Sex Educations: Gendering and Regendering Women

Summary

Radical feminism holds that what is currently known as ‘gender’ is not a condition which naturally arises either from an individual’s sex or from any other innate source, instead being an ideology of ‘sex roles’ which support and are constructed by the patriarchy.

While the way in which gender is produced is often described as “socialisation” or “conditioning”, this article suggests modelling it as a lifelong process of sex role education, covering more than just the sex role an individual is expected to play.

This model allows us to explore in some detail the experience of transsexual people under patriarchy and to question some binaries around the political features of transsexual identities.

With these considerations in mind we revisit the political category of ‘woman’ – as used to understand structured sexism – from the point of view of transsexual women’s inclusion.

Trigger and Content Warnings

Trigger Warnings: This article contains mentions of emotional, physical and sexual violence against women and children. It contains one historical account of mistreatment in captivity.

Content Warnings: This article contains discussion of feminine socialisation and a direct account of the positions of women and men in society. It goes into considerable detail regarding medical establishment gatekeeping of treatment for transsexual women.

Who Is This Article For?

You.

Some parts of this article may be very basic reading for radical feminists, other parts similarly for trans* people and/or those with a queer studies background, but I hope most readers will find that the article as a whole covers some useful ground.

As with any discussion of sex and gender, there may be points which some readers will disagree with, two of which may be worth disclosing up-front. One is that gender will be described in the way already mentioned above, as an ideology and not as an innate property of human beings. The second is that the existence of sex dysphoria, i.e. a loosely binary feeling of discrepancy between one’s physical sexual characteristics and those typically associated with the sex designated as the ‘other’ sex, will be taken as a given and not ascribed to social causes.

However, this piece is as much about the realpolitik as the theory, and so I’d encourage dissenting readers to continue regardless. The point you may dispute is one which defines another reader’s life, and you don’t need to share their viewpoint in order to encounter their attitudes and actions or learn from their experience.

There are groups of people whose life experiences are poorly represented in this piece, and which may be excluded on a structural level by the views taken in this piece. Those groups may include but are not limited to transsexual men, intersex people, other gender-variant people, cross-dressing/transvestite people, other people who experience gendered behaviour as innate, racialised trans* people, more-or-less anyone whose experience of gender is non-white and people who or whose cultures delineate sex, gender and sexuality in ways other than the dominant Western orthogonal systems (more on this here and here).

To those people: this article is an exploration of the consequences of gender-as-ideology for transsexual people, and an exploration of the consequences of transsexual experience under cispatriarchy for radical feminist conceptions of gender and political definitions of ‘womanhood’. In this, I’m writing what I know: I am a transsexual woman, I am a radical feminist. As always, I welcome and will publish comments and other responses from people with lived experience I lack. And I am not trying to lay out a theory that will colonise the ways you structure your own experience. This dialogue is directed inwards towards fellow radical feminists and (probably mostly white) transsexual women and asks us to reflect on each other’s lived experience and wisdom.

Gender and the Sex Role Education

Radical Feminists on Gender

Most articles on gender must necessarily open with several pages defining what gender is and does before any real discussion can begin. This article doesn’t aim to cover either of those subjects and will focus instead on how gender is done to us. This section will briefly introduce radical feminist ideas on the nature and purpose of gender – ideas which will be returned to repeatedly throughout the article – before moving on to the central topic. Those interested in a thorough discussion of the nature and purpose of gender can find it elsewhere in radical feminist writing.

Radical feminism understands gender as an ideology of male supremacy, serving as one of many tools which uphold patriarchy and other dominant orders, and radical feminists consider any attempt to explain gendered behaviours as “innate” to be antifeminist. As Dworkin wrote in Right Wing Women:

Antifeminism, in any of its political colorations, holds that the social and sexual condition of women essentially (one way or another) embodies the nature of women, that the way women are treated in sex and in society is congruent with what women are…

We are assigned at birth into either the dominant patriarchal class or the sex class based primarily on genital characteristics (in many Western countries, doctors may alter the genitalia of intersex infants to facilitate this) and subsequently primed to assume the appropriate role: “male” gender for the patriarchs, “female” gender for the sex class. The male-supremacist gender ideology varies across different cultures and sometimes includes additional roles, but these two are the most common.

Because it is a common misunderstanding, I’d like to draw out a particular response often made to this view, which is that it is labelling women who merely perform female gendered behaviour as antifeminist. It is not. Many women who perform female gendered behaviour already understand it not to embody the nature of women. Many more at least suspect that it may not. And when it comes to labelling people – not views – as antifeminist, then my list is long and men are at the top. Women who are not radical feminists may feel threatened by this theory insofar as they suspect that men may push them out in front of us to take the hits. They don’t need to worry; we radical feminist women are smart and will step past them to direct our blows where they belong.

Sex Role Education

The words mostly commonly used to describe this grooming process are “socialisation” and “conditioning”. Both of these imply a process which is done against an individual and are usually followed by words like “as”, e.g. “socialisation as a woman”.

In place of these I would like to introduce the metaphor of sex role education, an activity performed by society as a whole upon society as a whole and containing rich, multi-layered information about multiple sex roles.

Sex role education consists of the continuous propagation of gender beliefs and direct enforcement of gendered sex role behaviours. The process of sex role education ultimately results in the formation of 1) an individual’s gender worldview, consisting of gendered beliefs about ourselves and others based on the sex we are assigned and assign to others and 2) conditioned (unthinking) gendered behaviour.

The curriculum of sex role education is composed of a set of rules about ‘what female-sexed people are like’ and ‘what male-sexed people are like’, alongside a set of cautionary tales of “what freaks are like” (more on this system of female/male/freak gender classification).

Because gender is a male-supremacist ideology, sex role education contains sexist lessons such as, “female-sexed people are irrational” and “male-sexed people’s views are important”. Some lessons are descriptive: “female-sexed people are caring”, and others are prescriptive: “female-sexed people should not make a fuss”. Sometimes the lessons are tagged explicitly with a sex, such as in the above examples, and sometimes they are given as direct behavioural commands in which sex is implied: when you and other people assigned female are repeatedly told to remain indoors while people assigned male are told to go outside and play, the lesson that the female sex should stay indoors is implicit but clear.

Sex role education utilises various teaching methods: general immersion in a thoroughly gendered society, one-to-one tutorials with adults who give direct instruction on how ‘our’ sex should behave, peer-group discussion in which we talk about gender amongst ourselves and exchange the ideas we have received, and severe ongoing assessments in which we are punished for behaviour seen as gender-variant and rewarded for behaviour seen as gender-conforming. School popularity contests such as end-of-year ‘Queen’ and ‘King’ coronations could even be seen to function as final examinations, were sex role education not a life-long process.

Different Educations For Different Groups

This concept of sex role education lends itself easily to articulating how different people receive different educations. Not only are we each educated that women and men are different, people assigned as girls and boys are actually subscribed to different – although overlapping – curricula on what exactly women and men ‘are’ and how they should behave. For example, girls are educated that men are predatory, whereas boys don’t receive the same message about men. This can result in disconnects during adult conversations in which privileged men don’t acknowledge women’s beliefs about men as predatory, or conceptualise those beliefs as individual aberrations based on ‘bad experiences’ or even ‘prejudice’ (and there are certainly also other reasons why these conversations occur, many of which imply more male culpability).

The way in which the information is distributed is typically unequal, with women being taught more about aspects of the male sex role than vice versa. Among other things this reflects the aspect of the female sex role concerning the performance of cross-gender emotional work requiring knowledge of internalised male sex roles.

Sex roles are intersectional with other social educations such as education about race. We are taught different things about white women and black women, for example. And as with sex roles, which racialised beliefs a person is taught will depend on their own race – or the race ascribed to them by society in the case of misracialised people – such that white and black women are taught different things about white women and about black women as classes.

Again, as with gendered roles, the disprivileged class may be unable to escape learning more about the privileged class, whereas one aspect of privilege is the privilege to remain ignorant of the values and internal lives of disprivileged people. Put simply: to survive the condition of being racialised under white supremacy, or being a woman under patriarchy, may require knowledge of the privileged class, but not vice versa.

Thus we acquire a body of beliefs about people, beliefs which are gendered, racialised and otherwise coded, and the specific set of beliefs we acquire is based on the place society assigns us within those systems of coding. We use those beliefs to draw conclusions about others based on the place we assign them, and conclusions about ourselves based on the places we are assigned by others as well as the place we assign ourselves.

Fluidity and Reeducation

The previous paragraph should demonstrate that the process of sex role education is difficult enough to understand for people who remain in the place society assigns them. People who move between positions can end up occupying very complex territory. We can explore this using the example of a transsexual woman’s experience, since that is my own perspective as well as one which illuminates several points I would like to cover.

The key points I would like to make, each of which we will explore in further detail, are:

  1. That a person whose assigned sex feels ‘wrong’ to them will acquire different self-beliefs and behaviours than a person whose assigned sex feels ‘right’

  2. That as a transsexual person moves away from the sex they are assigned at birth to assert their self-identified sex, they typically apply new beliefs to themselves based on what they have learned about the sex role associated with that sex

  3. That this does not lead to identical self-beliefs and behaviour as if the person was cissexual, because people assigned different sexes at birth receive different programmes of sex role education

  4. But that society will intervene to try and ‘normalise’ a person’s behaviour, self-beliefs and worldview, through both everyday methods (general sex role education in society) and exceptional methods, such as blackmail over access to medical treatment

What is Sex Dysphoria?

