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Trans "Allies" Must Do A Better Job

dealing with dishonest opponent requires greater argumentation, not weaker

The following discussion took place on a friend's personal facebook wall after she shared a link to a blog post titled "RadFem, transphobia, and why women are not just born that way."

Forum: Private facebook wall
Date: 06/13/2012

RadFem, transphobia, and why women are not just born that way
"One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman." -Simone de Beauvoir, 1949 ?We ask that RadFem 2012 be respected as a space where women born women living as women are able to meet ...

Hmmm, "minority who feel trapped in the wrong bodies"? Besides, the statement would have been stronger if it simply stated that trans women are women and should be included in women's spaces. Her counter-points against exclusion do not address the actual rationales radfems cite for excluding trans women, which would only reinforce pro-exclusion radfems' belief that those who oppose them simply do not understand radical feminism.
June 13 at 6:39pm

Another participant wrote:

I think she actually does address the main stated rationale and does a good job of pointing out that it's rubbish - the entire notion that there is such a thing as a "woman born woman", or that it is in any way consistent with feminism to claim that such a thing exists.
June 13 at 6:43pm

Radfems know that women aren't actually born women. It's just an expression they use for lack of a better word. Negation of that phrase is just a rhetorical comeback and not a critique of their actual position. I generally don't criticize trans people for making bad arguments because I support any way members of the oppressed group manage to resist, even unproductive and counterproductive ones, but self-identified allies must do better. When they screw up, it is not they but trans people that suffer the consequences.
June 13 at 6:57pm

To radical feminists, "woman is not born" is not only compatible with trans exclusion, but is supportive of it. The Beauvoir quote can be interpreted to mean that one is not a woman because of her innate internal sense of who she is, but because of consistent upbringing from birth as a female under the patriarchy. Hence, they would argue that it is trans activists, not radfems, who are ignorant of the quote.
June 13 at 7:21pm

I personally feel that the only argument that needs to be there is that trans women are women because trans women exist. Or as feminist philosopher Naomi Scheman said it: "Transsexual lives are lived, hence livable."
June 13 at 7:55pm

To me, it's all about the point of the discussion, who one is trying to reach. I think what makes the most sense is to try to reach those who aren't actually part of the network that spreads this shit, but who might - due to their own ignorance - fall for the claims that are made, to EXPOSE hypocrisy and bigotry. If some of the bigots change their minds as a result of the exposure and shaming, good, but it shouldn't be the focus, because it's the avenue least likely to succeed.
June 13 at 8:01pm

I don't expect to change their minds simply by offering good criticism, but I don't want to make bad arguments that they can use to show how all of their critics just don't get it. I want to make arguments that are difficult for them to respond to or dismiss, not because I think it will lead them to accept my conclusion, but because that is the best way to convince people who are not in either camps yet.
June 13 at 8:07pm

The thing is that that assumes a level of intellectual honesty that simply isn't present. They're ALWAYS going to say that those who point out their antifeminism and their bigotry either "don't get it", are "misrepresenting" them, or are part of some grand conspiracy, the same things pretty much every bigot on the planet says, because there has hardly ever been a bigot who actually thinks of him or herself as a bigot (or a hypocrite, come to that). The arguments are always, canned, and they're interchangeable because all that really matters is that they can somehow rationalise the conclusion they've reached. The cyberstalking and violent incitement about critics that these reactionaries engage in without a second thought is not the mark of someone who has any intention of engaging in serious argument.
June 13 at 8:17pm

They will misrepresent and distort if they have to, and I want to force them into doing more of that, because it would make it more obvious to any observer that their whole argument is based on prejudice and bigotry. If we supply a series of bad arguments, they would only need to misrepresent slightly, which is harder for people with less understanding of the issue to catch. Good argumentation is always helpful, but we need to make even better arguments against particularly dishonest opponents.
June 13 at 8:25pm