Dear Germaine Greer,
I was saddened – and angered – when I heard your comments about transgender women.
You are a second wave feminist, a well-known author, and influential speaker. Your words, ideas, and opinions matter and can help shape public opinion. So, when you said “I don’t think that post-operative transgender men – uh, M to F transgender people – are women,” your words cut deeply.
In the same interview, you admitted that “people should be allowed” to have gender reassignment surgery – how kind of you to allow others to do what they wish with their own bodies! – you then doubled-down and reiterated that having that procedure done still “doesn’t make them a woman.”
Next, you refer vaguely to “a great many women” who would agree with you, because “male to female transgender people” do not “look like, sound like, or behave like women.” A great many is difficult to quantify, but I would hope that fewer and fewer people carry these same prejudices as you. Unfortunately, those bigoted people, like you, are very vocal about their beliefs.
You do, truly, have some supporters, such as this gentleman who has opines on Facebook about the controversy surrounding your comments: “I’ve always been uncomfortable with identity politics but, [sic] the older I get the more I despise it and its adherents – stupid fucking cunts.” Misogynistic slurs really drive home his point: his transphobia is a form of woman-hating.
Transgender women have always been women; women who may opt to get surgery, women who may take hormones, but women nonetheless. Others who agree with you are often termed gender essentialists. That is to say, they believe that what makes a man or a woman – there is only a binary view of gender in this world – is biologically determined. These pre-determined traits define womanhood and manhood. For example: women are weak, submissive, have breasts, menstruate, and are passive while men are strong, dominant, have beards, are sexual, and active. The opinions you have and ideas that you support are ones that box in people, that don’t allow for humans to fully express themselves, and create a limiting view of what people of all genders could be.
Your belief that transgender women are not women is not only anti-feminist, it is harmful to all people. It denies the agency of individuals and suppresses people from fully actualizing themselves. Denying someone’s identity is harmful, even if you hide behind “it’s only an opinion” and refuse to acknowledge the ways in which your words hurt people.
But, in closing, Ms. Greer, I do have to say that the people who are attacking your looks are not feminist role models either. You should be challenged for your bigoted ideas, not your age or appearance.
A Concerned Feminist
Gwen is a writer who has an education degree, a social work background, an extensive knowledge of vegetables, and a devotion to queer revolutionary politics. She lives deep in the woods of Maine with two dogs, a magnificent partner, and an ever-growing collection of plants.