December 17, 2009

On Gender Normativity, Privilege, and Oppression

Posted in Gender issues, Uncategorized, Women's issues tagged , , , at 11:32 am by Maggie Clark

A very thorough, engaging discussion on another post has finally led to the point where a fuller response is warranted than can be provided solely in the comment threads at hand.

The precipitous comments in question are as follows:

“If you believe in transphobia, you have to believe in cis privilege. An oppression (transphobia) does not exist if there isn’t a corresponding privilege (cis privilege). So, really, if you deny there’s cis privilege, you’re denying there’s transphobia. Because the insistence that transphobia is just sexism or just homophobia or just gender non-conformity or that it’s even some combination of the three or something else again denies all the trans people who also experience those oppressions, have considered the matter, and still say that it’s not.

Which to me seems to bounce off another comment by the same poster here:

I guess the problem I have is when people reject being straight or heterosexual so they can reject benefiting from straight/heterosexual privilege. Because, we agree that it exists right? And it exists regardless of whether the people who benefit from it identify as such or not. If you’re a woman and you are only involved sexually and romantically with men and have no interest in another gender, then you’re straight/heterosexual as far as privilege goes. In fact, one of the usual arguments about and with bi/pan people is how much or even whether they benefit from straight privilege in straight-appearing relationships. Short version: If we only allow the labeling of people who benefit from privilege with whether they identify with it, then we lose the power to talk about the privilege. If there are no straight people, how can we maintain there is straight privilege?

I’m sorry. I don’t see how they don’t mesh. Could you explain how you see them as conflicting?

I was especially thrilled with the bi/pan engagement in this latter question, because it leads quite beautifully into my response. Specifically, in the first comment the poster lumps gender-normativity on par with sexism and homophobia, against which transphobia would then also be equivalent. I’d argue that the bi/pan question especially highlights how this is not the case: in actuality, gender-normativity is the huge umbrella term under which all other gender “isms” fall. This is because when we “pass” — either as a woman who fits all society’s expectations, or as a person who performs the sexuality that fits all society’s expectations, or as a person who fits all society’s expectations of their perceived gender/sex, period — we gain benefits within the gender binary. And anyone can pass: A heterosexual gender female/sex female, a bisexual gender female/sex female, a heterosexual/bisexual gender female/sex male. When any of us do, we achieve the highest state available to us in the gender binary: “woman.”

It then bears considering what this highest state entails. In a gender binary system where society is constructed around “male” being the default gender, the answer is quite obvious: “female” is itself non-normative. (I develop this notion more thoroughly in this earlier post.) It is, however, also the one state of non-normativity deemed “acceptable” — with the boundaries of this acceptable state decided by the dominant, normative gender: namely, male. This state of non-normativity is a behaviour and action set we call “woman.” If you are sex-female, and you fit this behaviour and action set, you are a woman. What does this guarantee you? Tragically, nothing: You may be everything a woman should be, and that may still result your endurance of gross abuses, violence, and discrimination. This is because woman is non-normative, and man is normative, and man sets these rules (here in a social contract sense, as well as in an absolute sense the world over).

This will get very important momentarily. Because what a system that pressures sex females to become the best “women” they can be does provide is an expectation set. If I’m prettier, boys will be nicer to me. If I’m nice, and don’t do anything to upset them, men won’t rape/harm me. The consequences of this are far reaching: Women with these expectation sets hurt other women in an effort to vie for a status that they think will grant them the most protection in the system. Women also often call out difference in others in order to prove themselves as “better” women for this same reason. All because of a desire for gender-normativity — even if, for women, that very normativity is non-normative, and offers no guarantees. This is the survival mechanism that comes into play in a gender binary.

This desire for gender-normativity then creates even huger problems when we realize, as individuals, that while we may pass for our gender-norm, we aren’t actually gender-normative at all. This creates intense fear of being “outed” among queer persons, and I would have to infer also trans persons. If you’re able to pass, and passing means hiding a part of you, that doesn’t feel much better at all. Whether you’re a trans woman who passes, but also wishes she felt safe airing her sex-based past; or a bisexual woman who wishes she felt safe airing her sexuality in full; or even a beauty-normative person who felt much more herself thirty pounds heavier, having to conform for fear of what happens if you don’t is not healthy: it’s oppressive. This too will become important momentarily.

Because then comes the third tier — the inability to pass as gender-normative. This has advantages just as it has disadvantages. The disadvantages are obvious: If you don’t pass, you’re far more vulnerable to the worst of our male oppressive gender binary. You’re vulnerable to violence and abuse and worst of all, the fear of both. This happens to sex females who openly eschew the behaviour and action set prescribed to our sex. This happens to sex males who openly eschew the behaviour and action sets prescribed to their sex. This happens to intersex persons who are proudly, openly so. But there is a slight advantage, too, for those who do not hate themselves for being different: You know who you are, you don’t feel like a fraud. While the bisexual woman feels shame when she keeps her sexuality a secret, or the trans woman bites her lip through a conversation about trans gendered persons being perverts, the people who do not pass and who embrace that they do not pass a) do not expect to benefit in the system, b) understand that only male normative persons truly benefit from the system, and c) draw strength from setting their own standards for success and failure instead.

This is the spectrum of gender normativity in the gender binary. So with this in mind, let’s look at “oppression” and “privilege.” “Privilege” refers to a set of benefits ascribed to a group of people. Often these benefits are described as expectation sets. Clearly, if you are a gender normative woman — either by birth, by happenstance, or by hard work and personal sacrifice — you get benefits for this condition, as outlined in an expectation set (regardless of whether or not they are fulfilled). And let’s be clear that I’ve omitted “without merit” from the privilege definition because, to a person struggling to achieve gender normativity, there is clearly a sense of “merit” in its attainment: but that’s not the kind of merit we refer to, so to lessen confusion I’m leaving it out.

And so here we run into a severe and important consideration: By this understanding of “privilege,” gender normative women have benefits, too. One list of them (not entirely accurate) is available here. These are occasionally legitimate benefits: What isn’t legitimate is how they are used to refute the claim that women aren’t oppressed. What these counter lists identify, in fact, is that benefits do not determine oppression. They can’t.

What does determine oppression is who controls the make-up of those lists. Because the benefits a gender normative woman experiences (in relation to a gender normative man) and the benefits a gender normative male experiences are both decided by one, central source: male dominant gender binary society. By virtue of having a greater overall threat of force, sex males have a dominance advantage over women, and get to set the terms of their societies. This is why we see societies the world over that have varying levels of shared gender power — everything from almost equal access to and representation in the bulk of law-making and day-to-day social structures (as seen in parts of the Western and Eastern worlds), to zero permitted female access to and representation in the bulk of law-making and day-to-day social structures (as seen in Saudi Arabia) — but never female dominance in any of these structures. Because men choose to share, or don’t. Full stop.

Oppression is decided by who or what creates the benefits lists for various groups. White people create the benefit lists for other cultures, and in the process themselves, in Western civilization. Meanwhile, the male dominant gender binary creates the benefits lists for gender normative men, non-gender-normative persons who are women, and anyone who fails to fit either of these two gender classes. Anything women can achieve, in terms of an expectation set that contains some superior outcomes to males, is set by men, and in so being, in no way disrupts the gendered power flow. Power always runs one way: To man.

This brings us back to the original comments, where the poster writes:

If you believe in transphobia, you have to believe in cis privilege. An oppression (transphobia) does not exist if there isn’t a corresponding privilege (cis privilege).

This last line is key, because the jump being made is that there must be a corresponding privilege, and that that privilege must be cis privilege. This poster and I were previously talking about how I don’t use “cis” because it presumes knowledge of my inner gender, and all persons should have the right to self-identify their inner truths. In the second comment, the notion of causal cis privilege is taken in conjunction with straight privilege — even as the use of bi/pan sexuality embodies a complete refutation of its solidity as a concept, because it’s completely contingent on “passing,” not “being.”

I agree there is a privilege associated with transphobia, just as there is a privilege associated with straight persons. Just as this privilege associated with straight persons is contingent on someone passing as straight, so too is the privilege associated with transphobia associated with someone passing as non-trans, or cis. This is gender normativity privilege. This is the ability, if you pass, or seek to pass, to gain benefits from suppressing or neglecting those who cannot, or do not.

I say this with full equanimity: I do not accuse people of straight privilege anymore [ETA: automatically, I mean: obviously when they exert it in their actions I’ll point it out the same way I would a woman exploiting male privilege to oppress other women], because I know full well it’s not contingent on who you are but whether you pass, and that far too many people whose inner truths are not straight adopt this language of oppression in order to do just that. I know, personally, that I pass far too much for my own comfort: This has to do with deep-seated issues with my father that I am trying very hard to overcome. In the meantime, it means that I gain more benefits than many from a system that favours the performance of gender normativity. So I do not say any of the aforementioned to avoid mentioning those benefits I receive for this privilege.

But these benefits, and this privilege, do not amount to oppression. As I mentioned above, there are benefits for most every group, and these amount to privileges for most every group; thus, due to the ubiquity of these privilege lists, privilege cannot alone determine oppression. If both men and women have privileges, does it then follow that no one is oppressed? No. Absolutely not. Because women do not set these privilege lists. We can benefit from them, absolutely. We do, so long as we live up to the standards set externally for us; and so long as those in power do not change their minds. But even the best case scenario for female gender normativity has no guarantees — only expectations. Why? Because gender power lies with the male dominant gender binary. Men set the terms of gender normativity: therefore men also set the terms of acceptable non-gender-normativity (“woman,” with the specific behaviour and action set imbued therein), and unacceptable non-gender-normativity.

Does this give non-gender-normative men, or acceptably gender-normative women, or unacceptably non-gender-normative women, a free pass on discriminating against others, in an effort to survive in the existing male dominant gender binary? Absolutely not. Women and non-gender-normative men alike need to hold themselves severely accountable for the systemic abuses they perpetuate in an effort to survive a system set to favour gender normative males, and reward with unreliable expectation sets those women who perform gender normativity best. This means gay men don’t have a free pass on sexism. This means women don’t have a free pass on homophobia. This means sex-females don’t have a free pass on transphobia against sex-male/gender females. And this means trans women don’t have a free pass on sexism in turn.

There are horrible things done by all non-gender-normative persons in the current male dominant gender binary, out of a desire to survive, and a foolhardy expectation that if we do our best to pass we’ll minimize the threat of harm and marginalization that comes our way. These abuses need to be confronted for what they are, and from whence they stem. This means eschewing privilege wherever it’s confused with oppression, because the real oppressions are all about performing gender normativity — as the male normative, and therefore male dominant, gender binary determines this performance to be.

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72 Comments »

  1. Lisa Harney said,

    It seems to me you’re neglecting a considerable amount of privilege cis people experience over trans people, especially ignoring medical/transition-related matters and how those complicate trans people’s lives. There is institutionally enforced oppression against trans people that cis people simply do not experience, and not experiencing that oppression is a privilege.

    This is in the same way that there is institutionally enforced oppression against women that men simply do not experience, and not experiencing that oppression is a privilege.

    Cis is not a matter of telling you what you feel or experience deep inside, but a matter of who and what you are. If you can own up to the fact that you don’t have to deal with the same prejudices that trans people experience for transitioning, you can own cis privilege.

    Cis and trans are not identities (although many people identify themselves as having trans identities), but experiences, just as being being gendered as a man or a woman (cis or trans) are experiences.

    These are real oppressions.

    • maggieclark said,

      Hi Lisa,

      First thing’s first: I notice you have a fully functional blog dedicated to these issues. If you don’t mind, I’m going to add this to my blog roll; please let me know if you’d prefer I didn’t!

      That said, from the bulk of your comment we seem to agree on a great deal. Here you write: “There is institutionally enforced oppression against trans people that cis people simply do not experience, and not experiencing that oppression is a privilege.” This, I wholeheartedly agree with (how could one not?): trans people suffer from institutionally enforced oppression, and not having to experience that oppression is a privilege. But basic logic recognizes this isn’t automatically a two-way street: Having the privilege does not make one an oppressor. This was really the central bit to the comment I was responding to: The oppression framed in Lucy’s comment was cis privilege itself, making people oppressors solely for having the privilege, even if they don’t control the allocation of these privileges. This was the central thrust of the post.

      Now, if you’ll permit me the presumption of anticipating a follow-up, you might then ask me, “All right, but given that it is still a privilege, and you acknowledge it as such, don’t you recognize the importance of ‘owning’ that privilege in the terminology you use to describe yourself?”

      To respond to this, I have to do something I don’t particularly enjoy. Specifically, I really, really loathe bringing in a comparison from anti-racism discourse, because it feels like appropriation, as a white woman, to utilize the activist discipline in conversation for anything but the furtherance of its aims; nonetheless, it provides a strikingly good corollary here, so I beg forgiveness if anyone takes offense. The creation of privilege lists is something gender issues has been extraordinarily good at — partitioning and dividing ourselves and otherwise prompting one another to own up to benefits we can get for living up to the expectation sets outlined by the male dominant gender binary. This last has been the subject of intense discourse for, oh, years and decades without happy resolution. This hierarchical approach is, furthermore, a bizarre framework for engaging social change; and one sees how utterly bizarre this framework truly is when we look at what the equivalent would be in anti-racism discourse. Should persons in that discourse equally expect to have to own up to native-born privilege over landed immigrants, or Asian privilege in North America over black persons, in order to more effectively fight the oppression people of my skin colour always have the power and ability to further? After all, people of my skin colour get to decide who’s favoured in the school system, the economy, and with regard to social services: Does this mean those favoured persons need to add terminology to their self-identities that acknowledges these privileges before they can fight the power of oppression that lies, wholly without merit, in white hands like mine?

      This is the derailing nature of the privilege discourse, and it astonishes me how much it’s been propagated in exclusion in the realm of gender issues — often even in the name of intersectionality! — with no consideration for what it would mean if utilised in all oppression discourse. Of course there are benefits held by certain persons of certain groups over certain persons of other groups. And yes, we can make privilege lists out of these benefits for those same groups. But do any of these address the power-holders, the ones who set the benefits and in so doing, the oppressions? Or do they instead create such a vicious breed of internalized discourse as to shift the entire movement’s focus away from its primary target, and aims? Isn’t that what we’ve seen in practice? Isn’t that derailment proof enough that we need to re-evaluate our approach to challenging gender oppression?

