ahunter3 (ahunter3) wrote,

Feminists as Transgender Activists

I was in fifth grade in 1970 and so I came of age alongside of feminism. Feminism said it was sexist to have a different yardstick for measuring the behavior of people depending on their sex. That was a good message for me, since from about 2nd grade onwards, people brought to my attention that I acted like a girl instead of like a boy. I don't know what that conjures up for you, but it seemed to have something to do with being goody two shoes and prim about language and being crude and dirty for its own sake. Feminism backed me up when my reaction was "Yeah, so? The girls are doing it right, what's wrong with you and the other boys?"

The message of feminism was that if a way of being, the roles and behaviors and so on, was who or how you were, that was more important than what sex you were. If you were brave, you were a brave person and it meant the same thing whether you were a girl who was brave or a boy who was brave.

I have had people listen while I recounted my expriences and then tell me "well, fine, but that did not mean you were a girl".

We have phrases in the English language. "For all practical purposes". "For all intents and purposes". I understood "girl" to be a role, a way of being thought of, a set of expectations, a pattern. I didn't specifically think I "was a girl". It was more that I realized that for all intents and purposes I was one of them because how I was, my patterns, made me fit in among them and not among the people I shared a physical sex with. I knew I was male and had no problem with that, it just didn't seem terribly important for defining who I was.

The feminist message was a unisex message, a gender-neutral message. You could even say it was a gender-neutralizing message. A lot of feminists say that should be enough. I once thought so too.

But male has been the default sex. We had the word "man" meaning human and yet also meaning male human. It was more than nomenclatural and linguistic, there was and still is a deep-seated tendency to see the generic condition of the species as male. Female is the special condition, the exception. It means that male traits are projected as human traits, but traits marked as female are not. They don't apply to males and they don't apply to generic humans, only to female humans. So when feminists demanded that female humans be seen as people first, not as special exceptional cases, they were accused right and left of wanting to be men.

Feminists were actually doing a transgender thing. They weren't calling themselves men in the sense of male, but the generic human was marked male and feminists were now claiming that generic human for themselves.

It just doesn't work the same way when a male person does it. Claiming unisex or asking for unisex human expectations instead of gendered ones does not invoke any of the associations and notions that are attached to female people. Because those traits aren't unisex. They're tagged as special, exceptional, belonging to women only.


You're secluded in quarantine, and all the performances and events have been cancelled, so it's a good time to read a book!

My book, GenderQueer: A Story From a Different Closet, has been published by Sunstone Press. It is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble in paperback and ebook, and as ebook only from Apple, Kobo, and directly from Sunstone Press themselves.

Links to published reviews and comments are listed on my Home Page


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Tags: androgyny, cisgender, femininity, feminism, language, transgender

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