Trans Women Will do Better to Fight for Their Rights as a New Gender

Mon, 01/18/2016 - 07:47
Submitted by cdowner

To introduce my piece, some background on the film Tangerine:

As I was writing this feminist critique of the movie, Tangerine, I felt overwhelmed by the near unanimity of praise for this supposed comedy from the critics, even female critics. So, I was gratified to read of a protest by Lesbian Nation at the London film premier of the film. Go sisters!

In preparation for writing this article, I also came across an interesting piece of information on Wikipedia. In summary, it states that the tangerine (Citrus tangerina) is an orange colored citrus fruit closely related to, or possibly a type of, mandarin orange (Citrus reticulate). Under one classification system it is considered a separate species, under another, a group of varieties. The term tangerine may yet acquire a different genetic meaning.


Sean Baker’s Tangerine films a day in the life of two trans women street sex workers in Los Angeles. Alexandra tells Sin Dee, who has just been released from a month’s jail sentence, Chester (her lover and pimp) had sex with the new girl, a “fish” “with a vagina”, during her absence. Sin Dee charges off to find and confront him. Alexandra goes to find customers and hand out leaflets to fellow sex workers to publicize her up-coming performance that evening, Christmas Eve.

I watched Tangerine to learn more about trans gender women, especially since the trans community has been vociferously asserting their demand to be included in women-only spaces, including public bathrooms, women’s festivals and separatist meetings on the grounds that they are “women”. Others hotly debate this.

The film unerringly captures the dynamic of the gender relationships between men and women and how trans women fit into it. Sin Dee and Alexandra are males who identify as women, but, from what I saw, their main similarity to women is their outer appearance and the ways in which they defer to men. I witnessed the possible arising of new gender/s. If it is, this new gender of trans women can be just as hateful to women as the most sexist men, and are as oppressive to women as the other males in the film.

The plot plays out the gender hierarchy. The male pimp exploits both trans women and “fish”. Razmik, male cab driver who’s also Alexandra’s customer, cheats on his wife and deserts his family’s Christmas dinner to hear her perform. Sin Dee goes to a “party room” at a motel and violently overpowers the “fish” (we eventually learn she is named Dinah), dragging her by the hair across town to accost Chester at the doughnut shop that he works out of.

Both Sin Dee and Alexandra, use their testosterone-created size and musculature to survive on the mean streets. Alexandra squares off to physically collect her fee from a welching client, reminding him, “I have a dick too”. Sin Dee kicks down the door to the motel party room and grabs Dinah, pulling her onto the bus. Making a stop at the bar to see Alexandra perform, she relaxes her brutal treatment only long enough to repair the damage she’s done to her make-up so that she can appear to be a respectable member of Alexandra’s audience, and gives her have a hit of methamphetamine to feel better. Alexandra watches Dinah when Sin Dee can’t.

All of the males, including Sin Dee and Alexandra, treat all the women in the film disrespectfully. Sin Dee insults the hairstyle of Razmik’s wife when she comes to the donut shop where Chester, Sin Dee, Alexandra and Dinah and Razmik are, to see for herself that her husband is not working, but is with prostitutes. She’s faced with her husband’s expensive sex habits, and admits that she’s dependent on her husband for support, so she goes home. The mother-in-law asserts the gender role she probably learned growing up in Isfahan, denouncing and exposing her son-in-law for having sex with prostitutes. Everyone, including Chester, subjects Dinah to verbal abuse (he can’t remember her name either), and he slams her head against a table. After Chester mollifies Sin Dee by proposing marriage, the “fish” is left to find her own way home, moneyless, poorly clad, and then jobless, homeless and shoeless. No one notices her plight nor cares.

As in real life, other than buying doughnuts for the group as a way of apologizing for all the suffering he’s caused, the man comes out unscathed, dismissing the whole brouhaha as a “girl thing”. The transgender sex workers come to terms with their respective places on the man’s totem pole. Razmik has lost face and is miserable because he’s trapped in a heterosexual family situation despite having an attraction to trans women.

Tangerine is billed as a “girlfriend movie”, because Sin Dee and Alexandra come back together after they fight when it comes out that Chester had sex with Alexandra also. They reunite when Sin Dee is a victim of a drive-by assault from a carful of men. Alexandra helping her recover is a touching scene. Not only does it show their friendship, but to me it shows something equally heart-warming—gender solidarity.

Trans women will do better, I think, to unite to fight for their rights as a new gender rather than re-defining what it is to be a woman, thus weakening the sisterhood of women by insisting on a broader definition to include people who don’t have uteruses and cannot give birth. It ignores how the gender of woman has (and continues to be) shaped under oppressive control of our reproduction—and by not seeing what womanhood could be if patriarchal control of our reproduction were overthrown.

