Guest post: Implicit framing

Originally a comment by Bjarte Foshaug on What do we lose?

On a related note, one of the take-home messages common to authors who have studied the rise of authoritarian populism (Snyder, Mounk, Applebaum, Temelkuran, Levtisky/Ziblatt etc.) that I think applies to the Gender Wars as well is to not concede the other side’s language with its implicit framing of the issue (the “ordinary”/”real” people who vote for the populist vs. the “elite” who don’t etc.). This is why I cringe whenever gender critical people start talking in terms of “cis” vs. “trans” women etc. As I have previously written, “cis woman” is not another word for “biological female”. Indeed, referring to biological females in Genderspeak is no more possible than referring to political freedom in Newspeak. Even “cis” women are entirely defined in terms of “female”/”feminine” ways of thinking and feeling* (best left unspecified), while anyone who fails to think/feel in the ways required doesn’t qualify as a “woman” of any kind. The only relevant difference is that the “cis” women accept the “gender” they were “assigned at birth” (with all its implicit cultural “baggage”) while the “trans” women do not.

Buying into the “cis” vs. “trans” framework, concedes the idea that there is indeed such a category as “women” (once again, defined in terms of “female”/”feminine” ways of thinking and feeling) that “cis” and “trans” women are both different versions/subsets of, to the exclusion of both “cis” and “trans” men (defined in terms of “male”/”masculine” ways of thinking and feeling), but the “TERFs” are arbitrarily choosing to exclude one subset of “women” out of pure bigotry and hate (hence the obligatory attempts to lump in “trans women” with “black women”, “disabled women”, “working class women” etc.).

Instead of conceding their framing we should make it clear that TIM’s and biological females are not different versions of “women” any more than flying mammals and clubs for hitting baseballs are different versions of “bats”. There is no non-trivial definition that applies to both at the same time. Being a “man” or “woman” is about biological sex or it isn’t about anything at all. If biological sex is not a valid category, then neither is “man” or “woman”. There is no such thing as a “male” or “female”, “masculine” or “feminine” way of thinking or feeling, which means there is no “gender” which means there is no “gender binary”, which means there is no “cis”, which means we’re pretty much all “non-binary” or “gender non-conforming” or – even better – “agender”. If the gender concept applies to people on the trans spectrum (or their allies who will say anything to make the TRAs right and us wrong), they are pretty much the only ones to whom it applies as far as I’m concerned. If trans women are women, they are the only “women”. If trans men are men, then I’m not.

*They are women₂ rather than women₁ as I have previously put it.

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