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Pre-2008 Posts

Woman (Born Woman) Only Spaces Protected by Supreme Court of Canada Ruling

From my friend, Karla Mantilla, of Off Our Backs and from our radical feminist/lesbian separatist sisters at Vancouver Rape Relief, who have been keeping the faith for over 3o years of service to women, and of whom I blogged last week with respect to their work on behalf of the missing women in Canada from Downtown Eastside Vancouver:

For Immediate Release
February 1 2007

(VANCOUVER) On February 1, 2007, the Supreme Court of Canada declined to hear an appeal from the decision of the British Columbia Court of Appeal ruling about Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter rejecting a male-to-female transsexual from volunteer training to be a peer counselor of raped and battered women. Vancouver Rape Relief has now been successful at all levels of courts that have addressed this issue, bringing the claim of discrimination to an end. Ms Nixon brought a human rights complaint against the group in 1995. Both the BC Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal decisions found that Vancouver Rape Relief is entitled to form an organization of women who have a life experience of being treated as a girl into womanhood.

“We believe it is important for raped and battered women to have the choice of a women-only peer group for support. Now the Supreme Court of Canada has strengthened their right as well as strengthening our right to provide that support,” says Suzanne Jay speaking on behalf of Vancouver Rape Relief. “This decision is important because it can affect many different groups especially those fighting violence and racism.”

The BC Human Rights Tribunal had found that Vancouver Rape Relief acted in good faith, and the fact that their volunteer counselors had to be women born and raised as women was rationally connected to their goals of providing a safe and secure environment for women victims of male violence.

“The BC Court of Appeal relied on those findings, and applied settled law, in reaching its conclusion that Vancouver Rape Relief was entitled to carry on its work”, said Gwendoline Allison, of Bull, Housser & Tupper LLP, co-counsel in the case.

“The decision of the Supreme Court of Canada not to hear an appeal from the British Columbia Court of Appeal decision means the end of a long legal struggle for Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter”, says Christine Boyle, Professor of Law at the University of British Columbia and co-counsel in the case. “Vancouver Rape Relief is entitled to exist, protected by the British Columbia Human Rights Code.”

Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter is a volunteer run organization that provides shelter and support to over 100 women each year along with 70-80 of the battered women’s children. Each year the 24-hour rape crisis line receives new calls from over 1,000 women dealing with rape, sexual assault, incest, battering and sexual harassment. The group provides all services for free and with confidentiality.

****

Chronology of events in
Kimberly Nixon vs Vancouver Rape Relief Society

November 5, 1990
Kimberly Nixon had sexual reassignment surgery. Kimberly Nixon was 33 years old at the time of the surgery. Until that time, Ms Nixon had been brought up through a boyhood and lived as a man achieving success as an airline pilot.

May 1994
Kimberly Nixon completed eight months of weekly one-to-one counseling with a counselor at Battered Women’s Support Services. Following one-to-one counseling, Ms Nixon used the drop-in support group at Battered Women’s Support Services (BWSS) until May or June of 1995.

May or June 1995
Kimberly Nixon was told by BWSS workers that it was necessary for her own healing that she take a year off before applying for the Battered Women’s Support Services training program.

August 29, 1995
Kimberly Nixon arrived at a training group conducted by Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter. She was rejected from the training program because she did not share the same life experiences as women born and raised as girls and into womanhood.

August 30, 1995
Kimberly Nixon made a formal Human Rights Complaint.
When Vancouver Rape Relief collective women were informed of the complaint the women were sorry to have offended Kimberly Nixon and quickly tried to make amends. The Rape Relief collective women offered a formal written apology, and suggested that Kimberly could support the rape crisis line and shelter work by joining a fundraising committee. The collective also offered to apologize in-person to Kimberly as well as offering $500 in acknowledgement of Kimberly’s hurt feelings. The Rape Relief women also requested mediation. Kimberly Nixon rejected these offers.

September/October, 1995
Kimberly Nixon returned to Battered Women’s Support services for counseling which concluded March 1996.

Fall 1996
Kimberly Nixon commenced the training program for volunteers at Battered Women’s Support Services. She left BWSS over a dispute regarding the role of transgendered women in the organization.

1995-2005
The Vancouver Rape Relief Collective initiated consultations with feminists across the country in the process of deciding what course of action to follow. The collective women searched for information and analysis to inform the decisions they took in defense of their actions.

December 11, 2000 – February 23, 2001
The case was heard by the BC Human Rights Tribunal.

January 18, 2002
The BC Human Right Tribunal released its decision that Vancouver Rape Relief acted on good faith and had been respectful in their treatment of Kimberly Nixon. However, the tribunal ruled that Vancouver Rape Relief had not proved that life experience as a girl and woman was a necessary pre-requisite to be a peer counselor to raped and battered women and ordered the payment of $7,500 to Kimberly Nixon for hurt feelings.

August 2003
The BC Supreme Court conducted a judicial review of the BC Human Rights Tribunal decision.

December 19, 2003
The Supreme Court set aside the decision of the Human Rights Tribunal, finding that the Tribunal had made an error: Vancouver Rape Relief had not discriminated against Kimberly Nixon and the group does have the right to freedom of association to organize as women only.
The court further declined to send the matter back to the Tribunal for a rehearing.

April, 2005
Nixon appealed to the B.C. Court of Appeal.

December 7, 2005
The B.C. Court of Appeal held unanimously that Vancouver Rape Relief has the right to prefer to train women who have never been treated as anything but female.
The Chief Justice said: “The respondent Society was entitled to give preference to women who are not post-operative transsexuals, because there is a rational connection between the preference and the respondent’s work or purpose.”

February 1, 2007
The Supreme Court of Canada dismissed Kimberly Nixon’s request to appeal the B.C. Court of Appeal’s decision. The Supreme Court further awarded Vancouver Rape Relief with “costs”.


Summary of Decision
Vancouver Rape Relief Society v. Nixon 2005 BCCA 601

In August 1995, Rape Relief excluded Kimberly Nixon, a post-operative male-to-female transsexual, from its training programme for volunteer peer counselors because Kimberly Nixon had not been born and raised as a girl and woman, and she had experienced what it is like to have lived in the world as a man. Ms. Nixon initiated a complaint under the Human Rights Code alleging that Rape relief had discriminated against her in violation of the Human Rights Code.

In Vancouver Rape Relief Society v. Nixon 2005 BCCA 601, the Court of Appeal confirmed that Vancouver Rape Relief Society did not contravene the Human Rights Code when it excluded Kimberly Nixon. In so doing, the Court of Appeal held that Rape Relief is a group that is protected by section 41 of the Human Rights Code. The Court of Appeal held that a group that is protected by section 41 can prefer a sub-group of those whose interests it was created to serve, provided that the group acts in good faith and provided there is a rational connection between the preference and the group’s work, or purpose.

The Human Rights Tribunal had previously ruled that Rape Relief’s decision to allow into the training programme only women who had been born and raised as girls and women was rationally connected to Rape Relief’s work of counseling women victims of sexual assault and fighting male violence and women’s inequality. The Tribunal also held that that Rape Relief’s decision was made in good faith. The Court of Appeal upheld those findings of the Tribunal.

Having found that Rape Relief’s decision was rationally connected to its goals and was made in good faith, the Court of Appeal held that Rape Relief’s decision did not contravene the Human Rights Code.

Provided by: Gwendoline Allison, Bull, Housser & Tupper LLP and Professor Christine Boyle, University of British Columbia School of Law.

Heart

Discussion

108 thoughts on “Woman (Born Woman) Only Spaces Protected by Supreme Court of Canada Ruling

  1. In 1995 the VRR clearly made quite a reasonable gesture (payment) and offer of an alternative position within the organisation, which was refused by Ms Nixon.

    So it probably proves the point—the early years of socialisation have an effect—and the VRR were certainly correct in not wishing her for a direct women(-born-women) victim contact role. Suing charity/support organisations is just so out of order.

    Posted by stormy | February 2, 2007, 11:29 am
  2. That’s a blessed relief!

    Now will the USA follow suit?

    I am apprehensive because several American states have been preesured into legally allowing males to have their birth record information officially altered to show themselves as having been born female.

    Males make all the laws and re-write them at will.

    We will never be free of the patriarchy (or males) by constantly pressuring them to give us “fair laws”.

    Females have yet to develop a workable strategy to work ourselves free of the male-devised legal structure that will always, by design, give them the power to rule us at will.

    It’s only within our precariously developed and viciously beseiged female-born female spaces that we will have the rare time and space to work seriously to create such a strategy.

    Do we have the will to do so?

    Mary Sunshine

    Posted by MarySunshine | February 2, 2007, 2:49 pm
  3. Wow, great news Heart. Thanks.

    Posted by rhondda | February 2, 2007, 3:44 pm
  4. What kind of creep sues a rape crises center to “make a statement”?

    Jeez.

    Posted by gayle | February 2, 2007, 4:38 pm
  5. Yeah, stormy and all. You know, the really bad thing about this is, this is one of a tiny number of remaining radical femist/lesbian feminist-run shelters in North America. It is independent, non-governmental and does most of its own fund-raising, including the kind that involves standing on a street corner with a can and a sign. It’s because it is independent, and hence doesn’t have to jump through a gigantic number of government hoops, that it can do such amazing work. It’s not bound and gagged by all the governmental regulations that bind and gag most shelters now.

    So she brings this lawsuit, costing the shelter thousands and thousands of dollars, not to mention all of the energy and time expended, all of which could have been used to serve and support raped and terrorized women and which could have closed the shelter down entirely. In fact, another organization in B.C., and I can’t recall the name now, was closed down under similar circumstances. When a human rights claim was filed by a transwoman, the place closed its doors because it didn’t have money for lawyers and so on and it was one of a very few woman-only venues in Vancouver.

    What’s even creepier, gayle, is the support Nixon received in suing a rape crisis center. I mean just think about it! I know you have, and I have for years, but really, it stuns, that someone *sues* for the reasons she sued. Very, very scary.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | February 2, 2007, 5:26 pm
  6. Note the title of this article, making reference to Nixon’s “battle”. Battle against what? Women helping women survive having been raped? See, to me it’s a lot easier to trash us, as radical feminists/lesbian separatists, than it is to trash MEN, especially powerful men. You know, the very people who rape the women that end up at Vancouver Rape Relief with their lives turned upside down. It’s especially a lot easier to trash us when you can get so much male approval and support and backing in your trashing, especially if you’re all about male approval and support.

    ****

    Transsexual loses battle in top court to help at rape clinic
    SHANNON RUPP

    Special to The Globe and Mail

    VANCOUVER — The Supreme Court of Canada has denied a transsexual woman a hearing on her 12-year-old case against Vancouver Rape Relief, a non-profit feminist group that provides a crisis line and transition house run by volunteers.

    Kimberly Nixon was suing for the right to volunteer as a Rape Relief counsellor. Costs were awarded to the women’s group.

    Ms. Nixon was not available for comment, but her lawyer, barbara findlay, (who uses only lower case letters in her name) called the Supreme Court’s decision not to hear the case a disappointment.

    “In effect, they have let the Court of Appeals decision — that says it is all right to discriminate — stand,” Ms. findlay said. “But it doesn’t diminish our determination that, ultimately, all services accessible to women, will be accessible to trans-women.”

    The case began in August, 1995, when Ms. Nixon, who had a sex-change operation in 1990, answered a Rape Relief ad for women interested in training to be volunteer counsellors. The women-only organization provides “peer” counselling. The organization defines “peers” as women who have always experienced the world as a female. Ms. Nixon was asked to leave the workshop; the next day, she filed a complaint with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal.

    The tribunal found in favour of Ms. Nixon and awarded her $7,500 in damages, but the B.C. Supreme Court quashed the decision. Ms. Nixon appealed, and the B.C. Court of Appeal confirmed that Rape Relief was entitled to protection under Section 41 of B.C.’s Human Rights Code, which allows disadvantaged groups, including religious and charitable groups, to promote the welfare of their members (even if it excludes non-members).

    Ms. findlay and her client argued that, as Ms. Nixon is legally a woman, she should have access to a women-only service. Their position is that to allow Rape Relief to define who they will serve is, in effect, to allow it to decide who is or isn’t a woman.

    But Christine Boyle, a law at professor at the University of British Columbia who represented Rape Relief, said the case was never about determining anyone’s sex. It was about the right of any equality-seeking group to define itself, including which interests it would serve. The right is protected under Section 41 of B.C.’s Human Rights Code and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. “Rape Relief supports the rights of all equality-seeking groups, including transsexuals, and always agreed that Ms. Nixon is a woman,” Prof. Boyle said. “We all agreed, right from the beginning, gender is on a continuum. But the [Appeals Court] decision just confirms the right of groups to organize along any point on that spectrum.”

    Prof. Boyle wasn’t surprised that the Supreme Court declined to hear the case, given that two lower courts had considered the legal issues and the B.C. legislation had been upheld. She said she is pleased that this case confirms the importance of examining human-rights complaints in context.

    But Ms. findlay said all Canadians should be concerned about the implications of legally protected groups using their status to discriminate against others. She said she often represents members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered community, and is seeing an increase in religious groups, particularly, discriminating against sexual orientation.

    Rape Relief spokeswoman Suzanne Jay said her organization is relieved the case is over and its 20 members and 100 volunteers can concentrate on providing services. The 36-year-old society has a budget of about $600,000, most of which comes from fundraising.

    Link

    Posted by womensspace | February 2, 2007, 5:38 pm
  7. jfr accidentally commented to the wrong thread, so I’m moving our exchange here.

    jfr Says:
    February 2nd, 2007 at 6:46 pm e

    I just need to say that I know barbara findlay, Kimberly Nixon’s attorney, personally. You may disagree with her on the issues but she is good people. She has represented many disenfranchised people, most of it pro bono, in her long career as a human rights attorney.

    womensspace Says:
    February 2nd, 2007 at 6:59 pm e

    jfr, you probably meant to comment to the VRR thread. Thanks for letting me know you are friends with barbara findlay. I deeply disagree with the position she takes with respect to transgender issues. She seems really dedicated to the elimination of woman-only space, which really troubles me. At the same time, there are lots of people I very much respect but still disagree deeply with on various issues and I can definitely believe you when you say she is good people.

    Heart

    jfr Says:
    February 2nd, 2007 at 6:59 pm e

    Sorry, put this post in the wrong thread. Should be in the thread about woman only spaces.

    ****

    Moved. 🙂

    Posted by womensspace | February 2, 2007, 7:06 pm
  8. Thanks, Heart. Disagreeing with barbara is fine. Respectful disagreement, which you foster so well here, is essential, keeps our aging brains from withering away. I just wanted to make sure that her stand on the issue was separate from an evaluation of her as a person.

    Posted by jfr | February 2, 2007, 7:22 pm
  9. “She has represented many disenfranchised people, most of it pro bono, in her long career as a human rights attorney.”

    Do you count Nixon among those disenfranchised people? I mean, if all Findlay’s clients are as equally disenfranchised, well, she’d make a hell of a republican lobbyist here in the states.

    ” I know barbara findlay, Kimberly Nixon’s attorney, personally.”

    Those capitals are always so interesting!

