Justice and judgement lie often a world apart.
The recent interviews and sound-bites from Germaine Greer concerning transpeople has upset some and given a platform for others to speak their mind against what they see as wrong. You can watch the Newsnight interview below and make up your own mind about how it makes you feel. However, it is very apparent that no matter your stance on her views she is entitled to them and clearly is going to be standing by them.
To say I was shocked by the comments and subsequent fallout would be a lie, Greer is someone that has never been afraid to upset sections of society and has always been outspoken. Her opposition to transexual women is nothing new and as recently as 1999 she has held strong views. Her book, The Whole Woman, had a chapter entitled ‘Pantomime Dames’ and was very critical of the very idea of transwomen.
“If uterus-and-ovaries transplants were made mandatory for wannabe women they would disappear overnight. The insistence that man-made women be accepted as women is the institutional expression of the mistaken conviction that women are defective males.”
Greer’s views have not changed at all from this time and her reaction to the backlash received from the recent interview is testament to her outspoken attitude to transsexualism. I think what shocked me the most about her comments was she feels men who go through sex reassignment surgery are inflicting damage onto themselves.
“A man who gets his dick chopped off is actually inflicting an extraordinary act of violence on himself.”
I will always allow anyone to have their opinions on the world but I feel this was a step to far for someone who holds sway in society and someone who many young people may choose to look up to. Many reading this will either be or know someone who is trans and will know of the torment being trans can cause. To suggest trans people are simply self harming to extreme levels with the help of doctors is not only insensitive to a whole section of society but actually dangerous. How does Greer not know that a young transperson is reading these comments and it leads to them thinking they will never be accepted by society.
I would like to know if Greer feels it is right to seek a gender reassignment or continue to suffer. It is important to note that Greer makes the distinction of acceptance and allowing. She appears to accept that transpeople should be allowed to transition but does not want to accept them for who they are.
I remember reading Greer’s literature in secondary school and being moved by her modern thinking and great writing. I hate to simplify very complex issues and ideas but I think Greer has lost her credibility now. It is one thing to have strong views and have reasons behind them but her blatant disregard for the trans community is dangerous and has given a voice to those who wish to oppose the ever growing movement.
Never before has it been a better time to be trans and I myself felt safe to start my journey last year after a spate of self discovery in a more understanding world. Public figures such as Greer are falling behind the times in that their views are not moving with the progression totrans issues within society. This is a shame because where others learn to accept and embrace change for the better of us all, there will always be the Greers of this world. She was a great advocate for women’s rights in her day, she did not seek equality but liberation for women. This is completely ironic because every single transperson who embarks on transition is seeking exactly that – TO BE FREE!
Rebecca Root, the star of a recent BBC comedy-drama about a transwoman’s relationship with a young man, was interviewed to answer the Greer comments and sums up the situation well by explaining it is not a choice to transition but a need to survive. Many transfolk know that it is transition or not live at all.
Greer has also made personal attacks on Caitlyn Jenner about her quick rise from reality star to trans spokesperson and feels her nomination for the Glamour Magazine Woman of the Year award is misogynistic which has alienated Greer from her fans and seen a backlash from the press. I fully appreciate this move could be seen as a slap in the face and have my own views on this award, it seems headline grabbing at best. I am more than sure there are many more deserving than Jenner. But this is a debate for another day. Greer may be disappointed to know that Jenner’s reality series has been given the go ahead for a second series which not only shows the personal acceptance of Jenner’s transition but the whole trans movement.
I am not Jenner’s biggest fan, I find the whole reality TV show a little cheap, but I am liking the fact that she is creating positive attitudes towards trans issues and helping to bring discussions to everyday people that is helping society understand it all. She is giving young transfolk aspirations that they can survive and make something of themselves. A far departure from Greer’s attacks and dismissive attitude of the trans community. I think it speaks volumes that a transwoman is being nominated for awards when a well known feminist is being vilified across the media. Just like gay rights, civil rights and universal enfranchisement, transgender rights are having their day and our voice is here to stay.
One hundred years ago Emmeline Pankhurst was leading the way for British women to have the right to vote. Seen as a trailblazer in her day I would like to think Greer looks up to Emmeline as many other woman have done over the last century. She would have been no stranger to outspoken men putting down her ideas and suffered abuse during her time in prison. This is comparable with transmen and women who suffer abuse everyday just for being themselves. Greer is now just a footnote in history because she refuses to accept transpeople and instead becomes just like the detractors she has fought her whole life. I think transwoman in many years to come will look up to Caitlyn Jenner and other transwomen in the media and use their journeys as a beacon of hope just as woman fighting for their rights have looked up to Emmeline Pankhurst.
Whatever the views held by people in society it will not stop the momentum of the trans movement in current times. Throughout history sections of society have fought for their rights, their freedoms and their beliefs. Just like Greer in her time bringing feminism to the forefront through her writing and activist work the transpeople are having their say in this world and it shows no sign of diminishing. Greer will always be better known for her insightful writing and work on women’s issues but her lack of understanding on trans issues will forever be a blight on her.