The Value of Silence

Reblogged from Boldly Go.

I wanted to talk about the importance of silence in certain situations and how being silent as the member of a privileged group can be incredibly important in some situations. A couple of discussions I’ve had recently have reminded me of this and I wanted to explain why, in some situations, sharing your opinion and personal perspective as a privileged person in the context of a discussion about marginalised people is sometimes derailing and silencing. While not all marginalisations and the experiences of them are the same (and intersections of certain marginalisations can have a huge impact on your experience), I feel like a commonality in term of power relations and how they work can be drawn and I’m going to do my best to explain that here.

[Warning: There’s a .gif below. I will also warn just before it so you can skip it. Please let me know if this is unhelpful.]

 

One of the problematic aspects of Hermoine's S.P.E.W. is how she constantly refused to listen to the perspective of house elves on their own freedom. She took Dobby's story as representative of what all house elves would want and refused to listen to others.

One of the problematic aspects of Hermoine’s S.P.E.W. is how she constantly refused to listen to the perspective of house elves on their own freedom. She took Dobby’s story as representative of what all house elves would want and refused to listen to others.

The first thing that we must all realise is that the very nature of privilege in almost every instance is that society “others” marginalised groups. Privilege means common representations in media, positions of power, and an overall focus on certain positions within society and a silencing of others. The aspects that make up the microaggressions of many marginalised groups include feeling silenced, invisible, or that your experiences as a marginalised person are not true, not valid, or not worth consideration. Media representation plays a huge part. Studies have shown that when you are not represented within popular culture and exposed to that popular culture, lower self esteem results. Last but not least, we must realise not only for the purposes of intersectionality that, whenever we’re discussing privilege and marginalisations we are always speaking on general terms. Individual experiences may vary and indeed certain marginalisations may create radically different experiences for people when they intersect. Still, there is an importance in focusing on marginalization and privilege as general sociological concepts for the purposes of understanding power relations.

In knowing this, we have to realise that whenever we approach a dialogue, the scales are not equal. The hugest mistake privileged people make when approaching a discussion wherein they have privilege is that they assume that the stakes are equal, that all parties are capable of sharing their experience or should share their experiences and get “equal” time. What they don’t realise is that the scales are already not equal.

 

The perspectives and stories of privileged people are exhibited on the lefthand side, with society constantly referring to them. This is the way that the scales exist from the start in interactions.

The perspectives and stories of privileged people are exhibited on the lefthand side, with society constantly referring to them. This is the way that the scales exist from the start in interactions.

The purpose of either sharing the voices of marginalised groups or having a group made only of marginalised people is to promote their viewpoint. As marginalised people have experienced their entire life with this tipped scale, they quite often feel lax to share their own experiences. They’ve been surrounded by a culture that has either ignored their experiences or not taken them seriously. They are constantly aware of this imbalance while privileged people are not aware of it. Sometimes just the presence of someone who is privileged, if such a thing is visible, encourages marginalised people to rethink whether they want to share their experiences. Trying to tip the scale to make it equal quite often results in making yourself a target as a marginalised person. And we see time and time again that people in privileged positions of power view an equitable distribution of time or energy as the scales being tipped in the opposite way, as the marginalised person having too much time or more than their fair share of time, which makes sense if you consider that privileged people are approaching the situation with the misunderstanding that there is an equitable distribution of focus or exposure.

That is why silence is incredibly important. Because if you are operating as a privileged person within a particular context, giving the space or promoting the voices of marginalised people and choosing to silence your own voice is sometimes the best thing that you can do. Being aware that your presence can encourage silencing in and of itself (and, if applicable, removing yourself) is sometimes the best thing that you can do. But many people within positions of power, (especially if there are intersectional issues going on), don’t realise the tipped scales. They see the scales as balanced. So when a marginalised person shares their experience of their marginalization, it makes perfect sense, in fact it seems almost empathetic, to try and share your perspective as a privileged person on that marginalisation.

 

This is the way that privileged people often perceive the scales at the introduction of interactions. You share an experience, I share an experience. But part of being privileged is not realising when the scales are tipped.

This is the way that privileged people often perceive the scales at the introduction of interactions. You share an experience, I share an experience. But part of being privileged is not realising when the scales are tipped.

