Trans Women, The New Misogynists?

Some time ago I lay on my bed, closed my eyes and tried to imagine being pregnant. I then imagined myself giving birth, holding my newborn child, bonding with it. I fell into a deep, beautiful sleep from which I awoke with a feeling of desperate emptiness. I felt my body, its curves, its contours and felt a sudden disgust at a body that was not fertile, not fruitful, would never know certain core feminine experiences.

I got over this, not least because of my some wonderful sex with both men and women, and I now love my trans body. But bodily self disgust is, I think, something that transgender people are quite prone to.   Many speak of feeling trapped in the wrong body but most know deep down that no hormones and no surgery can ever, quite, give them the right body. All trans women know that there are differences between them and cisgendered women, know too that many key issues for women can never affect them directly. We reflect on these and our reflection colours and patterns our relations with our cisgendered sisters.

I, and many trans women, actively support the struggle for reproductive rights,  the right og women to decide for themselves what to do with their bodies. We have cis women friends, confidants, lovers. Yet, however we engage with cis women, the radical feminists continue to abuse us as “mentally ill gay men” “drag queens” “not real women” and so on.  And, in a new tack, a recent blog posts suggested that we are misogynists,  seeking to erase “real” (that is biologically female) women in order to further our own unjustified claim to be women, that we privilege our struggle over that of cis women,  and that, ultimately, trans rights are fundamentally incompatible with women’s rights. This explains the rad fem furore over Government suggestions that the current intrusive,  medicalised and bureaucratic, process for gender reassignment should be replaced by one of self certification, based possibly on the system that has operated for two years in the Irish Republic.

Much of the claims made are nonsense. For example trans people do not require a Gender Recognition Certificate to use toilets corresponding to their self identified gender and the idea that a man would go to the trouble of putting on a dress and make up just to invade women’s spaces to sexually assault them always seemed farfetched.  As we have seen recently it is far from necessary for a man to do this in order to assault women. These arguments also elide areas where the stuggles overlap. For example, bathroom bans in certain US states have led to the ejection of cisgendered women from the ladies’, allegedly for not looking feminine enough.  The control of trans bodies is actually an aspect of the control of the bodies of all women.

Am I a misogynist? I have a number of close women friends who have supported me in my transition, who have shown me love and been there for me when I needed them. These are women who can relate to me as a woman and want to be part of my life. Do they consider me a misogynist? I cannot recall meeting a woman in recent times who was not wholly comfortable with trans women. The women I know encompass a wide age range, a wide variety of backgrounds and levels of education.  I suggest that they represent a representative cross section of the female population. I suggest too that the radical feminists, as in many other questions, are simply not where the majority of women are.

Do I want to erase women? I do not. The simple fact is I could not live without them.

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NOT THE GOLF CLUB….PLEASE

I have never had the slightest interest in golf, that is apart from the time some Frenchman called Van der Velde threw away the British Open on the final afternoon after getting stuck in a stream where it was canalised in a concrete trough and dropped a dozen shots as he hacked away like an amateur. Cue laughter and schadenfreude oh and a little anger at the crass misogyny of Peter Alliss who apparently thinks the sole function of any woman in his life is to make his tea. But I digress…..

One of the reasons golf has never really appealed is that most golfers belong to clubs, which are expensive to join, have bars full of back slapping self-satisfied white men and that, if these things weren’t off-putting enough , you have to be proposed and seconded by existing members if you want to join yourself. I have never been a fan of anything that required you to be approved by somebody else before joining.

I am concerned, therefore, to see that Fetlife is now effectively an invitation only club. New people can only sign up if invited by an existing member. Just like the golf club, really, but without the G and Ts and the Pringle sweaters……unless that’s a particularly esoteric fetish that has passed me by.

I can see why they might have done this. In my early days on the scene I got to know a man who was banned from Fetlife for stalking and harassment of one particular lady and kept rejoining under new IDs and I know, too, if only anecdotally that abuse, trolling, and general dickheadery are not uncommon. I have had to block a couple of people because of the latter. But the new rules will not necessarily deal with these issues. What, for example, is to stop a troll inviting him or herself under new names to have an account ready for when they are banned? And what about those who are simply blocked and ignored but never reported and remain on Fetlife to seek out new victims?

For those not yet in the scene this is a disaster. I, and no doubt many of you reading this, struggled for years alone with my fetishes and fantasies, unaware of the scene, unaware that there were so many like-minded people living within five miles of me. Joining Fetlife opened up to me a world of munches and play events, and led to me meeting a number of lovely people who helped me to love myself as I am and were influential, often in ways they might not realise, in making me the person I am today.

So, Fetlife, please think again. Think of those who don’t know anyone on the scene who have no-one to invite them and, because they cannot join, have no way of finding out about the munches and play events where they can meet kinky people. You have left them isolated in a vicious circle and made it impossible for us, as a community, to reach out and welcome them. Do not deny them the opportunities we all had.