Feedback on Sex and Gender Issues?

I‘ve recently been told from a number of sources that the articles I have written on sex and gender issues are transphobic.  In some cases, I can see disagreements stemming from misunderstandings and assumptions about my thinking which are a result of my being imprecise in clarifying terms, in other cases, I think that there are substantive disagreements between the ways that I conceive sex and gender and the way that some trans people do.  It has also been suggested that I do not listen to trans people, and that my writing would be better informed if I did.

Consequently I would appreciate feedback, particularly from people who identify as trans, on what the issues are with my writings.  In soliciting this feedback, I wish to set out up front that I reserve the right to disagree.  There are a multitude of positions on sex and gender within the trans community –  Annie LawrenceJennifer Usher,  Toni D’Orsey and Liza Millbank are just some of the women who write extensively about sex and gender from a trans position, however I strongly suspect that if you put them all in a room together, blood would be spilt, so radically different are their views.  I appreciate the dialogue that I have already had over this with “A Frightful Hobgoblin” (part1, parts 2 and 3) which lays out some of the concerns they have over my thinking, although as I point out in the comments, some of these are based on assumptions which are erroneous, and also with Occasis, as well as individual conversations that I have had in private spaces.

The archives detail my writings on sex and gender, as well as a specific archive on transgender issues.  I can identify some issues in some of my previous writings, for example when I was asked if Socialist Resistance could republish my article on Women Only Spaces, I re-wrote sections of the post to address some of the latent cis-sexism that I was unable to see at the time of writing.  In the interests of intellectual honesty, the original is still on my site, however the updated version was published on Socialist Resistance and I am sure that with the benefit of hindsight I could pick out other parts of earlier writings which I either no longer agree with, or were written lazily and without due consideration.

The main issue that I am picking up which prompts the concerns that people have over my writings on sex and gender is that I consider sex to be fundamentally different from gender.  That women need not be female and that females need not be women.  That “woman” is a social and ideological construction and that “female” is a biological marker related to the mode of reproduction.  This is distinct from both the radical feminist analysis, which considers that women is a ideological construction necessarily built on the back of biological sex – a position I find essentialist; and the dominant current within libertarian feminism which considers that sex and gender are synonymous and self-declarative – a position I find idealist.

As a Marxist, I consider that the ability to gestate and birth the future labour supply is a critical distinguishing feature between humans – that feature is one which we identify through the marker “female”.  The control over these humans who are able to birth and gestate babies is enforced ideologically through the normative gender of “woman”, which is patriarchally constructed in a cishet fashion the better to control those who provide the future labour supply.  Gender in its “true” sense, I see as being one’s sense as a “sexual-being-in-the-world”, in the “fun-squishiness” rather than reproductive sense of “sexual” and as such it is unique to each one of us, but we are socially forced into one of the two normative genders of “man” or “woman”, for there is no other way to “be” (in Western society).

Both lesbians and trans women are disruptive to that normative gendering of “woman”, as they break the ideological association between gender and reproduction.  Being a woman without the capacity to conceive, gestate and birth is devient, you can see this not only in the aversion to trans women, but also in the historical construction of the “barren woman” who is unable to fulfill her biological desiny.  Being a woman without engaging in PIV sex is deviant as it eschews the act which is central to sexual reproduction, by sexual engagement with other women, lesbians are implicitly refusing that act as, again, part of the patriarchal construction of “woman” is someone who does not have a penis.

I would be grateful for any feedback that people (particularly women, particularly trans people and especially trans women) would like to give, either on the fundamental constructions of sex and gender which I hold, or on the language and modes of writing that I use which people find hurtful, isolating or exclusive, with a view to developing the former and changing my writing style to be less alienating

 

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EdithPilkington
EdithPilkington

I couldn't help but notice while reading your post about Greek Nazis released on bail that you wrote:

"Nickos Michos is argubly not quite so prolific as the other two, managing not to call for civil war, or punch female socialists live on camera."

The BBC online news story describes the Kasidiaris incident this way:

"One of the MPs now in custody, party spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris, caused outrage last year when he attacked two female left-wing politicians during a live TV debate, slapping one and throwing water over another." 

If some of those who took up your invitation to reply here experienced the same treatment, would you describe any one of us as females?  I think you're saying you would not.  I know what the implications are.  I will assume you do, too.

How is your point of view not insidious?  Your point of view is not transphobic.  It's worse than that.  You are comfortable with "transness" as long as looking at people as "trans" means there is a place to put "trans" people to keep them in that you are comfortable with.  I am acutely aware of how quickly  patronizing behavior becomes insidious.  I don't think I am alone in this.  Patronizing treatment is worse than simple overt hostility.   

The bit about "Annie" Lawrence and the guavedoches?  Yes, I suppose "Annie" Lawrence would go to such lengths but, really, "cis" "man"?  Seriously?  Have you ever known anyone who grew up with 5ard who rejected their assignment?  Your point of view is responsible for a lot of genuine physical abuse.

EdithPilkington
EdithPilkington

I couldn't help but notice while reading your post about Greek Nazis released on bail that you wrote: "Nickos Michos is argubly not quite so prolific as the other two, managing not to call for civil war, or punch female socialists live on camera." The BBC online news story describes the Kasidiaris incident this way: "One of the MPs now in custody, party spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris, caused outrage last year when http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-18352258, slapping one and throwing water over another."  If some of those who took up your invitation to reply here experienced the same treatment, would you describe any one of us as females?  I think you're saying you would not.  I know what the implications are.  I will assume you do, too. How is your point of view not insidious?  Your point of view is not transphobic.  It's worse than that.  You are comfortable with "transness" as long as looking at people as "trans" means there is a place to put "trans" people to keep them in that you are comfortable with.  I am acutely aware of how quickly  patronizing behavior becomes insidious.  I don't think I am alone in this.  Patronizing treatment is worse than simple overt hostility.    The bit about "Annie" Lawrence and the guavedoches?  Yes, I suppose "Annie" Lawrence would go to such lengths but, really, "cis" "man"?  Seriously?  Have you ever known anyone who grew up with 5ard who rejected their assignment?  Your point of view is responsible for a lot of genuine physical abuse.

quendergeer
quendergeer

This is not a matter of opinion. Calling trans women "non-female" is transphobic. Devolving women to their biological functions is both transphobic and misogynistic (and excluding of trans men). Believe it or not, it is possible to talk about the role of reproductive labour without being ciscentric, but you don't seem to want to examine those fundamental assumptions.

Incidentally, "blood would flow" (oh more tedious infighting!) because the first two trans people you mention are deeply transphobic (and, not thus not coincedentally, as oft-cited in defence of transphobic arguments as bill cosby and morgan freeman are in defence of racist ones).

quendergeer
quendergeer

This is not a matter of opinion. Calling trans women "non-female" is transphobic. Devolving women to their biological functions is both transphobic and misogynistic (and excluding of trans men). Believe it or not, it is possible to talk about the role of reproductive labour without being ciscentric, but you don't seem to want to examine those fundamental assumptions. Incidentally, "blood would flow" (oh more tedious infighting!) because the first two trans people you mention are deeply transphobic (and, not thus not coincedentally, as oft-cited in defence of transphobic arguments as bill cosby and morgan freeman are in defence of racist ones).

valeriekeefe
valeriekeefe

Your position is not distinct from the radfem analysis, ignores the midbrain (no big surprise) and studies on DES daughters (also no surprise). You just sound less directly hostile to trans women, who are fucking female.

Stop. Pretending. You. Respect. Trans. People.

If you're going to once again centre cisfeminine voices, just drop the fucking pretense.

valeriekeefe
valeriekeefe

Your position is not distinct from the radfem analysis, ignores the midbrain (no big surprise) and studies on DES daughters (also no surprise). You just sound less directly hostile to trans women, who are fucking female. Stop. Pretending. You. Respect. Trans. People. If you're going to once again centre cisfeminine voices, just drop the fucking pretense.

EdithPilkington
EdithPilkington

>I've been following this post and the replies closely over the last few days.   This thread has taken some interesting twists and turns.  I've already written two replies and thrown them away because, I don't know, maybe they were a little too contentious but probably because of my concern that I would  come across as if I were selling used cars.  

I think I have a very different point of view than either you or the people who have responded to this post.  In order to communicate that point of view I would have to reveal things about myself and create a characterization of myself that could, all too quickly, become a mischaracterization. <

That is how I started off a very long narrative which wouldn't post because of its length.

To make a long story short.(it's still long but I don't think it could ever be long enough to be told with a high degree of accuracy)  I have lived as the oldest of eight children.  My mother died of fallopian tube cancer in 1996.  

I was told I would require surgical intervention at puberty to reinforce my sex assignment, which I never had because we did not have the health insurance to have it done.  I also had an impacted cuspid that was removed but never re-implanted  for pretty much the same reason when I was fifteen.  My relationship with my father became a living hell right around the same time.  

I never reached sexual maturity but was fertile enough to make my contribution in the process of conceiving two children.  I almost lost my spouse, the first child and by extension, the second, as a result of my spouse developing toxemia, gaining 60 pounds, reaching a weight of 150 after living most of her adult life between 85 and 95 pounds, resulting in a placenta abrubtio and then undergoing an emergency c-section.  It was her first of two but the circumstances surrounding the second one were much different.  At this point, I could add my observations about the Dalkon Shield, hormonal birth control and tubal ligation but it would take too much time.  I met my spouse in my teens, had an open relationship living with her on and off for four years, eventually getting married and living childless for another four while she prepared for a career in nursing. I became primary caregiver after the second child arrived, who had a severe problem with colic.  My spouse worked nights as a nurse, returning to work shortly after recovering.  Her career took priority over mine.  I was able to find work where I was able to work my schedule around hers.  I am very familiar what unpaid domestic labor is all about.

I hope I don't come across as too self indulgent telling my story.  This is the lens through which I view my transsex issues and the contradictions those issues present in the face of the realities of reproductive sex.  I don't think I have any illusions.  I take a holistic view of sex.  I have read a little of what Zizek has to say about holism, the squishy, touchy feely nature of new age sentimentality, etc.  I am not impressed by Zizek's affection for neo-Freudian Lacanian psychoanalysis with its phallocentric focus.  Sex is as much about moving about in the world with or without secondary sex characteristics as it is about reproduction.  Primary sex characteristics with or without all the reproductive accoutrements, make a significant difference, too.  My observations tell me sex may be a continuum  but not one that is a simple lineal continuum. 

The bottom line, I suppose, is after all I have seen in the realm of human reproduction and the role I have played in it, is the question of how I am able to see myself as female and a woman.  The fact is that it makes a lot of sense.  I know I am not selling used cars.  Another thing, the bottom line for me also involves the fact that a gender is much more difficult to acquire than a sex and a sex is still a sex even if that sex is not capable of being a reproductive paradigm.    

EdithPilkington
EdithPilkington

>I've been following this post and the replies closely over the last few days.   This thread has taken some interesting twists and turns.  I've already written two replies and thrown them away because, I don't know, maybe they were a little too contentious but probably because of my concern that I would  come across as if I were selling used cars.   I think I have a very different point of view than either you or the people who have responded to this post.  In order to communicate that point of view I would have to reveal things about myself and create a characterization of myself that could, all too quickly, become a mischaracterization. < That is how I started off a very long narrative which wouldn't post because of its length. To make a long story short.(it's still long but I don't think it could ever be long enough to be told with a high degree of accuracy)  I have lived as the oldest of eight children.  My mother died of fallopian tube cancer in 1996.   I was told I would require surgical intervention at puberty to reinforce my sex assignment, which I never had because we did not have the health insurance to have it done.  I also had an impacted cuspid that was removed but never re-implanted  for pretty much the same reason when I was fifteen.  My relationship with my father became a living hell right around the same time.   I never reached sexual maturity but was fertile enough to make my contribution in the process of conceiving two children.  I almost lost my spouse, the first child and by extension, the second, as a result of my spouse developing toxemia, gaining 60 pounds, reaching a weight of 150 after living most of her adult life between 85 and 95 pounds, resulting in a placenta abrubtio and then undergoing an emergency c-section.  It was her first of two but the circumstances surrounding the second one were much different.  At this point, I could add my observations about the Dalkon Shield, hormonal birth control and tubal ligation but it would take too much time.  I met my spouse in my teens, had an open relationship living with her on and off for four years, eventually getting married and living childless for another four while she prepared for a career in nursing. I became primary caregiver after the second child arrived, who had a severe problem with colic.  My spouse worked nights as a nurse, returning to work shortly after recovering.  Her career took priority over mine.  I was able to find work where I was able to work my schedule around hers.  I am very familiar what unpaid domestic labor is all about. I hope I don't come across as too self indulgent telling my story.  This is the lens through which I view my transsex issues and the contradictions those issues present in the face of the realities of reproductive sex.  I don't think I have any illusions.  I take a holistic view of sex.  I have read a little of what Zizek has to say about holism, the squishy, touchy feely nature of new age sentimentality, etc.  I am not impressed by Zizek's affection for neo-Freudian Lacanian psychoanalysis with its phallocentric focus.  Sex is as much about moving about in the world with or without secondary sex characteristics as it is about reproduction.  Primary sex characteristics with or without all the reproductive accoutrements, make a significant difference, too.  My observations tell me sex may be a continuum  but not one that is a simple lineal continuum.  The bottom line, I suppose, is after all I have seen in the realm of human reproduction and the role I have played in it, is the question of how I am able to see myself as female and a woman.  The fact is that it makes a lot of sense.  I know I am not selling used cars.  Another thing, the bottom line for me also involves the fact that a gender is much more difficult to acquire than a sex and a sex is still a sex even if that sex is not capable of being a reproductive paradigm.

mhairimcalpine
mhairimcalpine moderator

@EdithPilkington 

You make a very good point here, and I agree that  this is indeed a case of my own transphobia/cisnormativity shining though, but I think we are coming at it from different angles.   


