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Too Many Notes

by JULIAN VIGO

Emperor Joseph II: My dear young man, don’t take it too hard. Your work is ingenious. It’s quality work. And there are simply too many notes, that’s all. Just cut a few and it will be perfect.

Mozart: Which few did you have in mind, Majesty?

Amadeus

Reading ‘These Are Not the Radicals You’re Looking For’, Dorian Adams’ nasty assault of several of the references mentioned in my article, ‘The Left Hand of Darkness,’ I had to smile.  I kept thinking of Kathy Griffin saying how much she loves Sarah Palin, referring to Palin as ‘the gift that keeps on giving.’  This sums up pretty much how I feel about many trans advocates of late to include this latest stunt of wilful manipulation by Adams.  In graduate school, my lovely friend David pointed out one day that a fellow student in seminars with us would never be able to stick to the texts at hand under analysis—whatever we were reading, this person would have to show her knowledge of either Althusser or Marx.  From the day David pointed this out to me I got the giggles every class thereafter whenever this person would go on to digress from a text on ethnographic theory to cite Althusser or from another text on Russian structuralism to cite Marx, I would inevitably have to fight back laughter.  Here too are the rhetorical skills of Adams’ who seems unable to address an article I actually wrote and instead fabulates one that I did not write. While I am in admiration of this politics of imagining things, I think it is high time to take to task someone who claims to speak against my ‘regressive and patriarchal’ article while engaging in behaviour that is nothing other than regressive and patriarchal.  After all, what could be more patriarchal than purposefully misrepresenting words I have written and claiming them as ‘wrong’ and then coming up with a reparative way for me to think and write?

You see, since the publication of my above-mentioned article this past weekend, I have been—to use a Burchillian term— ‘monstered’ on Twittered, harassed, and even threatened once. This is not the massive epistolary nonsense that the likes of Suzanne Moore or others have had to deal with in recent months of course; but it did enlighten me as to the kind of assault that these feminists face.  Had I any doubt in my mind that they are under assault, that was wiped away in these past days.  Let me not forget an email that one of the editors of CounterPunch received full of veritable libel regarding two of the references in my article—pure unadulterated sophistry from top to bottom.  (I will get to that in a moment.)  What is distressing about this whole affair is that the thesis of my previous article has been proven true time and time and time again these past days.  I lament the minutes I have had away from my newborn daughter to deal with some seriously psychologically distressing twits and emails.  So I am addressing this faction of what I call ‘twitturbators’ and what Stephen Colbert would refer to as ‘factionistas,’ that group of people who believe if you feel it in your gut then it must be true. Sadly, I am certain that not even this response will please these groups because what I have learned from this affair is that you cannot conduct any form of writing of any facts or the rendering of a history elided by the hysteria over another group more greatly oppressed than that to which I refer.  In the 1984 film, Amadeus, Emperor Joseph II is displeased by one of Mozart’s most recent compositions and Mozart is told by the emperor that there are simply ‘too many notes.’  This scene reminds me of the kind of environment I entered when I published my article last weekend.  I thought I addressed a very real problem with compassion and sympathy to both sides and resultantly, I am called and a transphobe, amongst many other epithets I will ignore.  I therefore apologise in advance to the thousands of trans men and women who did not twitturbate and threaten me and I do sincerely hope that my words here are taken in the spirit of communication, not condemnation.

In my introductory argument I state clearly what I set out to do:  to write about this silencing of radical feminist voices and, for that matter, the suppression of anyone who takes issue with the conflation of sex and gender.  I did not say that I was going to survey this aggression to include the voices of the trans activists who threaten these women to ‘balance out’ the type of interlocutor I present.  Here is what I wrote:

This article attempts to examine the ways in which some feminists view discourses of transgenderism specific to trans women as problematic and harmful to women because transgenderism conflates sex and gender as a means to creating a superficial construction of woman by relying on gender stereotypes while erasing the very real violence and oppression that is part of the social reality of women.

Adams’ response is to call my arguments, such as this collapse of sex and gender, as ‘regressive and patriarchal.’  First, I never pretended this merging was a new issue as this objection is well noted throughout feminist writings which take issue with this very conflation for well over twenty years.  Moreover, to state that enduring disagreements are somehow ‘regressive and patriarchal’ is a logical fallacy.  Specifically this is a non sequitur.  What does the disagreement of feminists towards sex/gender conflation have to do with the number of years they have had this disagreement with trans theorists?  Of course Adams’ does not even address this point of the erasure of sex and the notions of gender performances in one of many of a series of her techniques of false emphasis.

