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feizhouxiongdi2
Oct 9, 2019



I just had a lengthy internet discussion(fight?) with a self proclaimed feminist, who claims that the very concept of gender spectrum is not real, transgender rights are hurting feminism and specifically MTF transgender people are feminism's enemy.

I know that's not true, and i know transgender rights are not in the way of mainstream feminism. And I think to protect the rights of transgender community is good for feminism, good for a diverse and equal society and more. However, I am having trouble putting these into words since I have never taken women studies class, I didn't get into the habit of discussing social issues until the last few years and I am trying to learn more about feminism right now. What do you think are some good arguments to convey this point? (Intersectionality is important for feminism & Transgender rights are not the enemy of women's rights, but the opposite)? Or what book do you think I should read in regards to this topic / what classes I can take that you recommend?

Here are some concrete questions:

1. Why is intersectionality beneficial to feminism?

2. Why are transgender(transmen&transwomen) rights not hurting feminism?

3. How do I argue with someone under the cloak of "feminism" and say transgender people as a community are enemies of feminism? How is their brand of feminism actually hurting feminism?

4. How do I argue with someone who says they're a lesbian and transgender rights are hurting gay rights?

(I will add more if I can come up with more concrete questions, please welcome to raise your own questions too)

Thank you very much!

feizhouxiongdi2 fucked around with this message at 22:44 on Mar 23, 2021

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augias
Apr 7, 2009



Fun questions! I wont do a big essay about these, but it's important to think about! I'll try to be concise, apologies to people from the specific disciplines that may be reading if I misrepresent anything :]

feizhouxiongdi2 posted:

1. Why is intersectionality beneficial to feminism?

Because without intersectionality, the critical feminist perspective is blind to the many ways power and oppression affect/have affected different groups of people. A feminist goal or ideal that doesn't recognize this will likely keep excluding people who are systematically excluded from mainstream thoughts, policies, media, what have you, because of their race, religion, ethnicity, gender expression, and economic class.

feizhouxiongdi2 posted:

2. Why are transgender(transmen&transwomen) rights not hurting feminism?
Very briefly put, because all the people who fall under those categories can face gender discrimination. If a policy of some kind protects trans people from, say, retaliation at work, this does not somehow cancel those same protections for cis women. Same as how civil rights for african americans in the sixties wasn't seen as undermining women's liberation (unless some feminists saw it that way? Don't know enough about this wave historically).

feizhouxiongdi2 posted:

3. How do I argue with someone under the cloak of "feminism" and say transgender people as a community are enemies of feminism? How is their brand of feminism actually hurting feminism?
I think because it claims that, as above, the rights of trans people somehow would weaken women's fight for gender equality, which is a non-sequitur; they're complementary struggles for gender parity. When have trans people ever gained a right that actually harmed the lives of women from a feminist perspective? What does this person think women stand to "lose" if another human gains recognition and protections, exactly? You need to ask them these questions, because I can't really envision in any way how either struggle are mutually exclusive. If trans people can get their correct gender on a government ID, it has no effect on women's ID. If trans people can get labor protection or another non-discrimination protection, or address problems in health provision, women don't suddenly lose theirs.

feizhouxiongdi2 posted:

4. How do I argue with someone who says they're a lesbian and transgender rights are hurting gay rights?
Similar to the questions above. I would ask this person why they believe this, and what specific rights they believe are being infringed by trans rights? It's not like rights are a finite resource that can't be shared. Rights are agreements society makes with itself, not a pinata. More candy for trans people doesnt mean less candy for lesbian and gay people, so I dont understand the argument myself.

