All the caveats. Trigger warning. NSFW. Likely to offend many. Crass to make points.
It’s Friday, and I’m hyper-caffeinated, so I’m gonna stir the pot on a hot-button issue (at least to some folks). As it turns out, it’s not just MRA types that have a beef against a great many feminists, and especially radical feminists. There’s a segment of the population, and, don’t get me wrong, an important segment with as much right to those inalienable rights that we hold so dear as anyone else. But they have some ideas that I find more than a bit repugnant. I’m talking specifically about the sorts of trans women (#notalltranswomen, to be clear) who have decided that radfems who disagree with them on some none-too-fine points are somehow a hate group with a philosophy deserving of its own acronym: TERF (trans-exclusive radical feminism). This may be old news to some, but it’s new news to me, and apparently it’s a lingering sore spot so it’s still fair game.
Case in point #1 (and again, my intent is not to disparage all, but some): sometimes radfems would like to have a meeting/gathering/convention with a “women’s only” space. By “women’s only,” they specifically mean women born in women’s bodies who identify as women, regardless of their sexual preferences, straight, gay, bi, etc. I understand that, even though I’m a dude. Regardless of my cisgendered heterosexual orientation, I get that. What would I know about what it was like growing up in the body of a girl, from baby to toddler to child to teen? What would I know about family attitudes to my girlness? School attitudes? Peer/friend/enemy/bully attitudes? Boy attitudes? Church attitudes? What would I know about what it was like to have my first period? To have “that” talk with whichever parent/guardian/role model? To start growing breasts? To start experiencing the pressures peculiar to (at least mostly) girls when it comes to sex pressure in high school in particular, you know, what it’s like to be called a slut for putting out, to be called a slut for not putting out, to be called a tease either way, etc.? What would I know from that early age about fears of man on woman rape? Or the host of other types of sexual oppression that go hand in hand with having the body of a woman?
Not the first fucking thing.
Yet there is a segment (again, again, again, not ALL) of the trans woman population, read: women born with the deformity of a male body (I think I’ve got that right from their perspective, but I’m open to being corrected), that thinks they have as much right to be in a “women’s only” space as a woman born in a woman’s body that kept a woman’s body. When denied that particular access, some but not all trans women have taken so much umbrage that they’ve allied with other groups hostile to feminists, such as MRA groups, to have those meetings cancelled or otherwise rendered ineffective. And, keep in mind this is off the top of my head, so it bears fine-tuned fact-checking, of trans women, only approximately 33% have gone through some form of gender-confirming surgery. In other words, about 66% have stopped short at hormonal treatments for their condition, if not shorter, which might effectively transition them to being fully female in all but one important physical aspect, and not at all in terms of fully-lived experience. In other words, some of these pissed off women, some trans women, are women with dicks. And some of these pissed off women with dicks, when pissed off at being excluded from “women’s only” spaces, have gone so far as actually threatening to rape the radfems that dare disagree with them on full access. Because nothing says “accept me as fully woman” quite like threatening to rape a woman, presumably with your penis.
I’ve also just recently learned about this phenomenon called the “cotton ceiling.” Again, correct my errors if you spot any. Imagine you’re a trans woman who also happens to be lesbian. You’re a woman born in a man’s body who has received some degree of treatment for your condition to remedy that situation who just happens to be sexually attracted to other women. Okay. So you meet a lesbian you’re into. Said lesbian finds out that either/or you a) have a dick or b) no longer have a dick, but in either case have no clue what’s it’s like to have the fully-lived experience of a woman born in woman’s body, regardless of orientation. Said lesbian decides, “thanks, but no thanks.” Shouldn’t that be her right? Apparently not. If a woman born woman lesbian “friend zones” a trans woman with or without dick, that trans woman has just run into “the cotton ceiling.” But especially when there’s a dick. Why?
From: [redacted lesbian]
Sent: March-12-12 1:59 PM
To: [redacted trans]
Subject: Re: What’s the cotton ceiling?
