by Jarrah Hodge
I’m a bit late to the party reviewing Julia Serano’s book Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Feminism and the Scapegoating of Femininity for Feminist Classics Book Club (it was April’s pick) but really wanted to cover it for the blog anyway since I think it’s a feminist must-read. Cass at FCBC said Whipping Girl “changed [her] entire understanding of the intersection of feminism, femininity, and trans identities”. I had a similar experience.
Perhaps Serano’s most provocative argument is against women’s groups like the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival, who create “women’s only spaces”, even occasionally including trans men while excluding trans women. She argues that feminism needs to embrace trans issues, specifically the issues of trans women since all our oppression is linked through a general scapegoating of femininity. She points out how reality shows focus more on trans women than trans men and particularly highlight the before/after pictures and videos of trans women putting on makeup. “We are ridiculed and dismissed,” Serano writes, “not merely because we ‘transgress binary gender norms’…but rather because we ‘choose’ to be women rather than men.”