The Spiral of Silence in Trans Activism

As trans women, what are we to make of a movement that claims to speak for us, when it claims a penis is a female organ with a straight face? A movement that bombards even the slightest disagreement with a barrage of hateful threats of violence, rape, and death?  A movement that calls for the suppression of speech, even from it’s own elders? How did we get here?  That will take more than one post to answer, I’m afraid.

To open this discussion, we need to discuss the ‘spiral of silence‘ and its effect on trans discourse within the trans sub culture. (Thanks go to blogger terfisaslur for identifying this pattern in online discourse)

Quotes taken from wikipedia:

Spiral of silence theory describes the process by which one opinion becomes dominant as those who perceive their opinion to be in the minority do not speak up because society threatens individuals with fear of isolation. The assessment of one’s social environment may not always correlate with reality.

Threat and Fear of Isolation

I have participated in online discourse in trans spaces for probably 10 years now, and I’ve witnessed a growing and worrying pattern of suppressing any dissent or probing questioning.  This no doubt feeds the spiral of silence.  Topics devolve quickly into heated flame wars.  Eventually, people learn to just not mention these topics.  Sometimes people are out-right banned from online communities for discussing them.

Spiral of silence begins with the threat of isolation. In order to maintain structure in society, a “collective cohesion of its members must be constantly ensured by a sufficient level of agreement on values and goals.” Thus, in order to guarantee agreement and maintain social order, society threatens isolation for those individuals who violate the consensus. People also remain silent for fear of rejection by peers and unwanted publicity the media can bring upon them.

 

Speech that is silenced in trans communities

  • Acknowledging male privilege, male socialization, and it’s effect on behavior. Verboten. Evidence of self-hate.  It is interesting to note that on the recent 350+ signatories of the Zinnia petition,  approximately 120 out of 390, or 31%, listed a STEM occupation. And yet we are to ignore the forces of sex-based oppression that keep females disproportionately absent from STEM fields, and privileges males.
  • Siding with females on safe space issues?
    Treason of the highest order. Evidence of self hate.
  • The realities of passing, and challenging self-identification as proof of gender? Elitism, dismissed as appealing to society as one of the ‘good ones’.
  • Calling for rational engagement and an end to online violent and bullying behavior?
    “Stop tone policing me! I’m just venting!”
  • Identifying and expressing concern over the fetishization of female objectification and submission prevalent in trans behavior?
    This is actually frequently discussed as a source of shame. Rarely, however, is fetishization and autogynephilic behavior discussed as arising out of misogyny and male socialization. Instead, it is ‘normalized’ as a symptom of being trans (“you do that too? what a relief!”), and is not unpacked and unlearned.

Overcoming the silence

The theory explains a vocal minority (the complement of the silent majority) by stating that people who are highly educated, or who have greater affluence, and the few other cavalier individuals who do not fear isolation, are likely to speak out regardless of public opinion.[10] It further states that this minority is a necessary factor of change while the compliant majority is a necessary factor of stability, with both being a product of evolution. There is a vocal minority, which remains at the top of the spiral in defiance of threats of isolation. This theory calls these vocal minorities the hardcore nonconformist or the avant-garde. Hardcore nonconformists are “people who have already been rejected for their beliefs and have nothing to lose by speaking out.”[4] While the avant-garde are “the intellectuals, artists, and reformers in the isolated minority who speak out because they are convinced they are ahead of the times.” 

It is time that trans women speak up about these issues in our communities.  Remaining silent will enable these maladaptive behaviors to continue growing unchecked.  These behaviors do not stand up to scrutiny outside the trans queer bubble.  They harm innocent bystanders, and ultimately harm us as trans women, especially the new trans women coming up into their own.

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62 thoughts on “The Spiral of Silence in Trans Activism

  1. Who do the people writing this garbage think they’re fooling? Other than themselves…?
    What will always give a TERF-in-trans-clothing away is the complete blindness, or even basic consideration given, to the very existence of female to male trans issues.
    All very lol-worthy and ridiculous.

    • We’re not focusing on FTM issues because we are not FTM, and they can speak for themselves. We are concerned primarily with trans women’s behavior because we are trans women ourselves, and trans women are overwhelmingly the ones posting violent rhetoric online, and are overwhelmingly the ones attempting to silence disagreeing points of view.

      • Let me just make this clear, anyone posting threats of violence, rape or similar should be reported to the relevant authorities in their countries, but, TERF’s throw these allegations at anyone who disagree with their twisted logic tarnishing all with the same brush and trivialising the thing they’re complaining about in the first place.

      • Post these threats. If they are real I will pursue them myself. Until you stop talking generalities no one will listen.

    • Too true.. The people we’re hoping to reach are others who are fed up with the trans community’s increasingly harmful platform and outreach but maybe feel alone in these views. We also gladly welcome those who might be noticing a shift in their relationship to this community and are looking a for healthier, more realistic framework. This workshop is an experiment, and we will all be learning together. 🙂

      • What makes me sad is that both sides claim to be feminist. The vitriol/hatred hurts one group only: WOMEN.

        We brutalize the very group we claim to represent. Can we not make peace on that realization alone?

  2. If you do not want people to think that you are a TERF, it really helps if you do not cram most of their talking points in a single post. Moreover, you assume your reader is not only fluent in TERF jargon, but agrees with most if not the entire worldview is springs from. Now how did an actual trans person end up internalising such a large amount of transphobic notions and jargon?

    If you want trans people to take you seriously, it helps if you do not sound like their worst enemies.

    This kind of writing makes mainstream cis feminists give you a wide berth as well.

