Trans* lobby: do not cut it out

Just to start your Sunday off with a nice dose of bile and vitriol, here’s the most controversial blog on Comment is Free in quite some time, Transexuals should cut it out: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jan/13/julie-burchill-suzanne-moore-transsexuals. I offer this with a trigger warning, as it is offensive to every sense.

Long story short, the ever-charming Julie Burchill has written a long article decrying the “bullying” of Suzanne Moore by what I suppose are some sort of rabid supernatural trans* villains, spewing every foul term she can think of in the process.

As some background context, Moore wrote an article in which she described the desired female physique as that of “a Brazilian transsexual”. Previously, I had a lot of respect for Suzanne Moore – she was one of the fighters, a feminist writer that communicated well and had a platform to make real change. So, at this very disappointing turn of phrase, many supporters of Moore took to Twitter to ask her to consider her probably ill-thought out, but not malicious, use of this phrase, considering the context in which it arises: in Brazil, a trans* woman is murdered every 10 days.

Instead of what this audience was seeking, an apology for an off-the-hand phrase which wasn’t intended to offend or belittle the struggle of the trans* community, Moore offered a fierce and unpleasant rebuttal, becoming more furious as people rightly called out her inappropriate phrase and – what became obvious – her views.

This was cemented in the last tweet she sent before shutting her Twitter account down – “People can just fuck off really. Cut their dicks off and be more feminist than me. Good for them.”. One more person off the internet with the vile views to expel them violently in private instead. Good.

Burchill’s rebuttal to this, however, is even more disgusting than Moore could have dreamed. In a piece littered with transphobic slurs – “trannie”, “shemale”, “shims” and countless others, Burchill rages against a paper god she assumes is destroying feminism from the inside (and no, it’s not Julie Bindel. I would’ve accepted that argument quite readily). She makes crass allegories that knock me sick – including “a gaggle of transsexuals telling Suzanne Moore how to write looks a lot like how I’d imagine the Black and White Minstrels telling Usain Bolt how to run would look”, the most disgusting attempt at painting the difference between trans* and cis women that I think I’ve ever seen. 

That, of course, is the heart of Burchill’s argument – that trans* women are less in every way than cis women, and should defer diligently to their superiors, those “born” women who are in every way more knowledgeable about the sufferings of womankind. Her umbrage is cemented in the belief that these women are lucky Moore even chooses to acknowledge them, and should act like this is a privilege, not a right. This becomes more and more vulgar throughout the article, culminating in simply describing trans women as “men telling women what to do” and a very thinly veiled threat at the end. 

She also speaks of the way the trans* community has “persecuted” Julie Bindel – something so laughable I may have choked when I read it and needed a time out from the article. I’m sure you all know of Julie Bindel. She is a vile, ugly soul whose one view appears to be that if you are not in every way the same as her, you are an enemy to feminism. This includes the large groups of trans* and bisexual women who she rallies against with untold fury. So no, Burchill’s sob story about the way Bindel is treated by the trans* community strikes no chord with me whatsoever. Bindel is one of the bigger name feminists and she has a platform that should be used with responsibility to spread the right messages, and she uses it to spread hate. She should get nothing from feminism except its united contempt.

Perhaps my favourite part of this article is the point at which Burchill refers to the trans* community as “trannies”, justifying this through her recent discovery that the trans* community use the term cis women, which she likens to several other ugly words. Clearly, she hasn’t actually done any research into the term cis, the scientific term for a being that remains in its assigned role, but rather assumed it as a derogatory and used it to justify her own hatred.

The end of Burchill’s article may as well simply be a audio clip of her screeching into the wind, but I will share this extract with you nonetheless: “To have your cock cut off and then plead special privileges as women – above natural-born women”, she seems to splutter, as if this incredulous act of privilege (yes, remember. The trans* community are born into privilege.) should be greeted with repulsion – fancy that! Women who want to be involved in the women’s movement! Disgusting. I have never encountered a single trans* woman, ignoring for the moment Burchill’s completely repugnant and limited description of what makes up the trans* community, wants to be treated as any more than she is – a woman, oppressed by patriarchy in the same way Burchill, Moore and even Bindel are. She seeks acceptance from society that she is worth as much as a man. She should not have to seek acceptance from the feminist community that she is worth as much as a cis woman.

So, trans* women, trans* men, trans* allies, do not cut it out. Do not stop screaming, shouting, crying out at the top of your voice. If the second wave feminists want to kick down at the people they presume are beneath them, then we will kick back. We will fight them. We will show them that they may believe their own odious school of thought, but we do not. We will not allow trans* women to be erased from feminism by them. We will never cut it out.

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