Manifesto

Preamble

We are composed of representatives from a wide variety of perspectives. Between us we’ve hashed out the details and come up with what we feel to be the most rational positions overall. Overall we take an extreme view: we argue for peace, not war.

This Manifesto is a living document; we must allow for our views to change, if and when we get things wrong.

This is version 1.0.

1. Trans Is Trans

Principally, we have chosen to build our philosophical foundation on the idea that trans people are neither men nor women, but a third category.

Transmen are transmen. They’re not men.

Transwomen are transwomen. They’re not women.

discussion

We realize that this might seem controversial if you’re reading this from a gender critical or mainstream trans rights perspective, but the arguments for this position are sound.

From the mainstream trans perspective, trans people are the gender/sex we identify as: full stop. But this can’t actually function long-term because society needs certain categories to remain intact for census, medical, security, and statistical purposes. Abolishing legal definitions of sex, en masse, is a serious mistake because it clouds the data and cripples our ability to organize society efficiently and fairly. Moreover, it erases legal language that is the foundation for things like women’s rights.

However, when a trans person undergoes hormone replacement therapy and surgery in order to transition and assimilate, it’s incredibly callous to ignore the pain of these experiences, the effort required, and the suffering we experience as we work towards transition. Travelling through these rites of passage changes us permanently. Some of us will someday pass, some will not, but no one brave enough to walk that path deserves to have the goal denied at the end. For those of us who are lucky enough to successfully assimilate, many of our immediate social problems are solved (others reveal themselves, but this is a discussion for another place). For those of us unable to assimilate for various reasons, or who are still early in transition, we need to find a healthy way to cope and a better code of ethics we can use to deal with society at large.

We believe that the wisest course of action is to seek recognition in our own right – as trans people. We aim to do this by working to adopt new social roles and responsibilities that give us a solid foundation on which to take pride in being who we are.

As an aside, we believe it is necessary to use “trans” as a prefix rather than an adjective. An adjective implies that what we’re talking about is a variation of the subject (i.e., trans men are a form of man), while a prefix implies a different category (transwomen are neither men nor women, but transwomen).

2. Self-ID

We oppose Self-ID.

discussion

As controversial as this may be to most trans people – because it means we’re advocating to make our own lives harder – we strongly believe that self-ID is not the best policy. Here’s why:

First, self-ID eliminates the need for us to expend effort to transition. Requiring effort and patience is the best way to encourage us to take some time and think carefully about what we want to do.

Second, human beings put greater value on things we have to earn. Removing the need to earn one’s new gender status cheapens the entire affair, and opens the door for problematic behavior. While the traditional methods of gatekeeping may, in fact, be in need of improvement, some forms of gatekeeping are necessary and we strongly believe they should be required.

Third, self-ID clogs the system. Many of the government concessions and insurance regulations are dependent on the trans population remaining within a financially manageable margin. Self-ID opens the doors wider, but creates a bottleneck that prevents the people suffering the most from gaining earlier access to treatment. Worse, it drains government resources and this creates tension that provides a convenient excuse for government officials to shut down trans-oriented assistance programs completely.

Fourth, people who would rightly be denied treatment to underlying mental health issues that can cause gender dysphoria, like schizophrenia, can now very easily gain access to it. Additionally, while the incident rate is vanishingly small, some heterosexual men have already used self-ID as an excuse to access women’s spaces. Far more concerning is that we know from the psychological profiles and observed action patterns of predatory pedophiles that it’s almost inconceivable to assume that none of them will take this route, especially since the fact that people are discussing this is likely to give them the idea. Many women bring their children into the women’s rooms, and we’ve already seen examples of someone taking selfies in the women’s room that include children. It’s rare, and perhaps we can debate how realistic the risk is in relation to actual incident data, but it’s not far-fetched. It’s already happened.

Fifth, a crime committed by a male who has self-identified as a woman is recorded as a female crime and vice-versa, skewing statistics across the board. We make many policy decisions based on these statistics. If the number of people transitioning is as vanishingly small as in previous times, this is not a major problem. But the huge uptick in trans numbers due to self-ID will need to be addressed. This will eventually hurt trans rights.

Sixth, it is impossible to regulate perception. Each person picks up on different clues and categorizes people in their own way. Especially for people who are as androgynous as we often become/are, this can result in wildly different interpretations of how to gender someone. Moreover, we cannot know what someone’s personal life and perspective is like. It is therefore wildly irrational to expect that people gender us according to our desires simply based on presentation. Additionally, being misgendered can be very helpful because it helps us to know that we don’t yet blend in, and this motivates us to continue learning.

3. Women’s and Men’s Spaces

We support single-sex spaces.