Tiggum
Oct 23, 2007


feizhouxiongdi2 posted:

1. Why is intersectionality beneficial to feminism?
If the goal of feminism is equality then it can't only be for a specific subset of the population, because that isn't equality.

feizhouxiongdi2 posted:

2. Why are transgender(trans men&trans women) rights not hurting feminism?
Feminism is about removing gender-based restrictions, requirements and expectations. If you believe that male and female are objective categories then the goal of feminism is to render them irrelevant.

feizhouxiongdi2 posted:

3. How do I argue with someone under the cloak of "feminism" and say transgender people as a community are enemies of feminism?
You can't. Their arguments aren't based in reason and they can't be reasoned out of them. They're just using the language of feminism to express their prejudices. Mostly they seem to believe that trans women are actually men who are so desperate to access spaces reserved for women that they're willing to go to any extreme to do so. The idea is completely irrational, so there's no rational argument you can make to dispute it.

feizhouxiongdi2 posted:

How is their brand of feminism actually hurting feminism?
Firstly, by association. If a large enough number of self-identified "feminists" are TERFs then anyone else using that label becomes suspect until proven otherwise and the word gains negative connotations.

Secondly, by advocating for discrimination. Feminism is about achieving equality, so anyone who's working against that is working against feminism.

feizhouxiongdi2 posted:

4. How do I argue with someone who says they're a lesbian and transgender rights are hurting gay rights?
The common argument here is that by including transgender people under the same umbrella as gay people you're making the entire group less acceptable to "mainstream" society. Essentially saying "we're both drowning, but if you let go of me I can climb out of the water and then I'll be able to help you." The thing is, equality is good for everyone. If you allow exceptions and loopholes then they can later be used against you. And if you aim for what you actually want instead of starting from a compromise position, you might get it.

Gay people saying that transgender people are doing harm to their cause are really saying "I'm getting some of this privilege now and I'm starting to see the upside of discrimination."

feizhouxiongdi2
Oct 9, 2019



Tiggum posted:

Gay people saying that transgender people are doing harm to their cause are really saying "I'm getting some of this privilege now and I'm starting to see the upside of discrimination."
Thank you for responding!! Really puts it into perspective especially this above.

augias posted:

Rights are agreements society makes with itself, not a pinata. More candy for trans people doesnt mean less candy for lesbian and gay people, so I dont understand the argument myself.
Thank you!!! I agree - the fact that some of these "popular" statements have no merit or logic on their own, but rather is just used as a quick digest to promote hate and fear is mind boggling to me, and it's kinda shocking to me that how it does take hold in some communities very successfully. I think maybe that goes into the idea that social media and hot takes and all that sometimes promotes surface level statements without people having to practice patience and the habit of reading things through and thinking things through.

Canine Blues Arooo
Jan 7, 2008

when you think about it...i'm the first girl you ever spent the night with



Grimey Drawer

feizhouxiongdi2 posted:

I just had a lengthy internet discussion(fight?) with a self proclaimed feminist, who claims that the very concept of gender spectrum is not real, transgender rights are hurting feminism and specifically MTF transgender people are feminism's enemy.

So, as mentioned by Tiggum, this is the standard warcry of the TERFs. These people aren't feminists, and co-op the label in attempt to legitimize a crusade that has nothing to do with gender equality and a lot more to do with, 'Trans people are gross and I don't like them'. There is of course a much more nuanced discussion here and I would not be able to do it justice. Natalie has a much more complete and nuanced discussion about the subject matter here.

Canine Blues Arooo fucked around with this message at 18:49 on Mar 24, 2021

Fighting Trousers
May 17, 2011

Does this excite you, girl?


Basically TERFs are the Phyllis Schlaflys of second wave feminism - femininity is special and precious and if you let just anyone have access to it, it won't be special anymore.

Puppy Time
Mar 1, 2005



In having this kind of argument, you're first going to need to decide your strategy- are you looking to change the mind of your opponent, or are you looking to influence bystanders? In both cases, you need to understand their underlying arguments and motivations.

If you're looking to change someone's mind, you'll really need to be in a more private venue, willing to take months of gradual picking at things, and be someone they trust. (If you don't already have a closeish relationship, this is probably not going to work out for you.) You'll need to be accepting to them- emphasize that you like and respect them as a person, and you like being around them, but you don't agree with this particular opinion. It's a pretty difficult task: people will only change when they feel like it's safe to do so, and that can be super hard to set up, especially in a lot of Western cultures where we've got the impression that changing one's mind is weakness and lack of spine.