Comment: Although the intent of filmmakers is usually irrelevant in evaluating their artistic effort, it is relevant to the discussion of how reflective Tangerine is of reality. In interviews with Sean Baker, the co-author, cinematographer, director, editor and producer, he talked about the collaboration of the actresses who play the leads. Mya Taylor, who played Alexandra, asked him to make the movie realistic but funny. He tried to make “a movie that these women would enjoy themselves.” I presume that means that these actresses and their community were gratified that film viewers would see the brutality they’re subjected to by gender-enforcing men, but also they would get a lot of big laughs at seeing the brutalization and degradation of women.

Also, it’s surprising that no gay men or lesbians are in the film, since the gay community lives nearby and because Tangerine focuses on the overall cultural shift from stereotypical male-female coupling.

The area where the film takes place is light industrial. Many, many small film-production businesses are there. So, it is a thriving part of “Hollywood”, even though it has none of the trappings of Hollywood glamour.

(creative contribution by Madison René Knapp)

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Who gets to draw the gender lines?

Mon, 01/18/2016 - 18:44

 I don't plan to see this film, which from the author's description is heavy on violence and stereotypes of all kinds. And after all, it's not life itself but a movie. But are transgender men---born female---a fourth 'new gender' who should not be considered as truly male? Everyone seems to be staking out territory that excludes someone else. There can be a serious lack of goodwill in the LGBTQ as well as the straight communities, and (oddly) a shared insistence that birth gender is the final word that must determine a person's acceptance and ultimate fate. We need to be enlightened enough---and generous enough---to try to see beyond ideology to the humanity that is at the heart of every person.

but there is a difference

Tue, 01/19/2016 - 11:56

but there is a difference between having a uterus and not having a uterus. 

Women have been discriminated against historically in order to control reproduction.  No one wants women fucking for pleasure and raising babies by themselves.  We want them dependent on men to perpetuate the nuclear family and keep in play the forced servitude of women across the globe.  We pay into social capital (housework, meals, holidays, PTA, shuttling kids from here and there) but receive no compensation - and pay inequality is not a myth.  They've audited corporate America and we know women make $75/$1.00 to men and get fewer raises. 

If you're trans, you haven't suffered the same way all your life.  And, once you make your transition, the culture may judge you for relinquishing male privilege but you have no womb so there's no penalty.  You're not worried about access to contraception or abortion. So we pay the mom tax and the cunt tax AND because we're 51% of the population we don't qualify as a protected class under the constitution.

Any discrimination you may encounter has to do with your transition not your gender.   That is a huge difference and one that can't be ignored.  And it burns me when I read about health insurance covering trans surgery when they won't cover abortions and just started covering birth control.  It's BS and I thank, Carol, for pointing that out.

Just watched the movie last night. Several times I was close to

Tue, 01/19/2016 - 12:50

changing channels because the jealousy by Sin Dee was so extreme and boring. I felt it was a bad parody of womankind. The Mother-in-law was the real deal confronting her son-in-law for having sex with trannys.

I also didn't get much humor at any point. The victimhood of the cis woman was pathetic and not quite believable. Maybe that's because I've always fought back. While Carol and Carlin are focused on the uterus or lack there of, I would make an exception. Any transsexual who has sacrificed his dick for an antificial vagina demonstrates a committment that I think needs to be acknowledged. She can join one of my Bodysex workshops any day that are for women only. Last year we had a M to F in one of our groups. It was very informative for all of us. She was very brave and real.

Confused

Tue, 01/19/2016 - 13:34

What an interesting post. It really made me think. Gender now seems to be regarded as an entirely artificial construct with definitions of male and female varying hugely throughout time and across the world. In America, the stereotype suggests boys are good at science, girls are not. In Burma, scientific research is overwhelmingly dominated by women.

Is it sufficient to self-identify as a woman, to be a woman? How much do I think the gender of women has been and continues to be defined by having a uterus, by reproduction, by blood, by being identified as unclean for so much of our lives? The average woman spends more than 8 years bleeding and we're still told tampons,sanitary pads and diva cups are a "luxury" subject to additional sales tax. Razors are essentials, tax exempt; our priorities are beards rather than blood.

Even in our modern, "liberated, egalitarian" developed world,  we  live in a culture willing to shame 52% population just because of the everyday way their body works. In our "liberated" privileged developed world, we see sanitary products sold using blue ink, using key words such as "discreet" "hidden" "clean".
 
In many cultures, women are still shut away in some leaky miserable hut, excluded from society entirely during their menses. Women are forbidden to enter temples and synagogues on the basis of their bloodflow. They are forbidden to touch men for fear of "contaminating" them.

Can someone who has never and will never share that physical experience and societal shaming, still "own" the female gender?

Yet recognising that gender is an artificial construct, it seems sensible to dismiss the binary nature that society tries to impose. Some people will feel drawn to the gender charicature inconsistent with their biological sex.

If a trans woman can share everything with me apart from those 8 bleeding years, are we the same gender? How significant is the blood?

I have spent a sizeable part of my time and energy running away from female stereotypes, the very same stereotypes that some trans women seem so keen to adopt. It's always difficult to identify with people who seem to like and value all of the things you most dislike or even despise.