      That said, I’m terribly confused by what seems to be a contradiction of terms here. I would be greatly obliged if you could develop what you mean when you say “Cis is not a matter of telling you what you feel or experience deep inside, but a matter of who and what you are.” and then follow it up with “Cis and trans are not identities (although many people identify themselves as having trans identities), but experiences.

      On a final note, thank you for taking the time to comment on my blog. I really can’t wait to read your posts in depth; from my cursory scan of them, they look immensely engaging and thoughtful. I furthermore look forward to any further conversation you might choose to have with me here.

      All the best,

      Maggie

  2. Lisa Harney said,

    Also, while cis women experience cis privilege, it’s not comparable to MRAs like “Feminist Critics” trying to identify so-called “female privilege.” Feminist Critics are trying to demonstrate that women have structual, institutional privileges over men to derail and deflect from the fact that men have structural, institutional privileges over women. In contrast, cis men and women have structural, institutional advantages over trans men, women, and those who do not identify within the gender binary.

  3. […] The first one is called “My Gender Is Not My Own”. The follow-ups are here, here and here (the newest one is a great analysis of gender normativity, and how it relates to “cis […]

  4. polly said,

    Bang on Maggie, there is no ‘cis privilege’, just gender conformity privilege.

    It may be perceived as an ADVANTAGE to not wish to have medical treatment to change physical sex attributes (not that this wish is one common to all people who identify themselves as trans anyway), but it’s not a privilege. Just as being ‘able bodied’ isn’t a privilege in itself. The privilege is not being disadvantaged by society in the way people with disabilities are. And in Iran gay men and lesbians are told they must have sex reassignment surgery to be acceptable. Is this cis gender privilege in action? Or does only the USA count?

    It’s a huge advantage, I think we’d all agree to not have cancer, a terrible disease. Do we describe someone who doesn’t have cancer as “cis cancer privileged”? No of course we don’t. Simply not having particular medical issues isn’t a lack of privilege.

    What is a matter of privilege is when one sex is treated grossly unfairly because of their biology. For example the huge numbers of women worldwide who die because they are denied access to basic medical treatment in childbirth. That IS privilege in action. Male privilege.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/7049598.stm

    Re ‘institutionally enforced oppression against trans people’. What is the nature of this oppression? Being treated unfairly in employment because of your perceived gender/sex? FAB Women experience that. Having your body treated as if isn’t your own? FAB Women experience that. Being physically attacked because of your gender expression? Gay mean and lesbians experience that. etc etc etc.

    It’s been repeated ad nauseam, but simply having something someone else wants isn’t a privilege. A privilege, politically speaking, is an unfair advantage conferred by society as a whole, that could also be removed by society as a whole if it wished.

    Trans people may indeed be disadvantaged because of perceived lack of gender normativity, however so are all people who do not conform to gender stereotypes.

  5. Nicky said,

    You forgot to mention ow so many transgender people who like to claim intersex privilege as well. They like to think that they have the right to claim intersex as a privilege, when they aren’t even born intersex or diagnosed as an intersex person.

  6. Michelle said,

    @polly:

    Re ‘institutionally enforced oppression against trans people’. What is the nature of this oppression?

    You want examples? Consider the following – in many jurisdictions (esp. in the US, but elsewhere as well), it is impossible for a post-op transsexual to have their birth certificate amended to reflect their post-op status. This often means that other formal documentation used for ID (e.g. passports and driver’s licenses) also show an incorrect gender marker. This invites additional scrutiny over and above what other non-transsexual people would experience when travelling, or for that matter when receiving a traffic ticket.

    Second, in many jurisdictions, legal gender is used to decide where a prisoner should be held. The result being that MTF TSes are often put into prison with male prisoners. (I think you can guess what happens to them in such circumstance … it isn’t pretty)

    Moving beyond that, consider the “potty wars” going on in the US these days where the religious right are running around shrieking about “predators in the ladies’ room”. The reason? Because someone saw a TS come out of a bathroom stall. These situations often result in unnecessary conflicts with store security personnel (or retail staff in smaller shops).

    Or, we might want to consider the situation in Alberta where arguably the politicians used transsexuals in the province as a political football to divert attention from what they were doing to the health care system.

    Trust me, there are lots of examples of direct oppression being aimed distinctly at transsexuals (and trans people in general).

  7. Nicky said,

    How’s this for a good example, where you have transactivist who try and claim intersex as a privilage as well. Their are transactivist who seem to be too earger to co-opt the intersex community and make it a political issue for them and as a result they use the intersex community as cannon foder for their own agenda.

  8. Michelle said,

    @Nicky,

    I’m not at all sure that your comment makes sense. How is that an example of systemic oppression being aimed at gender variant people?

    Yes, there is a considerable evidence-based argument that claims that transsexualism has its roots in conditions that would otherwise be deemed part of the Intersex spectrum. It is an interesting discussion in its own right, but quite apart from what Maggie, Lisa and I have been discussing.

    I fail to see how being Intersex or Trans in this world constitutes any kind of “privilege” when dealing with others in the broad context of living an authentic life.

  9. Nicky said,

    @Michelle,
    The kind of privilege I am concerned about is when you see transgender people who claim to be intersex at the same time. You see transgender people out their who are writing in blogs and claiming to be both at the same time. What concerns me is that you have transgender people who are making intersex people feel like their a sexual identify and a sexual group instead of a medical group. They even made intersex a political issue for them to jump their issues from.

    • maggieclark said,

      Hi Nicky,

      That’s a striking point you’ve made there — thank you for posting here.

      Female-bodied women have long ceded the definition of “woman” such that the present debate over its meaning centers around something other than physicality — a mix, say, of socialization and inner perception. But this becomes very curious when we look at the lack of social roles for intersex people — indeed, the very invisibilizing of the community in mainstream gender discourse. If there’s no social conception of “man” or “woman” being unilaterally foisted on this community, than the notion of “intersex” is indeed physically based (thus, “sex”).

      This creates an intriguing added dimension to the “inner truth” model of gender: If people can feel, in a non-falsifiable way, that they are better suited to a female body, then surely the same holds for people feeling, in an equally non-falsifiable way, that they are better suited to a body that has both / neither sex-based manifestations.

      Does this then entitle persons to medical treatment that would provide them with both or neither set of genitalia? Or does this make the non-falsifiable inner conception more of a want than an identity?

      I think we really need to address falsifiability here. With sex-females the definition of woman is very straightforward. With trans women, the definition treats sex-female as a privilege, not a prerequisite, to female identity. The only reasonable argument therein is one of noumenological truth, but this entirely invisibilizes, or treats as oppressive privilege, a person’s born sex.

      Approaches to solving this conundrum include:

      1) Stressing sex modification so physicality can remain key to the definition — at the cost of being pegged as perpetuating the gender binary.

      2) Treating social cues as something that must be learned and recognized for full inclusion into any gendered group, and not something that comes part and parcel with self-identifying a certain way — at the cost of being seen as prioritizing born sex females’ lived experience over that of trans women.

      3) Ignoring physicality entirely, and focusing solely on the social dimension of gender — at the cost of invisibilizing the very real and serious lived experiences associated with being born sex female.

      This definitely merits more thorough commentary than can be achieved in this comments thread, so for now I’ll leave off with an open-ended request to everyone for thoughts about how best to negotiate this dissonant definition set, and all the social ramifications therein. I hope to come back with a fuller post on this subject soon.

      All the best,

      Maggie

      • Nicky said,

        Though here’s the problem with that, would this mean for intersex people like myself who would have to give up their biological born intersex condition because some trans woman wants to claim intersex and trans at the same time.

        How would feminist define what’s intersex and how would feminist feel about intersex people.

        So how dose intersex people like myself fit into the social gender scheme and how dose feminism play a role within the intersex community?

        The way I see intersex, it’s like a medical condition in the same way as a heart condition. It’s not some social or sexual gender identity or sexual label that anyone can latch on to. I don’t see intersex as a political issue though I have personally see some trans make intersex their political issue and use the intersex community as a base to launch their issues and agenda.

      • Michelle said,

        Nicky,

        You are making a mutual exclusion argument – namely that there is not, and cannot be, any intersection between transsexuality and intersex conditions.

        In a world where there are few, if any absolutes, I find this extremely difficult to accept. Just as there are significant degrees of masculinity and feminity in the social sphere, there are gradients of biological masculinity/femininity as well. It seems to me that it is perfectly reasonable to assume that in some cases, there will be intersex people who are also trans. (and this includes intersex people who are assigned one gender at birth and transition later in life, since the fundamental journeys are so similar)

        A transwoman who is also intersex is not depriving the intersex of anything by making the claim that she is both.

        Is transsexuality a result of some combination of intersex conditions? Who knows. There certainly a growing body of evidence that suggests some combination of conditions could result in transsexuality, but those are quite some distance from declaring any kind of absolute causal path for transsexuality. However, as I have argued elsewhere, it is unwise to simply dismiss that evidence out of hand.

      • m Andrea said,

        Okay, I give up. What on earth are you trying to say by “non-falsifiable”? Usually that term is reserved for “questions it is impossible to know the answer to” but the context in which you use that term suggests that you intend something else instead. Almost as if you mean it literally? As in “can’t be proven false so therefore must be true”?

        (The first interpretation assumes that something could be true OR false in theory, but in practice the correct answer cannot be determined.) Here in reality, no one gives a rat’s ass about non-falsifiability, if they are looking for actual testable assertions.

  10. Nicky said,

    @Michelle
    The point is that Intersex is not classed in the same way as transsexuals. Their is no intersection for the intersex with the transsexuals because science at the moment does not allow it.

    The fact is, it is not possible for a transwoman to claim intersex because the medical science dose not agree with that assumptions. The reason why I feel that a transwoman are depriving the intersex community because their mere presence within the intersex community would send parents of intersex kids and babies into needless, unnecessary and very traumatic surgeries. Parents of Intersex kids and babies are scared enough with their child’s medical condition. Parents do not need to be scared even more with transwomen in the intersex community because their presence in their would make parents assume that their intersex kid and baby would grow up trans or worse.

    As far as transsexuality being some intersex condition, at the moment, it’s only a theory that is not widely accepted by the intersex community or the medical community. That’s because the science is very inconclusive and it has not proven anything.

    • maggieclark said,

      Hi Nicky,

      I have to point out that excluding someone from a community because the parents of intersex children might be terrified their intersex children will identify as trans is an argument that plays into gross intolerance without helping anyone. The fact is, the parent of an intersex child is necessarily going to need to embrace the fact that their child might identify more with one gender than another, or both, regardless of the sex-based choices they impose on said child early in life. Here, like Michelle said, there is absolutely room for overlap in the communities: Teaching parents to support and recognize whatever gender roles / identities their children set for themselves is as crucial to an intersex child as it is a trans child.

      We can talk about the conflicts between physical and inner gender identity, and the peculiar intersection set it has in relation to the intersex community, but to argue that we should support parents’ intolerance towards divergent gender roles so that they can — what? Fervently adhere to the gender roles *they* impose on their children? (I have serious difficulty recognizing a legitimate alternative in your statements)… is a specious argument that has no place in this discourse.

      Best,

      Maggie

      • Nicky said,

        Maggie,
        The problem with overlapping communities is that they are redundant. The problem I see is that with transsexuals, they tend to conflate sex and gender with medical and biology.

        Well for me, My issue is how would you feel if you are a parent of a baby who just been told by the doctors that your baby is an intersex baby. How would you feel if you delivered a baby into the world that’s intersex. My concern is for the parents who face the prospects of having an intersex baby and how would they deal with it in the face of transsexuals who inhabit the intersex community.

      • maggieclark said,

        Nicky, your argument is untenable. You say you’re worried about the parents who “face the prospects of having an intersex baby” and suggest that this dilemma would somehow become more difficult to handle if it was generally accepted that trans people are a part of the intersex community. This is convoluted and wrong-headed thinking on many levels, as even your own quotations in another comment demonstrate.

        You write:

        Chase founded the Intersex Society of North America (now defunct) to draw attention to the frequently tragic consequences of doctors’ performing irreversible surgery on newborns to enforce a sex—one that the baby might just as easily as not grow up to reject. The society advocated assigning intersex children a gender at birth but leaving their bodies intact, so that upon adulthood they could make their own choices about whether they wished to undergo surgical modification.

        And then write:

        “Then something unexpected happened. “The intersex identity started getting inhabited by people who weren’t really intersex,” Dreger said. “The people who accumulated around the intersex identity tended to be queer and out and comfortable with this identity outside the gender binary.” They felt that refraining from interfering with infants’ ambiguous genitalia was the first step on a desirable path to dissolving gender altogether.

        This is the same physical outcome — genitalia untouched, gender differentiated from sex. The only difference is that the latter is a social commentary on the implications therein, and the former remains quietly outside that discursive realm.

        Therefore, the introduction of trans activist theory to intersex discourse no more dictates parental outcomes regarding the preservation of genitalia than the introduction of feminism to mainstream women’s issues dictates parental outcomes regarding the exposure of their girl-children to more gender-neutral influences. If the parent elects to preserve gender, and sees feminism as an eradication of that end, then the parent will raise his or her child in reaction to the fear that she’ll grow up being “unwomanly.” If the parent elects to preserve gender, and sees transgenderism as an eradication of that end, then the parent will raise his or her child in reaction to the fear that he/she will grow up being trans.

        Do you see what the common denominator is here? It’s not the trans community. It’s not feminism. You can no more blame the latter for parents enforcing gender roles than you can the former. The problem is, in both cases, the gender normative partiality of the parents, and the intolerance and oppression of natural variation that arises therein. Therefore the only way to make real change is to break down those fears and intolerance in the first place. To think otherwise is to play into the gender normative expectation set: namely, that IF we behave, and IF we don’t make too much of a fuss, and IF we don’t rock the boat with regard to gender norms, THEN we might — just might! — be given the opportunity to set our own destiny. This is gender normativity oppression at its finest, and something we would all do well to avoid in our discussion of the very real, and very urgent, matters that affect all of the aforementioned gender/sex communities.