If you're just looking to influence bystanders, then worry less about the opponent- you're not changing their mind- and just work on cutting to the underpinnings of their arguments.

From what I've seen, anti-trans rhetoric with a "feminist" flavor comes in three broad categories: "Men want to invade women's spaces, and trans rights will allow this," "Transtrenders are loving up our children!!!" and "Biology is everything."

The first is silly because, leaving aside the issue of treating trans women as men, men who want to invade women's spaces have historically never felt like they couldn't. Why would a man bother to disguise himself when he can much more easily just bull his way in? (In fact, there have been multiple sexual assaults on women by men in bathrooms, no disguise needed.) Meanwhile, trans women are, for the most part, just trying to keep their heads down and live their lives, and are much more likely to support keeping cis men out of women's spaces because they, too, get victimized by cis men. (There are trans women who will abuse other women, just like there are cis women who will abuse other women. The problem in that case isn't the woman being trans, it's the woman being an abuser, and abusers should be kept out of pretty much any area until they can change their behavior.)

The second tends to rely mostly on a fear of children being given Bad Chemicals that will permanently alter their bodies and minds. This is silly because it assumes that the people who have, for decades, worked with trans people are universally bad at their jobs and also don't care about children's well being. It's also especially difficult to argue against because, like anti-vaxxers, the people arguing this are coming entirely from a place of fear and an instinct to protect their children. It's not reasonable at all, so it can't be reasoned against. The best you can do, if you're trying to change someone's mind here, is to coax them toward thinking of the people treating kids as people who also have the best interests of kids at heart, and people with a lot of experience. You can even invite them to think about their own personal areas of expertise as analogy- are they no better at their own job than someone who just came in off the street?

In terms of arguing the transtrenders thing for the sake of bystanders, I personally think the best argument is just that puberty blockers have been shown to be both safe and reversible- if the kid decides they're not trans, they get taken off and go through puberty as normal. Ironically, the biggest issues seem to come for kids who end up deciding to transition fully, as avoiding "natural" puberty can affect the ability to harvest eggs or sperm for future personal use, and the ability to undergo the most popular vaginoplasty. Here's an article by a doctor with a bunch of sources.

The third argument (in feminist context, at least) is generally an outgrowth of second wave feminist philosophy. Second wave feminism was all about understanding one's self and identity in relation to one's body, and how that was distinct from- and not inferior to- a man's body. This was extremely important at the time, and built the foundations for things like the growing medical understanding that "white male" is not the default human body type, and therefore not the only body necessary to study! If you're arguing with someone who's focused on biology from a feminist angle, you absolutely should make certain you're ready to acknowledge that this philosophy was important and necessary, or else you're not going to make a lot of inroads.

Biology as sex is tricky, though, because nature does not give a poo poo about your human categories. Want to sort people by chromosomes? There's a pretty hefty population of people who have something other than the expected setup. Want to sort by junk? Good luck figuring out where intersex people go! There's also evidence that there are male and female patterns of brain behavior- and trans people tend to have the same patterns as the gender they feel they have, not the one they were assigned. (This last one is a very oversimplified view of how gender works, so don't use it as your main argument! Gender is extremely difficult to pin down scientifically, which is probably why so many people throw up their hands and go "I don't know, whatever you were born with, stop giving me a migraine!")

