tim: Tim with short hair, smiling, wearing a black jacket over a white T-shirt (Default)
[personal profile] tim
A bit far afield from the subject of the previous post, but here are some more reasons why you might want to think about teaching yourself to talk about cis people and trans people rather than people who are biologically some gender or the other:

  • Because of the popular belief that trans women aren't "biologically female", many US states will deny such a person the right to correct her birth certificate to reflect her gender. (Same for trans men.) While cis people always have the right to have government-issued documentation that reflects their social gender, trans people are frequently denied that right. The justification for this inequality is that government-issued documentation reflects one's "biological gender". Being denied the right to carry documentation that doesn't reflect the gender one socially presents as -- again, a right that cis people never have to think twice about -- renders one vulnerable to rape and other physical assault.

  • Because of the popular belief that trans men aren't "biologically male", a trans man's health insurance company can deny him medically necessary care for no reason other than the concept that such care is intended to change one's sex or gender. (Same for trans women.) Even though the American Medical Association's stance is that treatment that brings one's physical characteristics into line with one's biological (neurological) sex is medically necessary, the non-evidence-based notion that transitioning is a matter of "changing sex" or "changing gender" provides a political foundation for the systematic denial of health care to some people. For many trans people, said health care is a matter of life and death; one recent study showed that 41% of trans people attempt suicide at some point in their life.

  • The notion that it's possible to "discover" that a trans woman is "biologically male" is the foundation for the trans-panic defense, which means that a cis man can murder a trans woman with no legal consequences if he has sex with her while fully aware of her trans status and later regrets it. Similar reasoning is used to legally deny trans people such luxuries as the right to use a public bathroom.


So usage of terms like "biologically male" and "biologically female" is not harmless imprecision, and calling it out is not mere PC policing. Language is the primary tool used to reinforce the culture of oppression of those who can't or won't live with their arbitrarily assigned gender, so the language you choose to use affects whether you participate in reinforcing a certain culture of violence, or in actively resisting it. Of course, the consequences of that oppression are all too real.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-04-26 09:36 pm (UTC)
winterkoninkje: Shadowcrane (Default)
From: [personal profile] winterkoninkje
Similar reasoning is used to legally deny trans people such luxuries as the right to use a public bathroom.

In related news, today's paper had a story about a transwoman being brutally assaulted by another woman for "being in the wrong bathroom". The locale? Why, the fabulous Baltimore of course, the same place where black-on-white hate crimes made the news more than once in the two years I lived there. Apparently trans-panic ain't just for sex anymore.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-04-27 10:21 pm (UTC)
winterkoninkje: Shadowcrane (Default)
From: [personal profile] winterkoninkje
Apologies for any derailing, but no it's not racist. Black people were charged for physical assault against white people for what appeared to be, and were admitted by the defendants to be, racially motivated reasons. The terms I used merely capture the facts of the cases in question.

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tim: Tim with short hair, smiling, wearing a black jacket over a white T-shirt (Default)
Tim Chevalier

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