There's no reference text anywhere explaining it, and questioning GC theorists on their own turf never turns out well.
Here is what i understand:
- There is no such thing as brain sex
- 'Gender' is a construct
Still, lots makes sense. There _is_ no such thing as brain gender. Each of us exhibits a variety of traits, but there is nothing that is specifically male or female. The transgenderist argument that a man can 'feel' like a woman has no legs... They can't have a gender-female brain in a male body as there is no such thing.
Gender does also appear to be a construct. Indoctrination occurs from even before birth, with gendered products and expectations influencing the child from before it is born.
Yes, females are the only sex that can carry children and give birth, but no, that does not mean they are automatically suited to do so, not are they genetically programmed to be home makers, cleaners or wives. That part is social programming (apparently).
So i'm good with that. Breaking down the walls of patriarchy so that girls and boys can express themselves in any way they like can only be a good thing for those individuals. Less repression, less judgement, less forcing people to comply with patriarchal gender norms.
I'm completely in agreement about the impact that has on TG identity theory. Who gives a flying monkey if a guy 'identifies' with a gender-female stereotype? They can go be that person, they don't need to revoke their male-ness, or gain female-ness in order to be able to do it.
The rise that we are seeing in 'gender policing' of children is scary. Children who express cross-gender role behaviours and associations are forced to change their identity to do so, as if they are not allowed to be gentle, loving boys with a taste for pink, or tough non nonsense girls who love trousers and mud. To be themselves, it is now required that they change their name, their designation. the boy must become a girl, and vice versa. This is the worst side of TG identity theory and its intersections with patriarchy, destroying the physical wholeness of children to feed its sexism.
So Gender Critical theory is a needed counterpoint to that madness.
However, wherever i find GC, i find the sick underside of it too. Women who refer to another woman's anatomy as 'a surgical fuckhole' (Something i cannot comprehend from a feminist framework at all), a complete lack of comprehension of the difference between gender role confusion and physical dysphoria.
There's a flaw at the heart of the theory that could be fixed, if there was not such a deep seated denial in place.
If , as we agree, there is no such thing as brain gender, then each of us is a human first, in a physical body, that defines our sex (all sounding good so far). All gender role behaviours are learnt, so a man who 'feels like' a woman can wear as many frocks as he like, but his penis will always be male. I'm still good with that.
But what happens if we change the body? As yet, full cell gene therapy is not here, but growth of organs form edited stem cells IS happening, and functioning female reproductive organs for women born with make bodies is not far away.
The GC argument flakes out here. Some say, sure, get that done, (the obnoxious one who was calling SRS vaginas surgical fuckholes) you are female. Some say:
"It depends on the age of the person when they had the fantastical genetic change and if anyone who knows themknew about that change. "Female" refers to biology, whereas "woman" and "girl" has to do with both biology AND socialization because women and girls are oppressed due to their biology. So perhaps (in this magical little scenario) said hypothetical person might be considered female, but would not quite be a woman/girl to the extent that they were treated as male and afforded certain privileges before the change. They would not be quite a woman/girl to the extent of how those early privileges have now shaped their perspective/personality development and how they expectto be treated by society. Also this person would not be a woman/girl to the extent that anyone who knows or realizes that the person was once male would likely subconsciously grant said person many of the same treatments/privileges that males are afforded. So the answer to your highly hypothetical question would be.... perhaps they are female, but they are not quite a woman/girl." (link)
The second answer seems to be the more accepted one. A history of being socialised female leaves an indelible imprint that can never be overcome.
I think there is a third answer (of course).
Being a woman is learnt. It begins with biology, passes through socialisation and then continues throughout life, based on interactions with society.
Those of us who are not simply playing gender role games, better dealt with through abolition of patriarchy, get out bodies fixed. We become trans. We unlearn as much as we can our male socialisation (our male privilege) and learn to be women. It is not an instant thing. Whatever drives us to transform our bodies and our social place is not so important (I like to speculate, because trying to understand what brings you to a place is hard to ignore). What matters is the time we spend, living our lives, as women.
Maybe some of us never assimilate, spend the rest of our lives uneasy outcasts. That's not my experience. There was a time of trans-ness, now a time of social acceptance as a woman from (nearly) everyone that i meet. (strangely it is a couple of women who know my history and have religious beliefs who insist on calling me 'he'). From lovers to strangers to mormons to children, i am treated as a female.
Surely, then, that is what i am? If gender is a social construct, then i am a woman. If sex is nothing but biology, then, spiritual aspects aside, i'm female. Not a normal female, but within observed variation. If surgery and genetic manipulation were better, then i'd be fully female, able to carry children.
Then there is this:
Most radfems are interested in materially improving lives of females, not expanding GC theory for shits and giggles. (link)
Apparently radfems only care about the females that they deem acceptable, perhaps after passing a chromosome screening. Women like me don't count, and we can just take our surgical fuckholes and suffer under patriarchy alone, because they simply refuse to recognise us.
How does this tie into the title?
I'm feeling sorry for myself. One one hand, i debate with MRA about patriarchy, the oppression of women. For them, i'm the enemy. With TG identity activists, i debate about misogyny, about the projection of male perceptions of femininity and the madness of 'ladyboners'. For them, i am the enemy. With GC theorists, i try not to debate anything at all, because i'm running out of allies, and "Even if we somehow expanded what it means to be a woman (in a non-contradictory, merely complementing and broadening way), it will affect a terribly small population, not someone we would throw all other women under the bus for. ". So they are happy to throw me, and the vanishingly small number of women like me under that self same bus, since they can't be intellectually honest enough to figure out how to accept us. So it is lonely!
Eventually, some kind of gender critical, TS accepting group will arise, and i'll find a debating home team. Hopefully that team will have a lot of influence, since its tenets will fit with wider human experiences (and lots of women born trans are accepted as women, much to GC's distaste). In the meantime i guess i'll just wear the attacks from bullies from each side, and be glad that i've got good friends.