Mercedes Allen

Less Than Woman, Less Than Human

Filed By Mercedes Allen | August 04, 2011 5:00 PM | comments

Filed in: The Movement, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: Cathy Brennan, Elizabeth Hungerford, gender expression, gender identity, international human rights, radfem, Status of Women, trans, trans human rights, transsexual

Cathy Brennan and Elizabeth Hungerford have tendered a paper to the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, in response to a query regarding the current international status of women. From this exercise, the Commission will be working to "identify emerging trends and patterns of globe.jpginjustice and discriminatory practices against women for purposes of policy formulation and development of strategies for the promotion of gender equality."

In their paper, Cathy Brennan and Elizabeth Hungerford (who if they want to sign their names to this, I'm happy to give them ample credit for it) adamantly and explicitly oppose the extension of basic human rights to transsexuals, under the premise that providing rights protections under the classes of gender identity and gender expression "erodes" womens' rights. Conveniently, Cathy Brennan and Elizabeth Hungerford waited until the deadline for submissions before making this public, so that transsexuals are not given an opportunity to respond, and once again have no voice at all in the question.

Cathy Brennan's and Elizabeth Hungerford's argument only works:

  1. if you refuse to accept trans women as actually being women,
  2. if you believe that the principle of human rights (that all should be equal) is negotiable, if the minority in question is small enough, and
  3. if you ignore the potential benefits women gain from gender expression inclusion.

Yes, it's true that this paper is posted at Radfem Hub, where there's never been a whole lot of regard for transsexual women in the first place. And even though the conversation may be specifically about whether or not we should be allowed to coexist and be accorded the same rights as anyone else, we're not entitled to a voice in the matter there:

However, this is not merely an inconsequential blog post -- it's also a paper that has been submitted to a United Nations body that advocates for womens' issues around the world, for their consideration as they formulate policy.

As I am apparently not woman enough to respond to them on their turf (nobody did a panty check or ask for a surgeon's letter, so apparently those are irrelevant), and I'm also not human enough to merit basic human rights and equality anywhere in the world per the terms of the arguments Cathy Brennan and Elizabeth Hungerford make, I will respond in what few corners that there are left to me. And I want to be clear that I am not advocating threats (or worse, violence) to try to silence the authors -- on the contrary, I'm perfectly happy to hold Brennan and Hungerford's views up for all to see, and let the public be the judge.

So That WBW Spaces in America Can Trump Basic Human Rights Worldwide

In their submission to the Commission on the Status of Women, Cathy Brennan and Elizabeth Hungerford claim that:

the proliferation of legislation designed to protect "gender identity" and "gender expression" undermines legal protections for females vis-à-vis sex segregated spaces, such as female-only clubs, public restrooms, public showers, and other spaces designated as "female only."

So put aside that what we are talking about -- human rights -- include the right to work, find housing and access health and social services... or even the right to not be subjected to violence because we're trans (since that is also part of the UN Commission's mandate). Because that's of far less value to anyone than the right to have womyn-born-womyn-only spaces.

Public showers brings up public nudity, and most realize there has to be alternate (but not invalidating or unreasonable) accommodation for pre- and non-operative people. But beyond that, this is the flogged-to-death "bathroom bill" argument perfected by Maryland's Citizens for Responsible Government (CRG) in 2007, and then exported elsewhere across North America. Cathy Brennan has probably heard CRG's rhetoric before, given that she is an out lesbian attorney who has been actively involved in the activism surrounding trans rights in Maryland. Elizabeth Hungerford is listed as a lawyer and lesbian activist in Massachusetts, and should be acknowledged as clearly not being the noted UK-based soprano performer of the same name.

The Buried Footnote Contradiction

Radfem Hub is very clear about its policy that no one of transsexual history is to be dignified with recognition as a woman, and a similar attitude persists in many regions around the world -- Brennan and Hungerford make virtually no attempt to state otherwise. In fact, the authors certainly make a point to tie sexual violence to "the uniquely female consequence of unwanted impregnation resulting," to imply that anything less doesn't actually count. There is a small contradiction buried in one of the footnotes near the very end of the document that offers an alternate definition of gender identity which allows for surgery (and creates qualifications that would not be possible for transsexual women outside Western nations), but it does not fit with the rest of the context of the letter (which disavows the concept of gender identity entirely). Personally, I'm not all that hung up on genitals, but I would be interested to know if Cathy Brennan advocates the logical conclusion that this paper implies: that even post-operative women should be denied access to a womens' restroom. Why not just say it?

I've written about "bathroom bill" rhetoric amply, before:

I'm transsexual, and have been using the womens' restroom ever since I transitioned, years ago. It has never been illegal for me to do so. Trans-inclusive legislation does not change what is legal and appropriate behaviour in washrooms. The Transgender Law and Policy Institute notes around 130 jurisdictions in the US where explicit legal inclusion for transgender and transsexual people exists (some back to 1975), and yet no such pattern exists....

Empty Lip Service To Opposing Discrimination, With No Alternate Solution Given

Cathy Brennan and Elizabeth Hungerford also go on to say that:

... we recognize the legitimate needs of transgender and transsexual women to operate in the world free from irrational discrimination. However, we cannot deny the implications of this legislation - and the radical shift in priorities it represents for females. Female reproductive vulnerability has a long history of exploitation by males in the form of sexualized violence....

In other words, they claim to recognize that we need basic human rights, but actually granting those rights harms women and constitutes sexualized violence by males. In different venues, Cathy Brennan has previously advocated for a disease-based model of coverage under "disability," but in this document, a suggested alternative form of rights protections isn't even offered. It's entirely possible that Brennan and Hungerford may have opinions that differ from what is presented here, but I've done my best to not misrepresent the text of the letter itself - and one would assume in a paper such as this, they would want their message to be absolutely clear.

At one point, Brennan and Hungerford attempt to raise fear that gender identity is not typically defined in a way that requires documented proof in legislation. But even the inclusion of a definition at all is unusual: we don't define terms in legislation, since that starts defining into law who is acceptable to exclude from human rights. We do not, for example, define "disability" to include only physical disabilities on the basis that mental disabilities scare us - on the contrary, the principle of human rights is that individuals should be judged by their individual actions, rather than a characteristic. The authors are calling for a specific definition that requires some undefined proof... proof which would probably not be easily obtained in Russia or Nicaragua, let alone Uganda or Saudi Arabia. Even in North America, there will be people (at Radfem Hub, for example, where the authors considered "home base" enough to guest post their letter and archive their PDF) who assert that a psychiatrist's letter - or even that of a surgeon -- is not valid, objective medical evidence of one being a woman. And if this standard is not met, then Cathy Brennan and Elizabeth Hungerford feel that legislation should exclude transsexuals -- or at least transsexual women - from fundamental human rights.

Nothing More Than The Same Old Prerequisites

So here is what this is about. Radfems want the right to exclude transsexual women (and sometimes also transsexual men, but they sometimes waver on that point, because they don't really consider them to be men) from womens' spaces. Apparently, this is a major problem in Nepal, Turkey, Bolivia and Kuwait. Not to mention the unfair treatment given the Malaysian Womens' Music Festival. Typical prerequisites held up by radfems to invalidate trans women can include:

  • Physical milestones that women endure, such as puberty, menstruation, pregnancy and childbirth. Of course, MTF hormone therapy induces physical puberty (though circumstances differ, see next point), and not all cissexual women can become pregnant or experience childbirth. Some cissexual women with various medical conditions never experience menstruation.
  • Having always been excluded from male privilege. Certainly, many if not most pre-transition MTF transsexual women have questioned male privilege when they've observed it, been sensitive to it, and chose not to assert or regard it in their own lives. I know that before transition, I'd never felt particularly entitled, and generally-speaking, society usually picked up on that, and treated me as lesser, accordingly. Even so, yes there were times that privilege had been granted without my assertion. I bring none of that privilege with me from my former life, save the very clear lesson from seeing the before and after of how I as a woman am now consistently denied it. To my thinking, transsexuals -- both MTF and FTM -- are able to provide the strongest testaments that male privilege exists, and just how disparate that gap really is. That said, people early in transition sometimes have to run through a few conflicts before their eyes are opened to this.
  • Chemical traits stemming from hormones. Within one to two years of hormone therapy, transsexual women become hormonally equivalent to cissexual women, both in physical (muscle-fat distribution, endurance capabilities) and chemical regards.
  • Chromosomal DNA. Of course, we don't test everyone on this, we just assume that anyone born with male genitalia has exclusively male chromosomes. Science has been unearthing some conflicting data, but we don't have it all collected, yet. Stay tuned.
  • Socialized, life-long experiences as women. Again, many of these experiences (rape, victimization and violence, sexist treatment, discriminatory assumptions, wage disparity, the way that the commodification of the female "beauty" aesthetic affects our value as humans, medical impositions on the body) are things that transsexual women can and do experience as well, but it's often asserted that said experience has not been for long enough (yet a timeline when one has "arrived" at womanhood is never specified). Other experiences (i.e. puberty during conflicted childhood, socialization as "girl") are more likely to appear exclusive, but overlooks the possibility that there may be comparative experiences in a transsexual's life. For example, the childhood-long relentless and frequent beating out of me (both physically and mentally) of the effeminate traits that were natural to me could certainly qualify as lifelong lessons in the lesser regard that women and their associated traits are held in. Social prerequisites stem from a belief that women are oppressed from birth by men, and that only women with common experiences of oppression are truly women. Anyone who had ever experienced life as a man is thus excluded, by this reasoning.

I'm sure that Cathy Brennan, Elizabeth Hungerford and the good people at Radfem Hub can come up with a few more. There is a word that amply describes the motive at play and masquerading as a scholarly paper -- although its use is often responded to with cries of "anti-woman" hostility and violence. Instead of saying it, I think readers are more than capable of seeing it and judging for themselves.

Meanwhile, In America and Around the World

The past week or so has been filled with it's usual share of heartbreaking news. In Washington D.C., Lashai Mclean was put to rest, although the memorial service was marred by a mass walk-out, when the presiding pastor made comments that Mclean's death was god's will to make people repent, and a deacon commented that "... when you live a certain lifestyle this is the consequence you have to pay" (Monica Roberts posts a video by Diamond Stylz with more information). Meanwhile, D.C. police are investigating another near-identical shooting, and the possibility that someone is stalking and hunting trans women. Nearby, news is unfolding regarding foul play suspected in the death of a trans woman in Manhattan (as is always the case, identified as a man in initial police and media reports). And while murders of trans people around the world often go unreported, TGEU notes the murder of a woman named Didem, in Turkey, and information has run dry about the murder of Thalia, in Mexico.

In Malaysia, 25-year-old Aleesha Farhana Abd Aziz died of a heart condition following the high court's dismissal of a three-year (or more) quest to have her identification updated to reflect the way she lived her life -- something that affects franchisement at every step in society. In Vietnam, officials are fighting about whether a woman of transsexual history (post-op, because as with radfems, in Vietnam, the actual genital configuration apparently doesn't count) should be jailed with men, and in Sweden, legislators are arguing yet again about whether trans people should be forcibly sterilized in order to be legally able to transition. Trans people in India are being denied access to food programs, and Metro relates the ongoing situation in Ecuador, which is not unfamiliar to many other parts of the world:

A frequent problem she comes across is transgender people being kicked out of home, leaving them with no option but to turn to prostitution. As a result, the transgender community suffers from high levels of HIV.

... Anamaria Bejar of the HIV/Aids Alliance, says attacks in South America are happening with widespread impunity. 'When a transgender person is assassinated, mostly their friends organise and pay for the funeral as, for many families, "they were already dead" when they left home,' she says.'The police don't take them seriously. Paramilitary and crime groups consider the assassination of a transgender person as "social cleansing".'

But Cathy Brennan, Elizabeth Hungerford and the good people at Radfem Hub can sit back and smile, knowing that they are doing their part to make the world a better place for women, by urging the UN Commission on the Status of Women to abandon any advocacy for gender identity and gender expression. In fact, they claim that inclusion will "codify the notion of stereotypes based on sex into law," rather than defuse such codification.

"The security awareness administration at Dubai Police is currently planning the launch of campaigns targeting transsexuals, boyat, domestic violence and sexual harassment," police said in a statement.

... Universities and radio and TV programmes regularly discuss this subculture, often saying parents are not involved enough with their daughters as they hit their turbulent teenage years."We are stigmatised and misunderstood," Kool Boyah said, adding she was abused by a male relative as a child. "I wanted to be tough and appear so through my choice of tomboyish clothes and attitude."

Boyat often wear masculine attire under their the abaya and shayla in public.

... According to Islamic tradition, it is forbidden for men and women to act like the opposite sex. Such behaviour is considered a deviance from God's plan and from nature.

A better place for women, indeed, free of transsexuals, and free of pants. Because unlike patriarchy, Cathy Brennan and Elizabeth Hungerford know what is best for women the world over.

(Crossposted to DentedBlueMercedes. img src)

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I never get these "women-born women only" exclusionary types. But then again, if human history has taught us anything, it's that oppression and marginalization is an exercise that every minority group is just itching to try out for themselves; they're just waiting for their chance, dammit!

This is unfortunately very true, and I'd hope we can learn from it, but quite often that doesn't seem to be the case.

A Lockheed Martin Marietta Ga. Womens Leadership Affinity Group had a Womens Leadership Forum to help women grow and advance in leadership and management a few months ago. I realized then a difference between men and women. The difference is one of gender expression, which is confused with gender identity and yet it is a subtle gender expression difference, masculine leadership traits. Many, if not most women, look to their husband, ir look for a husband that has a strong father figure gender expression. This father figure gender expression is a primary leadership skill that companies look for in a person destined for leadership and management. I found that many gentic women are not themselves interested in leadership because of their strong female gender expression of wanting a strong male gender expression leader/father figure to follow.

These RadFem women have strong male gender expression traits and are trying to help women increase their leadership/independence from men and male domination, ie. trying to get women to have stronger male gender expression leadership traits.

There are women of transsexual history that have strong female gender identity and strong female gender expression that disappear after surgery and find a strong male gender expression father figure man to marry and settle down to be a loving wife. This type of woman would never support or attend a RadFem activity. And then there are the women of transsexual history that still have a substantial male leadership gender expression. Some are vying for the same leadership positions the RadFems are fighting for. Competition and Win at almost any Cost is common for high male gender expression people, regardless of gender identity. And from the RadFem viewpoint, any leadership position taken by a person of male biological history is a job stolen from a person of female biological history. No doubt they also think that (per the win at almost any cost masculine gender expression) a man switching genders is only doing it to try to take leadership positions somewhat reserved for women leaders (quotas and percentages).

Anyway, that is my opinion.

FurryCatHerder | August 8, 2011 10:10 AM

If anyone needs an example of why Radical Feminists are so suspect of transsexuals and transsexuality, the above reply would be one.

To say that it is sexist, and based on sex-stereotypes, would be an understatement.

FurryCatHerder, the comment you point to also struck me as incredibly sexist, as well as incoherent. wtf:"Many, if not most women, look to their husband, ir look for a husband that has a strong father figure gender expression." omg.

The basis of the statement is a paraphrase of what genetic women in the Wichita Kansas area, Washington D.C. Suburb, North Texas told a male with weak masculine gender expression. Experience also showed the more self assured the woman, the more masculine a man had to be.

So to reiterate, the statements came out of the mouths of genetic women.

And genetic women can't perpetuate sexism? Their voices have more weight and priority than other voices? I don't understand why someone's birth-assigned gender is important to what was said.

And that is the nature of the beast... oppression builds a well of revenge within the oppressed, and when the inevitable day comes that the oppressed throw off their oppressors they become oppressors themselves. Nations do it, religions do it, political organizations do it, and social/cultural/racial groups of all stripes do it - it is a base, vile trait in the human animal that never goes away, no matter how far up the food chain we climb. That's why I prefer cats.

FurryCatHerder | August 8, 2011 11:12 AM

You need to pay closer attention to your cats. Because they are plotting your overthrow ...

"the authors certainly make a point to tie sexual violence to 'the uniquely female consequence of unwanted impregnation resulting,' to imply that anything less doesn't actually count."

So apparently those of us who are postmenopausal cannot be the victim of sexual violence, nor can prepubescent girls, nor can women who have had a hysterectomy or tubal ligation or...

Why don't they just require a fertility test at the door of "female only" spaces and be done with it?

Yeah, and if the central problem with sexual violence is the potential that an unwanted pregnancy might result, I suppose, by implication, that they're saying that when a woman is raped in the mouth or the anus, or raped using an implement of some description, it's actually not all that bad. Yes, the physical injuries - to say nothing of the psychological trauma - may last a lifetime, but at least there's no chance of an unwanted pregnancy.

Or, to look at it from the other end of their Lewis Carroll telescope, another implication of what they seem to be saying is that infertile men, or men who've had a vasectomy (and therefore can't impregnate anyone) can't be rapists! Will they be willing to stand as witnesses for the defense when such men are accused of rape?

I despise gender bigots and fascists of all sorts. I think Carol Kennedy has a great point that will, sadly, be dismissed by the authors or they will dance around it with some convoluted logic all the while yelling "look at the little monkey, look at the little monkey!" to distract everyone from the truly transphobic nature of their essay and how, in actuality, they have been co-opted by the very Patriarchy which they claim to oppose. Of course it is not their fault, per se, the culture industry have given them very little choice in the matter. Rather sad actually.

Its sad that a great number of these radfems are completely unaware that in their proposed solutions, they replicate so perfectly the patriarchal system they purport to oppose.

Its also amazing how they, word for word, use the exact same arguments against us that mainstream society uses to dehumanize us. You would think, at the very least, they could identify where these arguments originate.

There is also a huge amount of complete ignorance merely in the nature of medical transition. UCP was completely unaware that HRT induces sterility and impotence in transwomen. Whether she believes that now, or not, I can't say, since after all I'm just a crazy tranny. I could just be lying to let rapists into women's space.

There has also been a recent trend in the echo chamber, started by FCM, to focus like a laser on impregnation. According to her, the risk, or implied risk, of pregnancy is the only defining aspect of rape. In fact, men and transwomen can't even be raped; only sexually assaulted!

This is the level of derangement we're talking about here.

And these people are still highly regarded all over the world!

One interesting observation about the various forms of separatism is that radfem separatism tends to reduce women to walking, talking, uteruses, while TS separatism tends to reduce women to walking, talking vaginas.

Prisons are sex-segregated. Unfortunately the incarceration of trans women in men's facilities results in cruel, unusual and inhuman punishment - either the constant threat of rape by both guards and other inmates, or the imposition of 23-hour a day solitary confinement. Unfortunately, solitary confinement for protective purposes is no different from the punitive kind.

Perhaps Brennan/Hungerford can justify this barbaric treatment of non-cissexual women on the basis of, "oh well, they can't get pregnant anyway."

Note - that isn't a straw man, it's a logical extrapolation - it's not just bathrooms and locker rooms, after all.

"while TS separatism tends to reduce women to walking, talking vaginas".

Can you explain this comment or do you even want to try?

FurryCatHerder | August 8, 2011 10:17 AM

I suspect it's meant in this way --

"I'm a woman, because I have a vagina, and you're not a woman because you're a non-op / pre-op / transsexual-wannabe"

In my experience, that's a real problem -- horizontal violence against other trans-identified people.

The explanation is this - people using genital tract body parts as their principal means of excluding others from the class of "women." Cissexist RadFem separatist ideology excludes all trans women from the class of women, based on the presence of uteruses in (most) cissexual women. Those TS separatists who adopt a radfem-like strategy reduce womanhood to the possession of a vagina - this is because they just can't use the uterus as the central definition of womanhood themselves.

Genital-tract-essentialist exclusionist strategies applied to people in the gray area who don't have the exact genital tract development as expected of cissexual people, or (when modified to fit) applied by people in the gray area to exclude other people in the gray area, don't make sense. If people in the gray area are expected to be in the binary, then it would be appropriate to classify based on the ontology that causes brains to develop in one way or another, rather than to be forced into an inappropriate binary classification.

