Response to a Gender-Critical Feminist
We stand at opposing sides, I suppose. I wanted to disclose that at the onset, for transparency. But I don’t see you as an ‘enemy.’
What pains me is that the essentialism that drives you is what led to Japanese-American internment camps. Sure, they are American citizens, own property in the U.S., some of them were born on American soil. But how could they ever be Americans? They lack the essential physical attributes we ascribe to (thus conflate with and require of) Americans.
Sex is why we’re oppressed. Gender is how we’re oppressed.
Trans women are oppressed by men for the same reasons.
Well, let’s make that more nuanced. Patriarchy and machismo demand rigid gender divides. Their agents bully, mock and punish any sympathizers of “the weaker sex.”
So, pre-transition and in early stages of transition, as we (often inadvertently, as in the case of children) manifest traits of our true identity — female traits — the agents of Patriarchy mock us, chide us, reject us, beat us. Hurt us. What’s at the root of this? Homophobia? We are not homosexuals. But they don’t care. Close enough. We are queer, and thus deserve a beating.
Post-transition, once we’re passable, the agents of Patriarchy catcall us, patronize us, mansplain things to us, talk over us, sexually assault us, rape us, sometimes kill us. What drives this? Misogyny. We are not cisgender women. We have no uterus. But they don’t care. Close enough. We are female, and thus deserve a beating.
Sex is why we’re oppressed — gender is how we’re oppressed. Just as much as you are.
Some of your compatriots complain that we haven’t had a female youth, a female puberty. In my case you’re right, I was robbed of that. And it pains me. But many trans girls present in their true gender from first grade or earlier. It’s not a single story (Chimamanda’s TED talk comes to mind).
Recently, the daughter of a friend was sent home from school because she wore a dress with spaghetti straps. She’s seven. That’s sexism and misogyny, and sexualization of a child. That’s bullshit. And no one cared that she’s not cisgender. Patriarchy hit her over the head with sexism just because she’s a girl.
Ain’t I A Woman? The reason bell hooks echoed Sojourner Truth over a hundred years later (whether ST did say those exact words or not) is because the First Wave did NOT consider her a woman — because she wasn’t white. And even in 1981, the Second Wave had left her behind — because she wasn’t white.
Ain’t I A Woman? The reason I ask that is because the Second Wave did not consider ME a woman. And gender-critical feminists like you are casting me aside — because I’m not cisgender.
You can err on the side of exclusion — and the movement is weakened, and individuals suffer. It you can err on the side of inclusion — and then there are more of us, fighting together for equality and against Patriarchy.
I don’t want to de-prioritize reproductive rights (I’m actively ranting and marching to keep Roe v. Wade strong). I don’t want to erase the vagina — 99% of us have vaginas, and over half of all women menstruate. These are important priorities in feminism.
But the world is more nuanced than it used to be.
As we discuss reproductive rights for example, we now have to include trans men. These are men, not women — but they have a uterus. My friend Tristan gave birth to a baby not long ago. The world has gotten more nuanced, and we should not be so rigid in our thinking that we can’t see that.
The world had gotten more nuanced.
I am a mother. I am a feminist. I am a trans activist. I endure oppression because of my gender as much as any woman — the men don’t stop and ask whether I have ovaries.
As a woman in a roomful of women, I’m here to belong. I’m here to participate. I’m not here to rob you of anything, I’m not here to erase any part of you. I’m here because here is home, and because out there is dangerous.
Gender is how I’m oppressed. Just as much as you are.
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Read another story by Cassie Brighter:
■ Fuck Tolerance
■ Mariee Juarez Died
■ The End of White Civilization
■ What Do We Do About Wombs?
■ Men Need Clear Instructions
■ The Day I Invented a Religion for my Children
■ The Things I Can’t Tell You (something of a love poem)
■ Sportsball, Love, Loss, and Friendship
■ Living My Best Life — They Tell Me
■ Trans Women & The Danger of a Single Story
■ Trans Women May Soon Give Birth — a trans woman’s perspective
■ I Wasn’t ‘Annoyed’ at Your Misgendering Me
■ Why This Sudden Trans Kids Trend?
■ What Do We Do About Women With A Penis?
■ Tales of Transition: The Landscaper and the Icecream Man
■ The Cage Around Me, The Rage Inside Me (a short poem)
■ Welcome, Welcome Cassandra! — The Long Journey to Self-Acceptance
■ Coming Out Trans To Your Children: A Step-by-Step Guide
■ A March for ALL Women: A Trans Woman’s Defense of the Pussyhat
■ Men Need Clear Directions (a #MeToo conversation)
■ An Open Letter To A Good Man
■ Just a Bad Date