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‪#‎GenderWeek: Andrea was not transphobic

By John Stoltenberg

Click here to read all #GenderWeek articles.

When Andrea and I met in 1974 her first book, Woman Hating, was on press. She wrote all her subsequent work in the home where we lived together until 2005, when I and the world lost her.

One passage in Woman Hating changed my life forever:

“The discovery is, of course, that “man” and “woman” are fictions, caricatures, cultural constructs. As models they are reductive, totalitarian, inappropriate to human becoming. As roles they are static, demeaning to the female, dead-ended for male and female both.”

That radical interrogation of gender became a foundational understanding between us. It formed a basis for how we knew and cared about each other. We recognized that we each came from a gendered culture—she as a woman, I as a man—but our best and deepest times together were when that ceased to matter, when it was as if we were communicating simply self to self. Or soul to soul. Or I to Thou.

To this day I don’t fully know why Andrea risked trusting me. I have no doubt, however, why I began to trust her.

I was attracted to and sexually active with men; Andrea always knew that. We were first introduced by a gay male mutual friend at a gay and lesbian gathering, after all. But what I learned from Andrea—first from reading Woman Hating, then from growing more and more to know her—was a wholly new experience to me: what it means to be soul mates beyond gender.

That belief in the possibility of life beyond gender was a core of both her work and mine. A speech I gave within a few months after our meeting was published as Refusing to Be a Man (the title I gave my first book). In a speech of Andrea’s written about a year later she drew a distinction between reality and truth in order to say that:

“while the system of gender polarity is real, it is not true…. [T]he system based on this polar model of existence is absolutely real; but the model itself is not true. We are living imprisoned inside a pernicious delusion, a delusion on which all reality as we know it is predicated.”

I’ve thought back to such passages in Andrea’s work (there are many) as I’ve pondered how she would sort out the current controversies and conflicts among radical feminists who call themselves trans critical and transactivists who call the same feminists trans exclusionary. Andrea wrote of transsexualism (as it was called then) only in Woman Hating, in a prescient section that can accurately be cited as evidence that Andrea was not “transphobic” and was in fact “empathetic to transpeople” (as would come as no surprise to anyone who knew her).

To my knowledge Andrea never wrote any more on the subject. I cannot say for certain why, but I suspect it’s because she already said what she had to say about it—and she was driven to write next what no one had said yet. The topic came up in our conversations, of course, but prior to her death the divisive controversy/conflict had not yet erupted as it has today. I’ll not rehearse those troubling tensions except to acknowledge that I recently came under sharp criticism online after I posted a tweet about an essay I’d written about U.S. Army Private Chelsea Manning (formerly Bradley), in which I referred to the courageous young whistleblower by the female pronoun she now preferred.

To my philosophically inclined mind (now recalling Andrea’s and my talks), the current controversy/conflict turns on an ethical/metaphysical disagreement about the fundamental meaning of gender in the human species. Obviously I cannot know what Andrea would have to say about it, except that I am certain she would not ally herself with any view that furthers “biological superiority,” which she considered “the world’s most dangerous and deadly idea”:

“It is shamefully easy for us [she means here, I believe, so-called female-assigned-at-birth women] to enjoy our own fantasies of biological omnipotence while despising men for enjoying the reality of theirs. And it is dangerous—because genocide begins, however improbably, in the conviction that classes of biological distinction indisputably sanction social and political discrimination. We, who have been devastated by the concrete consequences of this idea, still want to put our faith in it. Nothing offers more proof—sad, irrefutable proof—that we are more like men than either they or we care to believe.”

This was always Andrea’s ethical framework, which I learned from constantly: Moral agency and accountability are true, foundational to our identity as human, and they do not equate with the reality of gender. I was inspired by that ethical framework when I wrote in my essay about Chelsea Manning of:

“my belief that one’s moral agency is not gendered; it is—as it is for Pfc. Manning—a continuity of conscience irrespective of gender expression. I believe that separate and unequal ethical codes for “men” and “women”—which are ubiquitous in conventional wisdom—are erroneous on their face, because the constant core of one’s conscience is human only.”

I confess I did not learn from Andrea’s ethical framework about living beyond gender only conversationally or conceptually or in the abstract. I learned concretely, and I learned humbly the hard way—because episodically in our relationship I learned what it meant to her and us when I fucked up and broke the trust she had in me. I acted like a man. My impulse to assert/defend my gendered social conditioning trumped my intention to be my best self. I did not act like the person Andrea had grown to love and I did not act like the person I had learned to know it was possible to be with her. Happily we got through those hard times. In the last years of her life, even as her health failed, we became closer and dearer to each other than ever before. But the lesson never leaves me: Who I am is not my gender.