There is nothing wrong with either uteruses or vaginas as long as they are not used as swords.

Om Kalthoum | August 7, 2011 5:04 PM

Joann, here's a big problem with your demonstration of one of the myriad of difficulties that transgender people face in their lives - your implication that females (or some subset of females) are either to blame for the difficulty or that it is up to us to solve these problems. Females have traditionally been expected to subsume their lives, their expectations of privacy, indeed, their rights, under those of males. I believe the continued expansion of the transgender umbrella to include all manner of male-bodied-for-life people is finally bringing this issue to a head.

People should stop shooting the messengers and start trying to figure out workable solutions.

It's a human-rights issue, so it's up to everyone to solve these issues. All rights are based on equality, while inequality exists people who have access to theirs have rights on-loan with a debt owed to everyone yet to get their share. No-one gets out of the responsibility to the rights of others cause it would invalidate their own claim to any rights in doing so.

And some women are to blame (for their share), of course they are, because some have attacked the human rights of trans people, some have fought against equal rights when their duty was to the opposite.

There is not one single right of women that is harmed by equal rights for all forms of transgender people. No right is ever harmed by equal rights. And that includes equal rights for all the forms of gender and sex diversity, regardless of anatomy.

Lets face the truth people don't want to face. Women can and do rape women and no 'male body' is required and meanwhile Veronica Bacter is still dead

And Crossdressers male bodies don't stop them being murdered and ending up on the TDOR list of names.

So there's no excuses left to try and treat Transgender people as if they were cis-privileged men. Even the crossdressers face violence and oppression. Now read these stats and comprehend that violence against Trans is higher than against cis women is at an extreme rate.

FurryCatHerder | August 8, 2011 10:38 AM

I'm unclear about which rights of women are being thrown under the bus if transsexual women are granted basic human rights.

There is no right to construct and enforce hierarchies, and that's what is being argued for by Brennan and Hungerford -- the right for one group of women to oppress and marginalize another group of women.

Radical Feminist arguments against transsexual womanhood have a serious problem -- if transsexual women are, in fact, "men", the very class differences on which Radical Feminism is based cease to exist, because there are these "men" who are in the same class (actually, a lower class) as those other people they regard as "women". The notion that "male privilege" includes the abuses so many of us experienced as boys or young men has a similar problem -- if "male privilege" includes freedom from the fear of rape, what about the great many of us who are raped or "sexually assaulted"? Because if rape (or "sexual assault") is now a common part of "male privilege", that differentiator between "men" and "women" no longer exists.

But the bigger problem is that these types of Radical Feminist arguments are Patriarchal in nature -- no where to be heard are actual transsexual women's voices. We are =told= what our lives are like, why we do what we do, and so on. We are, in short, objectified and denied subjectivity. When I've told Radical Feminists that I was raped 3 times before age 18, I'm told that somehow doesn't count.

Indeed, whenever the subject of transsexual women being raped arises, it is Radical Feminists, right along side the Radical Religious Wrong, who want to make sure we know that we were not, in fact, actually raped. And based on that little factoid alone, these women have absolutely NOTHING in common with any type of Feminist or Feminism that I know of.

What I don't understand is that there is a small group of "radfem" females who, for whatever reason, seek to exclude other females who are not in possession of one or another body part, from inclusion in the classification of female. It's not so different from excluding some females from the women's restroom because of their race - something that was done often enough in segregationist America as late as the early 1960's.

As to the "transgender umbrella," the problem is in both the binary itself and the gray area between the strict interpretation of the sexes, or rather, with the binary classification of people who fall into the gray area.

For some, those who are not "fully" female (by whatever bright-line definition) become "male" by default. For others, it is seen as harmful to exclude anyone not "fully" male. Anyone not "fully" either male or female ends up in the gray area, awaiting classification.

Trans and intersex people all get to be in the gray area, whether we want to be there or not (because we don't fit into either sex by all the artificially-created-criteria) - and it may well be argued that menopausal women and women who have had hysterectomies or even mastectomies might fall into some versions of the gray area (though I think that's more an explanation of how reducing "female" to a body part is really a reductio ad absurdem).

The prison issue does not involve blaming females. The people who run the prisons put some females into male prisons because they fall into the gray area and are presumed to be male by the people who run the prisons. I would only partially blame radfems for the problem if they continue to advocate against solving the problem properly.

If we rely on the state of medical science from 1965, it would be hard to argue the point - the prevailing medical "wisdom"of the time classified trans people as delusional members of their original sex assignment. But we know enough now about the genetic, ontological and developmental issues that it is known or should be known that classifying some women as men, just because they were born with male genitalia, is barbaric and can lead to inhuman, cruel and unjustifiable results.

One issue, as you seem to frame it, seems to be somewhere in the bi-gender region.

It would be *so* easy to just throw the bi-gender people to the wolves. But I think it would be wrong. (Now, my umbrella does not include nale-identified men who have a fetish, or male-identiffied men who "do drag." - They are not in any gray area, they are not expressing their gender and I submit that :"costume": is not the same thing as gender expression. - and yet, still, if they find themselves a single seat ladies' restroom, would that be a terrible problem?)

So this issue becomes what do you do with the people who don't actually have a *fully*-female gender identity? (And how do we tell?)

The general issue becomes one of "how to make sure that women are really women." As I have noted elsewhere, if there are going to be identity paper requirements, they should be universally applied - If a woman with polycystic ovarian syndrome who has a five o'clock shadow, or a butch lesbian whose entiore wardrobe comes from the men's department, is going to have to show papers (as will any not-completely-passable trans women, regardless of surgery), then perhaps everyone should have to produce papers. Maybe all bathroom and locker room entrances will be requuired to have an access kiosk where the card can be swiped in order to permit admission. (Then imagine doing this in a third world country where educating children, preventing disease, and providing gainful employment should be priorities.)

FurryCatHerder | August 8, 2011 11:23 AM

The mistaken you are making is that "sex" and "chromosomes" and "hormone levels" and "clothing" and "gender identity" doesn't define or describe "woman" within a Radical Feminist discourse.

"Woman" is a social class, a socially constructed class of "people", who happen to have vaginas.

While Radical Feminism is not Social Feminism or Marxist Feminism, where the class concept is more explicit, the division between "Oppressors and oppressed" is very clear. This creates Yet Another Problem in that trans-people tend to fall squarely into "oppressed" while non-trans-people tend to fall pretty squarely into "oppressors".

Om Kalthoum | August 8, 2011 8:25 PM
What I don't understand is that there is a small group of "radfem" females who, for whatever reason, seek to exclude other females who are not in possession of one or another body part, from inclusion in the classification of female. It's not so different from excluding some females from the women's restroom because of their race....

Joann, it is hard not to sound rude or uncaring while saying this, but it is not "a small group of 'radfam' females" who feel this, it is most of the population of planet earth. Those who have lived life as males for decades, often fathered children, and who insist on keeping their kibbles and bits for life are not considered female. To continue to claim so is right up there with denial of evolution and insisting that dinosaurs roamed the earth with humans on a 6000-year-old earth. How does one give credence to science while saying such things? Outside of certain trans-friendly settings, talking like this is considered ludicrous. The terms female and male have specific meanings for sexually-reproducing species.

Last year it was "Gay, Inc." keeping trans people down, this month it's the "radfems." Go forth and make your case, I guess. But this is just nuts to me. It's like you really don't want allies. It's no wonder there are rarely non-trans people in these types of threads.

Regarding your trying to bring race into the discussion as an analogy: I just throw up my hands.


Despite your predeliction for avoiding exchanges with me, I am, once more, going to respond to you.

I'm stubborn that way.

Factually speaking, race comes into play at any point that money does. Yes, I did indeed say factually speaking.

The reason this happens -- and, so you are a bit more competent in potential discussions with other cis women (and I note, carefully, that you find the use of cis offensive) who, unlikely as it seems, may just be women of color -- is that in the US, the darker your skin is the less likely you are to be able to adequately obtain the funding for the whole shebang, and the more likely you are to prioritize something like kibbles and bits down along your ladder in order to do things like *eat* and have a roof and pay for electrolysis and buy clothing.

Simple things.

Now, it may not be your fault, as an individual, that social oppression of that sort happens, but your statement regarding those kibbles and bits that present someone from being classified as such demonstrates that you are *not* fully considering the impact of that oppression on the full spectrum of persons that are out there -- and, oddly enough, that does include white people who are stuck.

Surely you've noted with disdain that trans women of color get hit with multiple forms of oppression: first, they are people of color, which is a strike against them, THen they are women, which, as I'm sure you will agree, is yet another strike even if you don't find them to be women, yourself. Again, this isn't about your mythical "most of the population of the earth" projected idealisaztion, but about a practical, reality. It doesn't matter if they fail some varied test -- thanks to the potency of patriarchy, the moment they put on a dress, they are emasculated, and, therefore, no longer men, and, thusly, are subject to oppression. Then, on top of that, there is that very gender variance, that emasculation aspect, which fundamentally acts as a third strike against them.

Perhaps you haven't noted the massive degree of poverty among the trans population. Then again, let's look at the skin color of most of the comments here, for and against the paper submitted that is the catalyst here.

That's not "bringing" race into it, that's acknoweldging that so long as the surgery you give supremacy to costs multiple thousands of dollars, *other* factors are going to have to be included, fundamentally, that cease being tangenital to the discourse.

To think that there isn't racism inherent in that absence of consideration is tantamount to failing to consider the 80 cents to a dollar that pisses "most" women off as being unimportant to the discourse on the lives of women.

And women of color have an even greater gap than that, I'll note, and they historically find much of the so called "rad fem" or other such bizarre crap to be mighty white, if you catch my meaning (which I am not sure you do).

You are correct, however, when you say that the terms male and female have specific meanings for sexually reporducing specieis -- were you aware that even within certain phylums, what is male for some creatures is female for others? Or is your failure to consider the constantly evolving understanding of such -- especially based in work done over the last 25 years -- merely due to being about as aware of it as I was two decades ago (which is to say, not at all)?

IOW, that assertion is problematic at the very best, even colloquially. Sex typing for human beings in neither clear cut nor simple at the scientific level -- it only becomes such at the grade school and colloquial level.

Take, for example, the "genetic girl" statements elsewhere here. Genes are capable of making both male and female and all manner of variations in between.

Remember, *sex* as a concept, is also a social construction. FOr that matter, so is woman, and you are, in a conservative vein, trying to restrict that.

You say that "last year it was Gay, Inc" and that this month it's some new group, as if there was some sort of flightiness, which demonstrates another failing on your part of consideration -- likely bbecause you, yourself, are a part of the very system that acts to oppress, as your statements describe you. It is a ciscentric system -- for comparaison, what that means is that it is something like the patriarchy, a massive social system that acts, in unison, to oppress trans people in this case, and, surprise, it exists side by side (and, arguably, as a part of the sexist structure that surrounds all of it) with that patriarchy.

And you are supporting it.

Its fascinating that you say outside of certain "certain trans-friendly settings" such is ludicrous. Yet, time and time again, it is anything but. Indeed, this *very* talk is something that I get to deal with consistently, and to a far greater degree of expereince than you will *ever* have.

Ok, yeah, I'm cheating since that's my job, but eh.

And the news is that it is only ludicrous in settings that are explicitly not trans friendly.

It may be uncomfortable, it may challenge people's notions, and I daresay that my anecdotal expereince is colored by whatever meager skill I might be said to have in such an area, but it is not ludicrous.

It is simply *new*, usually, and it makes sense to people. And the number of people who thereafter have issues with restrooms is significantly less than "most of the population".

So it is nuts to you. Cool by me. Hell, letting gay men into a republican political event was nuts to a lot of people -- and hey, ain't it funny, but they actually blocked them from doing so this year. And it was nuts to a lot of people for a few guys to sit down at a lunch counter or for a woman who was tired to sit at the front of the bus.

And let's not forget that at one point not too long ago, it was nuts to think of a woman earning 80 cents to a dollar when working out of the home.

As well as the idea that people could spend time arguing with people they'd never met on what is, in the end, a really powerful calculator...

Joann, it is hard not to sound rude or uncaring while saying this, but it is not "a small group of 'radfam' females" who feel this, it is most of the population of planet earth. Those who have lived life as males for decades, often fathered children, and who insist on keeping their kibbles and bits for life are not considered female.

Om, while I can't speak for everyone, I think there is some evidence that the radfem POV is held by a small minority. In New York, across the state, a respected poll indicated 78% support for gender identity and expression protection in the human rights law. The National Organization for Women has endorsed New York's GENDA bill.

Yes, there are Christianist right wing groups, like New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, that seem to agree with your point of view on this.

In the workplace in much of the United States, there are many more successful on-the-job transitions today than there were even just a decade ago - and this includes bathroom use. A decade ago, "reasonable accommodation" meant sending the trans individual to an inconvenient restroom. Today, after a brief period, it is those (very, very few) women who harbor cissexist feelings and continue to feel uncomfortable with sharing the restroom with the trans individual, who get to choose to use the inconvenient restroom.

That bit about insisting on "keeping their kibbles and bits" does not reflect a number of factors:

(a) some trans individuals have been deemed by their medical providers to be an unacceptable surgery risk, and cannot obtain medical clearance for GRS. Far from insisting on keeping the wrong external genitalia, they are just stuck with them - I can assure you that long-term HRT results is a very effective means of making those "kibbles and bits" not work as male sexual organs, even if they still have the appearance.

(b) since GRS is not available in the United States (or many other nations) for the poor under Medicaid, and is often excluded from medial insurance coverage, there is a cost factor for many trans people, and this is a socio-economic issue as well as an issue of race, since it affects a disporportionate number of Aftrican-American and Latina trans people.

(c) while we're primarily referring to trans women, the surgical issues for trans men are such that many trans men do not choose to have a phalloplasty (which, in New York, is the only way they can currently get their birth certificates corrected). A statistic I have seen is that 80% of trans women and 95% of trans men either cannot have, choose to not have, or cannot afford, GRS. Most of these are on HRT and have been effectively hormonally sterilized by the process.

In my personal RL experience, I do not have any problems being recognized and treated as female. On only one occasion have I experienced a challenge, and that was when I was in Albany at the Assembly chambers for the second vote on GENDA. A couple of women had been planted in the restroom vestibule by Republian opponents, and when I entered, they made a complaint to the security guard at the scanner near the gallery. I did not know about this, but I heard knocking. After taking care of the necessary bodily function, I realized that the knocking was at the entrance to the bathroom. It was the poor security guard, who told me, "excuse me you are in the wrong bathroom. There were two ladies who complained. I looked up at the sign, looked back at him, and said, "This is the women's restroom, right?" He said yes. I said, "look, let me show you my driver's license," and I pulled it out of my purse, at which point he apologized. I said, "do you think I can go back and wash my hands now?" - and he apologized again.

That was an attempt to create an "incident" during the vote, using the poor security guard as a patsy, which backfired on the opponents because I do have proper ID. There were other trans women in the gallery that day who might have had a problem.

(The strange thing is that the City of Albany, where the legislature meets, already has a local ordinance protectig the human rights of trans people. So the incident that the Republican operatives were trying to instigate really would likely have gone awry anyway.)

You are right in a way, though. it's not just a small group of radfem females, it's a small group of radfem females and their right wing Christianist allies. (This being the result of radical feminist separatism assimilating Roman Catholic doctrine via Mary Daly and her protege - strange bedfellows, indeed.

With regard to your "throwing up your hands" on the race analogy, why is that? Cissexism and racism are very, very similar.

During segregation in the US, public restrooms in states with segregation laws often were like this: "men," "women" and "colored." Women's restrooms were available only for white women, while women of color were often relegated to a gender-neutral bathroom for non-whites.

The cissexist segregationist is even worse - rather than having a separate bathroom for non-cissexual people, which would be analagous to the separate "colored" bathroom for non-whites, the preferred method is to simply dump non-cissexual people into the men's restroom, making the designation one of "cissexual woman" and "men (i.e., anyone other than cissexual women)." This would also conveniently leave trans men with the men, since they are not cissexual women, either. (On the other hand, the Christianists would prefer to put balding, bearded male-identified trans men in with the cissexual women, or rather, they don't even seem to know that trans men exist).

Om Kalthoum | August 10, 2011 3:00 PM

Joann, sometimes I look at a large block of text and am deterred from responding. Indeed, sometimes I suspect the person throwing all that information out there hopes that will be the case. Perhaps if I take things one chunk at a time....

In New York, across the state, a respected poll indicated 78% support for gender identity and expression protection in the human rights law.

Did that 78% include both men and women respondents? Did the women really know what it was referring to? If the question had read, “do you think all citizens should have equal rights under the law,” I would wish that the response would be 100% affirmative.

But let's break down your statement. You know, I know, and most of the audience reading this thread know that gender “identity” and gender “expression” are not the same thing. Most of the poll respondents assuredly didn't know this. Therefore, what if they had been handed a picture of our friend Howard and asked, “A proposed law will protect Howard's gender expression and grant him access to women's public toilets and showers.” Now, would you care to hazard a guess as to the percentage who would support this? How about if only the women's answers were tallied? 1%? 2%?

Sure, it's an extreme example. So what? Why can't you propose laws that won't grant license for this sort of thing?

Let's take these in reverse order.

Regarding Howard, I assume you've read the comments to that article. I actually wrote New York's GENDA bill, and based it on the history of both New York human rights enactments, and on the history (at the time, through the end of 2002, when the bill was written) of the development of human rights law language protecting transgender people.

The language did not come out of the blue.

In the 1980's, New York City changed its human rights law - the word "sex" was replaced by the word "gender." it is believed that this change may have been an early attempt to broaden the protected class, but all it did was make the definitions seem more vague. See, e.g., Maffei v. Kolaeton Industry, Inc. 164 Misc. 2d 547; 626 N.Y.S.2d 391 (Sup. Ct. N.Y. 1995), which broadly interpreted the change.

The language of the New York City Human Rights Law definition of gender as adopted in 2002, now includes "gender identity and expression:

23. The term “gender” shall include actual or perceived sex and shall also include a person’s gender identity, self-image, appearance, behavior or expression, whether or not that gender identity, self-image, appearance, behavior or expression is different from that traditionally associated with the legal sex assigned to that person at birth.

The New York City language was adapted from a statutory formula first adopted at the state level by the State of Rhode Island in 2001.

Prior to the use of the formulation in Rhode Island, legislation to protect the human rights of transgender and gender-different people used various formulas. It was not until the 1990's that the term "transgender" began to be used to describe transsexual and other gender-different people. The earliest ordinance from 1975 was enacted in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and amended that City's human rights law definition of "affectional preference" (what we would today call "sexual orientation"), to include "having or projecting a self-image not associated with one’s biological maleness or one’s biological femaleness."

In 1986, Seattle used the terms "transsexuality and transvestism." In 1999, based on a recommendation from the City of Seattle Commission on Sexual Minorities recommended an amendment to make the law "more accurate, inclusive, and more easily administered."

The language adopted in Seattle may be the first use of language that was adopted at a statewide level in Rhode Island. The Seattle language defined: " ‘gender identity’ means having an identity, expression, or physical characteristics not traditionally associated with one’s biological sex or one’s sex at birth, including transsexual, transvestite and transgendered, and including a person’s attitudes, preferences, beliefs and practices pertaining thereto."

One can see that this Seattle language can be related back to that first Minneapolis enactment, which was the source of the use of the term "self-image" in current definitional formulae.

While there are other inclusive formulas out there, since the adoption of language similar to the Seattle or Rhode Island Language in New York City in 2002, all county and local ordinances since 2002 adopted in New York State have followed the New York City formulation with slight variations.

Now, as to Howard, as I indicated in my responses to the original Bilerico post, Howard's attire would be "costume" and not "gender expression."

