For a while now my feminist self has been at odds with part of the trans community and I’ll be honest, I’ve been quite scared to air my thoughts in public because I know some may take my thoughts personally or ill formed. I’d like to outline from the start that these are my thoughts and at no point should be considered as a personal attack on anyone. If you feel hurt by them maybe you should take a moment to consider why my words may strike a sensitive spot.
As a trans woman, I fully embrace everything that it means to be trans - and that includes the gender I was assigned with at birth. By acknowledging this, I accept and understand that despite living my life dealing with gender dysphoria, I have had a degree of male privilege subconsciously or consciously drilled into me due to societies binary conditioning. This means that from the outset I have been conditioned differently to a cis female. I’m all for wanting to break down gender conventions and make them irrelevant, but the fact remains in this society, my binary gendered upbringing exists no matter what and I accept this about myself despite how I identify now.
I personally am an extremely self critical person regarding thoughts, feelings and emotional reactions to anything generally, not just trans related topics, because I think being critical of ones self is nothing but progressive and evolutionary. I am also someone who is willing to debate, but not just plead my case, I am also willing to listen and take onboard others differing points of view without taking them personally and reacting in an irrational way. If the other side of the debate makes more sense than my own, then the time has come to reevaluate my feelings. I feel this is key to any discussion that may aid the progression of society generally.
An example of the above is in my younger years I used to look at women and become extremely jealous of not being able to look like them. This was, at it’s foundation, a very visual jealousy, I wasn’t jealous of the actual reality of being female where if I was I’d be oppressed and conditioned by society on a daily basis, to take up less space and that my voice wasn’t as important as a mans. I wanted the pretty hair and dresses and make up, but wasn’t conscious of the side-order of misogyny that comes with it. The visual jealousy I felt led to anger, but I never projected that anger upon anyone as I knew that such a thing would be misplaced and unjustifiable. As I got older I was able to deconstruct my anger, and appreciate that it wasn’t anyones fault - least of all the women of whom I was jealous - other than society for not allowing me to express myself.
My partner and I have have recently had many debates on the notion of whether or not it is right to have safe “cis” female spaces that are only for “cis” females. My default opinion to this is “trans women are women and so should be included in women only safe places too.” But the more I started to consider the binary conditioning I was subjected to by society, and that how I may react in a certain situation may be completely different to how a “cis” female might react. Not only this, but “cis” women have been oppressed for decades, and it is a form of oppression which begins in childhood, with expectations and restrictions that trans women have never experienced. The longer I thought about, the more i felt that having safe spaces just for them isn’t to much to ask for. Does situations and necessities like this segregate “cis” women from trans women yes, but we trans women should make our own safe spaces and not force ourselves upon an already oppressed part of society. We experience gendered oppression now, and we experience harm for stepping out of societies gender expectations, but this can not be compared to the experiences of “cis” women. they are two different consequences of the same cause.
This also includes some trans women instantly rushing to arms whenever they feel like their not being included in certain “cis” women events/discussions. For example, a pro-abortion campaign event was criticised for being trans-exclusionary for using the word Vagina in its title - the argument being that it both excluded trans women and caused dysphoria for trans men. Please correct me if I am wrong, but people with vaginas - which are a human body part - are the only ones who are able to have abortions. Whether these people are male, female, cis or trans does not play in to it. “People with vaginas” has been used as a way of talking about gynaecological health without excluding trans men from the conversation, but in this instance it is too dysphoria inducing? Cis women, trans men and Intersex people have vaginas. And they should be allowed to talk about them using the language that is available and medically accurate. In essence it’s almost as though trans women are using their previous male privilege to retroactively oppress and silence discussions that are needed within the cis female community.
As a trans women, I choose to remain conscious of the privilege I have experienced and accept that this will have shaped who I am as a person. Therefore there are some areas of womanhood that are not mine to be part of the discussion of, and that’s ok. My thoughts and opinions only reflect my life experiences and the conclusions I have come to so far are because of them, by all means these are not projected upon you as I am fully aware we all have had different life events to become the people we are today. Trans women have a place in Feminism, that does not mean every part of Feminism includes us.
As I mentioned before, I am happy to be debated with, to have my opinions and experiences challenged.
I’d like to end this by saying that I am not trying to pander towards rad fems, TERF’s or any other faction our community may feel attacked by. I feel both sides of these debates need to stop being at such aggressive odds with one another and maybe if we talked this out we could make all of our existences that little bit better