While the attempt may be to share a commonality, to empathise, or just to share an experience in what the privileged person perceives as an equal exchange, the exchange is not equal. The privileged person’s perspective has constantly been promoted and encouraged. And not only have privileged perspectives constantly been promoted, but the perspective of marginalised people is often sometimes only seen as valid if a privileged person equally promotes it or backs it. Quite often I find myself operating as a privileged person more or less “white knighting” the opinions of people who are marginalised in order to get other privileged people to take the marginalised person’ perspective seriously. I realise this is a double edged sword and I’m hesitant to do that because I know that having others not listen to your perspective as a marginalised person until someone else signs off on it, even if you are heard in the end, can be frustrating and tiring. So even when I do “white knight”, I still extend my apologies because I overwhelmingly feel like in positions where I am privileged it is still crucial for me to remain silent when discussing experiences of that marginalization.

 

At times, a marginalised person perspective is only seen as important to the extent to which it can validate the goodness of a privileged person's perspective. Not only are marginalised people further silenced in sharing their perspectives, because the hurt the feelings of privilege people, but they're also turned into tokens and objectified by privileged people who use them to re-validate their goodness.

At times, a marginalised person perspective is only seen as important to the extent to which it can validate the goodness of a privileged person’s perspective. Not only are marginalised people further silenced in sharing their perspectives, because the hurt the feelings of privilege people, but they’re also turned into tokens and objectified by privileged people who use them to re-validate their goodness. Comic from Amptoons.

Try to remember when approaching a discussion, if you’re in a privileged perspective, that you operate from the standpoint of someone who has a power that you may not even be aware of and that you wield regardless of your intention. Sometimes this won’t always be clear. Sometimes situations can be a little bit difficult. But recognising where you stand in relation to the discussion and making sure the voices of marginalised people get the priority is incredibly important. As a privileged person, this is going to seem unfair, but realise you’ve been drenched in the perspective that the scales are equal. It’s going to seem unfair. In order for others to regain power, you must relinquish some of yours. I don’t see how we can live in a world where marginalised people are able to become less marginalised without privileged people giving up some of their power.

[.GIF BELOW]

 

The phenomena of privileged people inserting themselves into discussions and dominating them is well documented with .gif reactions. See "Male Opinions", "White Opinions" and other .gif representations of derailing.

The phenomena of privileged people inserting themselves into discussions and dominating them is well documented with .gif reactions. See “Male Opinions”, “White Opinions” and other .gif representations of derailing.

Now I’ll apply this to a few real life examples (not to equalise these marginalization or compare them) in order to make it clear how this can apply:

  • In a discussion about how queer kids often commit suicide because of heterosexist bullying, a straight person decides to discuss how they experienced bullying and felt suicidal because of it. While the straight person’s experience of bullying is real, the discussion is particularly about queer kids and about how being queer particularly impacts suicide. With suicide overwhelmingly impacting queer kids, as genuine as the straight person’s experience with bullying may be, dominating the discussion by focusing it again on straight people, who already get the majority of society’s focus is silencing.
  • In a discussion about how rape is an issue that overwhelmingly affects indigenous and native women in the United States and Canada, a white women shares her experiences with sexual assault and reiterates that rape happens to white women too. While the white woman’s experiences with sexual assault are real and valid and while overwhelmingly rape is an issue that is constantly ignored by mainstream media, taking away the focus from how it disproportionately impacts native women is silencing.
  • In a discussion about how black people, especially black women, constantly deal with racial implications of their hairstyles that white people do not, a white person decides to discuss the struggles they have had with having curly hair to assert that they too worry about discrimination in employment. While the experiences the white person has with bullying are real, to change the focus of the discussion from the particular issue of black hair politics and how racial hair politics affect black women in areas like employment is silencing.
  • In a discussion about how assumptions about disability often directly impact the perceived hireable qualities of disabled people or directly affect the chances of disabled people getting employment, an able bodied individual states that they too have trouble with the way employers perceive them because of their lack of gender conformity and the way they style their hair with dyes or certain cuts. While the experiences that the gender non-conforming person has with regard to their employment discrimination are valid, to take the conversation out of the context of disability when a disabled person is sharing their experiences and re-centre it around other issues is silencing.

Yes, we’ll have many places where these issues intersect. Where being a person of colour has an affect on how your disability is perceived and interacted with, where being a queer person has a direct effect on how others view your poverty, where being trans* has a huge impact on how you experience misogyny. Sometimes things aren’t cut and dry and there may be situations where, for example as non-visibly disabled person, you may wonder if you should share your experiences.

 

Further documenting an instance where a discussion about an issue is taken over and derailed from it's original point.