Ultimately a lot of it is just based on fear of the unknown and a terror of having one's status lowered in some kind of zero-sum game. Your best bet in general is to make the unknown known, and help people realize that the issue is unlikely to personally affect them. That's a pretty delicate needle to thread, but it's absolutely commendable to do it! Good luck!

lilljonas
May 6, 2007

We got crabs? We got crabs!

feizhouxiongdi2 posted:


1. Why is intersectionality beneficial to feminism?

Talking about inequalities without intersectionality is like imagining a middle class Karen walking up to a gay man seeking asylum from Somalia and go "You! You are the reason why my employer gives me a lower wage than my male coworkers".

feizhouxiongdi2
Oct 9, 2019



Fighting Trousers posted:

Basically TERFs are the Phyllis Schlaflys of second wave feminism - femininity is special and precious and if you let just anyone have access to it, it won't be special anymore.

im writing this down and translating it into chinese for anyone else i have to argue with on the chinese internet!

feizhouxiongdi2
Oct 9, 2019



Puppy Time posted:

In having this kind of argument, you're first going to need to decide your strategy- are you looking to change the mind of your opponent, or are you looking to influence bystanders? In both cases, you need to understand their underlying arguments and motivations.

honestly that's what i was thinking the whole time when i was arguing with them. I have never met this person, don't know who it is behind the screen, all I knew was that this was posted on a forum I visit often and I couldn't just let it slide (aka let this opinion be the only opinion about trans people and feminism on that thread), to let something so obviously transphobic slide feels like i am aiding them somehow. But I also recognize these kind fo "content" is everywhere on the internet. So idk, I hope i was able to convince some bystanders. I most definitely did not convince this person lol.

On a side note, after some back and forth and me trying my best to stick to the facts and reasons, they backed off and said "ok i will delete my posts but i hope you can delete yours too" and I said no to deleting mine (but that i was happy they were deleting theirs lol) and that has caused them to lose it, they started talking about other transphobic stuff here and there (I also had to google what "super" is in this content, which was... time well spent on my part (not)), which i think showed the bystanders that they were the unreasonable one since they really lost it at the end of the argument. So I guess the point is that you can rarely convince someone who is spreading hate on the internet, but there is a better chance for you to change or influence the minds of people reading the exchange. Like you said, to aim for the former really needs a private venue, with someone you already know - so not a faceless stranger on the internet.

Thank you so much for your insights!

Straight White Shark
May 16, 2009



Fun Shoe

feizhouxiongdi2 posted:

I just had a lengthy internet discussion(fight?) with a self proclaimed feminist, who claims that the very concept of gender spectrum is not real, transgender rights are hurting feminism and specifically MTF transgender people are feminism's enemy.

I know that's not true, and i know transgender rights are not in the way of mainstream feminism. And I think to protect the rights of transgender community is good for feminism, good for a diverse and equal society and more. However, I am having trouble putting these into words since I have never taken women studies class, I didn't get into the habit of discussing social issues until the last few years and I am trying to learn more about feminism right now. What do you think are some good arguments to convey this point? (Intersectionality is important for feminism & Transgender rights are not the enemy of women's rights, but the opposite)? Or what book do you think I should read in regards to this topic / what classes I can take that you recommend?

Here are some concrete questions:

1. Why is intersectionality beneficial to feminism?

2. Why are transgender(transmen&transwomen) rights not hurting feminism?

3. How do I argue with someone under the cloak of "feminism" and say transgender people as a community are enemies of feminism? How is their brand of feminism actually hurting feminism?

4. How do I argue with someone who says they're a lesbian and transgender rights are hurting gay rights?

(I will add more if I can come up with more concrete questions, please welcome to raise your own questions too)

Thank you very much!

If your feminism does not address other forms of systemic oppression then it's complicit in perpetuating that oppression. Other forms of inequality also wind up hurting women (black women, gay women, etc.) and if you are not supporting their causes as well then you're not really advocating for women as a group, you're just advocating for a privileged subset of women.

Even then, however, you are unlikely to make much progress even for that privileged subset. Oppressive systems maintain themselves by turning minorities against one another; if they are unable to make common cause with each other then they wind up having to jockey with each other for attention and support. The fact that this argument even exists is literally a tool of patriarchy to keep women divided both amongst themselves and from other groups that are hurt by systemic sexism.

