Over the past couple of days, we have seen a bit of an internet temper tantrum coming primarily from some in Britain, centering on some voices in the British commentariat, who are very upset about the fact that trans activists and allies have critiqued an unfortunate line in an article and rather blatantly transphobic comments on twitter by journalist Suzanne Moore (see for example my own previous comment about the issue here). Moore initially made an awkward, de-gendering reference to “Brazilian transsexuals” in her NewStatesman piece, followed by a blatantly transphobic tirade on twitter when gently approached about that odd line in the original article.

Let’s say something off the bat to put all of this in some context. The news media (as well as most every other media, in fact) has a long history of writing about trans people, and trans women in particular, in ways that…

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Pat's Handmaid

There has been a spike in the ongoing stream of ignorant and transphobic sentiments from various people lucky enough to have a platform to express their views to a large audience over the last few days. A casual transphobic slur from Suzanne Moore seems to have sparked off a wave of apologism and defence of a worldview in which, somehow, cisgender feminists are threatened and oppressed by transgender people. In which the existence of gender reassignment surgery is bad for feminism, and in which it’s OK to make disparaging and vitriolic comments about the trans community in order to get your point across because, well, reasons. FEMINIST REASONS, YO

I’m not going to waste my time or yours pointing out that this is bullshit, that I’m angry or that people have been hurt by this. If you’re one of the half dozen readers of this blog, you know all that.

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Note:An earlier version of the title of this article included the word “blind.” Someone pointed out to me that this usage was ableist, so I have changed it. Apologies for my mistake. –Savannah

Earlier this week, British journalist Suzanne Moore wrote a piece in the New Statesman titled “Seeing Red: the Power of Female Anger.” In the overarching theme of the article, Moore has a strong point to make: that women’s anger can be a powerful force for justice against male social dominance and patriarchy’s control over women’s lives and women’s bodies. It critiques soft-bellied mainstream liberal forces, for example, for attempting to cozy up to patriarchy regarding rape allegations against Julian Assange (see, for example, Naomi Wolf’s comments on the issue on Democracy Now).

That having been said, there are other feminist writers who have written similar critiques, and written them better. Moore hints…

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Nuclear Unicorn

If I were to give a measured reaction to Riki Wilchins now infamous “Transgender Dinosaurs” editorial in The Advocate, it would amount to this: it is yet another example of hierarchal inversion where we assign a moral-political value to genders and then exile the ones we disapprove of. The kind of visibility Wilchins writes about is based on a trendy ethic that suggests if you aren’t visibly out of the mainstream, then you’re The Man, and part of The Problem. This, however, neglects the fact that ‘standing out’ in that way carried unacceptable risks for most trans women, historically. It also ignores, from a moral perspective, that if we attach moral value only to accoutrement—or suggest that the latter is indispensable to moral behaviour—then we are creating an exclusionary, even bankrupt political ethic that is based simply on what is fashionable, not what is politically necessary.

We begin with this quote…

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Earlier this month, the Advocate published a piece from long-time trans activist Riki Wilchins titled “Transgender Dinosaurs and the Rise of the Genderqueers.” While Riki has a long history of trans activism, this piece has not been received very well by more than a few in the trans communities. Jake Pyne quickly put together a strong critique of Riki’s Advocate piece that appears at prettyqueer. I wrote part of my own response as a comment on Jake’s piece, but I decided after the fact to extrapolate my thoughts a bit and post them here.

In her recent piece, Riki Wilchins speaks of a first meeting with a young, beautiful trans girl of 13 years who will have the opportunity to obtain androgen blockers to delay the onset of puberty, which will give her a better opportunity to make decisions about her medical future when she is ready…

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I’d like to.

I really would.

But doing that would feel like a lie.

Because if I say I’m a feminist, what I’m saying is “I feel like I belong, like I’m safe, in feminist spaces”. And that, except for spaces which are specifically trans, is not true.

It’s because of a barrage of micro (and macro) aggressions conflating having a penis with receiving the material benefits of patriarchal manhood. Because so many feminists don’t care enough to know if someone they’re praising or quoting has a history of active transmisogyny and cissexism. It’s those constant microaggressions that tell me, continually, that feminism is not for me, even when feminists say otherwise. Sometimes even from feminists who say otherwise.

It’s because posts like this have to be written, among other reasons.

But, unlike some very dear friends of mine, I want to be able to call myself a feminist and…

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