Colonizers vs. Defectors, or: Before you call us phobic, check your own fear and disgust.

AFTAs (anti-feminist trans activists) very obviously practice the colonization of women. They demand access to our spaces, language and labor while enforcing male supremacist ideas of womanhood.

I am using colonization as a national/geographic metaphor here – but there is another national/geographic metaphor that in my opinion applies to gender critical transwomen – transwomen who accept they are male but want nothing to do with manhood: defection (“the desertion of one’s country or cause in favor of an opposing one.”)

Some background: The “radical” in radical feminism means getting to the root of the problem. The root of the problem is gender, meaning the idea of male (masculine/dominant) and female (feminine/subordinate) personalities.  Feminists have long objected to the idea that femininity is innate to females; we see femininity – which is signaled by certain time-and-place-specific aesthetics but much more importantly is about submissiveness and dependence – as the result of female socialization in the service of male supremacy.

The necessary corollary to an analysis of femininity as socialized rather than innate is an analysis of masculinity as socialized rather than innate. And here we get to the crux of the problem in modern transgender identity politics: Too many people remain unwilling to accept that human qualities *traditionally labeled* feminine can and do exist within male bodies.

These qualities include positive traits, such as empathy and gentleness. They also include neutral traits, such as an interest in self-decoration. They also include negative traits, such as the tendency to fall into the trap of self-objectification as empowerment. All of these qualities can and do exist within male bodies. However, as these qualities are cultivated in female humans in order to keep us dependent upon males, and as we are supposed to pretend that no such cultivation occurs – in the popular imagination, women are not socialized to be feminine but are innately so – males who exhibit those traits (males who give the lie to gender) are punished both within their families and within their larger communities.

Many de-transitioned transmen have written, quite movingly, of how they were socialized trans – they were made to believe their personalities were unacceptable in female bodies. I personally have no doubt that similarly painful socialization is inflicted upon some males – they are made to believe that their personalities are unacceptable in male bodies. I find it unsurprising and frankly even obvious that such socialization would sometimes lead to sex dysmorphia: a rejection of maleness, a rejection of the phallus, a wish to flee manhood entirely.

Which brings us back to the metaphor of defection. Some people are told their opinions/activities/interests will not be tolerated in their countries of origin, so they flee to another country where their opinions/activities/interests will be tolerated. They undertake a journey – we are not expected to lie and pretend they are in country B while they are still in country A simply because they strongly desire to be in country B (see: the “I’m a transwoman/woman because I say so, respect my female penis” camp.) Furthermore, when the refugee arrives in country B, we are not expected to lie and pretend the refugee was born there (see: the “I was never a boy, I was always a girl” camp.) And we certainly do not expect the citizens of country B to adopt the values of a country from which people have felt the need to flee (see: the “woman is a male fantasy” camp.) The refugee is offered safety, with the expectation of a certain level of acculturation – they will learn how things work in their new home (rather than relying on whatever propaganda they may have received in their country of origin,) and ally with the citizens there. This is what gender-critical/pro-feminist transwomen do.

Why do we never hear this defection narrative in the mainstream media coverage of trans politics? Because the defection narrative shines a harsh light on the destructiveness of male socialization. Instead, we have a narrative that is meant to appease men who have accepted their male socialization – and refuse to question the privilege it brings: It’s OK, Bepenised Overlords, these people might have been born into male bodies just like yours, but we all know and agree that their personalities are not acceptable for males, so we’re going to pretend that ladybrain makes them female. We’ll all continue to pretend that dominant behavior is innate to maleness, so you will remain entitled to male supremacy. (Whatever is considered innate to maleness remains unquestionable in the social order, no matter how much harm it causes.)

Of course, appeasing bullies never works. Liberals are yelling at the top of their lungs from every media outlet available that penis is female if the penis-haver says so, and men are still killing transwomen, – along with women, children, and other men. And they will continue to do so as long as their violence is naturalized and excused via gender. But people are so terrified of confronting males over male violence that they instead blame women (“TERFs”) who won’t go along with an appeasement narrative which is (not only patently ridiculous but also) obviously ineffective.

Meanwhile, this ladybrain narrative – some personalities are unacceptable in male bodies, so we must lie and call them female – IS EXACTLY THE KIND OF CRUELTY THAT CAN LEAD TO SEX DYSMORPHIA.

I’ve written before about the liberal desire to perform “high disgust tolerance,” and how it leads to a knee-jerk reaction to anyone who disagrees with transgender identity politics – we must not be tolerating our disgust. But what if we-who-are-labeled-TERFs don’t actually feel any disgust at males who exhibit “feminine” personality traits? Furthermore, what if we are not disgusted by the existence of transsexuality, but rather view it as an understandable (though obviously painful) reaction by highly empathetic persons subjected to male socialization? What if the only thing that disgusts us is the infliction of that socialization?

