You know what I like, and feel is so important? That he doesn’t say “Men thinks those are THEIR positions”. He says “We think those are OUR positions.”
As a male feminist, he still doesn’t exclude himself from the group of men.
What a great article…my favorite line:
Tal Fortgang’s essay—indignant, defensive, beside-the-point, somehow both self-pitying and self-aggrandizing—followed a familiar script.
Good Morning Constance…
I am pressing this article here on Grace Notes for a couple of reasons: the low hanging fruit here, of course, is the putting on blatant naked display the kind of ignorance and misogyny that transgender people face…but specifically transgender women face to a far larger degree than transgender men do. As I read the kinds of assumptions that are made and asserted, I am astounded at the towering lack of knowledge and the even deeper unwillingness to be educated about the issue.
But let’s dig a bit deeper here…note that the primary canard that is hysterically hurled over and over again is that “men” want to rape women, and so they will go to any length to engage in this violation, including “dressing up as a woman”, entering a bathroom, and then feasting like a wolf on defenseless denizens within. Thus we cannot risk allowing transgender women to use the women’s restrooms, but will force them into men’s restrooms…
…Constance, did you catch that assumption that slides right by and gets a nod of tacit agreement? And did you see the inherent contradiction that is actually supported by documented epidemic-like numbers?
The assumption is that men are creatures with one primal driving force in their lives…having sex. Even if it means taking sex from unwilling females who are just in the general vicinity. The assumption is that we need to build our society around this reality and do our best to just “limit the damage” caused by this basic fact about men.
Rather than deal with that underlying horror and the cultural constructs that have given rise to the unspoken reality that men not only take what they want sexually but are entitled to this taking, we instead get ourselves all twisted up over the bathroom. Rather than teach our little boys how to be real human beings and what being male means, and what it does not mean, we just sort of wring our hands and hide our eyes when the moon is full and hope the werewolf stays away from our door.
We are fully capable of this teaching…if: if anyone really knew anymore what it means to be a man! What does that mean, men? To you…what does it mean to be a man? And, as part of your journey of discovery, have you ever inquired of women what being a man means? Have you ever even thought to seek some of your self-definition in the understanding and grappling with what it means to be a woman?
See how this would preclude rape as an even slightly acceptable option for men?
But no…this is not what we do with that subject of rape: we continue to keep it disconnected from the poison and demonic roots from which it sprang, and those are the roots of patriarchy and male privilege. Women already know this, men, but for your own education…ask any woman you know what kinds of situations does she feel safe from the possibility of being raped. Ask yourselves how you have socialized your own daughters regarding dress, safety in public places, when to be outdoors and when to be home “safe”. Ask any woman if they think they are made safe from the possibility of being raped just because transgender women are kept from the right restrooms…
And that leads us to a deeper reality: the reality, backed up by the blood and tears and horror and even murder of transgender women…who have been forced into men’s restrooms and there been harassed, assaulted, raped, and left for dead (if they are lucky) or murdered outright! This is an actual fact that happens hundreds of times a year. The dynamic I wrote of in the preceding section of my essay here is given free reign! As a society we are demanding that some women be placed into serious jeopardy to their very beings and existence…because we refuse to deal with the horror of rape as a feature of the patriarchal paradigm we are all enslaved by.
It is another example of how rape is sanctioned as part of the price that must be paid by women in order for all men to retain their granted privilege…and the really awful thing about this particular expression of this blood-spattered reality is the sad result on display of how some women become collaborators with the paradigm: they would rather consign their transgender sisters to this fate than stand against the oppression and iron-fist of the patriarchy! This is a phenomenon not unlike how certain Jews collaborated with the Nazis in the hopes that they would then be left alone and unharmed.
It is a Mephistophelian bargain…the soul is lost in the gaining of a few untroubled hours. Sadly, it puts the pervasive infestation of the patriarchy’s insidious distortions of masculinity and femininity on furious display! And the fruits…rotten, poison, despairing.
But now I want to get to the deepest reality for transgender people and specifically transgender women: the deepest reality for me.
When people rant and rave in public hearings such as happened at the one the article speaks of, they communicate to me that I am utterly worthless of knowing, inquiring of, or understanding.
They blatantly display their own ignorance, assumption, and unwillingness to have those things enlightened and transformed!
I can tell you that when I read about what they think I want to do in the restroom, I am staggered with the mainifestations of their own evil imaginations of things that have literally never entered my heart at any time…and then I am defeated by the weights of ignorance and unwillingness that press down, inexorable and unrelenting.
All of the ignorance about transgender is displayed as if it is a float at the Rose Parade, and then it is lauded and institutionalized…and the marginalization of an oppressed segment of people is further cemented.
There is a logical question that comes to mind, as we work our way thru the house of mirrors that is the current paradigm, and that is this: Why not make a place for transgender people to testify at these hearings…to say why they want to use the bathroom of their choice? After all, that is what happens at other hearings of any kind: testimony is sought from all parties interested and affected, so why not here?
Ahh…you follow me, don’t you? Because our perspective is considered invalid at best and insidious at worst. We do not have any valid standing in this present paradigm. We are human chattel, and need to be either “fixed”, “healed”, “delivered”, or forced to “repent of the sin of being created transgender”.
And what is worse? Even if there was a forum offered us to testify, very few of us would come forward…because that would be to make ourselves visible, and incur the wrath of family, so-called friends, and virtual strangers. From that moment on we would hear the snickers when we walked by, the shouted insults and slurs, the out and out hatred blazing from the eyes of people who have never even talked to us but somehow know we are “bad” because they know we are transgender.
Listen: if you know of a transgender person, take some time to get to know them. Talk to them, and not with an agenda. Treat them the way you yourself would like to be treated. Use their name. I can tell you this: when people use my name it is the most gentle and tender healing in my soul.
Hey…we just want to breathe, like anyone else…and use the bathroom when we need to potty.
Do Justice. Love Mercy. Walk Humbly.
Another very well written and informative explanation of privilege…please check it out. If you, as I once was , are blind to the ways your skin color or your gender status or your monetary status give you special access to good things and special protection from bad things, then take it from me in faith who once was as you but now can see…
…the consideration of these persuasive words is essential for anyone who desires to live the best expression of justice, mercy and humility that they can.
And as always, I am grateful and humbled that you come here and spend your time!
“Of course, there are some segments of the feminist community that are vehemently anti-trans. But even aside from that, a lot of feminist activism and rhetoric is geared specifically toward non-trans women’s experiences.
Much of it centers on women being able to do anything men can, and on empowering women’s bodies and biology, which is important and necessary, but it doesn’t resonate as readily with trans women because our socializations and bodies differ from that norm.
And the whole unilateral feminist notion that men are the oppressors and women are the oppressed just seems so overly simplistic coming from a trans perspective. Male privilege is very real, but it is not the only gender privilege that exists.
I think what trans women can offer feminism is a fuller, more holistic perspective on sexism than what currently exists.
Part of this comes from our having lived in the world as both women and men at different points in our lives. Also, I think trans women can challenge the notion that femininity is entirely artificial or merely a trap to hold women down.
I can understand why it might seem that way for many women who were coerced as children into a femininity that did not feel right for them. But trans women often have the reciprocal experience of naturally gravitating toward feminine expression despite being socialized to be masculine.
Because of this experience, we recognize how certain aspects of femininity can be empowering for those who gravitate toward it on their own accord. We recognize the importance of critiquing anti-feminine sentiment both in the culture at large as well as within feminism.”