Characteristically great piece. Kudos! And the photo is fabulous…..
Two points, not in criticism, but to sort of supplement your piece.
- Religious “presuppositionalism”. I think the religious presuppositionalists are on to something. Basically: religious conviction rests on premises that cannot be proven or disproven, but a lot of other religious sub-convictions rely upon them. But this isn’t really unique to religion; scientific inquiry has its paradigmatic beliefs and practices that are taken for granted as well. But this emphatically does NOT mean that these bedrock beliefs that “Stand fast for us” (Wittgenstein, On Certainty) are immune to revision and, thereby, immune to rational criticism, whether internal or external. Normal-science paradigms have a pronounced tendency to change during revolutionary-science. But even here the point is missed: discourse and inquiry about gender is not like adhering to religious doctrine or the scientific method. It takes place within a discursive practice (Gender Studies, let’s call it) that has at least one foot in the camp of empirical biological science. And serious biology makes hash out of the claim that the “M/F” binary is eternally baked into human nature. Genitals-at-birth may be the first impetus for the doctor to proclaim “It’s a boy!/girl!”, but there is more to biology than that. Of course, if the GCF’s want to say that that IS all there is to it, they are talking not biology or even metaphysics but something else. Call it, as Richard Rorty did, “Cultural Politics.” The problem for them NOW is that “Well I FOR ONE think trans-women are actually men!” is toothless. It’s not what YOU think about it at all. Trans-feminists are calling attention to the ways in which the language of sex and gender evolve, as knowledge of human beings evolves, and want to push that evolution along the path of a more nuanced view and use of concepts like “gender”, “male”, “female”, etc. It does not matter if you LIKE transwomen or not. It matters that the term “transwoman” has a use in the English language, and is a modification of “woman”. So the GC Feminist is in a bind: if you can’t cite biology as the basis for your critique, you are citing something else. Personal normative distaste? So what. You don’t have to like us. You just have to make a case for destroying trans-language. And frankly, the GC feminists haven’t.
- GC Feminism conflates political issues with these personal normative distastes. Assume for the sake of argument (if you have the stomach for it) that “Trans-women are really men.” Okay, then what? Refuse sex changes on driver’s licenses? Abolish HRT? Make wearing clothing inconsistent with your gender-assigned-at-birth a misdemeanor — or felony? Even if you believed the proposition “Trans-women are really men” would any of these political proposals make sense? (Analogy: did prohibition make sense — even if you were a tee-totaler?) I am not sure if there would be any consensus by GC feminists on concrete policy, though I AM sure that some GC feminists would indeed want to adopt policies like the above. But they are then obliged to do two things: 1) show that any such policy would advance the COMMON good, and 2) do so without infringing the RIGHTS of people who identify as trans. I doubt that 1) could be persuasively argued, and I am sure that 2) would be impossible. So what, then, does GC feminism accomplish, other than to exclaim “I don’t like transwomen!” in a public forum? Frankly, who cares who and what you don’t like. Until you start making MY life, and the lives of my trans-sisters, hell. And then, you’ll get not just an argument but resistance, believe me…..