If binary gender is an artificial construct, the whole idea of there being a definition of a"real" woman is a nonsense. There are people. People have different charcteristics. Most of us have a combination of characteristics that could be defined as male or female characteristics which may or may not coincide with our biological sex.

We are gentle. We are aggressive. Sometimes we flip from one to the other. We remain the same person, but our characteristics, our self-expression changes with time and circumstances.

It's also important to recognise that there can be any number of differences among self-identified trans women. The category has broadened over time to encompass biologically born male individuals who have not and do not intend to modify their bodies, and who in some cases do not live permanently as women, but alternate between male and female identities. We are all so wonderfully complex individuals.

Status as women can be based on a combination of performative declarations, a simple self identification as a woman, and surface features of ‘gender presentation’ like the names used and the clothes worn.

It's possible to invoke the ‘trans women are women’ principle: if you identify as female then you are female, and should be treated as such by others. Is it then transphobic to question the presence of people with openly displayed male sexual organs in spaces like communal female changing rooms, or for lesbian women to refuse to recognise those people as potential sexual partners?

Confusing.

Clearly trans women are not identical to cis-women. But then my experience as a cis woman living in the developed world is vastly different to that of a Nepalese cis-woman bannished to the outskirts of the village every month of her most active life. My life is vastly different to my orthodox Jewish friend living a couple of houses away who has to be careful who and what she touches for a sizeable part of the month for fear of contamination , who travels to the mikveh or ritual bath once a month to make herself clean.

Gender remains an artificial binary construct. Trans women have a lot more in common with a cis woman than they do with cis men. They are more like me, than the other binary gender definition commonly available. & clearly it is simply polite to identify people with the pronouns of their choice.

Is that enough or do we need to find a more fluid gender definition for all of us?

Our ideas about gender and biological sex are still evolving

Tue, 01/19/2016 - 15:27

Thanks to all for their extremely interesting and thoughtful commentary. For me, it's unsettling still to be hearing whispers from the ghost of Sigmund Freud, who once declared: 'Anatomy is destiny'. He seems to have meant that one's physical traits determination one's personality. In 2016 it's being argued that anatomy plus chromosomes forever determine one's biological sex (and/or true gender?).

There is still obviously so much horrific discrimination against women in the world. But the world is evolving, and now there are battle lines being drawn about who really counts as a female. There are girls born without a uterus or vagina, but who are raised as girls and have female genitalia and chromosomes. They cannot menstruate or bear children, yet I don't think that most women would exclude them from their company because they have no womb. But there are also persons born with female-appearing external genitalia but internal male sex organs, raised as girls and feeling themselves to be women. What acceptance for these human beings, what assumptions about their 'true' sex and gender? Who will step forward to say that these wombless persons are not 'biological women' and must therefore be excluded from womankind, or placed in some outlying gender of their own?

As a Buddhist teacher once said, how we treat anybody is how we treat everybody. I would only hope that as these complex questions of gender and identity keep evolving, we too will evolve in the direction of ever-increasing tolerance, compassion, and wisdom.

My Darling NLH. As always, you did it again.

Tue, 01/19/2016 - 15:35

At some point perhaps we can all become sexual in whatever way we choose. However upon more reflection, I tend to beliieve bleeding really does define women. You gave the perfect example with your Jewish neighbor. I also agree we need to become more gender fluid.
Back in the seventies we called gender a "sex role." That's when I set out to try them all and decided I was happiest being a woman. Again I repeat: Women are the first sex. We have more genetic material, our brains work better, we can access our emotions and we can give birth. Although Patrick will ask for equality and its the best social option, women are far from being equal today. My personal opinion says that's because men really do suspect we are the stonger sex. Relax! Men can have a vacation from abusing power while we clean up our planet assuming it's not too late.

Oy vay iz mir!

Tue, 01/19/2016 - 16:01

Betty, you know I love you but you did it again too. : )  I mean the 'You're not better, WE'RE better!' thing. We have GOT to destroy sexism and all vestiges of discrimination against women. We're heading in that direction, even though it may take centuries to achieve that true state of equality. But establishing a new theoretical hierarchy, with women at the top instead of men, won't get us there. What gives me hope is that we really are, very gradually, becoming a more compassionate society. When I was in college, I would never have believed that a majority of Americans would support gay and lesbian marriage. It's now a fact. So there really is hope for equality and universal acceptance. I look forward to societies evolving more and more, to the point when a person's humanity and character are all we really need to know about them.

Menstruation

Tue, 01/19/2016 - 17:28

I think NLH is a little too shrill in her characterisation of western society's attitude to menstruation, at least as far as Australia is concerned.  In the '70s I was part of the sexual revolution that changed many attitudes, and certainly menstruation came out from under the covers.  I left for Oz, so I don't have experience of what has happened in the U.K.

