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Miranda speaks

Reading Clare’s blog post the other day prompted me to go to Miranda Yardley’s page. The first thing I noticed is that she doesn’t at all pass which is not intended as a slur but I will get to why this might be relevant in a moment.

Miranda is a different type of trans activist in that she wants to use transgender women to broaden what it means to be a man rather than consider a transitioned woman to be a woman. This of course presumes that being a woman is strictly defined by biological sex which is not really a confirmed thing. I mean yes you are either born with a penis or a vagina (at least most people are) but how you identify has everything to do with what is between the ears.

I am on the record here as saying that transgender people should do whatever they need to deal with their dysphoria which need not involve transition but certainly can. So in the latter case why would I refer to someone who has successfully fully transitioned as a man?

It won’t surprise you that Miranda's site receives positive comments from biological sex and safe space advocates who worry about men entering women's enclaves. They cheer her on as she argues that transwomen are asking too much in trying to broaden what it means to be a woman. I would only ask her this: how are you certain that these weren’t women to begin with looking for a correction? I only need to look at Janet Mock or my friend Sherry and am absolutely certain they will never be mistaken for a man from any angle. Caryn, a frequent commenter here, tells me no one believes she is trans either.

So how do these safe space advocates know when one of them enters the ladies locker room? well obviously they don't because they are women in every way.

Which takes me back to Ms. Yardley’s appearance as possibly colouring her push to add non passing transsexuals to a list of failed men. In trying to scale back some of the excesses of some transgender extremists she wants to throw the baby out with the bath water and negate the right of womanhood to others. My only question would be where her proof lies because, in my humble opinion, to define manhood and womanhood strictly on the basis of birth sex might just be a little simplistic given everything we know today about the nature of transsexualism which is almost certainly biological in nature.

We can argue this topic on philosophical grounds all day long but in the end people need to live and work in a world where, for better or worse, gender and its recognition is important and her argumentation will only complicate life for transitioned people who only want to lead normal lives. Many of them would never be identified as transgender unless they told you.

Her argumentation will only feed into the prejudice of people who want to scale back all progress transgender people have made as a community and provide ammunition to those who do not recognize transitions under any circumstances.

I'm sorry but I prefer the term transgender woman (a term Janet Mock proudly embraces by the way) to failed man. Don't you?



Comments

  1. Whether a failed man or a failed woman, that would still make one a failed human being. How awful the thought that I would go to my grave knowing I had been a failure at being human. I am a flawed human being; that is true - both as a man and a woman. I am working hard now to be the best woman I can be, just as I worked hard to portray myself to be the best man I could be for the first five decades of my life. Much of that hard work, though, has ultimately led to me being a better person - regardless of gender. The difference that I see now is that I am much more comfortable, after allowing myself to express, rather than suppress, the woman that has always been who I am. In doing so, I feel I am also a much better person. To accept myself as a failed man would only keep myself from growing. I think Ms. Yardley's glass is more than half empty.

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    1. good analysis and agree with you

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    2. I forgot the "failed man" label she used. It's meaningless and inflammatory since there science is increasingly asserting that we're born transgender. Should we also say that intersex people are failed in some way? Or perhaps a left-handed person is a failed rightie?

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  2. I also love Clare's blog. Like you she often gives me something to think about and always includes a photo of a feminine piece of art. I look forward to one day breaking out my oils and attempting to copy one, not to deceive but to enjoy the process and learn.

    I fully agree with Clare in her first paragraph of that post: "My definition: a trans person is one who copes with their gender non-conformity by transgender behaviour up to and including transition." I suppose I'd add that there are many trans people who have non-conforming gender feelings but suppress and/or ignore them.

    I tend to ignore people like Miranda Yardley. I only have so much time and interest and don't learn or enjoy anything useful from reading her writings. There are always are and will be people like her. I have no idea where they are coming from. Sometimes I think they enjoy the attention - positive or not - and that is what their ego feeds on. I'm confident that Miranda believes what she believes but uses her platform to stir controversy and attention.

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  3. Failed man? So, someone who sets out to be a cis male, but who, despite the good fortune of having been born that way, accidentally transitions?

    All kidding aside, I will give our detractors this much: It is incumbent upon us to recognize objective reality. Most of us, at least in my experience, do. But there is indeed a contingent who will insist upon physically transitioning that they are no longer trans. That there is simply no difference, physically or experientially, between a trans woman and a cis woman. Whether this stems from delusion, desperation or a political move to gain acceptance in a culture that has for centuries only recognized a sex/gender binary, it isn't true.

    Whenever I now venture into a trans support group, someone will inevitably ask me what I'm doing there. I blend, and can live an assimilated life of low disclosure. "I'm trans," I implore, "That's not going away, and I don't want to lose touch with that part of me or my community." This not always understood, but I'm rather fond of me, and choose to celebrate all of myself. And, you know, sometimes I need support too.

    As for the using language that most clearly conveys who and what I am, I have no problem saying that I was born ostensibly reproductively male, and acknowledging that my only possible reproductive role in humanity is to beget, not bear, a child. Barring some miraculous medical breakthrough, that will be true for the remainder of my life.

    I find that once I commmunicate as much to an open-minded, but skeptical person about transsexuality, there is far less hostility to their accepting me as a woman (though that may come with how I look and how they perceive me).

