(As a note: This applies to womanism too, as womanism only fully expands the women's rights lens to issues of race but still leaves trans women in the dust more often than not.)

I'm sure we all have a pretty good idea of the cardinal elements of feminism. Feminism, at its most simple is a movement designed to combat the effects of sexism, misogyny and the power structure and marginalization created by the patriarchy. A social reform specialization of humanism/egalitarianism, if you will.

There are certain lacks in it that are understandable. It doesn't specifically handle a lot of men's issues (mostly because its hands are full with women's issues). It doesn't directly address things like race and disability (although some feminists try to). It doesn't directly address general trans issues (although it should be addressing transmisogyny as that's basically sexism squared.)

There's also womanism that attempts to address the racial issues that intersect on the bodies of WOC.

There are many subcategories, branch offs and connected zones of feminism. Gender deconstructionism, rad fem, essentialist feminism, etc. The ones I'm going to concentrate on right now is gender deconstructionism and rad fem (and some of this is also extendable to womanism).

There is this inclination to theorize on why trans people exist. After all, we flip a lot of apple carts just by being around. This inclination doesn't just take place in trans folk (we would naturally be curious as to our origins) but also among rad fems and gender deconstructionists. Unfortunately these attempts to figure us out usually involve a good chunk of generalization and ignorance of our experiences, mindsets, psychology and histories. But even the analysis being flawed isn't a serious issue. Where the serious issue arises is how people decide that suddenly trans bodies and trans lives come after the agenda.

I'm sure at least some of you had read over clarifications on Dworkin's viewpoint on the matter over at Daisy's locale. Her views are still pretty transphobic but for her time she was quite a bit ahead. And the things she points out in as guidelines for dealing with it are words to live by.

"every transsexual has the right to survival on his/her own terms. That means every transsexual is entitled to a sex-change operation, and it should be provided by the community as one of its functions. This is an emergency measure for an emergency condition."

Yes, certainly a product of her times, in that the wording is transsexual, surgery and binary specific (and as is abundantly clear there is a wide wide world of transgender beyond the transsexual zone, that has entirely different needs and is classified differently within the trans movement) but here, let me highlight the really important part:

"...every transsexual has the right to survival on his/her own terms."

Allow for social change and the expansion of the world comprehension to future day where the transgender community exists (and for the purposes of this post, I'm going to operate the terms normally, so TG includes TS under the umbrella envelope, as well as nonbinaries, who have enough fucking problems as it is) and you can extend this basic statement's intent to incorporate all those suffering from the misalignment that a gendered world at least contributes to badly:

"...every person in the TG umbrella has the right to survival on his/her/hir/their own terms"

It really doesn't matter what you think causes the varying types of "trans-ness". And quite obviously, even if you have a pet theory for one of the types (like why people crossdress without dysphoria or why transsexuals have dysphoria) chances are that won't yield much on the others. And for some things (like GID, which is based on symptoms and likely multicausal) even your pet theory may not describe every case. But really, it still doesn't matter what you think causes it, because in the end, any action you take must still honor our right to our own bodily domain and our self determination.

Any rights/social reform ideology, of any kind, that demands one group give up their basic self determination to what they do with their own bodies, is broken. Full stop. A social reform and rights movement can not hope to have the basic credibility it requires if it marginalizes another group based on its theories.

And when you interfere in things like transsexual surgeries and hormones, nonbinary self expression, crossdresser clothing choices (and etc) you are denying those groups their self determination. It is no different than a woman forced into being a housewife or forced into being a businesswoman. It is no different than the slut shamers demanding that you not have sex. But it goes even further than that. Even if you take no action, even if you don't interfere directly, just attacking it, demanding that I (and they) live according to your theories or views is unacceptable.

When you demand that a nonbinary just step away from gender entirely or tell a transsexual woman that her surgeries are encouraging the patriarchy and demand she stop, you are impinging on self determination. And in the end denial of choice for one's own body is against every fucking iota of what feminism and womanism stands for. Sure feminism might be specialized towards protecting women's choices and options regarding our own bodies. Sure womanism might extend that to include race. But that basic principle of bodily domain is central to feminism and womanism, to violate it on anyone else is the worst, most heinous, most disgusting form of hypocrisy. And to stand by while it happens, to not stand against it, is just as bad.

It is a hypocrisy that wears away at the very fabric of of your movement's credibility (for either movement). A hypocrisy that begs the question, "if you can't honor the bodies of others, why should anyone honor yours?" This makes you as bad as the patriarchy. This makes you as bad as the enemy you fight, because you dehumanized a group that has less power than you, all because it makes you feel like you achieved something.

This is unacceptable. This makes you a shit poor feminist if you do it or allow it to happen on your watch. Same for any womanist guilty of this. This is why many trans women do not trust you. This is why even those who do trust you are wary and careful, lest we get attacked or faced with unreasonable demands too.

