Once More, On CAMAB / CAFAB Terminology
This is now the third time I’m writing on trans and intersex terminology. I am quite sick of this subject, and I am even more sick of people immediately jumping to the assumption that I must be a dyadic and/or binary-identified trans person simply because I disagree with them. This especially goes for certain dyadic and/or binary trans people who have taken it upon themselves to white knight for what they assume is “the” intersex point of view.
Congratulations. You have successfully bullied me into talking about deeply personal medical details which I do not want to discuss in public. I hope you feel damn proud of yourselves. I hope it’s worth it to you that you’ve stomped all over my triggers, given me the worst childhood abuse flashbacks I’ve had in years, and put me in a state of severe emotional (and physical) exhaustion.
For the record, I find it utterly sick that certain dyadics are so obsessed with white knighting for intersex people that they knowingly attacked an intersex person for disagreeing with their position even after sie explicitly outed hirself as intersex. White knighting is a completely busted way of trying to own your privilege in the first place, but white knighting to the point of openly silencing and speaking over a member of the minority you’re supposedly defending?
As for the actual issues being debated, here is where I stand.
Up until last year, I — as an intersex person — did ask that dyadic trans people use the terms AMAB/AFAB instead of CAMAB/CAFAB, on the argument that dyadic trans people are coercively socialized as their birth assigned gender but not coercively assigned at birth per se. The reasons for my change in position are as follows:
- First, I realized that AMAB and AFAB push trans people right back into the problem they were trying to solve when they coined CAMAB and CAFAB as replacements for the terms MTF and FTM. The stripped-down terms once again tie trans people to their birth assignment rather than their actual gender. In fact, AMAB and AFAB are even worse than MTF and FTM in terms of tacitly equating trans people with cis people of the same birth assignment.
- Second, I realized that intersex people as a whole were failing to acknowledge that dyadic trans people were doing us a big fucking favor in even considering giving up a big piece of their terminology at our request. Instead, more and more of us were simply deciding that we were somehow entitled to exclusive use of the terms we wanted, either by rewriting history to claim that trans people had “appropriated” from intersex people or by playing Oppression Olympics.
- Third, I realized that intersex people involved in these arguments were starting to blatantly move the goalposts by demanding that trans people change their terminology again by giving up “assigned” as well as “coercive”. Frankly, I see no reason to believe that this demand is being made in any sort of good faith; if trans people comply, they’re just going to get the “at birth” part pulled out from under them as well.
- Finally, I realized that the entire reason many intersex people were picking fights over this issue in the first place was not that they wanted dyadic privilege to be acknowledged, but because they thought of themselves as “normal” and trans people as mentally ill and/or perverts. That’s why they were acting like Apple Computer patent lawyers and going absolutely berserk at anything even vaguely resembling the “look and feel” of their claimed territory.
In light of those points, I found that I could not in good conscience continue to support any effort to seek the redefinition of CAMAB and CAFAB as exclusively intersex terms, regardless of any per se definitions. Any term which fails to emphasize the fact that trans people’s birth assignment is nonconsensual and forced misgenders trans people by grouping them with cis people on the other side of the gender spectrum, which makes both AMAB/AFAB and DMAB/DFAB actively harmful to trans people.
I see continued efforts to demarcate a “hard line” between trans and intersex to be horribly misguided at best, willfully malicious at worst, and utterly counterproductive regardless of motive: trans rights and intersex rights are both fundamentally about reclaiming the right to bodily integrity by replacing involuntary treatment built around social compliance with voluntary treatment built around informed consent. We do not achieve freedom for anyone by prefacing it with institutional gatekeeping over who is entitled to autonomy and who doesn’t deserve it.
I’m bolding one of the points not because it is more true or more relevant or more important than the rest of the post… the whole post should be read… but because it jumped out at me because right now we see people saying that we should be using “designated x at birth” as part of the push to get trans* people out of the “assigned” terminology, but seriously, there are people out there (I don’t know if they’re intersex, or dyadic white knights/opportunistic transphobes) who attack the “dxab” terminology for the same chimerical reasoning.
The goalpost moving is still happening, and there is no end point except when trans* people are deemed to sufficiently out of sight. It’s not a slippery slope argument; we’re standing on solid ground and the reference point is being moved around us.