Thursday, March 7, 2013


[A revamped version of this essay now appears as a chapter in my third book Outspoken: A Decade of Transgender Activism and Trans Feminism]

I’ve been meaning to post this for a while now, as an explanation and reference for what I’ve been calling FAAB-mentality (described below). I originally wrote and performed this piece for the fourth annual installment of Girl Talk: A Cis and Trans Woman Dialogue in March 2012.

Post-note 3-8-13: I added a few clarifying notes at the end of the piece. 

Baby Talk

I read blogs. And an unfortunate consequence of reading blogs is that sometimes you stumble upon statements that make you upset. Lately, I’ve been dwelling over one single sentence from a blog post that I read a few months ago. The author was a femme-identified cis woman who described her identity this way:

“I only say I’m queer to steer clear of sex acts with cisgender men whilst simultaneously accommodating my devout lesbianism and propensity towards dating trans men when the butch pool feels too shallow.”

I have become preoccupied with this quote, not because it is unusual or extraordinary - on the contrary, these are very commonplace sentiments among queer women these days. Rather, my interest in this quote stems from how perfectly it illustrates the subtle ways in which exclusion transpires in today’s queer women’s communities.

First, she defines “queer” in terms of her “devout lesbianism” and “steering clear of cisgender men.” Given her definition, a bisexual woman (such as me), who sometimes does have sex with cis men, must automatically be *not* queer—aka, straight. Ah, the decades old lesbian tradition of erasing the B out of LGBT.

Second, she describes trans men as though they are not *really* men, but just another variety of butch woman. Indeed, trans male acceptance and desirability in queer women’s spaces often hinges on this assumption, which is partly why so many FTM-spectrum folks who are on “T,” prefer the pronoun “he,” and move through the world as men, nevertheless disavow any male-identification.

But from my perspective, the most poignant aspect of this quote is that there is absolutely no mention of trans women. We are absent, irrelevant, just as we are in most queer women’s spaces. I suppose that this isn’t surprising. If, like the author, most cis queer women believe that trans men are really butch women, then trans women must really be men. And, given this, if they believe that dating men disqualifies them from being queer, then trans women aren’t even going to be on their radar.

Lately, I’ve begun calling this mindset the FAAB-mentality. FAAB is an acronym for female-assigned-at-birth. Both FAAB and its counterpart MAAB (male-assigned-at-birth) were originally coined by trans activists in order to challenge invalidating concepts such as “birth sex,” “bio boys” and “genetic girls,” and to stress that our gender identities are far more relevant than how the straight world nonconsensually categorized us when we were babies. Yet somehow, over the last few years, FAAB has been appropriated by many cis queer women who wish to convey their affiliation with trans men, and to distance themselves trans women as well as cis men.

For instance, the musician Bitch recently wrote an “open letter” explaining why her support of trans woman-excluding women’s spaces is not “transphobic.” She begins her letter by dismissing cis/trans terminology, then she reframes the issue in terms of FAABs versus MAABs. Again, this is not an isolated incident—one can see FAAB-mentality rear its ugly head in radical-feminist blogs, butch/femme settings, and trans events. I’ve even seen queer folks wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the word FAABulous.

So let me state for the record: I am not a fucking MAAB! I am a trans woman. And unlike all the so-called “FAAB FTMs” who move freely in queer women’s spaces, I identify and move through the world as a woman. The whole fucking point of trans activism is to get people to respect us for who we are, not for what the straight world expected us to grow up to be when we were mere babies. As far as I’m concerned, anyone who categorizes any trans person based upon how we were coercively assigned at birth is not merely being anti-trans, but they are quite literally engaging in baby talk.

But FAAB-mentality isn’t only transphobic—it’s also biphobic, specifically toward bi women who are sexual with cis men. It plays into baseless accusations that bisexual-identified women “reinforce the binary,” yet celebrates those who embrace the supposedly more righteous label “pansexual.” Now I have nothing against the term “pansexual” per se. But in queer women’s circles, it is often used as a code word to communicate: “I am sexual with everyone except cis men and trans women.”