I know little to nothing of the biology of either of those MPs, and I was extrapolating their biology from their gendering as women.  This is an example of (what I would consider to be) cisnormativity/transphobia - the assumption that because someone is a woman then they must be female.  With the benefit of hindsight what I should have said is "punch socialist women" rather than "punch female socialists" (and will change the article to reflect that).  Had I known that either of the women were trans, I would have been more careful, but sloppiness in equating gender and sex is, as you say, insideous.

I've never personally met anyone with 5ard, but the majority of those who have this syndrome and are assigned female at birth identify as men according to research. (again note this article equates gender and sex)

"In the Dominican community, the female sex of rearing was never reinforced through castration and subsequent female hormone therapy. As such, at puberty a change in gender from female to male occurred in the vast majority of subjects from the older generation who were unambiguously reared as females. Interviews with affected 46,XY subjects showed that 17 of 18 subjects successfully changed gender identity from female to male. Between 7 and 12 years of age, patients who were raised as girls began to experience considerable anxiety over their lack of breast development and often began to be sexually attracted to girls. They became convinced of their male gender identity over the next several years and were masturbating and experiencing morning erections and nocturnal emissions. The change in gender role occurred on average at 16 years of age, with a range of 14 to 24 years. In three subjects, a gender role change did not occur until they were in their 20s. Admittedly, the fear of being stigmatized and anticipation of harassment by local villagers caused some subjects to hesitate at the prospect of changing gender roles, in some cases until they were confident of their ability to defend themselves. We have continued to observe the behavioral characteristics of these subjects for more than 30 years and have no doubts as to their male behavioral pattern in adulthood."

http://www.glowm.com/section_view/heading/Male%20Sexual%20Differentiation%20Disorder%20and%205%CE%B1-Reductase-2%20Deficiency/item/349

(Incidentially I think that excerpt demonstrates a heteronormativity/homophobia in the equating of "sexually attracted to girls" with "male gender identity", in the same way that I equated "female" and "woman" - normative assumptions of all kinds are very hard to eradicate.)

A woman with 5ard has medical needs which match those of trans women, but their social integration as women is a stable one throughout their lives, while a man with 5ard has medical needs which match cis men, but their social integration as men is a disrupted one.  

The key question for me is "What is cisness and how does it manifest?"

Under trans theory women with 5ard are cis women, while women raised Basha Posh (Afghan custom - raised as if they were a boy in the absense of male heirs) are trans women (or at least not cis women).  That doesn't make any sense to me as there are commonalities that women raised Basha Posh have with women who were female assigned at birth (and raised as such) and commonalities that women with 5ard have with women who were male assigned at birth  that in the absence of any kind of external referent there is no way of grouping.

I've been reading Toni D'Orsey's trans centredness theory, which as I understand it tries to get rid of cisnormativity and start from scratch, but the problem is that there are issues which those who have similar biologies face that seems erased within it.   

Female and woman are so culturally bound up together that firstly we habitually substitute one for the other, as I did in that article, and secondly that biological sex - which is ultimately a private matter - is considered public knowledge, through documentation etc.  There is no real need for anyone to know your sex other than medical professionals and people that you may reproduce with yet we are demanded to inform people of it everywhere in the most public of places 

Gender stands in as a public declaration of our sex under (my conception of) ciscentrism,   There is a lot of talk in the trans community about stealth, but the more I look at it, the more I believe that trans women by their very existance allow cis women to go stealth, because they destroy the assumption of gender=reproductive capacity.

I would actively welcome a time where there are equal number of cis and trans women and cis and trans men, it would be a great advance, for when that happens the patriarchy is dead in the water, because reproducers can no longer be identified publically.  But still there is a key difference, and the trans conception of cis as a relationship to assignment at birth rather than reproductive capacity (which assignment at birth is designed to identify) obscures that, and that capacity is also responsible for a lot of genuine abuse and exploitation which takes a variety of forms.

mhairimcalpine
mhairimcalpine

EdithPilkington  You make a very good point here, and I agree that  this is indeed a case of my own transphobia/cisnormativity shining though, but I think we are coming at it from different angles.    I know little to nothing of the biology of either of those MPs, and I was extrapolating their biology from their gendering as women.  This is an example of (what I would consider to be) cisnormativity/transphobia - the assumption that because someone is a woman then they must be female.  With the benefit of hindsight what I should have said is "punch socialist women" rather than "punch female socialists" (and will change the article to reflect that).  Had I known that either of the women were trans, I would have been more careful, but sloppiness in equating gender and sex is, as you say, insideous. I've never personally met anyone with 5ard, but the majority of those who have this syndrome and are assigned female at birth identify as men according to research. (again note this article equates gender and sex) "In the Dominican community, the female sex of rearing was never reinforced through castration and subsequent female hormone therapy. As such, at puberty a change in gender from female to male occurred in the vast majority of subjects from the older generation who were unambiguously reared as females. Interviews with affected 46,XY subjects showed that 17 of 18 subjects successfully changed gender identity from female to male. Between 7 and 12 years of age, patients who were raised as girls began to experience considerable anxiety over their lack of breast development and often began to be sexually attracted to girls. They became convinced of their male gender identity over the next several years and were masturbating and experiencing morning erections and nocturnal emissions. The change in gender role occurred on average at 16 years of age, with a range of 14 to 24 years. In three subjects, a gender role change did not occur until they were in their 20s. Admittedly, the fear of being stigmatized and anticipation of harassment by local villagers caused some subjects to hesitate at the prospect of changing gender roles, in some cases until they were confident of their ability to defend themselves. We have continued to observe the behavioral characteristics of these subjects for more than 30 years and have no doubts as to their male behavioral pattern in adulthood." http://www.glowm.com/section_view/heading/Male%20Sexual%20Differentiation%20Disorder%20and%205%CE%B1-Reductase-2%20Deficiency/item/349 (Incidentially I think that excerpt demonstrates a heteronormativity/homophobia in the equating of "sexually attracted to girls" with "male gender identity", in the same way that I equated "female" and "woman" - normative assumptions of all kinds are very hard to eradicate.) A woman with 5ard has medical needs which match those of trans women, but their social integration as women is a stable one throughout their lives, while a man with 5ard has medical needs which match cis men, but their social integration as men is a disrupted one.   The key question for me is "What is cisness and how does it manifest?" Under trans theory women with 5ard are cis women, while women raised Basha Posh (Afghan custom - raised as if they were a boy in the absense of male heirs) are trans women (or at least not cis women).  That doesn't make any sense to me as there are commonalities that women raised Basha Posh have with women who were female assigned at birth (and raised as such) and commonalities that women with 5ard have with women who were male assigned at birth  that in the absence of any kind of external referent there is no way of grouping. I've been reading Toni D'Orsey's trans centredness theory, which as I understand it tries to get rid of cisnormativity and start from scratch, but the problem is that there are issues which those who have similar biologies face that seems erased within it.    Female and woman are so culturally bound up together that firstly we habitually substitute one for the other, as I did in that article, and secondly that biological sex - which is ultimately a private matter - is considered public knowledge, through documentation etc.  There is no real need for anyone to know your sex other than medical professionals and people that you may reproduce with yet we are demanded to inform people of it everywhere in the most public of places  Gender stands in as a public declaration of our sex under (my conception of) ciscentrism,   There is a lot of talk in the trans community about stealth, but the more I look at it, the more I believe that trans women by their very existance allow cis women to go stealth, because they destroy the assumption of gender=reproductive capacity. I would actively welcome a time where there are equal number of cis and trans women and cis and trans men, it would be a great advance, for when that happens the patriarchy is dead in the water, because reproducers can no longer be identified publically.  But still there is a key difference, and the trans conception of cis as a relationship to assignment at birth rather than reproductive capacity (which assignment at birth is designed to identify) obscures that, and that capacity is also responsible for a lot of genuine abuse and exploitation which takes a variety of forms.

mhairimcalpine
mhairimcalpine moderator

@quendergeer 

"Calling trans women "non-female" is transphobic"

Toni D'Orsey pointed me to a rather very good definition of transphobia that she has written, which describes it as comprising "aversion, anxiety, or animus, singly or in any combination, regarding trans people or transness" and indeed that does comprise one of the elements that she lists as part of animus (animosity), which she describes as a form of innate conservatism.  At the end she revisits the biological argument, but while she (rightly) criticises the social construction of binary sex traits, she concludes

"But, in the view of Transcentrism, the conceptual framework that surrounds them, at this time, is structured socially to create The Other, and those who are do not fit into the normative pattern established by the current system are considered aberrant or abnormal.  As this is not the case the trans people, the paradigm in question — that trans women are male and trans men are female — is faulty and flawed."

I agree that the normative construction of sex and gender (gender is a product of sex) doesn't take into account trans folk, but both that sex is a product of gender (transcentric position) and sex and gender are different things (my position) are both clear challenges to the idea that trans women and trans men are abnormal or aberrant.  If sex and gender are seperated, a trans woman becomes as "valid" as a cis woman.  


"Devolving women to their biological functions is both transphobic and misogynistic (and excluding of trans men)"

But that is precisely the opposite of what I am doing.  I don't see any need for women to have reproductive functionality to be women.

TERF position
- Females are women, woman is a synonym for female; woman/female is an indicator that they have reproductive functionality associated with gestating and birthing
Transgender position
- All women are female; female is a synonym for woman; woman/female is an identity which is knowable only by the individual
My position -
 Woman and female are different things.  Woman is socially defined as a consequence of self-identitifying and consequently fitting in with the norms of the perception of the social category of woman, female is biologically defined as those who have the capacity to birth and gestate babies (which admittedly is a more precise definition than the common or garden one).  


"it is possible to talk about the role of reproductive labour without being ciscentric, but you don't seem to want to examine those fundamental assumptions."

I think that Leah Carr, Valerie Keefe and some reading that Toni D'Orsey pointed me to does suggest that there is a way to seperate out reproduction from other elements.  For example, people who have the capacity to birth and gestate babies but who take the pill have no reproductive capacity but are still far more biologically closer to cis women, and trans women can have elements of reproductive capacity such as lactation.  The new  technology of extracting sperm cells from eggs means that it is now possible for a trans man to reproduce in a manner associated with a cis man.  Reproductive technology is developing and it is certainly possible that ovarian and uterine transplants will be available.  But there is still a fundamental difference there, and trans epistemology doesn't seem to have any way of coping with it.

I can appreciate that my use of "female" and "male" is not the same as the common usage, but would be taken to be so, and perhaps then we need different terms to convey reproductive capacity rather than ones which have so much baggage surrounding them, but as far as I can see that simply makes the terms "male" and "female" redundant rather than meaningful synonyms for "man" and "woman".