But in Oz it was and is largely a non-issue.  A few years ago I was at a workshop where a man lamented that his partner wouldn't have sex when she was menstruating "because it was messy", and a woman piped up and said "she should learn one of the many uses of towels - me, I want sex more then, maybe because I know I won't get pregnant".  It reminded me of the wonderful anti-rape film 'Baise-Moi' (widely banned because it shows real sex, not the pretend version) where one of the characters is sitting in the bath with a small pool of menstrual blood under her hips and says about menstruating how she used to stain everything to 'piss her mom off' and she says "Shit, it makes me wanna fuck".

I'm not going to the main issue of trans women, but characterising attitudes to menstruation and menstrual products as no-go areas is wrong in Oz.  This is a country where a prime time science program 'Catalyst' last year devoted an entire program to the clitoris and it's true extensive structure (Betty has cause for pride that her message is getting across), where there is open debate about whether there should be sales tax on menstrual products (not 'sanitary' products, there's nothing unsanitary about menstruation!) - if the absurd and outdated British notions about menstruation persist, it just makes me glad I left.  I'm probably labouring the point, but where once a woman was referred to as 'having her period' now we generally use something like 'when a woman is menstruating'.  Healthier!

D

Words

Tue, 01/19/2016 - 19:03

Words are not just important, they are vital.  If like most people you think in words, if you don't have a word for something, you can't think it, and if you do have a word your thoughts are coloured by that word's associations. George Orwell knew this - the Ministry of Love makes war, but love has good connotations, so war is good!

My partner has just been reading this chain of posts, and makes a point and asks a question: Firstly, she says I make too much when I criticise the use of the phrase 'sanitary product'. I disagree, razor blades and toothbrushes are sanitary in the main sense of being sterile when sold, so why aren't they 'sanitary products'? No, I think the connotation is that menstruation is unsanitary and needs these items to make it sanitary.  Secondly, she queries the use of the Q in LGBTQ.  If it's an abbreviation for 'queer' then in Oz only a member of the LGBTI (I = intersex) would ever use it in a non-derogatory way. One of the community might refer to themselves or another LGB as 'queer' with positive connotations, but uttered by someone outside that community it is extremely derogatory.

One of the things that so much attracted me to this site when I first found it was its use of direct language.  Elsewhere I wrote "Tolkien disliked allegory in all its forms, I dislike euphemisms. If you find my language offensive, I refer you to Peter Fryer's book 'Mrs Grundy: Studies in English Prudery' where you will find very many ways of not calling a cunt a cunt, and you should put this book down now". It was so refreshing to find a site that 'told it like it really is'.

Words?

Wed, 01/20/2016 - 16:35

Davryn,
This is obviously off the original topic by some way now but I'm a bit confused by your post re: words. Has someone on the site suggested that your language is offensive or just your partner when she was reading your post?

I hadn't taken offence with the language. Obviously, as a woman I do have a higher pitched voice but I'm assuming that your word "shrill" just meant that you found my written words too strong or forceful. Shrill is a word that isn't often used to describe strong and forceful comments by men, especially written comments, but I hadn't really thought anything of it until your post about the significance of words and how you value them -  obviously it can be difficult to get the "tone" of written words.

If you dislike euphemisms then replacing "sanitary" products with menstrual products seems sensible enough, though not common usage for me in the UK.

The comparison of razor blades and tampons is an interesting one especially as an argument that both might be considered "sanitary products". Ofcourse that might require them to be treated and priced equally whether marketed to men or women. In the UK razors are exempt sales tax (VAT) wheras tampons are not. Bizarrely pink razors (usually sold with a picture of legs rather than beards) are usually more expensive in the UK even with the same tax.

Even in idyllic Oz, an extra sales tax of 10% (or so?) is applied to menstrual products.

(Sanitary Pads - Still a 'Luxury Item' in Australia!)

Clearing up Australian menstrual blood is still a luxury where as cleaning up Australian semen in condoms is apparently essential and tax free. There was a petition (about 90,000 signatures) to exempt menstrual products last year but it seems to have failed to gain traction in the Australian legislature.

Do you think menstruation is a non-issue in Oz because there was a discussion about it, even though nothing changed financially as a result? It's great to talk, but I'd prefer the money.

Your partner's point re: acronyms is interesting. Maybe the usage is changing and obviously a lot depends on context. In the UK at least LBGTQ is still commonly used. None of the individual words are intrinsically offensive though I'm sure all have been used as taunts over the years. It's obviously polite to use the words people choose for themselves.

The most complete acronym I've come across so far is QUILTBAG, which breaks down as Questioning/Queer, Undecided, Intersex, Lesbian, Trans, Bi, Asexual and Gay.

It seems to reflect an increasing awareness of both sexuality, gender and biological sex as more of a spectrum than binary experience which is where my beliefs take me, and brings us back to the original post somewhat.

Equality?

Wed, 01/20/2016 - 13:58

Patrick,

Do we want equality or do we want liberation? It seems that increasingly what we need is to liberate both men and women from a way of looking at the world and each other that really doesn't work anymore, for either men, women, gay, straight and all other glorious variations on the theme of human.

