A True All Girl Experience: FUCK TRANSMISOGYNY

WRONG

A 14 year old girl in Ventura, CA who has obviously been groomed by conservative parents is making a statement: boycott girl scout cookies because the Girl Scouts Of America are welcoming to transgender children who want to be scouts. Although she has another list of complaints surrounding the increasingly progressive nature of the Girl Scouts with their belief in a woman’s right to own her own body, learn about it, access health services, and make independent decisions regarding when to be a parents it’s the issue of trans inclusion that has her (and presumably her family, as she repeatedly mentions) riled up. In her video, she calls the girl scouts “dishonest and unfair” for including a 7 year old transgender girl into a troop and claims that this would disrupt the, “true all girl experience.”

Yeah, that’s some tired-ass transmisogynistic bullshit right there.

It’s not the first time that the Girl Scouts have come under fire from conservatives. Hans Zeiger, a young man who started to develop himself as an emerging conservative pundit when he was still a teenager, came under fire in his 2010 campaign for a 25th Legislative District of Washington seat for statements he made about the Girl Scouts in his adolescent years such as, “the Girl Scouts allow homosexuals and atheists to join their ranks, and they have become a pro-abortion, feminist training corps.” He pulled down his old work, made a formal statement that he did not stand by his old position any longer, and went on to win his campaign.

The 14 year old “founder” of the website Honest Girl Scouts calls up all those old ghosts but her video and campaign are exceptionally focused on transmisogyny. Although the website criticizes partnerships with Planned Parenthood and other more progressive policies, the project is dedicated primarily to maliciously excluding transgender children. More or less, the video is a teenage conservative’s rehashing of the “womyn born womyn” bullshit that comes out of the Michigan Women’s Music Festival. The 14 year old speaker in the video criticizes the girl scouts for not “confirming” the gender of a potential scout.

What the hell does it mean to “confirm the gender” of a 7 year old child? Where the fuck does that line of logic go? Does it require a note from your personal physician indicating the presence of a prepubescent pussy? A quick check by the scout leader before a camping trip? From where I stand, a child’s genitals are NOT THE BUSINESS OF A SCOUTING TROOP. Period. That comment alone is horrifying to me because of what implementing such a policy would even begin to entail.

The video goes on to equate a 7 year old transgender child with an 18 year old high school senior donning a dress and saying he wants to be girl scout in a deliberate attempt to sexualize the space as a man “pretending” to be a woman. It’s outright hateful and wholly irrational to equate a 7 year old child with an 18 year old high school senior wearing drag to violate women and it’s a straw man to boot. It’s a phantom, a fictional construction designed to inspire fear. First off, a 7 year old child is not “manipulating” the system as a way to get all kinds of “womyn born womyn” pussy. Secondly, even if the applicant were a high school senior trying to join the scouts, the risk of rape, assault, murder, harassment, and other violence that comes with being a transwoman in today’s society is already a pretty strong filter.

A policy of inclusion via identity is not a slippery slope for cisgender, heterosexual males to put on a dress and “use” the policy sneak in and violate women at will. That’s nonsense talk. That is what we call a logical fallacy and a bad faith tactic for debate. It’s just a way to derail a conversation and it wouldn’t be worth acknowledging at all save for the fact that this 100% contrived bullshit is so goddamn popular in the political arena right now. Grown-ass adults who cannot see past bigoted fiction should not be in charge of running our country. Marriage is NOT the most important issue facing sexual minorities but when Rick Santorum equated same-sex marriage to bestiality he exposed himself as someone who cannot be depended on for clear, rational, and intelligent thinking. Positing the notion that if a policy of inclusion based on gender identity rather than genital morphology will lead to quarterbacks donning drag and raping girl scouts with impunity is just as fucked up if not more so.

The you tube video created by the young woman calling for a total boycott of girl scout cookies until her hate issues are addressed is essentially a playbook of transmisogynistic commentary. The girl scouts have one simple policy for who gets to be a girl scout: being a girl between who is in kindergarten-12th grade. There’s also the  huge class bias revealed in calling for a cookie boycott: those cookie sales make it possible to reduce the cost of GSA hosted camps and excursions for lower income scouts. In other words, not only is this a big FUCK YOU to trans folk it is also a big FUCK YOU to people of a lower income who rely on the GSA for the education, support, and opportunity to go explore the world it provides to their young daughters.

