I’ve had cause to go looking on the web of late looking for what antitrans minded folk say about all stripes of trans people, but especially transsexuals, and fond something that I found odd. Antitrans sentiments that has been expressed by some radical feminists (radfems) — including radical feminist activists — reads as similar to the antitrans sentiments that has been expressed by some on the religious right.
Here’s some samples of both so you can make a determination for yourself as to if the sentiments read as similar.
“Their regular response was to show me their patients. The “transgender” activists (now often allied with gay liberation movements) still argue that their members are entitled to whatever surgery they want, and they still claim that their sexual dysphoria represents a true conception of their sexual identity. They have made some protests against the diagnosis of autogynephilia as a mechanism to generate demands for sex-change operations, but they have offered little evidence to refute the diagnosis. Psychiatrists are taking better sexual histories from those requesting sex-change and are discovering more examples of this strange male exhibitionist proclivity.
…As for the adults who came to us claiming to have discovered their “true” sexual identity and to have heard about sex-change operations, we psychiatrists have been distracted from studying the causes and natures of their mental misdirections by preparing them for surgery and for a life in the other sex. We have wasted scientific and technical resources and damaged our professional credibility by collaborating with madness rather than trying to study, cure, and ultimately prevent it.
~Paul McHugh‘s Surgical Sex
[F]eminists debate and divide because we keep focusing on patriarchal question of who is a woman and who is a lesbian-feminist. It is important for us to realize that these may well be non-questions and that the only answer we can give to them is that we know who we are. We know that we are women who are born with female chromosomes and anatomy, and that whether or not we were socialized to be so-called normal women, patriarchy has treated and will treat us like women. Transsexuals have not had this same history. No man can have the history of being born and located in this culture as a woman. He can have the history of wishingto be a woman and of acting like a woman, but this gender experience is that of a transsexual, not of a woman. Surgery may confer the artifacts of outward and inward female organs but t cannot confer the history of being born a woman in this society.
~Janice Raymond in the chapter Sappho by Surgery of her book The Transsexual Empire: The Making of the She-Male
I don’t have a problem with men disposing of their genitals, but it does not make them women, in the same way that shoving a bit of vacuum hose down your 501s does not make you a man.
~Julie Bindel, for The Guardian
Sexual “Reassignment” Surgery and various hormonal therapies represent the physical alteration/mutilation of the body to match a perceived — and self-defined — social role.
If a solution apart from self-mutilation is to be available to the gender dissatisfied then it is important to interrupt the confident promotion of chemical and surgical solutions, even to the very young, by the medical profession, the popular media and fashionable queer politics. Janice Raymond does not consider that legislation outlawing surgery is the right way forward. I am not so sure, and classifying transsexualism as a human rights violation would be a step towards making surgery illegal…Feminist human rights theorists have suggested that the state may be held responsible through its acceptance or promotion for violent practices against women. The state support for the agony of transsexualism though funding of the operations, for instance, and acceptance of the promotion of chemical and surgical solutions in its hospitals could be tackled via the recognition of transsexualism as a form of violence against the person and therefore as a human rights violation. It does seem that transsexualism is growing in significance as a form of the violent destruction of lesbian bodies, supported not just by the pharmacracy but by queer, postmodern theory and popular culture’s exploitation of lesbians as freaks. It is time to open serious discussion of what the political response should be of lesbian activists ant theorists to this old by newly vigorous form of lesbian oppression.
~Sheila Jeffreys in the Journal of Lesbian Studies article Transgender Activism: A Lesbian Feminist Perspective
Gender gymnastics are going on out there. Transsexuals disenchanted with their chromosomal selves are having parts lopped off or stitched on in attempts to change sexual identity.
They hope to override male XY or female XX hardwiring – thinking a newly configured appendage or cleft re-defines gender. And they enlist a surgeon to mutilate the body accordingly.
These tortured souls don’t need draconian measures to align their physical exterior with confused gender suppositions – they need psychological and spiritual truth that frees them to celebrate the skin they’re in.
