Monday, June 22, 2009

We Have Met the Enemy, and She Is in the Can

A couple of years ago I took a trip down to Washington D.C. on business. This was before I had really decided to transition, although I was already spending most of my free time presenting female.

I took a trip down to the Mall and had a good time, despite being slightly hassled at the Smithsonian when I bought a mock-vintage pin--for some reason they needed to see ID for my credit card purchase--and was leaving the Metro stop in Arlington on my way back to my hotel when a guy caught up to me.

He was a truck driver who had recognized (as he put it) that I was "really a man" and invited me (implored, maybe is more accurate) to jump up in the cab of his semi for a while. I tried to ignore him as best I could and kept on walking, but I was obviously shaken.

I'd love to say that was the only time something like it has happened to me.

I bring this up not because this isn't something that can happen to any woman, but because I wanted to point out that he felt doubly entitled to treat me that way because I was trans. And I am in mind of how being trans seems to sometimes double- or treble- misogyny against people because once again Google reader has brought me some love, today courtesy of the blog A Room of Our Own. Please forgive the lengthy excerpt edited to only show excerpts; see comments. But please do go to the whole post...

It is sexist to expect women (female-at-birth) to submit and allow MTFs the use of female restrooms. Why is it the females who are always expected to accommodate the males? Why is it the females who are expected to be all-inclusive? [...]

Why should females protect males from males? It is the whole clean up your own backyard business before you go trying to control someone else’s backyard. Are there not so-called progressive males, pomo males that are willing to open the doors to male restrooms for transsexuals/transgenders? Why can’t they protect MTFs in the restroom from the other men? Or, could it be, there is no fucking way to tell predators apart? Yet, radical feminists are wrong and close-minded if we say aloud that all men are suspect. If all men are not suspect, then why don’t MTFs feel safe using male restrooms?

[...] If the MTFs use the male restrooms they may be subjected to harassment, even, rape? Well, exactly how are females supposed to know which of these MTFs will not take that male characteristic/behavior with them when they start using female restrooms? Should we assume/believe that the male’s urge/behavior to rape women is going to disappear simply because his penis is removed?[...]

If MTFs are really interested in being feminists, like so many of them claim to be when they are demanding to barge into female space and be escorted to the front row, why don’t they ask themselves not what females an do for them, but what they can do for females. If they did, and acted on it, then maybe I would believe they are budding feminists. Nevertheless, until then, they are just entitled men wanting to do whatever the fuck they want to do. A real feminist MTF would take one for the team and educate and rehabilitate the men in the restrooms, not run over to female restrooms and expect refuge from their own ilk.

Ah, yes. Absolutely. Forgive me--I had no idea asking for a public accommodation where I might be able to relieve a biological function was asking to be led down to the front row of female spaces. But of course I did! I forgot that I might actually be--sorry, still be--a rapist! That after a night out drinking beer and slamming down buffalo wings with all the rest of the "girls" (because, of course, all us MTF gals are just crotch scratchin', football-rootin', hypermasculine weirdos) if I duck into the ladies' I might suddenly decide to do a little rape while I'm there! Which couldn't happen if I wasn't transsexual, because that little cartoon lady in a dress is like garlic to vampires where non-penectomized men are concerned.

And she's right! Why, if only we crazy male-to-patriarchical-imitations-of-females were decent enough to simply use male facilities--why, nothing bad could happen--could it?

...Perez says she was feeling good, happy to be going to Manhattan to hang out with friends. In hindsight she admits that perhaps wearing a skirt wasn't the best idea—but even though Perez was staying in a men-only homeless shelter, she couldn't have known she was about to be raped...

...On the night of the attack, Perez says, she left the Charles H. Gay Shelter around 10, heading for the nearest bus stop. As soon as she walked out the front door, she sensed someone following her. It was a man she knew by sight, a fellow shelter resident who'd been pestering her since her arrival two days earlier. "He was always staring at me, making me uncomfortable," she recalls. "We have to share showers, and I didn't like how he looked at me."

Perez picked up her pace, not wanting to miss the Manhattan-bound bus she could see idling at the curb a few yards down the road. Then, she says, "He came up behind me real fast, and shoved me to the ground. When I tried to get up, he grabbed my hair, yanked my head back, and said, `I want a piece of you."' As her bus pulled away, Perez struggled to her feet and ran wildly after it. She says her attacker was hard on her heels, jabbing her in the back every few feet and driving her to her knees again and again. Realizing escape was impossible, she turned to fight. And then, says Perez, he grabbed her hair, wrestled her into a secluded area, and "he raped me. He pulled up my skirt and he raped me."

The entire incident took less than 10 minutes, but there was more humiliation to come. When her attacker released her—after threatening to "get you again tomorrow" if she complained—Perez wandered around in a daze, sobbing and bleeding until another bus arrived. She took it into the city and went directly to Harlem Hospital Center. Hospital records show she was treated for cuts and bruises, but that a full rectal exam couldn't be performed because the patient was "too tense." The attending doctor noted no "visible tears" to the anus.

