You make me feel like a …
The Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Gender series is promoted as a “debate-style reader designed to introduce students to controversies in gender”. These books have a number of these “controversies” and include readings from published authors that take (supposedly) opposing views. The latest edition of this book, authored by Jacquelyn W. White, tackles the “controversy” “should transgendered women be considered ‘real’ women?” My 2008 paper published in Archives of Sexual Behavior is used to take the “no” position on this: “Jaimie Veale…compared the sexuality of male-to-female transsexuals to biological females and found a number of differences that distinguish the groups in terms of sexual attraction to males…suggesting, at least when it comes to sexual attraction, this group really is different from women born as women”.
First of all, while I did find some group differences, when you look more closely at the paper, it was found that a group that consisted of the majority of the transsexuals (70%) reported sexual attraction patterns that were rather similar to birth-assigned females.
Nowhere in the article do I try to argue whether or not transsexual women should be considered “real” women (whatever that is actually supposed to mean). The author perhaps gets a bit closer to the question when discussing Caster Semenya at the end of the section, but if she is looking for answers in my research, she is looking in the wrong place. First of all, given our different upbringing, it might not be out of the question to expect transsexual womens’ sexuality to differ on average to birth-assigned females in some way and that wouldn’t make them any more or less a “real” woman. Really, despite what Aretha Franklin might think, it would be foolish to think that a person’s sexuality is what makes them a “real” woman. Should lesbians be considered “real” women? Should a group of female-identified people recruited from an S&M gathering be considered “real” women because they might differ from a group of other women on an aspect of sexuality that I measured in this research?
Clearly, there are debates still going on about about the access transsexual women should have to some spaces, and the author mentions the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival and women’s competitive sport as examples. It looks like a good resource on these matters is the article that is arguing for transgendered inclusion, portrayed as being pitted against my article, taking the “yes” position in the book. If you are looking for resources about these sorts of issues, then there is absolutely no point in reading any of my current research that basically has nothing to do with the topic.