Dear self-styled social justice warrior types: What if the disgust and fear you project onto us is actually your own? Because that is all I see when you prance and posture all over social media, demanding everyone pretend that male people are female: disgust at feminine males, and fear of masculine males. 

Can you take a break from spluttering violent threats at women to ask yourself why you believe personalities are sexed, in direct contradiction to the evidence in front of you? Can you ask yourself why you can’t admit that qualities traditionally labeled “feminine” – positive, neutral and negative – can and do exist in male bodies? Can you ask yourself what kind of effect this must have on the males who possess those traits – what pain you must be causing them? Can you ask yourself why men can’t be expected to encounter “feminine” males without reacting in violence? And can you ask yourself why you are so terrified of men that you must always blame women for male violence?

If, for once, you are honest with yourself, the truth you will finally have to confront is that the social world of men – the country of men, if you will – is the problem. That is what must change. Not the country of women – not our language, not our self-definitions, not our boundaries, not our movement for liberation. We can welcome refugees without submitting to colonizers – they are easy to distinguish, if you judge from behavior, rather than self-labeling. However, only when the country of men is safe for “feminine” males will the painful process of defection become unnecessary. And the country of men will only become safe for “feminine” males when men stop expecting women to bend over backwards to solve the problem for them, embrace *all* their brothers, and take on the work of standing up to the gender bullies.

When so-called Leftist/liberal men can embrace transwomen as their fellow males with the same conviction with which they now denounce women who won’t call penis female, we will have made progress.


Note Added 6/25/15: In the third paragraph of this essay, I offer a clarification of the word “gender” in case any readers are accustomed to using that word to mean “sex category” (male/female) – the word “gender” is commonly used this way outside of feminist contexts, which can lead to a great deal of confusion. Some people have been excerpting the text “gender, meaning the idea of male (masculine/dominant) and female (feminine/subordinate) personalities” and removing the link that takes you to a page I wrote all about gender as an exploitative hierarchy, in order to misrepresent me as a person who does not think gender is an exploitative hierarchy. That’s a dick move.

18 Comments on “Colonizers vs. Defectors, or: Before you call us phobic, check your own fear and disgust.

  1. I found myself agreeing with a lot of this. I really don’t understand why being a femmy, sensitive guy isn’t a totally legitimate way to do male. What I find myself stumbling upon here is this assumption that all MTTs are really that and always have been. There seems to be lots of indication that a lot of men who transition do it for their own sexual gratification and kink kicks. This is another part of the discussion that will get you banned and attacked should you bring it up. That hostility feels very male gendered to me.

    1. First, thanks for reading. Second, I’m a bit confused that you read this post to indicate that no transwomen are fetishists, given the opening paragraph and the links contained within? Maybe give that a second gander? Third, I can assure there will be no denial of autogynephila here. We may even have some good posts coming up on that.

      1. Actually what I was saying was that the post seems to take at face value that men who transition do it for all the “correct” reasons and makes no mention of, what seem to be the majority, the fetishists. I was not saying that the post said “that no transwomen are fetishists”. I’m happy to hear that “there will be no denial of autogynephila here”, a subject that really needs some sunshine. I’m not convinced that there is any good reason to transition but it’s easier to find sympathy for people who always were gnc than for those who appropriate femaleness later in life. Thanks for the post. I’m looking forward to visiting again.

        1. The first sentence of the post says “AFTAs (anti-feminist trans activists) very obviously practice the colonization of women.” The second sentence of the post links to one of my blogs which is entirely about the harmfulness of transgender identity politics, including a page that extensively documents autogynephilia… I completely understand the frustration and defensiveness feminists feel about the deplorable and misogynistic silencing that goes on in the mainstream media about this issue, but it is not necessary here. Also, we are not really writing for people who already have a gender analysis- We are trying to create a space where [people who need gender analysis but are being kept from it via the ideological totalism of both genderists and transgenderists] can understand that they are not bad people and are not harming transsexual people by engaging in that analysis. This is not to say you are not welcome here! Only that you don’t really need this site, but others might.

  2. Dear Readers: Here at Gender Apostates we expect the author of a post to moderate the comments on that post as they see fit. Here are some things that will get any comments on my posts sent to the spam pile: 1) Starting off your comment with “I reject class analysis.” I have never once been asked if I as an individual identify as incompetent, everyone’s nanny, or a sex object for men. I have been treated that way based on my SEX. 2) Tell me I cannot use X as a *metaphor* because I don’t know what X is like, while simultaneously accepting the premise that men know what womanhood feels like. Excuse you? 3) Call the cotton ceiling a “small blip.” (My ass it is, and that’s only one aspect of trans colonization of women- http://thenewbacklash.blogspot.com/p/9-documented-harms-to-women-and-girls.html). 4) Do all this and still expect me to both read and publish a 17 paragraph essay, as if I owe you either my time or my platform. As the kids these days say: NOPE.