Meanwhile, the police had been notified. Perez says that from the minute the cops showed up—first a group of uniformed men and later two detectives—they began belittling her version of the attack. "They kept saying, `Come on, admit it, you weren't raped. Someone just roughed you up."' Faced with a room full of doubting officers, Perez says she broke down. "I started crying. I was hysterical and could barely talk." One of the detectives asked her for identification, at which point Perez handed over two ID cards issued by Street Works, a nonprofit for homeless kids. One identifies her as Joey Perez and the other as Josephine Perez.

"The detective looked at both of them, and then stared at me like he was confused. I said, `I'm a transgender woman,' and he made a face like he didn't know what that was." Then, according to Perez, the detective—who, she says, gave her his name and badge number—bent over and took a long look up her skirt. As he straightened, she claims, he mumbled that "anyone with a penis can't be raped."

See? Nothing could possibly go wrong! Because, you know, men always have sympathy for anyone born with a penis--look at how Matthew Shepard was just given a gentle ribbing for being gay, or how everyone just had a big laugh when they found out Gwen Araujo was trans, or how after spending a weekend with her, Allen Andrade thought it was "really cool" that Angie Zapata was trans.

Oh, I'm sorry, that's right--they were all killed. So was Brandon Teena, but you see it's ok to feel bad about that--he was really a woman, you know.

And speaking of women, Google delivered this up to me today too:

This is why I have talked about artificial wombs. With no mother involved the father can't lose his kids. However, artificial wombs don't exist yet, or do they?

I recently discovered that they do in a way. This comment on Novaseeker's blog talked about the Rotunda Clinic in India. What the Rotunda Clinic in India will do if you pay them a little less than $10,000 is take a man's sperm, put it together with an egg donor and surrogate mother in India to make a man a baby that is his. There's a video on their website about a gay couple who did just that. It's safe to say that the egg donor and surrogate mother being in India won't be able to access the American legal system so for a man, the baby is completely and totally his. Since the Rotunda Clinic will do this as long as you pay them, a man on his own could do this. If you want you can use an artificial womb today.

Imagine Father's Days when you never have to worry about losing your kids. This is why artificial wombs will be used by men who want kids in this way. Already men are raising their kids more. This is a natural progression.

You see? I am so the real enemy here, not nutcase guys who want to--literally, and on so many levels--colonize women.

Especially when I'm peeing.


  1. I feel so icky that the writer of the first excerpt is claiming to be feminist...*shudder*
    The charles h gay story made me cry, dear god. I hope all of those awful cruel stupid police officers get fired. I know they wont, but hope springs eternal, right?

    oh hi btw, new reader, big fan of yours!!

  2. Ever heard of fair use. You don't copy my whole post. Is that your entitlement showing?

  3. In response to the first woman's RIDICULOUS claims I thought I might share something that's always made me fee better when confronted with arguements for why transwoman should not be allowed in women only spaces. I'm not sure if you've ever heard of Red. She has a lot of really lovely youtube videos out about her experience as a transwoman. "Dudes I'm a Chick"( awesome. It's a hillarious illustration of what it would be like if transwomen were actually men, which not surprisingly they aren't!

    I'm a new reader-- I heard about you through Tiger Beatdown. Great (if somewhat triggering) post. I look forward to reading more.

  4. @ C. L. Minou -- As a librarian who's studied fair use, I have to agree with the original author -- even with attribution that's probably too much technically.

    That said, the original post made my blood boil.

    There is a culture of violence against women that spills over into men and women who in *any* way step outside of expected gender roles. If you're a woman who pushes into a male dominated area, you're at higher risk -- regardless of whether you identify as trans, lesbian, or just straight & tomboyish. If you're male and you're in any way effeminate, you run a higher risk of abuse. Again, regardless of whether you're trans, gay, or straight.

    With the prevalence of assault being men against women, I can see women resisting fully integrated unisex bathrooms. But the idea of someone chosing to be trans for the raping possibilities is frigging absurd. And women are assaulted in women's rooms by men who just ignore the sign on the door. It is not a magic anti-rape talisman. If it were, I'd get a tattoo. :P

  5. wow. what a terrible transphobic thing to write. some people are truly assholes.

  6. @F. K. Glendower: I've edited down the excerpt. I hope you feel that is more in line with fair use. I'm in a bit of a double-bind, however, since I didn't want to leave myself open to accusations of using selective excerpts to misinterpret your work.

    I do try to examine and check my own privilege robustly. I invite you to look around here and see if I'm doing anything you feel is ultimately detrimental to women or feminism, and please go ahead and call me on it.

    I'm just someone trying to explore feminist issues in the context of her own life; I'm as opposed as you would be to the colonization of third-world women's bodies in the manner of that last bit I posted. Which makes me wonder why I'm the one who's supposed to be the rapist.

  7. Seriously, don't try to reason with or engage Kitty. She's a notoriously malevolent nutter. Sadly, she's not the only one spewing that bigoted crap, but she's among the most poisonous. Even most of her fellow transphobic radfems give her and her blog partner a wide berth by now.

