I’m increasingly seeing transactivism as…

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A Twitter thread by @radicalhag

I’m increasingly seeing transactivism as the latest form of toxic masculinity, this time taking the shape of “women don’t count/really exist, so anyone who doesn’t do man properly is now in the woman box”.

I had a thread here about how invisible we are to men – about how superficial their view of us is, which enables wokebeards to dump transwomen in the same category as us and then attack us for objecting:

I did a picture to try to explain what I was getting at.

Men don’t want transwomen to be classed as men. Superficially, they are similar enough to women for men to class them as women (although men wouldn’t fuck them, usually).

So they announce that transwomen are women. The aggressive AGP type of transwoman does this too – it suits both types of male. (And woman to them is such a non-category that they are both outraged when women refuse.)

But you have to have an incredibly superficial and stereotyped view of women for this piece of sleight-of-hand to work. We have to be reduced to gender presentation and what our bodies *look like*, as opposed to what they *do*. This is a quintessentially male view of women.

This makes woman a dumping ground for non-men, or failed men, or anyone cast out of masculinity. It also says that men, and not women, get to define what woman is, although being a woman is a material reality which is no more accessible to men than being a bat is.

More importantly, it denies that there is a positive definition of woman, which starts with reproductive capacity and takes in the experience of being female, generative, exploited by males, mothers. It denies that women are a coherent group deserving of a name.

So perhaps women need to start by reserving the right of self-definition to ourselves, something which has always been feminism’s task. We exist. We are not appendages of men, or a costume they can put on.

There are undoubtedly many transwomen who are stuck in the middle of this mess, which is an invidious place to be, and who don’t want to be the subject of a fashionable political cause. Nina Paley’s analogy is great:


Making more space for trans people, more visibility, more social acceptance, better healthcare, should be treated as an unambiguous social good. But it shouldn’t come at women’s expense, and the way to see that is to strengthen the definition of woman.

And women are under such attack from this that I think we have to focus on our own defence first. I think it was the Greens who recently changed their equality policy to say that “cisgender males” got 49% of positions on lists, but women had to share their 49% with transwomen.

And we’re all saturated with Labour’s antics, including transwomen in all-women shortlists, making a teenage boy a Woman’s Officer, etc. It all looks incredibly progressive until you slice it by sex instead of gender. And then it looks like what it is: misogyny.

It is toxic masculinity to say that a woman is nothing more than an idea in a man’s head, that a man can assume some superficial similarities to a woman and then call himself one, as though the word has no meaning apart from what it means to men.