EDIT 25/June/2013: After being contacted by the blogger I critiqued in this post I have decided to make a few alterations to the text. I am taking out the ‘special effects’, and some of the more florid language, and changing the first paragraph to make my intended point clearer.
This isn’t about any individual blogger, especially not one who’s only ‘crime’ was to be ignorant of the scope of debate around trans issues.
What matters is that her blog post was indicative of a whole generation of young women who have been so bamboozled by queer/trans/post-modern ‘thought’, that they can imagine that a foetus develops its ‘gender’ at some point in the womb.
Gender is a social construct, and a hierarchy, and it is harmful to feminism and to all women. I have written about this before, and I highly recommend this post from Liberation Collective on the subject.
The blog Generation: Handmaid reblogged a recent post of mine, they seem like a rather nice group of equality feminists who’s main concern (understandably, since they are based in the US) is reproductive rights, specifically access to safe, legal abortion (and there are no posts tagged with pornography, prostitution or ‘sex work’ etc to suggest that they are pro sex industry).
Their latest post is on the newly passed Pain-Capable Infant Protection Act, which reduces the abortion time limit to twenty weeks, and the junk science that has been used to justify the act.
As I said in the title of this post, I don’t want to go over to their blog and derail a post about what is a really really important subject, but this:
To start, you cannot accurately tell the sex of a fetus until about twenty weeks, which is currently the widely accepted cutoff time to terminate a pregnancy. This is because a fetus initially develops a sort of hermaphroditic male sex organ, which later is shredded and female sex organs grow when the chromosomes begin to develop. This means that the sex organs, and the fetus’s cisgender, have not reached a critical phase in development for this argument to truly hold up.
I’m not even talking about how poorly they interpreted their source data, or that they don’t understand what chromosomes are (they are all there to begin with, they are the blue print, they don’t ‘grow’), I mean the phrase “the fetus’s cisgender”.
What does that even mean? What has any of this got to do with gender in the first place? How does a foetus express gender? Even if you believe that gender is hard-wired into the brain, why would it develop at 20 weeks? Isn’t implying that it develops in tandem with the genitals basically saying it’s the same as sex? Is this why they tagged ‘cis’ to the front of ‘gender’? When does a foetus’ ‘transgender’ develop?
I can see why they said ‘cisgender’, because the whole junk science of the anti-abortion act is based around when a foetus is capable of feeling pain, and a GOP Representative made the claim that abortion should be banned after fifteen weeks, and said: “Watch a sonogram of a 15-week baby, and they have movements that are purposeful […] They stroke their face. If they’re a male baby, they may have their hand between their legs. If they feel pleasure, why is it so hard to believe that they could feel pain?”
So the whole ‘cisgender’ thing is because this is about male foetuses (theoretically, allegedly) enjoying their male sex organs. Now, masturbation itself isn’t a gendered thing in the first place, not really, it’s mechanical, and the mechanics of it depend on the mechanics of the genitals being manipulated. But implying that all male … beings? existences? enjoyed their male sex organs would have been ~transphobic~ (because a ‘trans foetus’ would feel dysmorphic in utero presumably), so we are left with the ridiculous sentence “the fetus’s cisgender”.