The responsibility lies upon you to clean up your movement (whichever one it may be). To stop the abhorrent transphobic hypocrisy and the using of our bodies for your agenda. Every single one of you shares in that responsibility. Every single one of you bears that similar burden that every single one of men bear to fight violence against women, speak out against the rape culture and break the social cycles of oppression. And for the womanists, it's that similar burden that every single one of white folk bear to fight silencing of POC, see through the White Noise and fight the social cycles of oppression there. It's about damn time you all starting doing what you ask of, no DEMAND, men and white folk to do for you.

Get your agenda the fuck off my body.

In a discussion that originally was built around Kennedy's pragmatic (but sucky) dropping of the trans community in the ENDA during the Bush era (on the post about Kennedy on Alas, A Blog), the topic eventually turned to the visibility of nonbinary folk as a part of the trans community (and shifted to the link farm post as it started to get off topic). Well, a few comments in, it became abundantly clear that one of the commenters had some serious bigotry against nonbinaries. Ampersand, always a calmer speaker than me, put it best: "And since you’re not, as far as I know, non-binary, I find it more than a little arrogant of you to lecture non-binary people on what term they ought use to describe themselves and their lives." (You can scroll up and view most of the comment line, the only stuff relevant to this entry is the nonbinary parts)

It goes beyond just that particular conversation though. A pretty firm bunch of binary TS folk are actually pretty damn bigoted against nonbinaries. I've seen it in multiple support sites and even in an IRL support group (the anti binary bs was stamped down quickly in my favorite support group, unfortunately the one who ran it so well is moving on to other things. I've already wished her luck in person but I'm gonna miss her skills in keeping that place safe and supportive). On the Site That Shall Not Be Named (because seriously, I think the owner is just crazy enough to sue me over this truth and I can't afford legal costs even though I'd win. The STSNBN First mentioned here) the section of the forum for androgynes (the most prominent of nonbinary umbrella terms) was actually shut down several times for some seriously bullshit reasons and sometimes no reason at all. Numerous people on the site regularly hassled androgynes, claiming that they were just transsexuals who were on the fence or confused, or calling them "trendy" was regularly let go by the moderators, despite the rules against hate speech.

You would expect this mostly from the fallacy and paranoia driven vehement hate machine of the Neo HBS separatists but it's not just them doing this. In fact some of the Neo HBS separatists have actually done better than the rest of the TS community and taken a live and let live, just separately, approach with nonbinaries, which is hella better than attacking their very existence. I don't know whether some binary TS folk see nonbinaries as a threat to their own identity or if it's just the "omg difference" bullshit that sits at the center of every instance of bigotry in every case. Or if it's even an attempt to garner more safety by getting cookies from the cis oppression factory by kicking "those freaks" to the curb (which tends to be the Modus Operandi of the Neo HBSers). I do know that a lot of the arguments come down to the concept that we "have two sexes" and ergo can't have more than two identities. We already know that split between male and female and the exclusion of other variations in body structure is pretty much cissexist bullshit and a massive, even dangerous, oversimplification of bodily development. So right from the beginning, that argument is rife with failure. But there are also arguments that have their basis in the hypothesis that something about the brain creates the identity and the dysphoria. The Neo HBSers go with some kind of neurological intersexed (NI) model (which tends to just impinge on IS folk, but another story for another time) and others, like myself, attribute a bodily integrity instincts (BII) model which isn't essentialist and doesn't colonize IS folk. The previous theory's essentialist aspects are what makes them feel threatened by transitioning nonbinaries with dysphoria (essentially a nonbinary transsexual, although currently the terminology fails to reflect this) because it apparently challenges the concept of a "female/male brain". Well actually it doesn't, one only has to add more sexes onto the essentialist theory to accommodate nonbinaries. But that's not a great solution due to the flaws in essentialist theory to begin with.

And the latter theory is often coupled with a complete lack of realization that hey, if there's bodily instincts that reflect body structure (or fail to reflect it and create dysphoria in cases of BIID and some instances of GID) then they could reflect multiple types of body structure, even those outside of the male/female dichotomy. Which goes back to the brokenness of male/female binarism as already linked in the oversimplification mention above. So really, pretty much all of the theories (social model, NI model, BII model, psychological model, etc) are nonbinary inclusive, they just require people to get the fuck over their binarism and their binary privilege.

That's right, there's binary privilege. It's the privilege of having the very concept of one's identity and one's designation as far as gender goes accepted, unchallenged and validated by society. Binary trans folk, like myself, might get challenged on the basis of our bodies or transphobia, but the word woman and the word man and their connected pronouns are not themselves challenged and attacked. Unlike nonbinaries, who have to defend on two fronts. Specifically whether their pronoun is applicable and whether their identity exists at all.

Binary privilege (or bin privilege as I call it sometimes) is something I have and it is something my partner does not have. I've made some stupid statements about nonbinaries before to my partner, who was understandably upset, so like any form of privilege, it can affect (and often does affect) everyone within its zone whether you empathize with or care for a nonbinary. Including binary trans folks too who you would think would know better.

It's just absolutely enraging when bin trans people use the exact same fucking broken logic that is used against us to attack and marginalize nonbinaries. Hypocritical bullshit like that boggles the mind.