        Best,

        Maggie

      • Nicky said,

        Here’s the thing, Intersex community from the 1980s was strictly for intersex people and like Dreger said, in the 1990’s the intersex community started to get inhabited by people who are not intersex ie: gender queer people and transgender community. The difference was that Intersex back in the 1980’s was all about medical treatment and medical care. In the 1990’s those who are not intersex started to make intersex look like a sexual identity, sexual label and a base to push their agenda from.

        That’s where in the 1990’s where the intersex community started to get inhabited by gender queer people and transgender people because to them, they felt that if they inhabited the intersex community. That could be their first step to dissolving gender all together. That’s where the started to use the intersex community as a base to launch their political agenda of wiping out gender all together.

        See the problem with your thinking Maggie, is that it’s all about parental fear of the intersex child growing up to be gay and the prospect of forcing the intersex baby and child into unnecessary, needles and very traumatic surgery all based on parents fears. It’s the Intersex kids in the end who suffer from all this.

        The thing is, it’s the trans activist who I blame for inserting themselves into the intersex community when they are not born intersex or even to have a diagnosed intersex condition. It’s these trans activist who I blame them because they want to see the intersex as one of them and use the Intersex people as cannon fodder for the own political agenda and as a first step to wiping out gender all together.

        See, We intersex people are fighting to be left alone and to fight for ourselves. Intersex people don’t need any more abuse from the transgender community. Intersex people alone get enough abuse from the medical and scientific community. We simply can not take any more of the abuse from the transgender community. That’s why I am fighting to kick the transgender out of the intersex community because we intersex people have enough abuse to deal with from the medical and scientific community and we simply don’t need any more from the transgender community.

        Think about this, would the feminist community like have all the abuse & baggage the transgender community would bring into the feminist community.

        It’s the same thing the Intersex community thinks about. We don’t want any more abuse from the transgender community and we simply want to be left alone to fight for ourselves and we don’t want any interference from the transgender community.

      • Michelle said,

        That’s where the started to use the intersex community as a base to launch their political agenda of wiping out gender all together.

        Huh? Where’s this magical trans agenda? That assertion (and it is nothing more than assertion) is as ridiculous as the often mythologized “gay agenda” that the religious right wing keeps on bleating about.

        If anything, transsexuals argue for a much broader, more flexible view of gender, not its elimination.

        The thing is, it’s the trans activist who I blame for inserting themselves into the intersex community when they are not born intersex or even to have a diagnosed intersex condition. It’s these trans activist who I blame them because they want to see the intersex as one of them and use the Intersex people as cannon fodder for the own political agenda and as a first step to wiping out gender all together.

        Excuse me? The treatments and mishandling of Intersex people you are complaining about were problems long before transsexuals were even identifiable as a population. I’m sorry, but to blame transsexuals for this is patently ridiculous.

        If anything, it is equally arguable that the transsexual narrative has served as a basis upon which more recent IS lobbying has been built. Transsexuals demand a degree of autonomy over their bodies which has long been denied to IS people until relatively recently.

        We simply can not take any more of the abuse from the transgender community. That’s why I am fighting to kick the transgender out of the intersex community because we intersex people have enough abuse to deal with from the medical and scientific community and we simply don’t need any more from the transgender community.

        Think about this, would the feminist community like have all the abuse & baggage the transgender community would bring into the feminist community.

        You keep asserting abuse of IS people at the hands of transgender people. Just what is this abuse, and can you quantify it? I’ve seen lots of assertion from you, but no evidence to substantiate that claim. Last I checked, both trans and IS people have similar difficulties with treatment and access to appropriate medical care. I fail to understand how the mistreatment of the IS is in any way related to the existence of transsexuals.

        Lastly, on the whole, most feminists are far more willing to accept and interact with transsexuals (particularly transwomen) as part of the feminine community. Transwomen do not, on the whole, bring a lot of “destructive baggage” to feminist discourse.

        I note that you have also chosen not to address the logical conundrum that your exclusionism presents when confronted with someone who is diagnosed IS and transitions gender roles. I suggest that you might want to give that more serious thought – there are good reasons why exclusionist models cannot sustain themselves over the long run.

      • Nicky said,

        Oh really, Do you think the Intersex people like to take on any more abuse the transgender community likes to bring into the Intersex community. How would the feminist feel if they got abused in the same way as transgender people do and would the feminist like to take on more abuse then they already have from the male society.

        Why do you think when Transgender people try to speak about intersex people. They don’t speak about intersex people in the context of Intersex people. They speak about Intersex people in the context of Transgender people.

        As far as for abuse, Intersex people alone get abused by the medical and scientific community. Intersex people can not take any more abuse from the transgender community. We simply can not take all the abuse the transgender community would bring into the Intersex community. Just Imagine the abuse done to the intersex people at the hands of doctors, surgeons and scientist. We simply have enough on our plate as it is and to have the transgender community dump their abuse on to the Intersex people is simply too much for the intersex people to handle.

        Basically, it boils down to this. Intersex people want to be left alone. Intersex people get abused by the medical and scientific community at the hands of Doctors and surgeons. Intersex people get enough abuse from the medical community that we simply can’t get any more from the transgender community. A clear example of Transgender co-opting the intersex is when they speak about the intersex people. They don’t speak from the Intersex view, they speak from the trans view of the Intersex. That to me is form of erasing the Intersex people’s life experience, upbringing and medical history.

      • Michelle said,

        @Nicky:

        You keep claiming abuse, but so far I haven’t seen anything more than the claim made. Since you insist on tarring the entire breadth of the trans community with this allegation, I must insist that you substantiate your claim with evidence. (preferably from a reasonable, peer-reviewed source)

        Given the number of disparate conditions that are now considered to be Intersex conditions, I find it hard to see how any expansion that includes transgender (and in particular transsexual) is a form of erasure. I don’t see anyone denying the validity of other voices as a result of those claims. Perhaps if you could provide a concrete example of how this is a form of erasure, your point would make more sense.

        Lastly, what will you do if in five, ten or fifteen years the evidence that transsexuality is in fact an IS condition becomes complete enough to draw a causal connection?

        Personally, I think that by drawing exlusionary boundaries around things, you are painting yourself into a position where new realities will be very difficult for you to integrate. (Which, in many respects, is at the core of my objections to Judith Butler’s model for gender)

      • Nicky said,

        I think Michelle, is that you don’t understand what it means to be intersex. The fact is that Intersex people are getting erased, silenced and their histories hijacked by the transgender community and their trans activist.

        Oh and for the abuse, their is plenty of abuse being done to the intersex people by the medical community and the scientific community. Can we say genital mutilation for one. How about forced genital surgery on intersex newborns right after they are born. What about intersex kids and babies being forced into needless, unnecessary and very traumatic and psychological damaging surgery. What about those intersex kids and babies who are scared for life by the fact that they were forced into genital mutilation because their parents were afraid that they may grow up being gay or trans. Where’s their scars and abuse from that?.

        Oh and let’s not forget how the trans activist love to hijack the feminist and women’s groups as well. Think they like to hijack not only the women’s groups, what about the intersex groups as well. You see, for the trans activist, if they get their hands on the women’s groups, then they can control what women are defined as and the same thing can happen to the intersex community as well. If they get their nasty hands on the intersex community, they can do the same thing that they are doing to the feminist. Control and redefine a group based on their view.

        This is why DSD, which is Disorders of sexual development was created for. It was coined as way to disconnect and disassociate those born with and intersex condition to a more medical like condition. DSD was created because the LGBT community was all to co-opting happy to add intersex to their so called LGBTQIAA crap. DSD is meant to disconnect from the word intersex and make DSD more like what the name intersex was in the 1980’s prior to being hijacked and co-opted by those not intersex.

        Personally, I think you don’t understand what it means to be born intersex and having to fight everyday, just to be left alone and not have the transgender community muscle in and try to claim they speak for us. You seem to not understand that when you tell someone your born intersex and people in society assume it’s something trans related, you don’t know what it feels like when some trans makes your intersex condition look like a sexual label or sexual identity that anyone can claim without being born into one.

        Intersex people like myself do not want the transgender abuse that they are trying to dump onto the intersex community. We already get enough abuse from the medical and scientific community at the hands of doctors and scientist. We intersex don’t need the abuse that the transgender community would like to dump on us intersex people. That’s why Intersex people like myself are fighting to be left alone and fighting to keep the transgender people out of the intersex community.

        I want you to see a video by a friend of mine name Kailana S. Alniz, is another intersex person and is regarded as an expert on intersex people;http://www.youtube.com/user/mishakailana

      • Zoe Brain said,

        It’s perhaps worth noting that in the discussions with the Australia Human Rights Commission, Trans groups put the prevention of un-necessary surgery on Intersexed babies as an even higher priority than their own medical needs.

        This is on the record at the HRC website.

        The idea being that (effectively) trans adults are being surgically created by this practice. While in theory, any intersex condition precludes a diagnosis of GID according to the ICM-10 and DSM-IV-TR, in practice many are so diagnosed. And many apparently transsexual patients only become aware that they were surgically altered shortly after birth when examined by the Genital Reconstruction surgeon, immediately before surgery.

        We have no good survey data on this issue. Anecdotal evidence suggests on the order of 5-10% of “transsexual” patients are in this situation.

        Data from Australia indicates that under optimum conditions, at least 10% of infants given gender assignment surgery as neonates have an incorrect assignment. The actual number approaches 30% if extreme care is not taken in determining the assigned gender.

      • Nicky said,

        Give it up Zoe, your not an Intersex person. Your an Intersex fake and a Intersex wannabe. Your a Transsexual in very deep denial of transsexualism. You are such a liar, that you don’t even know what’s fact and what’s science fiction. Zoe, GET help before all your lies catch up to you. Zoe brain, your just like Bernie Madoff, but only worse because you keep feeding the lies so much, that eventually all those lies you fed are going to come back and bite you. Your like Bernie Madoff because you conned everyone into believing your an intersex person, when everyone knows your not an intersex person.

        You were a man who had a functional penis and testicles. You fathered a kid as well. You even have a UK male birth certificate that still says your a Male and a MAN. Even Zoe Brain was on those Yahoo TS/TG groups long before having a sex change and Yes Zoe Brain had a sex change through a surgeon and a knife.

        Also Zoe brain takes a drug in Australia that requires Zoe brain to be placed on Australia’s Sex offender Registry. I believe it’s Androcor.

        Your not even Intersex and you never had 5ARD or 17 BHDD. Stop stealing other intersex people’s histories and claiming they are yours. You got outed as an intersex wannabe by Kailana Sidrandi Alaniz and the fact is also, Zoe, your not even welcome within any intersex group because you keep pushing your transsexuality crap down on the intersex community.

        You keep claiming intersex so much that people like me are wising up and question your claims. Even in AROO’s blog, they outed you and called you the ugliest man wishing to be the ugliest woman. That’s why Zoe, your not an Intersex person and no one will ever recognize you as an intersex people. Your a transsexual in denial and you can’t admit that transsexuality exist and your one of them

      • maggieclark said,

        Nicky, I have given you the opportunity to comment constructively in response to my questions. Instead I’m receiving spam, redundant responses to Zoe Brain’s lone comment. If your interest here is simply in picking a fight / venting your pre-existing issues with Zoe Brain, well, you’ve done so. Congrats. Any more comments in that vein will not be approved, simply because they are redundant. If your interest is in actually holding a conversation with me, and the others here, about the intersex community in relation to the questions I asked you above, then I look forward to a critical, thoughtful response from you soon.

      • Nicky said,

        Ok maggie, we can get back to the conversation as long as you delete Zoe Brain’s comments because Zoe is known for pushing the transsexuality dogma and the transgender dogma. I simply want to warn you that Zoe is not an intersex person to begin with and I wanted to let you know that do not listen to what Zoe Brain says because Zoe is no friend to any Intersex person or feminist.

      • maggieclark said,

        Nicky, this is not the kind of blog where whoever shouts the loudest or posts the most rises to the top. Everyone who is willing to engage in thoughtful, critical discourse is welcome here. Zoe Brain entered her comment, you entered yours — repeatedly, and seemingly in an effort to drown her out with the sheer weight of your responses.

        I will not delete or silence anyone on this space; I will simply choose not to engage in conversation with those persons who are persistently more interested in venting and hurling rhetoric than conversing about the subjects at hand. You’ve been given the opportunity to do so, just like everyone else; it’s your choice now whether to use it or not.

        All the best,

        Maggie

      • Nicky said,

        Maggie,
        I drowned out Zoe Brain’s comments because Zoe Brain is a known transsexual who will push the transsexual dogma. Zoe is known for pushing down people’s faces pseudoscience and science that hasn’t been proven.

        The fact is, Zoe Brain is a known transsexual who likes to claim intersex and claim to be a woman as well. Zoe will come on this blog and drag all her transsexual friends on her blog.

        Maggie, you have to understand that intersex people like myself including Kailana S Alaniz are not happy with Zoe Brain and are doing all we can to discredit Zoe brain because Zoe Brain has done more damage to the Intersex community than the transgender community. Zoe Brain has no friends within the Intersex community because of the fact that Zoe brain likes to push the transsexuality subset on to the intersex community. Zoe Brain is one of those transsexuals who wants to force the transgender standards on the intersex community and to the intersex people. In the same way transgender people want to force their standards on to biological women and and feminist as well.

      • maggieclark said,

        Nicky, please answer my above questions for you, or this will be the last comment I make in response to yours. You did not “drown out” Zoe’s comment, which is quite clearly on record above: You only demonstrated your own partiality for bullying tactics and heavy-handed rhetoric despite being given ample opportunity to participate in constructive discourse instead.

        All the best,

        Maggie

      • Zoe Brain said,

        I’m honoured. I came to this site to learn, not to teach, after all.

        Thanks so much for your kind words – you might like to look at the rest of the series too. Ron asks some excellent questions.

      • Nicky said,

        @Maggie,
        Just so know know who Zoe Brain is, Google Zoe brain a read all the comments. Zoe brain is a Transsexual in Deep denial and is very much a Transsexual claiming to be intersex when Zoe in fact is not an intersex person but a transsexual who had a child and has a UK male Birth Certificate by the name Alan Brain.