This is a very complex issue, and there is no argument in which one size fits all – so let’s break it down by category:

3.1 Bathroom use

Our stance on the restroom debate is: we should create additional gender-neutral facilities so everyone has a choice. But if that’s not feasible for financial or logistical reasons, leave the ladies’ as-is and make the men’s room gender-neutral.

discussion

There is a common view that we should all use the facilities that match either our sex or the way we’re seen by the public, so as not to cause any kind of anxiety or confusion while using the facilities. Unfortunately, this doesn’t work in practice because our perceptions of our own appearance may differ from those of others – this problem is not limited to trans people; it can also be an issue for other people who do not conform to sex-based stereotypes of appearance. Sometimes people who are in early transition will mistake passing 10% of the time with passing in general, which leads to some dicey situations.

Another view is that everyone should simply use the facilities of their biological sex. This is also problematic – transwomen may be at increased risk of violence perpetrated by the men with whom they would be expected to share facilities. Transmen, on the other hand, may find themselves unwelcome in facilities reserved for women – who may question their presence there. Also, if transmen are required to use women’s facilities, then some predatory males may take advantage of the situation, by falsely claiming to be transmen.

If you can use the opposite sex bathroom without getting caught, no one can stop you. But this kind of policy again doesn’t work because it helps to motivate call-out culture and some women have been forced into the wrong restroom because people misread them. Also, post-op trans people are in a category where it’s more socially appropriate for them to use the restroom that matches their target sex.

These considerations make it clear that strict sex-segregation is difficult or impossible to enforce, and leaves open opportunities for exploitation, particularly by predatory men. Lack of a hard rule means it will be exploited. It might therefore seem that the most practical solution is to create gender-neutral spaces, but this is financially and logistically impractical for many businesses.

There has been a current trend in which businesses have been dividing bathrooms up into men’s and gender-neutral spaces, eliminating women’s bathrooms altogether. This puts both women and trans people at increased risk, by permitting easier access for predatory men. It also compromises the privacy and dignity of both – particularly women, who require private spaces for many other reasons beyond safety.

It makes more sense, therefore, to keep women’s rooms exclusive and to make men’s rooms gender-neutral. Men aren’t afraid of trans people in their spaces and do not generally bring children into those spaces with them. Additionally, some women who are braver will likely use these spaces when the line for the women’s room gets too long. Knowing men, we doubt many of them will mind. Passing transwomen can still use the women’s, mainly because they pass so well that no one notices anyway. At the same time, measures should be taken to secure the safety of trans people – and others – who may be at risk in facilities shared with men.

3.2 Changing Rooms

Wherever possible, single sex facilities should be maintained as is, and additional gender-neutral spaces should be provided, which are open to all.

discussion

Changing rooms are an even more difficult issue than bathrooms, because nudity is more likely to be involved. Our stance here is similar to our stance on bathrooms. However, here, the provision of single-sex spaces is still more important, not only for women, but for trans people and also men. Therefore, we feel that wherever possible, single sex facilities should be maintained as is, and additional gender-neutral spaces should be provided, which are open to all. Again, all possible measures must be taken to secure the safety, privacy, and dignity not only of trans people, but also women who choose to use these mixed-sex facilities.

3.3 Shelters

TransRational advocates creating specific trauma shelters for trans people in need.

discussion

Due to the nature of abuse, we can find no good arguments in which shelters aimed at protecting women who have been the victims of male violence can be inclusive of transwomen and passing transmen. The problem here is that many people with severe PTSD will be triggered by the male form and will be hypersensitive to the male vibe. Very, very few transwomen would be able to pass in that kind of environment, and if we’re ever outed, it will still have the same psychological effect. As painful as it is for us to say, transpeople who appear to be male in any way do not belong in these places.

TransRational advocates creating specific trauma shelters for trans people in need. This makes sense, because our issues are very different and the accommodations we will need in order to heal are therefore also different. Women put in a lot of effort to create these spaces for themselves. There’s no reason why we can’t do the same, and establishing shelters like these all over the world is one of TransRational’s long-term goals.

For those of you who have generously begun donating to our Patreon in order to help us fund this goal and others, we are incredibly grateful.

3.4 Prisons

It is most appropriate to judge these issues on a case-by-case basis. Careful, balanced, considerations of risk are paramount.

discussion

We have already seen several cases of male prisoners with no prior history of transsexualism identifying as trans, being moved into women’s prisons, and then committing acts of rape. There may also be cases where a female prisoner may transition and then be placed into a men’s prison, where they could be at risk of attack by members of the male prison population.

To prevent abuse of the system, and ensure the safety of all prisoners, we feel that which prison a transwoman is housed in should be relative to her surgical status in order to prevent blatant abuse of the system. That said, it may be most appropriate to judge these issues on a case-by-case basis, as there may be rare cases where a pre-op or non-op transwoman should be sent to the women’s facilities. Careful, balanced, considerations of risk are paramount. Both the safety of the trans prisoner, as well as the wider prison population, must be taken into account.