"the first two trans people you mention are deeply transphobic"

I'm aware that both of these women are contraversial, however there are a number of trans women who *do* support their positions.  Annie Lawrence follows the "auto-gynophilia" school of thought, while Jennifer Usher is a trans-sexual seperatist.   Of course trans women can be transphobic and/or transmisogynistic, but as a cis woman there are a great deal of schools of trans thought beyond the dominent narrative.  I agree with very little either of their positions but they do bring out the validity of sexual orientation as form of gender choice (Annie Lawrence) and concerns which some, particularly younger trans women, have with older trans identified AMAB people (of all genders) in their community (Jennifer Usher).   My rationale is that if I am being urged to listen to trans women on trans issues then I should hear all of the issues that the entire community is raising, even if I subsequently reject them.



mhairimcalpine
mhairimcalpine

quendergeer  "Calling trans women "non-female" is transphobic" Toni D'Orsey pointed me to a rather http://www.dyssonance.com/on-identifying-transphobia-and-socialization-arguments/ that she has written, which describes it as comprising "aversion, anxiety, or animus, singly or in any combination, regarding trans people or transness" and indeed that does comprise one of the elements that she lists as part of animus (animosity), which she describes as a form of innate conservatism.  At the end she revisits the biological argument, but while she (rightly) criticises the social construction of binary sex traits, she concludes "But, in the view of Transcentrism, the conceptual framework that surrounds them, at this time, is structured socially to create The Other, and those who are do not fit into the normative pattern established by the current system are considered aberrant or abnormal.  As this is not the case the trans people, the paradigm in question — that trans women are male and trans men are female — is faulty and flawed." I agree that the normative construction of sex and gender (gender is a product of sex) doesn't take into account trans folk, but both that sex is a product of gender (transcentric position) and sex and gender are different things (my position) are both clear challenges to the idea that trans women and trans men are abnormal or aberrant.  If sex and gender are seperated, a trans woman becomes as "valid" as a cis woman.   "Devolving women to their biological functions is both transphobic and misogynistic (and excluding of trans men)" But that is precisely the opposite of what I am doing.  I don't see any need for women to have reproductive functionality to be women. TERF position - Females are women, woman is a synonym for female; woman/female is an indicator that they have reproductive functionality associated with gestating and birthing Transgender position - All women are female; female is a synonym for woman; woman/female is an identity which is knowable only by the individual My position -  Woman and female are different things.  Woman is socially defined as a consequence of self-identitifying and consequently fitting in with the norms of the perception of the social category of woman, female is biologically defined as those who have the capacity to birth and gestate babies (which admittedly is a more precise definition than the common or garden one).   "it is possible to talk about the role of reproductive labour without being ciscentric, but you don't seem to want to examine those fundamental assumptions." I think that Leah Carr, Valerie Keefe and some reading that Toni D'Orsey pointed me to does suggest that there is a way to seperate out reproduction from other elements.  For example, people who have the capacity to birth and gestate babies but who take the pill have no reproductive capacity but are still far more biologically closer to cis women, and trans women can have elements of reproductive capacity such as lactation.  The new  technology of extracting sperm cells from eggs means that it is now possible for a trans man to reproduce in a manner associated with a cis man.  Reproductive technology is developing and it is certainly possible that ovarian and uterine transplants will be available.  But there is still a fundamental difference there, and trans epistemology doesn't seem to have any way of coping with it. I can appreciate that my use of "female" and "male" is not the same as the common usage, but would be taken to be so, and perhaps then we need different terms to convey reproductive capacity rather than ones which have so much baggage surrounding them, but as far as I can see that simply makes the terms "male" and "female" redundant rather than meaningful synonyms for "man" and "woman". "the first two trans people you mention are deeply transphobic" I'm aware that both of these women are contraversial, however there are a number of trans women who *do* support their positions.  Annie Lawrence follows the "auto-gynophilia" school of thought, while Jennifer Usher is a trans-sexual seperatist.   Of course trans women can be transphobic and/or transmisogynistic, but as a cis woman there are a great deal of schools of trans thought beyond the dominent narrative.  I agree with very little either of their positions but they do bring out the validity of sexual orientation as form of gender choice (Annie Lawrence) and concerns which some, particularly younger trans women, have with older trans identified AMAB people (of all genders) in their community (Jennifer Usher).   My rationale is that if I am being urged to listen to trans women on trans issues then I should hear all of the issues that the entire community is raising, even if I subsequently reject them.

mhairimcalpine
mhairimcalpine moderator

@valeriekeefe 

Thanks for responding.  As far as I know they people responding to this post aren't cis.  I've also had a few private conversations with people who I know aren't cis.  The reason I put this up here is because I wanted feedback from trans folk, especially trans women as - which I pointed out in the post - I had received previous feedback that it was transphobic.

There is a distinct difference in the position as described above and radfem analysis.  Radfems consider gender to be a direct consequence of sex.  That their gender of women is a consequence of being female.  The TERFs adopt the line that the only way you can be female is to be born that way; the TIRFs (by and large) accept that people who were assigned male at birth and are either intersex or have had some kind of medical intervention should properly be considered female, and consequently women, but would not accept that someone's gender could be different to their sex.

Thanks for the mention of DES Daughters, I hadn't heard of the condition before, but you are right, its not a straight forward dichotomy where all females can gestate and all males can impregnate, even in the most normative sense of male and female, which is why I have been looking at it as a continuum rather than as a binary.

mhairimcalpine
mhairimcalpine

valeriekeefe  Thanks for responding.  As far as I know they people responding to this post aren't cis.  I've also had a few private conversations with people who I know aren't cis.  The reason I put this up here is because I wanted feedback from trans folk, especially trans women as - which I pointed out in the post - I had received previous feedback that it was transphobic. There is a distinct difference in the position as described above and radfem analysis.  Radfems consider gender to be a direct consequence of sex.  That their gender of women is a consequence of being female.  The TERFs adopt the line that the only way you can be female is to be born that way; the TIRFs (by and large) accept that people who were assigned male at birth and are either intersex or have had some kind of medical intervention should properly be considered female, and consequently women, but would not accept that someone's gender could be different to their sex. Thanks for the mention of http://www.cdc.gov/des/consumers/about/effects_daughters.html, I hadn't heard of the condition before, but you are right, its not a straight forward dichotomy where all females can gestate and all males can impregnate, even in the most normative sense of male and female, which is why I have been looking at it http://www.2ndcouncilhouse.co.uk/blog/2013/03/29/reflections-on-sex/.

mhairimcalpine
mhairimcalpine moderator

 

Thank you for telling your story - sex and gender are indeed incredibly complicated once we move outwith the norms.  You dont seem indulgent at all, and its a very interesting perspective.

Am I right in thinking that you are intersex, were assigned male at birth, but identify as female, conceived two children with your female (assigned) spouse and then assumed the primary caregiver role  Apologies if I've misunderstood.

"Sex is as much about moving about in the world with or without secondary sex characteristics as it is about reproduction...Another thing, the bottom line for me also involves the fact that a gender is much more difficult to acquire than a sex and a sex is still a sex even if that sex is not capable of being a reproductive paradigm.    "

That's interesting that you consider gender as a more difficult thing to acquire than a sex.   Sex is far more formal than gender - either legal or biological.  Legally there are all kinds of obstacles, and changing biological characteristics requires intervention, whereas gender is a kind of social transaction, which doesn't have any formality surrounding it, so I would have thought that it would have been easier to establish your gender, but then I can also see that gender is "out there", whereas sex is something private, so not something that you need to establish repeatedly in micro-interactions with others.

I'm also picking up that you are associating unpaid domestic labour with female, which is interesting as that is also reproductive labour in the Marxian sense (in that it creates the conditions for future productive - ie paid - labour, just as gestating and birthing the future labour supply does).  I don't know if your association was deliberate or subconcious, but it chimes with what what Occasis was saying about reproduction not just being restricted to a bodily thing.

mhairimcalpine
mhairimcalpine

Thank you for telling your story - sex and gender are indeed incredibly complicated once we move outwith the norms.  You dont seem indulgent at all, and its a very interesting perspective. Am I right in thinking that you are intersex, were assigned male at birth, but identify as female, conceived two children with your female (assigned) spouse and then assumed the primary caregiver role  Apologies if I've misunderstood. "Sex is as much about moving about in the world with or without secondary sex characteristics as it is about reproduction...Another thing, the bottom line for me also involves the fact that a gender is much more difficult to acquire than a sex and a sex is still a sex even if that sex is not capable of being a reproductive paradigm.    " That's interesting that you consider gender as a more difficult thing to acquire than a sex.   Sex is far more formal than gender - either legal or biological.  Legally there are all kinds of obstacles, and changing biological characteristics requires intervention, whereas gender is a kind of social transaction, which doesn't have any formality surrounding it, so I would have thought that it would have been easier to establish your gender, but then I can also see that gender is "out there", whereas sex is something private, so not something that you need to establish repeatedly in micro-interactions with others. I'm also picking up that you are associating unpaid domestic labour with female, which is interesting as that is also reproductive labour in the Marxian sense (in that it creates the conditions for future productive - ie paid - labour, just as gestating and birthing the future labour supply does).  I don't know if your association was deliberate or subconcious, but it chimes with what http://ocassis.tumblr.com/post/61177223024/feedback-on-sex-and-gender-issues about reproduction not just being restricted to a bodily thing.

EdithPilkington
EdithPilkington

@mhairimcalpine @EdithPilkington

You write:

"There is no real need for anyone to know your sex other than medical professionals."

You really don't understand.  When the sex doesn't match the paradigm the doctors try to force it on the person for whom it does not match.  I, as well as many others, are aware that doctors will go to extreme lengths to make a person conform to an assigned sex which only demonstrates the obstinate ignorance of the medical community with its obsession of fixing things that aren't even broken.  

So little is known about sex and sex differentiation.  There is someone who used to write frequently about intersex issues, a person with a clearly definable intersex variation.  5ard is only a recently discovered sex variation.  The person of whom I am speaking thought she had AIS and wrote for the UKAISSG(UK Androgen Insensitivity Support Group), along with the old OII(Organizaiton Intersex International), Gendys and other organizations.  She has dropped out of circulation of late.  Last I heard she was being moved out of her place under Cameron's austerity measures.  Much of what she has written has disappeared from the internet.  On the subject of sex she was most articulate.  She had worked on the human genome project while at Cambridge.  I should be very careful not to speak for her or appropriate any of her experiences.

Zoe Brain has written about the guavedoches in much the same way you do.  This was a huge bone of contention between the person I am speaking of and Zoe Brain.  The impact of all this reverberated throughout the internet a few years ago along with all the intersex fake allegations at the time.  It had a very negative impact for many people. Genetic variations are underreported and poorly understood.  Most of what is known about 5ard comes from Joan Imperato-McGinley.  I don't think her observations are the last word.  I think the figure she quotes for rejection of a female sex assignment is somewhere in the range of 60%.  Brain used to use those figures.  I don't know why it caused the person I am speaking to become so enraged by the kind of reasoning Brain would use which is similar to yours.  I don't know exactly but I think the problem is with masculinization and and making assumptions about what that means.  Just because someone masculinizes does not mean they will be typically male.

The science of sex is still very much in the dark ages.  I have many contacts among people born with an XXY karyotype and, also, the mothers of children born XXY.  In the literature one will find people born with that karyotype described as having "Klinefelter's Syndrome".  The Klinefelter referred to is the doctor who wrote of eleven patients of his who presented with symptoms which are now described as the syndrome named after him.  Even to this day, doctors make assumptions about a person's karyotype based on the observations of only eleven people.  A good portion of the people I know do not present with many of those symptoms.  I know one person who knew from an early age that they were very different and suspected they might possess the karyotype XXY.  They were told regularly that they could not be XXY because they didn't present with classic XXY characteristics.  They had to wait until they were sixty-five years old to finally get karyotyped to find out they were right and the doctors were wrong all along.  

There are more than two sexes in this world.  The human brain reifies everything as two.  When this happens there are mistakes made in the middle.  Many humans have been treated like barnyard animals and devalued when they do not display traits and features which indicate they will not only be successful reproductively but reproduce specimens that will be well fit for survival and capable of keeping the reproductive cycle in motion.

This is the crux of the Freudian/Darwinian outlook - sex = survival of the species.  That is not the most important issue for humans.  The most important issue for humans is a question,  the question of after one survives becomes why does one want to survive.  Is existence merely about perpetuation?  

