TERF Wars: Feminists Against Gender and Transgender Warriors Against TERFs, Conclusion (for the mome

Our local Green Party chapter recently had Cynthia BrianKate, a transgender and intersex activist, as a presenter / guest speaker.


In the weeks before her appearance, she expressed dismay that last fall I had signed a petition favoring "dialog, not expulsion" of the Georgia chapter of the Green Party. Cynthia BrianKate joins many other trans activists and supporters within the Greens in thinking that the Georgia chapter is unapologetically transphobic and full of TERFs and TERF sympathizers and should get booted to the curb, so why was I supporting these folks who were running to their aid?


I owe Cynthia, the Lavender Caucus of the Green Party, and transgender activists in general an explanation, perhaps an apology. Let's start with explanation.



The Georgia chapter of the Green Party signed or endorsed a statement about women's sex-based rights. I read it. I would not have signed it myself. I felt like it contained language that was insensitive to trans women at best and denied the legitimacy of their identity at worst, depending on one's tendency to interpret dog whistles.

But I'm not a fan of "You said something wrong! You are bad and must be punished! I am absolutely right and you are absolutely wrong and there's no room for discussion" types of stances. So when I was approached and asked if I would support -- literally -- dialog with the Greens, as the next step, not expulsion of them -- I agreed. And (perhaps foolishly) thought I could bridge communication gaps between the parties involved.

That's really it in a nutshell.



Here are some additional details and elaborations.

Why (you might be wondering) would I think I was in a position to mediate between these parties?

I was born male. I’d place the timeframe as between first grade (when I don’t recall any awareness of it) and second grade (when I do) as when I became conscious of being at odds with gender expectations. Specifically that who I was was more akin to being one of the girls. And I was proud of that.

But I never felt dysphoria about my body. I was okay with being a male person, a person in a male body, who was one of the girls and not one of the boys.

And to drop this timeframe into a larger context, I graduated high school in 1977 and came out in 1980. How I identified would nowadays be called "nonbinary" or "nonbinary trans" or "genderqueer", but there was no such word and no so such concept back then; and although I recognized that my situation had stuff in common with the situation of gay folks and also with trans people, I did not find a social home in that community. What community? Trans people themselves weren't really very included with the gay and lesbian folks yet. No one was saying LGBT in the 70s, let alone LGBTQ.

The political people who were saying the most relevant things were the feminists. That double standards, where the same behavior or trait is valued differently depending on whether you're male or female, or where people have different standards of how you're supposed to be and behave, were sexist and wrong. That the attribution of masculinity to male people and femininity to female people was social, not built-in.

So I went to the university and majored in women's studies. Essentially I ran off to join the feminists.

I can't claim that I was fully accepted and understood in that community either, but it's important for people like the Lavender Caucus folks to understand that for most of my life the LGBTQ community wasn't an "us" that I belonged to. It wasn't a place where I was understood and my identity embraced.

Trans people back then didn't include people who didn't transition (or at least want to). At a minimum, if you identified as a woman, you were supposed to want to be perceived and thought of as female-bodied. You were supposed to want to pass.

Nowadays, the "big tent / umbrella" definition of transgender includes people like me, but because of concern for people who can't or don't do a medical transition, the attitude from the tent feels like our genital parts are an embarrassing thing that should be ignored lest they make our gender identity less valid. That makes it still not a completely warm and welcoming home for me, if you see what I mean. I'm not a cis woman, I'm male not female, and my tendency is to be in your face about being both a femme girl and a physically male person.


In my previous blog post, I wrote about how feminists tend to see gender as chains, as constraints. They believe that if we could get rid of sexist expectations and sexist notions, there would be no gender, because being male or female of body would have no social implications as far as how people think of you, or how you would think of yourself. (Interestingly, some of the people who commented on that post dissented to say that only TERFs would believe that, that real feminists embrace gender).


I don't fully agree with this "gender is just bad let's erase it" view, whether it is or isn't a typical feminist belief. I say "not fully" because I agree with it somewhat. Where I dissent is that we -- you and I and all of us -- we live in this world, this social world, and we are affected by gender; there may come a day when gender no longer exists, but before that can happen there first needs to be a world where you can be any physical sex and it doesn't determine your gender, and before we can get to neutral no-gendered-expectations we've got to create some social space for inverts. You can't move directly from a world where male people are boys and female people are girls to a world where being male isn't associated with being boyish and being female isn't tied to being girlish. You first have to confront some male girls and female boys and get to the point of recognizing them as okay people.