    Posted by Rich | February 2, 2007, 7:28 pm
  10. “But Ms. findlay said all Canadians should be concerned about the implications of legally protected groups using their status to discriminate against others. She said she often represents members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered community, and is seeing an increase in religious groups, particularly, discriminating against sexual orientation.”

    Once again, we see the inability to account for POWER. Conservative xtians who want to “discriminate” against lesbians are not at all similarly situated to VRR. I liked the language before that, about “equality-seeking groups.” The religious right is in no way seeking equality, ever, for anyone. I think we are smart enough to make those distinctions. A white-only country club doesn’t get a legal right to exclude people of color, but an organization of the oppressed, whose purpose is to right social wrongs–NOT to consolidate existing social and political power–should get to determine when, where, how, and why they incorporate members of oppressor groups. This is not hard to figure out. We can do this.

    And BTW, um, SOOOO not interested in going to bible study. So, xtians, feel free to make bible study het-only. I promise not to sue.

    Posted by Amy's Brain Today | February 2, 2007, 11:15 pm
  11. And BTW, um, SOOOO not interested in going to bible study. So, xtians, feel free to make bible study het-only. I promise not to sue.

    I’m het and I don’t want the Bible study forced on me either. Actually, I have been thinking about it lately, I loathe, simply loathe when people say things like “We all know the Bible stories.” No we all don’t. I can honestly say I grew up without any Bible stories. If I read a Bible story allusion I do not find out it is a Bible story allusion until some criticism tells me that it is.

    I hate the default American=Christian. Hate it hate it hate it……Actually I am reading Fanny Trollope’s The Dosmestic Manners of Americans right now and she talks about just that, that the Americans are so insanely religious and they spit too much (LOL!). And she lived back in the 1800s.

    Posted by chasingmoksha | February 2, 2007, 11:43 pm
  12. rich – I think that the spelling of barbara’s name is irrelevant to this discussion and that is why I posted on this thread. Heart made an offhand remark about it and as a friend of barbara’s that bothered me. So I spoke up and Heart replied. Disagreeing with barbara on the issues is fine with me. I never once said I agreed with her or that I disagreed. I have purposely decided to leave the substantive issues alone for now. Criticizing her about the spelling of her name and suggesting that it says something about her character is what bothers me.

    Posted by jfr | February 3, 2007, 12:56 am
  13. hey Amy, you are so funny. What? You do not want to join a bible study group? As a preacher’s daughter, I find this so funny. You see I read this book called Texts of Terror by Phyllis Trible. She in her liberal christian way was trying to reconcile the hate for women in the old testament with the gospel. It was indeed a noble cause, but it said to me “I knew it” and just needed to see it in print. No, no, no, it cannot be reconciled. It is pure hate and a poisonous pedagogy as Alice Miller names it.

    Posted by rhondda | February 3, 2007, 1:24 am
  14. I hear you, jfr, and I removed my comment– it wasn’t necessary to the thread either.

    Come on now, chasingmoksha and Amy, you know you want to go to Bible studies. 😛

    I think the way the VRR case was handled was brilliant, Amy, for just the reasons you give. The court said that equality seeking groups have the right to decide who can participate or be part of their groups and organizations and that is a very fine precedent to have established, for all subordinated people.

    Rhondda, re Trible: I am not particularly fond of her work, mostly because she hasn’t done very much writing, so I can’t figure out what the philosophical or theological or ideological underpinnings of her writings actually are. In other words, I can’t figure out exactly where she’s coming from. Is it literary criticism she’s engaged in (which she sort of says it is)? Or is it a certain hermeneutic she’s applying (which she also kind of says it is)and if so, what is it ?:/ I think she was trying to sort of cast a broad net and gather in both the Christians and the literary types but it doesn’t work.

    The thing I like most about her and will always love her for, thouh, is, she wrote a book about all the Bible stories we are terrorized with as little girls and women, and she titled it, Texts of Terror. Ohmyfreakinggod, YES. “Texts of Terror”! That’s exactly what they are! To read that was so liberating and empowering for me, just the title. And then to read and see, yup, there’s the “concubine” who was cast outside of her owner’s house to be gang raped all night long until she died, and who then got her body chopped up into 12 pieces and portioned out to the 12 tribes. Yup, there’s Tamar, raped by her stepbrother, of whom it is said, chillingly, but we all know this, that the hatred with which he hated Tamar (after he raped her) was more than the “love” with which he had “loved” her (no such thing, he was a fucking predator who tricked her into bringing him food in his room then raped her.) She ends up an outcast and “desolate” for the rest of her life because her brother raped her and she’s damaged goods. Then there’s Hagar, taken in as a concubine when Sarah can’t conceive a son for Abraham, who then delivers a son, Ishmael, at which point Sarah becomes jealous and wants her out out, so Abraham kicks Hagar and her son out and sends them with nothing into the desert to die. And yet Abraham is said to be a central “father” of the faith and Sarah is roundly and continually extolled as a “godly woman” who was obedient to her husband and trusted god, someone we should emulate. I mean absolutely, buy your husband a concubine who is a member of an oppressed minority compared with you, then throw her out when you have no more use for her! Such a godly act, we should all work very hard to emulate her.

    THESE ARE THE STORIES LITTLE GIRLS GROW UP HEARING IN SUNDAY SCHOOL AND CHURCH AND NOBODY SAYS A !#^@$&*$^@^! THING ABOUT HOW TERRORIZING THEY ARE! Little girls and women are terrorized every Sunday, hearing these stories told by all the godly righteous men (and women) who make idiotic analyses of them– skipping over the fact that, you know, a woman is raped to death and chopped into pieces, preferring to focus hour-long sermons on bullshit like, well, this is the way it goes when there is “no king in Israel,” and “every man is doing what is right in his own eyes,” like, whaddya gonna do, men rape women to death all night long, they chop them up and send them to the 12 tribes, men are so like that, you know, better hope you are able to get yourself submitted to good kingly authority! And you women: be very afraid! Better hope your menfolk are submitted to a godly king or you might be next!

    So anyway. I love Phyllis Trible for titling her book the way she did, because seeing that title gave me great comfort when I was newly exited from fundie-dom and feeling very scared that lightning was going to strike me any moment and kill me dead. It was so affirming. I’d been terrorized. All girls and women are terrorized in bible literalism. It’s just everybody is so lost or scared or broken or desperate, nobody is willing to call it for what it is. (Not to mention what growing up hearing these stories does to little boys and young men!)

    Yeesh.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | February 3, 2007, 4:46 am
  15. jfr: Regarding the capitals, I think Rich was referring to a discussion we had in another thread about capitalization and “gender.”

    And I understand that you like and/or are friends with Ms. findlay–and this is probably not the venue for this discussion–but as I was out driving around this afternoon I was thinking about what you said, and I just wanted to point out that, to me, someone’s status as “good people” is somewhat thrown into question by pursuing a lawsuit against a nonprofit agency which works to help traumatized women with a donation-only budget. It does not preclude their doing other, good things, of course, but I think in this situation, as in many others, I might have tried to find another way to proceed, were I Ms. findlay. Which I’m not.

    Posted by Amy's Brain Today | February 3, 2007, 5:11 am
  16. Amy – I am neither defending nor criticizing barbara’s actions in this case, at least in this blog. I just wanted the discussion to stay on point, this action, this case, not her general character or whether or not she uses capitals to spell her name.

    Posted by jfr | February 3, 2007, 12:05 pm
  17. Heart said: “So she brings this lawsuit, costing the shelter thousands and thousands of dollars, not to mention all of the energy and time expended, all of which could have been used to serve and support raped and terrorized women and which could have closed the shelter down entirely. In fact, another organization in B.C., and I can’t recall the name now, was closed down under similar circumstances.”

    This was really my first concern, the VRR, and the drain on their very limited resources. Especially as they had already made a cash apology offer (from the limited resources) and offer of a different post within the organisation.

    Amy did make the brilliant point that ‘not all groups’ are equal, and I agree that “good people” wouldn’t be the term I would use in describing a lawyer that would hound a donations-based support centre for over 10 years, especially the women’s support sector which is always in financial crisis (eg the recent closure of Aradia Women’s Health Center due to lack of funds).

    The VRR and agencies like it are NOT the government, big business, or part of the establishment. They are not the ones routinely discriminating (for the purposes of domination). There is a valid reason why they have women-only directly supporting the female victims of male violence.

    “good people”. Nope, don’t think so. But perhaps she’ll get a thank you card from The Patriarchy.

    Posted by stormy | February 3, 2007, 3:02 pm
  18. but this is terrible! gender is constructed even if you are BORN with a vagina–women who transition into being women are just as much women. i worked at a women’s centre where we wouldn’t have been as effective at all without the mtf workers workign right alongside us, supporting the people who came in. suing a centre that doesn’t recognize thast isn’t creepy, it’s activism. how can you define who has the right to be a woman? next thing you know that creates hierarchies in race and class as well. i can tell you this–when i go dancing at queer events the people i am most comfortable dancing with are the transexuals bustin out all the most perfect performative old style south asian female dance moves–they’ve got that partcular gendered performance down pat in a way i never will–down pat as well as ironized. you can’t get better than that–that IS gender.

    Posted by rabfish | February 3, 2007, 4:17 pm
  19. Hey rabfish, I agree with you that there are many times and places for transwomen and females to work alongside one another, and that we share many oppressions in common. This lawsuit was not about defining who a woman is — it was about the right of equality groups, including females, to define the boundaries of their own spaces. Females do not subjugate or subordinate transpersons– that’s a project of males and male power, whose project it also is to subjugate females. This ruling also allows transpersons to establish the boundaries of their own spaces and to refuse violation, as it allows the same for persons of color, single mothers, poor people, the disabled, all marginalized groups. The right of Canadian females to organize to strategize their own liberation, in their own way, defining the boundaries of their own spaces, is protected by this ruling.

    As to gender– well, in this instance, we are dealing with feminist females who want to see an end to gender, in that they — we, because this is my view — view gender as inherently and unavoidably subordinating and subjugating. In our view, it’s not a good thing for people to “perform gender” or to be really good at gender performances of any kind — gender is something which needs to be eliminated in order for all of us to be free.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | February 3, 2007, 4:29 pm
  20. What I read from rabfish, the latter part, is that MTF trans make ‘better women’ than women-born-women.

    Nice.

    Posted by stormy | February 3, 2007, 5:25 pm
  21. How did you read that, Stormy? I see nothing in Rabfish’s comment that makes the statement you say you read.

    Posted by bint alshamsa | February 3, 2007, 5:40 pm
  22. Well, stormy, yeah, and also typical.

    Posted by Amy's Brain Today | February 3, 2007, 5:58 pm
  23. Well Amy, you know that we really need men to show us how to be women.

    Posted by stormy | February 3, 2007, 6:03 pm
  24. I went to finishing classes, but never did.

    Posted by uppitybiscuit | February 3, 2007, 6:07 pm
  25. bint, where rab says this:

    when i go dancing at queer events the people i am most comfortable dancing with are the transexuals bustin out all the most perfect performative old style south asian female dance moves–they’ve got that partcular gendered performance down pat in a way i never will–down pat as well as ironized. you can’t get better than that–that IS gender.

    It sounds like she’s saying transwomen out-woman her and that that is admirable, that gender performance is liberating. That’s what I’m trying to get away from, you know? Performances of gender, of whatever kind. Definitions of “woman” that perpetuate gender stereotypes. How can anyone “out-woman” a “woman” via some performance or other? There is no quantifiable or essential “woman-ness” that can be out-womaned in this way or that can be performed. There are just people, born female, who have been forced to live as “women” and who want severely out of it, or some of us, because we view what has been forced on us as subjugating and oppressive.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | February 3, 2007, 6:32 pm
  26. Womensspace (Heart),

    “This lawsuit was not about defining who a woman is — it was about the right of equality groups, including females, to define the boundaries of their own spaces.”

    If a group discriminates against transpeople, then it isn’t actually an equality group at all.

    This idea about some supposed “right” you mentioned, sounds (to me) A LOT like the arguments posed by those who have sought to discriminate against other groups. What is the difference between a women’s group that would like to keep out women with disabilities and one that seeks to exclude trans-women?

    As a person who has lived with and without disabilities, I have seen how differently one is treated by the world based on one’s perceived status as either “healthy” or “sick”. Does that mean that I should be excluded from groups that are supposed to support female victims of rape? Isn’t rape something that happens to disabled and trans-women too?

    So she brings this lawsuit, costing the shelter thousands and thousands of dollars, not to mention all of the energy and time expended, all of which could have been used to serve and support raped and terrorized women and which could have closed the shelter down entirely.

    Sometimes ending discrimination means that some people will lose advantages that they once possessed. However, the fact that a group does SOME good does not mean that those who are fighting discrimination should just give them a free pass. Abolishing Jim Crow laws meant that white people had to wait a lot longer when they went to the doctor’s office, when they tried to get their kids into good schools, when they went to the voting booth, et cetera. However, ending discrimination was the right thing to do then and it still is today in this case involving the VRR.

    This lawsuit IS about defining who a woman is. Just look at what Jay said on behalf of VRR:

    “We believe it is important for raped and battered women to have the choice of a women-only peer group for support. Now the Supreme Court of Canada has strengthened their right as well as strengthening our right to provide that support”

    In other words, by excluding trans-women, the VRR claims that it is providing women-only peer groups. That statement shows VRR is defining trans-women as outside of its definition of who actually is a “woman”.

    While transwomen are just as vulnerable to rape as other women are–the VRR recognizes this by acknowledging them as belonging to the group that they are supposedly set up to support–according to the VRR, they are not, however, sufficiently “woman” enough to work there because they may have had a different sort of upbringing from the other women that work there.

    I wonder what reaction many feminists would have had if a group with the same supposed goals as VRR decided that since all their other members and volunteers had an upper-class upbringing, any one who came from an impoverished background shouldn’t be allowed to work there.

    Posted by bint alshamsa | February 3, 2007, 7:00 pm
  27. Heart:

    It sounds like she’s saying transwomen out-woman her and that that is admirable, that gender performance is liberating.

    It doesn’t say that anywhere in her post. How does commenting on the fact that a particular group of people she’s around perform certain dance moves better to her equate to her saying that transwomen “out-woman her”? There are plenty of kids who have perfected certain dance moves in a way that I NEVER will. Does that mean that I think people who are younger than me “out-woman” me? Of course not!

    Definitions of “woman” that perpetuate gender stereotypes.

    This is exactly what the VRR is doing by claiming that the way you were treated as a child determines whether you should be treated in the same way as other people who are women.

    Posted by bint alshamsa | February 3, 2007, 7:11 pm
  28. Heart, geez, you rock my world sometimes.

    Posted by Amy's Brain Today | February 3, 2007, 7:13 pm
  29. Amy:

    Well Amy, you know that we really need men to show us how to be women.

    Like I said, this issue IS all about who is “really” a woman and who isn’t, in the eyes of some. As a woman of color living with disabilities, I’m sad to say I’ve encountered this sort of thing over and over again.

    Posted by bint alshamsa | February 3, 2007, 7:17 pm
  30. I’m not good at gender performance and so I resent it, but like, even though a woman used to be a man, I think it should be case by case on whether they should be allowed to work in the rape shelter. Some biowomen as well as some transwomen wouldn’t be good choices, but some of both would be good counselers.