        Also my intersex friend by the name Kailana Sidrandi Alaniz has argued with Zoe so many times about being intersex and claiming to have 5ARD and being naturally intersex. You can take a look at this link Why Zoe is not welcomed in the Intersex community and Why Zoe is outed as a Transsexual from number of blogs including AROO’s blog as well.

        Here’s the link
        http://letters.mobile.salon.com/bb766f710962b91aec36641521681573/author/

      • Nicky said,

        @Maggie,
        I also forgot, I want to show you who Kailana Sidrandi Alaniz so you know who she is and She is a far better expert on the Intersex community than Zoe Brain is. Here are the links to Kailana Sidrandi Alaniz,

        http://www.youtube.com/user/mishakailana

        http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/series/explorer/4091/Videos/07159_00#tab-Overview

  11. Michelle said,

    The point is that Intersex is not classed in the same way as transsexuals. Their is no intersection for the intersex with the transsexuals because science at the moment does not allow it.

    Do not make the error of assuming that inconclusive evidence is the same thing as proving falsehood. It isn’t. (If you can cite reasonable research to support your apparent claim that there is conclusive evidence against the hypothesis that there is an intersection, I’d be happy to entertain the notion more seriously)

    The reason why I feel that a transwoman are depriving the intersex community because their mere presence within the intersex community would send parents of intersex kids and babies into needless, unnecessary and very traumatic surgeries.

    Ummm…last I checked that was already happening – regardless of the presence of acknowledged transsexuals or not. I believe that is one of the key lobbying topics for The Intersex Society of North America. So, I don’t think you can exactly blame that on transsexuals.

    Lastly, consider the situation where someone is born with an IS condition, and is raised male (and appears to all outward appearances to be male). As an adult, this person decides to transition and live as a woman. Using your exclusive model, is this person a transsexual, or Intersex?

    I can’t imagine how they would cease being Intersex, and yet they have also lived very much the same life story that many transsexuals do – including the same social, economic and political obstacles.

    To claim that there is no intersection between transsexual and intersex experiences is ridiculous in such a case; even if the science had conclusively demonstrated that there was no biological intersection.

    • maggieclark said,

      Well put, Michelle.

      • Michelle said,

        Thank you, Maggie.

        In fairness to your comments section, I have posted an essay on my blog that explores the possible consequences of researchers finding that transsexualism is rooted in some kind of IS condition.

        Here

    • Nicky said,

      Michelle,
      The reason why their is no intersection between intersex and transgender is because the science has not explained it fully and it’s not even been accepted widely by the intersex community. They can’t explain why they decided to add an elderly MTF who hanged himself and was found 3 days later and placed into the so called brain study. Which invalidated the study all together.

      Yes I can cite research and here it is;
      http://www.eje-online.org/cgi/content/full/155/suppl_1/S107
      Changing your sex changes your brain: influences of testosterone and estrogen on adult human brain structure

      I can cite some quotes from like likes of Alice Dreger from my blog;
      ” In the nineteen-nineties, a movement spearheaded by an activist who used to call herself Cheryl Chase, and now goes by the name Bo Laurent, insisted that what was needed was a new identity. Chase founded the Intersex Society of North America (now defunct) to draw attention to the frequently tragic consequences of doctors’ performing irreversible surgery on newborns to enforce a sex—one that the baby might just as easily as not grow up to reject. The society advocated assigning intersex children a gender at birth but leaving their bodies intact, so that upon adulthood they could make their own choices about whether they wished to undergo surgical modification.

      Then something unexpected happened. “The intersex identity started getting inhabited by people who weren’t really intersex,” Dreger said. “The people who accumulated around the intersex identity tended to be queer and out and comfortable with this identity outside the gender binary.” They felt that refraining from interfering with infants’ ambiguous genitalia was the first step on a desirable path to dissolving gender altogether. To them, this idea was “as politically inspiring as it is utterly disconnected from the actual experience of intersex people or the heart-wrenching decisions their parents have to make when an intersex child is born,” as Vernon A. Rosario, a professor of psychiatry at U.C.L.A., put it in a recent issue of The Gay and Lesbian Review.”

      Here’s from Ann Fausto-Sterling
      “Now there is an even newer term of art for people born with ambiguously sexed bodies who do not wish to be connected with the “L.G.B.T.Q.I.”—lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex—camp: “disorders of sex development,” or D.S.D. By naming the condition a medical “disorder,” advocates of the D.S.D. label hope to make the people it describes seem less aberrant. “Oddly enough, it does normalize it in a certain way,” Fausto-Sterling said. “It’s putting it on the same plane as other anomalous development—like congenital anomalies of the heart.” Advocates of the D.S.D. label are not seeking to create a third sex. Rather, they want disorders of sex development to be treated like any other physical abnormality: something for doctors to monitor but not to operate on, unless the patient is in physical discomfort or danger.”
      http://kallmannssyndrome.wordpress.com/2009/11/24/sports-sex-and-the-runner-caster-semenya-the-new-yorker/

      • Michelle said,

        Nicky,

        I am aware that hormones affect the brain structure/behaviour. However, that doesn’t explain in the least the cognitive dissonance that many transsexuals describe before transition.

        Second, there is some very interesting evidence that calls into question your assumption that differentiation is purely driven by hormones.

        One person we studied had untreated male gender dysphoria (S7), took no hormones and kept his transsexual feelings under wraps. He appeared to have a large INAH3 volume – in the male range – but a female INAH3 number of neurons (68) and a female BSTc somatostatin neuron number (95). Hence, this individual’s hypothalamic characteristics were mid-way between male and female values.

        Findings like these are significant and important.

        I hate to say it, but if you are referring to this Alice Dreger, I’d hardly call her an expert on transsexualism at all. (especially since she seems to be primarily informed by the work of Michael Bailey)

        As for Ms. Fausto-Sterling, I’m going to have to go back and review her work. I’m pretty sure I’ve got some of her work floating around here somewhere. Last I read her, I felt she was making many of the same errors that Butler does … but I’m willing to revisit that. Can you cite the source where she makes those comments?

  12. polly said,

    You want examples? Consider the following – in many jurisdictions (esp. in the US, but elsewhere as well), it is impossible for a post-op transsexual to have their birth certificate amended to reflect their post-op status. This often means that other formal documentation used for ID (e.g. passports and driver’s licenses) also show an incorrect gender marker. This invites additional scrutiny over and above what other non-transsexual people would experience when travelling, or for that matter when receiving a traffic ticket.

    Second, in many jurisdictions, legal gender is used to decide where a prisoner should be held. The result being that MTF TSes are often put into prison with male prisoners. (I think you can guess what happens to them in such circumstance … it isn’t pretty)

    America is not the world though Michelle. None of this is true in the UK. However such legal matters are the responsibility of (overwhelmingly white male) lawmakers. Not women.

    If you are saying trans people are less privileged in the USA, it may be a good idea to say that this lack of privilege are USA specific.

    The other, fairly important, point is that these privileges apply to ALL non trans people, male and female. So why are we told that only FAB women have ‘cis gender/cissexual privilege’ over trans women when that clearly isn’t the case?

  13. polly said,

    Do not make the error of assuming that inconclusive evidence is the same thing as proving falsehood. It isn’t. (If you can cite reasonable research to support your apparent claim that there is conclusive evidence against the hypothesis that there is an intersection, I’d be happy to entertain the notion more seriously)

    No it isn’t, but it’s not the same thing as proving truth either. If something has not been proved it has quite simply not been proved. The fact that we have never seen the Yeti doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. It doesn’t mean it does either.

    • polly said,

      I could actually say Michelle that in the UK there is such a thing as trans privilege. Because people who are legally defined as ‘undergoing gender reassignment’ are afforded legal protection not given to people who are simply gender non conforming. An example of this is that a male person who is not undergoing gender reassignment could be dismissed from his job for wearing a skirt. A male assigned at birth person who is undergoing gender reassigment would be legally protected in such a situation and could claim hefty damages if dismissed from their job.

      Similarly a female assigned at birth person who undergoes gender reassignment can marry another female assigned at birth person. A female assigned at birth person who does not undergo gender reasssignment cannot marry another female assigned at birth person. I understand (though I’m not an expert on US law at all) that this is also the case in some states of the USA.

      • Michelle said,

        @Polly,

        I didn’t say that America was. I live in Canada, where the environment is somewhat different. I drew my examples from my regional context – the point is that there ARE situations where systemic oppression exists against transsexuals.

        Further, I believe that there is a significant issue in the UK where the government refuses to issue amended Birth Certificate documentation with gender corrected. I don’t know if that is as big a problem in the UK as it is here. In Canada/US the Birth Certificate is one of the few pieces of ‘government issued ID’ that the people have, and where it is impossible to get amended, it becomes VERY difficult to get passports and other documentation with the gender correct.

        As regards to the notion of “trans privilege” as a result of anti-discrimination legislation, I’m not at all sure that constitutes “privilege”, since such legislation should not do anything beyond levelling the field. I presume that in the UK it is illegal to fire someone for being male or female, and I imagine that firing someone for being trans is now similarly protected. Is that really establishing privilege, or is it extending to transsexuals the same protection that exists for cisgender people?

        Lastly, with regards to proving a negative – you are correct. The difference being that there is a lack of credible evidence describing the existence of the Yeti in spite of numerous attempts to gather such evidence. In the case of the biology of transsexualism, there is a surprising and steadily growing body of evidence that describes biological variations that are found in transsexuals. (both pre and post medical transition)

  14. Michelle said,

    @Nicky,

    I’m asking you to substantiate your claims of “abuse”. Since you are accusing an entire demographic, I’d like to see some corroborative evidence (preferably from peer reviewed sources) to substantiate your claims and the nature of the alleged abuse.

    It is one thing to claim abuse in individual, anecdotal cases; but when you insist that it is the entire transsexual community that you point the finger of accusation at, I think you need to bring more to the table than statements like “Oh really, Do you think the Intersex people like to take on any more abuse the transgender community likes to bring into the Intersex community.“.

  15. maggieclark said,

    See the problem with your thinking Maggie, is that it’s all about parental fear of the intersex child growing up to be gay and the prospect of forcing the intersex baby and child into unnecessary, needles and very traumatic surgery all based on parents fears. It’s the Intersex kids in the end who suffer from all this.

    Actually, Nicky, you’re the one who for two comments in a row insisted that your concern lay with parents fearing their child would grow up trans because they saw the kind of people inhabiting the intersex community; and reacting by imposing traumatic, non-consensual surgery on their intersex children. I identified that this is no different than blaming (a fear of) feminism for parents strictly enforcing gender norms for their girl-children, and furthermore identified that both these arguments make the mistake of playing into gender normative experience sets. (i.e. IF we take all the trans people out of the community, your argument goes, THEN parents won’t ever enforce traumatic surgeries on intersex children.) To which I have to ask, what happened before the 1970s and 80s? What was the norm? Because I’m fairly certain that intersex persons have been in existence all throughout history, and that for a great long while therein parents “chose” a sex for their child at birth, informed to this end by physicians and community that this was the only way for the child to live a full life. Only recently has this changed — why? Because better science led to better education, and better education led to less traumatic life choices for intersex persons. You haven’t shared any evidence that the transgendered community has since, concretely led to parents making poor, traumatic decisions; meanwhile transsexual surgeries have been carried out since the early 1920s. To attribute blame to the transgender community for any parents who make the wrong decision with regard to intersex children is therefore to ignore both the long, traumatic history of surgical interventions prior to the 1970s, and also to treat the transsexual community as something very, very new to the medical scene.

    Again, we can absolutely talk about the difficulties associated with prioritizing the physicality of intersex identities against the insertion of social/inner identities through transgendered political discourse — indeed, the very conversations being held between trans activists and feminists revolve around precisely the same issues — but specious, non-evidence based arguments that perpetuate gender normativity aren’t going to get us anywhere.

    It’s clear this is a conversation you’ve had elsewhere, with the outcomes of those no-doubt heated stand-offs hardening you into your present, generalization-based treatment of the communities involved, but I would urge you to recognize my blog as an attempt at a haven where people can discuss critically, thoughtfully, and respectfully those opinions that differ from own — and through them, further a discourse about gender and sex-based issues that will lead to better real-world solutions.

    To that end, I have to comment briefly on this statement of yours, which I think was intended to scare, but which instead leaves me wondering if you’ve read the posts I’ve made here in the first place:

    Think about this, would the feminist community like have all the abuse & baggage the transgender community would bring into the feminist community.

    First and foremost, “would bring” suggests the transgender community isn’t already in the feminist community. Of course it is. The nature and scope of its inclusion is in fact a source of constant discussion — a lot positive, a lot negative. It’s actually such discussion on which this blog was first predicated: I found myself struggling after being silenced in the feminist community for something I didn’t agree with (i.e. being labelled “transphobic” because I don’t self-identify as “cis privileged”), happened across a blog that deconstructed “cis privilege” under the absolute urgency of sex-based female oppression (as experienced by literally billions of women around the globe), and desired more productive discourse in the name of pursuing a theory of feminism that did not impose any identity externally, and that furthermore did not see the community entrenching internal fragmentation to the detriment of fighting gender normativity oppression as a whole.

    The result is a space where I have already been told to “go away” by one angry respondent, and engaged in some very thought-provoking discussions with at least two others. I would therefore be honoured to continue discussing with you, Nicky, the needs of the intersex community, and especially any overlaps therein with the feminist community. And I would furthermore like to develop a deeper understanding of transgenderism’s place in or around both. But we have to pursue this discussion critically, thoughtfully, and respectfully: anything less, and the outcome will be no better than the violent, entrenched argument we already see on far, far too many gender/sex-issues-based spheres online.

    To that end, I leave you with two questions, in the hope of better understanding your underlying argument:

    1) What abuses do you see visited upon the intersex community specifically by trans activists? What is your evidence for their existence?

    2) You imply in your comments that the intersex community wants solely to work on medical conditions, and eschew all external politics, such as those you attribute to the inclusion of transgender persons: How do you consider this political isolation possible, when the intersex status — and its consequent outcomes for people’s livelihoods — is a particularly prominent discussion topic and point of exclusion in the athletic community, and through it, gender/sex normative society as a whole?