So, I've written about intersex, only just scratching the surface.  What does that have to do with transsexualism?  Not enough room here to discuss either intersex or transsexualism in depth.  I know intersex people who argue as you seem to that sex is an inherent trait,  the potential of which is determined at conception.  It is pretty obvious how untrue that is.  There are all kinds of factors that can disrupt a person's endocrinology and, thereby, their sex differentiation.  Sex differentiation in people who are truly male continues into the late twenties before decline sets in.  

Your argument boils down to the old "you can't change sex" taunt.  Sex is malleable.  Sex characteristics can be changed, including primary characteristics.  Sex is not simply a function of reproduction.  Sex manifests itself in the person and is written all over the body, whether a person is capable of reproducing, interested in reproducing or not interested in reproducing.  There are many people with mixed sex characteristics.  These characteristics are concrete.  They may cause a person to develop a sense of self but they are not simply abstract "identities".  Sex is only dimorphic in a statistical kind of way.  Male and female are the only two culturally available classifications.  Classification is, at best, a necessary evil.  Classification of a person based on how they appear at birth can be brutally unjust.  Once a person makes a well informed decision based on a dire need to have the classification changed, further scrutiny is an invasive intrusion.

EdithPilkington
EdithPilkington

mhairimcalpine EdithPilkington You write: "There is no real need for anyone to know your sex other than medical professionals." You really don't understand.  When the sex doesn't match the paradigm the doctors try to force it on the person for whom it does not match.  I, as well as many others, are aware that doctors will go to extreme lengths to make a person conform to an assigned sex which only demonstrates the obstinate ignorance of the medical community with its obsession of fixing things that aren't even broken.   So little is known about sex and sex differentiation.  There is someone who used to write frequently about intersex issues, a person with a clearly definable intersex variation.  5ard is only a recently discovered sex variation.  The person of whom I am speaking thought she had AIS and wrote for the UKAISSG(UK Androgen Insensitivity Support Group), along with the old OII(Organizaiton Intersex International), Gendys and other organizations.  She has dropped out of circulation of late.  Last I heard she was being moved out of her place under Cameron's austerity measures.  Much of what she has written has disappeared from the internet.  On the subject of sex she was most articulate.  She had worked on the human genome project while at Cambridge.  I should be very careful not to speak for her or appropriate any of her experiences. Zoe Brain has written about the guavedoches in much the same way you do.  This was a huge bone of contention between the person I am speaking of and Zoe Brain.  The impact of all this reverberated throughout the internet a few years ago along with all the intersex fake allegations at the time.  It had a very negative impact for many people. Genetic variations are underreported and poorly understood.  Most of what is known about 5ard comes from Joan Imperato-McGinley.  I don't think her observations are the last word.  I think the figure she quotes for rejection of a female sex assignment is somewhere in the range of 60%.  Brain used to use those figures.  I don't know why it caused the person I am speaking to become so enraged by the kind of reasoning Brain would use which is similar to yours.  I don't know exactly but I think the problem is with masculinization and and making assumptions about what that means.  Just because someone masculinizes does not mean they will be typically male. The science of sex is still very much in the dark ages.  I have many contacts among people born with an XXY karyotype and, also, the mothers of children born XXY.  In the literature one will find people born with that karyotype described as having "Klinefelter's Syndrome".  The Klinefelter referred to is the doctor who wrote of eleven patients of his who presented with symptoms which are now described as the syndrome named after him.  Even to this day, doctors make assumptions about a person's karyotype based on the observations of only eleven people.  A good portion of the people I know do not present with many of those symptoms.  I know one person who knew from an early age that they were very different and suspected they might possess the karyotype XXY.  They were told regularly that they could not be XXY because they didn't present with classic XXY characteristics.  They had to wait until they were sixty-five years old to finally get karyotyped to find out they were right and the doctors were wrong all along.   There are more than two sexes in this world.  The human brain reifies everything as two.  When this happens there are mistakes made in the middle.  Many humans have been treated like barnyard animals and devalued when they do not display traits and features which indicate they will not only be successful reproductively but reproduce specimens that will be well fit for survival and capable of keeping the reproductive cycle in motion. This is the crux of the Freudian/Darwinian outlook - sex = survival of the species.  That is not the most important issue for humans.  The most important issue for humans is a question,  the question of after one survives becomes why does one want to survive.  Is existence merely about perpetuation?   So, I've written about intersex, only just scratching the surface.  What does that have to do with transsexualism?  Not enough room here to discuss either intersex or transsexualism in depth.  I know intersex people who argue as you seem to that sex is an inherent trait,  the potential of which is determined at conception.  It is pretty obvious how untrue that is.  There are all kinds of factors that can disrupt a person's endocrinology and, thereby, their sex differentiation.  Sex differentiation in people who are truly male continues into the late twenties before decline sets in.   Your argument boils down to the old "you can't change sex" taunt.  Sex is malleable.  Sex characteristics can be changed, including primary characteristics.  Sex is not simply a function of reproduction.  Sex manifests itself in the person and is written all over the body, whether a person is capable of reproducing, interested in reproducing or not interested in reproducing.  There are many people with mixed sex characteristics.  These characteristics are concrete.  They may cause a person to develop a sense of self but they are not simply abstract "identities".  Sex is only dimorphic in a statistical kind of way.  Male and female are the only two culturally available classifications.  Classification is, at best, a necessary evil.  Classification of a person based on how they appear at birth can be brutally unjust.  Once a person makes a well informed decision based on a dire need to have the classification changed, further scrutiny is an invasive intrusion.

quendergeer
quendergeer

@mhairimcalpine @quendergeeryeah I'd love to redefine my own language so I could say whatever I want as well but guess what language is a social construct as well and that doesn't mean individuals get to define it divorced of all social context. When you separate out woman and female you *are* attacking women. You *are* being transphobic. You *are* subscribing to the radfem paradox of claiming to see gender as socially constructed but actually rooting it in biology.


You repeatedly seek out deeply transphobic views to support your position under the guise of "listening to both sides of the argument" (not exactly a marxist position, by the way). If I was talking about the situation in Greece and the first two voices I cited were Christine Lagarde and Nikolaos Michaloliakos - well, you'd draw your own conclusion. The transphobes you cite (like Sheila Jeffries) attack, abuse and despise women. They are not valid "schools of trans thought" any more than the Golden Dawn has an interesting perspective on the immigration issue. 



quendergeer
quendergeer

mhairimcalpine quendergeeryeah I'd love to redefine my own language so I could say whatever I want as well but guess what language is a social construct as well and that doesn't mean individuals get to define it divorced of all social context. When you separate out woman and female you *are* attacking women. You *are* being transphobic. You *are* subscribing to the radfem paradox of claiming to see gender as socially constructed but actually rooting it in biology. You repeatedly seek out deeply transphobic views to support your position under the guise of "listening to both sides of the argument" (not exactly a marxist position, by the way). If I was talking about the situation in Greece and the first two voices I cited were Christine Lagarde and Nikolaos Michaloliakos - well, you'd draw your own conclusion. The transphobes you cite (like Sheila Jeffries) attack, abuse and despise women. They are not valid "schools of trans thought" any more than the Golden Dawn has an interesting perspective on the immigration issue.

valeriekeefe
valeriekeefe


You conflate assigned and born.

We're a sapient species with sexually dimorphic, non-neuroplastic midbrain neurology. Sex is biological. Gender is biological. Because they're the same thing. They are not, however, the same thing as assigned sex or genital morphology. "Girls like pink" is constructed. "One of the predominant sexes could be described as female" is not.

You might want to pretend your position is divorced from that of the trans-exterminationists, but it's not, especially when you're appropriating deaths of sub-Saharan CAFAB children, never mind the estimated 117 Wolffian Genital Mutilation deaths in the United States every year.

http://www.examiner.com/article/new-study-estimates-neonatal-circumcision-death-rate-higher-than-suffocation-and-auto-accidents

Your presence on my tumblr is not appreciated, and while I cannot order you to stop, I ask you to cease and desist your appropriative tactics, including the implied agreement that comes from a follow. Go away. I have enough smiling misogynists to deal with. I don't need another.

valeriekeefe
valeriekeefe

You conflate assigned and born. We're a sapient species with sexually dimorphic, non-neuroplastic midbrain neurology. Sex is biological. Gender is biological. Because they're the same thing. They are not, however, the same thing as assigned sex or genital morphology. "Girls like pink" is constructed. "One of the predominant sexes could be described as female" is not. You might want to pretend your position is divorced from that of the trans-exterminationists, but it's not, especially when you're appropriating deaths of sub-Saharan CAFAB children, never mind the estimated 117 Wolffian Genital Mutilation deaths in the United States every year. http://www.examiner.com/article/new-study-estimates-neonatal-circumcision-death-rate-higher-than-suffocation-and-auto-accidents Your presence on my tumblr is not appreciated, and while I cannot order you to stop, I ask you to cease and desist your appropriative tactics, including the implied agreement that comes from a follow. Go away. I have enough smiling misogynists to deal with. I don't need another.

EdithPilkington
EdithPilkington

@mhairimcalpine Hi Mhairi,

It's taken me a long while to get back here owing to my trepidation.  I made some bold assertions.  I have taken time to reflect on them.  I've done a lot of reading the past few days in order to understand the political aspects of what this conversation is about.  The "conversation" seems to have become contentious.  

All I did in my reply was recount my experiences involving reproductive sex.  I don't know what I am trying to prove or even know that I am trying to prove anything.  I don't think this topic is a matter of proving anything. The problem is the proliferation of statements by feminists that "transsexual, trans and intersex people "present challenges for feminism".  It makes objects - objects of study - out of all of us.  "Trans critical" feminists want to debate.  My existence is not part of some dialectic that is going to be synthesized through thesis and antithesis.  Subject/object problems are very much in play when people like me are "challenged" by feminists who feel people like me present challenges.  I will not refer to feminists as "them".  I have spent the last few days examining things like the dialectic and subject/object problems.  The implications of the subject object problem is much harder to grasp than the dialectic.  

I really feel transsexual and intersex people are used as political pawns.  I dropped out of college years ago.  It's a long story.  I am not an academic, so my awareness of the politics involved with feminism, socialism, political science, etc. is anemic.  I try to read as much as I can, however.  I am curious as to how notions of a sex that is not one plays out.  If sex is not one, is it simply two?  Oppositions that are not binary in nature  become problematic, politically.  That is an observation I have made.

I will not label myself intersex.  I have been around that terrain quite a bit.  Intersex is a matter of conceptualizing unless one is clearly what used to be referred to as one of the three - "male pseudo hermaphrodite", "female pseudo hermaphrodite", and "true hermaphrodite".  If you are familiar with any of the controversies surrounding the Chicago Statement on the Management of Intersex" one realizes how contentious the concept of intersex is and how the medical establishment has rationalized intersex out of existence by framing intersex as a disorder and simply a deviation away from healthy sex development.  The distinction between development and differentiation relegates sex diversity to the realm of the undesirable and has enormous implications involving eugenic tendencies in science and medicine. Those terms are indicative of the pathological nature of science and medicine as it relates to sex classification.  It is brutally disingenuous.  I read "classification">"class" with all the implications involved.

It is interesting that the topic of DES Daughters has come up.  I have a cousin who is a DES Daughter.  I have a long anecdote involving my aunt, a woman approaching ninety who goes to Catholic Mass every morning, and how shame and secrecy operate.  From her and my mother I learned what the word testicle meant after I overheard them talking about me in the third person when I was around twelve, shortly after I had seen the doctor.  There are too many mysteries and anecdotes in my life.

I did a lot of reading about Lacan and Freud over the past two days and how they relate to feminism.  It seems as though feminist and glbt politics is rooted in thinking dominated by Claude Levi-Strauss,  French linguists, Foucault and and other continental philosophers,  including, significantly, continental feminists.  I find a lot wanting in all the discourse and analyses.  Trying to understand transsexualism in terms of Freud and Lacan becomes very problematic.  The theorizing is way too abstract.  It does not relate.  

I am very short on time.  I am going to stop here.  I am going to have to give more thought to what you ask about domestic labor.  I don't know right now what you are asking.  As I said, I am short on time.  Domestic labor is something I am interested in.  But no, of course it does not apply to me in the sense of being impregnated and saddled with the responsibility of nourishing, in mutual vulnerability, a fetus.  I am not sure I understand your question, though.


