I have a lot of questions about this and I would really like to hear some answers. I’m trying not to be ignorant by genuinely seeking answers from people rather than to make assumptions or to just go along with the general consensus. I want to find out for myself. Call me naive if you wish but I really wish to better understand the issue so that’s why I’m asking.
Also please don’t answer with any Mulan lyrics. You know the ones I mean, these are genuine questions.
Feel free to answer whichever of the following questions you feel you have a reasonable level on knowledge on. Submit is on for those longer posts.
I’m going to briefly take this bit, and it is very briefly: “If I now identified as a woman, would it be fair to say that I can take an authoritative stance on women’s issues? Or do I have to go through the process of becoming a woman to fully understand what it means to become a woman and deal with the issues women face? What about the coming of age for a girl, when she becomes a woman? I would have no understanding of that.”
This is a contentious thing. I definitely do not claim to speak for trans or cisgender people, but I can explain my opinion. I find the term cisgender tricky in general, the idea that there are specific traits for each gender doesn’t sit well with me. Gender is such (in my opinion) a social construct, that I am concerned if people identify as ’cis-male’ or ‘cis-female’ they are simply reinforcing the gender stereotypes already in existence. This is something I don’t find helpful. But that is my opinion.
Transgender is a different thing. Something I don’t feel in the slightest bit qualified to have a detailed discussion about, but if any of my transgender followers care to chip in/provide to helpful links for je-vais-mourir to look at, please do. Needless to say, in brief, I think identifying as trans has very little to do with identifying as the stereotypical traits laid out for men/women. It is an innate and indisputable state of being either assigned, or being born into, the wrong sex.
This is where the contention lays with your ‘authoritative stance’ question. First and foremost I do not think women’s issues is about ‘authoritative stance’. In my experience, I have known men who have a better grasp and handle of these ambiguous ‘women’s issues’ you refer to than some women. Therefore I do not think you have to be anatomically female to have an understanding of ‘female issues’.
In regards to transgender people, I don’t think their issues are separate from ‘female issues’. I think if a man who identifies as a woman is ostracised or excluded from female only circles, that IS a female issue. I do not like the concept of only ‘real women’ understanding women’s problems. It’s offensive to transgender men who identify as women, and it’s offensive to me.
The issue of ‘authority’ within women’s issues will usually stem from the fact that the other person within the discussion wouldn’t be listening. It just so happens that this usually (again, not always) happens to be a man. And then you get into a ‘well you have no right to say anything, you aren’t a woman’ discourse.
Perhaps what I am saying then; is my issue is with the choice of word, ‘authority’. I don’t particularly think there is an authority as such on these things. There is a level of experience, of course a person born as a man will never understand what it is like to get a period for the first time as a teenager. But I will never understand what it is like to be born as a man and identify as a woman. That doesn’t give me any less right to try and understand and get to the root of a situation.
I guess it always comes back to listening. There are a multitude of experiences and situations out there that I have never had as a women, that would be classed as a ‘woman’s issue’. In that case I need to sit back and listen and listen and listen. Then support the issues where I can.
I know I said this was going to be brief. I lied. And I could go on for a long time still. Mostly, what I understand ‘women’s issues’ to be, are related to equality. Simple as that. So that definitely includes transgender people being shown as much respect and equality as the next person. There is no one experience of femaleness, there are a multitude. Maybe that is what I found difficult about the paragraph I highlighted. Don’t think of a woman’s experience so much as The Women’s Experience. It is very vast, and very different for all of us.
(Do I need to mention your ‘facetious question’ on identifying as a wizard was inappropriate and completely at odds with the complexities and seriousness of a transgender experience? ;))