“I just have a hard time now seeing anybody as ‘really trans’.” confided a friend the other day, which got me thinking: what makes somebody ‘really’ trans?
Let’s try to unpick this.
First we need to clarify the difference between sex and gender.
We are born with a sex, male or female (see notes on intersex later). Society assigns us certain expected roles based on our sex. We do not always have to conform with these roles, but often we are under a lot of pressure to do so. We are expected to take our place somewhere in the pink or the blue box. These gender roles based on sex are a social construct and vary from culture to culture.
Social constructs are explained brilliantly here, and if you fancy a quick refresher course, that’s the place to get it.
While some behaviour is considered more typically feminine and some more typically masculine, we all have a mixture of masculine and feminine traits and at times most of us resent the idea that we should comply with them. It is tough on women to be expected to look ‘hot’ all the time. It is tough on men to be expected never to show vulnerability.
We are all made up of this mixture of masculine and feminine, and no two people will have exactly the same mix of characteristics. Very, very few of us are entirely masculine or feminine in our behaviour. This is what forms the basis of our PERSONALITY.
One day I might decide to wear a long skirt, bangles and lipstick; the next, for no particular reason, I might wear old tracky bottoms, no make up and not bother brushing my hair. One day I might feel kind and nurturing, another I might feel angry and volatile. This is because, emotionally, I am non-binary. AND SO ARE YOU! We are ALL non-binary. The word, in the context of gender, is completely meaningless. Nobody is 100% masculine or 100% feminine. Most of us are hanging out somewhere in the middle.
A woman might wear trousers, fix cars, smoke a pipe, love another woman – that does not make her a man. A man might cry easily, make daisy chains, spend a lot of time doing his hair- that doesn’t make him a woman. ‘Woman’ and ‘man’ are not feelings or stereotypes, they are biological categories. That does not mean that everyone is expected to look like the man and woman below: size, skin tone, age all have their effect on us.
Women as a group are discriminated against because of our female biology, not because we have long hair, wear bras & lipstick & giggle girlishly. We are the female of the species: we carry the young, we birth the young- with all the risk that entails- we feed the young and usually we raise the young. We are usually smaller bodied than men and have less brute strength than men. These facts, historically and culturally, have given men power over us. Women are valued for their bodies and exploited for their bodies. Women are more likely to be prostituted or raped; more likely to be subject to physical abuse from those close to them. Women do most of the work on the planet and are paid far less for it, both at the top and at the bottom end of the pay scale. It is not possible to identify into, or out of, these outcomes. They don’t have to happen to all women to be women’s issues. But they do happen to women because they are women.
Our biology is the thing that unites us; the thing that makes us women. We all had a mum and she was a woman.
While ‘man’ and ‘woman’, ‘girl’ and ‘boy’ are definitions based on our reproductive capacites, I’ll state the obvious and add that some humans don’t choose to breed and some don’t have the capacity to breed. Some are born sterile. Some women may never menstruate; some men may never produce sperm. These are physical conditions that occur when biological development goes wrong and they have nothing to do with brain function or transgenderism.
A tiny proportion of people are born intersex. Just as someone being born without a leg doesn’t mean humans are not a bipedal species, the existence of intersex people doesn’t mean humanity doesn’t have a biological binary.
Intersex is sometimes tacked onto the alphabet soup that used to be LGB, and some people confuse the condition with transgenderism. Being intersex is a genetic and physical condition and has nothing to do with the psychological condition of transgenderism. An intersex person may well be ‘assigned’ male or female at birth, but the rest of us have our sex observed, not assigned, often while we are still in the womb. The idea that we are all ‘assigned a sex at birth’ and that our ‘gender identity’ is the thing that makes us a man or a woman is deeply insulting to many lesbian and gay people who feel that the idea erases them and the idea of same-sex attraction.
“What do you think I, as a gay man, am attracted to? Male ‘souls?’ Are lesbians attracted to some metaphysical ‘female essence’? …. you know the difference between a stag and a doe, right? Or a bull and a cow? A ram and a ewe? Why stop at people, at men and women?” @throwaway_gay
Many intersex people are also unhappy that their condition is being confused with transgenderism. The Intersex Society of North America has this to say:
People who have intersex conditions have anatomy that is not considered typically male or female. Most people with intersex conditions come to medical attention because doctors or parents notice something unusual about their bodies. In contrast, people who are transgendered have an internal experience of gender identity that is different from most people… these two groups should not be and cannot be thought of as one.
There is a lot of misinformation about intersex on the internet, mostly written by those who would like to link it to transgenderism in order to give transgenderism some sort of perceived biological basis. The Intersex Society of North America’s website is well worth reading if you are interested in learning more from a reliable source.
“But some people are born in the wrong body!”
Ask yourself how could it be possible to be ‘born in the wrong body’? You are born in your own body. The brain is an organ, it’s part of your body. How could your brain be wrong but the rest of your body be right? Is there such a thing as ‘real trans’? And if there is, how do we define it?
