Recently, Twitter was rocked by a slew of tirades targeting transgender women. From accusing the transgender community as a whole of ‘endangering’ children by simply existing, to claiming that gender-dysphoric people can just ‘grow out’ of it, it seems that there are no limits to how low these people will stoop to marginalise an entire community of people.
When these claims are made by influential figures, it’s only right that these problematic views are held to account. Not only is it hugely irresponsible to broadcast these views to millions and actively encourage transphobia, but it also dismisses the immense impact that the transgender community has had on society as we know it.
Transgender women are important. It was a Black transgender woman, Marsha P. Johnson, who threw one of the first bricks at the Stonewall riots. It was Johnson, alongside other incredible transgender people, who enabled millions of people regardless of gender or sexuality to live their authentic truths. Lucy Hicks Anderson fought tirelessly for marriage equality whilst Sir Lady Java organized protests against the continued harassment of the LGBTQA+ community. Without these women and the many others that came before and after, LGBQA+ rights wouldn’t have progressed as far as they have today.
I am not transgender myself, but I have known people who are. I’ve seen them struggle with the huge internal conflict between who they are and who they’re being told to be. Their pain when those around them tell them that they cannot exist as their true selves. So when I see TERF’s – Transgender Exclusionary Radical Feminists – preach about how transgender women are a ‘threat’ to ‘safeguarding’ girls and how their mere existence ‘erases femininity and womanhood’, their hypocrisy infuriates me. How can anyone call themselves a feminist when they’re excluding women from their narrative? How can these people claim to be acting in the best interests of children, whilst shoehorning them into outdated, toxic gender roles from birth?
Truthfully, being transgender is something I will never experience, nor something I will ever fully understand as a cisgender woman, but I do know this – my identity as a female is not under threat from transgender women.
My past experiences and the many more to come as a woman cannot, will not, be erased by the existence of transgender women.
Because this life, this identity I own – it’s mine, and it cannot be taken away from me.
Not by the introduction of new gender-neutral terms or previously unknown gender identities. Nor by sharing bathrooms, a disproven hysteria-inducing myth frequently brought up by critics.
Research proves that transgender women sharing bathrooms with cisgender women poses little to no risk. In fact, the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey showed that a shocking 47% of all transgender people had been the subject of sexual violence in their lives.
The aforementioned survey also acknowledged that factors such as race play a huge part in the levels and intensity of transphobic violence. An example of racially motivated transphobia would be ‘Transmisogynoir’, a strain of prejudice fine-tuned to target Black Transgender women. 6 Black transgender women were murdered within a 9 day period this year between June 25th to July 3rd, and 2020 has already seen more deaths in the transgender community within 7 months than in all of 2019.
Women aren’t defined by their biological anatomy or by menstruating. To reduce them to something as meaningless as a period is demeaning and inherently misogynistic.
Transgender women are women, and it’s about time they were treated as such.
Davina Dang is the Founder and Creative Director of Omisté. An aspiring freelance writer based in the UK, she tends to focus on topics that concern the current political landscape, identity, mental health and culture.