Before we discuss each of these points further, I would like to clarify what I mean by feeling ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ in an assigned sex. I don’t mean feeling comfortable in a sex role. As specified earlier, sex roles (i.e. genders) are ideologically constructed in order to uphold patriarchy. Many people rightfully feel uncomfortable to some extent in their sex role, especially many women.

Instead, by feeling ‘right’, I mean a feeling of physical congruence with the identity characteristics used by patriarchy to assign sex (and thence sex roles) to individuals. For example, in a person with a penis – a characteristic typically used to assign ‘male’ sex and hence to educate a person into the male sex role – I mean a feeling of comfort and naturalness that the penis is an appropriate part of the body. And by feeling ‘wrong’, I mean a sense of sex dysphoria; for example, that the penis – along with other sexual characteristics – is not meant to be there, and that the primary sexual characteristic should be a vulva. This is not to reduce sex dysphoria to primary and secondary sexual characteristics; instead, insofar as sex is binary, sex dysphoria indicates a broad dysphoria over a wide range of sexed body characteristics.

Some readers may dispute that these feelings are legitimate, where what is typically meant by ‘legitimate’ is whether they stem from a discrete medical disorder or arise for social reasons. I would encourage those readers to focus less on the perceived legitimacy of these feelings and more on the fact that people exist who experience them. I am personally quite convinced that sex dysphoria is a concrete, indisputable reality, but what I’d like to clarify is that even if you hold another position, transsexual people still live the experience of sex dysphoria and as a result, move between social positions in the way this article describes.

I’ll now move on to my first point about transsexual experience.

Statement 1: A person whose assigned sex feels ‘wrong’ to them will acquire different self-beliefs and behaviours than a person whose assigned sex feels ‘right’

For cissexual girls, the components of sex role education which serve to inculcate gendered self-beliefs work as follows:

You are a girl. Girls are like this. Hence, you are like this.

Many cissexual girls will experience dissonance somewhere between the second and third sentences of that summary. Cissexual girls who have developed a conscious or unconscious critique of gender may object to “Girls are like this”, as they look around them at their peers and notice that, as a group, they don’t perfectly match these gendered roles. And cissexual girls who may be willing to accept general statements about other girls will still feel some discomfort with, “You are like this”, since they are simply not like this – yet.

For a transsexual girl (that is to say, a girl who was assigned male sex at birth, who still resides in that social assignation and who is being exposed to the sex role education aimed at boys), the message follows the same structure but the points of discomfort are somewhat different:

You are a boy. Boys are like this. Hence, you are like this.

The first point of discomfort is, “You are a boy”. The extent to which this statement is dissonant will depend on the extent to which she experiences sex dysphoria and feels that the physical characteristics being used as a basis for that statement aren’t a core part of her body. The second point of discomfort may be, “Boys are like this”. Just as for the cissexual girl, the transsexual girl may have developed an analysis of gender ideology which allows her to identify these general statements as suspect. Finally, the transsexual girl may also feel dissonance with the conclusion, “Hence, you are like this”. The specifics of this for a transsexual girl bear some attention:

  • She may feel some dissonance in a way similar to the cissexual girl; she may realise that she is not like this. Since gender roles are a fiction, in some ways it doesn’t really matter which fictional role a child is being told they are like; there will inevitably be dissonance since people do not match those roles.

    • There is something to be said, though, for the fact that the male sex roles which cissexual boys and transsexual girls are told to inhabit are, reflecting patriarchy, more privileged than the female sex roles forced upon cissexual girls and transsexual boys. So the statement, “You are like this [sex role]” may be easier to accept in some ways for transsexual girls than it is for cissexual girls, because an existence which promises male privilege is a more liveable existence than one which does not.

  • A transsexual girl may already have developed an identification with cissexual girls, based on the fact that she rejects “You are a boy” and is looking for another sex assignment she can accept. In that case, “You are like this [male sex role]” may be dissonant for another reason. She may already have started to absorb sex role beliefs about herself based on the information she is exposed to about the female sex role. While this is not the same information being given to cissexual girls – remember, the sex role education one receives is based partially on who society thinks one is, and society thinks she is a boy – it is still a sex role which can be internalised as self-beliefs. When told, “You are like [the male sex role]“, she thinks, “No, I am not. I am like [what I know of the female sex role]” and tries to resist the conditioning.

Regardless of this dissonance, the messages are powerful – and, as discussed earlier, are driven home in many different ways – and it’s likely for every child that much of the conditioning will to some extent get through.

But what I am trying to highlight here is that there are actually more than two kinds of childhood sex role education. While society attempts to give the same education to transsexual children as it does cissexual children – since it typically does not recognise the existence of transsexual children – it often produces different results. Though definitely a simplification, it may be useful to think of there as being at least four broad types of childhood sex role education when considering cis/trans* (and of course more along other axes): that received by cissexual girls, cissexual boys, transsexual girls and transsexual boys.

Statement 2: As a transsexual person moves away from the sex they are assigned at birth to assert their self-identified sex, they typically apply new beliefs to themselves based on what they have learned about the sex role associated with their self-identified sex

As a transsexual woman begins to understand herself as transsexual and as a person of female sex, she may – depending on the extent to which she accepts gender ideology – begin to identify herself more with the female sex role. As a result, many transsexual women will begin to form self-beliefs based on what they have learned about the female sex role in their sex role education.

They are not starting from a place of no knowledge. Society is thoroughly gendered, and everyone’s sex role educations, including those of transsexual girls and women, include considerable information on “what women are like”. This may involve a transsexual woman beginning to conceive of herself as more compassionate, or less capable of logical problem-solving. It may also involve changes in behaviour such as speaking up less in group environments or taking on more emotional work.

Of course, new self-beliefs don’t always translate into conditioned behaviour. Two women, one cissexual, one transsexual, may both hold the same poisonous self-belief that, “as a woman, I must present myself as attractive to the heterosexual male gaze”, but the transsexual woman may not yet reflexively perform acts of subservience under the male gaze such as dropping eye contact, adopting submissive physical postures and performing public smiling. As acts like these are key to gendered behaviour, this may cause the transsexual woman to be misgendered by cissexual men and cissexual women alike and treated as a ‘freak’.

Lack of alternative models of womanhood and the punishment of misgendering are two of the reasons why we can understand a adult transsexual woman’s ‘choice’ to adopt the self-beliefs and behaviours of the learned female sex role as a choice made under duress. There are other reasons; we’ll explore the full extent of this duress later when we discuss the ways in which society intervenes to ‘gender’ transsexual people.

The extent to which the identification is formed under duress should also be kept in mind when attaching political meanings to the act of transsexual women’s identification with the female sex role. It’s an act which some cis radical feminists can see as antifeminism: that a person may first identify themselves as female-sexed, and then as a result of this identify themselves with the female sex role, suggests that they see the female sex role to be an inherent quality of the female sex.

I don’t disagree, but I’d invite those who follow this line of reasoning to consider how many cissexual women do just the same thing. The association of female sex with the female sex role is both an expression of internalised antifeminism and also typical of most people who are not radical feminists, both cis and trans*. It’s unfortunate – and a natural consequence of patriarchy – that there is very little instruction available in society upon how to “do” womanhood apart from the sex role education which sets out the female sex role. Radical and other feminisms suggest alternate models of womanhood, but not all people have access to these or the time or energy to apply feminist critiques to their own lives.

There are women of every kind, all the time; there are always women who will ignore egregious wrongs. My aspirations for dignity and equality do not hinge on perfection in myself or in any other woman; only on the humanity we share, fragile as that appears to be.

- Dworkin, Pornography: Men Possessing Women, 2nd Edition (1989), Introduction

Dworkin was speaking here about women’s political responses to pornography but she could just as well have been talking about women’s responses to sex roles. And insofar as radical feminists should understand transsexual women as women in a political sense – a topic I’ll address below – I believe her argument applies to transsexual women as well. We are all – even those of us who embrace it with the limited agency we have available – entitled to liberation from the oppressive work done on us by the female sex role.

Statement 3: This does not lead to identical self-beliefs and behaviour as if the person was cissexual, because people assigned different sexes at birth receive different programmes of sex role education

If you recall our earlier point, the lessons on ‘what women are like’ have different content based on the sex society considers the (oft-unwilling) pupils to be. This means that transsexual women raised as boys will have absorbed a different idea of ‘what women are like’ from cissexual women raised as girls.

But it’s not just the lessons learned about women which are different. The ways in which they are given are different too. One flaw of the ‘sex role education’ concept is that it sounds gentle, like warm days spent at school. Perhaps it is worth remembering exactly what school was like for some of us before we associate education with benevolence, as Kwerey writes in her excellent new blog, querything:

It’s just about little increments of damage, it’s about how the way we grow up shapes us. It’s about the climate there: a climate that got more hostile the further you obviously you broke rules about things like gender, and I’m sure similar climates sit heavily on people all over the country as they grow up and as they start to look for a sexual identity. I’d put it behind me, those schools, the time I spent there not very happily, but looking back now I think it’s worth remembering the place, and remembering all the holes it didn’t fill in my identity.

Sex role education is punishing and vicious. Its methods are inhumane in proportion to the inhumanity of the role which is being enforced. This means that it is especially inhumane in its treatment of those who are being groomed for the female sex role, because the female sex role is less fully human. Part of the sex role education must necessarily be corporal, the infliction of psychic (and sometimes physical) wounds aimed to suppress resistance and to break girls for womanhood. Emotional and physical violence against women and girls is endemic and this is one of its functions.