The conversation linked at the beginning was a bit of a first, though. I had yet to meet someone who used the misconstrued rad fem rhetoric to attack just nonbinaries and not transsexuals or individuals of transsexual history (when the twisted rhetoric is easily applied to binary transition and often is by rad fem transphobes). The sheer level of mind boggling hypocrisy and lack of awareness as to how inconsistent that was sort of blew me away. But it does give me an opportunity to address the rad fem twisting arguments as applied to nonbinaries and binary folk.

In the end, no matter how hard we fight, gender will not be stripped from society and removed as a force of harm any time soon. Which means that the people suffering need to do something in the meantime to survive. Marginalized women need to operate feminist discourse (even though it uses gendered language), transsexuals (binary or nonbinary) need to transition in some way to reduce the dysphoria and non TS transgender folk (binary or nonbinary) need to assert their identities and safeguard their self expression. All of this is done in the meantime. None of this means people aren't fighting the gender system. Any rad fem or person using rad fem rhetoric who tries to justify preventing these mid term survival methods is a fucking idiot transphobe and is also setting up cis women to be harmed (or alternately is inconsistent about the argument, since it can be applied to feminist discourse's language itself, fuck even the word feminism itself.)

So in the end, I've addressed trans binarism, rad fem transphobic bullshit used to skewer nonbinaries, and how the hypotheses of gender dysphoria don't exclude nonbinaries if you aren't a binarist asshole.

Because really, I think it's time we started taking note. Nonbinaries should not be our punching bags.
The "R" Word Series on Rape is a series of posts wherein individuals (not just me) describe their situations, challenging common views on healing and victim mentalities and challenging common conventions among society at large on rape.

These posts may be immensely triggering. I would advise to read with caution.


