Transgender and intersex symbol comprising elements of both male and female symbols

Are geek feminists more accepting of trans women?

This is an Ask a Geek Feminist question for our readers:

Are geek feminists more accepting of trans women than many traditional feminists are? Why or why not? What place does a trans woman have in the geek feminist community?

What do you think?

58 thoughts on “Are geek feminists more accepting of trans women?

  1. anonymous berlinerin

    The first question I thought might be an interesting discussion.

    The wording of the last one though makes it sound that by default trans women are outsiders and don’t belong, haven’t contributed to, haven’t always been a part of, are implicitly problematic interlopers into the “geek feminist community”.

    There isn’t a lot of specifically trans women in geek/tech/STEM coverage on geek feminism (nothing I could see in the wiki), which makes me more than a little wary of this question.

    You might want to elaborate your position a bit before posing questions like that, e.g. are you trans or cis, what prior research have you done into this that led you to ask this, or perhaps more pertinently, why do you want to know?

    1. Mary Post author

      Just to clarify, although I’m sure most people know that the question-asker and I are not the same person:
      1. I’m a cis woman
      2. The question asker is anonymous and I don’t know hir gender identity (and if I did I couldn’t disclose without permission)

      I read “What place does a trans woman have in the geek feminist community?” a little differently when I saw the question, as something more like “The feminist community has a history of hostility to trans women, given this, what place does a trans woman have in the geek feminist community, are they/we also unwelcome?” I have been asked before by trans women to specifically clarify the status of trans women with regard to my feminist activities, from a background of “well, it would be great if ‘this is for women’ didn’t need a ‘trans women welcome’-style footnote, but given the actual history of feminism on this, it currently does, so, please put one or trans women will assume you don’t mean them.”

      But my reading of the question in light of those discussions is also pure supposition, I have no additional evidence as to what the question asker meant.

      1. Crissa

        I don’t really like using third person singular pronouns for real people that they haven’t intimated or requested. This goes doubly so for fictional pronoun sets… Especially since these pronouns been used to otherize people by labeling them as gender nonconforming.

  2. Ashley

    I feel like it’s a less a question of being accepted — I feel like most feminists are pretty solid with trans women — but rather being discussed. Feminism has so many forks and issues. I would say that I encounter more discussion about trans women and issues that they face in my geeky circles (mainly fandoms), than I do in other feminist discussions. Not exclusively, but more frequently. I don’t know if that has to do with being geeky, or the medium of Internet-heavy interaction.

    1. Tim Chevalier

      > I feel like most feminists are pretty solid with trans women

      Really? I’m curious if you are a trans woman or not; I’m not one, but most trans women I know don’t feel that way.

      1. Ashley

        I’m not, and that’s a good point. The sentence would be more accurate as, “The feminists I know care about the rights of trans women.” I don’t know how that translates into the larger ecosystem of feminists.

      2. Crissa

        I know there are feminists who aren’t okay with people who are trans; but I similarly know people who call themselves feminists who aren’t okay with women being paid equal amounts. So… I take that with a grain of salt.

    2. Katherine

      If you take a quick skim of this website (http://radicalhub.com/), you’ll understand why “most feminists are pretty solid with trans women” is not really a valid statement. The Michigan Women’s Music Festival is another classic example. Maybe your strand of feminism is totally solid with trans women, which is AWESOME, but there’s a substantial group of folks, specifically those who identify with the label “radical feminist” who aren’t, and if you want to stand in solidarity with trans women and help them feel accepted within feminist circles, it’s good to at least understand that this school of thought is out there and the mistrust of feminism that their rhetoric can create (especially for trans women who might not have encountered a lot of other kinds of feminism).

      1. Ashley

        Oh man, that’s some ugly rhetoric on that website — it’s staggering, really. Thanks for the link. Not that it’s a terribly fun read, but it does provide an understanding of the issue. (And seriously. Really, very ugly. D:)

      2. Meg

        Personally, I have never run across a radical feminist in real life. I consider them to be similar to MikeUSA or whatever his name was: scary, despicable and real, but not part of any sort of mainstream discussion.

        1. Katherine

          clarification: I am not the author of that piece. I reposted it somewhere.

