New women's pharmacy in Vancouver...excludes trans women.

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oldgoat

Transgender issues is an area about which I know little, and haven't had much exposure.  I'm guessing there's not a huge amount of either learned or lived experience on the board here, so I hope people could keep their minds open.

 

Two weeks ago I was supposed to do a training with a  guy named Hershel Russell, who's supposed to be very good with this sort of thing, and I regret it was postponed 'til Oct. due to lack of interest on the part of my colleages.  This is disappointing.

Maysie Maysie's picture

I just found this blog, TransGriot. Today's post fits perfectly into our conversation: "Cisgender is not an insult"

ennir

Thanks Maysie, I had not heard the term cis-gendered before and appreciate knowing, also for the excellent link.

I wish we had more acceptance of diversity, I wish our society was open enough to accept trans-gendered people.  I suspect there are many who live their lives without ever being able to acknowledge that they are trans-gendered because of fear of discrimination.

As to pharmacies, I don't frequent them and will withhold my comments regarding them.

cps

FWIW, when I knew and worked with the women involved in WAVAW (years ago now) they were indeed trans-inclusive and stood as a more inclusive, albeit smaller alternative to RR.  In my mind, the inclusion of trans women in rape shelter and counselling is super important as by my understanding suffer a high degree of sexualized violence. 

I think the issue is not that women are being told that they are not able to define and create a women only space, but rather which women are getting to make these decisions.  Of course, this only holds water if you understand that trans women are real, authentic women and not merely a crude reiteration of a Tom Hanks sitcom from the 80's. 

 

pookie

Maysie wrote:

I just found this blog, TransGriot. Today's post fits perfectly into our conversation: "Cisgender is not an insult"

 

IE won't open this page for me for some reason.  Tried on two computers. Could someone supply the gist of the post?

RosaL

From the blog Maysie linked:

Quote:

It means that from the time you were born until this point today in your lives, you were not only comfortable in your  gender  identity-body matchup, you are comfortable with the societal gender role you perform based on that body to  the point that  you hardly ever think about it.

 

Well, this is part of the problem for me. I have been uncomfortable with the societal gender role I have been supposed to perform based on my  body for as long as I can remember. I have been acutely aware of it - that is, I have thought about it - almost every day of my life for as long as I remember.

It seems to me that we need to critique societal gender roles. I have this suspicion that discomfort with the body one is born in may be discomfort with the way the society one is born in defines that body (or persons with that body). I question whether the best response to this discomfort is to change your body (or gender-identity), in effect affirming societal definitions of what it means to be a person with this or that kind of body (or gender-identity).

Unionist

pookie wrote:

IE won't open this page for me for some reason.  Tried on two computers. Could someone supply the gist of the post?

Get a new computer! Meanwhile here's the gist:

Quote:
It's been a hot topic lately on some transgender blogs, so it's time for me to weigh in with my thoughts on the word 'cisgender'.

So what is 'cisgender'?

It's a term coined around 1994 by Dutch transman Carl Buijs that refers to the alignment of gender identity with your physical body.

In other words, it is the opposite of transgender, in which there is a mismatch between your body and the gender identity housed in your brain.

So why do some peeps have a problem with it?

I believe the people having a problem with the word are walling in unacknowledged cisgender privilege. They are taken aback that there is a trans community term coined by trans people to describe them.

That throws them for a loop and they get upset because in their minds, they are the 'normal' people and as such, are the only people who get to define 'others', not the other way around.

Shoot, all you have to do is look at the comment fields on my Bilerico posts and elsewhere around the Net to see how many peeps get upset and call me 'racist' over the 'vanilla flavored privileged' term I used to describe white privilege.

Come to think of it, they call me 'racist' anytime I criticize the underlying structural assumptions that buttress whiteness.

But getting back to our current discussion.

Cisgender is a neutral term that doesn't have the negative accumulated baggage of being used to 'other' or used as a rallying cry by the Forces of Intolerance to oppress someone's human rights rights like trans has.

There are no people being made the butt of societal jokes because they are cisgender. There's no 'cisgender panic defense'. There's no one being denied a job because they are cisgender. There's no one being killed because of folks hating on you for being cisgender. There's no Cisgender Day Of Remembrance.

I repeat, cisgender means your body and the gender identity housed between your ears is comfortably aligned, nothing more, nothing less.

It means that from the time you were born until this point today in your lives, you were not only comfortable in your gender identity-body matchup, you are comfortable with the societal gender role you perform based on that body to the point that you hardly ever think about it.

If we're going to make the point that being transgender is an everyday biological/medical/social condition, we had to have some word in the vocabulary that describes most of the people walking Planet Earth who are not trans.

It's the same concept that underpins why gay people call non-gays 'straight'.

So why are y'all tripping, cisgender people? Cisgender isn't an insult.

Ghislaine

RosaL, thank you for the questions you asked above and your honesty. I don't want to offend and am grappling with this issue as well.

What if one does not agree with "societal gender norms" as they are constructed? (These are different in various societies as well and aren't really defined on that blog.)

I don't and I definitely don't conform to them. I think a lot of forces within society do try and get people to conform to unrealistic and sexist gender roles. Is physically changing one's body through surgery and hormones to conform to these roles the best option? Do counsellors in this field advise clients that a man or woman does not have to conform?

ETA: I also resent the notion that one is a particular gender "between their ears". Misogynists have been using the whole male brain/female brain thing to discout women's abilities for freaking centuries. It is a myth.

Maysie Maysie's picture

I'd like to continue this drift, as I'm finding it quite helpful and educational for me.

Some people who are transgender identify with the sex/gender that they were not born as, therefore reiterating the gender binary system. Not so shockingly, these folks have received the most praise within the mainstream medical model, as even though they are "gender dysmorphic" [icky psychobabble, sorry] they are "at least" conforming to gender as we know it. 

Some people who are transgender, do not identify as any known gender. If any of you have read some of the pages of the Bornstein book you will see that her argument is that there are multitudes of genders. Multitudes both in the world, and for some, throughout their lifespans.