And frankly, even if the applicant were a teenage trans girl it still wouldn’t matter and that individual is still entitled to support. Our culture treats transwomen as lower than trash and the real world risk of unending bodily harm for coming out as trans is a pretty fucking strong goddamn filter. It’s totally disingenuous to state that accepting someone’s preferred gender identity means that “just anyone could claim they ‘want’ to be a girl.”  The GSA has stated that they are responding to an increasing number of requests from transgender children with a warm welcome and what I would really like to see as a part of that response is strong support for transwomen who step up to be girl scout leaders, as well. It’s not about “allowing” transgender children into the scouts, it’s also about transgender women leading them.

Netter's Anatomy Book

Human beings have roughly 20-25,000 known genes. These are the ingredients for making a human and with 20-25,000 different ingredients, there are a metric fuck ton (that’s a scientific term, of course) of recipes to make a human being and they are all legitimate. It is often said we all “start” as female but this is not accurate. We don’t all start out with a pussy, we start out with a genital tubercle that develops as the genetic, chromosomal, and hormonal sequences unfold themselves. To put morphology (what you physically see on the outside) before gender is to literally put the cart in front of the horse. In fact, hormone washes and changes have the ability to reshape the morphology of the flesh between our legs even after puberty.

No, we do not all start as ‘female’ but we are all made out of the same “star stuff” and we’re just beginning to understand what that means.

And since there was a comment that admitting transgender children into the GSA “almost dangerous situation for children,” I would like to spend a moment talking about other venues that create an “almost dangerous” situation for children: school, church, playgrounds, day care, museums, camps, sports teams, locker rooms, and any place where a child is with someone that they know. When gender and sexuality are framed as something that belong to grownups like parents, teachers, clergy, or sexual partners it becomes much harder to internalize the notion that you make the final call about who does or does not touch you and that you have a right to fuck shit up for anyone who thinks they are entitled to it.

The GSA programming includes having conversations where questions are answered in age-appropriate but honest ways. Children have a right to know how their bodies work and teaching them that their body is their own is not what is confusing. Telling children that their body belongs to anyone with the means to take it (especially sky daddies) is what’s exceptionally confusing because it’s insane. Yes, the GSA programming teaches young women that they are the sole owners of their bodies. It helps provide information on how it works by partnering with recognized and accredited medical institutions, it teaches them that no matter what someone says it’s their call what they do or don’t do with their bodies.

This video and it’s accompanying webpage demonstrate transmisogyny very well: teaching bodily autonomy to women is bad but it’s worse to teach bodily autonomy to a trans woman or girl.

The GSA has been moving towards a more progressive stance on gender at a pace faster than any other self-identified feminist space. Although they aren’t perfect, I respect the Girl Scouts for listening to the people they serve more than they listen to the mainstream feminist establishment especially since they’ve had branches of their national organization that first began recognizing that gender is more than male/female since the early and mid-90s before the blogsophere was an established anti-oppression tool. 

And this is the place where I start making people uncomfortable:

To the adults behind this campaign and especially to the parents of Taylor, the 14 year old girl behind this video, you better fucking hope that the Girl Scouts and the Boy Scouts and the schools and the average American household starts accepting non-gender normative kids. Some bigots will not let go of their male/female fiction until it is pulled out of their cold dead fingers and there are revolutionaries who are prepared to accept those conditions and they are supported by a growing number of allies who are  willing to follow direction and aid the process because they recognize that their own liberation is tied up in the struggle as well.

The Girl Scouts are not a radical organization. I would say that they are progressive but they are not, in fact, creating an anti-oppression militia. They’re pretty passive but it’s not uncommon to see self-defense anti-abuse classes taught to even the littlest girl scout. At best, they’re starting to create a space where young queer, gender queer, and transgender kids can go and not be brutalized. There are radicals out there, though. Some might be in your community already and they have these new fangled tools that allow them to network, support, and cross-educate one another. When people do find their support network and have the opportunity to develop the confidence and self-esteem to defend themselves, they will.

