But women still exist

We don't like the title too much, especially that laconic 'again', but thanks to La Repubblica for hosting our intervention in the debate that started with Michela Marzano's text entitled 'Se non è il sesso a fare la donna'. We republish it here because you cannot find it on'online
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Published in The Republic our text in the debate opened by Michela Marzano with her intervention on 'women with penises' and other wonders. We are keeping the original title that was given to our intervention so as not to cause confusion, even though we do not like it much. Here is the full text to follow.


What is a woman? She is the one who brought us into the world, all of us. Of this there can be no doubt. Which in no way means that one is only a woman if she gives birth to children. We have a lot fought for the free signification of our existencesstarting with the non-obligation of motherhood (although today, as we are seeing, we have for all intents and purposes moved on to the quasi-obligation of non-motherhood). But to say what a woman is, the power -not the duty- to be a mother is the constant of all constants. È It is around its capacity to procreate - envied, controlled, dominated, serviced - that the huge patriarchal edifice has historically been built.

And trans women? They are, indeed, trans women, as the Nigerian writer explained Chimamanda Ngozi Adichiewho, despite having fought alongside trans people in her country for this clear answer was -as usual- accused of being a Terf (trans-exclusive).

After all, even numerous trans people are accused of terfism, from Debbie Hayton to Keira Bell to Scott Newgent, in the eye of the storm because they fight against the administration of hormones to girls and children gender nonconforming (first puberty blocker and then drugs cross-sexis also being done in Italy) increased dramatically in recent years, see the very recent and very worrying investigation of the New York Times; and are opposed to so-called gender self-id or self-certification.

We too in Italy we supported and supported trans people -at the time almost exclusively MFT, born male and transitioned to female - in their tough battle in the early 1980s for the rectification of documents, a battle that ended with the approval of the law 164/82. The law provides for a medical and psychological pathway to obtain the change of age and is actually a bit outdated. A similar law, the Gender Recognition Act in the UK, has in fact recently been updated to speed up paperwork and reduce costs. But the British said no to self-id.

Since then, from the early 1980s to today, what has happened? This is well explained by Professor Robert Wintemute, gay activist, human rights lecturer at King's College London who in 2006 participated in the drafting of the famous principles of Yogyakartaprinciples that have guided all subsequent trans policies (and which do not mention the word woman once). Today Wintemute is regretted having contributed to the drafting. He says women's rights were not considered during the meeting. Above all, he admits "not having considered" that "trans women still in possession of their intact male genitalia would seek access to women-only spaces: no one then had such a thing in mind". Wintemute says he assumed that most trans women would undergo surgery, as indeed they did at the time. He concludes: 'A key factor in my change of opinion was listening to women. 

Do we want those suffering from gender dysphoria to tear their bodies apart with surgery and hormones to cosmetically adapt them to their chosen sex? We bodies we do, and we don't like them to be destroyed. But this novelty -the claim to call themselves women by men who keep their male bodies intact- must be taken into consideration evaluate the consequences.

Self-id is already in force in some countries, such as Canada, California and others. This creates many problems for women's lives. Two examples may give the idea.

Ma le donne esistono ancora
The text by Michela Marzano

The affirmation of the right to be welcomed in anti-violence shelters jeopardises women's safety. Pakistani writer Bina Shah, contributor to the New York TimesNo Muslim woman will agree to share such intimate spaces with men, rather risk death at the hands of her abusive husband. You mean it is 'exclusionary'?

Another example: inmates with intact male bodies who obtain transfer to female wards. Heartbreaking letters from Canadian, Californian and Washington State inmates: "My name is Danielle F., I am an inmate in the CIW (California Institution for Women). I am afraid of this. I am a victim of domestic violence and rape. What will happen if one of these sex offenders with a penis rapes us?".

"My name is Heather Knauff, WF 7697. To allow this is outrageous and unethical. There are already men who have become women who have gone back to being men to exploit this weak system that leaves the population of already disadvantaged women to suffer even more.". Many of these prisoners who call themselves women I am not even on hormone therapy.

I cases of harassment and sexual violence are multiplying, Prison guards also sound the alarm: are they 'exclusionary' too? Meanwhile they are distributed free condoms and a guide on how to obtain an abortion in prison. According to Amie Ichikawa, an activist for the rights of women prisoners, it is as if the law had "gave the OK for us to be raped, as he has a plan to deal with the consequences".. However, there have already been cases of pregnancy, as in the Edna Mahan Women's Prison, New Jersey, which reported on it.

Self-id is this and much more. They are the grotesque golds to Lia Thomas, Valentina Petrillo and others male-born athletes shattering all female records without the overblown sports media chatter ever having the courage to address the issue (the feminist organisation dealing with it is Save Women's Sport). They are the cmale orpi that invade female statistics, take advantage of labour and political quotas reserved, make their way among women because, as also stated recently by The Queen of Gender Judith Butler at The Guardian, "the women's category must open up to make room for others".

'Making room for other subjects' is a formula that well describes female destiny in patriarchy: a making of space that today goes as far as the paradox that for a woman to call herself a woman has become an aggressive and exclusionary act, while for anyone not born a woman it is affirmed as a right.

As to why this is happening there would be much to say, and there would also be much more to tell, there is not space here. However, it should be noted that Michela Marzano made not the slightest mention of all this in her text in support of 'women with penises': does she care so little for her fellow women? And why is that?  

Marina Terragni

for WDI (Women's Declaration International)

and for Network for the Inviolability of the Female Body


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