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

It would be wise for everyone to remember that just as not all natal women “get it” about oppression, neither do all trans women. The trans women who choose to belittle, threaten and attempt to silence natal women are demonstrating that they have a long, long way to go in understanding what it is like to move and act in the world as women. I am NOT trying to silence their voices and I support their rights.

Silencing ANYONE’S voice is a tactic that oppressors use to maintain their power and control over the oppressed. We are all products of our cultures and our individual experiences. We are ALL entitled to safe space and respect for that space as oppressed individuals & groups.

I am white. I will NEVER know what it is to move and act in the world as a person with black/brown/red/yellow skin. I can spend my whole life learning and trying to understand. But, I will still never experience life with any other color of skin than the one I wear. I can still be an ally even though I will spend the rest of my life learning.

Trans women and men have an opportunity that many oppressed folks never get. The opportunity to experience the other side. Trans women have spent the majority of their lives as men who received all the same societal messages as every other man. Some of the messages we ALL receive about who we are and our place in life becomes so ingrained that we never question it. I think that is what is happening here. At least for some.

Although women experience the majority of violence in relationships, some women are abusive. I worked in domestic violence shelters and rape crisis centers for 30 years. I’ve seen hundreds of lesbian women wake up in a shelter only to learn that their batterer has managed to lie their way into the same shelter. So, quite frankly, it is quite possible that some trans women are batterers and/or publicly violent.

And here’s the kicker: our oppressors are counting on disagreements and descent between all oppressed groups. And even within oppressed groups. As long as we are fighting each other, we have no time or energy to fight our oppressors. They win by encouraging this horizontal hostility that we all fall for so easily! We need to be respectful of each other. We need to treat others as we want to be treated. There should be no reason why cis or trans women object to the other’s safe space. Our experiences are NOT identical. Ironically, that is the one thing we can probably all agree with!

Oppression is oppression. Most of us are oppressed in more than one way. Even white cis men are oppressed because our culture doesn’t allow them to fully express all human emotions or their “feminine” side. We do ourselves no favors by playing a child’s game of “I have more oppressions than you do.” The powers that be benefit when we do that.

We must try our best to model the world in which we want to live. But, none of us is perfect. We all make mistakes. That shouldn’t stop us from keeping on!

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