I recently became aware of a faction within the feminist movement calling itself the “Rad Fem” and/or “Womyn Born Womyn” movement. Those ascribing to this ideology hold that gender constructs are intractable. Those who are biologically male will always be male, even if the male in question identifies as a woman. (The same holds true for biological women who identify as male, though most rad fem analysis focuses on the former.) Because transwomen were initially reared as men, they have experienced male privilege. Hence, any man who transitions into a woman is appropriating the biological identity of women and imposing male perspectives unto the collective experience of women as a group. Such individuals view this alleged appropriation as misogynistic.
We live in a country where people are free to believe whatever they want, but many RadFems, such as those on GenderTrender, ignore the boundaries of basic civility by identifying, tracking, outing and then systematically harassing specific individuals. Such people are not content to voice their opinions; they seem to have a burning compulsion to make trans people’s lives as miserable as possible. People associated with Gender Trender have attempted to get people fired from their jobs and alienated from their social circles. They have engaged in online bullying of specific trans people. As survivor of bullying, this persecution breaks my heart. These attackers have no concern for the physical, emotional, vocational or spiritual well being of their targets. It’s impossible to look into their hearts, but their behavior evokes the kind of unrestrained savagery displayed by the child antagonists of Lord of the Flies. Like their metaphorical counterparts, these attackers represent a vicious society that is controlled by humankind’s lowest instincts and which is devoid of compassion.
Radical Feminism is an anomaly in the feminism movement. There are fringe factions in every group. RadFems strike me as the Randall Terrys of the feminist movement-their hateful rhetoric is an embarrassment to the feminist movement in the same way that Terry’s besmirches pro-lifers. Similarly, the rhetoric of some in the RadFeminism movement reminds me of Peter Singer’s ableist promotion of medical rationing, involuntary euthanasia and infanticide, which he cloaks in the guise of philosophical discourse. For instance, in regard to their statements that they want transgenderism to disappear from existence, some RadFems have reassured detractors that they don’t want to physically injure or murder trans people. Similarly, Peter Singer has said that he doesn’t want to kill disabled people who can conceive of themselves over time and have a preference to go on living. Well, thank goodness for small favors! Surely society should have higher standards than that…
I anticipate that in the future there will be more and more dialogue between trans and disability advocates, as we experience similar forms of social oppression. (Bodily difference, discontinuity between the kind of body our society expects and the kind of body one actually has, interaction with the medical establishment, the current need for accommodation in regards to name changes, living arrangements, etc.) This dialogue will become increasingly valuable as the disabled community wrestles with the phenomenon of transableism, and how best to evidence respect for able-bodied persons who identify as disabled. Finally, I hope that those of us who identify as progressive, consistent pro-lifers can be party to creating a society in which every person is loved, valued, and treated with dignity.