    • It really helps to be respectful and refrain from using terms that others deem hurtful to their dignity. “TERF” and “CIS” are perceived as a slams. Why persist in using them?

      You undermine your own legitimacy when you disrespect your opponents.

  3. Pingback: New Narratives 2014: Transwomen Organizers Fear Violence and Harassment -from Transwomen | GenderTrender

    • Lisa, there are several reasons our event is trans women only. First, we are trans women, and the experience of being a trans woman is very different from that of being a trans man. We wanted to come together to discuss some of the issues that are specific to being a trans woman, rather than a trans person in general. Also, we support trans men as best as we can by signal boosting what they say, and letting them speak for themselves.

      Second, the vast majority of death and rape threats towards lesbians and feminists come from the trans woman community. Addressing the trend of unacceptably misogynistic mtf activism was a large part of our motivation in organizing New Narratives. It is frankly quite rare to see trans men make threats of violence against women born female, while trans women make violent threats so frequently it’s commonplace, and almost expected.

      If a group of ftm’s wanted to organize their own event coinciding with New Narratives, we would certainly do everything we could to help their event succeed!

      • I’m sorry, but these threats come from a vocal minority who have taken things too far, you can’t for one minute believe that every trans woman shares these views can you?

      • Umm, you do know most you’re “examples” of “violent threats” that trans women made against Suzanne Moore weren’t violent or threatening at all, right?

        Thanks for pushing the TERF narrative that anyone who is rightly justified at anger against TERF logic is a “violent menz”.

        I’m gonna put this out there, since I’m REALLY getting tired of these false accusations.

        Calling Suzanne a “piss stain on the pants of fascism” is not a threat.

        Saying she want’s to “secretly wants to fuck all the trans chicks” is not a threat

        Calling her an “idiot” is not a threat.

        In case any TERFs are interested, the actual definition of a threat is:

        “a statement of an intention to inflict pain, injury, damage, or other hostile action on someone in retribution for something done or not done.”

        In which case 99.9999999% of all TERF claims of “threats of violence” don’t even really fall in that category. Calling someone out for being an idiot is hardly a “threat”. TERFs are starting to sound like Christian conservatives who hilariously claim that standing up to their discrimination is “bullying” them.

        Just to point it out further:

        Calling her a “cunt” is not a threat, Calling her an asshole is not a threat. Calling her a “horrific sack of trash” is not a threat. It may not be polite, but it ain’t a threat.

        Also, telling her to “jump off the Empire State building with a fishing line for a bungee rope” is not a threat. Telling her to “cut her head off” is not a threat. See, telling someone to harm themselves is not a threat. It’s only a threat if you intended to cut her head off yourself.

        Now that said, a few COULD (technically at least) be identified as the definition of a threat.

        Lilly says “I will cut your head off and feed it to the wolves.” However, we don’t even know if Lilly is a M2F trans woman (like you claim). She could very well be a cis woman. It happens. In any case, I don’t even support that this is a real threat, since I highly doubt that she really has any wolves to feed a heat to.

        The only comment that might be construed as rape is when Shoot to Thrill says “you need to be entered”. It also looks like he’s a cis male, since he has a picture of one as his avatar. Also saying “you need to be entered” can also be interpreted as the old “you need to get laid” line, since no mention of forced entry is hinted at. So while it may be misogynistic, it ain’t really a threat either. It’s also an example of how cis men comments, or MRA comments are always lumped in under trans women “threats” whenever it’s convenient for TERFs. Since TERFs think all trans women are MRA’s anyway, who cares, right?

        The said thing is that time and time again TERFs (and their lame ass trans enablers) try to claim these are “threats of violence”. This only obscures the real threats (as well as where the real threats) are coming from. And frankly, if TERFs want to claim there is no “masculine or feminine”, then they need to grow the fuck up and stop acting like the stereotypical hyperventilating womenz that the patriarchy wants them to be.

        So good luck on your workshop. But I highly doubt very many trans women will be going. I certainly know I won’t be. If you want to talk about how real violence is being perpetrated, maybe you could mention how TERFs got transitional medical care blocked from insurance companies in the 80’s that we’re still fighting over. Or how TERFs are now choosing to align themselves with conservative anti-gay hate groups like the Pacific Justice Institute, just to attack trans women. Or how they actively work to get teenage trans girls kicked out of homeless shelters. But I doubt you will. After all, we can’t mention the fact that they started this battle FIRST, now can we?

      • There is a lot of misinformation in your comment to respond to, aside from the gross sexism of “acting like the stereotypical hyperventilating womenz that the patriarchy wants them to be.” I will not publish any further comments from you which exhibit gross sexism. Final warning.

        Regarding violent trans activists: I’m sorry if I posted the wrong link before. So let’s talk about these ones instead. Trans woman Monica Roberts, who wants to “pimp slap” women, thought it was funny when Anthony Casebaer said radical feminists need to be hit in the head with a baseball bat. Char the Butcher famously posed with a baseball bat, neo-Nazi haircut, and the tattoo “Die Cis Scum”. Indy Edwards thought it was funny to make a parody bug spray called Ridfem which “kills radfems dead”. Just a few days ago a (presumably) mtf anon said to Evilfeminist “I hope you get your cunt mangled so you know what it feels like to be told you’re not a woman”. A few weeks ago a trans woman threatened Cathy Brennan with their 9mm.

        Do you really want to keep playing this game? I don’t. I’m sick of it, and I’m saying NOT IN MY NAME!