    Posted by shannon | February 3, 2007, 7:36 pm
  31. “How does commenting on the fact that a particular group of people she’s around perform certain dance moves better to her equate to her saying that transwomen “out-woman her”?”

    Rab’s comment isn’t even original: so I’m not sure why you’re treating it as some personal revelation that we have to only examine on a personal level. Judith Butler’s work was founded upon her feeling like an ugly, boring person next to a bunch of drag queens who performed womanhood better than she could. That supplies the context for the comment, even if you’re not aware of it as an individual.

    ” i worked at a women’s centre where we wouldn’t have been as effective at all without the mtf workers workign right alongside us,”

    As a reigning patriarch, I have to say that I love comments like that: they show how stupid and pathetic women are. I mean, mtfs are like .001% of the population of women and yet the rest of the 99.999% are completely useless in getting anything done without them? Good to hear. That’s my kind of feminism.

    Posted by Rich | February 3, 2007, 7:47 pm
  32. “This is exactly what the VRR is doing by claiming that the way you were treated as a child determines whether you should be treated in the same way as other people who are women.”

    Let’s really examine that sentence.

    I mean, it violates the progressive golden rule all over the place: some people, evidently, should be treated “as women,” whatever that means, and that it’s somehow bad if some people aren’t treated the same as that, for whatever reason, the same as “as women.”
    “Whatever that means,” whatever womanhood means, is a combination of

    1. Subordination
    2. Fetish of Subordination (femininity)
    3. Reaction to Subordination (feminism)

    So that statement supports subordination, fetish, and feminism.

    It’s unpopular to tie transwomen to femininity now: after all, it was just evil doctors and the military industrial complex in the past that made transwomen conform to hypertrophied femininity. In fact, it’s popular for pornofeminists to accuse radical feminists of being “classist” when complaining about that hype femininity, in as much as in a world of powersuits and Hillary Rodhams that much of femme culture is supposedly blue collar. Of course, if you’re in favor of gender, more gender, gender as a human right more essential than food and water, gender all over the fucking place, it’s ok to tie womanhood to girly dancing as was done in this thread; no one will make it their personal mission to demolish you personally and professionally for saying so.

    (That sort of demolition happens, it has happened to people in this forum, which is why it’s really rude for jfr to try to say “hey, this lawyer is a good person, let’s agree to disagree and not get personal about it.” There’s consequences to standing up against this sort of “activism,” consequences that are a lot more extreme than Findlay will ever have to endure, being on the side of male power.)

    It also ties transwomen to subordination and feminism. Both are true. Transwomen are oppressed. OTOH, they chose that oppression and most will admit that they believe that what they suffered as non-conforming men was far worse than what women endure. So transwomen are – they believe anyway – transitioning out of oppression. Which doesn’t mean that life is peachy, far from it, which is why some of them want in on feminism too. And there’s nothing wrong with that, provided they don’t try to co-opt it or use male power to focus it first and foremost on their own personal needs, which is what I’d argue Kimberly Nixon was doing.

    But when someone says that “certain people ought to be treated as women” only a small component of that “as women” is feminist in meaning. A much greater percentage of that thought is antifeminist in meaning, even if it was said with a kind heart and the best of intentions.
    Nixon should be treated as a woman in what ways? All ways? Or just the nice, “feminist” way of letting her have whatever position of authority she wants in a shelter? Or other ways, too: should men following your advice rape her? That’s treating her like a woman, too.

    But it’s impossible to critique that if one is working under the idea that “womanhood” is an essential right for anyone, male or female, to go and obtain for herself.

    Posted by Rich | February 3, 2007, 8:28 pm
  33. You know, to me that comment had an air that was way patronising and as transist in its own way as the “he/she/it” thing I objected to on the other thread. It’s as if, because I’m transsexual, “performing gender” must be what I’m all about, practising all those stereotypically feminine moves a hundred times a day in front of a mirror. Silly me, I must not be a real transie then because I don’t have any of those moves down and, truth be told, I can’t dance worth a damn anyway.

    And rabfish, I’m sorry to say this because I know you didn’t mean it to come across that way, it just did…

    Posted by hypatia's child | February 3, 2007, 8:33 pm
  34. oopsie, misspelled my own screen name. Heart, please fix it if you can.

    Posted by hypatia's child | February 3, 2007, 8:34 pm
  35. “OTOH, they chose that oppression and most will admit that they believe that what they suffered as non-conforming men was far worse than what women endure.”

    Men first always. #1 rule for the patriarchy.

    Posted by chasingmoksha | February 3, 2007, 8:54 pm
  36. bint: Not sure why you’re addressing me and then referencing a comment that stormy made, but all I’ll say is that the feminist perspective on this subject is everywhere on this blog, and on my own blog, and you are welcome to go and educate yourself about it before coming in here and picking fights. Also, no need to pull out the big guns of “woman of color with disabilities” when you don’t know the sex, ability, sexuality, and ethnic/racial status of those of us who are here, AND when the evidence of our opposition to oppression of ALL KINDS is all over this site and our own sites.

    Posted by Amy's Brain Today | February 3, 2007, 9:11 pm
  37. Rich:

    Rab’s comment isn’t even original: so I’m not sure why you’re treating it as some personal revelation that we have to only examine on a personal level. Judith Butler’s work was founded upon her feeling like an ugly, boring person next to a bunch of drag queens who performed womanhood better than she could. That supplies the context for the comment, even if you’re not aware of it as an individual.

    There was no attribution at the end of Rabfish’s comment, so I had no reason to treat it as something other than a personal revelation. I responded to what was written.

    I mean, it violates the progressive golden rule all over the place: some people, evidently, should be treated “as women,” whatever that means, and that it’s somehow bad if some people aren’t treated the same as that, for whatever reason, the same as “as women.”

    So that statement supports subordination, fetish, and feminism.

    Uh, no. It seems you’ve completely misunderstood what was written and you’ve drawn several erroneous conclusions based on that erroneous interpretation.

    Posted by bint alshamsa | February 3, 2007, 9:21 pm
  38. Rich,

    I thought about it and I think it might be helpful if I did explain exactly where you went wrong in your attempt to examine my statement.

    I mean, it violates the progressive golden rule all over the place: some people, evidently, should be treated “as women,” whatever that means, and that it’s somehow bad if some people aren’t treated the same as that, for whatever reason, the same as “as women.”

    Discrimination against women is wrong even when it is other women committing it. That is what the sentence was pointing out. VRR is perpetuating gender stereotypes by claiming that there is a particular background a woman must have in order to be considered “woman enough” to them. Though I did not say it before, I do believe it is wrong to discriminate against women on the basis of childhood experiences, which is the excuse that VRR gave for their decision.

    So that statement supports subordination, fetish, and feminism.

    No, it does not. There is nothing in that statement that supports all of that. This is simply your erroneous assumption. When you start with faulty premises, as you did here, your conclusions will always end up invalid.

    Transwomen are oppressed. OTOH, they chose that oppression and most will admit that they believe that what they suffered as non-conforming men was far worse than what women endure.

    Most? Do you even know most transwomen? How in the world could you logically reach this conclusion? At best, many of the transwomen you have encountered felt that way but even that wouldn’t determine what most transwomen believe.

    So transwomen are – they believe anyway – transitioning out of oppression.

    What is the evidence of this? Is it even reasonable to assume that you know what most transwomen feel and believe?

    And there’s nothing wrong with that, provided they don’t try to co-opt it or use male power to focus it first and foremost on their own personal needs, which is what I’d argue Kimberly Nixon was doing.

    Nixon is a woman so how could she have been co-opting feminism? And who should decide what are acceptable uses of feminism? If a woman’s feminist beliefs leads her to focus on her personal needs, how is that wrong? There is nothing about being a feminist that obligates one to follow some other feminist’s focus. My focus is on women with disabilities, is that wrong?

    But when someone says that “certain people ought to be treated as women” only a small component of that “as women” is feminist in meaning. A much greater percentage of that thought is antifeminist in meaning, even if it was said with a kind heart and the best of intentions.

    Are you a mind reader? If not, then you certainly can not know whether or not my thought was antifeminist in meaning. As a matter of fact, you are absolutely incorrect but that’s usually what happens when people attempt to make claims that they know what someone is thinking instead of responding to what the person actually said.

    Nixon should be treated as a woman in what ways? All ways? Or just the nice, “feminist” way of letting her have whatever position of authority she wants in a shelter?

    Nixon IS a woman and as such, she is just as worthy of support and inclusion and acceptance as all other women. That is the treatment I’m advocating.

    Or other ways, too: should men following your advice rape her? That’s treating her like a woman, too.

    No, that’s treating her like a possession. No woman should be treated like that. It’s a bit disappointing that you’d even need to ask this question.

    But it’s impossible to critique that if one is working under the idea that “womanhood” is an essential right for anyone, male or female, to go and obtain for herself.

    Of course, there are other ideas that one can hold. Personally, I don’t buy into the one you mentioned here.

    Posted by bint alshamsa | February 3, 2007, 10:06 pm
  39. i go dancing at queer events the people i am most comfortable dancing with are the transexuals

    I only like to do [activity] with [group]. [Group] is better (apparently naturally) at this activity.

    Yay, let’s idolize/fetishize a group for group characteristics! Native Americans are naturally spiritual! Asians are smart! Etc!

    But the ones discriminating are the rape shelter workers.

    discrimination means that some people will lose advantages that they once possessed.

    Darn those empowered, privileged rape victims.

    Posted by Miranda | February 3, 2007, 11:08 pm
  40. Miranda,

    it’s you who added the “apparently naturally” part to this statement. The comment clearly stated that it was in reference to the transwomen that the author interacted with at the mentioned events.

    But the ones discriminating are the rape shelter workers.

    Rape shelter workers are people and, as such, are just as capable of discrimination as everyone else.

    “Darn those empowered, privileged rape victims.”

    I wonder, does this statement include ALL women who are rape victims or only those who have a specific childhood experience that certain people find sufficiently womanly?

    Posted by bint alshamsa | February 3, 2007, 11:19 pm
  41. Miranda, I forgot to add this:

    What you did was essentially create a strawman argument when you added caveats that did not exist in the statement originally. A similar example would be

    Actual statement:
    I am most comfortable having dinner with the people in my cancer support group. They are much better with asserting their wishes than I am.

    Statement created to form a basis for a strawman argument:
    I only like to have dinner with people who belong to cancer support groups. They are naturally better at asserting their wishes than I am.

    Can you see how different those two statements are? One The one you created did not reflect the actual comment that you were attempting to critique. The unaltered statement does not idolize or fetishize transpeople in the way that yours did.

    Posted by bint alshamsa | February 3, 2007, 11:38 pm
  42. victims or only those who have a specific childhood experience that certain people find sufficiently womanly?

    I’m sorry for rape victims of either sex.

    If you’re saying that all members of a certain group share a trait, then you are biasing towards that group. If the same group of Incredible Dancing Transsexuals shows up at the queer events, performing their Asian moves (whatever those are) and leaving the rest of the non-rhythmic gays and lesbians in the dust, ok. If not, the group is being idolized.

    Posted by Miranda | February 4, 2007, 2:10 am
  43. I’m sorry for rape victims of either sex.

    Is that what you were attempting to express when you wrote “Darn those empowered, privileged rape victims”?

    If you’re saying that all members of a certain group share a trait, then you are biasing towards that group.

    However, the statement did not say that all members of a certain group share a particular trait, so how did your altered comment have anything to do with what was actually written?

    If the same group of Incredible Dancing Transsexuals shows up at the queer events, performing their Asian moves (whatever those are) and leaving the rest of the non-rhythmic gays and lesbians in the dust, ok. If not, the group is being idolized.

    This is illogical. It needn’t be the exact same group each time in order for it not to be true that the group is being idolized. The statement clearly points out that the author was referring to a particular group of people that she enjoys dancing with. There was no reference to all transpeople or even all transpeople who go out dancing at clubs which means there was no idolizing or fetishizing in Rabfish’s statement.

    Posted by bint alshamsa | February 4, 2007, 2:44 am
  44. *rolls eyes*
    Oh bint. Wordy serial posting as a newbie to this blog—way to make friends and influence people!

    Quite frankly, my eyes just glazed over for the last few comments, I couldn’t take the “nasty feminists discriminate” any more.

    Factoid (please take this with water): VRR bent over backwards not to offend Ms Nixon – cash money from a donations-funded charity PLUS another role within the organisation. Hardly slamming the damn door in her face was it now?

    And what’s to all the transwomen forming their own groups, and support groups, instead of getting on the feminist coat-tails? Why do feminists have to take on every disenfranchised group? [no don’t answer ‘because they’re women and have been trained to pick up and look after everybody else’]. I skipped bootcamp on that one.

    Posted by stormy | February 4, 2007, 3:13 am
  45. Amy’s Brain Today:

    bint: Not sure why you’re addressing me and then referencing a comment that stormy made

    I wrote Amy when I meant Stormy. It’s that simple.

    but all I’ll say is that the feminist perspective on this subject is everywhere on this blog, and on my own blog, and you are welcome to go and educate yourself about it before coming in here and picking fights.

    “The” feminist perspective? The last time I checked, there were MANY feminist perspectives on this subject. Thank you for the kind invitation. Likewise, you are welcome to visit my own blog and educate yourself on this before you assume what I’m here to do. By the way, when did this go from a simple conversation to an all-out fight? I haven’t read anything in this thread that leads me to believe anyone was doing anything other than expressing their views.

    Also, no need to pull out the big guns of “woman of color with disabilities” when you don’t know the sex, ability, sexuality, and ethnic/racial status of those of us who are here

    Stating who I am is pulling out the big guns? How so? Did I make any claims about how others here choose to define themselves? Is there some reason why I SHOULDN’T state who I am? When people disagree about issues, I find it helpful to understand how their own experiences may play a role in how they formed their views. Of course, if I were coming here to pick fights, I really wouldn’t have made an effort to let other people see why I’m disagreeing with them. By the way, you really might want to reconsider before you make more erroneous assumptions about what I know. They just aren’t conducive to engaging in good-faith conversations about ANYTHING.🙂

    AND when the evidence of our opposition to oppression of ALL KINDS is all over this site and our own sites.

    I’ve read this blog before and I’ve even conversed about this topic with more than one person here before this thread was created. It is simply your OPINION that this blog is evidence that you’re opposed to “oppression of ALL KINDS”. I do not see any reason to share that opinion despite the fact that I do agree with many of the views that have been expressed on this site.

    Posted by bint alshamsa | February 4, 2007, 3:20 am
  46. [should read above: “And what’s to stop all the transwomen…”]
    Note to self, read before hitting button *slaps forehead*

    But hey, good excuse to serial post (proving hypocrisy*, YAY) and to give a LOL at Rich’s
    “Of course, if you’re in favor of gender, more gender, gender as a human right more essential than food and water, gender all over the fucking place, it’s ok to tie womanhood to girly dancing… “
    Yep, and I’ll take an order of gender on the side to go with that!😀

    *However, neither post was super long, nor am I a stranger here, so I give myself permission to do it!

    Posted by stormy | February 4, 2007, 3:24 am
  47. If a group discriminates against transpeople, then it isn’t actually an equality group at all.