Finally, despite all the cis femmes who have embraced FAAB terminology (as it allows them to partner with trans men yet still be considered lesbian), FAAB-mentality is highly femmephobic. After all, we live in a queer culture that valorizes sexual- and gender-non-conformity. So when FAAB-mentality defines womanhood in terms of being labeled “girl” as a baby, then the most queerest, coolest thing you can grow up to be is androgynous, or butch, or trans masculine. In other words, FAAB-mentality is inexorably linked to masculine-centrism in queer women’s communities. As a result, femmes are viewed as suspect, unless of course they prove their queerness by pairing with someone more outwardly gender-non-conforming than them.

So I say: let’s stop talking in baby talk! Let’s purge the terms FAAB and MAAB from our queer vocabularies [*see clarifications below*]. And most importantly, let’s stop viewing the world through the distorted lens of FAAB-mentality, as it inevitably causes femme, bisexual and trans women to be treated as second-class queer citizens. Instead of fetishizing birth assignments and masculine gender expression, let’s create new heterogeneous queer women’s communities that celebrate difference—where a woman doesn’t have to be born a particular way, or have sex a particular way, or dress or express their genders a particular way, or fulfill some kind of queer stereotype, in order to be appreciated.

[note: If you appreciate my work and want to see more of it, please check out my Patreon page]

endnote: I understand the need to talk about transgender spectrums, and to develop language that accommodates trans people who don't fully identify as trans women or trans men. Rather than using MAAB and FAAB, I believe that we should refer to people who have a MTF trajectory as being on the trans female/feminine spectrum, and those with a FTM trajectory as being on the trans male/masculine spectrum. And since people seem to love acronyms when referring to trans people (a tendency I personally find rather dehumanizing), we could refer to these categories as the TF and TM spectrums, respectively (where the “F” in TF can refer to either female and/or feminine, and the “M” in TM refers can refer to either male and/or masculine). I believe that this terminology is fully inclusive, and centers our experiences on our self-identities and self-understandings, rather than non-consensual birth assignments.

another note (added 3-7-13): in response to one reader's comment (see below), I want to offer this clarification: For the record, I am not 100% against talking about sex assigned at birth - it is relevant in many instances. Indeed, that's why gender variant folks invented FAAB/MAAB terminology, so that we could talk about that aspect of our person without invalidating our current identity (whatever that might be). My main beef is with how those terms have been co-opted by cis queer women who now use them as labels to categorize people, and to impart legitimacy upon FAAB folks, and suspicion onto MAAB folks. My intention with this piece is not to censor MAAB/FAAB terminology completely, but rather to raise awareness about how these terms are regularly used to invalidate trans gender identities and expressions, as well as other queer identities (e.g., bisexual and femme).

yet another note, added 3-8-13: as I said in the previous note, I recognize that MAAB & FAAB have some usefulness, which is why gender variant communities invented that terminology in the first place. When I said we should "purge these terms from our queer vocabularies," I was specifically referring to using those acronyms as catch-all terms to describe MTF & FTM spectrum folks, respectively [and have added this note to make that clear].

I have no problems with people self-identifying as MAAB or FAAB if they feel that that's the best fit for them. But when people nonconsensually conceptualize and categorize a trans woman like myself as a "MAAB," it is no different than when pathologizing psychologists refer to me as a “transsexual man,” or when cis rad fems refer to me as a "man-born-womyn." I do not identify with my birth sex! That is the problem with using MAAB and FAAB as catch-all categories for trans folks: it centers our identities on nonconsensual acts committed against us, rather than recognizing our gender identities and expressions. And that is what cissexist forces have been trying to do to us all along.

I feel like trans female/feminine and trans male/masculine are decent attempts to rectify this problem. After all, most trans people on the MTF spectrum gravitate toward the direction of either female gender identities and/or feminine gender expression, even if we never fully identify as female or feminine. [and to clarify again, the "/" is meant to be read as "and/or."] But some commenters have nevertheless said that they don't like that terminology. I am open to entertaining other possibilities.

Once again, the main point of this piece was to critique FAAB-mentality (and how it undermines femme, bisexual and trans women in queer women's communities), rather than to critique FAAB & MAAB terminology (which I had no problems with until they were co-opted by others to dismiss trans women's and trans men's identities).

Finally, as I have said elsewhere (see Bisexuality and Binaries Revisited), I have nothing against the term pansexual, and I am fine with people who choose to self-identify that way. But I have observed a tendency in queer women's communities for queer women who partner with trans men but not cis men to use the self-descriptor pansexual, rather than bisexual (presumably because the latter is associated with women who do partner with cis men). I am not insinuating that this is true of all people who choose the label pansexual. But it is a trend I've observed.


