do to live as authentically as I can. I also don’t talk about religion with them. It not my job to convert people to humanistic atheism (although if you are interested, message me and I will share the good word) and as long as it is not their job to try to make me believe in whatever they do, I can enjoy their company and friendship. It’s what I love about humanity at its best.

Now let’s speak for a moment about science projects.

Is my current state of being the product of scientific advances in medicine and body modification?

Yes.

You know someone who has had chemo and then a tumor removed?

Them too.

Cataracts replaced by IOLs?

Science!

Root Canal?

Yup.

The point being that medicine is the product of scientific advances that often require body modification to achieve the desired effects of a longer, healthier, happier life.

There’s a silly meme about a rapper bringing solar power to poor folks in Africa being more newsworthy than the very public transition of a formerly feted Olympian and reality show star whose primary occupation for the last decade has been to be the subject of media attention. In that meme, Jenner is referred to as a “science project” and people were offended. I was also offended, but more because a friend of mine shared the meme (he has since taken it down). The point was that there are more important things to focus on in the world than Caitlyn’s clothing choices and hair style. We should instead focus on famous people are acting more in the service of others.

Yeah. Okay. But seriously. We live in a tabloid world that revels in distractions…where people are killed because of paparazzi and those who invited paparazzi into their lives in their quest for the benefits of fame trying to escape from those people who make a living helping the famous make theirs (don’t try to make a living from fame if you’re not willing to accept that fame comes with camera-wielding lampreys who make their living from you).

I wish we lived in a world where people were more concerned with what is actually happening than what the media is doing to distract them from what is actually happening. If the media circus bothers you… If the inconsequential lives of the famous (although to be perfectly fair, for Trans folk, the coming out of a major personality is a big deal for the non-famous among us because it brings us that much further in from the fringe and more likely to be accepted without worrying about troubling legislation…baby steps). I’d rather people focus on the very terrible lives of most Trans people, especially those without privilege…heck, the pretty awful lives of most people without privilege, Trans or Cis.

If you’re truly upset that Caitlyn Jenner is pulling pop media focus from another famous person who, in an action apparently out of character for famous people, did something altruistic, then you are spending too much time looking at pop media. And, yeah, it shows up on your FB feed, but so do adds for cars or shoes or whatever else it was you were looking at and accidentally moused over a tracking pixel. You can take the click-bait or ignore it. You live in this social media world. To paraphrase Rush:

You can choose a ready guide in some commercial voice.

If you choose not to engage, you still have made a choice.

Choose free will.

The Transgender Moment™ Being Shoved In Your Face

On one level, the very public acknowledgement that “We’re here! We’re Trans! Get used to it!” is a good thing. It has begun the important dialogue that has been and will continue to move our lives in a positive direction. The more people accept Trans as part of the fabric of the everyday, the more the cis population will come to accept us and, most importantly, more trans people who will be able to accept and love themselves and live authentic lives. A good thing.

But for fuck’s sake it brings out the stupid in a big way. For every organization that becomes trans inclusive, let’s say The Girl Scouts, who have opened junior sales positions in their awesome cookie business to trans girls, there is a group of headless chickens such as The Charisma News who worry that little cis girls will be exposed to little trans girls (they say “trans boys,” not understanding the difference, nor caring really) and, well, let me share the words of officially recognized hate group leader, Tim Wildmon:

This means girls in the organization will be forced to recognize and accept transgenderism as a normal lifestyle. Boys in skirts, boys in make-up and boys in tents will become a part of the program. This change will put young, innocent girls at risk.

The risk is undefined. It is RISK! Mostly in that it fosters a society that recognizes and accepts difference. But this is the history of the Girl Scouts, who from their inception were integrated and who Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called, “a force for desegregation.” This is not a group likely to bend to the will of bigots and fear mongers who do not see difference as a cause for fear.

But we happy Trans represent Risk in the same way that teh Gay is Risk. Risk that their children might be one of us and see that as okay. Young people are too young to be able to make such determinations for themselves. Instead, they must be taught to make the alternate determination that we are dangerous to the fabric of society (perhaps because we need alterations made to the fabric so our clothes fit better?). They must be taught that our existence is shameful and inherently perverted because they are not too young to be taught that different is wrong and that if they feel different, they should hide that difference from everyone around them because that difference is inherently risky.