        If you blame Janice Raymond for trans exclusion from health insurance, you’re playing very fast and loose with history. Paul McHugh was in charge of the gender clinic at Johns Hopkins, the first such gender clinic in the US, and he shut it down in 1979 because the follow-up study he commissioned showed that hormones, transition and surgery were not helping. I am suspicious of McHugh’s results, because he is clearly biased, but he had much more impact than Raymond. Additionally, insurance exclusions were rushed into place after the Victoria Davidson case in 1979, where NY State ruled that Aetna was required to pay for Davidson’s SRS. Both of these events took place BEFORE Raymond’s report. See also here.

        I am very concerned about the circumstances of trans women and trans youth; but I am also concerned about the fact that trans women commit violent crimes at the same rate as all males, which is significantly higher than the rate for females, and therefore as a community we pose a risk to females. The way to deal with this problem is to confront it head on, not pretend it isn’t happening. I am fully invested in finding solutions to problems like employment discrimination against trans women, homelessness among trans teens, and the violent murder of trans women of color who do survival sex work. But the solution is not to “treat us the same as any woman”, because until we figure out a way to set boundaries on who is and who isn’t a trans woman, we are not “just like any woman”.

        As far as “who started it”, give me a break. Trans women have been fighting against female-only space since the very beginning of second-wave feminism, almost invariably on the wrong side. If you want to keep holding on to your anti-woman, anti-feminist analysis, and selective interpretation of reality, that’s your business. But I’m saying NOT IN MY NAME! – SE

      • In case anyone cares: Marti replied that it’s ok to threaten a woman that you’re going to shoot her, as long as you don’t do it. Marti supports trans activist who make death threats against women, and even when I posted links about trans women who raped and murdered women, she continued to claim that it “never happens”. That kind of delusional thinking is inseparable from the delusional thinking that “my penis is female because I say so”.

        Making a death threat against anyone is NOT EVER OK! I don’t care if the person you’re threatening hurt your feelings, so you think it’s “justified”. NOT IN MY NAME! Goodbye, Marti! Go troll someone else. -SE

    • Hi Lisa,

      There are a few reasons why this event is open to trans women only. And by ‘trans women’ we mean you’re welcome whether you’ve detransitioned, currently live as a woman, whether you pass or not, whether you’re about to begin transition or are thinking about it.

      The concept for this workshop came about during a conversation about attending Radfems Respond, which takes place the same weekend. We plan to attend the first day of RR which is open to everyone. The second day is for women born female only.
      And so New Narratives is meant to send the message that we respect female-only spaces. It is definitely not meant in the spirit of protest a la Camp Trans. Also, this is meant to communicate our understanding that trans women as a community are directly impacted by some issues affecting females (and it makes sense for the two communities to work together on these), but that there are also some issues unique to each group. And that this is ok.

      Another motivation for us is to try and work out with other trans women some ways to fix the often toxic outreach practiced by this community. The trans community has recently been finding itself in the spotlight more and more, and we haven’t even cleaned our own house yet. There is much difficult, possibly painful internal work we must do, for our sake and for others (we don’t transition or live in a vacuum). This is solely the responsibility of trans women.

      *EDIT*
      I didn’t see this had already been answered! I don’t mean to make it seem like a pile-on! The replies are different, so I’ll leave mine up.

      -Minder

  4. Yes, it’s way WAY past time for our having the difficult conversations, and for facing the hard questions, more so as most if not all the answers are going to be quite uncomfortable and dismissive of most of the Trans* talking points. Which is why I hope you’re ready for the wrath of hell to be unleashed upon you for your doctrinal heresy! There’s a damned good reason every single sister I have known in over two decades online has let her blog or forum or website or whatever go dark. Because those who are the most unlike us, with the greatest stake in our remaining the public face of Trans* will not allow us to have a voice!

    Ohhhhhhh yes! We’re all part of this great and wonderful continuum/spectrum/umbrella/ whatever, where any and all narratives of Gender and Gender Expression are welcome, save one. Renouncing male privilege and living as a female in every way that is humanly possible! Ohhhhhhh nooooo! You can’t do that! That’s transphobic/elitist/hateful/privileged/transmisogynistic/self hating/ and just plain poo poo butt doo doo head talking!

    Curious is it not? How those seeped with the very essence of male privilege (but of course denying it EVERY happened to them) do not take to easily to anything they say being questioned. EVER! The irony being completely lost upon them that they are in fact confirming that they, as the world does; see us as female which they are not if by no other reason than they are treating us as they do all women. Dismissively and contemptuously!

    I wish you all the luck in the world. Because Goddess knows, you’re going to need it!

    MKIA

    • MKIA, we definitely feel your frustration. It’s all to easy to fall back to division, hopelessness. Sometimes the healthy choice for some of us is to disappear and keep our heads down. We the organizers are actively working to fight this impulse in ourselves, and we are focused on making this event an act of love for our community. We want to work on developing and sharing new, healthy, and mature coping strategies to existing as trans in a world that is often against us. Strategies that empower, that rise above defensive lashing out. Thank you for your support.

  5. only the brave may taste immortality! go forth boldly dear ones! steer directly into this storm! the fury is empty and cannot harm you!

    THIS IS THE REVOLUTION. THIS IS LOVE IN ACTION.

    huzzah! i wish you well! may your truth-fires burn down illusion! may all beings be free of suffering and the root of suffering!

    the struggle is real, and glorious!

