Gender critical feminism seems to be a growing movement at the moment. We consider ourselves feminists, people who believe in the equality of all genders, and we are critical of many things around gender. So why don't we consider ourselves gender critical feminists?
I think it's always good to be critical of things. And we certainly have a critical eye when it comes to many aspects of gender.
We are critical of the idea of binary sex. Western society teaches that people are born either XX or XY, and that is that. But the truth is that there is much more variance within physical sex. People can have many different combinations of chromosomes; XO, XXY, XXX etc. There are also multiple different intersex conditions, or disorders of sexual development. Many people say that these conditions are so rare they aren't worth thinking about, but they are more common than having naturally ginger hair.
Gender critical feminists seem to believe that when an intersex child is born the doctors must perform tests to discover their 'true' biological sex. This is based on the idea that there are only two sexes, and that anyone who doesn't fall into either of those categories must be forced to. The forcing of intersexed people into sexed categories often involves to use of genitally 'normalising' surgeries which are performed without consent and can lead to loss of sensation, function and reproduction, as well as additional distress if the person identifies with a different gender from that which was assigned to them. It is important to be critical of the idea of binary sex so that we can campaign for the rights of those who do not fit into the binary categories.
We are critical of the idea of binary gender. We believe in listening to people who want to share their own experiences- not just of gender, but we're focusing on gender here as that is what this website is about. We're encouraged by society to believe that a person can be either a man or a woman, and that they must fit into one of those two categories. But when you listen to people's experiences you will find that so many people do not fit neatly into those two categories. Some people have created other categories that they identify with, non-binary, genderqueer, goy/birl etc. And some people find that they don't identify with any category. Forcing people into gender categories can mean forcing people to be someone who they're not. Some people find that they do fit into gendered categories, and we want to support that too.
Gender critical feminists seem to not believe that gender identity is valid at all. They believe strongly that one must identify with the gender they were assigned at birth, regardless of how they actually feel. Whilst we're critical of gender expectations, they are critical of people's own experience of gender identity. Telling people that their identity is not valid is disrespectful. We believe all people deserve to be listened to and respected.
Gender critical feminism encourages people to try to accept their bodies as they are, which seems like a good concept. There are always going to be things about our bodies that we don't like and need to accept- but this is different from dysphoria. Dealing with dysphoria is not simply an issue of trying to accept your body as it is, which is something that gender critical feminists do not take seriously at all. We want everyone to love their own body, but for some people surgery is necessary to get to that place. And no-one other than the person involved should be able to say whether they need it or not.
Here at Ungendered we want to encourage everyone to be their most authentic self. And for some people medical intervention is necessary. People who don't suffer from dysphoria seem to see medical intervention as something to be taken lightly. Medical intervention is extreme, inconvenient, distressing, and has many risks, but for many people it is necessary. If you know how physically strenuous medical transition is, then you can begin to see how strongly a person must want/need it to put themselves through it.
Gender critical feminism equates bodies with identity, which is not how gender works. Gender and sex are not the same thing, and neither of these things are binary. Gender critical feminists think that identifying with a gender different from what you were assigned at birth is just like believing that you are a horse. This is horribly disrespectful and puts forward the idea that the most important defining feature of a person is their gender, rather than the fact that they are human. We believe that it is our humanity that defines us and binds us all together.
At face value 'gender critical feminism' seems to be something that we would be on board with. But when you look further into it you find that it isn't about the ideas of equality and gender expression that we support, rather it is about hatred of trans people and denial of gender variance.
We are definitely critical of gender, more specifically we are critical of the ideas that society has and teaches about sex and gender, especially that it is binary. But we are never critical of a person's own lived experience. At Ungendered we believe in welcoming all human beings as human beings regardless of gender. We believe that there are not only two genders, in fact we think it's possible that there are an infinite number of genders. Every person's experience of gender is as unique as that person themself is, and we are all unique! We respect that many people do identify with a gendered category that society views as 'normal', and we respect that many people don't identify with gender at all! We are all about respecting and supporting everyone. We stand against forcing anyone to express or identify a certain way, and we definitely stand against forcing or withholding medical intervention for anyone based on gender expectations.