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Hannah McCann @binarythis
, 17 tweets, 5 min read Read on Twitter
Really dismayed by @HadleyFreeman’s column in today’s @guardian so going to unpack a few of the claims made here and the (not good) implications for feminism
Important first to note that I am a cis woman. But I feel responsible as a feminist and gender studies teacher to speak up in this debate. Also if my radical feminist grandma can become a trans ally then there is hope that everyone can
First up, Freeman refers to the currently hotly debated changes to the Gender Recognition Act. For background: the changes have been recommended to lessen the stressful barriers experienced by trans people, who must currently be “assessed” by all kinds of clinicians
Let’s let that sink in first: gender is being medically and psychologically regulated. Imagine: someone an “expert” about YOUR identity that’s not actually YOU. That pathologises and strips autonomy, and provides strict rules about what gender “means” and “how” you must do it
Changes to the Act means being able to change your gender on official docs. It means greater safety, less pathogisation, less hoops, and importantly less stress placed on people to “prove” they meet some fairly arbitrary criteria of what it “really” means to be a man or a woman
So when Freeman flippantly disregards “self identification” she is dismissing all of this, but also implicitly suggesting that there should be some fairly strict criteria for determining gender
When gender hardens like this, when the category of “woman” becomes more narrow, more essential, it’s bad for everyone. It undermines solidarity, re-fixes the very gender norms we were trying to smash, and makes challenges to the category “woman” the problem rather than sexism
Freeman repeats every transphobic line in the book, helping to legitimise transphobic ideas in the community. Never mind that these claims ignore the violence trans people face in spaces like bathrooms - trans people are surveilled and threatened constantly
You’d think that the fact both cis women and trans and gender non conforming people experience gender based violence could be a site for shared resistance, but apparently not according to Freeman
If Freeman was really interested in lived experience, she’d attend to the extreme levels of violence that trans people are currently experiencing in the UK (bolstered by arguments like hers): theguardian.com/commentisfree/…
Freeman mockingly cites several trans activists, including Bergdorf who has consistently had her comments taken out of context by right wing press
But even out of context not centring “reproductive systems” in feminism is important because we shouldn’t reduce gender to biology. Isn’t that the whole bloody point of feminism?! “One is not born a woman”
Not “centring” DOES NOT MEAN “never speaking about”. This is a common fallacy - as if suddenly not defining feminism via “pussy hats” means we can’t talk about bodies at all
Hopefully by now you can see that what Freeman claims about transfeminism below is in fact exactly what she herself perpetuates, a sad tactic of those who defend hateful ideas (flip who is victim and who is perpetrator)
At the end Freeman tries to suggest her issue isn’t really with trans women, it’s with men, but we’re not buying it. This piece is a platform for transphobic ideas, sorry.
The most confusing claim that Freeman makes: biology is FACT, gender is a FEELING. Sounds like Freeman thinks self-identification is fine as long as you are “born a woman”. ie. never mind the revolutionary idea of challenging the system of gender norms and rules we are born into
In sum: this article acts to legitimise transphobia. It creates a vision of feminism that is not only anti-trans, it suggests gender should be more regulated, more pathogised, more founded in the “facts” of biology, more essential, more narrow.
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