I’ve stated that FETAs (Female-Erasing Trans Activists) don’t generally talk about socialization, because they know they don’t have anything to say against it except the lame excuse of “well, we’re not all socialized the same.” This is not true of all FETAs, as this entry from Ashley Allan testifies.
This so-called “trans lesbian” is out to debunk the concept of socialization as used by radical feminists. Her reasoning is not a surprise, since it’s the same lame excuse used by all other trans genderists who try to approach the issue:
[B]ut it also perpetuates the myth of shared girlhood, which has already been disassembled by women of color particularly along with fellow trans women. As [Natalie] Reed puts it, “There is no singular, universal woman’s narrative. There are as many stories and experiences as there are women.”
And she’s right. What experience of womanhood is experienced by all women? You probably don’t have to think very hard to see that this really is impossible, and for shared girlhood to be a thing, it needs to ignore that us women are multifaceted.
Keep in mind that she is referring admiringly to the same Natalie Reed who protested a day of remembrance for the women who were murdered in the Polytechnique Massacre, and who shames actual lesbians for not having sex with transwomen. All right.
The concept of gender socialization does not imply that all women experience the same patterns of indoctrination. What it does imply is that all children grow up indoctrinated in the concept of gender, that they are all keenly aware of what a “boy” and a “girl” entail, that men grow up with sexual entitlement and women do not. Gender socialization is for the most part social and not parental: the fact that genderless parenting has failed to prevent the acquisition of gender concepts is, I think, good evidence of that.
That’s the experience of “shared girlhood” that radical feminists are talking about, and which Allan must deny because it destroys the silly pretense that there’s no such thing as gender socialization.
She tries to counter this fact by stating that transwomen have somehow not internalized boyhood. How is that? Are transwomen magical creatures which do not go to school, watch television or read books? She does not explain exactly how this anti-indoctrination ability works, but it’s clearly magical thinking. But later on she does write:
In other words, I wasn’t raised as a male. I was a trans girl who had cis norms imposed on her. I was responding to these “you are male” messages as a trans girl. And because of that disconnect, I committed varying forms of violence against myself. I self-harmed, I abused drugs and alcohol, I starved myself, and more. Others recognized that disconnect and bullied me for “being a faggot.” I will not lie about how that disconnect also resulted in violence against others in the form of lashing out verbally and getting into fist fights with men who bullied me.
The fact that Allan felt like her identity wasn’t being recognized, was bullied, and became violent because of it, is terrible. It’s terrible that young gender rebels are forced to hate themselves because of the traditional genderist dogma. But it’s equally terrible that young gender rebels are forced to assimilate into FETA dogma in order to accept who they are. Both are the enemy of individuality and healthy maturation. The only healthy attitude is to love oneself, no matter the gender we’re supposed to be, and that love cannot be conditional.
But despite her claims, Allan was “raised as a male,” not as a transwoman. She knew she was male and received the indoctrination from her very first years of life, long before she started to rebel against it (children start applying gender roles as young as two years old). She was not yet a “trans girl” because she was too young to have a gender. Her despair is understandable and profoundly tragic, but it’s not the result of some magical immunity to gender indoctrination or some fantasy “innate gender,” it’s the result of her personality violently clashing with her assigned gender role and other people’s gendered expectations.
Transwomen love to play the Womanhood Game, comparing themselves to actual women and claiming that they’re performing better. In this entry, Allan turns that around and accuses radical feminists of playing the Womanhood Game. Her argument is that the exclusion of transwomen is done on the basis of the Womanhood Game, that transwomen are excluded because they’re not woman enough.
This is a ridiculous projection. No radical feminist I know blames transwomen for not performing femininity because radical feminists are against gender roles. In fact the stereotype of radical feminists is that they blame women for performing femininity, not the opposite! How uninformed or lying can she be to state this? Seriously, what world does she live in?
Now you might be wondering where the concept of agency comes in. Actually, it’s Allan’s alternate explanation for this supposed immunity to socialization:
Nobody internalizes all messages sent to them the same way (which is, again, why there are so many different expressions of womanhood). In fact, some are outright rejected, and that’s because folks know a message is not about them. TERFs often act like folks have no agency within these structures, that people, particularly women in this case, are more stone tablets to have their identities engraved upon them. That sounds pretty darn misogynistic, doesn’t it? Seems to be a pattern in TERF rhetoric. Acting like women don’t have agency over their own experiences sounds exactly like what patriarchy says about women. Which brings me to the next bit, another sociological concept TERFs seem to omit on the regular: Structure and Agency.
