Yeah yeah, I know… I said I would be writing more now that we are in lockdown and the next thing you know, it has been six weeks since my last post. Sorry, life got interesting. We have moved from level five, to level four and now to level three in South Africa. This has resulted in a gradual ‘opening up’ of the economy. So work has got progressively busier. This has coincided with one of our main competitors (and a dominant market player) closing their doors. As a result I have been very busy taking some of the their clients into our fold. As a result of this my client base has almost doubled in the last month and we have been busy getting ready to start them all up.
Anyway enough of that and on to the subject matter to ahem… hand: penises. I was innocently walking the Twitter streets last week and in the midst of the latest outbreak of hostilities between transgender people and JK Rowling and her fans, I came across a tweet which asked if Daniel Radcliffe (an ally of the trans gender community) would have sex with a trans woman who still had her penis? The tweeter suspected that Radcliffe would do just about anything to avoid this horrendous fate and that all the men on Twitter defending trans women against the assaults by JK Rowling et al should be forced to have sex with a penis owning trans woman to prove the truth of their stated position.
I found this very interesting on many levels. Firstly, it was interesting to me that a man would force another man to have sex with someone. If ever there was evidence of rape culture, this is it. By denying the agency of both the cisgender man and the trans woman in this you are justifying rape. Why should anyone have to have sex to prove anything? How dare he demand that other people have sex for his benefit? This is absolutely reprehensible thinking. It affirms the arguments against the very worst abuses of pornography and the sex industry where rapacious men force women to do whatever the men wish them to do, using threats of violence, physical violence and money as means of getting women to do their will. The wants, desires and needs of both the trans woman and the cisgender man were relegated to the desires and demands of the tweet’s author.
Secondly the author’s fixation with the penis was interesting. It occurred to me that this man was caught in a moment of cognitive dissonance that was paralysing his mental faculties. He could only relate to a woman as a sexual object. A woman’s only worth, value and or role (to him) was as a sexual object. And yet, at the same time the presence of a penis was anathema to him and effectively negated her as a sexual object. This seemed to create a nihilistic, self destroying entity that he just could not reconcile. How could the trans woman be a woman whose sole raison d’ etre is to be fucked and still have a penis? What man would want to fuck a woman with a penis? His mind was clearly in a great deal of pain.
This is a very deep seated misogyny. A misogyny that is arguably at the root of many a transphobe’s phobia against trans women. Interestingly both men and women are at risk of transphobia, I would argue that this deep seated misogyny is at the heart of all transphobia directed against trans women. And yes women are capable of misogyny.
If you only consider a woman’s ‘worth’, if you can only define women in relation to the sex act, then you are suffering from a deep seated misogyny. If a woman happens to possess a penis and you suffer from this misogyny then the inevitable resultant cognitive dissonance causes you to have to negate and deny her existence because the reality of her existence is so at odds with your world view that your brain is incapable of comprehending this new reality that confronts you.
As a result the only possible way forward for the misogynist is to assert that the trans woman is not and cannot ever be a woman. This simple mental flick-flack restores ‘normality’ to the world. The resultant transphobia is however destructive. It destroys the trans woman’s sense of self, it asserts that she must be a sexually depraved pervert or suffering from a severe mental disorder it necessarily renders her less than the rest of society.
This is of course fundamentally false. All women, including trans women are far more than ‘things to be fucked by men’. This surely does not need to be proved? We have careers, we have thoughts, we are parents and teachers, lovers and collaborators, carers and leaders. Many trans people serve or served in the military, in the police and in the medical professions. As we assert our right to more fully participate in society some of us are political leaders. Others are activists and business owners. This is obviously true of all women, whether cisgender or transgender. There is so much more to us than our genitalia. A trans woman with a penis is no less a woman than a trans woman with a vagina, who in turn is no less of a woman than a cisgender woman, regardless of her genitalia
The interesting thing about this is that it also exposes the flaw with the argument that trans women are somehow ‘tricking’ people into having sex with them. Speaking for myself (and many if not the majority of trans people), we are not. We are who and what we are. I am who and what I am. I am clear about that. If you are attracted to me great. If you are not, also great. I do not expect or demand anyone to have sex with me. Having sex with me proves nothing other than that we are/were sexually attracted to one another at that time. Not having sex with me proves nothing other than that one (or both) of us was not sexually attracted to the other at that time. I cannot demand sex from anyone. I do not demand sex from anyone. Not having sex with me does not make you any more transphobic than having sex with me makes you any less transphobic. It is very common for transphobic men to be ‘tranny-chasers’. They fetishise the trans woman because of her penis and are simultaneously obsessed with and disgusted by the trans woman’s penis because of their inherent misogyny-based transphobia. So if a man can be transphobic and still have sex with a trans woman, a woman can not be transphobic and still not have sex with a trans woman. Sex is the red herring here. It does more to cloud than clarify the issue.
The problem lies not with the trans woman and not with the cisgender man defending our rights. The problem lies with the transphobes and their persistent misogyny. Stop seeing women as sex objects. Start acknowledging us as human beings capable of making a full contribution to society and suddenly your brain will stop hurting so much. This is true of men like Graham Linehan and women like JK Rowling. Transphobia exposes the latent misogyny that still lurks in so many of our brothers and sisters.