If you weren’t aware; the Scottish Government’s consultation on GRA reform ends on 17th March.
Anyone in Scotland – indeed, anyone in the UK (or anywhere in the world) can respond. More weight will be given to the responses of people living inside Scotland, but anyone can give their views.
The last two or three years have been a growing wave of anti-trans feeling which has been made “respectable” to the general public by articles and comments by women perceived as speaking as part of mainstream UK feminism when they attack trans women.
They are not speaking as feminists at all when they attack women for being trans: they are just coming out with a rigamarole of nonsense and lies, which I strongly believe is inspired by the US Christian Right promoting anti-trans campaigning.
- Supporting women who are trans is feminism: nothing more, nothing less.
- Disregarding men who are trans and insisting that they are “really” women is sexism and homophobia: nothng more, nothing less.
I am cisgender.
Cisgender is a word retroformatted from transgender, which in turn was coined in 1965 from two Latin words. Cisgender is first recorded in print in 1994.
Cisgender means that you still identify as the gender by which you were identified when you were born. Suppose that you were identified as a girl when you were born: then if you identify as a woman today, you are cisgender: if you identify as a man today, you are transgender.
On Tuesday 8th January, Suzanne Moore’s essay on the power of female anger went up on the New Statesman website. I read through it, liked it, winced at one line in it, and glanced at Twitter and saw I had not been the only one to like, but to wince. I also saw Moore’s reaction to the polite criticism she was getting, and I thought “Someone should explain to her why this is going to get people upset” and in this spirit (and because it seemed an appropriate article for LGBT.co.uk, for which I am contracted to Write Stuff) I wrote No, Not Moore Transphobia, pointing out too that a conversation about #TransDocFail had been going on before the article with the unfortunate line about “Brazilian transsexuals” went online.
I swear, I thought this was all going to calm down within a few days. Suzanne Moore did get a couple of very awful tweets (“cut your face off” / “you should have your head cut off”) were, while not (in my view, and I wouldn’t blame Suzanne Moore for differing in that) serious call-the-police threats, they were wretchedly unpleasant things to get – as unpleasant as the “cut your dicks off” line Moore tweeted – and I blocked both of the senders. But, most of the comments Suzanne Moore was getting initially were on the lines of “That line about Brazilian transsexuals is problematic” and I thought that once she cooled down, read the open letters and blog posts written by women for whom (I assumed) she could feel nothing but respect, she would have to admit; she screwed up.
What I didn’t think of either – and should have – was that the situation for trans women in Brazil was not going to get any better just for Suzanne Moore taking up all the media attention possible and claiming this was all about her hurt feelings. The distress of the privileged is real distress, even if it is different in scale from injustice. Moore was celebrating the anger of women: shouldn’t she get that anger is splendid even when it was directed at something she wrote?
I don’t spend a lot of time thinking of myself as cisgendered, even though when I first heard the word I realised it filled a lexical gap I had been aware of for years: I objected to identifying myself as “not-trans” or “born-woman”. (I was not born a woman: I was born a baby.)
That I don’t have to think about being cisgendered is 28 on the Cisgender Privilege Checklist, of course.
One of the events that makes me more aware of being cisgendered is when someone registers how short my hair is and calls me “sir”, or some rude person wants to know “Are you a man or a woman?” (The best answer I have discovered to that question is to reply loudly “Which are you?” and then walk, don’t run, to get out of sight while the questioner is suffering hed-explody gender-confusion.) On a day-to-day basis people code each other’s gender on a very narrow bandwith – hair, clothes, specs, make-up/absence of – which rarely if ever has any connection with a person’s physical sex, let alone their gender identity. (Granted if you are wearing physically-revealing clothing past the age of puberty, this usually ceases to be quite true.)
I was filled with excitement about seeing Tomboy because not only had it been well-reviewed, it appeared to deal with a life-situation that both babydykes and trans boys know about directly, and to express this in a way that a mixed audience could perceive. [Update: Though I may have been wrong about that – see Hullaballoo review.]