I just read more commentary about the midwife controversy over who gives birth and breastfeeds babies, while having to look at the arrogant mug of the breastfeeding transman who has attacked women for wanting to use the word “woman.” It reminded me of Elizabeth Hungerford’s brilliant three points about “if transwomen are women” and I decided to adapt it.
The maxim “trans men are men” is either a false equivalency or we’re going to have to re-write every dictionary and encyclopedia and medical textbook and pretty much all of recorded human history, science, and language.
I maintain that the maxim is false, for at least these three reasons.
First, it means that being raised as a girl from birth into adulthood has no bearing on becoming a woman because one can be a “man” even if one has the formative childhood experiences of a female and no formative childhood experiences of a male.
Which then means that all the experiences a person has as a boy from birth into young adulthood are not important or relevant aspects of being a man.
Second, it means that having a female body is not an important or relevant aspect of being a woman because one can be a “man” while being female bodied.
Which then means that having a male body (with a penis, testicles, and XY chromosomes, among many other things) is not an important or relevant aspect of being a man.
Third, it means that to be a “man” simply and only reflects an individual’s desired identification with the social category “man” and ceases to designate the person with the inability to get pregnant, carry a child, and breastfeed that child.
So, rather than serving as shorthand for the physical and cumulative experiential realities specific to those people who are born and live their lives into adulthood as males, the word “man” can be used by females who “feel like” men.
And rather than serving as a shorthand for the physical and cumulative experiential realities specific to those people who are born and live their lives into adulthood as females, the word “woman” is transphobic and should never be used when referring to females who are pregnant, giving birth, or breastfeeding. (Note that this is not the case with using the word “man” to designate the male people who contribute the sperm to pregnancies. Has any group been petitioned to stop referring to the “man” and instead call him the “non-pregnant other-23-chromosome-contributor parent”? Also note that if such a thing were requested, no mention could be made of the merely apocryphal Y chromosome.)
So if there are still people who are very clear that it is men who are capable of providing the sperm to make females pregnant, at the same time there are “men” who are objectively not capable of making females pregnant, but “men” who are capable of being pregnant and breastfeeding babies, at the same time that most people are clear that men are not capable of that, what do the words “man” and “men” mean and who gets to decide?
And if there are still people who are very clear that it is women who are capable of being pregnant and breastfeeding babies, at the same time there are “women” who are objectively not capable of being pregnant and breastfeeding babies, but “women” who are capable of getting females pregnant, at the same time that there are people who are clear that women are not capable of that, what do the words “woman” and “women” mean and who gets to decide?
Those are not rhetorical questions.