        2. Valerie Keefe

          Well, there’s… pretty much every prominent second-wave feminist who has ever managed to make a living simply being a feminist…

          From Bindel to Jeffreys to even Gloria Steinem, oh, and of course Adrienne Rich gets mentioned in the acknowledgements of Janice Raymond’s misogynistic hate screed, Transsexual Empire as basically an invaluable proctor.

          http://www.huffingtonpost.com/valerie-keefe/degender-her-erase-her-de_b_1113654.html

          (Don’t get me wrong, I still identify as a feminist, but then I have to explain and disavow these bigots with roughly the same exasperation as when I try to explain that I’m a left-wing conservative (no, really).)

          So yeah, you can’t argue that cissexist misogynists aren’t part of the mainstream discussion, since, if you want to name our movement’s heroines, they’re pretty much all cissexist misogynists.

          Extra Credit Challenge: Find a cis feminist who was prominent between 1950 and 1990 who published an explicitly trans-positive work.

        1. MadGastronomer

          Even on a lot of mainstream feminist sites, including Feministe, Feministing, Shakesville, and the not-actually-feminist-but-people-keep-pretending-it-is Jezebel, have a lot of microaggressions against trans women. Virulent transmisogyny of the type radical feminists display may be in the minority, but mainstream feminism continues to be cissexist and fucking clueless about the issues trans women face. This is most obvious in discussions about reproductive health, where it is assumed that woman = person who has (or has had) a uterus, completely erasing trans women, trans men, and a variety of other people. When the problems with this is pointed out, trans women and their allies are often told to stop talking about it, and that they’re trying to make everything about trans women (trans men often fall out of the topic entirely again at this point, probably because in a lot of ways, trans men are more accepted in feminist circles than trans women), and can’t they just let cis women have this conversation. Yes, even feminists who say they are trans allies say this shit.

          Every time a Great Feminist Hero dies, we have the conversation about her transmisogyny again. Just happened with Adrienne Rich. Again, even people who claimed to be trans allies tried to excuse her involvement with Raymond’s Transsexual Empire, or to deny that it ever happened, or to claim that she must have changed her mind later because someone else liked her, or just to tell people trying to talk about this to stop talking about it because they wanted to mourn and we shouldn’t speak ill of the dead.

          Mainstream feminism in general is NOT a safe or welcoming environment for trans women, and the only evidence of this we need is how many trans women keep saying so.

          (And, for the record, I am a cis woman engaged to marry a trans woman. These issues are not about me, but they do impact my life in a very personal way, and

        2. Valerie Keefe

          MadGastronomer:

          You are full of awesome and I’m very happy for you and your incredibly lucky fiance. Thank you. You said it better than I could.

        3. Katherine

          MadGastronomer: I’m also a cis woman in a serious relationship with a trans woman. I don’t want to post my email here, but if you stop by here again and you’re looking to meet other people in a similar situation (as I am) you can send me a facebook message via http://www.facebook.com/kmancuso.

        4. katherine

          ps: if you don’t have facebook, and want to connect, leave a comment and I’ll try to figure out some other contact info I can leave for you without creating a spam trap for my email.

        5. MadGastronomer

          I don’t have a facebook, but you can reach me at this username at gmail, and I have blogs at this username.dreamwidth.org and at tumblr.com. (I’m not worried about handing out my email, I’m really easy to find under this handle.) I know a number of cis women in relationships with trans women, but I’m always happy to talk to new people!

          My fiancee is a Katherine, too, although she usually goes by Kate.

    3. Anjasa

      [Mod note: edited to use more humanizing language]

      For an example of feminists discriminating against trans women, the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival continues to ban all women that are not ‘naturally born women’.

      I won’t say that feminists treat trans women worse than non-feminist-identified-persons, but there are a lot of extremists in feminism that do make it a very unwelcoming place.

  3. Jammies

    Going to have to go with “anonymous berlinerin” here. Trans women have and always will be a big part of geek feminism. I know trans women who work at Google, Netflix, large financial institutions and such, and they are all proponents of Feminist ideals. Trans women can be feminists, too.

