Less Than Woman, Less Than Human

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 injustice 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 The Bilerico Project)

78 thoughts on “Less Than Woman, Less Than Human”

  1. Hi Mercedes – Wow, that’s a lot.

    You state: “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.”

    This statement confuses me. The UN Call for Communications was public. Anyone was free to submit comments. We submitted our comments and let people know that we did – because we think that this is a conversation worth having. Are you suggesting that you were owed some “right of reply” to our letter? And given that you have a blog here and Bilerico, are you seriously suggesting that you have no voice?

    Again, this is a conversation worth having. It is a difficult one, and much of what is in your article I disagree with, but that’s part of democracy. I also appreciate your calls that we not be threatened or attacked.

    I messaged you my phone # on FB if you want to talk further.

    1. No offense, but the fact that you publicized this letter solely on a radfem website that explicitly denies that trans women are women and explicitly denies trans women a voice, does not speak well for your good faith in starting this “conversation.” Good faith would dictate you not have the other parties to the conversation in a supplicant position before opening the dialogue.

  2. Anyone who does not recognize this is the natural result of the wholesale bashing of lesbians feminists that has recently dominated the blogosphere by penis possessing “women” who demand access to all female only space is an idiot.

    That it was accompanied by wholesale demonization of post corrected women just made it worse by making the mysogynistic and especially gyno and neo-gynophobic nature of the tranny arguments crystal clear. Trannys used the tea bagger terrorists tactics to attempt to force a minority position on the entire rest of the world with similar results and on the Bilerico version of this post are being prebashed by the the usual penis owning suspects already..

  3. If you mean me Katie, I view the transgender umbrella crowd as the ultimate bigots. It is they who insist they have the absolute right to define women like myself, degender us against our expressed will and use the exact same arguments as the radfems to do so.

  4. I have just re read the entire letter. It does not effect women of history who are female bodied at all. TGs are totally sold down the river but given the 15 years of unbelievable abuse I have experienced from that group, I cannot say I give a damn. Penis people should not be in woman only space, that is her bottom line and I, personally, have zero problem with that given my own first hand experience with the transwoman willingness to use violence up to and including rape.

  5. Really, cat? Really?

    To the women who wrote that nastygram, “female bodied woman of operative history” means “man dripping with testosterone and about to rape me body and soul.” If you think your identification means anything to them, you are DREAMING. It doesn’t matter how aggressively you mirror their attitudes about “penis” – to them, you have one, regardless of “history.” The only history that matters to the women who wrote that paper is the history that happened when the doctor looked at your crotch at birth and made the wrong call.

  6. Yeah, really kat. How many radfems do you actually know, sat down and broke bread with or had visit your home? In my case several.

    See, here’s the deal…….all but the most rabid radfems accept women of history without reservations but only on a one to one basis because, let’s be honest, there are no shortages of crossdressers out there pretending to be women. You can call me names, threaten me, but this is the bare nakid truth. I’ve been invited more than once to MichFest with my history known..

    What many lesbians have learned is you let in someone trans anything identified and instantly it’s all about the trans and the womens issues take a back seat. They know it, I know it, they’ve seen it, I’ve seen it. Trannys are their own worst enemies and if you go to woman space as anything other than a woman (no modifiers) you are an invader and should be treated as such…..really.

  7. 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.

  8. And because she is on this thread and would be the authority on what her actual stance is on people of operative history, I invite her to confirm one way or the other. Until then, we can only speculate.

    But it is sort of a separate question at this point from where the logic of the letter leads.

  9. Mercedes – you say: “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.”

    This is absurd, and false. Speaking only for myself, I have a busy real life job, kids, obligations. I do this advocacy in my free time, and often down to the wire. Tactics played no part in that. Also, don’t blame me for your lazy, reactive advocacy. You do something!

    I am not sure what question it is that you want me to answer. My support of HB235 in Maryland is well documented. I supported that legislation – despite my expressed qualms to advocates about its useless gender identity definition – because of its benefit to trans folx in housing, employment and credit. To my mind, this issue – of gender identity running rough shod over sex-based protections – arises only on public accommodations that are segregated by sex. Others call that the “bathroom meme.” I call that the lived reality of females. For the record, I have ALWAYS thought gender identity as a concept is homophobic, but the GLBT machine differs with me on that front.

    In any event, you can either care about that, and work towards a solution, or you don’t. It’s very simple. You can continue to call me and other who share this view transphobic bigots and look foolish, or you can think – hey, wait a minute, maybe this definition IS overbroad.

    I ask – whose interests are YOU protecting? Aren’t you a woman? Why don’t you care about ALL WOMEN?

  10. You wrote:

    “I am not sure what question it is that you want me to answer.”

    Whether it is your position that transsexual women and/or women of transsexual history ever qualify (i.e. post surgery or some other criteria) as women or if you consider them something entirely separate. It is a bedrock question upon which your essay and other statements are being measured and interpreted, and by more people than just myself.

  11. “Cathy Brennan says transsexual women aren’t real women” That is the hue and cry going up. Here’s the fact, at a ratio of literally 100 to 1 I have had this hurled at me by transgender activists not radfems without almost ever a single voice raised in objection.

    Tranny activists have steadfastly refused to address crossdressers in woman only space unless it was to assert the absolute right for them to do so. The reason most often given is the predatory nature of men making it dangerous to use the male facilities without a single moment of realization that this is exactly the issue being raised by radfems and other women. And, as I have said over and over from first hand experience, transgenders are potentially violent and vicious. LGBt activists have refused to address the penis in the woman’s shower issue, a real issue given the number of “part time women” and never never ops who have stated baldly in national blogs they have that absolute right………showers, not rest rooms, showers, places of female nudity.

    Trannys keep acting like women are an oppressing class rather than an oppressed one. This refusal of reality is infuriating to long time feminists, myself included. This letter was a long time coming but should not have surprised anyone as I have been saying publicly for years if these issues were not addressed by trans activists then they would be addressed by women fed up with further demands that they accommodate, once again, men insisting their concerns trump those of women. “Women need to be educated about transgenders”…..bullshit, that is pure entitlement thinking.

    Some random radfem questioning my womanhood does not threaten it. I am female bodied, live an actual woman’s life (as opposed to a tranny one) and fight daily for the rights of women. When it comes down to a choice of letting an Autumn Sandeen stand and pee in the stall next to me vs the general safety of women in places expected to be safe, I with fall in with the other women ever damn time.

    1. 1.) How you’ve over the past few years used of the term “tranny,” —*[see below on names — Mercedes]—, is an intentional use of the term as an antitransgender pejorative. When one uses a known pejorative to refer to a class of people, it’s a very visible act of embracing bigotry.

      2.) On a personal note, you wrote the following:

      When it comes down to a choice of letting an Autumn Sandeen stand and pee in the stall next to me vs the general safety of women in places expected to be safe, I with fall in with the other women ever damn time.

      Do you really believe I stand and pee in public women’s restrooms? Do you in fact believe I’m a bathroom predator against other women and/or children? In the language you choose, —*[see below on names — Mercedes]—, you’re skirting pretty close to libel.

  12. 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.

    Which, of course, if you read the letter, you would know. Oh, and if you had listened to CP. Or lots of other women who read the letter.

    Merecedes – this isn’t about you. This is about men. Are you a man? Why don’t you care about this women’s rights issue? I know why the GLBT Movement doesn’t care (because it is a men’s movement). But your thinck-headedness on this confuses me!

  13. No kidding that GLBt is a men’s movement. I have to comment here instead of Bilerico because Browning is a total gynophobe. I was banned for making a joke, a joke based on something that actually happened on Bilerico.

    When Browning was asking for suggestions for a new motto for Bilerico I suggested: Bilerico, we’re so gay we think real women have penises.

    And there had been a 200+ comment thread that concluded with exactly that by the MAN who started it.

  14. And Cathy asked you a valid question Mercedes, do you stand with the women or the trannys? Which is it? That’s what all this boils down to in the end.

    Tranny or woman? You cannot be both given the oppositional nature of transactivism to women in general.

  15. I don’t know about her, but I believe that petitioning to deny human rights to another group of people is virtually guaranteed to backfire. I can’t even see a way that it might NOT backfire. Literally handing access to womanhood to the government officials who handle birth certificates (by the way, I have been waiting over a month and a half now for a copy of my revised birth certificate, and I have not received confirmation that the state I was born in has even done the revision yet) seems a very, very bad move to me. Also, having experienced the loss of a job in this economy, and the resultant loss of income, making saving for gender confirmation surgery twice as hard and forcing me to among other things take out more student debt to accomplish it than was perhaps strictly wise, I am distinctly less than comfortable with the idea of letting money and class govern access to human rights and basic levels of equality for a segment of the population marked to begin with by poverty.