Other groups are also subject to gendered forms of violence. As is frequently remarked, Patriarchy Hurts Men Too. But we should also place considerable weight on the violence done to trans* children. Properly, this isn’t ‘gendered’ violence, it is ‘cisgendered’ violence since it’s administered, not to a gender, but to people whose gendered expression is perceived to deviate from the sex role education in such a way as to suggest they identify themselves with the ‘other’ sex role. (Though of course transsexual boys may also be recipients of the general gendered violence aimed at girls.)

There are some points of commonality between cisgendered and gendered violence as they relate to sex role education. They are typically administered by people or systems which understand there to be two sex roles and who wish to force a child (or adult, but we are discussing childhood) to conform to one of those roles. The admonishment delivered, explicit or implicit, alongside the violence is, “Be a man!”, or, “Act ladylike!”. (Isn’t it interesting how one is ‘be’ and one is ‘act’? If I didn’t know better, I’d say the patriarchy is self-aware and self-satirising.)

A second admonishment embedded in these violences is, “Your sex is your sex role is your reality”. Assuming the impossibility of transitioning between assigned sexes, sex-immutability acts as a pillar of the sex role education by constructing sex roles as an inevitable consequence of sex, which apparently is inescapable. Both cis- and transsexual people experience the assertion that sex roles are reality as a form of violence. But only transsexual people also experience violence in the assertion, implicit in the above, that your sex is your reality.

Put another way, we can understand “your sex is your sex role is your reality” as a combination of cissexism (sex-immutability) and sexism (sex/sex role correspondence), with the two systems working together to close the circle of sex role assignation.

Only transsexual children betray the doctrine of sex-immutability in visible ways which prompt people and systems to target them with cisgendered violence. There is a difference between the violence employed against girls who won’t stay quiet (a requirement of the female sex role and a transgression under sexism), and children-assigned-as-boys who try on dresses (a violation of sex-immutability and a transgression under cissexism). But there is a similarity in that both forms of violence are applied to keep us in, and to make us conform to, gendered roles.

Cisgendered violence isn’t necessarily ‘more’ or ‘less’ violent than gendered violence – I would like to reject these terms as absolute properties of violence, since the hurt is in the experience of violence, which varies with the survivor – but it is violence with a different purpose and it will be applied in different ways. None of this is an appeal to “oppression olympics”, in which transsexual and cissexual women can compete to decide who had the most unhappy childhoods. Cissexism and sexism are not comparable, are both tragedies, and cannot be traded off against one another.

Instead we should continue to see the issue as complex, not as a simple case of oppressed and not oppressed; something Dworkin acknowledged in Woman Hating:

There is no doubt that in the culture of male-female discreteness, transsexuality is a disaster for the individual transsexual. Every transsexual, white, black, man, woman, rich, poor, is in a state of primary emergency as a transsexual.

- Dworkin, Woman Hating (EP Dutton, 1974)

Statement 4: Society will intervene to try and ‘normalise’ a person’s behaviour, self-beliefs and worldview

While the previous section discussed a function of gendered and cisgendered violences against children, here we will address the methods employed against adults who are perceived to be gender-variant, and some of the reasons for them.

For patriarchy to function, it is necessary that most people behave according to the sex role assigned to them. If there were too many people visibly acting outside of sex roles, those roles might lose their claim to universality. And as sex roles directly support patriarchy, sufficient non-compliance might actually weaken patriarchy. The dominant order clearly will not allow this.

In my article, The Gender Ternary, I described how society rejects individuals who it cannot fit into the gender (sex role) system, classifying them as ‘freaks’ to avoid the need to deconstruct the two predominant sex roles.

But what about when a person can be conceivably fitted into a sex role, and it’s just that this sex role is not the one they are assigned at birth? This was the realisation reached in Western society when it became clear that transsexual people, like cissexual people, typically absorbed enough binary-gender ideology that they could potentially be incorporated into the system rather than placed outside of it.

The cultural response to this realisation resembles nothing more than a programme of remedial sex role education, designed to bring transsexual people into line as quickly as possible with the sex role associated with their self-identified sex. Some readers will be familiar with what this entails, but for those who aren’t, a brief summary.

First, a transsexual woman must survive childhood and, potentially, cisgendered violence. If she does, she must then come to terms with transsexuality. Most of her models are media portrayals of transsexual women as freaks, held up as cautionary tales to reinforce cissexism. Despite this, she overcomes trepidation to register with her doctor and attend an initial consultation to discuss her feelings about gender.

Note how the discussion is already framed in terms of gender and not sex. While it’s understood that sex dysphoria is part of transsexual experience, gender dysphoria is thought to be an inevitable, medical component of transsexuality, despite the fact that great numbers of cissexual people experience what could also be called gender dysphoria, in that they feel a discomfort with the sex role expected of them.

She now enters the first part of a long ‘gatekeeping’ phase. Ostensibly designed to prevent delusional cissexual people – thinking themselves transsexual – from passing through the treatment system for transsexuality, this involves years of consultations, assessments and hurdles. She will be judged on her body language, her dress, her ‘dedication’, her history, her family background, her relationships and her good manners.

Unfortunately, very few of those gates have anything to do with sex. If the function of the gatekeeping was to ensure that cissexual people do not mistakenly access sex hormone treatment or surgery on primary and secondary sexual characteristics, then wearing a skirt and lipstick to the psychological assessment would not be a tacit requirement for diagnosis.

At best, gatekeeping acts to determine whether a transsexual woman who accesses medical treatments has absorbed sufficient education on the female sex role that she will be able to assimilate into the gender system as a woman and not be a ‘freak’. (I would like to defend transsexual women who make this so-called ‘choice’, by the way, just as I don’t attack cissexual woman who consider their survival tied to their performance of the female sex role.) That is to say, looked at in the most generous possible light, it is patronising and infantalising.

In reality, the primary effect of gatekeeping is to act as an advanced component of sex role education. By requiring certain criteria to be met before treatment may progress, the gatekeepers are like teachers who teach to a test, a test they are also responsible for assessing. Gatekeeping both produces and enforces sex roles in transsexual people.

One common criteria for beginning treatment is that a woman must disclose a convincing transsexual history. In the minds of gender-confused, antifeminist doctors, the only transsexual history they find convincing is a history of cross-gender identification, an unbidden arising of the ‘other’ sex’s gendered thoughts and behaviours. It should not be surprising that many transsexual women, having suffered for years with sex dysphoria and only accessing medical treatment when they are desperate, will disclose a perfectly potted traditional transsexual narrative complete with borrowing their mother’s dresses at age seven and total identification with the female sex and sex role at least since puberty.

For some, coming to believe in such a history may even be a psychological precondition for attending the assessment in the first place. The history above may be a fair representation of the occasional transsexual woman’s experiences. But as it is the only representation we are ever shown by the media, many women who understand themselves as transsexual must resolve any cognitive dissonance between their more opaquely gendered history and the traditional transsexual narrative. One way of doing that is to reject the traditional transsexual narrative as the only transsexual narrative, but another is to internalise the traditional history and to selectively reimagine one’s own history as if it had followed this commonly portrayed pattern. (It’s certainly a pressure I’ve felt myself.)

Another notorious component of gatekeeping is the RLE, or Real Life Experience. In the UK, transsexual women are often expected to complete two years of RLE before they will be considered for treatment. This sometimes refers to surgical treatment, but the RLE requirement can be enforced before even hormones are offered. RLE consists of living ‘full time as a woman’ for typically two years. This means using a ‘female’ name, female pronouns and wearing ‘female’ clothes.

There are some women who immediately are ‘read’ as women by mainstream society the moment they adopt feminine gender markers in their dress and behaviour. They are in the relative minority. For most transsexual women, going straight into RLE is not an experience of womanhood but an experience of public freakhood, composed of constant stares, transphobic harassment and potentially violence, without access to much of the (intensely double-edged) training given to cissexual women on how to survive this.

Hang on, did I just say “stares, harassment and violence”? Sounds like ‘womanhood’ to me. RLE actually does reproduce experience in the female sex role, but not in the way it claims. By exposing transsexual women to scrutiny, humiliation, stress and danger, RLE functions to ‘break’ transsexual women for womanhood.

In Intercourse, Andrea Dworkin recounts the life of Joan of Arc, telling her story as the story of a woman who escaped the condition of ‘womanhood’ through a rejection of intercourse and of femininity. We don’t need to consider any question of Joan of Arc’s transsexual/cissexual status in order to understand the relationship between the following passage and the process of RLE:

[Joan of Arc's] male clothing became the focus of [the Inquisition's] sexual obsession with her: ridding her of it became synonymous with breaking her literally and metaphorically; making her female-submissive.

- Dworkin, Intercourse (Arrow, 1988), p118

Patriarchy has no use for women (transsexual women or holy warriors!) who will not tolerate objectification and unwanted sexual advances. Because people assigned the male sex role are not taught to put up with these, there is a danger that transsexual women may also reject these everyday aspects of female experience. This in itself is not too problematic for patriarchy, since it’s far more important that cissexual women are available for harassment. But it doesn’t need transsexual women setting a bad example. Let’s pass the mic to Twisty for a moment, speaking on a related subject (though not specifically regarding transsexual women):

… if the fairer sex go longer than 16 minutes without girlification, ghettoization, infantilization, and condescension, they’re liable to start acting like unfuckable men. From there, as you can well imagine, it’s but a short, slippery hop to the cosmos-rocking vortex of horror that would be the dissolution of the gender binary, followed closely by the total destruction of oppression culture as we know it.