EdithPilkington
EdithPilkington

mhairimcalpine Hi Mhairi, It's taken me a long while to get back here owing to my trepidation.  I made some bold assertions.  I have taken time to reflect on them.  I've done a lot of reading the past few days in order to understand the political aspects of what this conversation is about.  The "conversation" seems to have become contentious.   All I did in my reply was recount my experiences involving reproductive sex.  I don't know what I am trying to prove or even know that I am trying to prove anything.  I don't think this topic is a matter of proving anything. The problem is the proliferation of statements by feminists that "transsexual, trans and intersex people "present challenges for feminism".  It makes objects - objects of study - out of all of us.  "Trans critical" feminists want to debate.  My existence is not part of some dialectic that is going to be synthesized through thesis and antithesis.  Subject/object problems are very much in play when people like me are "challenged" by feminists who feel people like me present challenges.  I will not refer to feminists as "them".  I have spent the last few days examining things like the dialectic and subject/object problems.  The implications of the subject object problem is much harder to grasp than the dialectic.   I really feel transsexual and intersex people are used as political pawns.  I dropped out of college years ago.  It's a long story.  I am not an academic, so my awareness of the politics involved with feminism, socialism, political science, etc. is anemic.  I try to read as much as I can, however.  I am curious as to how notions of a sex that is not one plays out.  If sex is not one, is it simply two?  Oppositions that are not binary in nature  become problematic, politically.  That is an observation I have made. I will not label myself intersex.  I have been around that terrain quite a bit.  Intersex is a matter of conceptualizing unless one is clearly what used to be referred to as one of the three - "male pseudo hermaphrodite", "female pseudo hermaphrodite", and "true hermaphrodite".  If you are familiar with any of the controversies surrounding the Chicago Statement on the Management of Intersex" one realizes how contentious the concept of intersex is and how the medical establishment has rationalized intersex out of existence by framing intersex as a disorder and simply a deviation away from healthy sex development.  The distinction between development and differentiation relegates sex diversity to the realm of the undesirable and has enormous implications involving eugenic tendencies in science and medicine. Those terms are indicative of the pathological nature of science and medicine as it relates to sex classification.  It is brutally disingenuous.  I read "classification">"class" with all the implications involved. It is interesting that the topic of DES Daughters has come up.  I have a cousin who is a DES Daughter.  I have a long anecdote involving my aunt, a woman approaching ninety who goes to Catholic Mass every morning, and how shame and secrecy operate.  From her and my mother I learned what the word testicle meant after I overheard them talking about me in the third person when I was around twelve, shortly after I had seen the doctor.  There are too many mysteries and anecdotes in my life. I did a lot of reading about Lacan and Freud over the past two days and how they relate to feminism.  It seems as though feminist and glbt politics is rooted in thinking dominated by Claude Levi-Strauss,  French linguists, Foucault and and other continental philosophers,  including, significantly, continental feminists.  I find a lot wanting in all the discourse and analyses.  Trying to understand transsexualism in terms of Freud and Lacan becomes very problematic.  The theorizing is way too abstract.  It does not relate.   I am very short on time.  I am going to stop here.  I am going to have to give more thought to what you ask about domestic labor.  I don't know right now what you are asking.  As I said, I am short on time.  Domestic labor is something I am interested in.  But no, of course it does not apply to me in the sense of being impregnated and saddled with the responsibility of nourishing, in mutual vulnerability, a fetus.  I am not sure I understand your question, though.

EdithPilkington
EdithPilkington

@mhairimcalpine

I didn't get a chance to look closely at the link you provided.  The researcher most well known for her research into the guevedoches is Julienne, not Joan, Imperato-McGinley.  After reading the link with its insistence that intersex people, in this case, are male and how the authors seem to think that a so called gender identity is congruent with chromosomes and androgen exposure, I am able to see what the problem was that the person who I mentioned in my previous reply was so upset with.  This paper also mentions a study where 17 out of 18 subjects switched to male roles.  The U S National Institute of Health, in their Genetic Home Reference Guide, indicates only 50% reject sex assignments.  Notably, the NIH describes people with 5ard as "people", not "males".  They do insist on the term, "genetic males", based on the 23rd pair of chromosomes which, in the case of many people with intersex variations is entirely misleading.  We come up against the "fraud" and "not real or genuine" issues.  People who were born this way are described as "male" pseudo-hermaphrodites.  A person who is xx, born with a penis with the urogenital sinus running through it is still described as a "female" pseudo-hermaphrodite.  All this because the way medical "science" is so obsessed with the validity of their classification system they refuse to contemplate the true nature of the whole person they describe.  The irony is that the "true" hermaphrodite is most likely to appear phenotypically male or female and is the most common.

The person I referred to as being born with 5ard in my previous reply is the geneticist referred to in this post by Curtis Hinkle:


Sophia Siedlberg, Genetics Advisor to the Organisation Intersex International, came up with a polygenic model which explained the role of genes, not chromosomes, in sex determination. (12) This model has been misappropriated by others who don't know how to interpret it correctly. We can be quite sure, that barring an environmental cause (such as a teratogen), if we have an XY individual who does not appear to be a male, but instead appears female or intersex, that this person CANNOT be a “genetic male”, “chromosomally a male”, “genetically a male” and vice versa for individuals who have XX chromosomes. How do we know this? By the simple rule of basic genetics, that

GENES (+ environment) = PHENOTYPE (observable trait)

Thus, the DSD model based on "sex chromosomal" divisions has failed. By using the umbrella term “development”, it has also misapplied the knowledge base from the field of (sex) “differentiation” and conflated it with that of “development”. (13) It is ambiguous and sexist (in that it prescribes what sex one should be and not what sex one is and it perpetuates gender and sexist stereotypes based on chromosomes). It promotes confusion and oppression. It is NOT scientific. It simply uses scientific terminology in such a way that is confuses those who have little knowledge of genetics and biology. In so doing, it victimizes intersex people while offering “unlimited immunity" to medical and psychological professionals who continue FORCED sex assignments, FORCED sex reassignments, and FORCED gender expression expectations.

The rest of the article is here:

http://oii-usa.blogspot.com/

Alice Dreger and her husband were deeply involved with the Chicago Consensus Statement on Intersex Management.  I went to see her at Brown University in 2007 when she was on her whirlwind tour to promote the notion that people whose karyotypes don't match their phenotypes are disordered.  "Transfeminist" Emi Koyama was enlisted to prepare the ground for her a week earlier, all this during pride month.  

I am probably beating a dead horse.  I am not trying to change your mind about the way you feel about sex.  It really isn't a matter of opinion, though.  It's just the way people are so obsessed with it.  When you get right down to it it is all sexist barnyard politics. 

EdithPilkington
EdithPilkington

mhairimcalpine I didn't get a chance to look closely at the link you provided.  The researcher most well known for her research into the guevedoches is Julienne, not Joan, Imperato-McGinley.  After reading the link with its insistence that intersex people, in this case, are male and how the authors seem to think that a so called gender identity is congruent with chromosomes and androgen exposure, I am able to see what the problem was that the person who I mentioned in my previous reply was so upset with.  This paper also mentions a study where 17 out of 18 subjects switched to male roles.  The U S National Institute of Health, in their Genetic Home Reference Guide, indicates only 50% reject sex assignments.  Notably, the NIH describes people with 5ard as "people", not "males".  They do insist on the term, "genetic males", based on the 23rd pair of chromosomes which, in the case of many people with intersex variations is entirely misleading.  We come up against the "fraud" and "not real or genuine" issues.  People who were born this way are described as "male" pseudo-hermaphrodites.  A person who is xx, born with a penis with the urogenital sinus running through it is still described as a "female" pseudo-hermaphrodite.  All this because the way medical "science" is so obsessed with the validity of their classification system they refuse to contemplate the true nature of the whole person they describe.  The irony is that the "true" hermaphrodite is most likely to appear phenotypically male or female and is the most common. The person I referred to as being born with 5ard in my previous reply is the geneticist referred to in this post by Curtis Hinkle: Sophia Siedlberg, Genetics Advisor to the Organisation Intersex International, came up with a polygenic model which explained the role of genes, not chromosomes, in sex determination. (12) This model has been misappropriated by others who don't know how to interpret it correctly. We can be quite sure, that barring an environmental cause (such as a teratogen), if we have an XY individual who does not appear to be a male, but instead appears female or intersex, that this person CANNOT be a “genetic male”, “chromosomally a male”, “genetically a male” and vice versa for individuals who have XX chromosomes. How do we know this? By the simple rule of basic genetics, that GENES (+ environment) = PHENOTYPE (observable trait) Thus, the DSD model based on "sex chromosomal" divisions has failed. By using the umbrella term “development”, it has also misapplied the knowledge base from the field of (sex) “differentiation” and conflated it with that of “development”. (13) It is ambiguous and sexist (in that it prescribes what sex one should be and not what sex one is and it perpetuates gender and sexist stereotypes based on chromosomes). It promotes confusion and oppression. It is NOT scientific. It simply uses scientific terminology in such a way that is confuses those who have little knowledge of genetics and biology. In so doing, it victimizes intersex people while offering “unlimited immunity" to medical and psychological professionals who continue FORCED sex assignments, FORCED sex reassignments, and FORCED gender expression expectations. The rest of the article is here: http://oii-usa.blogspot.com/ Alice Dreger and her husband were deeply involved with the Chicago Consensus Statement on Intersex Management.  I went to see her at Brown University in 2007 when she was on her whirlwind tour to promote the notion that people whose karyotypes don't match their phenotypes are disordered.  "Transfeminist" Emi Koyama was enlisted to prepare the ground for her a week earlier, all this during pride month.   I am probably beating a dead horse.  I am not trying to change your mind about the way you feel about sex.  It really isn't a matter of opinion, though.  It's just the way people are so obsessed with it.  When you get right down to it it is all sexist barnyard politics.

mhairimcalpine
mhairimcalpine moderator

@quendergeer

"I'd love to redefine my own language so I could say whatever I want as well but guess what language is a social construct as well and that doesn't mean individuals get to define it divorced of all social context."

I take the point that "sex", "male" and "female" come with a whole load of baggage.  But I have genuinely no idea what it means when some one says "that person is female" in the context of transgender ideology, other than  "that person self-identifies as a woman".  I do understand how the TERFs use it.  When they say "that person is female" they mean that they have biological features associated with gestating and birthing, they are also saying that person is "objectively"  and inescapably a woman as a result.

You are right, there is a radfem paradox - that they claim that they see gender as socially constructed, but rooted it in biology, but I dont.  I dont see it as biological at all.

I'm in the middle of writing up a longer piece about this, but I'm not sure if you've heard of 5-alpha-reductase deficiency.  Its a condition which means that at birth a baby appears to have a vagina, and consequently babies with this condition are usually assigned female at birth and socialised as girls.  At puberty, their testes and penis descend and in adulthood they become anatomically and functionally identical to those who are usually assigned male at birth.  Their chromosomal make up is XY. People with this syndrome tend to identify as men, but a significant number identify as women.

This blows apart TERF theory.  If gender is a consequence of socialisation, these people as women as they have been raised identically to other children assigned female at birth.   In contrast if gender is a product of biology, their biological features which are the same as those assigned male at birth then they are men.  There is no cis and trans in TERF theory.

Trans theory would see a woman with 5-alpha-reductase deficiency as a cis woman, as their assigned sex at birth and consequently their gendering was congruent to their self-identified sex/gender identity, identical in every significant way to any other cis woman, and a man with 5-alpha reductase deficiency as a trans man.

On the other hand, I see a woman with this deficiency as a trans woman, as her gender doesn't match the reproductive functionality that she has, despite the fact that a fortuitous error had correctly assigned her gender and a man with this deficiency as a cis man, as their gender matches their reproductive functionality, despite their gender incongruent upbringing.

