Primarily among the Left that is centered on “activism” that only manifests itself on the internet, Deep Green Resistance, a group dedicated to resisting corporate greed’s effects on the planet, an organization that is also equally dedicated to the liberation of women, is being accused of “transphobia”. On the contrary, female members of Deep Green Resistance were assaulted by male transgender activists.
By transphobia, these e-activists mean to insinuate that Deep Green Resistance is an organization that shares the same dedications of those who continually make life ever more difficult for individuals who identify as transgender. Employers who discriminate against transgender employees, “tough guys” who spend their afternoons brutalizing, beating and raping people who do not fit into the gender identity their biology prescribes for them, and other, real, authentic, physical threats, physical forces that seek to harass and harm transgender individuals.
Deep Green Resistance partakes in none of the above. What Deep Green Resistance DID do, is the following:
a.) Make a class based analysis of gender as a structurally induced social-construction, manifesting itself as the organized control and restriction of men and women to a set of actions to empower one sex over the other, and subjugate the other sex to the dominant sex’s control
b.) Make a distinction between women and trans-women, and analyze the political connotations of the transgender phenomena
In this post, we’ll be exploring both the abolitionist approach to gender, and the distinction made between women and trans-women by Deep Green Resistance .
Gender, Sex, Class & Restriction
Lets take a look at what Deep Green Resistance actually said about gender and transgender people. First, lets take a look at their political summary of gender, and gender abolitionism:
Firstly, they make the comparison of gender to race, or rather, the set of actions that are associated with specific races:
“The point is that race is not biologically real. Politically, socially, economically, race is, of course, a brutal reality around the globe. But the concept of race is a creation of the powerful. If we want a just world, the material institutions that keep people of color subordinate need to be dismantled. And the concepts of “whiteness” and “blackness” themselves will ultimately be abandoned as they make no sense outside of the realities of white supremacy.” (1)
Basically, They’re arguing that race seeks to tie whole groupings of human beings into whole, collective classes that manifest themselves as power-relations between one another. This can be biologically confirmed. It’s reported, for example, that:
“Possibly only six genes determine the color of a person’s skin,” Graves, a professor of evolutionary biology and African-American Studies at Arizona University, said in the Times interview.” (2)
Six genes out of 30 to 40,000 genes that make us human, determine the color of our skin. Something that can seem so important, so relevant, so determinant of whole historical events, is in reality, a non-factor. Whole economic systems, wars, and even spiritualities have been developed on the basis of, or developed off of the perceived color of one’s skin.
The article, published by Fox News titled Biologically Speaking, Race Doesn’t Exist, continued to say:
“Black, white, Asian—all are artificial, really. A black man and a white man from Manhattan, for example, are likely to be more genetically similar than a black man from Manhattan and a black man from Nigeria.” (2)
“Artificial”, that is to say, socially-constructed. If race is socially-constructed, as the biological as well as historical evidence seems to suggest so overwhelmingly, that must mean that it is the result of a certain society, or rather, specific societies that are connected historically and structurally to one another. For example, the transformation from slave society to industrial capitalist society in the Southern regions of the United States. America had shed the old form of slave holding society for industrial and post-industrial capitalism, while remaining, in essence, the same.
In regards to gender, the writers for Deep Green Resistance continue:
“A lot of people get confused when asked to apply the same radical analysis to gender. But from a feminist perspective, the parallels are obvious. Are there differences in skin tone across the human species? Yes. Why do those differences mean anything? Because a corrupt and brutal arrangement of power needs an ideology called racism. Are there differences in the shapes of people’s genitals? Yes. Why do those differences matter? Because a corrupt and brutal arrangement of power—patriarchy—needs an ideology called gender.” (1)
In this case, what they are arguing is that whole sets of human interactions, emotions, and perceptions are relegated to classes of interaction reserved for people who biologically meet society’s’ “requirements” for these actions; in the 1800′s, pink for boys, blue for girls, today, pink for girls, blue for boys. Socially, this color-class dynamic becomes football for boys, ballet for girls; dresses and high-heels for girls, pants and boots for boys; etc.
