Would you believe transsexuals are an insidious male plot to undermine the women's movement? So says Janice Raymond, lesbian, feminist, and alleged scholar--who originally wrote this scathing condemnation of transsexuals in as her doctoral thesis. If her professors were addled enough to accept this 200 plus-page diatribe as scholarship, I consider myself fortunate not to have attended the same university as she.To paraphrase a statement I remember from Jean-Paul Satre's "Anti-Semite and Jew", all bigotry has a grain of truth to it--and that's what makes it dangerous. Bigots take a minor fact and blow it out of proportion, and that is precisely what Raymond does throughout her book. She contends, for example, that male-to-female transsexuals symbolically rape women's bodies by attempting to acquire one for themselves. There is, in fairness to Raymond, a condition which transsexual therapist Anne Lawrence calls "autogynephilia"--people with this condition are aroused by the change itself. But on further examination, this argument falls apart. Post-op transsexuals find themselves as much in danger of ACTUALLY BEING raped as any biological woman--why would transsexuals willingly risk being the victims of real rape merely to degrade women? And what of those who are not aroused by women's bodies at all, but are attracted to MEN? Raymond, as usual, is blind to these Grand Canyon-size holes in her logic.One might wonder what she thinks of female-to-male transsexuals. Simple--they don't exist. They are, in her view, lesbians in denial, thus exonerating all biological females from the insidious evil of transsexualism. She never asks herself why the numbers of female-to-males are so low.Read more ›
For Janice Raymond, transsexualism isn't a theoretical issue, it's personal. When The Transsexual Empire first appeared in 1979, she tookd the show on the road, attempting to convince the government and anyone else who would listen to outlaw sex reassignment. According to an interview in the late magazine TransSisters, all this bile and malevolence came from an unrequited romance with a transwoman. Considering the hostility she shows toward transsexuals in Empire, it's difficult to imagine Raymond doesn't have a personal issue, whether with having been attracted to a transsexual or having inclinications in that direction herself. Raymond's invective is apparent in the first few pages, when she says, of physician and tennis player Renee Richards, "it takes castrated balls to play women's tennis." No bias there. Uh-uh.Raymond's primary problem with transsexuals is that she expects them to singlehandedly destroy the binary gender system-- while she constructs her own gender identity so as to appear unambiguously female. News flash, Janice Raymond-- transsexuals have no special obligation to fight your fights. Most want only a little personal happiness and have no responsibility to tear down gender barriers for you (although many do).I could understand Raymond's rant if it were published as opinion-- but it purports to be a scientific study. There's evidence that contrary to her claims, she did no interviews at all.What's scary isn't that Raymond is so crazy, but that so many people listened to her, that so many have lacked the ability to differentiate vendetta from science.
Janice Raymond purports to know the motivations of people like myself better than I do. Pressed by an inflexible society where the gender roles are fixed, me, as a chauvinist male pig either not fitting in the gender-role society prescribes to me, or as a remorseful homosexual, take on the identity of a female because I want to re-inforce the stereotypes.And, in the process, I become an agent of patriarchal authority by infiltrating the sisterhood to destabilize it: "Transsexually constructed lesbian-feminists show yet another face of patriarchy. As the male-to-constructed-female transsexual exhibits the attempt to possess women in a bodily sense while acting out the images into which men have molded women, the male-to-constructed-female who claims to be a lesbian-feminist attempts to possess women at a deeper level, this time under the guise of challenging rather than conforming to the role and behavior of stereotypes femininity." [TTE, re-issue 1994, p. 99].We ARE the enemy. There can be no other motivation but to put things back into their cages, to fit gender-role and biological-fact. Forget the mind, the feelings, the base itself of feminist ethics -namely, that rules shouldn't be applied rigidly to a case but each case is separate and the circumstances influence the rightness/wrongness of the rule applied.We, transsexuals, are painted with a very broad brush. What is the solution? "I contend that the problem of transsexualism would be best served by morally mandating it out of existence." [TTE, p. 178]. The "moral mandate" is nicely covered by blaming society for our existence: "The prevention of transsexual surgery, and the social conditions that generate it, are not achieved by legislation forbidding surgery [....Read more ›