I dont believe I have ever cited either Anne Lawrence or Jennifer Usher,other than in this article. I've read both of them and they have given me insights into different perspectives, but I agree with neither.  They were mentioned in this article as representative of the diversity of views coming from within the trans community.





mhairimcalpine
mhairimcalpine

quendergeer "I'd love to redefine my own language so I could say whatever I want as well but guess what language is a social construct as well and that doesn't mean individuals get to define it divorced of all social context." I take the point that "sex", "male" and "female" come with a whole load of baggage.  But I have genuinely no idea what it means when some one says "that person is female" in the context of transgender ideology, other than  "that person self-identifies as a woman".  I do understand how the TERFs use it.  When they say "that person is female" they mean that they have biological features associated with gestating and birthing, they are also saying that person is "objectively"  and inescapably a woman as a result. You are right, there is a radfem paradox - that they claim that they see gender as socially constructed, but rooted it in biology, but I dont.  I dont see it as biological at all. I'm in the middle of writing up a longer piece about this, but I'm not sure if you've heard of 5-alpha-reductase deficiency.  Its a condition which means that at birth a baby appears to have a vagina, and consequently babies with this condition are usually assigned female at birth and socialised as girls.  At puberty, their testes and penis descend and in adulthood they become anatomically and functionally identical to those who are usually assigned male at birth.  Their chromosomal make up is XY. People with this syndrome tend to identify as men, but a significant number identify as women. This blows apart TERF theory.  If gender is a consequence of socialisation, these people as women as they have been raised identically to other children assigned female at birth.   In contrast if gender is a product of biology, their biological features which are the same as those assigned male at birth then they are men.  There is no cis and trans in TERF theory. Trans theory would see a woman with 5-alpha-reductase deficiency as a cis woman, as their assigned sex at birth and consequently their gendering was congruent to their self-identified sex/gender identity, identical in every significant way to any other cis woman, and a man with 5-alpha reductase deficiency as a trans man. On the other hand, I see a woman with this deficiency as a trans woman, as her gender doesn't match the reproductive functionality that she has, despite the fact that a fortuitous error had correctly assigned her gender and a man with this deficiency as a cis man, as their gender matches their reproductive functionality, despite their gender incongruent upbringing. I dont believe I have ever cited either Anne Lawrence or Jennifer Usher,other than in this article. I've read both of them and they have given me insights into different perspectives, but I agree with neither.  They were mentioned in this article as representative of the diversity of views coming from within the trans community.

valeriekeefe
valeriekeefe

@mhairimcalpine

<i>Access, affordability and desire for surgical intervention are irrelevant to the fact that trans women with shape of their birth bodies, and regardless of any genital cutting which has taken place as a result of male-assignment have more opportunity to have a functioning vagina with sensation than women who have been infibulated as a result of their female assignment.</i>

Well, if you're going to make that argument, based on a lower bound of intrinsic transsexuality of 1%, and Western transition prevalence of 0.5%,(Conway et al, 2011) prevalence of operativity of ~ 20% among the transitioned, frequency of loss of neovaginal sensation of ~10% (though it might be higher... the operative often feel a greater need to present themselves as close-to-cis as possible, so there's likely underreportage of complication), for a prevalence of sensate neovaginas among trans women of 9%, assuming that lower bound on prevalence is accurate, and really, it's dramatically underestimating, it's far less likely that a North American or European trans woman is going to have a sensate vagina than an African cis woman.

Not to mention incidence of transition is lower in Africa, though I sincerely doubt intrinsic trans prevalence is, so you can stop making baseless rhetorical points designed to appeal to the misogynistic cissexism of your readers now, okay? Or at least stop representing them as anything but.

mhairimcalpine
mhairimcalpine moderator

@valeriekeefe @mhairimcalpine 

Access, affordability and desire for surgical intervention are irrelevant to the fact that trans women with shape of their birth bodies, and regardless of any genital cutting which has taken place as a result of male-assignment have more opportunity to have a functioning vagina with sensation than women who have been infibulated as a result of their female assignment.

But that's really by the by, the larger point that I was making was that being assigned female at birth is a risk factor, because of misogyny and and the earliest someone can properly start to assert their gender is at least around 2 years while detrimental things happen to female assigned children from birth.

The trans position that sex and gender are synoymous and self-declarative would suggest that we should not assign sex but wait until the child communicates their [sex/gender]. and that bodily differences are unimportant, the point remains that there is functionality associated with different types of bodies which means that they *do* different things.

For example, the ability to roll your tongue is only found in some people.  It is perfectly possible that in a different world a way could have been found a way to exploit that difference in the same way that differences in skin-tone have been exploited.  But that ability has no functional significance.

On the other hand the presence of certain organs has a very real and material and significant impact on what bodies can do, and is both the cause of and correlated with sex assignment at birth.  We can say with certainty, that without substantial medical intervention which is technologically unavailable at the moment, that this particular person will never gestate or birth another human being while this other person is likely to at least have the ability to do that even if it is not activated.

There seems to be no theory of reproduction in trans epistemology.  That babies come from males or females based on their trans status rather than their sex, however if we stop assigning sex at birth, there is no such thing as trans, and consequently no way of determining who may be able to birth babies, and who may not.

valeriekeefe
valeriekeefe

@mhairimcalpine 

Well that was a gaslighting-laden characterization of what my position is. Well done.

First, let me note the interesting dichotomy in your language: "children assigned male" versus "young girls." I'll leave that for others to consider, since I think self-examination/self-awareness really isn't very much your thing.

My point is that referencing one socioeconomic situation to make arguments about another socioeconomic situation is a derail at best. Western men make up the  majority of Western homeless and the vast majority of Western sheltered homeless... this does not invalidate the concept of the glass ceiling, and how work is structured in such a way that reduces cisfeminine labour force participation.

So when you're making an analysis of gender power relations, understanding intersectionality is important. I shouldn't have to remind you of that. So when comparing the access of the minority of Western trans women to vaginoplasty (assuming operativity as default, but that's neither here nor there, nor is the fact that tying basic civil rights to an elective medical procedure should be something that gets a bit more tsuris from cisfeminists than it does, but it once again begs mentioning) to the presence of clitoral mutilation in developing and somewhat theocratic states, you deliberately ignore intersectionality, and you appropriate the oppression that those CAFAB children face as your own.

A more accurate comparison would be comparison of Western infantile clitoroplasty to Western infantile circumcision. But that would be a weaker-sounding, though logically consistent, argument. And not for nothing, but to characterize removing 20,000 nerve endings from a child's genitalia and ensuring a greater liklihood of genital tearing during masturbation as <i>standard</i> is just one of the many blind-spots you present.

Again, you're smarter than you pretend to be when you make these arguments.

mhairimcalpine
mhairimcalpine moderator

@valeriekeefe

I'm sure you will be relieved to know that you haven't distressed me, so your apology, although appreciated ,is unnecessary.

I can appreciate you having a Western centric outlook, being Western based, but there is a whole world beyond its boundaries and giving primacy to children assigned male in the West is supporting the tropes that consider Western male assigned people greater value than than non-Western people who are female assigned.

Medical procedures in the West do indeed have more sucessful outcomes in general, however the infibulation of young girls is deeply harmful even when the outcome is as intended, far beyond the standard interventions which take place on children assigned male, except in a few minor cases mainly involving children with indeterminate genitalia.

valeriekeefe
valeriekeefe

@mhairimcalpine

I'm unpleasant to those who've earned it. So sorry to distress you with greatly deserved outrage.

And when it comes to people with domestic policy agendas, I discuss the West, as, after all, for people in the Western World to interfere with or claim primacy in the affairs of non-Western nations and peoples is imperialism at its finest.

And yeah, medical procedures in the developing world have a higher rate of complication across the board. This is not a surprising thing, and once again, it's disingenuous of you to make the comparison.

mhairimcalpine
mhairimcalpine moderator

@valeriekeefe 

I appreciate the time you've taken to respond, but your statement ...

"We're a sapient species with sexually dimorphic, non-neuroplastic midbrain neurology"

...is simply a bald assertion, and an assertion of sex as biological, unchangable, neurologically based and necessarily in congruence with gender is neither a mainstream scientific belief, nor seems fit with many people's reported lived experiences.

Genital mutilation of those assigned female does not only occur in Sub-Saharan Africa.  The country with the highest rate of FGM is in Egypt, with 97% of those who were assigned female at birth having had the procedure.  In contrast in the United States, the rate of genital cutting on those assigned male is 56% and the extrapolated figure of 117 deaths, makes it comparatively a far less risky procedure and one without the ongoing serious complications that many infibulated women experience in intercourse and childbirth.

The context in which I raised FGM was 

"A baby who is female assigned in some parts of the world is at higher risk of infanticide and risks genital mutilation far beyond that which is imposed on any male assigned child – to the extent that a woman who is male assigned at birth has more chance to have a functioning surgically constructed vagina, than some women who were female assigned do as a result of their mutilation."

Which is something I stand by.  It would seem less that I am appropriating suffering in a country to which I have a substantive link, than that you have a very US-centric view of the world and prioritise negative outcomes for Western male assigned infants over non-Western female assigned infants.

As I said,  I was happy to unfollow you at your request, the follow was not implied agreement, but interest at some of your posts as you seemed to have a very distinct perspective that I had not encountered elsewhere and was based on a lack of awareness of what an unpleasant individual you were.


valeriekeefe
valeriekeefe

mhairimcalpine <i>Access, affordability and desire for surgical intervention are irrelevant to the fact that trans women with shape of their birth bodies, and regardless of any genital cutting which has taken place as a result of male-assignment have more opportunity to have a functioning vagina with sensation than women who have been infibulated as a result of their female assignment.</i> Well, if you're going to make that argument, based on a lower bound of intrinsic transsexuality of 1%, and Western transition prevalence of 0.5%,(Conway et al, 2011) prevalence of operativity of ~ 20% among the transitioned, frequency of loss of neovaginal sensation of ~10% (though it might be higher... the operative often feel a greater need to present themselves as close-to-cis as possible, so there's likely underreportage of complication), for a prevalence of sensate neovaginas among trans women of 9%, assuming that lower bound on prevalence is accurate, and really, it's dramatically underestimating, it's far less likely that a North American or European trans woman is going to have a sensate vagina than an African cis woman. Not to mention incidence of transition is lower in Africa, though I sincerely doubt intrinsic trans prevalence is, so you can stop making baseless rhetorical points designed to appeal to the misogynistic cissexism of your readers now, okay? Or at least stop representing them as anything but.

mhairimcalpine
mhairimcalpine

valeriekeefe mhairimcalpine  Access, affordability and desire for surgical intervention are irrelevant to the fact that trans women with shape of their birth bodies, and regardless of any genital cutting which has taken place as a result of male-assignment have more opportunity to have a functioning vagina with sensation than women who have been infibulated as a result of their female assignment. But that's really by the by, the larger point that I was making was that being assigned female at birth is a risk factor, because of misogyny and and the earliest someone can properly start to assert their gender is at least around 2 years while detrimental things happen to female assigned children from birth. The trans position that sex and gender are synoymous and self-declarative would suggest that we should not assign sex but wait until the child communicates their [sex/gender]. and that bodily differences are unimportant, the point remains that there is functionality associated with different types of bodies which means that they *do* different things. For example, the ability to roll your tongue is only found in some people.  It is perfectly possible that in a different world a way could have been found a way to exploit that difference in the same way that differences in skin-tone have been exploited.  But that ability has no functional significance. On the other hand the presence of certain organs has a very real and material and significant impact on what bodies can do, and is both the cause of and correlated with sex assignment at birth.  We can say with certainty, that without substantial medical intervention which is technologically unavailable at the moment, that this particular person will never gestate or birth another human being while this other person is likely to at least have the ability to do that even if it is not activated. There seems to be no theory of reproduction in trans epistemology.  That babies come from males or females based on their trans status rather than their sex, however if we stop assigning sex at birth, there is no such thing as trans, and consequently no way of determining who may be able to birth babies, and who may not.

valeriekeefe
valeriekeefe

mhairimcalpine  Well that was a gaslighting-laden characterization of what my position is. Well done. First, let me note the interesting dichotomy in your language: "children assigned male" versus "young girls." I'll leave that for others to consider, since I think self-examination/self-awareness really isn't very much your thing. My point is that referencing one socioeconomic situation to make arguments about another socioeconomic situation is a derail at best. Western men make up the  majority of Western homeless and the vast majority of Western sheltered homeless... this does not invalidate the concept of the glass ceiling, and how work is structured in such a way that reduces cisfeminine labour force participation. So when you're making an analysis of gender power relations, understanding intersectionality is important. I shouldn't have to remind you of that. So when comparing the access of the minority of Western trans women to vaginoplasty (assuming operativity as default, but that's neither here nor there, nor is the fact that tying basic civil rights to an elective medical procedure should be something that gets a bit more tsuris from cisfeminists than it does, but it once again begs mentioning) to the presence of clitoral mutilation in developing and somewhat theocratic states, you deliberately ignore intersectionality, and you appropriate the oppression that those CAFAB children face as your own. A more accurate comparison would be comparison of Western infantile clitoroplasty to Western infantile circumcision. But that would be a weaker-sounding, though logically consistent, argument. And not for nothing, but to characterize removing 20,000 nerve endings from a child's genitalia and ensuring a greater liklihood of genital tearing during masturbation as <i>standard</i> is just one of the many blind-spots you present. Again, you're smarter than you pretend to be when you make these arguments.

