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No idea is sacred in a society that values freedom of speech and expression. Yet, if one questions the tenets of trans-ideology then seemingly all bets are off. Disrupting one’s professional career, receiving threats, losing opportunities to speak are all possible consequences of questioning trans-ideology. That fact in itself should give pause to anyone who fancies calling themself progressive. Robert Jensen writing for commondreams.org writes eloquently on this topic.

 

 

“To be clear: Humans do create cultural meaning about sex differences. Humans who have a genetic makeup to produce sperm (males) and humans who have a genetic makeup to produce eggs (females) are treated differently in a variety of ways that go beyond roles in reproduction.

In the struggle for women’s liberation, feminists in the 1970s began to use the term “gender” to describe the social construction of meaning around the differences in biological sex. When men would say, “Women are just not suited for political leadership,” for example, feminists would point out that this was not a biological fact to be accepted but a cultural norm to be resisted.

To state the obvious: Biological sex categories exist outside of human action. Social gender categories are a product of human action.

This observation leads to reasonable questions, which aren’t bigoted or transphobic: When those in the transgender movement assert that “trans women are women,” what do they mean? If they mean that a male human can somehow transform into a female human, the claim is incoherent because humans cannot change biological sex categories. If they mean that a male human can feel uncomfortable in the social gender category of “man” and prefer to live in a society’s gender category of “woman,” that is easy to understand. But it begs a question: Is the problem that one is assigned to the wrong category? Or is the problem that society has imposed gender categories that are rigid, repressive, and reactionary on everyone? And if the problem is in society’s gender categories, then is not the solution to analyze the system of patriarchy—institutionalized male dominance—that generates those rigid categories? Should we not seek to dismantle that system? Radical feminists argue for such a radical change in society.

These are the kinds of questions I have asked and the kinds of arguments I have made in writing and speaking. If I am wrong, then critics should point out mistakes and inaccuracies in my work. But if this radical feminist analysis is a strong one, then how can an accurate description of biological realities be evidence of bigotry or transphobia?

When I challenge the ideology of the transgender movement from a radical feminist perspective—which is sometimes referred to as “gender-critical,” critical of the way our culture socially constructs gender norms—I am not attacking people who identify as transgender. Instead, I am offering an alternative approach, one rooted in a collective struggle against patriarchal ideologies, institutions, and practices rather than a medicalized approach rooted in liberal individualism.

That’s why the label “TERF” (trans-exclusionary radical feminism) is inaccurate. Radical feminists don’t exclude people who identify as transgender but rather offer what we believe is a more productive way to deal with the distress that people feel about gender norms that are rigid, repressive, and reactionary. That is not bigotry but politics. Our arguments are relevant to the ongoing debate about public policies, such as who is granted access to female-only spaces or who can compete in girls’ and women’s sports. They are relevant to concerns about the safety of puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and surgical interventions. And radical feminism is grounded in compassion for those who experience gender dysphoria—instead of turning away from reality, we are suggesting ways to cope that we believe to be more productive for everyone.

Now, a final prediction. I expect that some people in the transgender movement will suggest that my reproduction/respiration analogy mocks people who identify as transgender by suggesting that they are ignorant. Let me state clearly: I do not think that. The analogy is offered to point out that an argument relevant to public policy doesn’t hold up. To critique a political position in good faith is not to mock the people who hold it but rather to take seriously one’s obligation to participate in democratic dialogue.

In a cancel culture, people who disagree with me may find it easy to ignore the argument and simply label me a bigot, on the reasoning that because I think a certain ideology within the transgender movement is open to critique, I obviously am transphobic.

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