Deconstructing the “Good Transwomen”

Transwomen who recognise the misogyny inherent in transgender and transsexual activism must still confront the objectification of women they participate in.

Jennifer Bilek publishes regularly on her blog The 11th Hour.

In gender critical spaces on social media, there are some men who identify as “trans” that stand above the parapet of most male “trans” voices and often decry the motives of their brethren in skirts who are claiming they are actual women. These “trans” identifying men who understand and state unequivocally that they are men, will often have a broad understanding of women who speak out against “transgenderism.” Several give voice to our concerns on media platforms often receiving the ire of other “trans” rights activists. Because these men understand why women don’t want males in our private spaces, give clear expression to the harms manifested on children by “gender mythology,” as well the destruction in society to language, the law and women’s rights, etc. they are commonly lauded by those fighting “gender mythology” as the “good kind of transwomen.”

Kristina Jayne Harrison, a “transsexual woman” living in the UK, is one such man. He has “demonstrated for women’s rights to abortion, their rights to control their own bodies, definitions, spaces, and to direct their own fights against sexism.” He has no illusions about being an actual woman and fights “against the self-recognition of gender-identity.” Harrison believes that his medical transition constitutes his commitment to performing an opposite sex-role social reality, and this makes his choices different (read: less sexist) than those who do not fully commit. He believes women were/are more accepting of having men who have gone through the adaption of their second sex characteristics in their private spaces, until the “transgender” umbrella was extended to include men who don’t “commit.” His appropriation of our sexed bodies seems to escape him. Harrison believes his performance is “not just sex-role stereotypes imposed on women,” but also “reflects women’s agency, because women are also active agents who shape their world.” He sees no discontinuity in the fact he was not born in a female body, which is the only universal descriptor of a female, raised in the world as a female, but is now speaking as a man who has appropriated women’s second sex characteristics, is donning it as costume and speaking about our agency.

There is no equivalent of females identifying as men, speaking about the agency of men on public platforms, holding public space to discuss what men are. Everyone knows what men are. Only womanhood is up for debate, and usually by men. As “good” as these men are at dismantling the sexism inherent in transgender and transsexual identities, they always seem to miss the objectification that is an essential ingredient of sexism which they cling to, as most of the world, like it’s a life-raft. The cost of transgenderism is the continuation of sexism and the oppression of women the world over.

Debbie Hayton is another man identifying as a “trans woman” in the UK who has made various media appearances and is a solid voice on Twitter, standing with those who resist gender mythology. Hayton, in an incredibly thoughtful interview with Benjamin Boyce, producer of agenda-fluid homebrew media, says he has evolved to a point where he doesn’t necessarily identify as a woman, but holds a desire to “signal sex” in the way “women signal sex” in society. His “being trans” he suggests, is “what he does and not what he is.” The desire to see himself as a woman, he adds, is for himself, not to attract the attention of a particular suitor. He understands himself to be an autogynephile.

Autogynephilia is a male sexual fetish of precisely desiring to see oneself as a woman. What makes it a fetish, beyond it being aside the realm of “normal” or “average” sexual desire toward another, is its obsessive quality, which Hayton acknowledges, and its focus on objectification. A fetish entails a fixation on a particular object for sexual gratification. Men who develop a fetish of “signaling sex as women” must first objectify women and womanhood. To embody – as a fetish – the opposite sex, one must first dissociate from their own body. This is what sexism does and this is what transgenderism does. It dissociates. It disembodies and objectifies women.

In their interview, Boyce and Hayton discuss the social shame in this particular sexual proclivity and how it contrasts with the LGBT pride marches and events. They both, absentmindedly, conflate transgenderism with same-sex attraction/relations – or at least discuss them as if they were closely related. But same-sex desire/relations are not an obsession, they do not indicate dissociation or encourage it, they are not a fetish and do not inherently objectify anyone. Transgenderism on the other hand, is brilliantly deconstructed at its roots, by Dr. Em, in a recent article, as a social construct whose evolutionary roots are in sexism – objectification. Hayton seems to understand this – or at least he gets close. He says his “identity” as “trans” at this point is a compromise with society. He is not sure how to navigate his desire for objectifying women or “passing” because if he “passes,” even if it makes him feel good, he wonders if he’s lying to society. He is. He also understands, at least now, that transgenderism, is palliative. Speaking with Boyce, he weighs the cost to himself and his family over the course of his life and wonders if it’s worth it.