Mainstream trans rhetoric may seem at first glance to be there, but it's really not. Instead of saying "There are male girls and female boys and they can be proud of that", it says "If you say you're a girl, you're a girl; if you say you're a boy, you're a boy, and it's not polite to conjecture about what's in people's underpants". And lurking in the shadows of the hidden physical attributes that you're not supposed to conjecture about is the remaining fear that if you have male bits down there you aren't as girl as someone with female parts, and vice versa for the boyish folks.


TERF, of course, means trans EXCLUSIVE. As in "excluding trans women from what we mean when we say 'women'". And this exclusion plays right into that area of sensitivity, making an issue of whether a person was born with a vulva and clitoris or born with a penis and testicles instead. Hardly a surpise that trans activists perceive it as an assault on trans identities.

Is it always?


Trans women are women, period. But is it ever okay to exclude them?


Feminist women often consider people who were viewed and treated as female since their birth to be in a different social situation than people who were initially perceived and treated as male. The latter, they say, have been beneficiaries of male privilege even if they identify as women and are now perceived and treated as women. And, they sometimes also say, we want to organize as the former, as people who have always been in the social situation of being regarded and treated as female in a patriarchal society.

I am open to that argument even if many transgender activists are most vehemently not.

I have to say, though, that in any plural convocation of people who were taking that position, I have found at least a handful of genuinely bigoted intolerant hateful folks. Women who believe people who were born with penis and testicles were also born with a violent nature, a desire to dominate, a predisposition to destroy and kill and subjugate. An evil nature. Women who believe that patriarchy is male people expressing themselves and their natural built-in traits, and that males are the problem. Other feminists in their midst don't call them on it. And they won't embrace me as a feminist nor my trans sisters as women, because of it.

But because I was open to an argument that treats sex as one thing and gender as another -- because I treat them as separate components of my own identity -- I could see some possible merit to the "sex based rights" position, even if it is often voiced by trans-misogynist hateful people.

So for that reason I signed in support of having an actual dialog, and to find out where the Georgia Greens were actually coming from.


———————

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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This DreamWidth blog is echoed on LiveJournal and WordPress. Please friend/link me from any of those environments on which you have an account.

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TERF Wars: Feminists Against Gender and Transgender Warriors Against TERFs

How it was, historically, is that one had a genital configuration, and that determined your social role, your gender.

Feminists and trans folks agree: that's restrictive and it stunts and impairs people, so we say NO to that. Your genital configuration shall NOT define your identity, and we shall be free to be, you and me.

So we're on the same page and we're together on this? Well, no. We're at each other's throats. How'd that happen?

Well, feminists tend to look at gender and see nothing but chains. Gender is that mishmosh of sexist expectations and attitudes and double standards. Gender is where you get treated differently depending on whether you've been classified as a woman or a man; so that's what we're against, right?

But the LGBTQIA community, supporting its transgender component, embraces gender. Gender is your identity, whether you identify as a man or a woman or neither or something different, or perhaps one of those on some days and a different one on other days. The important thing is that it is not defined by your genital configuration, it's how you identify that defines your gender, got it?

Many feminists shake their head at that. If your physical sexual morphology no longer defines you as being this kind of person or that kind of person, why would we continue to harbor notions of "this kind of person" versus "that kind of person" as concrete separate identities? So somehow for these transgender folks, gender still exists, but not anchored to genitals. Genital-free gender. Well, if it isn't composed entirely of the social attitudes and expectations that we're overthrowing, what's it made up of?

Outspoken trans people tell their tales, what it was like. Gender is real for them, important. I was expected to be playing football, cussing, sitting with my legs open wide, hitting on girls, but just hitting boys, and that was all wrong for me. I wanted to wear skirts and sparkly things, and have long hair and be flirty, and I wanted to dance.

The feminists glance at each other and shake their heads, because in a world without gender roles and expectations, you wouldn't be expected to play football or wear sparkly things. That, they say, is the whole point. We want to tear down the fence that keeps people on one side or the other side of the gender pasture, and you trans folks just want to hop over the fence in order to be confined to the other side!

So, communications breakdown.