mhairimcalpine
mhairimcalpine

valeriekeefe I'm sure you will be relieved to know that you haven't distressed me, so your apology, although appreciated ,is unnecessary. I can appreciate you having a Western centric outlook, being Western based, but there is a whole world beyond its boundaries and giving primacy to children assigned male in the West is supporting the tropes that consider Western male assigned people greater value than than non-Western people who are female assigned. Medical procedures in the West do indeed have more sucessful outcomes in general, however the infibulation of young girls is deeply harmful even when the outcome is as intended, far beyond the standard interventions which take place on children assigned male, except in a few minor cases mainly involving children with indeterminate genitalia.

valeriekeefe
valeriekeefe

mhairimcalpine I'm unpleasant to those who've earned it. So sorry to distress you with greatly deserved outrage. And when it comes to people with domestic policy agendas, I discuss the West, as, after all, for people in the Western World to interfere with or claim primacy in the affairs of non-Western nations and peoples is imperialism at its finest. And yeah, medical procedures in the developing world have a higher rate of complication across the board. This is not a surprising thing, and once again, it's disingenuous of you to make the comparison.

mhairimcalpine
mhairimcalpine

valeriekeefe  I appreciate the time you've taken to respond, but your statement ... "We're a sapient species with sexually dimorphic, non-neuroplastic midbrain neurology" ...is simply a bald assertion, and an assertion of sex as biological, unchangable, neurologically based and necessarily in congruence with gender is neither a mainstream scientific belief, nor seems fit with many people's reported lived experiences. Genital mutilation of those assigned female http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prevalence_of_female_genital_mutilation_by_country.  The country with the highest rate of FGM is in Egypt, with 97% of those who were assigned female at birth having had the procedure.  In contrast in the United States, the rate of genital cutting on those assigned male is 56% and the http://www.circumstitions.com/death.html, makes it comparatively a far less risky procedure and one without the ongoing serious complications that many infibulated women experience in intercourse and childbirth. The http://www.2ndcouncilhouse.co.uk/blog/2013/07/24/cis-privilege-and-the-limits-of-self-identification/ was  "A baby who is female assigned in some parts of the world is at higher risk of infanticide and risks genital mutilation far beyond that which is imposed on any male assigned child – to the extent that a woman who is male assigned at birth has more chance to have a functioning surgically constructed vagina, than some women who were female assigned do as a result of their mutilation." Which is something I stand by.  It would seem less that I am appropriating suffering in a country to which I have a substantive link, than that you have a very US-centric view of the world and prioritise negative outcomes for Western male assigned infants over non-Western female assigned infants. http://mhairimcalpine.tumblr.com/post/61380629295/obligatory-tumblr-account-feedback-on-sex-and-gender,  I was happy to unfollow you at your request, the follow was not implied agreement, but interest at some of your posts as you seemed to have a very distinct perspective that I had not encountered elsewhere and was based on a lack of awareness of what an unpleasant individual you were.

EdithPilkington
EdithPilkington

@mhairimcalpine

One more correction:

I always get Young's first name wrong.  It isn't Charles.  He is known as W C Young - William Caldwell Young.

http://www.sbn.org/purpose/founders.php

I am far less into understanding brains as being "sexed" than bodies.  I think Milton Diamond picks up where Young left off.  I will, however, not deny that neuroendocrinology is essential to understanding transsexualism and intersex and that we have fallen far away from that.  I believe there are political reason's for that.  The legacy of John Money and the Hampsons looms large over all of this and its relationship to understanding both intersex and transsexualism has been obscured as a result.

I am pretty sure Young was at the University of Kansas before Diamond got there.  Fausto-Sterling, as I recall, is much more receptive of Beach's work than she was with Young's ideas about prenatal organization and later activation. I think her motivations for preferring Beach over Young needs examining.

EdithPilkington
EdithPilkington

@mhairimcalpine @EdithPilkington

Yeah, I think Charles Moser has done a study on women and autogynephilic tendencies.  You won't read much of Moser on the pages of Archives of Sexual Behavior.  Moser is very much into self determination regarding sex and sex practices, I believe.  I don't know how much I am on the same page as he is.  

I came of age in the late sixties.  I took the counter culture very seriously.  The people I involved myself with were very much into stripping identity down till there wasn't any, in Buddhist fashion, in an attempt to limit or eliminate stereotypes - workboots and body hair on women and men secure enough in their masculinity, not afraid to express themselves in ways that might have been considered effeminate in earlier times.  In many ways my body was not able to keep up with all this and things changed dramatically during the seventies.  My attempts to purify back in the early seventies lead me away from society and obscured a lot of things for me.  In terms of self realization my twenties were absolutely brutal.  Self actualization was not a part of the scenario where I was situated.  

This is too difficult a topic to discuss without having an ongoing forum to discuss what is involved.  There really isn't any such thing as "trans" people.  There are many people with trans issues, though.  My experience tells me those issues can be vastly different from person to person who claim to have those issues.

Sexing the Body is a touchstone for me.  I don't share Fausto-Sterling's point of view when it comes to subjects like transsexualism.  There is, however, so much objective information in Sexing the Body, it makes it invaluable.  Fausto-Sterling is a "late onset" lesbian.  The motivation for what she writes is conditioned by that fact.  She is very interested in post natal neural development which supports conceptualizing gender as a social construct.  My situation is much different than Fausto-Sterling's.  It is Fausto-Sterling's understanding of the interactive nature between an individual's biology and the social milieu one finds oneself in that interests me.

I have the kind of lordosis you found when you looked up the word.  I do core exercises.  It is the only thing that keeps my disks from going out of alignment. It keeps me from having to visit the chiropractor too often.  I have had the problem since I was seventeen, ironically.  But this is the kind of lordosis I was speaking of:

>"This tactile stimulation causes her to move her tail to one side and arch her back (lordosis). C: The male dismounts and grooms himself. D: After several mounts, the male ejaculates. (Photos courtesy of Julie Bakker)

is lordosis. A willing male smells and licks the female’s genitals, and, if she permits, mounts her, introduces his penis (intromission), and thrusts deeply. He may repeat this behavior as many as  times before ejaculating. After each intromission, he rapidly withdraws and licks his genitals. To the experimental psychologist, each of these separate actions provides an opportunity to subdi- vide mating into parts that may be counted and analyzed for the possible in- fluences of hormones, environment, and life experience.51 For each sex, the suite of behaviors defines masculinity or femininity with regard to mating.52"< 

I think Fausto-Sterling's whole book is here on a PDF:

http://libcom.org/files/Fausto-Sterling%20-%20Sexing%20the%20Body.pdf

the quote above is on page 207

At this point, all I think I am doing is rambling.  There isn't anything to prove.  There is plenty to understand, though.  Regardless,  very few people have a need to understand tiny inconsequential minorities.  Anyone who gives the situation minimal thought,  would have to come to the conclusion that people like me are quite powerless.  Any kind of a "challenge" we are  perceived to present is really quite a ridiculous and distorted perception.

mhairimcalpine
mhairimcalpine moderator

@EdithPilkington 

There are definately people who self-identify as autogynephiles although I understand the term is often rejected in favour of transvestite/cross dresser/cross dreamer.  There is a strong reaction to it, as has a sexualised aspect and trans women are expected to be a-sexual to be "respectable" which is the premise behind the cisbian myth (also known rather yukkily as the cotton ceiling).

I understand the harm that the accusation of trans sexuality/trans gender is all just autogynephilia in disguise/denial, and Lawrence's writing is really quite offensive, but as a cis woman, I can appreciate that being sexualised as a woman (stockings and suspenders is perhaps a cliche, but wearing things which are culturally eroticised) is erotic in and of itself, and I think an ordinary part of women's sexuality - but cis women are never labelled as autogynephiles.  You particularly see this I think in late teen girls who are just starting to explore their sexuality, so it doesn't necessarily surprise me that it is either a component of, or a route to discovery of, a gender identity of woman for someone who has been previously mis-gendered.  

The importance of that component will vary between women, but I would think that for at least some it is a valid experience.   It has also been demonised as a "fetishistic" form of sexuality/gender expression, but then is it fetishistic when a cis woman also dresses in highly gendered and/or sexualised ways for erotic purposes? And if it is not fetishistic in cis women, why should it be so in trans women rather than a valid part of their sexuality?

I had to look up lordosis, but all I got was lower back pain!  But yes, animals can exhibit gendered behaviour, and while that might be a clue to their gender its not definative.  There are many women who behave in more stereotypically masculine ways, and many men who behave in more stereotypically feminine ways while being happy with their gender identity.

EdithPilkington
EdithPilkington

@mhairimcalpine @quendergeer

"Does making oneself attractive by shaking one's behind not have anything to do with what is relegated to gender and thereby dismissed as having nothing to do with sex?"

should read:

"Does making oneself attractive by shaking one's behind not have anything to do with what is relegated to gender?  Can one make the point that it is simply 'sexual behavior' having nothing to do with behavior that is socially constructed, learned and imitated?"

I know there are other typos and grammatical errors in my comment.  I am far from perfect.  So sorry.  Mea culpa.

EdithPilkington
EdithPilkington

@mhairimcalpine @EdithPilkington @quendergeer 

I am replying to Mhairi McAlpine.  

This is a loaded topic.  I rejected my sex assignment.  I did not reject a gender assignment.  I have very good reasons for coming to the understanding I have.  How long did it take me to come to the understanding I have IS the point, where I, individually, am concerned.  If I hadn't been lied to about what sex is for so long, it would have happened far sooner.                        

In your post you mention Anne Lawrence.  In other parts of this thread you bring up the subject of autogynephilia and you also mention, what is very well accepted among almost everyone if not everyone who knows anything about the topic,  that there are many self professed autogynephiles.  I think that may be true.  I don't live inside other people's experiences.  I won't dispute their self assessment.  

If one starts from both Ray Blanchard's and Anne Lawrence's first premise, which is that "all transsexuals are liars", how does one, who finds themselves either with a transsexual experience or sorely in need of one, proceed to make any point about what they have been through and be taken seriously?  There is no conversation to be had according to either Blanchard or Lawrence.  

Who are the people who have dominated in the field of transsexualism since the late 1970's when transsexualism first entered the DSM?  Most of them can be read on the pages of the Archives of sexual behavior.  You will seldom find anyone who disagrees with them.  I don't think Julia Serano counts.  I would love to see them include Curtis Hinkle or Sophia Seidlberg and, of course, that would be an entirely new can of worms.   When you get right down to what these people are talking about is the notion that there is only one healthy model for "sexual behavior".  Everything else is a "courtship disorder".  Those are Kurt Freunds words.  He reluctantly came to accept homosexual behavior.  Still, I believe the focus of all these people is evolutionary biology and its correlate, evolutionary psychology.

You say animals do not exhibit gendered behavior.  What do you call mounting behavior and lordosis observed in animals?  If a male rat is raised in solitude  it will it will exhibit lordosis 15 % of the time.  It a male rat is raised with females it will exhibit lordosis 50% of the time and if raised with males it will exhibit lordosis 30% of the time.  This is according to Fausto-Sterling in Sexing the Body in the chapter where she discusses organizational/activational theories and the research of Frank Beach and Charles Young.  

O/A hypotheses are anathema to those who insist on the tabula rasa notion of "gendered development" but what is meant when it is said that freemartin cows exhibit "masculine behavior"?  Does one avoid concluding that a trait described as "masculine" cannot exist because it violates the sacred creed of "gender is simply a social construct"?  Does  one rationalize all this by dismissing the matter and insisting this is "sexual behavior", therefore distinct from behavior arising as a result of socially constructed gender?  Is it, therefore, simply homosexual behavior?  Does making oneself attractive by shaking their behind not have anything to do with what is relegated to gender and thereby dismissed as having nothing to do with sex?  How much does any or all of this has to do with survival?  Can lordosis be described as male behavior?  In the face of the questions Fausto-Sterling asks about their social behavior that Beach and Young were aware of,  what about the effects of androgens, prenatally and, postnatally?  Are those effects socially constructed? 

