Janice Raymond is a professor at the University of Massachusetts. Her ideas of feminism appear to have been influenced by her Catholic Christian background. She is infamous for having written her doctoral thesis attacking transsexuality, denying its medical reality, and for viciously attacking individual transsexuals, notably Sandy Stone and Angela Keyes Douglas in her book, based on her dissertation, The Transsexual Empire, 1979, 1994. Her quoting out of context a letter written by Douglas was tantamount to intellectual dishonesty. The letter origanally written as political satire of misplaced lesbian separatist hysteria over Sandy Stone’s employment at Olivia Records was misquoted as representing typical transsexual hatred of women. The book uses insensitive and transphobic language thoughout, while vilifying feminine MTF transsexuals as tools of patriachy for upholding stereotypes of women, and vilifying androgenous lesbian identified MTF transsexuals for being tools of patriachy, fifth columnists infiltrating womens’space and “raping womens’ bodies”, a typical ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ trap. She dismisses FTM transsexuals as deluded and misguided lesbians, afraid of the label “homosexual”. Her thesis rests entirely on arguments that sex/gender indentity are fixed within the genitals at birth, an essentialist theory that excludes the possibility of transsexuals being a form of intersex, a topic which Raymond never addresses.
The book, while it did not create the transphobic attitude in the lesbian community, did tap into and ‘validated’, as least for the transphobes themselves, the discrimination they practiced. Thus, what began in the ‘70s, occasional attacks on individual transsexual women, became institutionalized discrimination against all transsexuals in the ‘80s.
The book is not the most damaging writing that Raymond has penned. Far worse is a United States federal government commissioned study in the early 1980’s on the topic of federal aid for transsexual people seeking rehabilitation and health services. This paper, not well publicized, effectively eliminated federal and some states aid for indigent and imprisoned transsexuals. It had a further impact on private health insurance which followed the federal government’s lead in disallowing services to transsexual patients for any treatment remotely related to being transsexual, including breast cancer or genital cancer, as that was deemed to be a consequence of treatment for transsexuality.
Ms. Raymond is closely associated with another noted transphobic writer, Mary Daly, who described transsexuals as “Frankenstien’s Monsters”. Interestingly, there is another association that begs for further research. Ms. Raymond thanks Adrienne Rich in her forward. Interesting because Minnie Bruce Pratt, romantic partner of noted FTM transgenderist Leslie Feinberg, also thanks Adrienne Rich in the forward to one of her books. Interestingly, Adrienne Rich unknowingly quotes with praise, in its intirety, a poem written by FTM transsexual Max Valerio, originally written before his transition.
Ms. Raymond’s research interests extend to all forms of modern medicine, including organ transplants. She was interviewed for a questionable documentary film that claimed that organs were being harvested from third world children. Raymond declared that though she couldn’t prove it, she knew that it was being done because there were far more transplants than eligable donors in the United States. The story has been thoughly debunked in an investigative report to the United Nations. The simple arithmatic error came about by not noting that multiple organs are donated per donor.
Raymond has taken stands against several modern medical research areas, especially what has become known by their critics as “New Reproductive Technologies” or NRT’s. This includes In Vitro Fertilization and Artificially Induced Abdominal Preganancy which hold promise to allow women, including transsexual women without uteruses to carry a pregnancy to term. Raymond is actively organizing against the use of these NRT’s. She has angered other feminists by opposing reproductive choice, including the use of RU486 as an abortificant.
The one good thing that Raymond is working on is ending prostitution and related sexual exploitation of women through the Coalition Against Trafficing Women.
Critique of The Transsexual Empire: The Empire Strikes Back by Sandy Stone
Critique of The Transsexual Empire by Nancy Nangeroni
Critique of The Transsexual Empire by Annette Gallo
Other books by Janice Raymond:
A Passion for Friends: Toward a Philosophy of Female Affection, Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1986.
RU 486:Misconceptions, Myths and Morals
Women As Wombs; Reproductive Technology and the Battle over Women's FreedomUp to TransHistory Homepage
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