    I know trans women who have more or less permanently relegated themselves to non-op status not because they want to but because they do not see a way to put together the finances to obtain reconstructive surgery without becoming homeless. I’m not sure how petitioning the United Nations to make their lives harder by passing a resolution against recognition of their human rights is a good idea, and I can see many ways that it would be a bad idea.

  16. Transgender rights is more about men’s rights than women’s rights. At least that is how I look at it. Anyone who fights for the rights of a crossdressing male to use women’s private spaces are not fighting for the rights of women.

  17. Katie B. – Please tell me what human right I am denying to people who fall outside of the definition of gender identity I advocate?

    Please also know – I am not a country or a government, or anyone with systemic power over you or anyone else.

  18. Katie, step back from yourself and examine the position you just put forth. Deny who’s civil rights? Which civil rights? When you are a member of a group that consistently takes the position that they are an oppositional class to men or women (the very widespread use of the cis crap does that). Who’s agenda is the deconstruction of all gender and the ignoring of all sexual differences enshrined in law. When you are a member of such of group it is beyond insane to then insist you have a “civil right” to inclusion of one of the very categories you oppose!!!!!! That is what you are saying, you have a civil right to be declared legally a woman with a penis. Can you hear how insane that sounds to someone who is not a true believer of the trans dogma religion?

    As for the afford crap, your spokestrannys like Monica Helms and Monica Roberts both have had really good jobs that easily could have paid for surgery. Autumn Sandeen, another self appointed transleader, is getting his balls cut off but not vaginoplasty for the expressed reason that he is too crazy to remember to dilate!….oh and that he sees no reason to trade his low maintenance penis for an ichy vagina that requires a minimum of hygiene to maintain good health. I don’t buy the economic crap because I know better. If you are a woman, even a very poor one, you will find a way to get rid of a penis, period. I’ve seen it over and over.

  19. Even this doesn’t actually answer the question. We’re actually talking about your definition of “woman,” for the moment, and not of “gender identity.”

    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.

    Your intent very well may have been different. However, the reactions you’re seeing are reasonable conclusions that are drawn from reading your paper. And doubly so in the context of the international body it is written for — and triply so in the context of the radfem locations that your essay was posted and applauded.

    Incidentally, in most legislation, gender expression is the term that addresses crossdressers (as well as genderqueer people, cisgender people who are considered “too butch” or “too effeminate,” and more) — gender identity is a term specifically about transsexual men and women and the only area where it may seem undefined is in regard to dual-identified and/or intersex folks. Identity is who one is, expression is how one presents. The trans umbrella has admittedly failed by conflating the two, and I’ve been raising that as a major problem that our collective communities need to reassess. But I’d be disappointed in anyone who has been involved in LGB(T) activism (especially with regard to law and policy) for a considerable amount of time, without knowing that distinction.

    In answer to your question, I am a woman. I do sometimes fail to understand people who are dual-identified or consider themselves in between, but I consider that a failure on my part, and a result of binary-based privilege. At the same time, for a complex set of reasons that never changed the fact that I understood myself to be female, I also lived as non-operative for a number of years. My reasons for that and my reasons for changing direction are too involved to go into here (some of it is discussed elsewhere on my blog, if you feel it’s important for you to know), but that experience has shown me that each exemption we place in legislation will exclude someone from basic human rights, harm them and hinder their ability to participate in society at large — not just keep them out of select spaces. And for that reason, I support gender expression inclusion, even though it is not a category that typically affects me.

    I believe in human rights, and that the right of one person to live, work and participate in society is not trumped by the right of another to deny them any of those things.

    I do in fact care about issues that harm women. Predation does indeed happen to women, and it is indeed horrific. However, I’m not aware of a single case where legislation protecting gender identity or gender expression has ever been used to justify or excuse predation with any degree of success. (although granted, your paper is published on a site where many of the commentators allege that my very existence is intrusive and predation upon women, so there may be some varying definitions of predation involved) On the other hand, I see in my newsfeeds daily where the absence of these protections result in serious harms routinely done to people.

    But that is my position, and it is parenthetical to this discussion.

    If you oppose gender identity as a protected class due to a perception of harm to women, then if you indeed support human rights for transsexual people and people of trans history, how are you suggesting this inclusion occur? Because it’s not in the paper in question at all, and the intended audience for your paper would quite likely arrive at a different conclusion.

  20. Binary-based privilege? Are you kidding? This “gender queer” theory talk is harmful to women. Period.

    I suggest you re-read the call for communications to the UN. Please see http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/csw/communications_procedure.html

    “Any individual, non-governmental organization, group or network may submit communications (complaints/appeals/petitions) to the Commission on the Status of Women containing information relating to alleged violations of human rights that affect the status of women in any country in the world.”

    The imposition of the overbroad definition of “gender identity” affects the status of women in the United States. That is the assertion we are making. This is a conversation that women need to have. This is a conversation that is long overdue in the GLBT movement. If you want to have a different conversation, that’s fine, but your suggestion that our submission – by some negative implication – relates to your conversation (which I think is about wilfully misreading our submission as a piece advocating for a denial of human rights for trans people) is without basis.

    Additionally, the solution to this harm faced by women is to narrow the definition of “gender identity” – which we actually propose in our submission and, if I am reading you correctly, I am not reading you to say you take issue with.

    On an unrelated note, since I realized you are in Alberta, Canada, I have been singing that kd lang song with the lyric “she was a big boned girl from southern Alberta.”

    1. “The imposition of the overbroad definition of ‘gender identity’ affects the status of women in the United States. That is the assertion we are making.”

      Nobody seems to notice what I immediately did upon reading your letter: you have provided absolutely zero direct evidence to support this premise. To do so, you would have to provide factual proof that substantiates that overly broad ‘gender identity’ protections are creating a problem for women.

      While such a thing is certainly possible due to the scope of some of these laws, it has *yet* to happen — and that is the crucial point. Without direct evidence of abuse to bolster your argument, it falls apart under scrutiny… much of what you have written then classifies as mostly opinion with a bit of circumstantial evidence. As a lawyer, you should know better than to submit such a document to the UN… it would likely be thrown out of a court of law for being groundless conjecture.

  21. It is very telling that you cannot bring yourself to say that transsexual women and/or women of trans history are ever women. Or even that under certain circumstances, some are ever women. I’m giving you another opportunity.

    I do take exception to that definition, because how is a transsexual woman in Kenya going to obtain “evidence including, but not limited to, medical history, care or treatment of a transsexual medical condition, or related condition, as deemed medically necessary by the American Medical Association?”

  22. Are you kidding? I have said that already. I will say it again – transsexual women and/or women of trans history are women.

    Jesus, this is tedious. Feel better?

    Also, I am not advocating for transsexual women in Kenya. If you actually read the submission, we specifically state that we are speaking for the United States! How arrogant it would be to impose our values on other countries!

  23. Brennan, correct me if I am wrong but your assertion seems to be the exact reverse of a face reading of the laws in question – the laws in question prohibit discrimination based on gender-related characteristics regardless of sex assigned at birth, while you claim that they enforce stereotypical behavior based on perceived sex. One of these is distinctly not compatible with the other.

  24. Brennan.

    As long as you are saying that transgender women are really men, you are saying that I am really a woman.

    So as someone you deem “really” a woman, stop fucking endangering me by preventing me from having human rights.

    Stop pretending my existence is some problematic intellectual theory rather than a reality that I have to deal with every day.

    Stop fucking over women and those you would nonconsensually categorize as women.

  25. When it comes to the concept of “gender identity”. I couldn’t agree more with this statement:

    “Again, this is a conversation worth having. It is a difficult one”

    written by the author of the paper to the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality

    There is so much context here, I don’t want to go further than the subject of Gender Identity. From John Money to the DSM to the U K Gender Recognition Act it has haunted people of transsexual history, particularly women and intersex people. I believe it poses a serious threat to women and, also, to intersex people, as well as others. I think it is a concept that is probably more open to manipulation than any I can think of because of its abstract nature, lack of clear definition and the way gender can be used to mean something equivalent to sex on one hand and then deny that it is the same thing on the other hand leaving a lot of power in the hands of those who would find great advantage by being capricious in deciding what and when both words mean what they do. In French, the pen of my aunt has a gender. Is its gender “congruent with its sex”? Isn’t a matter of who’s doing the deciding?