    What is my place, as a trans/genderqueer woman, within geek feminism? The same as anyone else, whatever their gender identity. The question isn’t what “my place” is within geek feminism, but how people treat me. A good example is being treated like an outsider, or a curiosity, as opposed to being a self-determining, technologically-oriented woman. How what genitals I have means more to some people than what my skills are – a sentiment I’m sure many geek-feminist cis women can identify with.

    I haven’t faced that much oppression by geek feminists – far less than reactionary feminists, who continuously attempt label me as a gay man (despite being lesbian-identified).

    My place is where I am. There’s not much to discuss. :)

  4. Gabrielle

    Trans women are not outsiders in the geek feminist community, just as they are not outsiders in any women’s spaces. I agree that this question positions them as such (or at that it is valid to debate whether they are).

    I for one would be very interested to know about other trans women’s contributions to STEM/geek subjects. If anyone would like to post people they know it would be much appreciated! I’ll start: Sophie Wilson designed the Acorn micro-computer and the ARM instruction set (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sophie_Wilson).

    1. Tim Chevalier

      From http://www.reddit.com/r/TransHack/ -

      Audrey Tang (open-source developer known for Pugs, a Perl 6 implementation in Haskell)

      Danielle Bunten Berry (game programmer who, unfortunately, regretted transitioning and blamed that on the choice to transition rather than structural transphobia)

      Lynn Conway (very accomplished microarchitecture designer and computer science professor)

      Rebecca Heineman, game programmer

      Kate Craig-Wood, IT entrepreneur

      Jamie Fenton, game programmer

      Mary Ann Horton, Unix/Usenet/Internet pioneer

      And if mentioning a friend isn’t too biased, Alley Stoughton, theoretical programming language researcher and former computer science professor.

      1. Katherine

        It’s worth mentioning that Julia Serano – noted trans woman feminist author (Whipping Girl) – holds down a day job as a PhD biologist, although she’s obviously way more famous for her night job.

        Sandy Stone is another trans woman who combines trans theory (The Empire Strikes Back: a posttransexual manifesto) with geekiness (her art deals a lot with science and technology and she’s a radio engineer).

        Wendy Carlos is another one who combines art and science in her work, although she prefers to not be considered “trans” like many older figures – basically she’s arguably the most famous figure in electronic music (which includes ability to build synthesizers).

        1. Mary Post author

          Joan Roughgarden is a trans woman and evolutionary biologist at Stanford University. She also works on gender identity, in her case exploring the diversity of sex and gender in non-human species (using a definition of sex and gender that’s a little different to, although informed by, how they’re used in feminist and social justice discussions about humans).

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joan_Roughgarden

          My default thought is that having a trans specific series of Wednesday Geek Woman would be othering (let me know if I’m wrong), but these women would be great candidates for Wednesday Geek Woman submissions the next time I open it up :)

    2. Dan

      Is there a way to have this aspect of the conversation without semi-consensually outing people? (This is a real question, not a rhetorical one.)

      On one hand, yes, it’s helpful to be able to attach real people to these types of discussions, and can help avoid those horrible discussions about hypothetical people who may or may not exist.

      But at least some of the people listed below have expressed that they’d prefer to be considered for their work, not their history — so it’s less than respectful to bring them up in the List of Influential Trans Women in XX Field. In addition, these kinds of lists (necessarily) leave out women who work in relevant fields and haven’t disclosed their histories (or been outed).

      So it’s actually not the most representative of exercises, and it reinforces some of the othering that occurs when people discuss trans women in not-trans-centered communities. I’m not sure if there’s a way around it, but it would be interesting to see if anyone had a better approach.

      1. Tim Chevalier

        I think there are two different issues here: outing, and giving undue weight to someone’s medical history rather than their work. I think the first is much worse. Everyone on the list I gave has a Wikipedia entry or other public article that mentions their trans status, except for the last person, who mentions it on her personal web page.

        The “undue weight” question is, to me, much more complicated, and I don’t have a good answer. Similar issues get raised about the Geek Feminism’s lists of “women in [X]“.