Further documenting an instance where a discussion about an issue is taken over and derailed from it’s original point and where a refocus is seen as “hatred”. Comic from Amptoons.

I believe there are situations where you can share your experiences without retracting from the focus. Where you can say, “I’ve experienced suicidal thoughts as a straight person, but that’s never been because of my sexuality” or “I know what it’s like as a woman to experience sexual assault in this society and I can’t imagine being targeted further due to my race” or “I’ve had to deal with ignorance from people when it comes to my hair, but that’s never been part of my racial identity so I can’t imagine dealing with those contexts”. The importance is to maintain the focus. There are certain situations where things intersect and adding your experience may touch on some intersectional issues people haven’t thought of, but maintaining the focus is what’s important overall. Ask yourself if you’re operating in position of privilege within a certain discussion if contributing your experience will add anything or if you’re looking for validation. While it’s understandable for everyone to want validation for their experiences, understand that in positions where you have privilege, you are often validated with regards to that privilege.

 

A great depiction of how a person can experience a consistant amount of privilege without understanding how that has impacted them their entire life.

A great depiction of how a person can experience a consistant amount of privilege without understanding how that has impacted them their entire life. Comic from Amptoons.

For me personally, while I may not see many non-binary gender people in the media, I do see a lot of white people. It’s not that seeing white people improves my experience as a non-binary person, but rather that the feeling of not being represented in terms of race is something I’ve never had to grapple with. Privileged people always misunderstand (and I have as well) privilege as, “your life is great” or “you never have any problems” whereas it’s more like “your experience is normative” or “you don’t experience these problems”. It’s not that being privileged means life is handed to you on a golden platter, but rather that you have had a platter this entire time, while other people have had nothing.

I hope I’ve explained this concept well enough and expressed the importance of silence in certain situations. It’s a complicated concept and I certainly don’t think it’s always easy to figure out when to speak and when to be silent, but hopefully this exposes a few things that may have previously been misunderstood or hidden.

Gender Abolition as Colonisation

reblogged this from Boldly Go.

This post is interesting for its definition of gender as an epistemology or “process of knowing” as well as for the argument against gender abolition as an act of colonization. It definitely helped me clarify my position on gender abolition a little bit more.

I had a long debate with someone on Tumblr previously who argued for the gender abolition and in the meantime, I’ve been reminded by a friend of mine who also believes in abolishing all gender, that the concept of the abolition of gender is something I have a lot of problems with for reasons I will explain below.

Gender as an Epistemology

First and foremost, there’s a wide understanding throughout feminist philosophy and dialogue that gender is a social construct. What that means for many is that, while there may be biological and bodily markers of what we refer to as “gender” (or “sex” as it is just as much a social construction as “gender”), the concept of gender is something constructed by our culture. That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist, as some may take the connotation of “social construction” as, but rather that cultures define it.

But I want to go further than that. Gender is not just a social construct, but it is an epistemology. What’s an epistemology? Simply put, it’s propositional knowledge. It means that, while in mathematics it is known that 2 + 2 = 4, the fact that we know how to add the numbers, that we know what numbers are, that we know what these figures represent, and the process by which we’ve not only come to know how to add these numbers. have created signs to represent them, and a process by which to represent everything is an epistemology. It is a process of knowing. Gender is no different.

I'm always hesitant about looking in the past to find examples of queer or trans* people because, as Foucault points out, the process of queer becoming an identity has been a process that these people have not gone through, so we can't be sure how they identify.

I’m always hesitant about looking in the past to find examples of queer or trans* people because, as Foucault points out, the process of queer becoming an identity has been a process that these people have not gone through, so we can’t be sure how they identify.

I feel making a distinction between an epistemology and a social construct is important, especially when we’re approaching gender through an intersectional lens. Gender is not just performance, it is a process that we come to know ourselves and others and it something that we have placed importance on, categorised, and developed over centuries. The problem with “social construction” is that it seems nearly stagnant. We don’t just construct gender and then we’re done. It’s not like a building that’s made up that we all live in. But it’s something that we do constantly, that we change, that we mould, and shape, and it’s something that we’ve been doing for centuries.

