I am not a person quick to anger. I do not generally believe rants are productive. I believe respectful, honest discourse is the only path to real understanding but I’m tired. I’m sick and tired of what I see within the trans community, the community of which I am supposedly a part. I’m tired of the misogyny and narcissistic rage I see directed at women, and other transwomen. It’s time for it to stop, so I’m going to try to talk to the misogynists among us. I want to have an honest conversation about what you’re doing, or what you think you’re doing, because misogyny is misogyny whether you “feel like a woman” or not.
Let us start with the obvious. I am not the first person to point this out. Women, and some men, have been chronicling the misogyny within the transgender community for years. The community has taken a “circle the wagons” approach to deflecting criticism. The community, especially its leaders at GLAAD and elsewhere, are desperate to show that we are simply people wanting to live our lives. We are not sexual predators, nor freaks to be ostracized. Guess what? I mostly agree with that. Most transwomen and transsexuals only want to live quiet, ordinary lives.
However, the community is also a haven for those possessed of narcissistic rage, sexual predators, and beta male misogynists. Wander through any online transgender community and you will see post after post, tweet after tweet directed at women and bizarrely enough at other transwomen, accusing them of all sorts of vile things up to and including the eradication of all transwomen. There are tweets demanding “TERFS” (a shifting acronym in the tradition of “witch” or “feminazi”) die, burn, suck a transwoman’s dick, and all other manner of threats. For an archive, which isn’t even the tip of the iceberg, click here. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Ann Lawrence wrote a fantastic essay on “Shame and Narcissistic Rage in Transsexualism” , which explores the source of this rage as a manifestation of shame within a developed narcissistic personality disorder.
If there is a disagreement I have with Lawrence’s essay is that she relies too heavily on Bailey’s “The Man who would be Queen” which relies too heavily on Blanchard theories of transsexualism. I don’t believe there is a simple topography that delineates all transwomen based solely on sexual orientation. Orientation itself is more complex than the “born this way” dogma would suggest. It’s also tempting to dismiss both Blanchard and Bailey’s ideas as “gender essentialism” Too often their words conflate traditional feminine behavior and personality traits as female. It’s a similar error many transgenderists make by using a fondness for “girl things” to validate their identity. If we can look past Bailey’s theories, I think there is a clear portrayal of the transgender narcissist.
After gender transition, the situation often becomes no better and may become worse. Nonhomosexual MtF transsexuals who transition to live as women want to be regarded as women and treated as women. The male-typical aspects of their appearance and behavior, however, often make it difficult for them to be seen as other than transsexual women. Sometimes they may be seen simply as men pretending to be women. This makes it likely that they will experience frequent unempathetic reactions, including overt disrespect or derision, harassment, denial of basic civil rights, or violence, as Dreger observed. Because their feelings of being or wanting to be women are so central to their sense of self, they may experience the negative reactions of others as implying that they are inadequate in a deep and fundamental way, leading to further feelings of shame (Tangney & Dearing, 2002). Autogynephilic transsexuals may also find it harder to fully identify with women after transition than before, because the differences they inevitably observe between themselves and natal women become harder to rationalize after transition. Before transition, these differences can be attributed to the necessity of temporarily maintaining a socially acceptable masculine persona; after transition, when this excuse evaporates, autogynephilic transsexuals may be forced to confront reality. Nonhomosexual MtF transsexuals often seem to expect that, with enough effort, they will be able to pass undetected as natal women after transition; but because their appearance and behavior are rarely naturally feminine, this expectation usually proves to be unrealistic. Tangney and Dearing (2002) observed that persons prone to narcissistic disorders ‘‘typically develop many unrealistic expectations for themselves…that, in effect, set the stage for shame. With each failure to achieve ambitions—ambitions that are often grandiose— the narcissistic individual is apt to feel shame’’
The most striking thing about the essay is how antiquated the concept of “transition” is. Transition, in the traditional sense, or at least my understanding of it, involves the physical and social transition out of one gender role into that of the other. It is a journey made at great monetary and personal cost, but involves abandoning masculinity as much as is possible. Womanhood is not a declaration. Transition is not a declaration. I’ve witnessed males, (and lest you think I’m making a value judgment we’re all males. There is no way around that.) With full beards, or scruff, put on eyeliner and a bra and shout down women. I’ve watched them aggressively claim their femininity, their womanhood. They will even claim to be “Butch.” as a way to turn the essentialist essence of Blanchard and Benjamin on their ears. They will use feminist ideas about gender, so long as it benefits them, but forget them when they do not. If a woman dare challenge them, they are labeled a transphobe, bigot or TERF. They are the ones who are ridiculed for not “accepting” a person whose outward appearance fully indicates male as a woman. This has to stop.
(And yes I know hormones are expensive, and hair removal is expensive, and transition takes time and is awkward, but too many use those very real economic conditions as an excuse. Playing the victim is easier than honesty.)
We are not women. We are not female. We will get nowhere by badgering everyone into agreeing with us. We must be open and honest about our feelings, our history, and our true nature. Indulging in this delusion not only harms our relationship with women, but it harms us as the lack of data and understanding about our healthcare leads to both awkward and possibly dangerous encounters with medical professionals.
But let me talk to the ragers themselves. The world doesn’t owe you anything. Nobody is required to accept you, and if they do not, bullying them will not change their minds. I fail to understand how so many who believe they are women, who want to be women, can treat women so terribly. How they can spend their time online badgering, stalking, harassing, and bullying the very same people they claim to be. When you take a step back, and look at the behavior and demands of both the transgenderist and MRA communities, they look nearly identical. This should cause every self-identifying transwoman shame. They should look at their community, their peers, and their “sisters” and be horrified by what they see. Yet they do not. Attack dogs are praised or ignored. The truly harmful, the mentally unstable, are embraced and cloaked in an extra layer of victimhood. Transwomen should call on fellow transwomen to stop harassing women. They should stop trying to make everything about us and realize whom the enemy is, and how we need to ally with women.
I know you may be hurt. I know you may have suffered. I know you feel you are a woman and maybe you are jealous of those you deridingly label cis. I understand. I truly do. Being trans is difficult. But you have to realize these women have done nothing to you. What you are feeling is your male socialization and entitlement. Being raised male, we are taught how to view women. It is very difficult to recognize these influences let alone eliminate them, but it can be done. It has to be. It is the most important part of transition. The rage you may feel toward women for questioning your identity or actions is your male socialization. Men are taught we are entitled to certain things, and frankly women are not. The next time you feel angry towards a woman, the next time you want to tell a woman to “die in a fire” or “suck your girldick” I want you to think about why you feel that way. I want you to think about how masculine that feeling is, and I want you to walk away. Just close the window and let it go. You’ll find that the first step towards transitioning away from masculinity is to stop acting “like a man.”