I was reading a new article by Chris Hedges, which attempted to balance the views of trans activists with the views of women, by quoting both, and what I noticed is the quotes by trans activists contained a lot of blatant misinformation. One quote in particular I wanted to discuss:
“Being transgender is not a consumer identity pushed on us by a capitalist system,” Snow said. “Transgender people have existed long before capitalism and will continue to exist. Pushing the narrative that trans identities are simply a ‘consumer’ rather than an authentic identity only reinforces rigid standards of what it means to be female. Trans women are often dismissed, marginalized and attacked for failing to meet these rigid standards of what it means to be female. So-called ‘feminists’ who wish to label trans identities as being inauthentic are actually doing the patriarchy’s work of enforcing rigid standards and ideas of what it means to be female.”
The speaker is Misty Snow, an American transwoman, and he is responding to the accusation from feminists that transgender identities are being marketed to people.
I think if you are going to argue that transgender identity is not being sold to us by capitalism, your proof should necessarily involve demonstrating that there is no money involved in selling a transgender identity, that transgender identity is not being promoted, and that trans identity is an authentic human trait not related to culture. I predict you’d have trouble proving any of these premises.
Snow’s sentence “Pushing the narrative that trans identities are simply a ‘consumer’ rather than an authentic identity only reinforces rigid standards of what it means to be female” doesn’t make sense. Women are reporting that trans identities are being marketed because we can see the marketing, and reporting the marketing that we can see is not at all related to “reinforcing rigid standards” about femaleness. Feminists are in fact against rigid standards about what it means to be female, which anyone would understand if they read anything we write. This is another one of those thousands of instances of trans activists literally making shit up and projecting it onto feminists as if it’s the truth. I’m getting seriously tired of all the lying they do.
Reality TV shows such as this one and this one and this one promote transgenderism to the masses. Books, dolls, and more dolls, are being created to teach kids about being trans, endless news stories tell us the “brave” tales of trans people who come out after realizing they identify with the stereotypes assigned to the opposite sex, videos such as these and these specifically promote gender identities as something cool to have. Entire companies exist to sell transgender clothing and supplies, and of course all the doctors and surgeons and pharmaceutical companies are making money off of hormones and surgeries.
As a result of gender identity being marketed, the numbers of people wanting transgender body modifications are skyrocketing and new gender clinics are opening to keep up with demand. The purpose of marketing a product is to increase the number of people buying it. The marketing of gender identity has in fact increased the number of people wanting costly body modifications. I’m not sure how you’d set out to prove that this marketing and profiting is not happening.
Gay and lesbian identities have also been taken up by media, however, there is no profit to be made as a result of people being lesbian or gay, and you can’t increase the gay population by promoting it. Being gay doesn’t involve purchasing supplies or clothing, getting plastic surgery, or becoming lifelong medical patients, so there is no more money to be made from us than there is from the general population. Tell me this: when we started seeing gay characters on TV shows, did the number of gay people in society skyrocket at rates of “several hundred percent” as they have with gender identity? I have not seen that.
The reason you can increase the number of people identifying as transgender is partly because transgenderism is a socially-constructed identity and partly because the definition of transgender is so wide open that anyone can claim it. Transgender doesn’t just mean male-to-female transsexuals and female-to-male transsexuals anymore, it is a variety of different labels that mean whatever the person says they mean and any of which could involve body modifications if the person desires. It’s an identity buffet where new flavours can be invented any time and anyone can choose their choices, especially where they involve buying things.
Trans activists, like the one above, will argue that there have always been trans people and that being trans is an innate characteristic. When you are going to argue that, you first have to narrow down what you mean by “trans” and what characteristic, specifically, people are born with. In my post, What does it mean to be trans, I talked about the problems with defining trans people as “everyone who challenges the boundaries of sex and gender” because this could include almost everyone depending on what criteria you set. This definition in fact includes radical feminists under the definition of trans, something that is rather funny and ironic in this political climate. If you are going to talk about innate characteristics you’re going to have to define them as something a little more concrete than “feeling male” or “feeling female” because these concepts don’t hold any water since there is no specific way that males and females feel.
When your definition of who is trans is so broad it can include almost anyone, and when your alleged “innate” characteristics amount to nothing other than personality and feelings, then you can indeed claim that trans people have always existed, because as long as people have existed we have had our own unique personalities and feelings that don’t necessarily coincide with what society expects of men and women. However, it’s not a useful argument to define trans people as “everyone” and then say that “everyone” has always existed. Who, exactly, has always existed?
I have been reading Trans Gender Warriors by Leslie Feinberg and she included a lot of research into societies and cultures in which there were gender nonconforming people, with a focus on the fact that they were generally respected by their societies. The purpose of this exercise is to prove that there have always been trans people, and they haven’t always been hated as they are now. Some of the people discussed are Native American two-spirited people (and this is a large and varied group by the way), women who lived as men to fight in battle, (such as Joan of Arc), male-to-female priestesses and shamans across many countries, intersexual deities among African and Asian societies, and more.