Statistically, most people are cis-gendered. Just like most people are heterosexual. How would we ever know how many more people could be/are transgendered if we didn't have such rigid and violent methods to keep people in line, the gender line that is? It's an interesting thought to ponder, something I think a lot about in terms of sexual orientation in the same ways. 

martin dufresne

RosaL wrote: I have been uncomfortable with the societal gender role I have been supposed to perform based on my body for as long as I can remember

 

Ditto. I know very few people, men or women, myself included, who have always experienced such comfort.

OTOH, I know an extraordinary number of people who have "at some point not conformed to gender norms", which seems to be a widely accepted criterion of who can call hirself transgender, a label used to "pursue anti-discrimination legislation."

It is not for me to pass judgment on what people do with their body - indeed, this may be a non-issue as many transgenders demur from sex reassignment surgery -, but it is hard not to interpret an expression that casts such a wide net as scuttling the possibility of women-only spaces.

These are complex issues, calling for community-building and difficult decisions, and everyone loses out when we treat people with either name-calling or blanket assertions about their alleged lack of awareness and/or education.

 

spatrioter

Xtra:

Quote:
On Jul 11, trans activists protested the policies of a new Vancouver pharmacy that only serves women born women. The Vancouver Women's Health Collective, the group running Lu's: A Pharmacy for Women, says it does not have the expertise to serve trans women. Trans activists say that policy is discriminatory.

Link includes video report.

Unionist

It's a really moving video report, actually. It shows how people who are oppressed and trying to emancipate themselves are motivated to be in unity, even though the oppressive society puts barriers in their way. Maybe they'll find a space to agree on this issue.

 

Unionist

Ok, so I was moved, and you weren't. Let the war continue, then.

 

martin dufresne

Hmmm... Is it really that simple? For instance, what role is "the oppressive society" playing here? I doubt you mean that it is giving plenty of airtime to a public attack on a feminist organization attempting to provide an essential service to DTES women, possibly the most disadvantaged and dispossessed in Canada... 

I think we can recognize that oppressed groups may not and should not always be marshalled into "unity" over and above their principles, that feminist agency and principles such as freedom of association are entitled to resist pressure tactics, even couched in sweet talk about "opening one's heart".

 

Kaspar Hauser

The freedom of association argument doesn't stand up to ethical scrutiny, since it seems little more than an excuse to discriminate against trans women--a group of women who are, in the Downtown Eastside, certainly among the most marginalized women in Canada. "Freedom of association" is a right that has historically been abused to allow businesses and other organizations to discriminate against Blacks, gays, First Nations people, etc. In this sense, excluding trans women from a women's only pharmacy is a betrayal of the deepest principles of feminism.

martin dufresne

Let the war continue, then.

Acknowledging it's a war may well be a necessary first step. Then we can identify its extent, agents, ideology, methods... Women's spaces and resources have been under attack - and successfully too - in a lot of places. On both of Montreal's Anglo university campuses, for instance, women's centres fell long ago, the very category being replaced by post-mo doodlings in gender posturing, to phrase it less than diplomatically.

 

 

 

Kaspar Hauser

Jesus, Martin, do you realize how contemptuously you're dismissing the needs, suffering, and marginalization of trans women?  When you wrote that "the very category (I'm assuming the category you're referring to is "woman") being replaced by post-mo doodlings in gender posturing, to phrase it less than diplomatically," did you realize that you were dismissing the entire phenomenon of transexualism and the impact it has on the lives of those who experience it? If this doesn't qualify as "transphobic", I don't know what does.

 

martin dufresne

Sorry, we're past the guilting stage. Look at what was actually, not rhetorically, dismissed here: essential women's resources, not a "phenomenon", that is in no way reducible to what now goes on at McGill and Concordia, after having used one group's needs against another's instead of creating an additional resource.

Kaspar Hauser

Okay, maybe I misread you. For the sake of clarity: Do you believe that transexualism is a patriarchal plot to infringe on women's rights? Furthermore, do you believe that trans women are women, or do you believe that they are men, or do you believe that they're neither men nor women?

martin dufresne

Answer to 1)  No.

Answer to 2) I would never presume to generalize in such a manner. Read Maysie's post #60 for a wider perspective.

A question for you: What are you calling a "trans woman"? The issues are just more complex than the moral posturing we have been treated to by the WHC's opponents.

 

Kaspar Hauser

Okay, so maybe you could clarify what you meant when you compared transexualism to "post-mo doodlings in gender posturing" and when, in the context of discussing transgender issues, you wrote that "Acknowledging it's a war may well be a necessary first step. Then we can identify its extent, agents, ideology, methods... Women's spaces and resources have been under attack - and successfully too - in a lot of places." I'm having a hard time reconciling these statements with the answers you gave in your reply to my questions. It certainly seems like you're dismissing transexualism and that you're describing it as part of an orchestrated attack on women's rights. Frankly, it seems that you're saying 2 + 2, and then denying that you said 4.

 

As for your question: I call someone a trans woman if that person identifies as a trans woman, the same way I call anyone gay who identifies as gay, and anyone First Nations who identifies as First Nations. In an intensely patriarchal culture such as our own, and given the horrific social costs that come from self-identification as a trans woman, I'm not terribly worried about a transgendered fifth column. 

 

I was romantically involved with a trans woman some time ago, Martin, and I've seen what our society does to trans women. The "rhetoric" that you're employing is part of a cultural narrative that has devastating consequences for such women.

Kaspar Hauser

So what were you referring to when you used the phrase "post-mo doodlings in gender posturing"?

And I hope you were being sarcastic about self-identification. Bernie Farber does NOT self-identify as gay: he wore a t-shirt as part of a homophobic joke. Or are you suggesting that there are a statistically significant number of people who inaccurately self-identify as gay?  Do you believe that there is some sort of social advantage that a person could obtain by misrepresenting herself as a trans woman, or that a person could obtain by misrepresenting himself as a gay man? 

Finally, it's been a bone of contention among many First Nations people that self-identification as being a First Nations person is NOT the criteria used to determine who is a First Nations person.  The history of the Indian Act is one of artificially deflating the number of "status Indians" by refusing to consider self-identification as being in any way legitimate.

martin dufresne

Well, you were right, you did misread me.

...when you compared transexualism to "post-mo doodlings in gender posturing"...

