I truly believe with my heart and soul that we will never have an equal society whilst patriarchy is our sole governor. Society guided and influenced by half the population and its dominant interests is not society at all, but merely a large subsection of it
We form our earliest ideas about gender and patriarchy in childhood. Let me push the envelope a little further. We are indoctrinated with ideas about gender and patriarchy in childhood, the majority of them destructive and non-beneficial for individuals or social cohesion.
Two such examples revolve around the children’s characters My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and the merchandise which accompanies the television series and figures.
Michael Morones, an 11-year-old boy from Chicago was beaten and left unconscious over his love of this television show My Little Pony. What does it say about our society, our world, and culture? when a particular character is seen as gay or somebody’s likes and dislikes are policed by patriarchy to such an extent that suicide is attempted? A piece of coloured plastic is just that. Then it is fashioned into a toy, an innocent toy for children to play with. Yet no gender is imbued within it. It is society that imbues these horrible social constructions into toys. The question is not who told Michael Morones he could play with Pinkie from My Little Pony. This is perfectly fine and perfectly okay. Children should be able to play with whatever toys they want irrespective of gendered marketing ploys.
But the more pertinent question to ask is who told these boys that My Little Pony was gay? That is the more disturbing revelation from this sorry incident.A toy is a toy, and to give out a message that some toys are gayer than others is fundamentally wrong. But under patriarchy gay or lesbian is seen as inferior or lesser. And if anything what happened to Michael shows how pernicious and dangerous it is.
But the confirmation bias emanating from gender is dangerous also. As part of the series, “What Would You Do?” a segment was filmed that showed a mother and son arguing about whether to buy a boy a Belle costume, and later a girl a Spiderman costume for Halloween.
Parental resistance in both cases is due to the inculcation of gender stereotypes into boys and girls. Blue is for boys, and pink is for girls.
This stereotype and red line within gender is very rarely questioned and even more rarely transgressed. Even if a girl wants to dress up as Spiderman, or a boy wants to dress up as Princess Belle, they are still your child, and it does not make them abnormal, nor automatically gay. All it means is that they can think for themselves and have their own mind and this should be celebrated and not discouraged.
How does this relate to gender transition? Well, for me personally I break gender stereotypes. I am not a macho, unempathetic man. I like helping people, I like caring. I’m very gentle. I have seen the effect of the reverse upon my own life. It appalled and damaged me so much that I did not want to be a man. I thought that being a man was a singular rather than a pluralistic experience. You know, the most comforting thing is masculinity and femininity are social constructs. They don’t really exist. So we can ignore them altogether, smash them and try to diminish their influence upon our lives.
Women are not naturally nurturing, and men are not naturally uncaring. We have just been indoctrinated with these ideas, and if we believe a lie long enough we can try to live up to it.
Well in that respect I failed. I was a crap man under hegemonic masculinity. I failed the man box test, even though it does not exist Under the definition of masculinity I’m not a man, I must be a woman. Masculinity and its dominant models thereof have nothing to offer me. I’ll just do things my way. I have suffered under patriarchy. However I’m done with that suffering. There is also a group of people suffering far more under patriarchy, that group of people is women.
Returning to trans activism, in amongst the discourse about trans excluding radical feminists, I failed to notice for a long time whilst invested in the idea of gender that there were two sides to every story. By originating a dialogue with radical feminists I hoped and wanted to atone for that, and apologise for being a dick in the past.
Returning to things chronologically, I had now been talking to radical feminists for quite some time, enough time to know details of their lives their pasts and some of their futures.
By this time personally, I was also beginning to really like the people I talk to. No longer was I just hearing one side of the story but a rounded narrative. My opinions were changing and my belief in gender as identity was slowly crumbling.
The content of this blog was changing also. Rather than being trans centric I was now branching out into other areas. Areas which to be fair I had neglected. Discussions happened around disability issues, feminism and mental health stigma. These are all lifelong passions of mine but I had put them on the back burner in relentless pursuit of womanhood.
