Transphobia is not Feminism
Happy International Women’s Day!
As usual, there has been plenty of whining on social networking sites about International Men’s Day being ignored (November 19th, or the rest of the year depending on how you view it) and arguments ranging from feminism being irrelevant to today’s society (garbage) to who even counts as a woman. With this in mind, I thought it would be appropriate to share an incident from a class last week.
On a Friday afternoon I have a three-hour sociology lecturer. The topic was feminist perspectives on the media; liberal, radical and socialist. Our lecturer herself considers herself a feminist, and I’ve been enjoying her lectures so far. This sounded great to me. Two hours into it, I wasn’t disappointed. The discussions had been good and the content had been fantastic. However, it started to go downhill.
For some reason the topic of trans* women had come up. I’d been busy taking notes and she was talking on the other side of the room and I happened to tune back in. She was talking about another student, a trans* woman, with male pronouns. She outed this person without their permission. She started ranting about how they “looked male”, which is the point I decided to interject. I tried my best to stay calm and explain the differences between gender and sex. To explain what transphobia is and how she was perpatrating it. The lecturer scoffed and started mocking the idea, making a show out of how it was apparently too confusing to comprehend. She stopped me while I explained the idea of a gender spectrum to tell me that she believed gender was a social construct. Then, before quickly moving on and cutting the argument short, used a confusing explanation about how sex had to determine a person’s gender as it was otherwise constructed. The implication that trans* women were infiltrators was there, even if not out rightly said.
If you can’t accept a trans* woman as a woman, you are not committed to equality for all women. If you define any trans* person by their genitals then you are transphobic. If you are really so willing to forget the T, you may want to re-evaluate your stance as a feminist.