Thanks. So, just to make sure I understand this, a trans woman with a penis, and who has no desire to have a sex change, is not male bodied – correct?
On Mon, Mar 12, 2012 at 2:02 PM, [redacted trans] wrote:
There is nothing inherently male about a woman’s body, unless she identified things about it as male herself. So, no, I do not consider trans women with penises to be male-bodied, unless that is how they identify.
Apparently words now effectively mean nothing at all.
Now, last I checked, being denied access to another woman’s vagina when you’re a dude because the woman just isn’t that into you and doesn’t want to share her vagina with you is perfectly acceptable, and I agree with that. It’s a douchebag thing as a guy to call that “being friend zoned,” as though your woman friend is a just a coin-op pussy vending machine that puts out sex in exchange for whatever you have to offer regardless of whether or not the woman wants it. But a trans woman (with/without dick) not only gets to claim being “friend zoned,” but gets to call friend zoning an act of hate in the same way an MRA dudebro would, but gets fucking credit for it.
So, on hearing of these things and trying to wrap my puny manbrain around it, and I dare not think I should ever attempt to mansplain it to a woman with or without a dick regardless of the body she was born in, I’ve come to my own personal conclusion, the only lens through which I feel I *can* see this.
Hypothetical situation here:
I’m in a nightclub. I’m dressed to the nines. I’ve been drinking and I’ve got beer-goggles (just to explain away any possible misreading of any available physical clues). I see a hot chick on the dance floor. With my liquid courage, I go to the floor and dance with her. We hit it off. There’s some dirty dancing. There’s some bumping and grinding going on. We’re consenting. It’s all good. It’s all fun. We go outside for quiet and fresh air. “Your place or mine?” we ask.
One of two things happens in this scenario. The woman is honest with me and tells me she’s a trans woman. I’m not ashamed to admit that while I fully respect the rights and autonomy of trans women, barring the above limitations, I’m sorry but if you either have a dick or used to have a dick, I’m just not that into you. I’m cis-gendered het male, and that’s just how I roll. I say, “oh.” I might even seriously consider being very angry that, under false pretenses, I might have just had a dick rubbed all over my leg. I’m not the violent sort, so I probably won’t swing, but I’d seriously consider pressing charges for sexual assault.
Option 2, hot trans woman doesn’t pipe up honestly when given the chance. We go to a place. Up to this point, pants on, maybe (yet) no harm, no foul. But we’re finally in private, so the groping can commence. Maybe something “good” happens to me first when my pants drop. Then hers drop. There’s a dick, or at least a post-surgery not-a-dick, not really a real vag either.
At that stage, having been seriously deceived, I can’t even vouch for my ability to contain anger. I would hope so. I would very likely pursue finding out what my options are when it comes to pressing charges, since, as far as I’m concerned, someone with a man’s body, surgically altered or otherwise, just conned me into something I’d never have said yes to otherwise. Again, I’m thinking sexual assault.
And that’s me. Relatively non-violent me. I can only imagine there would be some folks who would have zero reservations about taking out some anger issues. And I’m thinking there’s precious few juries that (for the sake of argument) that are so enlightened they would convict. If you’re of the “I’d be violent” persuasion, please don’t share that in comments, as that’s not the point.
My point is that while I respect the rights of said people, to the degree that there’s a breakdown in, shall we say, sexual affinity, and worse, a breakdown in completely clear, open, and honest communication from the get-go, there’s some problems yet to be resolved. And with the uphill battle trans women with and without dicks already face, and they are gargantuan battles, I’m of the mind they do themselves and all women a huge disservice to demand utter and complete and total acceptance to all spaces, whether it’s “women’s only” spaces or het male spaces, without equivocation, as though it’s a right.
Freedom of association is a right as well. And someone else’s right to acceptance stops at my zipper, on the one hand, and at other women’s autonomous right to determine for themselves where their boundaries are on the other.