Dear trans women who are also feminists
Inclusion is a huge issue in feminism right now, particularly in relation to trans issues. Here are some handy tips on making your feminism more respectful and inclusive:
Merely existing as a woman — any woman — is hard. But it’s not, in and of itself, a form of activism. It doesn’t make you a hero to the feminist cause. It doesn’t give you extra special insights into gender or power or oppression. It doesn’t mean other people should fall at your feet, desperate to hear each precious word of wisdom. Feminism involves listening and giving (as does womanhood, too much of it at times. But if you want to be treated as a woman, don’t expect a free pass).
Non-trans women don’t exist to define you. They’re not your foils. They’re people in their own right and their inner lives, experiences, thoughts and memories are not accessible to you. Respect their self-definition and their boundaries. For millennia men have been positioned as The One, women as The Other. When you demand that non-trans women call themselves cis, you demand that this dynamic be replicated within feminism itself, placing another weight upon the people who’ve suffered all their lives because of it. Please stop doing it.
If you are angry because you think people aren’t treating you as a woman, consider the fact that perhaps it’s because they are. Feel ignored, talked over, dismissed, your whole identity denied? You’re being treated as a woman and that’s why feminism matters.
Femmephobia might work for you as a concept, but consider the fact that for women and girls who’ve been smacked down whenever they’ve tried to be assertive, aggressive, self-confident, visible, non-submissive, the whole thing falls apart. Gender is about power. Read something other than Serano. If feminism matters to you, make the time to immerse yourself in female scholarship and activism.
In a country where women are denied an education, the right to work, the right to vote, the right to say no to sex — would you still demand to be treated as a woman? If not, where does the political definition end and the internal one start? And how are you so sure that what you think of as cis privilege isn’t just male privilege that you’ve lost? Think about that then imagine what it’s like to know that wherever you’d been born, you’d always have been shoved into this shitty class, no questions asked.
Acknowledge the fact that whatever words we use, power dynamics can transcend them. You can call cis women whatever you like, but if you are treating them the way they’ve always been treated — as non-people, relevant only to your self-definition — you’re not a feminist. You’re a misogynist (even if you demand a different word be applied, that is what you are).
Shut the fuck up about reproductive justice.
Do all these things and then, perhaps, females will give you some time. But don’t ever think you’re owed it.