Much has been written about the decision of U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf, sitting in a Massachusetts federal court, to order the State of Massachusetts to give murderer Robert Kosilek a “sex change” due to his gender-identity disorder.
In a telephone interview with the Associated Press, Kosilek said that “(t)his is who I am. My essence is female … To those who don’t understand gender-identity disorder, I understand that there is a reluctance to even think about this in a serious vein because to the average person who is uninformed, it may be truly bizarre, but this is who I am. This is who I have always been.”
Let’s put aside the the gender essentialism for the moment (My essence. Blergh.)
And if you already agree with me that Gender Identity is harmful to Women, you can skip this post. And if you have a penis, or used to have a penis, this post is also not for you.
This post is for Certain Women, the Laurel Ramseyers and Bevin Branlandinghams and the Avory Faucettes and the Avital Norman Nathmans of the world, who insist on helping Trans Women destroy Women-only space, all in the name of “equality.” This post is for the “pansexual” Woman at SisterSpace who equated Lesbian Sexuality with being a Racist (yanno, because Lesbians reject Men sexually, which makes us bigots). You know, you are the Women who cheered when the protagonist in Better than Chocolate beat up that mean dyke for telling the Trans Women to get out of the Women’s bathroom.
(This post is also, somewhat, for my Feminist Sisters who express exasperation that we Lesbians spend “soooo much time” on this “fringe issue” of “Men in Dresses,” although I think more and more of you “get it.”)
The Kosilek ruling marks the first time a judge has ordered prison officials to provide sex-reassignment surgery and represents a key milestone in the battle waged by GLBT Organizations to completely override sex-based protections.
Why a key milestone?
Because we are coming to the point in the twenty-odd history of the Transgender Rights Movement where people are starting to notice that the Harmful Outcomes for Women created by an unyielding support of Transgender Ideology. In other words, this is the point When the Rubber Hits The Road.
We are not talking here, in this post, about employment or housing protections based on Gender Identity (or, as I would rather see it, based on Sex, a la the Macy and Glenn cases). I have written before that I (and other Feminists) support these efforts to protect Trans People from irrational discrimination using a theory based on the badness of sex stereotyping (because it’s the same old sex stereotyping that Women have suffered for hundreds of years – it doesn’t magically become “sometime else” because it happens to Men… in Dresses).
What I want to talk about in this post is when the Reality of a Trans Woman’s anatomy/physiology (i.e., He is Male) meets a space that’s intended only for Women (e.g., Women’s bathrooms and showers, Women’s colleges, Women’s music festivals, any place that a Woman says “go away” to a Man, including our Vaginas).
What I want to talk about is when a Woman rationally discriminates against a Man – because Women don’t actually have to make our bodies accessible at all times to Men – and that includes the intrusion of simply being seen by Men when we are vulnerable (or when we don’t feel like it). This idea that discrimination (i.e., judgment) is ALWAYS wrong is especially toxic and deadly for Women, as we rely on our judgment, in part, to protect us from violence by Men (because let’s be honest, if we relied solely on Men’s judgment to protect us, we’d be even more worse off, notwithstanding noble efforts to name the problem).
So back to Robert Kosilek.
So, for Kosilek, it’s not just about “the sex change.” Kosilek has made very clear that he hopes state prison officials will house him in a Women’s prison after the surgery. So, it’s not just about Kosilek feeling comfortable in his own body. Kosilek further demands that we – the rest of the world – see him AS A WOMAN and validate HIS IDENTITY by placing him in circumstances and space reserved for WOMEN.
“It’s just the right thing to do, to give me congruity … People need to understand that — whether it troubles them or not — it is a valid medical condition.”
If you have accepted that having a surgery that involves the removal of your penis in order to fashion a hole makes you “Female,” then you probably believe that housing such person with Female inmates is “the right thing to do.”
If you believe that Kosilek ‘s case is a one-off circumstance and you feel bad for him, then you probably believe that housing such person with Female inmates is “the right thing to do.”
But consider this.
Women housed in women’s prisons are already subject to substantial risk of sexual assault and violence. When you decide to add Male prisoners to the mix – yanno, Male prisoners in prison sometimes (read, often) for violence against Women – you increase that risk exponentially. Oh, and Women of Color are disproportionately represented in the prison population. According to the Women’s Prison Association (which advocates for Women), 93 of every 100,000 white women were incarcerated at mid-year 2008. During the same time period, 349 out every 100,000 black women and 147 out of every 100,000 Hispanic women were incarcerated. What about them? Do they have a voice in this Liberal debate about “what makes a Woman”? These are Women living in substandard conditions, with substandard medical care for Actual Women’s Health Issues. Do you represent them?
But again, you might decide that Women inmates have “done something wrong,” and, thus, you don’t care what happens to them (this, btw, also makes you an asshole). Or you may believe that Kosilek and Men like him become Female when they lose their dicks (did I mention that Kosilek strangled his wife? Oh, and this guy.)
If that’s what you believe, what about …
Targeted direct services for Women (e.g., support services for Women in prostitution or exited Women)?
Transitional housing for Women, including exited Women?
Domestic violence shelters?
Do you think that economically disadvantaged Women (because, let’s be honest, it’s mostly Upper Middle Class White Lesbians – or Trans Men, whatevs – and their Liberal Heterosexual Sisters who support Gender Identity theory and never, ever seem to have to bear the real world consequences of their Liberal decision-making) are somehow less worthy of our concern?
