Julie Burchill: Doing It For The Cis-terhood?

It is, perhaps no more my place to write this than it was Burchill's to write her opinion piece. I am writing this in order to extend a hand of solidarity from a cisgender woman to all transgender people. And I wouldn't be in the least bit surprised if you took the precaution of slapping it away.
Publish date:
January 14, 2013
feminism, transgender, intersectionality, Cis, Transdoc, Suzanne Moore, Julie Burchill

In the world of social media, when does calling someone out because you disagree them with becoming plain in-fighting or trolling?

Lets ask the White British Feminists shall we? Or, more specifically, White British Feminists with regular newspaper columns, a recognised voice, and a strong platform from which to express their point of view.

A pattern I have seen on my Twitter feed is that these are the people who deign to say what is fair comment and what is irrelevant/trolling when it comes to feminism.

Their high profiles may mean they receive unfair, nasty threats for expressing their views, but at the same time, they enjoy a platform from which to both guide and express that many minorities do not have.

It is a huge responsibility and I am sure these writers are aware of their part to play in achieving equality. To be honest, I think they do a lot to move it forward and I enjoy a lot of their work.

However I have been surprised on more than one occasion by some of their reactions on Twitter when people with experiences different from their own, and with less representation in the media, contact them with a counter-argument that's as well thought out as it can be in a 140 letter limit.

Last week Suzanne Moore, who I've always looked up to, wrote about the value of women's anger. Unfortunately she didn't get us riled up about the intended subject.

I think even those who weren't offended by Suzanne Moore's flip remark regarding 'Brazilian transexuals' were a bit surprised at the very least to find her deny the existence of transphobia on Twitter. And that was probably the most defensible thing Moore said in her response to those suggesting she apologise for the (I think) unintentional slur.

Moore's follow up article in The Guardian's Comment is Free section did not quell Twitter. Mainly because it twanged of the 'but some of my best friends are black!' school of justification. It was also rather galling to see it suggested transgender people don't concern themselves with important issues and their fight for rights irrelevant.

This argument is invalid because we can't rise up against oppressors until we stop oppressing. To request people don't correct you until the revolution is won is pointless.

It leaves a bad taste in my mouth to see those questioning the feminist establishment regarding inclusiveness and intersectionality accused of undermining feminist solidarity. In fact it sickens me. To me it looks suspiciously like saying certain people at birth have apparently relinquished their right to solidarity.

The notion of waves in feminism demonstrates to me that feminism is constantly updating, reassessing and questioning. This is a good thing! I refuse to believe listening to minorities can be such a power sap to the sisterhood or feminism, and I do not want to be involved in something that shuts down discussion.

Look, I want equality. I don't want to get there climbing over my sisters (that's ALL my sisters) with other experiences and less or different privilege. You know why? That would not be equality or sisterhood.

In the name of said sisterhood, Julie Burchill wrote a piece defending Moore. I would normally quote her here to demonstrate my point, but I truly believe some of the remarks made with regard to transgender people were so nasty and potentially triggering I won't.

If you haven't read it yet, Burchill appears to be playing offensive bingo and manages to mention the black and white minstrels, list several transgender slurs and sum cis-womanhood up as PMT, menopause, HRT and sexual harassment. Even among the cis womb presence and action is an incredibly problematic method of gender identification.

What really is sad about this whole gender debate is that what unites us with transgender men and women is that we are forced to live in fear. Burchill doesn't seem to recognise this and instead chooses to go with another ism (it's always nice to mix your isms I think).

She uses classism to cast all transgender people as over-educated, middle class academics, while Burchill, your regular salt-of-the-earth working class woman tells of a diet of champagne and lobster. You know, keeping it cis-real.

It's not true, just as you can't choose what class you're born into – you can't choose what body you're born in. Whether or not transgender people are over-educated is neither here nor there surely?

University of Life is something we all have to attend, Google is my co-pilot. Or my library. Actually my library is my library. Basically I am aware that if I don't want to marginalise then I have to educate myself.

Burchill has chosen to separate herself from her transgender sisters. All in the name of defending her friend from Twitter attacks.

You know, between November 15th 2011 and November 14th 2012 265 transgender people have been reported murdered around the world. The hashtag transdocfail has helped transgender people tweet about their struggles when dealing with medical professionals.

Being 'chased' off a social networking site seems a bit silly now doesn't it. Irrelevant perhaps?

It is, perhaps no more my place to write this than it was Burchill's to write her opinion piece. I am writing this in order to extend a hand of solidarity from a cisgender woman to all transgender people.

And I wouldn't be in the least bit surprised if you took the precaution of slapping it away.

Have you read Julie Burchill's article? Let Kate know what you think below, or on Twitter @squeamishbikini.