The devastating breadth of male violence against women and transwomen alike is under-reported and under-acknowledged, and the violence perpetrated by transwomen against women is flat out denied. Much of the venom some transwomen feel towards the lives and beliefs of women is visible within the war that rages on the internet, and increasingly in the real world, between feminists and transgender activists, a war over what it means to be a woman, a transwoman and a member of a sexually dimorphic species. As a transsexual male who wishes to analyse the system of gender within which I live, and who wants to challenge the culture of transwomen mirroring the behaviours and attitudes of non-transsexual males, I hope to use this piece to analyse this disagreement, and the attitudes and behaviours that come to the surface within the confines of this discussion.
Male violence is real, perverse, disgusting, abysmal, and a global epidemic. Women and girls are on the receiving end of levels of violence at the hands of males across the globe at a level that is truly horrific: 35% of women have experienced either “physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence”. 35% of OVER HALF OF THE WORLD’S POPULATION experiences sexual violence. This is violence that is committed against women by men for the sole crime of being female. This culture of male violence is also prevalent with regards to violence against transsexual people. A survey of violence against transsexual people within the European Union found that 79% of the 2669 respondents to the survey experienced some form of harassment that ranged from transphobic comments to physical and sexual abuse. Another report found that 50% of trans people have experienced sexual violence. All of these studies, regardless of how honestly they represent reality, can be used to come to the same conclusion: all over the world, there is a culture of Men committing violence, including sexual violence, at a truly under-acknowledged level, against people these men view to be not-men and therefore deserving of violence (for being female, or for not being masculine enough).
Male violence is a problem that does and will mar many people’s lives, and this is true for myself. I was bullied relentlessly during my schooling for not fulfilling the role of “male” well enough, for being visibly homosexual and for being gender non-conforming. This has damaged me irreparably, inhibited my ability to form friendships and healthy relationships with Men, and will forever force me to live under the shadow of a serious suicide attempt. So forgive me for having a shaky relationship with men and those who act in ways that mirror the way I was treated by other males, and this includes other transwomen. My experience is not unique; during conversations with many of the transwomen I know this history of not fitting into the male gender-role, and experiencing the violence directed at us as a direct consequence for our gender-non-conformity, is common.
Before I continue, let me make clear my definition of “transwoman”, just so there are no misunderstandings. My understanding is transwomen are males who alter their bodies to enable themselves to live, to the best of their ability, within the social role of “woman”. The desire for this behaviour / treatment can be for a number of reasons including: intense sex dysphoria, a disgust for masculinity, or more commonly and as is the case for myself, a mixture of the two. This is my understanding of transsexuality and transwoman-hood and if you wish to know more you’re welcome to read my piece titled Transwomen Are Women Period… Or Not (And That’s Okay).
Returning to the original point, and in light of this definition, if it is the wish of transwomen to live within the social role of “woman”; transwomen should, insert a massive “in theory”, be tolerant individuals who act and behave in a way that shows empathy for women. As human beings we should respect each other, but we also have some shared experiences and both understand (to different and varying degrees) the struggle of living under patriarchy whilst being viewed as inferior (women for being female, transwomen for being unable to perform violent masculinity and therefore being “useless males”). Sadly, however, this is not the case- instead we live in a world where women are attacked by transwomen for understanding that biology exists, and women and transwomen are biologically different and lesbians are told they must view males as sexual partners if an exclamation of “female identity” is given. This is increasingly common with “transwomen” who transition after a lifetime of benefiting from male privilege and patriarchy through being gender conforming males. The very men who enacted and enact misogynist and homophobic violence, against women and gender non-conforming males respectively, as a display of their masculine dominance, and who did not struggle within the confines of the male gender role, but who thrived.
The behaviours exhibited by these “transwomen” (I use quotation marks because who are we kidding? but also to acknowledge these people are “the same as me” despite my continued dismay) are inexcusable, and explicitly mirror those of the violent males who attack women and transwomen alike. There is a growing culture of this behaviour being committed and not just being excused, but being encouraged -those who engage in spouting violent vitriol at women are being rewarded with praise. I, for one, find that the fact this behaviour is committed in the name of a movement that supposedly exists for me, trans activism, incredibly upsetting. Equally, the growing use of the term “transphobe” as a label to enable the socially acceptable silencing of women is very troubling. These “transgender rights activists” are advocating not for a world where we can live free from male violence, but for a world where we can live a life free from criticism by those we aim to “identify” with (or “as,” as is more commonly stated) – much to my continued disgust.
If you are still under any illusion that this behaviour is not a mirror of the behaviours males use against women and transwomen, then look no further than non-transsexual “male allies” of the transgender movement who pick up, with joy, the terms used by transgender activists to silence women. As luck would have it for these men, in doing so they get to gain *liberal-super-justice points* whilst simultaneously enacting male oppression of women. These “male allies” show that transgender activism truly is a movement that exists to silence females into submission and obedience, and enable males to live free from the constraint of thinking of females as humans and equals, humans with their own experiences, lives, rights and opinions.
Increasingly those who claim to be like me and to share my experiences are people who mirror the words, behaviours and actions of those people who have harassed, name-called, bullied and enacted violence against me. The people who are “championing my rights” in this war against women are using the same techniques and actions that were used to push me into attempting to take my own life, and this causes me anguish. We have these “transwomen” who demand I view them as my equal, or else I’m a “Truscum”, who demand to speak for me and who demand I do as they tell me “or else”. We have these “transwomen” who are predatory in their behaviours and who refuse to acknowledge that my experiences exist and are valid and then tell me they are “just like me” and that we have this unbreakable “sisterhood”. Every action, every movement is a step further away from actually helping me and people like me (transsexuals) and a step closer to erasing my lived experiences as a transsexual who was a gender non-conforming boy prior to transition. It’s becoming impossible for me to talk about my past or to analyse my life, because as soon as I suggest I’m not and have not ever been female I get shouted down, called out and told I must denounce “The TERFS” and resign my opinions.
I wish to suggest that the “gender wars” are less a war than a one way attack. An attack that mirrors the power dynamics already in place within society of males on the top calling the shots, and females on the bottom being forced to make amendments to how they live their lives (referring to themselves as “cis-women” and giving up the term “female”, for example) so that they can navigate delicate male egos and the threat of and use of violence. The attacks that are made against women in the name of “trans activism” are uncalled for, disgusting and do nothing but throw smoke over the fact that the real problem and the real threat comes from Males, gender and patriarchy.
The ultimate truth is I try my best to rid from myself my male socialisation, but I can only do so much. I am and always will be a transwoman, so by definition a male, and the 18 years I spent socialising as a man will always pervade my experiences and existence. I have, despite my attempts to fight against and reject it, been socialised into the class of the oppressor, the one who commits violence and the one who commits the subjugation of women. This is not something I can help and this is not something I can change.