Inerestingly, further down in the comments to that bilerico post, Antonia D'Orsay indicated:

1 - this is not a hoax. 2 - This persons gender identity and expression are both masculine 3 - he does this as a form of protest against the TSA, and has for a while.

This supports my assertion that his attire is costume, not gender expression.

The man is also not seeking to use the women's restroom, but to fly on an airplain in that getup.

So *why* would anyone who runs a respectable polling organization want to use a Christianist opponent tactic to create an environmental influence the result to be a "no, I wouldn't support transgender human rights" because of a photo like that?

As to the poll - here is a link that answers your questions. Of the respondents, 52% were female, and 48% were male.

I can assure you that I have not proposed or drafted any law that would support Howard using the women's restroom. It requires an interpretation of "gender expression" that belies the history of the usage of the term in statutory enactments.

Om Kalthoum | August 10, 2011 6:47 PM
“As to the poll - here is a link that answers your questions. Of the respondents, 52% were female, and 48% were male.”

But the females' responses were not broken out, just included with the men's. I believe women of all classes and ages would look far more unfavorably than would men about sharing normally sex-segregated facilities with male-bodied people. Hence, their support – even if they didn't realize men appearing en femme could claim access to female accommodations – would be lower.

Strangely enough, when respondents were read a statement about the discrimination transgender people face and about the intent of a law to protect “transgender people from discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations,” net support for that legislation fell 4% and net opposition rose 5%.

So *why* would anyone who runs a respectable polling organization want to use a Christianist opponent tactic to create an environmental influence the result to be a "no, I wouldn't support transgender human rights" because of a photo like that?

Look, you know a hypothetical and its intent when you see one. If you want to continue to contend that any percentage over single digits, much less 78% of the population of New York, would support male-bodied-for-life-people in women's public toilets and showers, you're just not arguing in good faith. If you want to contend that only angry “radfems” or “Christianists” are unhappy when they discover this state of affairs, you're wrong. But I think you know that.

Inerestingly, further down in the comments to that bilerico post, Antonia D'Orsay indicated:

1 - this is not a hoax. 2 - This persons gender identity and expression are both masculine 3 - he does this as a form of protest against the TSA, and has for a while.

This is not true. If you have read the comments to that article, then you know that his gender expression is far from masculine and that he's not protesting the TSA.

So, anyway, you claim Howard is just a man in costume. Your radfems and Christianists apparently claim that transgender people are merely wearing costumes. Now you say that up to 80% of those who call themselves transwomen are keeping their original male bodies and not changing sex physically at all. It's just not what we were led to believe back in the olden days. I'd say some serious education is in order. Or people could continue to rant and rave about Brennan and Hungerford, or Gay Inc., or those transsexuals who just want to be woman-identified, or sumpin'.

I am going to keep this simple.

1. Trans women do not "keep their original male bodies" because, contrary to the assumptions people who do not understand the medical literature make, those bodies themselves are not and never were fully male.

2. Your assumptions about "single digits" is a false one. I don't believe that the polling data showed any significant discrepancy between male and female respondents. One might well make the assumption that more women than men would be trans-supportive, after all, if we're going to make assumptions, it's more likely men who have macho issues rooted in misogyny that make them queasy about gay and trans people.

3. If we want to ask questions with a "suggestive" photo, why not one of someone T2M, who is not dressed outlandishly and looks like any other man. Ask the women in the hyypothetical poll if they would want the law to require that they share public women's restrooms and locker rooms with men like this who were erroneously assigned female at birth. I would be surprised if the result would anything like what you might expect.

Hey, Joann, a couple of points.

First, I am assuming you do realize that Om is not going to accept anything you or anyone else says that is an anyway suportive of trans women (TG, TS, anything), right? That your replies are just for rhetorical purposes?

It's pretty funny, as soon as I looked at that poll link, I knew what her response would be: It's ~50-50 men and women, and 50-50 agree and disagree, so of course all the men said, "Oh, YEAH! Free access to women's intimate public spaces!" and all the women drew back in horror and clutches their purses close (or, for the butch dykes, the chains to their wallets).

I am going to keep this simple.

1. Trans women do not "keep their original male bodies" because, contrary to the assumptions people who do not understand the medical literature make, those bodies themselves are not and never were fully male.

2. Your assumptions about "single digits" is a false one. I don't believe that the polling data showed any significant discrepancy between male and female respondents. One might well make the assumption that more women than men would be trans-supportive, after all, if we're going to make assumptions, it's more likely men who have macho issues rooted in misogyny that make them queasy about gay and trans people.

As far as the 'F2T' (as the anti-trans ppl call them) ppl go, I feel that isn't quite the right comparison here. Just show regular vanilla str8 women a picture of some big ole WBW butch or bulldyke and see their reaction. Personally, I'd rather use the same restroom with the average man than some of them.

(waits for TOS deletion, lol)

Hi Carol,

Butch women *do* get challenged in women's space like public restrooms, and essentially, it's ironically in places, like New York City, that have GI&E non-discrimination laws on the books, that these butch women have a legal right to recover, because their gender expression is not that traditionally and stereotypically associated with their correctly-assigned sex.

With trans people, the gender expression is fine, it's the originally-assigned sex that is not that which is associated with their gender identity.

So, for trans folks, it's primarily gender identity, which is a "sex" matter, that requires protection. For butch women, it's their non-standard gender expression that requires protection.

As to whether Om is "movable?"

There is no reason for me to assume that anyone with whom I am having a discussion should be immovable. I learned many yeard ago that if someone is polite and engages on the issue, as Om is doing, and I do the same, we may not leave the discussion in agreement, but it allows those who are following the discussion and have an open mind an opportunity to be persuaded. What Om and I are doing, in essence, is engaging in a debate, a civil discourse, and even if I can't convince Om, there are perhaps others who might gain a glimmer of understanding, and perhaps might be able to change long-held and cherished beliefs.

It's the underlying assumptions that are made that are the chief reason for the different opinions. I do believe I have the current science in my corner, and eventually that is the fulcrum on which the world will be moved.

Well, I was being serious, and being silly, both at once. Prolly not a good idea, but I am not really patient enough to write a long enough comment to separate them out.

I'll give it a little go, though. :)

The serious: In the past, I have worked to educate ppl I know about gender identity versus self-expression relative to non-femme lesbians, to explain to them that the butchier women are not trying to be men, and in the vast majority of cases don't have any desire to be men. They are women, and like being women, and love being women with other women. They aren't 'the guy' in the relationship or the physical interactions, they are women. Now, it is entirely possible that they *may* be the more dominant of whatever pairing, but these days everyone doesn't pair up into butch/femme like was the case in a lot of lesbian communities in the past. But, at any rate, butches are not just the 'best that women can do in the absence of a man'.

Then I found that the vast majority of lesbians don't really want ppl like me trying to explain anything about the lesbian community, as they consider me at best 'not a man', never a woman, and certainly not a lesbian. So I don't take up for lesbians or the lesbian community anymore.

Borderline serious/silly (heavily ironic): The best I can gather, a large number the radical feminists/separatist lesbians who hate trans women are older butches. And they may want trans women in general to all just drop dead, but more than anything they want them out of any women's spaces. Except, guess what? In my experience, most (esp older) str8 women are freaked out by butches, esp the older, heavier ones (some like skinny boyish butch is a lot less imtimidating, though I hear Bitch can kick the shit out of ppl with the best of them). So this is pretty ironic, to me at least.

The really amusing part is that I saw this covered in some of the anti-trans threads on some of the radical feminist sites I found from Mercedes's post. And they were stereotyping women as heavily as any right wing women would: Any (generalizing to an essence of all women) butch who found herself startling a str8 woman in a restroom would of course smile and reassure them, talk to them softly and ease their anxiety (stereotypical femininity). And of course, any 'cross-dressers' (meaning men in women's clothes of course, 'cause butches who wear men's clothes, from the men's department, *aren't* corss-dressers!) would instead snarl and enjoy the power implicit in their gender (patriarchy) and their sex (penises).

And then there is the pure silly. After I wrote my reply, a scenario popped in my head similar to you being ambushed in Albany. So, me and one of these hard butch separatists are in the restroom (women's). They know who and what I am, so they call the police, "THERE IS A MAN IN THE WOMEN'S ROOM AT SO-AND-SO!"

The police rush over, or call security there. They rush in, see me and that dyke in there, grab her and drag her out, and perhaps even haul her to jail (woohoo, sexism at work!). She finally gets across to them that *she* is a real woman, that *I* am the man. So they look confused, and ask for my ID. Female. They do some kind of police-cy type check. I have no idea what this looks for, but SS has me as female, my BC has me as female, my state and federal taxes have me as female, my health insurance, my employer, my university records, all that.

They are confused (and the butch is seething). So, I offer to get naked for them. No dick, no balls. Something that looks more-or-less like a vulva. At this point, I make a complaint against the butch, and hopefully she has to answer a lot of questions.

Oh, I know, just b/c I can get taken as a women doesnt count for anything with the rad fems/sep lezs, and in fact I am sure makes them even more furious, b/c I have successfully colonized women. I am sure the worst part is that I am supported by the sexism in society, which more closely aligns with my femme presentation than the real woman's butch presentation.

That used to make me sad, and make me feel guilty. But after dealing with all the rejection and outright hate from the lesbian community (esp the sep lezs), I just feel like "Fuck you. If I am not part of your community, what do I owe you?"

Oh, one other thought. The non-standard gender expression of butch women is not so they can sneak into the men's restroom.

The male-identified man who wears a costume for the purpose of entering women's space is wearing a costume, and that is not protected.

Om Kalthoum | August 11, 2011 3:55 PM

Joann, I'll keep this simple, too.

You chose to reply to my post "in reverse order," putting Howard first on your list. I had clearly suggested that support for "gender expression" would be in "single digits" if respondents knew about the Howards of the world being granted access to female sex-segregated toilets and showers.

Your most recent reply is emblematic of why I wanted to approach a discussion "one chunk" at a time. Not only do you produce a blizzard of information, the entirety of which might or might not be relevant to the question asked, but, now, as is obvious, you put words in my mouth which I never said, implied, or meant.

Sorry, I choose not to play.

Om, you assume that the Howards of the world would be protected by GI&E legislation on entering women's space because they adopt a costume not in accordance with their gender identity. That assumption is a canard, it's just like the opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment on the basis that it would require gender-neutral bathrooms.

It would be nice if you were to point out what words I am supposed to be "putting in your mouth." If anything I have attributed to you was misinterpreted or misunderstood by me, I would appreciate having it pointed out. That would allow the discussion to resolve better.

I understand that we disagree on some fundamental assumptions, and on what follows from those assumptions. It may well be that a clarification of what I am misunderstanding would be helpful - if not to me, then to those who might be following our discussion with bated breath.

In any event, if your decision to cease discussion is final, I do want to thank you for engaging.

Om Kalthoum | August 11, 2011 6:03 PM

One last bit regarding your answering a question I did not ask, and then misrepresenting the truth:

Your assumptions about "single digits" is a false one. I don't believe that the polling data showed any significant discrepancy between male and female respondents.

The poll results to which you linked could not have shown that because they did not break out the demographics for any of the 17 survey questions and answers listed - not by sex or age or any of the other typically captured respondent characteristics. Do you not understand what you are claiming?

Perhaps what you meant was was, "Trust me, dear, I've seen the underlying data." Unless the underlying data revealed a question about Howard or other similar exhibitionist transvestites, then no, thank you. Still, I'd be interested in the breakout by sex, at minimum.

"How was your day?" "Oh, the usual. Misgendering, assault, people saying I shouldn't have access to basic human rights. And that's just on the GLBT side."

Angela Brightfeather | August 4, 2011 10:22 PM

After arguing for a week and half and having to listen to those among us who are so intent on organizing and planning so they can no longer fall under the "Transgender Umbrella", your excellent account as described, would seem to imply that they might spend their valuable time in other areas defending themselves and their civil rights, instead of blaming other Transge4nder people of all kinds for their problems. Perhaps Radfem Hub and other such areas need their immediate attention first.

Seriously, why do we tolerate those who insist on causing divisions in this gender community and patronize them, when people are writing to the UN and producing submissions the denigrate all
Transgender people and theri human rights. Under the circumsatances, I fully expect the group that was arguing last week on Cristan's post about Transgender history, to find some way to blame non-ops, CD's and drag queens for what Brennan and Hungerford are espousing. The irony of their arguments are found directly in Radfem Hub's introductory statement.

I do in fact think that there are issues with umbrella-based activism, including the transgender umbrella, which if we don't take a good hard look at them now, will lead to chasms that we can't bridge later. We can either reassess how we frame our issues now, or else let the conflicts we've set our communities up for cause long and bitter splits later. But that is OT.

That said, I've already had one such response claiming that this is affirmation, where this is posted on my blog:

"I do in fact think that there are issues with umbrella-based activism, including the transgender umbrella, which if we don't take a good hard look at them now, will lead to chasms that we can't bridge later".

This is very true and a very serious point you make. The problem with the transgender umbrella is that it is too broad and too vague.

I disagree, i think the problem with the umbrella is that it's too narrow! and that it's not well defined.

Hence Gender and Sex Diversity. It's appropriately broad, in that it includes everyone discriminated against together while Transgender does not. It's better defined, in that it specifically mentions diversity and it defines itself precisely with the criteria with which the discrimination occurs.

The difficulty with umbrella activism is that activists need to actually know about the rest of the people in the umbrella, to get over their own biases against other groups within the umbrella and not just be out for their own portion and above all to actually understand Rights Philosophy which sadly hardly anyone seems bothered to even try and understand (because actually applying rights philosophy means undoing ones own bigotries).

But seeing as ANY activism on any human rights issue binds you to the same philosophy anyway, equal rights for all with no exceptions and therefore interdependent for the validatity of any right, there can be no valid activism that is not universal.. and therefore the biggest of umbrellas anyway!

So if non-umbrella activism still obliges everyone to understand all other groups effected by the same rights issue and requires everyone to fight for that same right for all other people for their own groups claim to be valid then non-umbrella activism is such in name only. And any activism that is exclusionary, single-group-only etc is self-refuting and self-invalidating.

Human rights are an all-or-nothing deal, because the equality of all is it's very foundation.

So can all activists please start actually understanding rights and then start acting accordingly. I'm totally sick of reading self-refuting and therfore false nonsensical and inherantly inconsistent arguments. And of course thats the key fault with the attack on all our rights in the first place... you can't call for womens rights and deny trans rights, even the rights of crossdressers, because all rights are equal rights. It really is all or nothing!

Well thought out and I understand why you disagree. I hope I get to respond to your post, to detail where I think it fails. Thanks for an intelligent thought out response.

Please do. I'll be very interested in your response.

"I fully expect the group that was arguing last week on Cristan's post about Transgender history, to find some way to blame non-ops, CD's and drag queens for what Brennan and Hungerford are espousing".

And one of those arguing would be me. As I said before Ms Brightfeather, I write snail mail letters. There could nothing that hurts civil rights for transsexuals more than those who live life as men and practice life as men and want to use the women's restroom when they are "out" for the evening. Think about it, if you can. My arguing has nothing to do with transgenders or transgenderists who live full time as women. So please, when making a statement,try to be specific! Don't smoke screen it.
If I lose my rights to use the women's facilities because I stand on this point alone, then I, being a former Marine and a combat veteran, will be one of the first to use a mens room, as Phyllis, in my normal attire. Cause I don't give f what anybody says. I will stand up for what I believe in, with or without your approvals. Ms. Brightfeather, you muddle the issues, and many that are transsexuals know the tactics of the groups arguing last week on Cristan's post about gender variant peoples, their struggles to unify and the history of the various labels many used. The article wasn't actually about "transgender History". Did you notice the many different representations? No, I suppose not, you only saw one thing in the history, transgender, transgender, transgender. The history was actually about gender variant folks trying to come together for mutual support, no matter how one identified. It was not about transgenders alone. Sorry you missed that part of the article. Maybe you should read with two eyes instead of one.

There are crossdressers whose names have been read out at TDOR. Their safety matters too!

There are lots of bi-gender gender identity people including some Intersex people. Their safety matters too.

If a person who spends half their life as a woman and passes as one must use a mens bathroom... yeah it's obvious now isn't it.

And where do androgynous people safely use the bathroom?

And what about Intersex?

You want safer bathrooms? I want safer bathrooms! Safer bathrooms are single-user bathrooms. So start taking into account the human rights of bi-gender people and even the crossdressers!

Because crossdressers get raped, bashed and murdered too.

Oh, I don't mind them using which ever bathroom they feel they should use, unless they live and practice life as men. Then, they should use the mens room.

This is about men in women spaces. Is it just that men want to dominate women, and all their privacy? You know, there was a time when women did lots of things that men took over and pushed women into cooking, cleaning, washing clothes, rearing kids and having babies and controlled their money and wages. Women also use to birth children with mid midwifery but then men took control of that too, as "Doctors", so now women hardly do that anymore either. Sorry but I believe in a woman's right to choose because men have controlled women for centuries,(barefoot and pregnant). Maybe studying how men have controlled women would open your eyes a bit or maybe you don't mind that men dominate as much as they possibly can. Equal pay for equal work, still is lagging behind. Want to talk about women's civil rights?
Besides that, I don't want to pee next to a swinging dick. Sorry, but I disagree. If they don't live as women they shouldn't use the women's room. If they are androgynous, I suppose they should use the facility the feel most comfortable using. I learned about this during transitioning, but leaving the women's room door open to anyone who wants to use it, I disagree with that. Besides, men have a problem with trajectory, and the restrooms are a filthy mess. No thanks, until someone teaches them how to aim, I don't want them in my restroom.

But what percent counts? What if someone lives as a man 3/5ths of the time? 2/3rds of the time? 3/4rs? 9/10ths?

I'm well aware of the fight for equality and the way many groups of people are oppressed, because i was raised by the women of my family who had been involved in many fights for the rights of themselves and others for many generations. I'm also aware that the violence faced by Trans is worse than Cis in at least the state of Queensland where much of my family lives (note the figures and the problems with the title) How's that for open eyes? Take a good long look at those figures, notice the trends? They may explain a lot to you about how sexism actually functions, about how the Cis/Trans issue relates to sexism. Note that MtF do not take on the degree of oppression cis women suffer in those figures but suffer a rate vastly higher, note too that the FtM figures are not so straightforward as a simplistic understanding of sexism would suggest.

Don't you get that no restroom that's communal is safe? Women have been raped by other women in Australian public restrooms. Men have been raped by men in Australian public restrooms. Same-sex violence, sexual violence and child abuse exist. No simplistic view of sexism can erase that. Just because hetero cis men are the most common culprits has no bearing on the effectiveness of sex-segregation as a method of providing safety to everyone because same-sex abuse exists and is not taken into account in sex-segregation. No-one underprivileged in society is sufficiently safe in the concealed yet communal space of public amenities. If safety is an issue for you then surely the only response is to call for single-user amenities?

From the article by Cristan:

Chrysalis, an organization of transsexual persons

Its about time the gays, TVs and TSs break down the barriers

"By the time you read this letter, cross-dressing should be legal in the City of Detroit. I, along with another transsexual and a transvestite, decided to do something about the law in Detroit."

The TAO is one of many organizations helping all transexuals and transvestites, and if all of us can join together these goals will be accomplished sooner.

• Guaranteed equal protection under the law against discrimination on the basis of gender-role, not physical sex or sexual preference.
• A gender-oriented BBS with a 1-800 toll free number.
• A national gender-oriented newspaper, without sex. Start out monthly and then eventually move to weekly.
• A national gender archive for books, articles, cartoons, other printed matter, videos, tapes, etc.
• A program to help TV and TS prostitutes get off the street. Teach job skills and provide job placement with sympathetic and knowledgeable employers.
• A voice in setting guidelines for TS reassignment.
• A proactive campaign against exploitation of our community.
• Removal of transvestism and transsexualism from the DSM-III. We are NOT mentally ill.
• A video tape produced by the community about the community for use on Public Television stations.
• More communication with the lesbian, gay and feminist groups so that we can learn more about ourselves and each other.
• More leaders, less rulers.