  6. So sad. Maybe some of the more violent threats and expressions of hatred toward women can be toned down, but the intense male outrage for being denied impunity in usurping women’s identity, history and deep evolution can never be sated. These men demonstrably believe that women should be crushed into oblivion for any sign of objecting to transcismen’s identity theft and fraudulent impersonation which degrades and slanders the character and integrity of women as a group. We all object to the degrading caricatures of “yellow-face”, “black-face”, “native-face”, etc. so the acceptance of “woman-face” becomes a definitive acid test which exposes those who tolerate the debasement of women for the amusement and fetishization of men’s whims. How many times have we heard transcismen affectedly exclaim, squirming and mewling, “Oh, I’m all about hot pink and glitter!” as proof of their female authenticity, indicating how superficial, reactionary, stereotyped and inauthentic their view of women. No matter how many rounds of electrolysis, or mgs of estrogen, surgeries on their Adams’ apple’s, chest, buttock and facial bones, women’s unique, inimitable, functions can never be abrogated, surrogated or substituted given our millions years of evolution (at least for those who admit to evolution). And this is certainly not to concede to, or endorse the twisted, reactionary, sexist interpretations which are manufactured to enforce a status quo dichotomy of a bogus biologically mandated dominance and submission, math skills as opposed to knitting skills, etc. into absurdity. From a historical perspective, this misappropriation of women’s identity may be seen as just another facet of male backlash against women’s push for, not equality with men, but for freedom to realize women’s aspirations in a world that can provide a platform for the justice and cooperation needed for a humane world. In fact, a world that does not correspond to the transcismen’s melodramatically competitive, demeaningly misogynistic and threateningly violent world-view.

    • Ok, let me try to address on basic point you made there, “black-face”, where non-black people “black-up” to play black people. Yes, it’s not acceptable in this day and age, but even so, that was for entertainments sake, and once the “act” was over, they would wash the make up off, they we’re in “black face” 24/7/365 we’re they? They we’re playing a character, however much that might offend us now, they didn’t actually believe they we’re black. Trans people who live, work etc in the “chosen” (and I don’t like that phrasing at all), aren’t pretending to be something whatever their critics may say. They truely believe that they are the sex / gender that they present themselves as, and if you’re the one giving them a hard time over it, you’re the asshole. If they’re making threats towards you (regardless of your attitude towards them) then they are the asshole.

      Simple lesson here people, don’t be assholes (or arseholes for my British people, asshole just sounds more “right” in this context).

      • Oopster74, I’m responding to all of your comments at once. In the future, please put more effort and thought into your comments, otherwise we will not post them.

        So, as for your comments:

        1. Trans women make rape and death threats against lesbians and feminists every minute of every day. This is amply documented, for example on terfisaslur.tumblr.com, or (first-hand) on any tumblr with baeddel in the title. If you don’t do this, great, but why aren’t you calling out all the trans women who do? Because unfortunately they’re the majority right now!

        2. We used the simplest language we could. We don’t have all the answers to the questions we asked: that’s why we’re meeting to discuss them! But more fundamentally, if you are confused about the basic terminology of feminism, why do you feel entitled to comment on a blog which is directly informed by feminism?

        3. See point 1. Also, future repetitive comments will not be published.

        4. Your justification of the explicitly racist practice of blackface is disgusting. Just as we will not promote sexism on this blog, we will not truck in racism. Moreover, your “analogy” fails to address any of Elizabeth’s points.

        This is the only warning you’re getting. This page is a space for educated and honest discussion, not for posting four half-baked comments within the space of two minutes.

        SE

      • SE – where is the proof for 1, and please don’t quote a blog with “terf is a slur” as the title. Independent verified information please. Those that are referred to as TERFs will make these kinds of allegations or at least can be easily accused of such.

        2 some of the words need looking up unless you’re using them everyday, that’s what I was meaning.

        3 fair point, but I was responding as I was reading.

        4 I wasn’t trying to justify blackface. When it was a common thing, no one thought anything of it, but no one would consider doing it now, however, my point stands, that those people doing it weren’t doing it 24/7, but putting on what was seen as acceptable entertainment at the time. Trans men and women (and I’m talking transsxeual living in role) are not playing or pretending at anything. This was the point I was trying to make.

      • oopster74, congratulations on being the first commenter to be banned from the New Narratives page. I am all-too-familiar with the thoughtless comments you leave all over every radfem blog you can find. I hope that in the future you are able to find peace with yourself in a way that doesn’t involve trolling feminist-aligned blogs. Best of luck to you.

        SE

    • Elizabeth, thank you for your comment. As a male who lives as a woman, and as someone who believes in feminism, I am conflicted about the analogy between black-face and woman-face. Certainly, I am with Jean O’Leary that “When men impersonate women for reasons of entertainment or profit, they insult women.” However, some people born male have an easier time surviving socially by presenting ourselves as women, and it feels unfair to categorize this experience with the same woman-face brush. This was certainly how I experienced my situation: as a matter of survival. Would this still be the case in a world post-gender abolition? We can’t say. But what we can work on, and one thing New Narratives specifically wants to address, is to develop tools to call out the fetishization and appropriation of the female experience within the trans community for what it is, while still addressing the needs of a vulnerable population. We believe (perhaps naively – only time will tell) that it is possible to construct a framework for transition which doesn’t harm women born female, and we want to take the first steps to develop it.

      – SE

    • i agree that it is absolutely a backlash against womonkind’s efforts toward individuation and separatism. to be a woman, to know femaleness, is not something any biological male can ever hope to understand or experience, possess or claim. god damn if they’re not trying.

  7. Thank you for your efforts here on behalf of women. It is truly gratifying to see. Much love and success to you, and solidarity always on our common issues while respecting our differences.

