Radical Feminist Terminology
I hate to see the escalating strife between the transgender and feminist communities.
I'm an alien in both camps. I'm a gender variant person and not without sympathy for transgender people who experience their identity as being under assault from a radical feminist direction. But you'll see the term "radical feminism" occuring over and over throughout my writings, and very seldom preceded by the prefix "trans exclusive". I admire radical feminist theorists and I am proud to write within the radical feminist tradition.
And yet it is by no means established that I have any right to call myself a radical feminist. I am male. In more than one authorial self-description I have identified as "a conceptually problematic participant in the struggle against patriarchy".
Nor do I fit in as "transgender". I don't embrace the label, although I'm often informed that it applies to me. I think it would be misleading, and, furthermore, my acceptance there isn't much more guaranteed than as a feminist: I consider myself to have a sex and a gender, albeit not in the expected combination. And some transgender people have informed me that although neither surgery nor hormones are required, if I identify as a woman, I should consider myself female, because "There's no such thing as a male woman -- you're confused or you're a troll".
And yes, I have used the term "woman" to refer to myself on occasion. I've wrestled for years over the "what to call it" question, and have made use of "sissy" and "femme". It's an axiomatic truth that feminists have recognized and claimed as their own that language use is political, that the meanings of terms are not static and rigid but may at times be appropriated. I accept that in designating woman-only space, the people doing the defining would often prefer that male-bodied people not intrude. I have never insisted that the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival let me in, even though I can appreciate the view of people who resent being told they aren't welcome there. May we set aside litmus test inflexibilities and not barricade our ears against people for using words in ways other than how we use them?
Communication is a nuanced and delicate dance. I don't consider any of you to be enemies, or think of myself as being on the attack. I do wish a seat at the discussion table though.