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how the entire discussion of male privilege and trans women is a rhetorical trap

While I did have a twitter thread about the conundrum of little trans girls the other day, I’m still seeing ppl discuss it so I feel like I need to expand on it a little in a more ‘formal’ blog post. not too formal bc honestly my brain is still pudding from topimax and whatever.

the point: responding to the question of whether or not trans girls experience male privilege as part of our socialization is a rhetorical trap. therefor, trans women should not engage in any such discussion. most especially should not bother with providing specific examples of how we did not experience male privilege.

the argument usually goes like this:

  • we live in a patriarchal society
  • women are oppressed in this society
  • men are the oppressors
  • men, as the oppressors, are accorded privileges that women are not
  • trans women grow up being perceived by their parents, peer group, and everyone else as ‘boys’
  • trans women, until the point where they transition and are thus perceived by others as women, experience male privilege
  • conclusion: trans women do not, on some deep ontological level, know what means to be a woman, regardless of their current presentation and oppression as perceived women.

depending on who you ask, different people do different things with that conclusion. radfems and conservatives like to infer from this conclusion that trans women are not, in actual fact women. others will infer that trans women are indeed women, just with a different set of experiences than cis women.

what i find unfortunate about this is that almost every time i see a trans women engaging this argument it is with personal anecdotes. common ones are heartbreaking stories about sexual harassment and things of that nature.

its just that…

regardless of the anecdote used, it always ends up sounding exactly like the privilege denying that men do when trying to dodge accusations of male privilege. which is exactly what radfems point out every single time. its a no win scenario. its a loaded question.