This morning, as I scrolled through Facebook, sipping on my daily cup of bitter coffee, I was shocked and dismayed to stumble upon a post on a popular Feminist page filled with anti-trans comments. I suppose I always new in the back of my mind there was a subset of feminists who were against transgender rights, but I’d always lumped them with the in a sort of small pseudo-feminist group like the “feminist” pro-life advocates.
But here they were, labeling themselves radical feminists, and claiming that those who were for trans-rights were against women. One woman even exclaimed that feminism is dead and that we have effectively killed off any hope for women and girls ever. Somehow, in their tiny brain, they seem to think that the men’s rights activists have infiltrated feminism. Because of course men’s rights activists are totally pro-transgender people, right, and have no problem with being called feminists?
The post was about women who are born biologically female being able to discuss their anatomy without it being labeled hate speech. It was that tried and true method used so copiously by the conservative right where they purposefully misinterpret something some liberal person said and make a problem where there is none. I’ve never heard a trans-woman complain about cis-women commiserating over menstruation cramps. What is a problem is when cis-women use their anatomy to exclude and disenfranchise women who were born with a different set of genitalia.
A prime example of this discussion would be in regards to the pink pussy hats worn during the Women’s March on Washington. Now, if you’ve looked at my “About” section on my blog you’ll note that I am in fact wearing one in my picture. However, in retrospect if I could go back I wouldn’t have worn it because A) not all women have pussy’s and B) not all pussy’s are pink. In the moment I was wrapped up in a sense of solidarity with womanhood, and failed to think of the ultimate implications of the gesture and it’s exclusionary nature.
That is the kind of dialogue we are having when we talk about inclusion. Of course vaginas, boobs, and motherhood are all topics that can and should be spoken about within the realm of feminism but we should not limit ourselves and focus our scope so narrowly that we ignore all other aspects that make a woman a woman. I am not defined by my reproductive system. My gender is just as performative as a transgender individuals is. We can not lose sight of that.
My feminism, and quite frankly the only feminism I accept and acknowledge, is intersectional. It is inclusive and fights for the rights of all women. Feminism exists because of a general patriarchal distaste for what is culturally accepted as feminine. Straight men do not wear dresses without raising some eyebrows not because it is genetically ingrained in men not to, but because it is socially ingrained that the dress is beneath them because of it’s close history of being tied to women. When a trans-woman goes out she is faced with the same stigmas, the same misogyny as a cis-women. In fact the discrimination is worse. How dare this person who was blessed to be born with a penis go demean themselves in female attire. How dare they shirk their male privilege!
Gender is such a nuanced thing and, as I’ve discussed previously, conservatives don’t do well with nuance. To them, god has made two little boxes into which everyone must fit, and if they don’t, they are perverse and these perverts have chosen to break away from all that is good and normal and Christian. At every turn it is religion at the heart of exclusion. No matter how often scientists refute the notion of binary gender, faith and base emotion will win.
We must have a feminist ethos that can properly combat this toxic and narrow mentality. Feminism that does not encompass our trans sisters is not feminism. It is a twisted morph that has no place in our philosophies. I am fully aware that feminism does not possess an unwavering manifesto as so many other ideologies do, and perhaps that diversity of ideas can be a boon at times. However, in this case there is no room for tolerance of intolerance.