    Cathy Brennan

  8. Thank you for bringing this up. I find the utter lack of understanding by people who self identify as women directed at women who have any sort of concern about someone with a penis using women’s spaces or women who have a concern about “self identification” being the sole standard for access to women’s spaces very telling. Any woman would understand the sensitivity of the issue even if they personally aren’t bothered and most woman would be concerned about the comfort of other women. The utter lack of any sympathy for those women who are concerned and outrights attacks directed at them are just more nails highlighting the male attitudes behind such demands for access.

    I am personally fed up with what is more and more looks like a pervy obsession. I am tired of the way advocates have exploited those with genuine medical needs which garners sympathy to push an agenda where self identification as the only determining factor and medical intervention is an …. option. The push for self identification as the standard means that every perv who claims such self identification now is as community representative. Thank you advocates!!!

    I would not label myself a feminist, I don’t really get into some of the labels. What I am is a woman first, trans second. The same as other women yet different. In a place I feel I earned a place in by listening, understanding, and being. A place that had to be earned because to earn because I had obstacles to overcome. And I, like most women, don’t appreciate those who demand and insist they are just like me when their very attitude and behavior underscores just how different they are from me.

  9. Thank you for this piece. It is hard-core brilliant. Thank your for addressing the gruesome arrogance of human beings who identify as ‘women’ giving no fucks at all about the needs/concerns/vulnerabilities/issues/politics of the women within the spaces they wish to penetrate.

  10. What is your take or opinion on trans who try to fake or pretend to be Intersex in order to justify their trans status to people. What’s you opinion on people like Zoe Allen Brain who pretends to be Intersex in order to justify his Transsexuality. What’s your opinion of trans people who try to hijack, co-opt or use the Intersex name to justify their ideology or existence.

    • Hi Nicky. As outlined in the post We welcome all current, former, and future trans women: New Narratives 2014 will have a strict “No COINing” policy (co-opting intersex narratives). We welcome people with intersex conditions who were raised as male and have subsequently considered or actively pursued transition to attend, but we will not tolerate trans women who claim to be intersex based on “wishful thinking” or speculation. See a doctor, or cut it with the appropriation! Please let us know if you have any other input on this. -SE

      • As an Intersex/DSD person myself, I have seen may occasions where trans who have tried to pass themselves off as being intersex and pissing off the REAL intersex/DSD people like myself. Myself have been attacked may times by radical trans who try to deny my Intersex/DSD condition and my existence as an Intersex/DSD person. I even had been threatened with physical violence and have been stalked by radical trans and their enablers at my college & at my home. Even to the point of posting personal info on where I live as well. It’s why as an Intersex/DSD person, I am fed up with the trans community their violent rhetoric towards Intersex people and people in general. I’m fed up with the trans community who constantly use the Intersex community or intersex conditions to justify their existence at the expense of intersex people. It’s why some Intersex/DSD people are afraid to talk about their experience and medical condition because of the fear of being attacked by radical trans and their enablers.

      • Nicky, I am very sorry about your experience. New Narratives does not support and will not tolerate this type of behavior by trans women. Best wishes to you. -SE

      • I have seen many trans have tried to bully, harass and stalk me into silence. All because I am speaking up for Intersex/DSD people. Its the price I pay for standing up for Intersex/DSD people and a result, I am a target for Harassment, stalking, bullying and even have been threatened with physical violence and rape. It’s why I am fed up with trans COINing Intersex/DSD people, their narratives and history. Even one known radical trans by the Initals DLT has been known to harass, stalk, bully and tried to intimidate me into silence. Even within in the Intersex/DSD community, trans have invaded the place and kicked out actual diagnosed and born from birth Intersex/DSD people. They made it so unfriendly towards them and ran them out and made what was once a community for those who are born Intersex/DSD. To now what it looks like in a LGBT community.

  11. Now that I have had more time to digest what I have read here and read more comments and such I have some questions.

    If I have understood correctly New Narratives is recognizing the reality that trans women aren’t in fact identical to women born physically female bodies thereby respects women who see these differences, acknowledges the sensitivity especially when it comes to trans people demanding access to women’s spaces/venues (especially ones with peni, but not limited to) and the only requirement to access and participation in such spaces/venues being a simple statement of self identification. Is this a fair summation?

    And as such this has gotten the accusation of being a “TERF” (new term to me) hurled at New Narratives and there been some other feminist oriented discussions here. Not judging that, just noting it. Looking back at the summary, despite the claim hurled that New Narratives is just a shill for “TERF”s, it doesn’t seem to be necessarily tailored just around the woman’s issues one issue I tried to summarize in my first question.

    So my second question. Where does New Narratives stand with regards to conservatives and the religious right? Both of which are groups which have had members objecting to some elements of trans agenda (like the self identification) or have moral objections? What is your feeling about the current dialog/relationship between trans and these groups? Some of which may happen to be anti-feminist as well anti-trans or if not anti-trans, in opposition to much of the pushed for trans agenda?

    Last question, on the subject example given “challenging self-identification as proof of gender”, just where/how does New Narratives feel it should be defined? And just where and how can/should trans wants and trans needs (two different things) be balanced against and respect the sensitivities of women?

    • Hi MH,

      Thank you for your comment and your interest! Regarding your first question, I’d say that’s pretty much accurate. We’re not claiming to have all of the answers to this problem, but we do feel this is a conversation the trans community needs to have in an honest way.