      2. katherine

        Everyone on my list also has a wikipedia page that states that they are trans. I acknowledged that Wendy Carlos doesn’t want to be considered trans so it may be problematic to include her in such a list, but I’m certainly not “outing” her.

        I do think that such lists have value, especially for other folks in the particular group; I am not sure how this could be done differently, but maybe I’m not thinking creatively enough.

    3. MadGastronomer

      Regardless of whether or not trans women are by definition outsiders in women’s spaces, or should be outsiders in women’s spaces, they are frequently treated as outsiders in women’s spaces, which makes them functionally outsiders. Just like women of color (trans or cis) and disabled women (trans or cis) are frequently treated as outsiders in women’s spaces. What we call women’s spaces are all too often functionally white cis able-bodied women’s spaces. It’s important to talk about the realities of these things, too.

  5. crazydog

    [Mod note: edited words like "transwoman" to "trans woman" so as to use more humanizing language.]

    To the first and second questions: I can’t speak for any others, obviously, but being female, geek, and feminist, I’ve spent the vast majority of my career being one who doesn’t belong. I have some idea of what it’s like to feel in constant conflict between the peg of one’s self/gender and the much smaller and squarer hole that geek women are allowed/expected to occupy in the tech/geek world. I can only imagine it’d be even harder for someone who already had to struggle through a conflict between their true self-identity and the way the entire rest of the world wants/expects them to be. So for me, to cold-shoulder a trans woman (or a trans man, for that matter) is to be the worst kind of hypocrite.

    I have to agree that I also twigged on the last question. I’d say the place a trans woman has in the community is the same path as for any other: be a geek feminist. I’m not sure there needs to be (or should be) any more to it than that, but the phrasing makes me suspicious the questioner wouldn’t agree, whether or not the person’s consciously aware of that. Frankly, the last question feels like it’s the first counter-move in a rebuttal to any positive answers to the first question.

  6. Jennie

    [Mod note: edited words like "transwomen" to "trans women" so as to use more humanizing language.]

    The question heavily implies that trans women can’t/don’t fall into the geek feminist category, which I find a bit offensive TBH. While cis myself, and I’m aware of how crass this next bit sounds, some of the people I respect most in geek communities and feminist communities are trans folk.

    That said, to answer the somewhat questionable question on it’s own terms: some geek feminists ARE trans folk, some cis geek feminists are icky towards trans people, and some aren’t. Like everything else, it’s all about individuals. I don’t think geek spaces are any more or less welcoming to trans folk than any other supposedly not-trans spaces, or even some spaces that are explicitly meant to BE trans spaces (I’m thinking of purportedly LGBT organisations who routinely forget and/or other the T (and, indeed, the B) elements of their makeup); but with that said, not being trans myself, I’d be happy to be corrected on my perceptions by someone who is… That’s probably not the most helpful answer ever, is it?

    1. MadGastronomer

      But it isn’t just about individuals. It’s also about what geek feminists (or any other group) do as a community, whether or not we actually make our spaces welcoming, both in theory and in fact, to trans women.

  7. TiG

    I’ve seen and heard some disgustingly hateful anti-trans sentiment from Feminists. Mostly I have seen it from the RadFem circles. I thought I might agree with the RadFems on other issues but after experiencing that hatred I have to say no, I’m just a Feminist, no affiliations necessary.

    1. Katherine

      If you do want to put a label on your feminism, you might consider looking into “intersectional feminism”, which I feel is a good theoretical position for stating that every kind of woman’s liberation is bound up with every other.

  8. Megpie71

    I can’t really speak for anyone else, so I’m not sure how useful this will be. My own position on trans women is that anyone who willingly relinquishes the privilege which is offered by our society in order to remain true to their self-concept is someone I’d like to know more about (I struggle daily with the issue of relinquishing “sane privilege”) and probably someone I wouldn’t mind talking with about any shared interests we might have. However, this is in a context where I have no idea whether or not I’m actually dealing with trans persons in my day-to-day life (“are you performing the gender which matches the genitals you were born with?” isn’t a question I tend to ask of people on a regular basis).

