There have been so many myths, untruths, anger and hate regarding intersectionality, radical feminism, cis and trans* in social media. Many a blog has been published and many women have felt unsafe to debate and share their experiences. In one week several women felt forced to close down their social media accounts due to hate speech. I’ve blogged about intersectionality and allies and my frustration continues with those that co-opt the experiences of others. This issue continues to dominate and it seems that conformity is now part of the package. One particular stance is that “all women are the same (unless we say they are different, and only certain differences can be acknowledged) and that is intersectionalism – if you disagree, you aren’t doing it right” Women are not collectively the same and in the case of trans* women and cis women, there are key differences in their lived experiences.
I am going to share where I am at re cis women and trans* women. I think trans* women and cis women share many similarities. One negative similarity is regular/daily misogyny/objectification. For me, the key difference between cis-women and trans* women is that trans* women were socialised as male. I can never understand, as a cis woman, what it is like to be socialised as male, yet believe I am a girl/woman. I could never put myself in the shoes of trans* women who face transphobia. I cannot IMAGINE the impact of that – I wouldn’t even try to. I respect the lived experiences of trans* women and all I can try to do is be supportive and listen.
Similarly, trans* women will never understand what it is like to be socialised as a female from birth. The impact that it had on me was immense and remains so. The abuse, rape and violence that I experienced was because I am female – end of story. Being female was not and is not a privilege. I have touched on this recently: F.E.A.R.
So when you tell me that ‘women are the same’ you are ERASING my lived experience and the lived experience of trans* women and so many more women with different and additional experiences of oppression. We are different and that is OK. Actually, moreover, it is IMPORTANT to understand that! We have differing intersecting oppressions and privileges here and that needs to be validated. We need to be able to give voice to those differences, even when they are not shared by all women. When you don’t even acknowledge that, when you attempt to silence that you are damaging us. So stop pretending that intersectionality is at play here. Women are not one homogenous blob that you can mold and batter into uniformity. THAT is not intersectionalism. Does this mean that women cannot come together as a collective? Well no – we can and we do. Some women sometimes wish to meet with women that they share certain oppressions with. Other women want to share in the diversity of sisterhood at all times. Many feminists want to liberate all women from the white supremacist, capitalist, patriarchy which hurts us all. This is feminism.
Finally, and this is a direct request to the ‘cooperative’– stop filling the space of women who have lived the experience that you have not. It is oppressive. There are plenty of men who you are now sharing a platform with. Step down and support your sisters, stop trampling all over them.