      As for the second question, you yourself alluded to many religious right/fundamentalist groups being anti-feminist, and I would say that’s the big difference. When we speak out about certain aspects of trans outreach, it’s coming from a place of concern for our own community. But it also in a huge way comes from a deep sense of respect and support for the rights, boundaries, and autonomy of females, which the religious right movement has notoriously spent a lot of time, effort, and money to undermine. And so when these groups express criticisms of the trans community, it comes across more as religious moralizing and/or cynical fear-mongering rather than concern for trans women or WBF. Just to make it clear, the organizers of New Narratives strongly support women’s rights!

      Your third question is rather tricky. Part of our analysis is the understanding that gender is a category socially-assigned to each of us based upon perceived sex. For this reason, identity on its own has no objective bearing on real world interactions. This means that more objective criteria would help clarify practical trans issues immensely, as well as protecting WBF in their safe spaces. And again, this is a conversation that needs to be happening in a more realistic, less self- serving way among trans women.

      Thanks again, and feel free to leave any further questions for us!

      .minder

      • I must admit I don’t know what “WBF” refers to but from context I am guessing it refers women who aren’t trans. I don’t view myself as a hyphenated woman (i.e. trans-woman) yet I cannot deny reality so find myself using the “trans woman” reference in these sorts of discussions. For women who aren’t trans, or non-trans women as I might refer, I am resistant to use other terms as they somehow end up becoming pejoratives such as cis is often used.

        Allow me to elaborate a bit on my second question. I was trying to solicit some information to understand what the broader agenda goals are and see if they are feminist centric or not.

        I agree that there are some conservatives and those in the religious right who are anti-feminist or otherwise seek to marginalize women. In a way both feminists and trans have some similar interests against conservatives and the religious right. But saying some are anti-feminist and anti-trans is far from saying all. It also should be noted that there are women who are conservative and/or religious and while members of these groups may have moral objections towards trans, are conservatives and religious to be written off? Both these groups as a whole have been subject to very vile attacks by trans and attempts to shut them up too. In fact the “trans community” as a whole seems to have significant prejudices towards conservatives. In some cases justified given rhetoric from some individuals in those groups. Is the actions of some a few reasons to be prejudicial towards all conservative and religious folks? Does engaging in like kind attacks, verbal abuse at them help the situation or does it just make trans seem less credible and give them more power?

        And when it comes to conservatives and religious groups, more and more their objections have gotten louder in response to trans insistence on things such as self identification being the standard for access to women spaces. So while some elements of these groups may be anti-women many in objecting to things like the self identification for access, those groups end up supporting women who also object. Why should trans be giving them the ammunition. Ammunition that the average non-trans is likely to agree with the objections..

        I see opportunity to win people over by respecting and understanding. That there is much more to be gained through reaching out, understanding, and not engaging in vile rhetoric. Let the opposition engage in the vile attacks because such vitriol doesn’t win people over and it only makes those engaging in such lose all credibility.

        On question three, yes I understood it to be tricky.. Maybe the most important factor is simple discretion? It is a complex situation I agree. I can see need for some laws, but there needs to be protection for non-trans and not be written in a way that can easily be exploited by pervs.

      • The acronym WBF means “women born female”. There is currently a movement among some radical feminists away from the term wbw or “woman born woman”, because obviously nobody is born an adult. The term wbf appeals to me personally, because it leaves space for me to describe my existence: I am a woman who was born male. I don’t know whether that terminology will ever catch on, but I feel like it’s a first step towards separating sex and gender, without erasing trans existence. -SE

  12. The reason for our conflict and this confusion is one thing and one thing alone, the language… IF you want to change things… change the language!

    The current “trans*” language, in almost it’s entirety comes directly from the originator of “Transgender” Virginia Prince, And this I got straight from his mouth to my ears a long time ago… This language was quite purposefully meant to be one of obfuscation and conflation! Something that it has done, and that it continues to do all too well!

    For instance… there was a damn good reason VP chose “gender” rather than sex… to” transition from.” He was after all a man… VP really liked being a man. Something that VP had absolutely NO intentions of EVER changing! Have his penis removed? No way! He liked sex as a man… he liked the feeling he got of penetrating women with his penis almost as much as he liked tye feeling of dominating woman! He just liked doing “it” and pretty much everything else while “dressed as the women” in his day were dressing… Why, this couldn’t be about sex… it had to be about gender… Yeah that’s it gender!!!!

    VP was a terribly homophobic and EXTREMELY misogynistic man and he was not a transsexual… in fact he completely dismissed of TS as being TV’s who lost it and were carried away in a pink fog… To VP it was utterly unthinkable that anyone born male would ACTUALLY… want to BE female! Give up their penis? give up their MALE PRIVILEGE!!!!!!? Perish the thought!

    It’s ironic in a way…

    How behind so much of this push to conflate are men who really do dislike women, (other than as servant/fuck toys) and it is they who are redefining woman to nothing more than dress and manners, then insisting they too are women!
    Men who are arrow straight, and who will be arrow straight to the day they die co-opting lesbian. Not because they are homosexual… quite the opposite! It’s so they can avoid the patriarchal shame that comes with even the tiniest of assumptions they might want to get down on their knees and take a man as a woman is assumed to…
    Men who hide behind transsexuals, borrowing liberally and at will from a narrative which is not theirs when it suits, and then ducking as being “intrusive” when the question of their surgery arises.

    Look I know the general consensus is that I’m some sort of right-wing/hater/privileged/transphobic/elitiist/separatist/monster… and I’m not! I actually believe quite strongly that the straight jacket of gender both sexes live under should be dismantled and the sooner the better! If a man wishes to be soft and “feminine” or a woman wishes to be strong capable and “manly” they should be in no way constrained from doing so! Gender is a social construct and nothing more!