    Except that nobody, including VRR has discriminated against transpeople. In my view it is not possible for females to discriminate against transpeople. That’s the province of men and only men.

    This idea about some supposed “right” you mentioned, sounds (to me) A LOT like the arguments posed by those who have sought to discriminate against other groups. What is the difference between a women’s group that would like to keep out women with disabilities and one that seeks to exclude trans-women?

    Females with disabilities are females. Transwomen have lived for long periods of their lives as men, and are male born. Females can’t discriminate against males, or those who have lived many years of their lives as men, in the same way that people of color cannot discriminate against white people.

    As a person who has lived with and without disabilities, I have seen how differently one is treated by the world based on one’s perceived status as either “healthy” or “sick”. Does that mean that I should be excluded from groups that are supposed to support female victims of rape? Isn’t rape something that happens to disabled and trans-women too?

    You should not be excluded from groups that are supposed to support female victims of rape, because no female should be excluded from such groups anytime. Transwomen are not females. They are male-born and lived some years as men. It’s true that transwomen are raped; it’s also true that men are raped. Female-only rape crisis centers are for females, not those born male, not men.

    Sometimes ending discrimination means that some people will lose advantages that they once possessed.

    Females have never once enjoyed “advantages” over men or those born male. Men have enjoyed advantages over transwomen, but not females.

    However, the fact that a group does SOME good does not mean that those who are fighting discrimination should just give them a free pass. Abolishing Jim Crow laws meant that white people had to wait a lot longer when they went to the doctor’s office, when they tried to get their kids into good schools, when they went to the voting booth, et cetera. However, ending discrimination was the right thing to do then and it still is today in this case involving the VRR.

    This is only true if transwomen are to females as white people are to black people. They are not. Transwomen were born male and lived for years of their lives as men, enjoying male privilege, something that is never true of females. I’d refer you to Rich’s comments for more on t his.

    This lawsuit IS about defining who a woman is. Just look at what Jay said on behalf of VRR:

    “We believe it is important for raped and battered women to have the choice of a women-only peer group for support. Now the Supreme Court of Canada has strengthened their right as well as strengthening our right to provide that support”

    In other words, by excluding trans-women, the VRR claims that it is providing women-only peer groups. That statement shows VRR is defining trans-women as outside of its definition of who actually is a “woman”.

    Wrong. VRR is defending female only space. Transwomen are not females. They are person born male and who have lived many years of their lives as men, with male privilege. This is particularly true of Kimberly Nixon, who was a white male, a pilot, who lived 33 years as a man and a pilot, enjoying male privilege in ways no female ever does.

    While transwomen are just as vulnerable to rape as other women are–the VRR recognizes this by acknowledging them as belonging to the group that they are supposedly set up to support–according to the VRR, they are not, however, sufficiently “woman” enough to work there because they may have had a different sort of upbringing from the other women that work there.

    Those of us born female, called “girl” when we presented from our mother’s womb, have far different lived experiences than those of Kimberly Nixon, born male, pronounced “boy,” who lived 33 years as a white man, presenting as a man, becoming an airline pilot, white, enjoying both white and male privilege.

    No female has this experience. None.

    When females call a rape crisis line, they want to hear the voice of someone like them, born female, having lived all of her life as a woman, not the voice of someone who lived 33 years as a white, and very privileged man.

    I wonder what reaction many feminists would have had if a group with the same supposed goals as VRR decided that since all their other members and volunteers had an upper-class upbringing, any one who came from an impoverished background shouldn’t be allowed to work there.

    Upperclass females, poor females, middle class females, all are females, born female, having grown up girl and into woman. Kimberly Nixon was born a white male, grew up a white boy under white male heterosupremacy, lived until the age of 33 as a white man in a privilege profession.

    There is no comparison.

    Bint, quoting me, Heart: It sounds like she’s saying transwomen out-woman her and that that is admirable, that gender performance is liberating.

    It doesn’t say that anywhere in her post. How does commenting on the fact that a particular group of people she’s around perform certain dance moves better to her equate to her saying that transwomen “out-woman her”? There are plenty of kids who have perfected certain dance moves in a way that I NEVER will. Does that mean that I think people who are younger than me “out-woman” me? Of course not!

    Her words speak for themselves. The transwomen she knows dance “women’s dances” better than she, a female, does. She’s saying that as to “performing” as a “woman,” these transwomen out-perform her.

    You’ve never suggested that people who are younger than you, out-woman you. But if you said that male-born persons dance a specifically-female dance better than you, you’d be saying that as to gender performance, these males’ performance is better than your own.

    Bint, quoting me, Heart: Definitions of “woman” that perpetuate gender stereotypes.

    This is exactly what the VRR is doing by claiming that the way you were treated as a child determines whether you should be treated in the same way as other people who are women.

    Not the “way you were treated as a child.” When a female is born, Bint, it MEANS certain things. It means FGM in some places. It has meant footbinding. It means veiling. It means knowing you are the class of persons born to objectification. It means relegation to subordinated status to the boys in the family and the boys and men throughout the world. And many other things.

    No male-born person experiences this. None. Male-born persons do not experience FGM, or footbinding, or relegation to subordinated status, or anything similar.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | February 4, 2007, 3:36 am
  48. Amy’s Brain Today: bint: Not sure why you’re addressing me and then referencing a comment that stormy made, but all I’ll say is that the feminist perspective on this subject is everywhere on this blog, and on my own blog, and you are welcome to go and educate yourself about it before coming in here and picking fights. Also, no need to pull out the big guns of “woman of color with disabilities” when you don’t know the sex, ability, sexuality, and ethnic/racial status of those of us who are here, AND when the evidence of our opposition to oppression of ALL KINDS is all over this site and our own sites.

    Yes. Bint, there’s a recent thread here with 389 comments relating to transgender issues. I do not want to repeat that thread here or in any additional thread. This blog is a blog dedicated specifically to the issues of those born female who have lived all of our lives as girls and women.

    And Amy, you rock my world too, all of the time! Thanks.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | February 4, 2007, 3:39 am
  49. Amy rocks mine too!😀

    Posted by stormy | February 4, 2007, 3:44 am
  50. One more thing. Why, bint, are you advocating for a person born a white male, who grew up a white boy, and lived 33 years, most of them as a white, very privileged man and for all persons similarly situated with Kim Nixon, who also were born male, born to privilege, who lived many years of their lives as men? Particularly as against VRR, a nonprofit, volunteer organization dedicated to all females, all the time, and in particular, poor, prostituted, marginalized, raped, indigenous, women of color, battered females.

    What’s up with that?

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | February 4, 2007, 3:48 am
  51. Stormy:

    *rolls eyes*
    Oh bint. Wordy serial posting as a newbie to this blog—way to make friends and influence people!

    I suppose we have different ideas about responsible posting on blogs. Generally, I think it’s bad form to simply come to a blog where some may be unfamiliar with who you are and just drop a few comments and then exit the conversation never to respond to those who were polite enough to attempt to engage in conversation with you. If I find a thread interesting enough to comment on, I usually find that at least a few of the comments are also sufficiently interesting for me to want to engage them. I wasn’t aware that the comments section of this blog was designed for those who seek to make new friends and influence people.

    Quite frankly, my eyes just glazed over for the last few comments, I couldn’t take the “nasty feminists discriminate” any more.

    Well, I guess if a person isn’t going to actually pay attention to what they are reading, then it shouldn’t surprise me what assumptions they make about what they’d have otherwise seen.

    Factoid (please take this with water): VRR bent over backwards not to offend Ms Nixon – cash money from a donations-funded charity PLUS another role within the organisation.

    Actually, this is not a fact at all. It is your opinion and while I highly value opinions, they simply aren’t the same as facts. Some people may think that telling someone that their background is not sufficiently womanly for her to be worthy of volunteering around the other women, means one has bent over backwards not to offend but that’s just not how all of us feminists feel.

    If someone offered you five hundred dollars while making this claim about you, would that make their claim any less reprehensible in your eyes? Even if the idea of having five hundred dollars in your wallet would be enough for you to decide not to seek redress from the courts, there is nothing wrong with the fact that others just aren’t as impressed. Nixon did the exact same thing that I would do if an organization were to treat me in the way that she was treated.

    Hardly slamming the damn door in her face was it now?

    I’m sure you’re aware of the fact that there are many ways to discriminate against women without slamming the door in their face.

    And what’s to all the transwomen forming their own groups, and support groups, instead of getting on the feminist coat-tails?

    How are transwomen getting on the feminist coat-tails? They are just as much a part of feminism as other women are.

    Why do feminists have to take on every disenfranchised group?

    Did I say that we do? Those who call themselves feminists can certainly choose to discriminate against certain kinds of women but it isn’t exactly necessary, to say the least.

    [no don’t answer ‘because they’re women and have been trained to pick up and look after everybody else’]. I skipped bootcamp on that one.

    What ever in the world are you trying to say here? Is there some reason why you’d suppose I’d be inclined to answer your question with that response or one similar to it?

    Posted by bint alshamsa | February 4, 2007, 3:58 am
  52. Heart:

    Yes. Bint, there’s a recent thread here with 389 comments relating to transgender issues. I do not want to repeat that thread here or in any additional thread. This blog is a blog dedicated specifically to the issues of those born female who have lived all of our lives as girls and women.

    Well, since you and I are both born female and have lived all our lives as girls and women, I can understand why this topic is as important to you as it is to me. I think that all of us who identify ourselves as feminists and all of us who were born female have good reasons for being very concerned about the decisions that courts are making regarding our lives.

    Posted by bint alshamsa | February 4, 2007, 4:01 am
  53. Re jfr’s defense of Kimberly Nixon’s attorney, barbara findlay:

    I have good friends, whom I respect, who are still conservative Christian women, meaning they are anti-choice, anti-lesbian-rights, and many other things. If someone were to disparage them in some way in a comments thread I was participating in, even though I intensely disagree with their politics, I would still speak up and say, “She is my friend.” Or, “She does good work for ________.” I think this kind of loyalty is important among women, even when they severely disagree. What jfr’s response here tells me is, when she is commenting to some thread in which I, Heart, am being in some way disparaged, she will also stand up for me.

    I think we can have one another’s backs, as women, even when we really disagree politically.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | February 4, 2007, 4:10 am
  54. Why are you advocating for a person born a white male, who grew up a white boy, and lived 33 years, most of them as a white, very privileged man and for all persons similarly situated with Kim Nixon, who also were born male, born to privilege, who lived many years of their lives as men? Particularly as against VRR, a nonprofit, volunteer organization dedicated to all females, all the time, and in particular, poor, prostituted, marginalized, raped, indigenous, women of color, battered females.

    What’s up with that?

    For real. It is like “oops you missed a spot. You fucked me there, and there, and there, and there, and don’t miss the ear, oh yeah and the nose…….by no means don’t miss the ass, the pocketbook, we want to bring that porno to life.”

    A volunteer gets pay. Wow, the American way.

    Posted by chasingmoksha | February 4, 2007, 4:23 am
  55. Heart:

    One more thing. Why, bint, are you advocating for a person born a white male, who grew up a white boy, and lived 33 years, most of them as a white, very privileged man

    I think you have me pegged wrong Heart. My intentions are not to advocate for any particular person. My views apply to all women who have had the experience of having their womanhood challenged.

    and for all persons similarly situated with Kim Nixon, who also were born male, born to privilege, who lived many years of their lives as men?

    To me, being born with some type of privilege is not enough for me to think that a person deserves to be discriminated against. For instance, I have many women I consider sisters who were born with all of the privilege that comes along with being non-disabled. However, I simply could not support anyone’s discrimination against them. That’s just not who I am. I see all women as worthy of support and acceptance. I know that even though I was born female, I have not always been treated as a woman (according to the very narrow definition of womanhood that some seem to have). My experiences are not the same as those who were raised without major disabilities just as those with disabilities that were more visible than mine had different experiences from me. However, the thing that binds us is that we are all women. For me, being a woman is enough.

    Particularly as against VRR, a nonprofit, volunteer organization dedicated to all females, all the time, and in particular, poor, prostituted, marginalized, raped, indigenous, women of color, battered females.

    I am not against VRR. I am against discrimination. There are many good thing that they accomplish and I wish I could say that I was a part of an organization that was supposed to be dedicated to all women. However, the fact that they do good does not excuse any discriminatory practice that they might engage in. In my eyes, NOTHING excuses discrimination against women but I do understand that not everyone that considers themself a feminist feels the same way as I do.

    Posted by bint alshamsa | February 4, 2007, 4:26 am
  56. Heart:

    I think this kind of loyalty is important among women, even when they severely disagree. What jfr’s response here tells me is, when she is commenting to some thread in which I, Heart, am being in some way disparaged, she will also stand up for me. I think we can have one another’s backs, as women, even when we really disagree politically.

    I agree with you completely here. This is something I write about a lot. One of the things that I appreciate about Eastern culture is that, in general, women seem to have a much greater sense of unity among themselves then I tend to see in Western societies. I think we need to get away from the tendency to see each other as potential (or real) competitors/adversaries whenever we are interacting with each other. As far as I’m concerned, if you’re a woman and you’re willing to fight against oppression wherever it may be found, then we are, in some sense, sisters. That doesn’t mean I won’t disagree with you but it does mean that I believe that you are, at the very least, worthy of humane and ethical treatment.

    Posted by bint alshamsa | February 4, 2007, 4:48 am
  57. Heart:

    In my view it is not possible for females to discriminate against transpeople. That’s the province of men and only men.

    Well, this certainly makes it understandable for you to feel the way you do about the Nixon case. In my view, it is possible for females to discriminate against transpeople. Females are capable of discriminating against all sorts of people. Having experienced discrimination at the hands of others–some of them female, some of them male, some of them self-identified Christians, some of them self-identified feminists–I see this case much differently from you.

    Females with disabilities are females.

    But isn’t this discussion about who is a woman and not who is a female? Unfortunately, females with disabilities are not always treated as women (again, according to the narrow definition that some hold).

    Transwomen have lived for long periods of their lives as men, and are male born.

    Many women with disabilities have lived for long periods of their lives as non-disabled people. However, they are just as much disabled as those who are born with disabilities. The point is we are all women no matter how we were raised. I don’t see any reason to exclude any woman from my definition of “the sisterhood” simply because she had a different upbringing than I had.

    Females can’t discriminate against males, or those who have lived many years of their lives as men, in the same way that people of color cannot discriminate against white people.

    This isn’t about females discriminating against males. It’s about women discriminating against other women.

    Posted by bint alshamsa | February 4, 2007, 5:08 am
  58. Heart, this was not just standing up for a friend “good people” – which is yeah, fine – but defending her actions (findlay’s) that was against a women’s rape centre, there to support rape victims, on behalf of a MTF who was compensated, apologised to, and offered another position, and reeking of the 33 years of privilege thing. Nixon got far better treatment from VRR than she ever would from a men’s organisation.

    Sure, if you wish to stand up for a mate who is generally “good people”, but don’t defend a questionable legal action that only serves the patriarchy by working against scores of women for the sake of one. Nope.

    Posted by stormy | February 4, 2007, 5:35 am
  59. 😦 I pressed submit too quickly. I didn’t even respond to the rest of what you said, Heart. I apologize for that.

