The most extreme elements

It takes my breath away sometimes to see with what relaxed confidence some men will tell women to compromise on our rights. Andrew Sullivan is one such man.

If we were going to construct a test-case for how dysfunctional our politics have become, it would be hard to beat the transgender issue. It profoundly affects a relatively minuscule number of people in the grand scheme of things, and yet galvanizes countless more for culture war purposes. It has become a litmus test for social justice campaigners, who regard anyone proposing even the slightest qualifications on the question as indistinguishable from a Klan member. It has seized the attention of some of the most extreme elements among radical feminists, who in turn regard any smidgen of a compromise on the rights of women as a grotesque enforcement of patriarchy. 

It’s so extreme of us to refuse offers of a compromise on the rights of women. It’s so extreme of us to think and argue that we get to have rights just like anyone else. It’s so extreme of us to grasp that it is of the essence of rights that they don’t admit of compromise. It’s so extreme of us to understand that our rights aren’t something Andrew Sullivan gets to whittle down, not even a “smidgen.”

However when he gets to the actual suggestions they turn out to be not compromises at all.

Defend the rights of both women and trans women. In the overwhelming majority of cases, there is no conflict. In the few where there are, compromise. Women who have been abused by men and need a space free from any inkling of maleness and penises deserve such a space. Some shelters can include both trans women and women, but some shelters solely for women should absolutely have a right to exist.

Provided there are enough women-only shelters, I doubt that any of us crazy extreme feminists object to the existence of shelters for women and trans women (although we probably think they will in practice be just for trans women).

In prison, when we are dealing with criminals, trans women need to be housed separately to minimize the horrible abuse and rape many currently endure at the hands of men; but by the same token, women should not have to be imprisoned alongside trans women, for the same reason. We’re not talking about regular trans people here; we’re talking about criminals, some sex offenders. Separate facilities for trans people is the sanest and least dangerous option.

That’s not a compromise, that’s what we say. By all means separate trans women from men, just don’t dump them on women.

So that’s Andrew Sullivan for you. Call us extreme and then argue for what we argue for. Jerk.

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