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The Transgender Question

23 Jan

Since a transgender can not relate to problems or issues that I have specifically as a woman, it becomes akin to a white person saying they know how a black person feels. They can imagine it, but they can’t know it. There is a biological difference that is stringent and divisive by itself, as well as it also contributes to the social construct of being female, that can’t be surmounted by the epigenic markers of transgenderism.

For example, the vagina I own is very different from the SRS construct, though they are technologically advancing in small ways, such as the new surgery that retains some pre-cum glands are left remaining when the penile skin shell is stripped of its innards and inverted, which provide some minute natural lubricant. The SRS version must be supported with a synthetic mesh to grown around, and must be dilated regularly, since the body treats it as a wound and continues to try to heal it and close it.  This is on an entirely different plane from a woman’s biology and the culture that surrounds female biology. Hymen issues, period issues, MISSED period issues, abortion (and all that entails), pregnancy, ovulation, cycles, pads or tampons or cups, diaphragms, pills or shots, yeast and yoghurt, and to-douche-or-not-to-douche, cranberry juice, clots and accidents, cramps and fibroids, endometriosis, menopause, peri-menopause, UTIs and IUDs; all these things are intrinsically part and parcel of being female and an entire and very VERY large female culture complete with its own language, behaviors and norms exists and centers around our vaginas and the needs and whims of our vaginas. And that’s just our vaginas.

When we discuss vaginas we have, vaginas which provide our most basic belonging to our largest shared-cultural group as women, we are talking about very different things than transgenders. And that’s even before you get to the G-spot vs clitoris quests, squirting or shuddering, fluttering or clenching. And still we haven’t even begun to talk about ticking biological clocks, pregnancy or childbirth or nursing, or child-bearing and rearing, our prime biological roles, or all the parts of our female culture dependent upon our biology that surrounds them- the things that make us women and make us women together.

These are VAST basic biological differences; huge and basic biological differences that social construct ideologies, even a re-invented social construct as MtF transgender culture, one that seeks to force-enable any similarities and ignore our most base and basic actual differences plus eschew our existing and rich female culture that surrounds our biology, can’t surmount. We may have different languages than other women. But the one thing that is our shared culture, that makes us women and makes us sisters with all the women in the world.. and that provides us our most basic common ground with each other and an immediate level of understanding with them, whoever they are as women… is the culture of being a woman irrevocably bequeathed to us by our biology.

Our biology creates our culture as women, the female culture. It is the reason why, when they talk about female circumcision on the other side of our large planet, women relate viscerally in a way that no man can. why the topic of abortion is within our souls as well as our wombs. Our biology is our strength, our biology gives us unique gifts that biological men do not have, and I consider it also a job of the feminist movement, not to let us forget how strong our biology makes us and not to let it be devalued or minimized or appropriated. I value my femalehood very strongly. I can’t relate very well to those transgenders I know because I was never a man, though I do try, but at its root it seems we are from different planets without very much in common except for the way we dress.

I grant that you feel feminine.  However,  makeup doesn’t make you female, nor cause you to understand what it means to be female.We may have different languages than other women.  But the one thing in our shared culture, that makes us women among all the women in the world and provides us our most basic common ground with each other as women, is our biology.  The physical and biological differences between females and MtF trans, are in actuality, too vast to slap a foreign social construct culture over top and be successful.

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Our biology makes us opposite to transgender MtFs.  And more markedly, our culture makes women different than transgender MtFs, and not only as above, we see that female culture is its own and as old as humankind.  But transgenders have their own cultures; their own culture complete with its own language, behaviors and norms exists, and it does not have anything in common with the culture of women, just the same way that female culture described above has nothing in common with transgender culture.

