Whipping Girl

the blog with the trans feminine touch!


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I agree. I've always felt the umbrella term of transgender allows for cis and transsexual people to retain their own identities while carving out a space for non-traditional gender identities.

Refering to your comments about transsexual in relation to medical context. I can see, as you pointed out, how some take the word as being pathologizing. Referring to transsexual as strictly a medical term denies any cultural, historical, personal significance.

-ashley altadonna-

ps. Did you ever get a chance to check out my film?
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hi Ashley, good to hear from you! I've been meaning to email you for a while but haven't quite gotten to it (sorry about that). Anyway, I very much enjoyed your film! I'll email you back-channel about it later today...

and happy new year! -j.
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Julia, you are rad.

Also, I had to tell you, the whole "womyn" thing bugs me, because it implies that those outside the traditional "women" aren't quite "women" at all, and I had this idea of "peopyl" and how you would make "polypropylpeopylene" when they got together...

Anyway! Happy New Year!
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hi Cheryl, happy new year to you too!

regarding womyn: what I meant was that I can understand why that originally caught on. feminists back then were just trying to talk about women in ways that didn't rely on male definitions. I can see how at the time alternately-spelled versions of "woman" would be very empowering. But I completely with you that it has turned into a sort of female-superiority thing, where self-proclaimed womyn-born-womyn arrogantly look down upon so-called male-identified women (i.e., heterosexual, bisexual, feminine, femme, butch and transsexual women).

also, i have to say that polypropylpeopylene makes the science geek in me all warm and fuzzy...-j.
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Interesting - I haven't really thought about the womyn thing, not being in the activist/front-edge of feminism, I only caught on to the knowing of the "womyn" word AFTER the empowerment and during the afterslosh. The timeline is something I haven't thought about.

Question then: In 2004 at Nats they had a women's open mic for all "self-identified women." This bugged me, as if folks were less women because they "only self-identified" as such, and I spent the whole summer "self-identifying" as Asian with Jaylee and Mesej. What do you think of the "self-identified" label? Inclusive, or disrespectful?

Maybe it's too soon to not have "womyn" who "self-identify as female." But there is an exclusivity in the inclusivity that bugs.
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Re: polypropylpeopylene

hi Cheryl,

So “self-identified women” is meant to be trans-inclusive language. It arose because of the fact that people who are determined not to allow women like myself in their event can always point to *something* “male” about me (my genitals, chromosomes, appearance, socialization, etc.) and say that it disqualifies me from participating in a women’s event or space. Policies based on self-identification are favored by many trans folks and allies because they are respectful of trans people’s lived and identitied sex, and they do not require one to have had specific procedures or surgeries (which many trans folks cannot afford).

Your initial reaction to the word “self-identified” is common. It sounds like someone can just claim to “identify” as a woman without having had the experience of being treated as one. Despite the fact that this seems to be a giant loophole that can easily be abused, in all of my time working on this issue, I have never once heard of a nontrans man doing this. Whether this is out of respect, or a fear that claiming to be female would be emasculating in some way, I am not sure.

In my experience, the only (or overwhelming majority) of people who take advantage of the “self-identify” loophole are trans men (i.e., a female-to-male transsexuals) who wish to partake in women’s (and especially dyke) spaces. . Granted, not all trans men do this (not by a long shot) but some do. I find this problematic for a number of reasons as I discussed the following two posts:

http://transgroupblog.blogspot.com/2007/06/having-it-both-ways.html

http://www.juliaserano.com/frustration.html#original

Anyway, personally, if there is going to be some kind of criteria to police women’s spaces/events, I prefer to have them be open to all people who *live* as women - that is, who navigate their way through the world as women on a daily basis. This would be inclusive of trans women, but not include people who now move through the world as men (e.g., trans men).

That’s just my two cents...
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I like the "live as women" vs. "self-identify," because it places the identity on the lived experience rather than, to my feeling, insulting all kinds of folks by implying that they are women only in their imaginations.

Language is an important thing!
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Re: polypropylpeopylene

"Anyway, personally, if there is going to be some kind of criteria to police women’s spaces/events, I prefer to have them be open to all people who *live* as women"

While I agree fully, wouldn't there be some sort of problem when it comes to ts women who can pass vs. those who can't? I assume (based on my own hunches, not really anything I've ever seen) that lots of cisgendered women would feel less anxious around transwomen who can pass well-regardless of genitals-whereas even if a post op transwoman publicly and very vocally self indentifies as female, if she doesn't pass well, then I think you're always going to get snide comments about men invading women's space, men in dresses, blah blah blah.

Amanda
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Re: polypropylpeopylene

hi Amanda,

By "live as women", I mean anyone who identifies as, presents as and/or moves through the world as a woman on a daily basis. In the case of trans women, some will "pass" as non-trans women, while others will not. The fact that some trans women are "read" as trans or as "men in a dresses" does not negate the fact that they live as women. In my mind, it is similar to the issue of butch women: just because a woman is mistaken for being a man, that doesn't negate the fact that she lives & identifies as a woman, and she still has the right to participate in women's spaces & events regardless of how others perceive her.

I totally agree with what you're saying about "passing" being an issue. But it is already an issue even in spaces based upon self-identifying as a woman. Sadly, anyone who others perceive as "looking like a man" (whether they be a trans woman or a butch non-trans woman) will continue to have such problems so long as people feel entitled to non-consensually assign genders to other people...

thanks for the reply! -julia
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