I don’t doubt for a second that gender nonconforming people have always existed. The expectations and roles about how men and women should behave have never been applicable to all people. Nature always creates exceptions. However, the phenomenon of “trans kids” today who are being put on the dangerous drug Lupron because they are playing with toys marketed to the opposite sex is in no way comparable to cross-dressing shamans and warriors from ancient societies. There is no evidence of kids before the second half of the 20th century demanding to have their puberty blocked or else they will commit suicide. If it is comparable at all, it’s the opposite of the acceptance that GNC people used to have. Now, instead of accepting that some boys are girly and some girls are boyish, they are considered to have a medical defect which has to be corrected using an off-label and non-FDA approved drug that sterilizes them and has unknown long-term medical effects. I think that if GNC people were accepted today as the shamans and warriors were then, then parents would be delighted to have daughters who play with trucks and sons who play with dolls, and such kids would be celebrated as-is without the need for harmful medical intervention. In addition, the influx of misogynist heterosexual men into the modern “trans” movement shows how different the modern trans identity is from those early cross-dressers. When I consider that fake-antifa woman-hating white men like this are being compared to Native American two-spirit people, due to all being under the “trans umbrella,” I cringe. When I think of how autogynephiles who discover their love for dressing like a female porn star after masturbating endlessly to sissy porn can be compared to women like Joan of Arc who bravely fought in battle to save their countries, due to all being under the “trans umbrella,” I cringe. Comparing the early cross-dressing warriors and shamans and the two-spirit people to today’s modern Western trans phenomenon is an insult to those cultures.
One of the interesting things about Feinberg’s research into the history of GNC people is that they were often homosexual. She did name this fact when it came up, but she didn’t seem to place a lot of significance on it, preferring to call them trans rather than gay.
One of the quotes Feinberg included, which notably came from Gay American History by Ned Katz, was this:
“Strange country this,” a white man wrote in 1850 about the Crow nation of North America, “where males assume the dress and perform the duties of females, while women turn men and mate with their own sex!” (p22)
Feinberg also quoted a Spanish official who had this to say after going on an expedition across Panama:
“saw men dressed like women, learnt they were sodomites and threw the King and forty others to be eaten by his dogs” (p23)
Feinberg also tells of an occasion when she was invited to a gathering of two-spirit Native people in Minneapolis. She says:
“I laughed easily, relaxed with old friends and new ones. Some were feminine men or masculine women; all shared same-sex desire. (p26)”
(All page numbers refer to Trans Gender Warriors.)
What it looks like to me is that Feinberg found a lot of evidence of gays and lesbians, who have always existed, have often been GNC, and were respected in early societies. I’m disappointed that she placed so much emphasis on them being trans rather than being gay.
Same-sex desire is a real thing, and gender nonconformity going along with same-sex attraction is also a real thing. However, the way we conceptualize and name the identities of same-sex attracted people varies from culture to culture and from time period to time period. The words “gay” and “lesbian” are 20th century Western inventions, and interestingly, we are even seeing the Western conceptualization of same-sex attraction change right before our eyes, as many same-sex attracted young people today are identifying as trans, including nonbinary and genderqueer as well as trans men or trans women. I wouldn’t have a problem with language changing, as it’s not the labels that are important, except for this new way of thinking comes with a complete denial of biological sex, and a medicalization of the bodies of same-sex attracted people, which is unnecessary and nonsensical and which ends up hurting us in the long run.
We know that children diagnosed as having “gender dysphoria” by the modern Western medical establishment are more likely to grow into happy gay, lesbian and bisexual adults than persist in gender dysphoria. We also know that most kids who persist in gender dysphoria into adulthood are same-sex attracted, which has serious implications for what gender dysphoria really means. We also know that early examples of GNC people, as Feinberg documented, were often same-sex attracted.
The claim that “trans people have always existed” is made in a context in which people are conflating very different lived realities under one umbrella which obscures what is meant by the identity “trans” and in which people are deliberately hiding the fact that many of the people considered to be “trans” by trans activists are actually gay. Unfortunately, even trans activists who are themselves homosexual and otherwise appear to be in favor of gay rights often hide or minimize the fact that trans people are often gay. This results in gay people being hidden under another identity and medicalized so they no longer appear to be gay, which looks a lot like homophobia.
Getting back to the quote from the trans activist quoted above, he believes that feminists who are pro-gay and against traditional gender roles are “reinforcing patriarchy” because we do not believe that male humans can be considered female and because we have noted the promotion of a modern, medicalized trans identity that is being promoted by those who profit from it. He couldn’t be more wrong. Identifying the biological differences that human beings are born with and which allow us to reproduce does not enforce cultural standards of femininity or masculinity. However, the belief that boys who like pink and sparkly things are really girls, and that girls who play with trucks are really boys, does enforce cultural standards onto boys and girls. It is a patriarchal reversal that feminists who are against gender are the ones reinforcing gender, while those who worship gender are freeing us from it.
Here are some things that are demonstrably true: same-sex attraction has always existed, exceptions to cultural ideas about how men and women should behave have always existed, gay men appearing to be “feminine” and lesbians appearing to be “masculine” have always existed, we are born with a certain personality which normally cannot be changed, and it is patriarchy that reinforces rigid gender roles and compulsory heterosexuality.