Transgender culture centers around transitioning, something that neither the sexes nor normal genders need to consider and is not part of their frame of reference.  While some people have androgenic disorders and take hormonal supplements, the entire culture that surrounds HRT is vastly different.  You are encompassed by transitioning and you are changed.  Testosterone blockers break down and undermine your masculine features.  Estrogen supplements then build up your feminine ones.  You  alter your body’s appearance quite drastically in doing so.  Because of the slow but drastic change, it is probably more comparable to what happens to a person’s psyche if they are born with a severe facial deformity that takes years of treatment till they can feel good about themselves and comfortable in their skin when they look in a mirror.   There is nothing in female culture that provides a similar frame of reference as the involvement of transitioning.  Women are born women and transitioning is alien to them.  Puberty, while being angst-filled, is still natural and everyone is in the same boat.  The sprouting of hair under your arms and on your mons is not similar to the drive to hide or rid yourself of masculine facial hair.  Comparable would be the fact that a young man went through his own puberty in the first place.

http://www.thirdsex.org/hormones

As the write of that article indicates, there is great pressure placed on trans to transition, to become part of their culture, to be one with it. Cultural discussions revolve on dosages and timelines and results, coming out to parents and friends, issues at work, the bathroom question, the locker room and gym questions, the hair, the hair, the hair.  The very reason that trans do transition is to force a reconstruction of themselves, and this is divergent from the female reason for clothing and makeup, and is again, more similar to someone coping with and overcoming a deformity.  Transexual culture revolves around transitioning, a realm that is alien to female culture.

No woman has a cultural knowledge of what a ‘gold star’ is, or a ‘hon’, or all the other intricacies of transexual culture which is apparently caste-driven.  Transexuals count their worth against their fellow transexuals in a complex system of hierarchies, for example; who started HRT and transitioning earlier, who is more passable, and who has engaged in more heterosexual acts before transitioning, and who is more ‘out’ than the next trans.  Their caste system operates with labels unique to their culture.  A ‘hon’ is an older trans who did not begin transitioning soon enough to ever pass.  ‘Hon’ is among the least desirable caste labels, and is used as oppressive name-calling and a way to assert the value of your own caste over another.  ‘Having your gold star’ means you never engaged in heterosexual activities before transitioning, and can place yourself in a caste above those who do not have theirs.  Infighting among their castes keeps them from any unified strength on a political or active front.  While these are not pretty points of a culture, they are distinctly cultural, relegated to within the trans community only, and are not familiar to, nor known by the culture of women.

Biologically, MtF trans are male, though after transitioning they may take on a female appearance through HRT and SRS.  (Hormone Replacement Therapy and Sexual Reassignment Surgery.) Culturally, as they transition, they move out of man/male cultural norms, and into Trans cultural norms and practices.  Aside from dressing and cosmetics, they rarely endeavor to take on many female/woman cultural norms or practices.   Their integration into Trans culture becomes more and more fixed as time passes.  Surgical enhancements and makeup do not a woman make, and their practicing Trans culture can not approximate their desired resultant female culture and in fact, pre-empts any entry into the culture of women due to these extreme differences between the practices and norms of the two cultures.

Sociologically, MtF trans are faced with social dynamics that are vastly different from those of women.  They find it incredibly difficult to begin or sustain relationships with men because of their biology and their culture, and one prevailing attitude seems to be that sometimes ‘sin-of-omission’ subterfuge is needed until a relationship would be under way.  To have sex, whether pre or post SRS, is very different than having sex with a woman or as a woman.

It is understood that trans ‘transition’ to cope with their dysphoria; that they are indeed so unhappy feeling like they are in the wrong body that suicide is a very high statistical and real risk.  However, it is not up to us as women to provide their safety net or support when they a) remain different in all but appearance, and b)to do so devalues who we are as women.  Appearance is not enough; and is instead, mimicry as among nature; to prolong their survival because they appear to be something else.  But mimicry (even to prolong their survival) is still mimicry even if done in order to mentally cope with their dysphoria to keep them from depression and suicide.  Women are devalued enough; we are Everymans’ wives and daughters, we are the girls at work, we are voices which are not always listened to in a patriarchal economy.  We can not freely give up what female strengths we have and dilute them by taking in every societal aberration in our effort to be inclusive, to let our female clarity muddy into a million shades of gray.  Women can not be the dumping ground for every difference, or we ‘difference’ ourselves into a divergent, confused and discordant multitudinous hum that lacks a distinct voice.  We have our own battles, and this isn’t one.

