A Twitter thread by @hatpinwoman
The power dynamics of self-identification, of who gets to self identity and how, are interesting for what they reveal about our society. The only people sufficiently able to construct reality around their feelings are groups with some form of advantage, or power, already.
Women can’t define themselves as a distinct group despite the fact they’re actually a distinct group b/c they don’t have the requisite social power.They not only lack the power to self ID (see too the enforcement of cis),they lack the power to have provable reality acknowledged.
Transmen who, at least on the face of things, can self identify as Male, do not have sufficient power to identify as Male and then be fully treated as such. Despite insistence to the contrary by trans narratives, they are not bestowed with the privileges or entitlements of men.
We see this in the decision to not allow females who ID as Male to inherit aristocratic titles& in notable groups like the Masons refusing them entry, long after the Women’s Institute opened its doors to TW. We see this even more compellingly when considering Male violence.
No female can identify as Male,& where their sex is known,be safe from the Male violence&abuse females endure. Whether it’s inside the trans community,where females are subjected to Male violence in the same female/Male dynamic as women are at the hands of men,or in wider society
A female identifying as Male in a men’s prison is in danger, &reality will not bend around that, b/c of their internal wishes or physical transition. A Male wishing to be in a female prison,however,can bend reality so far that even their own violent or sexual crimes do not matter
When we see in the scant representation trans people have in public political office that 85.71 percent of those representatives are Male, I.e not transmen, it’s clear that Male privilege, resilient as it is, is both unable to be transferred&unable to be destroyed by transition
This is the same pattern as we are seeing in the increasing discussions of transracial&transdisabled ideas in academia. It is the members of the majority, or oppressive, groups who can seek to choose what the world sees them as&consequentially enforce the acceptance of others.
(Acceptance without exception takes on a rather different meaning in this context).
Rachel Dolezal was derided for saying she was black,but she chanced her arm too soon,before the rolling rock of nonsense gathered more pace&she is also female,so had less power with which to rewrite reality then than,say,the “born again African” white man parading about the place
A black person proclaiming themselves white will always come up against the impossibility of doing so because racism exists, and their inequality exists. It cannot be disregarded by the force of their desire alone.
It’s not a protective mechanism for marginalised groups to state an internal belief that conflicts with reality.The lives of disabled people,too, are being considered potential fair game for the able bodied. Disability is being increasingly reframed as something to be chosen.
Yet a disabled person will never be able to assert their belief in a given ability, or in their full health, from the rooftops, and magically make it so. It won’t change their medical needs, it won’t make society more accessible, and it won’t protect them from discrimination.
Sexuality is yet another avenue for this kind of interaction of power, where it is straight people who we largely see choosing to identify themselves as homosexual, even as they belligerently insist that homosexuality either doesn’t exist, or is a form of bigotry against them
Aside from the distaste one can feel for the lack of respect in people proclaiming themselves to be part of a marginalised group they do not belong to, what is happening here is a clear demonstration of where power still lies. Of who it is who is considered most important.
Material realities can be rebranded as personal identities by ppl who do not share those material realities,but only if they belong to a group that society has given an elevated social standing to,&if that standing is higher than the group they wish to proclaim themselves part of
Reality, like history, exists unfailing as it is. Reality, just like history, is widely interpreted&defined by those who are privileged enough to be allowed to set out its parameters and describe it as they see fit. Even when they describe it as contrary to what is true.
I think good, liberal minded, people if they were to concede any of this at all, would feel the solution must be in making the ability to self identify possible for everyone. They would think, perhaps, that we should all have the right to define ourselves as we want.
That’s well intentioned, but fails to consider that perhaps we should not be encouraged to insist we are things we are not. Regardless of our feelings. It isn’t healthy for anyone to have such personal power, that they can rewrite the world for their own benefit.