I came across an article in Pink News about a machine to be used by Tesco (link at bottom). It will identify age and gender through facial-recognition scanning techniques. It will then use specific advertising aimed at people within that demographic. There are so many reasons to oppose Tesco already (tax avoidance, big corporation and so on). This is another. However, the focus of this article is the ideological sub-text in the Pink News story about the machine and transactivists.
The article concentrates on (yes you’ve guessed it!) ‘inclusiveness’. It alleges transgendered people will be identified and ‘triggered‘ by this software. “This use of this software is considerably concerning for members of the transgender community, who face the very real potential of being “outed” at the till”, says Tara Hewitt, in the article. (Let’s just ignore the ’transphobic’ (sic) obvious here that, if a machine can spot someone is a man, so can the humans around it). I found a BBC article which talks about the Tesco move. It says: “The length of someone’s hair could be used to work out their gender”. I guess that’s all the long-haired male rockers ‘triggered’ then with such crude indicators. In fact, non-gender conforming people are far more likely to be ‘misgendered’ than ‘feminine‘ gender-conforming males. Those imitating ‘femininity’ are the least likely to be misgendered with the use of such criteria.
The article in Pink News is politically significant. It is not about the news item itself (which is, indeed, concerning) but about the conclusions the transactivist draws. As feminists, we focus on the harm gender does to women. Women are targeted by malestream media so that we will better conform to the ‘feminine’ performances which limit and control us. Instead of joining in with feminist concerns, this transactivist focuses on trans ‘exclusion’ of that stereotyping. Transpeople will be ‘excluded’ from being recognised as the gender they think they are; they will be the only ones this happens to. Once again, transgendered people are the (only) victims in a world where everyone else is perfectly happy with gender conformity. The underlying assumption is that gender is innate and ‘natural’ (even if no one else but the person themselves can see which gender they ‘naturally‘ are, including an inanimate object).
The article does talk about gender stereotypes causing harm – but only in relation to promoting “the concept of the gender binary”. In other words, the concern focuses on the typical queer rhetoric that there are more than two genders. (And oops, the machine won’t recognise this). The article fails to acknowledge that male supremacy is upheld and reinforced by gender. In keeping with queer ideology, it completely bypasses the important feminist message – gender harms, controls, and undermines women; targeted advertising at women adds to the general suffering caused to women by patriarchy. In the photograph in the BBC news story about the machine, we see a man looking at an advert for Sky TV – presumably, because men are the ones with disposable income to spend on toys, while women carry out unpaid domestic work in the home. Adverts reinforce women’s subordinate role. The face-recognition machine will be a new tool for patriarchy to target women and negatively impact on our lives. Meanwhile, the transactivist complains that transwomen will be left out of this because machines don’t lie and men will be identified as men.
The trans ideological agenda is seen so clearly here. And it is blatantly obvious that agenda is the antithesis of the feminist goal of liberating women. It’s all about ’including’ trans within gender roles not about dismantling gender roles themselves. We’re not on the same, ideological, side. Not at all. The sooner feminists recognise this, the better.