I wrote this article in response to Jenni Murray’s comments. I’ve had it in my drafts for a while because initially I sent it to The Times asking them to host it, to further the discussion. I sent it a couple of times and now I figure they’re not going to. So here it is:
I’m a trans woman, and from my perspective, I’m every bit as real as any other woman. However, according to a minority of women, usually radical feminists, there’s a couple things that obstruct my claim to womanhood. Namely, in Murray’s case, the idea of male privilege. Their beliefs aren’t just harmless beliefs and opinions though, if they were there wouldn’t be such a push back against them. Trans activism wouldn’t exist at all if people weren’t actively trying to cast us out. This is evident enough from bathroom bills and the most recent controversy surrounding trans boy Mack Beggs, which I wrote about on my blog.
Murray, may not herself be a radical feminist and even goes as far as to outright say it in the opening of her article, however she does utilise the same rhetoric I see every day on Twitter. It’s like saying a bunch of racist stuff then claiming not to be a racist, these two things can’t really hold true together. “I’m not racist, black people just genetically have lower IQs!”
Murray claims her marriage to a man and raising of two sons invalidates her from being a “separatist” or “radical feminist”. Which is nonsense, I’ve met plenty of people who call themselves radical feminists and have husbands and sons. This isn’t any kind of invalidation for Murray to believe the ideology, which she clearly does judging by the rest of what she says.
As for Murray’s “I’m not transphobic, I like Eddie Izzard” defense – this again, just spits of transphobia. As a trans woman we’re constantly told by people like Murray that we must live on their terms. That we must be men first and Murray does exactly that in her article. Calling Izzard’s transvestitism (note: not transsexualism, or even close) and feminine men great “antidotes to those men who obey the more familiar and often unpleasant rules required of conventional masculinity.” So in short, that “toxic masculinity” I hear so much about.
This example is no different, its Murray saying “I’m okay with you guys existing, just as long as you remember you aren’t REAL WOMEN™”. Making a comparison to transvestites like Izzard and Perry shows that she knows no difference between transvestites and transsexuals. Despite there being vast ocean of difference between those who are transvestites, like Izzard, and those who are trans, like India Willoughby or Carol, the Priestess that Murray whinges about in her article.
Murray was infuriated by a trans woman being “ignorant” of the sexual politics surrounding women across history. All because Carol was more interested in what she was going to wear at that specific time instead of what Murray wanted to talk about. A similar anecdote is then repeated, this time with India Willoughby, Loose Women host, at the centre of it.
Willoughby had said something about how unshaven legs were a bit horrible to look at on women, something which Murray calls a harmful stereotype. She then uses this to leapfrog into the talk about privilege, but first we need to take a stop and look at the above. According to Murray, being more concerned about what you’re going to wear and/or thinking that unshaven legs are ugly are signs of male privilege. This is the keystone on which she invalidates these trans women’s claim to womanhood.
Except it doesn’t quite work, because there are plenty of non-trans women who believe these things too, it wouldn’t be a stereotype at all if it wasn’t a common enough occurrence initially. Again, importantly, radical feminists and radical feminist ideology is the minority opinion. The vast majority of women shave their legs and think that unshaven legs are ugly – how can this possibly be used to invalidate a trans woman’s claim to womanhood?
It can’t, but Murray tries anyway – pushing the male privilege myth and waxing lyrical about Simone de Beauvoir’s “The Second Sex”. Whereas I agree with Murray, Simone did not mean her comment of “you become a woman” to refer to trans women explicitly. I also agree with her that she’s talking about gender socialisation rather than sex. I still think there is some importance in her work for trans people. Namely that of the idea of the second sex, of othering. The general idea being that women are the second sex, because that’s how they are treated by the first sex, men. Its the common trope of men being the default, something you can easily see across media forms. It was also present in our language quite often 20 years ago, fireman, policeman, manhole etc.
Attitudes changed and people were more than happy to adjust their language to accommodate new ideas. Its still okay to call a man who is a police officer a policeman, nobody is saying otherwise – however the widened use of “police officer” aimed to break the default man setting. Attitudes surrounding trans people however have not changed. We are still “other”. This is ever present in radical feminists use of “MTT” or Male to Transsexual – as the most commonly used term “MTF” or Male to female has the word female in it. Of course, according to radfems – we aren’t that.
