I am a Woman. You are a Trans Woman. And That Distinction Matters.

Dialog. Love. Mutual liberation.

To be completely fair, it’s not transphobic to talk about your anatomy or to talk about the difference in life experience between cis and trans woman. This view, however, needs to reconcile a few different objections:

First: Inequality and Privileges.

The differences in privilege as measured by health inequality and social inequality skew towards cis women retaining access to more resources than trans women. Disparity exists for all who occupy the social world as women, and is made worse while having a womanhood intersected with trans identity. See: Injustice at Every Turn

You talk about certain experiences as if they were unique to cis women. However, trans women can chest feed/breast feed, pregnant trans men do not get basic maternity leave and must deal with the same (if not more) mistreatment than cis women while pregnant (plus, wouldn’t it be ideal to have all parents receive some type of leave for parent-child bonding?), trans women are harassed by cis men via dick pics (and abusers prey on people who won’t be believed and who don’t have as much community — trans folks definitely seem to be at higher risk for not being believe) and are survivors of sexual assault. One in two trans people is sexually assaulted throughout their life. See: US Department of Justice, Office for Victims of Crime.

As far as sex preferences, sure! You’re allowed to not want to have sex or not for any reason at all. And you’re allowed to base your sexuality on any conception of beauty you chose. Your sexuality can be whatever you want it to be. If you are policing spaces for women who love women, and vocally barring entry for trans women into these social events then I’d say you’re perpetuating oppression (read: differential access to social resources) directed towards trans women. If you personally don’t want to sleep with trans women then of course that’s your decision you get to make. You might be attracted to someone, find out they are trans and then not want to have sex with them because they are trans. Your preferences for a certain anatomy during sex shouldn’t universally exclude trans women from women 4 women spaces. If you want to make a cis-women only space for socializing then I guess no one can stop you. There’s nothing stopping any group with more systemic privilege in creating social groups only for them — that’s the status quo. See: Everyday Feminism.

The reason why you might get pushback from this idea is because the world you want, that is free from oppression, probably means including trans women into most of these spaces. I feel like most trans women wouldn’t try to gain access to a support group for people who experienced miscarriages. Here there’s a unique reason to bar entry — though it’s not because someone is a trans women, it’s because they haven’t experienced a miscarriage. On the flipside, a trans man who has experienced a miscarriage might have that support group as the only option for discussing their pain. The experience of womanhood isn’t monolithic. Does your conception of cis-only space disempower those who are most marginalized? If it does, then don’t claim being intersectional because by definition you aren’t centering the margins.

I’m not sure about this whole infertility forum bit. I don’t feel like there’s any excuse for that person’s behavior. This also feels like an outlier situation — just like Caitlyn Jenner winning an award. Lots of trans people also hated that Jenner won that award — I certainly do.

You continue to talk about shame and disgust around your body. First, many trans people feel the same shame and disgust, multiplied through gender-dysphoria. And that dysphoria is reinforced both by comparing our bodies to the ‘norm’ of cis gender bodies AND through the same reinforcement that cis women and men are subject to through advertising, etc. Do some trans women have vaginas? Vaginas that discharge? Breasts? Do some trans men have periods? Of course. What makes someone think they have universal yet unique experiences that some trans people don’t also have?

Do you think trans women fear for their own safety? That we text our friends and carry weapons? That we fear sexual assault AND murder? That the perpetrator won’t see a jail because the survivor won’t be believed? Again: what makes someone think they have universal yet unique experiences that some trans people don’t also have?

It seems like your issues are with larger social issues, and that you read them as uniquely affecting you. The lived experiences of trans women will show that women’s issues and trans issues combine to make worse health/social outcomes. These issues affect us all.

Second: The Life Course.

The life course approach you take seems to reduce complicated and complex psychological and social experiences of trans women to your own reading. Your reading is: trans women were men until they social transitioned. Most trans women don’t experience this narrative. My reading is: the life history of trans person is nuanced and cannot simply be reduced to trans women being men before transition (example). If your view were true, what we should see in the data is that closeted and/or non-passing trans women (which you might identify as ‘men’ socially) have the same health and social outcomes as cis men. What we see, instead is that transgender adults have high rates of suicide, depression and anxiety because of a society which oppresses us. We see that trans kids and adolescents have terrible health outcomes, which are alleviated with better social support. Even if someone receives some access to material and social resources because of being read as male, psychologically the rates of anxiety and depression and suicide that come with this means I don’t think this idea of male privilege passes the intuitive smell test, nor does it actually grapple with the data. It’s ignorant of data, ignorant of what trans women have written about their lives — it’s simply your opinion.

Most of us were punished — physically or verbally — for breaking the norms of gender expression as children and teenagers. Rejection, marginalization and victimization leading to poor health outcomes is the norm for transgender people.

I’m sorry you faced shock from seeing a trans women in the locker room. Though this also seems to be more of an issue with sexual assault and healing than an issue with trans women. Not to mention that a trans woman in a men’s locker room puts them at a huge risk of being gawked at, catcalled, assaulted, etc. (again, see injustice at every turn). I’m sorry you were harassed by a trans woman on a forum who said vulgar things, maybe in response to a lifetime of injustices or maybe because trans people can be awful asshats too. I’m sorry you feel silenced for talking about your vagina and uterus. Though, maybe reflect and wonder if it’s not that you’re talking about your body parts that’s the issue — maybe it’s the way you talk about the issues you face. If the way you talk about your life entrenches the marginalization of others, then maybe some reflection is in order. Taken at face value: These things you mention are unacceptable in the world I want to live in.

However, so is your reductive view of trans people which ignores evidence of discrimination and injustice at every turn. Dialog. Love. Mutual liberation. What are you working towards with this article?

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