So allow me to repeat myself: you better fucking hope that it’s the Girl Scouts who welcome marginalized children and actively implement policies and leaders who can fully support them because the Girl Scouts won’t teach you how to make a Molotov cocktail.

When you teach hate, what you’re teaching children is how to ignore, deny, and invisibilize the reality of our world and and the people who live in it. When you teach your children that they can act as the owner of someone else’s body, you have taught them a dangerous delusion. There is a human survival instinct and when you tell your children it’s OK to run around and start fucking with that they run the risk of touching the wrong button someday and those odds are going up with each passing moment. Although we convey a message of non-humanity to transgender/gender queer/intersex/non-gender normative humans, the truth is getting out there one tweet and blog post at a time.

When you go out of your way to fuck with people, systemically dehumanize them, rip out their support networks, and threaten their lives at a time when they can quickly and effectively organize, you’re creating something of a problem, especially if you make the police and criminal justice system wholly inaccessible to them as anything but a defendant. In that context, you have left those you’ve fucked with no other option.

If you raise a child to think that they can do whatever the fuck they want to do to someone so long as their victim looks less like Barbie or Ken than they do, you are setting them up to have their entitled ass handed right fucking back to them. If you raise a child to make it clear that no amount of logic, reason, or words will ever change their minds that marginalized people are worth less than they are and your child acts on those delusions, you are raising a future target for justified violence in the form of self-defense.

Something to think about.

10 Comments

Filed under activism, feminisms, gender

10 responses to “A True All Girl Experience: FUCK TRANSMISOGYNY

  1. anivad

    Excellent article, but you lost me in your claims of justified violence, and I am one trans person who will fight against the ‘die cis scum’ rhetoric as long as I can. You don’t overcome hate with more hate. You don’t end violence with more violence. You don’t stop trans people from being murdered by murdering cis people, and killing anyone for something as uncontrollable as gender identity is just as loathsome and inhumane when they are cis as when they are trans.

    • I didn’t want to turn this entry into being about me but the reason I stand by that message is because I’m sick and tired of being made to feel afraid when I leave my house. Sex workers are heavily targeted for violence and I’ve had my turn with that. When PornWikiLeaks went down my private information was plastered on the web along with a call to actively harass and hunt me down for challenging the ethics of releasing information from private medical databases about 15,000 different past and present porn performers.

      Literally, police forms put “prostitute” in the non-human category of found bodies alongside dogs. Killers who target sex workers often have death tolls well into the double digits because they are allowed by our culture continue preying on people. I cannot afford to be nice, smiley, and patient with people who want me dead. I do not expect anyone else to be, either. The overlap between the Trans Day of Remembrance and the International Day To End Violence Against Sex Workers have a lot of overlap. Part of my work as a sex worker activist is to fight against sex trafficking and far too many transwomen have been trafficked into sex work because our culture is so hostile they is often no other means of employment.

      When I worked in the homeless shelters in San Francisco, I watched transwomen get turned away because no one “knew whether or not to put them on the men’s side or the women’s side.” When I talk about trans health care, everyone thinks I’m talking about genital surgery when what I actually mean is basic health care that is ROUTINELY denied to transwomen because providers are uncomfortable with their gender.

      I don’t read that tattoo as hateful to people who just happen to be cis. I see it as a warning to anyone who wants to fuck with the person who wears it. Case in point, “Kill Whitey” was not ever about indiscriminately attacking people who happened to be white, it was about annihilating white supremacy and I support that, too. The first time I saw that phrase it did make me feel very uncomfortable but what I’ve come to realize is the alienation I felt “as an ally” was an extension of the privilege I have as someone white who was not accustomed to being unable to access any space I wanted. Most spaces are still white dominated and the spaces I’m talking about are real important: education, criminal justice, politics, banking, healthcare, and so on and so on. It took a lot of personal work to learn to sit with the discomfort and take time to understand what it meant about what I take for granted.