What Hayton does not consider is the cost to society. These men, “identifying as women,” “passing as women,” surgery or no surgery, with an understanding of their situation or not, are still objectifying women. It is astonishing that they can get so close to grasping it, how destructive it is in society, eloquently describe it to others, and still be unwilling to part with it. They still call themselves “transwomen.” They don’t just like lipstick and skirts. We’re not talking Boy George or Prince here. They want to “signal sex as women signal sex.” They want to hold onto their obsession with this objectification of women no matter the cost to women in the real world, which is precisely how so many men behave. They give no consideration to the technology and pharmacology developing to change sex characteristics, when what it means to be human is to be a sexually dimorphic species, and how these developments can be used to cement sex stereotypes in society.

That these men understand transgenderism is about upholding the apparatus of sexism, through technological and pharmacological advancements that allow for a social lie, don’t seek to de-transition and speak out as men, against transitioning, reminds me of the workers who will break a strike by walking over a union picket line. These workers accruing the insulting moniker, scab, know what they are doing as they choose to keep doing it, to benefit themselves at the expense of all those on strike.

The “good trans” are not as bad as the bad trans, who blatantly objectify us while sneering and collecting accolades of bravery while they do so, but they are not as good as we would hope. When they are willing to claim their manhood and stop treating women as if we are an object or talisman of desire for their uncomfortable position within the structure of the enforced gender stereotypes society puts them in, perhaps I will think better of them. Hacsi Horvath and Walt Heyer are two such men. Both have de-transitioned and put themselves in positions to speak, as men, about the harms transgenderism is doing to women, children and society. If there is such a thing as “good trans,” then these men, the ones who have shed the “trans” moniker, embody it.

This author has not submitted a biography yet.

Article Discussion

  • Posted by S.Stern

    15 August, 2020 at 3:28 am

    Zun - "How useful or fair is it to hold gender critical transsexuals like Debbie, to a standard of non-objectification that most women do not meet? Most women are still performing feminine stereotypes, those stereotypes containing exagerations [sic] of all the attributes that signal an interest in sexual engagement." My reply to this is that biological women are actually women, born as women and living in a patriarchal world, brainwashed from birth to perform gender stereotypes. This is what radical feminism and to some degree gender critical thought is fighting against and looking to remove 'gender boxes' from the sexes. It is done of culture and coercion, not of choice as a TiM does when he tries to move from the male sphere into the female. Female for a TiM is a fetish, an idea, a costume to wear and take off at his pleasure. Women cannot identify out of their oppression, male violence, and sex class. It's both fair and useful to critique the men LARPing as women for using these patriarchal notions of womanhood and femaleness (makeup, dresses, heels, etc) as their own grasp of true womanhood and passing as the female sex. They reinforce with their own male privilege what feminists are trying to tear down. If a biological woman does not wear makeup or heels is she not 'performing her womanhood' according to a TiM? Is a TiM who does wear makeup and heels preforming that role better to the point where they deserve to be called a woman? Change this and think about transracialism - can a white man perform stereotypical 'blackness' better than an extant black american to the point that said born white man embodies the entirety of being stereotypically black and deserves to be called black? Your last paragraph is word salad. Women move in a patriarchal world full of objectification, fetish, and violence. Women are not to blame, and TiMs are neither immaterial nor effect-less as they strive to destroy single sex spaces and hard won rights of the women they emulate.

  • Posted by Habes Nicht

    5 July, 2020 at 5:04 pm

    To anyone who's not in the loop... trans activists and men's rights activists have effectively shut down multiple women's subreddits on Reddit. Twitter put up a notification that they are going to auto-moderate people's tweets with "non-gender" pronouns. This stuff is downright scary, and my eyes are now wide open.

  • Posted by Zun

    19 June, 2020 at 4:09 pm

    How useful or fair is it to hold gender critical transsexuals like Debbie, to a standard of non-objectification that most women do not meet? Most women are still performing feminine stereotypes, those stereotypes containing exagerations of all the attributes that signal an interest in sexual engagement. Sexual interest signaling is not only used in it’s context, it is also accepted by society that an exaggerated (but not extreme) performance of mate ready sexual attributes (long hair, lipsticks, youthful skin make up, high heels, obvious waist), is an acceptable day to day standard, needed to signal ones membership of a group that has rights to female spaces and is deserving of protection, and which also comes with the grab bag of expected submission and subclass status. Whilst modern society plays lip service to the equality of the sexes, and women have enfranchised themselves with the new, abstracted protections of the law, there will always be the threat of male violence to keep at bay. A constant signalling of youthful biological mating readiness at modest sub aware levels, strives to ellicit courting-like levels of fair treatment from men. It is always a knife edge performance, as only the disposition of the male dictates whether a woman will receive from him the benefit of fair treatment, or the oppression of their subclass, for their performance. Until men’s physical superiority, propensity to dominance and capacity for violence, of and against women is neutralised, female performance, or objectification will be necessary and utilised by women. Within this understanding, the mimicry by some men of this dynamic, is immaterial and effectless.

