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20 April 2010

Janice Raymond (1943 - ) feminist professor.

++ Name of Raymond's 1980 paper corrected.

Raymond did a BA in English Literature at Salve Regina College, 1965, and an MA in Religious Studies at Andover Newton Theological School, 1971. She was then for a short time a member of the Sisters of Mercy, but left and did a PhD in Ethics and Society at Boston College, 1977. Raymond’s PhD thesis supervisor was Mary Daly of Boston College. Daly was writing Gyn/Ecology at the same time. Raymond’s dissertation became The Transsexual Empire, 1979, and it and Gyn/Ecology cite each other, and both were published by Beacon Press which is associated with the Unitarian Church. In 1978, Raymond became Professor of Women’s Studies and Medical Ethics at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Raymond’s position is that transsexual women are not women, and she uses male pronouns for trans women throughout. The Transsexual Empire enthusiastically draws on Thomas Kando’s Sex Change; The Achievement of Gender Identity Among Feminized Transsexuals, 1972, and on Jan MorrisConundrum, 1974. Kando restricted his sample to recently-transitioned transsexuals, and Morris wrote within two years of surgery, and so Raymond was easily able to find examples of the gender enthusiasm of new women which she insisted was typical of transsexual women of whatever duration. Raymond says that she supplemented these with 13 direct interviews and found highly stereotypical notions of gender roles, and without the “role strain of normal women”. However Angela Douglas claimed that all the quotes from these 13 are in fact from a letter that Douglas wrote to Raymond. Raymond retells several of the transsexual tales that were in the US press in the 1970s: Angela Douglas’ notorious polemical letter that was a reaction to lesbian separatism; the fuss that some lesbians made about Sandy Stone being the sound engineer at the feminist Olivia Records; Paula Grossman being fired.

She takes the position that sex is determined by the chromosomes and that if XY one is always male, and if XX always female, and secondly that the historical experience of being raised as a girl and menstruating determines a woman. A constructed-woman has only a history of wishing to be a woman. The primary cause of transsexualism is the sex stereotyping of patriarchal society (no biological, psychological or existential causation is considered), and the secondary cause is the professionals, the surgeons, psychiatrists, counselors, electrologists etc who provide services and persuade foolish persons to change (the opposition of the vast majority of male doctors to the first transsexuals is not considered). She never considers that transsexuals themselves regarded the gender-stereotyped requirements of the gender clinics as a problem. Transsexual men are “the tokens that save face for the transsexual empire”, and are barely considered. The patriarchy has introduced sex changes as a means of controlling gender stereotypes, which act in the interests of men. Once extra-natal conception is introduced, biological women will become redundant.
“All transsexuals rape women’s bodies by reducing the real female form to an artefact, and appropriating this body for themselves. [...] Transsexuals merely cut off the most obvious means of invading women, so that they seem non-invasive”.
In various places she compares gender surgery to foot-binding, clitoridectomy and infibulation, corset mutilation, unnecessary hysterectomies and radical mastectomies. Several times she suggests but just stops short of saying that transsexuality was associated with the Nazis, and the death camps.

Whilst Raymond maintains that male-to-constructed-females are more gender stereotyped than biological woman, worse still are those who attempt to be lesbian-feminists:
"Transsexually constructed lesbian-feminists show yet another face of patriarchy. As the male-to-constructed-female transsexual exhibits the attempt to possess women in a bodily sense while acting out the images into which men have molded women, the male-to-constructed-female who claims to be a lesbian-feminist attempts to possess women at a deeper level, this time under the guise of challenging rather than conforming to the role and behavior of stereotyped femininity”.
Raymond’s call to action:
“I contend that the problem with transsexualism would best be served by morally mandating it out of existence” .
The book was endorsed in a review by Thomas Szasz which is quoted on both its front and back covers (“Raymond’s development and documentation is flawless”).

Raymond also wrote a paper, Social and Ethical Aspects of Transsexual Surgery, for the US Government. This paper, which is less contentious and inflammatory in its language and thus more superficially plausible, resulted in the removal of US federal and some state aid for indigent and imprisoned transsexuals, and provided an example for insurance companies who were pleased to have a feminist telling them that transsexuality should not be covered. This non-coverage included breast or genital cancer where it could be deemed to be a consequence of transsexual activity.