Around this time also, I was forging a professional writing career, something I had longed to do since I was a schoolchild. My main abilities academically were creative ones, and I had a real passion for English. At degree level I managed to create the perfect fusion cookery, studying it alongside Sociology. I loved arguing, I loved theoretical propositions I love criticism and I love thought.
My body is not active due to quadriplegia, so I think my brain overcompensates by thinking religiously. This is borne out by the fact I have trouble sleeping at night. Writing was the perfect antidote.
Two hashtags proliferated on Twitter last year #fuckcispeople and #sharedgirlhood.
It seemed to me that the first was a huge firestorm visited upon the non-trans community. That’s what cis is you see – non-trans. It even comes with accompanying privilege which is about as real as the Loch Ness Monster for women.
So, I wrote about this hashtag for So So Gay Magazine along with the #diecisscum which it originated at the same time.
There is an opinion piece above mine in the link in favour of the hashtag, but I must stress that this was not written by me. I was quite happy to be credited for my half, but editorially I suspect it was more convenient to leave both pieces uncredited.
The binary between trans and cis is a false dichotomy. Cis people are not scum. There are individuals who are nasty in society but I have to say I find this binary disgusting and alien to me.
Primarily I find it to be so because the majority of the people who supported me through my transition were not trans. Furthermore I find it sad when jokes are made about lesbians and gay men because I have been part of the gay community since I was 18. Many people who supported me through transition are gay and lesbian. I find the attitude expressed by such hashtags prehistoric, disgusting, alienating and as bad as any homophobia I have borne witness to. I saw a picture of three radical feminists, deriding their non stereotypical appearance in the publication Transadvocate.
This would be fine except I have friends who look like the women pictured and they have been beaten up and been told they look like boys. This is what cis privilege is.
Women live in a rape culture, this is what cis privilege is.
And oh I nearly forgot. Many trans activists found the hashtag shared girlhood to be trans phobic. Women should be able to talk about the experiences unique to their biology in a world which they inhabit. Women are part of that world, and they should not be censored to spare the blushes of a few activists. The facts are these, women menstruate and women give birth. This is not biological essentialism these are facts and it affects women in unique ways. Trans women of course do not go through these processes. I haven’t.
I mentioned earlier that I have always been the Girl’s Best Friend. Therefore in my teenage years and college years I was subjected to a lot of talk about periods, boyfriends, girlfriends and general female discourse. Far from complaining about it I embraced it. I felt glad that girls could talk about these things with me and share their lives with me. I would far rather that than they suffer in silence. So when I saw trans activists complaining about these things denouncing women as trans phobic for discussing their own oppression it seemed nonsensical to me. If you want to be a woman at least show some solidarity, not flick the cognitive dissonance switch when things get difficult.
Women and some gay men hurt themselves under patriarchy. They suffer eating disorders, they cut themselves in order to measure up to patriarchy’s impossible standards which we will never meet. I am not saying that trans people do not suffer with these problems too. I just find it utterly totally wrong that you would mock people and say fuck them just because they are not trans.
They cannot help the manner of their birth, and being born cis is not akin to life on a silver platter. To perpetuate the sort of woman hating misogyny I have seen whilst you hope to be or think you are a member of an oppressed class is frankly barmy.
My scepticism increased when I attended the Women’s Aid Conference on digital stalking and online harassment. I came away from that a different person, seeing the world through different eyes. I spent the day listening to speeches and talks from women articulating their oppression they had suffered at the hands of the Internet.
I realised that the way women was suffering was completely unique to any kind of suffering I had seen before. I now knew what patriarchy was outside of the classroom, in a real-world context. I now knew the consequence of masculinity and male dominated power pyramids.
I now knew the consequence of unadulterated male power. Every kind of abuse, degradation, manifestation of violence and humiliation of women you could imagine. What a fucking legacy to be proud of, eh patriarchy, masculinity? It is uncanny to me how you are oddly silent at times like that when it comes to being confronted with the actual reality of women’s oppression.
