Janet Mock is a transwoman author who has strong opinions on gender and the sex industry shared in this memoir. Mock discusses many topics, but this review will cover five: essentialism, the term “cis”, the term “fish”, hormone blockers for children, and the sex industry.
This is my response to the reactionary and misguided “A Statement of Trans-Inclusive Feminism and Womanism” (The Statement) posted at FeministsFightingTransphobia.wordpress.com.
We can all agree, I think, that people’s actual lives are more important than theoretical abstractions– including those related to “identity.” This is precisely why, as feminists, we demand acknowledgement for the lived realities and material conditions of women’s lives, including the social mechanics of sex-and-gender-assignment that ultimately give rise to women’s oppression. But beyond this, there are a truly alarming number of misrepresentations, inconsistencies, and logical errors in The Statement. I will address many of them below.
First things first, I want to point out that characterizing gender critical feminists as “transphobic feminists” remains unsupported where “transphobia” is not defined. Repeated use of this term to demonize a certain kind of political speech or political actor is clearly intended to be insulting rather than instructive; it serves as a way to shame us and any of our potential supporters into silence. Personally, I have no intention of insulting other feminists and escalating hostility by using similar epithets to describe them or their political views.
Throughout this response I will refer to myself and others who share my general view of gender as gender critical feminists (no acronym). Because that’s what we do. We are feminists who criticize gender as a harmful social construct that distributes power unequally.
In a recent anti-radical feminist screed, published prominently on several leftist blogs, a trans* activist attempted to equate gender critical analysis with homophobia. This is the latest twist on the conflation of the lesbian and gay rights political movement with the trans* political movement. And it’s the latest indication that it will be lesbians, other women, and girls who are most harmed by that conflation.
Though there are claims that our groups have reason to have a strong political alliance, it’s arguable that Gay, Inc. – the large, well-funded and influential political groups – created this conflation simply to increase funding and reach. There doesn’t seem to have been a period of time where lesbians and gay men were allowed any discussion or input about this decision. But there are obvious reasons to question the unholy alliance.
(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.