The "R" Word Series: "Made of Glass" and "Broken Goods"

~~~Trigger Warning~~~
This post deals with rape and describes a situation of rape.

Important Note: Parts of this post came from another entry I wrote a while ago in a different place. If you make the connection between that place and this place do not out me by mentioning it here. I have made some minor grammar and sentence structure corrections and I have cut out parts that might endanger me or my privacy or the privacy of others. The identities of the people written about in this post are not to be revealed. That goes for everyone. Even the perpetrator written about here. I'm looking to write this to move on, to share what I went through, not to strike out at the person who victimized me.

It occurs to me that I can't remember if I explicitly said yes or not. People tell me that a drunken yes given to an abusive partner who has coerced you before isn't much in terms of consent, but that does sort of blur the lines as to whether it was rape or just an incredibly fucked up way of treating someone sexually.

I know I didn't want it. That is for sure. I know I curled into a ball and cried and that was what stopped my ex from having sex with me. I'm also absolutely sure that curling into a ball was about all I could manage with how drunk and out of it I was, otherwise I probably would have pushed my ex away or flailed a bit. I know my ex had "good intentions", to help me with a sexual issue. But it was also one I never planned on testing and certainly never wanted to test with my ex-partner. Somehow, I don't think getting me drunk and fucking me until I cry really meshes with "good intentions."

Although my ex did start crying after I recovered my composure a little, repeating over and over that they had raped me and that they didn't deserve life or something (I was still really drunk and sort of in that haze that mental trauma causes, so I don't recall exacts). Maybe it was just a stupid mistake on my ex's part. Or does intent really matter here? The damage was still done to me. And was I really so abused that I didn't recognize what had happened? Didn't see red flags? Ugh.

I dunno. I can handle talking about it a bit more. [...] But maybe not. I don't really want everyone to know what happened to me.

Society has this really fucked up view on people who have been sexually abused, sexually assaulted or raped. Or really abused in any way or form. They see people like that as damaged goods or a victim that has to be protected and can't protect themselves. One leads to a massive lowering in self worth and the other leads to learned helplessness. Neither one is acceptable to me. I refuse to let this rule me and make me into the victimized woman stereotype.

Yeah, I may have an anxiety attack when I see a lookalike of my ex, but I can protect myself, reduce chances and learn how to fight off an assailant while learning how to handle those I trust if they turn out to be untrustworthy in that horrible way. I owe it to myself to learn these things and do them and to avoid learned helplessness. My poor judgment in letting my ex give me that many drinks or even drinking them doesn't justify what my ex did. But it is a lesson to learn from. I know not to get drunk about people who are sexually interested in me or to have a sober protector/babysitter in place for when I am drunk. I didn't deserve what happened because I failed to get those protections in place with my ex. It wasn't my fault that my ex chose to do what they did. But not having those protections was a mistake and if I learn from it I can protect myself better in the future.

The other one really bothers me a lot. I am not damaged goods. I am not somehow of less worth because I was emotionally and psychologically abused. I am not of somehow of less worth because my ex sexually assaulted or abused me or possibly even raped me (depending on what this incident counts as). It may have given me some trauma related problems but I am still a beautiful, loving, intelligent sexual being who is capable of loving another intimately and being loved intimately in return.

Handling me like I'm made of broken china because of what happened is not acceptable. I will give my boundaries and I will share what hurts and what doesn't. Honor those boundaries and then work as normal for everything else. Avoiding the topic around me or being super protective of me isn't acceptable. The more I'm handled as though I'm damaged, the less capable I'll think I am and the more helpless and worthless I'll feel. I lost my sense of control from that relationship, and I'm trying to regain it. People shouldn't interfere by robbing me of it again in their good intentions.

[My partner] has been amazing in both respects. Giving me suggestions for self protection, not being afraid to take risks with me sexually but knowing and avoiding the boundaries that I've set. I'm lucky to have [my partner], I really am. I'm not seen as a victimized person nor as damaged goods. I'm a woman who was hurt. Hurt badly yes, but I'll heal. And I am strong. I am resolute.

I refuse to be broken.

I've recovered in some ways. This was the third out of a set of writings in which I try to come to grips with what happened to me. The first was completely self blaming, denial filled and loaded with self loathing. The second writing had a lot of excuses for my ex partner and in that I had a hard time even using the word rape.

You can see that even in this third writing, I have a hard time with it. Lines like, "that does sort of blur the lines as to whether it was rape or just an incredibly fucked up way of treating someone sexually" are very telling on the state of my self blame.

In reality, it doesn't blur the lines at all. A coerced yes is not consent and it will never be consent. This is a very clear precept in how we understand the concepts of consent, sexual trauma, unwanted contact and the violence of even rapes that don't involve beatings or physical injury. Marcella from abyss2hope goes in great detail on why even just pushing a girl (or a guy) with intimidation, persistent harassment, or mind altering substances until they "give it up" is unacceptable.

The fact was, my ex got me very very very drunk. And then my ex (who had gotten very drunk too) started sexual contact, engaging in a particular sex act that was (and still is) very triggering for me due to my dysphoria. And my ex only stopped when I pulled myself into as tight of a ball as I possibly could and started crying.

I can't say if the attitudes and mental problems that created the abusive behavior in my ex (and eventually led to my ex raping me) are still present. It is possible that my ex is completely rehabilitated, feels awful about what happened in the past and is just trying to live out a regular life. Hence, my mention above. This is for closure and healing. And so my ex's privacy must be protected as well. This is partly in my interest as well. I am utterly paralyzed by fear of that particular person deciding to come after me and so protecting my ex's privacy helps protect me from retribution.