Murray then goes on to talk about two trans women, Jenny, who transitioned at 50, likely didn’t have an easy time being read as female and so yeah, probably wouldn’t feel like she was a real woman – totally understandable. The second is Miranda Yardley. I’ve spoken with Yardley numerous times on Twitter and every time she resorts to the same ol’ tired trope, the same one Murray repeats in her article. That of Blanchard’s Typology.
Ray Blanchard, a controversial figure in this area, almost 50 years ago came up with an idea. He observed trans women and decided to split them into two categories. Those who transitioned because of repressed homosexuals. The Homosexual Transsexuals. And those who transitioned out of a sexual fetish for “being a woman”. The Heterosexual Transsexuals” or autogynaephiliacs. This idea has long been debunked and isn’t really ever spoken about in medicine at all. Dr James Barret even goes as far as describing it as “theoretical whimsy”.
So it seems like kinda an irrelevant idea to have, its outdated, not trusted or believed by people working in gender medicine, people who literally study this for their profession at a doctorate level. Why do we still hold onto this idea? Simple, because its convenient. It confirms a bunch of ideas that the radical feminist types have, though none of them, not even Ray, seemed to remember what Karl Popper said; pseudoscience confirms, science disconfirms. Studies using Blanchard’s original definitions for autoygnaephilia on non-trans women show above 90% of women are also autogynaephiliacs – though this study was redone with tighter definitions. The follow up study still showed about 30% of women to show this trait. Are they now no longer women too?
The next paragraph we get to is in regards to The Guides allowing “boys” as Murray calls them to be there or trans women to lead them. This is problematic for Murray because what if the males abuse the females! Obviously Murray doesn’t see her blatant sexism here. Spoiler, not every person with a penis is likely to abuse or harm people, the vast majority of penis owning individuals are not violent, have never abused anyone and certainly wouldn’t sexually assault people. This is easily evidenced by looking at conviction rates vs total populations. It never goes above 5%.
Murray shouldn’t claim to be an oppressed sex when pushing sexist rhetoric and ignoring the fact that women can also rape and be abusers to. In fact there are numerous articles about how police haven’t taken the threat of women child abusers seriously and are now having to play catch up in the wake of Vanessa George’s paedophile ring as the numbers rise. Especially given the evidence that women are convicted less and given lighter sentences for the same crimes. Heck, a judge in the UK literally said he won’t “send a lady to prison for this” in response to a drunk girl’s rampage after being refused access to a bar. Not even to mention the language often used in the media when discussing teacher/child statutory rapes. Its never the female teacher that’s called a rapist, only the male one.
And that’s only the tip of the iceberg with the problems with the idea of male privilege. Truth be told, there is no real male privilege. Men have always been the ones sent to war, have always been the ones putting their lives on the line to keep your streets safe, are always the ones who don’t get custody of their children and have to settle for weekend access, are the ones with the highest suicide rate, are the ones who aren’t taken seriously when they’re raped, who have no access to rape crisis or domestic violence shelters.
What privilege is there? Really!?
I agree with Murray and the radfemesque mobs on a few things. People shouldn’t have to change the way they speak about bodies and body parts. Doctors shouldn’t have to use specialised language on all people, just in case some of them are trans. If you’re a trans woman, call your body parts what you want, if you’re a woman, call your body parts what you want. Nobody should care whether you call your genitals a vagina or not, regardless of whether it’s artificial or otherwise. That doesn’t stop rad fem supported YouTubers like Magdalen Berns doing the exact same thing though.
There absolutely is a lot of silliness surrounding trans people that needs to stop such as the above. However I disagree with how Murray and the radfemesque mobs use these ideas – instead of just saying “these ideas specifically are bad” they aim for the whole of trans. They tell us that we must live on their terms, such as Yardley or Jenny and I will always refuse that.
I fought hard to get where I am today, happy and myself. It didn’t happen and would never have happened if I had just let my self live on other people’s terms. I’m a woman, I’m empowered, and I will not allow anyone to dictate to me who I am and how I should live my life. I’m sick and tired of being treated as other by hateful, bigoted and sexist women. Those who ignorantly argue for male privilege, and about male violence. Those who want me to live life on their terms, whilst claiming empowerment because they refuse to live life on anyone’s terms. It’s time a mirror was held up to the people who support you Murray, because they have become the very thing they claim to be fighting against.
Privileged sexist bigots. Do you still stand with them?