There’s two things I’m noticing in reactions I’ve read from individuals in the trans community to Laurie Penny’s New Statesman piece: What the “Transgender tipping point” really means …
The first is a self-defeating kind of trans nativism. Quinnae Moongazer made a rather brilliant analogy in her blog, Words, Words, Words: On Toxicity and Abuse in Online Activism, quoting the inestimable Edward Said on Yeats’s poems about Ireland and Irishness that held
…a good deal of promise in getting beyond them, not remaining trapped in the emotional self-indulgence of celebrating one’s own identity. There is first of all the possibility of discovering a world not constructed out of warring essences. Second, there is the possibility of a universalism that is not limited or coercive, which believing that all people have only one single identity is… Third, and most important, moving beyond nativism does not mean abandoning nationality, but it does mean thinking of local identity as not exhaustive, and therefore not being anxious to confine one’s self to one’s own sphere, with its ceremonies of belonging, its built in chauvinism, and its limiting sense of security.
Second is what I consider to be a failure to recognise that appropriation, which does not involve erasure, exploitation, and denigration, is becoming a reality which I for one consider an extremely welcome development. This is well explained by Julia Serano in her piece Considering Trans and Queer Appropriation:
The more highly stigmatized a group is, the less likely it is that the dominant/majority group will even attempt to appropriate aspects of their identity or culture, as doing so will only lead to them becoming tainted by said stigma. However, if the marginalized/minority group becomes more accepted over time, there will be less of a social price to pay for associating oneself with that group. Thus, as acceptance of the group increases, so do the chances that others will engage in non-EED (erasure, exploitation, and denigration) appropriation.
I’ve seen seriously suggested that Laurie has been engaged in appropriation to make money by writing about trans for the New Statesman … Ha! It is of course only a matter of time before Cameron and his cronies turn their attentions from finding ways to carpetbag the NHS to siphoning off the massive wealth daily accrued by the New Statesman money making machine. Let’s ignore the fact that Laurie has been writing supportive and super aware pieces about trans for a good five years to my knowledge often being subjected to poisonous stigma and bigotry as a result. Let’s … why not?
As we know biology is destiny and trans almost certainly has a biological basis so, if somebody is born cis, they can never empathise with or understand or be allowed to write about the trans (This is intended to be sarcastic). Are we witnessing the birth of 2nd wave Cis-Excluding Radical Transgenderism (CERT)? Sad, depressing and pointless if we are.