But mercifully, radical feminists are still fighting the good fight. That is what happens when you have a class analysis at the heart of your activism. They fight for women because who else does – apart from their allies?
You see, class is like a Jenga tower. If one brick falls from the tower, then all the remaining bricks are affected.
Radical feminists stand in solidarity with one another under patriarchy. It is not a matter of bigotry or nastiness but one of survival against the impossible conditions which patriarchy creates. I have been reading Germaine Greer’s seminal tract The Female Eunuch. In the prelude to the chapter The Stereotype there is a quote from Mary Wollstonecraft from her work A Vindication of the Rights of Women first published in 1792. Yes patriarchy is depressingly immortal! I quote;
“Taught from infancy that beauty is woman’s sceptre, the mind shapes itself to the body, and roaming round its gilt cage, only seeks to adorn its prison”
Germaine Greer naturally elaborates on this.
“Her essential quality is castratedness. She absolutely must be young, her body hairless, her flesh buoyant and she must not have a sexual organ. No musculature must distort the smoothness of the lines of her body, although she may be painfully slender or warmly cuddly.”
What Greer is therefore saying is that women under patriarchy are conditioned to be anything but real. This is the reality of the prison which Wollstonecraft prophetically foretold in 1792.
Wollstonecraft has further depressing news as well.
“She was created to be the toy of man, his rattle and it must jingle in his ears whenever, dismissing reason he chooses to be amused.”
Under patriarchy women are not human, women are not toys, women are subhuman chattels for the amusement of men. A rattle does not have a brain. Nor is it capable of independent thought, it merely acts as an echo chamber for the amusement of men when they click their fingers. This is how patriarchy views women, disgustingly.
You know following the digital harassment and stalking conference, a radical feminist told me that once you see patriarchy you cannot unsee it.
She was totally right. That is the point at which radical feminism got me if you like. That is also the point when gender lost me. I realised that I could not be happy in transition my sisters was suffering. If my friends, my rocks, my carer and my mother are not happy I’ not happy either.
Another feminist told me that radical feminism has a knack of creeping into your mind; she is definitely right about that too.
Following this though, I did not come to the decision to de-transition quickly. Every time I saw a radical feminist being attacked, I would say well I’m not like that. But by being trans, personally speaking whilst being also gender critical is a difficult position to maintain. It leaves you open to accusations of hypocrisy and double standards. It’s a bit like being vegetarian but still enjoying the occasional beef burger.
But for better or for worse I have never been exposed to much masculinity. All the influences that I count as worth anything in my life have come from women, and my mother brought me up well I think.
I guess what I’m saying is that I’m a pretty blank canvas. I am open to most ideas, not influenced by the social constructions of my sex. By now I knew that gender was hurting women. In terms of the chronology of these blog pieces we are in very recent times.
There was finally a straw which broke the camel’s back. It was this piece from the journalist Paris Lees. Lees has a weekly column in VICE magazine in which the raison d’être across the publication seems to be controversy at all costs, regardless of who gets trampled on in the process.
I mean, this article was not even journalism at all. It was a piece of personal indulgence on the part of the author, much like this one. I learned two things from that piece. Paris enjoys being objectified. Furthermore, to support her argument she enlists the help of other people who also enjoy catcalls who are to quote Paris “fucking hot.” Again the visual aesthetic privileged above everything.
One of the most offensive things for me about this scattergun piece was that they said they enjoyed being objectified like a piece of meat. I can think of many people however who would not enjoy this objectification such as rape victims, and shock horror, people with disabilities. You see women are not bodies, and disabled people are not bodies. We are people with feelings. Viewing women as objects and viewing disabled people as objects both set dangerous precedents and increase the potential for abuse. I was disgusted with the self gratifying tone of this piece, the total narcissism of it and the total disregard for how it might look to the outside world. You see I have been objectified all my life, treated like a piece of meat and the like. Funnily enough, I’ve never been eye-fucked in the street.
