If you’ve ever listened to transactivists respond to criticism (or even just acknowledge that criticism exists) then you are probably familiar with the “Jurassic Raymond” mythology. The story goes something like this:
“Many centuries ago, back in the 1970s, in a land called SecondWaveFeminism, there lived a horrible monster known as JaniceRaymondMaryDaly. This monster, for no reason whatsoever, hated transsexuals and wrote terrible books about them. Everything this monster wrote was evil and cursed, and with her black magic she inspired legions of ignorant whitemiddleclasswomen (and heads of state) to also hate transsexuals, for no reason whatsoever. These hatemongering fools were known as ‘radicalfeminists’.
Nowadays, the monster is dead (killed retroactively by Audre Lorde, Judith Butler and Julia Serano’s penis in a fantasyland called Stonewall). Thankfully, there are only a few surviving members of that tragic era, and soon these dinosaurs will all be dead and unicorns and rainbows and sex work for all!”
This mythology has been used to console transactivists so many times that they now have a hard time explaining anything that deviates from this narrative. It’s just inconceivable to them that opposition to their politics could be formulated simply by exposure to those politics and to their own behavior. The belief that everyone who opposes their politics was somehow programmed by JaniceRaymondMaryDaly is fantastically egotistical and self-reassuring, but it’s also wrong.
For me, and I suspect others as well, the reality is that I oppose transpolitics not because I’m ignorant of the nuance of conflicting trans theories or because I was brainwashed by hate-filled radical feminists but because I’m well aware of what those politics are and I reject them. I’ve found them to be based universally on a hatred of women mixed with varying amounts of toxic individualism, capitalism and lifestylism all bound together by a pathological sense of entitlement.
But I didn’t always think that. Back when I didn’t know the difference between a cisgender transsexual and a pansexual neutrois with genderfuck tendencies, I was a much better “ally”. When I was friends with transpeople, basic politeness and civility made it seem reasonable to use their preferred pronouns and to nod in agreement with statements of fact that were at odds with reality. I discounted the high occurrence of batshit mentalism and abusive behavior as just anecdotes. Likewise I brushed aside the energy sucking neediness and constant self-centering. At a certain point however, it became apparent that the walking-on-eggshells was in actuality a coerced participation in a common delusion, and that common delusion was hostile to, and at odds with, fab women and their liberation.
Over the years, the more trans politics I was exposed to, the more it struck me as plainly wrong. It seemed wrong for men to angrily berate fab women for ‘oppressing’ men. It seemed obviously wrong for men to call feminist women ‘cunts‘ and ‘bitches’ who need to ‘masturbate more’. It seemed wrong for men to camp outside a lesbian festival, threatening women and demanding entry. It seemed wrong that clinics built by women for women should be forced to serve men. It seemed wrong to demand entry into an oppressed political class (woman) and to attack and threaten women for not being comfortable with that. It seemed wrong to blame radfems for anything and everything bad and give them credit for nothing good. The more trans writing I read, the more absurd and disconnected from real life it became. The claim that lesbians must be attracted to a penis because ‘some women have dicks’ was really the final discrediting of transpolitics for me.
Transpolitics is very much like Mormonism and Scientology. The less you know about it, the more plausible and the more benign it seems. Once you find out that the men get their own planet when the die, that Xenu used hydrogen bombs 75 million years ago, and that ‘equating childbirth with motherhood and women, erases those men and nonbinaries who give birth’, that’s when things start to look more than a little ridiculous. While transpolitics starts off seemingly benign with politeness and the dreams of liberation, in the end, it turns into the destruction of the class of women and lesbians and a violently reactionary defense of the status quo.
The transphobia ‘creation myth’ (aka ‘blame Janice Raymond’) is also the basis for the rallying cries among transactivists that critics just need to “meet some trans folks”. Or more generally, that everyone needs to be “educated to trans politics”, as if we’re all wallowing in ignorance and have zero life experience. For me, however, I was “educated” by transactivists first and sought out the JaniceRaymondMaryDaly monster second. And ever since then, the more radical feminist writing I read, the more things make sense. These women aren’t a fossil record from some ancient era but real people, explaining real things happening in their real lives and in my real life. And while my experience runs entirely counter to the Jurassic Raymond mythology, there is one part I can sort of agree with — I do think Janice Raymond was right.