Curious, isn’t it, that in English only third-person pronouns are gendered but first- and second-person are not. Do we remain imprisoned in gender because we persistently “third-personise,” or objectify, ourselves and one another; and do we not sufficiently speak to each other as subjects who say I to Thou? Has our language always been telling us that when we speak as ourselves directly to other selves, and when other selves speak directly to us, gender becomes irrelevant?

I enjoy following the favorite quotes of Andrea’s that people post here and there in cyberspace, and the other day this one caught my eye: “When two individuals come together and leave their gender outside the bedroom door, then they make love.”

Andrea got it. Living beyond gender leads to loving beyond gender. And vice versa.

I miss our communion terribly.

genderwkbody

John Stoltenberg has explored the distinction between gender identity and moral identity in two books—Refusing to Be a Man: Essays on Sex and Justice and The End of Manhood: Parables on Sex and Selfhood. His many essays include “Living With Andrea Dworkin” (1994) and “Imagining Life Without Andrea” (2005). His novel, GONERZ, projects a radical feminist vision into a post-apocalyptic future. John conceived and creative-directed the acclaimed “My strength is not for hurting” sexual-assault-prevention media campaign, and he continues his communications- and cause-consulting work through media2change. He tweets at @JohnStoltenberg and @media2change.

Photography by John Goetz. Copyright © 2005 by John Goetz and the Estate of Andrea Dworkin.

This article was amended at 4pm on the 28th April at the author’s request.

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13 thoughts on “‪#‎GenderWeek: Andrea was not transphobic

  1. April

    Why did you feel it was necessary to include Pvt. Manning’s prior name in this essay? What is it about cis people that compels them to show such disrespect to our identities, even when they think they’re doing right by us?

    Reply
    1. Calum

      Is it really anything more than ‘former prime minister, Zaphod Beeblebrox’, or ‘the artist formerly known as Prince’?

      Reply
    2. John Stoltenberg

      Absolutely no disrespect intended. I included Chelsea Manning’s prior first name (parenthetically) for two reasons: The main one is that I was supporting a point I was making in this memoir by referencing an essay I wrote about Chelsea Manning’s “postconventional ethics,” in which I made a point of the fact that her moral agency (and therefore her ethical accountability) was continuous with, and in fact the same as, who she had been when she acted as Bradley. The other reason was that I wanted to make sure readers knew exactly who I was talking about, and I was uncertain how well her chosen name would be recognized by readers outside the US. But I totally get your point. Thanks for commenting.

      Reply
  2. Cristan Williams

    John -

    You asked that I come to the comment section and ask the following question:

    Is it true that she helped Janice Raymond write the infamous chapter 4 (the all trans people rape women chapter) of the “Transsexual Empire: the making of the she-male” and did she not endorse this work?

    Reply
    1. John Stoltenberg

      Dear Cristan,

      Thanks for your question. It’s a fair one, and I’ll try my best to answer.

      I’ve been aware for some time that Andrea has been portrayed as having animus toward trans people based on two purported proof texts: a single sentence and a single blurb. The sentence appears in Jan Raymond’s introduction to her book The Transsexual Empire; it says, “Andrea Dworkin commented on Chapter IV.” The blurb, which appears on the 1979 edition (but not the 1994 edition), states Andrea’s opinion that the book is “crucial reading.”

      A little context.

      First of all, I remember reading that book in the late 1970s when Andrea got a copy of it in bound galleys, and I remember talking with Andrea about it. Andrea had written in her 1974 book Woman Hating that “every transsexual is entitled to a sex-change operation, and it should be provided by the community as one of its functions. ” She never retracted that view. But we were both troubled by what we were learning about the surgeons and psychiatrists, all men, who were experimenting on the bodies of socioeconomically disadvantaged individuals in order to invent sex-change operations to advance their careers, in what were then the early days of such medical interventions. Though medical practice and protocols may have advanced since, the historical fact remains that the men who pioneered medicalizing gender disphoria had some very problematic, one might say sadistically male-supremacist, attitudes and agendas—and I recall distinctly that it was Raymond’s exposure of the values pervading this medicalizing that Andrea and I both thought was important for people to know and understand. I say this not to debate Raymond’s book; I merely want to give historical background for Andrea’s blurb on it. We did not foresee that upon publication the book would become anathema to trans people—for some of whom those selfsame surgical/hormonal inventions would be beneficial and necessary.

