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You Can’t Advance Women’s Rights by Bashing Trans People

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This assumes that Burchill is something other than a horrible, transphobic person, reveling in her cis privilege, assuming that she can lean on her identity as a woman to prove that she isn’t a horrible person. Her next paragraph clinches it.

But they’d rather argue over semantics. To be fair, after having one’s nuts taken off (see what I did there?) by endless decades in academia, it’s all most of them are fit to do. Educated beyond all common sense and honesty, it was a hoot to see the screaming-mimis accuse Suze of white feminist privilege; it may have been this which made her finally respond in the subsequent salty language she employed to answer her Twitter critics: “People can just fuck off really. Cut their dicks off and be more feminist than me. Good for them.”

Truly, how can one accuse Burchill and Moore of privilege, just because they crossed the line to outright bigotry? Yes, yes, it’s hilarious to engage in gendered language to attack the transgender community, but in doing so, Burchill manages to take a swipe at cis women as well. If having your testicles removed makes one only fit to carp at others, what of those who never had them at all? Don’t get me wrong — I reject the idea that fortitude is found in gonads outright. I suspect Burchill claims to as well. But so keen is she on attacking the transgender community that she’s willing to attack herself.

Burchill continues with language that is frankly offensive, and an unfamiliarity with Latin roots that speaks poorly of a professional writer.

She, the other JB and I are part of the tiny minority of women of working-class origin to make it in what used to be called Fleet Street and I think this partly contributes to the stand-off with the trannies. (I know that’s a wrong word, but having recently discovered that their lot describe born women as ‘Cis’ — sounds like syph, cyst, cistern; all nasty stuff — they’re lucky I’m not calling them shemales. Or shims.) We know that everything we have, we got for ourselves. We have no family money, no safety net. And we are damned if we are going to be accused of being privileged by a bunch of bed-wetters in bad wigs.

First, let’s unpack the language. Cis is not used to describe men and women whose gender identity lines up with their birth gender because it rhymes with cistern. It is used because it is the Latin prefix for “on this side.” Its opposite is trans, the Latin prefix for “across.” It’s a sad commentary that Burchill can’t be bothered to open a dictionary, or use Google.

Since she’s unwilling to grapple with such basics of language, it’s unsurprising that she’s unwilling to look up the meaning of privilege. Because privilege doesn’t just mean rich. In this case, Burchill and Moore most definitely are privileged. They are cisgender women. They never had a point where they felt like their birth gender did not match up with their internal concept of their own gender. They were lucky — they didn’t have to go through the fire of oppression just to be defined as the gender they defined for themselves.

That doesn’t mean that Moore and Burchill don’t face oppression, of course — as women, they most certainly do. It’s just that they don’t face the same problems as trans women.

Burchill closes with a disgusting rant.

To have your cock cut off and then plead special privileges as women — above natural-born women, who don’t know the meaning of suffering, apparently — is a bit like the old definition of chutzpah: the boy who killed his parents and then asked the jury for clemency on the grounds he was an orphan.

Shims, shemales, whatever you’re calling yourselves these days – don’t threaten or bully we lowly natural-born women, I warn you. We may not have as many lovely big swinging Phds as you, but we’ve experienced a lifetime of PMT and sexual harassment, and many of us are now staring HRT and the menopause straight in the face — and still not flinching. Trust me, you ain’t seen nothing yet. You really won’t like us when we’re angry.

Asking for basic decency is not pleading “special privileges.” It’s simply asking for a modicum of respect, an understanding that others have it tough, too.

Burchill is unwilling to allow for this. She tells trans women, flat out, that they are not women and never can be. That only “natural-born” women count. That to suggest that trans women face different struggles — not better, not worse, but different — is met with a full-throated roar, a string of invective, and a threat.

This doesn’t do anything to advance the cause of equality.

Indeed, it sets it back quite a bit. If Burchill’s feminism is seen as representative of the struggle for gender equality, then feminism comes off as quite a sad movement indeed. It becomes a movement that is not about lifting all people up, but only a subset. If women — the right kind of women — get ahead, that’s all that matters. Who cares about those “shemales?” Burchill’s willingness to attack women in service of attacking the transgender community is instructive — this is a battle that doesn’t lift anyone up, and hurts everyone.

If Burchill spoke for feminism, as a feminist ally, I would despair. But I do not believe that. Feminists from Roz Kaveney to Aoife O’Riordan to Bethia Stone have taken Burchill to task for her writing. They have done so for the right reason — a simple recognition that trans people are, first and foremost, people, and deserving of all the respect and common courtesy of all other people — but their willingness to stand and defend others who suffer from oppression is good for feminism itself. Oppressive systems count on those who are oppressed to turn on each other. Recognizing each other’s common humanity, and showing respect for each other, is the best possible way to avoid that trap.

