‘“I am a Feminist but…”: Transgender Men, Women and Feminism’
In 1998, Stephen Whittle posed the question, “How can feminism accept men with women’s bodies (or is that women with men’s bodies)?” Whittle’s question remains central to feminist debates and the continuing controversial relationship between transgender and feminism. With this question in mind, this paper draws upon the second and third waves to explore the relationship between feminism and transgender. I first examine radical feminist writing from the 1970s through the 1990s and address how this perspective affected an anti-transgender sensibility within second wave feminism. I then locate poststructuralist feminist and queer theories, which have been integrated into third wave feminist ideologies and practices, as models through which contemporary feminism can account for transgender. To do so, I draw on my previous qualitative research to analyze the relationship between feminism and transgender. Drawing on this data, I investigate how participants articulated their experiences of second wave feminism and explore how they relate to contemporary feminisms. I conclude by positioning a feminist politics of difference as a productive site for the comprehensive incorporation of transgender into future gendered analyses and sites of activism.
Sally Hines is Director of the Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Studies (CIGS), and Associate Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies in the School of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Leeds. Her books include: TransForming Gender: Transgender Practices of Identity, Intimacy and Care (Policy Press, 2007); Gender Diversity, Recognition and Citizenship: Towards a Politics of Difference’ (Palgrave MacMillan, 2013); Transgender Identities: Towards a Social Analysis of Gender Diversity, (ed. with Tam Sanger, Routledge, 2009); Theorizing Intersectionality and Sexuality (ed. with Yvette Taylor and Mark Casey, Palgrave MacMillan, 2011); Sexualities: Past Reflections, Future Directions (ed. with Yvette Taylor Palgrave MacMillan, 2012). She has co-edited special journal editions of Sociology (Special Issue on Sexualities) and Gender, Place and Culture (Special Issue on Transgender), and has published in a wide range of journals including Sociology; Gender, Place and Culture; Sociological Research Online; Critical Social Policy; Journal of Gender Studies. Sally has recently completed an ESRC funded knowledge exchange grant ‘Recognising Diversity? Equalities in Principle and Practice’ (2012-2013) which drew on her previous ESRC funded project ‘Gender Diversity, Recognition and Citizenship’ (2008-2010).