    I look forward to our future, productive conversation in these veins.

    All the best,

    Maggie

    • Nicky said,

      Okay Maggie, I do but delete Zoe’s comments because Zoe is a person who will always push the transsexuality connection and will be the one to push the transgender dogma on feminist, women and on the intersex people. If you don’t believe me go and ask AROO in their blog and ask them what they think of Zoe Brain.

  16. Zoe Brain said,

    Nicky has been ejected from every Intersex support group I’m aware of, and is banned from IS support sites. He’s been responsible for some of them closing, due to his obsessive transphobia.

    He cyberstalks Intersexed people, claiming they are “traitors”, “not intersexed at all” etc etc.

    It’s not just Intersex support groups he’s been banned from. He holds the dubious distinction of being banned from several Firefighting sites, and one from the US Coast Guard.

    See http://cgreport.wordpress.com/2009/11/08/coast-guard-report-reader-points-out-cgblog-reader-worth-looking-at/

    This gives links to some of his threats of violence, his fetish for diapers, etc etc.

    He has some gender issues of his own –
    http://www.formspring.me/kamododragon
    ” If you could wake up as anyone tomorrow, who would it be?

    I would like to wake up as Aneglia Jolie or Brad pitt”

    • maggieclark said,

      Hi Zoe,

      Thanks for writing. While Nicky’s personal sexual fetishes are none of my concern, I appreciate the better grasp you provided of the intersex spectrum of opinions/engagements with transgenderism, and where he fits therein. I only had a chance to skim through your blog, but I found Part VI of your most recent conversation (the “clue bat” seems especially relevant to this situation here) so engaging I’ve added your blog to my blog roll, for future viewing. If you’d prefer I took it down, please let me know!

      All the best,

      Maggie

    • Nicky said,

      Zoe Knock it off. You know your not an Intersex person and eveyone knows your a Transsexual

    • Nicky said,

      Zoe, your not an intersex person and No one including Kailana Sidrandi Alaniz will ever call you an intersex person. Your just a transsexual in deep denial and your claims of having 5ard are pure bullshit. The fact is Zoe is actually Alan Brain and Biological MAN. Zoe never had 5 ARD and Zoe was never a a natural intersex. Zoe is a Transsexual in very deep denial and can’t admit that transsexuality exist. Zoe is like most transsexuals who are claiming intersex as a privilege and claiming to be an intersex person. Zoe was on a number of TEEGEE Yahoo groups

      I will quote from you what Kailana S Alaniz has said to Zoe
      “not all 5 Ard or 17B type 3 change natural to males.

      I so hate it when people make assumptions, facts are some do change how they chose to live due to natural hormone changes during puberty. Some also stay as girls, and marry as women. And I am so very tired of seeing people keep posting the same crap information about 5-Ard and 17Bhsd because not all of them do change their gender from that of girls. It is common for many to change to men, when puberty comes, but again. Many Also are happy as women.

      I have watched the same documentaries you have, I have also been studying the same conditions you have, but for far far longer then you. You Zoe Brain love to repeat the information that supports your opinion on Intersex Brain development which other research scientists have all ready discounted as changes due directly to HRT that is hormone therapy causes brain mass changes to that of the desired sex of the patient, because of HRT that they take. Those studies directly contradict what you keep putting out as current information. The studies you post are older and poorly designed as they do not reference pre-HRT trans patients except for the one Elderly Male, which by itself contradicts/discredits their own study.

      Now I am all for acceptance of trans men and women. Fact is I think many are stunningly beautiful attractive people. But I am getting real tired of seeing you continue to post the same information and then ignore just how inaccurate your claims are.

      You used to post on many of the same Intersex support forums that I do. and now your gone, because you know as well as I know that what you push as accurate is a whole lot of nonsense that none within the Intersex Community wishes because we all ready know exactly what is going to happen if people like you keep pushing that Transsexuality is a subset of Intersexuality.

      All intersex people will end up getting treated using Transsexuality standards of care and we have all ready been fighting for our own rights over our own bodies that we were supposed to have all ready gotten by the medical community, which turns out that once they assigned us a sex, through the use of surgery they forgot about and said , GOOD ENOUGH, NOW GO WE WANT NOTHING ELSE TO DO WITH YOU, IF YOUR LIFE IS SCREWED IT IS NOT OUR FAULT THAT WE CUT YOU UP TO PIECES AND LEFT YOU TO ROT IN A BODY YOU WERE NEVER MEANT TO HAVE.

      Now grow up and quit trying to push that Intersex has anything to do with Transsexuality.

      We are intersexed, and apparently you are an Intersexed Wannabe. Which Is why you are not welcome in Intersexed Support Forums. Your views counter our own views and are detrimental to the Entire Intersexed Community.”

  17. Michelle said,

    @Maggie – agreed

  18. Nicky said,

    Here’s your answer to the question
    Adding the “I”: Does Intersex Belong in the LGBT Movement?

    by Emi Koyama, Intersex Initiative

    Should LGBT groups add the “I” (for intersex) to their names, mission statements, etc.? That is the question many people are asking, but there is no simple answer.

    There are a couple of reasons for adding the “I” to LGBT. First, intersex bodies are pathologized and erased in a way that is similar to how homosexuality has historically been treated within psychiatry. Even though homosexuality has been officially depathologized for three decades, transgender people are still labeled as having “gender identity disorder” and thus treated as something abnormal rather than a natural human variety. From this point of view, intersex is just another sexual minority that is pathologized and treated as “abnormal.”

    Another reason is that the surgical treatment for intersex conditions is heavily motivated by homophobia, transphobia, and misogyny. Western medicine defines “functional” male and female genitalia in terms of its ability to participate in a heterosexual intercourse, rather than how much sexual enjoyment patients can achieve–which is why removing a woman’s clitoris is medically acceptable according to (mostly male and straight) doctors, as long as her vagina is deep enough to be penetrated by a penis.

    However, some concerns have been raised among intersex activists about the phenomenon of LGBT groups adopting the “I.”

    First, some people fear that adding the “I” would give the wrong impression that all or most intersex people are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/ or transgender. Obviously, some intersex people are, and some aren’t–but when we are dealing with young children and their parents, there is a concern that the association with LGBT would drive away parents of intersex children who would otherwise seek out information and resources about intersex conditions. Worse, the misperception might push parents to demand more surgeries to ease their concern about the child’s future sexuality or gender identity.

    Second, there is already a lot of conflation between LGBT and intersex in the society, and constantly being combined with LGBT might prevent intersex from getting its own visibility, or make it hard for intersex people to find intersex-specific resources. For example, if you search for the word “LGBTI” on the internet, most articles that would come up deal with LGBT issues–marriage, discrimination, hate crimes, etc.–with no mention of any issues that actually apply to intersex people.

    Similar to this, there is also a concern that adding the “I” would make it appear as if what intersex people need is the same thing that LGBT people need. For example, adding intersex to the non-discrimination ordinance or hate crime law is completely insufficient to address the human rights issues faced by intersex people, but it gives the false impression that intersex people’s rights are protected.

    Lastly, the model of organizing is very different. People with intersex conditions generally do not organize around the “identity” or “pride” of being intersex; “intersex” is a useful word to address political and human rights issues, but there is yet to be an intersex “community” or “culture” the way we can talk about LGBT communities (although this may change in the future). In other words, adding the “I” does not necessarily make the organization appear more welcoming to intersex people. For many people, “intersex” is just a condition, or history, or site of horrifying violation that they do not wish to revisit.

    If that is the case, what can be said about whether or not to add the “I”? I feel that we should take a pragmatic approach. If adding the “I” would enable you to put your energy and resources onto doing more things that help the intersex movement, then by all means add the “I.” If adding the “I” will help you become a better resource for people with intersex conditions, then do it. You might make some intersex people angry, but at least you are doing something concrete to help end shame, secrecy and isolation that are imposed on intersex children.

    But do not think that adding the “I” as an empty gesture is by itself an achievement. Adding “intersex” to an LGBT group must mean a commitment to take concrete actions to address the specific needs of intersex people; anything less is tokenism, or a mere fashion statement, which will not benefit the intersex movement.

    Also, remember that you do not need to change your organization’s name in order to help intersex activism: An LGBT organization can and should be working on intersex issues just like it should be working on other social justice issues, such as anti-racism and anti-sexism. What counts is what you do, not how your organization is spelled.
    http://www.intersexinitiative.org/articles/lgbti.html

  19. Nicky said,

    Maggie,
    Here’s another way to answer your question,
    Progress and Politics in the Intersex Rights Movement: Feminist Theory in Action
    (Alice D. Dreger and April Herndon, “Progress and Politics in the Intersex Rights Movement: Feminist Theory in Action,” in GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, in a special issue on “Intersex and After,” edited by Iain Morland, vol. 15, no. 2, March 2009: 199-224)

    Abstract: Since 1990, when Suzanne Kessler published her foundational feminist critique of the modern-day medical treatment of children with intersex, much has changed in intersex politics, practice, and theory. This paper traces some key points of progress and considers in particular: the relationship of academic feminism and intersex advocacy; proof of and reasons for success in intersex medical advocacy; and intersex identity politics, especially with regard to the nature/nurture debate and terminology (“intersex” versus “hermaphroditism” versus “disorders of sex development”). The authors are university-based academic feminists who worked as volunteers and paid directors in the Intersex Society of North America (ISNA), the best known and arguably most effective intersex advocacy and policy organization. In this work, we draw on the published literature as well as our own activist and academic experiences. We argue that, in the last 15 years, much progress has been made in terms of improving the medical and social attitudes towards people with intersex, but that significant work remains to be done to ensure that children born with sex anomalies will be treated in a way that privileges their long-term well-being over societal norms. We also argue that, while feminist scholars have been critically important in developing the theoretical underpinnings of the intersex rights movement and sometimes in carrying out the day-to-day political work of that movement, there have been intellectual and political problems with some feminists’ approaches to intersex.

    http://alicedreger.com/GLQ_Dreger_Herndon.html

  20. Nicky said,

    Here’s the reason why in the Abuse issue

    Alice Dreger, Gender Identity Disorder in Childhood: Inconclusive Advice to Parents, Hastings Center Report, vol. 39, no. 1 (January-February, 2009), pp. 26-29.

    http://bioethics.northwestern.edu/faculty/work/dreger/dreger_hcr_gidc.pdf

    • maggieclark said,

      Hi Nicky,

      Let’s try this again.

      These were my questions:

      1) What abuses do you see visited upon the intersex community specifically by trans activists? What is your evidence for their existence?

      2) You imply in your comments that the intersex community wants solely to work on medical conditions, and eschew all external politics, such as those you attribute to the inclusion of transgender persons: How do you consider this political isolation possible, when the intersex status — and its consequent outcomes for people’s livelihoods — is a particularly prominent discussion topic and point of exclusion in the athletic community, and through it, gender/sex normative society as a whole?

      What you posted weren’t answers to these questions; they were a suffusion of tangential materials. I read the Dreger article you cited: There is nothing in there that attributes parental decision making to the abuse of the trans activist community. Quite the opposite, actually: The report specifically cites examples from cultures where intolerance for queerness in general affects outcomes — this has nothing to do with contemporary trans activism.

      So I’m asking my questions again. Please take a good look at them. They ask what YOU see in the way of trans abuses in the intersex community, and how YOUR argument for the intersex community wanting solely to deal with the medical community, not the political one, is relevant to a world in which intersex persons are absolutely politicized by gender/sex normative persons in the athletic sphere.

      What are YOUR answers to these questions?

      • Nicky said,

        Maggie,
        Didn’t you read the link I just posted from Alice Dreger’s site. That is the evidence I posted up their. If you forgot, here it is;

        Alice Dreger, Gender Identity Disorder in Childhood: Inconclusive Advice to Parents, Hastings Center Report, vol. 39, no. 1 (January-February, 2009), pp. 26-29.

        http://bioethics.northwestern.edu/faculty/work/dreger/dreger_hcr_gidc.pdf

        The abuse we would see from these trans activist is that we intersex would know what kind of abuse we would get if the trans activist impose the transgender standards of care on the intersex community.

        The reason why the intersex community wants to be left along is because we need to fight for our own rights and don’t need any intrusions from the transgender community and trans activist. Intersex people alone get abused from the doctors and scientist alone. This is from what Kailana S. Alaniz has wrote;

        “All intersex people will end up getting treated using Transsexuality standards of care and we have all ready been fighting for our own rights over our own bodies that we were supposed to have all ready gotten by the medical community, which turns out that once they assigned us a sex, through the use of surgery they forgot about and said , GOOD ENOUGH, NOW GO WE WANT NOTHING ELSE TO DO WITH YOU, IF YOUR LIFE IS SCREWED IT IS NOT OUR FAULT THAT WE CUT YOU UP TO PIECES AND LEFT YOU TO ROT IN A BODY YOU WERE NEVER MEANT TO HAVE.”

        http://letters.mobile.salon.com/bb766f710962b91aec36641521681573/author/

        Posted by miriam from Bodieslikeours
        http://www.bodieslikeours.org/forums/

        “But that totally ignores what intersex is about. TS sucks and IS sucks, but they are not the same. People with an intersex condition have different needs. First of all, many people with an intersex condition don’t have gender issues and including TS in IS would make it even more difficult for those people to explain their condition to other people. And second, the shame and secrecy that surrounded intersex conditions may seem no big deal to the problems many TS-people have to face. But we should never say our kind of suffering is worse than another kind of suffering.

        So please, dear men and women with a history of TS, don’t hijack intersex. Give us the chance to change our situation without having to fight with people who may think IS is easier to explain to other people than TS.”

      • maggieclark said,

        Nicky, I just said I read the article and found nothing. Declarative statements, yes, but no evidence. Zero. If I missed something, please feel free to quote from the article yourself.

        More importantly, I’m getting the feeling you don’t quite understand how to answer direct questions. Here’s what you put in answer to the abuse question:

        “The abuse we would see from these trans activist is that we intersex would know what kind of abuse we would get if the trans activist impose the transgender standards of care on the intersex community.”