      Second of all, once Andrea became a published author herself, she began to have friendly and collegial relationships with other writers, a circumstance that continued throughout her life. It was not uncommon for her to be asked to read and comment on others’ work in progress, and the generosity with which she gave of her time can be inferred from the mentions of her in the acknowledgements pages of many books.

      So far as I know, no one who ever met Andrea or knew her personally would characterize her as being trans intolerant. I’ve heard many such people say quite the contrary, actually. And tellingly when she and Catharine MacKinnon drafted their civil-rights antipornography legislation—which defined pornography as, in part, “the graphic sexually explicit subordination of women…”—they explicitly made the ordinance trans inclusive: “The use of men, children, or transsexuals in the place of women…is also pornography.” I say this not to debate their legal approach; I merely want to point out that Andrea understood in a profound way that a person could be subordinated like a woman without having been assigned female at birth, and her intolerance of the sexual violence that undergirds male supremacy was never gender essentialist.

      Andrea was massively misrepresented in life. People said, and still say, all kinds of shit about her. Partly it’s the familiar tactic of discrediting the messenger whose message is a challenge people don’t want to hear. Partly it’s misogyny. Andrea chose not to spend her life refuting and rebutting all the lies.

      But I decided now—when invited by Feminist Times to write what became this personal memoir—to put to rest one of those falsehoods: that Andrea, as a radical feminist, was “transphobic.” I know not everyone will be persuaded or convinced. But I felt honor bound to try.

      John

      Reply
  3. Morag

    Dear John,

    Of course Andrea Dworkin wasn’t transphobic. It would seem, from her work, that she would not hate anyone irrationally, and that she advocated, always, for empathy in the face of human suffering.

    But Andrea did say gender polarity “is not true.” And she said it again and again, in very many ways. In Intercourse she shows how gender is superimposed, and then enacted, on women’s skin–how gender is carved into female bodies, sometimes literally, making women’s inferiority real. Materially real. But not true.

    Because gender polarity is not true. And if it’s not true, neither then is gender identity (not two identities, not four, not a hundred). But here you are, giving credence to metaphysical gender identities. And you assume that when Andrea said “us” she would now mean “female-as-assigned-at-birth” instead of, clearly and truthfully, “women.” In her writings–beside her acknowledgement of inter-sex and androgyny in humans–she still spoke of women as a discrete, and thus identifiable, social class. Remember?: “do it to her.” Science might keep making its discoveries about male-female chromosomes and somatotypes, but the “her” in “do it to her” does exist, and HER experiences under patriarchy are distinct and true.

    When you quote Dworkin’s position on biological superiority as a dangerous idea (indeed it is; women know how dangerous this idea is when they are beaten, raped, impoverished) it’s as if to sully, in advance, ANY talk about female biology, and about the exploitation/control of female sexual and reproductive capacities. It’s as if to make ” biology” a bad word to prevent us from speaking about how women’s oppression is inextricably linked to female bodies.

    If biology–if biological sex, upon which the lie of gender is imposed and then penalized and punished–is a verboten topic in conversations about ending male supremacy and the structures of patriarchy, then, quite frankly, women are left out of the conversation. Men take over–again.

    Disappear biological sex as meaningful, and much of women’s oppression then becomes obscure, meaningless, invisible. This is already happening with the forceful renaming of women as “cis women” who are ostensibly wielding some kind of powerful “cis-privilege” which necessitates, once again, that we are shushed and pushed back. Just as when we were said to wield powerful, wanton, black magic over male desire (the lie of gender keeps changing and adapting, but gender itself endures).

    No. Andrea understood very well how a woman’s body is first reduced to a man-made concept, an abstraction, a gender, before violence is enacted upon it. She would not agree, I’m quite sure, that anyone can be a woman. Because she would not agree that a native, metaphysical gender could precede the physical body. Gender cannot be inevitable if it is not true. It’s a dangerous idea that is harmful, especially, to females; it’s a justification waiting for a crime.

    It’s true that Andrea Dworkin was not a transphobe. It looks like you’re trying to defend her legacy against yet another smear and misrepresentation. But I fear you’ve misrepresented her anyway. By using her radical-feminist name as a stamp of approval on your OWN positive views of transgenderism. I do not believe that she, who advocated for human identity and love beyond gender, would concede to the lie that gender identity is necessary, inevitable and harmless.