  26. I’ve read the PDF submission three times over on three different days, and have to say, I agree with what Cathy and Elizabeth have written. It’s good for women. Thank you both for all your hard work on this one, and congrats to Dana on the citation.

    I’m on-board with giving all sex stereotyping the heave-ho. But legitimizing “masculine” and “feminine” stereotypes in law, as “gender expression” laws must do in order to exist at all, works against that goal. It is dangerous to women and is NOT something I can support or even let pass without resistance. The California beauty-myth pressure with its plastic-fantastic actresses and Photoshopped fashion models is hard enough on my self-esteem as it is; the threat of being legally un-womaned for not being “feminine” enough is not something I want or need, thanks.

    If the shoe doesn’t fit, we need not change the foot.
    We need not declare that the foot is not really a foot, either.
    After 35 years, can we finally just consult a cobbler already?

  27. “If the shoe doesn’t fit, we need not change the foot.” 35 years … that would set that Gloria Steinem quote at 1976, which sounds about right.

    To continue the metaphor … that one doesn’t have legs.

    The UN comment period may be closed, with Brennan and Hungerford having gotten in just under the wire. However, a rebuttal statement is not a new, and therefore past-deadline, request for consideration. Brennan and Hungerford can cite all the statutes they wish. In the U.S., there is both caselaw as well as established process for determining how statutes are interpreted and applied. Cases are not “ripe” for appeals hearings until they have worked their way up to appellate courts and the Supreme Court. B&H are making a jump to an international body before appeals of particular controversies under the state gender antidiscrimination statutes.

    Moreover, they cite U.S. state statutes, and express the opinion these create unsafe environments. There is a principle of U.S. law called hostile environment sexual harassment. The hostile environment must be based on sex, and be so extreme and pervasive as to be intolerable to a reasonable person.

    Brennan and Hungerford are complaining about U.S. law, so they should be and can be held to having their premises submitted to U.S. case law and civil procedure. I expect not to be the only one making and submitting such an analysis. I think they will get more than they bargained for.

    1. 1977, according to the copyright. While we’re in the wayback machine, that would make you “Mustang Sally,” wouldn’t it? If so, it’s an honor. (Next thing I know Gloria Steinem herself is going to show up on this thread.)

      There are no legs in Steinem’s metaphor. It’s about a shoe and a foot. If someone has a “foot problem” unrelated to “shoes,” which I’m quite willing to accept from having met a few in real life, that’s something else entirely and outside the scope of the metaphor.

  28. “I’m on-board with giving all sex stereotyping the heave-ho.”

    I still see no evidence from this letter that gender expression inclusion would enshrine it. Sex stereotyping exists, in all cultures — what gender expression protections do is to explicitly remove that as a factor upon which to discriminate.

    In lieu of gender expression inclusion, such discrimination persists with fewer mechanisms to address it.

    1. If you’re looking for where “gender expression” laws enshrine sex stereotypes, try to define “gender expression” itself. It comes out as “the manifestation of characteristics (personal appearance, dress, grooming, manner, etc.) typically associated with a particular sex.” Or something quite close to that, containing the same basic meaning. Correct?

      That definition, I’ve seen before, here:

      “Sexism(2): Behavior, conditions, or attitudes that foster stereotypes of social roles based on sex.”

      That’s what “Gender” is, as it’s used in TG-land. When someone says, “gender role” it literally means “sexism.” Just switch the terms to get “Sexist Identity” and “Sexism Expression.” (And of course the the big whopper of them all, “Sexism Confirmation Surgery.”)

      Cathy’s actual paper addresses all this near the end, referenced by footnote xxxiv. The concept of “gender identity/expression” really does crash into existing prohibitions against sex-based stereotyping. Everything else flows from there.

      As for what I personally consider people to be, irrelevant though it is, some folks seem to care a lot about such things, so: You lie down on THAT table, you’ve made your point. It isn’t called a “sex-stays-the-same operation,” is it?

  29. “… we are speaking for the United States”

    In which case, the difficulty still exists. There are many obstacles and gaps in the medical system (not the least of which is cost), and people whose experiences have been so bad as to cause them to avoid medical practitioners entirely.

    There is also an implication of a need for documentation (though not clarified). Documentation also causes potential for discrimination and / or violence if it is discovered or disclosed to someone with a significant enough objection.

    An the UN is an international body. If you’re telling them that inclusion is harmful in the US, why would they want to pursue it elsewhere?

  30. Yes, it would be Mustang Sally. I’m glad you feel honored.

    The phrase “that doesn’t have legs” means it doesn’t have staying power. In other words, I do not believe that analogy has stood the test of time. In other words, it’s crap.

    I certainly did without the gender stereotype that women wear make-up and high-heeled shoes, and date men. I “changed my foot” and went on to have a life that was stable mentally, emotionally, socially and financially. Because I did so as a non-traditional woman, and because others did similarly, sexist requirements for what kind of woman an acceptable SRS candidate would be fell by the wayside. Candidates could be vetted by psychologists outside the gender clinics, psychologists who did not hold them to stereotypical expectations, and surgeons would operate on them.

    Joanne Meyerowitz’ book “How Sex Changed” documents this well.

    The unfounded and disproven assertion that making it possible for individuals to transition bolsters sex stereotypes should be, to continue the metaphor, given the boot. As in discarded, tossed unceremoniously, relegated to the ash heap of history, and so forth.

  31. 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 at all times, then so should Ms. Brennen and Ms. Hungerford.

    Kelley Winters, Ph.D.
    GID Reform Advocates

  32. Do you mean to say, Andrea, that by leaving out any reference to gender expression and gender-based stereotypes, they would cease to exist altogether?

    By enshrining, I would have thought you’d meant somehow making them legitimate and defended — rather than naming and opposing a thing that currently exists in society. By this same logic, one could suggest that we would need to remove sex and / or gender from human rights legislation, in order to avoid enshrining the idea that there is a difference between sexes. But I wouldn’t recommend actually doing that.

    What gender expression -inclusive legislation does is codify into law that gender-based stereotypes cannot be used to deny someone the ability to live, work and access services. Where does this justify stereotypes?

    1. No, I mean that by writing laws that rely on stereotypes, it makes the stereotypes that much harder to get rid of, for their existence is then written into law, which relies on stereotypes existing. Someday that law will be the only thing keeping stereotyping alive.

      There’s a huge difference between saying “boys and girls can be anything they want to be,” and “you can be anything you want to be, and depending on what it is, that’ll make you a boy or a girl!” That’s what I mean.

  33. If I may add something here, I live in Rhode Island. I have since I was two. I have only a few things to say. One, is that predatory behavior has never been a problem because of the R I anti discrimination laws based on gender identity and expression. It would be all over the news media if it were. My local state rep. Edith Ajello and Rhoda Perry, I believe, were instrumental in having the bill passed. If I go to GLAD’s website, I find this about the legislation:


    “What is a “place of public accommodation”?
    Places of public accommodation are places that are open to the public and include, but are not limited to, stores, restaurants, bars, public transportation, garages, hotels, hospitals, clinics, rest rooms, barber shops, salons, amusement parks, gyms, golf courses, swimming pools, theaters, fairs, libraries, public housing projects, and so on.”

    I don’t think the law has ever been contested. More than likely if it ever were, it would be as a result of restroom restrictions in a place of employment where someone would be aware of someone’s background and make an objection. It hasn’t happened yet but just because the public accommodations part of this legislation says people have to be provided access to restrooms it doesn’t seem to say anything about accommodating a person with the restroom “appropriate” to one’s “gender identity” or “gender expression”. I think Jillian Weiss wrote about a case in Minnesota where this was an issue and the ruling was not favorable to the person who was defined in a way I cannot remember or just simply wasn’t defined, in Dr. Weiss’ article @ Bilerico. So, I don’t know exactly how good an example R I is in making a case for the kind of potential harm the legislation here presents.

    I stand by what I said about the concept of gender identity presenting the problems I believe it does, however.

  34. The case I remember Dr Weiss referring to was Goins v West Group:


    These are links to Dr. Weiss’ “Transgender Workplace Diversity” pages:



    Dr. Weiss seems to conclude from the way I read what she has to say that SRS qualifies a person as having a “biological gender” based on their post surgical external genitals.

