Theresa Senft's article titled "Of Women and Dogs" misrepresents Echo's policy about transgendered individuals on Echo. The story she tells of Embraceable Ewe took place two years ago. Two years ago, I said Ewe could get into WIT (our women-only space) when she'd had a transsexual operation. (She would have gotten in immediately if she'd already had the operation.)
If she had asked three months ago, the answer would have been "come on in." A transgendered woman is welcome to join WIT if she has been living as a woman for one year and has been a member of Echo for at least six months. The first requirement is to get around some guy saying, "Sure, I'm a woman" just to get in. A few people like that would destroy the space. And, since we really only have someone's word for it, the second requirement is about establishing trust. Whether the medical or legal communities recognize her status as a woman or not is immaterial to us.
It's imperfect, I realize that. But it's a compromise that allows us to be more inclusive while retaining the level of safety and trust that exists in WIT now. Transgendered people do not necessarily have the immediate trust with respect to gender that is accorded traditional women, but perhaps we can change that.