(Twisty’s writing is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.)

It’s understandable that, say, a cissexual teenage girl can be forced to tolerate treatment such as public harassment, since it is relatively easy for society to bring pressure to bear on a teenager. But what about an adult? Why should an adult transsexual woman accept the abuse of RLE? It’s because, and I say this advisedly, the medical system has her by the balls.

Not every medical practitioner will demand RLE, and different treatments are made conditional on it, but it’s common for RLE to gatekeep either hormone replacement therapy or genital surgery. If a transsexual woman is financially comfortable she may be able to buy hormones online, but many women cannot afford this, and many more cannot afford private surgery. Money often requires work, and many transsexual women are kept in a material state of financial inequality because many forms of work discriminate against them. How convenient.

There may be a reason that workers in information technology seem overrepresented among transsexual women who are out as transsexual (itself a crime against compulsory assimilation): they’re often some of the very few people who can afford to bypass some gatekeeping and the breaking for assimilation it represents. Everyone else (assuming they are even accepted for treatment) goes through the system, and the system functions. It aims to breaks down their resistance to living under the sexual inequality common to all women, it compels identification not with the female sex but with the female sex role, and it encourages silence and conformity: not only the silence expected of women who may not speak up about sexism, but the silence of transsexual people who must not speak up about cissexism, who must conceal even their own history.

Conclusions and The Political Category of ‘Woman’

Who owns the term ‘woman’? I’m not interested in defining it biologically. As a feminist, I view ‘woman’ as a political category, tautologically defined as ‘a target of the oppression aimed at women’.

In writing this essay, I’ve looked to dispel simplified views of transsexual women’s experience held by trans* and queer-theory thinkers and by radical feminists. Transsexual women are not identical to cissexual women, because our histories and gender educations (and reeducations) are different. But neither are we completely distinct from cissexual women, in that many of our oppressions are identical or similar and we are both exposed to, and absorb, sex role education about what we – women – should be and do.

Gender ideology is sufficiently potent that it is able to bring both cissexual women and transsexual women to some extent under the influence of the female sex role. This is done using a variety of tactics, with different tactics applied to cissexual and transsexual women, but the goal – however successful it may be – is to gender all women as women, i.e. to place us in a position of submission to patriarchy so that male power can be upheld.

During this process of ‘feminisation’, patriarchy drills us, lectures us, wounds us and examines us, hammering the ideology of gender into our heads and intruding into our lives to ensure that we are living our assigned gender.

For a while, it is male gender which is pushed upon transsexual women-as-girls. The success of this may depend on how keenly she experienced herself as a transsexual girl in a cissexist world.

But soon enough patriarchy realises its mistake, and rather than allow women to exist with a male sense of entitlement it swings its enforcement machine around 180 degrees to ensure sufficient feminisation of this class of woman as well. The process of deconstructing any male sex role privilege which she did acquire in her childhood is blunt and imperfect, the trauma of transition varying between transsexual women. If something remains, it is the memory of once being told we were allowed to be fully human – coincidentally something that feminism has been trying to tell cissexual women for decades.

What to do with these similar-but-different experiences of oppression as women under patriarchy? Insisting that transsexual women and cissexual women are the same doesn’t just erase the traumas inflicted on girls who were assigned female at birth, it also erases the trauma of a transsexual childhood. But considering us as separate categories ignores the common ways in which patriarchy acts to oppress us as women, part of which is the effort to bring us all in line under the female sex role. Transsexual and cissexual women are targeted by rape and pornography. We are sex objects, if we’re ‘lucky’, or else we’re despised. More often, we’re both. We are underpaid, if we are paid at all. We are both viewed as less than human.

A progressive, trans*-inclusive view of the political ‘woman’ does not mean we have to redefine the term to mean, “cissexual women, including transsexual women who are the same”. I suggest not a redefinition of the term ‘woman’, but an expansion. Just as we can recognise that women worldwide have differing experiences, perhaps we can also understand that women may experience different abuses during our childhoods and still make our way to a place where we share common experience of present-day womanhood.

37 thoughts on “Sex Educations: Gendering and Regendering Women

  1. “Women who are not radical feminists may feel threatened by this theory insofar as they suspect that men may push them out in front of us to take the hits. They don’t need to worry; we radical feminist women are smart and will step past them to direct our blows where they belong.”
    :D :D :D

    “The way in which the information is distributed is typically unequal, with women being taught more about aspects of the male sex role than vice versa. Among other things this reflects the aspect of the female sex role concerning the performance of cross-gender emotional work requiring knowledge of internalised male sex roles.”

    I like this observation. I wonder if it’s also true to say that women get more accurate education about men? I’d assume that yet, or that men conform more completely to their socialised role, but maybe that’s just ’cause I know loads of women who’re queer in various ways and that I don’t know many men as well. But then again, it makes more sense that women would rebel against their designated role because it’s oppressive and shitty, so idk. For some strange reason I don’t know any men whose opinions on gender theory interest me.

    Oh, right, I guess the fact it’s a dynamic between privileged and disprivileged classes offers an answer. Sounds pretty accurate to me.

    … And then I got too committed to reading to take discrete mental notes. ‘Tis a good piece of writing, anyhow, and although I’d hope my mental definition of women wasn’t ‘cis women and I guess sure okay those trans women too, they’re not too different right?’, the trans narratives I know are mostly just from people within fifteen years of me in age who write intelligent determined establishment-criticising blog posts about their lives. I wonder how much broader the range of stories we could hear would be in a less cissexist world.

  2. Great article, a thought-provoking read as usual. Just one point I’m curious about, and would like to pick up on: you briefly mention ‘misracialised people’ – those who don’t identify with ‘the race ascribed to them by society’. Could you explain that one a bit more? Ironically, one of the arguments I’ve seen used by anti-trans radical feminists is ‘we don’t accept a person of one race can really be another, so why should we accept it with sex?’. I’m interested to know how you think a person actually can be ‘misracialised’.

  3. @Alasdair: I was trying to avoid implying that white folks always guess/assign race correctly (especially but not exclusively to mixed-race folks) when deciding, consciously or unconsciously, what kinda racism we are going to dole out.

  4. @Kwery wrote:

    I wonder if it’s also true to say that women get more accurate education about men?

    I suspect that, to some extent, women are taught more about men than men are about women, and learn more about men, because we need to – like you said, “a dynamic between privileged and disprivileged classes”.

    But I think it’s also that women and men learn that men are human – which is true – but women and men learn that women aren’t quite human – which isn’t true. That is to say, the male sex role is closer to a liveable condition of human beings. So, the things which everybody learns about it are closer to the truth of the people who live it. Whereas the female sex role is less liveable, and so less women live it less fully, their lives diverging more from the public aspects of the education, making men’s education on them less accurate.

    And also, maybe that the female sex role is more specific, and hence more likely to be inaccurate. Women are xyz – but men are free and bold and manly. Obviously the male sex role does place some specific restrictions on male lives, but these mainly seem to be the restrictions necessary to maintain patriarchy (e.g. Dworkin’s writing about moral restrictions on male anal sex being in order to limit fucking to an activity which is done to women).

    … although I’d hope my mental definition of women wasn’t ‘cis women and I guess sure okay those trans women too, they’re not too different right?’, the trans narratives I know are mostly just from people within fifteen years of me in age who write intelligent determined establishment-criticising blog posts about their lives. I wonder how much broader the range of stories we could hear would be in a less cissexist world.

    I wonder that too. :/ I know that even my mental definitions – or maybe more accurately, my mental habits – are a long way from where I’d like them to be. But I don’t think it’s possible to live in this world and not come to some very fucked up viewpoints. I can see the vague direction in which I want to go far more clearly than I can see the world which could actually exist if I ever got there (which I won’t).

  5. Thank you for a really wonderful article! I was introduced to your blog through your “Under Duress” articles, and have really enjoyed reading everything you’ve written. I found this piece really thought provoking and illuminating (particularly because I identify as a ciswoman).

    Your descriptions of RLE were horrifying but your analysis brilliant – conceptualizing RLE and other gatekeeping as methods for “breaking” transsexual women for womanhood seems really accurate to me, and I appreciate that you call sex role education (for both cis* and trans* people) “breaking,” as it seems to me that that’s really what it’s all about.

    I also wanted to thank you for one particularly great line: “I would encourage those readers to focus less on the perceived legitimacy of these feelings and more on the fact that people exist who experience them.” I think this sentence could be copied into pretty much any article dealing with any type of oppression. We would all do well to spend more time concerned with people’s lived experiences rather than trying to ascertain whether or not those experiences are somehow “legitimate”.

    Anyway, this post has given me a lot to mull over, and I thank you for that! Looking forward to reading more soon!

  6. Kaylee wrote:

    I appreciate that you call sex role education (for both cis* and trans* people) “breaking,” as it seems to me that that’s really what it’s all about.

    *nods* It’s one of the really key points I wanted to make. Of course the processes patriarchy applies to cissexual and transsexual women are vicious, because the role we’re being fitted for isn’t fully human. And of course they’re different for cissexual and transsexual folk, because we are coming from different sex-role-educational backgrounds. But the goal’s the same!

    We would all do well to spend more time concerned with people’s lived experiences rather than trying to ascertain whether or not those experiences are somehow “legitimate”.

    I think there’s definitely a place for the kind of analysis that tries to understand what parts of an experience are generated by what social forces and/or biological imperatives, and also to analyse what political effects are achieved by taking different attitudes to those experiences. That’s all important work and helps us set our long-term strategic goals. But yes, in the short term, whatever our ultimate goals, there are people here now with these experiences and lives, and even experiences which come 100% from a problematic place are still truly felt. Calling them “illegitimate” doesn’t change that.

