Feminism, Trans and Women-Only Spaces
Posted by charliegrrl on January 1, 2007
I know this blog usually focuses on antiporn activism, but I ‘m feeling the need to share my views…
There has been lots of talk on blogs lately about transgenderism and how this fits into feminism.
But I find myself caught between two sides: it seems if you aren’t pro-trans liberation to the point where you fully accept a Male to Female in a women-only space, then you are being transphobic. Increasingly, women-born-only spaces are being assimliated as we are accepting MTF people into our space. We are told that we should accept a person who is born male but identifies as a woman, as the same as us. I don’t share this view. I do however want to support trans rights.
This is my position.
I am female, and often wish to do feminist activism with other females- people who are born female. This is because we share a common oppression and I feel safe and supported with fellow women.
In a woman-only feminist space, I would not wish for a male to female transgendered person to attend, as they do not share the standpoint of being raised female. I consider myself different to a MTF. I do not share the same bond with a MTF that I feel with women.
A MTF will never menstruate, will never get pregnant, will never have to take contraception to avoid pregnancy, will never have to have an abortion, and can not share the standpoint of a Lesbian.
And this difference is enough for me to warrent excluding them from a women-only space.
In a space dedicated for women surviving sexual abuse and violence, it is not suitable for a MTF to enter, as they were born male. The presence of a MTF in such an environment could cause survivors unease. An example of the problem of including MTFs into a woman-only space can be found here.
After reading Twisty’s post that has caused so much controversy, I’d like to pull out a comment that I agree with:
The Definition of “Woman”
(A small group of transwomen) are trying to stretch the definition of a word that incorporates thousands of years of shared cultural, social, and biological experience. I refuse to believe that there is not a (so-called) “bond of womanhood.” That bond may be just what you experience in your own family, between mother and daughter, or it may be what you have experienced and learned, through personal and intellectual growth. This bond exists as a given thing, and there are countless bonds – the bond of nationality, of race, of religion, of knitting, etc. I cannot imagine that any of you would deny the existence of bonds – of a shared experience and history, and a feeling of affinity for anyone who participates in it.
A man or boy who decides at some point in their lives that they will change their sex and become a woman, cannot possibly expect to instantly understand the cultural, social, and biological implications of being female. For instance, he might have experienced some discrimination in his male life, but he has come, ultimately, from a group of privilege. Can he fully comprehend the thousands of years of oppression and the million ways of discrimination that women live under, and (many, unfortunately) accept as their fate?
The answer is no.
A common argument against women-only spaces is that feminists and trans-activists are both fighting against gender oppression, so we should work together. In a post-patriarchal world, in which gender as prescribed behaviour no longer exists, I would still identify myself as female, not male. I don’t want to lose my identity as female, and my bond with my Sisters. This is another reason why I wish to nurture women-only feminist spaces.
Although I feel trans rights are important and it is important to respect the suffering such individuals go through to be recognized as the gender they identify with, I feel there should still be a space for women-born-only spaces in the feminist movement. Afterall, I thought that was what feminism is all about- fighting against oppression of those born woman?
I’d like to find a way to work together, without hurting trans people’s feelings.