    1. Hi Sass. The sanctity of comments is greatly overrated. Some bloggers allow more of a free-for-all than others, as some printed publications will print more outrageous letters than others. Other print publications can be extremely picky. Blogging is no different, except that it is infinitely easier to reblog or link to a post on your own free platform and write anything you want. Thinking one has the right to have one’s comments published is like thinking one has the right to wander into a random stranger’s living room and urinate upon the carpet.

      Most people who blog about gender have their comments set on full moderation. I wouldn’t have it any other way, but you do you, I do me :-)

  3. I really love the metaphor of defection from Men’s Country. So useful and compelling. In the spirit of trying to see the other point of view, I’ve been wondering over why I have never seen a butch MTT, if any man can be a woman and signify their transition to their true self with surgery, clothing, and makeup. This metaphor really helps me get over that puzzle.

  4. I adore this analogy. It almost feels as if it needs some sort of science-fiction story woven around it, which might even be one of the few occasions where the “country / planet of men / women” trope in sci-fi is not ultimately used to laud the “virtues” of good old Anglo-American patriarchy… This essay, as well as Dr. Aoife’s tweets, got me thinking again about the “facilities” issue (though I remain a firm believer in safe third spaces as the best option). Since “social transition” would be a more correct grounds of access than “identity declaration” – since people can and sometimes do declare frivolously – would it perhaps be viable to have a system based on character reference? That is, anyone fully intending to re-assimilate permanently needs to obtain however many statements from women they know (but are not related to), of demonstrably responsible character, who can meaningfully vouch that said transitionee is seriously endeavouring to behave considerately and discreetly, and is not in any way a threat to women. Apologies if I have unwittingly plundered this idea. It felt like my inspiration at the time, but they all do…

    1. Unfortunately, women are socialized such that no man claiming “transness” for improper purpose would have any trouble finding/pressuring women to vouch for him. I think we need to 1) free the psychiatric profession to treat sex dysmorphia *without* facile claims of brainsex & 2) concentrate on clear, evidence-based gender analysis that will reduce rather than increase the number of people who suffer from it. Now onto Sci fi: READ OCTAVIA BUTLER!! Also Ursula Le Guin. :-)

      1. That is something I didn’t think of. There is certainly no quick solution for such an ingrained social malaise. I do definitely think the only real expedient solution would be safe third spaces. I put little faith in the current state of NHS psychiatry to solve anything, or at least not by trying to throw antidepressants at the problem… call me a morbid old cynic.

        Thank you for the recommendations. :) I definitely need to broaden my fantasy reading, and now I know where to begin…

  5. I have pored over both this and “The New Backlash”, and while I disagree with several aspects of it, I am glad I gave it a chance because it basically confirms my creeping suspicions. Gender is a prison, a tool of bondage. To gender someone is to commit psychological violence against them.

    This push for trans acceptance in all spheres and the explosion of new gender identities are thus not any sort of real progress, but a collection of jury-rigged quick fixes (“kludges” as we call them in the programming community) to the issue of freedom to develop and express one’s self. I once cheered all this on, but knew, without thinking critically about why, that none of them really fit me or reflected the reality of people’s experiences. Now I realize that it is essentially IMPOSSIBLE for them to do so, because they are simply abstract, limiting ideals which originate from the master class’s methods of control and domination; and thus, any “acceptance” that results from them is just another empty congratulatory measure for conformity to the cultural hegemony of the times. Only when we are able to break the chains of gender will we find true acceptance for all the variations of human personality, and thus ensure the maximum potential development of humanity.

    Unfortunately, very few will listen, because in the popular imagination, this kind of analysis is “tainted” by people who pretty up and paper over their violent, hatred nature with the cloak of radical thought. This is disheartening to see. The blame is on the PEOPLE who commit violence, not the ideas they claim to have. We are committing the same sins as our supposed adversaries when we demonize and beat down on an entire class of different thought based on abusers who use it as their shield.

    1. As far as I know, no radical feminists or gender critical allies have committed violence against transwomen, nor have the men who do commit violence against transwomen cited radical feminist or gender critical analysis as their motivation. There are more than these two options: 1) That male person is not allowed to be feminine, I am going to beat him up. 2) That male person is not allowed to be feminine, we must all pretend he’s really female. There is the simple alternative of 3) that male person is allowed to be feminine.

  6. Thank you. I stumbled across this article a long time after you wrote it. Your use of the terms colonizers and refugees has helped me to clarify my thinking.

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