Thanks to the tumblrsphere, I found this great piece of writing called The Transfeminist Manifesto. Not only does the title have fabulous consonance, but it I think it’s full of well-articulated clarification about trans issues within feminism, and the sociopolitical situation of trans women. It has moments that are highly inspirational, such as:
“Transfeminism embodies feminist coalition politics in which women from different backgrounds stand up for each other, because if we do not stand for each other, nobody will.”
It also has some sober advice to transfeminists:
“…it is essential for our survival and dignity that we claim our place in feminism, not in a threatening or invasive manner, but in friendly and cooperative ways.”
It also contains a really interesting discussion about male privilege among trans women. Here’s a snippet:
“…we often confuse the oppression we have experienced for being gender-deviant with the absence of male privilege. Instead of claiming that we have never benefited from male supremacy, we need to assert that our experiences represent a dynamic interaction between male privilege and the disadvantage of being trans.”
Also there is a bit about gender essentialism, a topic that can be touchy within the trans/feminist community:
“To say that one has a female mind or soul would mean there are male and female minds that are different from each other in some identifiable way, which in turn may be used to justify discrimination against women…Transfeminism believes that we construct our own gender identities based on what feels genuine, comfortable and sincere to us as we live and relate to others within a given social and cultural constraint.”
One bit that I found slightly problematic was the discussion of medical transition:
“Many of us feel so uncomfortable and ashamed of our appearances that we oft to remain in the closet or endure electrolysis, hormone therapy and surgical interventions to modify out bodies in congruence with our identity as women…Why would anyone opt for such a seemingly inhumane practice?”
I don’t that lines up with the experience of the majority of trans experience, and represents something of a warped truth. Yes, many trans people feel coerced by our society, and norms within the trans community, to participate in aspects of transition they don’t necessarily want to. That is a huge problem and needs to be addresssed. On the other hand, the desire for body modification does not necessarily come from a place of shame, but simply the longing to change one’s body to accurately represent oneself. Further, many of the things that people do to embody their birth-assigned genders might fall into the category of body modification, such as hair removal or body-building. Changing these behaviors or adopting different ones as part of transition often simply seems like common sense.
All in all, I think this is a really fierce piece of writing that I hope will be clarifying and inspirational to you fellas. It certainly was for me.