    Thank you for your comment! :) Hope you enjoy the other articles, and those currently in the pipeline…

  7. “But soon enough patriarchy realises its mistake, and rather than allow women to exist with a male sense of entitlement it swings its enforcement machine around 180 degrees to ensure sufficient feminisation of this class of woman as well.”

    this really resonates with me. though i’m not a trans woman, this is something i have witnessed over the years. one friend of mine suffered from particularly brutal emotional attacks– and i still seethe for her. i know she’s strong and i know she’s fighting back (and mostly past the cissexism), but i remember her telling me about how “girly” her doctor and her family suddenly expected her to be. it was fucking brutal! this article really puts that in perspective; thank you!

    i’d love to tickle your brain-fish about something. what about non-binary trans people who don’t change our bodies? are we merely rejecting the sex roles pushed on us by the patriarchy?

    anyway, fucking love all your posts; i print them off, with the link and your name, and wave them all over the place.

  8. @mx. punk wrote:

    i’d love to tickle your brain-fish about something. what about non-binary trans people who don’t change our bodies? are we merely rejecting the sex roles pushed on us by the patriarchy?

    You’ve put your finger on a tricky area! Having been there myself for a while, I feel a little bit able to speak on this. Not being there now, I don’t think me speaking on it should be taken as authoritative / speaking from identity.

    It’s helped a lot for me to really firmly delineate in my mind the difference between transsexual and transgender. If being transgender is feeling that the gender assigned at birth – i.e. the sex role matched to the sex assigned at birth – is ‘wrong’, then I think we’re all to some extent non-binary transgender, because I don’t know who those roles are 100% right for. Maybe some guys, somewhere? But even for guys, it’s got to feel messed up sometimes for everyone.

    But I think that conversations around transgender often include some aspects of ‘born this way’, in that the trans-gender identification is talked about / thought of as ‘rising up’ somehow out of the natural state, finding its way through assigned gender and emerging as an innate quality which can / must be embraced.

    And I dunno, I think that’s kinda legit. At least, definitely a sense of ‘this gender is wrong’, bubbling up from within: that’s right. Gender is wrong, and our humanity is going to push its way, to the best of its ability, through the sex roles enforced on us. I think that because of the lack of understanding of how artificial “gender” is, it can be easy to understand that insistence-of-original-humanity as the arising of a different, innate gender, including innate non-binary-genders. But I’m happy enough that individuals are rejecting sex roles.

    It’s when that personal feeling of ‘innateness’ of gender is extended to political action which argues that innate genders exist which correspond – even if very loosely – to patriarchally ordered sex roles; that’s when I find it problematic (in the way described in the Dworkin quote near the start of this article) and find myself moving away from discourses on ‘transgender’ and more towards, like you say, ideas of, “rejecting the sex roles pushed on us by the patriarchy”.

    Perhaps a word/idea which works better for me is “anti-gender”. I’m anti-gender. (Not antigendered, because it’s not a quality of me, it’s a political view I hold.)

    But, what do you think?

  9. To reply directly to the transgender/transsexual perceived divide, I find a lot of frustrating definitions there. I tend to hear a lot of people say that the latter only applies to those who change their anatomy. This definition is problematic for me because it reinforces the perception that sex and gender are separate entities, one psychological and biological, when both are socially constructed and defined. Also, who defines what anatomy choices shift you more toward the desired gender? That decision is up to the identifier, not the observer, because otherwise it implies that certain anatomies are the only appropriate ones for a man/woman/non-binary person to possess. We all change our bodies every day, and the choices we make to present our bodies as more or less a certain gender/sex role are influenced by the binary cis patriarchy. I think it’s important for me to make a point of undermining the assertion by some self-identified transsexual women, not on this blog but in my experience, that because I’ve chosen not to alter my body in the ways traditionally associated with medical transition, my identity as a transwoman is somehow less valid and detracting from their own identities. This is not to undermine the necessity for some to undergo those processes as part of gender expression, but to remind them that there are many ways to be a woman, many ways to be trans, and many intersecting privileges and disprivileges that accompany accompany those identities and presentation choices.

    To address this point:
    It’s when that personal feeling of ‘innateness’ of gender is extended to political action which argues that innate genders exist which correspond – even if very loosely – to patriarchally ordered sex roles; that’s when I find it problematic (in the way described in the Dworkin quote near the start of this article) and find myself moving away from discourses on ‘transgender’ and more towards, like you say, ideas of, “rejecting the sex roles pushed on us by the patriarchy”.

    It’s important for me to identify with the sex and gender roles created patriarchy because I feel my enculturation as a woman, specifically the extended years of rape that were focused on feminizing me for the benefit of the rapist, create an important connection between my experience of gender and the experiences of cis women under patriarchy. In that sense, while the label woman is inadequate to describe any individuals experience, it’s important for me to own that label in order to name my oppression and assert my gender expression in ways that feel cathartic.

  10. @ wesley: “This definition is problematic for me because it reinforces the perception that sex and gender are separate entities, one psychological and biological, when both are socially constructed and defined. Also, who defines what anatomy choices shift you more toward the desired gender?”

    i think of “sex” as “body gender” cuz the cissexist patriarchy should go fuck itself. really, it’s just gender attached to bodies. my tits and pussy are mine and i’m not a woman– i’m non-binary and so is my body. it belongs to me, right?

    of course, lisa (among others) is starting to upset my conception of gender. i may end up thinking of “gender” and “body gender” as absolute spider shit; ask me about it a few months from now. :) my brain has a giant “under construction” sign sticking out of it. but then, it always does.

    @ lisa: what’s been grubbing about at the bottom of my think-tank for the last few months is about the “legitimacy” of gender. a big part of me is starting to think gender is entirely constructed. you give me trillions of things to consider!

    “…I think we’re all to some extent non-binary transgender, because I don’t know who those roles are 100% right for…”

    i wonder about this all the time. this is the very ROOT of my questioning. what’s the “point” of non-binary gender? i don’t feel like it’s about the sex roles; i know very few women who DO fit the sex roles. in fact, i was raised to believe that women can be ANYTHING and EVERYTHING; i was a lucky kid, in that respect. so do i just have a problem with gendered language? honestly, i feel like it’ll take me years to figure this shit out.

    i just know that this is where i am NOW. i’ve tried being myself while letting people think i was female (and then male)– it didn’t work. it just felt wrong. so even if this whole thing is utter garbage, i don’t think i can just toss it over my shoulder and say, “gender isn’t real, so i don’t give a fuck what they call me.” ya know? it goes back to your statements about legit vs illegit.

    so i guess i think we should all be ourselves as best we can, while acknowledging that we DO have to live with gender– for now. i don’t know how to change things, really. all i’m doing at the moment is correcting customers at work when they refer to certain things as “boy things” or “girl things” and encouraging my niece and nephews to be awesome.

    sorry if i got off-topic or overly verbose. and thanks for sharing your brain with us!

  11. @Wesley and @mx.punk, you both mentioned something that I really agree with and I wanted to draw out:

    Wesley: it’s important for me to own that label [of 'woman'] in order to name my oppression and assert my gender expression in ways that feel cathartic

    mx.punk: even if this whole thing is utter garbage, i don’t think i can just toss it over my shoulder and say, “gender isn’t real, so i don’t give a fuck what they call me.” ya know?

    And something from me, so I’m not just quoting you and hanging back ‘objectively': I do gender too. For me it’s a way to live under cis-supremacy and get less transphobia and personal dissonance at the cost of marginally more misogyny, which is a good trade-off in my life situation.

    A friend and I were chatting about gender yesterday and we came up with this phrase: Gender isn’t real: but the patriarchy can make it real. I think that understanding gender and opposing it on a political level almost demands that we do acknowledge how much gender has permeated our life experiences; and then we fight from there.

  12. “Gender isn’t real: but the patriarchy can make it real. I think that understanding gender and opposing it on a political level almost demands that we do acknowledge how much gender has permeated our life experiences; and then we fight from there.”

    thank you! i love this! you’ve given me piles of stuff to think about; thank you.

  13. Good transsexuals vs. bad transsexuals.

    The author honestly admits that “there are groups of people [...] which may be excluded on a structural level by the views taken in this piece.”

    I think that this disclosure does not do honor to the way in which this article systematically and purposefully excludes large parts of the trans community in order to create a class of transsexuals that would be acceptable to radical feminists.

    The article starts with a narrow definition of what a transsexual woman is : a person born with male secondary sexual characteristics who feel physically at odds with their body. People who have (or had) a penis, and feel it is just wrong.

    This definition is important – most of the article rely on it. It allows a definition of woman build from the ground up : you are a woman because of your body. Everything else – gender roles – is stuff that is artificially imposed on you because of your body.

    People who identify as trans women but do not fit this definition of what a transsexual woman is are dismissed as “delusional cissexual”.

    Identified as male at birth, with what doctors would consider a normal male body, I have now (in my mid thirties) lived full time presenting as a woman for over two years. I’m not doing HRT, I am not being followed by doctors, and have no plans of SRS. I’m not unhappy with my body – yet I want to be identified as a (trans) woman, and I want people to interact with me as such.

    I am, then, a “delusional cissexual”. I have an extreme form of “gender dysphoria” which, according to the author, happens to cissexual as well as transsexual people.