    The Goins v West Group states in the footnotes:

    2.  Nonetheless, in concluding that the MHRA does not cover workplace restroom designation and use according to biological gender or according to the employee’s self-image of gender, we by no means imply that workplace restrooms are, in other respects, beyond the coverage of the Act. Typically, workplace restroom discrimination claims have more to do with an employer’s obligation to provide appropriate and sanitary facilities.   See, e.g., DeClue v. Central Illinois Light Co., 223 F.3d 434 (7th Cir.2000);  Lynch v. Freeman, 817 F.2d 380 (6th Cir.1987).   While the MHRA does not go so far as to protect Goins’ choice of restroom use, it does protect her right to be provided an adequate and sanitary restroom.

    re: Rhode Island law, GLAD states:

    “The law defines gender identity or expression as including a person’s “actual or perceived gender, as well as a person’s gender identity, gender-related self image, gender-related appearance, or gender-related expression, whether or not that gender identity is different from that traditionally associated with the person’s sex at birth.”4”

    It doesn’t seem to go into “biological gender” but it does mention “actual gender”. I don’t know how long it would take in court to determine the true meaning of either one of those terms or how many courts in different jurisdictions would agree with each other.

    Maffei, v. Kolaeton Industry, Inc.,626 N.Y.S. 2d 391 (S.Ct. of NY, March 14, 1995) ruled that sex involved:

    1) Chromosomes (XX female, XY male); (2) Gonads (ovaries or testes); (3) Hormonal secretions (androgens for males or estrogens for females); (4) Internal reproductive organs (uterus or prostate); (5) External genitalia; (6) Secondary sexual characteristics; and (7) Self-identity, [citation omitted].

    What constitutes biological sex can make for a very contentious argument w/out getting oneself involved w/ gender identity. There can be wide variation among all those characteristics. Gonads and chromosomes can definitely be opposite to what would be expected for external genitalia. External genitalia, however, are the determinants in the way most are assigned a sex. Intersex activists insist two opposite sexes do not describe the reality of many people. I agree that is true based on what I know. There are medical sites all over the internet that go into great detail about the amount of variation. One only has to visit pediatric urological or endocrinological sites to understand how true this is.

    Regardless of what constitutes biological gender or sex, it appears the fears expressed by the authors of the paper sent to the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality are unfounded, in light of the Minnesota decision, which is of no consolation to many, I suppose. Also, there is a long track record in many jurisdictions that provide evidence that fears of sexual predation as a result of these laws is unfounded. Those who feel comfort in relying on the concepts of gender identity and expression to provide the kind of protection everyone needs are going to find the biological arguments coming back to bite them quite frequently, I am afraid.

  35. My reply regarding the case in Minnesota is in moderation, probably because of its length and all the links. I wish I hadn’t opened my big mouth to put my foot in it. I forgot all about the Denny’s case in Maine that was resolved in the defendant’s favor unlike the Goins v West Group decision which brings things back to square one where this discussion is concerned, even if decisions in different jurisdictions lead to different outcomes. Sorry about my distraction. I don’t know if this post will go into moderation but it won’t make the little of sense it might until my other comment is posted. Regardless, in ten years there have been no incidents whatsoever in R I.

  36. The United Nations has proved itself inept at even its fundamental objective of preventing war. I doubt anything it codifies will make much difference in the conduct of its 193 member nations.

    Whoopi Goldberg likes to say “If you don’t believe in gay marriage then don’t marry a gay person”. I offer something similar. If you want to exclude any person from human rights then exclude yourself.

    At a practical level each of us conducts our lives within our own framework of beliefs and concepts. I have never met a person devoid of prejudice towards some type of other humans. Here, for example is one of mine. I have never met a woman who has to make the verbal or written assertion that she is a woman. But, on the other hand if an obvious man in a dress shows up in the ladies room loudly declaring he is a woman and needs to pee I’m not going to object or flee. I’ll ignore him and simply finish my own bathroom necessity.

    I don’t like people who would deny others their basic human dignity but they are hard to avoid. They exist everywhere in every part of the world in every daily life experience. The best I can do is conduct my own small life with respect for all, including those who relate to people differently than I do. The very concept of doing unto others as you would have them do unto you embodies all of mankind and not just those people that I happen to like. That’s one tough assignment for me and I admit I frequently fail at it. Therefore it neither shocks nor surprises me when someone else does likewise.

  37. Cathy Brennan and Elizabeth Hungerford and all their ilk, like all haters everywhere coach their hatred in clever arguments that eventually go nowhere. They will delay and delay and delay, deny and deny and deny. They try hard to appear reasonable. They say “This is a difficult topic”. They say “We definitely need to talk about it”. No matter what they say nor how long they spin out the talking, eventually their words speak for them. Their minds are firmly made up and no amount of truth will move them from their ideology. They classify trans women as men, trans men as women and therefore we do not deserve the same rights they claim for themselves.

  38. Following on Edith’s comment that “predatory behavior has never been a problem because of the [Rhode Island] anti discrimination laws based on gender identity and expression. It would be all over the news media if it were,” there is a parallel remark about the Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota trans-inclusive sexual orientation municipal ordinances in the NCLR/Policy Institute of NGLTF Transgender Equality Handbook (2000). During a 1991 campaign to repeal the St. Paul ordinance, City Councilwoman Susan Kimberly (f/k/a Bob Sylvester, BTW) responded to bathroom talking points with the observation that from enactment of the Minneapolis ordinance in 1975 “there haven’t been any complaints about bathroom usage there.”

    Now, I’ve looked up the Communications Procedure at the UN website, and it says it is advisable that communications should provide specifics and documentation … specifics and documentation of actual violations or patterns of violations with women victims identified as far as possible. By the guidelines, the Brennan-Hungerford submission is a poor submission. One can hope that alone will be enough to get it disregarded.

    Nonetheless, I’m continuing work on a response/rebuttal. I will be using these Commission guidelines for communications to bolster my first point, which is that the purported rights violations are merely hypothetical. The Minneapolis experience will go into 1.b, bathrooms. For 1.a, bath houses etc., I will cite actual solutions effected without judicial intervention, such as the Lesbian Avengers’ accommodation to Osento’s plumbing regardless of original vs. retrofit policy and declining to file a San Francisco Human Rights Commission complaint. As regards documentation of serious intent regarding identity, that’s covered in the Connecticut state statute B&H cite. And I remembered that, as far back as the 1960s, San Francisco’s Center for Special Problems (created in conjunction with the Police Department Community Relations Unit) had cards identifying the carrier as under treatment for gender stuff so please don’t arrest for “impersonation” and treat appropriately, etc. I remembered that because didn’t I used to have one of those? Oh yes, I did!

    Point 2. is no allegations that rise to the equivalent of hostile environment sexual harassment (under U.S. law, a form of sex discrmination). See Edith’s link to Goins v. West Group; it discusses key cases (Meritor, Farragher).

    Point 3 regards jurisprudence. Because these matters haven’t been hashed out in court (to my knowledge), they are not “ripe” for adjudication by U.S. appellate court review, much less appeal to an international body.

    I do intend to mention in conclusion the concern of B&H for what are, in essence, their lesbian *separatist* communities institutions and relate that to the civil litigation defense of “failure to mitigate damages.” Were B&H to express their druthers regarding exclusion as relating to separatist groups and facilities, there wouldn’t be any problem. As always, the problems arise when separatists want to impose their standards (and therefore their hegemony) on broader lesbian or women’s facilities, venues and organizations … which I critique in the new appendix to the new edition of “Mirrors” (an essay on the 1973 West Coast Lesbian Conference at UCLA, “Fear and Loathing in Westwood”).

    By doing so, I will be wading back into the fever swamp … Last year, when I made a distinction between “lesbian separatist” and “lesbian” on a local lesbian listserv, it set off my stalker once again. With a shrug and in a Tony Soprano Jersey accent, “Whatcha gonna do?”

    Anyway, I’m trying to finish writing within the next couple of days; I’ll sent a copy of my rebuttal to Mercedes and post a PDF on gerinettick.com


  39. Beth, because of who you are your opinion is going to carry a lot of weight among some people. I would definitely have to count myself among those people. The context the B&H paper first appeared in seems to say as much as the paper does. No matter how much I want to avoid doing anyone’s thinking for them, Brennan & Hungerford’s tacit acceptance of what appears on the radfem hub pages seems to say a lot about the way they feel.