Trans people, and the LGBTQIA world of which they are a part, do tend to talk about gender as if it is self-explanatory and as if, except for emphasizing that it doesn't have anything to do with what's between your legs, it's all self-explanatory and quite real. And feminists, meanwhile, talk about gender as if it consists entirely of things you can't do or ways in which other people don't see you and your traits and accomplishments; they see it as entirely composed of social beliefs and not real, just ideology.

I don't agree with either side.

First off, I think gender is composed of social beliefs, but social beliefs are real things. We have to deal with them, we are social creatures.

Second, they consist of more than restrictions and chains. Let me elaborate on that. When people talk about "gender roles" the examples are often broad klunky things like "the man was expected to go to work and earn money, the woman was supposed to stay home and raise children and cook and clean house". But when people talk about roles in a movie or a stage play, they describe characters and personalities, behaviors in a fully fleshed out way. It's like the difference between talking about the role of king and the role of King Lear. The first is a social office but the second is a sort of archetype of a way of being in the world. We can establish a chartered egalitarian representative democracy and not have a king, and say that anyone who thinks they are a king is delusional and anyone who aspires to be one is politically reactionary. But if someone finds strength and inspiration by channelling the character of King Richard the Lion-hearted, (perhaps as portrayed onscreen or onstage by their favorite actor), they're doing a different thing; they're drawing upon a library of behavioral nuances and expressions, attitudes and charisma, examples of how to behave in various situations, ways of conducting one's self socially.

And we all use those. We are social creatures. We learned how to be who we are in social interaction by borrowing and emulating bits and pieces of how we saw others being, bits that resonated with us. Like assembling a wardrobe of clothing from borrowed apparel, we try on things to see if they fit us, and what we keep, over time, is what fits best and expresses who we are.

Gender is like that.

Yes, over time, after a few generations of people not harboring and embracing rigid notions of how folks with a clitoris and vulva are quite different from folks with a penis and testicles, these available libraries of roles should diverge from being anchored, erotically or otherwise, in one sex or the other. But the ones we grew up with mostly are sex-specific, aren't they? Rather than showing us a way of being in the world, they mostly exhibit to us examples of how to be a man (this kind of man, that kind of man, this other kind of man) or how to be a woman (lots of diversity here too but a very different library of how-to-be than the man library, yes?).

So, transgender (and genderqueer and etc) people. People who find it empowering to draw heavily on the library that has historically been marked as gendered for people of a different physical body than the one they've got.

Can you see how that's different from "hugging one's own chains"?


Next episode: remedial laws and policies anchored in one's physical sex, not gender, and how that has pitted transgender women and feminists against each other


———————

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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This DreamWidth blog is echoed on LiveJournal and WordPress. Please friend/link me from any of those environments on which you have an account.

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Panel Discussion of GenderQueer! (on YouTube)

Watch:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nZXzNyCf4aI


THE PANELISTS

Esther Lemmens -- Esther is the founder of the Fifty Shades of Gender podcast, where she gets curious about all things gender, sex and sexuality, exploring stories from gender-diverse folks with inclusion, acceptance and respect.

https://www.fiftyshadesofgender.com/

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Ann Menasche -- Ann is a radical lesbian-feminist and socialist activist and a founding member of the radical feminist organization, Feminists in Struggle.

https://feministstruggle.org/

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Rachel Lange -- Rachel Lange is the editor of QueerPGH, and a freelance writer and editor. They live in Pittsburgh, PA.

https://www.queerpgh.com/

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Moderator: Cassandra Lems

———————

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

———————

This DreamWidth blog is echoed on LiveJournal and WordPress. Please friend/link me from any of those environments on which you have an account.

————————


Index of all Blog Posts
comment count unavailable comments at Dreamwidth -- https://ahunter3.dreamwidth.org/72847.html#comments

Kramers Bookstore Panel Discussion of Hunter's 'GenderQueer' 1/16; Attend via Zoom!

Kramers Bookstore of Washington DC is convening a panel discussion of my March 2020 Book GenderQueer: A Story From a Different Closet, hosted on the Zoom platform, on January 16 at 2 PM Eastern Standard Time.

PANELISTS

Esther Lemmens -- Esther is the founder of the Fifty Shades of Gender podcast, where she gets curious about all things gender, sex and sexuality, exploring stories from gender-diverse folks with inclusion, acceptance and respect.

