For some reason, a year and half after my originally posting this post, a slew of some variety of feminists (at least I’m assuming they’re feminists–it was hard to tell, really) have commented negatively on my suggestion that perhaps Little Women heroine Jo March might have been described by Louisa May Alcott as transgender or genderfluid–or whatever passed for those ideas in the 19th Century. Not sure where-all my blog post went on the Intertubes, but wow, are they indignant about such an idea, and all responded in a cluster over a 24-hour period. Somehow, I either killed their sacred cow in Jo March, or I destroyed feminism itself by calling her a man. Which, if you read the post, I did not. Jo is a woman, and she remains a woman throughout the novel. If she, or Alcott, were in any way genderfluid, then the 19th Century didn’t have much for them in any event. My speculation is just that, speculation. Creative thinking. Thinking about possibilities. Alcott lived an extraordinary and unconventional life, after all.
I am not at all opposed to differing opinions in online discussions. Don’t see a transgender issue in Little Woman? Fine, no problem. We can discuss that, as well as many other possibilities within the text. What I do take issue with, however, is the notion that transgender or genderfluid people take something away from or invalidate women and their feminism. I never said that Jo March was all those wonderful things because she was “really a man.” That’s just bull-hockey, and the comments I received reflected a simplistic and strictly binary view of human gender and sexuality. Those sorts of second-wave comments (and I’m a tail-end second-wave feminist, mind) have no place in a modern understanding of human gender and gender expression, and they will not see light of day on my blog.
If your feminism doesn’t include transgender people, then you need a new feminism.