JoAnn Roberts"

United Transvestite and Transsexual Society

It seems to me there is more in the article about transsexual and transvestites than anything. The complete title of the article is a misnomer and it articulated how transsexuals and transvestites were doing a lot of work to come together in support on one another. In the TV-TS Tapestry, transgender is mention once and that is a reference to different article.

Next, here is one of the articles from the magazine: The 'Origins' and 'Cures' for Transgender Behavior, by Roger E. Peo, PhD (click to enlarge pictures on the left and right) (emphasis added). It's a long quote, but note how the author uses the words "transgender," "transgendered," "transsexual" and "transvestite."

The entire article is hijacking the works of many transsexuals and is mislabled "rise of the transgender community". It should be titled, "History of the Transsexual and Transvestite Community", that would be more truthful.

"After arguing for a week and half and having to listen to those among us who are so intent on organizing and planning so they can no longer fall under the "Transgender Umbrella", your excellent account as described, would seem to imply that they might spend their valuable time in other areas defending themselves and their civil rights, instead of blaming other Transge4nder people of all kinds for their problems."

If Ms. Brighfeather and others would refrain from dredging up the past by re-posting from a previous blog, maybe things could stay on topic.

Hijacking threads is not very nice. This thread was about something totally different, but I suppose she just couldn't resist slinging some mud. This is the last on this from me, so the thread can stay on topic.

""In fact, the authors certainly make a point to tie sexual violence to "the uniquely female consequence of unwanted impregnation resulting," to imply that anything less doesn't actually count.""

Better wording of that sentence might be "anything else doesn't count." Sexual violence is sexual violence no matter how it's perpetrated, which I believe is what you are getting at. This attitude irks me as well, especially with it's underlying assumption that straight, cis men cannot experience sexual violence. It's not a woman's issue, it's everyone's issue. Progress on that front will happen a lot faster once everyone realizes that.

Unsurprisingly, either FCM or UCP once made a point not too long ago that men and transwomen cannot be raped. Only sexually assaulted.
Rape is only RAPE-rape when there is a risk, or implied risk, of pregnancy.

Seriously, wtf.

possibly, but that was also part of the implication: that anything else was "less."

""In fact, the authors certainly make a point to tie sexual violence to "the uniquely female consequence of unwanted impregnation resulting," to imply that anything less doesn't actually count.""

Better wording of that sentence might be "anything else doesn't count." Sexual violence is sexual violence no matter how it's perpetrated, which I believe is what you are getting at. This attitude irks me as well, especially with it's underlying assumption that straight, cis men cannot experience sexual violence. It's not a woman's issue, it's everyone's issue. Progress on that front will happen a lot faster once everyone realizes that.

Oops, that should read "straight, cis men cannot be victims of sexual violence." That's what I get for nitpicking :) I should add this attitude that men can only be perpetrators also implies that women cannot perpetrate sexual violence on other women. It's a dangerous, offensive and all-around backwards attitude.

"So apparently those of us who are postmenopausal cannot be the victim of sexual violence, nor can prepubescent girls, nor can women who have had a hysterectomy or tubal ligation or..."

Nor can women born with AIS...

See, there's the trouble, though. These conclusions are likely not what was intended, and for that reason, it blinds radfem commentators to the fact that they actually are the logical extensions of their own arguments.

Thank you for your hard work to make us aware of these happenings. However, I must say it's difficult reading. I think I need to attend law school or something. Keep up the good work.

@Angela Brightfeather: You raise some excellent points about the need for unity in the transgender community, as well as showing solidarity with the rest of the LGBT community. We have enough to contend with from the right-wing extremists and other haters. Infighting is a "luxury" we can ill afford. It is particularly disheartening to be attacked by RadFem, when we are, as Mercedes says,people who can uniquely attest to the inequalities that women and others face.

Here is part of the problem.

"You raise some excellent points about the need for unity in the transgender community".

It is not a transgender community. It is a community of transsexuals who live as women and those who "can" identify as transgender, who live as women. As far as women's rights are concerned, those who live as men are not part of that community. They are part of the Gay-Bi community.
While you continue to mis-label us as transgender it is apparent that you don't consider us anything but. Now, when you begin to recognize that not all of us identify as transgender and include us as the "T" rather than hyjacking the "T" to mean "youse guys" the transgenders, then yea, you deserve all the denigrating you get. As Britney stated, if you want to include us all then it should be LGBTTI. It isn't us who are dividing the community, it is people like you who attempt to leave us out by claiming us all as transgender. Do you wonder why Zoe Brain and others state flatly that they do not identify as transgender? Transgender is a community umbrella, which has divided the community. If those of you who identify as transgender and hate transsexuals fighting for their rights, won't give an inch, neither will anyone. Preach it sister? How about love, which is giving and caring, along with compassion. If you expect others to give and support then you need to be giving and supportive also. It works both ways.

Technically, I'm not Transsexual either, not according to the WHO's definition. Even though I identify as Transsexual as well as Intersex.

It's a personal thing, and I know many Transsexuals who identify as Transgender too. I'm not in the business of telling others who they should identify as. Both you and I have been victims of that, so we have less excuse than most to do it to others.

I don't identify as Gay, or Lesbian, or Bisexual. That doesn't stop me from fighting for GLB rights. I think it's immaterial, I see an injustice, I try to correct it. Same with Transgender.

"Technically, I'm not Transsexual either, not according to the WHO's definition. Even though I identify as Transsexual as well as Intersex".

Technically, I'm not transsexual either. My first realization along these lines was that I was a girl, more consciously around 10 years old. I just happen to fall into categories when I was old enough to learn in the 7 grade(13 years old) at the library, that some men were called transvestites, and found my very first information that might reflect what was going inside my head.
I have been diagnosed as intersex. Because I had one breast from the time I was 14 and suffered greatly for it in schools, probably why I use to fight so much, to defend myself from pinching, groping and cruel and mean remarks. I actually haven't lived a protected and sheltered life, ever.

"It's a personal thing, and I know many Transsexuals who identify as Transgender too. I'm not in the business of telling others who they should identify as. Both you and I have been victims of that, so we have less excuse than most to do it to others".

That' right. And I don't tell others what to identify as either. I just don't like being told I am a member of the transgender community, which includes labels that I have already thought extensively about over years and came to realization that that wasn't what I was either. How about from age 13 to age 54. Lots of thought in them many days, lots, to go along with the emotional turmoil in that time, not to mention what was going on in the physical world around me. Who the hell thinks they are running the show here? That's part of the problem with the division in the "T". People can identify as whatever they want. But Transgender and Transsexual are two different things.

"I don't identify as Gay, or Lesbian, or Bisexual. That doesn't stop me from fighting for GLB rights. I think it's immaterial, I see an injustice, I try to correct it. Same with Transgender".

I don't identify as Gay, or Lesbian, or Bisexual either. But when people are trying to ram something down my throat, I have a right, to protect myself from that injustice and the inaccuracies that could have dire consequences for those of us who identify as transsexual.

I have a Captains license and worked in coastal shipping, and you'd better know where the damn ship is headed and where it will land at a certain time or you'll be on the rocks. And there's a lot of weather and currents that can effect that as you sail. No different than our political and civil rights future. When the proponents of the transgender community quit trying to derail transsexuals from being who they are, things could be different. But at the time being, we feel in the "deepest of our hearts" we're trying to do the right thing, to save our ship from disaster and we're tugging to port while the transgenders are tugging to starboard.
We are sincere in our feelings and beliefs. We sincerely believe we are being done wrong. In all earnest we are afraid. Alarms are going off in our hearts and minds that the ship is headed to disaster.
We are not against anyone's civil rights.
Can we make laws to stop all bigotry? No, sorry to say. Can we make laws that prevent all dangers, for Transgenders, for androgynous people, for transsexuals? No. But laws can be made that will marginalize transsexuals and transgenders and (that's what this fight is about)we earnestly believe that the transgender community and the transgender proponents are out to marginalize us. Why can't they gain our trust? By being honest and open about our concerns rather than calling us bigots, and demeaning us? They don't try! They can't gain our trust because we can see the hand writing on the wall, the ship is headed on the rocks(ENDA). The title of this blog says it all. Women are now throwing transsexuals, who live as women, AND, transgenders who live as women out of their ranks. Why? I believe because they are scared and want to eliminate any "men" from their ranks. The general public, years ago, didn't make a big fuss over transsexuals civil rights and the bathroom issue, they we're unconcerned, it was a fluke of nature. The civil rights battle has now awakened cis-gendered women to keep "men", any person whose birth certificate says male, male born, etc., out of their ranks and they feel they are fighting for their civil rights. They are fighting for "definitions" and that ain't no different than transsexuals fighting for definitions also.
This fight is about definitions, a Who's Who battle.

So are you fighting for the civil rights of cis-gendered women, to keep male born persons from invading their "legal definition" of woman"?
Think about that, is it civil rights here or is it definitions?

At the moment I wish I wasn't taking an on-line course, because it leaves me little time to indulge these very important concepts. T

How does using the same law-structure that is already used and solidly tested on Race and Religion marginalising anyone? Equality harms no-one. Fairness is not unfairness.

The only people i have ever called bigots had made arguments of inherant bigotry. I discuss anything open and honestly, which is not true of many anti-transgender people i have discussed things with who have used all manner of excuses before finally their arguments have fallen apart and the real truth is revealed, that their real motive was always plain pure bigotry. There are dishonest people and also honest people on both sides of the debate.

There are bigots in every group. With some famous cases of racism amongst some feminists for example. Did that mean all women were throwing all black people (many of whom were of course women) under the bus? No, but a few were. It's not like Horizontal Hostility and Internalised Oppression are new terms after all!

This isn't all cis women, just some cis women. Their arguments are inconsistent with any cogent human-rights argument and therefore nonsense.

And worse they propose harming extremely vulnerable people (remember i already posted stats that show that cis women suffer less harassment and violence than Trans do in Queensland at least) so that less vulnerable people may have a false sense of security. It's not even about REAL security but an imaginery sense of security based on myths, lies and evidence-free bias. And what at all is that if it is not bigotry?

"solidarity with the rest of the LGBT community"

When did that happen, before ENDA or after? Maybe you should read the Bilerico Blog You get married, we die a bit.

Mercedes, thank you for that depressing post. If they want to exclude us from their music festival or their Blog, Boo-hoo, but if they want to deny our rights before the U.N. because we don't bleed like they do, 'Them's fighting words' As several other writers stated, we suffer from the patriarchal society the same as cissexual women. we get sexually assaulted, less pay, etc. It seems to me that being inclusive of all female identified individuals would in a wider sense show the discrimination and violence that all females are subject to and strengthen the case for Women's Rights at the U.N.Oh, I forgot, I don't menstrate, can't get pregnant-what do I know!? Even though these two Women (sic) pushed this petition thru, not allowing us to respond, is there any way we can FLOOD the U.N. w/ Transgender rebuttals and petitions? These two Wonder Women aren't going to deny my rights id I can help it!!

Here's what Cathy posted over at the Radfem Hub. I'll echo it here for all the not-female 'trans folx' in the crowd, since I am certain she is equally thankful for your thoughtful feedback. Sarcasm intended.

August 2, 2011 at 6:08 pm
Thank you for the thoughtful feedback here. This is an incredibly difficult subject for many of us who “grew up” in GLBT activism. I am grateful for those members of the GLBT community – especially trans people – who are able to hear the concerns raised by females without defensiveness. I do not want anyone to face irrational discrimination – that includes females as well as trans folx.

I do not want anyone to face irrational discrimination – that includes females as well as trans folx.
I echo her sentiment. I do not want anyone to face irrational discrimination – that includes females as well as butches.

Did anyone notice that Brennan uses the patriarchal-primacy "GLBT" form rather than "LGBT" in her writing? (Though that's really a matter of local/regional usage - it's likely not residual patriarchy in action.)

In addition to the points you mention, Mercedes, I think the paper has two logical difficulties. First, it argues that a statute seeking to eradicate stereotypes is perpetuating them because stereotypes are mentioned at all. Second, it argues that a statute outlawing discrimination gives license to a person intent upon harassment or violence to assert “gender identity” as a defense, despite the fact that the statute provides no such license. There are also two factual problems with this last point. First, no attempt to assert such a license has ever occurred, despite such statutes being in force since 1975, and second, of the four US courts that have addressed the question, they are split on the question of whether such statutes permit bathroom use by a transsexual or transgender person.

Yes, thank you for pointing these out.

I will note that they are not alone in expressing this sentiment. They are joined by other "born" advocates, all of whom have consistently expressed a sense in some form or other of aversion, anxiety, and/or animus towards trans individuals in some form or manner, often in combination.

And that among those who do so are trans individuals as well -- one of whom is quoted -- after discussion by the administrators there -- *before* the admonishments to some women that they are not allowed to comment there.

This is enough to get me to strongly consider blogging again.

And I would not be so gentle this go around.

I know there are some trans people who identify as third-gender. But the idea of creating a permanent third-gender category that all trans people are required to be put into is another way of saying that we don't know who we are. Brennan is in the exact same category as some sneering bigoted yahoo on HuffPo who laughingly said that trans people should have a "C-for-Confused" on our driver's licenses.

I am not confused. I know EXACTLY who I am. Your problem, Brennan, is that you are BIGOTED.

Britney Austin | August 5, 2011 9:28 AM

Cathy Brennan clearly betrayed transgender and transsexual people. She repeatedly separated TG and TS people from females implying that TG and TS women are not women. I can understand some of the concerns that natal females have over some of the gender identity legislation. Such laws need to be drafted in a way that protects ALL women (natal, TS, TG) alike. I do support sex segregated facilities and understand why men typically do not belong in female-only spaces. What I would like to see is clear clarification by our government that TS people are protected by Title VII including public accomodations. We also need additional protection for TG people whose gender identity/expression fall into more of a gray area and ensure proper accomodations are provided. I do not want gender or sex deconstruction of our society however. I believe there is a way to protect all females. Sadly Ms. Brennan chose to throw TG and TS women under the bus. She needs to re-think her position and owes us all an apology.

We are protected under Title VII and many transitioning transsexuals do file suit under Title VII, as I did. So that is a good thing.

Dana Lane Taylor supports the position they've set up.

I am confused. The article written looks to me to be based on current terminology used in medical diagnosis. I see this as protecting those who are transsexual and eliminates those who are not (as far as womens private spaces go). I get this feeling that people are wanting this document to state that women born transsexual are women. Is this document the place for something like that? It has already been insinuated that I am a traitor but I don't see it like that at all. This document goes against the "transgender" way of thinking but I don't see it as going against those with transsexual histories.

it functions, fundamentally, to state that no matter what surgeries or medical efforts are involved, trans women are and always will be males, and, therefore, men, and, therefore, a threat to women.

Including you, Dana.

As said, as far apart as you and I are, the mere thought that you would support this, when its core function is to put into legal standing that trans women are NOT women, at all.

That goes against everything I've ever seen you write, and the only reason they managed to suck you into this was that they used your own prejudices against you.

You are quoted there, you are used as a reference, and yet you cannot, yourself, post there.

Please -- and I say this without animosity, without animus, and with very sincere openness -- denounce this. It sets the stage to create what you have said is one of the most dangerous things possible: a third gender, that you have no choice but to accept.

You've said you are a woman. I have said you are a woman.

THey say that you are not, and they use you to support there reasons for you not being a woman.

What, you thought I was harsh with bugbrennan out of fun?

I stand by my support for this.

I'm so very saddened to read that.


Kathy Padilla | August 6, 2011 7:57 AM

This comment has been deleted for violation of the Terms of Service.

While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.
The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising.

The article covers transsexuals and those with transsexual histories. Do whatever you feel you need to do. In face, I will go ahead and forward your comment to Penn's HR department so they know your friends will be receiving your instructions. You think I care about your threat? Seriously? Go read Philadelphia law then come back with that comment.

Wait, I didn't know who you were at first. You are already familiar with that law. Perhaps you should contact the City of Philadelphia.

Kathy Padilla | August 6, 2011 9:38 AM

I helped draft the law - that wasn't a threat Dana - it was pointing out that you expect differently for yourself than you do for others.

It is no secret that I am a VERY active activist for the rights of women of transsexual history and also a feminist. The article that was written includes protections for us (women which includes those with transsexual histories). What is your argument? Everyone knows I don't identify as transgender and fight for protections of women who could be adversely affected by narrow classifications when it comes to public accommodations laws.

And thanks for helping with drafting that law.

Kathy Padilla | August 6, 2011 10:29 AM

It's the little problem that you would be treated no differently given your status than others under the legal framework you support. Yet - you're happy to take the benefit you would deny others that derives from the legal language you seek to undermine.

I think you should look into modern feminist history before you start buying into that these 'radfems' are in any way feminist. They're female extremists who have progressively shared less and less with radical feminism even, let alone mainstream modern feminism. Friedan wrote on several occasions about them and their ilk. Perhaps you should read a few of her books on the subject, and it would give you a grasp of what modern feminism was meant to accomplish. It certainly wasn't about warring on men; that came after the lesbian colonization of N.O.W.

I am currently in an argument with Zoe, on Facebook about the rights of crossdressing men in womens private spaces...believe it or not. Yes, I am being asked to prove that men yell and scream "gender identity protection" when they are arrested for being perverts in womens spaces, by Zoe. If the law allows for crossdressing men to access those spaces then they aren't going to use that as a defense, now are they? Women need to know if they see someone that doesn't look like they were born female that in fact, they may have a transsexual history. Can anything stop perverts from doing this stuff? No, but we don't want to pass laws that makes it legal for them to be there.

It is illogical to argue that a statute outlawing discrimination gives license to a person intent upon harassment or violence to assert “gender identity” as a defense, because the statute provides no such license. There are also two factual problems with the idea that an anti-discrimination statute conveys a license for a man to commit harassment or violence in a public women's restroon. First, no attempt to assert such a license has ever occurred by a man accused of harassment or violence of women in public restrooms, despite such statutes being in force since 1975 (I did a study on this), and second, of the four US courts that have addressed the question, they are split on the question of whether such statutes permit bathroom use by a transsexual or transgender person.


Om Kalthoum | August 7, 2011 5:44 PM
There are also two factual problems with the idea that an anti-discrimination statute conveys a license for a man to commit harassment or violence in a public women's restroon.

Actually, most people worldwide (outside of forums like this) recognize that the problem here is the mere presence of men in normally sex-segregated facilities like public toilets or showers. Giving them a statutory privilege to be there because of some vague "gender expression" is what is causing this brouhaha. Some may call it the "bathroom meme." We call it sanity. And self-preservation.

I'm with Jill on this one, Om. Illegal and / or unethical behaviour in washrooms is still illegal and / or unethical behaviour. There is nothing about gender identity and / or gender expression -inclusive legislation that changes this, and nothing on record where such legislation has been used to facilitate the commission of an illegal and / or unethical act.

You're suggesting scrapping legislation that would enfranchise probably tens of thousands of people, in fear of a statistically non-existent problem. I'd propose that there are fewer actually-trans predators than there are female predators, who regardless of this legislation are more than amply able to access a womens' restroom.

Maybe this is more to Om's way of thinking?

The rad fem sites are full of this kind of stuff. Lots of actual incidents of men in women's spaces, invading privacy (which is usually very sexually assaultish to most women, not even so much b/c of 'what is seen', as the feelings of invasion and vulnerability to actual assault) through physical assault, through full-on sex assault and rape.

However, they conflate these real crimes, committed by full-time men with transgender women (or as they often say, cross-dressers, though most of the rad fems seem to see transgender women as cross-dressers), rather than ppl who live full-time as women.

Om Kalthoum | August 7, 2011 6:52 PM
"The rad fem sites are full of this kind of stuff."

