Radfems, Transphobia, Etc.

I don’t have much time, but I wanted to comment on this post by Heather on Zinnia Jones’ channel: “In a radical feminist world, there is no transphobia.” Because I have no time, we will do this in bullets:

  1. It isn’t a No True Scotsmen fallacy: Heather does explicitly acknowledge that there are transphobic radfems. She argues, rather, that transphobia is not a logical result of basic radical feminist ideas. Just thought I’d clear that one up at the start.
  2. I think the idea of a radical feminist world is a little bit self-contradictory. Once a society adopts radical feminist ideas, they are by definition no longer radical.
  3. Like so many radfems, Heather seems to accept unquestioningly that a world entirely without gender roles is possible. But there’s really no evidence that this would be possible, and plenty of evidence to the contrary. Gender roles can change, they can be reduced, maybe, or made less damaging, but human beings are induction machines. I don’t see us ever reaching a point where we can say “Gender roles are gone entirely! Congrats, everyone!”
  4. Heather claims that that trans women, “don’t question themselves, apologize for themselves, or wait for their turn to speak quite as often as cis women are taught to do from birth.” There is no possible way that she could know this with any certainty — there simply aren’t any reputable studies — and as my own anecdotal experience contradicts hers, I really feel nothing wrong with dismissing this.
  5. The above is also, incidentally, a trope so often used by radfems to deny trans experiences, to deny trans women’s existence, that I’m a bit disappointed to see it proposed without acknowledging the complete lack of evidence for it by someone writing against transphobia in radfem communities.***
  6. Otherwise, fine. I would be the last person to say that radical feminism is necessarily transphobic: I know plenty of radical feminists who aren’t, and I agree with Heather than transphobia is not logically derived from basic radical feminist assumptions.
  7. However, I am skeptical of the idea that a radical feminist world is necessarily a world where radical feminist principles are developed logically in order to avoid transphobia. I think a radical feminist world could as easily be transphobic if such a world were shaped by the many transphobic radical feminists. Here’s where I think No True Scotsman shows up a bit: you simply cannot say that a world created from the ideas of transphobic radfems would not be a radical feminist world. It would be a bad world, and an illogical world, and a world not justified by basic radical feminist principles, but nonetheles…..I’m not convinced that it wouldn’t be correct to call that a radical feminist world. In which case, a more appropriate title would be that in a radical feminist world, transphobia would be illogical, or in a radical feminist world, transphobia would not be necessary. Because I think there are things rightly referred to as radical feminist worlds which would be transphobic.

***I should note that she explicitly points out that even so, this is not a reason to deny trans people’s gender identity or existence or any of that, and she does qualify by saying that *sometimes*, not always, childhood socialization is apparent. But, honestly, why even propose this as a true statement in the first place?

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Gore Vidal

Gore Vidal was a rape apologist and a transphobe. In response to Polanski’s 2009 arrest due to his leaving the US in 1978 before being sentence for raping a 13-year-old girl, Vidal said:

I really don’t give a fuck. Look, am I going to sit and weep every time a young hooker feels as though she’s been taken advantage of?

People claim that the 1968 novel, Myra Breckenridge, should be understood as groundbreaking for its day and whatnot, but all I can see is another novel about a trans* character that: (a) treats transsexuality as a kind of multiple-personality-disorder instead of what it actually is, and (b) prominently features a rape of a woman by a trans woman (including, of course, the common transphobic fear of letting students be taught by trans* people, as Myra is a professor and her victim a student.)

So, no, I’m not going to lionize and mourn Gore Vidal. No matter how “essential” his work has been to American culture or any of that rot.