Gina de Vries

Please consider writing your own letter about "biological sex"

Filed By Gina de Vries | September 11, 2008 10:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, The Movement, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: biological, biology, cisgender people, trans, trans women are bio women goddammit!, transgender, transmisogyny

Dear Cassandra,

My name is Gina de Vries. I am writing because I am disturbed by the exclusion of male-to-female (MTF) transgender women from your survey on romantic and sexual relationships between women. I would like to respectfully ask you to change your exclusion of trans women from this survey, and include transgender women as well as cisgender (non-transgender) women in your study. I am also writing because I am a cisgender woman in a relationship with a transgender woman, and if my partner were included in your survey guidelines, I would be happy to participate in your study.

You say that your survey participants have to be "a woman (biological sex)." The term "woman (biological sex)" is both a misnomer and essentialist. "Biology" is simply the science that studies living matter in all its forms -- which would lead me to believe that all living people's sexes are "biological," regardless of whether they are transgender or cisgender.

However, when people reference "biological sex" in the context of transgender people, what they generally mean is that cisgender people's bodies are "biologically" sexed, and that transgender people's bodies are not "biologically" sexed - that trans people, by virtue of identifying as a gender other than that which they were assigned at birth, are somehow artificial, unnatural, and not "biological." This is not only extremely offensive - it is absurd. Transgender people's sexes, genders, and bodies are as "biological" -- as alive, and as authentic -- as cisgender people's sexes, genders, and bodies. And it is my fundamental belief that trans women are biological -- living, breathing, and above all, real and authentic -- women.

Excluding trans women from this survey creates a hierarchy in which women with certain kinds of bodies are privileged over others; where a woman's identity as a woman is based upon her body parts, or body parts she may have once had, or hormones, or chromosomes, or some combination of those attributes. And while I am a cisgender (non-transgender) woman, I have had the experience of people basing my worth and identity as a woman on what my body looks like.

But our bodies, what we choose to do with them, and how we choose to modify them, are not the sum of our parts as women. What makes women women -- trans or not -- is not about hormones, chromosomes, or what might be between our legs.

Put simply: There are many biologically female cis and trans women couples, and there are many biologically female couples where both women are trans. By excluding trans women (and their cis and trans women partners) from your survey, you are missing out on some potentially fruitful and insightful information.

Please cease your exclusion of trans women, and reconsider your wording about who is "biologically" female and who is not. I firmly believe that your survey and your project as a whole will be stronger if you include trans women.

Thank you very much for reading this,

Gina de Vries

From: Cassandra Golding [mailto:c_h_ride@hotmail.com]
Sent: Saturday, September 06, 2008 4:01 PM
To: Gina de Vries
Subject: PLEASE help with female couples research

Hello,

I am a clinical psychology doctoral student at the University of Rhode Island currently collecting online data on female couples who have been together for at least six months. Could you please post the below request for participants to your list-serve and/ or pass on to people you know who may be eligible? Thank you, in advance for your help in completing my goal of 1200 participants. I really appreciate your contribution to this research.

Survey Link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=UFljHZ2zpImhM4jkRag4oA_3d_3d

Request for Participants

You are invited to participate in a research study to explore romantic relationships between women. I am a doctoral student at the University of Rhode Island. The information gained through this research will be used to better understand how women relate in romantic relationships and how they define, view and experience closeness in their relationships. Your participation in this study is completely voluntary, confidential and anonymous. Once you complete the survey, you will be given the option to be entered (via email) in a random drawing for one of 25 monetary rewards totaling $600 (one $100, four $50, ten $20 and 10 $10 American Express gift cards or similar).

In order to participate, you must be:


  1. at least 18 years old,

  2. English speaking, and

  3. a woman (biological sex)

  4. currently in a committed, romantic relationship with another woman for at least six months.

Your participation does not depend on the way you identify in terms of your sexual orientation. Therefore, you may identify as lesbian, gay, straight, bisexual, or any other term you choose.

Just click the below link and you'll be directed right to the survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=UFljHZ2zpImhM4jkRag4oA_3d_3d

Please complete this survey as soon as possible. Thank you in advance for your help and please forward this invitation to others who may either meet the criteria or know people who would. Thank you again.


