Here, from Huffington Post, we have “Don’t you dare use women’s rights to question men and whatever they want to do“. This is a response to Trump retracting his promise to enshrine bathroom laws – that individuals can use the toilets corresponding to their ‘gender identity’ rather than sex – in federal law, instead leaving the matter to individual states to decide. This activist author says; “invoking women’s safety while ignoring real violence faced by women and girls on college campuses, on the street and within their own homes is nothing more than a veil for hate”. This is such an outrageously absurd thing to claim about feminists like me who are motivated in everything they do by these issues of male violence, but I guess Milo Yiannopoulos represents radical feminists, radical feminists let men get away with anything and freedom is slavery.
There are conceptual reasons and evidence-based reasons I don’t believe males have the right to female only places, like bathrooms but also, even more importantly, places like rape and domestic violence crisis centres for women.
So firstly, I come to a lot of problems with trans ideology just from sitting in a chair and thinking it through. No googling, no anecdotes, no studies. I start with the fact that socialization is real, and a pillar of feminist analysis of the world. Women, who are female-bodied, are born and raised in a world which treats them unfairly based on that attribute. A man sees my face, my hips, my clothes and he judges my body, helps himself to it, fills the world with adverts telling me I need this and to be that in order to earn what is essential but useless – men’s respect. Due to the actions of men, we do not have promotions, fair wages, safety on the streets or support in the family. Girls grow up lacking confidence, opportunity or enough anger to fully realise and retaliate against what has been done to them. My period blood has to never be seen, never mentioned, and not necessarily provided with hygiene products. My boobs, my legs, my pubic hair, have to be presented in a way dictated by men’s sexual preferences. Rape against my body is normalised. I may not be granted the resources to control whether my body is susceptible to pregnancy. After having no respect for the female body I move through this world with, the same world is desperate for a cluster of cells inside of my uterus to be protected and kept there until they can come out a new person, a woman to repeat the cycle to or a man to teach to do the same to the women he meets.
And then some men… realise that this happens to them? Happened to them? They feel it inside? They know even better than us what it means to be a woman… because they had to fight their way in? Some women realise that it didn’t happen to them, because actually they don’t have a gender? Or they have both of them? A new one altogether?
How did your socialisation go for you? The answer, is your ‘gender identity’. In reality, there’s a plethora of answers because there’s just a plethora of personalities. Some women are tom boys, some are brave, some are empathetic, some are selfish. Some men are camp, some are painfully insecure, some like make-up. Some people are gay. These are different types of people, not gender identities. Gender is what we’re all fighting in order to be able to just be ourselves, freely. That’s why we need to abolish gender, not go around customizing and accessorizing the shape of the chains around each of us, and certainly not go around refuting that there are similar scars and impressions on all the female bodies.
Where is male socialisation supposed to just magically disappear to when a man identifies as a woman and wants access to the very same female-only spaces created to protect us from the violence and entitlement inherent in male socialisation? As someone who is never going to face the controlling threat of pregnancy, and the resulting stigma from an entire societal system against you, how are you going to… get it? A deep and fully internalised outlook of the world through the lens of male and female socialisation is intrinsic and indisputable to being a feminist, so I feel eviscerated and the sharp pain of whiplash when I suddenly see so-called feminists completely disregard and omit this reality. To do so with such attitude and vehemency as in the article linked above just baffles me; how, after claiming to fight for women’s rights and safety for years, can you not be instinctively ruffled by legal movements which start to peel them back? It’s not feminism.
I also fail to see any critical thinking around the ideas that;
i) society-induced gender stereotyped behaviours can be used to diagnose different innate genders in children
ii) you can be naturally born into a ‘wrong’ body which requires surgery to ‘affirm’ you
iii) how despite (ii), some penises are already ‘female’, meaning that some male people are trans despite apparently being female and having had a female body their entire life.
iv) how despite (ii) and (iii), all bodies and body parts are neither male nor female.
v) how misgendering trans people is incredibly violent and yet ‘passing’, ie, being referred to with preferred pronouns by strangers naturally and immediately in social situations, is both integral to transition and a harmful ‘cissexist’ concept.
vi) how misgendering trans people is incredibly violent and yet no genders or pronouns can be identified through sight, only by explicitly asking a person what they are.
vii) how gender stereotyped behaviour can be used to diagnose being trans in children but cannot be indicative of a gender or sex in a person because then you might end up misgendering a trans person.