I’ve already addressed why this argument is factually wrong, but now I want to confront this “agency” business, because it shows us the dirty underside of trans genderism.
First she states that socialization works differently on different people because they reject indoctrination when they “know a message is not about them.” This is a bizarre claim when talking about messages about gender because we’re all indoctrinated at a young age to believe we have a gender. There are six year old gender rebels but no six year old gender atheists. That realization comes a lot later, if ever. So there’s no six year old out there rejecting gender messages because they’re “not about them.”
She then states that radical feminists reject the concept that women have agency within the socialization process. I certainly hope they do, otherwise they would hardly be “radicals”; radicalism means to go beyond individual behavior, looking at the institutions and constructs which mold people’s thoughts and actions, and trying to provide structural explanations to social issues. Using “agency” to explain anything would represent an abdication, much like a scientist explaining a natural phenomena by invoking God.
In her most outrageous claim yet, Allan claims that this refusal to attribute “agency” (a nonsense concept) to women is “exactly like what patriarchy says about women.” Again I cannot fathom how anyone could say such a thing with a straight face. Patriarchal reasoning attributes complete “agency,” and the resulting blame, to women (“her victimization was her own fault”) and denies “agency,” and blame, to men (“boys will be boys,” “they can’t help it!”). So the radical feminist rejection of agency in explaining women’s exploitation is exactly the opposite of “what patriarchy says about women.”
The straw womyn metaphor used by Allan, of a stone tablet being engraved upon, is actually fairly close to what real scientists say about the human brain. They portray the developing human brain as a block of stone which is constantly being chiseled by experience. So ironically, while trying to paint the radical feminist position as misogynist, she actually made a fairly accurate metaphor. Either way, the point is, the way our brain works, including the way our identity develops, is not up to our “choice,” despite what Allan wants to insinuate.
The nonsense concept of “agency” is central to this whole rationalization because, for FETAs, “agency” trumps biology. FETAs seek to erase biological sex, because biological sex is the basis of gender and the justification of gendered oppression. By denying the validity of sex, they hope to promote trans genderism without “outing” it as just another form of genderism, meaning, hatred against women. And then, in a blatant projection, they call radical feminists misogynistic for denying “agency.”
Allan does want to debunk biological sex. She points out that sex is based on a number of biological factors, and that intersex people are forcibly assigned a sex through unnecessary and profoundly unethical surgery. All of this is true, but the conclusion does not follow:
[G]ender is not based on sex assignment. Rather, the reverse is true: sex assignment is based on gender. The construction of sex is but one other way to impose gender roles upon people while denying the variance in bodies. Sex has been constructed so that it serves the ends of a white patriarchy. TERFs are then reinforcing this same exact structure when they police the borders of womanhood by invoking gender essentialism (by way of biology and socialization) to exclude trans women.
Note what is not being mentioned here: pregnancy, menstruation, differences in physical strength, all the biological traits which are typically used to justify gender. Transwomen cannot talk about those because they refuse to acknowledge the existence of female traits they cannot have, as this invalidates their self-identity.
Allan’s reasoning is bizarre because it assumes that gender arose out of nothing, and then sex was constructed around it. This seems very unlikely because we know of no social construct that arose out of nothing. Money arose because of the natural need for an efficient medium of exchange. Race arose because of visible physiological and cultural differences. But gender supposedly just… appeared, and sex came later.
It is true that sex is partially constructed by intolerance for intersex people, and that intolerance for intersex people was probably the result of gender role attribution being seen as necessary. That’s all fair, but FETAs don’t get to use intersex people as fodder for their arguments. The concept of gender has always been rooted in sex and the fact that intersex people have been an exception to this rule does not disprove the principle.
Furthermore, if sex has no relevance to the formation of gender, then how did gender become a universal construct? Why are there no known genderless societies in history? Why do gender boundaries always roughly (not exactly, but roughly) align with genitals? And why does it seem to always be the case that people with penises are assigned the dominant gender roles?
Human biology is real and the criteria for biological sex are all real things that can be measured. The interpretation of what they mean may be arbitrary, but sex itself is not a construct.