~Ellen Makkai, in WorldNetDaily‘s The sex-change charade
As sufferers from gender role distress themselves, women must sympathize with transsexuals but a feminist must argue that the treatment for gender role distress is not mutilation of the sufferer but radical change of gender roles. Throughout their history women who could not carry out their prescribed gender roles have suffered all kinds of ghastly gynecological procedures and, like transsexuals, they have been grateful to their abusers. Women could hardly now condone the elaborate mutilations practised on individuals of both sexes, even though the victims argue that such mutilations are their right.
…The transsexual is identified as such solely on his/her own script, which can be as learned as any sex-typed behaviour and as editorialized as autobiographies usually are. The lack of insight that MTF transsexuals usually show about the extent of their acceptance as females should be an indication that their behaviour is less rational than it seems. There is a witness to the transsexual’s script, a witness who is never consulted. She is the person who built the transsexual’s body of her own flesh and brought it up as her son or daughter, the transsexual’s worst enemy, his/her mother. Whatever else it is gender reassignment is an exorcism of the mother. When a man decides to spend his life impersonating his mother (like Norman Bates in Psycho) it is as if he murders her and gets away with it, proving at a stroke that there was nothing to her. His intentions are no more honourable than any female impersonator’s; his achievement is to gag all those who would call his bluff. When he forces his way into the few private spaces women may enjoy and shouts down their objections, and bombards the women who will not accept him with threats and hate mail, he does as rapists have always done.
[More below the fold.]
A man is always a man and a woman is always a woman. A man cannot ever become a real woman. A woman cannot ever become a real man. Surgical correction of the male and female transsexual literally throws us back to the days when the frontal lobotomy was considered to be the best possible medical/surgical option for a mentally ill condition. What is taking place within the heart of well-meaning therapists and medical professional is nothing less than a horrible and inconceivable wrong, for even in the life of the most successfully transitioned transsexual, there is always the reality that this is nothing more than a self-created façade and false impression.
~Jerry Leach, ex-transsexual and reparative therapist of now defunct Jerry Leach Counseling and Reality Resources, in the article Men Are Men & Women Are Women
Some transsexual advocates claim their bodies do not match their mind’s “gender identification”, and thus have attempted to compare themselves with intersexuals, who suffer from a biological (rather than psychological) ambiguity with regard to their sex. However, a clinical definition of intersex only includes conditions in which the phenotype, or the visible characteristics, are not classifiable as either male or female (for example, the presence of both male and female genitalia), or chromosomal sex (e.g., XX or XY) is not consistent with phenotypic sex. There is nothing in the definition of intersex that refers to psychology. On the other hand, transsexuals are born with chromosomal and phenotypic consistency. The “inconsistency” they claim is not biological or physiological but psychological, referred to as gender dysphoria or gender identity disorder (hereinafter “GID”). The condition of intersex precludes a diagnosis of transsexual or any other GID.
…Plastic surgery and hormone therapy may alter a person’s physical characteristics but cannot alter the person’s sex. A woman who had a hysterectomy and mastectomy is a woman. A woman who thinks she’s a man is a woman. Therefore, a woman who’s had a hysterectomy and mastectomy and thinks she’s a man remains a woman.
For someone born with male kit, the decision to ditch it is long, painful and often very expensive. Powerful female hormones will help you sprout pubescent breasts, have a waspish waist, and add a few inches to your hips, but they won’t alter the pitch of your voice or dispense with the need to buy Bics. Only hours of electrolysis will remove your beard and years of speech therapy lessons teach you how to talk like a lady. Massive surgery is essential. The penis is cut off, a cavity is created and, with skin taken from the redundant dick and testicles, a vagina and “natural looking labia” are constructed. Surgeons claim that they can create a fully functioning clitoris, and orgasm is possible – although not at all probable.
It’s important that these details are spelt out. Because gender reassignment is not simply about men in frocks; it’s about removing bits of a fully functioning body to be replaced by parts which, however they may approximate to the real thing, simply do not work. In any other case, this would be considered as nothing other than genital mutilation.