    I’m not sure whether this is something which generalises to all geek women, but my own take on the whole business of why geeky women might be more accepting of trans persons is it’s a combination of a multiple dose of “weirdo effect” (we’re women, and we’re geeks, and we’re female geeks, all of which combine to make us “weird” to the normal population). Another part of the explanation has to do with the geek mindset in the first place – most of the time, a person’s gender performance isn’t precisely relevant to the task at hand, so it isn’t worth worrying about.

    1. Alexis

      i am a trans woman – and i have a penis. Having a penis doesn’t make me any less of a woman, just as having a hysterectomy wouldn’t inherently make someone else any less of a woman. Some trans women (such as myself) don’t want to have genital reassignment surgery, for whatever reasons; others can’t afford it; still others can’t get the medical approval of ‘gatekeepers’ for such surgery (and it seems to me such gatekeepers are often the ones who force trans women into ‘ultrafeminine’ presentations in order to ‘allow’ them to go on hormones / get surgery etc.).

      (Related: a blog post i wrote a while back on ‘sex’, ‘gender’ and ‘gender roles’.)

    2. Crissa

      Of course, you’re right – in day to day things, how would you know if you’re dealing a trans person or not.

      No one has the right to know what’s in someone else’s underwear.

      1. MadGastronomer

        Guess what? What’s in someone’s underwear =/= whether they are cis or trans. That’s a seriously essentialist way of putting it.

  9. Alexis

    My experience, as a two-gendered trans woman, is that cis geek feminists can be more accepting; but i’ve also encountered “I know enough” attitudes from cis geek feminists which make things more difficult for me. By “‘I know enough’ attitudes”, i’m referring to attitudes where the cis person in question believes themselves to know all about trans experiences; that there’s nothing left for them to learn, no manifestations of cis privilege they’re not aware of, and no cissexist attitudes / behaviours left to challenge.

    i also regularly encounter cis geek feminists using such language as “I’m sick of tech conferences being sausagefests” and “Why should I be excluded from tech circles just because I have a vagina?” Using ‘sausage’ as a synecdoche for ‘man’ and ‘vagina’ as a synecdoche for ‘woman’ is highly problematic, from a trans perspective: not all men have penises, not all women have vaginas; some women have penises, some men have vaginas. In online conversations where i’ve made it clear i’m a woman, people don’t say to me: “Oh but do you have a penis? Because if you do, you can totally join the boys club!” (Indeed, if it somehow comes out that I do still have a penis, i can end up being lectured on how that means i’m not really a woman – because we all know womanhood can be reduced to “having a vagina”, amirite? :-P And although it’s true that in person, i can often be read as “a cis guy in a skirt/dress” – and receive male privilege thereby; cf. this old blog post of mine – it’s psychologically hurtful and damaging to be thus constantly misgendered as a result of cissexist assumptions about “what a woman looks like”.)

    So i guess my own perspective is that i’d ask cis geek feminists to be wary of becoming too complacent in thinking that they’re “already sufficiently accepting” of trans women.

  10. Blake

    I suspect the prominence of pioneering trans women in software engineering has played a roll: geek feminists aren’t just accepting of trans women, many of them are trans women and this has been true from the beginning.

    Us trans* folks are kind of tautologically nerdy by necessity: most hack some combination of language, social constructions of gender, hormones and our bodies, examining things other people take for granted. Why shouldn’t people use technology that is available today to be more comfortable and happier? That’s what technology is *for*!
    Nerds tend to go in for self-alterations of many stripes. My nerdy feminist friends including a man with a magnet in his finger, a woman with pointed ears, several folks with tattoos most people will never understand and many men with long hair, kilts and a tendency to reject society’s standards of masculinity. We all seem to be stumbling around seeking to become comfortable in our own skin, so my own transition is something they have been able to relate to.

    Mainstream feminists seem more inclined towards “accept yourself however you are! Only people with false consciousness would seek to alter themselves in anyway!” anti-diet backlash, rather than towards the transhumanist philosophies that appeal to nerds. We have the technology: we can make our lives better. It can even be fun!