  8. Anonymouse

    Welcome to teh Internets, whete the daily hate against women with T spills over (and over, and over)

    I am so sorry you had to run into these hateful clowns

    Most non trans feminists learn to tone down their hatred of trans women to some degree, but kitty has missed that boat, along with a few other basic lessons of humanity too. Don't let it get you down.

    Good luck with the blog!

  9. Most non trans feminists learn to tone down their hatred of trans women to some degree[...]

    Naturally, "the feminists" are entirely to blame. Klass!
    As far as TFKG's assertion that (cis) women have to make all the sacrifices, "allowing" trans women into "our" bathrooms (cis privilege! you checkin' it?), aren't cis men also expected to do the same for trans men?
    And as far as her concern about assault, I guess there's a possibility that a really determined cis-male rapist could do himself up like a trans woman to gain access to a public women's bathroom. That seems like an awful lot of trouble and preparation though and I've never heard of that ever happening.

  10. Seriously - Kitty is crazy. There are plenty of rad fem blogs that welcome trans women. Keep AROOO on your google reader though - it is great for a laugh.

    Your Friendly Neighbourhood Rad Fem

  11. The thing about women's restrooms is they have cubicles. That means I've got no idea about the genital state of anyone using another cubicle. If you're using the women's restroom, you qualify as a woman - end of story. If you're using the men's restroom, you're either a man, or the queues for the women's got too long.

  12. @Kitty: WOW, you're nutty. OH NO! WHO KNEW THAT, WHEN YOU WRITE THINGS, PEOPLE CAN QUOTE YOU?!? And even disagree, or point out that you are a bigoted [insert word I don't want to type for fear of wrecking the otherwise polite tone of the conversation]? Calm down, check your privilege, and unlearn your hateful BS. Because, right now, the actual feminist movement - as far as I can see - won't own or back up people who want to perpetuate hate in its name.

  13. Kitty is a hot hypocritical "feminist" mess. She cries foul about anonymous bloggers yet Kitty isn't her real name. It's a fake name she created when she needed to reinvent herself after causing problems all over the internet. Poor thing. She doesn't like who she is and thinks changing her name will make things better. I recognize through her writing the pain of a woman who is obviously stuck in a loveless marriage where she feels used by the patriarchy on a daily basis and so must hurt back over the internet. Men are the enemy to her and that's not going to change. She won't have any compassion for you if you were born a male and she only likes women who mirror her opinions so it's not like she's singling you out for her abuse. She's abusive to most everyone. You will always be an evil male to her. She is projecting her rage at her situation onto the rest of humanity. She is a caged bird who never stops singing (sowing seeds of hatred everywhere), but nevertheless, she is still caged.

    Heather, former friend

  14. Perez's story has me in tears. As Liss and other radfems have said over and over, this is not a zero-sum game. Our fight against rape doesn't need to stop at cis-women, transwomen or women at all. In our work as feminists we can keep our compassion and try to address these injustices- even as we acknowledge that they affect women primarily. That fact shouldn't be used to dissapear anyone's suffering.

    This makes me so mad, and it's the pathetic mad that causes tears to run down your face and feel helpless even as you resolve to do more. I'm so sorry that so much of this shit gets thrown your way. I'm also very glad that you're writing this to share because otherwise these are things I might be privilge-blind to.

  15. Ugh. Dear Radical Feminists: you don't speak for all of us vagina-born-vagina-possessors. Some of us, vagina-born-vagina-possessors are completely OK with trans ladies coming to our bathrooms, our ladies-only sections of the Pride Festivities and our funky feminism camp.

    Crikey. Seriously, if a person says they are a woman, presents as a woman, goes through extensive and expensive body modification to make their body as female as current technology will allow it to be, then, like, who cares whether they have a Y chromosome? They ARE A WOMAN. GIVE THEM A STALL, FOR FUCK'S SAKE.

  16. P.S. "There is a culture of violence against women that spills over into men and women who in *any* way step outside of expected gender roles. If you're a woman who pushes into a male dominated area, you're at higher risk -- regardless of whether you identify as trans, lesbian, or just straight & tomboyish."

    Yes, yes, yes. And even if you are traditionally feminine - don't claw at a piece of the boys' business, whether it's video games or stock brokering. They don't like it.

    The flaw with your argument though, is that, as some people suggest, apparently, what a person identifies as does not matter, because... I don't know, they didn't receive the Magickal Mystickal Seal of Wommynhood from the Moon Goddess at birth? So therefore if a trans woman identifies as a woman, she is still not a woman. Until the RadFem Police say so. And they never will. So there.

  17. Thanks, all.

    I responded as I did to FKG because I thought she had a point, and like I said, I respond robustly to questions of privilege. That said, I think it's telling that the only rebuttal she had was...I violated fair use?

    My own personal take is that the vocal element of radical feminism that hates me is really not radical enough--that is, it's not enough to merely critique patriarchy. The way to end oppression isn't to just knock off the biggest oppressor--it's to destroy the whole system of oppression, so that *nobody* gets to be on top just because of who they are. Sadly, trying to stamp a boot in the face of trans women isn't exactly liberation.