I think I have probably gone beyond my word limit.  This is a loaded topic, as I said.  If I had more room and thought anyone would care I would bring up the subject of autogynephilia and how harmful it has been to me, how it keeps people like me from getting adequate treatment, how it becomes a self fulfilling prophesy and how characterizations of mental illness have been used to undermine a person's credibility for so long, Paul McHugh, crafty psychs,  the implications of "false memory syndrome" and highly charged politics reducing human nature to some late nineteenth century discoveries involving electromagnetism.  And, "what about the children?"   What about them?  Anne Lawrence, I can only imagine, could provide such wonderful testimony on my behalf in a child custody hearing.  What was I supposed to do, abandon them?  

mhairimcalpine
mhairimcalpine moderator

@EdithPilkington

Sorry, I replied to you earlier this morning, but it seems to have got lost in the ether - apologies for not replying sooner, but events in Greece have taken up my attention for the past few days.

I can understand the feeling of objectification that some women feel when discussing these issues and you are right about the atmosphere that surrounds a lot of the discussions.  It can get very tense very quickly because the nature of the discussion is so personal.

I think the key thing for me is that some people are exploited on the basis of the reproductive capacities that they possess and unless we can identify in some way the people undergoing or at risk of such exploitation, we cannot challenge it.  At present, that is denoted by the binary of sex as in "male" and "female", but its a crude marker and one which isnt always accurate.

On domestic labour, I dont know if there was really a question that I had, I just found it very interesting that both you and @quendergeer  had brought up domestic labour in the context of reproductive labour, which is both a very Marxian way of looking at reproductive labour and there is such a strong connection between women and unpaid domestic work, that it struck me two people were independently raising the issue.

EdithPilkington
EdithPilkington

mhairimcalpine One more correction: I always get Young's first name wrong.  It isn't Charles.  He is known as W C Young - William Caldwell Young. http://www.sbn.org/purpose/founders.php I am far less into understanding brains as being "sexed" than bodies.  I think Milton Diamond picks up where Young left off.  I will, however, not deny that neuroendocrinology is essential to understanding transsexualism and intersex and that we have fallen far away from that.  I believe there are political reason's for that.  The legacy of John Money and the Hampsons looms large over all of this and its relationship to understanding both intersex and transsexualism has been obscured as a result. I am pretty sure Young was at the University of Kansas before Diamond got there.  Fausto-Sterling, as I recall, is much more receptive of Beach's work than she was with Young's ideas about prenatal organization and later activation. I think her motivations for preferring Beach over Young needs examining.

EdithPilkington
EdithPilkington

mhairimcalpine EdithPilkington Yeah, I think Charles Moser has done a study on women and autogynephilic tendencies.  You won't read much of Moser on the pages of Archives of Sexual Behavior.  Moser is very much into self determination regarding sex and sex practices, I believe.  I don't know how much I am on the same page as he is.   I came of age in the late sixties.  I took the counter culture very seriously.  The people I involved myself with were very much into stripping identity down till there wasn't any, in Buddhist fashion, in an attempt to limit or eliminate stereotypes - workboots and body hair on women and men secure enough in their masculinity, not afraid to express themselves in ways that might have been considered effeminate in earlier times.  In many ways my body was not able to keep up with all this and things changed dramatically during the seventies.  My attempts to purify back in the early seventies lead me away from society and obscured a lot of things for me.  In terms of self realization my twenties were absolutely brutal.  Self actualization was not a part of the scenario where I was situated.   This is too difficult a topic to discuss without having an ongoing forum to discuss what is involved.  There really isn't any such thing as "trans" people.  There are many people with trans issues, though.  My experience tells me those issues can be vastly different from person to person who claim to have those issues. Sexing the Body is a touchstone for me.  I don't share Fausto-Sterling's point of view when it comes to subjects like transsexualism.  There is, however, so much objective information in Sexing the Body, it makes it invaluable.  Fausto-Sterling is a "late onset" lesbian.  The motivation for what she writes is conditioned by that fact.  She is very interested in post natal neural development which supports conceptualizing gender as a social construct.  My situation is much different than Fausto-Sterling's.  It is Fausto-Sterling's understanding of the interactive nature between an individual's biology and the social milieu one finds oneself in that interests me. I have the kind of lordosis you found when you looked up the word.  I do core exercises.  It is the only thing that keeps my disks from going out of alignment. It keeps me from having to visit the chiropractor too often.  I have had the problem since I was seventeen, ironically.  But this is the kind of lordosis I was speaking of: >"This tactile stimulation causes her to move her tail to one side and arch her back (lordosis). C: The male dismounts and grooms himself. D: After several mounts, the male ejaculates. (Photos courtesy of Julie Bakker) is lordosis. A willing male smells and licks the female’s genitals, and, if she permits, mounts her, introduces his penis (intromission), and thrusts deeply. He may repeat this behavior as many as  times before ejaculating. After each intromission, he rapidly withdraws and licks his genitals. To the experimental psychologist, each of these separate actions provides an opportunity to subdi- vide mating into parts that may be counted and analyzed for the possible in- fluences of hormones, environment, and life experience.51 For each sex, the suite of behaviors defines masculinity or femininity with regard to mating.52"<  I think Fausto-Sterling's whole book is here on a PDF: http://libcom.org/files/Fausto-Sterling%20-%20Sexing%20the%20Body.pdf the quote above is on page 207 At this point, all I think I am doing is rambling.  There isn't anything to prove.  There is plenty to understand, though.  Regardless,  very few people have a need to understand tiny inconsequential minorities.  Anyone who gives the situation minimal thought,  would have to come to the conclusion that people like me are quite powerless.  Any kind of a "challenge" we are  perceived to present is really quite a ridiculous and distorted perception.

mhairimcalpine
mhairimcalpine

EdithPilkington  There are definately people who self-identify as autogynephiles although I understand the term is often rejected in favour of transvestite/cross dresser/cross dreamer.  There is a strong reaction to it, as has a sexualised aspect and trans women are expected to be a-sexual to be "respectable" which is the premise behind the cisbian myth (also known rather yukkily as the cotton ceiling). I understand the harm that the accusation of trans sexuality/trans gender is all just autogynephilia in disguise/denial, and Lawrence's writing is really quite offensive, but as a cis woman, I can appreciate that being sexualised as a woman (stockings and suspenders is perhaps a cliche, but wearing things which are culturally eroticised) is erotic in and of itself, and I think an ordinary part of women's sexuality - but cis women are never labelled as autogynephiles.  You particularly see this I think in late teen girls who are just starting to explore their sexuality, so it doesn't necessarily surprise me that it is either a component of, or a route to discovery of, a gender identity of woman for someone who has been previously mis-gendered.   The importance of that component will vary between women, but I would think that for at least some it is a valid experience.   It has also been demonised as a "fetishistic" form of sexuality/gender expression, but then is it fetishistic when a cis woman also dresses in highly gendered and/or sexualised ways for erotic purposes? And if it is not fetishistic in cis women, why should it be so in trans women rather than a valid part of their sexuality? I had to look up lordosis, but all I got was lower back pain!  But yes, animals can exhibit gendered behaviour, and while that might be a clue to their gender its not definative.  There are many women who behave in more stereotypically masculine ways, and many men who behave in more stereotypically feminine ways while being happy with their gender identity.

EdithPilkington
EdithPilkington

mhairimcalpine quendergeer "Does making oneself attractive by shaking one's behind not have anything to do with what is relegated to gender and thereby dismissed as having nothing to do with sex?" should read: "Does making oneself attractive by shaking one's behind not have anything to do with what is relegated to gender?  Can one make the point that it is simply 'sexual behavior' having nothing to do with behavior that is socially constructed, learned and imitated?" I know there are other typos and grammatical errors in my comment.  I am far from perfect.  So sorry.  Mea culpa.

EdithPilkington
EdithPilkington

mhairimcalpine EdithPilkington quendergeer  I am replying to Mhairi McAlpine.   This is a loaded topic.  I rejected my sex assignment.  I did not reject a gender assignment.  I have very good reasons for coming to the understanding I have.  How long did it take me to come to the understanding I have IS the point, where I, individually, am concerned.  If I hadn't been lied to about what sex is for so long, it would have happened far sooner.                         In your post you mention Anne Lawrence.  In other parts of this thread you bring up the subject of autogynephilia and you also mention, what is very well accepted among almost everyone if not everyone who knows anything about the topic,  that there are many self professed autogynephiles.  I think that may be true.  I don't live inside other people's experiences.  I won't dispute their self assessment.   If one starts from both Ray Blanchard's and Anne Lawrence's first premise, which is that "all transsexuals are liars", how does one, who finds themselves either with a transsexual experience or sorely in need of one, proceed to make any point about what they have been through and be taken seriously?  There is no conversation to be had according to either Blanchard or Lawrence.   Who are the people who have dominated in the field of transsexualism since the late 1970's when transsexualism first entered the DSM?  Most of them can be read on the pages of the Archives of sexual behavior.  You will seldom find anyone who disagrees with them.  I don't think Julia Serano counts.  I would love to see them include Curtis Hinkle or Sophia Seidlberg and, of course, that would be an entirely new can of worms.   When you get right down to what these people are talking about is the notion that there is only one healthy model for "sexual behavior".  Everything else is a "courtship disorder".  Those are Kurt Freunds words.  He reluctantly came to accept homosexual behavior.  Still, I believe the focus of all these people is evolutionary biology and its correlate, evolutionary psychology. You say animals do not exhibit gendered behavior.  What do you call mounting behavior and lordosis observed in animals?  If a male rat is raised in solitude  it will it will exhibit lordosis 15 % of the time.  It a male rat is raised with females it will exhibit lordosis 50% of the time and if raised with males it will exhibit lordosis 30% of the time.  This is according to Fausto-Sterling in Sexing the Body in the chapter where she discusses organizational/activational theories and the research of Frank Beach and Charles Young.   O/A hypotheses are anathema to those who insist on the tabula rasa notion of "gendered development" but what is meant when it is said that freemartin cows exhibit "masculine behavior"?  Does one avoid concluding that a trait described as "masculine" cannot exist because it violates the sacred creed of "gender is simply a social construct"?  Does  one rationalize all this by dismissing the matter and insisting this is "sexual behavior", therefore distinct from behavior arising as a result of socially constructed gender?  Is it, therefore, simply homosexual behavior?  Does making oneself attractive by shaking their behind not have anything to do with what is relegated to gender and thereby dismissed as having nothing to do with sex?  How much does any or all of this has to do with survival?  Can lordosis be described as male behavior?  In the face of the questions Fausto-Sterling asks about their social behavior that Beach and Young were aware of,  what about the effects of androgens, prenatally and, postnatally?  Are those effects socially constructed?  I think I have probably gone beyond my word limit.  This is a loaded topic, as I said.  If I had more room and thought anyone would care I would bring up the subject of autogynephilia and how harmful it has been to me, how it keeps people like me from getting adequate treatment, how it becomes a self fulfilling prophesy and how characterizations of mental illness have been used to undermine a person's credibility for so long, Paul McHugh, crafty psychs,  the implications of "false memory syndrome" and highly charged politics reducing human nature to some late nineteenth century discoveries involving electromagnetism.  And, "what about the children?"   What about them?  Anne Lawrence, I can only imagine, could provide such wonderful testimony on my behalf in a child custody hearing.  What was I supposed to do, abandon them?

mhairimcalpine
mhairimcalpine

EdithPilkington Sorry, I replied to you earlier this morning, but it seems to have got lost in the ether - apologies for not replying sooner, but events in Greece have taken up my attention for the past few days. I can understand the feeling of objectification that some women feel when discussing these issues and you are right about the atmosphere that surrounds a lot of the discussions.  It can get very tense very quickly because the nature of the discussion is so personal. I think the key thing for me is that some people are exploited on the basis of the reproductive capacities that they possess and unless we can identify in some way the people undergoing or at risk of such exploitation, we cannot challenge it.  At present, that is denoted by the binary of sex as in "male" and "female", but its a crude marker and one which isnt always accurate. On domestic labour, I dont know if there was really a question that I had, I just found it very interesting that both you and quendergeer  had brought up domestic labour in the context of reproductive labour, which is both a very Marxian way of looking at reproductive labour and there is such a strong connection between women and unpaid domestic work, that it struck me two people were independently raising the issue.

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