It is not up to women to ‘be nice’ when faced with the transgender question, or we devalue our own, rich and strong female culture, we ignore our biology, and dilute our value and our voices as women.  We ignore our biology at our own risk of identity.  To be asked to do so undermines woman’s strength and uniqueness and the female culture we share.   We are weakened by men enough, let alone we should willingly allow men transitioning to appear as women to weaken our own identities further.   To call male trans, women, is a perpetration on women which robs us of our own identities, diminishes our culture, and dilutes our identities as females by trying to encompass something which is as the complete opposite of female biologically and sociologically, and then undergoes mimicry.  Women are females and females are women.  To ask us to think otherwise is taking away from women and who we are, asking us to deny our biology and identities and culture, our places in society that we define as well.   At its truth, Mtf trans are men who endeavor to appear, with varying degrees of success, to be women.  Trans are not women, even if they are doing their best to appear to be.   If asked  Am I not a Woman?  But I look like one,’ the answer we make must always be the honesty of The Emporer’s New Clothes.

‘Rape Culture’ 1 – Prison and Rape Culture

13 Jan

Rape culture is a newer term used within modern post-equality feminism.  It is a concept to describe a culture in which rape and sexual violence are common and in which prevalent attitudes, norms, practices, and media normalize, excuse, tolerate, or even condone rape.  While the idea of a culture or society exists that normalizes rape, the first time the phrase itself is used appears to be as the title of a documentary film by Margaret Lazarus for Cambridge Documentary Films.  The film examines rape in prison, where, the film maintains, rape exists so prevalently that a clear ‘culture’ grows around it, complete with norms, ways of dressing, and ways of behaving and condoning it.

Prison has its own culture, and we’ve been graphically aware of prison rape as a paradigm given us by the media…that prison rape is prison power and a means to retain it.  For example, The Shawshank Redemption rape scene is a frightening depiction of how prison rape is assimilated into the overall culture of a prison.  Prison rape we accept as being rampant based on media that we view for entertainment and anecdote.  We accept, based upon media, that there is a prison hierarchy of tops and bottoms based on power and status and protection, and that it is always forced.

We accept the idea from our media and imagery like that of The Shawshank Redemption; that when a heterosexual male finds himself in prison he must defend himself or he WILL (not might or may) be forced into a  sexually submissive role.  We accept the idea that he WILL be made to service the tops, even dress a certain way, even belong to someone else as their ‘girlfriend’.  We accept this because the media has told us this repeatedly.

However, one of the best empirical studies done showed forcible prison rape to occur, but that it is rare.

http://www.amazon.com/Myth-Prison-Rape-Culture-American/dp/0742561666 The book, The Myth of Prison Rape: Sexual Culture in American Prisons, shows a widely varied and finely nuanced sexual culture within prisons in which forcible rape is a small percentage.  J Lewis explains the difficulty here, very well.