Most dictionaries seem fairly consistent in their definition of transgender.
Some people are so uncomfortable being perceived as their birth sex- and being expected to comply with the stereotypes that accompany their sexed bodies- that they feel their discomfort can only be settled by attempting to change the way they are perceived. A male who wishes to be perceived as female or a female who wishes to be perceived as male is ‘transgender’. Being transgender usually involves conforming to stereotypes of the opposite sex – trans-identified men (TIMs) wear lipstick and grow their hair and frequently have surgery to give them the appearance of breasts. Trans-identified women (TIFs) cut their hair short and bind or remove their breasts. Most say this is the only way to become their authentic selves. Some even claim this is challenging binary gender stereotypes.
Alex Bertie, worshiped by a generation of trans-identified teenage girls, takes testosterone in a quest to grow a beard and has had a double mastectomy, yet doesn’t see the irony in taking selfies in a T-shirt proclaiming ‘Gender Roles are Dead’.
If authentic means not false, not copied, genuine, original, unmodified- what is authentic about medicating yourself and removing healthy body parts in order to create an illusion based on stereotypes? Is it even possible to be transgender without recourse to stereotypes?
“In my case, becoming ‘myself’ has involved a mix of doctors, pills and surgeries.” writes Juno Dawson, paradoxically.
So what makes somebody ‘real’ transgender?
Is it having ‘gender reassignment surgery’ (GRS) that makes a man a ‘real’ woman?
Some say that it’s having the inclination and money to change your body with surgery that counts. Some trans-identified men talk about ‘earning womanhood’ with their surgeries, almost as if it is a prize for compliance.
Tallulah-Eve (above left) has undergone full GRS. “If anything, I’ve earned more right to womanhood than a cis woman,” he claims, inferring not only that womanhood is some sort of prize to be bestowed upon the compliant, but also that womanhood is little more than the fabrication of secondary sex characteristics: long, wavy hair and spectacular eyebrows; bowling-ball breasts that could never feed a baby and a ‘vagina’ whose only function is to act as a potential penis-sheath.
No amount of surgery, hormone injections or anything else can change your DNA, and a DNA test will always show whether you are male or female.
Veteran feminist Germaine Greer made her position on this pretty clear when she said: “Just because you lop off your dick and then wear a dress, doesn’t make you a fucking woman.” She points out that a man who undergoes such surgery is ‘“inflicting an extraordinary act of violence on himself”.
If womanhood is a prize, as suggested by Tallulah-Eve, gifted to those who attain the necessary level of ‘fuckability’, then we are led to another question- who is the ‘real’ woman? Veteran Greer, with over 50 years of feminist campaigning behind her, or youthful Tallulah, with DD fabricated breasts in front of him?
Only about 25% of all TIMs go so far as to have their penis surgically removed. So what of the other 75%?
Is it ‘passing’ that decides?
The idea of passing again suggests that there is a correct way to be a woman. Let’s look at two TIMs. Blaire White (below right) has achieved his look with surgery. Danielle Muscato (below left) has not had surgery.
Blaire is one of the ‘best-passing’ high-profile TIMs. Danielle is not. They have different takes on what it means to be transgender. White claims “You don’t get to change definitions or scoot around them in pursuit of your own narrative.” whereas Muscato is adamant that ‘some women have penises‘ and women who disagree should ‘suck my dick’.
Most people would assume that White is a woman but Muscato is not- but their DNA is male. So is it how much you can make yourself look like a stereotypical het-male-fantasy of womanhood that decides if you are ‘real’ trans or not? How much effort do you have to put in to win that elusive prize?
What age is the oldest you can become ‘real’ trans?
Kellie Maloney has always been a woman. She isn’t becoming a woman or pretending to be one.” wrote Paris Lees back in 2014. Well, hang on a minute…
Can sixty years of male privilege really be wiped away with the brush of a freshly waxed and manicured hand? And if it is, as some women have pointed out, does that mean Bruce Jenner got his gold medal under false pretenses?
Boxing promoter Frank Maloney (who once nearly strangled his wife) changed his name to Kellie Maloney and came out as transgender in his early 60s. The NHS were happy to chronicle and applaud his brave journey on their website. Jazz Jennings was seven when he made his first TV appearance as a ‘transkid’. Is Jazz more trans than Kellie? Is Kellie more or less female than Jazz? Is it actually possible to be more or less of a woman than someone else? Surely you are one or you aren’t one? Who is more trans, Jazz or Kellie? Is your head spinning yet?
Were detransitioners ever ‘really’ trans?
There are a growing number of people who transition and then change back. Often they feel rejected by the trans community who see them as traitors. They are frequently told they were never really trans in the first place.
Walt Heyer is probably the most famous detransitioner: a man who surgically transitioned at 42 and ‘lived as a woman’ for 8 years before undergoing further surgery to ‘change back’. His website is here. Is he transgender? Was he ever really transgender? ” …no matter how feminine I appeared, like all transgenders, I was just a man in a dress.” says Heyer, his words a sad echo of Greer’s.
