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Reproductive Rights

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.

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Huffington Post and Autostraddle both ran articles on January 27th, 2014 about the hashtag #protransprochoice and a petition started by three young adults: Beck Martens, Alice Wilder, and Calliope Wong–a transwoman who caused a media flurry in 2013 about being denied application for enrollment at a female-only college while Wong was still legally and anatomically male. The Autostraddle article is entitled #ProTransProChoice: Launching A New Reproductive Rights Movement. That’s right, a whole New Movement to accommodate gender identities! I consider this a particularly disturbing example of conflating ‘gender identity’ with physical sex and a stark reminder of what “sex not gender” means.

The #protransprochoice call for a New Reproductive Rights Movement demands that NARAL and Planned Parenthood spend their precious, limited funds[1] on media campaigns that explicitly cater to the gender identities of trans* people:[2]

The rhetoric of the pro-choice movement is typically based around the assumption that only folks who identify as women are hurt by restrictions on reproductive health care – such as abortion and contraception. #StandWithTexasWomen took the stage in 2013; “Trust Women” has been the mantra of this movement for decades. This language excludes trans* and gender non-conforming (GNC) people and thus, the movement has failed to address our reproductive and sexual health needs.

The offense is that speaking of “women” generally does not affirm or validate the identities of trans* people. Referring to abortion as a “woman’s” issue is unacceptable because, one, it does not include reference to female-born transmen who might need abortions and, two, not all “women” have vaginas. It makes trans* people feel unimportant and left out of the conversation. The #protransprochoice hashtag is just the latest iteration of on-going attempts from the pro-trans lobby to de-sex the way we speak about reproductive rights.[3]

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The media was horrified when Christina Aguilera appeared on stage in 2012, with what appeared to be menstrual blood running down her leg during a performance at Etta James’ memorial service. The barrage of tweets that followed described the incident as gross, embarrassing or speculated that it was really fake tan. But whether the comments were negative or supportive, the uniform assumption was that any woman would be embarrassed to have menstrual blood running down her leg in public. And yet, this would not always have been the public view.

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(Note : this post was inspired by a comment I made over on the Ms. Magazine)1

If you’ve been paying attention to latest events and declarations by transwomen and transfeminists, you might be wondering, like I am, why transfeminism contains the word “feminism” at all.  Feminism is about the liberation of FEMALES/WOMEN from the system of MALE/MEN’S dominance (patriarchy), so one would expect any term containing the word “feminism” to have at least *some* connection to females (I am using the word female here to mean the majority of women in the world who have been assigned female at birth, including intersex, and raised as girls/women, in contrast to trans women, who were assigned male at birth,  have lived and been socialized as men, and remain biologically male even after -or if- they transition).  And yet, as transfeminism becomes more mainstream, it seems to be narrowly focused on only a few issues that are specific to trans people only, and not even exclusive to trans WOMEN.

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Last week, the Kansas-based organization Operation Rescue posted papers from an abortion clinic on their website. The documents were not official patient records, but included names, ages, phone numbers, photocopies of driver’s licenses, sonograms, and other personal identifying information for 86 women and girls who received care in the month of April. While the group was nice enough to redact the names before publishing the documents for all to see, Operation Rescue is still in possession of that information – stolen information, of course.

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Guest Post by Betty McLellan

In the United States, an individual’s right to “free speech” is sacrosanct.  Consider these examples of free speech: a little-known pastor of a small congregation in Florida, first, threatened to burn the Koran and, then, in spite of the huge outcry against such an action, did actually burn the Koran — and he did it in the name of free speech. He claimed he had a right to exercise his freedom of speech with no thought for possible consequences.

More recently, again in the US, an anti-abortion activist named Angel Dillard sent threatening and intimidating messages to a Kansas doctor who performs abortions, yet ultimately escaped punishment in court.

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So. I heard in the news recently that pregnant women having natural abortions (ie miscarriages/stillbirths) are now up for murder charges with life imprisonment.  More ‘bad mother’ stuff. I suppose we can be grateful if they don’t get the death penalty.  Witches caused miscarriages too,  gave their foetuses the Evil Eye or some such, so they were burned at the stake.  “Women are being stripped of their constitutional personhood and subjected to truly cruel laws,” said Lynn Paltrow of the campaign National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW). “It’s turning pregnant women into a different class of person and removing them of their rights.”

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