However there are some really important things mentioned there too, things that I'm happy I realized back then. For instance, society's attitude on victims of rape is all kinds of fucked up.

I'm not just talking about rape apologists, the doubters ("are you sure you were raped?", "but is such a wonderful person!") people who exclude groups from being able to be raped (the idiots who claim men can't be raped, or that sex workers can't be raped, etc, more reading on Harriet's Fugitivus blog post, it's far down in the post) and the predatory Wooers or practitioners of Nice Guyism (Marcella handled that perfectly in the link above).

I'm talking about the people who agree rape is bad for all people, unacceptable and don't practice predatory techniques to get sex but have the "damaged goods" and "poor broken victim" attitudes. (I'll handle nice guyism in another post.)

The fact is, when you shy away from someone who has been raped as though there's this stain on them, that fucking hurts. That hurts a lot and only contributes intensely to the shame that I feel in general for what happened and self loathing that comes out of it. I've thankfully only met a few people who wouldn't enter into a relationship or have sex with someone who was raped and really, they had their excuses but none of them held water.

"I'm afraid of hurting her" - She won't break if you touch her, asshole. Why don't you ask her for her boundaries and what to do if you accidentally go past one. And then if you accidentally go over one, it'll be rare and you'll know what to do to help her.

"She'll never fully trust me" - It isn't about you. No one fully, completely trusts another person. We all have at least some level of secrecy and doubt. The fact is, a lack of trust built from trauma can be overcome, if you're willing to put a little work into earning that trust. And considering how women are treated on a regular basis you would have to do that kind of work anyways, no matter what girl you were with.

And the poor broken victim attitude is debilitating. These are the folks that refuse to let me define my own boundaries based on what I need, but overshoot them based on what they think I need. I am not made of glass. There seems to be this attitude in society that people who have been raped, sexually assaulted and/or abused are going to fall into a million pieces at a moment's notice. This constant pity, this treating with kid gloves, it sucks. And it often leads to people forgetting what I actually need and breaking my boundaries in ways that they've gone out of their way to avoid (and poorly). Because they aren't willing to listen to my boundaries and my triggers (and instead think they know better) they often overstep those boundaries and end up hurting me from an unexpected angle. What sucks about this is they use it as further excuse to pity and bubble wrap me more.

In the end, I will recover. Slowly, carefully, painfully, this wound will heal into a scar. The throat closing anxiety I feel when I even see something written by my ex or a lookalike will lower as time passes. The fear I feel that my ex will find me will fade. The flashbacks will become less common, less intense and terrifying.

And writing these things is part of that process. By putting this out there yet again, I can confront my past and my wounds and continue to heal.

I went from someone who thought she would never be raped (who felt dismayed and amazed that so many people she knew had been), to someone who stayed in denial for a long while about being raped and abused, to someone who fell apart and put herself back together again (always with the help of my family and friends) to someone who now can look on what happened to her and learn things about society and herself in the process. And maybe help some other folks who have gone through that kind of trauma too.

I'll say it again: I refuse to be broken.
Ever heard the name Mary Jo Kopechne? No? What about the second run of the GLBT ENDA? No for that too?

Well then boys and girls and all those who break out of the binary, I've got some stories to tell you. Let's start with Mary Jo Kopechne. She was a teacher and speechwriter/secretary for several politicians, including Robert Kennedy. She was also part of the fondly remembered Boiler Room Girls, a tough set of ladies who played a vital (even central) role in gaining campaign intel, crunching numbers and advising for Robert's campaign.

She was a politically saavy, smart, demure woman. Someone you could really admire. She was also tough. Even with how much it hurt her when Robert Kennedy was assassinated, she still jumped back into politics. (further reading on her)

Well, she's dead now. Due to an "incident" (because it's always fun to reduce the impact of something by calling it an "incident") called the "Chappaquiddick Incident". It started at a party reunion for the Boiler Room Girls. Lots of folks were there, including Ted Kennedy. We won't know the details of the "incident" as well as we could because in the end, all there is are statements from Kennedy and some peripheral witnesses.

According to good ol' Ted, she requested a ride back to her hotel. Instead of getting his chauffeur to drive them, Kennedy decided to drive her himself, because the driver was having a good time and he apparently didn't want to trouble him. Some things right off the bat that make this story a little bit iffy: Kopechne did not bring her purse or her hotel key with her. Kopechne did not tell anyone else at the party she was leaving with Kennedy. Suspicious? A bit, yes.

It gets worse.

The car was allegedly spotted by Chris Look, a deputy sherrif. He spotted the car going down a private road and worried they were lost. He got up to it as the car was backing towards him, called out to see if they needed help and was immediately left in the car's dust. That's right, Kennedy allegedly sped away from a police officer. Well golly. More suspicious things.

And, driving down an unpaved dirt road at about 20 miles per hour (according to his own statements) and reached a bridge that wasn't angled perfectly with the road. He applied his brakes just before the hitting the bridge and then went right over it. The car hit the water and sank. And he swam up alone, leaving Kopechne there to drown. He claimed that he called her name a few times when he reached shore and tried to swim down to her, but there's no witnesses to confirm this, so we'll really never know (especially now that he's dead).

He also passed by 4 houses he could have stopped and phoned help from on his way to the original site of the party (which also had a phone). One of these houses was barely 150 yards from the bridge and the owner distinctly remembered leaving a light on before she went to sleep. Whereas Kennedy claimed to have seen no lights on his way. Oh and he didn't use the phone at the party's cottage

Troubled yet?

