With Apologies to Radical Feminists

in Opinion

Recently, I commented on a post at Bilerico:

You want to get technical Sue? In the strictest definition, you’re not female. The distinction between the “sexes” is that a female has the ability to produce ova, and the male has the ability to produce produces sperm. Your “sex” isn’t based on an organ but on your reproductive ability. For that matter, your neo-vagina isn’t even an “organ.” An organ is tissue or a group of tissues that constitute a morphologically and functionally distinct part of an organism. Your “vagina” isn’t a social construct, it’s a surgical construct. And an incomplete construct at that! Go find your bartholin glands….

And in the above scenario, the woman wasn’t afraid of genitals, but because of other physical characteristics. It’s more about passing privilege than genital configuration. And judging from the pictures I’ve seen of you, ya got your own passing issues. So you might want to jump off that high horse of yours.

Pretty strong statement eh? I said this in response to Sue Robins, who said:

A ladies locker room is no place for Man and if you have male genitals you are a Man end of story.

You can think what you want regarding gender but we are talking about physical sex. Gender is the straw man in this discussion.

Gender is between your ears but what you have in your pants is all about sex, not gender.

I have to ask you how is it possible for someone in a woman’s locker room to tell the difference between a man who is pervert or worse yet shopping for a rape victim from a Pre-Op TS?

How are women in that locker room suppose to know the difference?
How are suppose to be insured that locker room is safe if someone with male genitals is let in?

You seem to want to make this about gender when it is really about Sex. Need i remind you Gender is a state of being Not a social construct not an organ but a state of being most likely brought about by by brain chemistry. We are talking about sex here Penis and Vagina kind of sex, and how the majority of vagina people feel unsafe when penis people are watching them undress. This is because the biology of the majority of penis people gets out of hand when they see naked vagina people.

If you could find a way to sort out the perverts from the Pre-Ops i would be all for allowing them into that woman’s space.

Sue is what many people in the transgender community would call a “Harry Benjamin Syndrome” apologist. Those of you who don’t frequent transgender blogs or forums may have never heard of “Harry Benjamin Syndrome.” According to Harry Benjamin Syndrome Informational Resource:

Harry Benjamin Syndrome (HBS) is an intersex condition, which develops in the early stages of pregnancy and affects the process of sexual differentiation. What occurs is that the brain develops as one sex, but the body takes on the appearance and characteristics of the other sex. The difference between HBS and other intersex conditions is that currently there is minimal evidence of the syndrome until after the baby is born – sometimes even as late as adolescence.

The only problem with this theory is that it is just that…  an untested theory. The following is from a believer in the HBS theory:

I was lead to believe that Harry Benjamin Syndrome was backed by medical and therapy professionals as well as a widespread diagnosis. It is instead a layperson’s view authored by Charlote T Guren. The medical signatures on the site are afixed to a “Transsexual Resarch” document not an HBS one. The Standards of Care borrowed from HBIGDA are not a medical care document as one is lead to believe. One wonders if permission was obtained to use Harry Benjamin’s name. HBS IS NOT MEDICALLY APPROVED or an offically medically accepted diagnosis as of yet.

She explained her experience with the HBS crowd saying:

What I learned had little to do with HBS. It instead turned out to be an anti-GLBT group. People who asked simple questions and needed support, were diagnosed by militant members as being transgendered, perverts and fetishists. Gays and lesbians were also denigrated with frequent slurs. In fact those who did support GLBT rights were banned simply for supporting them.

On my own site, Transadvocate.com, three advocates of HBS routinely sidetrack posts that have nothing to do with HBS. You can see examples of the derailing here, here, and here. The kind of rhetoric that is spewed is nothing short of bigoted, hateful, and disgusting. A few examples:

When you make a group of non-related or ill fitting comparisons and lump it all under a single term, there is going to be discourse and divisivness. Such is the human condition reflected in all parts of society, everywhere. Whites don’t want to live in Black neighborhoods, Black’s dont want to live in spanish neighborhoods, the asians only hire other asians, the germans kill the jews and the jews kill the arabs and the arabs kill the hostages and that is the news.. is it any wonder the monkey’s confused? – Leigh

The trans blogs are not going to all of a sudden promote standing up for those issues unique to transsexuals, much less those of us who are post op. They are not going to abandon their crossdressing “brothers and sisters” and recognize the transgender umbrella for the homosexual construct it is. Certainly they are not about to disasociate themselves from the homosexual movement and will no doubt continue to support the GLB in their ultimate quest, same-sex marriage. They will continue to support the concept of a gender spectrum, the legitimacy of a non-op, and nondiscrimination for all who present an alternate gender expression. Sadly, they will also sit dumbfounded, incapable of understanding why one doesn’t want to share a bathroom with someone of the opposite sex, or go to work everyday in the presence of crossdressers. – Susan

But then we strike at the very heart of what the GLB & T marriage was always about. It is to show to society that gays and lesbians are NORMAL in comparisson to the fruits and flakes encompassing the T part of the federation. The transgenders are the pawns in a wider game of chess and you all swallowed it down and ate it up, just as they wanted you to. Your nothing more than cannon fodder on the battlefield of gay rights, and once they have what they came for, you will be standing outside looking through the window while they ignore your very existance. – Leigh

You may wonder about why I chose the title “With Apologies to Radical Feminists.” These HBS advocates are the epitome of what radical feminists deplore. They are the “advance agents of the Patriarchy” that Janice Raymond spoke of. They seek to solidify and protect the gender binary.

I responded to Sue so strongly because at the core, defining who is a woman by what genitals they have is a form of bondage. If the goal is gender parity/equality, it will only happen when the gender binary is liberated from biology. When a man can have a vagina and a woman can have a penis. When a person with a penis can be feminine and a person with a vagina can be masculine.

My friend, Gwen Smith said it best:

You see, by challenging these notions of gender, difficult as this may be, we may well secure a world where one can choose their presentation — even if it is within a clearly defined gender. We all can win when the rules are relaxed.

Even if I am not the most gender fluid being on the planet, I can applaud those who are, who are willing to transcend those places they’ve been told to be. More than this, those who are pushing through boundaries challenge me to do more, to explore deeper into myself and consider my own views of gender. That’s a challenge I remain up for.

So to this fellow traveler I came across in transit, I salute you. It is you who keep us all moving forward.

Marti Abernathey is the founder of the Transadvocate and the previous managing editor. Abernathey has worn many different hats, including that of podcaster, activist, and radiologic technologist. She's been a part of various internet radio ventures such as TSR Live!, The T-Party, and The Radical Trannies, TransFM, and Sodium Pentathol Sunday. As an advocate she's previously been involved with the Indiana Transgender Rights Advocacy Alliance, Rock Indiana Campaign for Equality, and the National Transgender Advocacy Coalition. She's taken vital roles as a grass roots community organizer in The Indianapolis Tax Day Protest (2003), The Indy Pride HRC Protest (2004), Transgender Day of Remembrance (2004), Indiana's Witch Hunt (2005), and the Rally At The Statehouse (the largest ever GLBT protest in Indiana - 3/2005). In 2008 she was a delegate from Indiana to the Democratic National Convention and a member of Barack Obama's LGBT Steering and Policy Committee.

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