    There are, however, certain things that they say in this paper I do agree with. For instance:

    “As an additional matter, definitions of “gender identity” that suggest or codify into law that there are ways of expressing one’s self (or behaviors or appearances) “consistent or congruent with biological sex” present a risk to females, as such definitions codify the notion of stereotypes based on sex into law. Traits stereotypically assigned to females – such as care-taking, emotionalism, and weakness – have served as sufficient legal justification for women’s exclusion from employment, participation in government, and many other critical social functions.”

    I haven’t read every single law. I do have trouble seeing how the R I law reinforces gender stereotypes but as for codifying things into law, I see the recent U S Tax Court decision codifying an undefined concept of of Gender Identity Disorder into law a big problem. I also see the proposed ENDA legislation paragraph 8(a)(3):

    “Section 8(a)(3) CERTAIN SHARED FACILITIES- Nothing in this Act shall be construed to establish an unlawful employment practice based on actual or perceived gender identity due to the denial of access to shared shower or dressing facilities in which being seen fully unclothed is unavoidable, provided that the employer provides reasonable access to adequate facilities that are not inconsistent with the employee’s gender identity as established with the employer at the time of employment or upon notification to the employer that the employee has undergone or is undergoing gender transition, whichever is later.”

    I see this paragraph creating problems, as well, in order to accommodate theories about gender identity at the expense of the anatomy a person has to live with, the importance of, which would seem to be dismissed as easily as any radical feminist or fundamentalist religionist would. Do you have any thoughts on these other aspects of what is involved in the discussion surrounding “gender identity”?

  40. Aw shucks, ma’am! I appreciate being able to take part in a discussion that benefits from your thoughtful, reasoned and intelligent posts, Edith.

    As for gender stereotyping and the law, I think it’s absolutely true that stereotypes have been used to limit women’s employment and public participation. Are they being used this way today? With the caveat that I live in California, likely not to the extent of which B&H complain. Not in an era in which a discrimination complaint may be that of a male firefighter candidate who faces more competition for a job because physical strength requirements have been lowered in order to be less discriminatory against women.

    With the caveat that B&H address the United States, and things are different in many other places in the world, I think B&H are stuck in the 1970s in more ways than one. It’s harder and harder to use stereotypes to justify discrimination, and even pregnancy itself, or the possibility of becoming pregnant, is no longer a sure-fire justification for limiting some hazardous jobs to men.

    And even were they accurately reporting the current state of affairs, that state of affairs would not be the fault of whatever any transgender or transsexual person (and they mean woman) might be doing in order to establish a particular social presence.

    I think a big part of the problem here is the use of the vague and slippery term “gender expression” in antidiscrimination laws. A common sense reading would be consistently expressed and consistently lived gender identity (trying hard not to use the pomo term “performed,” because I think it sux). But that’s not what the words say, and anything involving some kind of proof that one is in the process of making a legal transition, while fair and practical, will be objected to by any number of folks: those who consider themselves alternatively or multiply gendered, as well as simple crossdressers. (I think it was unjust that a Piggly Wiggly Stores trucker got fired for off-duty weekend crossdressing, and yet there are many business and professional settings in which the “gender expression” of crossdressing is inappropriate and need not be protected.)

    To avoid these problems of interpretation, though, we do have to get into the area of some kind of medical supervision or involvement with psychologists/licensed counselors in order for trans individuals to have unassailable rights in the public and employment spheres. I don’t think that’s inappropriate. The whole controversy of medicalization aside, how do individuals demonstrate that the elements of their transitions are necessary behaviors and “expressions,” which must be accommodated, as opposed to casual or optional ones, for which there may be no right to expect accommodation from others.

    An element of this discussion is the personal quibble I have with the terminology Gender Identity Disorder. Call me old fashioned (or mix me one, at least), but I’ve always been a Gender Dysphoria Syndrome kind o’ gal. If we’re going to have a DSM category of GID, for good or for ill, it should have subcategories based on “severity” as does bipolar disorder. Some failures to have a gender identity congruent with the physical body (leaving aside, for discussion, intersexed folks) are begnign and non-life-threatening. Some instances are critical and life-threatening.

    Libertarian principles aside, there are people for whom the medical interventions of transition (hormone treatment, SRS) are physically necessary, and so is insurance coverage (or at least the possibility of loans for treatment now, repayment later). Without some medicalization for some cases, we are left with all treatment being considered elective, which is unacceptable. I actually think the Tax Court got it right, or at least right enough: SRS a legitimate deduction, ancillary surgeries maybe not.

    I think ENDA 8(a)(3) is not so much a matter of writing GID into statute as it is a matter of the reality of comfort levels for women and men alike in venues where nudity is the norm: familiarity and desensitization drop sexual tensions and apprehensions down nearly to zero. Even where there are nude gay and bi people about, there is unspoken mutual expectation of freedom from the erotic gaze. On the other hand, there is no way of knowing whether an unknown person with the other kind of genitals is someone with whom one can have that same automatic comfort level. I think it’s expected, whether mentally articulate or not, that someone who can’t interact at the same level vis-a-vis physical bodies would at the very least hide her own body out of modesty and a desire to avoid shame. There is a right to sexual/bodily privacy that does trump an equal right to shower and locker room access based on gender identity.

    And the way I translate 8(a)(3) from legalese is this: You don’t get to use the facilities if you don’t have the same type of body. Your boss has to provide you with facilities you can use, and that doesn’t mean sticking a trans woman in the men’s locker room or vice versa, that’s no good.

    GID has nothing to do with it. Maybe some day it won’t matter, and there will be buy-in for sharing private space based on identity. Or maybe it will still matter. I came out of the hippie world and have done more than my share of hot tubbing and skinny dipping with male-bodied people to whom I’d just been introduced, but that was always with the benefit of their having been vetted and vouched for, if not in so many words, by people I knew and had chosen to trust. With public accommodations, you don’t and can’t have that safety factor. No safety factor, no comfort level and no privacy rights/reasonable expectations.

    I can’t think of a faster way to kill trans-inclusive ENDA than by making a fuss over a provision like this.

    So, I come at the medicalization thing and the definition of GID from another angle. I don’t think straight-up rights/no rights dialog quite applies here.

  41. I don’t know too many who share my concerns about that paragraph in ENDA or the tax court decision. So, I have to admit to the possibility of either being paranoid or anal retentive.

    As far as public spaces are concerned, I have no desire to push myself into a place where I am not welcome, especially if the prospect of antagonism presents itself. I just bring the reasoning of the ENDA paragraph to what seems to me to be its logical conclusion. One does not always have a choice regarding how one is segregated. The ultimate example is prison. I have been arrested. I am fairly fortunate but the possibility of being arrested in this country is very real for a good portion of us. I won’t say anymore about that for now.

    GID is a tough nut to crack, I admit. It has many implications depending on who you are. Yes the elective surgery aspect presents problems but disconnecting oneself from one’s body is just too dualistic for me. It also creates opportunities for hateful people to exploit. The congruence aspect has implications that the healthy option is for people’s body to be congruent with their minds which I think many physically intersex people have problems with. I think biological diversity is such that the idea of dissonance really doesn’t make that much sense but that transgenderism, transsexualism and intersex are all obvious possibilities for humans and other species. I see transsexualism as not something confined to the mind. I think it is a wholistic phenomenon that involves a sense of self that involves many different aspects of the body that are able to sense when an environment fits or doesn’t fit. I think gender is the result of the way people are able to fit together or not able to fit together and what emerges socially. I think certain people’s bodies involve a physiology that definitely benefits through medical treatment. Mine has, without question. I think the fact transsexualism exists for many different reasons and not any specific ones and the fact that evidence based medicine demonstrates a need for treatment is enough justification for doctors to treat it.

    It’s possible to live without teeth for a length of time but there isn’t really much question when people look into the facts that effective dental care increases longevity and quality of life providing justification for insurance coding. The fact that a tooth abscess could cause a brain abscess or meningitis doesn’t make it a medical condition. I think the need for transsexual treatment is somewhat similar.

    1. @Edit noted, ” I have no desire to push myself into a place where I am not welcome, especially if the prospect of antagonism presents itself.”

