Gender theorist questions transgender "phenomenon"

April 29, 2014 by Ryan Sheales, University of Melbourne
Gender theorist questions transgender

A respected feminist theorist is calling for a radical rethink of society's acceptance of transgenderism.

In research presented in the new book Gender Hurts, University of Melbourne sexual politics lecturer Professor Sheila Jeffreys described transgenderism as a "hugely harmful phenomenon".

Transgenderism—when an individual identifies with a gender other than their biological one—has been a widely recognised condition for several decades, and can be treated with hormone therapy or surgery, if the individual wants.

Professor Jeffreys believed increasing campaigns for "transgender rights" have been extremely damaging.

"Transgenderism is invariably born of severe psychological distress, but society's response to it actually creates new harms," she said.

"Gender Hurts highlights the distress caused to the partners and families of transgender people, and the agonizing regret sometimes felt by people who switch gender."

Dr Jeffreys also argued transgenderism undermines women's rights by seeking to expand entry into 'women only' spaces, such as toilets, changerooms, women's shelters and even rape helplines.

"One of the central problems with transgenderism is that it's based on the outdated notion of gender," she said.

"Radical feminism considers gender as a sorting system for male domination, something that provides 'the bars of the cage' that imprison women in their daily lives.

"Without , transgenderism could not exist.

"As such, when transgender rights are inscribed into law and adopted by institutions, they promote ideas harmful to women's equality."

Professor Jeffreys has researched transgenderism for several years. Gender Hurts is based on original interviews and a critical analysis of a wealth of literature from the fields of history, medicine, the law and sociology. 

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AkiraMS
1 / 5 (1) May 01, 2014
What a load of twaddle. Where is the academic support for outlandish assertions such as "Transgenderism is invariably born of severe psychological distress"? I could equally make the ridiculous statement that homosexuality is invariably born of severe psychological distress. How on earth does she call the notion of gender outdated and then talk about women's rights? It is clear that the world, her included, use the notion of gender so how on earth can she call it outdated? I actually wish it were, so people could just be who they want, but it is not and to suggest otherwise indicates a complete separation from the real world.
eddington_john
not rated yet May 02, 2014
What a bunch of worthless research. The areas that need to be researched are cancer, HIV, heart disease, and Alzheimer's Disease. This is a first world problem and one which is not killing people left and right.
ZoeBrain
not rated yet May 04, 2014
"Transgenderism is invariably born of severe psychological distress, but society's response to it actually creates new harms," she said.

Professor Jeffreys has been peddling the "I know best" line for the last 40 years

To quote a review by Roz Keveny of one of her previous books:

"Most of what Sheila Jeffreys is worried about is a matter of people refusing to allow her to interfere with them; she seems to hate the idea of people doing things without her permission. Of course, that is not what she says - she goes on about the harm they are doing to themselves by failing to understand their own needs as well as she does....When black women do not agree with Sheila Jeffreys ... it is of course quite a different matter; poor darlings, she says, they don't understand their own oppression properly. It is the elitism and knowing better than anyone else as much as the polemical tantrums and self-portrayal as a victim that make Sheila Jeffreys the Violet Elizabeth Bott of feminism."

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