    But to do that we must stop co-opting sex as gender and then conflating the two as synonymous! We not only need to be honest with ourselves and the world about what we are and why… We must go it one better and do the hard work of facing the patriarchy and seeing it for exactly what it is… and then tossing it! Though I’m not holding my breath that this ever happens… It’s far far too easy for those with the privilege to simply manipulate the current paradigm, rather than working to dismantle it… Because dismantling it requires facing men and then usurping their privilege… something that men it is being taken from are going to fight tooth and nail to prevent! Better to force Trans* on women… after all they haven’t the same power to hurt us… and if any of them want to escape because it sucks to be female… well we showed em the way… they can simply “become” men!

    MKIA

    • MKIA, thanks for your comment. I agree on the history of “transgender”. The first gender therapist my parents sent me to was the cross-dresser Ari “Ariadne” Kane, who was a total misogynist and homophobe. He was heavily inspired by Virginia Prince, and was the first person I heard talk about the distinction between being transsexual and transgender. Autumn Sandeen has publicly stated that the transgender movement “needs” trans children for the public relations purpose of desexualizing transition. It is shameful and deplorable. – SE

  13. “In case anyone cares: Marti replied that it’s ok to threaten a woman that you’re going to shoot her, as long as you don’t do it. Marti supports trans activist who make death threats against women, and even when I posted links about trans women who raped and murdered women, she continued to claim that it “never happens”. That kind of delusional thinking is inseparable from the delusional thinking that “my penis is female because I say so”.

    Making a death threat against anyone is NOT EVER OK! I don’t care if the person you’re threatening hurt your feelings, so you think it’s “justified”. NOT IN MY NAME! Goodbye, Marti! Go troll someone else. -SE”

    This is your place to speak what you wish, and I do agree with the basics of what you are trying to achieve as I seen these things for myself. On the subject of labeling this person a troll and blocking them I wish to offer a different point of view.

    I have often been labeled as a troll because I dare speak a point of view that often conflicts with the vocal, apparently popular, opinion. Many of those views are similarly echoed here by new narratives. The label “troll” is tossed at me to try and discredit me when they have no logical argument. To me “troll” describes someone who says things that are intended to just stir the pot and largely by definition, not views sincerely held.

    In calling Marti a troll are you saying the vies are not sincerely held? I tend to think that the things mentioned such as suggesting it is okay to make threats as long as one doesn’t intend to carry thru with them and other states are genuinely held. And having said that, I think the fastest way to discredit those behaviors, behaviors that demonstrate why new narratives are needed is to let them stand with nothing more than seeking clarification such as “so it is okay that someone makes threats if they don’t intend to follow thru with them?” “It is okay to bash people rather than engage in dialog? and just how does that further the cause?”.

    The person making such absurd assertions either will confirm their own absurdity or back off undercutting their own assertions.

    I feel the audience you have here is smart enough to see thru the smokescreen, to recognize the truth and not fall victim to the same ole same ole tactics. Certainly if someone continues to get repetitive, just tries loading up the place with spam some action should be taken, but I say give them platform for their absurdity and let their own words prove your point. The only venues where an assertion that it is okay to issue threats or calling people names can thrive is venues where reasonable voices aren’t allowed to express their views and it is only the rhetoric. In a venue with intelligent discussion simple name calling and threats will stand out for what it is.

    That is my opinion. Thank you for your consideration.

    • Mostly Harmless, I appreciate what you’re saying. Obviously, we’ve said some controversial things in our posts here, and all three of the authors have frequently been accused of being trolls, not trans, sockpuppets, etc. We don’t have all the answers, and we are more than happy for people to debate theory, strategy, and tactics here. I personally didn’t take it lightly with the three people who have been banned so far. However, perhaps you and I have a different tolerance for how much is too much of people implicating themselves? When Marti said it was no big deal to tell a woman to be afraid of you because you have a gun, sorry but I’m not giving her a second chance. If someone made a threat like that to me, I’d call the police right away. Everyone over the age of five knows that’s not acceptable.

      If people want to debate issues on here, I’m happy to let the readers of this blog sort out the specious arguments from the ones that someone actually put some thought into; however, I also know that most people are busy, and I don’t want to waste their time. -SE

      • I respect that we all have different tolerance levels and that does suggest that the difference may be an issue of just when enough is enough.

        On the other hand, during my lifetime one of the most effective strategies I ever seen employed in American political history was one where in response to the accusations of critics there was no attempt to argue the point beyond a certain level, but simply acknowledge it saying something like “are you serious?” and just let it hand there. Let it be a trigger for the audience to think back over those criticisms as to why they aren’t even worth dignifying a response and let the other persons words demonstrate the point far more effectively then any counter argument. Where a counterpoint would just seem more rhetoric because the person didn’t think about the original accusations critically.

        This is just one opinion and this isn’t something I seen used often, so maybe it is just a method that resonates well with me.

        As you can see here I am just sharing experience, thoughts and perceptions. I hope nothing more is taken other than the obvious “I think differently than you”, but I seen people take statements of disagreement or different point of view as an implied accusation of the other person being stupid and a personal attack. I am learning that there are too many people in this world who perceive someone expressing a different point of view as personal assaults which makes it hard to have dialog. And it pains me to say it that it seems particularly a problem within the trans community and perhaps explains why different views than the vocal prevailing points of view so often get shouted down. Because they are perceived as personal attacks so the reaction is emotional rather than intellectual.

      • “When Marti said it was no big deal to tell a woman to be afraid of you because you have a gun, sorry but I’m not giving her a second chance.”