        Read this back to yourself. This is what we call a circular argument — specifically, when someone says X is X because… X is X! You say the abuse you get from trans activists is the abuse you get from trans activists. What is the NATURE of that abuse?

        Because, again, Dreger offers absolutely NO evidence, and a slew of very vague statements dependent upon an exceedingly narrow understanding of the trans spectrum. Specifically, Dreger asserts that the trans goal is always to turn male bodies into female bodies, and vice versa. That is false. It’s what we call a “straw man” argument — an argument that sets up a flimsier version of reality that can more easily be knocked down. In reality, transgender encompasses a wide spectrum, including the very “two-spirited”-ness embodied by the Samoan example she references in the text. So it’s a non-argument to assert that trans activists are dangerous because they’re pushing body modification as requisite to the trans/intersex experience. They absolutely are not — just defending its place for those who feel, personally, that it’s right for them. Huge difference, when you claim they are imposing one outcome alone on intersex persons.

        I also asked you how you could claim the intersex community is just focused on medical issues, when the athletics commission necessarily makes the intersex condition an impediment to full inclusion in the gender normative sphere. You still haven’t answered this: How can you both insist that the intersex community should have nothing to do with politics, when like it or not intersex persons are already politicized by gender normative society?

      • Nicky said,

        Maggie,
        The reason why is because the intersex people need time alone to heal from the abuse by the medical doctors, surgeons and scientist who seek us. Think of what it feels like when a surgeon mutilates an intersex baby and an intersex child because they consider intersex to be a social emergency. Think about all those intersex babies that had their genitals cut off because some parents are scared their kids will grow up to be gay or trans. Think about what a parent or a mother feels when she is handed an intersex baby.

        Also, look at the DSM guidelines, according to the DSM guidelines, Intersex people are exempt from the DSM guidelines and were are never ever allowed to meet any guidelines for transgender.

        Consider what harm dose genital mutilation dose to intersex kids and babies. Consider why parents are scared about transgender people when it comes to intersex kids.

        The fact is maggie, You don’t like the answers that is presented because I think you believe that feminism has nothing to do with intersex. I think your just one of those who don’t believe that trans activist will stop at nothing in co-opting and forcing the transgender standards on the intersex.

        Think about this and answer this for me, What do you think will happen if the trans activist have their way and forced the transgender standards on what it means to be a female at birth and to be a biological woman.

        Also, ask yourself this, do you personally like it if the transgender community and trans activist tell you personally as a biological woman how you are going to be defined and looked at as a woman?

      • maggieclark said,

        Nicky, you’re so wrong about this statement — “You don’t like the answers that is presented because I think you believe that feminism has nothing to do with intersex. I think your just one of those who don’t believe that trans activist will stop at nothing in co-opting and forcing the transgender standards on the intersex.” — I almost don’t even know where to begin.

        Let me start this way:

        A poor argument is worse than a counterargument. When you rely on personal attack, empty rhetoric, and staggering fallacy to articulate your stance, you create a stance that cannot reasonably be supported by anyone. There are absolute overlaps I have with a few kernels of commentary you’ve posted here (and I’ll get to them in a minute) but since you’ve started commenting here you’ve fallen back time and again to all of the above cheap gimmicks despite being invited to partake in real, constructive discussion. I cannot support any argument that is so poorly constructed as to be an absolute detriment to the pursuit of real world solutions for all: and yours is particularly poorly constructed.

        Constructive discussion, by the way, involves directly responding to the comments and questions of the person you’re talking to, in such a way that recognizes the reality of what they wrote and counters it specifically. Instead, these are the arguments you’ve raised whenever questioned:

        1) You said you worried about how parents would treat their intersex children if they felt that trans people were part of the intersex community. In this last comment you even explicitly ally this with a fear that their children would turn out gay (when you write: “because some parents are scared their kids will grow up to be gay or trans”).

        This necessarily begs the question, a) “Why on earth are we basing policy on placating the parents’ intolerance?” b) “How on earth is this abuse if it’s the parents’ intolerance causing the surgeries?” This latter is especially key because I then demonstrated that this was absolutely no different than blaming a parental fear of feminism for the enforcement of gender norms on girl-children, out of a fear that they’d grow up too independent / radical otherwise. You didn’t respond to either of these counterarguments, or to my request for concrete examples of trans activist abuse.

        2) Instead you said that you weren’t interested in the parents — just the outcomes for the children. Okay, fine: But then something strange happened. You presented “evidence” for the abuse ostensibly visited upon intersex children by trans activists in the form of a qualitative article discussing suggestions to parents of intersex children from an “accommodation” model, an alternative to the developmental modality Dreger finds superior. Except, wait a minute: these suggestions are all choices the parents can make with their later-life children when they’ve grown old enough to manifest femininity in their male bodies, or masculinity in their female bodies. These aren’t being enforced by anyone, and have absolutely nothing to do with parents inflicting non-consensual surgeries on infant children — because clearly the parents doing the latter, out of a fear of trans outcomes if they don’t, wouldn’t be the same parents who would willingly participate in the former, which blatantly endorses trans outcomes. Those intolerant parents would almost certainly fall more in line with Dreger’s preferred approach instead. Add this to the fact that Dreger’s presentation of the trans activist community is a straw man fallacy (since it argues that the lone outcome desired by trans activists is full transsexual surgery for all) and you emerge with a set of evidence that isn’t evidence at all: it has no logical flow, and no basis in the reality of trans interactions, so how on earth is it relevant?

        3) You’ve said that the intersex community wants to be left alone: It’s solely a medical issue, you argue, and trans activists are responsible for hauling it into the political sphere. Without trans activists, you argue, intersex persons could be left in peace. To this I asked REPEATEDLY about the fact that the intersex condition is already politicized by gender normative society, especially in the domain of athletics. Also, come to think of it, since you added the “gay” part to parents’ fears it also bears mentioning that this is a further sign that the intersex condition is ALREADY political, whether or not intersex people want it to be. Just as repeatedly, you ignored this question, which is so crucial to having a full, thoughtful stance on these issues of yours.

        4) In short, you regularly said that the trans community was visiting abuses upon the intersex community, but when asked to explain what those abuses were, you answered one of two ways:

        a) simply existing (because so long as there are trans people in the world, parents of intersex children might fear their children will end up that way!); and

        b) the fear it causes in intersex adults that the mere inclusion of trans-friendly suggestions to parents of intersex children in the theoretical discourse will force all parents to turn their children into transsexuals.

        Worse still, you interspersed these illegitimate arguments with a bevy of personal attacks and some truly inane comments suggesting your limited knowledge of trans/feminist interactions. … Which leads me to those overlapping kernels I mentioned above. When you write:

        “Think about this and answer this for me, What do you think will happen if the trans activist have their way and forced the transgender standards on what it means to be a female at birth and to be a biological woman. // Also, ask yourself this, do you personally like it if the transgender community and trans activist tell you personally as a biological woman how you are going to be defined and looked at as a woman?

        I find myself again wondering if you actually read any of the original post you were responding to. Because if you had, you would know I absolutely take issue with the trans activist argument, espoused by many feminists as well, that I *need* to identify as cis, and as cis privileged, so as not to be transphobic — despite the fact that the trans identity is solely based on inner gender perception (something which no one else can ever know for any other person), and that my “inner gender” is no gender at all; despite the fact that the cis privilege checklist treats many things that affect women and trans persons equally as domains of privilege that women have over trans persons; and despite the fact that female fertility is often fetishized as a privilege in its own right, despite the global abuses against women due to their potential fertility amounting to the great majority of sexism against literally billions of women every day. Hell, that’s what the entire original post is about: the nature of oppression, and the serious problems that arise when one conflates privileges within a system with being oppressors.

        If you’d read this post, you would therefore understand that I am absolutely concerned about the way the trans/feminist discourse is being run, and equally interested in learning about how the intersex community feels in this regard. To this end, I time and again invited you to take part in thoughtful, critical discussion about the latter.

        Instead of taking me up on that offer, your terminology wildly conflated trans activists with trans persons (the lobbying group is NOT the same as its member set or constituent base: a great many trans persons even avoid the trans identity completely after transition, so you wouldn’t even recognize them as trans unless they told you they were). You also set up untenable arguments such as trans persons’ very existence being more of a threat to intersex children than the underlying intolerance of their parents. You then ran viciously and exhaustively into personal attacks against Zoe Brain, and pointedly ignored answering direct questions — instead spewing tangential or wholly unrelated copy&pastes from elsewhere and articulating an absolute non-awareness of the context of the original post and the existing intersections between trans activism and feminism in your scare-tactic objectifying of trans communities.

        Again, I have serious concerns about some of the logical outcomes and blatant contradictions that arise in the way trans activism and feminism are presently integrating their theory sets and practical models. I am especially concerned about the imposition of external identities and choices on women everywhere. If this is what you’re concerned about for intersex persons, yes, there is absolutely room for thoughtful exchanges, and I welcome a clear articulation of a) how trans activists are abusing intersex people, and b) how intersex people are “naturally” apolitical, despite the gender normative discourse invariably sparked in athletics — to say nothing about the gay community at large.

        But what you’ve forwarded instead makes me wonder: How on earth can you expect to be taken seriously when you avoid real critical discussion, instead digging yourself deeper and deeper in personal attacks and egregious fallacy? There is absolutely no way to support the opinions of someone who cannot bother to read and respond to what others have written, or someone who thinks that by writing more comments, full of “louder” accusations and rhetoric, they will get their point across best.

        I would therefore strongly urge you to choose your words thoughtfully and precisely in the future: You’ll get a lot farther with arguments that are clear, concise, logical, responsive to the source material, and ultimately unhindered by bigotry, than you will by presenting your stance in the absolutely destructive way you have throughout this thread.

        All the best,

        Maggie

  21. Zoe Brain said,

    I won’t address the numerous factual inaccuracies in Nicky’s posts – anyone who’s interested can do that, and I think it would do no good, and not further discourse.

    One of his suggestions will though : to examine the attitude towards trans people of certain fringe elements in the feminist movement.

    He gives the example of AROOO – and I think it’s a good one.

    For example, the post at
    http://aroomofourown.wordpress.com/2009/11/23/tyranniesaremaleswithdicks/

    Unfortunately, all comments that go against the expressed party line are not just deleted, but edited, often having their meaning changed completely. Discourse is not desired, and after the editors have done their work, none is possible.

    Nonetheless, this is a valuable example of some views that are more widespread than many believe.

    • Nicky said,

      That’s why Zoe, AROO has called you “The World’s Ugliest man wishing to be the world’s ugliest woman” You nothing to them but a man wishing to be a woman and you’ve been outed as such.

      • maggieclark said,

        Nicky,

        I don’t want to see anymore bullshit attacks on this site from you. I disregarded Zoe Brain’s comments on your personal interests / habits, because they are of absolutely no use to critical discourse, and the same goes here: She seems absolutely correct that the site in question modifies user comments — that’s inexcusable behaviour for anyone trying to have an honest conversation about something, and absolutely detracts legitimacy from whatever argument they’re making.

        Again, my blog is not a site like that. Thoughtful, critical, respectful discourse WILL be acknowledged: demands that other comments be deleted, or comments that levy abusive rhetorical remarks for the sake of it, will NOT be tolerated. There is too much of that bullshit already out there on the internet, and it is NOT productive.

        I say this especially since it’s clear your understanding of the feminist community is peripheral at best, so let me be frank: My aims here are to find ways to improve the feminist community as a whole. Violent, tangential abuses like the ones you’ve brought onto my blog do NOT help these aims. If you have any respect for the aims of feminism, you will focus solely on having constructive discussions while you’re on this blog, and knock it off with all the unproductive personal attacks.

        That said, I await your answers to the two questions I posed to you above.

        All the best,

        Maggie

    • Nicky said,

      Unfortunatly Zoe, AROO outed you as the ugliest man wishing to be an ugliest woman.

      “That world’s ugliest man wishing to be a woman could not write anything remotely coherent about us, even if a string of size 13 Jimmy Choos were at stake and he could borrow a real vagina for a day.”

      http://aroomofourown.wordpress.com/2009/09/25/misconceptions-abound/

  22. Michelle said,

    @Nicky:

    You write:

    The fact is maggie, You don’t like the answers that is presented because I think you believe that feminism has nothing to do with intersex.

    You have yet to present any answers to Maggie’s questions and concerns, Nicky. Circular answers are not answers at all.

    Also, look at the DSM guidelines, according to the DSM guidelines, Intersex people are exempt from the DSM guidelines and were are never ever allowed to meet any guidelines for transgender.

    This is false. On Page 580/581 of the DSM IV-TR the text reads as follows: The category Gendier Identity Disorder Not Otherwise Specified can be used for individuals who have a gender identity problem with a concurrent congenital intersex condition.

    Think about this and answer this for me, What do you think will happen if the trans activist have their way and forced the transgender standards on what it means to be a female at birth and to be a biological woman.

    Huh? What the heck are these “standards” you keep babbling about? Your comment is bitter, accusatory and uninformative.

    As an aside – there are a lot of MtF TSes out there who would give their right arm for the ability to bear children as natal females are able to.

    Also, ask yourself this, do you personally like it if the transgender community and trans activist tell you personally as a biological woman how you are going to be defined and looked at as a woman?

    Again, this is a ridiculous question, as it projects motives and actions onto ‘trans activists’ and the broader transgender community that I don’t believe you can substantiate. While the transgender – and in particular transsexual – community presents some interesting questions for feminism, I do not believe that is an adversarial dialogue.

    Lastly, Nicky, I am appalled by your ad hominem attack on Zoe Brain. That was uncalled for, vicious and beyond rude. If you have a problem with Ms. Brain, I suggest you take it up with her directly. I doubt you can substantiate a single accusation that you have made against her claims of being Intersex, so what you are doing is simply slander.

    • Zoe Brain said,

      Don’t worry, Nick has been harassing me for many years now. It’s something of an obsession with him, I’m afraid.

      If you can engage Nicky in a constructive dialogue, you’d be doing me a great favour. Many have tried, and I’ve done my best, but I’ve failed so far. But rather than go on about that, the best thing is for you to see for yourself. And who knows, you might be the first to succeed.