I didn't.

...in the context of discussing transgender issues, you wrote that "Acknowledging it's a war may well be a necessary first step...

You are the one spinning the context - the current assault on the WHC - as a "discussion of transgender issues". I am referring to the political confrontation of feminists.

 

I call someone a trans woman if that person identifies as a trans woman, the same way I call anyone gay who identifies as gay

Bernie Farber included?Wink
, and anyone First Nations who identifies as First Nations.
I am sure that FN folks can point out better than myself the problems with that contention.
You are not saying it outright, but your position leads to acknowledging as a woman anyone who self-identifies as such, as one of WHC's critics demands in the video.
This to point out that it is inaccurate to claim, as does the OP, that the WHC "specifically excluded trans women".

Boze

Quote:
It seems to me that we need to critique societal gender roles. I have this suspicion that discomfort with the body one is born in may be discomfort with the way the society one is born in defines that body (or persons with that body). I question whether the best response to this discomfort is to change your body (or gender-identity), in effect affirming societal definitions of what it means to be a person with this or that kind of body (or gender-identity).

 

Nobody gives a hoot whether cis people think trans people ought to be changing their bodies or not. You don't know anything about what it's like to be trans.

 

In matters of identity politics we must take people's stated identities at face value, or we are oppressors.

Unionist

Boze wrote:

Quote:
It seems to me that we need to critique societal gender roles. I have this suspicion that discomfort with the body one is born in may be discomfort with the way the society one is born in defines that body (or persons with that body). I question whether the best response to this discomfort is to change your body (or gender-identity), in effect affirming societal definitions of what it means to be a person with this or that kind of body (or gender-identity).

 

Nobody gives a hoot whether cis people think trans people ought to be changing their bodies or not. You don't know anything about what it's like to be trans.

 

In matters of identity politics we must take people's stated identities at face value, or we are oppressors.

I think, Boze, RosaL is talking about her own gender identity issues (read her paragraph that you didn't quote), and she has posted in the past about her own and other autistic persons' struggle with societal expectations about gender. You may not like her views, but I think they deserve respect.

 

Boze

If that's true, then I'm sorry RosaL, but that isn't how I read it.  A common criticism levelled at trans people is that by transitioning they are affirming rather than deconstructing gender roles.

martin dufresne

I am surprised that people seem ready to disbelieve a priori the Women's Health Collective's explanation that they don't feel they have the capacity or the competence to serve transgenders.

The following comment from a Montreal feminist professional, specializing in women's health issues, seems to validate that concern:

""Women born and staying as women" have correctly blasted the use of HT (or HRT) for menopause, etc., but I've yet to see anyone asking about the real risks to trans folks re THEIR really heavy use of hormones: the "individual choice to take risks" is the likely response, but health may be being really messed up and there are no data on which to evaluate just what the risks may, or may not, be."

This is not to knock transgenders in any way, but to explain that - according to my contact's expertise - they apparently need highly specialized counseling and follow-up when it comes to drug therapy, something a regular pharmacist may well feel or be unable to provide. Is not taking this constraint into account really serving their interests?

 

Kaspar Hauser

No, what this shows is that trans women's needs are being consciously disregarded by organizations that would rather exclude trans women than obtain the required expertise to serve them. This seems to be an explicit choice to deny trans women their self-identified gender identity, and is therefore transphobic.

 

Would you accept this rationale for excluding any other group of women who had complex medical needs from necessary services?

 

And, since you seem to have missed it when I asked the question the first time, I'll ask it again: What were you referring to when you used the phrase "post-mo doodlings in gender posturing"?

Snert Snert's picture

Quote:
 they apparently need highly specialized counseling and follow-up when it comes to drug therapy, something a regular pharmacist may well feel or be unable to provide.

 

And they — transwomen — don't know this? And need a pharmacy to deny them service because they can't make their own decisions regarding health care?

 

And yes, honestly, I do have a hard time believing that the "real" reason is because they cannot serve transwomen adequately and cannot trust transwomen themselves to understand this.

 

Me, I think it's got more to do with the penis, or remnants of one.

contrarianna

martin dufresne wrote:

....

""Women born and staying as women" have correctly blasted the use of HT (or HRT) for menopause, etc., but I've yet to see anyone asking about the real risks to trans folks re THEIR really heavy use of hormones: the "individual choice to take risks" is the likely response, but health may be being really messed up and there are no data on which to evaluate just what the risks may, or may not, be."

This is not to knock transgenders in any way, ....

There is no source or context for your quote but as it is, it is nonsense.

If one accepts the transgendering process at all--rather than in some politically advantageous lip service--the use of fairly radical hormone realignment is absolutely an integral part of it, risk or not.
To suggest to a transdgendering person, who feels deeply that their essential nature is of the other gender, that they are making some whimsical "individual choice ito take risks" in transgendering is, at best, insensitive and very demeaning.

 

 

Ze

[url=http://www.xtra.ca/public/National/Trans_activists_protest_womenonly_pha... coverage.[/url]

The comments are interesting reading.

Snert Snert's picture

Quote:
You are not saying it outright, but your position leads to acknowledging as a woman anyone who self-identifies as such, as one of WHC's critics demands in the video.

 

What a fascinating "slippery slope" argument.

If Lu's allows transwomen then they "have to" allow ANYONE who can utter the words "I'm a woman"... it could be Larry Flynt or Mike Tyson or Andrew Dice Clay... doesn't matter, so long as they say the special phrase.

 

What an incredibly insulting non-argument.

Very reminiscent of the argument that if we start letting men marry men and women marry women the we're also obligated to allow men to marry cutlery, or five women to marry a stop sign. A stupid and desperate argument.

Ghislaine

yes snert and it is an argument that martin repeated over in the Xtra thread on the issue.

martin dufresne

Sure, confront homophobia and transphobia whenever, I just disagree that what the WHC is doing when it acknowledges its limits but nevertheless wants to help DTES women amounts to that. I don't buy your straw men about myself either.

As to what I called a cockfight - and I didn't invent the term - it's the kind of yes-you-do/no-I don't snarky interaction we had slipped into yesterday. And I am not repeating that. Have the last word if you want.