Carol Riddell wrote the first detailed and critical review of Raymond’s book, and it has been frequently reprinted, which I have drawn upon above.

Through the 1980s gay academics endorsed Raymond’s book. It was admired by Wayne Dynes (“Impassioned radical-feminist critique”) and Jonathan Katz (“The most profound, extended critique of the medical concept of ‘transsexualism’ ”).   Liz Hodgkinson’s Bodyshock: The Truth About Changing Sex, 1987, while being pro-transsexuals, repeatedly returns to Raymond’s book for explanation.

Along with Peter Ackroyd’s Dressing Up, also 1979, Raymond’s book became a de rigueur entry in the bibliography of any 1980s book on trans topics, even though many authors did not actually seem to understand what she was saying.

In 1988, Sandy Stone wrote a manifesto defiantly responding to Raymond.

Unlike the concept of autogynephilia, very few actual transsexuals identified with Raymond’s position, the one exception being Rachael Webb, a lorry driver cum London Councillor who regarded herself as a radical feminist and as a constructed woman.

Raymond’s books in the early 1990s attacked sexual liberalism, contraception in the form of RU486, and the new reproductive technologies.

In 1996, The Transsexual Empire was reissued by Teacher College Press, without any changes although by that time the excessive gender conformity required by gender clinics that she had initially criticized was largely a thing of the past. She expands her criticism in the new Introduction using the new word, ‘transgenderism’, she dismisses gender transgression as a new type of gender conformity, and has specific criticisms of RuPaul, Leslie Feinberg and k.d. lang. So non-surgical gender solutions are not acceptable either as some might have assumed from her book.

In the late 1990s and 2000s there have been a number of trans writers who have used Raymond’s book as if it referred to other transsexuals whom they don’t seem to like, often referred to as ‘autogynephiles’ or ‘transgender’ or ‘men’, although there is no basis for this in Raymond’s writings: she is as critical of the lesbian-feminist constructed female as she is of the gender-stereotyped constructed female. Notable examples are by Margaret O’Hartigan and Cathryn Platine.

From 1994-2007 Raymond was the Co-Executive Director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW) and is still on the Board. She retired as a professor in 2002, and is Professor Emerita. In CATW she is strongly against decriminalization of prostitution which has led several sex worker activists to take issue with her. She talks about prostitution as if trans women and men are never sex workers.

*Not Janice Raymond, Playmate of the Month for December 1974.
______________________________________________________________________

Raymond has kept her personal life quiet.   Her Wikipedia page has a ‘personal life’ section which says that she is a former Catholic and an open lesbian.  There is no mention of her having a wife.  There are two rumours relating to her private life.  I did not include them above because I could not confirm them, but they are very germane to her writings:  that she had a passion for a trans woman but was rebuffed (Denny, 2002);  and that she and Daly were lovers.  Both suggestions partially explain the intensity of her transphobia.

My husband was raised a Catholic and is a graduate of the Jesuit Boston College.  On reading this, his major comment was to explain that many ex-Catholics and lapsed Catholics emphasize the one issue that affects them personally – with Raymond it is the non-ordination of women ( Johnson, 1973) – but continue to agree with the Church on other issues.  Raymond’s position is remarkably congruent with the Church of Rome:  trans woman are not women; abortion is wrong; the new reproductive technologies are wrong.

For all her concern with the “role strain of normal women”, Raymond is indifferent to the role strain of those born male.  Other than feminist  consciousness raising, she rules out – this is made clear in the introduction to the 1994 reprint - any solution that such male-born persons may wish to try: in addition to her proscription of surgical gender change, she also condemns androgynous gender mixing for both man and women.  She denies that women wearing trousers is transvestity  and at the same time denies men any clothing freedom at all.    Like Virginia Prince and some of the HBS people she is insistent that other persons should follow her prescription only and is not interested in what they might think, or in allowing them to be themselves.