Then Adams suggests that radical feminists do not want a dialogue.  I think Adams missed my point or is wilfully detracting from it.  In my introduction I clearly state how ‘transphobia’ since January has been misused quite a bit ‘in mass media and social networking circles.’  My reference to January was specific to the media massacre of both Julie Burchill and Suzanne Moore here in the UK which I really did not wish to rehash since I assumed—perhaps wrongly—that people reading my article would understand these events in the context of transphobia.  Thus, the dialogue I precised in my article was nothing other than a media dialogue whereby articles are written, not censored, and where others are free to write responses in good faith to such articles.  I am sure Adams must know what that must feel like (or I would not be here now responding to her).  What happened in the UK, however, was not as democratic.  Burchill’s schoolyard taunts were met with censorship (and many people to include trans activists I know were not for pulling the article—as I say, the best favour you can do someone who lashes out in this manner is to leave it up as this kind of language does its own advertising).  Meanwhile feminist representation in major media in the UK is today almost non-existent. Let’s compare this to what Adams calls the ‘marginalized community’ of trans people who, in the UK alone include the likes of Roz Kaveny, Natacha Kennedy, Jane Fae, and Paris Lees who regularly publish in The Guardian and Diva and are heard and seen on the BBC.   Certainly trans people are marginalised in many ways, but their representation in major media in the UK currently trumps that of feminists be it of the radical sort or any other non-pole dancing as empowerment variety.  Hence, when I refer to the ‘assault on dialogue’, I was directly referring to the silencing of voices in mass media and of the online variety.  One again Adams uses false emphasis to wilfully ignore my point of this mediatised ‘dialogue’ and instead chooses to focus on the one space that radical feminists have been repeatedly asking not to have this dialogue:  their conference.   Aside from this conference they are happy to engage in dialogue and as all human interactions, this dialogue must occur in a meeting of concerted consent.  My earlier article also iterates this sentiment from these feminists and as such Adams’ words provides no revelations that my writing has not already exposed.

Continuing in this rebuttal, Adams writes:  ‘She begins by accepting, uncritically, that there is no such thing as being privileged for not being transgender.’  My opinion of this notion of privilege is not at stake here, but I will address this later. In my article, however, I actually do lay out that both sides in this debate of privilege (which actually plays the negative dialect to the debate of oppression that both sides also embrace) and take no issue with either side. I simply state in my second paragraph that both sides claim privilege. Hence, it is fatuous at best to state that I accept ‘uncritically’ that neither side claims privilege.  But allow me to elaborate further here.  What the radical feminists say on this matter is that cis privilege is an invention—that gendered privilege exists for men, not women.  They also maintain that patriarchy oppresses trans women and that radical feminists do not play a role in trans oppression. The concept of ‘cis’ privilege falsely situates gender-conforming men and women as equals, relative to self-identified trans people. This is problematic for radical feminists because trans politics prioritises the oppression of gender non-conformity through trans as the primary source of gender oppression.  Conversely, feminists prioritise women’s oppression as the primary axis of gender-based oppression (ie. gay men being in danger because they could be perceived as women-like).  Certainly, gender non-conformity is dangerous for everyone—trans identified or not (ie. butch lesbians). But gender-conformity is dangerous to women in ways that it is not dangerous to men, according to the radical feminists: women are targeted as women regardless of whether they gender conform or not while men are never targeted as men. Men are only targeted when they are gender non-conforming.

Adams continues by citing my text: ‘As a result of this assault on dialogue, the true violence of transphobia (ie. assault, rape, murder and many other forms of discrimination) is cheapened and diluted in the larger space of discursive disagreements with feminists.’  The first of several thinly veiled attempts to shut me up begins with this:  ‘What gives her the unique perspective to know what “true violence” is?’  Uh, because violence is violence. But if you really want me to list my qualifications in violence ‘studies’, I have worked with the homeless, people with AIDS (New York’s GMHC) and conducted research on the social difficulties of these men and women living in incredibly violent conditions as they watched their children die of AIDS before them, I have worked extensively with the indigenous (to whom Adams’ likes to refer) in Bolivia and Peru and coffee farmers in Nicaragua, I was shot at by Contras outside Matagalpa, Nicaragua in the 1980s, I watched my own brother wither away as a result of AIDS, I have worked with children trafficked in Haiti and India, Iwas chased from Haiti to the Dominican Republic by child traffickers threatening to kill me, I researched and drafted a document which clarifies the war crimes committed in Sri Lanka the last nine months of the conflict there and I have experienced horrid institutional violence just hours after my son died when I was thrown into a psychiatric ward because the good people in Canadian hospitals still do not recognise the difference between mental illness and mourning.  So I would say that I know a thing or two about violence. (Nota bene: what an unintelligent and hideously offensive question to ask any human!)