And if we’ve been doing it for centuries, that means everyone has been doing it in their own ways for centuries. I’d hate to come across as the, “This is the way things are, there’s no sense in changing it!”, because that’s totally not what I’m saying. If gender is a social construct, a building, a stagnant thing we’ve built that can be torn down, abolition makes sense. But gender isn’t a stagnant force. It isn’t something we can just tear down. The problem I have with abolishing gender is that I don’t feel it’s a realistic approach. While I’m not suggesting that gender can’t be fantastically oppressive and terrible, abolishing all of it for the sake of it’s oppressive bits seems like not only throwing the baby out of the bathwater, but like trying to sieve a baby made of water out of the bathwater before you throw it out, which leads me to my next issue. How do we define gender?

Defining “Gender”

Gender is an epistemology, and it’s an epistemology that’s constructed through the lenses of other intersections. Most of the dialogue that I’ve seen that suggests abolishing gender comes from a very Western, usually white perspective. They have their own perception and concept of what “gender” entails. The problem when you take that outside of a white Western perspective is that not only is it far more complex, but the process of applying white Western gender epistemologies to other gender epistemologies becomes inherently problematic.

For example, a great many people familiar with the trans* community may have heard of hijras, a concept of gender that exists within South Asia. A great many usually white Western trans* people have called hijra’s “trans*” or put them under the trans* label. Regardless of their intention, to take the Western epistemology of “trans*” and apply it to something like the hijra can be seen as an oppressive or colonising act. The hijra are hijra. That is their name. Unless a hijra specifically identifies as transgender or trans*, applying our own Western concepts of gender and sexuality to people outside of our epistemological framework is redefining them on our own terms for our own benefit.

This is a great video explaining the concept of “two spirit” and it’s complexities.

Another instance of where this occurs is within the American/Canadian indigenous or native concept of two spirit, which is in and of itself an umbrella term for multiple tribal concepts of third or mixed gender roles. The definition not only differs from tribe to tribe, but in many cases applying the Western concept of gender toward two spirit people, again, becomes an act of oppression and colonisation. Especially when, without any indigenous or native background, white Westerners adopt the identification mantle of “two spirit”.

And recently, a friend of mine came forth with their own experiences of gender within their culture that I wish to share:

Despite not really going out of my way to look androgynous or masculine (unless for specific reasons, such as drag), and despite ample cleavage and curves, I sometimes tend to be read as male. In Bangladesh (where my family is from) I get parsed as male first when I’m not wearing a salwhar khameez (which pretty much every young woman in Bangladesh wears) – then they work out I’m a foreigner and define my gender as Not From Here. A similar effect happens in Malaysia though to a lesser degree, and occasionally the same applies in the Western world. I feel like a lot of people see my ethnicity first, as well as my constant state of Foreign, and get really flummoxed about the idea that I could have a gender. Hell, my race was such a big deal growing up that I never got to contemplate any other part of my being until I left school!

… What counts as “femme” in the Western queer world is pretty much what the women in my family are by default – and yet femme is supposed to be a conscious expression of gender. My cultural expectations of “manliness” (which may or may not be synonymous with “butch”) fit closer to the Western ideas of metrosexuality, which I see is parsed as effeminate masculinity. (E.g. my dad is Very Manly, and part of being Very Manly is taking care of his appearance and wearing well-tailored clothes.)

Thoughts About My Gender

In this situation, not only are we pushing a Western epistemological concept of “gender” onto other cultures, but if we go forth with abolishing it, how can we expect people for whom their gender interacts so closely with their race, their religion, their cultural background, to divorce or even to recognise the bits and pieces of gender that are independent of their culture to destroy? Or, if gender is an epistemology, is race and other intersectional factors part and parcel of gender in such a way that one cannot simply abolish it alone? And if we attempt to do that, it leads to the next big problem I have: that the abolition of gender may be, especially stemming from a white Western feminist bases, a colonising force.

When Abolition is Colonisation

I’m reminded of the book Sex at Dawn, which discusses how evolutionary psychology and modern day perceptions have influenced our epistemology of sexuality. They reference the example of anthropologists examining a practice within a culture and labelling to monogamous marriage, when “marriage” in that culture only meant that two people slept in the same tent. It becomes clear that our epistemological understanding of “marriage” and “love” exists in one form within Western culture and even when applying a lens to our own culture, we can be frightfully biased and wrong. How we define these words and concepts is a process. If applying our own modern epistemology towards previous behaviours results in misunderstandings, imagine the difficulties of defining and applying gender towards all cultures in an attempt to abolish it.

