why are so many feminists transphobic?
With Germaine Greer's latest transphobic comments, Scottee looks into the history of second wave feminists trying to decide exactly what a women is.
Have you seen what's been trending on Twitter this week? On Friday it was acclaimed academic, writer and public facing feminist Germaine Greer's turn to fall from grace as she declared she didn't consider 'post-operative transsexuals' to be women. The world sighed, collectively rolled its eyes and searched for the thumbs down emoji of disappointment.
Greer's comments came after Cardiff Student's Union Women's Officer Rachael Melhuish petitioned to stop Greer speaking at her University because of Greer's historic transphobic views. Evidently baffled by the campaign, Greer gave an interview to BBC's Newsnight defending her warped opinions "I'm not saying that people should not be allowed to go through that procedure, all I'm saying is that it doesn't make them a woman."
Greer followed this up with an explanation that some trans women don't even look, walk or sound like women. A woman who has spent her life fighting against the damaging, misogynistic ideas about who or what a woman could or should be, look, walk and sound like is now determining who or what can qualify as a woman - the absurdity is lost on Greer who later released another statement which revealed the depths to her transphobia: "just because you lop off your d**k and then wear a dress doesn't make you a f****** woman."
It would be easy to denounce Greer as a lone, outdated, dusty voice in feminism - unfortunately this is far from the truth. Last year the holy trinity of journalistic feminists Suzanne Moore, Julie Burchill and Julie Bindle all had their thoughts towards trans women aired. Burchill told Vice that trans women are just "big white blokes who have cut their cocks off", Suzanne Moore told her Twitter followers to cut their dicks off if they wanted to be "more feminist" than her, and Bindel accused the gay press of running a "tranny cabal". Why are so many of our public facing feminists so obsessed with the genitalia of other women? Woe betides anyone who tells them to check their white, middle class privilege let alone their genitalia.
Wide mouthed at the extent of Greer's view I'm left wanting to smash my phone and throw it across the room. In desperation I, like most, turn to Twitter for answers.
The answer never comes but I guess because it's as complex as the reasoning behind Greer's opinions - just because you're a feminist it doesn't mean you cannot be transphobic, racist, homophobic or misogynistic. For some time now online bios have proudly displayed 'feminist' but an emerging community are now using this as an armour to defend accusations of [insert phobia here] - how can I be transphobic? I'm a feminist! It's worrying how quickly the oppressed enable themselves to become the oppressor in an attempt to secure a stronger position in our miasmic societies. But I don't think these transphobic feminists are solely to blame. It is again patriarchy that has led them to their extremist views, views that are thankfully not shared by the majority of feminists.
The self titled liberals amongst you might be thinking Greer deserves her platform in the name of free speech (another piece of the armour some are using to vent hate speech), you might even believe blocking her is counter productive, but let's ask ourselves who are the voices that are really being blocked should Greer not be allowed to talk at Cardiff University - is it Greer or Rachael Melhuish? The feminists or trans women? Greer's BBC interview has been watched over 100,000 times, Cardiff Student's Union's petition to block Greer has been signed by just under 3,000 people - despite the millions of us who have tweeted support. It seems that Tweeting rather than acting is enough reason to call yourself an activist for some people.
Greer claims her thoughts are 'just opinions' and 'not prohibition' but I'd like to ask her if she thinks her well distributed, privileged 'opinions' will lead to more or less transphobia? Will more or less trans women be excluded from feminist communities? Will more or less hate crimes be directed against trans people as a result?
The question we should be asking isn't if Greer should be allowed to be able to talk at Cardiff University but how can we better support the trans voices around us. Greer will always find a platform views, but we must make sure our trans friends are just as loud.
Fortunately Germaine, Suzanne, and Julie can't decide who or what a woman or feminist looks like, but what is apparent is the defining characteristics of a bigot are evidentially changing.