I am a woman, therefore I am a feminist.  This is so obvious to  me.  The great expansion of opportunities and freedoms for all women, trans and cis, over the last 50 years is one of the great achievements of the 20th century.  Raymond attempts to present her flavour of feminism as Feminism, as if there were no others.  But of course there are many feminisms.  One of the best statements of how Raymond is an embarrassment to feminism is found in Califia’s book.   As a feminist I also find Raymond embarrassing.  But there are also trans women who say things that I do not like.

18 comments:

  1. She is the single most damaging person in the last 100 years to trans people as a whole. Far more than her mentor was. Even though she's publicly distanced herself in the last decade from her own work, she has yet to repudiate or deny any of it, even in the face of evidence (which she considers to be fabrications of patriarchy).

    Terrible, terrible woman.

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  2. I purchased her book back in 1984 from Beacon Press...and as a blogger, that I once read, has said: Her book seems almost more relevant today than when she wrote it. Probably speaking about 'autogynephiles.' Regardless I do agree that she took too much info from neophytes instead of transsexual who have been living-and-working for years as females (or males, for females-to-males).

    One thing, I'd be curious if she has ever talked about the 'aftermath' of her book...and the reactions received from transsexuals. If this is on the Internet I've never been able to find it.

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  3. Lani, I have already answered you in the paragraph on O'Hartigan and Platine. You are fooling yourself if you think that Raymond would accept you as a woman, no matter how non-autogynephilic you think that you are.

    Her follow-up is in the introduction to the second edition, as discussed above.

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  4. Catherine O'Connor3/5/10 06:33

    In looking at this person's academic training
    in the first paragraph, and myself having
    been raised catholic, I could guess where
    this article was going. I guessed right.
    Obviously, a well-trained spokesman for
    the Roman Curia. Maybe even without realizing
    it. Do I sense correctly an angry person? An unhappy one? Maybe spends to much time in
    academia and not enough in the real world.

    -Catherine O'Connor

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  5. Hers was the standard, politically correct, lesbian-feminist attitude of her era. This hostility was widespread throughout homosexual subcultures through much of the 70s and 80s. There is no point in dignifying it by imputing religious motivation or blaming it on Catholicism; most people in the West had Catholic roots, but they didn't become Janice Raymond. Raymond's is just a case of faddism gone wild.

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  6. While Greer and Bindel reached similar positions without being Catholic, there is a distinct Catholic flavour to both Daly and Raymond. Both Catherine and my husband, having being raised Catholic, quickly recognized the Catholic deformation in Raymond's positions. Raymond further opposes reproductive technology and contraception.

    PS Davison provides a link on his name as if he is a person, but the link is to an advertising site.

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  7. Davison Cavidge15/5/10 18:41

    No, registration expired, there's no advertising site, just a site reseller. Davison is a she, as is Greer. Greer was indeed raised Catholic in Melbourne, went to convent school.

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  8. Stonewall Janet24/10/10 13:20

    Janice Raymond is a soulless being whose OPINIONS were treated as FACT by the Transphobic establishment, who lined up to be on handwagon. Her opinions have hurt a huge number of transpeople over the years with respect to insurance coverage, societal acceptance, and just plain removal of dignity for transpersons. There was no pretense made of reviewing any other opinions or research in support of or in contradiction to, her opinions. Yet the entire screed was accepted as gospel by others, because it's so easy to hate what one does not understand.

    We'll be waiting for an apology which shall never come.

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  9. Janice Raymond is a dreadful woman. But the notorious John Money was far more harmful to transsexuals than Raymond. He caused pain for transsexuals and intersexuals. The rumour I heard about Raymond is that she hates transsexuals because her lesbian lover left her for a transman. That seems pretty likely. I know that people of a certain generation adore Harry Benjamin. His work seems to support transsexuals but he was patronizing and mean spirited. He once said that 'the creatures (referring to the transsexual women) would make very good mothers. He thought that transssexuals were not thankful for his treatment.

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  10. I was discussing Janice Raymond with a friend last night. My friend said that Raymond also got alot of her transphobia from 'feminist witch' Z Budapest. Z Budapest is very hateful about transsexual people and doesn't want them on 'wimmin's land'. Budapest is the one who coined the 'term' 'male energy' when referring to transwomen. Isn't our world full of such hatred?