    Reply
    1. John Stoltenberg

      Morag,

      Thank you for your thoughtful response to my piece about Andrea. I apologize for only now getting round to replying—with what I hope you will read as equivalent thoughtfulness.

      The first point I would like to make is that I wrote the piece as a memoir, not a polemic. My original title was “Andrea Dworkin on Living Beyond Gender.” In hindsight the title Feminist Times gave the piece (which they kindly ran by me and I okayed) may for some readers have suggested an argumentative, perhaps even inflamatory, tone of voice that I was never my intention. I really just wanted to share some memories that are precious to me.

      That said, I feel you have misunderstood some of what I wrote—or perhaps the way I said it was open to misinterpretation.

      For instance, when I quoted from Andrea’s essay “Biological Superiority,” I added in brackets what I intended to be a gloss to reference the contemporary context in which she used the word “women”: I interpolated the phrase “so-called female-assigned-at-birth women”—and the significant word there is “so-called.” I was not, as you say, “giving credence to metaphysical gender identities,” nor would I ever. I was putting “air quotes” around an expression in contemporary usage because I wanted to make clear to current readers that in that particular passage Andrea was not referring to people who today would identify as transwomen.

      For another instance, my reason for including the excerpt from “Biological Superiority” was to underscore the biographical fact that Andrea eschewed biological essentialism in any guise whatsoever. This was a principle by which she lived and a principle that pervades her writing and speaking. I never imagined that Andrea’s critique of biological essentialism would apply only to some positions espoused in the name of radical feminism; to my mind (and here I am getting more polemical than was ever my intention in the piece) some positions espoused in the name of transgender activism are also informed by biological essentialism. It was not my intention, as you say, “to sully…ANY talk about female biology” or “to make ‘biology’ a bad word to prevent us from speaking about how women’s oppression is inextricably linked to female bodies.” Obviously had I forseen that my excerpting Andrea’s essay would be so misconstrued, I would have wanted to frame it more clearly.

      Everyone is entitled to their own interpretation of Andrea’s written work and I can respect respectful readings of her work even if I don’t completely agree with them based on how I came to know her over 31 years. I can appreciate that there are many meanings in her work that are important to people even if those meanings may not sync with my understanding of her intent. She left a rich legacy of writing, and I want it to be read and thought and talked about and acted upon as widely as possible. So it is with some reluctance that I now wish to qualify and comment on a particular interpretation of yours. You write that Andrea “would not agree…that anyone can be a woman” (meaning, as I understand you: anyone not born biologically female).

      In my reply to Cristan Willams (in the comment thread above), I wrote something that speaks to your point here as well:

      “[T]ellingly when she [Andrea] and Catharine MacKinnon drafted their civil-rights antipornography legislation—which defined pornography as, in part, ‘the graphic sexually explicit subordination of women…’—they explicitly made the ordinance trans inclusive: ‘The use of men, children, or transsexuals in the place of women…is also pornography.’ I say this not to debate their legal approach; I merely want to point out that Andrea understood in a profound way that a person could be subordinated like a woman without having been assigned female at birth, and her intolerance of the sexual violence that undergirds male supremacy was never gender essentialist.”

      I understand that there are many who identify as radical feminist who share the belief you expressed this way: “Disappear biological sex as meaningful, and much of women’s oppression then becomes obscure, meaningless, invisible.” But I honestly don’t believe Andrea saw things that way. Her acknowledging that a person could be subordinated like a woman without having been assigned female at birth is consistent with her view that the category “woman” is not tethered to female biology but originates instead in the male supremacist quest for identity through domination, disidentification, despisal, derogation, destruction, and death. She made this point eloquently — far better than I just did — in her essay “The Root Cause” (http://www.nostatusquo.com/ACLU/dworkin/OurBloodIII.html ), which I recommend to anyone engaged on this issue.

      Reply
      1. Lil Z

        Andrea Dworkin did not believe that ‘the category “woman”… originates instead in the male supremacist quest for identity through domination, disidentification, despisal, derogation, destruction, and death.’ On the contrary, she believed in women as actual whole human beings, with an existence and integrity wholly apart from what male supremacist ideology claims us to be.

        The fact that men have assigned us to the category of despised, penetrated other (and that they sometimes treat non-female-born people, such as transwomen, gay men and boys, this way too) does not mean that ‘despised other’ is what women existentially are. Dworkin would have rejected such a horrifyingly misogynist definition of ‘woman’. Indeed, her life’s work was spent deconstructing and exposing it as the lie that it is.