Maybe its just rolling back to the themes of the 70s, but only if we can start to see each other as people, with our sexuality, our gender no more significant than the colour of our eyes or hair (and perhaps equally subject to change) can equality be achieved.

It was much easier to have sex in the seventies.

Wed, 01/20/2016 - 15:52

We were mostly just SEXUAL. Indivisuals who had favorite things we liked to do with others. A lot of that was due to sharing sex in a group with everyone nude which didn't signal any sexual preferences. Such sweet memories.

Words again

Wed, 01/20/2016 - 18:42

Sorry NLH if I in any way offended you, I didn't mean to, I did say "a little too shrill" - just a little! What I meant was that it sounded like in the UK this is still a hot topic which hides behind euphemisms. You are quite right that in Oz tampons and menstrual pads are a 'luxury item' and subject to tax, whereas condoms are medical items and not subject to tax at POS. This is totally wrong and it's a matter of regret that the petition was not successful. My point was that this whole issue just doesn't seem to be very emotionally loaded in Oz anymore. I had a chat with one of our polllies recently, and inter alia I made the point that he should use the term 'menstrual products' not 'sanitary products'. I expected at the least that I would have to explain why, but I was surprised when he just said "you are quite right, I'll remember that, and I'll pass it on". In fact he made the observation that the use of the word 'sanitary' implied that these products "correct an unsanitary condition, and that's obviously wrong". That's an illustration of what I mean when I say we seem to have left some of past prejudices and euphemisms behind. We make progress albeit slowly.

I've never been censored for my use of direct non-euphemistic language on this site, and certainly not by my partner either, who is very direct in her language. But I have encounted it elsewhere. Just as an example of how sexist standards pervade our culture, the ABC national broadcaster put to air a 'Four Corners' documentary program about the Health Services Union corruption saga, Kathy Jackson (ex-head of the HSU) and Michael Lawlor QC, and captioned some bits of conversation that were hard to hear. They quite happily captioned the word 'fucking' (used as an epithet) several times but captioned "he's a c***" and actually 'beeped' the word 'cunt' which they obviously thought was going too far. I mean, what the fuck is going on! This episode is available at iview.abc.net.au, go down to 'Four Corners', and right arrow to 'Jackson and Lawlor: Inside the Eye of the Storm'. it's well worth watching as it suggests what can happen to a 'whistleblower' if they expose corruption, also of course it also demonstrates that sexist censorship sometimes infects our normally very correct and non-sexist broadcaster. I've told the ABC my opinion of what they've done.

My message was that whenever we use a word it brings with itself connotations, and we need to be very aware of this.  After an unsuccessful 'spill' motion against him in February 2115 our unlamented ex-Prime Minister Tony Abbot said "good government starts today" which immediately caused the Opposition to ask "If good government starts today, what have you been doing for the last 564 days?". It's one of the reasons he is an ex-PM.

Innate sexism sometimes exposes itself not so much by the words we use but by the baggage they bring with them, and if we use, say, a common term so we have clarity, but don't agree with its connotations, we should say that's what we are doing. Something as simple as 'the rather sexist term X' or similar.

I'm reminded of that Eric Burdon number where he sings 'But I'm just a soul whose intentions are good, Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood'.

David

NLH - Just a bit abt me

Wed, 01/20/2016 - 23:19

I'm sorry to use this post to talk personal things, but I don't see any other way.  Before I left for Oz at the ripe age of 23, I lived in Church End Finchley, and at that time our local member was Margaret Thatcher otherwise known as 'the milk snatcher'. In a sea of conservatives (the vicar was next door, stock broker directly across the road, banker his neighbour, etc) ours was the only house Labor red in a sea of blue.

But I must say we had a good rapport with our neighbours.  Whilst I left for Oz (I married an Aussie woman who needed to go home, London was 'killing her' - her GP's words, not mine) and I am an Oz enthuist, this is a trans national fight, and we must be consistent and get it right, and be careful what we say lest it is misinterpreted and used against us.

For the record, and for your use if you wish, here's my email address if you want to talk outside this forum: davryndjv823@gmail.com. I'll wear (and block) the spam if there is any. I just don't think this is the right place to communicate if we're not talking sex ed.  

Geez, I so love this site and all its members. Wonderful, it's a bit of sanity in an insane world.

David

Liberation or 'equality'?

Thu, 01/21/2016 - 00:56

NLH,

Your final sentence is just what I was getting at when I wrote that I hope our species evolves 'to the point when a person's humanity and character are all we really need to know about them'. I very much agree with you that we need to be liberated from the old, dysfunctional ways of thinking. But they pre-date us by thousands of years, and we have a long way to go.

We're not going to have literal 'equality' until the world is populated by seven billion genetically identical clones. But I certainly believe that we need equality under the law and equality of opportunity. Yes, and a truly egalitarian social system too, free of hierarchies that confer any privileges whatsoever based on appearance, gender, sex, wealth, ethnic origin, or any other artificial and arbitrary criteria. That's obviously nothing like what we have today. We're SO stuck in a hierarchical mode of thinking---that some class of human beings, typically the one we belong to ourselves, is intrinsically more deserving that all the others. That mode of dividing the world could take a very long time to change. 

