A brief note on the topic of “erasure” and identity

Look how many people will say: “This argument makes sense, but I’m not going to listen to it because …”

Because tone.  Because women won’t use the right words for men.  Just call us what we want, do what we want, and we’ll start listening to you, feminists.  We promise.

 

Sure.

Let me be very clear: misgendering “erases” no one.  I have several people in my family whose primary “identity” group, as such, is Christians.  If I were to call one of them an atheist, or a Buddhist, or the man in the moon, I would not be “erasing” them.  If someone identified, primarily, as a very funny teller of jokes, it would not be invalidating their existence to tell them that they are not particularly funny after all.  It’s worth noting that they’re not erased *even if someone is telling lies*.

The only way, in fact, that denying an identity is “erasing” that identity is if the person doing the denial is telling the truth.  Then, the simple act of saying “I refuse to participate in your delusion” shatters the reality of the delusion.

 

Let me put this another way.  If I identify myself as an excellent writer and, say, a very bad fanfiction writer says to me: “You’re a terrible writer,” my identity remains entirely intact.  Why?  Because I have no reason to credit what they say, there is no reason to doubt my identification.  In the same way, if someone says about a novel I have written and am very proud of, “this is garbage, not worth reading,” my identity as a good novelist remains intact, because I really did believe I’d written it well.

If, on the other hand, a writer I respected and admired, or an editor I desperately wanted to approve my work, wrote back with comments amounting to “this is bad writing and I’m not sure why you’d think anyone would like this,” I would feel like my identity and sense of self had, in some way, been diminished.  In the same way, if I was unsure of a work’s quality and someone told me it was pure shit, I’d be much more inclined to feel deeply hurt, lashing out, and resentful about it.

 

I believe the trans people who talk loudest about “erasure” when it comes to pronouns and statements like “was born a girl” are the ones who, deep down, are least settled in their own identities.  I certainly never feel that my identity as a feminist, or my reality as a woman, is somehow threatened when they have misgendered me or called me names or said I was transmisogynist.  Insecure people who know that they’re lying–on some level–are the only ones who feel that the very fabric of their being is threatened by a contradiction of their own internal narrative.

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7 thoughts on “A brief note on the topic of “erasure” and identity

  1. You’re part of the problem. When another woman is sexually harassed and she speaks out about it are you like the men who insist they didn’t see it so it didn’t happen? Do you really have that big of a problem with courtesy that you cannot call someone by what they wish to be called? Look, if a man wants to be a woman isn’t he giving up, nay CHOOSING all the problems inherent to being a woman in today’s societies? This person willingly choose to give up their privilege because they couldn’t identify what was on the outside with how they feel and think on the inside. Have some empathy. These are the last people we want to exclude for something so petty as the genitals they were born with. Women are people, so are people of all or no gender identities.

    • So….does this apply to, say, a white person who says “I love rap music and fried chicken, call me black!”?

      Because a lot of times, the stereotypes invoked by trans people about why they want to be the other sex are just as offensive. Why do you think trans people are the only ones with a right to be offended?

  2. You’re missing that you have cultural power of trans women and that’s why they feel insecure. They aren’t insecure about their identities, they are afraid that the label you are giving them will strip them of their ability to get resources, employment, and security in life. It’s a privileged dynamic.

    For the record, I agree that Ludwig playing as a 51 year old when she already had a shot at a younger age is silly and gimmicky and takes away a spot from someone actually college aged. There is a middle ground here that involves respecting all women as well as recognizing that cis women aren’t a privileged class themselves and need their opportunities/protections respected. But you aren’t willing to have these conversations without respect for trans women as women, so this isn’t going to go anywhere.

    • And you seem to think that WOMEN have some sort of power over trans-women, aka, men, which they do not, evidenced by the fact that a whingy man like Ludwig got onto the collage women’s team. The fact is, this conversation is going to go like the rest of feminism; men and trans women will deny women their basic human rights, and we women will perservere and win. There is no reason to respect a person who views woman as a feeling (we are a group of people, who have many different feelings. You are not tinkerbell, and neither are we, there is no such thing as feeling like a woman) and who reduces women to a stereotyped sex role that they can buy. There is also no reason to respect a person with power who pretends they are oppressed. Respect is earned.

  3. Whenever I ask a transman or transwoman why they felt like a gender into which they were not anatomically born, I get evasion or sexist answers. I have yet to meet a transman or transwoman who, when told that I feel like I am really a horse and want to be respected as this, they won’t take me seriously. Why should I take them seriously? I will respect transgender individuals not to be discriminated against in all areas except one: Sports. There I want a medical standard that has been studied as leveling the playing field; tested in the courts; and may evolve some over time as the law often does.

  4. I think erasure is a little more complicated than this. One repeated theme of feminism has been ‘naming the experience’. Without language to name and describe experiences there is no avenue to bring it to light.

    When transwomen say ‘Trans women are women period’ they are erasing what female is because the definition of woman is adult female. If trans women are women, then what are adult females? What happens to the female experience if the language is co-opted? Our female medical issues are described how? Abortion affects adult femals, not trans women and they have attacked our clinics for being exclusionary. They’re stealing our precious little resources in an erasure of identity through the co-opting of language. I take great offence at being told by trans that women can’t call ourselves women but must refer to ourselves as ‘people with uteri’.

    Lesbians are experiencing this problem also, with the co-opting of their language. Lesbian means same sex attraction between biological females. Trans women with penises are calling lesbians bigots for their orientation. They are stealing the label, lesbian and making it mean same gender attraction. Lesbian has its roots in Sapphiric culture, The Amazons, The Isle of Lesbos. This history, and this orientation are being erased through the co-opting of language. If transwomen with penises are lesbian, what are women who are attracted solely to the female body?

    I understand the above critique of identity but there is also a critique of language re: the issie of erasure.

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