But Heyer is not alone. Young people are detransitioning too.
One detransitioned man writes in a comment on a YouTube video “My body is now destroyed by transgender medicine. I never wanted to die before this. I feared being bi. My doctor said transition would help me fit in. And I could always go back. And therapy wasn’t important.” Elsewhere he comments “As a detrans male (ex “transwoman”), I usually feel either invisible or hated.”
Another detransitioned male writes:
A detransitioned woman writes that her therapist unintentionally “helped me hurt myself” in enabling her transition. Another writes “Looking back on it, I believe I transitioned almost on an impulse.”
Many young detransitioners are uncomfortable with their experience being used to suggest, for example, that ‘real trans’ is an elusive concept. But we need to talk about these things. Why is trying to define such a complex and nuanced term as ‘transgender’ seen as transphobic? Is transgenderism such a holy grail that no discussion of it is permissible? Of course trans-identified people exist- but you can’t turn a woman into a man or a man into a woman. It just isn’t possible. And trying to do so doesn’t always result in a happy outcome.
I recently read details of a case that involved a ‘transwoman’ who became disturbed by his transition when he developed dementia. He couldn’t understand why he had breasts or was being called by a woman’s name. It is so sad, it haunts me.
What do you have to do to be ‘real’ trans legally?
To get a Gender Recognition Certificate from the UK government, you still have to have a diagnosis of gender dysphoria and to prove you have ‘lived in your acquired gender for at least 2 years.’ To prove this you will need a passport, driving licence, payslips and bills.
But to change your sex on your passport in the UK, all you need is a letter from your doctor saying your decision is ‘likely to be permanent‘.
Which leads us to where we are now. If you say you’re a woman, you are a woman, and anyone who says otherwise is transphobic and full of hatred.
You don’t have to amputate your penis, get artificial breasts, take hormones or even break out the lippy anymore, let alone work in your local charity shop ‘as a woman’ for two years. You just have to convince your doctor that you really, really ‘feel like a woman’ and get him to put it in a letter.
How can a man know how a woman feels? There is no one experience of womanhood. We cannot even know how our loved ones feel. You cannot possibly know how I feel, and your next door neighbour cannot possibly know how you feel. It’s not possible for a man to claim to ‘feel like a woman’ unless he invokes sexist stereotypes.
What about trans-IDd sexual predators?
A man can now rape a woman, and end up being transferred to a women’s prison. This is not sensationalist speculation. It’s happened.
If a man can say he’s a woman just because he says he ‘feels like one’, then ANY man can say he’s a woman. It’s not a prize to be handed out for being good.
A TIM called Dana Rivers recently murdered two lesbians and their son. Julianna Fialowski, a former counselor to trans youth, is now in jail for possession of child porn. These are not isolated cases. Numerous others are chronicled at the open Facebook group This Never Happens.
Recently, the UK gutter press reports that child-murderer Ian Huntley has declared that he is actually a woman. Whether or not it is true, as asked below, would Ian Huntley be a woman if he said he was one? Is any man a woman if he says he is one? What do YOU think?
If you agree with a cute, naive, young man who says he’s a woman, then surely you have to let a middle-aged child-murderer claim womanhood too. A man can either become a woman or he can’t. You don’t get to choose who is good enough. You aren’t Father Christmas.
Someone who believes that they’re something they are not is suffering from psychological confusion. Their problem lies in the mind, not in the body, and the problem is accentuated by a society that worships gender stereotypes. Our bodies are not wrong or right, they just ARE.
Racial appropriation is not acceptable. If I say I am black, and demand that you see me as such, because because I like ‘doing things black people do’ and ‘dressing like black people’, you would rightly cringe. (I cringe even writing it.) Yet somehow we have reached the point where a pouting man who calls himself a woman tells us that:
‘”a fashion trend that needs to die is any form of cultural appropriation. Whether that’s hair, whether that’s dress…”
and we all rush to tell him how brave and authentic he is.
In this speech, Bergdorf goes on to- quite rightly- criticse blackface, oblivious to the irony of his own appropriation of womanhood.
Pricking the surface of transgenderism reveals little but stereotypes, sexism, circular definitions (a woman is anyone who says they are a woman: a woman is anyone who feels like a woman) more stereotypes, more sexism and even more stereotypes. This whole absurd worshiping of stereotypes has become a runaway train.
Eighty year old trans people! Four year old trans people!
A few weeks ago, Pink News ran an article about an entire family who identify as transgender. It started when the boy child wanted to join the Girl Scouts. When mum ‘looked it up’ she realised “‘Oh my gosh, they’re trans!” Since then the whole family has transitioned.
National Geographic recently ran an article about mother and son, Eric and Corey Maison. Corey hit the news a few years ago as poster-child for the bathroom bill and mum Erica became dad Eric as Corey’s fame began to dwindle a little. Corey, we are told, is ‘looking forward to becoming 18 so she can have surgery’.
Which brings us to the children and the terrible lies we are telling them.
Watch this space for Part 2 – Kids.