  11. a cis-male geek called Moz

    [Mod note: edited to use more humanizing language]

    I’ve been in a few geek communities, and some of those worked hard to be woman-friendly, with some success. When you have a geek community doing geek stuff, there are women-who-are-feminists as members as well as women-who-are-trans and the main focus is on the geek rather than the body shape, does that count? I’m thinking of c@t and sydney.indymedia a few years ago, where we had that situation and no-one seemed to bat an eyelid. Our arguments were more about how to apply anarchist politics to the new media :)

    My experience has more been of eventually finding out that someone is trans than of overt trans woman/geek-feminists, and not through “OMG the horror” rumors but other random “it came up in conversation” events involving meet-the-family type stuff (in one case, the ugly “I can’t go they hate trans women” which meant that we had to cancel. But we got to explain why we were cancelling, which was worthwhile).

    IMO it’s better to be generally supportive and accepting than to go digging into exactly what someone might want support on. If someone feels safe enough or pressured enough by outside events to disclose something, fine. If not, I’m sure the group has some ostensible goal to work on.

    I think there’s also some useful questions to be asked about acceptance of trans men in feminist circles, and whether the denial involved in inviting trans men into women-only spaces is less outrageous than denying trans women entry for the same reason.

  12. Tim Chevalier

    An answer from /r/transgender on Reddit:

    Well, if I actually knew a person aside from my self who was both “geek” and “feminist” I could give a good answer. And by “geek” I mean an actual geek, not an “I’m gonna call myself one because it’s fashionable and I like totally watched four episodes of Doctor Who” geek. But if I were to look at the “geek community” as a whole, I’d have to give my answer in the form of a gigantic NO. If you want one place where the old patriarchal ways are not only upheld but defended to the death, look no further than the geeks/nerds/etc. It’s a classic case of minorities oppressing minorities, and it’s a real problem for me, juggling my hobbies with my identity.

  13. Crissa

    Not entirely sure how conjunction of trans with women is more or less humanizing than it being separated by a single space. Is bi women more humanizing than biwomen? I don’t really think so.

    Certainly, if you’re writing a style guide for a document; but I personally have liked the standardizing definition of transwomen to mean one set of people and transmen to be another. I do know that those compound words are used quite often now in trans circles as words of honor that we’ve won that much to actually have an identity as men and women as we’ve chosen to be.

    1. Tim Chevalier

      I’m not a whiteman, a Quakerman, a vegetarianman, or a shortman. Exceptionalizing my trans status suggests that it contradicts my being a man in a way that those other adjectives don’t. The analogous process is more dangerous for women than it is for me, since there is a higher level of social and cultural violence — often manifested as language — aimed at trans women than at trans men.

      1. Anjasa

        This makes absolute sense and my only defense is that I’d thought I’d seen other trans individuals use it. Perhaps I was wrong, or perhaps it was just that individual.

        Regardless, I’ll keep it in mind for the future. I don’t like the idea of me inadvertently dehumanizing people.

        1. Tim Chevalier

          It’s certainly true that some trans people use it, but as someone who’s been reading trans fora for a long time, I’ve seen trans people use a lot of dehumanizing language. Most of us have a lot of internalized transphobia to work through.

          But IMO, when people disagree on language, it’s best to use the set of terms that won’t bother anybody, even if not everybody is bothered by the alternative terms.

          And, of course, consequences are the issue, not intent — as someone said, “I don’t care how or when you learn something — I care what you do with it once you’ve learned it.”

      2. Crissa

        It is true that trans men were the first to start using it… But I don’t think that there really is any difference in a compound word and a word with a space in it. Compounding words is a loan from Germanic languages, where all nouns are compounded. They mean the same as with spaces, they’re just more difficult to read.

        The word ‘trans’ is just a truncation of transgendered and transsexual, anyhow. On its own it isn’t anything, without high context. All the other terms you’ve chosen – white, Quaker, vegetarian – are all nouns or adjectives on their own without context needed.

        1. Tim Chevalier

          Mod hat: This is veering dangerously into the realm that prioritizes abstractions over people. The bottom line is to refrain from labelling a person by a name that they did not choose and that they do not wish to be called. I don’t know of anyone who objects to being called a “trans man” or “trans woman” who does *not* object to being called a “transman” or “transwoman”, so the former are the terms I will more-than-strongly suggest pending evidence to the contrary.

