The “Born This Way” Political Tactic: What’s Next?

by Sargasso Sea

Around the time of the discovery of the AIDS virus in the very early 1980s, the Gay (and Lesbian) community adopted the ideology of homosexuality as innate; Gay (and Lesbian) people were born this way ergo they could not be “fixed”, it wasn’t their “fault” and AIDS could not be a punishment from God if the theist belief of being “made in His image“ were to hold.

It was politically expedient at the time, and quite intuitive really, to claim a biological basis for homosexuality when the AIDS pandemic itself was, and continues to be, a biological disaster. An innate homosexuality also allowed people close to Gays (and Lesbians), especially mothers, to absolve themselves of any *wrong doing* and instead build a platform from which they could advocate for their children, fathers (and mothers), brothers (and sisters), husbands (and wives) as full human beings with full human/medical rights.

Even though it soon became clear that AIDS was not limited to Gays – an early acronym was GRID/Gay-Related Immune Deficiency – Liberal-minded people felt good about themselves, rising above the dictates of an increasingly conservative society to stand by this newly visible class of marginalized, segregated and vilified people. Many, many eyes were opened to the realities of Gay (and Lesbian) life but with a heavy emphasis on the oppressions of the “lifestyle” most commonly expressed as: Who would CHOOSE to be homosexual in a world so hostile to Gays?

Being Gay has become mainstream enough, thanks to the hard political work and simple pride and humanity of countless people (and, yes, Lesbians), that the “lifestyle” is considered fully integrated into the fabric of life within the liberal political world at least; domestic partnerships, civil unions, et al. In other words, it’s no longer a privilege or special to be Gay, it’s banal, trite, redundant.

Now, 30 years later, the same tactic is being employed by liberal-minded people to justify the legitimacy of trans*women at every turn from State Houses to mental health providers to online political and feminist spaces. Over the past few years we have seen any number of feminist spaces be taken over by people who would have females adopt the very same born-this-way ideology even though, again, there is as yet no scientific data to support this male sexuality-friendly, misogynist claim.

As an example, I was recently a witness/participant when the trans* debate inevitably exploded at a very popular Liberal Political forum. A month later the fallout continues to rain down only to be kicked up by a small band of lulz boyz with the end result being that several long-time, steadfast feminist members have been either banned for *transphobic bigotry* or simply self-silenced in sheer disbelief, bewilderment or disgust. Several males have become hosts of what was the feminist space in addition to a whole new *feminist* group which was created specifically for the “diversity”-minded. With diversity to mean, of course, that male-to-transpersons be happily included in Feminism as women. Or else.

From a discussion on appropriate wording for the Statement of Purpose for the *Diversity* group:

[…] why the hell would someone go through the process of changing their physical sex characteristics if they weren’t “born” female? In the same way that it isn’t a “choice” to be homosexual, is transgendering a choice? If it’s not a choice, one was born that way, right? […] But for what a person has to go through to change physical gender assignment – I would think there would have to something hugely compelling in their biology to do that. Which would come under being “born” that way, IMO.

This comment has it all: a blindness to the very real difference between “gender” and “biological sex”, a seeming ignorance of the fact that surgically altering physical sex characteristics is often no longer required to affect legal trans*identity and the argument that male-to-trans persons are also born female under the Born This Way model. Yet, when biologically female-born persons dare to say they are female-born they are hounded, ridiculed, deemed bigots and transphobes; excommunicated from this 21st Century Feminism that is now male-identified and male-defined.

Some thirty years ago a handful of women and girls recognized the glossing over of female reality early on in the AIDS/HIV epidemic in an effort to save our *brothers*. It was clear soon enough that females were infected by penile activity with closeted and non-closeted gays not only in porn, but in other forms of prostitution and the sharing of infected drug needles and/or “sex toys” but even at home in their supposed “low-risk” *monogamous*, heterosexual, perhaps religiously condoned and *drug-free* relationships as well. Many females gave birth to HIV infected infants. All of this certainly did not go unnoticed by life-long Lesbians who were not intravenous drug users and who had never had a blood transfusion. As a class, they were not hosting the virus in their female bodies and to date no transmission of this sort has been confirmed.