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Crazy Diamond | September 11, 2008 11:03 AM

Please consider conducting your own study, in which you can included transgender and cisgender individuals. When you devote yourself to highly academic splicing of the nuances of gender, biology, cisgenderism, etc., its counterproductive to lash out at people for having no clue what you're talking about, and thus not including you.

Ah . . . "cisgender" is another term for "non-trans women," which is what the Cassandra was asking for to begin with. And personally, as a trans woman who has had relationships with non-trans women and trans women, I find Cassandra's request rather demeaning to my existance and to all of the relationships I have had. I agree with Gina on this one.

considering that this woman is a doctoral psychology student, I'm going to guess she knows or should know at least what transgender people are and the basics when it comes to GID. Or biology.

"Please consider conducting your own study"

I'm getting sooooooooooooooooooooo tired of this attitude. Seriously. It leaves me feeling so hopeless.

WORD! And thanks for your thoughts on this post, Alex.

It's so refreshing to hear "separate but equal" hinted at again. No, really. It so rarely is suggested. *rolls her eyes*

It's hard not to lash out, but it seemed like a remarkably restrained letter to *me*. Of course, "biologically" I suppose I'm biased... >.>

Aww, Grace, thank you for your thoughts.

Also, I'm biologically biased, too. And I'm not even trans.

If she specifies "woman (biological sex)," it is a fair statement that she knows there is some difference somewhere. Gina's letter here is a very well written letter requesting inclusiveness and noting why using "biological" as "non-trans" is incorrect and rude. I think it's very well written.

Thanks, Jenni! I'm glad you appreciate it...


Please consider conducting your own study, in which you can included transgender and cisgender individuals. When you devote yourself to highly academic splicing of the nuances of gender, biology, cisgenderism, etc., its counterproductive to lash out at people for having no clue what you're talking about, and thus not including you.

Okaaaaay... Well:

I'm actually NOT an academic. Emphatically not. I did go to college, but I wouldn't say I work/engage in academia at this point in my life. I find it very funny that you're assuming I'm an academic.

I do not have the resources or desire to conduct my own study. But you know what? I think Cassandra's study would actually be fine, with some modifications. Which I politely suggested.

I will cop to the fact that I write in more a formal tone sometimes, esp. when I need to get a point across to people from a particular background (like academics).

That said, I don't think that what I wrote was very complicated, academic, or even nuanced. My request is pretty straight and to the point.

I guess I could have just written: "Trans women are bio women. Include them. kthxbai." But I wanted what I sent to her to be a little more substantial/explanatory/educational than that.

This isn't highly academic at all. And I don't know why "lashing out" is "counterproductive." I don't think Gina is lashing out anyway.

Thanks Gina for taking action. Being curious I did take a look at the survey and surprise surprise here are question 6 and 7:

6. What do you consider to be your gender?
Female
Male
Trans gendered
7. What does your partner consider to be their gender?
Female
Male
Trans gendered

Chosing trans gendered (however I do consider myself female (trans for me is a other layer)) seems not to be the end of the survey. But maybe she'll kick me out of the results later………

Danielle, thanks for commenting! Yeah, I think her inclusion of trans men is really weird, and problematic -- see my comment to Bil for more on that...

I understand what's she's doing. She's trying to control for the complexity that trans women will bring into her analysis.

This is the same excuse researchers have made in regards to excluding women from clinical trials.

Research can be messy, but that doesn't give people an excuse to cherry pick their sample to make it easier on themselves.

That's exactly what I was thinking. She'll try to say that she couldn't talk about socialization, etc., if transwomen were included, forgetting the fact that gender socialization varies based on a lot of factors, not just birth gender. Like race, class, birth order, etc.

The focus of her study is on relationships, so in addition to the messed up assumptions being made about socialization, there's the assumption that trans women have entirely different kinds of relationships with other women. For some, but not all, trans women that is true.

But again, the study is trying to be very broad and include a lot of diversity -- not just reconstruct the cultural dyke. Frankly the straight identified women in relationships with women are going to be farther from the cultural dyke than trans women are. But in that case, diversity of experience is valued. In trans women's case, diversity of experience is seen as a reason to exclude.

