The Pursuit of Oppression

My ex’s life is sucking right now, if the things he’s doing and saying and the sadness and anger in his social media posts is is any indication. Despite the fact that hundreds of online trans friends and hipsters rally around him constantly with tales of how brave and beautiful he is, he has somehow decided that his life suckage is the result of oppression, and not the result of his spending every ounce of his time and energy hating himself and his body and pretending his sex organs are something other than what they are.

Oppression. It struck me recently that white MtFs who like women have managed to convince themselves not only that they’re a member of an oppressed class, but a member of three oppressed classes: women, queers, and transgender people.

They grew up in identical circumstances to those experienced by non-female, non-queer, non-transgender people, but fancy themselves victims of three class struggles. They’ve always liked women as much as the other straight guys they know, but suddenly identify with the struggle of homosexuals. Straight white guys, the most privileged group of people on the planet, have managed to convince themselves that they are three kinds of oppressed.

It should be noted that oppression, which is defined as the relationship in which a dominant class systematically abuses and exploits a subordinate class for its own benefit, is not the same as simple mistreatment. If one white guy beats up another white guy in a bar for flirting with his girlfriend, that’s not oppression. That’s mistreatment. That’s bad luck. Some might even argue that’s reaping what you sow. I’m not sure; I’ll stop short of claiming that. But it’s not oppression.

If a white cop beats up a poor black kid, however, that’s oppression. That’s a member of a dominant class exercising an age-old entitlement-fueled power over the people he perceives as lower class and materially limiting their safety and livelihood because of it.

Oppression depends upon class status. Class status depends upon being recognizable, on sight, as a member of a class. Women are a class. Women are oppressed based on our perceived reproductive capacity. To be plain: it’s because we look like women. African-Americans are a class. They are oppressed based on the color of their skin.

As a short aside, saying that women are oppressed based on gender, instead of sex, is every bit as offensive as saying that black people are oppressed based on behavior instead of skin color. Lipstick is a choice, being born with a uterus is not. Conservatives love this trick too: that black kid wasn’t beaten because of the color of his skin, it was because of his baggy pants, his use of slang, his sideways ball cap, his attitude. In both cases, the implication is that the victim could have avoided the mistreatment by changing their behavior; thus, in a way, they invited it. The former is sexism, just as the latter is racism.

This is also why there can be no such thing as “transmisogyny.” A MtF must fail to pass to be the victim of mistreatment based on transgender status (the “trans” part of the word). But if a MtF fails to pass, he is read as male and is punished as a gender non-conforming male, not as a woman. Misogyny is by definition directed at females; he cannot experience it. If he passes, on the other hand, he may experience misogyny (accidentally, as it was never intended for him) but not punishment for his unreadable transgender status. It’s quite simply one or the other.

The “oppression” of transgender people who don’t pass, such as it is, can be cast off with a change of clothes. This is not analogous to the situation of women or people of color, who know all too well that one does not simply outrun oppression.

You can be sure that if I could flip a switch and look like a man as I walked home at midnight through the streets of my city, I would. That’s because I don’t get any kind of kick out of oppression. By contrast, transgender people don’t exercise this option because they wouldn’t be expressing their true authentic selves.

Putting aside for a moment the extraordinarily disgusting claim that the true authentic selves of women consist of copious amounts of sex-stereotypical make-up and clothing, this attitude reveals the incredible privilege enjoyed by those who can make this choice. I don’t need to express myself when I walk home at night — indeed, I’d rather not draw any attention to myself at all — because the possibility of being harassed, stalked, beaten, raped or killed is real to me, having lived with such threats my entire life. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, and whatnot. I don’t need for you to appreciate my fashion sense, or even know the most sincerely held values of my heart. I need for you to not kill me.

Anyone who can entertain the idea of toying with that hierarchy enjoys an astonishing ignorance of the lived realities of the people whose oppression they appropriate.

The endless lists of things “cis” people aren’t allowed to do and say and think reveal the incredible appetite some MtFs have for seeking out and finding oppression in the most innocuous acts. Using the wrong pronouns, speaking of someone’s past, talking about birth control, making the wrong cupcakes, gathering for a book club, wearing a body-positive t-shirt — these have all been claimed as oppressive acts against transwomen. Calling them brave and beautiful is wrong, not calling them brave and beautiful is wrong, refusing to date them makes you a bigot, wanting to date them makes you a chaser. No treatment is ever really good enough.

Then there’s the appropriation, by rich white straight guys, of a “transgender murder rate” that upon close inspection seems to affect mostly poor black gay guys (often in the context of prostitution or domestic violence). This is a problem, to be sure, and it always was a problem. But the people affected by it aren’t the same ones filling their social media feeds with posts about it. The people affected by this problem are too busy trying to survive. Where were the random middle-class white men rising up against the murder of black prostitutes before they thought of themselves as having something in common with them?

Idle time, the kind you have a lot of when you’re not actually fighting for your life, is the devil’s playground.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Past Me

Dear Past Me,

You’ve never been one for regrets. The stupid shit you’ve done, you always say, was necessary to make you who you are today. The rock music albums you burned for Christianity. The year you wasted enduring abuse, testing God, finding him absent. The time spent floundering around, partying, not getting to college. The money you never saved. There is no other way to learn, you say, no other way to become you.

But future you disagrees. Future you has regrets.

I beg you: cut your hair, stay away from that yuppie pool hall on the North side, stick with women.

Things have gone very far astray, haven’t they? When the person you gave your heart and soul and best years to turns away from real love to focus on the size of his facial pores, his angst about his childhood inability to play pitch and catch well enough, his penis, whether it looks right, whether he likes it, whether he can hide it between his buttocks, whether he can get the whole world to pretend that he hid it well enough.