    Female-only rape crisis centers are for females, not those born male, not men.

    VRR does not purport to be a female-only rape crisis center. Instead it claims to be a WOMEN’S center.

    Females have never once enjoyed “advantages” over men or those born male. Men have enjoyed advantages over transwomen, but not females.

    Did I even say that females enjoyed advantages over men? Perhaps I should explain my usage of advantages in that statement a bit further even though I thought that the example I provided made it clear what I meant. Of course, it’s better for women to be able to receive the help that VRR provides to some women. It is to our advantage to have rape crisis centers because we live in a world where women are especially susceptible to being raped. Anything that takes away from the amount of money that places like VRR have to spend on things that aren’t directly a part of helping women who seek their help has very real consequences for people like you and me. So, I really do understand why you’d be against anyone who you perceive to be forcing them to waste money that is badly needed to help clients. If it were a case where someone sued VRR because they didn’t like the fact that it is supposed to be a place designed to help women, then I’d be VERY incensed because I see that as a bogus reason to sue them. I think one of the main points where we differ is in what we believe constitutes sufficient cause for seeking redress from the courts. Personally, I wish that this could have been solved through mediation but I can understand why Nixon might have felt uncomfortable with that option.

    This is only true if transwomen are to females as white people are to black people.

    This isn’t really accurate. Transwomen are to women as white people are to people of all colors. Transwomen are a subset of the larger group (i.e. women) just as white people are a subset of the larger group (people).

    Transwomen were born male and lived for years of their lives as men, enjoying male privilege, something that is never true of females.

    Many females live years of their life as men so the only part of this statement that is that transwomen were born male. However, “male” and “female” simply describe biological realities and do not necessarily directly correspond with the “woman” and “man” constructs that this society has created.

    Wrong. VRR is defending female only space.

    That’s not what the information in those releases stated. That’s not even what the title of your thread states: “Women (Born Women) Only Spaces…” Look at who Suzanne Jay said (on behalf of VRR) about who they are providing support for:

    “We believe it is important for raped and battered women to have the choice of a women-only peer group for support. Now the Supreme Court of Canada has strengthened their right as well as strengthening our right to provide that support,”

    It does not say anything about their mission being restricted to those who are born female and have only ever been identified by others as women. Look at the name of their oganization: “Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s shelter”. Please explain to me why VRR would say that they believe their right to provide support to women had been strengthened by this decision if they really didn’t mean women at all? Everything that they say about themselves points to them being an organization that is supposedly working to support women.

    No female has this experience. None.

    There are plenty of females who experience several of the same sort of privileges that Nixon may have had. Females can be white. They can be affluent. They can even be pilots. In my eyes, even females who enjoy privilege in a way that I never will and never have can still be just as much a woman as I am. Being the recipient of privilege does not determine whether or not one should be considered a woman, in my book.

    When females call a rape crisis line, they want to hear the voice of someone like them, born female, having lived all of her life as a woman, not the voice of someone who lived 33 years as a white, and very privileged man.

    How can you determine what all females want? I know your statement does not express my views or those held by many other females I know who have utilized services like those offered at VRR. While what you wrote may certainly be true for SOME women, there’s no reason to make blanket statements of this sort as if females are some monolithic entity with only one way of thinking about this.

    Upperclass females, poor females, middle class females, all are females, born female, having grown up girl and into woman.

    Um, no. Not all of these people who are born female grow up into “woman”. SOME do just as among those who are born males, some will eventually be women and some will be men.

    Her words speak for themselves. The transwomen she knows dance “women’s dances” better than she, a female, does. She’s saying that as to “performing” as a “woman,” these transwomen out-perform her.

    Her words do speak for themselves. She’s saying that the transwomen at the queer events she attends perform certain dance moves better than her. Did she say that it’s because she’s not transgendered? I think her last sentence perfectly explains what she was saying. She is pointing out how gender is not determined by what your biological reality was at birth; It’s something that is constructed and this “particular gendered performance” describes that rather effectively. In fact, that is what her entire post is about. Nowhere in her statements does she say that one particular subset of women are “out-woman” other subsets. This is wholly invented.

    You’ve never suggested that people who are younger than you, out-woman you. But if you said that male-born persons dance a specifically-female dance better than you, you’d be saying that as to gender performance, these males’ performance is better than your own.

    Why all of the “ifs”? Did Rabfish say that transpeople dance better than her when it comes to gendered performances because they are transpeople? Or did she say that a specific group of people are better at a particular gendered performance than she happens to be capable of? It’s a bit puzzling to me why some people are responding as if she said the former when what she really said was the latter. Nowhere in her statement does she even claim that any woman can out-woman another woman.

    Not the “way you were treated as a child.” When a female is born, Bint, it MEANS certain things. It means FGM in some places. It has meant footbinding. It means veiling. It means knowing you are the class of persons born to objectification. It means relegation to subordinated status to the boys in the family and the boys and men throughout the world. And many other things.

    When a female is born it means certain things but those things are not universal. In other words, one needn’t have ever experienced FGM or footbinding or veiling or knowing that you are the class of persons born to objectification. There are plenty of people who eventually become women without ever having experienced any of this. You say that this isn’t about the way you are treated as a child but then you directly contradict this by describing the way that many people are treated in different parts of the world. Which is it?

    No male-born person experiences this. None. Male-born persons do not experience FGM, or footbinding, or relegation to subordinated status, or anything similar.

    How did you determine that transwomen do not experience what it’s like to be relegated to subordinated status or anything similar? And what does this have to do with whether it’s acceptable to discriminate against women?

    Posted by bint alshamsa | February 4, 2007, 6:46 am
  60. thank you for the thoughtful comments (and i’ll ignore the ones that are clearly going off the interpretive rails.)

    in my comment i said that the performance of gender is ironized–its ironic–when classic diva south asian moves are memorized and performed by khusras in south asia (khusras are either transgender or transexual). it’s ‘better’ only insofar as you value or normalize these performaces of gender–but the whole beauty of it is how ironic it is, because the bodies performing moves of pure stereotypical femininity are bodies that are in the mainstream coded as masculine. that’s one way of deconstructing gender–there are many others, undertaken by a whole range of bodies, and in more serious and often more involuntary ways than dancing. this isn’t about being ideal, or some innate capacity to dance. the whole point is messing precisely with the idea that gender performance (particularly socially controllable performance) is something that adheres to the innate biological category of woman. once you deconstruct ‘gender’ from ‘woman’, you have to stop reifying the additional category of ‘experience’–as in ‘women’s experience’. if another white woman applies the rhetoric of universality of “women’s experiences” to either steamroll or stonewall racial, sexual difference in a debate with me i’ll–well, i’d start by referring her to “White Women Race Matters” and all feminist epistemology done since 1970 and the proliferation of feminist voices and the decreasing possibility of ignoring racial and sexual diversity in these debates. once you assume the position of perfect victimization you stop seeing the nasty operation of power even in rape crisis centres (which are notorious amongst many women of color for the racism of their power struggles). any movement which stops being able to be self-critical and examine itself from a historical lens is tragically reproducing power but just over hotly contested and underfunded non-governmental terrains–which is tragic, given that we are there to help with trauma–its like a traumatic repetition but with adversaries that shouldn’t be adversaries. somehow this issue is gettign constructed as one where those people are taking away what we’ve fought so hard to make available for the right kind of people–what sort of politics is that? we know there’s no vantage point of innocence from which one escapes the burden of being accountable for relative privilege, even if its a fraction compared to that of the state–and that one of the defining characteristics of privilege is that its almost invisible to those who possess it in relation to others. maybe some of the hope of feminism lies in our capacity to speak truth to power, even to ourselves, whatever our identities–and i know these dynamics happen in a fractal way–they reproduce themselves in all our diverse identities, across the board. i hope we can question the assumptions going into these particular boundaries of who has the right to be where.

    Posted by rabfish | February 4, 2007, 7:25 am
  61. Amy’s Brain Today,
    Why did you interpret Bint’s comment as coming over and picking fights? Because she disagrees with you ?
    Sad.

    Posted by deviousdiva | February 4, 2007, 11:12 am
  62. i’ll ignore the ones that are clearly going off the interpretive rails

    Oh, well. I ignore big blocks of text written by people who can’t bother with the Return or Shift keys, so that’s fair.

    Posted by Miranda | February 4, 2007, 12:17 pm
  63. Thank you Heart. Stormy, I never once said that I was supporting her stand in this case. I only said that I didn’t believe her character should be disparaged, which had happened in a remark that has since been removed. I have simply chosen to stay out of this discussion. I do not require that my friends agree with me on all points nor do I require that they be ideologically “pure” by my standards. My sister is an orthodox Jew. We disagree about a lot of things. I still consider her “good people” and would stand up for her if someone was putting her down. It doesn’t mean I find her religion or her politics congenial.

    Posted by jfr | February 4, 2007, 12:21 pm
  64. Rabfish, Feb 3rd 4:17: “i am most comfortable dancing with are the transexuals bustin out all the most perfect performative old style south asian female dance moves..”

    Rabfish, Feb 4 7:25: “in my comment i said that the performance of gender is ironized–its ironic–when classic diva south asian moves are memorized and performed by khusras in south asia (khusras are either transgender or transexual)”

    Sorry, but you didn’t. “Female dance moves” describes a very different thing to what you secondarily described—a dance performed (probably specifically/exclusively) by transgender or transexuals.

    Your second bash at it says “transw do very good transw dances”. The first implied (overtly) that transw ‘perform’ woman-ness better than women do. Damn big difference.

    I have no problem with transwomen being better transwomen [than women-born-women].

    However, the majority (but certainly NOT all) transw, end up doing a pastiche or parody of ‘femaleness’ (femininity). That’s the part that gets my goat, hence I get ‘uppity’ as soon as some idiot says [paraphrasing] “transw make better women than women-born-women do”.

    I’ve been ‘doing’ femaleness my whole life, so I’ve had far more practice. And it’s NOT about a ton of makeup and over-inflated chesticles (for the male gaze).

    Posted by stormy | February 4, 2007, 1:43 pm
  65. Context is everything. I did not know about this whole (partly Michfest related) trans debate when I started reading about it here, and my first reaction was sort of like Bint’s: hunh? What’s the deal here, why not be inclusive, etc.? But as I read, I started to see what the issues were. I still do not have a really clear opinion. I think I will wait to form one until I have a concrete situation of my own to deal with.

    The analogy that works for me, though, is POC only space. I’m white, although I’ve been a race traitor of sorts from childhood, and I am often taken for something other than white. I have known a lot of nice liberal white people who feel hurt by not being included in POC only space. They say, “but they are my friends, and yet they are excluding me from this party,” and things like this. I have never had that reaction. Given what the dominant society is like, it is entirely clear to me why POCs would want to rest up from the white folks sometimes, including from “nice” white folks like me.

    Somewhat related: there is a kind of confidence men have that I will never have, having been raised as a woman. There is also a kind of confidence I have, having had white privilege all my life, which is much harder to gain if you have not had access to that kind of privilege.

    Posted by profacero | February 4, 2007, 3:36 pm
  66. ***This is only true if transwomen are to females as white people are to black people.***

    Heart, I think what you meant was ….”if transwomen are to females as black people are to white people.”

    Posted by Branjor | February 4, 2007, 3:36 pm
  67. Wait, so there’s no such thing as a woman or “women’s experiences” (because gender is now deconstructed, transwomen have the right to be wherever they want, etc.) but there is such a thing as an evil white woman who needs to be dressed down for being incognizant of her privilege?

    How’s that work?

    That’s an interesting shift in rhetoric halfway through there. One that I’d urge everyone here to examine carefully.

    Posted by Rich | February 4, 2007, 3:47 pm
  68. I’m glad to hear of this news.

    Posted by Bea | February 4, 2007, 4:22 pm
  69. Profacero, yes, the POC ‘rest space’ is a good analogy (a close fit, but no analogy is ever perfect). More fitting if you add that ‘nice white folks’ ‘black up’ and demand to be included in a POC-only space. Further to that, even when the blacked-up NWFs enter the POC space, they are disruptive and demand that BU-NWFs issues are ‘the main ones’ and should dominate that space.

    Historically, this has happened time and time again with MTF in feminist spaces.

    That is not to say I am automatically ‘anti-MTF’, but their issues are different, and we should not be expected to take on their agenda (continuing gender roles/stereotypes), esp above our own.

    Getting back to Nixon, this was a MTF who created a long and drawn out legal process to a cash-strapped women’s support group. Nixon received an apology, compensation, another position, and was treated most fairly by the VRR. The mechanism of patriarchy enjoys the play off of ‘one woman against the many [women]’, and even better when the ‘one woman’ was one of them to begin with (I guess).

    Posted by stormy | February 4, 2007, 4:25 pm
  70. Like profacero, I’m new to this trans debate and have been interested in reading both sides. I can’t be neutral on this train anymore, though. Women (born women) as a uniquely-situated oppressed group should have a right to our own spaces. It’s infuriating, really, that women should have to keep spending so much energy on defending that right when there are so many other battles to be fought.

    Posted by roamaround | February 4, 2007, 4:32 pm
  71. ***This is only true if transwomen are to females as white people are to black people.***

    Heart, I think what you meant was ….”if transwomen are to females as black people are to white people.”

    Yeah, thanks, branjor.

    Posted by womensspace | February 4, 2007, 4:45 pm
  72. profecero,

    I felt the exact same way as I read the Mich fest threads! Thanks to the Robin Morgan discussion below, I feel I now understand the debate more clearly– and it’s much more complicated than I’d previously thought.

    To those to still don’t seem to grasp what I see as so blatantly offensive in this instance: Cynthia Nixon sued a non-profit org whose mission is to help women in severe crisis. Those services are offered free of charge, so that women who can’t afford private help can still get the quality care and counseling they need. Cynthia Nixon knew this better than anyone, as she herself made use of these services, and yet she continued, purposefully draining the scarce (donated) resources, energy and money intended for use helping survivors of violence. She threatened the mission, and in so doing, she threatened victims’ welfare. Do I really need to explain to anyone here why suing a rape crises center is completely and utterly out-of-bounds?

    Rabfish criticized my use of the word “creep” above to describe Ms. Nixon. I’d like to amend it now as I agree creep probably isn’t the correct word. Please feel free to replace it with this one: “egomaniac.” If you don’t like that, “narcissist” probably works, too.

    Posted by gayle | February 4, 2007, 6:02 pm
  73. Opps. That’s Kimberly, not Cynthia Nixon.

    Cynthia Nixon played Miranda in “Sex and the City.”

    :;

    Posted by gayle | February 4, 2007, 6:07 pm
  74. “because gender is now deconstructed, transwomen have the right to be wherever they want, etc.”

    well that’s just it, isn’t it. at what point in the process of deconstructing gender do gendered people (meaning everyone) have “the right” to be one, the other, some other, or no gender at all? is being another gender, or no gender, in and of itself one method by which gender is deconstructed?

    Posted by nexyjo | February 4, 2007, 6:38 pm
  75. Oh, well. I ignore big blocks of text written by people who can’t bother with the Return or Shift keys, so that’s fair.