 So I agree with you, I believe. We should do all we can this very day to treat everyone we encounter with decency and compassion, and a sincere attempt to see their equal worthiness and unique individuality---regardless of any externals that society falsely tells us should define them. And, of course, we are all worthy of extending the same kindness to ourselves.

bi

Thu, 01/21/2016 - 03:22

I think I agree with what Patrick says. But I put it in personal terms. My ex-partner was bi, and so is my current one, but in very different ways. My ex was extremely well known in the LGBTI community, and she was somewhat predatory. Looking back, I suspect she wanted and needed her behaviour to be seen. My current partner is 'bi' in a very diffferent way; she has a house-mate whose family took her in at the age of 14 after she couldn't stand her father's rants any longer - even the 7th Day Adventist church banned him from preaching - and T's family formally adopted her. They have been together, T and A ever since. I know they share a bed in the beautiful apartment they have bought together, and there is no way I would ever disrupt that beautiful relationship, so I never stay over with A. We talk a lot, often on the 'phone and we have really great sex, but I won't risk coming between her and T.

So, what I am saying here is, beware labels like 'bi', it is a catch phrase that ostensibly identifies a person's orientation, but in fact it doesn't. My partner just loves deeply the woman she has been with for well over 30 years, and they share everything, including sexual pleasure. My ex-partner and A couldn't be further apart!

Me, I am 'straight', whatever that means. I've been there and tried same-sex, many years ago, it just wasn't me, it didn't work for me, but many of my friends in Adelaide were LGB, and one was trans. I count them as my friends, and there's one thing I learned - don't categorise. From the limped wristed overtly gay, to my rather muscular, tall and imposing friend, secretary of a Liberal branch (he always refers to their endorsed canditate Christopher P, now a cabinet minister in the Turnbull govt, as Cwistopher, because he was propositioned by him), there's such a spectrum.  So whilst we may be talking about equality, equal rights (including gay marriage) and use terms like 'gay' or 'lesbian' let's remember we are categorising, and no individual ever should be labelled. As a shorthand, yes, but for an individual, never

A is extremely anti-religious and I am sharing a house with a couple who are both pastors in the 'Redeemed Christian Church of God' (RCCG). It's a very welcome respite from the chaos of previous years, but I think my conversion is very unlikely! What stands out in my mind is when I told pastor Sunny why I wouldn't stay overnight at A's place because I won't come between her and T, after a few moments he said "so they're lesbians?". I'm proud that I said "I'm not sure what that means". Categorisation again.

David

a really funny 'queer' story

Thu, 01/21/2016 - 03:45

When my partner saw what I have posted, she said I should tell you the story of Chistopher, who at the age of 14 screwed up his courage and went to his mum and said "this is pretty hard for me, but mum, I am gay". His mother responded "I know, so am I, but don't tell your father". Well it took my breath away, what abt yours? Then I couldn't stop laughing as I thought about Christopher, and how much it courage his initial aproach must have cost him.. but the answer, pure comedy!

NLH - We Need to Laugh

Thu, 01/21/2016 - 04:16

Ok, if we agree to shove the acronymns, what are we going to use in their stead? Personally I would rather talk about individuals than broad stereopes. The narrower of these terms seems to be leading the field - masculine steriotype. Bugger that (yes, I know what it means, but WTF - and yes I have a sense of humour too, too long watching Monty Python probably). What we all need is a good belly laugh, followed by a really good orgasm (where are you A?).

Sexism and ignorance are countered here, but we should also have humour, lest we get obsessive.

David,

I said I would and I did

Thu, 01/21/2016 - 05:30

The is the email I sent to the ABC:
I am disgusted.  In the Four Corners episode about Jackson and Lawlor, you saw fit to caption 'fucking' several times, but you captioned 'cunt' as 'c***', and beeped the word 'cunt' out. Why? WTF is your standard? I'll send my complaint to not just you but every serious site in the world if you don't answer in 48 hours.  As for now, I'll watch my InBox, but I won't  watch you bastards until I get a reply and an apology for your misogyny.

For what it is worth my opinion is that whoever did this needs re-education, or the sack.  Choose if you want to.

David.

Misogynism in the ABC

Thu, 01/21/2016 - 05:22

It realy makes me sick that I have to post my complant online. Truly, I feel bad.  This is 2016, and 'cunt' has to be beeped out? Oh, lots been done, but there's so much to do.

What In The Hell

Thu, 01/21/2016 - 05:59
Ali-Sun (not verified)

Carlin, Betty, CDowner:  

I read the piece and comments and my head is swimming.  Tangerine is a fascinating piece of cinema, from a cultural standpoint and also from a production standpoint.  I agree that the movie, as art is wont to do, contains some content and portrays some interactions and dynamics that are unsavory.  Off to a poor start with the bizarre tangerine metaphor from the notoriously crackpot Wikipedia..but that was nothing.