I understand where you're coming from in your objection to the research design and the wording, but I also understand where the researcher is coming from. If I were her, I would either totally ignore everything in the above email or I would change "biological sex" to some term that meant the same thing (like "natal sex" or something.) Including transgendered women would potentially add interesting information to the study (if it were a qualitative study, though probably not so much if it were a quantitative one) but that's not what she is studying. In wanting to study one particular population, it is important to select for only that population. It doesn't mean that other groups don't count or are unimportant (though of course groups that are considered unimportant are rarely studied, like asexuals, for example), it likely just means that's not what she is wanting to study in this particular study. Generally, I would consider above email to demonstrate a general ignorance of research design and methodology. Of course, "you could do your own research" is an annoying response, but not necessarily inappropriate one.

The thing is, this is not an issue of "wouldn't it be nice if they studied..." or "someone should do a study on..." And saying, you can do your own research, completely ignores the way that this study is flawed in a way that will skew and bias the results to create less accurate information.

First off, there's the issue of just plain offensive phrasing. It's one thing to want to study a specific group (ex: "white women"), it's another thing to phrase that an inflammatory way (ex: women (no coloreds)). That's essentially what this study is doing -- and in doing so it's going to skew who is going to feel comfortable responding. Lots of cis women I know would be too offended to respond.

Secondly, it's a terribly confusing, imprecise, and unclear term. Studies don't often say "middle class", they specifically talk about income because so many people have different ideas about what middle class is. Similarly, I consider myself a biological woman, despite being trans. And the study itself appears to be encouraging genderqueer and trans male respondents (as long as they were assigned female), but it's so unclear that there's going to be terrible inconsistency in how respondent's interpret the requirements.

And finally, it's perpetuating an academic history of bigotry. Like the other commenter that mentioned medical studies that exclude women because hormonal cycles make results less understandable -- but then such medication only tested on men is made available to everyone. Or it's like studying middle/upper class white male college students and saying that represents all men. In this case, the researchers intent is clear -- studying women's relationships. It's pretty clear that the results will be generalized to all women. She's not studying cis women (and I guarantee you that the research results will not frame this as a cis women's study), she's studying "women" but for one reason or another, trans women don't count as "women". It's assumed that our experiences must be categorically different and therefore must be excluded. But the only reason to make such an assumption is bigotry.

So this isn't just a case of "I wish she were studying a different group", this is the airing of legitimate challenges to the academic viability of the study based on the researcher's biases prejudicing the results.

Oh, Tobi -- I know I say this to you all the time, but to say it again: You're goddamn brilliant. Yes, yes, yes to all of this.

Sorry about the dual comments, but another issue occurred to me right after posting the first one. The person doing the study is associated with a US university. This means that before doing this, she had to go though a (likley long and definitely annoying) process of getting IRB approval for her study. In order to make the changes proposed above, if she wanted to be able to publish her results, she would probably have to throw out all the data collected so far, and she would definitely have to do all of the IRB paperwork again, likely wait a few months for it to go through and completely start over, setting her back several months at least in her project.

I'm on my University's IRB and if she was conducting this here the change wouldn't involve much work or time. She wouldn't have to throw out her data either. Its not like it would involve changing her questions or the manner they are asked, just expanding her pool of participants.

Given that this is likely for her doctoral dissertation, if I was on her committee I would press her on the reasons for her exclusion.

The term "woman (biological sex)" is both a misnomer and essentialist.

The term has a generally recognized meaning. You say essentialist as if there were something wrong with that. Just because something does not fit into your orthodoxy does not render it wrong, in error, or invalid.

Since Ms Golding specified "(Biological)" as a modifier to Woman I would imagine that both her dissertation committee and the Institutional Review Board (IRB) understood and concurred with her reasoning and word choice. Going back to change words after the fact is not as simple as it might at first appear.

Otherwise I concur with Anderw.

You say essentialist as if there were something wrong with that.

Well, yes. Essentialism bases a person's gender on hir body, not hir identity or sense of self. I just can't get down with that.

Just because something does not fit into your orthodoxy does not render it wrong, in error, or invalid.

Wait, there's a trans inclusion *orthodoxy* now? Cool! Thanks for letting me know!

First of all, Gina, thank you for writing this. It's so tiring having group after group reject transsexual people. I've come across more direct discrimination from the supposedly englightened lesbian, gay and feminist communities than I have from 'normal' people, irrespective of their openness to people who are different from society's norm.