He apparently didn't tell the other women there, only two guys he knew (including the party's host). Why not get a large group of people to dive in and check or get the authorities? Oh and he gave his two buddies the impression he would notify the authorities when he got back to Edgartown. Well he didn't. Even after his buddies came by to argue with him about it. And the car was found by some people and that was how this "incident" was reported. The worst part? One of the people (a diver) sent to check the car concluded that Kopechne was in an air bubble in the car and could have been rescued had there been a call 5 or 6 minutes in (allowing time to get there for him), like say from that house 150 yards away, she could have been rescued alive. (further reading on that)

Funny how no one seems to give a shit about her now, even on feminist blogs with how suspicious this "incident" is, in all their attempts to honor Kennedy and his death. As Daisy (who wrote on this topic too) mentioned to me on twitter, "bros before hos right?"

Bros before hos, indeed.

Oh, well shit, I almost forgot about the GLBT ENDA that he was sponsoring. Oh wait, I'm sorry, did I say GLBT? You'll have to forgive me, because I temporarily thought he'd put human rights over political maneuvering. As it turns out (if you followed the link, you'll already know) that the ENDA is a GLB ENDA. Yep. No T in there. Because you see, trans folk are too politically risky for a bit shot to help. We got dropped by the HRC and then we got dropped by Kennedy.

No wonder most of the feminist blogs praising his name are written by cis women. Gosh, I love being an invisible minority. Good times.

But hey, Bros before Hos, right guys? Of course, he also fucked over the bros of the trans community and all the gender neutral, gender awesome, gender varying folk too. So really, it goes far beyond Bros before Hos.

But hey, have fun with the selective memory/hearing thing. Don't give a shit about the how much the Chappaquiddick "Incident" looks like a Chappaquiddick Negligent Homicide Cover-up or even, quite possibly, a Chappaquiddick Murder. Continue talking about how this guy was a champion of the underdog while ignoring that he kicked the trans underdogs to the curb.

Have fun. "Bros before Hos" and all that jazz.
Update: A friend of mine mentioned sexual violence and dehumanization targeting queer men and trans men by straight cis women, so I'll wait till she comments in greater detail before I make any major edits.

Something new and shitty happens every week to further drive home the point that male privilege, sexism and the rape culture is alive and well and that we have a lot of work ahead of us to fight those things.

Relatively recently someone called my phone, most likely a straight cis guy, and asked me if I could masturbate for him. I hung up and he called several more times (presumably, I didn't actually pick up the phone). The fact that some pissant asshole thinks he has a right to call a random girl and sexually harass her over her phone, without any indication that she wanted to be sexual with him, is pretty fucking disgusting.

And this attitude is part of what fuels the rape culture. This idea that women can be subjected to unwanted sexual attention and that it isn't an issue stems from the overriding ideology that we don't own our own bodies, that instead, our bodies are up for grabs from whomever is willing to make the grab. Someone tried to make the grab using the phone and when I hung up, they didn't honor that very obvious and very explicit rejection, further cementing the impression that they don't view me as the owner of my own body. It's scary, it's creepy and it left me feeling really fucking unsafe. It's a huge disregard for bodily domain, something only really taken seriously when it's violated on people who have power and privilege in society. The more -isms descend on your head, the less likely a violation of your bodily domain, your space and you, will be cared about. Women are still pretty damn far down that pyramid.

These attitudes are why women are raped so damn much, by men. Obviously, men are raped by men and women two and there are thousands of combinations of perpetrator and victim when you look at the nonbinaries, but none of the numbers really come close to the sheer ridiculous amounts of rapes that cisgendered straight men perpetrate against woman of all types and stripes (including trans women, IS women, lesbian women, black women, white women etc). There are racial, transphobic and homophobic elements that come into play too that can get minorities targeted more heavily, but I can't go into that as well as this (beyond the trans and maybe lesbian side of it) because my privilege makes it hard to speak on racial elements in this when I'm speaking from my own experiences. So if any people of color are reading right now, please do add some perspective on how race factors into the rape culture. If you're willing, I can even add in some edits with mentions of what you say.

So, these ridiculous numbers? They're a fucking problem. And this is from someone who, before transition, did not see this attitude of dehumanization women face as so widespread. So I am giving you the solid mention of someone who has experienced this shift, if the numbers aren't enough to make it clear.

Something is very wrong in Western Society. So yes, we still need feminism and womanism.
In case you didn't know (and you probably do) I am a MtF transsexual (by official definitions). By less official (my own) definitions I am a badass awesome genderfuckery factory who was born with a certain body and figured out that oh shit, that body fucking hurts me and that's not normal to feel that way (I assumed everyone did at first XD) and then proceeded to change it to a body that didn't hurt. And I default myself sociologically to this category called "girl" because it's just easier with breasts, curves, reduced body hair and (soon to be) a vagina to go by that title.

But enough about my atypical nature among the trans realm. Let's talk about that MtF section.

Male To (2, t, ->) Female. What does that mean? Well presumably, it means that I started out male (or still am male) and I transformed to (or I'm currently transforming to, or I'd like to transform to) female. But wait, what does that mean?

Here's where the water gets muddy.

According to science (specifically biology) female and male are terminology used to represent two sections of the variance present in a sexually dimorphic species. This, at the very most, is really just an expression that there is a certain type of human that generates sperm and a certain type of human that generates ovum and somehow the sperm and the ovum get together, either in one of the types or outside them both (like in many fish). According to the most basic application of this scientific language, the only parts of us that are male or female are the testis and penis and ovaries, uterus and vagina complex. And this language only treats one as relevantly male or female if these organs are all present and fully functional. So at its most basic application the description of sexually dimorphic characteristics loses all relevance to anyone without all of the relevant organs for one side or the other (hacked out uterus? No longer relevantly female, etc etc)

