The TERF’s are correct about one thing.
What! The TERF’s are correct. Did I really say that? Well yes. I did. What could they possibly be right about I hear you say? Well, it’s a bit complicated and possibly a little bit unpopular but they are correct about one thing. That I as a trans woman didn’t have the same experience of growing up as a cis woman did. Yes, that’s correct, the thing is though when the TERF’s say this they are implying that I had a typical upbringing of a cis male and enjoyed and enacted all the privilege that goes with that. Nothing, in fact, could be further from the truth than such a statement.
Hang on, What’s a TERF I sense some asking. TERF is an acronym that stands for Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist. It is, in essence, an oxymoron because feminism is inclusive and not exclusive. TERF is a slur is a statement often shot back to trans folk and trans allies. It’s not, it is a factual acronym describing the ideology of a group. They would prefer we call them gender critical but they aren’t gender critical, critical thinking about the nuances and complexity about gender seems beyond them. Rather they are stuck in biological essentialism that says genitalia and assigned biological sex is all that matters.
But yes, on this point they are somewhat correct and at the same time incredibly incorrect. In their rush to say trans women — and yes it is pretty much only trans women they talk about, are merely privileged men invading women’s spaces they at the same time totally miss any insight or understanding of what the life and experience of a trans person are.
I as a trans woman can only really talk from that perspective. I can only talk about how for me enjoying male privilege was never a thing. I can’t talk of what the experience is for any other trans person but my own.
No, I absolutely did not have the same experience growing up into womanhood as cis women do.
I didn’t experience a first period.
I haven’t experienced birthing children
There are lots of experiences I haven’t had that a cis woman has. But at the same time, there are lots of experiences I have had that a cis woman has not had. This doesn’t make me less of a woman, it just makes me a different category of woman. Just as a white woman hasn’t the same experiences of growing into womanhood as a woman of colour, or a disabled woman.
Let’s be honest none of our experiences of growing into womanhood are exactly the same as any other woman’s. We are all unique beautiful amazing humans deserving of dignity, respect and honouring and celebration of that unique identity.
There is though commonality. As women, whether that be trans women we have all experienced marginalisation and oppression simply because we are women. That is something we all share. And that is the point that the TERF narrative seems totally oblivious too.
There are aspects of my life as a trans woman that are so oppressive that these TERF proponents could not begin to fathom the impact of. As a young child trying to be who I was I was beaten and raped by my so-called father simply for trying to be the girl I was. This was not an isolated incident but one that occurred on an ongoing basis well into my teenage years.
No I haven’t the same experience as a cis woman — different but no less oppressive.
Throughout much of my formative years, I experienced intense gender-based bullying that was not the same as the gender-based oppression cis girls faced but it was nonetheless still gender-based oppression. I was teased, laughed at, beaten up and made to live in fear because to those who observed me I was perceived as different to the gender I was meant to be.
No I haven’t the same experience as a cis woman.
Prior to transitioning, I could not enter a public bathroom facility without living in fear because this was a prime place of gender oppression being heaped upon me, because my gender was perceived as not ok not the same as what it was meant to be. Yet I was forced to endure it.
No I haven’t the same experience as a cis woman.
As a trans woman I walk down the street in fear, I find myself in a group of cis men and I am in fear. In so many situations across life, I live in fear because I am a trans woman. This is not so different from the experience of a cis woman but yet it is still not the same.
As a woman, I have experience oppression like other women. As a trans woman, I have experience double oppression. For me, that meant that for 40 plus years I pretended to not be who I really am. It meant that I tried to be what I was assigned at birth and failed again and again and again.
As a trans woman, I have not had the experience of birthing my children. The TERF’s will say this means I am not a woman, what it means to me is an experience of great loss of that experience. Yes, I still get to have my kids and love them and spend time with them, but I receive the message that I can’t really be their mother because — the uterus.
The TERF’s will say as a trans woman I am a pig in a wig and don’t comprehend what it is like to live in fear of assault at the hands of men. This is simply not true. I not only know the fear of it but the reality of it.
Yes, there are many experiences of cis women that I never experienced. Some of these are experienced as a great loss and some not. But in the end, my experience as a trans woman is more similar than it is different from a cis woman’s experience.
Surely we should stand in solidarity with each other than try and judge each other’s right to call ourselves women and to be a part of womanhood.
Originally published at A Transtistic Life.