Emma Goldman commented on this reality, referencing the Christian religion and the Bible’s role in enforcing gender:
“Religion, especially the Christian religion, has condemned woman to the life of an inferior, a slave.” (3)
What substantiation is there for this claim? We need only look at the Bible itself, the Bible has quite an amount to say about woman and her place in the family unit. This quote, from versus Titus 2:1-5, is telling:
“But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.” (4)
Here we see the ways in which the Bible enforces the gender binary. In regards to “femininity” and “masculinity” the writers for Deep Green Resistance say the following:
“What of femininity? Femininity is a set of behaviors that are in essence ritualized submission. Female socialization is a process of psychologically constraining and breaking girls—otherwise known as “grooming”—to create a class of compliant victims. Across history this breaking has including so-called “beauty practices” like FGM (female genital mutilation) and footbinding as well as ubiquitous child sexual abuse. Femininity is really just the traumatized psyche displaying acquiescence.” (1)
What Deep Green Resistance is directly implying is, gender manifests itself as a restrictive classing of men and women into sets of actions that seek to dominate, or submit men and women to one another. There is an idea, there is a concept of “femininity” but in reality, it does not exist, it is not something I can touch. It’s physical manifestation may be a dress, or a pair of high-heels that damage bone-structures, but this manifestation is merely symbolic, an outgrowth of the idea, the concept known as “feminine”.
What did Deep Green Resistance say about transgender in regards to their analysis of gender? Lierre Keith has said a number of things concerning the transgender phenomena, one of which is this:
“Gender is no different. It is a class condition created by a brutal arrangement of power. I can’t fathom how mutilating people’s bodies to fit an oppressive power arrangement is frankly anything but a human rights violation. And men insisting that they are women is insulting and absurd.” (5)
Interestingly enough, the article that claims that Deep Green Resistance is transphobic refers to the group as “Derrick Jensen’s Deep Green Resistance” in the title. Nowhere is Lierre Keith mentioned, until it becomes convenient for the claim that the group is transphobic. I suppose the sexist e-left considers Lierre Keith to be nothing more than a female counterpart to Derrick Jensen, despite the two being co-founders. My question now is, where did Lierre Keith incite violence towards trans-people? How did this statement physically affect trans-people? If we cannot offer any structural, class-based analysis of gender, because the identities of those affected by gender are much more precious, than we cannot in any way threaten the system’s coercive nature. Another claim by the same article attempts to male-excuse me, I mean make-the case that Deep Green Resistance discriminated against transgender members of the organization:
“I left the organization at the beginning of 2012 after a trans inclusive policy was cancelled by Derrick Jensen and Lierre Keith. Many good people and good activists left the organization for that reason.” (5)
While the author does not substantiate this claim in any way, I’d like to take a minute to comment on the pressure transgender activists make for “inclusion”. Inclusion into what? Women’s spaces? Feminism? In the context of transgender activism, “transphobic” has become a sort of scare word. There is no argument you can make against it, it taints you in radical circles entirely. No matter how well substantiated your claim is, no matter how well researched it is, they will continue to hurl the word at you, as they did against comedian and feminist Roseanne Barr (6), for her insisting that bathrooms be female only spaces. For Deep Green Resistance, words weren’t the only thing hurled:
“Two women were tabling, handing out DGR literature and selling books. A group of five transgender/queer activists came up to the table. One of the male queer activists began shouting at the women, using aggressive language. This man made threatening gestures toward the women. He grabbed and defaced table materials. When one of the women went to protect the materials, he marked her arm and hand as well.” (7)
Is this the kind of inclusion that trans-activists demand? Inclusion that disrupts the activity of female-only spaces? That drives women to the wall, having the word “woman” seized from themselves, forced to grasp tightly on the only thing left, a biological fact; female? If anyone resorted to physical attacks, it is the sexist transgender activists who swarmed onto the Deep Green Resistance activists, who were peaceably distributing materials. The Deep Green Resistance article continues:
“A half an hour later, a male DGR member tried to engage in respectful conversation with these queer activists. They began chanting at him and insulting him, culminating in them throwing trash and food at his head.” (7)
Immature, unacceptable behavior. Apparently, women standing up against their social-constraints is violence, but assaulting peaceful Deep Green Resistance organizers isn’t.
