Two observations, about: ‘Determining the boundaries of our own group’ and ‘Privilege before transition’
October 18, 2008
OK, both these have a lot to do with analogies. Problematic. Yep.
1)”WBW have the right to determine their own space!” or “Women have the right to decide the boundaries of that group!”
First, let’s table the rather obvious “well trans women thereby are an equal part of that rulemaking authority” objection (see Beyond Inclusion). Cissexualist [white][temporarily abled][etc] radical feminists make an analogy to WOC getting to have separate space, to which others respond by inverting the metaphor and saying ‘no, the correct analogy is to a white-woman-only space.’
But can we even take it outside the realm of privilege? Like, does this analysis really hold any water, ever?
—Does a Christian church get to ban queer and trans Christians from the premises and claim that it’s not discrimination, because they’re just defining what a Christian is and Christians have the right to decide that?
And I think I would argue that this example is much closer to not being discrimination than [cis] woman only space.
2)We’re so fond of saying that trans women have male privilege because they were perceived as such before transition/were socialized as such. Do we say that CLBG folks have straight privilege because they were perceived as such/socialized as such? Hell, do we even say that closeted CLBG folks have straight privilege while they’re closeted?
[This is an example of why the distinction between __ privilege and passing-as-___-privilege is salient.]
“We’re sorry, this is a lesbian only group. … You were in an arranged marriage* to a man, yes? … You divorced him? Whatever, your straight privilege from all those many many years of living with a man would make the space unsafe for all us gold star lesbians.”
*Our pre-transition genders were not things we consented to.