List of things everyone has to do

Oh look, another  sighting of “womxn” already – this time in a piece at Vice explaining what “cis people” have to do to be allowed to live helpful to trans people.

Kai Isaiah-Jamal begins briskly.

Let’s cut the shit – there’s no positive way a cis person can dictate or speak on a life that you do not live and a world you do not have to navigate as a trans person.

Well, if that’s true, then nobody can say anything about anything, right? We can all come up with labels to brandish at the rest of the world by way of saying “don’t you dare disagree with me or dispute anything I say no matter how stupidly and irrationally and dogmatically I say it.” Nobody lives my life except me, and that’s a sentence that every human can say. It’s true, and obvious, and otiose. We all live our own lives, but most of us don’t want to live them entirely solipsistically, so we do our best to talk across the barrier of Self in order to communicate with others.

Isaiah-Jamal’s point is presumably that people who have “cis privilege” mustn’t dispute anything trans people say about trans rights, because the formers’ privilege blinds them to the reality of the latters’ experiences and needs, just as white people can be blind to the reality of racism. One problem with that is that the “just as” isn’t. Racism is not analogous to skepticism about some/much/all of the dogma around being trans.

In a world where misconstrued ideas about trans folk – what we need, what we deserve, how we should live – fall from the lips of so many cis people, we need to end the debate on whether trans womxn are womxn, whether we should be able to use the correct bathrooms and changing rooms, and whether we should be parents or teachers. Because it’s not a debate. We are entitled to our human rights just as much as everyone else.

Only the second paragraph, and already so confused.

There’s the “womxn” again.

Do women get this same “you don’t get to question me” privilege too? Are we denied it because we’re “cis”? Does being cis cancel out being female? Are women no longer an oppressed class, because we are “cis”? Is it only “womxn” who belong to the oppressed female class?

And why are we told to end the debate on whether trans womxn are womxn but not to end the debate on whether trans men are men? Or should that be whether trans mxn are mxn?

And do women get a say about whether or not we want to lose the word “women” and have to use “womxn” instead?

And what are the criteria for “the correct bathrooms and changing rooms”? What makes a bathroom or changing room “correct” and who gets to decide?

And who has suggested taking away the rights of trans people? And what rights exactly are we talking about? And is there any difference between familiar, well-described, clearly delineated rights, and brand new rights that apply to brand new categories and concepts, that many people haven’t even heard of yet? And is there a “right” to be a teacher, or does being a teacher rather depend on meeting certain criteria?

And so on. I could go on this way all day. In just the first two paragraphs Isaiah-Jamal assumes an enormous amount that is not in evidence, and proceeds as if there were no need to explain further. That’s characteristic of much of this type of “activism” and it doesn’t inspire confidence. I feel only a faint curiosity about the rest of Isaiah-Jamal’s demands, which go on for a very long way.

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