Adams continues her feeble attempts to critique my argument in the true spirit of crying wolf—or rather ‘transphobia.’  Essentially, I maintain in ‘The Left Hand of Darkness’  that  that each and every time a feminist questions the hypostatisation of gender roles in trans discourse that this decrying of ‘transphobia’ is a slap in the face to the very real acts of transphobia that deplorably victimise trans women.  She writes: ‘Surely a similar statement from a man telling feminists what to focus on would be seen as ridiculous, so what gives Vigo the ability to do the same to trans activists?’  I do not actually tell anyone what to focus on, pointing out the obvious:  that not every enunciation or critique is ‘transphobic.’  According to the radical feminists the formula is quite clear: gender oppresses women. They have every right to discuss it and to defend their views without having their words misrepresented as violent. That is defamatory hyperbole.   I have delved far too deep into the Internet pyre of trans/feminist discussions and the rage directed at these women is unprecedented.  I am neither trans nor a radical feminist, I have no allegiances to either group. But I am capable of recognising threats, the attempt to muzzle discussion and the egregious harassment and patently defamatory statements made online about women (and sometimes men) who are called transphobic for simply questioning why, for instance, a penis is not female.  I invite you all to google this nonsense.  Up is down, left is right, and no matter what you might think, if it is not in line with the doxa of the trans activists, you are just a ‘transphobe’.

The conflation of sex with gender is not ‘imposed from the outside’ as Adams contends: ‘The one big issue that articles like this always fail to acknowledge is that the conflation of gender with sex that they perceive as being reified via the trans community is a structure that is imposed on the community from the outside.’  Dean Spade’s Mutilating Gender is an exercise in intellectual hedging (see link Adams uses as reference). Spade complains bitterly of gate-keeping, but continues to insist on the need for surgeries. Yet, if one does not confuse sex with gender, there is no need for physical intervention. Further, medical gatekeepers do not guarantee social passing—it is not the medical establishment that grants authority to the subject’s ‘identity.’ Authenticity of identity turns on the subjectivity of passing. One might pass here, but not there. That’s not any doctor’s fault or responsibility. Similarly Adams accuses Az Hakeem of being one of the gatekeepers. This is one of many fictions that trans activists use to beleaguer Dr. Hakeem to include those trans activists in the video that Adams links to. Hakeem states:  ‘There are so many presumptions made about me/my work based on their fantasy which bear no relation to reality.  ‘Gatekeeper’ refers to psychiatrists who decide whether people can have surgery. I have never been a gatekeeper as I work solely in psychotherapy and never involve myself in ‘gatekeeper’ roles.’  More evidence of the specious lies told by Adams.

Regarding the efficacy of SRS  (sex reassignment surgery) to which Adams links, we can judge by this by only two standards: actual change of sex (medical fiction) or psychological health post-surgery. These longterm follow ups do not reveal happier trans people:  ‘The increased mortality in MtF in the 25–39 years of age group (SMR 4.47; 95% CI: 4.04–4.92) was mainly due to the relatively high numbers of suicides (in six), drugs-related death (in four), and death due to AIDS (in 13 subjects).’  [See: ‘A long-term follow-up study of mortality in transsexuals receiving treatment with cross-sex hormones.’ Henk Asscheman, Erik J Giltay, Jos A J Megens, W (Pim) de Ronde, Michael A A van Trotsenburg and Louis J G Gooren. European Journal of Endocrinology 164 635–642. and  ‘Inpatient care for psychiatric disorders was significantly more common among sex-reassigned persons than among matched controls, both before and after sex reassignment.’  Dhejne C, Lichtenstein P, Boman M, Johansson ALV, Långström N, et al. (2011) Long-Term Follow-Up of Transsexual Persons Undergoing Sex Reassignment Surgery: Cohort Study in Sweden. PLoS ONE 6(2): e16885.]

 

‘There are cis women that uphold patriarchal ideas and cling to them as positives, does that make cis women incapable of defining their own liberation?’ writes Adams.  Blaming non-trans women for gender conformity misses the point completely.  Defining ‘woman’ by compliance with stereotypes is the problem.  Individual gender conformity by any one person is irrelevant. Woman is defined by socialisation from birth, not by an unchanging essence that springs from within. If non-trans women were to define themselves by their love of pink, radical feminists would also object to that.