The reason why this isn't (scientifically) applicable past that point is that there isn't all that much evidence for sexual dimorphism beyond... well pretty much just those traits. The sheer level of variation between individuals actually outweighs any variation between the sexes. Not only this, but the closest you can get with "secondary sexual traits" (which is why science calls developed breasts on females, flat chests on males, body hair levels, body shape, facial hair etc) is a statistically slightly higher incidence of these traits in one sex or another. What is this dependent on? Estrogen and Testosterone (and a lower amount of effects from peripheral sex hormones like Progesterone). Why are these hormones (who are so intimately tied in our minds with female and male) resulting in different body types, shapes and looks? Well because they aren't guaranteed to be in the same levels in every "female" and "male" person. The variation is actually pretty high. There are averages but they aren't an epic majority and since responses to hormones (insensitivity vs. oversensitivity in receptors, please smack me if I get too biology science terminology heavy. XD) also differ between people, irregardless of sex. Sooooo, even averaged hormone levels won't react exactly the same between female people and male people.

Case in point: A young woman named Caster Semenya is currently getting put through "gender testing" (basically a scientific joke of arbitrary bullshit). Now there's a lot of awful crap at play here, like the delegitimization of common structure and looks among POC (people of color) in the face of the looks and structure of European women. I'm not going to go too deeply into that, because I, as a very white person with all the privilege my exceedingly pale skin and European features affords, am woefully inadequate in the perspective necessary to speak on issues POC face. A bit more on the more POC orientated perspective on this can be spotted at Womanist Musings where Monica (a trans woman of color, if I remember right) from TransGriot guest posted on the topic. The fact is, this gender testing is only being pulled out of the asses of the folks in the sports realm because she doesn't fit certain averages and not only that but averages of a given culture! They are using cultural averages (European) as a basis for sex in general! It doesn't get more arbitrary and stupid than that. The whole sports thing really shows just how troublesome these lines drawn in the sand are, because of how much of an effect training can have on both men and women in aligning their abilities. Sure they still sex segregate the athletes but more and more we see how unnecessary that is with all of the badass women athletes out there.

And then you have the Intersexed folk (here's where I give my IS cousins free reign to smack me around for my Not IS privilege if I am invoking it here) who have mixtures of many of these traits, less of some traits or may have a set of traits (xx chromosomes vs. fully average "male" structure) that just take the male/female terminology and beat it over the head with a half brick. They're also surprisingly common. Even more interesting here is how difficult it was for the ISNA to come to those numbers because and I am quoting this here: "To answer this question in an uncontroversial way, you’d have to first get everyone to agree on what counts as intersex —and also to agree on what should count as strictly male or strictly female. That’s hard to do." (source is the previous hyperlink to those numbers)

And that's because it is hard. All of those traits above are so wonky that it's hard to say whether one should factor them into sex or not and whether they end up just being entirely arbitrary ("penis must be this long to qualify, any shorter and its a clitoris" OH FUCK THEY DIDN'T SPECIFY WHAT YOU DO IF ITS ON THE DOT!). No I'm serious, quite a few doctors make the call on whether someone is intersex and then make the call on whether that IS person ought to be hack and slashed into a girl by how long hir penis or penis esque organ is.

Seems a bit... problematic, doesn't it? Well as it turns out, it is, especially for people who are on the edges of this somewhat troublesome and broken binary.

I can't speak for the IS community (to my knowledge I am not intersexed in any way, I was born more or less fitting the average view of what a male should be, beyond maybe a very small, slim, bigger hipped skeletal structure than expected, much to my luck, dysphoria-wise XD.) but it seems that there's a lot of rage at this nonconsensual arbitrary "homg you're a girl/boy now!" bullshit from the medical field. Can't really blame them, honestly, especially considering that used to result in nonconsensual surgery. You think circumcision is bad? It's a small fry in an ocean of big fish fuck ups with people's bodies when they're too young to stop it when it comes to the IS folk.

So what does this mean about sex? More specifically, what does this mean about sexual dimorphism in a species wherein the word dimorphic largely fails painfully to actually describe the morphic nature of that species' members? I can't really say. Mostly, it raises a lot of really unpleasant questions about whether or not male and female as a terminology dichotomy is even functional in the scientific field for humans, much less in the social realm for humans.

And as we use technology to bypass biological breeding constraints, things typically considered to break one out of the flow of evolution for the species are suddenly unimportant (being gay/lesbian, being a transitioning transsexual, having nonfunctional downstairs materials, getting your uterus removed, etcetera etcetera). Considering that the sexual dimorphism thing is based, at its lowest, most simple application, on a species' capacity to share DNA in generating offspring (instead of just cloning through binary fission) through a set of traits that allow that mixture (in this case, having different variants of mating tools and gametes or mating cells to do that combination) you really have to wonder how well that describes a species that is now mixing DNA using test-tubes, freezers, best friends/paid surrogates and even sperm generated from bone marrow (an oh shit moment if I ever saw one) and by the way, XY chromosomes don't play a role in the actual generation of sperm cells, just in determining whether they'll be a Y in those cells instead of just a bunch of X's. That means that XX chromosome containing marrow can make sperm (if only X type sperm).

Suddenly the sexually dimorphic model doesn't seem all that useful scientifically anymore. But hey it gets worse. You see, science didn't just stick to a "sperm maker", "ovum maker" model. It set guidelines for labeling one as male or female based on the secondary traits we talked about above. This is a problem. With all the evidence suggesting that these traits can't adequately be described using a binary box set instead of a multiple body containing spectrum of variation, why did science take on the female/male binary as a labeling system using the base sexual dimorphism from old school times as a basis?