Carol, we don't need "rad fem" sites to tell us about it. Before we even understood what "female" means, our mothers tried to keep us safe by warning us about "this kind of stuff." It's practically in female DNA. Actually though, since you mention it, I'd recommend a site like this:


Yes, Om, I know pretty well where you are coming from, and where you stand. And yes, I am very familiar with Dana's website, and Radical Bitch's, too, both of whom consider themselves rad fems (though I have to admit I don't follow it closely, and had not seen this post before).

I am curious though, do you not consider Dana's site not a rad fem site, same as the one I linked to? Maybe you just cite it b/c it is a trans woman's site which is saying the same thing? I am sure it couldn't have anything to do with your opinion of her status as a woman? I mean, you do see her as a woman, right?

Much more interestingly, though, I would be interested in Jillian'sand Mercedes' takes on that post by Dana, since they seem to say that there have been no cases of sexual assault by actual trans women, only by men at the most dressing as women as a ruse.

Om Kalthoum | August 7, 2011 7:44 PM

I've never uttered the phrase "rad fem" aloud, and I didn't click on your link, just read the URL. Whenever I see "rad fem" on these forums or mentioned by transgenders, it has always carried a sarcastic or pejorative meaning. As an older woman and feminist, this offends me, so I'll pass on any use of the term on this site to describe anyone's work.

As far as the tiresome, "do you consider [fill in the blank] a woman": I see this constantly now on various LGBT sites frequented by lots of trans people. I honestly feel that on certain sites, like Pam's House Blend, it is used by the likes of Autumn Sandeen (she of the recent assertion that castration=sex change surgery) to try to bait someone into getting banned by violating their TOS.

"I mean, you do see her as a woman, right?

I don't personally know Dana - or you or anyone else here, for that matter. And for all you know I could be a fifteen-year-old boy. All I can answer is that from reading some of what Dana has written, I think we'd get along just fine in the real world, including the health club locker room.

lisalee18wheeler | August 7, 2011 7:49 PM

After she has her surgery, of course.

I don't quite understand why you take offense at the phrase 'rad fem'? The submission that Mercedes referred to is on a site *called* "RadFem Hub'. The thing is, whenever I go to one of sites that are written for and by self-described 'radical feminists' (does that go a bit better with you?) to follow some anti-trans women link, I do find a lot there I agree with, at least to some degree, I just tend to be a lot less scorched-earth than they are.

Actually, I have this great idea! Why don't you go over to RadFem Hub and tell them they are sounding like a bunch of 'transgenders' by using the term 'rad fem'? I would relay it for you, but being a man and all, I am not allowed to speak there, would just be 'mansplaining'.

Again, gender expression -inclusive legislation has not and could not excuse illegal and / or unethical behaviour.

I'd also bet that few if any of those cases in which the perpetrator was actually trans in some way had used such legislation to access a restroom.

And again, scrapping protections for all trans people because of fears of this behaviour only makes sense if one accepts the conclusion that a significant percentage of trans people are predators. Do we legislate against all adult men sharing restrooms with boys because of the statistically small percentage who prey on boys? Or against all adult women sharing restrooms with girls for the same reason? How is it statistically different when the people in question are trans in some way? And how could it justify excluding entire classes from human rights legislation unless you accept the idea of a link between that class and predation?

I understand your point, Om, that men should not be provided with license to be in a women's public restroom, but you didn't address my first point that there is no such license provided.

Om Kalthoum | August 7, 2011 7:08 PM

When laws are written which protect something as nebulous as "gender expression" in public accommodations, people like our friend Howard are indeed provided such license to enter sex-segregated spaces formerly denied those like him by custom as well as law.

Well, Om, you ask the $64,000 question. Should Howard be admitted to the women's restroom? I say no, under no circumstances, but there would be trans advocates who would argue with me, and therein lies the problem. Insofar as the question of whether someone who has not had sex reassignment surgery but who self-identifies as a transsexual be admitted to women's restrooms, I think the answer differs in different contexts, and I would answer that question definitively, but the phone is ringing and I have to go.

Om Kalthoum | August 7, 2011 9:35 PM
"Well, Om, you ask the $64,000 question"

I honestly believe I am stating a fact, not asking a question. It's really that simple. That the presence of such a one as Howard in women's private spaces is even open to debate among the transgender set is emblematic of the the level of unreality that exists among some of the people claiming membership in the LGBT. I don't have to tell you that outside this fantasy world, this view is considered looney in the extreme. And that's trying to put a humorous spin to it, instead of a mental illness one.

All this talk about how trans people have had legal protection in Jurisdiction X, Y and Z for the past 35 years without any "bathroom problems" ignores the fact (which, again, I know you know full well) that legislators thought they were making life easier for people who had fixed a medical condition. Now the secret is coming out that there are a lot of Howards in the world, as well as people who claim that part of Howard's "human rights" is access to women's toilets and showers. It's a mess. But females are beginning to say, "It shouldn't be MY mess to solve."

One thing I should point out, that I have already pointed out a few times, is that gender identity/expression nondiscrimination ordinances do not generally cover bathrooms. The very few that do make specific provisions for when a person is allowed to use the bathroom. This is a very complex area, and it really can't be covered in this format very well. Most of the people commenting here have no idea what the law is or what it means or how courts have interpreted it. They just want to score points.

Om Kalthoum | August 7, 2011 10:33 PM

Alrighty then. Let's stop the discussion.

It's been some years since I've been active in L.E., but restroom access or laws pertaining to it were never taught or discussed relative to enforcement---for the very reason of the inherent complexity. Enforcement rather was more focused on investigation into the person who might have intentionally accessed an opposite gender restroom relating to criminal wants/warrants. I can recall only one "male in women's restroom" incident. The male stated he wasn't paying attention to the door and I obtained info and since there were no females in the restroom as "victims"...he was released. In the end, whether pre or post op, all would be well advised to carry ID in their person if passing is an issue. If someone calls the police, and your ID states're in the right restroom...period. The gender marker designation comes with the blessings of a medical doctor who is qualified to make such...not from a clueless first responder.

There is a difference between "gender expression" and "wearing a costume." Gender expression requires a gender identity, and gender identity is cause by brain biology.

Laws that protect individuals in public accommodations on the basis of gender identity and expression have to have the appropriate gender identity. Cross-gender (meaning in this context having a cross-sex gender identity, and in this context includes only transsexual individuals) and bi-gender individuals (otherwise also included in the "transgender" umbrella) would qualify wih their gender expression. Straight men with a fetish, or gat men in drag, would not - they are in costume.

Well, sane people stop and question why we have segregated restrooms in the first place, and examine the history of such, which only drops back to the early 1900's...

THere we find out that its due to a certain Victorian sensibility combined with the initial idea of men as predators as a result of too much alcohol, pushed by the precoursers of the religious right (Temperance movement).

The alcohol part has been lost, and now its just men are predators. Which is what the ideas here are dependent on.

And, *there*, the argument invariably comes down to a penis being some sort of all powerful thing.

Now me, I see penises as sorta worthless and without much threat, myself...

In their zeal to eliminate their made-up bogeyman of GI&E human rights laws providing a pretext for male sexual predators to invade women's space, Brennan/Hungerford, in a footnote (after opposing all GI&E legislation in their main letter), seem to want to single out transsexual and transgender women to have to carry proof (a carry letter, or whatever) in order to access "women-only" space. Essentially this means that they actually *want* to be enforcing gender-based stereotyping.

Trans women who "pass?" No problem.

Those who don't pass? Produce your carry letter.

What Brannan/Hungerford don't seem to realize is that the same sort of carry letter is going to have to be obtained by butch women, and women with polycystic ovarian syndrome, just because they sometimes don't "pass" as women when entering public restrooms - it's either the carry letter, or perhaps every public women's restroom and locker room will have to have a TSA-like security guard standing at the doorway ready to perform a genital grope for those without papers.

And it's all about a fake issue.

Problems for sex-segregated spaces:
Bi-Gender-Identity people exist
Intersex people exist, some of whom do not identify as men or women
Women who ogle or rape other women or molest girls do exist too

Therefore surely a safe public ammenity is a single-user only one? And who really could not support safer public ammenities for everyone?

Since there appears to be some confusion on the matter ( ), I took a position opposing threats because the original essay that my article responded to made a claim that Brennan receives threats from trans people because of her position on trans human rights.

Kathy Padilla | August 5, 2011 10:02 AM

She should definitely report any threats to the police. I'm sure the FBI would become involved if the threats cross state boundaries.

There is apparently no sense of irony among bigots.

If there's one thing GallusMag is good at, its completely ripping everything out of context that can be construed to deny transpeople a voice.

This time its the time-honored tradition of invoking the "zomg they're so violent. just like menz, m i right?" stereotype for silencing purposes.

I'd really like to see a list of radfem arguments against transpeople alongside mainstream culture's arguments against transpeople.
I wouldn't be even remotely surprised if they were identical to the letter.

Kathy Padilla | August 5, 2011 9:46 AM

This is of course a pattern that goes back a decade to her working to keep trans people out of the Maryland nondiscrimination bill that passed with sexual orientation only.

And she likes to fashion herself an ally - I'm sure surviving the discrimination she's trying to foist upon trans people inures some character development. One is at a lost to see any other possible benefit. Nor is it possible to see some harm given 36 years of experience in this country and no harm documented.

It's really time that some people and orgs speak out on this issue and counter the submission publicly. Gender Rights Maryland, Equality Maryland - and really it wouldn't hurt for Get Equal to address this given the involvement of one of their trans board members with Ms. Brennan in the Maryland Trans Bill debacle earlier this year.

What she said in that HB 235 mess suddenly makes a lot more sense (I wasn't involved in the previous incidents and hadn't found that bit of history.)

So, the most productive thing we can do now is get the equality orgs to make the appropriate statements and organize for the future so we can be sure not to let this happen again. We need to not let these opportunities go silently by like this.

We at Gender Rights Maryland will be dealing with this in due course. There is nothing time-sensitive of note prompting an ill-prepared response. Our goal is comprehensive gender identity legislation, and CB is just another obstacle like our other fundamentalist opponents.

Kathy Padilla | August 6, 2011 1:32 PM

Thank you, Dana. This isn't a frivolous request - people from your org have called her a strong trans ally despite her previous history in helping to keep trans people out of nondiscrim legislation. As they have noted - she's a major player in MD with powerful connections.

The whole cissexist birth-genital-tract radfem position on trans women is derived from the Roman Catholic hierarchy and its Aristotelian-based understanding of "natural law," by way of Mary Daly and her "empire"-building protege, both of whom were Catholics ensconced at Catholic colleges. Seeing Bug Brennan using the same arguments as "New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedom" is a sad indication of the patriarchist source for the irrational beliefs.

This was posted 24 hours ago yet There are less than 40 comments. If, in fact, this article Cathy and Elizabeth wrote was so devastating to the transsexual community would there not be hundreds of comments? Are people interpreting what was written to push their own agenda? I seriously don't get it.

In any event, I am taking a break from all of this for a while (time to be determined by myself). hugs

Um, in the same 24 hour period, few other articles here have gotten more than *10* comments.

I think its safe to say this is a big deal.

I find myself with spotty opportunity to respond, so am going to cover several comments at once.

1) The original essay does not clearly and explicitly state anything about post-surgical people. I raise it as a question in my article, and note some distinctions that further lead one to question.

Some folks are inferring authors' statements elsewhere and / or the buried footnote contradiction to mean that Cathy Brennan and Elizabeth Hungerford provide an exemption for women of operative history, while others are interpreting the context of the radfem blog where it's posted to mean that they explicitly don't. In actuality, they say nothing explicit on the matter, but distinctions like "the uniquely female consequence of unwanted impregnation resulting" appear to lean toward the latter.

In fact, I believe that Ms. Brennan's position probably does actually allow for women of operative history to be accepted as women, but I would challenge her to clarify the matter in the places where their letter is posted and lauded. Instead, possibly because of fears of raising the ire of these communities (though I'm speculating on that), they've left all mention out -- aside from the buried footnote contradiction.

That footnote (xxix on the web page version, and xxxiii in the unabbreviated PDF) provides what Brennan and Hungerford would recommend as an alternate definition for gender identity. But remember that the rest of the paper is not about how gender identity is defined, but about a claim that any inclusion of gender identity at all (regardless of definition) harms women. So this definition is moot, because they're advocating dropping all support for gender identity inclusion. If their intent was to make this exception, they way they've constructed their essay defeats that purpose, and instead, with no other explicit indicator, everything else is left to context.

So read this letter in the context it will be seen by its intended audience (and the context I had deliberately read it in, for this article): this is for a multi-national body where even some of the Western nations resist mechanisms to accept post-surgical people as the gender they transition to (there's at least 3 US states that do the same thing, so it's not that foreign a problem), and dealing with a number of nations around the world that consider it unthinkable to accept surgery as a basis for acknowledging one's lived gender/sex. In this context, in lieu of an affirmation of post-surgical people, plus with a statement that any other affirmation of transsexual people causes harm, this will inevitably be the conclusion.

So they have not explicitly stated anything. They've written a paper in such a way that if that was their intent, then it does not manifest.

And again, I want to qualify all of the above to clarify that I do not personally consider genitals to be the decider of legitimacy or surgery to denote when a person should become enfranchised in society. This is simply a worthwhile question to examine.

2) Yes, it's true that I could have forwarded a paper on gender identity to this body, and in fact there will be trans-positive individuals and organizations that have done so. With all feedback combined, it's possible that Brennan and Hungerford's letter will be seen as fringe anyway, though we don't know that for certain.

There is a timeless tactic that people use when they know their statement will be controversial to release that statement at the last moment, so that no one will be able to respond to it in a way that will matter. I admit that I'm speculating that this was done here, but in my experience, it's intentional more often than not.

Regards 2:

yes, several orgs have already filed, and previous filings (which I'm still being made aware of) have already discussed the points raised in this one.

This *is* a fringe consideration, and will be seen as such, but being fringe does not, in the body submitted to, mean that it will not be considered.

It will be given as much weight as the submissions that have been prepared by governments (western and otherwise) in opposition to the general ideas here.

As well as those from organizations and religious groups filing that are in sync with parts, and oppositional to the underlying aims of this group as a whole (that is, women's rights, which is still a noble effort, and it is important to remember that the context here is not a trans context, but a women's rights context).

Fortunately, many of those who will be involved in this are also involved in the efforts supportive of trans women as women. It is still a great challenge, as you've noted, but at least the concerns will be heard on all sides.

THe concern that most of us here have, however, is the same concern that underlies the current issues surrounding NPR's recent admitted error regarding ex gay therapy.

That is, this submission gives cover to those who genuinely believe that trans women are not women (which you noted is fundamental to the ideas that are described) and pretends that these concerns are legitimate, when, in the end, they are not.

The aversion, anxiety, and/or animus present here is not going to be swayed by reasonable argument against hte people themselves, nor is using shaming tactics going to have any impact -- these women do not think that what they are talking about is bad. The challenge before trans folk is to show how these concerns are, in fact, based in a worldview that is harmful to them.

Om Kalthoum | August 5, 2011 9:35 PM

Pretend for a moment that you are addressing a reader outside the echo chamber of trans political arguments. She's never heard of something called RadFem Hub, which you spend a large part of your article railing against. She doesn't get the tie-in you attempt to make with the lesbian authors of this paper and various examples of global male violence which you enumerate for approximately twenty-five percent of your article. She has no clue what in the world the "unfair treatment given the Malaysian Womens' Music Festival" refers to, even after a cursory online search. She's quite possibly one of those lazy readers who is unlikely to surf offsite to read linked source material when it is unclear to what, specifically, you are objecting in the primary material.

You state at the outset that Cathy Brennan and Elizabeth Hungerford "...adamantly and explicitly oppose the extension of basic human rights to transsexuals...."

Please, help! What specific human right(s) have they suggested should be denied to transgenders (or transsexuals? Or other human beings?)? Could you quote from their paper in support of this claim? Could you keep it simple?


I have an answer for you.

But it appears you are addressing Mercedes, so I'll let her have at it if she desires.

What are they advocating?

...we write to advise you of a legal development in the United States that compromises hard won sex-based classification protections for females.[ii] This legal development – in which gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (“GLBT”) organizations[iii] and individual activists work to enact protections based on “gender identity” – thus far has occurred in Minnesota,[iv] Rhode Island,[v] New Mexico,[vi] California,[vii] District of Columbia,[viii] Illinois, [ix] Maine,[x] Hawaii,[xi] New Jersey,[xii] Washington,[xiii] Iowa,[xiv] Oregon,[xv] Vermont,[xvi] Colorado,[xvii] Connecticut[xviii] and Nevada.[xix]>/p>

We anticipate that GLBT activists will push to enact similar legislation in additional states in upcoming years, including in Maryland and Massachusetts, the states in which the authors of this communication reside.

So they're against all rights granted by legislation equivalent to any in those states, or anything substantially similar.

Rights regarding:

  1. Employment
  2. Health Care
  3. Public Accommodations, such as use of drinking fountains, theatres, hotels, sidewalks etc
  4. Transport, such as being permitted to travel on a bus
  5. Rental or other Accommodation
  6. Provision of credit facilities
That's a partial list.

As an example, one of the laws they object to forbids discrimination in the areas of:
(1) restaurants, soda fountains, and other eating or drinking places, and all places where food is sold for consumption either on or off the premises;
(2) inns, hotels, and motels, whether serving temporary or permanent patrons;
(3) retail stores and service establishments;
(4) hospitals and clinics;
(5) motion picture, stage, and other theaters and music, concert, or meeting halls;
(6) circuses, exhibitions, skating rinks, sports arenas and fields, amusement or recreation parks, picnic grounds, fairs, bowling alleys, golf courses, gymnasiums, shooting galleries, billiard and pool rooms, and swimming pools;
(7) public conveyances, such as automobiles, buses, taxicabs, trolleys, trains, limousines, boats, airplanes, and bicycles;
(8) utilities, such as water and sewer service, electricity, telephone, and cable television;
(9) streets, roads, sidewalks, other public rights-of-way, parking lots or garages, marinas, airports, and hangars; and
(10) places of public assembly and entertainment of every kind.

They wish to repeal laws that forbid discrimination based on gender identity and appearance in these areas, ostensibly in order to protect women.

This will have the greatest effect on butch lesbians of course, but that is either acceptable collateral damage, or just hasn't occurred to them.

It's interesting that they have Connecticut on the list of laws that "compromises hard won sex-based classification protections for females".

"An Act Concerning Discrimination" -- or HB-6599 -- defines "gender identity or expression" as follows:

a person's gender-related identity, appearance or behavior, whether or not that gender-related identity, appearance or behavior is different from that traditionally associated with the person's physiology or assigned sex at birth, which gender-related identity can be shown by providing evidence including, but not limited to, medical history, care or treatment of the gender-related identity, consistent and uniform assertion of the gender-related identity or any other evidence that the gender-related identity is sincerely held, part of a person's core identity or not being asserted for an improper purpose."

That would seem to be OK by what they've said in the footnotes - and yet they're against it anyway.

We have another couple of months before the Connecticut law takes effect. I am hoping that the "including but not limited to" proof requirements will include things like state issued driver's licenses. I'd hate to think that anyone who doesn't quite "pass" as female (which is likely to include butch women as well as trans women) will be required to show a carry letter or submit to a security guard's genital grope in order to gain access to a public restroom at a McDonald's on I-95.

The Brennan/Hungerford notion that this kind of documentary requirement should be required for transgender and transsexual people ignores the obvious - that butch women are going to need carry letters, too.

Blaming human rights laws for the way butch women are sometimes treated when they try to use women's restrooms is ludicrous - this is an issue that has predated these laws, and occurs all the time in places where there isn't legal protection on the basis of gender identity and protection. The legislation isn't the issue.

You wrote:

"We have another couple of months before the Connecticut law takes effect. I am hoping that the "including but not limited to" proof requirements will include things like state issued driver's licenses."

Or a utility bill with our legally-changed name on it. Which is accepted for some things in Alberta (though foundation document changes are a bit more difficult).