So the risk of backlash is that much greater because rather than not thinking about us at all, the fearful lovers of a bygone era where different people stayed out of sight and mind are now forced to read about us and watch stories about us on the TV and watch the Kardashians talk about us. Our existence is front and center on the stage and they are frightened because now anyone could be one of us and if we would just wear a sign or something so they would know we were in the bathroom with them then…I don’t know, they could pee elsewhere? They are more frightened that people they know might turn out to be us or their kids might turn out to be us, their daughter’s cookie selling partner might be one of us and then they will have to explain something to their kids about the world as it is and if they say we are okay, children’s minds will shatter…or something.

The Transgender Moment™ is not a bad thing, not one bit. But it will be a dangerous time of transition for the world because the old way never goes down without a fight.

Call for TV Casting

Hi all!  I was contacted by a representative from Magilla Entertainment who asked me to share this with you:

ARE YOU STRUGGLING WITH YOUR GENDER IDENTITY?

 Are you struggling with who you are?  Do you feel like you were born into the wrong body? Are you living life as the opposite gender you were given at birth? Magilla Entertainment and a major cable network are now casting men and women who identify as the opposite gender and who are considering going through a transition for a new docu-series. If you have been struggling with your gender identity and want the support of a coach or mentor as you transition, we want to hear your story. Following the “21 Day Myth” in which people can mentally and physically make changes after this specific time period, this docu-series will capture the excitement and fears of transgender individuals as they work with a mentor over 21 days to make life changing decisions and become who they truly are. If you think you are ready to embark on this journey, please contact us ASAP at castingdirector@magilla.tv with your name, age, location, occupation, contact phone number, a recent photo and a few sentences about yourself.

True Words from Josh Duggar

Star of reality freak show, 19 and Counting, says:

“I believe everyone deserves equal treatment under the law and that’s what we’re here standing for,” he said. “Right now in America there is an agenda to silence … those who hold a dissenting opinion. That’s not what America was founded on. America was founded on respect, tolerance, and really not discriminating against people based on their religious convictions.”

I also believe this. My religious convictions, or shall I say my convictions as a Humanist – not a religion, but a belief system none the less that is every bit as valid as whatever it is that the Duggerpeople believe in…probably more so because mine is based more on the words of Bill S. Preston Esq. & Ted “Theodore” Logan: Be Excellent To Each Other – allow for every to believe as they will so long as those beliefs do not infringe on the beliefs or practices of others. 

It is here where Mr. Duggar and I diverge because in my America, he can believe that same sex couples shouldn’t be married if it helps him sleep well at night, but same sex couples can still be married because their marriage does nothing to discriminate against his religious beliefs in any way that keeps him from having them. Whereas his beliefs display no effort to respect, tolerate or really not discriminate against people like me who just want everyone to be excellent to each other and, maybe every so often, party on, dude.

Anyone with a reality show about their parents insane fertility is not allowed to complain about an agenda of being silenced. When a family of Humanists, perhaps with two kids, gets a show about their less resource-intrusive life which does not require a school bus to get them from here to there and their beliefs about being excellent to each other and partying on from time to time, then we can talk.

The fact is, anyone can have a dissenting opinion just so long as that opinion does not infringe on the rights of others to believe and live as they will. Everyone is protected from everyone else’s religion. Not having everyone be forced to live by the rules of your religion is not silencing you or discriminating against you. You go on believing as you do and making too many babies if that’s your thing. I haven’t heard anyone trying to legislate against that (which would constitute systemic discrimination, btw).

Just saying…

Matt Walsh Is Not A Man. He Is An Animate Douchebag

mattwalsh

On Monday, a douchebag with the strange ability to communicate words via the internet to over 74,000 other animate douchebags showed exactly why all the talk of transgender tipping points and larger social acceptance of trans are, to me, overstated. It is nice to think that as the media is friendlier, so goes the nation. But this is not always the case. We can point to science and years of documented study, but animate douchebags such as Matt Walsh can simply negate all that by telling thir audiences what they believe to be true, despite all evidence to the contrary.

And here we have a question of rights. Do the douchebags have the right to believe we are as they say we are? Do I have the right to believe that Matt Walsh is not a human being at all, but a vaginal cleanser storage device capable of communicating irrational thought? I suppose we all have the right to believe as we will. But then we get to the question of acting on our beliefs. For instance, Matt Walsh wants society to negate us, deny our identities and consign us to suffer outside of what I suppose are a douchebag’s version of eyes. That’s his belief and he would ask people to act on it.

So if I believe him to be a spent piece of used trash, should I be able to throw him into a landfill and bury him with all the rest of societal refuse? As Matt Walsh is a douchebag (see photo), not a human at all (as I believe humans to be…I can cite studies by leading experts in what constitutes humanity), I believe he should be thrown away. You may believe he is a human being, but photographic evidence and lack of humanity prove otherwise.

Why is this so hard to understand?