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Get Your Transphobia Out of my Feminism

May 15, 2012

Girl. Woman. Female. However much you re-inscribe meanings to old words to your semantic delight, there will always be meanings left out, meanings that ask for new words, new languages, new mediums of actualization. Less with the demarcating points of origin, searching for predetermined lexical precursors for future selves. In the midst of often discontinuous histories, GIRL is best a complicated destination to which some never arrive and others arrive more than once. — Anyazelie Mi’raj Zephyaire

The entire post is worth reading.

At some level, the relationship between transphobia and misogyny has long been acknowledged by feminists. There is an understanding of the ways in which these separate hatreds rely on policing gender expression through violence — physical, emotional and structural.

But this fairly opportunistic acknowledgement (by feminists) is not enough. As we know, a group of people need not be beaten down in order to be silenced — they can simply be rendered invisible.

In the larger feminist movement, in too many feminist discourses — transgender stories, lives and identities are deemed irrelevant or beyond the scope of the current discussion. This second assertion is perhaps the more often, appropriately politically correct thing to say when asked about the transgender community. It’s time we demand more. If transgender experiences are “beyond the scope of the discussion” — change the scope. Fuck the scope.

Both the reclamation of femininity and anti-femininity often gets weighed with anti-transgender subtexts. Transgender communities are pathologized as products of patriarchy or criticized from the position of cis gendered privilege. Discussions around gender roles continue to hold a gaping hole where transgender experiences need to be.

When feminists say, “But this is about women!” — they are not making space for marginalized voices as much as they are using their cis gendered privilege to further invisiblize an entire community (who have historically, socially, politically, legally already been rendered disregard-able). It’s not a reason for applause, it’s an explanation for a failure. These are all problematic and endemic to how feminists choose to dialogue about gender.

The question isn’t about “making room” for transgender voices within feminist politics. The image of those with power seated at an exclusive table deciding whether they have time/space to dole out equality to everyone is colonial, archaic and fundamentally flawed.

Language has so much more potentiality for inclusivity than it’s allowed, and the tendency of cis feminists to engage in this ironical process of trying to deconstruct / de-essentialize gender from a position of assumed, sometimes affirmed, “bio-female” essentiality is really frustrating. Stop trying to reglaze an old porcelain vase; break the damn pot already.
Anyazelie Mi’raj Zephyaire

(Also get your racism, classism, casteism, communalism, colonialism, islamophobia, ableism, anti-immigrant, anti-femininity, anti-sex work out of my feminism. Await my rants.)

[Image via BCBL]

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