An Valuable Critique of Free World Liberal Homophobia

March 13, 2011
By J. Lewis VINE™ VOICE

“The Myth of Prison Rape: Sexual Culture in American Prisons” has a self-explanatory title. It’s object of critique is a well-established network of organizations and the systematic misunderstandings they generate about sex and sexual assault in prisons and jail. Not surprisingly, most of these myths are around male prison sex and sexuality, the reason for the implicit homophobia surrounding the topic. The authors take on the now large and influential establishment of human rights organizations, typified by Stop Prisoner Rape (SPR), prisoner rights advocates, religious activists and, not least, an extensive network of academics drawn not from research-based disciplines like criminology, sociology, psychology or anthropology, but from literary criticism within departments of literature, and producing writers ideologically blinkered by various schools of post-modernist pseudo-criticism.Unlike most contemporary proponents of this myth, the authors base their claims on empirical research rather than on the kinds of admittedly compelling anecdotal testimonials of victims of sexual assault featured in publications by groups like SPR. Yet horrific as genuine cases of sexual assault are, such accounts do not support claims of rampart male on male sexual violence such groups claim exist. “The Myth of Prison Rape” on the other hand did what other studies have not: asked several hundred prisoners themselves about sex and sexuality behind bars. The result is a far more nuanced and varied understanding of prison sex in which forcible rape does occur, but is rare. Which begs the question of how and why it’s come to seen as widespread thanks to the activists opposing it. This is when the implicit homophobia behind the issue comes in. It is the general fear of male-on-male sexuality that informs most of this activist misunderstanding. The fact that prison sexuality by definition occurs among hardened criminals, can involve forms of manipulation, and is generally among men of color combine to throw the fear of God into the generally white middle class, educated, heterosexual activists who write about it with a primal fear of being sodomized by a big black man. The fact that this constituency is generally “liberal” or “progressive” make these fears and their manifestation in distorted concepts that much easier to hide. This book is a start toward debunking their illusions.

Where do things come from?  Where do ideas or concepts generate, where do words begin, where do inventions take root?  Obviously prison has its own CULTURE but do prisons in America have a definite RAPE culture?  And if the idea of Prison ‘Rape Culture’ came to us from a 1975 documentary, and television and movies that have been made since then that we draw our ideas and perceptions from, and these were based on a 1975 idea, are we holding accurate perceptions?  And if new empirical studies show prison rape to be rare, isn’t it time that we catch up?

Activists seeking programs that would reduce prison rape tend to cite the older estimates or anecdotal evidence.  Truth be told, there are not many studies to cite.  In the last 40 years, less than 25 real research studies on prison rape have been done in the US.  A major source of some of them, The National Institute of Justice, indicates that only .005 percent of the total incarcerated population reported they had been victims of sexual assault while incarcerated.  That’s a huge anomaly to hold up against our media-based perceptions if true.

Read the National Institute of Justice report and findings HERE

On the high end of estimates, is the initital drafting of the PREA Act (Prison Rape Elimination Act) when in 2003 it estimated 13 percent of all inmates have been raped in prisons and jails in the US.  However, newer research done under PREA didn’t find their initial estimates to be supported three years later. (Curtis, Kim (2006-01-17). “A disputed study claims rape is rare in prison“. USA Today.)

Activism rightly points out that prison rape is under-reported, but to be under-reported to this anomalous degree becomes problematic.   And that’s where common sense must come in.  With widely diverging reports, sides should not form.  Activists should not point to low numbers and declare them ‘wrong because we know there’s more that goes on but doesn’t get reported.’  Well, no we don’t KNOW that; we infer that more surely must happen than gets reported, because we think that prison rape would carry such a stigma that people wouldn’t want to report it.  But this is too big an ‘IF’ between .005% under empirical research and 13% under anecdotal estimates that were later superseded by the same program that had the initial 13% estimate!

PREA now says prison rape is rare but the tidbit from the program that originally estimated 13%, hasn’t seemed to catch up to the activism programme.  We are holding onto old figures.  Make no mistake, while it should not happen, it does occasionally, but not so much so that known facts or projected figures that might account for the people who would not report it out of stigma, can sustain or support the idea that there exists an established set of practices, behaviors, norms, definitions, surrounding prison rape that would constitute a CULTURE of rape.

More reading:

http://open.salon.com/blog/moses_mendoza/2009/06/04/plight_of_the_punks_prison_rape_in_the_united_states

http://shetterly.blogspot.com/2012/09/seven-problems-with-rape-culture-theory.html

http://ljsj.wordpress.com/2011/12/13/prison-rape-in-popular-media/

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*note:  the prevalence of waring jeans so low as to expose underwear in a ‘gangsta’ style originated in prison as a way to indicate the wearer was available to bottom sexually.  This IS part of prison culture, and obviously sexual, but as it indicates willingness can not be used to indicate a forced sexual culture.