I thought that the 'T' in LGBTQI community was meant to indicate some form of understanding of the transsexual condition. I thought that in this community at least we would be treated as people of a particular internal gender with an at least partial non-corresponding physical expression.

Irrespective of the additional complexity in the research, some level of sensitivity and understanding should be expected of this community and I don't think that Gina asked for anything more than that.

Are we just freaks to the rest of the LGB_QI world?

I've spent my life since a child feeling that I was a woman. Now, four years into my transition, I'm feeling more embattled than during all those years I tried to pretend to be what the world told me I had to be.

If you can't accept us, please just show a bit of sensitivity.

I've spent my life since a child feeling that I was a woman. Now, four years into my transition, I'm feeling more embattled than during all those years I tried to pretend to be what the world told me I had to be.

If you can't accept us, please just show a bit of sensitivity.

Maybe I'm getting too simple here, but aren't transwomen technically born female? I'm not talking about the body they were born into, but the mind and sense of self. As Emily states, she has spent her life feeling that she was female. What can be more biological than the brain?

Why can't biological sex be interpreted as a person that is born female, no matter what body she is born with?

Maybe I'm getting too simple here, but aren't transwomen technically born female?

Sher, thank you! My point exactly! Trans women are women! (I'm resisting the urge to say "DUH!" here...)

As Emily states, she has spent her life feeling that she was female. What can be more biological than the brain? Why can't biological sex be interpreted as a person that is born female, no matter what body she is born with?

WORD.

Emily, thanks for so openly sharing your experiences around rejection and openness. Your comment really hits my heart. Maybe this is only a little bit of solace, but when you ask:
Are we just freaks to the rest of the LGB_QI world?

I just want to say that the answer is, emphatically, NO -- at least not in my world.

Thank you so much for your support, Gina... You're an angel.

Okay - I'm going out on a limb here, but I agree with Andrew and Greg. It seems to me like she's studying a very distinct population and is clearly clarifying it. By demanding that she include trans men and trans women into her study because otherwise it's not inclusive enough, we set ourselves up to demand that "biological" men also be included so we're not sexist.

I guess what I'm saying is that I don't know enough about her reasons for narrowing the request so much. She might have a good reason. (Especially since transgender is a choice later in the survey.) I just don't know enough about the situation to pass judgment one way or another. Without that, I'd have to say it would be appropriate to write her and question, but not chastise.

I think Gina did that successfully, while adding in extra information for the recipient as well.

Bullshit. You have the resources available to know why. You asked for trans people to educate you about ourselves--but you're the only one who can bother listening. This is *willful* *knowing* *intentional* ignorance and discrimination, both on the researcher's part and yours.

If you can't get that 1)including trans men in "woman" on the pretext of biological sex is offensive, 2)ejecting trans women from said category is offensive, 3)there are not "good reasons" for discrimination, 4)assuming there's a "good reason" for discrimination when that reason hasn't been stated is oppressive and serves no purpose other than to protect discriminators and maintain discrimination, 5)claiming the exclusive and "objective" right to determine, as a cis person, *particularly one who has acknowledged he doesn't know shit about trans issues or experiences,* but a cis person of any stripe, whether or not something is "really" discrimination is itself discrimination/oppression, 6)the "distinctness" of cissexual women's experiences of relationships between women has not been established and is only being assumed on the basis of transphobia...if you can't get that, then you're not listening.

Cedar, you're *so* smart and fierce. Thanks for laying it out like this.

I don't get why transwomen were excluded but no other group of women (like black or Canadian or elderly) were either. This group doesn't seem to be all that particular.

Wouldn't be nice if Ms. Golding were willing to visit this discussion and perhaps explain her thoughts?

I am guessing that she may think that persons who had a male socialization while growing up will behave differently in relationships than persons who had a female socialization during childhood and adolescence. Perhaps she has read studies which show transwomen and natal women do differ in this regard - I don't know.

I'm not an academic so maybe I am wrong, but I wonder if she could have collected the data from all women, and then if her analysis showed that the transwomen relationships actually did confound the results she could report this finding and exclude their responses, if necessary. In doing so, she would be contributing to knowledge, it wouldn't be wasted effort.