Trans-women and Biological Facts
Germaine Greer said in her book The Whole Woman:
Governments that consist of very few women have hurried to recognize as women men who believe that they are women and have had themselves castrated to prove it, because they see women not as another sex but as a non-sex. No so-called sex change has ever asked for a uterus and ovaries transplant, if uterus and ovaries transplants were made mandatory for wannabe women they would disappear overnight. The insistence that man-made women be accepted as women is the institutional expression of the mistaken conviction that women are defective males. (8)
The 78-year old veteran feminist writer and activist was also assaulted-excuse me, I mean, “glitter bombed”- for this “transphobic” paragraph. It seems that these trans-activist types can only speak with the rage of testosterone, that is to say, through physical force against women? Apparently so.
That isn’t to say that violence is specifically male; but overwhelmingly, male violence is directed against females. For the man, the loss of a job could eventually entail the entering into crime; anything from drug dealing to legal means of keeping one’s head above ground. For the woman, the loss of a job entails the selling of the only commodity she has left; her vagina.
That also isn’t to say that men (specifically gay men) cannot enter into prostitution, or that they cannot be exploited as prostitutes. But overwhelmingly, this reality is faced by women, the ones who grew up as girls, who were conditioned into patriarchal notions of femininity, who have penetrable vaginas, who normally have the ability to become pregnant with a child, and all the economic hazards that come with that. If the woman grew up in the Third-World, she may have, as a young girl, been subject to clitoral mutilation. For the majority of women who enter-or should I say, are forced into-prostitution, the nightmare begins with childhood. It is reported that 75% of women who are involved in prostitution started as children. In a society that views women as the property of men, how can anyone be surprised without being disingenuous? (9)
It is also reported that women are threatened on the basis of their biology according to the following statistics: 74% of women cite poverty as the primary motivator for entering into prostitution, up to 70% of women in prostitution spent time in care, 45% report sexual abuse and 85% physical abuse within their families, up to 95% of women in prostitution are problematic drug users, including around 78% heroin users and rising numbers of crack cocaine addicts, more than half of UK women in prostitution have been raped and/or seriously sexually assaulted, at least three quarters have been physically assaulted, 68% of women in prostitution meet the criteria for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in the same range as torture victims and combat veterans undergoing treatment, The mortality rate for women in prostitution in London suffer is 12 times the national average, and a global study of prostitution found that 9 out of 10 women in prostitution would like to exit if they could. This is substantiated by object.org. (9)
I believe that, if we are to define woman in society as a sex class, we cannot call transgender individuals who “identify” as women to be women. As I said in my article Does Gender Dysphoria need to be ‘Cured’?:
“The ‘sex change’ surgery is faulty advertising. It does not produce what it advertises it produces. It does not, in actuality, change one’s biological sex. To say it does is dishonest. A man who transitions into “womanhood” does not menstruate. They do not endure menopause. They lack the internal organs to become pregnant. Their chromosomes cannot change from female to male. The ‘sex change’ surgery itself is an offensive on the bodies of transgender people. It sterilizes their castrated bodies, leaving them only with a mutilated penis, designed for penetrative intercourse. Going back to the original question, “does a ‘sex change’ surgery really change the biological sex of the transgender person?”, the answer depends upon the definition of what a woman is. If a woman is defined by her penetrability, then the answer is yes. If woman is to be defined by her place in society, by her biology and it’s relationship to society, the answer is no.”