Moving on, evidence has its own story to tell. A common claim which this article too is happy to chant is that “there are no recorded cases of trans people harming anyone in bathrooms”. Well, not only is transactivism making the claim completely impossible to assess by insisting that criminals are recorded as their preferred gender so that male violence by transwomen is completely invisible, but there’s evidence that this claim is simply not true. Here’s a documented case of a transwomen openly admitting that he took advantage of transgender policy in order to take non-consensual footage of young women to look at for the “same reason men go online to look at pornography”. This is damning. Here’s a guy who used an identity as a trans woman to rape women in women-only homeless shelters. Here’s a man who started to identify as a woman while serving time for murdering a hitchhiker, was housed with female inmates and then sexually assaulted them. Some men like this one are registered sex offenders who now identify as women and believe that their ‘right’ to women-only spaces completely trumps the right to safety and security of the women around them – something which is not particularly indicative of remorse or understanding to me. Here’s another. Some men merely ‘dress up’ as women to gain access to women’s spaces, like this one, but the social explosion of trans awareness and immediate validation of any expression of identity makes it unlikely these types of men are going to see this type of trans activism as anything other than a get-out-of-jail card. In answer to the conceptual question of where the violence inherent to male socialisation is supposed to go in transwomen, evidence shows that it doesn’t go anywhere:
“Second, regarding any crime, male-to-females had a significantly increased risk for crime compared to female controls (aHR 6.6; 95% CI 4.1–10.8) but not compared to males (aHR 0.8; 95% CI 0.5–1.2). This indicates that they retained a male pattern regarding criminality. The same was true regarding violent crime. “
The pushback will be that this is demonizing trans people. That to paint trans people as predators is immoral and requires cherry-picking anecdotal cases. But despite problems reporting transgender crime accurately, the cases are climbing and conceptual problems are not addressed at all.
I don’t believe that trans people are predators, but I believe that male-socialised people have a high propensity to be. To reject that is to reject science, evidence, statistics, class-analysis, and history. To not feel this in your bones and consider it in the issues of bathrooms, is to be a bloody poor (and dare I say it, often pretentious) feminist. Of course not all trans people are predators; the variation in trans people is becoming unhelpfully vast. There are trans individuals who agree with my sentiments, they themselves do not have a right to be safe-spaces of the opposite sex. There are trans people who have transitioned as a last ditch attempt to deal with their severe body dysphoria and I salute them and wish them the respect of everyone they meet and the recovery they seek. I also wish detransitioners the very best, who were swept into transitioning in the mayhem of the movement and now realise that their problems were not the type which can be fixed with surgery, novel pronouns and the sign on doors with women in triangle dresses. Unfortunately, women only spaces are not areas that are to be used for identity-validation purposes, and as a feminist I stand staunchly by that statement.
When it comes to a lot of trans ideology and activism, the coincidences are too much. Women too went through their own bathroom battles. Women too were controlled through the lack of toilets for them out in the real world. There is certainly a link between toilets existing for you, and your perceived right to exist in public spaces. But why do transgender rights have to impinge on women’s? Why does feminism have to take on the fight of everybody’s rights? The coincidence is too much – women are expected to do all the work in society, all the emotional labour, all the home care, the child care, and to sacrifice their careers and their time. The feelings and wishes of dangerous men being prioritised above everything else, even the safety of women in children, is nothing new and nothing coincidental. We’re so used to women’s rights and demands being seen as nagging, hysterical, and boring, that we don’t see it happening here. Trans people who do not feel safe in toilets represent a demand for a different, safer toilet set-up. Perhaps an extra gender-neutral stall should always be available. But to attack feminism for not tackling this issue is to attack tiger conservation for not saving elephants. It doesn’t mean that tiger conservationists hate elephants. But a movement charged with fixing everything could never possibly survive.