You see, women are treated very often as subhuman in society. People with disabilities are also treated as subhuman in society. The difference for me is though, instead of being sexually objectified, I am de-sexed, and robbed of any sexuality at all by populist socially constructed misogynistic bullshit discourse. Somebody even said to me once that I get chucked around like a piece of meat.
I reacted to the VICE piece with an alternating mixture of sadness and anger. I was told that there are some forms of objectification that people may welcome. Can somebody let me know where this parallel universe is? I don’t fancy going for a summer holiday??
Objectification is never welcome, at best it is tolerated. But that was the point when I thought enough was enough. Both as a disabled person and as someone with integrity who cares and loves women. In fact I probably love women more that I love myself, for it is women who have befriended me throughout the life course. It is women who care for me. It is women who have nursed me. Most of all it is women who give a shit about me.
Interestingly, when trans women have insulted me in the past, it is my appearance and my disability they have used to attack me. This saddens me.
A world built on patriarchy is not a world I want to be part of. A world built on visual aesthetic alone is not a world I want to be part of. A world where half the population are routinely, daily and often hourly, subject to misogyny, sexism cruelty and all forms of abuse as a matter of course is not a world I want to be part of.
. So what do we do? We change it. We change the status quo. We smash it to smithereens. You see I don’t believe personally that women are inferior to me whatever the class I belong to thinks. I believe that I am a better person because of women, because of my lesbian and gay friends, and because of my radical feminist friends.
I don’t need to transition to wear the clothes I want to wear, to think how I want to think and believe what I want to believe.
Of course I do have a diagnosis of gender dysphoria. I have been taking hormones. But none of those things will alter my heart or my soul. I am the same person as I was before I transitioned as I am de-transitioning. I am someone who cares, someone who is compassionate and firmly believes in the rights of women. I am someone who hates patriarchy, who hates women suffering, being objectified and dehumanised under this dastardly patriarchy.
Yes, perhaps I do feel trapped in the wrong body. Perhaps I do have a degree of dysphoria around my body. But I am disabled, who is disabled and doesn’t? But women suffer far more from gender dysphoria than I ever will. Gender hurts women. Masculinity and femininity are essentialisms that need to be destroyed piece by piece.
On a personal note, I have to say that disability and trans are a particularly toxic mixture. Trans and being trans made me hate myself as much as being a man ever had. It made me feel inferior, ugly, non-fuckable and thoroughly unlovable. I was constantly comparing myself to other trans women who were thinner, more glamorous, prettier than me. That is what patriarchy encourages us to do. Compare, contrast and hate; not only ourselves but each other.
Now I can see although it has been a painful realisation why radical feminists want to smash it so much.
Among radical feminists I am never judged for my appearance, because there is no one singular suitable appearance. There are as many possible permutations of appearance as there are people, and no singular appearance, mode of dress, mode of speech or mode of being is privileged over another.
The psychiatrist when you go for your first assessment for gender dysphoria will ask “how long have you felt like a woman?”
There is no such thing as feeling like a woman, because women are not a monolith, any more than men are, because if we were all monolithic there would be no hope for me.
All there is is humanity, and forms of spirituality or religion if they are to your liking. But masculinity and femininity, they are boxes of bullshit. I was abused because I wasn’t man enough. I was abused because I wasn’t tough enough. I was abused because I was a sissy. I was abused because I don’t need masculinity to feel secure and my stepfather did. I now realise I don’t need gender, or to change myself.
Society needs to change for me, but most of all for women because gender, yes gender hurts.
If anybody says you should change, that you should be more feminine, more masculine, tougher, less emotional, more of a man fuck them ignore them! The best thing you can do is to be yourself. That is what I’ll be doing.
Thank you for reading. Thank you to all the radical feminists and others who have supported me. It is no exaggeration to say that without you this entry would never have been written. It has been emotional, and has been one of the hardest things to write I have ever written. I suspect when I read it back it will look like my own personal therapy session. There may be more than a grain of truth in that.