Trans Feminism, What Happened to It?

One of the classes I’m taking this semester is an introduction to women’s studies. I love gender studies by whatever name they call it, but I also find myself annoyed and frustrated often. It’s still early in the semester, of course, but we’ve already begun looking at the history of feminism and the mistakes that early feminists made. But I see a lot of parallels with how feminism continues on in the modern day.

Let’s look at an example. The dominant group of women fight for rights for themselves, ignoring women of minority groups and denying them from participating. Those of said minority groups are viewed as not being “real women,” maybe even less than human. Men of those minority groups are accepted in feminist circles more readily than the women, even being invited into women’s spaces, while the women are told to “go fight for your rights on your own.” This is not to say that all are like this, of course, but the system as a whole is set up in such a way.

Question: am I talking about the way women of color were treated during the first wave of feminism (1840-1920), or how trans women are treated today? Sadly, it’s both. We’re moving into a fourth wave of feminism with the rise of transfeminism and activists like Julia Serano, Leslie Feinberg, etc. fighting for those of us with gender variant identities, but still our voices are often silenced by the majority. One of the most prominent examples of this is the Michigan Womyn’s Festival, with their “womyn-born-womyn” policy, which enables trans men to be on stage performing, but bans trans women from even being in the crowd.

Feminism at its truest is about equality for all. I encourage all of you to call such feminists out on their failure to adhere to feminist ideals, and push them to greater heights. Or, if able, become an activist yourself. All it takes is a blog to start getting your voice heard. Start making connections.

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3 responses to “Trans Feminism, What Happened to It?

  1. I hadn’t thought about the implications of the Michigan Womyn’s Festival policy opening the door for trans men performing. For me, I’d feel like a total sellout to all my trans brothers and sisters if I did anything remotely supporting that event!

    • I’m less concerned with the sellout factor (though it is a concern) and more confused. As guys who struggle to be recognized as guys, what benefit do they get from participating in a women-only event? It’s willful a denial of their own identities, in addition to the hypocrisy behind it all.

      • For sure. The only “reason” I can think of is an inability to let go of prior lesbian identity and deal with the inevitable loss of community one can experience as part of transition. It’s not an excuse for the hypocrisy but maybe a way to understand the motivation…

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