Even if you accept their argument that "transgender" is not a thing and MtF individuals are really men in dresses, the idea that they are somehow beneficiaries of patriarchy defies all rational belief. Anyone who does not practice their assigned birth gender is just as much a victim of patriarchy as any woman. Arguing that gender-nonconformity in any form is anti-feminist very quickly circles around to dictating gender performance to women; oppressing trans people is oppressing women no matter how you slice it. (There is perhaps some room for arguing about definitions around the edges, but transphobes rarely manage to keep themselves to edge issues.)

Fighting Trousers posted:

Basically TERFs are the Phyllis Schlaflys of second wave feminism - femininity is special and precious and if you let just anyone have access to it, it won't be special anymore.

The old school second wave argument was that femininity was inherently harmful and no one should have access to it because it exists solely to harm women. That tradition is the fig leaf that TERFs use to claim legitimacy for their brand of "feminism", even though nowadays most TERFs have largely abandoned the aggressive gender neutrality of second wavers and are now either (bad) choice feminists or crypto-Phyllis Schlaflys.

BirdOfPlay
Feb 19, 2012

THUNDERDOME LOSER

feizhouxiongdi2 posted:

4. How do I argue with someone who says they're a lesbian and transgender rights are hurting gay rights?

So, lotsa good response to this question wrt trans women, but trans men, while unintuitive, also factor in the discussion of lesbian terf beliefs and the fake problems they argue about with respect to trans people. While this may not be directly related to the initial discussions that spawned this question, it's important to be aware of this thread of terf nonsense.

The terf argument against trans men and nonbinary AFAB people is that these people are just confused, masculine women that are being forced to reject their womanhood rather than individuals that, fundamentally, know who they are. In this case, the terf sword cuts the opposite way from how it is applied to trans women: that AFAB people are, inherently and totally, women. Wrt to terf lesbians, this leads to complaints about transgender acceptance causing the "death of lesbianism," which is literally an terf article published by HuffPo.

For another argument, terfs also love to use trans men as examples of how they are, "in fact," trans inclusionary. They still are not Even JK Rowling used this trope in her terf apologist letter from last year.

JK Rowling posted:

Ironically, radical feminists aren't even trans-exclusionary - they include trans men in their feminism, because they were born women.
She claims this is inclusionary by virtue of a group literally erasing the transness of trans men. That said, trans men should not be excluded from what would previously be considered a women-only space. For example, it is very possible, and correct, to include people with uteruses (which can include trans men) in discussions about what has previously been considered "women's healthcare," but that shouldn't be done by forcing some members to deny their gender just to get a seat at the table.

I freely admit that I'm not well-versed in the trans male and non binary AFAB experience. I'm just trying to expose a bit that is commonly ignored in transgender discussions by people outside the community. There were more than a few terf responses to Elliot Page's statement from several months ago, but I don't have any on hand.

Torquemada
Oct 21, 2010

Drei Gläser


This seems to be the place to help me figure something out. Im a middle aged middle class straight white British man, almost the most privileged its possible to be, and although I do my best to have the correct views and confront and eliminate my prejudices, I sometimes need a little help.

Arent the difficulties and inequalities faced by trans people different from the inequalities faced by women who identify themselves as feminists? I havent seen this mentioned by anyone, but it seems likely, surely, that feminists are more likely to resent trans women for not having had to experience the same difficulties they did?

This doesnt appear to fit into any of the three categories mentioned above, and it kind of confuses me, because Id been comfortable with the idea that feminism was a good thing for pretty much my whole life, and now Im re-examining that.

Should we just all become egalitarians and remove all the subdivisions dedicated to fighting oppression whatever its stripe, or does this sound like all lives matter bullshit my brain is expressing wrong (because that isnt my intent).

Tiggum
Oct 23, 2007


Torquemada posted:

Arent the difficulties and inequalities faced by trans people different from the inequalities faced by women who identify themselves as feminists? I havent seen this mentioned by anyone, but it seems likely, surely, that feminists are more likely to resent trans women for not having had to experience the same difficulties they did?
The difficulties faced by any two women will be different. The difficulties faced by black women, in general, will be different than those faced by white women. Race, class, income, education, religion, marital status, number of children, age... no two people are alike. That's where "intersectionality" comes in. Acknowledging those differences and figuring out how to improve things for all women, not just straight, white, middle-class women.