~Dea Birkett for The Guardian, via Press For Change
“[Obama Administration Commerce Department Appointee Amanda Simpson] is a biological male in every cell of his body, and no amount of surgical mutilation is ever going to change that.
Gender is assigned by the Creator at the moment of conception, and no healthy society should ever regard sexual mutilation, even if it’s self-inflicted, as something that’s normal and merits approval.
~Tim Wildmon, president of the American Family Association (AFA) in a press release entitled AFA criticizes Obama appointment of transgendered man to commerce position
If it is impossible to change basic chromosomal structure, then it is necessary to take a more in-depth look at not only the terminology but also the reality of transsexualism. Can we call a person transsexed, biologically speaking, whose anatomical structure and hormonal balance have changed but who is still genetically XY or XX? If we don’t recognize chromosomal sex as determinative, plus the subsequent history that attends being chromosomal female or male, what are we really talking about when we say male or female? Is there any such enduring reality as biological maleness or femaleness?
~Janice Raymond in the introduction of the 1979 edition of her book The Transsexual Empire: The Making of the She-Male
How should the Catholic community respond to men and women who think that a person’s sex change operation would solve their problem? Catholic teaching in this area is clear. It is impossible to “change” a person’s sex. Hormone treatments, cosmetic surgery and surgery to mutilate the sex organs do not change a person’ sex.
…Mutilating surgery and hormone treatments can create the appearance of a male or female body, but it cannot change the underlying reality. It is not possible to change a person’s sex.
…Mental health professionals and priests should understand the origins of the condition, and know that successful treatment can occur in persons who come to them with the desire for a “sex change.”
~Richard P. Fitzgibbons, M.D. in the article The Desire For A Sex Change: Psychiatrist says sex-change surgery is a collaboration with a mental disorder, not a treatment. at the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuals (NARTH)
People who want to change their genders have deep psychological issues. There’s nothing normal about wanting to become a different gender. There’s something desperately wrong with them and they need psychological help, and yet the advocates are trying to remove any required psychological treatment.
Homosexuals, lesbians and transgenders were not born that way, no, not at all.
Nonsexist counseling is another direction for change that should be explored…What I advocate, instead of a counseling that issues in a medicalization of the transsexual’s suffering, is a counseling based on “consciousness-raising.”
…Would it be possible for these elements of consciousness-raising to be transplanted into a one-to-one counseling situation where they could be used to explore the social origins of the transsexual problem and the consequences of the medical-technical solution? Counseling of this nature would raise the kinds of questions that I advocated previously, such as: is individual gender suffering relieved at the price of role conformity and the perpetuation of role stereotypes on a social level? In “changing sex,” does the transsexual encourage a sexist society whose continued existence depends upon the perpetuation of these roles and stereotypes? Does transsexual treatment repress the transsexual’s capacity for social protest and criticism? Does it act as a social tranquilizer? These and similar questions are seldom raised in transsexual therapy at present.
However, aside from this one-to-one form of counseling, the model of consciousness-raising emphasizes the group process itself. As women have analyzed their own problems as women in consciousness-raising emphasizes the group process itself. As women have analyzed their own problems as women in consciousness-raising groups, it is extremely important that transsexuals, as persons wishing to change sex, take their particular manifestation of gender oppression into their own hands. Transsexuals are not women. They are deviant males, and their particular manifestation of gender deviancy needs its own unique context of peer support.
~Janice Raymond in the Appendix: Suggestions For Change of her book The Transsexual Empire: The Making of the She-Male
If any tax dollars are to be spent on transgenderism at all, they should be spent on reparative therapy, helping these tortured individuals reconcile their psychological identity with their biological identity. True compassion, after all, liberates. It does not enable.
Since transsexualism is socially constructed then it is important to consider how to counter the promotion of the practice.
…The medical profession need not direct the gender dissatisfied to surgery. Counselling is possible to encourage clients to take a more political approach to their situation and to realize that they can rebel against the constraints of a prescribed gender role, and relate to their own sex in their native bodies. Unfortunately many doctors are so convinced of the existence of a phenomenon they define as transsexualism that they do not offer any approach apart from self-mutilation.