Additionally she makes it clear that she is trying to get as diverse a sample of women as possible. She even reassures people that it doesn't matter what you identify as. You don't have to identify as lesbian, or bi. You could be straight, heteroflexible, whatever.

But no trans women allowed? That seems counter to the goal of a diverse sample of women.

That's not a distinct population, Bil. That's potentially every cis woman on Earth, but not a single trans woman.

And whenever I've come across "no trans women allowed" it usually means "...because you're not really women anyway."

Also, I don't think anyone was asking for trans men to be included (although I think the survey questions imply they're welcome to answer).

Thanks for commenting Lisa -- I think your point about "realness" is really what's at the bottom of this kind of stuff, and is part of why I find it so frustrating/sad.

And realness is at the core of transphobia and trans misogyny. The perception that trans women aren't authentic has been used to exclude us constantly. Doing this is practically a political statement - a nasty, trans misogynistic, statment, but still political.

Whatever Cassandra may have intended, she's saying we're not women, and that's dehumanizing and offensive.

And I think a lot of people who responded here sidestepped that and tried to make excuses for it, and that's bullshit.

Hmmm. Bil, to clarify a point that I thought was pretty clear:

I'm not asking that she include trans men. I actually think it would be extremely problematic to include trans men in a survey about relationships *between women* -- if you include trans men in that survey, that means, logically speaking, that you think trans men are really women, right? That's a problem!

What I *am* asking is that she include trans women in relationships with other trans and/or cis women in her survey about relationships between women. And esp. since transgender *is* a choice later in the survey -- and I'm guessing she's talking about trans men there, since she explicity excludes trans women -- I think the request makes perfect sense. (Also, I really don't understand why trans men *are* included. Or, well, I do understand why, but I think the reasons are both transphobic and transmisogynistic.)

In short, I don't think there's any really good reason to leave trans women out of the survey. Tobi makes some great points as to why, much more eloquently than I could, so I won't bother repeating what she says here.

Bil, no one is talking about transmen, only transwomen.

The study is about the romantic relationships among women. Her goal is to examine "how women relate in romantic relationships and how they define, view and experience closeness in their relationships. "

If this was a study about a physiological issue like uterine cancer then a biological distinction is warranted. However, the study is psychosocial in structure and looking through their questions I did not find any that a transwoman would not be able to answer in a valid way.

I feel that the exclusion of transwomen within studies like this is based on a false premise. That the socialization of all transwomen is radically and significantly different from that of nontranswomen.

If this was a study about a physiological issue like uterine cancer then a biological distinction is warranted. However, the study is psychosocial in structure and looking through their questions I did not find any that a transwoman would not be able to answer in a valid way. I feel that the exclusion of transwomen within studies like this is based on a false premise. That the socialization of all transwomen is radically and significantly different from that of nontranswomen.

Emilia, thanks for putting this so intelligently and eloquently. I think your point about physiological issues vs. psychosocial issues is really crucial; I feel silly for not mentioning it in my letter, so I'm glad you brought it up.

Also, hi! :) We have a friend in common, Jess S. She speaks the world of you, so it's nice to finally "meet" you online.

Melanie Davis | September 12, 2008 5:13 AM

I think it's still a confused set of criteria. So, does she accept transmen as a part of the "woman (biological sex)" criteria? What are her criteria for biological sexed individuals, specifically, would she consider that a MtF transsexual whose brain morphology falls within the female range but not the male range in key areas to be "biologically sexed," or is genital morphology her only criteria? Is she accepting of post-op MtF transsexuals if genital appearance is a criteria for "biologically sexed," or does she want "women" who are or have been capable of giving birth? What is her reason for using the term "women" as opposed to "female?" Is she looking for people who have all been socialised from infancy as female in this or other societies, i.e.: "women born women?" What is she trying to show with this data?

Too many unknowns in this situation to make a call on her intentions without asking for further clarification. Maybe she is clueless regarding transwomen; she wouldn't be the first professional to have spent only a couple of pages' worth of attention on GID and related issues in their academic careers. Contrary to a belief I'm encountering more and more in our community, mental health and healthcare professionals don't know much of anything more about trans people than your average Jerry Springer fan. The doctors and therapists we see usually have decided for various reasons to focus on our community and it's specialised needs and are not to be held as possessing their profession's average training.