      “Die Cis Scum” is not the same as “Kill All Cis.” Cis-supremacy has to end because cis-supremacy is getting people raped, abused, assaulted, harassed, and murdered with impunity. Everyone has a right to defend their body and my essay was clear about *self defense*. It’s not helpful to consider an aggressive assertion that someone will defend themselves as an offense against an entire group of people. If you are cisgender and you attack someone who is transgender or gender queer, you’re probably going to get a pass on your behavior. Meanwhile, there are transwomen who are harassed and detained by police on suspicion of prostitution when they aren’t even working just because they’re trans. The justice record for abuse, assaults, rape, or murder against transgender individuals doesn’t even account for a fraction of what actually occurs every single day.

      It takes very little personal effort to be not scum. All you have to do is not go out of your way to fuck with people. Someone who goes out of their way to fuck with someone who is trans isn’t exactly likely to be heart warmingly kind to me as a whore either.

      • anivad

        Agreed on all the points. But I think most people won’t read ‘Die Cis Scum’ as ‘Die Cis Supremacy’, or even just ‘Die Cis People Who Are Scum’. I know for instance that if I ever heard anyone say ‘Die Trans Scum’, I’d definitely assume they mean all trans people, not just the ones who are scum, and it’s unreasonable to apply linguistic double standards here. ‘Die Cis Scum’ does have the potential to be dangerous and to be abused. Once on Tumblr (I think) I read a trans person say that they rejoiced whenever they heard news about a cis person who had died, because it was levelling the field or something. Others have advocated physically attacking cis people just for being cis, since trans people are often attacked just for being trans. There are people who take it literally – Asher at tranarchism explicitly says he’s in favour of “revolutionary violence” – and I just don’t see how hurting cis people will in any way advance trans rights, because in all likelihood it will just push things further back by reinforcing (and in some cases newly creating) ideas of trans people being mentally sick and dangerous, which is really not the impression of trans people I want the world to have. (or my friends and family, for the matter).

        As a POC, I have similar reactions to the “Kill Whitey” thing. I get that “Destroy White Supremacy” doesn’t make for as tasty a soundbite, but explicitly hostile, violent slogans just end up evoking more hate from the privileged, and making them feel even more justified in doing so.

        I’d like to one day be accepted by cis people because it’s the right thing to do. I don’t want them to accept me only because they’re afraid I might hurt them. That’s not acceptance, it’s just tolerance borne out of fear, and is not something that I think will last very long before something backfires.

      • I think there’s an important distinction between fear and feeling uncomfortable. I feel really uncomfortable when I look at the phrase “Die Cis Scum” and I feel really uncomfortable when I see the phrase “Kill Whitey.” I feel cruddy and embarrassed because I’m reminded of everything I have that I was given and others were denied. It’s uncomfortable because it sounds like cheating but I never consciously did, it was just the experience I had that I mistook for objective reality of the world’s machinations. It makes me feel crappy but it would only be reiterating all of that privilege that just made me feel so uncomfortable to ask the person who got the shit end of the stick to, once again, accommodate me. It’s on my to check my privilege and redirect that discomfort to breaking down the structures that create this injustice.

        I do not feel fear at those words though. I do not feel that sudden surge of adrenaline that makes me feel like someone shoved a meth pipe under my nose without my knowing it. When all of my hairs stand on end and I know that I am being hunted. I feel threatened when people start to shout things on the street to publicly humiliate me and I feel cruddy about myself when I lower my gaze to the ground and keep on walking hoping that it doesn’t get worse. Passivity isn’t going to make fear go away. Fear is less a feeling and more a well honed survival instinct kicking in a shit ton of brain drugs that go for a pretty penny on the synthetic market causing you to flee or fight.

        I think it was Octavia Butler who first used the metaphor of time travel to talk about privilege and both Dave Chapelle and Louis C. K. have both utilized the metaphor in their comedic material about privilege and I’ve found it to be a reliable calibration. If you got into a time machine, what would your realistic odds of survival be when you stepped out into a group of people at the other end of the journey?

