It's not my intention to get involved in the Trans Wars. Oh, I do enjoy watching the Social Justice Cult dissolve into internecine battles between trans* and radfem factions. However not? I spent all those years reading about internal feuds and factional bloodletting inside political groups. I love the dark comedy of it all, the Running Dogs of the Revisionists ranting against the Left Deviationists, the endless streams of over-the-top abuse, the ever more arcane demands for purity of thought. As much as I enjoy all that, mind you, I don't want to get involved. It's all too bitter for me. It's not that I don't know that I'm a villain anyway. You know the string of accusations: white, male, cis-and-cis-presenting, straight, and of course over thirty. And, yes, I do enjoy calling the trans* faction the Asterisk Thieves. Mocking that asterisk is something I won't give up. Nonetheless, I don't want to join in any of the faction fights.
Oh, I suppose I come down on the side of it all that says biology and architecture matter. I support anyone's right to live out the lives they want, to present themselves as anything they want. I certainly support anyone's right to full social and political rights and to be free from violent attacks. But I won't give up thinking that architecture matters.
All of which leads to what I think of as Authenticity Fetish. It's not enough to just choose to do something, or to present yourself as something. You can't choose to be something--- that's not authentic. There has to be some deep, inner reality that the visible self projects. It's not enough to say you've chosen to present yourself a certain way, to play out a role in social life. You have to be a real whatever. Think of the anger that's deployed against girls who had LUG affairs by radical lesbians. Think of the anger deployed against anyone who says they moved between gay and straight in whatever direction--- you have to be real! Choice and whim and fashion aren't allowed. You have to admit that you are something; it's not enough to do something. You can't be just trans and present yourself in a way that feels comfortable. You can't just be male or female and wear the mask that makes you feel comfortable in your social life. You can't just present; you have to be a real woman or a real man. You can't wear a social costume; you have to be authentic.
Whenever the Asterisk Thieves hold forth about their own authenticity, I sometimes hear their disdain for anyone who's not authentically trans. I hear their contempt for people who cross-dress but don't see themselves as "really" another gender. The word "fetishist" gets thrown around with anger and derision--- used with contempt for people who aren't authentic, who present as they do for sexual reasons. It's the same kind of contempt you sometimes hear used in gay circles about people who are bi--- you're not real, you can't sit with us unless you're committed to what you really are.
That takes away the meaning of "transition", too, doesn't it? You can't have a story of metamorphosis of becoming someone new. You have to assert that you're just expressing who you really are. You don't get to have a new self or a new life.
Authenticity Fetish, I call it. The need to reject anyone who isn't really something, who puts on and takes off social poses. The need to assert that you're really something, that you aren't just doing a social presentation that you enjoy. And it's not something I understand. It seems that it's not enough to say that you intend to live as if--- you have to assert that you're already, always, and ever some underlying thing.
I won't get involved in the wars. But the need to insist that you're really something or demand that others are really something is a fetish all its own. We're creatures who know how to create masks and stories, but it's not enough to strike a pose. You can't admit that architecture and biology matter but say that you intend to present in a pose you like. That's not enough. No one's allowed to just strike a pose. You must be Authentic. Whatever you have to deny, whatever you have to demand from others.