I'd like to hear from Ms. Golding to get her take on it, as it stands, I agree with many of you that her current terminology is insulting. It would be helpful to know if she was innocently ignorant, controlling for some unknown factor, or just a bigot.

It's hard to say what her intentions are for sure, but...

... when you're excluded from 100* events, gatherings, studies, queer spaces, women-only spaces, and so on because the people in charge see you as "really a man" is it really fair to ask that the 101st occasion be viewed differently?

* Arbitrary number. I mean that there's a pattern here that's been playing out ever since Beth Elliott was booted from the Daughters of Bilitis 35 years ago.

One of my most central philosophies in life comes from this saying, "There is no shame in failure, but there is in failure to try." Just because the 100 events didn't accept us, does it mean we don't try to see if the 101 event does? Besides, it's been my experience that I have been accepted in practually every event and situation I have attended where there was "women space." I guess they are more accepting in the South.

I think you misunderstood what I was saying. I'm not talking about giving up because the 101st event might not be open. I mean, if you see 100 events that exclude trans women for a particular reason, then why assume that the 101st event that also excludes trans women might be a different reason?

I'm trying to point out that it's a pattern and no matter how educated Cassandra Golding might or might not be, suggesting that she might be doing it for some reason other than "trans women aren't real women" is not really Occam's-friendly.

Seriously, we need to learn to pick our battles. It seems rather silly to get all bent out of shape of a research study.

What if the study was looking specifically for intersexed XXY females.

And then a group of HBS transsexuals start bemoaning how they too are really intersexed and are therefore being discriminated against.

Maybe this researcher is specifically looking to study biological XX women.

This one little survey does not diminish our relationships so lets quit with the feigned indignance over something that matters not in the big picture.

It's not really cool to tell other people whether their reactions are feigned or not, especially if it's just because you don't like the fact that people are having reactions in the first place.

Your example is broken too: For one thing, HBS women are transsexuals, not intersexed, so they wouldn't belong in a study about all intersexed women. Trans women are women, so a study about all women should include trans women.

Now, a study about all intersexed women that excluded CAIS women or one that excluded all women who had been raised as male and transitioned to female would be more apt, and just as wrong.

Your comment about specifically looking to study cis women is interesting, since we've been asking "why does she only want to study cis women?" I'm not sure this is news?

We all do pick our battles. Some of us picked this one. If you don't like it, you don't have to pick it too - but you shouldn't be playing this "pet issue" card to shame people out of giving a damn.

Seriously, we need to learn to pick our battles. It seems rather silly to get all bent out of shape of a research study.

Research matters. If it didn't, then it would be far sillier to spend a career, hundreds of personal hours, and in some cases thousands of dollars to do research than it is silly to spend an hour or so writing a thoughtful response in the hopes of correcting flawed research which is hurting our community.

I could tell you about how a body of research like this informs how LGBTQ social services and political organizations craft their strategies. I could tell you that when the community accepts discrimination as okay it only encourages it in other spaces. I could explain to you again how this is not an issue of sample selection (she's trying to represent a broad diversity of women!).

But instead, I just want you to think about all the "little" things that you've been directly impacted. Something rude, a snub from a business you're trying to access, a politician talking about the invalidity of your family, a right-wing activist who spews homophobic rhetoric. When I encounter things like this, I'm not feigning indignation, I'm feigning politeness.

When I encounter things like this, I'm not feigning indignation, I'm feigning politeness.

Yes.

Lisa HarneyYour example is broken too: For one thing, HBS women are transsexuals, not intersexed, so they wouldn't belong in a study about all intersexed women. Trans women are women, so a study about all women should include trans women.

Um actually the whole HBS movement does "believe" they are intersexed, hence what makes them so gleefully batsh!t and so enjoyable to be around.

Oh by the way, what really is not cool is people saying my example is "broken" when trying to make a point whilst obviously not having researched alleged broken theory.

As far as to feign or no to feign, I was really just hoping that the anger was feigned. So you can be really mad, and I will just shake my head at the silliness of the situation; and no my head shaking is not feigned.

Finally as someone who works in public opinion research, sometimes research is geared towards a specific demographic.