Keep in mind that a carry letter carries with it a possibility of violence or at least discrimination if such privacy-invasive disclosure of our medical history and/or trans status is made to someone of significantly prejudicial background. There are many strong arguments for this to be interpreted widely.

I would like to see what happens in Connecticut. The "proof" part was not in the original bill, and seems to have been a late addition. I don't think that most people who advocated for the bill even knew that there was a language change before passage,

It seems strikingly similar to what Brennan/Hungerford put in their footnotes. I don't know who made the change or what prompted them to make the change - I wish legislative history was a little more transparent.

Still, this is what passed in Conencticut, so I wonder whether it will be a problem. Only time will tell.

I get the impression that this might have been a concern for owners of gyms, with locker rooms, showers and other facilities - if owners of accommodations are going to allow someone with a visible physiological "difference" into a sex-segregated space where public nudity is expected, the statutory provision may well be intended to provide a means by which the facility owner can have some "CYA."

Since this is the first time such language has been adopted, I've taken a "wait and see" attitude. My primary concern is for those who are economically disadvantaged and don't have access to the kinds of things that middle class people take for granted. (For example, if they're going to require medical proof, then Medicaid should be providing proper medical treatment for trans people who are in poverty.)

I am hoping that the "including but not limited to" provision is liberally construed.

Britney Austin | August 5, 2011 11:24 PM

Dana, it looks like we've reached a parting of the ways on this subject. I thought you supported TS and IS causes but the way Ms. Brennan's letter was worded clearly indicated that transgender and transsexual women are somehow not female. It is like saying "homosexuals and blacks." That implies that there is no such thing as a black homosexual. I asked you twice to clarify your position on this letter on Facebook. You did not. Instead you deleted the account. Facebook has privacy settings. You could have simply blocked the people who were bothering you. Just my opinion. If you wish to give this material that Ms. Brennan has come up with some further thought and clarify your position further, I'd like to hear it. Many of us have been duped by Cathy Brennan and it appears you have been as well. But ultimately it is up to you to clarify your position if you choose.

If the letter in question had used the phrase "natal females and transsexual women" it would have a substantial difference in meaning because it is still acknowledging that transsexual women ARE females.

I do think natal females have a right to be concerned over gender identity and expression legislation and how it relates to sex segregated facilities. That is why such legislation needs to be drafted appropriately. It needs to be clarified that sex and gender are not the same although they are typically related. I think that a lot of women (including TS women) are concerned about complete sex desegregation where any man can put on lipstick and heels and enter a women's restroom or locker facility. Relating gender and sex improperly can actually cause sex stereotyping where the female sex is being defined by social roles, mannerisms, and clothing habits only. Improperly defining sex is also a problem. Sex is primarily physiological yet those who define women based on their reproductive system are essentially saying that transsexual women are not women or that even post-menopausal women are not women. A man in a dress is still a man in a dress but a TS woman on HRT is hormonally identical to a natal female.

There is a simple solution to this problem. Natal females need to be educated that transsexual women are females and have the right to use women's spaces. This is evidenced by the fact that TS women when diagnosed are given a "carry letter" indicating they are undering a transition should there be any question over their use of the facilities. Eventually they make legal changes to their name and sex on their IDs. The law needs to recognize this and natal females need to be educated on the subject.

Now you have those who are comfortable with their birth sex of male but who enjoy expressing their feminine side and occasionally wearing feminine clothing. Many of these people use women's spaces even though they are completely comfortable with their sex as males and only dress this way on a temporary basis. They use women's spaces because they feel safer in those areas. They are aware that women may notice and complain but they are unlikely to be a victim of violence in those spaces. Yet if they identify as men and have no desire to legally, socially, or medically change sex to female they should have the right to use men's spaces and not be forced into women's spaces due to their own safety. In this case, what needs to happen is that men need to be educated that some men express their gender differently than what is typical, that some men prefer to dress like women or simply express a feminine side and that those men have the right to use the men's spaces free from harassment or violence.

As to Title VII, this is about discrimination based on sex. As far as I'm concerned gender and sexuality (sexual orientation) are simply extensions of one's sex. I think a lot if not most homophobia and transphobia are actually based on sexism and misogyny. Think about it for a minute. Straight men who don't like gay men typically see gay men as those who aren't sufficiently masculine as they aren't interested in sexual relationships with females. They see them as not sufficiently male. That's sexism right there! Same for lesbian women. They aren't seen as sufficiently female. It is all sex stereotyping when it comes down to it. And the same goes for gender expression and behavior as well as those with a medical condition of being born in the wrong physical sex. I don't understand why this isn't all protected under Title VII but it appears that parts of it are and parts of it are not. While gender and sex are not the same they are typically related.

Sadly the LGBTTI community is just as guilty of prejudice and sometimes more so than the heteronormative public. As we've seen with Cathy Brennan's letter, transsexual and transgender women are clearly seen as different than natal women or are not considered women at all. And in my experiences personally I have seen how time and time again I will be treated as a female in a regular restaurant, store, or nightclub whereas in LGBTTI-predominate establishments, I am not seen as a female but defaulted to "trans" status, whatever the hell that is. It has all got to stop. Seriously. It isn't that hard for people to stop the stereotyping and give themselves a remedial education on these subjects (sex, gender, sexuality, sex variance, gender variance). Otherwise, instead of LGBTTI people getting equal rights and increased societal acceptance, it is likely to result in a backlash by society. It seems like lately things are actually getting worse. Much worse.

It is ultimately the responsibility of ourselves and all aspects of LGBTTI to clarify our positions properly on these things when we present them to the public. We need to get our own house in order. We need to hold our own leaders to very high standards and stop making excuses for poor behavior. Cathy Brennan has repeatedly taken leadership positions on LGBTTI issues yet has failed us miserably this time. If we don't represent ourselves properly to the public then the courts will continue to rule against us and elected officials will continue to reject legislation on these issues. We need to all start getting our act together immediately.

The wording of the document looks clear, to me, that it covers transsexual women as well as those with a transsexual history. This article that Mercedes wrote caused a shtstorm of FUD. I have received a lot of flack for my involvement and I believe it was unwarranted. There are a LOT of people out there who would love to see me vanish so of course, they jump on the FUD boat and milk it for all it is worth. It seems more and more that transgender rights is more about men's rights than women's rights. If you support crossdressing males' rights to use women's private spaces then you aren't fighting for women's rights.

Cathy made this public comment on Mercedes' blog.

"The definition of gender identity that I favor would capture transsexual women and/or women of transsexual history. I support access to public accommodations segregated by sex for transsexual women and/or women of transsexual history."

And this was my response to Cathy on my blog:

"Your argument in the paper in question is that inclusion of gender identity in human rights law and policy at all harms women. I’ve read it, more than once. It clearly says this.

1) This renders your preferred definition of gender identity parenthetical or irrelevant — a concession in the event that your primary request is ignored.
2) Your paper provides no other suggestion for human rights inclusion, other than a definition of a term you state should be excluded anyway. So it becomes reasonable to ask if you would support a definition of “woman” that includes transsexual women or women of trans history."

@Britney stated: "This is evidenced by the fact that TS women when diagnosed are given a "carry letter" indicating they are undering a transition should there be any question over their use of the facilities."

It is important to note that transsexual women and men are not distinguished from non-TS people by either a mental illness diagnosis or a so-called "carry letter." Even more important, no TS or transitioned person should ever be compelled to carry special ID documents, just as members of other persecuted minorities should never bear that burden.

I know that a number TS people feel more comfortable carrying around a letter of GID diagnosis from their therapists. I totally respect their choice. However, I never carried such a document in the course of my transition, and most TS men and women I know would not either. I did a lot of US and international business travel early in my transition and had my share of traffic stops with local law enforcement. In all of my personal situations, a mental illness letter would have reinforced false stereotypes and put me at more risk, not less.

At issue, the GID diagnosis (DSM-IV-TR 302.85) in North America, and Transsexualism (ICD10 F64.0) globally, are not physical medical diagnoses but labels of mental disorder and sexual deviance (DSM) or personality disorder (ICD). The current diagnostic criteria for GID literally imply "disordered" gender identity and were written to support harmful gender-reparative psychotherapies. They broadly overinclude gender variant people who are not TS and have no need of medical transition care. For those who do, the GID criteria contradict rather than support transition, describing transition itself as symptomatic of mental illness. The international TS diagnosis has similar problems.

Moreover, I've known a number of TS individuals who were so offended by this flawed and dehumanizing psychiatric nomenclature, that they avoided psychiatric diagnosis altogether and found alternative ways to access hormonal and/or surgical transition care.

The stereotype that transitioning TS people can be identified by a letter of psychiatric diagnosis is just that, a stereotype and a false one. Given the current DSM and ICD diagnoses, such a letter could easily worsen barriers to fair public accommodation rather than reduce them.

You wrote:

"Moreover, I've known a number of TS individuals who were so offended by this flawed and dehumanizing psychiatric nomenclature, that they avoided psychiatric diagnosis altogether and found alternative ways to access hormonal and/or surgical transition care."

Exactly, and there have also been a number of people who have had such negative experiences in a clinical setting that they completely shun medical-based routes, to the point of herbal HRT and (in at least one situation I'm aware of) even self-modification. Medical practitioners are not always our friends.

This comment has been deleted for violation of the Terms of Service.

While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.
The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising.

They were hardly respectful to Bil. Very well though.

And while I thank you for your spirited defense, your comment here was TOS-violating. I still saw it and it made me smile, but we can't print it. :)

Hey, as long as you know you are being defended that's fine with me. I don't have to agree with you ideologically, and I don't think we've seen eye to eye at every point. That kind of disrespect is uncalled for, though. You did little more than point out their inherent hypocrisy, and their little snipes about how you are the male enemy are ridiculously paranoiac.

lisalee18wheeler | August 6, 2011 6:39 AM

Aside from the last sentence, there was nothing really derogatory about this comment. Or nothing any more derogatory than what Cathy wrote (and subsequently deleted) on a Bilerico article:

"Transsexuals are women in name only"

I wasn't aware of Cathy's statement that you mention, and it would have been a violation of our terms of service and deleted had I seen it. In terms of this comment. There is a difference between stating that someone's argument is hateful, which would be fine, and calling her names.

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Kathy Padilla | August 6, 2011 1:23 PM

God I hope people don't confuse Cathy with Kathy. I've had that unfortunate occurrence previously.

I definitely don't want to get involved in the politics of Bilerico again. However, I have a question for clarification-as far as I know, it is impossible to edit or remove a comment, unless you are one of the Bilerico insiders? Am I correct? Or does Brennan have 'privileges' here (don't know of a better word, am using this in analogy to the medical world), or did she ask someone who does to remove this for her?

Bigotry comes in many forms... Brennan and Hungerford add a new dimension... women discriminating against other women. Just the same as some light skin African-Americans discriminate against their darker relatives, the virus of thought presented by Brennan and Hungerford will be proven to be ill conceived and completely contrary to equal civil and human rights for all women.

I started a petition on in response to this article. Click here to see it. We can't stand for this kind of nonsense being spread on an international level.

Brennan claims that she is trying to open a "conversation." Conversations, at least in my world, require good faith, and generally good faith does not involve sending a letter to a world rulemaking body stating that the human-rights recognition of a group of people is an affront to a group to which you represent, then reposting that letter solely to a forum consisting of those who agree that members of that group - and other groups loosely associated with it - are not real people and do not deserve human rights recognition either.

To have another group placed into a supplicant position before opening a "conversation" about their rights is not dialogue, but oppression.

At least two women of transsexual history helped with some of the technical wording of this document. I was not one of them. This was not just some document that only lesbian feminists created. As far as I am concerned, this was a groundbreaking moment in our history. This is about WOMEN'S RIGHTS AND PROTECTIONS! Not transgender rights.

Self hatred is a tragic thing to watch..

and I'm willing to bet, those women of transsexual history who helped write that piece of garbage were white, and didn't care what kind of collateral damage this jacked up paper will do to the civil rights of non white transpeople around the world who could really give a rat's anus about an intramural semantics fight when they have much bigger problems they face.

Britney Austin | August 6, 2011 10:54 PM

@ Monica Roberts, not everything is about race or ethnicity. Seriously. No where in this topic was anything said about race until you brought up the subject. Your blaming of white people with regards to this letter I personally find racist and offensive.

If so, then you *literally* do not understand what racism is. Offensive you can find it, as that's highly subjective -- not so racism.

I am working on a response to send to the UN office in question. Many of the statements made in the Brennan/Hungerford communication require a formal written response directed to the addressee.

Here is an early first draft - I would really like to get some feedback that addresses my own blind spots:

This letter is in response to the scurrilous attacks made on transsexual and transgender women in a written communication to you from Cathy Brennan and Elizabeth Hungerford, two self-identified lesbian lawyers, dated August 1, 2011. That letter was critical of legislation enacted in several states of the United States of America relating to gender identity and gender expression. The authors intentionally and maliciously misconstrue such legislation as “compromis(ing) hard won sex-based protections for females.”

The writers’ underlying but incorrect assumption is that transsexual and transgender women are not women at all, but are really men from whom women require protection. This assumption flies in the face of the mass of scientific evidence accumulated since 1995 on the issue of the nature of transgender people. The writers are well aware of the evidence, but in their particular brand of “radical feminist” ideology, facts are an inconvenient obstacle to their political goals.

The writers’ make the assumption that permitting transgender women and transsexual women to occupy the same ”female-only space” as cisgender women and cissexual women constitutes a threat against cissexual women. They raise the spectre of rape and sexual violence – and then indicate that transsexual and transgender women are not perpetrators of this kind of violence against women – but the leave the impression that this is a legitimate issue.

They state that “in the attempt to provide protections for a few, we will compromise the protections of the many.” But what they are really saying is that they want to force transsexual and transgender women into male spaces – where the same sort of violence they fear can be perpetrated on the transsexual and transgender women, perhaps because transgender and transsexual women can’t get pregnant. Transsexual and transgender women are not a threat to cissexual and cisgender women’s reproductive vulnerability.

The writers examine a Rhode Island human rights (anti-discrimunation) statute that includes “sex” as a protected class, and they make the cissexist assumption that sex means “male” or “female.” They conveniently leave out all of the various kinds of “intersex” classifications that are often incorrectly shoehorned into the cissexist binary based on junk science assumptions. Among these are transsexual and transgender individuals, who are assigned a sex at birth solely on the basis of the visual examination of the external evidence of the development of one of the two kinds of genital tract. At birth, it is not possible to examine the sexed brain structures that are the physiological basis for transsexual gender identity (which actually should be referred to as “sex identity” in order to eliminate confusion as to the biological basis.”

Protection on the basis of gender identity does not provide any “end run” around the legal protections afforded on the basis of sex. What the added protection does is to take into consideration a modern understanding of the underlying nature of sex, and to rectify the harm done on a small segment of the population for whom an incorrect sex was assigned at birth.

The writers do not understand the effects of hormone therapy, and appear to endorse a requirement for “sex reassignment surgery”as a prerequisite.

The writers misconstrue the statutes that protect on the basis of “gender identity and expression” as allowing non-transgender, non-transsexual people to invade space that is rationally segregated by sex. That is an irrational argument that has been used by opponents of such legislation, many of which are known to be “hate groups.” The statutory language is not overly broad – the writers do not seem to understand that gender identity is physiologically based. The writers’ fear that males, including registered sex offenders, could use the legislative protection to invade female-only space. The fact is that the legislation does not protect them in their invasion of such space, and even in the absence of such legislation, there is nothing other than the sign on the door that would exclude them. The writers somehow seem to misplace the blame on transgender, transsexual and intersex people, using a specious rationale.

The writers’ insistence on medical documentation or durational requirements make sense only if all people were required to carry such documentation. Specifying that transgender individuals be the only ones required to “show their papers” to be able to use a public restroom is the height of cissexist arrogance.

Essentially, what the writers have done in their letter is to set up a “straw man” argument – implying that treating transgender and transsexual women as women, is a threat to cisgender and cissexual women. Then they make an attempt to deal with it by indicating that human rights legislation that provides “gender identity and expression” protection should carry with it a “proof” requirement. Depending on the situation, the imposition of a proof requirement would discriminate against the pooerest and most marginalized people in the trans community, particularly low income people of color, There is no reason whatsoever to require only transgender and transsexual people to provide such proofs. Perhaps such a requirement could be more palatable if the “proof” requirement were imposed on everyone and not just the transgender and transsexual community. This way no one would be able to gain entrance to the facility without an appropriately-sexed government-issued identification card.

The writers raise the issue that somehow gender expression protections could be used to enforce gender stereotypes in such a way as to exclude, say, butch lesbians from women-only space, because they assert a masculine-like gender expression. As it is with the rest of their arguments, this one falls flat. Regardless of whether such legislation is in effect, butch women often experience challenges to their use of bathrooms, much as some transgender women do. Rather than seeing the issue as one of creating a common ground, these writers use the issue as one involving a divide – should they reasonably expect butch women to have to carry their papers to prove that their gender identity is *not* male?

The writers express several times in their written communication an abhorrence of irrational discrimination against transgender and transsexual people. Unfortunately, it appears that it may be a form of institutionalized cissexism that has blinded them to the realization that their opposition to human rights protections on the basis of gender identity and expression in and of itself is an endorsement of irrational discrimination against transgender, transsexual and other intersex people.

Some suggestions made in consideration of the likely viewing group.

"scurrilous attacks made on" -- replace with |unfounded statements regarding|

brand of “radical feminist” -- drop entirely. The individuals involved will already be aware of the feminist nature inherently, and will already see it as coming from a group that is fringe at best given the citations in the piece.

"The writers do not understand the effects of hormone therapy, and appear to endorse a requirement for “sex reassignment surgery”as a prerequisite." -- is good, but now you have to provide evidence to support your implied assertion that such a prerequisite should not be endorsed. IOW, too short.

(this is in addition to further citations you should provide regarding the science you refer to -- I suggest approximately 10 citations to back up the physiological evidence you are talking about. However, I tend to be considered as engaging in overkill, so maybe 3 would do.

Drop "invade" -- enter is a better, less antagonistic term.

" the height of cissexist arrogance" -- should probably read more like "akin to requiring an individual to prove their ethncity before entering a restroom" or some similar prallel that does not demonstrate overt animus.

replace 'straw man" with distortions and misrepresentations

"There is no reason whatsoever to require " should read there is no rational reason to require (a reason can be made -- the problem is one of rational, well thought, equity)

Also, point out that Gender Identity is not somethng that has a demonstrable external character according tot he current understanding of it. It is a singularity known and apparent only to the individual, not immediately visible to others. THerefore, they are basing their argument on the concepts of expression, which is often, but not always, the primary cultural signifier of what one's identity may be, and is entirely dependent on context (you could even get a laugh by commenting on victor victoria or some other popular cultural milestone regarding the vagaries of appearance as the basis of such).

THis reinforces the earlier arguments regarding the butch aspect (since their expressions are what define them as butch, not their their gender identities).

Thank you! I am appreciative of the suggested edits. I will tone down a bit - I may end up keeping "scurrilous attack," but most of the suggestions are going to be incorporated in the next draft. I think I am going to sleep on it and work on it tomorrow, with a fresh pair of eyes.

I was already going to be providing an appendix with references to a large number of medical research journal articles (most of which were provided to me by Zoe Brain), but I am glad you pointed out the need - it indicates that this is on the right track.

Thank you! I am appreciative of the suggested edits. I will tone down a bit - I may end up keeping "scurrilous attack," but most of the suggestions are going to be incorporated in the next draft. I think I am going to sleep on it and work on it tomorrow, with a fresh pair of eyes.

I was already going to be providing an appendix with references to a large number of medical research journal articles (most of which were provided to me by Zoe Brain), but I am glad you pointed out the need - it indicates that this is on the right track.

You wrote:

"The writers’ underlying but incorrect assumption is that transsexual and transgender women are not women at all, but are really men from whom women require protection."