  1. YAY for this and THANK YOU for you!
    Particularly lovely: "Instead of fetishizing birth assignments and masculine gender expression, let’s create new heterogeneous queer women’s communities that celebrate difference"

    -----one quick note of criticism: Your end suggestion sort pays lip service to those of us not binary-identified but ends up contributing further to my erasure as an intersex individual who was (culturally and surgically!) assigned female at birth AND also happens to identify as "third gender" (which, for me, is an unsatisfying word for "neither man nor woman but a valid gender nonetheless") so... I'm open to something new but until that comes along in a way that doesn't invalidate my existence, I'm going to have to stick with using "FAAB" or "AFAB" or something along those lines because that's this HUGE thing that was done to me and it counts for something.


    1. oops, responded to your comment, but in a separate comment (see below). I will also add a note at the end of the original post acknowledging this. Thank you!

  2. Hi Beit, thank you for the thank you. And I appreciate your criticism. For the record, I am not 100% against talking about sex assigned at birth - it is relevant in many instances. Indeed, that's why gender variant folks invented FAAB/MAAB terminology, so that we could talk about that aspect of our person without invalidating our current identity (whatever that might be). My main beef is with how those terms have been co-opted by cis queer women who now use them as labels to categorize people, and to impart legitimacy upon FAAB folks, and suspicion onto MAAB folks. My intention with this piece is not to censor MAAB/FAAB terminology completely, but rather to raise awareness about how these terms are regularly used to invalidate trans gender identities and expressions.

    1. I've really enjoyed reading your posts today on bisexuality, here is an honest to goodness question, how DO bisexuals (in my case femme), who are in fact only sexually attracted to FAAB butches, bois, masculine of center) and MAAB cismen talk about that in a way that is inclusive and respectful/not derisive or phobic, because to me phobia is about rejection, not sexual neutrality...I don't begrudge anyone their experience, or out right reject future possibilities but, it seems my preference/ experience is some how begrudged in many queer circles. If my sexuality up until this point has been exclusive to those two groups, and I'm happy/fulfilled with that (it seems binary on a biological sex level but not in terms of gender expression- so masculinity as a gender expression and male/female born bodies). How can I express my solidarity (allyship is too loaded I think) with transfolk, doing, being and identifying as they wish, while maintaining integrity with my own preferences and experiences?

    2. Well, perhaps you tend to be attracted to people who are masculine in body and/or gender expression, independent of sex-assigned-at-birth. I know people with similar experiences of sexual attraction & don't see anything wrong with that.

      However, some trans women do identify/express themselves as androgynous or butch dykes. If you are open to the possibility of dating such individuals, then there is no reason to define your attraction as being oriented toward "FAAB butches, bois, masculine of center) and MAAB cismen."

      Alternatively, if you are attracted to masculine gender expression (independent of anatomy or assigned sex), but would immediately rule out masculine-of-center trans dykes, then I would encourage you to ask yourself why that is. We are socialized to see certain individuals as "unattractive" or "gross," and we sometimes reflexively discount them even when they otherwise fit our partner preferences. I talk about this a bit in this piece:
      and also Excluded Chapter 19.

      Just some food for thought...

  3. I just want to say that although you see that attitude (the dating transmen if the butch pool gets too shallow) as a reason that some trans men seem to stick with the whole FAAB thing, I see it as just another reason for me, as a trans man, to stay as far away as I can from a lot of feminist groups.
    I am a person who is literally female assigned at birth, but really at about no other time in my life. I had been identified as male on the ultrasound and my parents were pleasantly suprised at my genitalia at birth (they wanted a daughter). But by the time I was three, people were openly expressing their doubts to me about my gender; I had socially transitioned by middle school. I have no real experience living in the world as female.
    To me, having been assigned female at birth and not having lived as female- that's what makes me truly transgender. But the fact that the assignment didn't last past birth is part of what makes me feel like anybody who calls me FAAB is focusing on a part of me that shouldn't be focused on. That assignment at birth is not a common grounds between me and women.

    You wrote in Whipping Girl that the lived experience of being a woman makes a person a woman, to some extent. I think that's a great standard. I think a lot of the times people seek to include all people with experience living as women, and although they know theoretically that some trans men have never lived as women, and that most trans women have, those things are not real to them- they imagine transition as happening too late in life for that.
    Somebody like me who started to transition in early childhood- they can't imagine. They don't want to.

