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This book was mentioned the other day on the Lesbians circle. I find it distressing that the history of GNC women is being erased by trans activists. The list of historical women "officially" turned into trans men on Wikipedia is upsetting. Children's books are even being written declaring that some of these women were men.

Rather, Manion denies these women the possibility of having been lesbians. This is the crux of the problem with Manion’s book. She makes strenuous efforts to claim that her subjects “embraced” transgender identity as it is understood today. Her endnotes are studded with the work of the philosopher Judith Butler, who believes that “male” and “female” are simply linguistic constructions. Manion believes that sex is “assigned at birth” by doctors, rather than determined by one’s chromosomes and the ability of one sex to reproduce the human race. Manion makes strenuous efforts to claim that her subjects “embraced” transgender identity as it is understood today. She offers no justification for her reasoning.

Probably not surprising given that the author is right on the edge of being trans herself, if her website is anything to go by.

(media note: if you are wondering about pronouns, feel free to refer to me by my name, they/them, or she/her)

She also identifies herself as a "female husband" to another woman on her Twitter account.

Her subjects clearly knew it, too. Some only disguised themselves in public (James Howe among them). When exposed by their wives, police or the press, most admitted that they are women. Some may have had intersex conditions; some may have suffered from gender dysphoria and believed strongly that they were men, despite anatomical evidence to the contrary. But most of the female husbands appeared able to live with a truth that Manion cannot: that it is perfectly possible to be a woman without acting in a “feminine” manner. Sadly, they lacked the freedom to do so.

It's crazy to me how TRAs seem to ignore how strong homophobia and misogyny were at the time. Women did not have the freedom to live their lives as open lesbians or as gender nonconforming women. Most adopted male disguises for safety, or for careers, or for romance, which are perfectly logical responses to a hostile society.

It's crazy to me how TRAs seem to ignore how strong homophobia and misogyny were at the time.

It is super crazy, and it's not just TRA's. I was participating in an amicable, nonpolitical discussion where the history of women disguising themselves as men so they could serve as soldiers came up. The discussion leader (sadly, one of my favorite people, a super nice gay guy) nattered on for a bit about the history of transgender people. As soon as I got a chance I interjected "but they were women." And nothing more was said. But I'm pretty sure that most of the people there just thought I was ignorant.