This is a common belief in radfem communities, where the letter is posted (which was why I provided that context), but will not factor in to the committee's reading of the letter. With regard to transsexual women, I have since received a disavowal of that belief from Ms. Brennan on my blog, though the belief about trans people who don't meet a certain definition still remains.

However, the premise of the letter remains that the mechanism used to protect trans people in legislation is said to harm women.

"They conveniently leave out all of the various kinds of “intersex” classifications that are often incorrectly shoehorned into the cissexist binary based on junk science assumptions."

A serious oversight that stands to negatively affect intersex people as well. Be careful about interlinking intersex and trans, though, because the science isn't there yet to back that up, and there's plenty we don't yet know.

Something that is important to note is that the authors of the letter attribute to the term "gender identity" things that are more typically attributed to gender expression. There is a growing conflation of the two and we need to be clear of the terminology ourselves if we are advancing it. Identity is who one is, expression is how one presents. I support inclusion of both, but that doesn't mean we should overlook clarity and the fact that the authors are attaching the accusation of stereotypes to gender identity.

Re: documentation, there is also a very serious potential for violence if those papers are found by people with strong objections to who we are. The letter also fails to state when or if documentation would no longer be needed.

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Pardon me? That wasn't a personal attack in the least. Mercedes pointed out what Cathy said, and I pointed out that Cathy has no credibility as to where her words should be taken at face value. Her lack of such is documented repeatedly across multiple trans* blogs and tacitly expressed in the fact that she feels she has to silence her opponents.

@Joann wrote: "Specifying that transgender individuals be the only ones required to “show their papers” to be able to use a public restroom is the height of cissexist arrogance."

It's worse than arrogance, it is a fundamental violation of human rights. Demanding that transitioned women and men be required to provide "evidence including, but not limited to, medical history, care or treatment of a transsexual medical condition...," Brennen and Hungerford mirror the twisted logic of Governor Jan Brewer and the Tea Party in the Arizona "Papers Please" Immigration Law (SB1070). In protesting the Arizona law, the Rev. Al Sharpton stated--

"The only ID we'll have in our pockets is the U.S. Constitution, which gives us the right to equal protection under the law."

Trans people deserve no less than equal protection under the law. If trans and transsexual women are compelled to disclose our private medical histories and carry proof of our gender legitimacy, then so should Ms. Brennen and Ms. Hungerford.

Tall Stacey | August 7, 2011 12:27 PM

Last line of third paragraph,"– but the leave the impression that this is a legitimate issue." I believe that should be then, not the.

Thank you for your efforts on our behalf. Speaking for myself, though I believe there are many others here who would agree, I would be honored to sign on to your letter as another affected T woman if you feel it might be beneficial.

For me, one thing to remember here is the broader context. I know I have found it very easy to get caught up in all the drama of this sort of thing, and rad fems/sep lesbians/other groups who are into other sorts of 'group puritiy' are serious triggers for me (and here I am talking more about the place the submission was posted, and the tenor of the comments, than the submission itself).

One the other hand, I try to keep in mind that most of these groups are so far outside the mainstream as to have little influence except on others who already are inclined to have similar, if less rabidly expressed views.

I have not read the details, but this seems to be an international call for submissions. So, in the first place, a single submission, especially from a couple of private individuals with little audience outside a narrow community, seems to be unlikely to have much weight, given the thousands of submissions the UN group is likely to receive.

Second, do you think this is the only extremist, narrowly-focused submission they will get? (Seriously, the biggest threat to women in the world is the potential for men to try to invade women's spaces? How about the men who are already in women's lives who are beating, raping, and killing them, and the societal, even institutionalized support this gets? Or a lot of other things.) They will prolly get far, far more submissions that demagogue 'homosexuality' in general or lesbians in particular as being a threat to women. Not to mention all the ones they will get that are strongly patriarchal, denouncing feminism, women's rights, and all that. Can you image the ones coming from the religious right, across all religions? So really, I am guessing there will be a big sorting of the wheat from the chaff, and the staff at the UN aren't rednecks in some rural US state.

Finally, *anything* at the UN is extremely highly politicized. Whatever gets through will have to be accepted by right-wing nations like Iran and the US, as well as by more progressive countries. Yes, I have no doubt that most of the fundamentalist countries will agree that freedom of 'gender identity' and 'gender expression' is an unmitigated evil, but they already think that anyhow.



Well said Carol, I'm with you.
So somebody is sending a letter to the UN.

Did you people just wake up to the fact that anybody can send a letter to the UN? And like these two people are going to bend the curve at Turtle Bay?

i just find this amazing how these two women can say what every female is thinking, esp coming from two " lesbian activist" given the right to say how the world should treat trans women to the extent of removing there human rights! its not on and shouldn't be allowed

Khloe, are you coming out against freedom of speech? It is the same thing that allows you to denounce 'these two women'. :)

Khloe, are you coming out against freedom of speech? It is the same thing that allows you to denounce 'these two women'. :)

I'm pretty sure she means that she's calling out Brennan and Hungerford for presuming to speak for all women.

"given the right to say how the world should treat trans women to the extent of removing there human rights! its not on and shouldn't be allowed"

Britney Austin | August 8, 2011 12:37 AM

Here are the problems and possible solutions for what I see. The first is misrepresentation. It is my understanding that both Elizabeth Hungerford and Cathy Brennan are lesbian women and natal females. Yet they have decided to speak about transgender and transsexual issues on behalf of TG and TS people without their consent or prior knowledge. This brings me back to a prior point about co-opting within the LGBTTI community. There is a strong difference between supporting someone else's needs and speaking on their behalf when you are not qualified to do so. I support natal women's concerns over pregnancy. I support gay men's concerns over same sex marriage. Yet I don't suddenly step up to a microphone and start speaking for them as if I know more about their issues than I do. Likewise, I don't think natal females should be discussing transsexual medical conditions they know nothing about. Part of support means listening first and talking second. If we are to have a functional LGBTTI community then it will need to involve a) each letter of the acronymn being represented which includes people who actually are members of that letter getting to represent themselves b) not claiming to speak for the other letters when it doesn't apply to you and you aren't qualified to speak on the subject, and c) supporting the needs of those other letters that you are not a member of by listening to their concerns and offering help but without trying to speak for them. This is not that hard. It is my understanding that this is not the first time Cathy Brennan has attempted to speak on behalf of TG and TS people.

Now let's get back to the restroom issue. Some people support sex de-segregation. I do not find that feasible or sensible at this point in time for several reasons. First, even if this were done it would have to be grandfathered in and could take decades for old buildings to be modified accordingly. Single stall unisex restrooms are not always the most efficient and cost-effective use of space when buildings are constructed. I assume that the architects and engineers must take into consideration the number of occupants of the building and the use of the facility to determine location, size, and type of bathrooms. A lot of people talk about "let's just all make single stall unisex restrooms." That is not always feasible. Furthermore, I don't think that owners of existing buildings should suddenly have to spend potentially tens of thousands of dollars or more renovating bathrooms that were previously considered to be just fine. Even ADA regulations are often grandfathered so existing buildings are not required to make changes until new additions to the building are done.

But some are suggesting de-segregation of multi-person restrooms meaning that men and women would be side by side in the stalls, side by side at the sinks, and side by side at mirrors, baby changing stations, nursing areas etc. It is no myth that the majority of sexual assaults are perpetrated by men and the victims are usually female. That doesn't mean that women aren't violent too. But I don't think women should have to give up private women's spaces to allow men in especially when the majority of men are comfortable in men's only spaces. Nothing good will come of this. A good example is a bar or nightclub. A bunch of drunk men and drunk women mingling in a restroom is a recipe for a major problem and statistically it will be the women who are the ones who get hurt.

So let's go back to the segregation topic. Are these restrooms to be sex segregated or gender segregated? There are key differences as far as I'm concerned. Gender is typically seen as behavioral, social, and cultural. Many argue that restrooms be segregated by gender and not by sex and that people should go to the restroom that matches their outward presentation. An example would be a man dressed in women's clothing, makeup, and accessories appears more feminine than masculine and should use the women's room. But then a women dressed in a masculine manner with short hair, no makeup and an overall "butch" appearance could then be asked to use the men's room where she would not be comfortable. As far as I'm concerned reducing manhood and womanhood to clothing styles and mannerisms is nothing more than sex stereotyping. It shouldn't be done.

Typically restrooms are sex segregated. Sex is typically physiological based on things such as chromosomes, anatomy, hormones, and neurology. As we well know with both intersex and transsexual people not all of those are in complete sync. Yet the majority of people including many transsexual and intersexed people do not want third sex treatment. We already know that people diagnosed with TS (GID) have a letter and eventually change their IDs. I do agree with others here that people should not be compelled to carry around clinical documents and I also don't agree with the way the pscyh industry has treated these conditions either.

But it seems to me that the way to handle it is for them to be sex segregated. A GID diagnosis for a transitioning transsexual as far as I'm concerned is saying that the individual is not in the correct sex and is transitioning to the correct sex socially, medically, and legally. They should be able to use the facilities for their correct sex. How far along they are in transition and what treatments they have had should generally be irrelevant here. They have been diagnosed and are transitioning to correct being assigned the wrong sex.

A lot of this debate ultimately comes down to what to do about part time crossdressers and transgender people who do not go a medical or legal route of transition. And I'll admit it gets trickier here. A crossdresser by definition is someone who dresses in clothing and styles typically associated with the other sex. That means they are comfortable in the sex they were assigned but simply choose to occasionally or regularly express gender in a way that is not common for their sex. The obvious examples would be men who dress in attire typically worn by women and women who dress in attire typically worn by men. But in this case it really is coming down to nothing more than clothing habits and mannerisms. If the individual is comfortable with their sex and has no need to correct it, then they should use the facility for their sex. That means that men need to be educated that some men crossdress and that those men have the right to use the men's room free from harassment and violence. Same with women. A woman who acts and dresses in a very masculine manner should not be told to use the men's room. Women would need to be educated on the subject as well.

As to the full time transgender people, if a person is living full time in a gender role opposite of their assigned sex, it would seem logical to me that they would take measures to make legal changes to the best of their ability. If they are not going a medical route they likely will not be able to change the sex on their documents but they can get their name changed to a name common for their gender role. I would think some sensible accomodation needs to be made here especially as some people have medical conditions that prevent medical treatment for changing physical sex. I would think they should also be able to get a GID letter or something similar that would suffice.

But it is my opinion that the facilities be sex segregated not gender segregated hence my reasoning for the above opinions.

But it is my opinion that the facilities be sex segregated not gender segregated hence my reasoning for the above opinions.
Very well. How do you implement that? What practical tests are there of someone's sex?

In practice, restrooms are segregated on the basis of appearance, not on the basis of sex. This is perhaps a good thing for many of us who are Intersex, who may otherwise be excluded altogether.

Someone looking sufficiently stereotypically female will be allowed in a female restroom, there's no check on their identity documents, chromosomes, genital configuration, blood androgen levels, or any other differentiation other than superficial appearance.

Someone not looking sufficiently stereotypically female will not be allowed in a female restroom without additional checks - and may not be allowed in at all. See for example Khadijah Farmer.

There are other difficulties too: consider a woman who HAS TO GO and there's no stalls available - so she uses the Men's room. Currently, that would be perfectly legal in most jurisdictions. Those that have legally-enforced sex segregation in restrooms nearly always state that it's only an offence if "to cause alarm or disruption" or "for an improper purpose".

Sex segregation would require a legal definition of biological sex, and there isn't one that's universally accepted. There is no quick test for which sex someone is that is not highly invasive, personal, and subject to both false positives and false negatives.

What you ask for isn't feasible.

Om Kalthoum | August 8, 2011 4:10 AM
"Sex segregation would require a legal definition of biological sex...."

Nonsense. Sex segregation from stranger males in women's public toilets and showers is the de facto standard worldwide. If it ain't broke....

And with Dr Peter Koopman estimating the incidence of Intersex at 4% of live births then it IS broke. Not to mention the cases of cis women raping cis women and cis men raping cis men in public bathrooms.


If you want safety, make bathromms single-user.

Discrimination is not neccessary for security, you can end the discrimination AND improve security.

"But it seems to me that the way to handle it is for them to be sex segregated. A GID diagnosis for a transitioning transsexual as far as I'm concerned is saying that the individual is not in the correct sex and is transitioning to the correct sex socially, medically, and legally. They should be able to use the facilities for their correct sex. How far along they are in transition and what treatments they have had should generally be irrelevant here. They have been diagnosed and are transitioning to correct being assigned the wrong sex."

This is my thinking. This is also what I see in the document Cathy and Elizabeth wrote. I would never support something that would keep the above definition out of women's private spaces. In the US and other places, Real Life Experience is required before transition can be completed.

And what of the Intersex? What of the people with bi-gender gender identities or a-gender gender identities? What of the Yogyakarta Principles? What of the human rights of each and every Intersex, Androgynous, Bi-gender and A-gender human being?

Do me a favour, go look at the photos of the crossdressers whose names have been spoken as part of TDOR. Look at those faces. Look at people whose lives were no less valid and no less valuable than your own or anyone elses. Look at those whose deaths prove their vulnerability, their need for safety security and protection. Their human right to have their identity respected is the equal of yours. Their human right to have access to basic public amenities is the equal of yours. Their right to recognition before the law is equal to yours. All their rights are equal to yours....

And if you don't see all their rights as equal to yours then you don't understand human rights at all, though i'd happily explain it all to you. If you don't think their safety, their security, their lives cruelly and horrifically stolen from them is equally as important as any cis womans or transsexuals then you need to ask youraelf why!

Crossdressers get raped bashed and murdered too. Intersex people get raped bashed and murdered too. The androgynous get raped bashed and murdered too. How do you deal with that? Bear in mind that in every choice we make that may have a consequence we may predict we then become responsible for that consequence. You have made choices that seem to attack the equal rights, the safety and the security of people who risk rape, bashing, murder... wouldn't that make you in part responsible for those horrible things if your actions made those people more vulnerable or which prevented them from gaining protection?

Do you think you are trading harm to one group for harm to another? But cis women are less often assaulted than trans people are and crossdressers and the bi-gendered and intersex people do not escape such violence! After all those who don't pass are more likely to encounter such violence aren't they!

Would anyone be willing to join a private Facebook group to discuss this further? I would like to have a private civil discussion about the wording of the document and how it effects post-transsexuals and transsexuals in transition. If there is support for this I can create a group later.

Also, please don't take offense, but I would like to talk with non-transgender identified post/pre-op transsexuals and those from the feminist movement.

Sorry, this isn't going to happen. A few key people declined.

I'm baffled by the strong outcry against this statement. Even the now-defunct website Questioning Transgender was quite clear that they were for housing, employment, healthcare, and other basic human rights for transgender persons. This statement seems similar in its' intentions.

As even Allen admits, the authors are willing to say transwomen who have been through surgery are allowed to use the women's restrooms. They are expressing concerns, backed by years of experience, regarding both safety and *a feeling of safety* in restrooms.

Most women are willing to make tremendous compromises, even when it comes to our security. Where are the compromises from the transgender community?

What compromises would you specifically suggest the trans community consider? I'm not sure to what extent this document asks for concessions as they've put forth contradictions in their policy recommendations. (Notably: "We don't think trans people should be discriminated against, but here's the hairs we should split anyway.") For lack of better terminology, am I "woman" enough to be considered worthy of access to sex-segregated spaces? What compromise is being asked of me, and by extension my personal identity, to make these radical feminists happy?

(Also, it should be noted that it's very difficult to achieve compromise when the conversational venue flatly denies entry to one party.)

My impression from reading the submission was that Brennan and Hungerford are for trans rights in every area *except* traditionally sex-segregated spaces. For example, housing, employment, medical care, interactions with the authorities, all should be covered by protections for gender identity and gender expression.

*However*, these protections should not extend to use of traditioanlly sex-segregated spaces (restrooms, locker rooms, showers), at the very least for MAABs who have external penises; it is very unclear to me whether the authors intend to include MAABs w/o penises, or with inverted penises (seems the be the typical construction used on radical feminist sites for MAABs who have had SRS) in those prohibitions. And further, the stated concern (as I read the submission) is that even the rights mentioned above (housing, etc.) are will lead or even are already leading to the breakdown of prohibition of men in general to traditionally sex-segregated spaces, and that this will lead or is already leading to increased assaults on women and on female children.

That is my take, anyhow. Hopefully your questions weren't just rhetorical, and I just now told you a bunch of stuff you already knew, lol.

Well, I see you had an interesting little chat with the nice girls over at GenderTrender...

Perhaps I can ease some of the baffling.

The website you note was clear that they were for *some* human rights. But not all, and those human rights had a price tag attached to them.

Furthermore, in much the same way that these authors made a statement *outside* the context of what they wrote (and the paper lacking these things does not inherently present an interpretive stance that supports such within it, so saying outside the scope of the paper is little more than false flagging), the site you describe went to great lengths to describe some women as not being women.

ANd it is there that the problem lies. It is there that the strong outcry is found.

Aversion to the idea of some trans people being women, anxiety over the idea of some trans people being women, and, given Ms Brennan's particular habits, animus towards the idea of some trans people being women are what drives this.

And those things directly impact the human right to involvment in the culture, and provide cover for people to do things like not allowing housing, employment, healthcare, and other basic human rights.

There is a word for that, a word that many of those here speaking aganst this, including the original author, have been avoiding using.

Consider for a moment why they aren't using that single word to describe a complex set of elements -- I can say that in the case of at least 7 of those here, they are not using that word because while they are deeply offended, they are being relatively peaceable.

That feeling of safety is the important issue -- in practical terms, having women who are trans in the restrooms is not unsafe.

And what you are asking of trans people is that they allow people who are dealing with anxiety about sharing a restroom -- an irrational anxiety that has no true basis in fact and deals not with individuals but with a class of persons based on stereotypes and appearance -- to say that they are a threat, that those irrational stereotypes are true, and that falsehoods are permissible about them.

That's not compromise. That's surrender. And that is what you are asking for.

We cannot. The anxiety that you call forth is not a substantal enough reason for us to surrender our very sense of ourselves. It is an act of social violence on trans people, and you are saying that we should be grateful for that act of violence on us as a people.

There is another term I shall not use here to describe that.

I have a longer response in development, but will also try to get some clarifications before posting it. There are many inconsistencies in the letter, and more in the responses that followed.

I will say that regarding compromises, it is not my place as a relatively binary-privileged woman to make a compromise on something that directly affects non-binary people. And I remain behind my statement that there is no statistical evidence of an increase in prevalence of predation among genuinely gender-diverse / trans-identified people. Nor is it right to deny an entire class of people human rights due to the possibility that someone among them might be a predator.

Is there more discussion needed here? Yes. But the thing we should be looking at before asking for compromises is: what do non-binary trans people need in regard to public spaces? If we hadn't been conflating one big umbrella for so long, perhaps we'd have asked that earlier and had a clearer answer by now. Maybe it's similar washroom accommodation, maybe it's more single-stall locking restrooms (although there are challenges associated with making this the solution).

And regardless of that, the letter that has been sent still calls the mechanism providing protections for transsexual men and women (gender identity) a danger to legal protections for women.

Two points:

1) Chrissy Polis was assaulted in a McDonald's that had a single use / locked women's bathroom.

2) This fear-mongering is out of hand. Women do not "compromise their security" in any way with respect to either the presence or absence of gender identity legislation. No one, including Cathy, has ever presented evidence where that is the case. To the contrary, there are uncounted assaults against women by both men and women in women's bathrooms. So why isn't the radical feminist community out demonstrating about that general problem?

If the women's community wants the trans community's assistance to improve the law to better protect women in bathrooms, then we're there to help. Just take your focus off trans women, please.

"Chrissy Polis was assaulted in a McDonald's that had a single use / locked women's bathroom."

