One of the more intriguing parts of the Gender Critical movement concerns transgender people who are, paradoxically, trans-exclusive.
The temptation here of course is to ask, “How can one exclude oneself?”. Before we explore that, let’s consider the flip side of the coin: how the Gender Critical movement accepts trans people that conform to certain rules.
Before we continue, it is important for the casual visitor to understand what being transgender actually means. I describe it as having a gender identity incongruent with one’s presumed sex at birth, where gender identity is the innate knowledge of one’s sex whether congruent with genetic sex or not, as a result of neurological development that aligns with that typical of a genetic sex that is not your own.
Yeah, I know. It’s a very long definition. But that’s a good thing, because otherwise the Gender Criticals love to tell you how either Gender Identity is a circular reasoning (it isn’t), or that it’s a synonym for gender roles/stereotypes (it also isn’t).
But I’d also like to doff my hat to CritFacts, who put together a wonderful video explaining carefully what being transgender means:
Now, let’s be clear about being transgender. It’s not a “feeling”, nor is it a choice. Nobody trans wakes up one morning and says “I fancy being the other sex from now on, could be a laugh!”. I will not go into the huge psychological exploration of the differing gender stories here, suffice to say that it is an innate knowledge, not a feeling or a desire-to-be.
This is also not some fad that’s only recently surfaced, as the Gender Criticals would have you believe. The first trans woman to undergo Gender Confirmation Surgery was Lily Elbe, in 1930:
Lili Ilse Elvenes (28 December 1882 - 13 September 1931), better known as Lili Elbe, was a Danish painter and…
Over the last 100 years, the notion of Gender Identity has been explored in great depth in psychological, medical and scientific research circles. In 2019, the World Health Organisation officially announced that Gender Dysphoria was not a mental illness, and thus is a natural development that occurs in some individuals:
Transgender no longer recognised as 'disorder' by WHO
Commenting on the revisions, Graeme Reid, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights director at campaign group…
The point I’m alluding to in all this, is that there are very specific and solid ideas about being transgender. While everyone’s story and experience is different, they all have the same common thread: the gender identity does not match the presumed sex at birth.
For Gender Criticals, this is the Wrong Kind Of Trans™
The Right Kind Of Trans
I put the ™ symbol next to The Wrong Kind Of Trans there, because ironically, this is an attack used by Gender Criticals themselves, when transgender people either dismiss “quislings” or defend against their arguments.
A “quisling” is a term for a Gender Critical “trans” person, derived from Vidkun Quisling, who was a Norwegian Nazi collaborator in world war two. I also use the term “trans” loosely to describe such people.
Quisling (; Norwegian pronunciation: ) is a term originating in Norway, which is used in Scandinavian languages and in…
Quislings don’t match the transgender definition, insofar as they either declare a gender identity that is congruent with their presumed sex at birth, or more often than not, disclaim even having a gender identity at all. Terms such as “genderfree” proliferate Gender Critical circles, used by people who persist in believing Gender is a synonym for gender roles or stereotypes.
Now, I would like to be clear on a point here. It’s very easy to get hung up in a deep discussion as to whether quislings are transgender. You could have a days long forum on the subject, throwing accusations such as “lying for the benefits” and “self-delusion” etc. I’m not here to have that discussion, because I don’t believe it has merit here.
For the purposes of discussion, I defer to the simplest concept of Self-ID. If a quisling “transwoman” says they are a man that was presumed male at birth, then by definition they classify themselves out of being transgender. The same is true for the “transman” equivalent.
There is discussion that be had here regarding the term transsexual, to refer purely to someone who has had gender confirmation surgery. More derogatorily, one could discuss the term transvestite. In either case, “trans” could be pointed at these terms.
This then, is the Right Kind Of Trans, according to the gender Critical Movement. A “trans” person, that isn’t actually transgender, but is good enough to call themselves a man in a dress, or a woman with a beard.
When Licking Boot Isn’t Enough
It should be noted that being a quisling only guarantees superficial acceptance in the Gender Critical movement. When the quisling isn’t looking, Gender Criticals will quite happily ridicule the idea of a man in a dress, even to the point of declaring “men in dresses look nothing like women. They’re just performing some perverse idea of what they think women look like”.
Magdalen Berns, a prominent figure in the Gender Critical movement until her death, and hero to J.K. Rowling (in her own words in the infamous ‘TERF WARS’ essay), had the following to say about “men in dresses”:
Seeing as quisling “transwomen” are engaging in the same alleged “performativity” as trans women, it would appear here that Magdelen (also idolised by many prominent quislings) has no qualms in attacking trans women (or “transwomen”) for their appearance.
More infamously, she had this to say regarding people presumed male at birth, but present as female:
So what makes the Right Kind Of Trans™ think that they’re in the clear?
Everybody Sucks Here
I’m not going to presume to give reasons why a quisling might indulge a movement that clearly has no more love for them than for actual transgender people. It would be unfair to broadly tar everyone with the same brush, on the basis of my perceptions. I have my ideas, but I keep them to myself.
But bringing this article back to the point, when actual transgender people quiz quislings for their transphobic (and self-destructive) acts, we’re told that we have no time for The Wrong Kind Of Trans™ (meaning the quislings).
The irony here is twofold: firstly, quislings are not, according to their own words, transgender. Therefore, they are not any kind of trans, if we take “trans” to be a shortening of transgender.
Secondly, this is a clever wordplay on the part of Gender Criticals to classify “good” and “bad” trans people. The good ones can stay. As long as they follow the rules the Gender Critical transphobes set for them, and surrender their own agency, and any perceived ideas of their own identity, they’re good.
Anyone who knows who they are, and has been through that experience of the pain and confusion of knowing the gender everyone says they are is wrong, and assert themselves on the basis of that identity, is the bad kind.
Transgender people are The Wrong Kind Of Trans, because they don’t do as the Gender Criticals say and oppress themselves like a good little minority should.
Many Gender Criticals claim that they support trans people, just not the “TRAs” or those who support the “gender ideology”. What they actually means is that we’re the wrong kind of trans and not matching up to their expectations.
This is, of course, a familiar bigotry. Gender Criticals hate it when parallels are drawn between their ideas and racism, but here we again: Black people who “acknowledged” their white superiors were given favours in exchange for oppressing themselves. The black people who fought back and demanded rights were vilified for “not knowing their place”.
The justifications were similar too: “This is just the natural way of things. This is biology at work. God created them this way. We’re not racist.” And of course, any black person who criticised the quislings for collaborating was called “the wrong kind of [insert nasty slur here]”.
Once again, when you scratch the surface the Gender Critical movement is just thinly-veiled bigotry, trying to convince you they’ve got sound reasons, when it’s all just hatred. They hate that we assert who we are, and don’t bow down to their demands of who we should be.