The author goes on to balk at the vociferous demands of women who are trans to be included in spaces for women (what a fucking crazy idea, right??) and then fully clarifies her position by referencing trans women as "women." The author is dangerously underinformed about trans issues - for example, the extreme risk of life and limb the simple act of using a restroom can be for a trans woman. To be snide about these "women" is hate speech, please do not misunderstand it as anything else because as the sky is blue, it is not anything else.
I agree with the author that the movie's plot plays out the gender heirarchy. We all agree that men treat women- trans and otherwise- like crap and it is untenable. I can't take much issue with those middle paragraphs because they are too murky other than the use of a favorite vocabulary word, "mollify."

But to top this POS off with the author's advice (!!!!) to women who are trans that they Back Off My Gender Go Find Your Own...I am in literal shock. Author, my advice at this point is to find it in yourself to move into a phase of NOT TALKING and rather LISTENING.  At this point frankly you are saying things that are dangerous and you are causing suffering from your ignorance.  It is a very heavy thing to confront but it's where you are.
I don't even know what the fuck the ending of the piece was.

Shock continued into the comments, where Carlin made the *unbelievable* decision to measure and qualify the suffering of trans women. Aside from stating true and relevant facts about persisting oppression of women in all areas - employment, reproductive health etc etc- a hetero cis woman explaining the sources and qualities of discrimination against trans women is preposterous.  I respect you Carlin but that is absolutely preposterous.

Betty gets a pass because her contributions and intellectual honesty in most all of what she does overrides her occasional lapses in the context of a much-changed culture (ie, making fun of gross fat people on her old post about her cruise but generally being body-positive). At the end of the day she takes the most practical position and I respect the shit out of that.
Look, it can be fatal and terrible to be trans.  The concept of actively excluding trans women, similar to the past marginalization of non-white, poor and lesbian women (and, call me crazy, but sex-positive and porn-positive women too? Hmm??) is completely anathema to the concept of feminism.  "But this is different, trans women are different and we'll all be better off if we can establish that"  Bullshit.  It's not different, it's hate in a new context that you are not yet realizing as such.  Please think on it.

I'm Back For More!

Thu, 01/21/2016 - 06:38
Ali-Sun (not verified)

I want to complement my other comment  with a link to a Bitch Media article that does a better job than I of addressing the grave error of transphobia and transmisogyny among feminists. https://bitchmedia.org/post/trans-women-are-women-why-do-we-have-to-keep...)
It is titled, of course, "Trans Women Are Women - Why Do We HAve To Keep Saying This?"

The article recalls the transexclusionism of 70s and 80s feminists and acknowledges the self-correction of icons like Steinem after she was educated about trans experiences.
"This is classic transphobia: a cis person believing their gender identity allows them to define "true" gender identities. It’s saying: I have a uterus, and—despite you and all of your forms of hard-won legal ID saying you're female—I make the rules."
"Another trope among second-wave feminists' right to exclude trans women is the notion of residual "male privilege." 

"The idea of trans women's theoretical "male privilege" becomes even more distasteful when one considers trans women like Islan Nettles, and those like her, who are murdered simply because of her gender identity."

It's all in there.

Still Confused

Sat, 01/23/2016 - 12:18

Ali-Sun
When a black woman tells me, a cis white woman, that her self-identity, her life experience has been defined by the colour of her skin, then I need to listen, to hear what she has to say and to try to push through my own privilege and try to understand what she's sharing with me.

When a cis woman tells a trans woman that her self identity, her life experience has been defined by her uterus, her reproductive system, puberty, menstruation, childbirth or childlessness, by menopause then surely the same courtesy needs to be extended.

Clearly, women can be cis or trans, gay or straight, any colour, size and shape. We all have different stories to tell, and it is not at all phobic or even unusual to want to tell our own stories.

Carlin's post was telling her own story, her own life experience as a woman and there's nothing wrong with that. It's a story that most cis women can recognise. It's a true story.

Trans women are not the same as cis women. White women are not the same as women of colour. Women living in the developing world are not the same as those of us privileged enough to live in the wealthy developed regions.

It has to be okay to be different.

Our struggles are not your struggles, so therefore . . .?

Sat, 01/23/2016 - 16:00

We all tend to identify with people whom we perceive to be 'like us'. We tend to disidentify with people whom we perceive to be fundamentally different. It seems that relatively few cis women can find much common ground with trans women. Trans women, so the thinking seems to go, simply haven't been through the same struggles as cis women; although trans women's struggles are also formidable, they're not the same struggles. Therefore . . . what? Where do people of good will go from here, and how can everyone's legitimate voices be heard? And perhaps in the end, there is only humanity, and the real struggle is how to extend inclusive compassion to everyone, without exception.

Thank you,

Sun, 01/24/2016 - 09:02

Thank you, NorthLondonHousewife, for hearing me.  I want equality for all BUT what I resent that trans women have leaped frogged over cis-gendered women with society acknowledging their discrimination and redressing it legally, qualifying as a suspect class under the Constitution.