    When it gets to the point that one must resort to criticizing another person’s grammar, I tend to think that the logical arguments one can make must be wearing thin. Can we please focus on what’s written instead of how it’s written? I’m sure that I will mispell a word or misplace a few commas at least occasionally in this thread and so will anyone else who writes a lot. This isn’t a grade school classroom now, is it? Is a modicum of civility too much to ask for?

    Posted by bint alshamsa | February 4, 2007, 7:36 pm
  76. nexyjo, here are a couple of my thoughts regarding your comment of deconstructing gender.

    If one looks at the root of gender, where it comes from, who it is important to, why it is important, how it is policed, reinforced, who polices gender, and who gender binaries benefit, if you define gender, from it’s roots, see the system behind gender, how it affects all persons as a class, not necessarily down to the minutia of an individual, witness the global impacts of gender, maybe then, a method or manner, an approach of changing what gender means might occur.

    The deconstruction of what gender means might occur, and there would be no need to hop from one gender box to the other, in effect, reinforcing gender, because gender would mean nothing. That means that males would be men and that would mean they live their lives doing whatever they want, and don’t psychologically desire to ‘not be a man’ due to constraints on what it means to be a man.

    Actual elimination of what gender currently means, would most likely eliminate transgenderism, because each gender would be the same, only the biological sex would be different, and none would have as a gendered class, have power-over, or have privilege over the other. “Girls dress like, do this, cross their legs, get into cars like, wear make-up like, have female markers, girls don’t do this or that, etc., would all be gone. Everyone would be equal in relation to how they are able to move about in the world, and they would do so without gendered expectations.

    In that scenario, transgender would cease to exist, as there would be no defined gender for a trans person to attach themselves to.

    So, do I think that persons, jumping from one gender box to the other affects and changes the dynamics of white male power, and crushes their policing of gender? Um, nope. White males, the patriarchy, could care less if ‘failed men’ bail and become women, therefore becoming acceptable as fuckables. White males could care less if a female claims to be a man, and that the FTM does their best at performing the gender of man. The first time that FTM is found out to have a cunt, he is right back where she started from.

    So, the persons aiming their attacks at feminists, claiming that we are the root of their current social problems, that once we are defeated, eliminated, crushed, the whole planet will be free from gender constraints, should maybe do some of the tedious work mentioned in the first paragraph, and understand more about gender, so that this windmill tilting can cease.

    A lot of what I talked about up there, understanding gender, and eliminating what gender means is, (hold onto your seats) Radical Lesbian Feminism. So, it blows my mind that we, RadFems, would be the main target of the trans community, when if you consider what radfems desire, it would benefit trans persons immensely. Odd, that we are under attack like this from a group that stands so much to gain when we are successful.

    Posted by uppitybiscuit | February 4, 2007, 7:48 pm
  77. Stormy,

    Sorry, but you didn’t. “Female dance moves” describes a very different thing to what you secondarily described—a dance performed (probably specifically/exclusively) by transgender or transexuals.

    Actually, she did. Even though you may not have understood what she was saying, it was quite clear to me. Perhaps when you make assumptions about what someone means instead of asking them to clarify something you didn’t understand, this is what results.

    Your second bash at it says “transw do very good transw dances”. The first implied (overtly) that transw ‘perform’ woman-ness better than women do. Damn big difference.

    No, that implication wasn’t there at all. NOTHING in her post even mentioned anyone performing woman-ness better than anyone else. The word perform was only used in connection with dancing and Rabfish never once mentioned this “out-woman” business that others thought they saw in her post. That was just a straw-man argument from the very beginning. Since Rabfish obviously does not start with the assumption that transwomen are not “real” women, what you’re saying was overtly implied just wasn’t even a reasonable assumption to make about her views. How could women out-women women? Just think about that.

    However, the majority (but certainly NOT all) transw, end up doing a pastiche or parody of ‘femaleness’ (femininity).

    Femininity is not the same as “femaleness”. And what’s with these broad assumptions that keep getting passed around here? Does ANYONE here know the majority of transwomen? If not, then all of this is just what you’d like to believe about the majority of transwomen.

    I’ve been ‘doing’ femaleness my whole life, so I’ve had far more practice. And it’s NOT about a ton of makeup and over-inflated chesticles (for the male gaze).

    Femaleness is not something you or anyone else can “do” or practice. No one can do femaleness better than someone else. Once again,

    female=a biological category
    woman=a social construct

    The two are not synonymous. They are like apples and oranges and as long as people attempt to use them interchangeably, they’ll never understand why many, many people disagree with discrimination against transpeople.

    Posted by bint alshamsa | February 4, 2007, 8:08 pm
  78. White men (and other men of color it looks like) get to be women, but white women cannot claim a race (culture) other than the race society assigns to her.

    Posted by chasingmoksha | February 4, 2007, 8:11 pm
  79. A few thoughts.

    As to whether or not transpersons have privilege over females, I explained my own views there in great detail in the Monster thread and so will not restate all of those ideas, given that they are readily available for anyone to read.

    I don’t believe that transpersons — whether transmen or transwomen –enjoy privilege over females/women (born female) who have lived as girls and women for all of their lives. I do believe that men have privilege over transpersons and all females and that transmen have privilege over all females as well, though not in the same way that men do. I explained, again, my position in the other thread and won’t revisit it here.

    But it’s for the reasons I provided there that in my view females (women born female who have lived all of their lives as girls and women) cannot “discriminate” against transpersons. They can be nasty and mean. They can be unkind and assholish. But they can’t “discriminate”– because discrimination is a function of power, and females/women (born female who have lived all of their lives as girls/women), in fact have not, and do not, enjoy sex privilege with respect to transpersons. They may enjoy race privilege/class privilege/non-disabled privilege/privilege based on being heterosexual instead of lesbian/thin privilege, but they don’t enjoy sex privilege.

    As to the dancers rabfish referred to, I want to remind everyone that it was Hypatia’s Child, a transwoman, who objected to those references as being condescending and objectifying or fetishizing. I think the responses ought to have been first and foremost to Hypatia’s Child’s comments and I didn’t even see that anybody engaged Hypatia’s Child.

    It is true enough that “performances” of gender which are at odds with one’s sex, as with the dancers rab refers to, participate in the deconstruction of gender and are a kind of gender subversion. Where things start to go sideways is where there is some implication that males performing what is gendered “woman” are “better” at that particular thing, whatever it is, than females are. Because to be female is not to be “good” at certain things in the first place, including this particular form of dancing. Females who have been “good” at such things are good at them because they have been subordinated and forced to *be* good at them by those who have the power to do that kind of forcing: men.

    The problem we are having here, in the other thread, and wherever these issues are discussed has to do with differing views about what gender is. Is gender about subordination and subjugation? I think it is. I think it’s about all of the many ways females are supposed to behave as “women” — as that category of human beings which dances certain kinds of dances beautifully, which is nurturing and caregiving and mother-like, which marries men and gives birth to children, which is not supposed to be physically strong, muscular, violent, or aggressive, that category of human beings which is relentlessly evaluated on a “womanhood” scale established by men.

    Or is gender about “identification” — about imagining or recreating oneself as the kind of person who, again, dances certain kinds of dances beautifully, who is nurturing and caregiving and motherlike, who marries men and gives birth to children, who is not supposed to be physically strong, muscular, violent, or aggressive, that category of human beings iow, again, relentlessly evaluated on a “womanhood” scale established by men?

    While it’s true enough that males, refusing to behave as men, and females refusing to behave as women, participate in detaching gender from bodies, it doesn’t follow and cannot be said that detaching gender from bodies makes political change in a world which continues to be ruled by men, who had the power to attach gender to bodies in the first place. It also can’t be said that detaching gender from bodies *reflects* any change in a world which contines to be ruled by men who have the power to attach gender to bodies in the first place. The second view, in other words, reduces “subversion” of gender to parodies, to, as rab said, “ironizing” performances, to drag, cross-dressing, to individual acts and performances which, while they may seem and feel daring or exciting or bold, are only so in a way that is gestural or symbolic. Hierarchy in drag is still hierarchy. You know? Gender detached from the bodies it is assigned to is still gender. The parodies, the ironizing performances, the sartorial gestures don’t change what gender is: male subjugation of females. Male subordination of females.

    This is what gets lost in these discussions about how bold and courageous and transgressive it is that males can dance “women’s dances” as “well” as females can or that males can “perform” womanhood or females can “perform” manhood. I mean, the hell. As females, we know *that*. We’ve always been knowing *that*. As females, that class of persons subjugated on the basis of our physical bodies, we’ve always known we can’t dance well and wouldn’t, left to ourselves. We’ve always known we aren’t graceful, or lithe, or nurturing, or mothering, or peaceful, or small, or not aggressive, or all about loving men, or anything else that has been forced on us because we were female. There’s nothing new there. So a male can dance a beautiful dance that is traditionally reserved for females. So? Males and females can do, be, present, in any way, or could absent the suffocations and coercions of the subjugation and subordination known as “gender,” which is a mechanism by way of which men as a class continue to dominate women as a class.

    The experience females have as females, who grow up girl and into woman, is an experience of subordination and subjugation. It is not an “identity.” It is an experience of oppression. This experience of oppression and subordination at the hands of males includes, but is not limited to:

    *female genital mutilation
    *foot binding
    *breast ironing
    *being Trokosi
    *being a “concubine”
    *being forced into female ritual servitude
    *being a “comfort woman”
    *the Ashley treatment
    *being prostituted
    *being trafficked
    *being paid less money than men for the same work
    *being battered by husbands
    *being owned as chattel and the ongoing consequences of that up through today
    *being denied an education and the right to work, vote, own property, drive, and the consequences of that up through today
    *being forced to marry, sometimes as young as 6 or 7 years old
    *being sold as a wife to a man, sometimes as young as 6 or 7 years old
    *being forced to marry a man when you are a lesbian
    *being forced to marry a man, period
    *compulsory motherhood
    *compulsory child-bearing
    *being discriminated against because you are pregnant or a mother
    *being raped for genocide
    *being forcibly impregnated for genocide
    *being prostituted
    *being objectified in pornography
    *being forced to work land you can never own
    *being forced to wear certain clothing under penalty of beatings, imprisonment or death
    *being punished for loving women
    *being subjected to clitoridectomies and hysterectomies to “cure” “hysteria,” depression, “nympomania”, and lesbianism
    *being brutalized during pregnancy and childbirth
    *being kept from forming strong attachments with other women
    *being restricted to your home

    This list is what gender is. This list. This list is what it is to be born female into the world. Those of us born female and made to be women know that this is our fate from our earliest moments, even when we didn’t or don’t have language for what we know. It informs our thoughts, the way we conduct ourselves, the way we behave and respond to one another and to men, the decisions we make, the lives we choose, in millions of ways, small and great, visible and invisible.

    Fighting that list, which is what gender is, is what feminism, the liberation of women (and of all people, ultimately, and animals) is all about. It’s not about individuals “performing” anything, or making symbolic gestures, or transitioning or anything like that. It’s about challenging male power which has made gender to be about all of the things on that list.

    That is certainly the project VRR has been, and is, involved in– caring for raped females, caring for incested and sexually assaulted females, and in particular, the poorest females, indigenous females, females of color, single mothers.

    For someone born male and still factually male — and no male, no male, no male experiences that list of things, or ever has, not a one, none grows up knowing that that list is what it means to be female, made to be “girl” and then “woman” — to enlist his project of self-validation as a woman in the cause of suing an organization dedicated to what amounts to the *actual* — as opposed to symbolic or gestural — fight against gender subordination, the fight against all of the things in that list and many more, is, in fact, simply a new and different manifestation of male supremacy. It is a male-born person, acting so as to thwart and impede those whose project is challenging the actual — not gestural, not symbolic — gender subjugation which harms all females, and all males, and that male-born person as well.

    What the Canada Supreme Court said was, those subjected to, subordinated by, that list of acts I typed in up there, are in fact an oppressed people group, and as such, that group is not required to accept into their organizations those who, by their lives and acts and behaviors actively participate in and benefit from their subordination: men, those who are factually male. In the same way that other oppressed groups are not required to accept into their organizations those who, by their lives and acts and behaviors actively participate in and benefit from their subordination.

    This doesn’t stop any male-born person from dancing in ways reserved for women or from individual acts of subversion, or from transitioning, or anything else somebody undestands to be subversive. What it does do is, it makes place for the recognition of gender as more than dances, as more than individual behaviors or identities, as being about the brutality of oppression on the basis of being female, and for females/women, born women, who have lived as girls and women all of their lives, organizing so as to challenge their systematic brutalization in the ways they believe are right. That we have to have this discussion is evidence of how badly females, women (born women) who have lived as girls/women for all of their lives, need their organizations to be protected by decisions like this.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | February 4, 2007, 8:26 pm
  80. Yeah, chasingmoksha, I meant to say something like what you just said and didn’t.

    Your point, and Rich’s point upthread are very well taken. It’s worth some deep consideration how it is that there is all of this rush to protect and defend male-born persons who “identify” as women, right alongside the insistence that white women, white feminists, cannot be race traitors, deconstructing whiteness, or even, as chasingmoksha has done, describing oneself as “culturally black”. To be a white feminist who is, in fact, a traitor to whiteness or who identifies as “culturally black,” and who can elucidate, describe, in great detail how it is that that is her situation, is to be scorned, rejected, and routinely denigrated and trashed, usually by the very same people who have no problem embracing male born persons as women, on the basis of how they “identify.”

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | February 4, 2007, 8:38 pm
  81. You know, sometimes I feel like the last real woman left on the planet.

    “I didn’t even see that anybody engaged Hypatia’s Child.”

    Well, from the last thread, I figured it would be best not to; I don’t see an assortment of other posters deigning to pay attention to what Miranda or I wrote, even when we took some time to write what we did in the first place.

    More importantly, I object to your statement that “trans” people, as there is no sufficient working definition of who is or isn’t trans, get to decide what is or offensive in regards to “gender” of the trademarked variety. It isn’t like Black people policing their own culture as projected by the patriarchy, the kind of thing which you seem to be thinking of when you wrote that, I’m assuming, because every single person on this planet has an equal stake in gender: I have just as much right to find those comments about girly dancing (and maybe even the dancing itself) to be trivializing and condescending. And so do you.

    Especially when Bint’s statements are so thin:

    “Does ANYONE here know the majority of transwomen? If not, then all of this is just what you’d like to believe about the majority of transwomen.”

    Do you know all men? All white people? Then shut the fuck up about them. Oh, I see, “trans” people are the only population on the planet made up of perfectly original snowflakes who have nothing to do with each other (“they can dance all girly like but only I’m allowed to say so; if anyone else does, they’re saying that all transwomen are super femme and not butch like so and so”) and live in a political vacuum. Wow.

    Posted by Rich | February 4, 2007, 8:46 pm
  82. “female=a biological category
    woman=a social construct

    The two are not synonymous. They are like apples and oranges and as long as people attempt to use them interchangeably, they’ll never understand why many, many people disagree with discrimination against transpeople.”

    Transwomen use them interchangeably all the time. Every single day. So do their defenders. But only feminsts are called on it, even when they’re not guilty of doing it: you just assumed that people here didn’t know that, that everyone here wasn’t as smart as you are.

    That’s not nice.

