Germaine Greer is now being criticized for saying that trans women are not women. ((Germaine Greer: Transgender women are not women, BBC News, Oct. 24, 2015. Available: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-34625512)) I think this story brings up some points that should be discussed but unfortunately it’s a difficult subject to talk about. You don’t want to encourage resentment of trans people but how do you deal with the fact that some of them seem completely unconcerned about how their behavior affects women? I’ll start by saying that this post is not an excuse for prejudice against homosexuals or transgender people.
There are many other sources of confusion here, not least of all the terms. I’ll list the ones that are important to this article. A transgender individual who has transitioned, whether or not surgery was involved, doesn’t want to be called a transwoman because this would indicate that he or she hasn’t transitioned. The term ‘trans woman’ would be preferable to transwoman because trans is being used in this case as an adjective describing a specific kind of woman. However some prefer to be called women. I was surprised to learn that none of these terms refers to sexual orientation. Also that transgender people are not necessarily interested in same-sex marriage.
It seems that everyone who thinks trans women should not be called women, including Greer, ends up talking about the difficulties of being female as opposed to the privileges. Apparently discrimination and humiliation are the only proof that we have of a unique right to call ourselves women. This is not Greer’s fault but it’s pretty sad. Worse, it doesn’t stop the intrusion. Trans women answer that they’ve experienced all the same trials, and therefore they are women. But the most annoying part in my opinion would be conservative bloggers who scream that feminists have brought this on themselves.
Even though same-sex marriage is different from the transgender issue, I find that I run into a similar problem when trying to analyze the effects on women of same-sex marriage. My positions soon begin to seem vague. However, my first piece of evidence is pretty straight forward—same-sex marriage was legalized at a time when female reproductive rights were under attack and it continues to compete with reproductive rights for attention. But after that the evidence is purely theoretical.
Theoretically, women bring more value to a marriage relationship than men. This was once recognized in the custom of bride wealth, but because bride wealth has never been practiced in the United States it’s hard to argue that it’s threatened by same-sex marriage. It would be, if it still existed. But regardless of the fact that most people have never heard of it, it’s still a necessary part of my argument. Clearly, we’re talking principle. The one problem that might get worse for women because of same-sex marriage however, is child custody. The irony here is that women’s ability to bear children once made them more valuable than men in real economic terms. It was only the payment of bride wealth that made men equal to women in marriage. Now even custody is in question.
We may not like to hear that the childbearing role is our only claim to superiority, probably because this idea is now used against us. Conservative men insist that women are privileged, usually with the purpose of increasing the birthrate. But this is an anachronistic claim–the value remains, and we have no memory of the privilege. Obviously, conservative bloggers haven’t thought this through.
When I approach this subject from the ideological perspective I think I’m on more solid ground. However, I recall that after I wrote [intlink id=”24″ type=”post”]Hermes in India[/intlink] I tried for quite some time to discuss my concerns about Hermetic influence in the United States. I found that people aren’t really concerned that Hermes can morph into, say, Jesus Christ, or that he has taken over our medical system. So I worry that the LGBTQ issue has a similar position in our culture.
I was interested to discover that same-sex couples may be unaware of the ideological meaning behind transgender manifestations. Ellen Degeneres for example is baffled by the fact that Caitlyn Jenner is Republican and not particularly supportive of same-sex marriage.
I don’t know whether Jenner is affiliated with a movement that I found while researching this article, the North American New Right, but her opinions are in line with it. And the New Right has taken an interest in Jenner. She’s been interviewed on their website. ((O’Meara, James J. Accommodate This: Bruce Jenner and the Hermetic Rebis, Counter Currents Publishing. Available: http://www.counter-currents.com/2015/06/accommodate-this/))
To their way of thinking the only true homosexuality is the type practiced by those mythical bands of men who roamed the earth before the birth of human culture. A modern example would be the Nazi männerbund. This movement thinks same-sex marriage is irrelevant if not silly, and it mocks what it calls the ‘Fake Left’ for insisting that homosexuals are just like everyone else in their desire to be married and raise children. Homosexuality should be an escape from marriage, they say, rather than a reason for it.
The vogue of using a mythical past in pursuit of political aims was hot in Europe before and during the world wars. Rene Guenon represented this type of Traditionalism (denoted with a capital ’T’). Thanks to Guenon’s influence, so did Albert Gleizes. The North American New right acknowledges Guenon’s influence, and, surprisingly, it also acknowledges the Traditionalism of Baron Julius Evola. Evola was a Traditionalist of another sort. His ideas are more closely associated with Nazism than those of Guenon.
In the United States same-sex marriage is water under the bridge, and compared to the ideological aspects discussed above it may prove to be relatively harmless. When you consider the casual nature of marriage and the fact that the only real criteria for it is ‘true love’, it’s clear that denying same-sex partners the right to marry would have been discriminatory. So in the American context I suppose legalizing same-sex marriage is progressive.
For a helpful article on Traditionalism from the Catholic point of view see: Stoker, Elizabeth, Francis Agonistes. New Republic, March 1, 2015. Available: http://www.newrepublic.com/article/121168/pope-francis-conservatives-battle-us-catholic-churchs-future