        I think another Dworkin quote, from her brilliant book Right-Wing Women, more aptly expresses her commitment to the reality and integrity of women and girls and the disastrous consequences of accepting patriarchy’s definition of us as ‘some thing, an object or an absence’:

        “The problem, simply stated, is that one must believe in the existence of the person in order to recognize the authenticity of her suffering. Neither men nor women believe in the existence of women as significant beings. It is impossible to remember as real the suffering of someone who by definition has no legitimate claim to dignity or freedom, someone who is in fact viewed as some thing, an object or an absence. And if a woman, an individual woman multiplied by billions, does not believe in her own discrete existence and therefore cannot credit the authenticity of her own suffering, she is erased, canceled out, and the meaning of her life, whatever it is, whatever it might have been, is lost. This loss cannot be calculated or comprehended. It is vast and awful, and nothing will ever make up for it.”

        Reply
        1. John Stoltenberg

          Lil Z,

          Yes, you are absolutely right that Andrea believed profoundly in the existence of women as significant beings, as fully human—as your apt quotation from Right-wing Women expresses. But in her radical feminist analysis she ALSO understood that the category “woman” has been constructed and defined in male-supremacy as the negative of the (equally fallacious) category “man”—as she explained in the essay “Root Cause” I cited. That belief and that analysis were not incompatible for Andrea. Both were important tenets of her politics, activism, writing, and personal life. Andrea’s deep and abiding commitment to women never expressed itself in our conversations together (and never, to my knowledge, in any of her writing) as being grounded in biological essentialism. That was the point I was trying to make. I hope this time it’s clearer. I understand and respect that you may disagree; you may believe that one cannot hold such a foundational commitment to human people called women without an anatomical referent point that reliably marks them as biologically female. You are certainly entitled to believe that, and I’m not replying here with the intention of arguing or changing your mind. I’m simply trying to say that from everything I know, that’s not how Andrea saw the women to whom she dedicated her life.

          Reply
  4. Lil Z

    “Disappear biological sex as meaningful, and much of women’s oppression then becomes obscure, meaningless, invisible.”

    Brilliant reply, Morag, thank you.

    Reply
  5. Autumn Sandeen

    ‘[I]t’s worth noting that Raymond’s book [The Transsexual Empire: The Making of The She-Male] was enthusiastically endorsed by feminist writers such as Mary Daly, Andrea Dworkin, and Robin Morgan.’
    ~ Lesbian Separatism and the ‘Transsexual Empire’

    If such a review were actually written by Andrea Dworkin, I can’t find it. The back cover of my The Transsexual Empire paperback (1979 edition) has glowing reviews by Gloria Steinem, Robin Morgan, and Mary Daly, but no glowing review by Dworkin.

    I can find, in the acknowledgements section of The Transsexual Empire a paragraph that gave the impression that Raymond believed Dworkin agreed with the conclusions of chapter IV:

    “Some people read selected parts of my work, either in chapter or in article form, and made helpful suggestions. Among these are Jackie Pritzen, Fern Johnson, and Lisa Buck. Eileen van Tassell was particularly helpful in reading over Chapter II. Julia Stanley assisted in clarifying sever of my linguistic applications. Andrea Dworkin commented on Chapter IV.”

    One could reasonably conclude by the phrasing of that paragraph that Dworkin made “helpful suggestions” incorporated into the final draft of Chapter IV — the chapter entitled Sappho by Surgery: The Transsexually Constructed Lesbian-Feminist. However, that’s an implicit interpretation of that paragraph, and not an explicit one, of Andrea Dworkin agreeing with conclusion that:

    “The various ‘breeds’ of women that medical science can create are endless. There are the women who are hormonally hooked on continuous doses of estrogen-replacement therapy. ERT supposedly will secure for them a new life of ‘eternal femininity.’ There are the hysterectomized women, purified of their ‘potentially lethal’ organs for ‘prophylactic’ purposes. Finally, there is the ‘she-male’ — the male-to-constructed-female transsexual. And the offshoot of this ‘breed’ is the transsexually constructed lesbian feminist.

    “What all of these events point to is the particularly instrumental role that medicine has played in the control of deviant or potentially deviant women. ‘The Transsexual Empire’ is ultimately a medical empire, based on a patriarchal medical model. This medical model has provided a ‘sacred canopy’ of legitimations for transsexual treatment and surgery. In the name of therapy, it has medicalized moral and social questions of sex-role oppression, thereby erasing their deepest meaning.”

