Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Let me point you somewhere excellent...

Lucy over at Catspaw has written an excellent post dissecting Julie Bindel's transphobia.  Here I shall crosspost the first few paragraphs and then urge you all to go read the rest of it:

Just when I was hoping that Julie Bindel had moved on from being actively transphobic, she's appeared in an, at-best, centre-right magazine called Standpoint (What the heck is a feminist, especially a self-proclaimed radical lesbian feminist, doing cosying up with the right?) with an article entitled "The Operation That Can Ruin Your Life".  Three guesses as to what operation she's referring to and the first two don't count.  I hate being a puppet dancing to strings being pulled by Ms Bindel, but I also can't let this sort of hate pass by uncommented.  I'll mostly be snarking, so fair warning.  I'm skipping large parts of the article because a full fisk would be interminably long.  It's also worth noting that in many ways this article is sort of her "greatest hits" on trans stuff in that she's stitched together material from previous articles she's written.  She even includes the quote about trans people and Grease that she later apologised for, showing just how insincere she can be when apologising.  That said, let's get to her article.

Almost immediately one has to wonder what world Ms Bindel lives in.  Referring to last year's Stonewall awards she says that "I, along with a police escort, walked past a huge demonstration of transsexuals and their supporters, shouting 'Bindel the Bigot'."  This should concern everyone.  In that I mean it should concern everyone that a protest of about 150 people is a huge demonstration in Bindel's eyes, that she remembers a chant that was not chanted, and that she also remembers having a police escort while others don't.  Of course since she also refers to the demonstrators as a "powerful lobby" who have been "hounding [her] for "five years", the real point here is to establish that: a) trans people are possibly dangerous, b) there are a lot of trans people, c) trans people are not activists trying to assert their rights (as feminists might be described) but are like industry lobbyists, and d) trans people are personally out to get her.  Notice how this is reinforced at the end of the same paragraph: "I now find that a number of organisations are too frightened to ask me to speak at public events for fear of protests by transsexual lobbyists."  Trans people are boogeypeople that scare people away from Bindel with their lobbying, ehr, protests.

"Feminists tend to be critical of traditional gender roles because they benefit men and oppress women."  Yes, yes, we do.  I couldn't agree with you more, Ms Bindel.  Glad we could find common ground.  Of course, then she completely rips that ground away by immediately following up by saying that "[t]ranssexualism, by its nature, promotes the idea that it is 'natural' for boys to play with guns and girls to play with Barbie dolls."  By talking about the "nature" of transsexualism (as though it somehow exists independent of actual transsexual people) and what is "natural", Bindel is trying to hit us over the head with the usual "You naive fools, you don't understand it's all socially constructed!" thing.  Just in case we were unclear on that she goes further with: "The idea that gender roles are biologically determined rather than socially constructed is the antithesis of feminism."  Again, I couldn't agree with her more since I am a feminist.  Gender roles are socially constructed.  How could they not be?  Of course the problem is that as a feminist and a transsexual woman, I see a difference between gender identity, gender expression, and gender roles.  For Bindel, like other radical feminists, gender identity, if it even exists, is the result of the imposition of gender roles as is gender expression.

Please go read the remainder of the post, and the comments.

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