[ETA: Re-arranged a bit and changed some language per discussion in comments with Zoe Brain.]
Heya everybody, GallingGalla here, she of the recently-nuked blog. Yeah, I was just getting so weary of constantly battling cis feminists defining their theories all over my body. But, there’s one subject that I felt like I need to speak out on, and I am honored that Lisa invited me to write a guest post about this subject here.
Anyway, from Wikipedia, kapo:
The German word also means “foreman” and “non-commissioned officer“, and is derived from French for “Corporal” (fr:Caporal) or the Italian word capo‘. Kapos received more privileges than normal prisoners, towards whom they were often brutal. They were often convicts who were offered this work in exchange for a reduced sentence or parole, however they were usually murdered and replaced with a new batch of prisoners at regular intervals.
Evangelina Carters is a therapist and an HBS woman who offers this handy classification guide to help us distinguish between the rare flawless gem that is the “true transsexual” and the rest of us, shall I say, “damaged goods”. Please go read it. I’m not going to fisk this in detail, because, really, my stomach has limits.
I think that this piece is rather well representative of the attitudes of HBS women. It is clear that she writes it from the perspective of a white, middle-class, heteronormative woman who views the world through a cis lens. In and of itself, writing from that perspective certainly won’t make you any friends outside of that narrow little world, but I don’t think you’ll be sent to the lake of fire, either. However, saying that yours is the only valid perspective, and using that perspective and your privileges to split yourself off from the community that you are part of while actively enabling those who are oppressing that same community is, in my mind, a moral outrage. And that is exactly what Ms. Carters, and many HBS women, are doing.
HBS women define an extremely narrow life trajectory that they think is the only legitimate one for trans* women to follow (I say “woman” because, like many other transmisogynist women, HBS women all but erase the existence of trans men): that of the woman who senses her target gender at an early age; who transitions fully, with the proper hormones and proper surgery, as soon as possible; who is heterosexual upon transition; who is completely and totally stealth; who absolutely will not associate, in any way, with any element of the LGBTQ community. (You’ll note that she calls trans women who do not fit that exact trajectory “transgender men”.) Those who follow that narrow trajectory account for only a very small part of the trans* / genderqueer / gender-variant population.
HBS women then proceed to argue that cis society (including, notably, anti-trans radical feminists and white, middle-class feminists in general) grant them special privileges to them and only them while at the same time they pull rank with that same cis society in oppressing those trans* / gq / gv people that are not part of their special club.
Carters uses gender-essentialist language that is ludicrous on its face:
True transsexuals have a greater number of sex markers congruent with the sex of their brain: hands tend to be smaller, feet smaller, noses smaller, physical frame smaller, and generally slightly wider hips than normal for a male. Often the effect of puberty was not as dramatic as in normal males, though not in all cases. This physicality also explained the marked difference in ages that the affected people became aware that they had something different about them.
This has to be one of the finest examples of just-so “science” that I’ve seen in a long time. Talk about warping inventing reality to fit your pet theory. Carters could teach anti-trans radical feminists a thing or two.
HBS women are:
(1) trying to carve out a chunk of special cis/heteronormative-society-granted privilege for themselves while actively and knowingly participating in the continued oppression of the vast majority of trans* / gq / gv people;
(2) making hateful statements that are very similar to those made by anti-trans radical feminists, and therefore directly participating with them in the oppression of trans* / gq / gv people, including enabling their murders. Both anti-trans radical feminists and HBS women are using cis men as their proxies to commit acts of violence that they are too embarrassed or too ‘pure-wymynly-non-violent’ or too properly ladylike to commit. This may not be their (anti-trans radical feminists and HBS women) conscious intent, but that is the *effect*;
(3) engaging in blatant classism (including statements to the effect that trans women who are so poor that they are living on the street “just aren’t committed enough, they can scrape up the money somehow”);
(4) engaging in blatant racism; they know or *should know* how race and class are tied together. Here’s a very ugly example of simultaneous racism and transmisogyny – HBS-er Cathryn Platine write regarding Autumn Sandeen, a blogger at Pam’s House Blend:
When trans identified people approach women’s space as trans, they are confirming the accusations of the radical separatists, they are essentially trying to colonize or invade women’s space. This would seem to be a no brainer to me, but is a rather simple concept that immediately raises the back hairs of the transgendered crowd. It apparently is so threatening a concept that Pam Spaulding’s of Pam’s House Blend Blog house tranny, Autumn Sandeen, branded it hate speech! Sandeen is someone who is actually trying to raise money to go to the Democratic Convention for the specific purpose of causing a bathroom incident! Holy crap Batman. If this isn’t a perfect example of someone who claims womanhood on the one hand and denies it on the other trying to invade women’s space, I have no idea what would. It would seem self evident to me that if you are not woman identified you do not belong in women’s space.
(“House tranny” references the term “House Negro“.)
(5) engaging in blatant ableism, by stating that every trans* / gq / gv person except themselves, is mentally ill / “paraphilic” / “fetishistic”;
(6) are in general creating yet another structure of privilege and therefore actively reinforcing kyriarchy;
(6a) as part of that, are silencing trans men and those on the f-to-* spectrum.
HBS women are doing this for privileges that are illusory. Calling yourself an “HBS woman” will not protect you from losing your job when you are outed. Spitting in the faces of other trans* / gq / gv people will not protect you from being beaten up in the women’s bathroom by Alix Dobkin’s friends who just clocked you, or from being arrested, abused, and possibly raped by those transphobic cops. And splitting yourself from the rest of your community will not stop the ever-present, low-level, subconscious fear of being clocked, outed, scanned, questioned, doubted, delegitimized, silenced, erased. HBS women are part of the trans* / gq / gv community whether they like it or not.
Zoe Brain has a more nuanced and complex take on HBS and the question of transsexual / intersex. Please read the entire article. I will say, however, that I am uncomfortable with these two paragraphs, as there seem to be some mixed messages and I will admit that I was triggered by the third sentence in the first paragraph below, and I’m having trouble fitting it into the context of the rest of the article:
I place zero weight on my own self-perceptions, that I’m just a woman with an interesting medical history . Likewise my own desires as to what “should be”. For if I had my druthers, there would be a nice neat binary, with HBS men and women easily and clearly distinguished from a variety of self-advertising publicity-seeking “TG Pride” paraphiliacs and fetishists.
For that matter, I would like to be either regarded as Intersexed or Transsexual(ie only neurally Intersexed), and not something in-between, with characteristics of both. Still, if I’m going to dream, let’s go back to conception and give me 46xx chromosomes and a standard factory model female body, one that matches my brain.
It is time to call out HBS women who actively participate in the oppression of trans* / genderqueer / gender variant people for what they are: Kyriarchists. Kapos.
And it is time for the trans* / gq / gv community to stop tolerating their behavior.
[ETA: I neglected to link to Zoe Brain's post, and also, as requested in her comment, I extended the quotation from her article.]