    • From Andrea Dworkin’s essay on transsexuality found in Woman Hating

    “There is no doubt that in the culture of male-female discreteness, transsexuality is a disaster for the individual transsexual. Every transsexual, white, black, man, woman, rich, poor, is in a state of primary emergency as a transsexual. There are 3 crucial points here…

    “…Three, community built on androgynous identity will mean the end of transsexuality as we know it. Either the transsexual will be able to expand his/her sexuality into a fluid androgyny, or, as roles disappear, the phenomenon of transsexuality will disappear and that energy will be transformed into new modes of sexual identity and behavior.”

    Point three is the point that many radical feminists who believe trans women are men, as well as many trans women, have focused on. It’s found in Dworkin’s solution for “the end of transsexuality as we know it” being universal embracing of androgyny.

    I personally tried a genderqueer/gender non-conforming/androgynous mode of dress among my last attempt not to transition; I personally tried rejecting societal sex and gender taboos and norms as a solution to my gender dysphoria. I couldn’t make that perspective and mode of neutral gender expression work for me. So, I would be an example of how embracing androgyny isn’t a solution for everyone who experiences gender dysphoria. I know by the narratives told by many trans people that I’m not alone: androgyny would not be a viable solution for what appears to be a vast majority of the transitioned and transitioning.

    Raymond believed “[T]he elimination of transsexualism is not best achieved by prohibiting transsexual treatment of surgery, but rather by legislation that limits it–and by other legislation that lessens the support given to sex-role stereotyping, which generated the problem to begin with.” Dworkin’s solution for ending “transsexualism” is different from Raymond’s, but both identified a means.

    Even though Raymond and Dworkin disagreed on the means to ending the trans experience for people with gender dysphoria, both identified a means-to-an-end to end transition and medical treatment. And, I see Raymond and Dworkin agreeing that trans experience was disastrous for the trans person– especially the trans woman. Dworkin identifying surgical intervention for trans people acceptable medical practice, but stopping short of calling it appropriate medical practice….Well, I can’t see labeling either Raymond’s or Dworkin’s perspective as trans-positive.

    My own expression of gender, which has included a diversity value (and political actions related to that value) of radical inclusivity, comes from a trans-identified and gendered place within me. Legislating or androgenizing trans people’s end — trans people who come from the inexplicable place of just knowing that we are gendered inside — isn’t an idea I see as rooted in the reality based world. It’s also not a radically inclusive idea.

    It’s hard to argue that Dworkin was an enemy of trans people whose gender doesn’t conform to the sex assigned at birth — the public evidence isn’t there that without a doubt supports that conclusion. But by the same token, it’s just as easy to argue that she wasn’t trans-positive. Her words regarding gender as being “fictions, caricatures, [and] cultural constructs,” and that she stated the trans experience of individual transitioning and transitioned trans people “is a disaster for the individual transsexual,” is clearly derailing of those of us trans people who experience gendered trans experience…Especially the trans experience of trans people like me who attempted to find peace in gender nonconformity before beginning transition.

    Reply
  6. John Stoltenberg

    Autumn Sandeen,

    I really appreciate your sharing this.

    You quote accurately from Woman Hating, and as I mentioned in my essay Andrea never wrote more on the subject. But I’d like to clarify one thing: Andrea stopped using the word “androgyny” soon after she wrote Woman Hating. The last instance I know of was in 1975, when a speech she gave at Massachusetts Institute of Technology was promoted by the organizers with the title “Androgyny.” When that speech was published, she retitled it “The Root Cause” (http://www.nostatusquo.com/ACLU/dworkin/OurBloodIII.html).

    Reading that essay now, it’s clear why the word “androgyny” no longer worked for her as a concept or strategy: She had begun advocating the political project of ending the hierarchical sex-class system altogether.

    So though I think it’s fair to reference those passages from 1974 in Woman Hating as evidencing no antitrans animus, it’s probably important to keep in mind the direction that her later thinking and writing took. The notions of “fluid androgyny” or disappearing roles stopped being the way she talked about the big-picture political revolution she saw as necessary.

    That’s not to take away from the truth of your experience, and I hope you understand I’m not writing this reply to take any issue with what you shared. I just wanted to weigh in about that word “androgyny” and clarify that Andrea herself came to see it as problematic.

    Best regards,
    John

    Reply

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