  4. I'm a man of trans experience who has been avoiding "woman and trans only" spaces for years precisely because of some of the attitudes you discuss - I found that the expectations of the people who occupy those spaces about my life experiences and perspective were really skewed. I also get really annoyed when trans men are willing to throw trans women under the bus in order to keep membership within their "safe space," instead of working to widen that space.

    But FAAB t-shirts? I've been out of the loop so long that I didn't know such wretched things existed. Wow.

  5. Julia, I am so with you on the cissexism of anyone who says "I date FAAB people." It baldly denies that trans* women "count" as women. And I cannot understand why any trans* guy would want to date a woman who is framing him as not being a "real" man (or why anyone would tolerate the attitude of the cis woman you quote that trans* men are only dating material if there are no butch cis women available). I also think that saying "I date people with vaginas" is a bizarre cover-up. We don't see people's genitals when we meet them and become attracted to them. Anyway, plenty of intersex people are assigned female at birth, yet don't have vaginas. What the cis women you are writing about are really saying is "I am a transphobic lesbian, and don't acknowledge gender transitions."

    I do want to point out, however, that I don't reject the terms FAAB, MAAB, or pansexual just because there are bigoted cis women using these terms in strange ways. As another person who is intersex by birth, I find the terms FAAB and MAAB essential to describing intersex experience. They're also particularly useful for trans* people who do not identify as transmasculine or transfeminine, but as genderqueer, neutrois, agender, etc. Similarly, I don't identify as bisexual because I'm not attracted to "two kinds of people," but to a wide array of human beings, so pansexual is a much better term for my purposes.

    In any case, language isn't really going to save us. It's especially clear in this situation you're raising, where terms created to break down gender essentialism, transphobia, and the enforcement of the gender binary are being used by certain cis women to reinforce those same things. What we need is for people to stop being cissexist and transmysogynist bigots and co-opting terms to hide that. So good for you for calling people on their behavior.

  6. thanks again folks for all the comments. I just posted another further clarification on the post regarding language & my intentions for the piece...

  7. consider your 'whipping girl' book one of the must reads for cis-folk, and especially someone raising a transgender daughter, as i am. glad to have found you here in the blogosphere. constant re-education is not a bad thing in our brain-washed societal paradigm.

    not anonymous, moon batchelder

  8. I think it's important not to mix up cis men and trans women in the same sentence when talking about this variety of lesbian, which I know THEY do, and when talking about them it's hard to avoid, but I still say the effort is worth it.

    The reason is that simply, there are very good reasons for having hate, fear and disgust towards cis men. They are an oppressing class, and even the ones who are nice seem to be nice by accident; they are marinaded in misogyny like the rest, and who knows when they'll suddenly pop up with something disgusting? A sexuality that excludes cis men "because ick", actually makes sense.

    These things DON'T apply to trans women. As I'm sure you know, but it bears intentional reinforcing.

  9. What makes you think Katie Liederman is cis?

  10. this is a good point. I do not know her personally, so I don't have any first-hand knowledge about her. To be honest, I presumed that she was cis because no queer trans woman that I know would have portrayed her own sexuality in a manner that frames trans men as being butch women, and that ignores or erases the existence of trans women from queer women's communities.

    Your comment encouraged me to goggle more. And while I have no definitive evidence that she is cis, I did find this post:

    It has a ton of references to trans men. No contextual mention of her as being trans. And no mention of the word "cis." In my experience, a trans person writing such an essay would mention their standpoint (as a trans woman), whereas cis people tend not to acknowledge the fact that they are cis.

    All of this is anecdotal. And I suppose I could be wrong, but I think that's unlikely. But I'd be happy to correct the post if anyone has any evidence to the contrary...

  11. So do "passing" trans women need to be out as trans women to not be assumed "cis"? Is that fair?

    If Katie is trans, would that change your opinion of what she wrote? What if not being into cis men, was just about that? Maybe she likes butches (cis or trans) and trans men in a pinch, not because she believes they are women, but because she likes masculine and will suffer a dude as long as he is not cis. You assume her preference for butches means only cis butches. You could be right. And you could be wrong. But what the assumption says is that you separate trans and cis women and assume cis as the default yourself if either modifier is absent. Something to think about.

