On Trans Women (and transness in general)
Lemme be absolutely clear about some things about trans people, and trans women in particular, since we’re the preferred targets:
1. There is no definition of “woman” that includes all cis women but excludes all trans women based on biology, anatomy, or experience.
Genetics? Not all AFAB people are XX karyotype. Anatomy? I can promise you, I have boobs, which came from estrogen, and as for vaginoplasty there are cis women who have needed it because of, for example, Müllerian agenesis. Lived experience? Are you seriously going to argue that we don’t face oppression and violence because of our gender? Trans women have lower incomes, greater rates of poverty, and face greater risk of violence, up to and including sexual violence and murder, than even cis women, all else being equal. We also face greater discrimination from medical practitioners, who frequently treat us with contempt and disdain, and even for complaints that are clearly unrelated to medical transition, we regularly face clinicians that demand we cease HRT. And I mean for shit like a broken arm.
2. The same core issue of bodily autonomy at the root of reproductive rights and protections is at the core of trans rights.
These are our bodies, and being forced to live in a body that doesn’t match your internal sense of self or your internal body map, to live in a body that leads people to treat you as something you’re not — especially in a culture in which gender is so fundamental to everything — drives people to severe mental health crises and, ultimately, suicide. That TWEF article from yesterday actually asked if society is better off if trans people have their genders respected, up to and including structural support for medical transition, and, let’s see: trans people are happier and less likely to kill themselves or be murdered by transphobic bigots, so, um, yes?
3. Conversion therapy doesn’t make gay people straight, and it won’t make trans people cis.
Allowing children to socially transition, and putting them on puberty blockers when medically appropriate, does not harm them. This is not ambiguous in the literature; trans kids are much healthier and happier when they receive appropriate treatment, and these treatments aren’t going to harm a gender-non-conforming child should they decide that they want to let whatever course their body would take absent medical intervention. This is established science.
4. If you want to be a cis ally to trans people, there are two very important things you can do for us:
- (A) Listen to us, and all of us, not just the ones who are telling you what you want to hear.
- (B) Repudiate transphobia from fellow cis people, including calling out transphobia that we highlight, and also call in transphobic microaggressions from your fellow cis people, when you can. Not sure what are transphobic microaggressions? See (A), above.
5. Lastly: the “cotton ceiling”; i.e., transphobia and gender essentialism among cis lesbians.
None of us trans lesbians are arguing for anything other than enthusiastic consent. What we *are* saying is that reducing identity and sexual attraction to primary and secondary sexual characteristics is transphobic and harmful. See (1) above. There’s also a current of fetishism towards trans men among a certain subset of cis lesbians, treating them as a more extreme version of butch lesbians. Noted queer cartoonist and sex educator Erika Moen even did a comic about this, back when she identified as strictly lesbian (she’s since apologized).
Nobody is saying cis lesbians are obligated to date or have sex with trans women. What we are saying is that we are also women, and we are women who love women, and saying that we’re not women (either at all or until we have surgery) or that lesbians are “by definition” only into cis women is transphobic and specifically transmisogynistic. You don’t have to date us, but you do have to accept that we’re women. And trust me, I don’t want to date — or fuck — anyone who doesn’t think I’m a woman.
Originally published at asymbina.tumblr.com.