Is it possible to be gender critical without being a TERF? I just feel more and more like gender is just a big divide and conquer scam and it does more harm than good and why can't we just treat everyone as people? And I want to express that feeling but I don't want to hurt trans people because, well, they're people and deserve to be treated well. And I don't want to sound like I want to erase their identities or keep them from transitioning, but also I want to get rid of all gender categories?
Radical feminists certainly aren’t the only ones who believe in dismantling gender! Simone de Beauvoir, the author of The Second Sex, was an existentialist feminist who proposed that women “become” women through cultural, economic, psychological, and social structures rather than women having some intrinsic biological “essence” that makes them women. Her work actually provided the foundation for a lot of different feminist theories - liberal, radical, post-structural, marxist, and psychoanalytic.
The radical libertarian feminists who believe in dismantling gender and instituting a sort of androgynous utopia are different from the radical cultural feminists who essentialize femininity to “empower” women - the former include feminists like Shulamith Firestone and the latter includes feminists like Adrienne Rich and Mary Daly (both of whom are notoriously transmisogynistic).
However, as a marxist and postcolonial feminist, I believe that the abolition of class is not possible without the abolition of gendered and racial hierarchies and oppression. Moreover, a lot of the boundaries between different feminist theories aren’t so immutable - many ideas flow from discourse to discourse. As a marxist feminist I do not think class consciousness/the abolition of class is possible without dismantling white supremacy or patriarchy, because white supremacy, patriarchy, and capitalism reproduce each other and work hand in hand.
Dismantling gender would actually liberate trans people as well, as it would liberate all people. However, there are ways to approach this discourse that can either be transphobic and transmisogynistic (the way many radical feminists approach it) and there are ways to approach it that actually emphasize trans people’s, particularly trans women’s, struggles. Trans women are an oppressed class under capitalist heteropatriarchy. They struggle under the capitalist heterosexualized gender binary in unique ways.
And trust me, many critical trans theorists and writers have already written about a trans politics that seeks to abolish gender too. Gender is an oppressive construct for trans people and it continually reproduces itself to enact violence against trans people and women.
Dismantling gender will help everyone in the long run, but it is impossible to dismantle gender without abolishing class or race! This is where marxists differ from radical feminists - radical feminists believe patriarchy is transhistorical and that the ultimate location of women’s oppression is in the sex/gender system. The sex/gender system certainly does oppress women, but patriarchy is constructed by capital and culture. Radical feminists don’t historicize properly, nor do they employ an intersectional framework in their analysis, which is why their theories are largely inadequate and either exclude or only marginally apply to women of color, nonwestern women, or trans women. So trust me on this - while radical feminists in the 60′s and 70′s published a lot of crucial literature on dismantling gender, they are not the first to posit that gender is socially constructed, and they are not the only ones who believe that it has to be dismantled.