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  11. Also, add Charles Socarides on our 'enemies list.' His book "Beyond Sexual Freedom," was one of the first books I had read that had anything to do with transsexualism (I think it was published in 1974). He was more brutal than Raymond. Although, despite what Janice Raymond and others may think: that people can see 'the devil' surface in a woman before they see it in a man. I personally believe most (trans) people have never heard of him largely due to the fact he only wrote one chapter in his book about TSs and not an entire book bashing trans-folks. Also, I might add, he is another who never mentions female-to-male transsexuals at all. They are somehow guilt-free or either they don't exist in his world.

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  12. Anonymous4/11/10 14:40

    Thank you anonymous about posting the information on Charles Socarides. Charles S is a notorious Freudian psychoanalyst who claims to be able to 'cure' homosexuals and transpeople. His son came out as a gay man about 12 years ago. Charlses S is a dangerous dangerous man. And let me add Milton Diamond to the list of dangerous men. He is a sexologist in Hawaii. He claims to be the best friend to transsexuals. His theories are horrible. He always wants trans and gay people to participate in his dreadful research. He probably helped push David Reimer to suicide. David was the boy raised as a girl. he had lost his penis during a botched circumcision. John Money coerced the family in having the boy castrated and raised as a girl. When David reached his late teens he reverted to living as a male. He was living happily until Milton Diamond dug up his past again using private eyes. BE VERY CAUTIOUS ABOUT MILTON DIAMOND. Thank you.

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  13. Anonymous4/11/10 14:43

    Yes, Z Budapest is an enemy of transsexual people. She is a shady character who practices new age 'witchcraft'. She thinks of male to female transsexuals as vampires who feed on women's energy. Budapest (an alias) has long campaigned to keep transsexuals and intersexuals such as AIS women from being allowed at women's only festivals. She practices bizarre negative magic involving urine, menstrual blood, feces and aborted human fetuses. She has put human fetuses in a cauldron and made 'fetus soup'. No lie. I for one don't want to go on her 'wimmin only land'. Twisted.

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  14. Anonymous6/11/10 13:56

    Someone told me that Mary Daly went to the grave hating transsexuals particuarly transwomen. I don't hate Daly or Raymond. I don't want to stoop to their level. I'm an ethical vegan and want our world to treat all people, animals and the planet with the respect that it deserves. Namaste.

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  15. Germaine Greer is far more vicous about transpeople than even Raymond. Greer caused two transwomen to be fired as professors in the U.K. She hates AIS women and transwomen. She seems to be full of lust for teenaged boys. She is fascinated by the penises of teen boys. Greer is a sick piece of work. And we should avoid Milton Diamond like the plague. May Goddess Kali bless all of you.

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  16. Hello: My name is Aitch and I am a straight female.

    My concern is the issue of violence and rape toward transsexuals and transvestites. Raymond is a lesbian and a woman and therefore a target of those who would physically assault both homosexuals and women.
    We are all in the same boat that way.

    Another concern is that society, culture, media and journalists in general-- paint feminists with ONE broad brush stroke. They will say that Raymond is a feminist--implying that all feminists agree with her and/or her opinions. The idea is that feminists must agree 100% on every nuance of every issue.
    And this is just one example!
    Zagria's article shows how this false perception is prevalent.

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  17. Aitch would seem to have missed where I wrote above: "Raymond attempts to present her flavour of feminism as Feminism, as if there were no others. But of course there are many feminisms. One of the best statements of how Raymond is an embarrassment to feminism is found in Califia’s book."

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  18. Anonymous30/9/11 13:08

    I have been around when Raymond's and Daly's books were published and I can confirm that their brand of feminism was wide spread and common ideology back then. Most activists had at least incorporated parts of it, and I'm not talking about some small group of weirdos making fetus soup. I'm talking about a majority of leftists, male and female. It's really sad, because otherwise, these were the people who got shit done, and had a huge potential for doing good. If you were a feminist or gay activist back then it was very difficult to escape those opinions. Most people from that generation still believe what have they learned as "truth".

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