I know from the title this blog post will offend people. I understand but I have to be honest. In lieu of world renown feminist Chimamanda Adichie's commentary on trans-women, it's only right that we expound on this controversial piece. Personally, I don't believe trans-women are women but trans-women because their experience as men transiting into female or their experience as living as a trans-women is completely different from naturally born women "cis-women" (and even that word we'll discuss why it's slighting in nature to naturally born women).
Let me first state trans-women deserve the same respect and rights as naturally born women. I do not identify as LGBTQ but do not believe in discriminating those who do. I have no personal gripe with the LGBTQ community nor hate them. Now with that out the way, trans-women will never have the complete woman experience that is tied into the biology of naturally born women. Women are not women solely based on their vagina, but part of womanhood and the experiences we as women have is because we have a vagina. A perfect example of this is girls transitioning into womanhood through puberty by having menstrual cycles. This is an experience that's exclusively a “cis-woman” experience and yes, this does define us as women because through this developmental stage we welcome the opportunity to become mothers if we so choose to be. Also, another part of womanhood that's option to naturally born women is birthing. Women who choose not to have children or women who have complications that do not allow them to carry children are not less of a woman than those who choose to be homemakers with multiple children.
Whereas trans-women never had the option in the first place. They never had the experience of a girl from one day old into puberty and then blossoming into womanhood. They never had the experience of having the awkward menstrual cycle talk or being told they're blossoming into womanhood. They never went training bra shopping. They never felt insecure about their female bodies not being the standard of beauty in a patriarchal system that at one point trans-women were part of whether they identified with it or not. Trans-women at one point had male privilege over women even if they didn't enforce it. Trans-women have never been told as young girls “only boys can do x, y, z” to chastise a girl for wanting to do what society identifies as a “boy thing.” There are so many experiences I can run down that is exclusively a woman's experience, a natural born woman's experience that a trans-woman will never understand because it wasn't her experience.
Naturally born women didn't get to choose to be a woman and we definitely didn't get to choose how we wanted our bodies to look like. We basically got what we got when we wanted and had to make best with it in a system that says our bodies are never good enough. With that being said, a trans-woman can always look like a woman on the outside regardless of pre-op or post-op but that doesn't change the biological makeup as well. Yes there are treatments and hormones that can be taken to change the appearance of a trans-woman or even change the chemical balance of a trans-woman but at the core of a trans-woman is still the biology of a man. She can choose to be called a she or choose to change her name or choose to identify as a trans-woman, however the core XY chromosomes cannot be changed.
But don't get me wrong, I do feel sympathy for the plight of a trans-woman. Transitioning into a new sex isn't easy. It's costly and if a trans-woman decided to go all the way with reconstructing the image that she prefers with a sex reassignment surgery there is no going back. Also we must factor in identity and sexuality questioning before trans-women decides trans is the label for them. Many trans-women face exile from their families, abuse, attempts at suicide etc. As well as many trans-women have been under attack and even murdered for living their truth. All very real issues and unfortunate realities that a large population of trans-women experience that natural born women cannot say they too experienced the same reality and it was due to their biological sex.
But what we as naturally born women and trans women have in common is violence. However, two different experiences of violence. Often when we hear or read stories of trans-women being murdered we discover the trans-woman did not disclose they were a trans-woman. Why is this important? Because trans-women are not women but trans-women. Look at it from this angle, if disclosing their gender identity didn't matter than why keep it a secret? Because trans-women understand that a man who identifies as a heterosexual man who has only dated heterosexual “cis-women” finds out that he had fallen for or feels that he has been tricked by a trans-woman, the trans-woman might be rejected. As much as the fear or rejection is hurtful, it's not as hurtful as leaving a potential suitor a live with a bruised ego and not dead. I believe trans-women can disclose what they want when they want but if a trans-woman knows they are engaging in intimate behaviors with a heterosexual man who has never dated a trans-woman or has any idea about the trans-woman's history they are walking a thin line that might result in an unfortunate but completely preventable situation.
