Accommodations for Trans People in Feminism

The question of what makes a woman in a world where we separate out biology from femaleness is a trickier one, and Burkett’s piece needles at some of the more difficult issues facing modern feminists. … And why is it that it’s women’s institutions that seem to be the only ones facing these issues, and what does it say that men aren’t being asked to be as accommodating or open?
What Makes a Woman Is Less Important Than What Makes a Feminist >>

I find the question at the end of this article fascinating. I’ve removed the examples, but they are a part of the discussion, and you can find them on the other side of the source link. I want to start with the question itself, as it points fingers back at the trans community for issues feminism is having to deal with, and attempts to redirect the discussion back towards the target of feminists’ struggles.

It oversimplifies the nature of the trans movement, which is not only fraught with transphobia, but transmisogyny. This creates an environment where trans men and trans women don’t face the same set of challenges, and so to lump their effects on feminism into a single “them” is problematic.

It is interesting that the examples from the article are predominately about the trans man community. It parallels other discussions that I have seen. So we have a set of trans men who are being included into women’s spaces because of their biology, and wanting to maintain their involvement in underserved issues that affect women in society, such as reproductive rights, that affect them through the collateral damage that misogyny dishes out.

And this isn’t a bad thing. Trans men are invested in abortion rights, and trans women should be too, because of how society sees women and bodily autonomy when it comes to reproduction and sex. So being inclusive here helps the community of trans men. When it comes to men’s issues though, if part of male privilege is that men’s issues are not underserved, then what is there for trans men to push on beyond trans exclusionary behavior by cis men (which are also perpetuated by cis women)? And will a trans man (or woman) be directly interested in a majority of issues where men are underserved? Not likely any more than any other feminist might already be due to some intersection between issues they are facing, such as restrictions on gender roles.

To be a little blunt for a moment, men (more accurately, people with privilege over us) are being asked to be accommodating by the trans community. I’m not even really sure what mindset led to this particular question. There is so much overlap between a trans woman’s issues and a cis woman’s issues when it comes to society, that many of them remain hidden, but they are there. As for trans men, I have to let them speak on their behalf (jezebel.com) as to the issues they face. But the reality is that cis men reject me in much the same way cis women do, both trying to claim my identity is invalid. There isn’t anything unique about what we ask of women here, that the author is alluding to.

If there is a reason why feminist issues and women’s spaces are being asked to be more inclusionary, it is because they are trying to serve a group of underserved or marginalized people. These people are looking to join up because these issues intersect with their experiences and issues. Trans women in particular are just as vulnerable to misogyny as cis women, and so to be excluded from these potential shared safe spaces is troubling, especially when the reasoning for excluding one set of trans individuals, and including another is by proclaiming that their identity is “fake”.

That said, I’m not entirely convinced that trans men should be accepted into both safe spaces for women, and male only spaces (by passing, if able) at the same time. Let alone being used as a primary source of information for how to address trans women in these spaces, due to transmisogyny (pqmonthly.com). In that way, I can understand the author’s questioning, as it raises questions for me, but in the sense of being a trans woman underserved by the feminist community that I want to participate in while trans men are in some ways given focus, agency and authority to act in these same spaces, even on my behalf. Only to have some of those individuals use that focus to try to invalidate my identity.

At the end of the day, I lament that we are still having this sort of debate. And I lament the fact that we are willing to say that access to safe spaces and support networks is somehow a contentious problem. Even more when I’m getting lumped in with my trans male brothers, who do have different needs and experiences than mine, and painted as placing unreasonable requests on feminism because of their arguments. Why are we even fighting on this at all, if we are all facing same set of issues?

Editors Note: Emma Caterine at rhrealitycheck.org makes a worthy rebuttal against similar arguments as the quoted article makes.