Or is it because you believe that all Trans Women are good kind angel babies who would never hurt a fly?
Or perhaps a little from Column A, a little from Column B?
I know you “check your privilege” – your Educated Upper Middle Class White privilege – when it comes to Trans Women. Do you ever consider the MANY MANY MANY Women who don’t want Men in our spaces. You know, the uncool Women and our Girl children, Women who have been raped and victimized by Men, incarcerated Women, homeless Women.
What about us, Liberal Women?
What about the spaces that Upper Middle Class White Lesbians and their Liberal Heterosexual Sisters DO encounter? The showers in the locker room at the Y? Women-only gyms? Women-only changing rooms? Women’s colleges and universities? Women-only conferences? Women-only political space?
Is this ok with you, really? You think there is no public policy reason, no basis in rational discrimination, for Women-only spaces?
Is it because you don’t want to hurt Trans Women’s feelings?
Yes, we all have Trans Women friends. Even me! And I like them.
And they also like me, even though I don’t believe they are Female. But all of this is irrelevant to the issue of public policy. And if you continue making public policy decisions based on your feelings or your Trans Woman friend’s feelings, you Fuck Over Women.
Or do you think “Equality” demands no spaces for Women?
If you do not believe that sex-segregated facilities serve any useful purpose, or effectuate any public policy, then why wait for Trans Women to break down those barriers? You should support efforts to completely repeal laws and regulations that allow sex-segregated facilities.
You should support all efforts to allow Men into Women-only space.
Why aren’t you doing that? Is it because there is actually a reason why we have sex-segregated facilities? Is it because Females suffer demonstrable harm at the hands (and penises) of Males?
Ok, so back to Kosilek. Assuming the state doesn’t appeal, or appeals and loses, Kosilek will get his dick made into a second asshole, and then will ask for a transfer to a Women’s prison. And in asking for a transfer to a Women’s prison, he will have the support of organizations like Lambda Legal, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the National Center for Transgender Equality, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health and the Transgender Law Center. Those groups have noted that:
Because nearly all transgender inmates are placed into sex-segregated facilities based on their sex assigned at birth and not on their gender identity, transgender women are frequently placed in men’s facilities, and transgender men are frequently placed in women’s facilities. When prison officials make these incongruous placements, inmates are singled out for scrutiny, harassment, and abuse by other inmates and prison staff.
So placements based on sex become “incongruous” if a Man says “I feel like a woman.” And if we decide, for whatever reason, that this is a good enough basis to make public policy, bye bye any space that is Women-only.
Where are the organizations pushing back on this powerful coalition? That is, where is the coalition of Women’s organizations saying “Hey, wait a second. It’s a bad idea for Women who are incarcerated to be housed with Men.”
So, tell me, what is it, dear Liberal Woman, that you believe? If you believe that Trans Women are Female, then, by all means, keep doing what you are doing.
If you believe that sex-segregated spaces are unimportant, then, by all means, not only should you lobby to get Trans Women into all teh spaces, you should lobby for MEN to get into all the spaces.
(And for my Feminist sister who thinks we spend Too Much Time on this fringe issue of “Men in Dresses,” the ability of a Woman to define her own boundaries is kind of important, no matter what kind of Man is demanding to violate them.)
But if you decide, dear Reader, that Trans Women deserve all the Women’s spaces, we will fight you, because you are wrong. You are wrong all day, no matter how many times you tell us we are bigots because we don’t want to be naked or vulnerable around Trans Women and their Ladysticks (or Men and their penises, for that matter. Oh… wait…). We will fight you no matter how many times you tell us it’s a Right Wing Position to not want dick up in our faces (but not, apparently, a Right Wing Position to assert that some traits are womanly… how on earth do you live with this cognitive dissonance?). We will fight you no matter how much you cry it is “racist” to oppose Men in Women’s Spaces, because we know Women of Color bear the brunt of much of your Liberal Fuckwittery, and we know that All Women are allowed to establish a boundary based on Sex.
Your shaming of our rational judgment does not make our judgment wrong. It simply means you have no other argument.
And when you support the eradication of our ability to meet AS WOMEN and to separate ourselves from Men, you diminish us. We notice this, Liberal Women. We see what you are doing and what, we expect, you will continue to do.
You don’t actually exist in a bubble, Liberal Woman. You exist in a world where Men hurt Women on the daily, and the Women who bear the brunt of it are the Women of least means.
You often speak of “checking your privileges,” and how we – as “Cis Women” (or as I like to say, Women) have some advantage over Trans Women because we don’t have a penis (I LOL for days and then cry).
Nevertheless, despite the fact that WE KNOW HOW YOU FEEL, how’s about you check your fucking “privilege” and think again about how incarcerated women and women in homeless shelters feel about having to get rest or use the toilet or change clothes around Men (oh and by Men, I mean Trans Women). How do Women who have been raped feel about co-ed Rape support groups? Have you considered this as you’ve done your inventory of privilege?
What are your priorities?
Who do YOU fight for?
What do YOU fight for?
Because it seems to me, if you celebrate the fact that a man who murdered his wife can get a transfer into a Women’s prison, your priorities are fucked up. But if this moment, this case, gives you the least bit of pause, the least bit of concern, I encourage you to stew on that and let it sink it. Think about what you have been doing all this time. And ask yourself…
Is it right?
Is it necessary?
Does this help women?
We’ll be here for you when you figure it out.