        Cis people aren’t afraid of trans people, they’re uncomfortable and they possess the privilege to dehumanize people who are trans out of existence either through murder or imposed self-loathing. So many people who are trans are very much afraid of people who are cis. Also, the English language in practice has already made “trans” and “scum” equivalent while cis is highly valued and the expected standard. The phrase “bash back” is one I think is important; it frames the reactionary context.

        The other reason why I find its potential to be abused implausible is because cis privilege means that an unprovoked attack by a trans person against a cis person will get a response from law enforcement and the criminal justice system. Violence against people who are trans, however, is systemically codified. People will defend a cis person being attacked by a trans person but the same is not true in reverse.

        It’s also important to remember that respect for institutions is already upheld with violence. As a society, we have already accepted violence as justified when exerted by certain individuals, namely the state and the 1%. Violence is already a card that is out on the table and our culture accepts it so long as it maintains the status quo. Revolutionary violence is about acknowledging that without immediate intervention by the most effective means available, violence will proliferate and passivity actually allows systemic violence to endure and is thereby more deadly in the long term. In short, that remaining 100% peaceful all the time is actually more violent than using force to stop it.

        No, I don’t think that this alone will create sustainable cultural change but I don’t think the process will move forward without it. We absolutely need good people involved in every spectrum of human services because we need good people involved in every spectrum of human services who are able to respond to the needs of the people they serve and not because of “inclusion.” We also need people to make it clear that if someone is targeted on the basis of their gender, it will not be taken lightly.

        If someone is confused as to whether or not they are making someone who is non-gender normative feel threatened for their life, that person was not an ally. At the very least an ally is listening when someone says they’re feeling threatened. If you have no malicious intentions, you stop right then and there and check in with someone about what’s going on and what you can do to not be threatening in that moment. This isn’t bending over backwards, this is basic socialization that even my dog is capable of doing. I know that humans can do it too. We do it all the time to the people we recognize as equals or above us.

      • anivad

        Thanks for the time travel analogy! I love it.

        “I feel cruddy and embarrassed because I’m reminded of everything I have that I was given and others were denied.”

        I’ve felt like that often regarding the privileges I do have, to the point of developing a persistent guilt complex. Then someone told me that I was going about it the wrong way: I shouldn’t feel bad about being privileged (which is self-centred), because privilege is, essentially, a good thing. I should feel bad that other people were not receiving those same privileges, and work towards getting them those privileges rather than trying to rid myself of the ones I currently had.

        I think fear is an element of discomfort. From personal experience, things that make me uncomfortable are often things that scare me in some way or another. Cis people might be afraid of trans people perhaps because to some of them we seem to threaten their way of life, the strict gender binary, their ideas of masculinity/femininity, their sexual orientation, perhaps their particular brand of feminism. But yes, this is definitely a whole other kind of fear than that experienced by trans people of cis people, and I don’t wish to trivialise that in any way.

        As a trans man I know I’m privileged and experience a lot lower risk of danger than a trans woman, but at the same time I’m also in Singapore, which has terrible LGBT rights (homosexuality is still criminalised), zero protections based upon gender identity or sexual orientation, and much more open hostility and misinformation about trans people in particular. Locally, I’m the youngest medically-transitioning person I know. There are times when I’ve been terrified for my life, though I admit it’s probably nowhere as often as you. (due to cultural differences, apologies for any misunderstandings that may arise in this discussion.)

        I’m 100% for self-defense. If someone attacks you, by all means don’t just stand there; fight back. I have no issues with that whatsoever. But ‘Die Cis Scum’ is a statement of offense, not defense. When I was a teenager I discovered via the internet another local trans person – the only one I’d ever known IRL – and found that we both shared fantasies about barging into our schools with guns blazing and gleefully murdering all those happy, privileged, oblivious cis people. It got to the point where we might have quite likely done it for real if we’d managed to get hold of guns, which was the main holdup. And as of today, I’m so, so, so glad that we never did.

