We’re all fine

Rebecca Solnit ffs. I’d expect better from her.

She grew up in San Francisco. It was “in its heyday the loudest, proudest queer town around.” It was all about kindness and liberation.

As I’ve watched transphobia explode in the American right and the British whatever, I’ve thought over my own experience. San Francisco has been for a century or so a sanctuary city for dissident, rebel and queer people, so I suspect I have lived my whole adult life in a place with more trans people per capita than almost anyplace else. Transphobes are always warning us that if trans people live in peace and legal recognition and even have rights, there will be terrible consequences, but I assume that we here have long realized, at least to some extent, that dreaded future, and we’re all fine.

No, that’s not what gender critical people say. That’s the usual stupid caricature of what we say, which should be beneath Rebecca Solnit. We’re not saying trans people should not live in peace or have rights, obviously. And we’re not “all fine.” Female athletes who have lost medals, spots on a team, scholarships because a trans woman or girl took them are not “all fine,” they have been harmed, their rights have been violated, they have not been allowed to live in peace.

Despite this, people – many of whom are supposed to be feminists – keep coming up with lurid “what ifs”. My response to them is: trans women do not pose a threat to cis-gender women, and feminism is a subcategory of human rights advocacy, which means, sorry, you can’t be a feminist if you’re not for everyone’s human rights, notably other women’s rights.

In other words her response to us is just an assertion, and it’s an assertion that is not true. She doesn’t get to announce that “trans women do not pose a threat to cis-gender women” as if it were an obvious and universal truth just like that. Some trans women do pose a threat to women; some have already been violent toward women. Solnit can’t know that all trans women without exception are and always will be no threat to women, so it’s fatuous and also rude to announce it in that confident way. Solnit can’t even know that all trans women really are trans women as opposed to men consciously faking it in order to be housed in the women’s prison or compete against women in sport or be given a position such as Women’s Officer.

Saying all this and more is not a matter of being opposed to “everyone’s human rights,” it’s a matter of rejecting lies and fantasies and attempts to bully us into accepting lies and fantasies.

Second wave feminism produced the classic 1972 children’s album Free to Be You and Me, which I’d like to point out was not titled Free to Be Me But I Get to Define You.

Then don’t call us “cis.” You’ll have seen that she did call us “cis-gender” in that second quoted passage. And would she say that about Rachel Dolezal? Would she say that about white people who claimed to be black or brown? Suppose Eric Trump had a sudden conversion, and told the world he’s discovered he’s a Cherokee in his soul, no matter what he looks like on the outside – would Solnit tell us we don’t get to “define” him? Would she tell people who really are Cherokee that they don’t get to “define” him?

As a young woman dealing with endless street harassment and menace from straight men, I used to breathe a sigh of relief when I got to the Castro District, because that was the only place I was confident I would be safe. Reflecting back on these four decades, I figure I must have spent a ton of time around trans people in bars and clubs and street parties and protests (and yeah, public restrooms) without really noticing, which is maybe the point. OK, in 2015, at the last night at the Lexington Club, San Francisco’s last lesbian bar, I did gradually realize that the many nice young men in the crowd were trans men.

Uh…yes? And? She missed it, didn’t she. Why was there a last night for San Francisco’s last lesbian bar? In 2015? Why is she apparently cheering that fact? Does she actually think it’s an improvement that lesbians have disappeared into “trans men”?

It’s an embarrassing performance altogether.

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