In another 30 years another unfounded *biologic fact* will be that biological males are “born” females simply because they say so, and again a handful of women who used to be girls will sense it for what it really is. But, again, the ideology will remain firmly entrenched in the collective male-centric, liberal mind until that too becomes banal, trite and redundant.

What will be the new flavor of oppression for the no-longer *female privileged* males come 2042? And how high will they expect the truly female-born to jump to serve their endlessly destructive and deadly sexuality then?

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18 Comments to “The “Born This Way” Political Tactic: What’s Next?”

  1. More and more I realise just how much of a fantasy world men live in. That is their whole sense of themselves, their importance, their awareness and justification of their behaviour, is massively detached from any objective reality.

    They’re like a bunch of giant two year olds with imaginary friends, a huge sense of entitlement, a belief that mummy must be constantly telling them how wonderful they are, and will brook no criticism, no boundaries, take no responsbility for their actions.

  2. Thanks for your post, Sargasso Sea.

    Here’s a link to an article at Womon on a Journey’s place regarding “born this way”.

    http://womononajourney.wordpress.com/2011/09/24/guest-post-on-lesbian-feminism/

  3. From what I’ve read, the “born that way” model of organizing was partly borrowed from U.S. ethnic politics, particularly from the success of African-Americans in the civil rights movement. The political advantage, it was argued, was that it gave gays and lesbians defensible boundaries. The “choice” or “fluid sexuality” model tended not to define a population for the purposes of legislation. Hence the presumed bias against bisexuals. They were seen as kind of like light-skinned blacks who could pass as white (and did so) when it was convenient. That said, do I think the “born that way” model is simplistic? Absolutely. There are very few things about human beings that are relentlessly dictated by our genes. Nearly everything we are–not just sexually–is a complicated amalgam of nature and nurture that we can’t even hope to untangle.

  4. Oh, I definitely think some of them have been MENTALLY ILL since birth. 🙂 The problem is that they are conflating “born insane at birth” with “behavior and feelings which are within the range of sound mental health”. Just because a baby is born with a heart defect or a proclivity towards fetishes, does not mean that being born with either of those things is “healthy” or “within the range of normal”.

    Anyway, gossip: Just in the last few months I’m noticing a much larger number of mainstream-type women (and men) who are expressing an awareness that there’s something not-quite-right with the transgenderism ideology. I ask them why THEY brought the subject up, and it’s always because of some pro-trans thing they had heard/seen on television or the internet. I think they’re going through the same process which happened to me 17 years ago — the more I was exposed to that ideology, the less sense it made. Also, I’m no longer getting any “that’s transphobic” responses from acquaintances who used to routinely throw that accusation at me. Now, whether their improved response is because I’ve learned to phrase my questions in a more direct way while remembering to keep my tone and body language friendly (ie “Explain to me why a 6 year old girl who likes to climb trees and plays with trucks is really a boy who needs a sex-change” or “Please define what it means to feel like a woman without resorting to stereotypes”) or they’ve learned I will not back down from my position no matter what, it’s hard to say. But. Now it’s gotten to the point where we will indeed share a genuinely friendly laugh when acknowledging that THEY are unable to formulate any reply in defense of trans which makes sense. Even the staunchest (queer) supporters of transgenderism that I know, who work in advocacy positions, will now readily admit it makes no sense. So, progress. yay

  5. Thanks for all the “likes” and comments everybody 🙂

    When I first started writing the post the word/s full-circle came to mind, but I pushed that aside realizing that there will be some new effrontery heading our way after this *men are too women, we were born this way* garbage has melted into the mainstream consciousness in all the various forms it will take. Some may be good good, some bad, but most will be indifferent and that’s where the problem lies.