      By the way, he’s correct that I’ve been put on a sex offenders register. As has every Intersexed person in Australia who requires cyproterone acetate for their health.

      See http://intersexnews.blogspot.com/2009/10/intersex-australians-are-placed-on-sex.html

      You can see the scope of the problems some of us face. Problems that seem bizarre, surreal even, to those not in this situation.

  23. Michelle said,

    Note: For reasons beyond my comprehension, WordPress’ comment system seems to pick random comments to attach replies to when I use the reply to comment … this is a repost to position the comment closer to the order of discussion. Apologies – Michelle

    @Nicky:

    You write:

    The fact is maggie, You don’t like the answers that is presented because I think you believe that feminism has nothing to do with intersex.

    You have yet to present any answers to Maggie’s questions and concerns, Nicky. Circular answers are not answers at all.

    You claim:
    Also, look at the DSM guidelines, according to the DSM guidelines, Intersex people are exempt from the DSM guidelines and were are never ever allowed to meet any guidelines for transgender.

    This is false. On Page 580/581 of the DSM IV-TR the text reads as follows: The category Gender Identity Disorder Not Otherwise Specified can be used for individuals who have a gender identity problem with a concurrent congenital intersex condition.

    You then wander into some though experiment questions that make no sense:

    Think about this and answer this for me, What do you think will happen if the trans activist have their way and forced the transgender standards on what it means to be a female at birth and to be a biological woman.

    Huh? What the heck are these “standards” you keep babbling about? Your comment is bitter, accusatory and uninformative.

    As an aside – there are a lot of MtF TSes out there who would give their right arm for the ability to bear children as natal females are able to.

    Also, ask yourself this, do you personally like it if the transgender community and trans activist tell you personally as a biological woman how you are going to be defined and looked at as a woman?

    Again, this is a ridiculous question, as it projects motives and actions onto ‘trans activists’ and the broader transgender community that I don’t believe you can substantiate. While the transgender – and in particular transsexual – community presents some interesting questions for feminism, I do not believe that is an adversarial dialogue.

    Lastly, Nicky, I am appalled by your ad hominem attack on Zoe Brain. That was uncalled for, vicious and beyond rude. If you have a problem with Ms. Brain, I suggest you take it up with her directly. I doubt you can substantiate a single accusation that you have made against her claims of being Intersex, so what you are doing is simply slander.

  24. Nicky said,

    As you can see Maggie, You have no idea what kinds of abuse the intersex community faces if the intersex community is forced at knife or gun point to take in the transgender community. Do you ever wonder what kind of abuse do the transgender people face and do you ever wonder about what if they decided to dump their abuse on to the feminist community or even that matter the intersex community. You do not see the abuse because you are not intersex and if intersex people are forced to take the transgender standards and transgender standards of Care. Intersex people will face more abuse from not only the medical community at the hands of Doctors and surgeons. Intersex people will face the abuse from society at the hands of transgender people and their trans activist. You don’t see the fact that Intersex people are sick and tired of all the abuse and intersex people are simply fighting to be left alone so we can heal and fight for our own rights and not those with the transgender community. Simply put intersex people are fighting for our own rights that were supposedly been given to use by the medical community, but they haven’t handed that to us.

    What is very obvisous to you is that You don’t care or give a damn if some transgender or some transsexual comes into your community and tells you how women are going to be defined as. You simply are one of those people who are selling out your own womanhood for those who are failed men trying to be a woman. That logic can be applied as well to the intersex community because Intersex people like myself are fighting to be left alone so we can heal from all the medical abuse we get from the doctors and surgeons. You don’t see the fact that Intersex people including intersex kids and babies get mutilated, traumatized and forced to keep their condition a secret.

    It’s very obvious that you don’t see the fact that transgender people and their trans activist are using the intersex privilege in the same why they are trying to claim CIS privilage as well. It’s obvious that you don’t see trannies appropriating an intersex person’s experience and exploiting that to biological females. You don’t seem to see the fact that trannies will try and claim intersex so they can exploit that claim on to feminist and women’s groups.

    So here are my questions that you need to answer;
    1, How would you feel if the transgender activist get to redefine what it means to be a girl and a woman.

    2. How would you feel if they stole your right to be called a woman or for that matter an intersex.

    3. How would you feel if some doctor cut up and mutilated your genitals and told you to keep is a secret.

    4. How would you feel if some transactivist stole your right to speak up, stole your identity, your life history and your upbringing as either a woman or an intersex person.

  25. Nicky said,

    As you can see Maggie, You have no idea what kinds of abuse the intersex community faces if the intersex community is forced at knife or gun point to take in the transgender community. Do you ever wonder what kind of abuse do the transgender people face and do you ever wonder about what if they decided to dump their abuse on to the feminist community or even that matter the intersex community. You do not see the abuse because you are not intersex and if intersex people are forced to take the transgender standards and transgender standards of care. Intersex people will face more abuse from not only the medical community at the hands of Doctors and surgeons. Intersex people will face the abuse from society at the hands of transgender people and their trans activist. You don’t see the fact that Intersex people are sick and tired of all the abuse and intersex people are simply fighting to be left alone so we can heal and fight for our own rights and not those with the transgender community. Simply put intersex people are fighting for our own rights that were supposedly been given to use by the medical community, but they haven’t handed that to us.

    What is very obvious to you is that You don’t care or give a damn if some transgender or some transsexual comes into your community and tells you how women are going to be defined as. You simply are one of those people who are selling out your own womanhood for those who are failed men trying to be a woman. That logic can be applied as well to the intersex community because Intersex people like myself are fighting to be left alone so we can heal from all the medical abuse we get from the doctors and surgeons. You don’t see the fact that Intersex people including intersex kids and babies get mutilated, traumatized and forced to keep their condition a secret.

    It’s very obvious that you don’t see the fact that transgender people and their trans activist are using the intersex privilege in the same why they are trying to claim CIS privilage as well. It’s obvious that you don’t see trannies appropriating an intersex person’s experience and exploiting that to biological females. You don’t seem to see the fact that trannies will try and claim intersex so they can exploit that claim on to feminist and women’s groups.

    So here are my questions that you need to answer;
    1, How would you feel if the transgender activist get to redefine what it means to be a girl and a woman.

    2. How would you feel if they stole your right to be called a woman or for that matter an intersex.

    3. How would you feel if some doctor cut up and mutilated your genitals and told you to keep is a secret.

    4. How would you feel if some trans activist stole your right to speak up, stole your identity, your life history and your upbringing as either a woman or an intersex person.

    • maggieclark said,

      Nicky, I recognize that when someone is called out on presenting poor argument, it can be seen as a personal attack — especially if the person presenting poor arguments in the first place is so used to personal attacks. But I’m dead serious when I say my comments are not about attacking you: they’re about demonstrating why the way you present your stance is an absolute detriment to your cause. My comments throughout this conversation should bear that out.

      What you’ve responded with, sadly, is more completely illogical statements, and quite a few ad hominem scare-mongering tactics. The sad part is that, amid these statements of yours ( which I’ll deconstruct momentarily), are absolutely signs of clear pain you feel from your lived experiences not being taken seriously or respected. The problem is, I know damn well I’m not intersex — that’s the entire reason I invited you time and time again to share here your experiences — but what YOU did with that opportunity, time and time again, was to present yourself in a way that *couldn’t* be taken as anything but an incoherent cry of pain. Which, again, is clearly part of your lived experience, and needs to be recognized as such. But it does absolutely nothing to further productive discussion.

      Think of it this way: How far do you think women would have developed the feminist movement if, at the many outsets of great social change, they had just said “We are oppressed! Men are oppressing us!” and responded, whenever they were asked how men were oppressing them: “They just are! You don’t understand because you’re not a woman!” I can answer the question for you right now: Not far at all.

      This is the difference between the incoherent howl of the oppressed, and the rallying cry of those who want change. Because those who wanted change damn well made sure people knew precisely what kind of oppressions were occurring, and what their community needed to do to counteract them. Discussions then arose therein — Were the proposed plans the best plans? Were there others? And from this different schools of thought emerged, and with them, different implemented approaches to combating oppression. That’s the whole point of these discussions: to get somewhere; to do something productive.

      And to do this we need to engage in thoughtful, critical, respectful discourse. That last bit — RESPECT — is especially important, because when you fail to read and respond to what your fellow debater is actually writing there can be no progress, no going forward at all.

      This becomes especially true in your last comment, which yet again demonstrates a blistering ignorance of my comments about feminism (in this thread and in the posts on this blog), and the problems caused in theory and in practice by how trans activists would have me self-identify. The original post here talked about the imposition of cis privilege, and the huge discursive and practical problems it raises — not the least of which is the redefining of my female sexed body (and especially its fertility) as something I should feel “privileged” to have, despite the expectation set it necessarily brings being, for billions of women, the central arena of male oppression. In short, simple words, then: Trans activism on the whole, and much of liberal feminism, has signed on to a theoretical model that forces the label of “cis privilege” on me, despite trans identity necessitating gender identity as based solely on an “inner truth,” and accuses me of manifesting that privilege when I say that my lived experience — and that of billions of women around the world — of being a woman is largely placed in my birth sex, with all the oppressions therein. And I have said this before in this thread. So when you write the following:

      “What is very obvious to you is that You don’t care or give a damn if some transgender or some transsexual comes into your community and tells you how women are going to be defined as. You simply are one of those people who are selling out your own womanhood for those who are failed men trying to be a woman.”

      I have to assume you’re just being willfully ignorant. Again, perhaps because you took my criticism of your argument as a criticism of you, the person — but willfully ignorant nonetheless. There’s no way you cogently could read my last comment to you and not recognize that this entire conversation is predicated on my issues with how trans activism and feminism intersect in the current discourse. Of course, it’s also clear that you’re not very familiar with feminism and its troubles either, which leads me to presume you don’t identify as female. To this end I’d like to suggest that there’s probably a hell of a lot you could learn in turn from a mutual exchange of information about how our communities both interact with trans activism, and what problems arise therein — if you were willing to discuss the concrete details of those interactions, and not just fling wild, ignorant accusations instead.

      So let’s deconstruct your statements now:

      You have no idea what kinds of abuse the intersex community faces if the intersex community is forced at knife or gun point to take in the transgender community.

      This has been entirely the point of our conversation, Nicky. I keep asking, and you keep coming up with two bizarre answers: a) the very existence of trans people is an abuse towards the intersex community, because it could make parents fear their intersex child will grow up trans if they don’t mutilate at birth, or b) the very presence of trans persons in the discourse about possible approaches to later child-rearing could make all intersex children turn into transsexuals when they would otherwise just be very effeminate men or masculine women.

      As I’ve already said, the former prioritizes placating intolerant parents and hoping for the best instead of pushing real education to ensure the child’s best interests are maintained; and the latter represents a straw man of the transgender community, which absolutely does not treat transsexualism as the only “right” way to manifest gender variance. (I even drew from the very Dreger article you posted, wherein her Samoan example perfectly resonates with the “two-spirited” identity already incorporated in trans experience!) It also presumes that the existence of an alternative in the discursive sphere is tantamount to said alternative being forced down every parents’ throat: Once again, it is the parent who decides how to raise their intersex child, so truly, it’s the parent who needs to understand the importance of making informed decisions. Blaming trans activists for the mutilation of infants further pretends that this mutilation didn’t happen before; and in your case, isn’t even matched with quantitative data providing correlation between any increase in mutilation at the rise of trans activism. And you’d absolutely need the latter to justify shifting the blame from the ignorant and intolerant parents / health care professionals to the trans community as a whole.

      Bringing in “knife or gunpoint” is also ridiculously dramatic — and sad, really, because if you’d based your fear of intersex people being forced to follow a trans developmental model on any sort of real-world evidence, we could be having a conversation right now about how similar that government mandate sounds to the same feared by feminists trying to create safe spaces in women’s centres for women from deeply religious backgrounds, who would otherwise not approach these centres for aid if they felt they had to speak about very private matters in the company of people they recognize as sex-male, and therefore gender-male (i.e. the trans women). Some trans activists and liberal feminists would then ask “Well, isn’t it the same — aren’t you prioritizing ignorance in the case of these deeply religious women, at the same time you’re condemning a policy for intersex reform that prioritizes/protects ignorance in the parents of intersex children?” To which I’d say, no, it isn’t — because in this case the ignorant people are also victims of oppression themselves, and need a space to heal, escape, or otherwise grow.

      Really, it would be a very interesting conversation — but we can’t have it you, because you and I are struggling just to agree on the definition of a legitimate argument.

      Do you ever wonder what kind of abuse do the transgender people face and do you ever wonder about what if they decided to dump their abuse on to the feminist community or even that matter the intersex community. You do not see the abuse because you are not intersex and if intersex people are forced to take the transgender standards and transgender standards of care. Intersex people will face more abuse from not only the medical community at the hands of Doctors and surgeons. Intersex people will face the abuse from society at the hands of transgender people and their trans activist. You don’t see the fact that Intersex people are sick and tired of all the abuse and intersex people are simply fighting to be left alone so we can heal and fight for our own rights and not those with the transgender community. Simply put intersex people are fighting for our own rights that were supposedly been given to use by the medical community, but they haven’t handed that to us.

      This is an immensely convoluted set of statements, so I’m going to parse it first: You postulate that because the trans community is experiencing tremendous abuses at the hands of society at large, any intersectionality with trans activism necessarily burdens the intersex community with the political implications of those abuses. The intersex community, you further argue, doesn’t want to deal with anyone else’s issues: it has enough of its own. You also present a fear of what would happen if the trans community won the right to force trans standards of care upon all intersex people. Since the only standard of care you’ve referenced is the “accommodation model” of child-rearing presented as one option in the intersex discourse, I have to assume this is what you’re afraid will be imposed on all intersex persons — forcing each and every one of them to become a transsexual. Since I’ve dismantled that argument in two different ways above, I’m going to focus on your fears of over-politicization. The sad thing is, I’ve been trying to focus on that fear of yours the entire time we’ve been talking: I’ve honestly lost track of the number of times I’ve asked you to answer the political question that counters your implicit assertion that, without trans activists around, intersex people would only have to worry about the medical community. The history of gender normative treatment of the intersex condition in the realm of athletics begs to differ — and time and time again I’ve asked you to address how you feel the intersex community could possibly be apolitical when politics is foisted on the community regardless of whether or not trans activists are involved. Since you brought the word “gay” into your second-last comment, I also expanded that question to get you to talk about how the politicization of the queer community at large — of which some intersex persons must surely be members — relates to your presentation of trans activists as solely responsible for the politicization of the intersex community. Every single time I’ve asked this, you’ve avoided the question. Is it because you don’t have an answer for this? If you don’t, it’s okay to say that. In truly respectful debate, the consequence of admitting you’re not sure about something, or even wrong about something, isn’t the other party gloating: It’s moving forward together with that new knowledge set. I would very much like to progress further in this particular line of discourse.

