The trans war on motherhood

Sep 1, 2021 by

by Mary Harrington, UnHerd:

Shon Faye’s primer on gender identity draws strongly on second-wave feminism.

[…]  The Transgender Issue: an argument for justice is written with an op-ed journalist’s persuasive energy, in a style that (for anyone familiar with the so-called “Terf wars”) at times egregiously begs often hotly-contested questions. For example, proposed legislation that would replace biological sex in law with self-identified “gender identity”, a change with far-reaching conceptual and political implications, is breezily characterised as “a more humane process for gender recognition”.

But Faye writes well. Anyone seeking a primer on “trans-inclusive” and “gender critical” arguments could do worse than read this book alongside Helen Joyce’s Trans. The book’s interest lies in its ambivalent relation to an older generation of feminism.

Faye draws on second-wave writers and radical feminist history, to argue that far from representing a repudiation of the second-wave legacy, trans-activism is its inheritrix. To this end, The Transgender Issue quotes Andrea Dworkin’s approving 1974 description, in Woman Hating, of how new research and fertility technology “challenges the notion that there are two discrete biological sexes” and “threatens to transform the traditional biology of sex difference into the radical biology of sex similarity”. Elsewhere, Faye correctly points out that disagreements over the place of trans women in feminist groups go all the way back to the Seventies.

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