Quite often anthologists and others attempting to classify and and give Western names to other cultures have created problematic systems that are oppressive. In fact, you see this with the concept referenced above, “two spirit”. “Two spirit” as a name has become more popular where previously the term “berdache” was used, based on the French bard ache implying a male prostitute or catamite and originating from an Arabic word meaning “captive, captured”. While applying “trans*” to “two spirit” people may indeed be less initially offensive than “berdache”, it is still an effect of applying a Western understanding to a concept which may not exist within the West. “Two spirit” people aren’t just two gendered spirits, but it can apply and define a variety of concepts about gender and identity that just don’t have a translation easily into Western concepts.

Years ago, when I was studying anthropology at university, one of my female professors held up a photograph of an antler bone with 28 markings on it. “This,” she said, “is alleged to be man’s first attempt at a calendar.” We all looked at the bone in admiration. “Tell me,” she continued, “what man needs to know when 28 days have passed? I suspect that this is woman’s first attempt at a calendar.”

Sandi Toksvig

Sandi Toksvig’s quote suggests that sexism clouds our own epistemological understanding of history. If we’re incapable of giving ourselves credit where credit is due, how do we expect to be able to apply our understanding towards others – and is that even a correct understanding?

It wouldn’t surprise me to find out that there is a society which has no word for “gender”, where the concept of “gender” does not exist. While there may be behaviours that certain people do or don’t do that are gendered within a Western epistemological framework, if a culture has no concept of it within itself, then how exactly do we abolish it? Do we simply put our Western epistemology of gender toward the culture and abolish whatever does and doesn’t fit our definition? And what if, despite not having a concept of gender, the culture is still oppressive towards one sect of the population which has a biological difference that we would judge as a sex characteristic (e.g. for example, what if that culture saw being square jawed as a sign of power and men just so happened to be the predominantly square jawed people in power)? Do we reframe it under gender? How do we approach it? It all becomes incredibly complicated.

The problem with abolishing gender is not only do we have to define it, apply our definition towards other cultures, demand they remove gender from their own race, cultural, spiritual or whatever background, but also assume that the abolition of the concept of gender will result in equality or a lack of discrimination. In doing so, from a white Western perspective, we effectively create a colonising project wherein we’re intervening in their own identities, behaviours, and practices in an attempt to make their lives better.

I’m up for hearing other concept of how we can overcome gender as an oppressive force, redefine it, change it, or morph our epistemological understanding of it. But I have a hard time supporting the abolition of gender within all epistemologies and frameworks. I’m not even sure if abolishing gender within a Western epistemology is possible, but working within my own understanding and cultural framework seems a far better approach than attempting to abolish a concept that I not only feel people identify with on a deep level within my own culture, but also exists in so many variant forms within and outside of Western culture, that attempting to abolish it means colonising the world with my understanding of gender first.

I hope other feminists which support the abolishment of gender consider how their abolition can turn into colonisation and address that point within their criticisms of gender. Because I wholeheartedly agree that feminism that is not intersectional is bullshit.

Positions of Freedom and the Imposition of Gender

AKA: “If I stay in bed by myself forever I’ll never have to put my gender back on.”

In my Theorysplosion post I mentioned that I’d be writing another post about gendering, and as promised, here it is.

I’ve been trying to write this post since long before I promised it to you, and I’ve put it off again and again, and now I’m in a significantly different place then I was when I initially set out to write this. Before, I felt trapped by the gender binary; particularly by the way other people’s interactions with me imposed their assumptions about (my) gender on me. I felt like I was frantically obsessed with it because I couldn’t escape my assigned gender, but was also beginning to feel that my own preoccupation with gender was holding me back. As a good friend of mine would say, “You can only experience freedom from the position of freedom,” and my fixation with the precise nature of my own oppression, was keeping me bound beneath the weight of it and preventing me from moving towards liberation.

Somehow or another, when I took a step back to stop thinking so neurotically about my gender and just live in it I found my way into momentary positions of freedom. These were the empty spaces, the gaps in the social enforcement of the binary where I could be temporarily liberated. It was only when I let go of my desperate, anxious grasping, after I quit trying to think my way out of the cage the gender binary put me in, that I found freedom or began to notice and appreciate it where it already existed.

My relationship with my partner has always been my “safe space” so to speak, even when I felt confined by the gender binary I never felt gendered by them. We’ve never imposed genders or gender roles on one another, in fact, that’s kind of a cornerstone of our relationship. And now that I’m taking the time, I’m noticing that I have lots of interactions with people in my community where I don’t feel gendered. (granted, this likely has something to do with the fact that I live amongst and keep company with mostly anarchists and other radicals).