Chrissy wasn't assaulted for using the restroom.

quote: "A teenaged girl (who assumed Chrissy was female) started a fight with Chrissy for “talking to her man”. Chrissy had already used the restroom without incident when the confrontation occurred. There was no bathroom incident and the confrontation had nothing to do with bathroom usage and did not occur inside, or relating in any way, to the bathroom"

Dana didn't say that. Your response misrepresents what she said.

If I recall correctly, the video did include some verbal complaints about Chrissy using the washroom, although that is not the central thing that the media focused on afterward. But I'd have to review it again.

I thought the same, but if you read the recent court document on one of the attackers that was not the case.

Om Kalthoum | August 8, 2011 4:35 PM
This fear-mongering is out of hand. Women do not "compromise their security" in any way with respect to either the presence or absence of gender identity legislation. No one, including Cathy, has ever presented evidence where that is the case. To the contrary, there are uncounted assaults against women by both men and women in women's bathrooms. So why isn't the radical feminist community out demonstrating about that general problem? [emphasis added]

Listen, you don't have to convince the "radical feminist community" do you? How many radical feminists are there in Congress or state legislatures? Go ahead. Make the case to your legislators that male-bodied-for-life people deserve special dispensation to enter women's toilets and showers via their self-proclaimed "gender presentation." No one is stopping you. Flood the UN with white papers. No one is stopping you.

And please. I expect that guy who identifies as bi-gendered to constantly bleat that there are all these female rapists out there attacking other women. He always shows up with that laugher of a contention in these threads. But "uncounted" (meaning, I trust, very many, not, never tallied) woman-on-woman assaults in public toilets as a safety issue? Women know better. They know who is most likely to perpetrate violence on them. Given the millions (?) of daily public bathroom visits under the present system in the United States alone, can you put the incidence of female bathroom attackers in perspective with a citation and a percentage? I'm feeling somewhat anxious just contemplating having to count the number of zeros to the right of that decimal place.

I keep wondering about this myself. I wonder if this relates to all the beat downs that happen in bars in the women's restrooms? I hear about this a lot; I also fairly often hear about men installing cameras or peep holes in restrooms/showers a lot. Direct sexual assault of men on women in women's spaces, I hear of a lot less.

Direct sexual assault of women on women in women's spaces, I can't rememder ever hearing of (but then, I don't recall of ever hearing of men sexually assualting men in restrooms/showers either, except for prison, where my impression is that every man in there has raped, been raped, or both).

Direct sexual assault of women on women in women's spaces, I can't rememder ever hearing of

You'll find a partial list of such assaults here.

Zoe, thanks for that link, it was very interesting. I do have a few comments on the link and on your reply.

First, when I said I had never heard of sexual assualt of women by women in restrooms, I didn't mean that I didn't believe it ever occurred. I just said I have never heard of it, so it seemed to be far, far less common than physical assault of women by women in women's restrooms (typically some drunk beating up some other drunk over some guy, which is pretty far from any kind of lesbianist assualt) or sexual assault by men on women in private places (seems every other week I hear about a flasher or a peeper, often though the use of cameras).

I have been around long enough and known enough women to know that some of them are capable of as much cruelty, self-centered entitlement, and violence as pretty much any man, the patriarchal constructs of femininity notwithstanding. On the other hand, though I don't know the actual statistics, I feel pretty confident that the incidences of sexual assault and physical assault of men on women is at least one, if not two orders of magnitude higher than the incidences of women toward women.

So, on to the link and your use of it.

Honestly, IMO, you are doing the exact thing that Om did with me above. You didn't link to some study of female on female sexual assault, or of rates of sexual assault split out by biosex/gender identity, or anything objective like that. What you linked to was a long rant by someone with a very definite pre-TS agenda in general, and who was rebutting some specific hyperbolic accusations by some radical feminists and strongly anti-TG transsexuals with her own hyberbole.

And in fact, Cristan mirrored Dana's post on the evil TSs. I saw only one actual sexual assault in the list; all the rest (except an incident of two women having consensual sex in a restroom stall, and other ppl taking offense, which would be the same if it were two men or a man and a woman) were for the very thing I mentioned as hearing about the most often: one girl beating on another girl over some dispute, NOT a sexual assault.

I am kinda disappointed. I see you as being objective, even if I don't don't agree with a lot of the things you say (mostly the brain study stuff, which I find pretty specious). I expect such from Om and Dana, they feel how they feel, and don't seem interested in expanding or learning in these discussions, but I expected more from you. I thought you were more open-minded and objective.

grrr, need to proofread better...wish there was an edit here...

What you linked to was a long rant by someone with a very definite pre-TS (SHOULD BE: 'pro-TG') agenda in general...

And in fact, Cristan mirrored Dana's post on the evil TSs (SHOULD BE 'TGs')...

1. I have a name. So use it.

2. My identity is bi-gendered, and more feminine than masculine, so therefore calling me 'that guy' is offensively disregarding my identity! If you expect others to respect your identity (as is your human right) then you are obliged to do likewise to all others. Both points 1 and 2 show a rudeness towards me that you should apologise for.

3. My partner is also bi-gendered, but of the opposite birth sex and who shares many of my views, so to bring up my birth-sex as some form of way to dissmiss my argument is incorrect and bias-based.

4. Citing common-perception in a world dominated by myths is also no quality argument, there's lots of things that people have exagerated fears of or an exagerated view of safety of that do not correspond to the actual risks.

5. My point is not predicated on same-sex sexual assault being common (though who knows how common it is when its such a taboo? ) it just needs to be comparable and there's not a lot of cases of sexual assult by transgender people either is there... I don't know anyone sexually assaulted by a trans person, but i know a lot of people who've been sexually assaulted by people of the same sex, both men and women including relatives and friends who were assaulted by people of the same sex. I also know trans folk who have been sexually assaulted by women as well as by men. I know people raped by priests of the same sex, nuns of the same sex, sodomised with a cricket stump by teens of the same sex causing lifelong injuries... So much for same-sex rape never happening huh!

6. sexual assault is but one of the dangers in public amenities, assault is one others here have already mentioned. I know of public toilets no-one uses for fear of being mugged there.

7. Trans are not the only group vulnerable in communal public amenities, i know of people who belong to a variety of groups who try to never use communal public amenities out of fear of violence including: Aboriginals, Goths, Elderly people, Disabled people, Migrants, Ethnic minorities and more. There were even cases of homophobes looking for gay people in my towns public toilets to bash them at one point! And there was a case of a man stabbed with a knife at a public toilet just a few blocks from where i used to live in a park right next to an all-male highschool... (and i know people who got sexually assaulted while attending that scvhool too btw). So improving public amentity safety is not just a cis/trans issue!

Hi Bayne,

Brennan/Hungerford dismiss sexual assault on trans women (using the broad bigender-inclusive and transsexual-inclusive umbrella version of "transgender") because trans women cannot get pregnant, so they feel no compunction excluding trans women from space theyr eserve solely for cis women. The grudging footnote in which they are willing to see laws enacted that might include as women ony trans women "with papers" is a classist elitist POV. When GRS is available under Medicaid, and a carve-out is made for those who are poor surgery risks, I might look at that - and even then it is likely to be problematic unless everyone has o "carry papers." Undocumented women would just be out of luck, regardless of whether they are cis or trans.

The conflation of Gender identity with gender expression is a huge problem. Gender identity is as genetically, ontologically and biologically based as the genital tract, and the science since 1995 is indicative of this.

The classification of some women as men is just wrong.

Transgender people (if we close down to a small and very narrow umbrella, this is coterminous with transsexual, not GRS-centric but brain development-centric- that is with brain development in th regions related to gender identity formation that are within the range associated with the opposite of the sex assigned) do not ever belong to their original assigned sex. This is where WBT, MBT or T2F and T2M come from (the Radfems that some trans separatists are so willingly allying themselves with on this issue will refer to them, even postoperatively, as "M2T" - just visit their websites).

If there is a gray area, the gray area in the wider "transgender umbrella" has bigender people in it, not men. Men are not included under "gender identity and expression." Men in drag and men who are male-identified fetishists are not doing "gender expression" that comports with their gender identity, they are wearing costumes.

If there is any issue to discuss, it is with bigender, genderqueer, agender, gender-fluid, etc. classifications. In the binary, the difference between us may well be answered by asking a question: is woman the class of "not-men" or is man the class of "not-women?"

Those whose sex is in a gray area, whether they be any kind of intersex or trans or bigender, these gray area people ought to be allowed self-determination as a matter of a basic human right.

The people who get the least respect in the sexual orientation world are the bisexual people. It seems as if it is the same thing when it comes to the biology of sex assignment and gender identity. It is so easy for cissexual (cisgender) and transsexual (narrow umbrella transgender) people alike, to look at those who are truly different who fit into one of the various kinds of bigender (and the even more invisible agender) categories, and throw those people under the bus.

The eagerness of some trans separatists to join with radfems in throwing bi(gender) and some other narrow-umbrella trans folks under the bus by classifying them all as "men" because they are, under their narrow and narrower definitions "not-women," is very, very sad.

Hi Joann. Thanks for your comment!

It may interest you to hear that a significant number of crossdressers (male, female, hetero, bi and straight crossdressers) that i know have discovered that an imediate family member also secretly crossdressed.

Usually this has been on going through their deceased effects though there are others where on coming out they have been confided in. The case of Pip Wherret the Australian motor journalist who discussed this in their autobiography is one famous public example of this.

Of course with genetic links already found to transsexuals this should hardly be surprising, especially as other neurological variations like autism and aspergers come in degrees and higher-than average autism-spectrum traits are found in the relatives of people with autism neurology and aspergers runs in families too. Chances are most crossdressers could be what happens when you get a mild case of transsexualism, i.e. have bi-gender gender identities, just like mild autism, mild aspergers, mild dyslexia etc and the far higher incidence of crossdressing to transsexualism makes perfect sense if that were the case, it'd just be following the same pattern of many other neurological variations... even the patterns in sexuality.

Of course that's all hypothesis currently, but it matches the model of neurological variation and is a very much testable hypothesis, all that would be needed would be the testing which so far no-one's apparently doing. And those tests would be needed to rule out biological causation in order to allow for the psychological explanation of fetishism that so many love to fling at bi-gender people (so long as they are male-bodied or are assumed to be). The hypothesis that there's only a psychological fetish cause to crossdressers is tested by looking for and not finding any biological cause... which to my knowledge no-one has done or is yet doing!

I have heard people claim a quotation of Dr Dick Swaab that all gender diversity will likely turn out to be genetic and it makes sense with the anecdotal evidence i have come across.

But human rights don't require biological causation anyway! The right to freedom of religion being a perfect example. Rights are based on individual equality, so the right to self determination belongs to every person no matter what, or it could belong to no-one, because that's how rights work.

Britney Austin | August 9, 2011 3:02 AM

@ Zoe Brain

I am well aware that these things work differently in practice. No where am I suggesting that restrooms have personnel verifying people's sex prior to using the facilities. What I'm referring to is when disputes arise over restroom usage. Employers should not be telling transitioning transsexuals who have given them a copy of a GID letter to still use the facility of their originally-assigned sex. They definitely should not be asking them to do that after they have produced one or more legal IDs showing their new sex. Other examples include guests at public places where security, police, or other personnel question someone's sex over his or her use of the facilities. Typically a person will show an ID verifying their sex. In the case of IS, TS, and TG people it isn't always that simple in these cases. But should an officer cite someone for disorderly conduct for allegedly using the wrong restroom then a GID letter should be accepted as valid defense. I believe a GIDNOS letter can be issued for non-medical TG people although I'm not sure. It is certainly a tricky issue, no question about it but I do think some people make it more difficult than it has to be. Yes it is true that by practice people typically assume what sex people are based on their appearance. I'm sure there's plenty of cases where natal males and females are mistaken for the wrong sex. But my opinions are based on how to handle situations should disputes or questions arise over someone's usage of facilities. I certainly don't think people should be policing bathrooms unnecessarily.

@ Bayne McGregor

It is my understanding that you reside and are a citizen of Australia. Please understand that the situation in the United States is not exactly the same as it is in Australia. We should of course support human rights in all countries but the solutions and the implementations are not always going to be identical due to differences in culture and structure. Your suggestion that every restroom in the United States be a single stall unisex one I have already pointed out is not feasible. If you don't believe me contact a building engineer here or architect and ask them how much it would cost. And I've already stated that it isn't always an efficient use of space. A large building designed to handle a few occupants can easily implement what you describe because the space is large and the demand is low. Try suggesting that at a sports stadium where as many as 50,000 people are using the building. It is a great idea but it just doesn't work in all situations.

As to your concerns about violence (sexual assault) nothing is 100% foolproof. Very little can stop a determined person short of deadly force used in self defense. Honestly I don't think our system as it is currently is that broke at all. All that needs to happen is for people to be educated on the subject appropriately. If women for instance are educated that some women have a transsexual medical condition but that they are also women then they can understand that those women have an equal right to use the women's facility. If men can be educated that some men prefer to express their gender in a feminine manner by crossdressing and that they have the right to use the men's room free from harassment and violence then those men will not feel compelled to have to use women's facilities over fear for their own safety. The system is fine mostly, it is just that too many people are uneducated and miseducated on these subjects.

@ Dana Lane Taylor

I may need to re-read the letter to the UN but from my understanding the way it was worded suggested that TS women are not women and made it sound like a third sex or something as distinctly separate from females. You later provided a quote from Cathy Brennan where she clarified her views on the issue in a way that sounded much more supportive than the original letter. The problem is that the letter was sent right at the deadline and that practically no one in the TS community was aware of this or had opportunity to work on it (other than a couple of people). Her trying to clarify what she meant in the letter is a bit too late now. It is like trying to appeal a court case and introduce new evidence. It's not going to work and it is way too late. Even if her intentions were indeed to help TS women the way this operation was carried out was done very poorly in my opinion. There is a long list of TS activists who have been post-transition for 10, 20, even 30+ years who could have been consulted on this but they weren't.

Considering the fact that both Cathy Brennan and Elizabeth Hungerford are attorneys I would have expected better wording of the document. They could have made it clear that their concerns about gender identity legislation were about de-segregation of sex segregated bathrooms. The phrasing seemed too vague as to make it sound that TS women (both pre-op and post-op) are not women.

I did want to reply to your comments about the restrooms and mention that I don't think a specific time frame of a real life experience be required for using bathrooms of the target sex that one is transitioning to. The one year requirement as far as I'm aware is basically for the surgery referral and confirms the original diagnosis of GID that was originally used for hormonal treatment referral. Plus some people in some states can change the sex on their ID before meeting the RLE surgery referral requirement. As far as I'm aware most doctors will not draft a medical letter to change an ID until the patient has been on HRT and has lived full time for awhile anyway and they usually require that the GID diagnosis from the therapist already have been made.

I continue to stand by what I said that multi-person restrooms not be sex de-segregated and I am glad that you are in agreement with this. Some people may suggest that there is no issue with men and women being side by side in stalls. It is very common in my experience for restrooms to have poorly maintaned stall doors that do not lock or close completely. Virtually all restrooms only have one exit as well. And while Bayne MacGregor mentioned that same-sex violence occurs the truth is that statistically most sexual assaults are done by men towards women.

I don't think SRS should be a requirement to use the facility for a transitioner's target sex. If they've received the GID diagnosis then it is clear they are in the wrong sex in the first place and are already in the proess of getting it corrected.

As a brief note, the diagnosis is a formality in practice. And, as a matter of course, can be determined by a psychiatrist, a psychologist, a therapist, or a social worker, and they can be either practicing or researching.

THe determination is made by the individual, with the attendant so noted being there to discern that such is not due to varying other factors, which are exceedingly rare (outliers, usually with less than 5% occurrence).

You think the expense cost is really that bad? You stager it, like any other change to building codes. After all, they managed the expense in putting all those womens toilets in when we allowed women into universities and parliaments etc. You change the building code for new commercial/public buildings, then you change it for renovations of those buildings, costs get spread accross decades and the problem is fixed, just like when they added fire escapes and all manner of other enforced building changes. And really the space issue is just redistribution of space and nothing more, one stall one sink for each person, the sink goes inside the stall and you'd even decrease the space used for crying out loud! In fact for stadiums a corridor of doors has fewer bottlenecks than a single door to a dead-end corridor of doors, so single-user stalls would improve the flow of traffic! (by the way, one of my best friends is a builder!) And as for education... why would we need ANY segregation of bathrooms then if education would solve the violence and sexual assault issue against Androgynous Intersex and Bi-gender people as well as cis assault and sexual assault victims of the same sex? Sure you can't have 100% safety, but thats a poor excuse to demand the endangerment of one extremely vulnerable group of people to create a FALSE sense of security for another vulnerable but LESS vulnerable groups of people. Here's the stats again to show how Trans people are more at risk than cis women: and that's Q.E.D.

The context was that the comment to my original post was that I was making a sexist remark, and I was simply replying that it was not I but women that I had come into contact with that made the comment.

But is it sexism or is it gender expression orientation attraction? Life is Sexist, from ants to man. Feminists are trying to overcome a traditional sexist/ gender expression history. Women as just as capable, if not more capable as men for most any job. But it doesn't mean that all women want to be free of some parts of a sexist society.

Just as people have a sexual orientation attraction, they also have a gender expression orientation attraction. There was an article that mentioned that effeminate gay men have trouble finding gay men partners because most gay men are attracted to masculine men, ie. men with strong male gender expression. Well the same can be said for many genetic women not being attracted to straight men with weak masculine, strong feminine gender expression.

So was the comment sexist, or was it simply a statement about a gender expression orientation attraction?

I thought you might be interested in this post I wrote on Bilerico about threats made against Cathy Brennan on Facebook: Threats of Violence By Trans Advocates Must Be Condemned

The link didn't show up, so here it is again.

I thought you might be interested in this post I wrote on Bilerico about threats made against Cathy Brennan on Facebook: Threats of Violence By Trans Advocates Must Be Condemned

I'm going to say something from the POV of someone biologically female and young.
1. women's bathrooms have stalls. you don't have to see anyone's bits, no one has to see your bits. they also have these nifty things called locks. these amazing stalls in locker rooms too. so if you are that afraid of seeing a penis, or your bits seen by someone with a penis, you can change in those.
2. anyone is just as likely to get sexually assaulted outside the bathroom as in it. letting someone not biologically female into it isn't going to change this.
3. and maybe this is because I'm young and just don't care about what other ppl are doing, but if they are just going in to do their business and not bothering anyone, does it really matter what bits they have in their pants? is it any of your business, really? is it the association of the bathroom with nakedness, and the nakedness with an impending sexual act that is squicking everyone out?

I just don't get any of the arguments coming up, or why its a big deal. they do their business, you do yours, life goes on regardless of what is or isn't in someone's pants. arn't there bigger worries in life then a genetic man in a dress in the next stall?

"I just don't get any of the arguments coming up, or why its a big deal. they do their business, you do yours, life goes on regardless of what is or isn't in someone's pants. arn't there bigger worries in life then a genetic man in a dress in the next stall?"

Not to them, Sarah. This band of butch lesbians is as paranoid of men as heterosexual men are of gay men, ironically due to much of the same reasoning. Dee Omally recently called them a bunch of men, and I have to say that the descriptor is accurate for their behavior. They are rather the female counterparts to male chauvinists, only these women believe that women are inferior victims waiting to happen rather than a superior sex. Somehow, this is supposed to be empowering (?) and feminist (??).

You will also see them purport to represent all women or women in general, although you see them chitter about how penis-in-vagina sex is this harmful, unspeakable thing that inflicts pregnancies (FCM actually called 'PIV-positive' women a 'tiny minority', abortion a 'harm reduction strategy', and claims that the male institutions use pregnancy to control women -- I cannot make this up). Apparently, nobody told them that most women are heterosexual and did not share in the same 'born to be victims of men' childhood they all claim to have shared.

A few of them, like Bev Jo, have been at this transsexual hating for thirty years or more of their lives. It's really quite sobering.