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"'trans-exclusionary radical feminists' — an insult lobbed at J.K. Rowling, among others..."

Pleasantly surprised that she put this phrase in quotation marks and called it an "insult".

But, apparently, totally avoiding the gender wars.

It's almost like you can write a book about women without mentioning the word "transgender,' hmm...could it be that "gender identity" has nothing to do with being born female?

She does use the word transgender in the book, about ten times [excluding citations]. Though, to me, she does not use it in a particularly "affirming" way, sometimes in ways that I think most of the "gender crowd" would at least turn their nose up at. At least two of the times she uses is to clarify how women who disguised themselves as men in the past, like Deborah Sampson, did not have vocabulary like "transgender" available to them and likely would not have identified as such anyway and at least one reference to a woman who likely would have used the word for herself. For example:

Some went further in moving the parameters of woman. They lived in the West as men, proving (if only to themselves, in secret) that “woman,” so far from being nature’s lifelong sentence, was a negotiable concept. They decided to live as men for many different reasons. Some were, in the parlance of late nineteenth-century sexologists, born as “men trapped in women’s bodies”—or, in contemporary parlance “transgender.”

Other times it is used to discuss the changing perceptions of self amongst a generation (like describing survey results), or describing that there are people who have 'differing perceptions' of their self - not really giving away whether she particularly approves or disapproves, just noting them as parts of the culture, part of people's idea of what a 'woman' is (per the book's title). For example:

Over half of the members of Generation Z say that traditional gender roles are outdated and that rather than woman and man there is in reality a whole spectrum of identities—thus, the notion of binary genders is obsolete. Terms such as “gender nonbinary,” “gender nonconforming,” “genderfluid,” and “genderqueer” have proliferated to accommodate the now-acknowledged spectrum. In 2021, a Gallup poll found that almost 2 percent of those in Generation Z consider themselves transgender

She does use some luxury pronouns, but she will also have things like "assigned male as birth", with the quotation marks (signaling to me that she does not entirely 'buy' that idea).

All that to say - it's not accurate to describe the book as 'entirely avoiding the gender wars'. She notes how people have had differing vocabulary, perceptions, etc of gender over time without seeming to take any particular side which I can certainly appreciate. It's much more of a historical record rather than proselytizing.

...which is intellectual bankruptcy.

I think I disagree. (Not resurrecting this old thread to attack you, just to think about and possibly dialogue on the issue.) Trans women are not women. This is a fact we all know and that most people who are not extremely misogynistic will implicitly admit in some way, if only to themselves. While I greatly admire the women who fight against gender ideology and get cancelled and harassed, I also want to see women writing women's history without their contributions being drowned by the screaming TRAs. It's vitally important for there to be more information about women's history, and I don't think every feminist book has to fight the same battles. The fact that this book simply ignores the TRA delusion and focuses on history that needs to be known recommends it to me. It's a bit like Virginia Woolf's phrase about "anonymous who wrote so many poems." If a woman has to remain silent on this one issue, which * ought not* to have any relation to women's history anyway, to make a larger contribution, it's not going to make me write her off.