There’s a big difference between saying that trans women aren’t really women because we aren’t a part of a rigorously defined female sex-class and saying that all trans women are gender non-conforming men. The former is, as far as I understand it, a logical conclusion of…
what’s the difference?
Being targeted by men because you appear to be female is a very different experience from being targeted by men because you appear to be a feminine male.
Though I use the word “woman” to refer to the gender caste position occupied by individuals who are perceived to be female, I take no issue with the “adult human female” definition of womanhood, which naturally excludes assimilated transsexuals and is preferred by most radical feminists. However, I object to being defined as a gender non-conforming man, because this completely misrepresents the reality of my life. It is certainly possible that the male socialization I underwent prior to my transition colors the way I see myself presently, but as someone who is consistently read as female, my position under patriarchy does not differ from that of other white and class privileged women. In the six years that have passed since I transitioned socially, I have had plenty of experiences that attest to the fact that I am both subject to “casual misogyny” and very much at risk for harassment and violence from men on the basis of my apparent sex. In my view, to insist on defining me as a man of any kind is to suggest that these experiences are somehow illegitimate.
I would also add that there’s a big political difference here. In patriarchal culture, females are considered lesser if they don’t adequately perform gender, even while all females face oppression on the basis of sex whether or not they perform sex role stereotypes. In fact, the treatment of females who refuse to perform sex role stereotypes (ie who act “too mannish”) is frequently worse.
So when radical feminism defines woman simply as “adult human female”, it allows women to acknowledge the reality of sex-based oppression, while also eliminating the hierarchy of who is a success and who is a failure based on sexist bullshit criteria. This is really liberating for a lot of women!
However, there is no radical men’s movement to support gender non-conforming men, in the way that radical feminism support gender non-conforming women. And trans women who don’t want to male bond by playing the patriarchal power-over game are in danger inside of male culture.
I don’t have an answer but I’m hoping that by articulating this difference we (trans women, in particular passing trans women) can figure out how to support each other more effectively.