A transvestite of my acquaintance has written a very interesting response to the radfem anti-trans position that is worth reading. Jeffreys, and other radfems, seek to disenfranchise trans women on the basis that they are just transvestite men, and this male femme takes on why, exactly, that doesn’t make sense either.
This section is particularly interesting:
After that digression, in her final section Jeffreys asks the (for her, rhetorical) question: “Transfemininity – Transgressing Gender or Maintaining It?”, reiterating once again that “Femininity is exciting because it is the behaviour of subordination” and, further, that “it is because it is the behaviour of subordination that it cannot be preserved.” From my own perspective, femininity is not intrinsically the behaviour of subordination, so any move to eliminate it is unwarranted (never mind being hopelessly impractical). Instead, what is required is the negation of gender stereotyping, so that people are able to develop their gender freely and are free to express it as they need or wish. As for Jeffreys’ question itself, I think the answer is pretty much “neither” in all cases:
— For trans women (with whom Jeffreys is primarily concerned at this point) the question has no relevance, since trans women are not inevitably feminine; their gender is as variable as that of any other woman. (Jeffreys merely confuses sex and gender here.)
— For male submissives transgression does occur in a sexual sense, in that maleness is disassociated from stereotypical expectations of sexual dominance. Sissies might appear to render this ambiguous by coupling femininity with sexual submission, but it is still in essence male submission. In either case gender transgression is not really the point.
— For male transvestites cultural gender rules are certainly transgressed, but that doesn’t imply any real gender transgression either. As Jeffreys’ selective evidence indicates, some transvestites (like anyone else) can have quite ‘traditional’ views on gender. (A penchant for cross-dressing is no assurance of progressive values.) Moreover, transvestites’ default stealth (i.e. closetedness) rules out meaningful transgression for most of us, whatever our politics. The best that might be said is that transvestites are potentially transgressive. If we were all out and open about our (varied) gender expression, so that the assumed correlation between femininity and femaleness was shown to be false, we might well be gender transgressive. But, with a few notable exceptions, we mostly aren’t.
As much as I would rather see this embarrassing radfem position just go away, it won’t, until or unless pro-trans radfems are willing to speak up and provide logical theoretical reasons for why trans people should be included in a radical feminist agenda.