    Posted by Rich | February 4, 2007, 8:49 pm
  83. Rich, quoting me, Heart:I didn’t even see that anybody engaged Hypatia’s Child.”

    Rich: Well, from the last thread, I figured it would be best not to; I don’t see an assortment of other posters deigning to pay attention to what Miranda or I wrote, even when we took some time to write what we did in the first place.

    More importantly, I object to your statement that “trans” people, as there is no sufficient working definition of who is or isn’t trans, get to decide what is or offensive in regards to “gender” of the trademarked variety.

    Fair enough, except that that’s not what I was getting at when I said nobody engaged Hypatia’s Child (that I saw). I was making the point that everybody rushed to defend certain ideas around transgender, all the while completely ignoring the transperson in the room, arguing with their ideas.

    Having said that, I do hear you. If, as we believe it to be, transgender issues are male-specific, as much attention ought to have been paid to your positions as to Hypatia’s Child’s. Having said that, I thought I did see bint engaging at least one of your posts in some detail.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | February 4, 2007, 8:59 pm
  84. I approved a bunch of older posts this morning, so it’s possible to have missed them. This is mostly for Rich, but is a heads up for everyone reading.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | February 4, 2007, 9:00 pm
  85. One more thing: VRR refused to provide counselor training to Kimberly Nixon; in other words, VRR did not accept Nixon as a suitable person to counsel female rape victims, which is the demographic served by VRR. This is, among other things, in recognition of the lived experiences female persons share of having their lives circumscribed by gender-as-subordination, as I set forth in that (incomplete) list up there in my earlier post of today. Kimberly Nixon didn’t grow up believing that list was her lot, as females do, or being oppressed by that list of coercions, subjugated by that list of female-specific brutalities. She had her own issues, but then men have issues, as well. Creatures do, too. Patriarchy hurts us all, and animals and the earth, the waters, the skies. But VRR, a private, nongovernmental agency, supported by fundraising, including of the can-and-sign-on-the-corner type, isn’t able to include all men, women, children, animals, skies, oceans and the earth in its work. It seeks to address the specific difficulties of being a woman who is a rape victim. I am personal, real-life friends with women who work at VRR and I know that VRR *does*, in fact, provide support and help to transwomen who are victims of rape. This was about VRR’s right to decide who ought to be provided training to counsel woman rape victims, and VRR’s view was, it ought to be females who have grown up as girl and become woman, because of what it means to be female in a world that forces females to be “women,” as I set forth in that list up there.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | February 4, 2007, 9:22 pm
  86. Rich:

    Wait, so there’s no such thing as a woman or “women’s experiences” (because gender is now deconstructed, transwomen have the right to be wherever they want, etc.)

    Did ANYONE here say there is no such thing as a woman or women’s experiences? If so, I missed that post. “Woman” does exist inasmuch as people believe it does. And as long as “woman” exists as a label for some people’s identity, those people will have experiences.

    This business about “transwomen have the right to be wherever they want” is just a strawman argument because no one here has made a claim even remotely similar to that. The issue is not whether some women have a right to be wherever they want. This entire court case is about whether VRR can discriminate against certain women because of how they were treated as children. In the past, courts have ruled that discrimination against women is acceptable and they’ve done so again. Is anyone here surprised? I’m certainly not.

    but there is such a thing as an evil white woman who needs to be dressed down for being incognizant of her privilege? How’s that work?

    Who is this “evil white woman who needs to be dressed down” that you’re writing about here? This is the first I’ve heard about this. Personally, I disagree with referring to ANY woman in that way but I guess that’s just me.

    Posted by bint alshamsa | February 4, 2007, 9:58 pm
  87. bint: Did ANYONE here say there is no such thing as a woman or women’s experiences? If so, I missed that post. “Woman” does exist inasmuch as people believe it does.

    bint, it doesn’t have to do with people “believing” women exist, does it?

    You wrote earlier (and I agree):

    female=a biological category
    woman=a social construct

    I think the following are the social constructors of “womanhood:”

    *female genital mutilation
    *foot binding
    *breast ironing
    *being Trokosi
    *being a “concubine”
    *being forced into female ritual servitude
    *being a “comfort woman”
    *the Ashley treatment
    *being prostituted
    *being trafficked
    *being paid less money than men for the same work
    *being battered by husbands
    *being owned as chattel and the ongoing consequences of that up through today
    *being denied an education and the right to work, vote, own property, drive, and the consequences of that up through today
    *being forced to marry, sometimes as young as 6 or 7 years old
    *being sold as a wife to a man, sometimes as young as 6 or 7 years old
    *being forced to marry a man when you are a lesbian
    *being forced to marry a man, period
    *compulsory motherhood
    *compulsory child-bearing
    *being discriminated against because you are pregnant or a mother
    *being raped for genocide
    *being forcibly impregnated for genocide
    *being prostituted
    *being objectified in pornography
    *being forced to work land you can never own
    *being forced to wear certain clothing under penalty of beatings, imprisonment or death
    *being punished for loving women
    *being subjected to clitoridectomies and hysterectomies to “cure” “hysteria,” depression, “nympomania”, and lesbianism
    *being brutalized during pregnancy and childbirth
    *being kept from forming strong attachments with other women
    *being restricted to your home

    And as long as “woman” exists as a label for some people’s identity, those people will have experiences

    I don’t think the word “woman” is a label for people’s “identities.” I think it describes a lived experiences of brutalization along the lines of the above incomplete list.

    This entire court case is about whether VRR can discriminate against certain women because of how they were treated as children.

    The entire court case is about whether VRR can work for the liberation of those who have been made, as children, to be girls and women, via the above (incomplete) list. Some of this work must be done away from those who have not shared or benefitted from and by the experiences of brutalization which turn females into girls and women.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | February 4, 2007, 10:22 pm
  88. Uppity – gender box hopping – brilliant!🙂

    Now to the painful task of engaging Bint, when I know I shouldn’t.😦

    “Even though you may not have understood what she was saying, it was quite clear to me.”
    I know for a fact that a number of other people took rabfish’s comment the same way as I did. So, yeah, call me a dumbass if you wish. Told you, I get all mean and nasty when someone comes across as saying “transw can ‘out-woman’ you” or words to that effect. I made that clear??? With the exception of one transw, of the ones that I have ever met, they have all embraced patriarchy’s standard of what a woman should look/act like. Hence I base it on my (albeit limited) experience (as I am NOT trans) within the LGBT community, of how trans comes across.

    “That was just a straw-man argument from the very beginning.”
    Or possibly ‘straw-trans’ argument? (no real reason to throw that in, but as no-one has ever used straw-trans before, I thought I’d be the first. Strawman and Strawfeminist being commonly used.) Plus I need a laugh, or I’ll just end up being mean again.

    “How could women out-women women?”
    *rolls eyes* That wasn’t what I said for starters, I effectively said: transw out womening women. [new verb alert there]. Besides, my whole point is that all of this out-womaning business is ludicrous.

    “Femininity is not the same as “femaleness”. “
    Kinda knew that one. However, I don’t use double quotation marks for anything but an actual quote, and use single ones for either emphasis, implied meaning, etc. I shy away from the asterisks, as some people use them for emphasis, some for sarcasm, some for actions/stage directions (I will do it for the latter). So to examine the latter part of that sentence again;

    end up doing a pastiche or parody of ‘femaleness’ (femininity).

    using stormy-guidelines would look like this:

    In that sentence ‘femaleness’ (with the ‘s) means either mistakenly/implied use of term in that context, with ( )s around the following word for the actual meaning “(femininity)”. If I had gone straight for the jugular and said ‘parody of femininity’ then I would have been jumped on with something to the effect of “..but not all transw look/act overtly feminine”. But frankly, no matter how one phrases anything in the trans discussions (or porn discussions for that matter), it always manages to be twisted about.

    “Femaleness is not something you or anyone else can “do” or practice. No one can do femaleness better than someone else. Once again,
    female=a biological category
    woman=a social construct”

    And *whoosh*, you missed the little ‘s around ‘doing’ again. Of course you cannot ‘do’ femaleness, again my F’ing point. (living) (am) (are) etc., are the proper allocations. I was born female, but of course I would need YOU to point out what I meant by it; what it is really like to be born female, because, clearly I have no idea (you’d think I’d have a clue after this many decades!)

    Having done this many HTML tags manually has sucked the life out of me. I am (currently) short-tempered and cranky, and will devote no more time to engaging with one who is clearly just here to defend the trans stance, and bolstering of gender boxes (thanks Uppity!), whilst trying to appear all ‘reasonable’. BAH!

    Posted by stormy | February 4, 2007, 10:31 pm
  89. Rich said: “Transwomen use them interchangeably all the time. Every single day. So do their defenders. But only feminsts are called on it, even when they’re not guilty of doing it: you just assumed that people here didn’t know that, that everyone here wasn’t as smart as you are.”

    Thanks Rich. (or is that R!ch?)😉

    Posted by stormy | February 4, 2007, 10:33 pm
  90. “This list is what gender is. This list. This list is what it is to be born female into the world. Those of us born female and made to be women know that this is our fate from our earliest moments, even when we didn’t or don’t have language for what we know.”

    So true, Heart. I’m sure we could think of narratives out there describing the process of gender indoctrination from girls’ perspectives. They are far outnumbered by boys’ coming-of-age stories, of course, because the significance of that process is troublesome to the status quo. Better to rest assured that changing a few laws in a few places has solved everything and woman is now nothing but a word.

    The process does happen early; I’ve read that the first thing a baby learns about itself is whether it’s a boy or girl. Subordination happens more drastically to some girls than others. For example, being given less to eat than your brothers and/or eating only what males leave behind (oh, should add those to the list) would send a powerful early message. But even as girls who were treated more equally by our families, one of the more traumatic early encounters with male supremacy friends and I have talked about experiencing was having men expose themselves to you and/or say and do sexually domineering things. Most of my friends and I experienced that multiple times before the age of ten.

    bint, such common experiences of systematic oppression cannot be reduced to “how they were treated as children.” That’s like saying that racism, classism, imperialism, colonialism, etc. are just about some how individuals are treated by other individuals. Like trivializing white woman’s subordination (because they can’t *really* be oppressed), referring to womanhood as merely “a label for identity” denies the fact of female/women’s oppression as women.

    Posted by roamaround | February 4, 2007, 11:20 pm
  91. Exactly, roamaround. This is what is so objectionable about so much of pomo/queer/trans theory and politics. To say “woman” is an “identity” which can be assumed is to obscure and/or erase what, in fact, constructs females *as* women, namely, that whole list of subjugating/subordinating acts and oppressions.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | February 4, 2007, 11:58 pm
  92. uppitybiscuit,

    I thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated your post. I agreed with much of it. One part that caught my eye was this statement:

    So, it blows my mind that we, RadFems, would be the main target of the trans community, when if you consider what radfems desire, it would benefit trans persons immensely. Odd, that we are under attack like this from a group that stands so much to gain when we are successful.

    I do not see self-identified radfems as “the main target of the trans community”. I see several trans communities with a variety of main targets. The Michigan festival shows that some transpeople engage in unethical behavior but then, I don’t think that’s anything that should surprise people. However, I see no reason to associate all transpeople with the actions of a few. As a person of color, I have experienced what it’s like to have people use the actions of the most unethical black/mixed people as some sort of example of what all of “us” are like.

    I think this is also related to what you said regarding what would benefit transpeople immensely. Because they are not a uniform group with a single focus, there is no one group of people who will benefit them all. I think, too, that it would help if we could all do our best to resist the tendency to see those who disagree as attacking us or picking fights with us.

    Posted by bint alshamsa | February 5, 2007, 12:03 am
  93. ChasingMoksha,

    White men (and other men of color it looks like) get to be women, but white women cannot claim a race (culture) other than the race society assigns to her.

    Of course they can. It happens all of the time. As a matter of fact, today I came across a post written by a Indian woman of color that was about this very topic. Here’s a link to it:

    Cultural Appropriation and White Feminists

    Posted by bint alshamsa | February 5, 2007, 12:09 am
  94. so what would a person look like, act like, be like, if they are not trans, but they stepped outside of gender boxes, or better yet, lived outside gender boxes? can such a person even exist, since so many appearances, behaviors, and states of being are perceived as being gendered?

    and regarding the social constructors of womanhood, are you suggesting that of the people who are classed as women, all of them have experienced some or many of these oppressions, but all of them have not experienced all of these oppressions? how does that impact men who have experienced some of those oppressions? and i’m sorry if that sounds like “tphmt”, that’s not what i’m suggesting here. and how would that impact poc who also have experienced some of these oppressions?

    Posted by nexyjo | February 5, 2007, 12:14 am
  95. I think that’s a cheap shot, bint.

    When transwomen are (rightly) called out by females as cultural imperialists for the way they appropriate women’s bodies/lives/herstories/culture/organizations/shelters/narratives/groups/language/writings/movements, those females are denounced as “transphobes” and “haters” by the very same people who call white feminists/female anti-racist progressives who say they don’t share the lived experiences of the majority of white people or are “culturally black”, “cultural imperialists.”

    I think the above reflects a very shallow political analysis which lacks in all sorts of ways, including in integrity. I also think what’s operating there is straight up misogyny, sexism, male supremacy.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | February 5, 2007, 12:25 am
  96. nexy, I am saying that all females grow up with the knowledge that that list is what they, as females, are appointed to because they are females. As females it’s not necessary for us to have personally experienced all of those things in order for our lives to be shaped by the knowledge that that list *is* our lot, is what we are born to as an accident of our birth.

    Where males have experiences on that list (and very few are possible for males to have, only three out of the list, that I count), they are having experiences which it is comparatively unusual for males to have and which they experience not as females — those of us who know that that list is our lot — but as males, people not appointed to that list, in that under male heterosupremacy, males are not subjugated and oppressed *as males*.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | February 5, 2007, 12:32 am
  97. i believe we agree that females grow up with that knowledge while males do not. that’s not what i’m questioning. i’m questioning at what point do we, as human beings stop “growing up” with that knowledge, and start living with that knowledge. perhaps that’s a bit clumsy, the way i stated that, and i’m hoping you get my meaning.

    my point is that now the world sees me as female, despite my “factually male” status, and those same appointments are imposed upon me, and is a lot we now both share, regardless of my past. i’d agree that perhaps this knowledge is not as deeply ingrained upon my consciousness as it is yours, or other women for that matter. i’m wondering how this could be measured, and to what degree its meaning is a factor.

    for a point of reference, i believe that women should be able to decide who they include in their own spaces, and i have no issue with the canadian supreme court’s ruling. just like i support wbw space at the wmwf.

    and perhaps you just need some more time to think about it, but i’d still be very interested in what a person would look like, act like, be like, if they are not trans, but they stepped outside of gender boxes, or better yet, lived outside gender boxes? and can such a person even exist, since so many appearances, behaviors, and states of being are perceived as being gendered?

    Posted by nexyjo | February 5, 2007, 1:13 am
  98. i believe we agree that females grow up with that knowledge while males do not. that’s not what i’m questioning. i’m questioning at what point do we, as human beings stop “growing up” with that knowledge, and start living with that knowledge. perhaps that’s a bit clumsy, the way i stated that, and i’m hoping you get my meaning.

    my point is that now the world sees me as female, despite my “factually male” status, and those same appointments are imposed upon me, and is a lot we now both share, regardless of my past. i’d agree that perhaps this knowledge is not as deeply ingrained upon my consciousness as it is yours, or other women for that matter. i’m wondering how this could be measured, and to what degree its meaning is a factor.