        But that’s what ‘Die Cis Scum’ reminds me of. Perhaps I’m scared of it precisely because I understand it: the anger, the frustration, the hate. And if my friend and I were both willing, back then, to senselessly murder innocent cis people for it, I can’t guarantee that we’re the only ones. And I’m afraid that, somewhere out there, some other angry trans people are going to see the phrase as a rallying call and succeed in what we never managed to, and that scares me.

        “cis privilege means that an unprovoked attack by a trans person against a cis person will get a response from law enforcement and the criminal justice system”
        Which is precisely why this is a bad idea. Attacking cis people will not advance trans rights in any way. All it will do is get the culprits locked up and/or killed, and trans people further shunned and scorned, and I don’t see how any good can come of it at all. What’s the best case scenario, even? Cis people looking at trans-initiated violence and going, “Oh look, those freaks are getting dangerous. Maybe we should give them more rights and freedoms and respect”?

      • What changed my politics the most was going to developing nations to work. I really, truly feel anger at our policies that have destroyed countless lives around the world. Sitting around and talking peacefully about genocide, mass rape, and exploitation has only made it get worse outside of our borders. At some point, you have to stop being nice when the same people won’t stop murdering others. I know that the way I feel about “Die Cis Scum” is how I felt going into camps for the internally displaced or the field clinics. Having smelled death en masse, literally, and having had really fucking limited tools in surgery or on condemned properties (in Haiti, you can’t buy a shovel in the country, you have to have a passport to leave to buy a shovel).

        American policy is literally responsible for many, many genocides. And phrases like “Die Cis Scum” and “Kill Whitey” remind me of what genocide actually looks and smells like. I will never be able to shake that from my consciousness and I will throw down my support to uproot the systems that have created these structures because millions of deaths cannot be handled with flowers.
        Ultimately, this stance for me is one that goes for all of my politics rather than being a solely trans issue. I think we’ve built the wrong system and it must be destroyed.

        Thanks for talking with me but my politics, in general, are rowdier for me with time, research, global work, and taking time to be present with my discomfort and to let it show me who the real enemy is has changed a lot for me. What makes it scary is the sense of responsibility it comes with and that’s something to balance because I’m one easy bitch to arrest if you start looking for reasons.

      • anivad

        All right, noted. Thanks for this discussion!

  2. It’s privileged groups that need to change, and that won’t happen unless the members of those groups are engaged in discussion. I’m a white straight cis male, I seek out this discussion because I want to be a good person, but if I didn’t have trans friends then none of this would be on my radar. The person like me who sees the queer activist shouting slogans that are threatening and scary won’t stop and think. They will generally do their best to get away asap.
    I get that eye-for-eye policies feel good, but they will not change the opinions of the privileged.
    I’m an atheist, but I’ve read the bible in order to know the language needed to teach Christians their errors. It gives me the high ground.
    That is what is needed here.

    • Telling marginalized groups to take the higher road puts them at risk. This is not about how “good” eye-for-eye policies feel. I used to believe strongly that all resistance had to be peaceful but not all situations can be solved with passivity. There is no one mode of liberation, it must entail multiple simultaneous actions.

      However: all people have a right to defend their bodies. Abusers target those they can get away with abusing. While it would be nice to solve problems by talking, there are people right now who are murdering others in the street. No one should be pressured or obligated to be polite to someone smashing their face in, they need to punch back and if they need back up it should be ready.

      Not everyone has the privilege of being able to use words and peace to survive a situation. Some people, literally, have nothing else other than bashing back. There are two major archetypes of oppressive individuals we are talking about and it’s amazing how people empathize more with the ones who have the most resources. There are people who contribute to daily microaggression without thinking and wear people down and there are the people who go out of their way to deliberately and maliciously harm other people unprovoked.

      Those who use words only can be responded to in words. Those who use violence are not going to be present for a lively debate because they are already in progress of using violence. I will not tell anyone to just take the blow, bleed in the streets, and wait for people to “peacefully find a way” to make this stop. When someone hollers at you, holler back. When someone hits you, hit back. If someone tries to you kill, you do whatever you need to do to survive that situation.

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