Am I saying trans-women are to blame for their own death? No but trans-women have to keep in mind like everyone else does, you can only control your actions. You cannot control the reactions of other people. If you meet someone at a bar you don't owe it to them to disclose anything, not even your real name. But if numbers are exchanged and feels arise then a trans-woman owes it to the man they are talking to to disclose their gender identity whether post-op or pre-op because if this man finds out through whispers or through someone exposing the trans-woman that man might perceive who they have fallen for is deceiving them thus becoming angry. A situation that the trans-woman cannot control. In situations like this when we hear or read of trans-women being murdered because they are trans, there wasn't a disclosure of the trans-woman's identity and intimacy had already taken place. A quote from Office for Victims of Cime states “50 percent of transgender people surveyed had been hit by a primary partner after coming out as transgender compared to 9 percent for heterosexual students” OVC. When it comes to identity and sexuality, especially for men who identify as heterosexual it's deeper than liking a person's personality. Dating a trans-woman might kick in 101 questions for this heterosexual man who might be questioning his sexuality because of attraction to the trans-woman. Giving that man the right to choose to continue pursing a trans-woman with full disclosure is as equally fundamental as a trans-woman's right to claim being a trans-woman with human rights like everyone else.
Naturally born women's experience with violence does tie into her being a woman in this misogynistic male dominated system but many times our violence is tied with sex, frequently rape. Hence the phrase “rape culture.” Naturally born women experience domestic violence or intimate partner violence at a higher percentage compared to men. These violent altercations affect poverty stricken and uneducated women the worse. A statistic from the US Department of Justice found male perpetrators constituted 96% of federal prosecution on domestic violence. In another report by the US Department of Justice on non-fatal domestic violence from 2003-2012 found that 76 percent of domestic violence was committed against women and 24 percent were committed against men. According to RAINN (Rape And Incest National Network) 1 in 6 women will experience a complete or attempted rape in their lifetime. According to the Black Women's Blueprint 60% of Black women will experience sexual abuse by the age of 18. Let's also keep in mind crimes where violence against women are committed they are often under reported. As with trans-women and naturally born women we both experience violence but in different realities.
The word “cis-woman” comes into play when speaking on trans-women. This redefining what it means to be woman or how to label a woman is overbearing to say the least. When saying “cis-women” our existence is in comparison to trans-women. “Cis-woman” have been calling themselves women for centuries but now it's swiped from us to be labeled something else to not offend trans-women. We live in such a politically correct culture that tries to include everyone and anyone into anything that it ironically finds itself excluding people; in this case naturally born women. In some cases it has gotten so ridicules that women cannot say words like menstrual cycle, woman's health, wombs etc because it would be stepping on the toes of trans-women who will never experience those realities that “cis-woman” have. In all honesty I find that disrespectful to tell women that they have no rights to a word we have been using since the dawn of time because it excludes trans-women. It's another form of male oppression in a sense because trans-women have lived in this world as a man and identified or at least was labeled a man, changed his sex to become a woman and now is booting women out of a category that was founded by women or women, not trans-women.
It's like women are out women by men or trans-women; that we cannot have the confines of our womanhood sacred and belonging to us because that would be considered selfish or anti-trans-women when in reality it's just biologically our right and using "cis-woman" is saying since trans-woman cannot all the way fit into the category woman than naturally born woman shouldn't lay claim to it either. No one uses the word woman because it's an unfair advantage to assume woman means a naturally born person with XX chromosomes so therefor no one uses it. We'll all be hyphenated women and leave the word woman to be ambiguous. I cannot agree on this because I'm a woman period. I didn't choose to be one. I just am and the women who came before me identified as such and a portion whether big or small was due to their biology. I stand on the shoulders of my ancestors. Half who were women. They birthed stronger women to face the challenges in a male dominated society. Then one of those strong women birthed me. For I to one day succeed in this male dominate this patriarchal system and make this society more advantageous to women of all kinds.
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