by Phyllis Chesler
In 2005, I published a book with the title The Death of Feminism. I saw it all coming. But I did not foresee the rise of a transgender movement.
On March 31st, an allegedly feminist Open Letter Supporting Trans Women and Girls, was circulated. Among other things, it stated that “We acknowledge with clarity and strength that transgender women are women and that transgender girls are girls. And we believe that honoring the diversity of women’s experiences is a strength, not a detriment to the feminist cause.”
Interestingly, there is absolutely no mention of trans men — those who were born female but who have or want to become male. As we now know, there is an alarming spike among teenage girls in America who hope to solve their teenage sorrows such as low self-esteem, body image discomfort, trauma based on sexual violence, eating disorders, psychiatric suffering, etc., by cutting off their breasts, surgically removing their uteri and ovaries, and taking potentially lethal hormones to prevent puberty, and to grow facial hair and muscle.
The Open Letter continues: “It is time for the long history of assaults (legislative, physical, social, and verbal) against trans women and girls to end.”
I certainly agree with such a goal but wonder why the letter does not mention, even as an aside, or as context, the long history of sexual, physical, legal, economic, social, and verbal assaults against biological women, in their homes, on the streets, at work, in shelters, and as sex slaves. The letter remains silent about who the perpetrators of such violence might be. I believe they are mainly gay and straight men who buy sex from trans women or who become enraged because they desire them.
The letter loses its way when it claims that “anti-trans sports bans are as unnecessary as they are harmful — and that women athletes at both the professional and college level support inclusion.”
Is this really true?
I wonder whether these mainly Hollywood Lights (in both senses of that word), who have signed this Open Letter are only in favor of expanding their concept of what is female to include those who wish to dress in stereotypically “feminine” ways? Or those who wish to appear as ungainly, even “ugly” as possible, in female dress and jewelry? Or, more to the point, to those who wish the right to service both straight and gay men sexually for money free of police harassment?
What am I not understanding here? In what way does this constitute liberation for women? If the issue is poverty, racism, illiteracy, and unemployment, why not say so? Why choose to deal with these realities by making it easier for poor girls and women of color — and trans women of color, to work as prostitutes?
The letter insults radical feminists by describing us as “self-identified feminists… whose vitriol is, in fact, not feminist at all… who now cloak their bigotry in language about protecting or supporting women.”
The transgender movement is well known for shaming, harassing, and silencing all those feminists who have a rational, objective critique of what has become a well-funded, Orwellian movement of Big Brothers in which disagreement is not tolerated — in fact, it is howled down. Any other point of view on the trans issue has already been disappeared in the academic world, in the media, and in international and national legal instruments. In fact, it has already made its way onto numerous government medical forms in which unsuspecting elders, waiting in line to be vaccinated, are asked if they are trans, non-binary, or other.
Am I now one of those “self-identified feminists who have been promoting damaging and violent ideas about trans people for years?”
Me? Really? I barely wrote about this subject; I did not even think about it.
Ideally, I believe in civil and equal rights for every human being. However, I do not believe in focusing on a trendy, diversionary minority over and above the totally unmet needs of a majority. We have never had enough shelters for battered women (of all colors, yes) including prostituted girls and women. Why are these signatories not fighting for that?
Ah, but when I read the names of the signatories I grew very quiet. I understand the psychological “rush” that attends being asked to sign a petition with some Very Famous Names on it. The thrill of belonging to a tribe of some kind. The desire for popularity—especially among women.
I understand why Hollywood actors, comediennes, models, celebrities, veterans of the shill game known as the Women’s March, Black Trans activists would sign on. But why would the Center for Reproductive Rights do so? Chelsea Clinton — is she planning to run for the Presidency? The Coordinator of the Lesbian Herstory Archives? The local Domestic Violence Shelters in Connecticut, Iowa, Memphis, and South Carolina? Legal Momemtum, the Women’s Legal Defense and Education Fund? The National Women’s History Museum? Planned Parenthood Federation of America? Is the Tahirih Justice Center inundated with trans women of color who are immigrants? Do they outnumber biological immigrant women? Do lesbian activists really believe that the increasingly all-male gay and trans movements include or will include them?
Oh, I would really like to know.
I remember the lesbians who handed out condoms to gay men on Fire Island as the AIDS crisis raged when their ferries docked. I do not remember gay men fighting for funding for research for ovarian or breast cancer.
However, what are Gloria Steinem’s, the Ms. Foundation’s, and Catharine MacKinnon’s names doing here? Are they now all wholly owned subsidiaries of the Democratic Party or of Hollywood? Do they just need to remain au courant? Or do they actually have a feminist and political analysis of the very well-funded transgender movement? If so, I would dearly love to read it.
Do these signatories all really see transgender women as somehow liberating all womankind? From gang-rape? FGM? Honor killings? From sexual harassment, sexual slavery, pornography? And mainly, from bone-grinding poverty?
The Open Letter quotes Audre Lorde: “I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.” Lorde also said that we cannot abolish the Master’s House by using the Master’s tools. Thus, these revolutionaries-on-the-page alphabetize the signatories by first, not last names. Thus, Alicia Garza may be found under “A” not “G” and “Ashley Judd” is also listed under “A,” not under “J.” Am I to assume that our last names are all slave names? That my honorable father’s name which I have kept all my life was a slave or a slave-Master?
At this moment, I cannot view any of these signatories as part of the solution.
First published in the American Thinker.
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