Ann Menasche -- Ann is a radical lesbian-feminist and socialist activist and a founding member of the radical feminist organization, Feminists in Struggle.

Rachel Lange -- Rachel Lange is the editor of QueerPGH, and a freelance writer and editor. They live in Pittsburgh, PA.




Panelists will critique and discuss GenderQueer for half an hour, then I will join them for further discussion of any issues that have been highlighted. Guests can pose questions or make comments at the end.


Topic: Kramers Hosts a Panel Discussion of Allan Hunter's *GenderQueer*
Time: Jan 16, 2021 12:45 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89677508850?pwd=aTBTekVoWVhsSXZzQ3lSS1FyazRmdz09

Meeting ID: 896 7750 8850
Passcode: 901259
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Kramers will be publicizing it on their media


———————

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

———————

This DreamWidth blog is echoed on LiveJournal and WordPress. Please friend/link me from any of those environments on which you have an account.

————————


Index of all Blog Posts
comment count unavailable comments at Dreamwidth -- https://ahunter3.dreamwidth.org/72558.html#comments

Eleven Pipers Piping — Bleak Midwinter Quiltbag Funfest!

#BleakMidwinter #PipersPiping #QuiltbagHistoricals

QUILTBAG Historicals, a Facebook group for LGBTQIA+ authors and the folks who read them, is in the midst of hosting a literature event based on the 12 Days of Christmas song --


Authors - you are invited to join in by posting on the Twelve Days of Christmas - 26th December to 6th January - snippets of your work, flash fiction, outtakes, what you will and/or offering a pdf copy of one of your ebooks to add to a prize bundle.

Readers - you are invited to enjoy the posts on each of the 12 days and to enter your name in the prize draw for a chance to win the prize. What’s not to like?


My entry is for "Eleven Pipers Piping", and I opted to do it as a narration, like a mini-audiobook, and is scheduled for January 5, the 11th day of the sequence.


Schedule of Authors' Entries

----



I'll go ahead and add the link (early release!) to my own entry:



Author reading on YouTube -- excerpt pgs 162-167


GenderQueer: A Story From a Different Closet, Sunstone Press 2020







———————

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

———————

This DreamWidth blog is echoed on LiveJournal and WordPress. Please friend/link me from any of those environments on which you have an account.

————————


Index of all Blog Posts
comment count unavailable comments at Dreamwidth -- https://ahunter3.dreamwidth.org/72413.html#comments

Pivoting

In 2020, I blogged a lot about my first book, GenderQueer: A Story From a Different Closet, which was released in March, and about gender issues and identity. The book is focused on my own life from 8th grade through early adulthood, culminating in me coming out, and with my book on my mind a lot, the perspective that I brought to gender was strongly shaped by tying things to what I'd been through and how I thought of it during those critical years.

I'm expecting my second book -- That Guy in our Women's Studies Class -- to come out in 2021, and I'll probably be focusing a lot more on that and less on the first book.


The second book picks up shortly after the first book ends, but it represents a pivot from one way of looking at the issue to a different way of framing it. During the months when things first clicked into place for me -- winter vacation break of 1979-1980 through mid-spring 1980 -- I primarily thought of myself as a different kind of male person, as different as gay guys were different, as different as trans people who transitioned to female were different, but different from either of those two identities as well: I was femme, in the same sense that a lot of gay guys were, in the same sense that our culture's stereotype about gay guys tended to project onto gay guys in general, but I was a heterosexual femme instead; and like the male-to-female transitioners, the person I was, my essential self, made a lot more sense when thought of and recognized as one of the girls or women, but unlike them I didn't wish to change my body or to cause people to assume I had a female body, so I was different from the transsexual people as well. There wasn't a word for a person like that, there wasn't a social concept of such a person, but thinking of myself in that fashion made everything make sense to me.

But trying to come out, trying to explain myself to other people that way? I wasn't making much sense to anyone except me.

When you spend some time trying to make sense to people, you end up focusing on the things that people already understand and using that as a starting point, and then moving from there.

In 1980, when there was no movement or concept of anything like "genderqueer" or "nonbinary" (or even the larger-umbrella notion of "transgender") to latch onto, the existing viewpoint that seemed like the easiest starting point was feminism. Feminists were the main people who didn't take it for granted that the way things generally were and historically had been, as far as what it did or did not mean to have the specific sexed body-type that you'd been born with, was simply how it was. They said it was sexist to say male people were supposed to be this way and female people were supposed to be this other way.

