Trannies! Send backup!

was the call from a steward, at a gay pride parade, when transwomen got somewhat pissed off at being told they weren’t allowed to use the women’s toilets. A transwoman was later sexually assaulted because she was given no choice but to use the men’s toilets.

Ebony Whitaker, Sanesha Stewart and Angie Zapata are all transwomen who have been murdered this year because they were transwomen. The men accused of Sanesha and Angie’s deaths are, like far too many fuckers before them, using the good old trans panic defence – “Oh, but Your Honour, the shock of finding out that an attractive woman had boy-bits, which of course must have made my attraction to her gay and ergo wrong, just sent me into a violent killing rage which is a normal, acceptable, and understandable reaction, so please let me off.”

You may recognise this as a spin-off of the gay panic defence, “Oh, but Your Honour, having someone of the same gender express attraction to me is obviously such a gross and disgusting thing that I couldn’t help but fly into a homicidal rage, and am clearly the innocent victim in this case.”

Worst thing about these “defences”? They work. Let’s face it, in a world where marshals at a FUCKING PRIDE PARADE are telling transwomen they don’t count, or they’re obviously some kind of “threat” to ciswomen (which involves a train of thought starting at “transwomen are actually still men” station, passing through “and men automatically sexually desire women” junction, and arriving at “conclusion: transwomen are just evil rapists-in-waiting who go through one hell of a lot of shit just to be able to sneak into the ladies’ loos” central. Which, um, SO WRONG), there’s clearly some big old fucking assumptions still being made about sex, gender, the significance of naughty-bits … a whole lot of things that frankly, as a society, we need to get the fuck over.

But wait! A classic trap looms. The kind of trap that has a lot of bloggers really rather annoyed. It’s the, “but I’m a feminist who wants to end the gender binary, so doesn’t my thesis logically conclude that Transpeople Are Wrong? Because if Gender Is A Construct, then a person cannot actually Identify As a gender that Is Not Actually Real, right? So transpeople … are a) deluded because There Is No Gender, and b) Betraying The Cause by buying in to the concept of gender! ZOMG TRANSFOLK ARE THE ENEMY!!!!!!”

That? Is bullshit.

1.  Telling people what they can and can’t think and feel? Obnoxious and counter-productive. Do you tell depressive people to “just snap out of it”? Has the phrase “You’ll change your mind when you get older” crossed your lips? If yes, well, for a start you’re an arrogant wanker, and query: has that ever gone well for you?

2.  You know, I can totally get onboard with the idea that in a perfect feminist utopia, there will be no gender, and people’s birth genitalia will not be considered a determiner of their behaviour nor their actual life-genitalia. It would be awesome. But, clue-by-four: we do not live in that world now. We can analyse gender, dissect gender, fight against gender divisions, but at the end of the day, people now have grown up with very clear and set concepts of sex, and gender, and behaviour. When a person with a penis says, “I’ve always felt like a woman”, they are expressing themselves in the framework all of us are using. It’s just a shiteload easier for those of us whose gender matches our birth-bits.

3.  Feminists? Making value judgements about what people can or cannot think based on their genitals? I laugh only so I do not cry/headbutt the monitor.

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8 comments

  1. Lisa Harney

    That and HRC calling police on protesters outside one of their dinners in Texas earlier this year . . . calling the police on trans people, and as we well know, the police are not kind to trans people – and jail even less so.

    Anyone who’d call the police on us for expressing nonviolent disagreement is no ally, ever.

    Also, it’s really good to know that trans women’s safety is never as important as cis women’s safety. I had heard about the whole Pride thing, but I had not heard about the woman who’d been assaulted because of the illegal, bigoted policy.

  2. Pingback: An open letter to cis feminists « bird of paradox
  3. shiva

    re 2: and even in that utopia (which is my utopia as well)… people would still need or want to transition, because that’s a fact of biology. Just like there would still be autistic people even if there were no “refrigerator mothers” (which is what this shit reminds me of).

  4. Zula

    “Oh, but Your Honour, the shock of finding out that an attractive woman had boy-bits, which of course must have made my attraction to her gay and ergo wrong, just sent me into a violent killing rage which is a normal, acceptable, and understandable reaction, so please let me off.”

    You are awesome.

    (But these parade marshall people are not.)

  5. Pingback: Roundup of Angie Zapata posts, plus Holly at Feministe: Trans Panic Defense is Often a Smokescreen « Questioning Transphobia
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