So if there are those who feel that all of "trans-kind" needs a study like this to somehow validate our relationship and so we can all wear cute little buttons that say: "I was a study participant too" by all means, undertake a study.

Um actually the whole HBS movement does "believe" they are intersexed, hence what makes them so gleefully batsh!t and so enjoyable to be around.

The fact that HBS people believe they're intersexed does not make them intersexed, which is one of the many reasons your example is broken.

Another is you described a narrowly focused study (women with klinefelters) and HBS women wanting to be part of that study because they believe they're intersexed. This is not only broken, but offensive.

Compare to the actual study: Aimed at all women (except trans women) to study romantic and sexual relationships between women (except trans women). In your example, you're describing a group of women who have no business defining themselves as part of the group that's being surveyed trying to force their way in. In other words, your comparison sets trans women up as interlopers who aren't really women.

Oh by the way, what really is not cool is people saying my example is "broken" when trying to make a point whilst obviously not having researched alleged broken theory.

Oh, goshdarnit, you caught me out. I'm completely ignorant about the HBS movement.

As far as to feign or no to feign, I was really just hoping that the anger was feigned. So you can be really mad, and I will just shake my head at the silliness of the situation; and no my head shaking is not feigned.

Seriously, why is it that something other women get upset about bothers you so much you have to mock, condemn, and shame over it? If you don't care, you don't care, and that's fine, but telling everyone else that you don't approve of what we do care about is . . . what? Making this whole thing about you?

Finally as someone who works in public opinion research, sometimes research is geared towards a specific demographic.

Yes, and this one claims to be aimed at all women (except trans women). Do you really believe that any time this happens it can be considered a neutral action, that it carries no weight of trans misogyny?

BTW, you might want to check yourself a bit and reconsider your assumption that anyone considers this the most important fight of any day. You might also remember why it is is offensive to claim that trans women aren't women.

Not that you claimed that, but you're telling people here we have no right to find that offensive.

Lisa Harney said: BTW, you might want to check yourself a bit and reconsider your assumption that anyone considers this the most important fight of any day. You might also remember why it is is offensive to claim that trans women aren't women.

I need to check myself??

What? Before I wiggity-wiggity wreck myself??? Seriously. - rotflmao

Anywho, the fact is that I am a transWoman, not a biological woman, and therefore I can understand that maybe the researcher is looking for biological women because of how biological women are socialized from birth, with all the other tripe gender stereotypes directed solely by one's genitals upon their birth.

Therefore since I was not socialized as female from birth and was urged into stereotypical "boy" play, aggresive activities, etc, my take and functioning in a relationship is different than that of a biological woman.

Not bad, just different, and therefore it is logical that perhaps this study wishes to look at XX females for a reason.

Lisa Harney said: Seriously, why is it that something other women get upset about bothers you so much you have to mock, condemn, and shame over it? If you don't care, you don't care, and that's fine, but telling everyone else that you don't approve of what we do care about is . . . what? Making this whole thing about you?

My response is due to the silly high-fiving and lambasting being doled out to those who dare question the necessity of a brouhaha over this study.

Because really; do you think jumping on someone who poses a legitimate question a good way to gain allies or compassion?

I guess the disagreement is what is a legitimate question. Personally, I think that criticizing research like this is completely legitimate. It's a major problem in research to claim to represent a group that you don't. If you claim to represent all people but only include men in the study, or claim to represent all men but only include white men, or if you claim to represent all women but only include cis women and a few random men, then that's a major academic problem that has real impact on the people that you claim to represent but then exclude. And it's certainly possible to raise such criticisms in a polite and respectful way -- which I think Gina did a great job of.

Because really; do you think jumping on someone who poses a legitimate question a good way to gain allies or compassion?

I don't, which is why I've been trying to show how this question is a legitimate one. Frankly, I'm a little surprised at how many people have been jumping on Gina over this. In this instance, your tone seems light, but you're obviously invested in it enough to write several comments insisting that those of us posing this legitimate question should shut up about it. I'm a little perplexed over why several people here have so much invested in silencing this criticism.

May I suggest a bit of reading? Just from my own writing:

My response to Bil, above, but with a note about the economic impact.

So Shut Up, a poem/spoken word piece that touches on some of these issues.

A few excerpts from my essay, Beyond Inclusion.