      I respect your personal choice, but if Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton had said the same thing, women might well have no right to vote today. If Dr. Martin Luther King had said that, we might well still have Jim Crow apartheid in America today. Speaking for myself, I desire to be welcome everywhere that other women and other human beings are welcome. I desire to be treated with the same human dignity and respect as all other women and all other human beings. When the prospect of antagonism, bigotry, stereotyping and scapegoating presents itself, I pray for the inner strength to stand up and speak out on the merits of reason and principles of human equality.

  42. “The fact that a tooth abscess could cause a brain abscess or meningitis doesn’t make it a medical condition. ”

    I meant mental condition. Obviously, it’s a medical condition.

  43. I hope I’m not being a pest about this but I can be rather persistent when something doesn’t seem “just right” or maybe I should say “correct”.

    Beth, you wrote:

    “And the way I translate 8(a)(3) from legalese is this: You don’t get to use the facilities if you don’t have the same type of body.”

    I don’t read it that way at all. I am open to the possibility that I simply don’t understand but I can’t see where I am wrong about this. I have asked people to explain how I am wrong about this a number of times. I would accept a reasonable explanation. As of yet, however, no one has been able to give me one.

    The proposed legislation says:

    ” . . . provided that the employer provides reasonable access to adequate facilities that are not inconsistent with the employee’s gender identity as established with the employer at the time of employment or upon notification to the employer that the employee has undergone or is undergoing gender transition, whichever is later.”

    emphasis on:

    “provided that the employer provides reasonable access to adequate facilities”

    which implies separate from those who are consistent w/ one’s gender identity and:

    “. . . employee has undergone . . . gender transition, . . .”

    In other words an employee can segregate a person with “the same type of body” as long as separate but equal accommodations are made.

    When I bring up prison I realize I’m not strictly speaking of an employer. I also realize I am touching on a very complicated subject, seeing as how many pre surgical inmates are put in solitary confinement in men’s prisons and how those post operative history are usually put into women’s facilities, even if there is no assurance that will always be the case.

    One of my biggest objections to the proposed Section 8(a)(3) is how it would write into the law that a distinction is to be made between assigned at birth males and females and put those who weren’t are in a different category than those who were. Currently, there is only one default category for either sex . For a female bodied person that would be male. The option of a third category I don’t believe is a good one at all. It is possibly worse than the first one.

    For the record, my case where I was arrested was a minor one that was dismissed which is a rarity in the state where I live. I don’t have any criminal record but being arrested for no good reason and held in jail heightens my awareness of what could happen to a person who may even be innocent once they’re charged with an offense. Also, for the record, I am legally female along with all that implies in most jurisdictions except for a few, including Tennessee, where I was born. Some parts of the country are stuck further in the past than even 1970.

    I can’t help but continue with the other aspect of this conversation concerning gender identity disorder. Where sex segregation is concerned, how does justifying the need for feminizing surgery, because someone has a brain that can’t be changed and it is the only way of curing a mental disorder, then dumping them on women because it would be too dangerous for them to be segregated with men make any sense? Obviously, I don’t think that is what the actual situation is but I think it obvious, as well, that is a way of looking at the situation when transsexualism is conceptualized as a gender identity disorder.

    I do have a very stubborn streak when it comes to having people ask me to take something for granted when I have been told by the vast majority of people to take it for granted that people are born either male or female, that that is the way it is and that that cannot be changed. I know different. I know better than to take things for granted. I hope you and others understand.

    1. >What rights of yours have been threatened, please list them. The right of people with penises to force themselves…
      >when you do not come as a woman …

      Speaking as a woman who happens to be a transsexual woman, a woman whose family has suffered the consequences of three years of unemployment due to transphobic stereotyping, I am deeply offended and saddened that you have chosen to misgender and malign me with the same language and false stereotypes that Focus on the Family and the Traditional Values Coalition have used to deny my equal access to employment, housing and fundamental civil rights. How dare you?

  44. Okay, we’re getting lost in rhetoric, and emotions are getting in the way of discourse.

    First, as regards ENDA, these are some consequences of using the word gender when sex is meant. If someone has had a SEX reassignment (genital surgery), then an appropriate locker room is the one that matches their GENDER because that’s where the people with that kind of sexed body shower and change. I suppose that, in theory, an employer could continue to insist on separate facilities … but at a cost that has an impact on profitability. That being the case, the chances of an employer choosing the expense and possible drama of continuing to segregate a post-op TS are pretty much nil. I think it’s time to let practical reality trump theorizing on this one.

    And, in that vein, is someone female-bodied with enough appropriate documentation (like a driver’s license, which can be amended before/in the absence of surgery), going to be incarcerated in the wrong facility? Does this happen?

    Second, I suspect that GIDReform is referring, in the larger sense, to social space and not public nudity spaces, and the larger issue of “WBW” apartheid/FAAB vs. FFUAB (if you catch my drift). Further, it appears catkisser is reading that as a reference to integration of pre- or non-op MTF people into women’s public nudity space, a legitimate thing to resist. Could the two of you please get that clarified before ratcheting up the emotions further? Much obliged.

    Personally, while I dig the thing of getting the [rest of the] body to match the brain, that phrasing just gives me the heebie-jeebies, because it was used in a somewhat heated discussion during the TransSisters days by a really clueless person who fit the original Virginia Prince definition of transgenderist. Moreover, I think it belittles the legitimate sensibilities of both transsexual and cissexual women to speak of “a simple matter of” matching body to brain in a casual manner.

    Specifically, we have the medical tools we have, and access to them through basic psychological vetting as opposed to a sexist, homophobic gatekeeper system because of early-onset gender dysphoria syndrome-afflicted people in significant, life-threatening emotional pain who could only be cured of this “dis-ease” through hormonal and surgical intervention. It’s a good thing that these are available to more rather than fewer people; better they’re available to people with no sense of urgency than not be available to people who need them urgently.

    Likewise, women (including post-op transsexual women) have an urgent need – and a right to – bodily privacy in dressing and bathing facilities (in which, note, they will retreat behind stall doors for further privacy in performing bodily excretion management functions). An important component of MTF transition is resocialization as female, which most specifically includes understanding and supporting women’s safety needs. No one’s a woman in a vacuum; women count on other women’s understanding in many public situations where asking a man for help might be taken as a social invitation … or even where a woman needs some assistance from someone who “gets it.”

    Displaying a penis in women’s dressing and bathing space causes a visceral negative response in women, because the mind does have to process whether or not this is a threat. “Getting it” means knowing that, and not displaying a penis in such a space or even asking what the problem with that would be. Anyone who doesn’t get that is not going to be considered a woman, but rather transgendered … and that’s not unreasonable.

    That said, I don’t believe male-bodied people in women’s private space (as in dressing rooms, not in the political sense) is at all being advocated here. That may be suggested in theoretical discussion … I think that’s a stretch. To loop back to topic … Brennan and Hungerford’s going on about anti-discrimination laws facilitating such unwelcome and inappropriate presence is, IMHO, unfounded because there are so many guards against it, both social and in law/equity.

  45. A second reminder that hostility levels need to come down and can / will be moderated. This includes maligning and/or misgendering.

  46. Beth wrote:

    “Okay, we’re getting lost in rhetoric, and emotions are getting in the way of discourse.”

    This is exactly true, and I’ll take some responsibility for starting off with a fairly emotionally-driven post in the first place.

    The Umbrella series has started me thinking on the overall language, and I’ve been arriving at the conclusion that the term would far more appropriately be “sexual identity” (although “identity” has its own set of issues). But I don’t know that we have much ability to change the term ourselves, considering how entrenched “gender identity” is in both medical and legal areas.

  47. @ Kelly, I was thinking about Beth’s reference to

    “The Minneapolis experience will go into 1.b, bathrooms. For 1.a, bath houses etc., I will cite actual solutions effected without judicial intervention, such as the Lesbian Avengers’ accommodation to Osento’s plumbing regardless of original vs. retrofit policy and declining to file a San Francisco Human Rights Commission complaint.”

    I am going to have to read up on this little piece of history. I wasn’t there for the longest time. I would like to be free to speak from my own point of view. I’ve been hassled for no good reason. Believe, I can be assertive when I feel I’ve been wronged. I’ll leave that there. I’ve said more than enough already even if I know I’m holding back quite a bit. Things have spun out of control over this.

  48. So anyone here arguing FOR the letter that was submitted:

    In what concrete way will having your suggestions implemented make your life better?

  49. I wrote:

    “I’ve been hassled for no good reason.”