~Sheila Jeffreys in the Journal of Lesbian Studies article Transgender Activism: A Lesbian Feminist Perspective
The public is being deceived by the media and activists into believing that so-called ‘transsexuals’ were born with biological problems that are remedied by surgery and that it is possible to change your sex.
No one can change sex; it is written in DNA on every cell of our bodies. The people demanding “gender identity and expression” protection are physically normal men or women, but according to the “gender” ideologues, what matters is not what sex you really are, but what sex you want to be or think you are.
…Those who are obsessed with the idea of being the other sex often resist therapy. They refuse to look at the psychological reasons for their desires. Some mental health professionals, frustrated by their inability to treat this disorder and concerned about their clients’ obvious dysphoria, are willing to go along with this deception. They give in to their clients demands and recommend a surgical solution to what they as therapists know is a mental health problem. They deceive their clients into believing that a “sex change” is possible.
The “sex change” surgeons know they can’t change a persons’ sex, they can only create a non-functional appearance of the other sex, but they also know they will be well paid for their skill and so go along with the deception.
~Dale O’Leary, in the article Legalizing Deception: Why “Gender Identity” Should not be added to Anti-discrimination Legislation for PFOX
Today the Frankenstein phenomenon is omnipresent not only in religious myth, but in its offspring, phallocratic technology. The insane desire for power, the madness of boundary violation, is the mark of necrophiliacs who sense the lack of soul/spirit/life-loving principle with themselves and therefore try to invade and kill off all spirit, substituting conglomerates of corpses. This necrophilic invasion/elimination takes a variety of forms. Transsexualism is an example of male surgical siring which invades the female world with substitutes.
And of course, this is just a sampling of what some of those on religious right and some radfems believe about trans people — especially trans women.
My response to these kind of religious right and radfem comments, of course, is to suggest taking the political tact of confronting antitrans sentiment, in alignment with Roz Kaveney’s Six Axioms Of Transgender Activism:
1.) Display solidarity with all our trans brothers and sisters.
2.) Build alliances by getting involved as ourselves in other areas of politics.
3.) Refuse to let journalistic and intellectual attacks on our community go unanswered – we can have and keep the moral high ground.
4.) Be creative, be smart, be ourselves, and don’t let anybody tell us who we are and what we do.
5.) Refuse the pathological model – we are not sick, just different.
6.) Refuse those politics – heterosexism, body fascism – that work against all of the above, but especially #1.
Pretty much all but axiom 2.) apply to the antitrans comments by some on the religious right and some radfems listed in this post.
[T]he job of the gay community is not to deal with extremists who would castigate us or put us on an island and drop an H-bomb on us. The fact of the matter is that there is a small percentage of people in America who understand the true nature of the homosexual community. There is another small percentage who will never understand us. Our job is not to get those people who dislike us to love us. Nor was our aim in the civil rights movement to get prejudiced white people to love us. Our aim was to try to create the kind of America, legislatively, morally, and psychologically, such that even though some whites continued to hate us, they could not openly manifest that hate. That’s our job today: to control the extent to which people can publicly manifest antigay sentiment.
To add the concept of “antitrans sentiment” to Bayard Rustin’s take on what our job today is, I’d restate his commentary in this way:
[T]he job of the gay community and the trans community is not to deal with extremists who would castigate us or put us on an island and drop an H-bomb on us. The fact of the matter is that there is a small percentage of people in America who understand the true nature of the homosexual and trans communities. There is another small percentage who will never understand us. Our job is not to get those people who dislike us to love us. Nor was our aim in the civil rights movement to get prejudiced white people to love us. Our aim was to try to create the kind of America, legislatively, morally, and psychologically, such that even though some whites continued to hate us, they could not openly manifest that hate. That’s our job today: to control the extent to which people can publicly manifest antigay and antitrans sentiments.
Antitrans sentiments are antitrans sentiments, no matter who states the sentiments. And, the these sorts of sentiments about trans people, in my opinion, need to be highlighted and addressed.