  • Posted by Genderwang

    11 May, 2020 at 5:23 pm

    In reply to @M, the "whole notion of transitioning" is increasingly being critiqued by, amongst others: - detransitioners, many of them the young females who rushed to transition after exhibiting "Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria" around puberty or during adolescence. - people with gender/sex dysphoria who elect not to transition; - transsexuals who question the appropriation of "trans" by people who do not have gender dysphoria but do "dress-up" as and when the mood takes them. The latter might possibly be the same people as the old "weekend transvestites" as many seem to be the same demographic (male, 30's - 50's, tending towards female-impersonation as grotesquerie) but demanding now to be recognised as "gender fluid trans". There is an interesting contrast between: - Arielle Scarcella's interview with Chad Felix Greene (gay male with gender dysphoria, described in the video title as a "Trans woman" but someone who lives with gender dysphoria without transitioning) - Blaire White's video about a non-dysphoric "gender fluid" male who threatened physical violence against Blaire, whom he refers to as "TruScum", ie. a transsexual Trans Woman : “I’m Glad I Didn’t Transition. I’m Worried For Kids Today.” (Arielle Scarcella interviews Chad Felix Greene) "I'm Trans For Attention" - Okay.. (Blaire White video) I do not think it is fair to criticise Jennifer Bilek for focussing on late-onset, transgender-identified males aka transwomen. It would be more relevant to ask why that population is routinely grouped with children, particularly young girls, who experience gender dysphoria? There are clearly very different processes at work and any similarities are superficial. It seems to be a reverse of the situation with Diabetes, where a better understanding has resulted in identification of different clusters of disease processes that are, to date, still referred to by the umbrella term "Diabetes". With "transgender", the opposite situation has been politically engineered, with different conditions artificially grouped under one heading. As far as childhood gender/sex dysphoria is concerned, Posie Parker's interview with Sue Evans highlights the oversimplification of issues that leads to so many children being pushed onto a medicalised transition pathway. Resisting Adolescence - Episode one (Video description: "I talk to Susan Evans. Psychotherapist, Nurse, ex member of GID Service at the Tavistock Clinic about the process a child might face if they are referred to the Gender Identity Service in the UK; whether the treatments are proven to be effective and what alternatives we could offer families who find themselves needing a service of this kind.") @Scott Norman Rosenthal - "Most Trans people with whom I’m acquainted don’t call themselves “trans women” nor “trans men”, “women” and “men”. What do they call themselves, if none of the above??

  • Posted by Scott Norman Rosenthal

    10 May, 2020 at 1:57 am

    I take some issue with this article. Most Trans people with whom I'm acquainted don't call themselves "trans women" nor "trans men", "women" and "men". Trangenderism is here, no mistake. I appreciate the opinion of the author. But in practical terms, the real issue is to find a compromising ground. This is virtually impossible in the climate of these times. If both sides, particularly the hardcore Trans activists, would slow down ad hominem attacks, and be more practical, equitability might be achieved.

  • MMV

    Jennifer makes some good points here. People like Hayton are seriously mixed up. Not in their heads, but in their self-presentation. They're ashamed to come out and say they are women, so they hedge around and beg for forgiveness. Why do they even make public spectacles of themselves? They could lie low and continue with their lives, and no one would mind. No doubt some of this behavior is due to their late-life "transitions" but there must be more to the story. Meantime the fact that the vast majority of sex-changers are going female-to-male (and many ARE indeed quite outspoken) is completely denied or perhaps ignored by Jennifer. This is most curious. As "M" upstairs suggests, it appears Jennifer has been overly influenced by the nonsense of Janice Raymond, the ex-nun ideologue who presents mannishly, never lived as a biological woman (so far as we know), and never herself ever wrote about the preponderance of F-to-M sex-crossers.