So I made that pivot -- instead of trying to explain myself as a fundamentally different kind of male person, a different identity, I started my conversations with references to the unfairness of being measured against a different set of expectations than I'd be measured against if I'd been born female.

I would weave into the discussion the fact that it affected me more than it might affect a male who more closely matched the expectations, but it affected all of us to some extent. It's a different argument. Instead of identity politics, where you're arguing that you are in a category that needs accommodation because it is currently mistreated, it's a system politics kind of argument, the same way that arguing for the right to free speech is -- if you've been arrested for saying something that's been banned from public discourse, you may argue that everyone should have freedom to speak, rather than arguing that you're in a category of silenced people. You can make both arguments (that lack of freeom of speech has a disproportionate affect on people in your category) but if you choose to frame it first and foremost as "everyone should have freedom of speech", you're positioning it as a system politics issue instead of primarily as an identity politics issue.

Of course, feminism was also an identity politics movement itself: it was centrally about women's historical oppression, and the unfairness towards female people of the system politics issues that feminism was raising. And most people thought of the feminist movement more as identity politics than as system politics.

Would I be able to express my issues and explain my situation from a starting point of feminist understandings, or would people disregard what I was trying to say because feminism was supposed to be about women's situation and not mine?

I didn't know, but it seemed like my best opportunity to engage people and communicate, so I set forth to find out.



———————

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

———————

This DreamWidth blog is echoed on LiveJournal and WordPress. Please friend/link me from any of those environments on which you have an account.

————————


Index of all Blog Posts
comment count unavailable comments at Dreamwidth -- https://ahunter3.dreamwidth.org/72032.html#comments

Gendered Expectations

When I was born, I was categorized based on visual inspection of my parts, and designated male.

You've heard all this before, over and over. I don't need to repeat objections that you could recite as easily as I could. Let's do something more interesting... let's dive into the head of the people who don't understand what we're objecting to.

I'm picking this guy, let's call him Sammy. He says that as far as he's concerned, the designation and categorization mean exactly the same thing as the parts themselves. "Penis means you're male. I ain't saying that makes you Rambo. Maybe you're into ballet, or you want to be Earth Mom. I don't care if you paint your room pink or blue or you play with dolls or fire engines, you hear what I'm sayin'? Male just means you got a penis and we figure you're gonna grow hair and so on because that's what usually happens."

Sammy is effectively making the claim that he — and most of the rest of the world — doesn't attach any additional meaning to being male.

He is wrong. He does it all the time, I've seen him do it over and over. In a discussion of evolutionary pressures and social status, he said the high status males will naturally be the ones who have sex with the most females, while the highest status females will be the ones who only have sex with a few carefully selected males. That's attaching a significance to "male" that goes far beyond "has a penis". And in discussions of romantic comedy movies, he described a character played by Katharine Hepburn as having "won" against the male lead when he ends up proposing marriage to her — "she got him, he's captured". Sammy can protest all he wants about how he isn't projecting pink versus blue expectations and roles onto people and attaching those things to what sex he considers them to be, but he's definitely doing it, and the society that surrounds us is definitely doing it.

It's hard to know what to say to someone who insists that they are only seeing and thinking in terms of physical body structure when they clearly show that they assume different priorities, different values, different behavioral patterns, different personality characteristics... and different roles that interact with other, equally sex-specific roles.

Maybe it's a good thing to aspire to. Maybe we should all be trying not to assume anything whatsoever about how a person will behave or what's important to them in life based on whether we perceive their bodies to be male, or female instead. Maybe we should all be trying not to interpret the same behavior as meaning a different thing depending on whether we perceive the person to be female or to be male. But pretending that nobody does that any more except for transgender and genderqueer and nonbinary people, as if the rest of the world doesn't attach any meaning to being a man or being a woman other than the physical? Give me a break!

That's not to say that it isn't useful to think of, and speak of, the physical architecture separately from the identity, the gendered self that we have come to believe is not defined by our sexual plumbing. If being born with a clitoris and vagina does not make one a girl or a woman, then you don't need to have a clitoris and a vagina in order to be one, nor to present and pass as a person who has that kind of physical architecture. If your gender identity is valid, then it's valid on the nude beach or the doctor's examining room. It's valid when you're wearing the garments that are typically worn by the people who have the same physical body structure instead of the garments typically worn by the people who have the same gender identity.