Kaspar Hauser

Do you see the problem here, Martin? By your logic, it's simply impossible for trans women to be recognized as women.  Given that trans women self-identify as women...that the whole phenomenon of being a trans woman includes a need to be recognized as a woman...what you're doing is treating trans women either as a kind of third sex or--what is more likely, given your "post-mo doodlings in gender posturing" comment--as imposters.  So, no, you do not see trans women as women: the prefix "trans" seems, for you, to mean "fake".  This alone is evidence of transphobia, but then you take it one step further to argue, in effect, that any attempt that trans women might make to be included in services for women must be interpreted as a patriarchal attack on those services. You are generalizing from the experience of the women's centres on Montreal's anglo campuses to reject the ethical claims made by trans women on any and all women's services.  

Now, regarding your "cockfight" reference: again, I once had a lover who was a trans woman, and this experience sensitized me to the profound oppression that trans women experience in our society.  When I see blatant displays of transphobia on babble, I'm going to say something about it, in the same way that you, Mr. Dufrense, will likely respond to blatant displays of misogyny on babble, even if those displays are in the feminist forum.

martin dufresne

I wrote: "your position leads to acknowledging as a woman anyone who self-identifies as such"

Snert cut loose with too-predictable insults and attempted to ridicule my summation.

The argument isn't mine, it is that of Kimberly Nixon in the video linked above. She says: "Inclusiveness ahould be based on how we self-identify. And gender identity is as real as sex orientation or race or anything... anything."

Now look at the context: The issue of people trying to crash a women's pharmacy is not whether they are to be acknowledged as trans women - as Michael wrote - but whether they are to be acknowledged as women.

So, this is about acknowledging as a woman anyone who identifies as such.

 

Michael, I didn't answer one of your questions because you were turning our exchange into a rapid-fire series of rhetorical questions. Also, the question seemed disingenuous, and I felt my attempts at answering your questions were disregarded, and made the exchange seem like a male cockfight, something that has often been deplored by women - and rightly so - when it happened in the feminist thread. I think that my moving back allowed more interesting points by women to surface and I intend to maintain that distance from now on.

But if you really want an answer, you will find it in post #66. I was explicitly referring to what replaced women's centres on Montreal's anglo campusses after the coup that shut them down. I expected you wouldn't like my characterization of that, but do you know anything at all about those specific situations? I assure you they are very thinly related to the phenomenon of transexualism and have more to do with hostility toward feminist analysis and the notion of resources dedicated to women. Obtaining and maintaining those has always been an uphill battle, especially, alas, within lefty circles.

 

contrarianna, I think you are misreading my contact's comment. She was not being normative when she alluded to that "individual right to take risks", but quoting the standard and predictable response of some transgender rights advocates to professional concerns about the need for extra-specialized care around HRT, and this only because I imagine she has come across this line from some of them time and time again in her own practice.

And no, you are not getting a source. Some professionals don't take well to unfocussed abuse from anonymous hecklers, so I don't think she owes you anymore than you are putting out. 

 (back-edited for accuracy)

Boze

They're not acknowledging any limit.  There's no reason they can't fill a trans woman's hormone prescription.  99% of a trans woman's pharmaceutical needs could be met by that pharmacy.  It's about transphobia.  It's about exclusion.  "All women...except these ones."  It doesn't matter if they think they're being transphobic or cissexist or not.  Cisgendered people do not get to decide what constitutes transphobia or cissexism.  The choice is very simple, accept trans people fully and do not exclude them or be labelled transphobic.  They have chosen the latter and that's their choice to make and yes they deserve to be dragged through the mud for it.

 

Lots of people didn't fully and unequivocally support same sex marriage and didn't think they deserved to be called homophobic for it.  "I have nothing against gay people" isn't enough.  Straight people don't get to decide what's homophobic.

Lee Lakeman

I write to add my voice of congratulations to the Women's Health Collective for achieving their goal of a women only pharmacy as part of their libratory work.  Obviously that service will bring women to them who can then be put in contact with women's groups and other women's services.  It will allow for another site of the accumulation of womens information and knowlege about our bodies much as anti-violence services have been.  Perhaps less obviously it should be understood as a victory against the pharmaceutical and the for profit health industry And that is consisitent with the analysis of the collective of women who operate it

The Vancouver Women's Health Collective in one of the longest operating second wave women's groups and has often been innovative and wholistic in its fight against patriarchy and for the advancement of women.  Anti physchiatry, reproductive rights, anti capitalism, anti-consumerism have been a big part of their herstory

Just a word of caution to this discussion group: your references to Rape Relief and Womens' Shelter and that case have been wildly off the mark on several occasions. 

Rape Relief never did make any arguement about a grand definition of women.  This feminist anti-violence group did reject the right of shrinks doctors and judges and other patriarchal forces to define it.  VRRWS insisted on our right to define and organize themselves including controlling their membership as a political group. 

VRRWS did not attack anyone or take anyone to court but did exercise a right to defend themselves from a court based complaint imposed by Kimberly Nixon that the group was being discriminatory by not giving Kimberly what Kimberly demanded.  Kimberly went to the state to make the demand that she be granted access to our group and she had a full hearing from the court that she chose and she lost the case.  The court upheld that as a political group with a genuine mission to advance women we were entitled to defend the group of women we chose to fight for and with.  Through that process Kimberly had public funding for her legal costs

Rape Relief had to raise the defense funds themselves.  While continuing the main work they had to sustain that legal defense over ten years in the court in the press and in the alternate press.  Luckily for us, other feminists and profeminist men saw the importance of the case and came to aid VRRWS with legal work and solidarity.  VEry few independent community based politcal groups could have survived.  The case has been used by many to defend themselves since including aboriginal groups threatened by white spremacy.

I might add that in the first round of the case VRR lost and chose to pay immediately the several thoushand dollars that first judge thought Kimberly deserved.  (They could have withheld that pending an appeal but know that is often a cheating way to win a court battle, to bankrupt the other side) Since the superior court reversed the decision of the lower court that money has not been returned by Kimberly to the rightful coffers of our womens' group. 