    Yeah, nexy, I think persons born male who begin to live as women, even if they don’t transition but especially if they do, do become those to whom some of those experiences are appointed and do share many of the oppressions and subordinations women experience. I think transwomen do experience, in other words, gender as subjugation and subordination, rather than as “identity” when they live and present as women 24/7.

    for a point of reference, i believe that women should be able to decide who they include in their own spaces, and i have no issue with the canadian supreme court’s ruling. just like i support wbw space at the wmwf.

    Yeah, this is what I very much appreciate about you, as you know, or I hope you do know that in all of this sturm and drang, argh.

    and perhaps you just need some more time to think about it, but i’d still be very interested in what a person would look like, act like, be like, if they are not trans, but they stepped outside of gender boxes, or better yet, lived outside gender boxes? and can such a person even exist, since so many appearances, behaviors, and states of being are perceived as being gendered?

    I think if we eliminate all that list of things and all the similar subordinating, subjugating phenomena that isn’t on the list, if we eliminate sexism, then we eliminate gender. Over time, I think there would be as many expressions of personhood, maybe you could say, as there are people. The sky would be the limit– male, female, intersex, all of us could live, do, be whomever we wanted to be, present any way, present differently every day or from week to week, month to month. Subjugation on the basis of sex would end because there wouldn’t be signifiers or markers associated with bodies or with presentations, there would just be people, doing whatever they felt like doing, being whomever they felt like being, limited only by their own creativity, originality, or energy. 🙂 I think for a while the “markers” of gender would continue to exist to some degree out of habit, custom, tradition, but eventually, the markers wouldn’t mean anything anymore because they would be deconstructed into oblivion. Then would come the time when human beings could express themselves in any way they wanted to, apply themselves to whatever they wanted to, love whomever they wanted to, without being told any of it was wrong because of the bodies they were born with.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | February 5, 2007, 1:30 am
  99. Heart:

    As to the dancers rabfish referred to, I want to remind everyone that it was Hypatia’s Child, a transwoman, who objected to those references as being condescending and objectifying or fetishizing. I think the responses ought to have been first and foremost to Hypatia’s Child’s comments and I didn’t even see that anybody engaged Hypatia’s Child.

    I do not assume what anyone identifies themself as and even if Hypatia’s Child had chosen to identify herself as a transwoman in this thread, there’s no reason why she should necessarily be the target of all responses. I see everyone here as equally worthy of responding to.

    Where things start to go sideways is where there is some implication that males performing what is gendered “woman” are “better” at that particular thing, whatever it is, than females are.

    I agree. That is why I think it is much better to respond to what one sees instead of trying to imagine all of the possible ideas that the author might have secretly intended to imply. When we impute bad motives every time we read the words of someone we tend to disagree with, it makes it much more difficult to get a clear understanding of what the person is ACTUALLY saying. All of these assumptions that Rabfish was referring to women out-womaning other women could have been avoided if this had been done.

    The problem we are having here, in the other thread, and wherever these issues are discussed has to do with differing views about what gender is.

    Hmmm. That may be part of the problem but I think there’s a lot more to it than that. I think a huge part of it has to do with the way people can be reluctant to own up to their (relatively) privileged status. And I’m not just talking about other people. It’s something that I have (and probably will again in the future) been guilty of. Because we (women in general) recognize that we are, as Heart said, “the class of persons born to objectification”, relegated to “subordinated status”, when one group (subset of women) asserts itself, some people in other, perhaps relatively privileged, groups (e.g. radfems) view that as an attempt to wrestle away power that they have worked hard to gain. As a result, the relatively privileged group can either turn on the group trying to assert itself or it can choose to be allys with them. I prefer the latter.

    I realize that some may think identifying myself as a woman of color with disabilities is “pulling out the big guns”–and frankly, I’m not sure if I was supposed to be flattered or offended by that–but I think it would be helpful if people recognized that they are not the only group with valid reasons for their views. Personally, I do not feel like I am under attack by transpeople and many of the women that I see as radical feminists have shown solidarity with groups that do not necessarily have the exact same background as them. I see no reason to ignore these other perspectives simply because they are at odds with what one group desires.

    This list is what gender is. This list.

    Heart, are you trying to say that this is your interpretation of what gender is? Is there some reason to believe that one woman’s interpretation of gender trumps all of the other interpretations that women with different backgrounds conclude.

    Fighting that list, which is what gender is, is what feminism, the liberation of women (and of all people, ultimately, and animals) is all about.

    Heart, I think it’s quite problematic for any one person to try and define feminism for everyone else. While I think that the treatments that you mentioned are worthy of addressing, many women have very different views about feminism is. Isn’t it better to actually listen to how other women view feminism instead of proclaiming that your interpretation is the definition of it? Your experiences are not the universal experiences of all women. For instance, what you describe us knowing from our earliest moments simply does not reflect what I knew from my earliest moments.

    That is certainly the project VRR has been, and is, involved in– caring for raped females, caring for incested and sexually assaulted females, and in particular, the poorest females, indigenous females, females of color, single mothers.

    You keep saying this but it simply isn’t what VRR has to say about itself. They claim to support WOMEN not females. Shouldn’t we rely on what THEY say their mission is and not claim that they really mean something else? Or should we just imagine that they are something that they do not even claim to be?

    That we have to have this discussion is evidence of how badly females, women (born women) who have lived as girls/women for all of their lives, need their organizations to be protected by decisions like this.

    Do you really believe that it’s protection when a patriarchal institution validates discrimination against certain women? Given their track record, I see no reason to start believing that the courts are actually trying to protect females or women. Nothing about this decision would protect me even if I was in Canada.

    Posted by bint alshamsa | February 5, 2007, 2:05 am
  100. Regarding bint’s reply to ChasingMoksha (“white women cannot claim a race (culture) other than the race society assigns to her.”), cultural appropriation and white feminists:

    Claiming a race or gender is not the same as using icons from other cultures to construct a narrative of agency, as zooeylive was discussing in the post you linked slamming white feminists. I could call myself Amazon, and it might very well seem a bit silly but I’m not actually claiming to BE an ancient warrior woman.

    I thought zooeylive was taking things a bit far on that rant anyway; even she said everyone is guilty of cultural commodification to some degree. What ridiculously essentialist view of culture would say that you can only admire and try to emulate someone within your own DNA history? Yes of course people have always used ideas from other cultures to construct all kinds of narratives! Otherwise lets all start rushing around condemning Che Guevara t-shirts and Bob Marley posters.

    The vitriol reserved for white feminists needs to get deconstructed (again), but maybe this is not the thread for it.

    Posted by roamaround | February 5, 2007, 2:14 am
  101. Bint: I do not assume what anyone identifies themself as and even if Hypatia’s Child had chosen to identify herself as a transwoman in this thread, there’s no reason why she should necessarily be the target of all responses. I see everyone here as equally worthy of responding to.

    Right, but if you were the only woman of color in a comments thread and you spoke up to respond to something and all the white women and men just talked around you and ignored you and spoke for you and on and on like they were all kinds of experts although your experience is the experience at issue, that might be telling, eh? (At the very least.)

    Also, if someone is going to come in and argue something, I think it’s incumbent upon them simply to read carefully. Here’s Hypatia’s Child’s post, salient words bolded:

    hypatia’s child Says:
    February 3rd, 2007 at 8:33 pm e

    You know, to me that comment had an air that was way patronising and as transist in its own way as the “he/she/it” thing I objected to on the other thread. It’s as if, because I’m transsexual, “performing gender” must be what I’m all about, practising all those stereotypically feminine moves a hundred times a day in front of a mirror. Silly me, I must not be a real transie then because I don’t have any of those moves down and, truth be told, I can’t dance worth a damn anyway.

    And rabfish, I’m sorry to say this because I know you didn’t mean it to come across that way, it just did…

    [quoting me, Heart:]This list is what gender is. This list.

    Heart, are you trying to say that this is your interpretation of what gender is? Is there some reason to believe that one woman’s interpretation of gender trumps all of the other interpretations that women with different backgrounds conclude.

    What I posted there is the herstoric, classic, feminist perspective that gender is subjugation and subordination, acknowledged and agreed upon by by far most feminists until the advent of pomo/queer/trans ideologies wherein white male heterosupremacy figured out a new and improved way to appropriate feminism and re-enlist and re-appropriate it to the projects of mostly white males.

    Quoting me, Heart: Fighting that list, which is what gender is, is what feminism, the liberation of women (and of all people, ultimately, and animals) is all about.

    Bint: Heart, I think it’s quite problematic for any one person to try and define feminism for everyone else. While I think that the treatments that you mentioned are worthy of addressing, many women have very different views about feminism is. Isn’t it better to actually listen to how other women view feminism instead of proclaiming that your interpretation is the definition of it? Your experiences are not the universal experiences of all women. For instance, what you describe us knowing from our earliest moments simply does not reflect what I knew from my earliest moments.

    I’m going to assert the herstoric definitions of feminism as long as I have to in order to draw attention to the fact that white males have appropriated feminism and annexed it to their own sexist, misogynist projects.

    You can call it whatever you like, I’m going to keep hollering about it until I’m done.

    So absurd, the way this turns into me (or any one woman) “defining” feminism for everybody. What are you doing, bint? You are somehow *not* defining everything for me and for everybody? Because if I am, so are you, that cuts both ways. I think we offer our views, we provide history, we provide analysis and critique, we articulate and defend our views as intelligently as we can, and then we let everybody reading make up her (or his) own mind.

    You keep saying this but it simply isn’t what VRR has to say about itself. They claim to support WOMEN not females. Shouldn’t we rely on what THEY say their mission is and not claim that they really mean something else? Or should we just imagine that they are something that they do not even claim to be?

    The appropriation and redefining of the word “woman” to include the male-born has been a project of queer/trans. Radical feminists/lesbian separatists, including VRR, including Michfest, including me, as part of our feminism, have rejected that appropriation and continue to use the word “woman” in its traditional meaning, i.e., persons born female who have lived all of their lives as girls women, despite the coercions of those who insist on appropriating language which concerns us.

    If you read the (voluminous) documents relevant to the Nixon lawsuit against VRR, you will quickly see that when VRR uses the word “woman” it means female, girl, lived as woman all of her life.

    Do you really believe that it’s protection when a patriarchal institution validates discrimination against certain women?

    I’ve answered this at great length. The courts are protecting females, lived as girl, grew into women’s right to define their own equality groups. This is good for all marginalized, oppressed groups. VRR and female-only groups do not “discriminate,” and I’ve already written at length about that, no need to restate.

    Given their track record, I see no reason to start believing that the courts are actually trying to protect females or women. Nothing about this decision would protect me even if I was in Canada.

    Track record? In the U.S., I think that the courts have often-often-often protected females and women, in all sorts of ways in which women would not have otherwise been protected– via sexual harrassment law, via the laws which allowed for the compensation of survivors of rape in rape camps in Bosnia-Hercogovina, via the court’s upholding of Title IX, via decisions which grant battered immigrant women asylum in the U.S., via the upholding of Civil Rights legislation, via decisions which broaden the definitions of rape to include women’s own understanding of when and how they are raped, in all sorts of ways. I think the track record of the Canadian courts is similar, or better, than our own with respect to women, i.e., it’s not good enough, but it’s something.

    As females, female only space is essential to us for all sorts of reasons, including to strategize or own liberation. I hope that if and when the test comes in the U.S., the U.S. looks to this Canadian case law for insight.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | February 5, 2007, 2:58 am
  102. NOTEIt’s Sunday night, I have to work tomorrow, I will not have time to moderate as carefully as I have today.

    I am not, therefore, henceforth, going to approve comments to this thread which are reiterations of points already made and responded to and argued and debated and turned upside down and all the change shook out of the pockets, or which are designed to be baiting, are mostly bickering or are likely to generate heat, not light. If someone has some new point to make, or some new angle on something, or some additional thoughts to add that are new and different, by all means, hold forth, I’ll approve your comments. If you are just restating points you’ve already made which we’ve already discussed, or you want to simply argue or bicker, then nah, because I don’t want to go back in and have to answer once again when I already have, and I don’t want others to feel they have to do that either. It’s a waste of time for all of us.

    SO. If you have something new to contribute, please do. If you want to just say what you’ve already said one more time, then, please don’t. Not that I don’t enjoy your lovely prose, but…😛

    Thanks.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | February 5, 2007, 3:07 am
  103. Well, I’ve already said this, but since the work everyone is doing here has been instrumental in making me feel so much less isolated about this, I’ll just say again, you all rock, Heart, stormy, R!ch, Miranda, roamaround, uppity, profacero, chasingmoksha. Thanks for being here.

    Posted by Amy's Brain Today | February 5, 2007, 5:09 pm
  104. Argh, most of the comments at this link are just…well.

    http://community.livejournal.com/feminist/2820492.html

    Posted by Fish | February 8, 2007, 1:05 am
  105. Several years ago, when working on a gerontology project, I learned that people do not suddenly get (negative character descriptor) as they age. The always were (negative character descriptor). When we age it just distills to the essence.

    YeeeHaaw!

    Posted by Pony | February 17, 2007, 11:21 pm
  106. This is very simple women! We need not have these huge debates over this. If you are the conference or workshop organizers of women only events, then just state the woman born policy. Transgender MTFs who have not really changed mentally “the penis still lodged in the brain” (paraphrasing Debs here I think) can squawk all they want.

    Put your foot down. Create a safe space for women. Tell people that women don’t want to be exposed to fettishists, and women who have been rape and abuse survivors certainly don’t want to have to deal with male invasion in all its forms. Be firm!

    Next, we can all agree that there are coalitions, and we can all agree that we all profit from working in coalitions. I may have some African blood in me if I check with a DNA test, but that doesn’t mean I am entitled to claim to be a woman of color and to insist on admission to women of color conferences, for example. I can be in solidarity with women of color by standing up against racism in all white groups, for example. I can do the work within my own group. Transgender MTFs need to confront other men about THEIR sexism. They know this from the inside, and could be of real value.

    I think if you’re having a lesbian conference, it’s an absurdity for MTFs to even be there.

    Transgender MTFs can show solidarity by protesting against sexism in corporate America, by decoding and undermining patriarchy with their detailed knowledge of male worlds, and they can stop trying to invade the very rare women only spaces left in the world.

    There are times when we are simply not ALL going to be together in one room. Transgender issues have very little to do with women born women issues, and we need to be firm in saying women born women issues come first with women. Otherwise, once again, women will get co-opted for every cause under the sun except their own interest!

    Women have spent a great deal of time defending their own interests and we have had to put up with “well aren’t we all human” or “human rights” which is of course a code word for men’s only rights.

    Transgender MTFs try to invade groups they perceive as weak. They’d never protest male behavior on football teams. They’d never go up against male only policies on corporate boards. No, they pick on women’s groups, and thus prove once again that the penis may be gone, but the colonizing dominating impulse is alive and well.

    It’s simple women.

    Posted by Satsuma | May 12, 2008, 4:07 pm

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