FtM and MtF, the two faces of transition
More women than men are transitioning - indeed, more girls than boys - reversing the proportions of the past. But the two apparently different phenomena do not emerge from the phallogocentrism and normativity of the male gaze. The fight against gender stereotypes needs to be intensified. Especially for the sake of minors

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The phenomenon of transition appears to have profoundly changed in the last thirty years.

The main change – though not the only one – concerns the biological sex of the people who decide to transition, which is now more females than males. Female-to-male FtMs were once an absolute rarity. The proportions were roughly one FtM for every hundred MtF, and even then they were two worlds anthropologically different and distant from each other. Today, FtM make up the clear majority of early transitions – 7-8 cases out of 10 – and the reading criteria need to be updated.

An important difference: while among MtFs the use of hormonal therapies and surgery – castration – is increasingly rare in favor of a self-identification that keeps the body intact (self-id), FtM very frequently resort to chemical support and double mastectomy or top surgery (much less frequently than the construction of a pseudo-male sex).

On the symbolic level, however, both types of transition tell the same story. It is always about the cancellation of the female body.

In the case of FtM, a real escape from the destiny of being women understood as disempowerment, loss of freedom, renunciation, subordination, misery. The movement is the same as for emancipated women and – in a later phase – for anorexics (see here). As detransitioners often say, more than being a man it is a question of stopping the process of becoming a woman, with everything that goes with it. The goal is to “escape from the burning house” (see here).

In the case of MtF it is instead a matter of replacing biological women with their own “new” bodies of pseudo-women, autogynephilically and cosmetically reconstructed, when they are, according to the canons that are linked to the most consolidated gender stereotypes, or by supporting the claims of the male gaze.

That of the FtM is almost always a gesture of political resistance on which, therefore, it is possible to intervene politically: the work with the detransitioners is in fact predominantly political work. The case of the MtF instead presents itself as a predominantly intrapsychic movement.

Apparently, therefore, the transitions FtM and MtF appear as symmetrical, equal and opposite movements, somehow “compensated”: escape from the feminine in the first case, the will to be part of it in the second. In reality, both movements do not go beyond the range of the normative male gaze which denies female freedom and imposes the cage of gender stereotypes. In other words, in both cases we remain in the enclosure of phallogocentrism. The phallus remains the ordering principle.

Feminism has always fought against gender stereotypes and this battle today must be resumed and intensified, especially for the salvation of girls and boys.

The increasingly widespread use of puberty blockers, which anticipates and spreads like wildfire the phenomenon of transition by producing irreversible damage in the bodies of perfectly healthy and never “wrong” minors, has radically changed the scenario and requires maximum attention.

Girls, who today are the main target of propaganda, must be saved from the brutality of these ultimate practices in the wake of emancipation. To free oneself means to free oneself from slavery, to escape from domination.

But being a woman is not slavery, it is patriarchy which, in order to not collapse, cannot help but see us as subordinates. It is a question of convincing girls to escape oppression, resisting in themselves, and of the “unspeakable luck of being born a woman” (Luisa Muraro).

Marina Terragni

translated by Toiréasa ni Ceallaigh

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