I am aware of the books written by trans people.  I applaud them for their effort but can barely be impressed by the Sturm und Drang of quotes like this by Serrano: ‘In trans women’s eyes, I see a wisdom that can only come from having to fight for your right to be recognized as female, a raw strength that only comes from unabashedly asserting your right to be feminine in an inhospitable world.’  (I also wanted to finish Danielle Steele’s Wanderlust and couldn’t get past the first page—too much unadulterated ‘feminine’!)  That Serrano and other such writers seem to have created a niche for themselves objectifying women’s bodies and chaining these bodies to another arguable right (to be feminine) by claiming empowerment and oppression whilst simultaneously having the luxury to having obtained such medical interventions is unimpressive to me.  Would we run out to buy Donatella Versace’s memoir of her plastic surgeries and her struggle to feel at home in her body with such pathos?  While I know that trans people do suffer greatly with what is currently termed ‘gender dysphoria’—and I am sympathetic to a struggle for inner peace—I cannot claim to be impressed by those who have risen up, as Adams claims, from the confines that oppress them only to publish books that objectify the very roles she claims oppress them (ie. ‘which forces trans people to perform certain gendered behaviors in order to be allowed medical treatment as proof that trans people try to reify gender as natural goes beyond disingenuous.’) See how that works?  It is called a tautology.

Adams contends that I take up an argument of science when in fact the inverse is true.  I went back to the canon of texts that trans activists readily cite after they have visited the highly reductive ‘Two Spirit’ argument.  Even Susan’s Place, a popular website for trans persons lists the brain sex test and myriad discussions and articles on this subject. You can even take the test yourself! (And I thought Cesare Lombroso was far-fetched!)  Adams knows quite well, if we are to believe she knows her peeps, that the brain sex theory is the primary argument utilised by many trans persons to legitimise their claim to ‘be’ the other gender.  I have read dozens of the discussions on this subject and I highlighted that the studies of Baron-Cohen and Pinker are hokum as demonstrated by other quite reputable scientists and even more reputable scientific method. Another disturbing part of Adams’  argument is that she denies the reification of gender that does go on.  Want to see misogyny unplugged?  Just take a trip to the Pink Essence website where, like Susan’s Room, you can learn how to talk, walk, and drink tea like a ‘real girl’:  ‘When you take your cup of tea or coffee, take it slowly and delicately with  the ends of three finge[r]s. Don’t grab it tightly with all your wrist as men shake their hands. It looks very malish.’  One begins to understand very quickly what the radical feminists are talking about.

It is noteworthy—if not completely ironic—that Adams mentions sterilisation of the poor and disabled as a negative process. Transitioning for children would be irreversible sterilisation.  When children have their puberty suppressed, as does occur, and then are given artificial hormones at eighteen years of age, these children will never have the opportunity to even think about whether or not to have children.  The lifelong implications of artificial hormones on the body are rarely advertised in books like  One radical feminist writes me, ‘I envisage a barrage of law suits in ten years.’

‘The idea that men and women are biologically true categories that then dictate a specific socialization is as much a social construct, not to mention one that ignores the existence of intersex conditions at the absolute least. ’  As my Freshman year English teacher would write in the margins:  Huh?  Or as my Sanskrit teacher would say, ‘Not not.’  Either way, I still don’t understand that sentence.  But I do nominate it for entry to Philosophy and Literature’s ‘Bad Writing Competition’ to join the ranks of another wildly misinterpreted book that trans activists love to cite.

Adams writes: ‘The  construct of sexual dimorphism in humans relies on the destruction of those potential categories. Again, radical!’ The link to ‘sexual dimorphism’ is a massive misrepresentation of Anne Fausto Sterling’s work. She does not confuse gendered behaviours with genitals. She also deconstructs intersex. Adams goes on to write:

In the end, the radical feminists that Vigo is defending have only one argument with regards to trans people’s identities: not just that the radical feminist’s experience of a trans person’s identity is more important than the ability of the trans person to self-determine, but that the identity of the radical feminist springs from some sort of essential truth. So if we can reject gender identity based on gender being a social construct, why is our experience of other people’s gender suddenly true just because we are calling it sex instead of gender?  [emphasis mine]

First, radical feminism is an ideology, not an identity. Secondly, we do not experience anyone else’s identity.  Also, let’s get one thing straight here: no one has a right to be a woman. It is not a human right to be a woman or to define ‘woman’ by one’s own personal standards.  And lastly, this above citation is tautological and makes little if any sense holistically.  It is not that identity is based on gender, it is that gender is a social construct which the subject must negotiate.  But then, just before the curtain goes down, Adams pulls a rabbit out of her hat stating that  sex and gender are actually the same thing, demonstrating her lack of understanding of this subject or her difficulty in keeping any integrity to her argument.