Allan also uses the term “gender essentialism.” You see FETAs use that term a lot, and they obviously have no clue what it actually means. Essentialism is the belief that entities fulfill specific criteria that establishes them as an entity a specific kind. Gender essentialism is the belief that men and women are fundamentally different (i.e. that “being a man” and “being a woman” entails fulfilling criteria which go beyond being assigned a gender).
I do not believe that men and women are fundamentally different, by which I mean that there are no criteria beyond assigned gender itself which can tell us who is “being a man” and “being a woman”; in short, there is no such thing as “being a man” and “being a woman.” There is no Womanhood Game because there are no criteria by which a transwoman may become “more of a woman”: “believing they are a woman,” “taking puberty blockers and mutilating their bodies” or “speaking in a high voice” are criteria which determine whether one can pass as a woman, but they do not make one a woman.
The main objective of FETAs is to elevate gender to the status of untouchable personal choice and to downgrade biological sex to the status of make-believe.
My perceived sex characteristics say nothing about my gender, nor is it already set in stone by an omniscient structure as to how I will receive certain messages that are hurled in my direction by folks who read me incorrectly. These structures are not so deterministic, and if they were, social movements would be mostly non-existent, because social movements are an acknowledgement that these structures aren’t working.
Again with the blind belief in “agency” and the slagging of determinism, as if determinism was a material entity or force that prevented us from doing things like starting social movements; not just that, but determinism is apparently “omniscient” in Allan’s mind! In the entry I just linked, I used the image of the Devil being chased in an old folk tale ironically, because I never thought anyone would actually be so stupid, but it seems Allan literally believes determinism is like the Devil. That is absolutely amazing to me. Again, what world does she live in?
Allan states that her perceived sex characteristics say nothing about her gender. But this is almost certainly false: we can say with 99.8% (the approximate percentage of non-intersex people) certainty that Allan’s sex characteristics (penis, XY, and so on) determined her assigned gender (man). We can state as a fact that in her first years of life she integrated all the indoctrination directed at boys, whether she liked her role or not. This is not the result of an “omniscient structure” which somehow defeats all social movements, but the result of normal human development.
This is the end of my analysis of Allan’s entry. I will not indulge her grandstanding, because it is itself based on the lies and misrepresentations I have debunked here. Transwomen are victims of gender, not of “cis” women, and when transwomen like Allan choose to become FETAs, instead of fighting against gender, they surrender the moral high ground and any sympathy anyone may have for their situation. Gender necessarily means woman-hatred, and anyone who promotes gender (or gendered slurs like “cis”) promotes woman-hatred.
Now, Allan insists on attacking the concept of socialization because she believes that it somehow does not apply to herself. I would reiterate that everyone is targeted by gender socialization and that there is no magical “get out of socialization” card.
But I would also extend this further in talking about trans socialization. Once the parents of a child (usually out of homophobia) have decided that their child is “trans,” they begin twisting everything that child says and does into the “trans” narrative, that they are stuck in the wrong body (i.e. a boy in a girl’s body, or a girl in a boy’s body). When the person goes into the wider world, this twisting becomes a social phenomenon, for the same reason.
Crucially, this socialization also consisted of a lot of positive reinforcement. That is, when people decided I was trans and treated me accordingly they were often at the same time trying to show respect or be friendly. I didn’t receive the same sort of treatment as a butch dyke…
This “trans” socialization consists of several components. One is deciding that certain actions, appearances, practices etc are signs that a person is trans/male rather than a woman, female, and/or butch. This is based off the assumptions that any perceived “masculinity” is maleness and that stepping outside the female role and temperament makes one not a female…
Another part is treating the presumed trans man’s behavior and self expression as more acceptable because they’re trans/male. This “masculinity” or whatever isn’t supposed to be present in a female body but being trans explains and makes it acceptable. What was unsightly, confusing or unnatural before is now something this person can feel entitled to.
That there are just as strong indoctrination mechanisms enforcing transgenderism than there are operating on genderism may seem obvious, but is something that people like Allan wish to ignore, because acknowledging it reduces transgenderism to just another expression of servitude, like gender itself. As I like to say, you do not become free when your jailors scrap your assignment to one of two prison cells and let you choose your prison cell instead. There’s no mental freedom, no physical freedom, to be found in any form of genderism, no matter how old or modern they are.