Torquemada posted:

Should we just all become egalitarians and remove all the subdivisions dedicated to fighting oppression whatever its stripe, or does this sound like all lives matter bullshit my brain is expressing wrong (because that isnt my intent).
The point of calling it feminism is making the point that society is biased along gender lines. Feminism isn't solely about "making things better for women" - although it is about that - it's also about addressing gender-based inequality in all its forms. The irony of the "men's right's" movement is that if they actually cared about addressing problems faced by men due to their gender, they'd be feminists.

Straight White Shark
May 16, 2009



Fun Shoe

Torquemada posted:

Should we just all become egalitarians and remove all the subdivisions dedicated to fighting oppression whatever its stripe, or does this sound like all lives matter bullshit my brain is expressing wrong (because that isnt my intent).

The key difference is that no one saying "all lives matter" is actually saying "white supremacy hurts white people too and we need to tackle it together regardless of race."

Women, trans people, LGBTQ people, etc. all experience different forms of oppression (with some overlap) but ultimately it is all the same interconnected system of oppression. For example, even though they are not women gay men still suffer from misogyny: they are seen as less than men for wanting sex with men (like a woman.) Because blurring gender roles undermines the hierarchical dominance of men over women they are singled out for abuse in order to reinforce the rigid line separating Us and Them.

Feminist women and gay men definitely can and sometimes do resent each other because they experience very different patterns of oppression and on a superficial level they don't seem to have much use for each other. But neither one is ever going to reach full equality without the other, so it's to everyone's benefit for them to mutually support each other's causes.

Torquemada
Oct 21, 2010

Drei Gläser


Straight White Shark posted:

Women, trans people, LGBTQ people, etc. all experience different forms of oppression (with some overlap) but ultimately it is all the same interconnected system of oppression ()

But neither one is ever going to reach full equality without the other, so it's to everyone's benefit for them to mutually support each other's causes.

Ok. I understand objectively that mutually supporting each other is to the benefit of every oppressed group.

Isnt it completely impossible and directly opposite to every experience of human nature for Group A to care equally about its own problems and the problems of X other groups? Does not this approach reductio ad absurdam imply that every group whose focus is the betterment of a specific segment of humanity is in fact wrong to do so, and that their insistence on so doing contributes more harm than good in the long term?

VictualSquid
Feb 29, 2012

Gently enveloping the target with indiscriminate love.


Torquemada posted:

Ok. I understand objectively that mutually supporting each other is to the benefit of every oppressed group.

Isnt it completely impossible and directly opposite to every experience of human nature for Group A to care equally about its own problems and the problems of X other groups? Does not this approach reductio ad absurdam imply that every group whose focus is the betterment of a specific segment of humanity is in fact wrong to do so, and that their insistence on so doing contributes more harm than good in the long term?

You don't have to care equally, you just have to care. And no, it doesn't.
And from a practical view, the bigots that all those groups are fighting are generally the same ones.

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StrixNebulosa
Feb 14, 2012

You cheated not only the game, but yourself.
But most of all, you cheated BABA


feizhouxiongdi2 posted:

2. Why are transgender(transmen&transwomen) rights not hurting feminism?

To steal this question for my own soapboxing about what I think feminism should be: it's about equality. Equal rights, equal opportunities. A feminist should not be better than a man, but equal with a man, with mutual respect. And I want this for everyone - trans people, people of color, any and all minorities facing oppression. I want us all to have the same access to healthcare and food and respect and so on and so forth, regardless of what we are.

And I want to make sure there is no shame for taking on traditional gender roles - if a woman chooses to wear pink and be a housewife with a white picket fence, that is nothing to be ashamed of, same as if they choose to become [insert traditional male gender role job here].

I am queer, disabled and a woman and the fact that I can pass as normal in some contexts grants me certain securities that I want to be universal. I want passing or not passing to no longer matter.

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