On why the “gender critical” arguments are to be rebutted not rejected

This was originally written as a comment here: http://feministsfightingtransphobia.wordpress.com/2013/09/28/not-up-for-debate-and-putting-solidarity-in-action ; editing as a post because I think the point is important. Disclaimer: I do not identify as a feminist (though, being an individualist liberal, subscribe to many of the same political/social beliefs as liberal feminists do). i use the word “feminist” extensively because the context is about a feminist document, and because “gender critical” authors are trying to claim they represent feminism; really the issue is wider than one movement.

Real issues affecting the lives of most trans people are not decided by any form of feminists, TERF or otherwise. Only a minority of trans people are interested in feminist activism, but all are affected by government policy on issues like identification and access to treatment. This policy is decided by politicians and the electorate, not by feminists. The “gender critical” side appears to be working on a two pronged strategy: presenting an outwardly convincing theoretical rebuttal to trans rights that looks pro-woman rather than fundamentalist and ideally appeals to a broad part of the female electorate, and at the same time presenting trans people and their allies as bullies, aggressors, etc.

They do not stand a chance of getting anywhere close to enough support on their own to mater in anything practical. But there is a very real risk of conservative politicians using their theories – as well as their presentation of trans people as unstable etc – as a part of a political attack on trans people. This could, for the fundies, be a way of rebounding after losing their battle on same-sex marriage. And this could be extremely dangerous – especially here in Western Europe where transition is, currently. usually covered by state-funded medicine.

For that battle, a powerful feminist theoretical response to their outwardly rational theories might be a strong weapon. I do get your point of a boycott as a way to disallow them to appropriate feminism as a whole for a political battle. But, whether or not you engage them as persons, it appears to be quite important to have ready responses to their repeatedly proffered points. Ideally to publish some sort of “101″ that lists these points one by one with a coherent response to each. (I did some little attempts in my blog but, I guess, they don’t amount to much – though perhaps my exposure of some alleged doctors they quote might prove useful).

Such a list could also serve a therapeutic purpose for trans people feeling bad about “hurting women” after reading some “gender critical” texts. I think that some of the signatories to that statement could do a great job of this one.

Another part is their (“gender critical” radfem) repeated claims of “rape/violence threats” from “trans activists”. These should be investigated. I recently have a feeling they might be the work of transphobic sock puppets, and exposing such could be quite good for any upcoming political battles.

 

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