When are we going to acknowledge that women are the "niggers of the world"?  When are we going to acknowledge that our world system is built upon the blood, sweat and tears of women?  As long as states can deny women abortions - EVEN TO SAVE THEIR OWN LIVES - with the consent of the Supreme Court - I'll stand fighting for cis-gendered women's rights.  If you deny trans women hormones, they won't die.  That's a big fucking difference.

And don't get me started on birth  control.  It's hard to get - 87% of US counties don't have clinics - and expensive.  Until cis-gendered women are acknowledged as sexual beings with the right to have consequence-free sex, I don't give a rats ass about trans women being able to turn their dicks into vaginas.   When insurance covers abortion, then I won't be bitter that insurance covers hormone treatments and sex reassignment surgeries. 

Unless you menstruate you don't fucking get it.

Where will cis women and trans women be 500 years from now?

Sun, 01/24/2016 - 13:15

We cannot trivialize what history has done to women. Women have fought too hard, and been through too much, and still have so far to go . . . All of this is true. Nothing is more natural than women continuing to fight for self-determination in their own way. And yet it seems to me that there is something very troubling in the discord over integrating trans women. In some quarters, trans women are clearly seen as faux-women---unwelcome, genetically male intruders who are trying to lay claim to the female experience without having paid any dues. Trans women, it's implied, have not earned the right to be considered as women, nor can they truly understand women, therefore they should cease and desist with their troublesome claims to BE women and just---go away and found their own gender or something. Have the decency to segregate themselves, in other words, as the article urges. No one wants to sound so harsh so it's seldom phrased so starkly, but this may not be far from some people's attitudes.

These issues are complex and difficult. In fact, I think it's possible for more than one group to be in the right at the same time, with truly legitimate but seemingly irreconcilable points of view. It's going to be up to cis women to decide, over the coming centuries, whether they are ever going to invite trans women to sit at their table as sisters. And it will be up to trans women to continue to fight for self-determination as they conceive it. I trust that in the end, as we evolve out of all forms of discrimination and our common humanity becomes more important than our apparent differences, compassion and good will shall prevail.

Trans woman are woman! And at risk of more violence

Sun, 01/24/2016 - 20:12
Leo.Star (not verified)

Ali-sun i'm glad someone here is talking sense, these comments from Carlin are absolutely heartbreaking. Carlin you say transwomen won't die if they don't get hormones or surgery, that is just not true! 1.because dysphoria can be debilitating and trans people often commit suicide while on waiting lists  for treatment  , and 2.because trans women experience so much more violence and homelessness and familial and social rejection than ciswomen. I suggest you do your homework and read Janet Mock's memoir. I still agree that reproductive rights in the US are appalling, but that doesn't mean you should trample other people who have managed to get their cause furthered a little. 

Agreed

Mon, 01/25/2016 - 13:09

Leo,
Everyone on this post has agreed that trans women are women. Everyone has agreed that transition is difficult on many levels, made more so by societal pressures, through discrimination and prejudice.

 I do wish we could spend less time being outraged or heartbroken and more time listening and trying to understand each others stories.

Living in the States, unable to access free and safe contraception and abortion whilst simultaneously being kept ignorant of basic sex ed. and beaten up by society for being fertile should make everyone angry, trans and cis, gay, straight and gloriously human.

Reproduction fundamentally shapes cis women's lives around the world.

It has to be okay for us to be different. It has to be okay for cis women to prioritise their own battles.

Agree with cautions

Mon, 01/25/2016 - 18:47

NLH, as I said I very much agree that cis women are in charge of determining their own battles, which are many and urgent and which you and Carlin have described so succinctly. However, while cdowner does refer to trans 'women' in her piece, she qualifies this term rather severely. Judging by her article, trans women perhaps more properly ought to be called 'Transwomen'---a group quite distinct from cis women, so different that cdowner believes they ought to be placed in a third gender all their own. Whatever else her view may be, it could hardly be called open-armed acceptance. Rather than meeting with a variety of actual trans women to hear their stories directly, cdowner watched a fictional film with transgender women characters and drew extremely negative conclusions from it, as if it were a documentary that was the last word on what trans women are really like. Cdowner has as much right to her opinions as anyone else, and transgender issues are still young and evolving. Many of us are still confused and undecided about how to respond to these difficult questions. But until we hear directly from trans women themselves, we have heard only part of the human story behind these issues.

Film Review

Tue, 01/26/2016 - 04:36

Patrick,
Ofcourse it's only a film review by cdowner. Mostly it highlighted the misogyny of the piece, by both the male characters and the transwomen and how it reinforces more traditional, stereotypical gender roles.

It would perhaps have been clearer if she'd written " On the basis of this film....Trans women will do better" if indeed that's what she meant. It is how I read the review originally but you're right, it could just be her opinion dressed up with a film review.

Most of the subsequent comments to the original post speak to the broader issues of inclusion, rather than the review itself.

This site has always been a place where trans women are supported and their voices heard and I'm sure it will continue as such.

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