      That logic can be applied as well to the intersex community because Intersex people like myself are fighting to be left alone so we can heal from all the medical abuse we get from the doctors and surgeons. You don’t see the fact that Intersex people including intersex kids and babies get mutilated, traumatized and forced to keep their condition a secret.

      This last sentence is telling — because there is absolutely no foundation for the accusation that I “don’t see [this] fact,” and plenty of evidence to the contrary; nonetheless, you’ve made an emotional appeal to authority, using the vivid image of mutilated children to stand in for a cogent argument of causality. Here’s what our actual conversation has been, in a nutshell:

      You: Intersex children are getting mutilated because the parents are afraid their children will turn out gay or trans if they don’t force a specific sex on them. Trans activists are responsible for these parents’ actions! Trans activists need to go!

      Me: Intersex children are getting mutilated because the parents are afraid their children will turn out gay or trans if they don’t force a specific sex on them. The parents are responsible for these heinous actions! Their intolerance and ignorance need to go!

      Do you see what’s similar about these two statements? It’s the fact that we’ve both been quite clearly in agreement that intersex children are getting mutilated at birth. From the get-go, that has been an understanding between us. The difference between us lies in who we blame for these heinous, traumatic acts, and the policy decisions we would each promote to combat them. That’s what a real discussion entails, by the way — so here, up until your bizarre assertion that I “don’t see” intersex children being mutilated — we were actually having a thoughtful conversation.

      It’s very obvious that you don’t see the fact that transgender people and their trans activist are using the intersex privilege in the same why they are trying to claim CIS privilage as well. It’s obvious that you don’t see trannies appropriating an intersex person’s experience and exploiting that to biological females. You don’t seem to see the fact that trannies will try and claim intersex so they can exploit that claim on to feminist and women’s groups.

      This is another ridiculous argument that shows absolutely no reading comprehension of my previous comment, the comments before it, or the original post. The ENTIRE POINT of the original post was that the fragmentation of gender oppression into a hierarchy of privileges mistaken for sub-oppressions works to the detriment of our cause as a whole. But I especially have to take issue with your last sentence here, which is the first of many that show a complete ignorance on your part of the feminist community, and also hugely ill-defines the nature of “abuse.” When you write that “tran[ssexuals] will try and claim intersex so they can exploit that claim on to feminist and women’s groups” you demonstrate an ignorance of the actual arguments trans women use herein: specifically, that their gender identity is something other than their sex at birth, other than their socialization — that it arose, from birth, as a self-recognition deep within, knowable to no one else.

      Are there transgender persons who claim that their brains are actually wired in a differently gendered way, and in so doing shift the place of “true” gender to possible biochemical essentialism? Yes, absolutely. And while most then define themselves as one gender or another, I am equally open to recognizing that a select few therein would identify as “both.” But herein lies the problem with your definition of “abuse”: It now argues, again, that the very existence of a person who sees his/her inner truth as being both male and female is an abusive act to the intersex community. This creates a definition of abuse so vague in scope as to endorse intolerance universality: If anyone else’s personal identity — and the broader, more complex reality it encompasses — is intrinsically abusive, then technically I as a secular humanist am abusing billions of religious persons the world over for whom a refusal of God threatens their own lived experiences. Well, Christ on a cracker, I’d better stop that!

      I strongly believe everyone has the right to self-identify as they choose. What we do, collectively, with those self-identities — which are by definition non-falsifiable, and which can be used to marginalize the lived experiences of others — is something very different, something that merits a great deal of thoughtful, respectful critical analysis. In feminism, there are absolutely problems that arise from trans activists defining “woman” in a way that demands the automatic inclusion of all transgender people who self-identify as women, because this prioritization often marginalizes the absolutely severe and widespread problems suffered by billions of sex females the world over. If you’re saying that trans activists equally define “intersex” in such a way that demands the automatic inclusion of all transgender people who self-identify as intersex, at the cost of marginalizing the very real sex-based problems suffered from birth by all the intersex people the world over, that’s something we should be talking about.

      But there is a real difference here between denying a person’s personal identity — which is, to that individual, their entire life — and stressing that there are different lived histories that need to be protected in our collective fight against oppression. At present, forcing the title of “privilege” on automatic, marginalized identities — born-sex-females and born-intersex alike — in no way usefully fights gender oppression as a whole, because it distracts us all from the people who truly have the oppressive power in our system: the gender/sex normative males. For this reason, whenever we focus all our efforts into denying the inner truths of our fellow oppressed, the oppressive gender binary as a whole benefits. This is unacceptable: For this reason, we must not deny one anothers’ existence, one anothers’ inner truths. We must also, however, fully recognize that our lived histories are nonetheless different, and that the bodies bearing them demand full and equal respect and protection in whatever fight against gender/sex oppression we pursue. In feminism, the former is being managed quite well, but the latter is flagging — both theoretically and in practice. If the same is true for the intersex community, we should be having a conversation about this instead.

      That said, by now it should go without saying that the four questions you’ve asked me express only a deep ignorance of feminism, my comments on this thread, or my feminist posts on this site to date. Nonetheless, I’ll reiterate the essentials of that argument below:

      So here are my questions that you need to answer;
      1, How would you feel if the transgender activist get to redefine what it means to be a girl and a woman.

      They do. It’s already happened, and a lot of liberal feminists have accepted it without fully thinking through the consequences of signing onto cis privilege checklists that pretend what happens to both born-sex-females and trans women only happens to the latter (and furthermore is created by the former); or the consequences of readily accepting a policy-setting definition for personal gender that is both non-falsifiable and treats as “privileged” the gender/sex oppression specifically suffered by billions of born-sex-females on account of their expected fertility.

      2. How would you feel if they stole your right to be called a woman or for that matter an intersex.

      I already don’t get to call myself what I am — specifically, sex female since birth, but only gender female inasmuch as society reads me as gender female (my “inner truth,” as opposed to the inner truth of many trans women, is NOT of any gender at all) — because to do so is to deny cis privilege, and therefore be transphobic. This has led me to be silenced on a few online communities now. I am well aware of what it feels like to have others tell me how I need to refer to myself, despite it not fitting with my own lived experiences and self-identity.

      3. How would you feel if some doctor cut up and mutilated your genitals and told you to keep is a secret.

      Welcome to clitorectomies — the great pain of born-sex-females everywhere, just knowing how damn lucky we are not to have been born into cultures that think a woman needs to be mutilated to protect her from the dangers of independence and sexual liberation. My own genitals were not mutilated as an infant, but when I defend the place of sex-female histories in feminist discourse, it’s with a mind to my sisters around the world who suffer these horrific abuses — to say nothing of the infant girls raped (and in so being, sterilized) by men seeking a cure for AIDS, or the children, mothers, old women raped with guns, sticks, whatever’s lying around in the Congo. These mutilations, and the fact that clitorectomies happen even in ostensibly civilized countries (I have heard of at least four cases in my own city in Ontario, Canada), are an urgent part of my fight for a better social theory of oppression between trans and feminist politics — one that does not permit the marginalization of physical abuse against born-sex-female the world over. If you’re concerned that similar marginalization is being created by the definition of intersex being used to include trans persons, then we also have room for discussion.

      4. How would you feel if some trans activist stole your right to speak up, stole your identity, your life history and your upbringing as either a woman or an intersex person.

      Again, I’ve been silenced for refusing to self-identify as cis privileged. When I’ve self-identified as genderless, I’ve been told by some trans activists that this isn’t an option: I have to “choose one.” I have further been told that my fertility is a privilege, that “all abuse aside” I must love being a woman (as if it’s ever possible to eradicate that history of my body!). The physical playing field on which abuses have been laid upon me all my life because of my sex/gender is regarded in some trans activist circles as a source of sex/gender oppression. These are discourses that cannot survive close scrutiny, because taken to their logical conclusion they all become quite ugly and keep us from fighting gender/sex oppression as a whole. These are discourses over which you and I, and all the other very thoughtfully engaged persons on this blog, may ultimately be able to find common ground, and progress.

      But to do this you absolutely need to recognize where your own arguments work against your own cause, detract from constructive critical analysis, and otherwise further the movement as a whole from achieving its aim of countering and deconstructing gender/sex oppression at its source.

      I hope to all heck this comment helps, because if this doesn’t turn out to be clear enough, I’m honestly out of ideas for how we can both progress constructively in this discursive environment. At which point I’ll just have to call it quits and move on to my next post.

      Whatever the outcome, all the best.

      Maggie

      • Nicky said,

        See, Maggie, what you don’t understand and I think this happens alot is that people come from countries that are culturally and socially different. Such as in the case between us. Your a Canadian and I am an American. For intersex people in Canada and feminist in Canada, things are different in how they run things and the same can be said in America as well.

        So when you compare how things are run, You are looking at it from the context of where you live. Since in the case that your from Canada, your looking at how feminist, intersex and trans issues are run and handle from a Canadian point of view and for me, I look at how intersex, feminist and trans issues are run from an American point of view.

        That’s why what gets lost online is the fact that people don’t realize when they talk about who they are and what their opinions are, they are talking about it in the context of where they live and I think people need to realize that what happens in one country dose not easily apply in another country as well. So no two countries standards on feminist, intersex and trans are alike.

        My arguments are sound because I as an American with an intersex person am looking at it from where I live in America and looking at it from an American intersex person’s point of view.

        As you can see, Trans activism is very much incompatible with intersex activism because the two are very different because first of all most if not all intersex people DO NOT have any Gender identity issues. The second is that Intersex people are fighting to be left alone and not be involve with trans politics because we first need to fight the medical system that constantly abuses intersex people including intersex kids and babies. Also, Intersex people are fighting trans people because trans people constantly appropriate intersex people’s experience and life history at their expense for political and social gain.

      • maggieclark said,

        “My arguments are sound because I’m looking at it as an American” is a fallacious ad hominem argument when stated in isolation from the original argument (i.e. with no clear causal link for why this distinction actually makes a difference to any of what I said). If you don’t know what an ad hominem argument is, I strongly suggest looking it up. Perhaps you didn’t learn how to argue logically in school — that’s probably the system’s fault, and unfortunate, but no excuse not to inform yourself now.

        Let me be clear:

        1) There was absolutely nothing geopolitical about me asking you to define what abuses are being visited the intersex community by the trans community.

        2) There was equally nothing geopolitical about me asking you why you’d prefer to placate intolerant/ignorant parents in the hopes that they’ll treat intersex children better.

        3) There was also equally nothing specific to an American/Canadian divide about me asking you how you can claim the intersex community is only politicized through trans activism when you yourself note that fear of queerness in general also provokes violent reactions in intolerant parents, and when the athletics community itself politicizes intersex people. The issue of Caster Semenya’s treatment by the athletics and media communities was equally appalling the world over. It is an extreme disservice to intersex persons like her to claim that the only intersection of politics and intersex communities is caused by the presence of trans perspectives in medical discourse.

        The great lengths you go to in order to avoid actually having a real discussion about the issues that matter most to you / your community is just staggering. What on earth is it that you seek to get out of this conversation, if it’s not to further a productive exchange of information about the theoretical and practical problems with gender community intersectionality? Seriously, I’d like to know. Did you just come here to vent? To lash out at people? To create more heated animosity in an already charged internet environment?

        Because I see a whole lot of you excusing yourself from answering questions that could actually allow for learning, for insight, and for real progress. Meanwhile, the time I’ve already spent talking to you, appealing you to participate in a constructive dialogue about these issues of gender/sex intersectionality, could just as easily have been spent talking to people who, while very likely holding very different views than I hold about where our priorities should be in fighting institutional oppression, have the sense to recognize that the only meaningful way forward is through thoughtful, critical, respectful exchanges.

        I intend to move on now. If you’re ever interested in having a real dialogue about gender/sex issues, as they relate to the intersection of trans activism, feminism, and the intersex community, this space is always open. But if your aim is solely to vent and rail and hurl personal attacks on this space, well, you can do that too, disrespectful as it is: but I don’t guarantee that anyone will pay attention or respond, or in any way ally themselves with your poorly articulated stance. Is that really helping your cause? I just don’t grasp how your approach to this could in any way ever lead to meaningful, lasting change.

        All the best,

        Maggie

  26. maggieclark said,

    Thank you everyone for taking part in the conversation — derailed as it was — in response to this post. I’ve got a new post up, about why we have to look beyond inner truths in future discourse about gender/sex policy: I wholeheartedly welcome everyone’s input therein.

    All the best,

    Maggie

  27. polly said,

    say this with full equanimity: I do not accuse people of straight privilege anymore, because I know full well it’s not contingent on who you are but whether you pass, and that far too many people whose inner truths are not straight adopt this language of oppression in order to do just that. I know, personally, that I pass far too much for my own comfort

    I don’t think this is entirely true Maggie.

    Someone who is straight and passes as straight will have straight privilege.

    Someone who is straight but does not pass as straight will not have straight privilege. However in any situation where contact with someone is extended, production of (or even talking about) a heterosexual partner or heterosexual attraction is usually enough to pass as straight.

    Someone who is LGB but passes as straight my indeed enjoy straight privilege in terms of say, finding it easier to get a job. BUT they will only do this at the cost of hiding an essential truth about themselves. Therefore although they enjoy – materially – aspects of straight privilege, an aspect of straight privilege they lack is being able to be open about their sexual orientation.


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