    Let me, then, explain myself. To ease my “delusions” and my “dysphoria”, I have constructed a rather different model of what a woman is : a model build from the top down. In this alternative model a woman is defined by her gender roles and gender presentations. When I see someone in the street, I don’t see their naked bodies – yet I know straight away whether that person is a man or a woman. Legal marker, presentation, behaviour and role are what defines a woman in our society : not her body.

    The model I present here and the one presented by the author are not incompatible – they both reflect the reality of some trans people. However the author is set on excluding one of those realities as “delusional”. The author does this for a reason : it’s the price she has to pay to get accepted in radical feminist circles.

    The author’s construction of the transsexual model in this article allows her to address the arguments usually raised to refuse trans woman access to women only spaces :

    1. “While we accept you are a woman, we want to be amongst people who have been *socialized* as women” ;
    2. “If we start allowing trans women, we’d have to allow any man wearing a skirt”.

    By dividing trans women in two categories, real transsexuals and “delusional cissexuals”, the author can explain how the socialization argument does not apply to real transsexuals ; and sets a framework for deciding who is a man in a skirt and who isn’t (the author, of course, isn’t).

    Radical feminism does not have to be transphobic – but playing good trans versus bad trans is not a way to achieve that.

  14. Heya. I found this comment tricky to answer – these kinda between-the-community things often are – but I don’t really want to argue with you. So I’m going to write this and probably be done with it. If you read this and think, “huh, we’re still on very different pages”, I’d encourage you to go your way and I’ll keep on going mine. Neither of us have the power to significantly structure discourse on trans* issues, and our energy’s more productive elsewhere than between ourselves.

    Legal marker, presentation, behaviour and role are what defines a woman in our society : not her body.

    Not as she pops out of the womb, they aren’t. One quick peek and patriarchy decides which to assign (something it occasionally gets wrong, of course), applying them one after the other in roughly the order you list them: she is marked as a woman, then she is dressed as a woman, then she is taught to act as a woman, after which she has learned and inhabits the role of woman. But as society has held different ideas of “woman” throughout history, so presentation, behaviour and role have changed. These things are the uniform of woman, not her nature. (And remember that prison duds are also a kind of uniform.)

    In this article, I am mostly describing transsexual women: women whose sex is dysphoric to the sex they were assigned at birth. Your comment seems to be describing transgender women: women who feel their gender is dysphoric to the gender they were assigned at birth. If you’re using different definitions, fair enough, but in that case we’re gonna be talking about different things using the same language – tricky stuff.

    But this makes the frequently quoted “delusional cissexuals” remark irrelevant twice over. First, because that comment is in the voice of the medical system – a system I denounce in the rest of the piece. Second, you’ve given a good example of why the given reasons for gatekeeping are nonsense! There’s no need, presumably, for gatekeeping to prevent you from getting surgery you don’t want, because you don’t want it and hence haven’t (“delusionally”) elected for it. I’m not calling you delusional.

    All of us need to survive within a system containing a hideous paucity of liveable roles. I have little to no criticism for the roles anybody selects within that system, including the role of transgender woman; which I’d describe as a person who feels themselves comfortable within the social identity of woman not for reasons of sex but because of the nature of that gendered sex role. It’s a role I spent some time in myself and it offered considerable relief. I understand myself differently now, not because I want to get accepted in radfem circles (why would I want that, if I originally disagreed with them?), but because I’ve read enough radical feminism to have a different understanding now of sex and gender and can no longer with any integrity use my body and behaviour to endorse the social identity of “woman”. That choice has come with trade-offs. Others may choose differently – I don’t think it’s a big deal, and there are much more important targets (patriarchy!).

    But that does lead us to the friction between our positions where it comes to talking about whether the nature of that gendered sex role is the innate nature of a kind of human being, or whether it is an aspect of male-supremacist gender ideology. I think the latter – you, presumably, the former. So insofar as you take political action to make that argument – including comments like this – then yes, we’re in disagreement. So you can call yourself (from my point of view) a “bad transsexual” when you act politically, if you like, though I would use the less loaded term “transgender person arguing on behalf of an antifeminist position”.

    And of course, it’s not up to me to decide the boundaries of “woman” (dividing women, for example, from “men in skirts”). Very few of us have that power; it is typically reserved for those who hate women, who exercise it through their choices of who to hate and how. “Woman”, in its political sense, is created by patriarchy through the exercise of misogyny and institutional woman-hating. In that sense, you can determine for yourself whether you are, politically, a woman. Since you inhabit the social role, I suspect you are targeted for woman-hating, including the sex role education into “feminine” behaviour described in this article.

    In general, I’d rather spend more time directly fighting patriarchy’s desire to coerce us into sex roles than arguing with you. I think this would all be much easier to understand and talk about if we could stop that first. Are you with me?

  15. Hello,

    Thank you for your reply.

    There is one thing I must clarify : I definitely do not consider gender marker/presentation/roles to be innate. I totally agree that gender is constructed, variable depending on time and culture, and (most importantly) coercively assigned to people at birth.

    Gender is not, however, mutable : at a given time, in a given culture, gender is frozen, and it is not possible to exist outside of gender (in as far as other people will interpret us through gender, whether we want it or not). It is in that sense that I think it is gender which defines what a woman is : because people will interpret us first through gender. I would go further, and say that secondary sexual characteristics only make sense in as far as they, too, are gendered. We only look at them through gender ; gender comes first.

    What follows, then, and part of the more intellectual (rather than the emotional) disagreement I have with your article, is that I do not make a difference between transsexual and transgender as you define them. If, as I understand it, sex only exists as viewed through gender, then sex dysphoria is gender dysphoria.

    Coming from this point of view, your article is, to me, attempting to create an unnecessary division amongst trans people (transgender/transsexual), the purpose of which seem to be to explain away the argument that one has to be socialized as a woman to be a “real” woman.

    I hope this clarifies my point of view a little bit.

  16. If, as I understand it, sex only exists as viewed through gender, then sex dysphoria is gender dysphoria.

    I can assure you it’s not. Sex exists in a locked room even when nobody else is looking. Gender, on the other hand, doesn’t exist at all outside of the twisted mind of patriarchy (which, unfortunately, is also our mind, given that we were raised in one). Sex dysphoria persists whatever you do, wear, say, think. Sex dysphoria is relieved with HRT and surgery. Given that you say you experience gender dysphoria and do not want HRT or surgery, the thing you experience is distinct from sex dysphoria.

    attempting to create an unnecessary division amongst trans people (transgender/transsexual), the purpose of which seem to be to explain away the argument that one has to be socialized as a woman to be a “real” woman

    If you think I’m trying to define a “real” woman then you’ve badly misread this piece! No such thing exists. Instead, I’m trying to explain how patriarchy decides who to treat as a “woman” and how it enforces that category upon two groups: people assigned female at birth and transsexual women.

    Patriarchy is, of course, wrong, but in doing so it does loosely construct a class of people who are treated, politically, as “women”. There’s nothing “real” about this class of people except for a shared experience of oppression as women.

    To summarise: I’ve tried here to give an account of how transsexual women come to describe ourselves as women which isn’t antifeminist. I’m unable to give an account of how non-transsexual AMAB people come to understand themselves as women and choose to perform the female sex role which isn’t antifeminist, as I don’t know one. If you do, then it would be great if you could write it somewhere, and then send me a link.

  17. I hope you don’t mind me joining in this conversation, sometransperson and Lisa, but I wonder if it’d be useful to either of you to hear a third person’s opinions. To me, it sounds like in some places you’ve got some fundamentally similar standpoints.

    “Gender is not, however, mutable : at a given time, in a given culture, gender is frozen, and it is not possible to exist outside of gender (in as far as other people will interpret us through gender, whether we want it or not). It is in that sense that I think it is gender which defines what a woman is : because people will interpret us first through gender. I would go further, and say that secondary sexual characteristics only make sense in as far as they, too, are gendered. We only look at them through gender ; gender comes first.”

    “But as society has held different ideas of “woman” throughout history, so presentation, behaviour and role have changed. These things are the uniform of woman, not her nature.”

    The way society defines gender at a given time and a given culture isn’t something you can defend yourself from: in that time and place an individual can’t prevent being interpreted first through that gender. But that’s at a given time and a given culture, and those things change throughout history: men wearing bright ribbons to hold up their tights was the pinnacle of courtly fashion for a while in Western Europe, and nowadays women wear trousers without it getting a second glance. And so on. Within a time period you can change how you’re perceived by fitting within a specific preexisting gender role.

    But, sometransperson, could I ask you about this:

    “Coming from this point of view, your article is, to me, attempting to create an unnecessary division amongst trans people (transgender/transsexual), the purpose of which seem to be to explain away the argument that one has to be socialized as a woman to be a “real” woman.”

    I’m cissexual, and I want to be respectful of the trans community and use the words they choose themselves. When I read that comment, I stopped and spent a fair while googling transsexual and transgender with things like ‘difference’ or ‘definition’ to see if I’d been using words in ways that alienated people. But… I couldn’t come up with anything about the matter that disagreed with the definition, though, and it definitely looks to me like the division existed before Lisa wrote this article and is used pretty widely.

    Still, I’ve heard the difference between transgender and -sexual people from genderqueer folks and from the radical feminist perspective this blog has. I’d really like to know more about other perspectives — if you have a minute, would you mind linking me to anything that people who disagree with this division have written, or suggest some names to read up on?

  18. @Kwerey: Transsexual/transgender has a pretty fraught history, which this conversation is likely playing into. I’m not sure how much of that history you know, so I’ll just share a wodge of it and you can take/leave as much as is interesting reading!

