Allies of trans women:
When you say “trans women are women” do you mean:
They are “woman enough” to join in your discussions about oppression?
They are “woman enough” to express their rage alongside you?
They are “woman enough” to actually share in your concerns, your issues, your stances?
They are “woman enough” to be accepted as equals when you stand against oppression and misogyny?
That you genuinely treat them socially the way you treat other women? That you invite them to the same events, include them in the same events, socialize with them the same way?
I’ve seen a lot of people yelling about trans women being women, and at the same time, I see a whole lot of casually excluding us from the conversations that we should all be a part of. Sometimes, probably most of the time, it’s not even conscious or deliberate. I’ve been in spaces though where womens’ issues come up and trans women are shunted away from the discussion, often put into the same space socially as queer men.
It feels like you see our rage, our defiance, our struggle, but see is as something separate from your own, or ancillary to it. You will stand up for trans women being women, but you won’t share the table with us when it comes to broader women’s issues. You don’t give us space to speak on things like income inequality, sexual harassment and assault, body autonomy, general misogyny and other things that affect all women. You will signal boost what we say about trans stuff all day, but we aren’t invited to the larger conversations, and are ignored or talked over (on a good day; on a bad day we’re told that we can’t understand these experiences despite being directly affected by them even before we come out).
Trans women’s struggles aren’t just about being trans. They also deal with most of the other things that cis women have to deal with. (And for the biological differences, we’re all on the same page on body autonomy, are we not?)
“Trans Women Are Women” is unhelpful rhetoric unless you’re willing to truly include us socially. Unless you’re willing to actually treat us as other women, and this includes in activism and even just the conversations we need to have to vent and process the pain of living in a patriarchal, misogynist world, your words say one thing and your actions say another.
I spent more than half of my life silently fighting against reaching out when conversations about womens’ issues were discussed, because even though many of them affected me despite presenting as male at the time, I knew I wouldn’t be welcome. Now that I am out, and people know I’m a woman, I’ve found myself in a similar position all too often – sitting across the room from the women and afab femme folx discussing issues that include me, and being talked over and ignored when I try to chime in, to join in the venting, the ranting, the processing, the discussion.
It sure doesn’t feel like being accepted as a woman, I can tell you that.