There are consequences to pretending that biological sex doesn’t exist—it leads to also pretending that sexual orientation doesn’t exist and it leads to ignoring who usually commits violent crimes and why.
An article written by a trans woman called “No, I Don’t Have To Tell You I’m Trans Before Dating You” demonstrates perfectly what trans activists get wrong.
He starts off by not understanding biological sex differences between humans.
“The gender binary forms the basis of European societies. It establishes that there are men and there are women, and each has a specific role. For the gender binary to have power, it has to be rigid and inflexible. Thus, from the day we are born, we are taught to believe in a very static and strict form of gender. We learn that if you have a penis, you are a man, and if you have a vagina, you are a woman. Trans people are walking refutations of this concept of gender. Our very existence threatens to undermine the gender binary itself.”
There are several issues with this paragraph, of course, but mostly the problem is that he is imagining that a cultural belief in “gender” coming from Europe is the reason why people believe that human beings come in types called “men” and “women.” In reality, all humans, from all continents, not just Europe, do come in two types: male and female, and we refer to adult human males as “men” and adult human females as “women,” regardless of what country we’re in. For the zillionth time, the existence of a rare few people born with atypical sex characteristics doesn’t change the fact that most people are unambiguously male or female and that this is how humans reproduce. Neither do men and women who make body modifications negate the facts of human reproduction. Regardless of what body modifications people make or what outfits they wear, only females can gestate babies and only males can fertilize ova.
Our culture does indeed place firm roles onto men and women, however, the way to change that culture is to constantly assert and men and women can be any kind of man or woman they want to be, and that they don’t have to follow cultural stereotypes about who men and women are. Denying the factual and observable sex differences between humans doesn’t achieve the goal of eliminating sex-based stereotypes.
Because Berruti is in denial about sex differences between humans, he is also in denial about sexual orientation, which is based on attraction to a specific sex. Almost everyone is attracted to one sex only—heterosexuals are attracted to the opposite sex and homosexuals are attracted to the same sex. Only bisexuals are attracted to both sexes. Sexual orientation is not about attraction to a “gender.” If anyone wants to claim to be attracted to a “gender” they’re welcome to, but for most people, we do care about the sex of the person we are with.
Berruti discusses the tragic case of Jennifer Laude, a young transwoman who was murdered by Joseph Scott Pemberton. Pemberton murdered Laude after the two had sex and then Pemberton realized that Laude was male. The reason for Pemberton’s violent rage was a combination of violent masculinity and homophobia. Men are taught from a young age that they must only have sexual relations with women, (not just any humans with dresses on, but people of the female sex), and this rule is enforced so violently that men do things like beat and murder men who are homosexual and also beat and murder men who trick them into sex. An important part of the masculine gender role is domination over women and exclusively heterosexual behavior. Men who involve themselves in homosexual behavior, whether deliberately or by accident, or who play a “feminine” receptive role in sex, lose masculinity points in this system. When men who are invested in preserving their masculinity are forced to lose some of their masculinity points, they react with violence to restore it. This culture is a part of the system of patriarchy and women know it all too well, which is why there is a whole movement of women fighting against it.
The author of this article, Berruti, tries to explain this phenomenon without naming any of the relevant elements: not sexual orientation nor violent masculinity.
“As a trans person, I run into this attitude all the time. I constantly hear cis people raging about how a trans person is “lying” if they don’t come out to a potential partner before dating them. Pemberton himself claimed that he felt like he was “raped” because Laude did not come out to him. Even cis people that fashion themselves as “allies” tend to feel similar.
Their argument is that they aren’t not attracted to trans people, so they should have a right to know if a potential partner is trans before dating them. These people view transness as a mere physical quality that they just aren’t attracted to.
The issue with this logic is that the person in question is obviously attracted to trans people, or else they wouldn’t be worried about accidentally going out with one. So these people aren’t attracted to trans people because of some physical quality, they aren’t attracted to trans people because they are disgusted by the very idea of transness.”
Berruti, like most other trans activists, imagines that straight men and lesbian women can be attracted to men who wear dresses and makeup because they imagine that we are attracted to a feminine gender role. However, both of these groups are attracted to people who are biologically female. Since he doesn’t understand this, he attributes our not wanting male sex partners as evidence of being “disgusted by the very idea of transness.”