Burchill, sadly, doesn’t recognize that she’s doing real harm to feminism. Fortunately, I think her lack of perspective is rare. For the sake of a future where women — whether cis women or trans women — enjoy fully equal standing with men, I hope so.

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132 comments

+ add your own
5:20AM PDT on Jun 11, 2013

Thank you for the article ☺

11:42AM PST on Jan 23, 2013

Thank you Melody, for a well balanced 'open minded' view & coordinated response. Thank goodness for the majority being prepared to see both sides of the argument. Just a shame that there are a few, who can't see beyond the end of their nose, because they're too intent looking down it like a jumped up, self appointed, self opinionated, pre-Madonna. I thought such an aggressive behaviour was akin to an aggressive testosterone-fuelled reaction, typical of men. I hope that more, like Melody, can see more clearly what the 2 partners in crime have tried to do. Divide & disrupt, by pitting women against trans women. The latter just wishing for acceptance. Nothing special, just the same as any other woman. At the end of the day, . .we're all human beings. Such a pity, that a minority behave in such an alien manner, as would befit their predicted behaviour.

11:31AM PST on Jan 23, 2013

Half my comment to Suky Gill wasn't printed. I was asking, . ."would you like it to be shur away from all the feminine things that you take for granted. Having had some bigot dictate how you were expected to live your life. No you wouldn't & neither do I. Also, if you had "finished reading," you would be armed with all the facts & see that Ms Moore was the instigator & Ms Burchall was the antagonist. Others were condemning their behaviour or defending their own corner. So only armed with half the facts make you ranting on about something you weren't well informed about. A critic, no. Just another ill informed hypocrite. Whats good for one is good for another. You can't have 2 sets of rules to suit your own agenda.

11:18AM PST on Jan 23, 2013

Absolutely disgusting. Here in Canada this story is very under the radar. Luckily I have a few trans activists friends from the UK on fb and saw the beginnings of this hate filled brain paste, but I had no idea they she was this horrible of a person. Equality is for all not for who you deem equal. People unite! Support Trans Rights!

4:36PM PST on Jan 22, 2013

To 'Suky Gill.'

Hello
Please may I "respectfully"ask what makes you judge transgender people in such a negative light? A 'tranny' is how people refer to transvestites. . .not transgender (transsexual). The former is not a description that I identify with. But I don't judge them. . .Live & let live. "There, but for the grace of God, go I." The latter is a term which identifies me and others who feel they are female in their mind. The former dresses to achieve one kind of pleasure or another. The latter, as a necessity of every day life, like any other woman. Well, I'd get arrested, if I didn't dress in public at all, (just trying to lighten the mood a little here, haha). Its just common decency to be appropriately dressed in public. I don't get any sexual thrill or any other perverted buzz from 'presenting as female.' My gender is between my ears, within my mind, and not between my legs. The appendage down below is extremely repulsive and alien to my body. Its not how I should have been born. The depression that is a secondary result of my condition, referred medically as 'gender dysphoria,' resulted in suicidal thoughts and one attempt to take my own life, before I got help.
If society put you in a dark & dingy room, took away all your pretty clothes, jewellery, shoes and other feminine things that you enjoy in life. Then gave you a pair of plain grey overalls to wear, then told you, that's how you will be for the rest of your life, with no way out. . .Would yo

5:27AM PST on Jan 22, 2013

oh my goodness, I couldn't even finish reading it, bunch of sick nonsense, bashing a woman is who so by nature and defending a bunch of trans, there are so many sickos in this world, its unreal, we are expected to put up and shut up, well I won't, thank God for places like this where I can express my feelings, women should have shame for attacking suzzane moore, I don't particularly want to be compared to a tranny, no not everyone views things in the same light, as some are taught the difference between wrong and right, when Gods judgement comes upon earth, will be the best thing that happens to the human race, for truly his will, will be done!

3:10PM PST on Jan 21, 2013

Thank you Tiffany, for your wonderful support of transgender people and seeing us in a good light. It warms my heart to see there is goodness & decent people in the world. All we seek, is to be accepted within society. We're certainly not 'demanding,' or 'asking for any special rights or considerations.' Just to be allowed to live in peace & have the same rights as anyone else. Happy New Year to you all. x

1:33PM PST on Jan 21, 2013

I agree with Holly L...

12:08AM PST on Jan 21, 2013

Thanks,.

8:33PM PST on Jan 20, 2013

Burchill and Moore sound like very nasty/hateful people! Probably just jealous of how beautiful most transgendered people are, and I am not just talking asthetics. Burchil and Moore do not speak for me as a liberal woman!

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