Anti-Trans Hate from Suzanne Moore and Julie Birchill Isn’t the Point–Using Feminism to Push Transmisogyny Is

What Do You Mean, Trans Women Are Women?If you haven’t been following #trans Twitter in the UK lately, let me briefly bring you up to speed. First, UK journalist Suzanne Moore published a piece in the New Statesman about women’s anger, which included a throwaway line that justifiably got a lot of trans activists pissed off: “We are angry with ourselves for not being happier, not being loved properly and not having the ideal body shape – that of a Brazilian transsexual.” Moore defended herself by saying that trans issues were not the point of the article and published a piece in the Guardian where she called intersectionality “its own rectum” and attempted to sound like the sane, logical one focused on women’s issues while implicitly casting the trans Twitterati as narcissistic and irrational. Julie Birchill then shored this opinion up in a more openly vitriolic way when she wrote the Guardian follow-up piece, Transsexuals should cut it out.

Here’s the thing: the Burchill piece clearly has one aim. It’s there to stir people up. It’s there to get the Guardian clicks (which is why I haven’t linked the article; you can Google). It’s there to sell ads. And while it pisses me off that the Guardian would publish such a thing, I also know what their business is. The thing that really gets me riled up is slightly different, and that’s the fact that these arguments seem rational to some people—that this hate speech is being put out there, on its own, without any kind of warning or counterpoint, and left to sit and seep into the brains of folks who really haven’t thought about trans issues.

Blah blah, transsexual lobby, blah blah. Burchill openly insults us for funsies, but at the same time she and Moore are pushing an insidious, dangerous argument. The argument is that trans people don’t care about women, that we are getting in the way of women’s rights, that we are anti-feminist. The argument is that trans women, in particular, are so concerned about penises that they can’t focus on the important issues of domestic violence, human trafficking, and women’s rights generally. And it’s important that we stand up and loudly proclaim that this argument is bullshit.

The scary thing is that to many, it will sound logical. And of course, it sounds terrible. To someone who’s never interacted with a trans woman on a friendly basis, it’s probably not so hard to jump to “oh my God, they’re so selfish that they’re ignoring domestic violence in favor of lobbying for sex change surgeries!” We need to directly attack this strawman argument. We need to point out that many trans women are in fact actively engaged in women’s rights issues that have nothing to do with trans identity. It isn’t our fault that anti-trans feminists only notice trans women when they’re talking about trans stuff, because that’s what they want to pick on. A trans woman working against trafficking or DV doesn’t make the news when the news is all about making fun of “those silly transsexuals.”

But even more importantly, we need to make it clear that transmisogyny is anti-feminist. And this has nothing to do with penises, honestly. It’s about human rights, it’s about casting trans women as less than human and how that is a patriarchal act. It’s about issues that cis feminists talk about all the time: body image, gender stereotyping, women’s dignity. Why do these arguments disappear when an anti-trans feminist is presented with a trans woman’s body? We need to stand up in the media and shout about these hypocrisies. When someone starts dividing “real” women’s rights from the “trivial” ones, we have a big fucking problem.

Say it with me, now. As a favorite Facebook group of mine proclaims, Transmisogyny Is A Women’s Issue! Moore, Birchill, and their anti-trans feminist buddies are simply on the wrong side of history.

About Avory

Avory Faucette is a queer feminist activist, writer, and public speaker. Zie graduated from the University of Iowa with a JD in 2009, focusing on international human rights and gender/sexuality issues in the law. Hir current work focuses on queer identity, policy, and marginalized identities under the queer umbrella. As a genderqueer person, zie comments frequently on non-binary identity, transgender and genderqueer issues, and media coverage of these populations. Zie also speaks at colleges, universities, and events on transgender and queer issues and conducts trainings on related topics.

Posted on January 13, 2013, in media, trans and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. I didn’t sense any transmisogyny from the article, or even its follow-ups. However I do wince to see someone, when called out on a comment that offends or insults someone she doesn’t understand, do ANYTHING except apologize and promise to do better next time.

  2. Why do people use the word ‘hate’ so freely?

  3. Can I take that back, what I just said? I take it back. What a nasty business. They really exposed themselves.

  4. I’ve watched this with some interest, and overall it saddens me. It saddens me Burchill launched a venomous attack, but it also saddens me in how the trans community overreacted to Moore.

    Not everyone delves into issues so they are in tune with current discussion and terminology. At best hers was a throwaway line, ambiguous. What I’ve read of her since, she seemed to steer clear of attacking transfolk, but defended freedom of speech (which works both ways.)

    We make no friends by lashing out at Moore. We’ve made no friend in her, and by many who might watch from neutral space. We need to take care with where we aim and remember the goal is both to enlighten and win over public opinion so that equality has an easier passage.

    • If by “steer clear of,” you mean “dive into.” She made it very clear that she doesn’t care about trans women, doesn’t consider them real women or real feminists, and doesn’t have a problem with describing their bodies in violent and crude ways in order to harm them. And it was cis women who originally called out her phrasing as problematic, and the most vitriolic thing they did was describe the language as transphobic, to which Moore responded with explicit hate-speech.

  5. Thanks so much for mentioning Transmisogyny is a Women’s Issue, Avory!

  6. Valerie Solanas

    How can a feminist be “misogynistic” about a born male who has a fake pussi and tits? I guess you’d call yourself a “lesbian” now too right? You are not a born woman with ovaries-a cervix etc! Why can’t you admit that? Then people wouldn’t be so hateful towards you and your kind? Why try and live a lie? You are clearly delusional. Feminists main concerns are real-natural-born women not transvestites. At least they admit they are not really women. I hate the way u try to forcce yourselves on our feminist mission. Your just as bad as an aggressive male. Who the fuck do you think you are?

  1. Pingback: Thoughts on transmisogyny | jackalop.es

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