  12. > So do "passing" trans women need to be out as trans women to not be assumed "cis"? Is that fair?

    No, no trans person needs to be out if they do not want to. What I am saying is quite different. I am saying that I think that it's extraordinarily improbable that a trans woman would write that post *and* the other post that I mentioned.

    All the queer trans women I know rightfully complain about how cis queer women think trans guys are butch women, and trans women are cis guys, and how this erases/excludes us from queer women's communities. This person's standpoint seems to be that of a queer cis woman.

    >If Katie is trans, would that change your opinion of what she wrote?

    no it wouldn't. Her statement remains cis-centric and problematic for reasons I addressed in the piece.

    > What if not being into cis men, was just about that? Maybe she likes butches (cis or trans) and trans men in a pinch, not because she believes they are women, but because she likes masculine and will suffer a dude as long as he is not cis.

    She said she identifies as queer "to steer clear of sex acts with cisgender men whilst simultaneously accommodating my devout lesbianism and propensity towards dating trans men when the butch pool feels too shallow." This implies:

    1) a woman who dates cis guys is not queer. This undermines many bi women's queer identities.

    2) trans guys are merely an inferior substitute to her preference of dating butch women. that may be her preference, but this also means...

    3) dating trans guys does not call into question one's "devout lesbianism." every person who I have showed this quote to has agreed with me that it implies that trans men are not really men.

    in other words, I am not calling out her preferences, but what her statement says about other LGBT folks.

    And for the record, I did not mention her by name because I didn't want to frame this as a "call out" of this particular person. Rather, I used this as jumping off point to discuss the prevalence of FAAB-mentality in queer women's communities.

    > But what the assumption says is that you separate trans and cis women and assume cis as the default yourself if either modifier is absent. Something to think about.

    Now this is where you are venturing into assumptions about me. I assumed she was cis (still do) because of her insensitivity to trans identities and her erasure of trans women from lesbian/queer women's communities. By the way THAT WAS THE POINT OF THE PIECE!

    If you want to call out cis assumption, there are a bajillion blogs out there that actually engage in that with whom you can comment upon. The fact that you have picked this particular blog & post to make this point seems to be an attempt to derail conversations about FAAB-mentality and trans woman erasure within queer communities. Just sayin...

  13. and one more thing about this comment here:

    > But what the assumption says is that you separate trans and cis women and assume cis as the default yourself if either modifier is absent. Something to think about.

    This comment *really* bothers me as a trans woman who dates both cis and trans women. I don't see trans and cis women as being "separate," and I don't make that distinction in my romantic/sexual preferences (except to acknowledge trans and cis women's potentially different experiences with marginalization). But MOST CIS QUEER WOMEN DO MAKE THIS DISTINCTION, AND IT IS OBVIOUS IN THEIR DATING PREFERENCES.

    If you want to call out trans erasure, then I suggest that you focus your "call outs" on FAAB-mentality and the countless cis people who practice it, rather than calling out trans women and others who are calling out FAAB-mentality...

    ok. I'm done...

  14. I was wondering if you thought that any attempt to categorize different kinds of transgender identities while useful, are problematic due to these terms being turned around and used against certain transgender people and populations? I'm thinking of terms like trans masculine and trans feminine... I'm having a hard time thinking of how to explain... I've found that a lot of trans men and butch folk and others considered to be on this side of the rainbow bring queer women with them or at least their connections and by separating groups into these categories you limit access, when there isn't overlap of say butch trans women this term and communities. I guess I'm asking if these terms could be used as just another way to say FAAB & MAAB. Thanks.

  15. This is great! I think I've only used MAAB in reference to myself as a gender fluid transperson. Usually to give people an idea with what they're working without saying "hey i have a dick and I'm sometimes ok with it." And I am definitely in agreement on bisexuality not necessarily reinforcing a binary. I think that's how I would identify if I wasn't GF, but I am so pan is the only one I feel fits. Is there something better for me than "non-binary trans person"? I don't reckon that implies that transwomen and transmen are reinforcing a binary but maybe it does?

    1. If you want to avoid the word "binary,' you could say you are a gender fluid trans person, like you did in the first sentence.

  16. A very useful shorthand someone used to describe the proper usage of "MAAB" and "FAAB" is that it makes no sense to say "so and so *is* male-assigned at birth; you say that "so-and-so *was* male-assigned at birth." So it makes no sense to say "so and so is MAAB" or, worse, "a MAAB".