No one in our group is transphobic (afraid of or hateful toward transexual or transgendered folk) whether the effort is to transition from male to female or female to male.  (On this list you do not seem to consider the two groups as distinct) VRRWS are on the public record as advocating for services and politcal support for those who wish to wear what they want and love who they want and those who wish to transition sex or and gender or to live as though they had. It is more than clear that transexuals and transgedered folk need protection from violent men.  Hence the practice of putting both male to female and female to male prisoners in the so called womens' prisons; not that that is acceptable.  There is no doubt that male to female transexuals suffer rape

Nor did VRRWS argue to the court that they consider a simple gender binary scheme.  In fact the arguement offered by the feminist lawyers was that gender exists on a continuum. 

We simply argued that we are a political group committed to the fight against the patriarchal forces that affect women from birth to death and that those who are treated as girls and women from birth share a set of experiences that constitute a particular oppression.  We argued that we ([email protected]) use those experiences to construct our support work, analysis and our strategies. 

I was not part of the original incident but I was part of constructing those legal arguments and I was present for every day of the case.  Most of the documents from the case are on our website if you are actually interested in referencing us again.  www.rapereliefshelter.bc.ca

Once again the feminists, in this case the Health collective women who are simply doing a good politcal job of fighting for the release of the patriarchal control over womens' bodies are being accused and slandered with both misinformation and questionable argument.  A few corrections: Wavaw women for instance have not agreed to be part of anything yet.  Women's bodies are undeniably different from men's bodies in many and varied ways that science recognizes and uses in selecting for instance who can be part of research projects.  The VWHC has bullied no one but is in fact being bullied daily so much so that they are having to construct self defense strategies just as we did.

The Vancouver Womens' Health Collective does not need the permission or agreement of this list to legitimize itself as a feminist tacit but it sure would be nice if it got some political respect and alliance.

This is not a fight about who is a woman for what purpose someone should be considered one.  This is a fight against patriarchy launched by groups of women who self organise, define themselves and their struggle.  There is nothing wrong with that tactically, legally morally or politically

Thank you to those of you who have been struggling to understand and who have risked supporting the independent women's movement

 

 

Ghislaine

Michael Nenonen wrote:

  Given that trans women self-identify as women...that the whole phenomenon of being a trans woman includes a need to be recognized as a woman...what you're doing is treating trans women either as a kind of third sex or--what is more likely, given your "post-mo doodlings in gender posturing" comment--as imposters. 

When I was taking women studies about 8 years ago, I was taught that trans people are a 3rd, 4th or even 5th gender. Gender dichotomy is a false dichotomy and many cultures throughout history have recognized more than two genders. So, I don't think it is transphobic to recognize more than two genders, it is trans-positive.

Here is a question: Would [url=http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article64681... this pregnant "man" [/url] be allowed into Lu's? Is he to be considered a third gender, a woman or a man just because he self-identifies as such? If he is to be considered 100% man, that means that men can get pregnant and men now have a right o abortion and a right to speak on this issue with authority.

Refuge Refuge's picture

Boze wrote:

They're not acknowledging any limit.  There's no reason they can't fill a trans woman's hormone prescription.  99% of a trans woman's pharmaceutical needs could be met by that pharmacy. 

The pharmacy doesn't just offer prescription filling. From what the article states it offers couselling around medical issues and questions about body functioning and other areas as well as support groups for various womens issues and a lending library to research medical issues specific to womens medical issues.  The artile is written by a women who is trans gendered and wishes to have access to all the services not just the prescription services.

If they were to include both women born cis gendered and women born trans gendered all of these areas would need to be addressed within the pharmacy / clinic, not just say "okay women who are trans gendered can now have there prescriptions filled, but that's it!"

 One of those support groups may be a support group for abuse or rape survivors which as has been stated in this thread is complicated issue (one of which I have not opinion right now because I haven't learned enough about it).  But those decisions would have to be made as well in terms of which services they have access to and which they do not.

Refuge Refuge's picture

Ghislaine wrote:

When I was taking women studies about 8 years ago, I was taught that trans people are a 3rd, 4th or even 5th gender. Gender dichotomy is a false dichotomy and many cultures throughout history have recognized more than two genders. So, I don't think it is transphobic to recognize more than two genders, it is trans-positive.

I met a women who is trans gendered.  She did not think of herself as a 3rd gender, she thought of herself as a women, so I think in her case it would be transphobic to call her a third gender.  I did see an interview with man who was transgendered and he believed himself to be a third gender that was not either male or female but did appear more male than femal in day to day life so he identified as a male for society.  It would not be transphobic to identify him as a third gender.

edited to add: To me saying that gender dichotomy is a false dichotomy would be like telling a feminist they can't identify as a woman feminist because there really is no such thing as male or female.  We are not talking the ultimate level here, we are talking on a conventional level where people are identified and identify themselves as male or female for various roles including feminist.  We have to allow people to identify as male and female if that is the role that they choose to take on for part of their identity so that they can live in a conventional reality.

Snert Snert's picture

Quote:

Lots of people didn't fully and unequivocally support same sex marriage and didn't think they deserved to be called homophobic for it.  "I have nothing against gay people" isn't enough.  Straight people don't get to decide what's homophobic.

 

This discussion reminds me a lot of the discussions around equal marriage. Lots and lots of rationalizations for why it maybe wasn't a good thing right now, and lots and lots of people insisting that some of their best friends are gay, and that they have nothing against homosexuality, they just don't feel comfortable with the idea of two men marrying. Lots of people who really wanted to stick to their old assumptions like dogshit to a sneaker, and we were all supposed to "give them room" because they "weren't there yet".

 

I don't believe I've ever encountered a person who had "doubts" about equal marriage, no matter how well rationalized, who didn't also give off a strong whiff of disapproval and impatience at the whole idea.

 

Quote:

So, this is about acknowledging as a woman anyone who identifies as such.

 

 

No it's not. It's about THE SKY FALLING!! If Lu's were to let in a transwoman who'd been living as a woman for 20 years then they would HAVE TO let in any frat boy who can say "I'm a woman too!!".

 

That's your argument. I'm not insulting you by pointing it out. You're insulting yourself by sticking to it.