    The transsexual/transgender division is discussed in a series of three articles on the “transgender umbrella” question (essentially: “Does ‘transgender’ include or complement ‘transsexual’?) by Mercedes Allen, whose conclusions could loosely be summed up as anti-umbrella, pro-alliance: The Death of the “Transgender” Umbrella, Why the Umbrella Failed and Decolonizing Trans As Allies. (One ‘hmm’ about these: I’m not up on my theory of colonisation but my failsense tells me that the use of it here may be appropriative. As usual: links not fully endorsed by linker!)

    And for a pro-umbrella article, Julia Serano has also covered the subject.

    Some of the history also relates to the existence of the Harry Benjamin Syndrome camp: the prototypical “good transsexuals”, though they probably wouldn’t use either word. HBS wraps up gender and self-identified sex together as a single concept and frames one specific dysphoria of that identity as an intersex condition of the brain, occurring at a rate of 1/100,000 births, with other present-day trans*-identified people relegated to a category of “sexual ambiguity”.

    None of those things are really what this article is about though – in fact, many of their premises are incompatible with the views put forward here.

  19. Thank-you for an extremely interesting and educative article, Lisa. I am a radical feminist and a cisgendered woman interested in learning more about political aspects of transsexual identity. The topic of this article relates to some academic work I’m doing in political philosophy. Can I just ask, if it is not too inconvenient, if you have any references to published work that is particularly relevant to this topic? Obviously, you mention Dworkin in the article, but I’d be interested to know if you have any other pointers for reading, especially in relation to the idea that ‘gender isn’t real, but the patriarchy can make it real’. Not to worry if that’s a bother though, and thanks again for the article.

  20. @feministphilosopher:

    If you haven’t read it, then I think Whipping Girl is compulsory reading; I don’t fully agree with it but it is part of the frame of the debate.

    I can’t recommend any one radical feminist text: I think that all the major works cover sex role education throughout a woman’s life since it is one of the key mechanisms driving every manifestation of women’s oppression. Its existence is axiomatic along with the existence of patriarchy, so the real work is to look at what it does. For example, works on pornography include pornography’s role in sex role education and the reactions of sex-role-educated people to pornography; likewise abuse, intercourse etc.

    So, depending on how much Dworkin you’ve already read, you could just keep on reading! Despite the topics she deals with, her scholarship, sense of humour and incisive writing keep bringing me back.

  21. @feministphilosopher:

    I’d be interested to know if you have any other pointers for reading, especially in relation to the idea that ‘gender isn’t real, but the patriarchy can make it real’.

    Actually I do have a couple of specific suggestions for this one, now I think more about it.

    I think this picture is complex and has three elements – the last one might be of most interest to you…

    1. Understand that gender is not inherent or biological:
      • You can get this from all sorts of places, but let’s use Butler as an example, because while I’d rather people got the ideas from radical feminists, Butler’s kind of poststructuralism is a really dominant source of this kind of thought.
    2. Hence, understand that reality is constructed, but that it’s not constructed by us:
      • On the first page of Intercourse, Dworkin reveals what I think is one of the key insights in all of feminism: “The first tenet of male-supremacist ideology is that… the [male] self is the conviction, beyond reason or scrutiny, that there is an equation between what one wants and the fact that one is…”
      • We could possibly say, regarding women, that there is no equation between what we want and who we are: that a divorce of the self from our desires is what characterises womanhood under male-supremacist ideology…
      • And so the conceptual world in which gender resides is a world completely structured by male wants, desires and selves: no amount of queering, subverting and other meaningless activity by meaningless women will change gender, can change the conceptual world in which gender is embedded.
    3. This is what I understand as the basis for MacKinnon’s Points Against Postmodernism, where (as I see it) she concludes by recommending not engaging gender on the conceptual level (through “queering”, “subverting” etc.) but attacking its roots through attacking the oppression of women and building female power, until there are enough sufficiently liberated, sufficiently powerful women that either the male conceptual world becomes meaningless, or we can influence it in a meaningful way.
  22. Lisa, belated thanks for those links! I’d only come across the definitions Serano uses, presented as she presents everything in an air of calm certainty. Note: taken.

  23. Hey, I just want to begin by saying that I really enjoyed your blogs on consent and sex negativity and generally am really refreshed by the approach you are taking to radical feminism. Apart from when it comes to trans stuff, I have a lot of time for radical feminist ideas. But this post, while I found some good in it, also made me really uncomfortable. I think your disclaimer is right – at least this transsexual man definitely feels erased by your radical feminist account of how trans identities are formed. I don’t know how comfortable I am able to feel with a methodology which puts radical feminist ideology before trans people’s lived experience, and I can’t help but feel that that is what you are doing here.

    I am particularly troubled by this:
    “I’ve tried here to give an account of how transsexual women come to describe ourselves as women which isn’t antifeminist. I’m unable to give an account of how non-transsexual AMAB people come to understand themselves as women and choose to perform the female sex role which isn’t antifeminist, as I don’t know one. If you do, then it would be great if you could write it somewhere, and then send me a link.”

    I found a lot that was valuable in your article but I found this really triggering. I can’t speak for other trans people, but I, certainly, have been having to account for myself for years. The only thing that enabled me to transition and survive was to accept that I did not have to account for or justify my existence to anyone. I can’t feel comfortable with a radical feminist trans person telling non-transsexual trans person they they must justify themselves to radical feminists, many of whom have argued against our very existence and legitimacy as people, and the treatment that we need to live full lives or live at all. I agree that there are many things about the traditional trans narrative that are incredibly problematic, but I have met hardly any trans people who subscribe to that anyway. I mean, why is it of utmost importance that you have an account of your existence which is (radical) feminist – what about an account of your existence which is true? If radical feminist ideology cannot accommodate the existence of trans people, I feel that it is important to critique that ideology rather than to critique a trans person’s experience, or to demand a ‘feminist’ account.

    The specific thing I find erasing about this post, like the last poster, is this absolute line being drawn between sex dysphoria and gender dysphoria. Unlike the last trans person posting, I do experience sex dysphoria and have undergone hormone and surgical treatment. But unlike you, I am unable to state with certainty that my sex dysphoria is not a result of gender dysphoria. I did not experience significant sex dysphoria until puberty, but I was asserting a male identity (identity as opposed to behaviour, as I was not at all traditionally masculine) from the age of three. I cannot say that sex dysphoria came first, and I cannot state with certainty that it is possible to separate the sexed body from the gendered meaning that it has. It was definitely about identity rather than behaviour, and I can’t say I know anyone who isn’t to some extent alienated by the rules of gendered behaviour. But it wasn’t, necessarily, about my body – it was more about haircuts and clothes and names for me. I can’t say why, but I don’t think I should have to. Why is it up to trans people to justify ourselves to radical feminists, and not radical feminists to justify their views in the face of our experience? I agree with you that everyone, and especially women, experience some form of ‘gender dysphoria’ because I agree that gender is an oppressive ideology that fails to describe how people actually are. I certainly feel some ‘gender dysphoria’, presumably the kind most cis people feel, about the male sex role, but it is qualitatively and quantitatively different from the dysphoria I felt about being perceived as a girl and having a female body.

    But even as I say that, I can see the radical feminist explanation for my existence on the horizon – it’s because the woman’s role is unlivable, so you escaped to masculinity and male privilege! It’s because of sexism! The female body is a target for violence and you transitioned to escape that violence! Except, no, I live every day with the possibility of being outed and the knowledge of what having a female and/or trans body means in this culture. The argument that trans men transition because of sexism – I heard it from everyone, doctors, family, family friends who seemed to think my life was their business, the media, the LGB community, my exes, my friends, conservatives, liberals and radicals alike. It took me years to have the courage to transition anyway in the face of that. On a qualitative level, I do not feel that that is the reason I transitioned, but I don’t necessarily have an argument as to why, apart from ‘why then aren’t all of the cis women queuing up at the GICs for testosterone, their ticket to male privilege?’.

    So to conclude – I feel like your explanation for the existence of trans people does, on a structural level, exclude me and I think probably a lot of other trans men and transmasculine spectrum people (I know many people whose sex dysphoria only began at puberty), as well as non-transsexual trans women, and in doing so makes space for radical feminist arguments against our existence, rights, and access to treatment. It feels to me like I am just reading a new trans narrative, a new set of rules for trans people to be ‘legitimate’ and not just dupes of the patriarchy. I want to believe in a meaningful dialogue between radical feminists and trans people, but I don’t think that can take place without acknowledging the violence that radical feminists have done to trans people and centering the lived experience of trans people over radical feminist ideas. I am not convinced that is what is happening here.

  24. @emergentlifeform:

    I should start by saying that I don’t buy the “trans men transition to access male privilege” thing, by the way, which I should have been clear about. I don’t think that what’s accessed is “male privilege” at all, and I think the whole idea’s just bullshit, just as much as crap like, “trans* women transition because of self-hate”.

    So, I think that the word “antifeminist” has done bad things for you, in this article. Please bear in mind that I consider the vast majority of accounts of gender to be antifeminist, including the accounts which would be provided by most cis people.

    Of course, there is a big and important difference there, which is that cis people aren’t asked/expected to account for their gender in the same way or as often as trans*-identified folk typically are.

    Because of how often we’re asked to account for it, I can understand why we reach for explanations of “innate” gender identity, as often “born this way” seems to put something beyond reproach.