    • Posted by A

      8 May, 2020 at 4:50 pm

      MMV- they're ashamed to come out and say that they are women, because deep down they know they are not women. They know that theirs is a performance that gives them sexual gratification by objectifying women. This article is a groundbreaking deconstruction of that gratification, in plain language. Where can you demontrate that the "vast majority" are ftm? There is a long history of women trying to present as male in order to obtain the rights which society denies females. There is a coherent argument that many ftms are doing this, particularly the very young ones, whether they are aware of it or not. Certainly some ftms are doing it out of fetish. But since females have fewer rights than males, and males are not objectified to the extent females are, mtfs simply do not experience the pressures to transition that ftms do. And so every mtf participates in fetish and objectification of females. Every single one. M- I clock you as male, and here's why. You feel the need to try and sum up the author's point, but do so incompletely and disparagingly. You reword her main points and act as if you have added to the conversation. It is a hallmark of male socialization to diminish the original and challenging ideas women have. At the same time males give other males free reign for their wildest feelings. Why should women be expected to listen to men opine on womanhood, but men would never even consider listening to women speak about womanhood, and how it feels to have these male invaders? Go watch the the Women's Place video in the link. Look at the tone from the female commenters towards the male speaker. Then consider your own dismissal of this female author. I clock you male. Another reason: you completely fail to comprehend any possibility of sexism in medicine and psychiatry. Just because some predominantly male doctors gave in to male patients some years ago does not mean this is an eternal truth and there is no other way. But finding another way requires listening to women, something you admit you cannot conceive of.

    • Posted by Janine

      2 June, 2020 at 12:40 pm

      MMV I'm not sure what you mean by saying Raymond has not lived as a biological woman. What a strange statement. You live as a biological female (or male) by just existing in the world as you are. Nothing else is required.

  • I agree with every word. I think any honest woman, with a little bit with understanding of sexism, will agree, even if she doesn´t admit in public. Regarding to "M"´s comment: 1) You didn´t agree with the objectifying thing, so what´s your explanation to transgenderism in male ppl? 2) So what if doctors have been doing this for 100 years? Still objectifying. It´s not right just because it´s an old practice. 3) Sure there are other treatments. Therapy is a treatmen. Educating himself about roots of sexism may also offer brilliant insights. 4) It´s great that Jenniver "wants the whole notion of transitioning critiqued, re-examined, go back to basics on it". This is the right time and tide is turning. We must destroy this notion, it´s damaging almost everyone, including dysphoric ppl.

    • Posted by Virginia

      13 May, 2020 at 7:53 pm

      (1). What is your explanation for tran men (FtM)? (3). What therapy? There has never been a therapy that has been shown to help trans people (both trans men and trans women). Your conversion therapy (based on your description) has been shown to double suicide attempts. Do you have have any scientific evidence to support your proposal? (4) Nice ideological view. Any evidence that it actually helps trans people?

      • Posted by SisypheanTask

        11 January, 2022 at 6:38 pm

        “What therapy? There has never been a therapy that has been shown to help trans people….Your conversion therapy…has been shown to double suicide attempts.” Okay so first off, citation needed. Second - in teenagers they outgrow their trans phase the vast majority of the time. CBT or even DBT would help dysphoric people learn to deal with their emotions. Third - conversion therapy? Is it not conversion therapy to try to change or, in the common vernacular, CONVERT people from their sex to an approximation of the opposite sex? You know, by CONVERTING a gay man into a straight “woman” or a lesbian into a gay “man”? So anyway, some citations for your claims that therapy doesn’t help mentally ill people (men who think that they’re women or women who think that they’re men) would be nice along with some citations to support your claim that doing experimental genital reconfiguration surgery, amputating healthy body parts and giving people (especially young people) off label, potentially toxic doses of wrong sex hormones prevents mentally ill people from attempting suicide? (Careful, the most robust study available shows that suicide attempts INCREASE after having genital reconfiguration surgery). As for whether someone’s ideological view helps trans identified people. Trans identified people are not our responsibility. As feminists we focus on women’s rights (which includes trans identified females rights). Trans people can sort out their own problems.

  • Posted by EP

    7 May, 2020 at 3:45 pm

    To them, womanhood is a costume.

  • Posted by M

    7 May, 2020 at 2:17 am

    I would dispute the view that a male person wanting to be perceived, socially, etc. as female (or for that matter a female person wanting to be perceived as male) is necessarily "objectifying" their target sex. But whether you're right or not, "transsexualism" (which I would call a strong, even desperate, wish to be or be perceived as the opposite sex and to get the "treatment" to facilitate that) or whatever it's called now, has been around since the treatments first became available. The medics and the psychologists/psychiatrists gave in years ago - no other "treatment" is possible or desirable. It seems to me that maybe you're doing a bit of a Janice Raymond here - you want the whole notion of transitioning critiqued, re-examined, go back to basics on it...I think the chances of this getting a hearing in the current climate is very low.

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