My personal blog as a 'grown-up' Goth and Romantic living in the Highlands of Scotland. I write about the places I go, the things I see and my thoughts on life as a Goth and the subculture, and things in the broader realm of the Gothic and darkly Romantic. Sometimes I write about music I like and sometimes I review things. This blog often includes architectural photography, graveyards and other images from the darker side of life.

Goth is not just about imitating each other, it is a creative movement and subculture that grew out of post-punk and is based on seeing beauty in the dark places of the world, the expression of that in Goth rock. It looks back to the various ways throughout history in which people have confronted and explored the macabre, the dark and the taboo, and as such I'm going to post about more than the just the standards of the subculture (Siouxsie, Sisters of Mercy, Bauhaus, et al) and look at things by people who might not consider themselves anything to do with the subculture, but have eyes for the dark places. The Gothic should not be limited by what is already within it; inspiration comes from all places, the key is to look with open eyes, listen carefully and think with an open mind..

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Feminism and Anti-Trans Sentiment

After a certain rant published in the Observer, there has been a flare-up of what is seen to be an animosity between transwomen and feminists (as if these two groups can be lumped into two monolithic rivals...), stemming from outright transphobic sentiment from feminists. I'd like to start with saying that I see people as individuals, and judging them on gender expression is pretty much never going to be something that I do. I judge people on whether or not they are nice to others, and that's about it. 

Feminism was supposed to be about creating a world in which men and women were truly equal, and while there have certainly been an improvement in many societies, the world is still not an equal place, not even in countries where women are legally equals, and therefore our battles are not done. Part of what feminism has fought for is seeing women as people, and not pigeonholing them by their genitals, so it seems exceedingly hypocritical when people who call themselves feminists go around pigeonholing others according to their genitals. 

I can see grounds for reasonable debate between the transgender community and the feminist community when it comes to gender essentialism. A lot of feminists believe that behaviour and character traits are not inherently caused by biological sex, and that social constructs around gender and gender expression are harmful to both women and men because they create narrow socially-acceptable ranges of behaviour for men and women to follow, and so from that viewpoint, the concept of feeling like a man trapped an outwardly female body, or a woman trapped in outwardly male body (and yes, I realise this a drastic reduction of something more complex) does not make sense, especially as there is a significant proportion of feminists who would be considered rather masculine women by the standards of society, and have fought very hard to increase the acceptance of their nature being outside of gender stereotypes and to not be labelled as manly or unwomanly for it. If you want to debate gender essentialism, then debate it rationally, cite studies and scientific research, educate yourselves and don't resort to name-calling, assumptions and other rude behaviour. Even if you are never going to agree with each other, you do not have the right to tell others how to live their lives - a little bit of tolerance goes a long way. 

To the feminists who are quite a way outside stereotypical gendered behaviour:
On this blog I often write about stereotypically "feminine" things like dresses and makeup, fashion, etc. These are only some of my interests, and a lot more of my interests are things that are traditionally "masculine", and I know very well what it is like to be mocked, bullied, and ostracised by other women for not being girly enough, and treated badly by men for the same 'reason', and I know what it's like to have abuse hurled at me in the street for not presenting as "feminine" enough for the standards of lowlife drunks. 

{It was only a few days ago that I had "Oi! Mosher! F**k off you lesbo dyke, f**k off out of town, we don't want your kind, you aren't even f**king FEMALE" shouted at me by a gang of yobs in the town centre because I happen to prefer combat trousers, army boots, a trench-coat and a short hair-style to the short skirts, high heels, and long blonde-hair worn by many party-goers that January Friday night. I was also still listening when the same yobs shouted lewd sexual comments at the girls in heels and short skirts...}

I know that it hurts when you're on the receiving end of the prejudice against those who do not conform to gender stereotypes, but the existence of transgender people does not somehow confirm these insults to be right, and it is not another attempt to say that you, as a non-stereotypical woman, ought to go become a man, because women aren't supposed to be like that. It is the way some others want to lives, and it is not an attack against yours. 

To feminists in general:
If someone born in a biologically male-sexed body has surgery to alter that body into one with female appearance, and live life as a woman, then they are going to receive a lot of the nasty inequalities aimed at women, as well as the prejudices that exist against transpeople. I can see why they'd want to join in with the feminist cause. Actually, I can see why any logical thinking person would want join in with the feminist cause; because anyone with any shred of empathy would realise that a world in which half the population are treated differently and as inferior to the other half is wrong. On a lot of feminist issues, whether someone is cis-gendered or trans-gendered should only really matter to their doctors and has no impact on the debate. Yes, there are certain health issues that can only affect cis-gendered women, and that things like reproductive rights issues are going to be particularly important to women who can get pregnant, but to outcast transgendered women from feminism because of this is equal to saying that cis-gendered women who have had hysterectomies, or are sterile, or whatever, cannot partake in feminism. 

Spend less time arguing about who does and does not get to be a feminist, and spend more time making the world a fairer place. Being mean to somebody else is not doing anything helpful to make others not be mean to you; this is playground stuff, I shouldn't have to explain it outside of work.

Oh, and never, ever get into the whole 'suffering Olympics' of trying to rank each other's woes and out-woe each other. Everyone's experiences are unique, and the amount of negativity they will get for being a certain minority will vary due to various factors. Really, this sort of behaviour is just pointless attempts at point-scoring. 


  1. I love you so much right now.

  2. This is a wonderfully written post! I care about gender discrimination, and I think trans* people have it very hard, so it's great to see some support! It is true what you said, they have to battle both the gender discrimination against women (or men if they are transmen) and also discrimination against trans people for being born in the wrong body.

    Thanks for writing this!

    1. I just feel like this whole "feminists vs. transpeople" thing is infighting amongst people who ought to all be on the same side and needs to stop.

  3. I have long believed that people with the above-mentioned behavior are terribly insecure. They are personalities who feel that it's only by isolating, denigrating and exercising power over others they can gain acceptance in the eyes of the majority. Perhaps they're threatened by the existence of non conformists because it points out their own personal lack of courage when it comes to living their own lives truthfully.

    In any event, I'm really sorry that you got treated that way. I know that I'd much rather keep company with someone of your caliber than theirs.

    1. People are rude to me on the streets a lot. I don't give them any response, and usually when I'm in a relatively good mood their words don't get to me. When I'm in a bad mood, there words have no effect on my opinion of myself, but they do make me depressed about how I'm unlikely to ever be accepted up here, or in a lot of places. There are parts of Bristol and London (and I presume places like Harajuku) where I could wear whatever and not be bothered, but in most places I've been I get a similar response, either to my lack of gender conformity or to my alternative appearance.

  4. I love this so much.

  5. We are who we are... Always...


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