Last night after my talk at ISU, while I was packing up my gear and folks were asking me questions and we were trying to clear the room out for the sorority ladies, you asked me why feminism is more accepting of trans men than trans women. So I stumbled for an answer while being distracted by the activity around me and hugeness of your question. You looked so hopeful that I would have an answer and I really wanted to talk to you about that question because I feel like it is really important to talk about. But I think I messed up. I think I said something in haste and exhaustion that you may have misinterpreted and for that I apologize. Here is what I wish I would have had the clarity of mind and time to say:
I don’t know.
I really do not know why feminism has failed our trans sisters so much. Sure, one could site “reasons” that could be used as an excuse and talk about the relation of gender and sexuality and society and culture and patriarchy and feminism and everything else that makes things hard for folks to band together to bring about equality for all women. But I’m not a scholar or an academic (I’ve never even read Judith Butler but shhh don’t tell anyone) so my ability to answer such a huge question like that is really limited to my life and personal expiernce.
I’m sorry that feminism hasn’t been more inclusive of trans women (and, let’s be honest, there all sort of women who have been left out of the dialogue) and I personally am working in my life (and I hope the lives of those I touch) to change that. I’m sorry feminism has failed you.
I truly believe that if we ask these questions and we don’t give up on feminism we can make it a movement that is more inclusive of all women and benefitting all people. Your question stuck in my head all night and will stick with me for a long time. And I will do all I can to take that question and work in my tiny, little, limited way to change the tide so that “feminist” can be a label worn proudly by anyone who believes in equality and social justice for EVERYONE.
Love to all my sisters.