    1. i.e. it helps to remember that MAAB isn't an ongoing characteristic of a person, it's a historical note about the circumstances of their birth. And this helps to recall that 99% of the time it's irrelevant.

  17. Just curious...if you do not believe that biology/physical form determines your sex, why do transexuals go to such lengths to physically conform with traditional gender stereotypic appearances?

    It seems like transexuals negate any importance to biology when much of a woman's life is greatly affected by their biology.

    I'm not saying that people aren't free to identify with whatever gender they choose. You are whomever you are. It's just seems like many transexuals discount any role that biology plays in influencing gender.

    1. I don't have time to give this a detailed response, but suffice it to say that transsexuals *differ greatly* with regards to how much they feel biology does (or does not) contribute to gender. Some completely dismiss the importance of biological sex, while others cite scientific studies (e.g., showing that trans women's brains are more similar to cis women's brains than cis men's) to argue that we are biological women.

      Personally, I think gender is a combination of many things, including biological/physical sex, gender identity, gender expression, lived sex (whether one is perceived and treated as a member of a particular sex), gendered experiences, and so on. As someone who holds such a holistic view of gender, I am fine talking about biological/physical sex. Where I draw the line is when other people focus *solely* on a person's biological/physical sex, while ignoring other important aspects of gender (e.g., that trans women identify, live, and are treated as women day-in, day-out post-transition)...

  18. I think this is the issue of the century, or perhaps next few centuries at least for Queer identified trans women. We need to culturally work on not only our acceptance in these spaces (not just basic tolerance) but to get trans men culturally not accepted in these spaces as well.

    I refuse to associate with trans men who are in women only space and the same for gender essentialist queer women also. I 100% militantly don't want to befriend or be associated with either.

  19. Hi Julia. It's Katie Liederman. I am cis- you were correct in your assumption. To clarify: by butch women, I did mean cis and trans. And re: what I said about avoiding sex with cis men, I've just- as many of us have- had a less than pleasant history with many of them, and the majority of queer-identified people- cis and trans- that I know don't engage sexually with cis men. This isn't to say that it demeans a queer identity. I say things in jest sometimes that unintentionally hurt people, and the fact that what I wrote disturbed and/or was hurtful to you or any trans woman who was made to feel invisible is not funny to me. I am sorry. You are an incredible woman and I've admired you and your work for years.

    1. Hi Katie, first, thanks for the kind words.

      For the record, I did not take personal offense to your statement. A lot of my queer female friends would probably describe their sexuality in very similar terms to how you phrased it. I didn't mean for the piece to be a "call out" of you personally, which is why I didn't cite you by name in the piece (and was frankly disappointed that one of the commenters outed you as the author - I know how much it sucks to have disparaging things written about you that will forever be googleable on the internets.)

      I wasn't trying to single you out, nor was I trying to insinuate that you or your sexuality is trans-misogynist or biphobic or anything. I don't know you personally, and wouldn't dare to be so presumptuous. I also believe that people naturally differ in their sexualities and attractions, so I wouldn't want to imply that there is something wrong with yours. The *only* reason why I used that quote was because I found it representative of a general trend in queer women's communities, and I wanted to comment on that trend. The quote seemed to be a useful diving off point to engage in that discussion.

      Anyway, I am sorry if you perceived my use of the quote to be a personal critique of you, because I did not intend it that way at all.

      Best wishes, -j.

  20. TF and TM are solely a more binarist version of MAAB and FAAB. It would be fucked up to refer to any nonbinary person that way and it would probably not be any better for butch trans women and fem trans men who wouldn't want their womanhood forcibly described as feminine or their manhood defining them as masculine.

  21. MaschinenfuehrerinAugust 7, 2013 at 3:12 AM

    I explicitly and proudly don't consider myself part of the (greater) political ideology this blog is part of - and have nothing to say there, as these days it is a rigged game, time-consuming and useless, which i will never play.

    But i think some finer points of analysis using tools of the other (not PoMo/gender studies kind of) philosophy are in order.

    So every term has:

    1) semantics (all the associative insinuations of the component words)

    2) logical scope (the set of things it refers to)

    Looking at 'FAAB/MAAB' that way - it's associative load has two concepts '[assigned gender]' and 'at birth' - both of which reinforce the picture you would call 'cissexist' and i 'biocon'. More to the point that is the ONLY semantic baggage there.