    They will get bored with being fairly mainstream and ramp it up to something else and the big question for me is truly What’s Next?! I mean I’m a fairly fanciful and creative person and I can’t even begin to guess how they will change it up.

  6. Sargasso, forgot to say thanks for another great post! 🙂 And yeah, sane minds cannot make this crap up. In my town, trans folks are now developing a presentation to give to kindergarteners. uhuh. Because of course girls who like climbing trees and playing with trucks are really boys who need a sex change and don’t the parents want to prepare for that day? Heh, I already talked to one school principal in order to give her a head’s up, as well as a few other teachers in another district, and they all went ballistic. Literally ballistic, it was hilarious to watch them huff and puff. Most radfems seem to perceive this trend as getting worse, but I keep seeing more and more average mainstream types getting irritated though they still lack the words to express themselves. So of course I help… hee hee

    Say this with a cheeky smile (before you get serious with analysis): “if I strap a ceiling fan to my ass, that doesn’t make me an airplane”. I haven’t had anybody NOT laugh their butt off.

  7. Where are our *transsisters (not radios) in the very now, very important debate surrounding the GOP’s horrific attacks on women’s reproductive freedom’s? Where are the blogs, the speeches, the protests, the marches against this not-so-subtle war? Jesus! They must be very upset, aren’t they? Their precious little girl bodies being forced to have unwanted and medically unnecessary pervy medical legislation, probing and Goddess knows what is next!

    OOOOPS! That’s right, they are not FEMALES, are they?! This does not affect them, does it?!

    Now, get the fuck off my planet.

    *barf

  8. Where are they, you ask? Intimidating women to make them STFU, that’s where. And holding seminars on how to be better PUAs.

  9. I just don’t get people confounding “gender” and sex.

    It seems to me also a result of the public discourse being upheld predominantly by people who studied, how do you call it in English, Liberal Arts? Humanities? Those studies with postmodern stuff.
    Nobody I know who studies “exact” studies would believe this transgender thing.

    Not that these people much think about it or care about it in any way, and the male ones not at all, I am sure, but IF someone would bring it up, they probably would disagree with it. Well, privately, at least. To not to appear impolite about a subject of which everyone else (in a societal discourse dominated by bragging humanities-people) says it is oh so “delicate”.

    They know it only matters that M2T have XY chromosomes, F2T have XX chromosomes, and they know a fMRI scan an sich does not tell anything (because the brain is flexible, as every neuroscience student knows). Then, there are rape statistics, there are statistics about which sex wants the most intercourse, which sex is most privileged (in terms of salary etc.), etc. etc.

    It is almost all logic + statistics. How the fuck can people fuck this up?
    I am thinking of making a blog i which I will explain all the simple facts of life with formulas; Venn-diagrams and predicate logic, accompanied by some statistics, maybe law rules.

  10. Great, great point, Chonky.

  11. I’m one of the feminists who left that place in disgust and bewilderment. Suddenly I was called a bigot, because I didn’t unquestionably and automatically jump on the transgender bandwagon. Flip that. I didn’t know jack about trans women being jerks before, so I was trying to hard to be accommodating. What a huge mistake.

    And surprise surprise, after doing a lot more reading, and finding out that some rad fem blogs aren’t so rad fem after all, I find this undercurrent of MRA entitlement that demands access to women in that oh so rapey way that preciously entitled men are capable of.

    Thanks for this site. I really hope m Andrea is right, and that this stuff is turning around, because WTF. I have tried to keep an open mind and continue to read blogs like Feministing, in case they do once in a while come up with something valuable, but after today’s “stop talking about the war on women because not all women have uteruses” crap, I really can’t flipping handle it anymore.

  12. Chonky: “Where are our *transsisters (not radios) in the very now, very important debate surrounding the GOP’s horrific attacks on women’s reproductive freedom’s?”