    But doing that has a cost. “Gender is innate” doesn’t just protect trans* folks, the idea is also a patriarchal darling. So what do you do when, “you were born this way” is used to fix AFAB girls into the role of “woman” under patriarchy?

    Nowadays, this “fixing” is my main point of interest. If I was to write this article again now, I think I would talk less about gender identity and more about gender identification as a verb, a process.

    Why do we end up identified with the gender categories we do? Because the vast majority of us do, cis and trans* alike. What process leads to us feeling a deep sense of identification with a crafted identity like, “Short haircut, square outline, unfussy appearance, decisive manner”?

    And we can’t ignore the encouragement we receive to pick a category from the relatively small menu of those on offer, or the punishment meted out when we pick the “wrong” one or even dare to look off-menu. I’m sure you’re familiar with both of those.

    Anyway, it only becomes antifeminist when we say, “I’ve identified myself with this gendered category because gender is innate and the identification arises from something inviolable within me”.

    I’ve given an example, in this article, of how female gender identification may happen for some transsexual women. I’m not able to give examples for other people because I’m not other people and I don’t consider that my place. But it certainly doesn’t mean that I don’t think they exist – I’m sure they do.

    I wish it was the case that trans* exisistence was less threatened, and it was simply possible to say, “For whatever reason, you don’t need to know the details, I find this life most livable,” and that people could reply, “Ok!”

    Until that’s the case, I’ll never condemn trans* people for doing what we need to do to make our lives livable, including resorting to “born gendered”.

    At the same time, that survival strategy shouldn’t mean that thinking and writing about gender, in the way necessary to liberate women, should be cast in ice until trans* liberation’s achieved.

    I really wish that it was possible to do this without stepping on each others’ toes, but I think we’re all very attached – for very understandable reasons – to the ways we’ve become accustomed to defending our self-conceptions, and that there are basically toes everywhere by this point.

    I think that ideas of gender construction / gender identification should be out there for both cis women and trans* people, as they can be genuinely liberatory for both groups.

    And I think that trans* lives can be robustly defended without resorting to “born this way”, and I’ll continue to defend them in those ways.

    Please bear in mind that I don’t have an influential position in this argument. The history of violence you describe against trans* people doesn’t stem from a tradition of radical feminism which considers me to have any place in radical feminist discourse.

  25. Pingback: Δεν είμαι μια μήτρα με πόδια « Attack Of The Quasars

  26. Hi Lisa. That was a very interesting read.

    I have a couple of thoughts though …

    Firstly, let me say that I am a trans woman in my mid 30s. I have spent most my teenage and adult years thinking about trans issues on my own, and not interacted with any community. I grew up in a rural and conservative part of Europe. Neither have I read much theory during those years.

    I consider myself a feminist, and after getting interested in feminism a couple of years ago as well as starting my transition last year, I have spent a lot of time reading and discussing both feminism and queer theory. My views have not yet solidified and are in somewhat of a fluid state. But I am finding myself very comfortable within secular and feminist circles. More so than within the trans community. I will also admit that both my secular stance and my interaction with certain groups sets of warning bells when I hear the word “radical” as I associate it with “fundamentalist” and “dogmatic” and a position that does not easily let itself be affected with the realities of life as well as empirical data.

    I have seen radical feminism presenting a lot of anti-trans and trans-erasing writing. A lot of it seems to hinge on a very narrow and idealised definition of sex and gender. I understand radical feminism is divided in its views on this topic though. But I am still weary of any theory that come across as absolutist and final.

    The biggest issue I have with some of these theories is that the way gender especially, but also sex, is dissected, often leaves no room for the dissonance I personally feel between my assigned sex and my gender identity (to use the common terminology). I have read Julia Serano, and find her discussion of “subconscious sex” interesting as well as her account of how she experienced puberty. I have never functioned sexually as a male because I do not respond to typical male stimuli at all. My own puberty also came with some breast tissue growth. All in all, even if I haven’t pursued a intersex diagnosis, my physical make-up is definitely non-binary. This leads me to believe there is at least a biological connection to my gender identity.

    My life has been full of both feminine and masculine interests, but nowhere near any alpha male type behaviour though. As a child I was pretty blind to gender roles and I broke “the rules” all the time without consequences and I cannot remember being aware of this until I was much older.

    My point is that in the age-old nature vs. nurture debate, I have a hard time accepting a single answer to such questions. Both when looking at my own experience and other’s. There has certainly been male conditioning and discouragement from “female” activities, but I have always been more comfortable around girls and women (and nerdy boys) than (alpha-type) boys and men. Ever since I started interacting with other children as a child myself. And the sense of wanting to escape my reality has been dominant since I was 5 or 6 and are still my most clear childhood memories. Though these desires did not come in the form of gender, as I only had a superficial understanding of it, but escaping reality nonetheless.

    I don’t know. I seem to be rambling now. But my point in there somewhere was the dissection of gender and sex and labelling them as rigidly constructed or innate as seeming too idealised and unrealistic to me. As someone trained in the natural sciences, I generally dislike theories too heavily founded in ideology as being presented as truths.

    That said, I found that most of what you wrote resonated with my experience and my views, just have some trouble with the “radical” parts of it.

  27. @Jadzia626: I also recognise the sense of wanting to “escape my reality” that you talk about. I just think we should be very careful not to point to any kind of innate “femaleness” which would fail to gel with the socialisation aimed at people who society thinks are boys, because those arguments of innate “femaleness” are what are used to treat women as women under patriarchy.

    If anything, I’d say it’s the other way around: that many, many people, cissexual and transsexual, experience and are right to experience horrific dissonance between their nature as a human being and the role into which they are assigned. Even the male gender role is inhuman. One difference between transsexual and cissexual folks, though, is that cissexual men are offered a lot of perks to make up for it, and even some cissexual women will say that “being a woman isn’t all bad” (though I’d be hesitant to talk about “perks” in the same way, it’s a shit sandwich).

    But some transsexual folks don’t get the full compensation packages, even the absolutely shitty ones offered to women as women. We don’t get any encouragement to cover up that sense of horror at what society wants us to become.

    I’m fully committed to transsexual liberation and I don’t think that transsexual women can be liberated as transsexuals without also being liberated as women. This means I can’t accept understandings of mine or others’ transsexuality that use gender ideology to ground our liberation in ideas which don’t just hurt cissexual women (though that’s a very big ‘just’) but also hurt us, as women.

    There must be a way forward which brings all of us forward.

  28. Pingback: Transinclusie – leesmateriaal « FEL feminisme

  29. Pingback: The Cotton Ceiling – Ozy Frantz's Blog

  30. I’ve been meaning to respond to this again for such a long time, but for some reason haven’t got round to it. There’s definitely something about having to account for/justify myself which I find really triggering in a way that’s directly related to being trans, and I think that’s what came up in my original response. But I am slowly learning to let go of that, and I am very interested in thinking critically about where our gender identities come from.

    I do think your idea of gender identification being a process rather than a property that people possess is pretty accurate. I don’t think gender is innate & I’m not trying to endorse the ‘born this way’ narrative so I’m sorry that’s what came across in my original post, because I was really trying to get at a different issue. I agree that people are schooled into gender – it’s your account of what triggers people to initially become cross-gender identified which troubles me.

    The thing I found difficult was this idea that some people end up identifying with a gender other than the one they are assigned, and that the reason this happens is because of ‘subconscious sex’. I’ve had bad experiences relating to not feeling ‘trans enough’ because I wasn’t convinced my dysphoria was solely to do with my body, or having a sense of knowing the body dysphoria is what came first – that it triggered the social dysphoria, that it wasn’t the other way round. It is literally used as a trans litmus test for legitimacy in some communities (‘if you lived on a desert island, how would you want your body to be’), as if how we feel about our bodies is in no way socially determined. And I guess it’s this distinction that makes me feel uncomfortable, because then it seems to go some way towards setting up a legitimate/feminist trans person (whose cross-gender identification was triggered by subconscious sex) and illegitimate/antifeminsit trans person (whose cross-gender identification was caused by [anything to do with gender]). It’s the legitimately trans subconscious sex people, then, who would still exist in a post-gender utopia.

    The point I’ve got to now is thinking that whatever triggers someone’s identification is irrelevant. I feel like it has to be. I think the value of this discussion lies in showing the power of social forces to shape our identities (not our behaviour) beyond the point where we’re able to change them. I definitely think that my male identity is inherited from a society rather than inborn (the idea that people are born with gender identities hardwired seems patently ridiculous to me), but what caused me to learn that identity, rather than the one I was assigned? We don’t know. I don’t know if it’s even worth trying to answer that question. And specifying that it’s subconscious sex that’s the trigger for cross-gender identification seems to lay the ground for transer-than-thou hierarchies in a new form, in the same way the idea of subconscious sex is already used as a synonym for ‘born this way’ legitimacy within a lot of trans communities.

    I hope that makes sense. This blog has had a big impact on the way I think about gender identity, and I think your narrative of identification rather than inborn identity actually leaves us with the option of getting rid of the (unprovable & potentially problematic for reasons outlined above) concept of subconscious sex, which I honestly think is a positive thing. Our identities quite clearly come from society, but that doesn’t mean that we can or ought to change them.

  31. Pingback: “Transgender” a challenge to feminist politics?? Fighting Misogyny in Feminism ‹ The Multicultural Politic

  32. Pingback: Beyond the DJ Booth: Locating the Politics of Gender in Dance Music | Bluestockings Magazine

  33. Pingback: Beyond the DJ Booth: Locating the Politics of Gender in Dance Music | Bluestockings Redesign

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s