        2. Alexis

          In my experience, ‘transwoman’ and ‘transman’ are in fact often used to ‘third-gender’ people who are not anything other than female or male. If someone says she is a trans woman, and identifies solely as a woman, then she is a member of the category ‘woman’, and should be regarded as such. Yet i often encounter people using ‘transwoman’ to imply that the person isn’t really a woman, but in a completely different gender category. And even as someone who is two-gendered, i feel unhappy when someone tries to ‘generously’ tell me “Well, you’re not really a woman, how about we create a new category for you, as a compromise?”

          Finally, i’m not a mod here, but i feel like your comment is telling members of a highly marginalised group how we ‘should’ feel about language applied to us. Even if a number of trans people are fine with the “no space” labels, many of us aren’t, based on our experiences with how they’ve been used to attack us, to deny who we know ourselves to be, and to exclude us. (E.g. “This is a space for people who are Really Women; go create a ‘transwoman’ space elsewhere.”) And i feel it’s important to try to respect the experiences and feelings of all members of a marginalised/oppressed group with regards to their marginalisation/oppression.

        3. MadGastronomer

          Seriously? Your argument is that “trans” isn’t a word on its own? Ignoring, for a moment, that if it’s used as a word, it is a word, allow me to point out that we don’t call people “biwoman” or “homoman”.

  14. Shannon LC Cate

    I’m not sure if, as a mere mommy blogger I can qualify as a geek, but I do know that I don’t want to be part of any club that won’t have Kate Bornstein as a member.

  15. Catherine Devlin

    I’ve been pleased, personally. I can only speculate on the reasons, of course, but I guess that it’s because geek thoughts tend to run along practical, action-oriented lines – maybe even more so for geek women than for geek men – and that tends to deter controversies that have little practical point.

    Arguments over whether trans women meet some abstract, platonic ideal of the concept of “woman”? Hairsplitting debates over definitions? “Meh,” say geeks, “What’s the point, and who has time?” Knocking down actual obstacles to people getting good educations and good jobs, caring for their loved ones, living in safety, or – for heaven’s sake – using the bathroom? “Yeah, let’s take that on.”

  16. S

    Overtly and reactively, yes: when one brings up trans* issues, one may hear a lot of “oh, yes, of course we support” but there’s no (or little) intrinsic consideration of trans* issues and identities. An example: we use a lot of cis-rooted language. You know, it sure seems that in tech, nobody ought to care what parts you have and don’t have and how they work (and I don’t mean only genitals). But just because I am oppressed on one axis doesn’t mean I acknowledge all other axes of oppression and the way I may be participating in oppressive structures — and I expect that goes for pretty much all spaces.

  17. Teresa

    My understanding of geek feminism is that it’s very much based in intersectional/third wave feminism as opposed to say, second wave (where the radical feminists belong). The cis woman geek feminists I read and talk to are generally pretty concerned with (for example) racism, ableism and transphobia, and their own possible perpetuation of those things.

    In my mind this is because the intersectional analysis is attractive to someone who is marginalized within a marginalized group, coupled with the fact that a few influential bloggers have a very clearly defined intersectional approach, and have inspired cis folks to think about these things. Also, in my specific case, the geek culture I’m part of (larpers in the nordic countries) is generally very progressive. That being said: The fact that cis people *themselves* identify as trans friendly does not make them so.
    A little tangent (cause this comment isn’t long enough as is) Last year the larp “Just a Little Lovin’”, about when AIDS came to NYC in the early 80s was played in Norway, and I’m pretty sure the designers specifically worked with the erasure of trans folk in LGBT history as one of the themes. (you can read about the game here if you’re curious: http://just-a-little-lovin.blogspot.se/).

  18. Emawee

    I really don’t know if geek feminists are more accepting of trans women than traditional feminists are, but I’d like to think so. Women are often left out of geek culture, so as geek feminists it’d make sense that we’re acceptive of trans women, as they are often left out as well (whether it’s the feminist movement or whatever). Why shouldn’t trans people be geeky feminists?

    Btw my dad is a trans woman, and also a geeky feminist. She’s awesome :)

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