Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Cutting Edge-October 2014

By Barbara F. Anderson, P.D., LCSW


Have you run into radfems yet?  The New Yorker magazine, in its Aug. 4, 2014 issue, published a fascinating article titled, “What is a Woman?” and tells us all about them.  Michelle Goldberg, the author, writes of this movement of women who challenge trans women’s right to call themselves women.  They trace their position back to 1973, at the height of the second wave feminist movement, when a group of women at the West Coast Lesbian Conference took the position that a born male hasn’t “earned the title of woman.”  They believe that “anyone born a man retains male privilege in society; even if he chooses to live as a woman …he can never understand what being a woman is really like.”  Reference is made to the book, “Unpacking Queer Politics” (2003) by Sheila Jeffreys which criticizes m-to-f transition as a “capitulation to misogyny.”  The author is considered the “Andrea Dworkin of the U.K.” and is seen as either a heroine or zealot, depending which side you are on.  An opponent of the movement posits that radfems are victims of trauma at the hands of men and deserve respect for their experience. However, “the pain of radical feminists … can’t trump trans rights.”  She advises them to “stay out of spaces where transgender male-to-female people go.  It’s not our job to avoid you.”


“As One” is an opera with a “novel twist” according to the NYTimes of Sept. 6, 2014.  Laura Kaminsky and 2 collaborators (one of which is herself, trans) have written this chamber opera which premiered Sept. 4, 2014 at the Brooklyn Academy of Art.  Hannah, the protagonist is trans and the dilemma faced by the creators is how to make her story universal while reflecting the very specific events around her transition.  They solved this by having 2 voices unify one character.  A baritone sings “Hannah before,”  while a mezzo-soprano plays “Hannah after.”  Throughout the piece, the singers’ voices are notably incompatible until the end when they sing “strikingly in unison…. A harmonic disturbance in the final chord suggests that Hannah’s fulfillment is not so complete.”


Did you catch Lady Valor: The Kristen Beck Story on CNN Sept 4?  It told the story of Christopher Beck, Navy SEAL in Iraq and Afghanistan.  According to the review in the New Yorker, Sept. 5th edition, “Christopher Beck carried out countless secret missions.  Beck’s most covert action, however, had nothing to do with the military.  For most of his life, and his 20 years with the SEALs, Beck considered his true identity to be female.  Months after retiring from the Navy in 2011, he summoned the courage to begin hormone therapy and come out publicly.”