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | September 12, 2008 7:50 PM

The fact that the researcher has defined her study's subject as "romantic relationships between women," yet excluded MtF's while (seemingly) including FtM's makes me think she really doesn't know what's what with transgender folks.

Yes, yes, yes. Which means she is *potentially educable*, which is why I bothered to write her a letter, *instead* of just writing the whole thing off. Ignorance is fixable.

Tobi Hill-Meyer said: If you claim to represent all people but only include men in the study, or claim to represent all men but only include white men, or if you claim to represent all women but only include cis women and a few random men, then that's a major academic problem.."

First, she is not claiming to represent "all people". The participant qualification specifically states that she is looking for biological women.

Secondly, we routinely gear our firm's research to a specific demographic at a client's request. Whether it be wine drinkers, specific ethnic background, gender, religious domination or one recent study that looked at the voting habits of white suburban likely female voters.

The purity and specificity of a sample is paramount to achieving the standard confidence interval of 95%.

Finally, Question 6 of the study asks what your "gender" is and list "trans" as an option right along side of "female" and "male"..

So someone please tell me again what exactly is the problem? To me this says the researcher feels trans folks are biological women based on gender not genitals. She should be applauded, not chastised.

Alright Alli, as a university professor involved in scientific research and I found the above a problem because their participation criteria associates women with biological sex. As mentioned above, there is enough historical evidence that leads toward the assumption that this was done to exclude transwomen. And as I mentioned above this is made because of the faulty assumption that the socialization of all transwomen is significantly different from that of all nontrans women. There's no scientific support for such an assumption of dichotomous socialization tracks. Many factors can influence it.

For example, the rough and tumble play issue. Many narratives of lesbians include being a tomboy and rough and tumble play. One can also make distinctions between those women who grew up under title VII vs those who grew up before it. Also, the study is looking at relationships women had with other women. Women can have a wide range of coming out processes (those who come out in adolescence vs. those who come out later in life) that can affect their experiences. Being trans is just another aspect that a researcher can control for.


Now someone could say "they would never have enough trans people to be useful". If one was randomly calling a geographic area, then yeah the sample of trans women would be small. However, the study is recruiting a convenience sample through queer networks. The potential to find transwomen who partner with other women is much higher.

One last thing. The link to their survey now reroutes to the U. of Rhode Island website. I don't know what that means.

Reread the section that you just quoted. I'm talking about the problem of claiming to represent a larger group than you actually do -- "all people" is just an example. In this case, she's intending to represent all women. Specifically, in the consent page of her study she says:

the investigator hopes to learn more about relationship quality for all kinds of women.

Again, I have no problem with someone doing a study on cis women -- but that is clearly not the case. None of the questions are specific to cis women's experience, and the results will not be specified to only represent cis women's experience.

Wow, well I surrender. If this is important to you, then go get 'em, show 'em your a tiger.

Meanwhile, our family is going to go on about our business enjoying a Saturday afternoon together, not preoccupied by the thought that an academic might not see our relationship as valid.

Just do me a favor and email me if the sky happens to fall. That way my family and I can get into our "fallout" shelter.

Yeah, I've been resisting linking this for a full day.

I really need to write versions that reference gender and sex rather than race, as that seems to trip people up.

Alli, maybe these are a moot points since you're "surrendering"...

I haven't been jumping all over anyone. I sent a letter to this researcher because I figured she might be aducable about these issues, and educable and bigoted are very different in my book. I think what I sent was pretty gentle.

Secondly, as Emilia and Tobi and a lot of commenters have pointed, her reasons for leaving trans women out don't seem to have to do with anything *but* ignorance. Which, again, is fixable.

And you know, if this isn't a battle you want to fight -- if you disagree with me, or if you just don't want to write your own letter -- cool. You don't have to.

You *also* don't have to belittle and be rude to people who care about this.

Gosh, Alli... I'm really so happy that you have your family to enjoy your life with. That's just plain good and there's nothing that should put that aside (and I really do mean that).

However, maybe you shouldn't be quite so dismissive about those of us who feel this is a case of either ignorance or discrimination. Maybe this battle is a little more important for us than it is for you. That's life, I guess.

BTW: I promise, the sky won't fall... Just let those of us who feel this is an important issue follow it up. You need not let your life be disturbed by this battle!