    As for the logical scope - again, it refers precisely to the same set of people a pre-analysis cissexist notion of 'man/woman' does.

    So what has changed from the neolithic perspective?


    Only lots of dazzling empty words with pricetags attached.

    So what you have is just repainted pre-everything, primitive gut-notion made of the same material you generally find inside one's guts. If you need that and if it is (quote first comment): 'this HUGE thing that was done to me and it counts for something' so be it. This is where our experience diverges. to me your 'HUGE thing' is only the empty lines the machine adds to the top and bottom of an email message - while the only thing mine, my actual message, is the non-empty bit with letters in the middle.

    so now exclusively talking to those like me - not necessarily in the sense of 'binary' (though i myself admittedly am a binary woman) , just 'invested in the Now': this language is pointless because it will never deliver and will always be hijacked by what you call cissexists and i bioconservatives. Because it is theirs. Only prettied up.

    While you people have somewhat mastered semantics and some of you are aware that the key associative meaning in FAAB is 'female' and it works by our minds subconsciously putting an '=' sign between the two - the logical scope bit is obv a new.

    so the logical scope: be it transwhatever, be it FAAB - it all falls back to lumping you according to your sacred moment of assignment, all is centered on it. As you can have a concept of crossing something only if you have a concept of the origin, starting point. And there you have the category of 'trans men, cis women and FAAB genderqueers', otherwise known as naive concept of femaleness. which of course screws over the men and the gq people meaning it seriously. Same with trans women.

    But how does one describe the difference without falling back to the logical set of '*assigned'? Honestly, no idea. For me 'woman with a technological construct body' works. Of course i sin towards inclusiveness and umbrella feelings - or would have sinned if i recognised it as sin. Which i don't since i do not see *assigned as a thing in common. IMO i have much more in common with the lovely author of Sapiens Anonym and cyberaugmented peeps (which is indeed a HUGE here-and-now experience of neo-functionality) than anything *assigned.

  22. btw i forgot to say - but i really think you, Julia, and your work are precious even if i don't agree with you always. You can screw up, i can, she over there can - but the hope remains least one accidentally won't :)

  23. I love your work, but you totally lost the plot here. For the most part, I agree with Cerberus of Sadly, No! (sadlyno dot com). another trans woman writer who has pretty thoroughly deconstructed this post. Her criticisms of it might be worth a read, if you haven't already. She does really respect you, as I do, but at the same time, this post is just really problematic. I won't go into the details here, since she already covers it pretty thoroughly over at her space.

  24. This is great. Trans men are men. And people need to know that trans men are not necessarily safer than cis men to be with. Both receive overt and covert socialization around masculinity and maleness and have an incentive to control, and distance themselves from women and/or feminine people. I started living as a man when I was 16, and I had many years of confused times trying to fight off ideas that I was really a girl and I had plenty of time to develop misogyny. It has to be deconstructed and worked with in a feminist context through learning and listening. Trans guys are going to have these problems and people who prefer trans guys because they are supposedly a better sort of man need to be aware of this.

    I think the waters get muddier when it comes to genderqueer people with a lot of experience being treated as women, whatever birth assignment they have. Being in spaces that are mostly about women -- although not defined as woman- only-- may be appropriate for some of those individuals. Woman isn't *just* an identity, it's also a life experience. Even though I am trans and live as male or genderqueer, I do have experience of being treated as a woman, and I do not pass, and I experience misogyny regularly, I have been turned down for jobs, sexually harassed from age 12, all of it! I would never insert myself into a 'womens' only space' but I would possibly enter a space that was for women mostly but was inclusive of people with experience being treated as women. But ONLY if that space included both cis and trans women. There is a feminist group I am aware of and have thought about attending, that is for women both cis and trans, AND people who have been perceived as woman for any part of their lives but are not women. While I don't identify as a woman, I have experienced so many wounds from patriarchy that are nonetheless real and were inflicted because I was gendered by others as a woman.

    Thanks for your article, it is insightful and I'm enjoying your blog a lot.

  25. For the record, I will no longer be accepting comments for this piece/thread, partly because it is an old post, but mostly because of a few repeated flaming-esque comments the post has received (and which were not published)...