The Molotov Cocktail incident was not conducted by an anarchist as Adams prevaricates nor would it seem that Janice Raymond and Jesse Helm had ever conspired, leaving Adams’ text in tatters.  Added to this the fricassee of fantasy is Adams’ concoction that there are no protections for trans people in the United States.  This is completely untrue. There are protections in at least 15 states, with almost all laws being passed in the past 10 years. This is practically a legal revolution if you compare this with any other marginalised communities attempting to gain legal protections. That trans women have ‘been left to die’ because medical caregivers refuse to engage the sick is appalling and should be decried; however this is not the fault of radical feminists.  Moreso, this happens to all gender non-conforming people as well, to include those who do not confuse sex with gender (ie. butch lesbian).   As I state above, no one has a right to self-define. This is nothing other than ‘identity libertarianism’ and it completely evades the coercive oppression of women on the basis of gender from birth.

I am at a loss how someone can sit down to write such nonsense as the information is easily verified online.  I cannot really continue to take aim at Adams any longer because there are no more fish in the barrel. In fact, there is no more barrel. Adams’ exercise of defamation in her article is testament to not only her own dishonesty but it points to a wider problem of trolling, cyber-bullying and corrosive social practices that seek to effectively monster the subject into silence or disappearance.  I was wrong in my last piece—I couched this as a discursive matter between these two camps. I now realise that it is a big bigger than radical feminists versus a few trans trolls who attempt to gatekeep.  All that I have mentioned here is easily found online.

What troubles me most about Adam’s assault of radical feminists (whilst often conflating my voice as theirs) is that these attacks occur frequently and consistently to radical feminists, or anyone really—ask Derrick Jensen—who dares challenge trans activists on their assertions that, for instance, their penis is a clitoris or that their brain is ‘female’.  In the face of such newspeak how is anyone to react to statements that are patently absurd.  Oh, but I forget I am ‘cis,’ the oppressor.  Which brings me to this little word which is where my thoughts on this subject—not the radical feminist thoughts—begin.  Since learning of this word’s existence I have felt sick, putridly ill in my gut—that same ill that I feel when I walk through Holocaust museums, that same sinking feeling that I get when I read documents or see films on the horrid repercussions of eugenics, the blight of racial othering that took place in 20th century Europe.  Thanks to Alfred Ploetz, among many others, our humanity must live with the fact of our wretched collective history, that a society of people were duped into believing a fiction.  When published in 1895, Grundlinien einer Rassenhygiene (Racial Hygiene Basics) laid out race-based eugenics which would come to effect political policy later in 1933.  Paradoxically, Ploetz thought his ‘racial hygiene’ would make anti-Seminitism go away:  ‘All this Antisemitism is a flop which will vanish slowly in the light of scientific knowledge and a humane democracy.’  Boy, was Ploetz ever wrong!

What to do in a world where I regularly hear ‘cisplain’ and phrases like ‘you misgendered me’?  What to do when people are asking in online and in real-life dialogues not to be called ‘cis’ because they find it offensive?  Mind you, these individuals are not ‘misgendering’ their interlocutors; yet they are given pedantic lectures about how ‘cis’ checks their privilege as if an announcement at an AA meeting: ‘Hi. I am Sid and I’m an alcoholic.’ Chorus: ‘Hello, Sid.’  Must we check our privilege? What in the fuck is privilege in a world where newspeak is commanding that feminist scholars write under pseudonyms for fear of retaliation, where gay rights activists whisper their concerns in cafés and where political correctness has replaced the mandate to denounce the perceived ‘enemy’?  In a world where we are all brothers and sisters, love will have no place if we insist on rendering absurd the language of science using ‘cis’ as if a postmodern form of ‘I know you are, but what am I?’  Yes, we get it: you are trying to mirror the argument from queer theory of heteronormativity by producing a linguistic paradigm whereby you do not feel ‘othered’ by the word prefix ‘trans.’  But this is the rub for those of us watching from the sidelines:  the discourse of ‘cis’ is frighteningly racist and the other team is asking that you remember 10th grade biology.  Certainly Thomas Laqueur’s Making Sex (1990) demonstrates the language of medical science concerning understanding and naming of sex has always been changing, that biological sex is an artifice. Notwithstanding, the fact of male, female and the less common intersex, have been documented for centuries albeit with varying patterns of representation and categorisation, from Galen’s one-sex model to the present.