When his desire to disregard the boundaries of women becomes so extreme that he not only does it, but delights in it, revels in a slur created for women who don’t like it, spends his dwindling income on a t-shirt advertising the slur. TERF: I hate women who don’t roll over and take it when I violate their boundaries. They are wrong, and they’ll see us naked whether they like it or not. A man who once argued against rape culture, joining rape culture, intimidating women with it. Because he’s the one who wants his way now, not some neckbeard video game reviewer or morally bankrupt fashion advertiser, and rape culture is different when he does it.

Things have gone very far astray, haven’t they? When his best friends belong to that group of people who threaten to kill you, and you have to wonder if you can stay in this town that you love. When a breakup threatens not just your lifestyle, but your safety. When you don’t know who your friends are because he’s lying to them. When death keeps crossing your mind and seeming like a reasonable way out.

You owe an apology to the feminist you bristled at for her “not my Nigel” commentary on your too-good-to-be-true sensitive, feminist man.

But don’t worry about her, because she isn’t angry.

Just make men none of your business: the ones who wear ties and the ones who wear lipstick. Let them keep running shit and being smug and lecturing and making up rules about who gets to wear a dress and who doesn’t and what sorts of brain feelings you need to have to justify appropriation. Don’t ask them about it; don’t encourage their sense of superiority. Just let them have it. In their own space, without you.

Try to meet with women, alone, if you can, without them, at least until they find out and put a stop to it. Try to meet with women long enough for the experience to nurture your soul, long enough to find one to share your life with.

Do this while you’re young, before you lose your decent looks, before the dating pool dwindles, before your past becomes a liability, before it becomes too late to build a meaningful history with a partner, before there’s only a few decades between you and death.

Surround yourself with women. Find someone to love who loves women.

Sincerely,
Future Me

 

 

 

The Transgender Trap

“The cognitive dissonance must be excruciating,” a friend of mine said, on the topic of transwomen convincing themselves that they are women.

And yet, as they immerse themselves in trans ideology, there seems to be no good outcome for that cognitive dissonance. When axioms collide with experience, something has to give; that’s when gay Christians lose their religion. As an ex-fundamentalist I have some experience with this process. But trans ideology makes it even more difficult. Transition does not alleviate dysphoria, yet trans ideology punishes those who defect or detransition.

If transwomen accept that they are not women, the only community who understands their gender dysphoria actively rejects, silences and censors them.

If they accept that they are not women, their highly uncomfortable gender dysphoria becomes invisible, so no one can sympathize with it, much less give them the attention, accolades, and applause they’ve received as an “oppressed minority”  (a distinction white men otherwise seldom enjoy).

If they accept that they are not women, and they happen to have hormone-induced breasts or a neovagina, they face the confusion of belonging neither here nor there.

If they accept that they are not women, they may have a lot of difficult forgiving to do if counselors, doctors, partners, peers or even parents pressured them into transition. And they’ll have to forgive themselves for the people they pressured in turn.

If they accept that they are not women, they’ll have to apologize to their friends for their mistake, the days or months or years they’ve spent lecturing them, the privileges they’ve abused, the boundaries they’ve crossed.

But if they tell themselves they are women, they’ll have to reconcile the many daily signs that they are not women: the double takes, being called sir (or dude or brother or dad), hearing their birth name, stories of their past. Women who are uncomfortable with them in bathrooms and locker rooms. People who date women but don’t want to date them. Legal records and documentation of all kinds. Their prostrate exams, their car insurance rates.

If they tell themselves they’re women, they’ll have to keep hating their voices, their hands, their feet, their height, their weight, their shoulders, their hips, their facial and body hair, their testicles, and their penises. They’ll have to keep hating mirrors and clothing tags and shoe sizes.

They’ll have to explain to themselves and others what makes them women, since it isn’t their chromosomes, their reproductive organs, their socialization, their brains, their crime rates, or their hobbies and interests.

There’s a lot to overcome, because there’s a lot of reality out there.

This person couldn’t overcome it. So much for transition as suicide prevention. But even the National Center for Transgender Equality in a brochure on preventing suicide finds suicide rates higher after transition than before.

It would seem that transition (and perhaps all those thought processes that led to it) isn’t the answer. What else is there?

Losing one’s religion is never easy but it worked for me.

 

 

 

From Sad to Antagonistic

My ex used to approach our differences, even as we separated and divorced, as something neither of us could help. I told him I considered the word “TERF” to be an insult and he agreed and said he’d never use it.

A few days ago, he bought an anti-“TERF” t-shirt.

From mysterious inner feelings that make him think he’s a woman, to hating actual women. I guess this shouldn’t surprise me from a man, but it did. From sadness, coping, allegedly doing his best, to angry antagonist who wants applause and points on the board.

Because refusing to verbally* accept a some 20-year old, politically motivated redefinition of the word “woman” or “female” from the one that has endured for thousands of years and continues to be used for the rest of the sex-differentiated animal kingdom, from “ova-producing” to “ova-producers and other assorted folks as they see fit,” shall make you a target of hatred.

*Verbally, because as far as I can tell I haven’t yet met a non-transgender person who agrees with the redefinition, whether conservative, liberal, radical feminist or just random schmuck on the street. But some of them say they do in public to be good allies.

 

Those who Believe Absurdities Commit Atrocities

“Once your faith… persuades you to believe what your intelligence declares to be absurd, beware lest you likewise sacrifice your reason in the conduct of your life… Certainly any one who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices… Once a single faculty of your soul has been tyrannized, all the other faculties will submit to the same fate.” -Voltaire