 

You've gotta get past the (former) penis, Martin. I know that penises leave a taint wherever they go, but open your heart. Forgive the penises and move on.

Infosaturated

Terri Webb, a male to female transsexual who had sex reassignment surgery and an activist for 10 years, came to the conclusion that every  transsexual he has met is misguided and wanted to be other than they are so badly that they convinced themselves that they actually are other than what they were born.  Terri had these same feelings from the age of six so we are not talking about someone who came to a belated conclusion that they were really female. Terri had the surgery at the age of 40 so we are not talking about someone who made a hasty decision that they later regreted.  As an activist for many years I don't think it can be claimed that Terri is ignorant of the issues either.  Terri describes her activism as an attempt to get others to legitimize her fantasy. 

Do I have to agree with Terri because she has personal experience as a trans-gendered individual?  Am I "transphobic" if I don't agree with her?

http://www.womensspace.org/phpBB2/2007/08/21/criticism-of-gender-theory-...
(concerning Dr. Bailey)
"In his book, he argued that some people born male who want to cross genders are driven primarily by an erotic fascination with themselves as women. This idea runs counter to the belief, held by many men who decide to live as women, that they are the victims of a biological mistake — in essence, women trapped in men’s bodies. …

Other scientists praised the book as a compelling explanation of the science. The Lambda Literary Foundation, an organization that promotes gay, bisexual and transgender literature, nominated the book for an award. (*later rescinded)"

"Dr. Dreger is the latest to arrive at the battlefront. She is a longtime advocate for people born with ambiguous sexuality and has been strongly critical of sex researchers in the past. She said she had presumed that Dr. Bailey was guilty and, after meeting him through a mutual friend, had decided to investigate for herself.

But in her just-completed account, due to be published next year in The Archives of Sexual Behavior, the field’s premier journal, she concluded that the accusations against the psychologist were essentially groundless. "

He was attacked through having his views compared to Nazi propaganda and had his children's pictures, with sexually explicit captions, posted on an internet site. 

"He said that friends and family supported him but that some colleagues were afraid to speak up in his defense."

The actions of Andrea James and Lynn Conway are indefensible. Disagreeing with someone's viewpoint does no make it okay to persecute them and try to destroy their lives and even attack their children, not even to Lynn and Andrea despite their disgusting behavior.  The same type of attitude is beginning to appear typical of radical transgendered people and their supporters. There is an attempt to manipulate language and paint anyone who disagrees with them as transphobic. Anyone who disagrees is "attacking" them and "hurting them" and making places "emotionally unsafe" for them therefore we must accept their definition of "woman". Any woman who dares disagree is expressing privilege no different than patriarchal privilege so is now behaving like a man.  There is no room to express disagreement.  No man has any right to try to intimidate me into silence no matter how convinced he is that he should have been born with female body parts.

What we are all dancing around is the question: are people born with female body parts the same as people born with male body parts who think they should have been born with female body parts.  My answer is no, we are not the same.  Women only spaces were not created based on who gender identifies as a woman they were created for people born with female body parts.  Trying to redefine the term "woman" doesn't change that. Calling people who don't agree with you transphobic doesn't change that.  It's just an attempt at bullying and playing with words to get your way in order to force women to redefine ourselves to include people born with male body parts. If I don't agree that "woman" is based on gender-identity not physical body parts then I'm going to be framed as transphobic or privileged.  That's bullying.

Throughout history women have been discriminated against based on the body parts we were born with, not our gender-identity.  What we have in common is being born with female body parts.  Women are born with female body parts not created through cosmetic surgery and hormones.  Female body parts = female, male body parts = male.  Being born with both means being intersexed. It is the gender roles forced on us due to the body parts we are born with that are wrong.  Gender identifying as a woman doesn't make someone female it just means they wish they were. It is just as much my right to express that point of view as it is the right of transgendered persons to disagree. My viewpoint does not make me "transphobic" anymore than the viewpoint of transgendered make them women-haters although I do wonder.

Infosaturated

 

 

Snert wrote:
This discussion reminds me a lot of the discussions around equal marriage. Lots and lots of rationalizations for why it maybe wasn't a good thing right now, and lots and lots of people insisting that some of their best friends are gay, and that they have nothing against homosexuality, they just don't feel comfortable with the idea of two men marrying. Lots of people who really wanted to stick to their old assumptions like dogshit to a sneaker, and we were all supposed to "give them room" because they "weren't there yet".

That it reminds you of it doesn't make it a valid comparison.  Marriage is a behavior and a legal contract.  Being born with female body parts is a reality not a behavior.  The missing women of South Asia and China are not missing due to their gender identity.  The women in Afghanistan are not condemned to live in burkas based on their gender identity. 

 

remind remind's picture

Thanks for  posts,  Infosaturated and Lee Lakeman. Infosaturated excellent link much much to think about there.

Sineed

martin dufresne wrote:

The following comment from a Montreal feminist professional, specializing in women's health issues, seems to validate that concern:

""Women born and staying as women" have correctly blasted the use of HT (or HRT) for menopause, etc., but I've yet to see anyone asking about the real risks to trans folks re THEIR really heavy use of hormones: the "individual choice to take risks" is the likely response, but health may be being really messed up and there are no data on which to evaluate just what the risks may, or may not, be."

This is not to knock transgenders in any way, but to explain that - according to my contact's expertise - they apparently need highly specialized counseling and follow-up when it comes to drug therapy, something a regular pharmacist may well feel or be unable to provide. Is not taking this constraint into account really serving their interests?

 

As a pharmacist who has dispensed hormones to transwomen, I have to say, it isn't all that hard.

When I first started serving transpeople, I didn't know much about them.  But hey, I can read.  Serving transpeople, or any other group requiring specialized care requires a desire on the part of health care providers to educate themselves (though I admit I'm far from an expert on trans medicine).

Speaking of potent and toxic drugs, I find it ironic that they don't want to dispense hormones to transwomen (perhaps for the reasons Martin has provided, thank you Martin), but they are dispensing methadone, a drug with much more immediate lethality than the theoretical risks posed by long-term hormones.

remind remind's picture
Kaspar Hauser

"Autogynephilisis." Good lord, what a brilliant pretext with which to ignore the voices of transgendered people. The eagerness with which it seems to be embraced by those who "wonder" whether the transgendered are woman haters, such as infosaturated, reminds me of the eagerness with which patriarchs gravitated to various medical and psychoanalytic theories designed to ignore the voices of women and homosexuals by reframing their dissent as pathology-driven attempts to pervert natural gender and sexual roles.

