It never feels good to get trashed on the internet. I remember the first time it happened to me, in 2003. Someone posted a video of a project I’d done onto a forum I didn’t read, and overnight it got 200+ comments making fun of me. I saved the thread to re-read later, and I still have it actually. When you put stuff out in the public eye, you’re going to get trashed eventually, especially if you have unpopular opinions and you do your best to be honest. All you can do is be humble, and remember that like Madison Hinton said, it’s not what they call you, it’s what you answer to.
Everyone involved in this conversation knows how much hate is directed towards females who are gender critical. Women who are gender-critical get written off as “bigots”/TERFs, whores, unfuckable, stupid, in-the-closet trans men, etc, in addition to a steady stream of rape and death threats. We see teenagers on tumblr do this, we see straight adult men do this, we see liberal feminists do this, and we see the most prominent trans activists do this.
If you’re a trans-critical trans women, trans activists and their supporters write you off as a TERF or a TERF sockpuppet, self-hating, transphobic, elitist, HBSer, “new trans separatist”, not actually trans, throwing other trans women under the bus, or an outright liar. I feel bad for trans women who do this, because they are obviously in a lot of pain, and often appear to be externalizing their own issues. But I also try to have compassion, because I think that modern trans theory has let them down, since the dogma of “because I say so” has left most trans women without any tools to talk about the reality of their lives.
And from the other side, some radical feminists write off gender-critical trans women as wolves in sheep’s clothing, delusional men, or “nice guys” who are just trying to open the door for their overtly woman-hating bros. Radical feminism centers females, and certainly is under no obligation to make space for or to prioritize males, no matter how we live our lives. (Third-wave, male-centric “feminism” is already doing a great job at that!) Gender-critical trans women acknowledge our debt to radical feminist language and conceptual thinking: the recognition that sex and gender are not the same, and the realization that gender is imposed upon us from the outside. As trans women, it is certainly not our place to recommend political priorities to gender-critical women with a female separatist bent. But that said, one does have to question the political wisdom of trashing trans women whose politics are mostly aligned with radical feminist positions.
Personally, I got involved in gender-critical blogging because I want to heal, and I want to figure out how to make the world a better place. People can doubt my sincerity all they want, but it doesn’t change my motivations. I don’t like the current answers about how to heal from gender, so I’m trying to figure out better answers. And one of the reasons I blog anonymously is so that I can be completely honest (to the best of my ability) about my life and my decisions. That in particular is difficult, because no one is perfect, and being open about your mistakes makes you an easy target of drive-by criticism.
Some of my opinions have changed over the last year of writing my blog; specifically, I no longer think it is justifiable to not come out to my male romantic partners. But I have been unwavering in my support of female-only space. After all, this whole blog started as a reaction to Cathy Brennan being kicked out of the NYC Dyke March for supporting female separatism via Sheila Jeffreys!
So, about about that supporting female spaces thing. I, and two trans woman friends, set up New Narratives as a trans woman-only event (broadly defined) coinciding with the post-Radfems Respond female-only event, specifically to model how things can work in the real world. Sometimes we work together, sometimes we work separately. New Narratives is not a protest like Camp Trans, but an emphatic endorsement of female-only space!
A core premise of New Narratives is “An alarmingly large number of trans women are like that – so what are we going to do about it?” For the organizers, and I assume for a number of the attendees, our consciences have called us to directly confront male violence against women born female – physical, sexual, and rhetorical – which is perpetrated by trans women. We all feel that it is time to stand up and say Not in my name. No more cotton ceiling, no more corrective rape talk, no more death threats. We are not doing this to get cookies, and we are not doing it because we “hate trans women”. We are doing it because trans activism has gone totally off the rails, and it is frankly shameful.
We also organized New Narratives because all three of us believe that current trans theory is hurting trans women, and other males who feel harmed by gender. Over the last fifteen years, trans politics has turned into a delusional echo chamber, where self-identification is believed to physically change bodies, history is irrelevant, and anyone who directly addresses reality is punished as a traitor. This mess is not a recipe for mental health, happiness, or social integration! We need real answers about how best to live our lives in the world that exists today, which are also compatible with working towards the better world we wish to create.
So until this conversation turns around, I am going to keep doing my activism the way that only I can. Even if that means sometimes people who I mostly agree with sometimes latch on to certain aspects of my activism to trash it all. The only thing I can do is let it go, and keep working towards what I know in my heart is right. I am the only one who can do what I’m doing, which is an important lesson I learned from GenderTrender author Gallus Mag, in a comment she recently made to a reader who was thinking of starting a blog.
To my real-life radical feminist friends and colleagues, my trans woman sisters, my trans man brothers, and all my other gender-critical siblings, I look forward to working with you all in Portland next weekend. Remember: let’s keep this political, not personal, because working together we can make significant progress on turning this conversation around, and in turn make the world a better place for all of us who are harmed by gender.
And to the haters, thanks for reading, please keep reading, and please keep telling me why you think I’m wrong. You have my best wishes.