Bigger than a hexadecimal: some notes on the gender binary

Cautiously pessimistic

One of the arguments made by trans-exclusionary feminists that can sound convincing, at least at first, concerns the question of gender essentialism: after all, if the categories of “man” and “woman” as we understand them are social constructs imposed by patriarchy, then how can we say that trans women are women or trans men are men, when really no one is “naturally” a woman or a man?

Once we start paying attention to things that trans people actually say, rather than just the things that trans-exclusionary feminists attribute to them, the picture becomes more complicated, as it turns out that it’s totally possible for people to advocate for trans acceptance while also arguing against gender essentialism. Still, the question of how we can make life more comfortable for people having to navigate the categories imposed by patriarchy, while also critiquing those categories themselves and fighting against any attempt to…

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