        I’ve got an idea. How about you actually PRINT what actually said, instead of twisting it into what you WANT it to say?

        Because you’re a whiney radfem fuck who can’t win any other way, that’s why.

      • Marti386: following the suggestions of Mostly Harmless, I’m printing this comment of yours. In case anyone wonders why I banned you, this is why.

        On the topic of death threats made against women, here are the words you wrote:

        Comment I published:

        “affirm that death and rape threats directed at lesbians and feminists are never acceptable under any circumstances”

        I don’t affirm that.

        Comment I didn’t publish:

        “In case anyone cares: Marti replied that it’s ok to threaten a woman that you’re going to shoot her, as long as you don’t do it. Marti supports trans activist who make death threats against women, and even when I posted links about trans women who raped and murdered women, she continued to claim that it “never happens”.

        Wow, don’t you think you could have let my comment speak for itself, instead of censoring it and putting your own spin on it?

        Way to prove you’re complaints about radfems being “silenced” is hypocritical at best. It’s wrong to silence them, but not me, huh?

        Just to point it out, I NEVER said they didn’t happen. I said they weren’t legitimate threats. BIG difference, but one that’s lost on you, apparently.

        When a five year old threatens to shoot someone, that’s not creditable. (Or, it wasn’t until the last few years.) When an adult with a concealed carry permit says “I know where you live, watch out I have a 9mm”, I’m calling the cops. If you don’t call the cops, you support violence against women. How am I supposed to see this any other way?

        So is everyone convinced that Marti386 is an abusive troll now? Good, let’s move on!

  14. Reblogged this on Plastic Girl and commented:
    This is an important event I think. The comments on this thread reveal just how challenging a task this kind of organization is in our community. I wish these women the best of luck.

  15. Hello, first to all, i am from Argentina, here we have a so diferent reality so some of your problems between Radfem and trans activist dont have sense where i live.
    But I am worry about something i read in one post.
    “To VP it was utterly unthinkable that anyone born male would ACTUALLY… want to BE female! Give up their penis? give up their MALE PRIVILEGE!!!!!!? Perish the thought!”
    “VP really liked being a man. Something that VP had absolutely NO intentions of EVER changing! Have his penis removed? No way! He liked sex as a man… he liked the feeling he got of penetrating women with his penis almost as much as he liked tye feeling of dominating woman”
    Because here, almost none of the transwoman had a SRS, even more, i am prety sure most of them dont take hormones. Here most of us dont believe in the “i always was a woman”. And most important almost the 99,9% are “gay” (so they born male, raise as gay and discover what they are lately becoming trans), and as i say…they dont go to SRS and really, most of them DONT WANT IT!!! But they dont want to use their penis to penetrate nobody eigther.
    And in the case of “translesbians” (so mtf that like females) or like me that i like woman and transgender woman and i dont want a SRS (the first reason, i dont pass 100% so i dont know really how much will better my life this, and is a mayor surgery whit lot of problem, and is expensive at the end, and last time, i know that not all the person that go trough this surgery are prepared to and end comitting suicide) but i dont want to use this to penetrate nobody, because…specially whit hormones i dont feel really to much pleasure in it. I can do it if the other person ask me or as a forelplay…but really is never a priority or something that i want…even more…i am never the dominant part in a relation whit a woman.
    So sayed this, i feel very disrupting the quotes that i make, because i understand that even if this was the word of “one person” the intention was to mean that all the transexual that dont want a SRS are like this, and even worse in case of them that dont are into men.
    Feel like the clasic “if you are not willing to do this, you are not a true transexual”

  16. I hope it’s OK for me to invade your space like this. I’m not a trans woman so maybe I’m not welcome here… Apologies, I don’t mean to trespass. I’m a lesbian feminist, having come from the women’s movement of the 70’s-80’s. Most of my MtF trans friends express the same feelings that you do.

    I’ve been more engaged in national politics in the past 15 or so years and therefore I’m not up to speed on the history of this conflict. In attempting to catch up on the details of how this schism got started and why, I went to the source(s). Just the act of asking simple questions (bc I didn’t know better) resulted in unexpected consequences.

    By way of example: I posed the question: “Can you see that terms like CIS and TERF are considered slurs, just like the term “tranny” is a slur? It doesn’t matter whether the folks who USE IT agree. The sole test is: Do the people being described by it find the term demeaning?”

    Even raising such questions or attempting a philosophical debate was fruitless. I was banned!! Of what are they so afraid? My real concern are mainstream folk who don’t research for themselves. They’ve seen the trans activist side only and just accept it as fact. (The mainstream long ago bought as fact the myth that feminist=lesbian=man hater – so what do I expect? RADFEM = everything they loathe in a woman!) When I read comments by sheep who assume that radfems are a hate group, I ask them where they get their evidence. I’m not deciding whether they are wrong or right, just asking what facts they’ve used to come to this conclusion. I either get NO reply, or I get words I won’t repeat here. Please note: I’m no RADFEM. But, I do understand SOME of their points. (I’m NOT saying they are “right” or “wrong” nor have I ever been embraced by the RADFEM community. Thus, no one need accuse me of being “TERF”. I don’t have to be TERF to understand some of what they are saying.

    I would also point – check out the comments section right here… Many of the posts, especially the folks accusing you of being TERF, make your point so beautifully.

    It’s high time for the adults to enter the room to tell the kids (on BOTH SIDES) to behave! I’m not sure how we end up on the road to peace, but hell, we must start somewhere. While the feminist community fights amongst itself, the radical right gains power. The infighting MUST STOP!

    (Thanks for being kind enough to consider what I’ve said).

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