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.


2 Responses to “Two observations, about: ‘Determining the boundaries of our own group’ and ‘Privilege before transition’”

  1. Elly said

    I didn’t know the term “gold star lesbian”, I like it 🙂

    Now concerning the definition of boundaries and how the people who are being excluded (in your case trans women) should be a part of “rulemaking authority”… well, I actually saw the same problem concerning trans boundaries (e.g. concerning a lesbian defining as trans “female-to-femme” ) and I was like “yes, but it’s not the same thing, we need some differentiation for *real* trans with real oppression, you know”.

    And I still think it’s different but… well, on the other hand I find my reasoning a bit similar to so-called “WbW” excluding trans, which makes me a bit ill-at-ease :s (Sorry it’s OT but it made me think about this)

    Concerning privilege before transition, pfff. I don’t understand why people are always focusing on what is supposed to be your past instead of how you are in the present ? I mean, when I have an oppressive behaviour, sure, call me on it, but does it change anything if I have this behaviour because I was assigned male, because of my class or white privilege, or because of something else which isn’t necessarily related to privilege?

  2. No, it shouldn’t change anything.

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