Well as it turns out, scientists are people and even the wonders of peer review can't really overcome privilege and -ism's (racism, cissexism, sexism, etc) when a huge chunk of those peers are white guys of reasonable affluence (science school is expensive, it's why I'm possibly in over 100,000 USD of debt x_x). So peer review couldn't really catch the deeply ingrained social views about a binary sex system based on bodily traits. And it still fails to catch it with the IS folk and the medical community (who still like to fuck up in their basic regard for the self determination of IS folk on a regular basis).

So what does this all mean on top of the lack of evidence for secondary sexual traits being adequate line traits? Does it mean that the male/female sexual dimorphic system is broken language? Influenced by ciscentric and sexist thinking? Based on a false binary between traits that exist more on a spectrum and are tempered by the higher amount of variation between individuals then between sexes?

Yes. Yes it does.

All of this combined shows that male/female and sex terminology for the human species in general is subject to some serious, probably fatal problems in its applicability and functionality. Especially in the social realm but really even scientifically.

Some might be a little confused with this assessment after my post on "Identity vs. Objective Reality." There's a reason why I put the two updates at the top. That post was just about the unfortunate trend in the TG and GLB community to use terminology as though it was self referential (stripping it of any real meaning). To be honest, self referential definitions (provided we had the power to change these terms, right now) are a bad solution to this, as I said in that entry, despite the broken nature of these terms. These words will lose their meaning or worse yet, will be completely at the mercy of cultural shift (because of the lack of a concrete definition) and we will always be fucked by cultural shift. So really, this entry and that entry do not contradict. I just wasn't terribly clear in the earlier one that this wasn't a defense of the terms in a conceptual sense (hence the updates and the arguments in the comments XD) and I figure this entry will clear that up beautifully.

So, we've established that male/female is broken terminology, based on flawed arbitrary rules and a concept that isn't terribly applicable to a species that changes its breeding methods using technology. The question then becomes... what the hell do we do about it?

That I don't have an answer to.

We could refine male/female into male<---------->female (i.e. turn a binary into a spectrum) and basically treat male and female as the bodily extremes and anything outside of those extremes as spectrum positions. This one is tough though. We'd be fighting against cultural connotation, the sort of ephemeral meaning attached to a word despite its definition in science or academia, and a lot of people in the mid zones of the spectrum would be mistreated as a result. Not to mention the truly hypocritical cisgendered freak outs at not being considered female or male anymore. OH NOES, YOU MIGHT BE DENIED YOUR GENDER MARKER, IT ISN'T LIKE YOU DO THAT TO TRANS PEOPLE EVERY FUCKING DAY, RIGHT? RIGHT? ...crap. And the roughest part of this is the arbitrary nature of even a spectrum, which settles into "what is the middle?" Where is the exactly middle section? What is considered an equal number of male and female traits? In the end that would be just as arbitrary as the dividing line between male and female now.

We could get rid of the terms male and female completely and stop basing anything on sex at all, but instead just take into account body type. Breast possessing. Non breast possessing. Curvy. Not curvy. Penis holding. Not penis holding. So on and so forth. This one hits problems in that some of the body stuff is arbitrary too. We can get past that by shifting some of the definitions or creating bodily spectrums, or even dropping some of the bodily descriptions and adding qualifiers (large breasts, small breasts, flat breasts, flat entirely undeveloped breasts). Another issue would be the supreme level of social resistance to this. Largely born from cissexism but to a certain extent there's a good chunk of trans based identity wrapped up in the words female and male. Getting rid of them entirely takes away a self identifier word and that will not go down well with the community. The only ones that would seem to be fully supportive of eliminating the bodily descriptor terms would be the nonbinary folks and the gender deconstructionalists. So we would have our work cut out for us.

We could also make two boxes into two hundred. No I'm serious, that is an option, however unpalatable it might be. It runs into the same identity issues the previous does but it is the easiest to implement because male and female stick around, you just add a bunch more boxes for all the variation. It really is already being done by the nonbinary TG/TS community (words like neutrois/agendered and androgyne are showing up this way). So this one is the easiest to achieve but still arbitrary as fuck and prone to many of the same problems as the original terminology.

And finally,

We could take the terms male and female and downshift them in functionality to just describing the only truly dimorphic traits we have, sperm making and ovum making. This one is rough for the cis and trans identity reasons and it's largely a temporary solution because that making sperm from marrow practice may become common, and then, the whole system is screwed because sperm can now be made from anyone. (I wouldn't be surprised if similar things can be done for ovum too eventually).

None of the solutions are awesome. Some of them work really well but would be more than our community alone could implement and would require decades of cultural detox to make the new system functional. Others are easy to achieve but have serious epic flaws or won't last long as a solution.

I don't have the answers. But I can tell you this: There is a problem. We are now aware of it. And that is a big part of finding a solution. You're all welcome to comment on the problem itself (whether you think I'm exaggerating or mistaken and why) and on the solutions or even suggest other solutions I didn't think of.

Genderbitch: In ur gender, revealing ur privilege


This is a blog. About transsexuality, feminism, misogyny, transphobia, homophobia, GLBT stuff and etcetera (check my tags for more on that). This is also an angry blog.

You might see me as slightly antagonistic. Oh well. I incite because I am trying to push people into thinking, discussing and breaking out of the stagnant bullshit of privilege. Which needs a nice firm kick quite a bit. Sometimes to the head. If I need a nice firm kick too, make sure to distribute it because well, I'm not immune to privilege either. XD

Anonymous (account-less) commenting is allowed but please sign it with an alias or name. I reserve the right to delete useless trolling, hate language and attempts to out my name or out anyone else here.

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