An article was published today in Buzzfeed entitled “The UK Will Make It Easier For Trans People To Legally Change Their Gender.” This article talks about new measures being taken in the U.K. to make it easier for trans people to legally change their gender on identity documents.
“Perhaps most radical among these measures will be the review of the Gender Recognition Act – a move that is likely to bring the UK more in line with Ireland, Malta, and Denmark, which do not require trans people to undergo surgery and other radical medical interventions before they can legally change their gender,” writes Patrick Strudwick.
Trans activist and misogynist gay male Paris Lees was quoted, of course. He had something hilariously misguided to say, of course:
“Radical feminists should be absolutely delighted and grateful to the trans community because they’ve been going on about abolishing gender for decades and it looks like we’re finally making some headway with that,” she said. “We know that the more polarised gender is in a society the greater the violence women face. So anything we can do to lessen gender segregation is good for everybody, but in particular for women.”
In an article that did not have anything to do with radical feminists and did not mention us anywhere other than in this quote, this comment comes off as a smug, condescending taunt. But however pleased Lees may feel with his community’s progress, he doesn’t understand what he’s saying about gender abolition and he doesn’t understand the gender critical position. If he did, he wouldn’t be claiming that trans activists are abolishing gender.
Gender is a harmful social construct that places males and females in a hierarchy with men on top and women on the bottom and uses strict rules about behavior, roles, appearance and mannerisms to enforce that hierarchy. Gender can also be described as masculinity and femininity, the social roles that are assigned to males and females based on their reproductive anatomy. Radical feminists have indeed been working to abolish gender for decades. We have made some progress in this fight, but more work is needed. For example, it is now acceptable for women to wear pants, to play sports, to work outside the home, to opt out of marriage and motherhood, and much more. These feminist gains have had the effect of challenging the gender role assigned to women. We are no longer required to always wear dresses, to be soft and pleasing and nurturing, and to be homemakers for men. The male equivalent to breaking free of gender roles would be if men gave themselves permission to wear a feminine appearance and to take on feminine roles such as caregiver or homemaker without having to resort to claiming that this makes them “really women.” If men could perform femininity as men, without being socially punished for it, then that would signify the abolition of the masculine gender role.
Trans activists are not trying to create safety for gender nonconforming men to live as feminine men. They are doing quite the opposite: they are convincing gender nonconforming men that they really are women, and that they need to modify their bodies in order to resemble women as closely as possible. Feminine men are not allowed to live in their natural bodies as men while expressing their innate personalities, they are forced into a narrow gender box that dictates they must fully “pass” as women in order to be their “authentic selves.” Lees is a perfect example of this. He was subject to homophobic bullying as a child because the patriarchy will not tolerate feminine gay men. Instead of trying to abolish homophobic and sexist prejudice, he decided to undergo extreme body modifications so that he appears as a woman. In this way, he succumbed to society’s homophobic idea that feminine men are unacceptable and must change. The homophobic bullying directed toward gender nonconforming gay men and lesbians is designed to enforce gender roles—masculinity and femininity—which are the foundation of patriarchy and are an important part of the structure of women’s oppression. Lees now lives as a transwoman who embodies misogynist ideas about what women are.
Radical feminists will never be “delighted” by the work of trans activists, because they are working to eliminate sex-segregated spaces which are necessary to keep women safe from men, they are making it impossible for women to talk about sex-based oppression, they are reinforcing misogynist ideas about who women are, they are convincing parents to sterilize their gender nonconforming children, they are practicing gay conversion therapy by turning gays and lesbians into artificially constructed members of the opposite sex, and they are gas-lighting women into agreeing that men are women.
It’s ironic that Lees says “We know that the more polarized gender is in a society the greater the violence women face.” This statement is true, but what Lees doesn’t understand is that he’s contributing to the polarization of gender by acting out an extreme (and fake) construction of femininity, and working against those people who are trying to abolish gender.
Transwomen absolutely love gender. Gender turns them on. Most transwomen are heterosexual men with a sexual fetish for wearing women’s clothes and being seen as women. The entire reason why women’s clothing is a turn-on for men is because women’s clothing are signifiers that one is a part of an oppressed class of people. Men with masochistic fantasies imagine themselves as women because women are the ones who “get fucked,” both literally and figuratively. When feminists succeed in liberating women from oppression, there will no longer be signifiers marking women as a subordinate class because we won’t be a subordinate class. It will no longer be possible for a man to develop a masochistic fetish for wearing certain clothes, since clothing items won’t have that cultural meaning anymore.
Those transwomen who are gay men, such as Paris Lees, would also benefit from the abolition of gender roles. In the absence of gender roles, men such as Lees could grow up free from homophobic bullying and be able to express their personalities without making any body modifications. The world radical feminists are working toward is one in which men like Paris Lees could live their full truth—as men with a desire to wear makeup and be seen as sexually desirable to other men—without the need for serious surgery or becoming lifelong medical patients. Paris Lees does not want to understand this. For him, serious body modification is the way a person can express their authentic self, and turning gay men into pornified versions of women is the path to liberation.