Transphobia in feminism: where did our empathy go?!

The hostility towards trans women that we are seeing from well respected feminists at the moment it utterly horrifying. I am especially disheartened to see it coming from the UK – a country that I have always thought to be fairly decent with trans rights. This lack of empathy for trans women, and the reluctance to fully embrace and support them because of their past is absolutely disgusting. As a cis woman I definitely haven’t been vigilant enough about the rebirth of terfism in feminism, so here are a few thoughts.

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The idea seems to be that trans women have ‘benefitted from living as men’ and therefore enjoyed all kinds of privileges that cis women never experience. Apparently being born with a penis means you automatically have it easier than people born with vaginas. Seriously? You actually have no idea in what ways a trans woman may have experienced life while presenting as male. She may have actually had to fight every single day to get out of bed and face the world in an existence she found humiliating. Maybe it’s true she could walk home at night without feeling afraid before she transitioned. But instead she had to be afraid of other things, like losing her family and friends or the threat of transphobic violence. PERHAPS while people listened to her and took her seriously as they would do a man, she wasn’t able to benefit from it because inside she feels like a black hole opens up inside her when she’s called ‘Mr’ or ‘Sir’. Yes, men didn’t leer at her in bars or talk over her in meetings. But what kind of empathy-less jerk do you have to be to think that dealing Gender Dysphoria is ‘better’ or ‘easier’ than experiencing sexism, especially since trans women experience sexism after they transition anyway!? Also, why do people even assume that these women experienced male privilege? Because many of them actually don’t, thanks to their feminine nature (aka the fact that they are women and obviously so).

And WHY does it have to be a competition?

Maybe some of her ideas about being a woman don’t sit in line with yours. But she’s newer to it than you and no one taught her to be a woman like they did with you. Being a woman is horrendously complicated, we have to process every message about how we should be, how we should act, what we should want, and align that with who we actually are as people. I’ve had 27 years to do that, and to do it openly, and it’s still difficult. I cannot fathom how hard it must be for trans women and I can’t imagine feeling hostility towards them simply because one time I heard a trans woman repeat something sexist (because HOW many times have I heard cis women say sexist shit? COUNTLESS TIMES). What do these transphobic fake feminists think is going to happen? Accepting trans women isn’t going to lead to defunding of prenatal care or contraception just because they don’t need it. We aren’t going to suddenly stop being allowed to talk about sanitary towels. This is ridiculous (and very, VERY selfish) thinking. And it’s SO reminiscent of the way men reacted when women fought for the vote, and the way many British people talk about immigrants today. It’s prejudice born from selfishness and ignorance.

Women need to work together as a cohesive team who support and listen to one another. Trans women should unequivocally be welcome in all female spaces and we should stop obsessing over the fact that they are ‘different’. I’m different from you as well. It doesn’t matter. Some women have HPV. Some have endometriosis. Some have penises. Some are black. Some are white. Some are fat. Some are thin. Some can’t use their legs. We all have different needs that need to be addressed by our healthcare providers, friends, family, the media and society. The list of different things we can be is endless. But we are all women, and we all get treated like shit by the society we live in because of that. Some of us have it worse than others. Trans women, by and large, actually have it pretty fucking terrible. Stop trying to push one group of us out into the cold just because of the body they were born with. We are all women.

I had actually intended this to be a short post where I would mainly just share some resources, but I guess I had a lot to rant about. Cis women have been pretty shit lately. Here are some excellent places you can go to hear female trans voices; it’s time we listened to them:

Katelyn Burns: writes for all kinds of different publications, is great on Twitter too.

Kat Blaque: Excellent Youtuber, tackles the important questions head on.

Riley J Dennis: Another great Youtuber, like Kat talks about lots of other topics as well.

Everyday Feminism: Great resource for being a better human all around and has some especially great articles by trans women.

The Establishment: An intersectional, political lifestyle website with fantastic articles by trans women.

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