Monday, 26 October 2015
Some Feminists Are More Harmful To The Trans Community Than Any Other Group
I'm sure many of you will be aware of the commotion on the Internet being caused around the feminist icon Germaine Greer at the moment, where some people are calling for her to be banned from speaking due to transphobic statements she's made in the past. The arguments exploded further after Greer appeared on BBC Newsnight and went on a spree of outdated transphobic views that tried to argue that trans women are men and have no right to be called women.
Whilst some people are saying that Greer is an ageing second wave feminist whose views are becoming less and less relevant in modern feminism and society, despite all of the good things she accomplished in the past, it does highlight some very real and dangerous views held by not only her, but a large number of feminists.
If Germaine Greer was alone in her opinions it would be one thing, but unfortunately she's not. Whether by listening to her views, or the views of others who share the same sentiment there are large portions of the feminist community who seem to be incredibly comfortable in insulting, excluding, demonising and harassing the transgender community.
Whether or not they class themselves as TERF (trans exclusionary radical feminist) or even a radical feminist, there are women who go out of their way to cause harm to this incredibly marginalised group of women.
Trans women are shunned by so many groups for breaking the taboo of 'giving up their masculinity' and 'becoming women' that a great deal of trans women are drawn to the feminist movement. Whether that is from having a greater understanding of misogyny and the difference in the way women are treated since the loss of male privilege, or the simple desire to see equality, trans women will often fight not just for their right to be seen and accepted as women, but for all women and womanhood to be seen as valid and just as capable as their male counterparts.
Tran women join the feminist community hoping for acceptance and a sense of community, after all, we're all women fighting for equality right? No, unfortunately not. Trans women get shunned in the feminist community. Not every feminist engages in this behaviour, some are full respecting of trans women's identities, but enough harass and abuse trans women within the feminist community to make this a serious problem.
I have literally just come from such an encounter to write this article. I shared a tweet about the Germaine Greer argument and was met with what can only be described as harassment from a member of the feminist community. This woman refused to acknowledge that trans women are women, calling me a 'man who is harassing real women' for sharing a single tweet, and calling for me to 'leave women alone'.
Rather than jump down this woman's throat and start a fight I tried to engage into a reasoned discussion with her, and simply tried to explain how opinions such as hers are harmful to the trans community. Instead of a reasoned argument though I was met with a wall of hostility. She continually called me a man and used male pronouns after my asking her not to multiple times. She suggested that me 'thinking' I am female is a delusion and that 'it's a fact' that I'm male.
I was told multiple times that my believing myself to be female has no basis in reality and that it's a 'fact' that trans women are never men. I was told that my belief in that, and my refusal to listen to a 'real' woman telling me I'm not female is a threat to all women. She told me that by not listening to her I was a danger and a threat and that she would 'continue to show others this'.
At one point she even told me that she would 'definitely not take a white man's word' that trans women are female. This shocked me, as she was not only engaging in transphobia, but appeared to be beginning to start using racist arguments too. I was shocked by this, and even more surprised when she said that a I was displaying white supremacy, claiming 'white supremacy is belief that your race is superior. And you're showing that by expecting a black person to take you at your word.'
I was not only being told repeatedly that I was not a woman after explaining how damaging that is, but was then being called racist because the person I was talking was black.
I couldn't win, I couldn't even get this woman to see that what she was doing might be hurtful, no matter what I was in the wrong. My views were flat out ignored because I was trans, and that automatically made me the enemy.
Part of the problem is that there are no laws protecting trans women from hate speech. Things that would be considered deplorable if they were directed at people of colour, people of religion or peoples sexuality are acceptable because there are no negative consequences for saying them about trans people.
Trans women are women, that's not something that needs other to accept to be true, it's just as is. But continuing to deny that and harass trans women because you disagree, and using feminism as a shield to do so is damaging not only to the trans community, but the feminist movement too.
Follow Amy on Twitter
Join Amy on Facebook
Join Her Fans on Facebook