Trans people often say "Trans women don't owe you femininity". Well, I don't owe you the need to be thought of as physically female.

There are other people — some of my trans brothers and sisters — whose situation is different from mine. Some of them do need to do a medical transition. And I support them and their rights and their need for social and medical accommodations.

But me, I don't need false breasts. I don't need real breasts. I don't need brassieres. I have no interest in lipstick or rouge, I don't own a single pair of high heels, and I don't paint my fingernails. My face grows hair because of my hormones, and I don't shave it off, nor do I pluck it. It grows there naturally. I don't owe you femaleness. I'm femme. You'll discover who I am soon enough if you interact with me.



———————

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

———————

This DreamWidth blog is echoed on LiveJournal, WordPress, and Blogger. Please friend/link me from any of those environments on which you have an account.

————————


Index of all Blog Posts
comment count unavailable comments at Dreamwidth -- https://ahunter3.dreamwidth.org/71804.html#comments

The Tomato Manifesto

I often feel like a tomato.

You know that a tomato is a fruit, yes? A fruit is a ripened flower ovary and it contains seeds. I often feel like a tomato in a world where fruits are generally sweet and vegetables are generally savory. I clearly fit in with the veggies, but my fruitness isn't invalid or wrong, I really am a fruit. It would be wrong to measure me against oranges and lemons and strawberries and say "Ewww, this tomato isn't sweet AT ALL, it completely flunks as a fruit!" because I don't aspire to those standards. I want to be measured against the potatoes and onions and kale, where you can see that I shine. But that doesn't mean I want to pass as a vegetable. I'm not ashamed of my seeds. My fruit-ness is every bit as valid as my savory-ness and dammit you folks have got to get over your attitude that fruits are sweet and veggies are savory. You have to accept specimens like me as valid in our own right.


Let's talk about dysphoria for a moment. Author Julia Serano makes an important distinction between being alienated from one's own body structure and being unhappy about other folks' social expectations:

Perhaps the best way to describe how my subconscious sex feels to me is to say that it seems as if, on some level, my brain expects my body to be female...

I am sure that some people will object to me referring to this aspect of my person as a subconscious "sex" rather than "gender.". I prefer "sex" because I have experienced it as being rather exclusively about my physical sex, and because for me this subconscious desire to be female has existed independently of the social phenomena commonly associated with the word "gender".



— Julia Serano, Whipping Girl pgs 80, 82

The common phrase is "gender dysphoria" but in light of what Serano is specifying here, I'm going to replace that term with "sex dysphoria".


Now let's talk about sexist stereotypes, and feminists, gender-critical feminists and even the feminists who nowadays get called "TERFs". They reject sexist expectations and sexist restrictions, you know that, right? Well, even the ones who don't spend their energy arguing against transgender people's identities often find it hard to understand dysphoria. "Oh, I hate to see so many people feeling like in order to be the kind of person they are, they have to reject their body", they will say. "Don't they realize that if we got rid of sexist attitudes, there wouldn't be a different set of expectations foisted off on you depending on whether your body has a penis or not?"

So their ideal world would get rid of those sexist social attitudes, which would mean that if your body was of the sort that gets designated female, you would not be expected to be alluring and seductive, nurturant and sensitive and understanding, verbal and emotional, delicate and able to be vulnerable without severe discomfort. Nor would you be expected to be decisive and authoritative, bluntly-spoken and aggressive, rationally logical and spatial, and bravely courageous in the face of frontal attacks, for that matter.

But that would not fix the dysphoria that Julia Serano is talking about. Do you see that?

So we're talking about two separate things here: sex dysphoria and sexist expectations.

Now follow me, because we're doing to dive right between them.

Check out the elementary school classroom, 4th grade.

Many girls who in 4th grade were happy with and proud of their bodies internalize a lot of social messages — from fashion magazines, diet ads, beauty contests, Instagram and Tik Tok, from their peers and their parents — that they should be skinny and slender and waiflike. And by 8th grade many of these same girls hate their bodies, consider their bodies to be *all wrong*.