 

This isn't to say that there's nothing to this notion of autogynephelisis: there very well may be. However, this theory is clearly in its infancy, and it lends itself to a rather conservative political agenda (which includes the gender essentialism of a number of transphobic feminist organizations). It should be handled extremely carefully, and subjected to serious skepticism.

 

And the statement that "Throughout history women have been discriminated against based on the body parts we were born with, not our gender-identity" is staggeringly offensive. Patriarchal cultures aren't terribly gentle with "men" who identify themselves as, or appear to be, "women". Trans women have been persecuted with, if anything, more ferocity than have gay men. Like women born as women, trans women have typically been subjected to rape, violence, and profound discrimination. Many, many trans women are simply murdered because their very existence violates gender essentialist norms.

 

You know, this discussion reminds me of Betty Friedan's warnings about the "lavender menace" in 1969. Friedan attempted to steer mainstream feminism away from lesbian causes, which were seen to threaten the women's movement.  Friedan gave voice to the homophobia that limited the feminism of the 60s, a homophobia rooted in the notion that lesbians were somehow pathological. The same attribution of pathology is today being directed by some feminist organizations against the transgendered.

 

Again, it seems that, regardless of what we know about the mutability of gender identity and the profound variation in physical gender characteristics in our population, for many people the prefix "trans" means "fake."

 

And does it seem odd to anyone on this board that the very term "transphobia" has become an issue of contention? Infosaturated wrote, "My viewpoint does not make me 'transphobic' anymore than the viewpoint of transgendered make them women-haters although I do wonder." Let's imagine that she was criticizing the actions of gay activists and wrote, "My viewpoint does not make me 'homophobic' anymore than the viewpoint of homosexuals make them women-haters although I do wonder." Imagine if a man who was critical of feminism wrote, "My viewpoint does not make me patriarchal anymore than the viewpoint of feminists make them man-haters although I do wonder." This strikes me as being problematic, to say the least.

Tehanu

 

While I don't want to get into the throes of the debate over here, I would definitely caution about using J. Michael Bailey as a source on transsexuals. Regardless of how we might feel about some of the techniques used to attack him, his book The Man Who Would Be Queen is not "science," regardless of the subtitle ("The Science of Gender-Bending and Transsexualism"); it was not peer reviewed and Bailey himself intended it to be popular (and controversial), not academic. In fact, a lot of it is personal anecdotes.

The book was also considered deeply offensive by a wide swathe of trans people, gay men and allies. Offensive up to and including the cover. The "science" around transsexuality that he includes in it is largely based on Ray Blanchard's theories, which are very much questioned by both other psychologists, and by trans people themselves.

For people who are not familiar with Blanchard, he is at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, in their Gender Identity Clinic, diagnosing "gender identity dysphoria." For many years, this clinic acted as the gatekeeper for transsexuals who wanted to access gender reassignment surgery; without a recommendation from the Clarke, as it was then, transsexuals did not qualify for OHIP funding. Then Mike Harris came along and cut the funding anyway. (The GID program was so notorious it was known as "Jurassic Clarke"). OHIP funding has only just been restored, and the trans community is understandably concerned that CAMH is again being set up to gatekeep, although it seems the much more trans-positive Sherbourne Health Clinic is also being involved.

Anyway, Blanchard's research methods have been criticized as being fundamentally flawed. He based his work on transsexuality primarily on studying a relatively small sample of clients who entered his program, who had a vested interest in telling him what he wanted to hear, because he ALSO had the power to determine if they would qualify for surgery.

Feminists should be especially concerned about Blanchard's work, because he categorized trans women as likely to be successful if they conformed to the most egregious of gender stereotypes (submissive, very feminine, interested in traditionally female work and/or being a housewife. Seriously.)

He also is the main proponant of the term "autogynephilia" -- he classifies trans women into "homosexual transsexuals" (who transition early and are attracted to men; he doesn't think of trans women as women) or "autogynephiles" (who transition late and have an erotic fascination imagining themselves as women, and are attracted to women). If you're a trans woman attracted to women, you're not a lesbian, you have a "paraphilia." In other words, in this approach, trans people do not have identities, they are mentally ill. This is the approach of Blanchard, and Bailey is trying to popularize it. Anyone who does not fit into one of those two categories is, according to Blanchard likely lying. Lying! And he found his clients did fit into those categories. But think about it, he had immense power over his clients/research subjects, because he was not only studying them, he was approving their treatment. So if anyone was motivated to lie ... Even if you do not consider his research highly questionable in terms of ethics, you've got to concede it might produce some not very accurate results.

Needless to say, many, many trans women say they are not at all reflected in this dualistic (and, to most, offensive) model. Plenty of other gender researchers pay no attention to it. And yes, Blanchard has been extensively published, but almost completely in the Archives of Sexual Behaviour. Coincidentally, I'm sure, he's also on the editorial board. As is Michael Bailey. It was in that journal that the defence of Bailey written by Alice Dreger was published. You've got to at least wonder about conflict of interest. Kenneth Zucker is the editor; he, along with Blanchard, is involved in writing the gender identity section of the next edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, and who believes in enforcing "appropriate" gender actvities on female-acting boys, in order to "cure" them of their gender identity disorder. Sounds familiar, doesn't it? I'm sure "ex-gay" people think this is just ducky.

Anyway, quite the cozy group.

Yes, I have read Blanchard's articles in the original, and a lot of Bailey's book. As a feminist, one of the many disturbing things I find about both authors is a deep, strong undercurrent of misogyny. Anything female is, at some level, either frivolous, undesirable or contemptible. And they both are very, very much invested in reinforcing traditional gender roles. (Bailey also has some odd stuff in his book; he comes across as really sexually objectifying trans women, including having one of them on naked display for his classes.) I also find it interesting that Blanchard, and, especially, Bailey, have virtually no interest in trans men. They're invisible.