Whether or not someone is actually disgusted by the idea of transness very much depends on your definition of trans. Since trans is an umbrella term that can mean a whole bunch of very different things, it’s impossible for this accusation to be meaningful. Using me as an example, there are some people under the trans umbrella that I am attracted to and some that I am not. I am attracted to female cross-dressers and masculine women, but I’m not attracted to anyone with a penis, so I am both attracted to and indifferent to different people under the trans umbrella, in accordance with my sexual orientation. It would not be accurate to say I’m “disgusted by the very idea of transness” since my long-term partner actually falls under the trans umbrella and I am not necessarily disgusted by male humans, just generally indifferent to them. (I am disgusted by male humans who behave in misogynist and abusive ways, but that’s not on the basis of their being male, it’s on the basis of their being abusive misogynists. Sadly, there are too many men who fit this description.)
Joseph Scott Pemberton wasn’t necessarily “disgusted by the very idea of transness” (although he may have been), but he definitely was disgusted by the idea of having sex with a man. This is due to homophobia. In the absence of violent masculinity and homophobia, he would have just said “no thanks” and walked Laude out. Although the primary cause of violence against transwomen is this exact combination of masculine rage and homophobia, transwomen almost universally refuse to name the problem or fight against it. They prefer to focus their energy on bullying women, even though women never kill transwomen.
“So when a cis person argues that a trans person has an obligation to come out to someone before dating them, they are saying trans people have an obligation to accommodate their transphobia. Plus, claiming that trans people are obligated to come out reinforces the idea that not being attracted to trans people is reasonable. But as I’ve pointed out, not being attracted to trans people supports the idea that transness is disgusting which is the basis for transphobic oppression.”
There truly is no dichotomy between “cis” and “trans” people because all of us have a unique personality with a unique relationship to the concepts of masculinity and femininity, and the concept of “trans” is so broad and all-encompassing that anyone can claim it at any time. What’s actually happening here is that people (almost all people, in fact) need to know whether someone is male or female before entering a romantic or sexual relationship. Everyone who is heterosexual or homosexual, which is a lot of people, are only interested in one sex. This isn’t to say that bisexual people will always date a trans person either—not everyone is interested in dating someone who has made major, drastic body modifications so that they appear to be the opposite sex.
When trans activists claim that it doesn’t matter what sex someone is and that they aren’t obligated to disclose their sex, they are disrespecting people’s sexual orientation and demonstrating a lack of caring for their potential partner’s needs. This is abusive behavior.
It never “supports the idea that someone is disgusting” when someone declines a romantic relationship with someone. No one owes anyone a romantic or sexual relationship, and we can be as exclusive as we want when it comes to who we date. I wouldn’t date an extrovert, and that’s not because there’s anything wrong with extroverts and my not dating them doesn’t imply that they are “disgusting.” I just know that the relationship wouldn’t work out because I would find it too draining and she would get bored with me since I never want to go out. People are also allowed to decline to date people who have made drastic body modifications or who believe in nonsensical ideology because that is not something they are into. This doesn’t mean that anyone is “disgusting.”
Berruti’s conclusion, like the rest of his post, misses the primary problem entirely.
“It is easy to look at the story of Jennifer Laude and claim that her death was due to the actions of one bigot. But it’s more complicated than that. Pemberton was the product of a society that told him that disgust towards trans people was reasonable and natural. So when he found out that he accidentally slept with a trans woman, he killed her.
Every single cis person that says that trans people have to come out because they aren’t attracted to trans people feeds into the system that caused Jennifer Laude’s death. And until those cis people acknowledge their complicity in that system, there will only be more like Jennifer Laude.”
Indeed, Jennifer Laude’s death was not an isolated incident. There are countless murders and other assaults committed by men due to violent masculinity, perpetrated against both men and women. Pemberton was a product of a society that taught him that preserving his masculinity was of utmost importance, more important even than other people’s lives, and that sexual relations between two men are so horrifically disgusting that it’s worth killing someone over. So when he found out he slept with a man, he killed him. When people assert their sexual orientations by declining to sleep with someone they are not attracted to in a normal, non-murderous way, that does not contribute to violent masculinity or the culture that condones male violence. People are allowed to set appropriate boundaries and choose sex partners they are attracted to, and this isn’t a problem. In Pemberton’s case, he should have simply said “no thanks” to Laude, and he was absolutely not justified in murdering him. Laude’s murder was a terrible crime.
As long as we continue to condone male violence and toxic masculinity by teaching it, glorifying it, and refusing to punish it, there will be more incidents like this one. It’s puzzling why trans activists don’t try to do something about it, since it’s negatively affecting their community. The primary group of people who are concerned about ending male violence is still radical feminists.