Transmen are a little different, and there should be fewer issues putting them in men’s prisons if they wish. If not, then the most rational thing to do is place them in whatever facility most closely matches the nature of their crime(s).

4. Pronouns

Simply put, a trans person who has taken medical steps to appear as the opposite sex as much as possible, who is genuinely working towards transition, should be addressed with their preferred pronouns, within reason. It’s a simple matter of basic social respect.

discussion

However, we do not support – and will actively call out – bad behavior. Someone getting our pronouns wrong in a public setting is *never* a good excuse to flip out. This gives trans people everywhere a bad name, and invalidates the social respect others may have built up for us.

Intentional misgendering is hurtful and rude, and we understand both how difficult it is to bear, and how frustrating it is if we’re expected to give more respect than we ourselves are given – but we can’t expect people to discount their own perceptions. However, if we can consistently refrain from flipping out, people’s overall respect for us will increase. Over the long term, they will begin to see us first and foremost as human beings, deserving of respect in our own right. We’ll make friends who will be likely to use our chosen pronouns and joyfully include us in their lives. As people’s respect grows, we can share in each other’s happiness, and our friendships will grow stronger.

Conversely, if we set an expectation that we’re going to fall apart over the smallest issues, then even if we win the battle, we’ll lose the respect and trust of wider society. People will placate us for a time, but they’ll come to regard us with increasing contempt. This will eventually become manifest – and that will be a very bad day to be visibly trans.

Which outcome would you prefer?

Regarding the use of unusual pronouns, we feel that the gender-neutral ‘they/them’ is sufficient. The others are simply impractical for regular conversation and impede the flow of ideas.

NOTE: Non-binary gender dysphoria does exist. While it may be difficult to understand, if the person in question is taking medical and social steps to appear more androgynous, it’s usually best to use gender-neutral pronouns.

5. Transsexualism VS Transgenderism

The term “Transsexual” exclusively refers to binary transmen and transwomen who have undergone reassignment surgeries.

The term “Transgender” refers to trans people who suffer little to no sex dysphoria and are content to simply cross-dress or socially transition by asking for alternative pronouns and so on.

discussion

There’s been quite a lot of contentious debate about the topic of who does and does not count as trans, and we feel that this is a subject that’s necessary to address.

Whatever our experiences, whatever our motivations, if we have made it through the gatekeeping processes outlined by the laws of whichever land we live in, we count. For logistical, social, and census reasons, we feel that it is problematic to call someone trans unless they have been undergoing some level of medical transition.

6. Trans Kids and Puberty Blockers

This is another subject that requires a certain level of nuanced debate, and we haven’t quite come to a consensus just yet.

That said, the well-being and safety of all children is our first priority, and is beyond debate. This is part of why it is such a difficult issue on which to reach a consensus.

7. Sports

This is a complicated issue, and unfortunately we’re not yet at a place where we feel we’ve been able to navigate the full nuance of this question.

We’ll get back to this once we’ve come to a comprehensive and defensible solution.

However, many women feel that transwomen have an unfair physical advantage when it comes to competing against women, and some women have already sustained severe injuries caused by transwomen who are significantly larger and stronger than they are. Whatever the eventual outcome of negotiations, these issues must be taken into account, in the interests of fairness and safety. It’s a nuanced problem, and solutions aren’t yet immediately obvious.

8. The Necessity of Feminism

We unconditionally support the feminist movement.

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As a group, biological women have the right to speak for themselves and to name their own oppressors and boundaries. Ignorance of the tools and perspectives they’ve spent many decades building doesn’t just harm them: it harms trans people as well. Fewer women’s rights means fewer rights for transwomen too. Limiting free speech and rejecting feminist dialogue creates precedent that can be used as a foundation to limit trans dialogue as well.

As trans people, we owe much of the progress we’ve made to the work of the feminist movement. Without their tireless efforts, society would be far less receptive to the idea of femininity in males and masculinity in females. If feminism is undermined and destroyed, a huge contingent of our social power will vanish and the trans rights movement will dissolve. Therefore it is vital that we ally ourselves with the feminist movement.

9. Problematic Comparisons

An argument that we’ve often run into:

“Saying ‘trans women are women’ should be about as controversial (i.e., not at all) as saying that black women are women. It’s an extra adjective, describing another social grouping.”

We feel that comparisons like this are extremely problematic, and in the case of this one in particular, racist. Transwomen are not a variation of females, but of males.

discussion

The argument relies on the expectation that the listener feels that black women (or women of color) are some kind of separate entity that are as different from white women as people who are born male. This is blatant racism and we strongly oppose it.

Other Concerns

While we’re doing our best to come up with rational takes on the issues, there are some we’ve simply been unable to hash out just yet. Expect us to add and expand the content of this manifesto as we are able to.