    I’m not saying I’ve been hassled here. I meant elsewhere. It’s been a long day. I lost the little bit of concentration I had. There are several errors in what I’ve written over the last few days – “defendant”, when I meant “plaintiff”, “employee”, when I meant “employer”, etc. I don’t do this for a living. I am a constituent, however. I know if I don’t speak up for myself, no one else is going to.

  50. bugbrennan :
    Are you kidding? I have said that already. I will say it again – transsexual women and/or women of trans history are women.
    Jesus, this is tedious. Feel better?

    No. You feel happy to assert that some women are more equal than others. You feel happy to assert this in a space that silences the voices of trans women. You feel happy to take your exclusionary stance to the UN in the hopes that you will influence them into enshrining your exclusionary ideas into policy.

    No, I am not happy at all.

  51. wow…micro-defining what it means to be a woman….common sense says any person displaying a penis in female spaces or a vagina in male spaces shouldn’t be in there….no matter who they are or what there documents state. Pre-op females as myself keep our inert and barely-functional penises to ourselves…and are already in ALL cis female private spaces, because if I didn’t feel female I wouldn’t be dressing up like one 24/7 or taking estrogen that reduces my penis to an overlarged clit. Of course men shouldn’t be in women-only private spaces—to argue that cross dressing men are female is like arguing that a cat is really a person because the cat owner dresses the cat up in a dress.

    By the way, there is such a thing as overcomplicating things with legal gobbledy-gook as many of the comments above demonstrate. Trying to associate criminal activity with being transgender/sexual amounts to wholescale prejudgment—-the presupposition that EVERY trans female is sex-centric and is a peeping “Tomasita” at heart. When I have to use the restroom, I could care less about looking at females’ privatres. I just want to pee or whatever.

  52. We had something like this submitted from rad fem groups here in Australia, particularly one where I live, from people I thought I had quite a bit in common with, working with young people, vegan, queer, political, comparable age and tastes I suppose – People who I respect for the actions taken in the community, including volunteering for queer youth groups, exchange programs for those struggling with finances –

    TBH, one particular advocate for the silencing of human rights for trans and genderqueer people I considered a role model – and I understand that rad feminists do get targeted by advocates for broad spectrum inclusivity and ambiguity. Particularly interesting was that the submission (to the Australian Human Rights Commission) was widely condemned by the Queer community, of which I am a part, who attacked the release of this statement and quickly labeled it invalid and transphobic. The problem I had with this, is that I wouldn’t exactly say that the Queer community at large were generally good allies to trans people, in fact the majority of transphobia comes from here, because the mainstream is just way too far off in their understanding for anything they do to be taken seriously and therefore hurtful.

    As a member of the queer community, predominantly for sexuality and gender reasons, I am constantly annoyed when the spaces are male dominated, and feel like I am wasting my time sometimes trying to connect with women who might be sympathetic and take in interest in my unique experiences. I make the concession, that I’m not going to be dishonest, because that gets me nowhere fast. I’m not looking for a hook-up, I’m looking for protection and friendship, and maybe love would come out of feeling safe and wanted as opposed to being presented and marketed as a third/fourth choice of meat. Instead I find myself amidst a group of politically correct cowards, who just don’t bother to actually be your friend or ally – instead they just ‘don’t do the bad things’ – avoid conflict, still isolating the trans or genderqueer person involved. Unless they have a self interest…

    That’s why I thought it was ironic when so many people got up in arms about the release of these transphobic statements, when not one of them has ever taken the time to ask me about what it is like to be trans. I kind of wish the rad feminists would fuck over the queer numbness and make them question why they have the attitudes they do – Perhaps they aren’t really supportive of trans identities and are just afraid to be transphobic in a politically correct environment – It’s obviously an insincere sentiment, because I know that genderqueer and trans people are suffering from being second class citizens in the queer community.

    At some point I got sick of it and made this http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_ln1045pgie1qaavzno1_500.jpg ‘How to be a trans ally’ – I guess I can’t help but think it is incomplete. Every bit of respect I have in the community, I’ve had to do for myself, through volunteering, writing and contributing, I’ve got to say so very few people have EVER noticed me for being a human being, and yet so many people would consider me a friend.

    The real problem with the letter to the United Nations, is that there is a lot of fear and intimidation and pressure put on the United Nations, who, last time I checked, had a disproportionate representation of trans individuals – and so it is up to the predominantly male delegates, in a historically male dominated space have to make a decision about male privilege – in so far as it is women making these demands. If the council was to award transgendered privileges, then it can always be attacked as not representative, because it would be explained away as men making excuses for male privilege. Even though the reality of the situation probably differs for every single incidence of trans discrimination – as to what exactly classifies a person as male, female, trans, intersex, genderqueer etc… That affirmation and awarding of human rights for transgender peoples, needs to come from trans people themselves, either through representation on the United Nations, to advocate for the reality that trans people are every day people, who are present and accounted for.

    To be honest, this whole thing could just be an attack on men, where they are deliberately antagonising male privilege particularly at the United Nations, and it just happens, that trans people are just pawns in a broader agenda to question male authority, which makes more sense than these rad feminists being intrinsically transphobic. Usually transphobia is something you take on personally, you’d only make a big deal about it if it affected your community significantly – With such a small number of trans people in the general population, it is almost ridiculous to think this affects the mainstream community as it is – They are afraid that it will open the door for new types of people, illegitimizing people who have real gender issues.

    The only places that transwomen could possibly be taking up cis-women’s spaces are in theatres for gender based hate, because they cannot revise their radical politics to include the idea that not everyone grows up experiencing privilege based primarily on biological sex. They would be forced to feel guilty for having no real insight into the lives and upbringing of their fellow Earthlings.

    I think that women have every right to fear infiltrators, if this claim holds to be true – I mean you can’t just illegitimize every trans woman because people are able to exploit loopholes in attempts to protect their human rights – It just means you have to try harder.

    AND YES! Don’t pretend like human beings and cuttlefish don’t have a lot in common!

  53. *** making the last statement clearer ***

    I think that women have every right to fear infiltrators, if the claim holds to be true –But, I mean you can’t just illegitimize every trans identity because some opportunistic people are able to exploit loopholes in the attempts of others to protect the human rights of a discriminated against minority –

    It just means you have to try harder.

  54. This is my final warning on hostility. I’ve now blocked a second comment and edited a third. I’ve not banned anyone yet, but will if I have to, cat, or anyone else resorting to personal attacks.

    I’ve not previously warned about names, so will let the rest of Autumn’s comment stand, but if a person does not use their full name openly, then using intentionally it is also a TOS violation. This usage here has been edited for privacy concerns.

  55. I was asked a question, I answered it. That it was of a personal nature did not make it an attack per se. I gave the reason I believe the answer I gave was accurate. Take the trans glasses off and that becomes obvious.

    1. What does the People’s Front of Judea gain by opposing the Judean People’s Front, as opposed to the Roman Empire?

    1. Since no one wants to see themselves as hateful, it is not uncommon to create looped logic to give oneself an out. That does not make the function of this letter acceptable, nor do good intentions excuse very, very bad results.

  56. “All people can use the sex-segregated space reserved for their biological sex”

    Sounds an awful lot like

    “All people have the right to marry someone of the opposite sex” to me.

  57. This is all silly. Two radfem lesbians submit their opinions and the community blogoshpere goes ballistic. Last I checked everyone is entitled to their own opinion and I seriously question the sanity of building a bonfire out of twigs and berries.

  58. August 12, Baltimore OutLoud has a response from Cathy Brennan in which she claims to be okay with a gender identity definition, for purposes of anti-discrimination laws, that includes medical diagnosis/treatment.

    August 12, accusatory question re why bloggers against her UN submission aren’t mentioning this.

    August 15, a FAQ on Radical Hub (wasn’t Mercedes saying she couldn’t comment there on any draft?) that makes the same claim. And gets the number of the footnote in which this assertion was hidden wrong. In haste?

    If you want a definition of gender identity, for legal purposes, that includes a medical diagnosis (and let’s not quibble here; you need a medical diagnosis to get a prescription for hormones), then make that the point of your argument. If your concern is a different legal definition of gender identity, don’t go outside your own legal system, to an international body, for a pre-emptive strike on gender identity anti-discrimination laws

    I think Brennan’s new FAQ is actually an After-The-FAQ: backtracking like mad, hoping the throw-away disclaimer in the fine print will cover her butt on this.

