Radical Feminist Sisterhood and Trans women

Often, in discussions of gender identity and sex, and subsequent feminist and lesbian acceptance of gender identity, trans males invoke the sisterhood ideology. Sisterhood, broadly speaking, is the general idea that all females share an experience because of the stereotypes associated with our biology and imposed upon us at birth. For more information, I recommend Kate Millet’s Sisterhood is Global. The notion is, regardless of our specific shackles of gender, we are all nonetheless bound by our experience of femaleness in ways men are not.

The above definition isn’t used by liberal feminists, of course. To liberal feminists, anyone who is now woman-identified [whatever that means] has a claim on sisterhood. Many women do consider trans males their sisters. Yes, even those in a radical context sometimes consider trans males their sisters. Can a male be a sister, in accordance with the meaning spelled out above?

No, that is impossible. Males cannot be sisters, trans-identified or not. Please hold your death threats until after I’m finished. We’re going to talk for a moment about gender and sex.

Despite what trans activists like to claim, gender and sex aren’t the same thing. Gender is a social construct, or the set of social expectations imposed on an individual based on her sex. Sex is the biological and genetic makeup of a human being. This is determined before you’re born and it is unchangeable. No amount of surgery can alter your chromosomes from male to female.

From birth, across the world, girls and boys are treated differently. In some countries, having two X chromosomes can literally make you a subordinate of your male relatives, subjected to their total and utter legal, socioeconomic, and political power [hey, Saudi Arabia, you suck]. In others, the impact of this different treatment is subtler. Regardless of its manifestation, this different treatment refers to the social expectations imposed on these children due to their sex; in other words, that different treatment is gender.

Gender isn’t just different treatment, though. In all its incarnations, it permits males to exert dominance over females in some form. For example, a female in Las Vegas Nevada can be bought and sold as a prostituted woman by males because of the gender roles imposed upon her. She’s female, therefore she’s expected to be sexually available to males, and let them use her body in exchange for cash because she’s a woman. Likewise, a female in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia can be withdrawn from her education by a male relative for not agreeing to a marriage or his proposal because that’s what gender mandates women do. You can keep going with the way men are allowed to control women based on a subscribed role, but the point is that these roles wouldn’t exist without femaleness.

Males do not treat each other this way based on sex alone. Racism and homophobia are an issue for another time that don’t boil down to the individual’s sex. This treatment of females on a global scale is a result of male domination over female forms through prescribed gender roles, or social expectations based on her sex.

Knowing this brings us back to that definition of sisterhood. All females have a shared experience because we are all treated differently from males from birth due to our sex. It is not because we like brown niqabs instead of black ones or because we prefer red lipstick to pink, Gucci to Prada. Femininity and its capitalistic confines are not the cause of collective female oppression by males; gendered expectation surrounding sex is.

With that out of the way, as sex is the cause of collective female oppression by males through gender, then it just makes sense that males cannot be sisters. Males are not dominated by each other solely due to their maleness. Indeed, males subscribe positive gender roles on each other. By positive, I mean things the collective world doesn’t view as worthy of denigration or insult, so: aggressiveness, dominance, financial and emotional independence. You are never going to see a Christina Grey and an Arthur Steele because that’s just crazy, since it doesn’t meet the social expectations for those characters’ respective sexes.

From birth, a Christina Grey would be told that she is lesser than a male simply because she’s female, and treated as such. Arthur Steele, by contrast, would be told to “man up,” and “put hos before bros.” He’d be taught independence, assertiveness, and Grey would be taught to stop “the ball-crushing” and “settle down” or else she’ll “regret it later on.” Men, plainly, are not ever treated the way Christina Grey would be.

Trans males are raised as males. Even boys are still male, still perceived and treated as such. The experiences are not the same as women. Andi Dier could do what he did to Rose McGowan without batting an eye because he was raised as a male: to be assertive, aggressive, dominant. That people didn’t bat an eye at his rage shows that they may have recognized him as male, just as they recognized McGowan as woman. The gist was McGowan should’ve ceded the floor to Dier because she’s not supposed to be aggressive, dominant, assertive. That’s not her gender role.

Regardless of whether you embrace the ideology that trans males are women, the fact remains that they, as with Dier, are treated as males even post-transition. Their opinions are seen as worthier of attention than women’s. Just look at how many people are fawning over Andi Dier and any trans male who abuses women, verbally or otherwise. The fact that there are not as many trans females demanding admission into male spaces, speaking out for trans rights, and so on, indicates that society still treats females according to their womanly gender roles and males according to theirs. In other words, of course you’re not my sister, trans males, you still are treated as men. You still do not get it because you still benefit from the inherent sexism of gender.

This isn’t a character jab, just reality. You, a trans male, benefit from the inherent sexism of gender, and therefore lack the understanding of it that is needed for sisterhood. Ergo, because you lack that understanding, you are not my sister. You aren’t any woman’s sister. You are a male and you are still treated as a man, regardless of your personal identification; you are a man, and men aren’t sisters.



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