So, V at Resisterance decided to tell us how Debi was a bad person back when we didn’t get along anyway, and responded to the discussion in that post. Trinity continued her responses (with more discussion in the comments).
I’m trying to cut down on directly addressing individuals for what they’re saying and simply address the societal systems they exploit when they say such things, but it’s clear that V really doesn’t understand what cissexual privilege is, and the way she trivializes being trans is so deeply offensive that I felt it necessary to respond to her hateful words against my life.
My problem with V isn’t that she points out that violence is done to women. I agree with her, and I think that we should be shouting from the rooftops that this violence is constantly happening. We should grab society and shake it until it finally reacts and agrees, “Yes, this should stop.”
My problem is that she uses this to establish a hierarchy of oppressions:
“How many more trans women must die violent, needless deaths while we wait for those who should be our natural allies – non-trans women – to join us in speaking out and taking a stand against it? How long are we expected to wait?”
I think that its quite sick to say something like that among feminists who have spent lifetimes beaten and raped by male violence. It shows a total lack of empathy or understanding of what women go through in terms of male violence.
And from Shut Up, Sit Down, linked below:
femicide – its cis privilege!
1 in 3 raped in her lifetime – cis privilege!
average of 2 women murdered a week in the uk by current or past ‘partners’ – cis privilege!
less than 6% chance of seeing your rapist found guilty, even if you by some miracle get him arrested and in court in the first place – cis privilege!
birth rape – cis privilege!
a childhood of being forced into femininity – cis privilege!
having the nerve to resist it – cis privilege!
gee im so glad i have all this cis privilege.
Because to V, apparently, recognition of the brutal, misogynist and transphobic violence directed at trans women somehow takes away from the misogynist violence directed at both cis and trans women. V clearly doesn’t believe that trans women are included in the latter, but she doesn’t know what she’s talking about.
In fact, V says that any oppression she experiences means she doesn’t count as cis. Heck, she claims she can actually renounce it by “resisting femininity,” (with apologies to Anji for multiple pingbacks to this one post) as if cis privilege is all about your gender presentation:
lisa – its been pointed out to you before that many radical feminists do in fact make a real effort to resist femininity for political reasons. i wonder how come you can define us all as ‘cis’ when you dont know that that is true. how can we be cis simply because we are not trans? how come you dont recognise that there are in fact other ways to resist or not conform to gender rules that do not come under trans? why this need to force people into boxes that only you are allowed to label?
At it’s most basic, cissexual privilege is having a body that society expects you to have – if you present as a woman, your body is female. If you present as a man, your body is male. There’s no confusion, no change that someone will decide that you’re really the other sex because your genitals don’t meet their satisfaction, that no one will murder you. V’s not renouncing that. I’ll admit that she’s complicating the idea of her own cisgender privilege, but the idea of “cisgender” is more fluid, with softer boundaries and related to more liminal categories that neither qualify as cisgender nor transgender, and I will never label anyone cisgender because to do so implies that I know anything about how they relate to their gender.
But I know this – resisting femininity doesn’t give up cissexual privilege. You’re not going to be refused life-saving medical care because you have breasts and a penis, or because you’re a man with a vagina. No one will justify killing you by calling you “it” and saying that you were really a man who tricked him into thinking you were a woman (whether or not the story is true). No one will let someone off with voluntary manslaughter for using that story to excuse killing you.
And it’s not just murder. Trans women are violently attacked and raped at least as cis women are just for being women, but this is compounded with being trans. As I point out above, trans women are seen as safer targets. Further, the police are not friends. Until recently, just being a trans woman of color in Washington DC (and not just Washington DC) was considered “probable cause” to suspect that woman of being a sex worker. That is profiling based on the intersection of race, gender, and trans status.
So with that out of the way, V says this:
In answer to your question about my cis-ness. I live with a male partner, I have two children. I’m very much female, but I dont wear skirts, makeup, heeled shoes, all that jazz. I do dye my hair pink sometimes, does that qualify as cis privilege? Im just so lucky to be born female and low class! gasp! Where may I spend this cis-currency?
I laugh at your fucking clueless stuff about cis privilege because it’s so bloody academic. You want a bio? Nows as good a time as any.