    OK, I’ve mentioned this, I’m off to visit family and will be mercifully isolated from this for a while. Just don’t say nobody’s mentioned Brennan’s Answer to Her Critics. I’m mentioning here that I don’t think it’s substantial, and it doesn’t answer whether “post-transsexual” women are female like she for all intents and purposes.

  59. Beth Elliott :

    … it doesn’t answer whether “post-transsexual” women are female like she for all intents and purposes.

    This whole attitude of hers is utterly unsatisfactory, and seeks to create yet another tier of discrimination. Many trans women are unable to achieve even a “medical diagnosis” let alone have access to hormones or surgery. All this does is to enshrine the “disorder” model of transsexuality, Other us still further and unfairly privileges those trans women who have meneged to achieve surgery while at the same time margianilising them.

    It completely illustrates the pressing need for legislation protecting gender identity and gender expression. Under such laws, her attempts at Othering trans people would be illegal.

  60. “This whole attitude of hers is utterly unsatisfactory, and seeks to create yet another tier of discrimination. Many trans women are unable to achieve even a ‘medical diagnosis’ let alone have access to hormones or surgery.”

    Which has nothing to do with a discussion of the Brennan-Hungerford submission. There is already a divide between female-bodied transsexual women and pre-op transsexual women, and that divide is playing out in the question of access to women’s bathing and dressing facilities where public nudity is unavoidable. It’s not discrimination to reserve such spaces for female-bodied women (such as myself), and I don’t owe anyone allegiance to try to integrate such spaces vis-a-vis genital type. Such integration would be inappropriate, and I am puzzled that anyone who claims to be a woman would not understand that. It certainly shows a lack of social transition in terms of integrating women’s thinking into one’s own, meaning the life experience of female-bodied women … who are, by definition, the benchmark.

    The problem with Brennan and Hungerford is that they are trying to defend against traversing of basic body privacy boundaries by calling upon an international body to invalidate all gender identity anti-discrimination laws, even those related to hiring.

    It’s a shame there are transsexual women who can’t get surgery. As unfair as it might be, they don’t get to have the same access to female-bodied women’s space as do those who have gotten it by whatever means.

    Now back to my family gathering … at which I am one of the women of the family, not the family transsexual.

    Oh, and I don’t care what you think of my attitude. You haven’t given me any reason to believe I’m answerable to you.

    1. I really don’t understand why you think I’m criticising you personally for the failings of Brennan and Hungerford and their wish for UN-sponsored discrimination. Read what I wrote again. This time take off the filter that says I’m attacking you.

      1. I’m sorry; I didn’t understand whom you meant when you wrote “This whole attitude of hers” while quoting my post, and it wasn’t clear to me from context. This was especially so from the context of “unfairly privileges those trans women who have managed to achieve surgery.”

        I still think this is about real world ramifications of entry to different spaces based on genital configuration, not about anyone being picked for special favors based on surgical status. The way I keep seeing the buzzword “privilege” used, it seems to me to mean it’s unfair for me to have had surgery if not everyone who wants it can have it. I don’t see much merit in such a notion; the real world is not 100% fair and we have to work from where we are.

  61. I just wish someone, besides me, would take the time to deconstruct a few things starting off with this whole article:


    then moving on to this:

    “We fully support anti-discrimination protections for transgender and transsexual people that do not run rough-shod over laws that protect females. We support the following definition of “gender identity” – a person’s identification with the sex opposite her or his physiology or assigned sex at birth, which can be shown by providing evidence including, but not limited to, medical history, care or treatment of a transsexual medical condition, or related condition, as deemed medically necessary by the American Medical Association.” [which, of course is a GID diagnosis]

    above quote from here:


    Reconcile what Brennan and Hungerford’s concerns are and how many similarities to what the above paragraph implies to what this academic paper implies regarding “definition of “gender identity” – a person’s identification with the sex opposite her or his physiology or assigned sex at birth, which can be shown by providing evidence”, which, in the U K, is a gender identity disorder diagnosis.

    then, take this statement from:

    footnote xxix @ http://radicalhub.wordpress.com/2011/08/01/gender-identity-legislation-and-the-erosion-of-sex-based-legal-protections-for-females/

    “Such a definition would protect the classification of sex”

    and deconstruct and reconcile that statement with these observations:

    this first one in relation to reproductive capacity . . . “Chapter 1 introduces the idea of the Age of Gonads, which Dreger pegs as spanning the years 1870-1915.”


    and these observations on the latest information regarding sex differentiation involving genes that on chromosome 17, far away from the twenty third pair:


    My question: What do the authors of the U N paper mean when referring to “sex classification”? How do they define that term?

    Then, I have questions about “gender identity” protections in the proposed federal ENDA and how “gender identity” seems to be the overriding concern of the legislation and anatomy that didn’t exist until well after one was born completely disregarded?

    Whittle and Turner take a great deal of space in their paper on the sex/gender distinction, insisting there is no such distinction, when everything else one reads makes a huge distinction between the two, including the Oxford English Dictionary. I don’t think I have any objection to the way the anti-discrimination laws in my state read but I don’t think gender identity non discrimination, particularly the way it is written into the the proposed federal ENDA, gives me the protection I need to be equal under the laws of the U S. In fact, the way sex is defined by implication, for the first time in U S law, would make me unequal and prevent any kind of “transition” from having any real meaning as far as my legal sex was concerned.

    It seems anatomy is the sticking point among those who consider gender identity the essence of existence for people of transsexual history, leading to the utter disregard of the obvious implications of a person of transsexual history’s anatomy. I agree with the statement, we have to”work from where we are.” Traditionally, people have been assigned sex based on genital configuration. There are a significant number of people born with mixed genital, chromosomal configurations. Modern medicine makes it possible for people who, for many reasons, not just arcane reasons that have to do with brain anatomy but, more probably, how other parts of their whole anatomy, as much as the brain does, senses whether it either fits or doesn’t fit with the sex they are assigned at birth; to have physical adjustments made to their physiology, which has a huge impact on their sexual functions so they can live more happily and function better in society.

    There is no reason to classify or distinguish people of transsexual history from anyone else belonging to the sex they legally transition to. There are many born with medical issues that are unique in comparison to others of the sex they are assigned. It shouldn’t be any different for those who have been reassigned. Reassignment should mean what it implies on the face of things.

    Anatomy is important. There is wide biological variation among humans who, in terms of sexual function, fall into two basic categories. I think reliance on gender and the concept of “gender identity” which has no clear meaning will not provide any real support for anyone who desperately needs it. I think the vagueness and abstract nature of post modern gender theory makes it easy for others who don’t have needs commensurate with those of people born with transsexualism to exploit those concepts.

    Whittle is wrong. Sex and gender are two different things. Somatic changes have huge implications for those who undergo them and those who interact with them. Brennan and Hungerford raise a lot of issues. Their ultimate conclusions, however, are patronizing if not as duplicitous as Whittle’s

    I agree with Brennan and Hungerford where they say:

    “We fully support anti-discrimination protections for transgender and transsexual people that do not run rough-shod over laws that protect females.”

    I don’t really see the need to have gender markers on most identity documents. For people haven’t had surgery who are transgender, I don’t think there would be any problem if they could just acknowledge the reality that anatomy makes a huge difference, especially where full nudity is the concern. The public accommodations language of Section 8(a)(3) is where I see a huge problem created unnecessarily by those who are unwilling to acknowledge that anatomy and physiology is really the whole crux of the sex segregation issue. What is between someone’s legs does make a great deal of difference. How can anyone be trusted who denies that?

    The concept of gender identity is little more than a hundred years old. There is no agreement on what the term means. It seems Stoller, who was very influenced by Virginia Prince, is the one most responsible for the clinical use of the term. We don’t find it in the DSM, according to the Wikipedia article, until 1980 in relation to transsexual people, intersex people and gender nonconforming people as a “disorder”. The concept of gender identity always leads to disordering by people with conformist tendencies. I think it is a very dangerous concept. I think there are better ways of framing the conflicts people have who benefit by medical interventions for which there is a great deal of evidence to support a need for those interventions, which are surgical and physiological and affect a great deal more of the body than the mind, which contrary to the popular cliche is changed through hrt and gonadectomy. From head to toe my self is as much about my body as it is about the way I perceive my gender, which I really don’t think that much about percentagewise.

    Sorry for the lengthy comment but I see a lot of problems developing over what is and has been proposed by lawyers. The legal and medical implications involved here are huge and complex.

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