What is happening today is starkly different from that which has gone before. We have now a political movement aimed not only at changing the language of science and, in some instances, of regressing gender performances back to June Cleaver replete with apron, stockings, and hairspray. Certainly not all trans women are doing this, but with sites such as those I reference above where women are reduced to artifice, hip movements and tilting of the head whilst talking indicate that there is a fetishisation of womanhood with which I think most women fighting not to be objectified would take issue.  We are facing a political onslaught by some (not all) trans individuals who would have us forget who we are as physical creatures and what we—trans persons, women, homosexuals, heterosexuals, human rights activists alike—have fought for.  There are doctors who have had their and their families’ lives threatened for the sin of speaking out on their speciality in this field and Az Hakeem is all too familiar with the subterfuge surrounding his work in the field .  I am surprised that there are no e-petitions circulating (yet) to demand of the AMA or the Royal College of Medicine the dictates of how trans persons ought to be treated.  Make no mistake trans men and women face horrid oppression and I recognise this.  They also have the right to be recognised with pronouns and references that take into consideration their own constructed subjectivity, just as all our subjectivities are to a large degree today constructed.  However, trans people also have achieved an enormous amount of power and political visibility in recent years to be able to silence effectively anyone who dare says, ‘But it’s a willy!’  If there ever were a moment when privilege needs to be checked it is now by the very people who would have us burn our biology books and surrender our reason to them.  These trolling individuals behave as the Charles Boyer figure of Gaslight who tells Ingrid Bergman that indeed the lights are not flickering when they are and that she must have misplaced the brooch when he hid it.  I can think of no greater privilege in the world where one can declare one’s gender by thought.

So it is logical that as I read the online battles over identity and privilege that logic begins to weigh more heavily than any of my other senses.  I have many trans friends and I happily address them by the gender pronoun they desire. Recently I have been asked to use ‘they’ and in another occasion to use the gender neutral pronoun ‘zie’.  No problem.   That is the least I can do.  But I cannot help but think the radical feminists and the others who remain hidden behind pseudonyms have a point in indicating the problematic manoeuvre to have us erase biology as a linguistic gesture of solidarity.  We see what we see and we cannot forget that anatomy class where we dissected the frog and saw its ovaries.  While the radical feminists are attacked for ‘judging’ for essentialising the trans person to the body, I would argue that the use of ‘cis’ paradoxically encourages such reductions for what language have we if we are reduced to an anomaly of the trans person’s condition?

What we need is to establish bridges built on honest discussion which does not reduce individuals to feel solidarity through ‘intersectionality,’ an offensive term meant to have every marginalised person kowtowing to other marginalised persons in this ongoing race for the ‘most oppressed’.  The ideals of intersectionality are valid, the constant use of this word without the visibility of its actions are what I find obscene!  Such silly political terms only serve to replicate this politically correct environment where people are fearful to speak frankly and honestly, where individuals will correctly ‘gender’ the other out of sheer politesse (but they still have their thoughts).  We need to have those difficult yet honest discussions about biology and society, about sex and gender and the concomitant transgressions that each person feels to include the rebuff that each group contributes in this vectoring field of words. Also, some food for thought: are we not all trans given that there is no human who has not had to cross those personal, somatic, familial, and/or cultural barriers that dictate what women and men should be or do?

I do not agree with all that the radical feminists advocate, but they are onto something with their insistence that gender hurts. It hurts boys, girls, men and women alike.  They invoke phrases like ‘sisterhood not cisterhood’ which is a kinder approach to addressing the harrowing specieism that ‘cis’ implicates.  I now understand why the radical feminists fight for their own space amidst the strikes to penetrate their boundaries. So I would like to repeat the invocation to ‘sisterhood not cisterhood’ or  as Tina Fey once announced, ‘Bitch is the new black!’

I thank Elizabeth Hungerford for her contributions. 

 

Julian Vigo is a scholar, film-maker and human rights consultant. Her latest book is Earthquake in Haiti: The Pornography of Poverty and the Politics of Development (2015). She can be reached at: julian.vigo@gmail.com

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Review: Emma Jane Kirby’s “The Optician of Lampedusa”
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