    Why, they’re right behind the funfems’ left ears, whispering about how calling it “women’s reproductive freedom” is cissexist/transphobic/transmisogynist, of course! Because some “females” have penises and some “males” have vaginas. I can’t get over just how far down female socialization will take these funfems.

    mAndrea: That’s really good to hear. And the ceiling fan! LOL

  13. …, I really can’t flipping handle it anymore.

    Hi, Someone and welcome to a least one space where women’s reality-rubber really meets the road 🙂

    For the record: Feldspar/I had no intention of precipitating the implosion of the Feminist Group at DU. Quite the contrary. She/I simply wanted to draw out the disruptive *women* (and the male-identified women who support them) so that the women who were/are truly interested in addressing women’s realities under patriarchy could see for themselves how these *women* (and gay men, and MRAs too) operate to silence the female born in what was purportedly their own “safe haven“.

    Even now, weeks later, any subject brought up for discussion by a *known* feminist is populated and controlled by a handful of these *women* and their allies and always, always ending with a rehashing of how TRANSPHOBIC those (sockpuppettroll) feminists are!!!! But for what, exactly, they will never say because this group of trans* doesn’t even have enough wherewithal to steal some other trans* illogical, convoluted, pomo nightmare *argument*. No, that crowd has only Because I Say So!!! on their side because that‘s all that‘s required in a patriarchal world.

    And that’s the status quo when it comes to trans*ideology in malestream “feminist” spaces.

    Again I welcome you, sister, to the richest of worlds where liberationist discourse, argument, activism and thought are free flow.

  14. I am so sorry for not seeing through their game more quickly, and not knowing enough to be more supportive of you.

    I just visited there to see how it’s going and found out that the ‘feminists’ who post there have no problem referring to a woman they disagree with as an ‘old cow’. Some ‘feminist’ group they have there. It seems to be dominated by men and so-called “sex positive” supporters of the malestream version of watered-down, patriarchy-friendly feminism.

    FTR I hate the term “sex positive” as it is a BS framing term. I would love an alternative if anyone knows of one. I call so-called “pro-life” people anti-choice, because it is accurate. We need an accurate term for patriarchy-friendly feminism.

  15. No apology is EVER necessary when we are talking about opening one’s eyes to the true, simple *nature* of radical feminism, Someone.

    Seeing male oppression for what it really is and acting accordingly (a facet of Dworkin’s “moral intelligence”, I think) is no easy feat when 99.8% of everything you encounter is male-centric, male-defined and male-enforced.

  16. If I may add my two cents on this topic..

    Personally, I think for at least some of us our sexual orientation is innate. I honestly know it is in my case.. And the vast majority of lesbians aren’t politically motivated to be lesbians, we just exist.

    I get the point though. It shouldn’t MATTER whether you are born this way or choose to be with women.

    Something based on culture and stereotypes, like jendahhh, cannot be inborn .. But sexual orientation is different.. I’m reminded by this article of the bisexuals who believe that everyone is really bisexual.

    I think this is the first time I’ve disagreed even partially with anything said here.. I just wanted to throw in my 2 ¢

  17. Great post. I am attracted sexually to women, including my girlfriend (obviously), but I have chosen to be lesbian as an identity. Yes there is discrimination; but what a lot of people don’t recognise is that there are clear advantages to being a lesbian. I love being a lesbian and if I did split up with my girlfriend. I would always choose a woman.

    In terms of transphobia, what trans people seem to mean by this is that we don’t agree with their analysis of transgender. So I have started to say, fine I am transphobic. Why should we fear the label of transphobic? It has no power to harm me.

  18. I’m so over genetic determinism too, right now I am TOTALLY FURIOUS over the idea that women have less spatial intelligence. EXCUSE ME I have only been driving for a year and yet my younger brother rates me as a better driver than my parents (who have been driving for 30+ years). My spatial intelligence is as good, if not better, than most men’s. Evolutionary psychology is crap.

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