To put things in context, here are some other ... interesting ... things that Michael Bailey tells us:

- Female-acting (he says "effeminate") boys are likely to grow up to be gay men

- Gay men are generally not attracted to feminine men, lesbians are usually not attracted to masculine women

- Men either are either attracted to men, or to women, not both, most women are bisexual in sexual response

- Apparently he also said that at some point we may be able to screen for gay gene(s) so parents can choose whether or not to raise a gay child; according to his website he is still looking for a gay gene.

___________

There are a LOT of links and discussion about Bailey's book. Some are more measured than others. It's quite the interesting example of academic research ethics/academic freedom/academic integrity debate. Here is Lynn Conway's detailed review of the book as well as her investigation/attack on Bailey, versus Alice Dreger's article. Personally I'm not crazy about how the controversy was handled, because in my mind that took away from the very legitimate critiques of the actual book. But I can sure understand why people were upset by it.

Why feminists should be concerned with the impending revision of the DSM (regarding Blanchard & Zucker)

National Public Radio: Two Families Grapple with Sons' Gender Preferences (Zucker's treatment methods)

_________

Regarding the rest of this thread, I really don't want to get into a whole bunch of other stuff that's been said, because I've already posted extensively about this issue on enMasse. But I will say that there is also a long, sad history of hostility between some feminists and some trans activists. Personally, I find it dismaying there are so many stereotypes and assumptions out there about trans people, and trans people's realities, in spite of what trans people themselves tell us. As a feminist, if someone tried to contradict me about what my own personal experiences and reality were ... well, I wouldn't be all that polite in my reaction.

We are also still in very early days of research. Blanchard and Bailey represent the type of writing and research that not only transsexuals, but also all feminists, should be very wary about.

Infosaturated

Julia Serano's article in Feministing (Why feminists should be concerned with the impending revision of the DSM) is dishonest.  A very quick read from the link to Blanchard's presentation proves it.  That is not to say that I agree with Blanchard, but why is it that Bailey and Blanchard's claims cannot be refuted on their own merit.  Why is it necessary to make up stuff about them or their theories to discredit them?

Julia states:

"So, do you and your partner occasionally role-play or talk dirty to one another over the phone? Or engage in arousing play that is not intended to necessarily lead to "doing the deed"? Do you masturbate? Do you get a sexual charge from wearing a particularly sexy outfit or performing any act that falls outside of "genital stimulation or preparatory fondling"? Well, then congratulations, you can be diagnosed with a paraphilia!"

But that is a misrepresentation of Blanchard's proposal

http://individual.utoronto.ca/ray_blanchard/index_files/SSTAR_2009_Talk_...

First he states straight up that the description Julia is criticizing is incomplete as it stands and elaborates making it clear that oral sex and masturbation are not included among other things, in his definition of paraphilia... but he doesn't stop there...

"The next question is equally or more important than the general definition of paraphilia. That is, are all paraphilias ipso facto psychiatric disorders? Our subgroup is taking the position that they are not. We are proposing that the DSM-V make a distinction between paraphilias and paraphilic disorders. "

He goes on to state it is only a disorder if it causes distress and impairment after which he says:

This approach leaves intact the distinction between normative and non-normative sexual behavior, which could be important to researchers, but without automatically labeling non-normative sexual behavior as psychopathological. As with the general definition of paraphilia, we will be looking closely at feedback from multiple sources regarding this idea.

Furthermore I think the theory of "feminine essence", which is definitely not scientific, is of greater threat to the feminist movement than defining paraphilia. 

From Lynn

http://ai.eecs.umich.edu/people/conway/TS/LynnsReviewOfBaileysBook.html

Then ask yourself: Why didn't Mr. Bailey know about the thousands of women who have transitioned and now live rather normal successful lives, just as any other women do?  Why didn't he ever made any effort to study the thousands of assimilated trans women?

From Alice's site but quoted from the Bailey's book

http://www.bioethics.northwestern.edu/faculty/work/dreger/controversy_tm...

From Bailey's book:

‘‘Surely themost relevant data [on SRS] are
transsexuals’ own feelings before and after transitioning. Are
they glad they did it? By now, hundreds of transsexuals have
been followed after changing sex, and the results are clear.
Successful outcomes are much more common than unsuccessful
outcomes’’ (p. 207).

Offensive though he may be, he certainly acknowleges the appropriateness and effectiveness of SRS. Alice acknowleges that trans people have legitimate complaints about his prejudices.  She backs up everything she says with references and gives a logical accounting of the facts.  It doesn't make her right, but it certainly makes it easier to evaluate her position.  Lynn seems like she is trying to round up a lynch mob not present a coherent analysis based on facts. I am not going to go through all her links and "facts" to check which ones are accurate then try to make sense of her perspective. Lynn is a computer scientist and engineer.  Clearly she is aware of how to construct a logical argument and the importance of accuracy.

I agree that many of Bailey's statements in his book are hurtful and insulting. That doesn't mean his theories are necessarily wrong.

My point is not to claim that Bailey's or Blanchard interpretations are correct, merely to illustrate that differences of opinion exist even within the trans community itself. Some trans people agree with them. Therefore, it is not unreasonable for some women to disagree with the philosophy that trans women are just another kind of woman.  People do get to define themselves and if someone says they are a black even if they are lily white and have no evidence of any black ancestry I won't contradict them.  But if they claim the right to impose their presence at all black gatherings I would oppose that.  I would say that the people who until now have been defined as "black" are the people who get to define what it means not the people who identify as black but have no apparent black ancestry nor natural skin colour indicative of being black.  Yes I know some black people can "pass" as white but they do have black ancestry.

Likewise, women get to decide what constitutes being a woman not people who self-identify as women.  No I do not agree that trans women are "as much woman" as I am.  I don't believe that there is some "feminine essence" that makes me or anyone else a woman. I believe that "woman" means the same thing it has always meant.  People born with female body parts.  I am certainly not going to contradict people who self-identify as women and say that they don't self-identify as women that doesn't mean that I have to agree that they actually are women or be labeled "transphobic".

I really really hate it when people try to get their way through manipulation, semantics and deceit rather than reasoned argument.

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