    With that shared reality, it's easier to answer questions too. Just as a for instance:

    Weren't you socialized as male? I was socialized as a trans person. Told to be a boy, but identifying as a girl. Do you think the messages about female inferiority somehow bypassed my sense of self causing no social injury? I understood that both that *I* was wrongly being told *I* wasn't supposed to behave in certain ways, even as those ways were expected of me because of my bodily configuration. When I was let in on the locker room communications that objectified women, do you think I perceived no sense of threat? Trust me. I did. And do, when men (usually over 40) misbehave around me.

    Anyway, failed man? Please. First and foremost, I'm ME. I'm a trans woman. A proud and successful one. Interact with me. It's obvious, and you'll "get it."

    ;)

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  4. Very interesting piece, but there is still something I fail to understand: I have heard many people say that the definitions of "man" and "woman" are not solely sex-based (which they are obviouly not, since there is also a notion of adulthood in these terms), but rather refer to a social or a mental thing, but not femininity, obviously, because associating womanhood with femininity is sexist. Besides, you say that "how you identify is between the ears", but later on you say that transgenders could possibly be "women from the begining but looking for a correction": so, identity is between the ears, but it still has to do with modifying physical sex characteristics?

    So, what I don't understand is what clear definitions "woman" and "man" could have then. Also, I wonder what words could be used then to refer to adult (human) females (which would then include transgender men) and to adult (human) males (which would then include transgender women) as groups, if "woman" and "man" are not the appropriate terms for that.

    Thank you in advance for answering

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    1. Hi Bobby I think it is fair to say that most women are relatively feminine or fall within an acceptable range and the same applies for men in terms of masculinity. Yes there are always outliers in that identification.

      Trans women have known about this disconnect since very young although we don't know how their dysphoria originates. So in that sense the know "between the ears" that they are women or at least identify as such from early on.

      Physical sex characteristics don't make you feminine or masculine because testosterone makes you more aggressive and estrogen more passive but it doesn't guarantee one will associate with their birth sex. So again gender is how we feel about ourselves.

      For most people the definition of man and woman fall within the definition of birth sex and I am not looking to change that. I am proposing that gender role transitions be recognized and that we not call someone like Janet Mock a man because she isn't one.

      Transgender people are a tiny sliver of the population so we are not looking to overhaul everything just to afford us some elasticity so people who don't fit in with their birth sex be allowed to find new ways to live with the societal structure. Allowing someone to call themselves a transgender woman is hardly a stretch in that sense.

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  5. Hello again, thank you for answering. Though I must admit I am still confused, for several reasons.

    The first one relates to the definition itself: you say "for most people the definition of man and woman fall within the definition of birth sex and I am not looking to change that". The thing is, definitions have to be universal, because if different people start using different definitions of the same word, how are they supposed to communicate? And even if it is a minority of people who use an alternative definition, it is not a good thing, because it will ostracize them from the rest of society, bacause of that inability to communicate. So if the most commonly used definitions of man and woman are based on birth sex, then these definitions ought to be universal, and someone like Janet Mock should be called a man, as a matter of accuracy.


    The second thing that troubles me is that what you are saying about identification comes across as contradictary; please correct if I have misunderstood your answer, but this is how I understand it:
    1) most women are feminine in an "acceptable" range, although some women are not, but still identify as, and are women
    2) "trans women know about this disconnect", the disconnect being between birth sex and gender, ie: there is a disconnect when a female is masculine, or when a male is feminine, this disconnect being dysphoria.

    So, the things that trouble me here are:

    -" it is fair to say that most women are relatively feminine or fall within an acceptable range": it is one thing to acknowledge that many women are relatively feminine, it is another to define them BY that femininity (even partially): the first one is merely an observation, the second one is a sexist statement that feminists have been fighting for decades, as well as the notion that there is an "acceptable" range of femininity a woman can have.

    -how do you define femininity (and masculinity) in objective, measurable terms? Is it mannerisms? How social bonding operates? The way someone dresses? All of them together?

    -If there are "outliers", like you said, such as very masculine women, then womanhood is not defined by femininity at all, even if most women are feminine (because otherwise these masculine women should be considered trans men). In that case, how is the "disconnect" you have mentioned indicative that someone is trans, since trans men have it, but masculine women have it as well?

    -"Physical sex characteristics don't make you feminine or masculine [...], but it doesn't guarantee one will associate with their birth sex". So, now you are saying that associating with a sex is separate from masculinity and femininity, yet later you use Janet Mock as an example of "gender role transitions", so I'm confused here. Also, I don't understand the concept of "associating with one's birth sex": I assume you are referring to discomfort related to how one's body is sexed, and the person subsequently transitioning . Only, it is scientific consensus that sex change is impossible: it is possible to mimick the outward physical appearance of the other sex, but not actually BECOME of the other sex. So, regardless of whether someone associate with their birth sex (ie. has dysphoria), it does not change their sex: a male who has dysphoria is still male, and is therefore a dysphoric male; being dysphoric about one's sex does not change it.

    Sorry for the long post, this is something I'm really trying to get my head around, and I have difficulty finding answers to those questions. Thanks in advance if you answer them, though

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