Cis privilege? Whatever. To me you just look like another bunch of rich girls who never had anything that urgent to live through, who had the luxury of identity problems while people like me were trying to stay alive in whatever way we could. Sob story? Whatever. Thats where I come from, its just the way it was, I can keep it hidden but I cant change it. I was never comfortable as me, either, but I didnt have luxury time to sit around whining about it, there were bigger more immediate issues to deal with.
You have your identity crisis and your anxieties, fine. I get that and I wish it wasnt so bad for you. But you arent the only ones, and frankly, id have begged to have such problems. So stop fucking shaking your labels around like they mean anything more than they do, we dont live in Disneyworld where dreams are all that matters. Youre stuck on creating labels for dreams that havent even been imagined properly yet, while Im stuck trying to deal with a few decades immersed in the dirt and violence of the most neglected and hated parts of a rich and judgmental society. Theres no reason we cant fumble on along next to each other without even acknowledging each other, because we dont share the same existence at all.
I trimmed out her life story. If you want to read it, the link’s at the beginning of this post.
But just for my own experiences: I grew up in an abusive working class household. I was constantly bullied and beaten in school for being too feminine, I was in an abusive relationship for five years. I am not a rich girl indulging in the luxury of “identity problems” (whatever that’s supposed to mean – I’ve never had trouble with my identity). Being trans was an immediate issue, just as being abused as a child, just as surviving domestic violence, just as making enough money to eat and pay rent. It is so self-indulgent and ignorant to assume that because you do not understand trans women that you think we’re all wealthy gender dilettantes.
V, nothing – not one thing – you mention above has anything to do with your cissexual privilege. It’s like white privilege – you cannot simply decide you’re not white one day and poof, it’s gone. No matter what you do, it’s still there. Resist it, try to pretend it doesn’t exist, try to throw up smoke screens about all of the intersections that affect your life – you’re still cissexual. You’re still a woman with a female body. Unless you decide to transition, this is how you’ll remain.
Your male partner? Trans women can have male partners. I’ve had male partners. Your kids? Trans women can have kids (although not by pregnancy – there’s a bit of privilege for you, the privilege of biological motherhood). Dye your hair pink? I’ve dyed my hair pink. You were born lower class? I was born lower class. Academic? Radical feminism is bloody academic. Cis privilege isn’t academic. It’s what you’re born with and live with, and experience every day as easily as you breathe.
Trans and cis are labels, yes, but so are woman and feminist and lower class and white and black. But labels aren’t without meaning. They’re inscribed with meaning. If labels had no meaning there’d never be a point to using them. My labels – trans and cis – that I use to differentiate between women like me and women like you – are valuable and useful labels. My labels are not based on dreams but my day to day lived realities. That you trivialize being “trans” as “living in Disneyworld” and as “dreams that havent even been imagined properly yet” and insist that somehow you are “stuck trying to deal with a few decades immersed in the dirt and violence of the most neglected and hated parts of a rich and judgmental society” and I have rainbows and skittles? That you think “we dont share the same existence at all?”
That you can trivialize my life so thoroughly that you can say without an ounce of irony or self-reflection, “id have begged to have such problems?”
You wish you could experience the luxury of being trans? You wish you could have your marriage voided based on your chromosomes? You wish you could be denied custody of your children because your birth sex does not match your current sex? You wish that you could be placed in the wrong prison for your sex because the courts and police see you as the wrong sex? You wish that you could lose your job, your family, your friends, and end up doing survival sex work? You wish that your right to use the proper restroom be contested with lies, slander, and libel? You wish that the civil rights movement that supposedly works for your rights constantly uses you as a token to buy more rights for the rest of the movement?
You wish for this?
If I could, I’d give it to you. Just for a week, a month, a year.
But, seriously, what you wrote about? What’s happened to you? Many (not all) of those things have happened to me, and I’ve had to deal with some stuff you haven’t. Our lives are not exactly alike, but we have a lot more in common than you think, and more than you’d expect comes from both of us being women. I empathize with many of your experiences, because I’ve lived them. In addition to being trans.
Now please go read some Audre Lorde.
Edited to correct my mislabeling of V’s partner.