From the outside we say "there is nothing wrong with this person's body, the problem is with harmful social messaging that has made her feel otherwise", but that's not how the anorexic herself sees it. We realize that and along with that we realize that we need to provide positive body-confirming alternative messages if we want to make this phenomenon dissipate; we realize that saying "Oh c'mon, girl, you are mentally ill to think that, and by going around repeating that you're too fat you are contributing to the harmful message that's got you destroying yourself" would not be productive, and surely would not be supportive.

I bet you see where I'm headed with this. This is a person who would be okay with her body if it weren't for society's messaging, but because of society's messaging is not okay with her body. And yes, this can happen with gender messaging the same way.

SOCIAL DYSPHORIA is where a person would be okay with their body if it weren't for social messaging — sexist expectations to use the feminist terms — but BECAUSE of social messaging has come to hate their body and to see it as being wrong for them.

This phenomenon definitely exists.

Saying it exists doesn't erase the realness of the kind of dysphoria that Julia Serano talks about. So it has to be okay within the trans community to recognize it, and to not see this as an attack on their trans identities.

Julia Serano ALSO wrote:


Perhaps the most underacknowledged issue with regard to the transgender community... is the fact that many...strategies and identities that trans people gravitate towards in order to relieve their gender dissonance are also shared by people who do not experience any discomfort with regards to their subconscious and physical sex....


— Julia Serano, Whipping Girl pgs 27-28


Neither the feminist community (which often tends to reject transgender people for their apparent rejection of feminist understanding of sexist expectations being the problem, not the body) nor the transgender community (which is often suspicious of any perspective that looks like it might invalidate transitioning) has provided much of a home for folks whose problem is social dysphoria.


I don't have social dysphoria myself. They didn't get to me. They didn't make me reject my body. I'm a proud tomato.


I get to be an activist. I get to tell people that YES your gender identity doesn't have to match your physical sex.

It doesn't make me a transphobic TERF and it also doesn't make me an antifeminist person who is propping up gender ideology. If what I've written upsets you on occasion, check your own privilege as a participant in a social voice that's larger than mine is.


———————

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

———————

This DreamWidth blog is echoed on LiveJournal, WordPress, and Blogger. Please friend/link me from any of those environments on which you have an account.

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Index of all Blog Posts
comment count unavailable comments at Dreamwidth -- https://ahunter3.dreamwidth.org/71469.html#comments

A Couple More Reviews

My book was featured by two book bloggers this week, both of whom drew attention to the purpose for which I wrote it in the first place --


"Society has gotten better at describing and acknowledging the many differences in people where sex, gender, and sexual preferences are concerned, but I realized that I didn’t have as good a handle on some of those possibilities. LGBT, I get, but if you’re in that Q+ that gets appended by some people, what does it mean? After reading GenderQueer, I feel like I’ve got a better handle on it."

Big Al, at Big Al's Books & Pals






"Gender has gotten to be a pretty complicated subject. Personally, I was born female and I identify as female. I know or have met many other people for whom their gender does not match their biological sex. This may result in them deciding to alter their physical form to match their gender identity, as is the case with those who are trans. However, some may not feel out of place in their given body even though it doesn’t match their gender identity. That is the case for Allan D. Hunter, or as they go by in the book, Derek.

This is what is now referred to as “gender queer.” It’s the Q in LGBTQIA...

GenderQueer is very well written. It is not just any memoir that somebody threw together. This one took years of passion and it shows."

Amanja, at Amanja Reads Too Much



Of the two of them, Big Al was stepping a bit outside his typical reading fare when he chose to read my book, whereas Amanja often reviews books with LGBTQIA themes. So it's reassuring that both reviewers got that sense of my narrated life as "Example A" of a phenomenon that still is not discussed anywhere near as clearly or as often as being transgender is.


———————

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

———————

This DreamWidth blog is echoed on LiveJournal, WordPress, and Blogger. Please friend/link me from any of those environments on which you have an account.

————————


Index of all Blog Posts
comment count unavailable comments at Dreamwidth -- https://ahunter3.dreamwidth.org/71173.html#comments

I Presented at Santa Fe Public Library

Last Thursday's author reading, lecture, and Q & A is now available on YouTube.

It was quite well-attended with forty people joining the Zoom session, and I had a good time.



———————

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

———————

This DreamWidth blog is echoed on LiveJournal, WordPress, and Blogger. Please friend/link me from any of those environments on which you have an account.

————————


Index of all Blog Posts
comment count unavailable comments at Dreamwidth -- https://ahunter3.dreamwidth.org/70942.html#comments