I don’t gender people. I just let them be people, which in a way, allows me see their genders just as they live them. Not gendering someone is different from not seeing gender, however. It means not imposing preconceptions about (their) gender on them, thereby being able to see them as they are, including their gender as defined by them. It means having no expectations, not trying to cram them into a box, but never ignoring the realities of privilege and oppression that are created by the rigid, codified system of gender enforced by the dominant culture.

The assertion that gendering is inherent in human interaction is clearly false. Human interaction does not necessitate the imposition of gender on one another, but it is necessary in order for gendering to occur. In other words, gendering is a social phenomenon and cannot occur in isolation. When I’m by myself, gender is just an imaginary construct, with no more meaning or impact on my life than what Kate Middleton had for breakfast. It’s only when I go out and interact with people that it affectively becomes real and grows teeth. In social situations, this imaginary construct has very real effects and consequences because everyone believes in it and acts accordingly. Its social construct imposed on me from the outside, whether or not I believe in it or fulfill in the roles mandated for me.

So, among other things, I’m learning to see solitude as a safe space, learning to find empty spaces where I can, and snatch brief moments of freedom from the jaws of the gender binary at every given opportunity. And little by little, I’m moving towards a position of more permanent liberation.

“Stolen From Our Bodies” by Qwo-li Driskill

The term “Two-Spirit” is a word that resists colonial definitions of
who we are. It is an expression of our sexual and gender identities as
sovereign from those of white GLBT movements. The coinage of the
word was never meant to create a monolithic understanding of the
array of Native traditions regarding what dominant European and
Euroamerican traditions call “alternative” genders and sexualities. The
term came into use in 1990 at a gathering of Native Queer/Two-Spirit
people in Winnipeg as a means to resist the use of the word “berdache,”
and also as a way to talk about our sexualities and genders from within
tribal contexts in English (Jacobs et al. 2). I find myself using both the
words “Queer” and “Trans” to try to translate my gendered and sexual
realities for those not familiar with Native traditions, but at heart, if
there is a term that could possibly describe me in English, I simply
consider myself a Two-Spirit person. The process of translating Two-
Spiritness with terms in white communities becomes very complex. I’m
not necessarily “Queer” in Cherokee contexts, because differences are
not seen in the same light as they are in Euroamerican contexts. I’m not
necessarily “Transgender” in Cherokee contexts, because I’m simply the
gender I am. I’m not necessarily “Gay,” because that word rests on the
concept of men-loving-men, and ignores the complexity of my gender
identity. It is only within the rigid gender regimes of white America that
I become Trans or Queer. While homophobia, transphobia, and sexism
are problems in Native communities, in many of our tribal realities
these forms of oppression are the result of colonization and genocide
that cannot accept women as leaders, or people with extra-ordinary
genders and sexualities.3 As Native people, our erotic lives and identities
have been colonized along with our homelands.

Read more…

Outside: An Exodus From Patriarchy on the Backs of Women

This is an excerpt from brilliant post by Nuclear Unicorn, I highly recommend you read the full version!

…If men and women are social creations, quite an indisputable statement when you look at it, really, then this opens up quite a can of worms when used to attack trans people. First of all:

  • If men and women are socially created that means that birth assignment is meaningless. If birth assignment is meaningless, then on what basis are you asserting a trans woman is “really” a man?
  • If man and woman are socially constructed and oppressive categories only, then why do you identify as a woman (and presumably Mr. Jensen as a man)?
  • If they are oppressive and the binary is a social problem, how do you square that with identifying as a lesbian, which presumes an ontological and biological figure of “woman” and a gender binary in most interpretations of the term?

Now I dare not say that there’s anything wrong with identifying as a man or a woman or a lesbian. There isn’t, intrinsically. And that’s the point. She’s playing a rhetorical shell game here where she has access to an ostensibly unproblematic identity of woman because she was born with a vagina and her attending physician at birth put an F on her birth certificate- while simultaneously arguing that gender is socially constructed and that’s why we as trans people do not exist.

…The argument completely gridlocks under any close scrutiny; in the terms of her own logic it does not make any sense. If there is no biological basis to gender and sex, then people should not only be theoretically able to occupy any gender position regardless of birth physiology, they should be doing this all the time, and it should be looked on as something that disproves a fundamental patriarchal tenet (the use of birth genitals to assign an ineluctable sex caste to an infant that is guaranteed to mark their entire life- one of two castes)….

Read more…