Why Ger­maine Greer is wrong again

The Advertiser - SA Weekend - - FRONT PAGE - susie o’brien

I am not sure when Ger­maine Greer mor­phed, in my eyes, from fem­i­nist icon to gen­eral pub­lic nui­sance. She has now reached the point where some peo­ple think she de­serves not to be heard at all.

Stu­dents at Cardiff Univer­sity this week called for of­fi­cials to can­cel a lecture Greer, above right, was due to give be­cause of her views about trans­gen­der peo­ple. Ear­lier this year The Fe­male Eunuch author told the BBC that men can have sex change op­er­a­tions but it “doesn’t make them a woman”.

The com­ments were made in light of the sug­ges­tion that trans­gen­der celebrity Cait­lyn Jen­ner, above left, was to be­come the next Glam­our mag­a­zine Woman of the Year. Clearly, this an­noyed Greer: The idea that transwomen could have ad­van­tages be­stowed on other women with­out suf­fer­ing the dis­crim­i­na­tion that comes with be­ing fe­male along the way.

It didn’t help that years ear­lier Greer also called transwomen “ghastly par­o­dies”, claimed the idea of be­ing trans was a “delu­sion” and ques­tioned the ex­is­tence of trans­pho­bia.

Greer claimed Jen­ner merely wanted to be as fa­mous as her step-daugh­ters, the Kar­dashian sis­ters. “It seems to me, what was go­ing on there was, he/she wanted the lime­light that the other, fe­male, mem­bers of the fam­ily were en­joy­ing and has con­quered it, just like that,” she said.

I don’t blame the stu­dents for speak­ing out. I think it’s ex­tra­or­di­nary that Greer can dis­miss the coura­geous and in­spir­ing way Jen­ner has tran­si­tioned into a woman so pub­licly as mere jeal­ousy.

The trans­gen­der move­ment has bat­tled long and hard for re­spect and recog­ni­tion of the dis­crim­i­na­tion they face. The last thing they need is Greer le­git­imis­ing dis­crim­i­na­tion against a group that is al­ready marginalis­ed in our com­mu­nity.

Let’s not for­get that the adu­la­tion that has greeted Cait­lyn Jen­ner is not repli­cated in the non-celebrity world. The same in­dul­gence and un­der­stand­ing is not shared by most other trans­gen­der peo­ple – par­tic­u­larly those who do not have $100,000 to spend on surgery to re­shape their faces and bod­ies to make them look not just fem­i­nine but con­ven­tion­ally beau­ti­ful as well.

In­deed, I’ve al­ways been em­bar­rassed to see men tran­si­tion­ing into women, try­ing to make them­selves look fem­i­nine with makeup and ear­rings de­spite their stub­bornly male large feet, hands and prom­i­nent Adam’s ap­ples. It seems like cruel joke of na­ture that some­one should have to be in the po­si­tion where their bi­o­log­i­cal body is such a mis­match for their in­side gen­der iden­tity. But I would never do what Greer has done and ques­tion their le­git­i­macy.

This phys­i­cal trans­for­ma­tion usu­ally only comes af­ter they’ve spent decades try­ing to change their iden­tity to match their bod­ies and failed. Fi­nally, they re­alise it’s their body that needs to change.

That’s why, even though it can be con­fronting to out­siders, trans­gen­der men and women de­serve our re­spect and ad­mi­ra­tion. They’re fi­nally liv­ing a true life. That’s why I will call a trans­gen­der woman a woman if that is what she wishes. Clearly, in bi­o­log­i­cal terms she’s not the same as some­one who has an X chro­mo­some and re­pro­duc­tive or­gans, but that’s frankly none of my busi­ness. And it’s cer­tainly none of Greer’s busi­ness either.

Greer shot back, say­ing she was just ex­press­ing her opin­ion. It doesn’t make it fair or right. Peo­ple shouldn’t have the right to hold and de­fend un­in­formed views. Some­one like Greer has a re­spon­si­bil­ity to be more aware and in­formed. The prob­lem is that her sta­tus gives her views a le­git­i­macy they doesn’t de­serve.

For too long peo­ple have been kow­tow­ing to Greer just be­cause she wrote a great book once.

For me, it’s not about pro­tect­ing the del­i­cate sen­si­bil­i­ties of pre­cious lit­tle stu­dents who can’t cope with be­ing of­fended. It’s about a well-known aca­demic and writer spout­ing views that are to­tally out of step with a pro­gres­sive place like a univer­sity.

It was the same story when she crit­i­cised the size of our first fe­male Prime Min­is­ter’s arse. And when she put the death of Crocodile Hunter Steve Hunter down to an­i­mals tak­ing their “re­venge”. And when she called le­galised abor­tion a con­ve­nience for the IVF industry or crit­i­cised El­ton John’s male part­ner for be­ing listed as the “mother” on his child’s birth cer­tifi­cate. And now we have her highly of­fen­sive re­marks about trans­gen­der peo­ple.

How could a woman who’s spent her life ex­pos­ing and de­nounc­ing dis­crim­i­na­tion in all forms not see that trans­gen­der woman are of­ten among the most dis­crim­i­nated? Af­ter all, trans­gen­der women are the ul­ti­mate fe­male eu­nuchs, and Greer is smart enough to know this. Twit­ter @susieob, Face­book.com/ NewswithSu­se and blog susieobrie­n.com.au

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