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Transmisogyny is growing like a cancer (and as someone who has had cancer, I’m allowed to say that). Everywhere on the internet and in the “real world,” I see transmisogynists undermining my trans sisters’ humanity and basic rights.
It’s one thing to have cisgender heterosexual patriarchy-upholding white Western men spout transphobic and transmisogynistic rubbish, but what is even more disappointing is to hear transmisogynistic comments from so-called “feminists.” TERFs (Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists) are gaining courage to spout their poison and harass trans women because of well-known “feminists” making transmisogynistic comments. Every week, I come across yet another “feminist” making headlines for excluding trans women from womanhood. Every week, trans women are murdered. To think that these two occurrences are unrelated is a fatal error of judgement.
I almost threw up when I heard that Australian “feminist” Germaine Greer (and I use inverted commas for these so-called feminists because, in my book, if you don’t support the rights of all women, including trans, black, queer and disabled women, you support no women and do not deserve the title “feminist” at all) opposed (thankfully unsuccessfully) the offer of a Newnham College fellowship to physicist Rachael Padman in 1997, saying that she had been “born male” (another transphobic inaccuracy which will be addressed shortly) and should not be admitted to a women’s-only college. I assume that, fifty years ago, Germaine Greer would have also opposed the admission of a black cisgender woman into a women’s college too: transmisogynist “feminists,” in excluding some women based on their being misassigned as male at birth, are no better than the white feminists of earlier decades who thought that black feminists were taking away their rights. If you discriminate against one woman, whatever her skin colour, sexuality, or for being misassigned at birth, you discriminate against women. Trans women are women. Black women are women. Queer women are women. Etc.
In 2015, Greer again made headlines for saying that she does not regard trans women as women, and in her most famous example of hate speech yet, went on to rant:
“Just because you lop off your penis... doesn't make you a woman.”This is the essence of transphobia and transmisogyny: defining gender by genitals, and saying that trans women were “born male.” As the brilliant Canadian journalist Jessica Durling points out, a trans woman’s sex is female, whatever genitals she may have. A trans man’s sex is male, whatever genitals he may have. A non-binary person’s sex is non-binary, whatever genitals they may have. Trans women, also, were never “men”: the fact that society assigns gender based on genitals at birth is inaccurate and often incorrect, and not trans people’s fault. You should never say that someone was “born male” or “born female” or call trans people “FTM” or “MTF” unless they themselves identify that way and have given you permission to do so.
Unfortunately, Germaine Greer was not the only “feminist” to deny thousands, perhaps millions, of women their womanhood. Janice Raymond and Sheila Jeffreys are two others who have done the same. Each week, we hear the same hate speech from “feminists,” and this is what gives internet TERF trolls the courage to bully and harass trans women online, and this is what empowers murderers to kill trans women because of their sex.
It is September, and yet, this year alone, seventeen* trans women have been murdered, mostly in the United States. They were mostly black or trans women of colour. (*When I first wrote this article, in April, this figure was eight. Just five months later, that figure has more than doubled to seventeen, as more of our sisters have been cruelly murdered. May all our murdered sisters rest in peace, and may justice be served). As one journalist pointed out, black trans women are being murdered for being the three things that America hates most: women, trans people (especially trans women), and black people. This is nothing short of genocide, and transmisogynist “feminists” (though to call these transphobes “feminists” is an insult in itself to true feminists who include ALL women) such as the outdated, elderly white “academics” Germaine Greer, Janice Raymond, and Sheila Jeffreys but also, worryingly, younger “feminists” of colour have trans women’s blood on their hands. It is not only the murderers who ruthlessly kill trans women, especially black trans women, but these poisonous pseudo-feminist transmisogynist so-called academics, who are killing trans women every day. Words have consequences; if you spout hatred about a group, you are implicit in their murder.
I am cisgender myself, and I realise that I have privilege because of having my sex correctly identified at birth. Nobody has ever questioned my being female. Instead of lashing out at trans women, harassing or murdering them, other cisgender women and men should acknowledge our privilege and help unprivileged women who were misassigned as male at birth. This should go without saying. I am sick of cissexism, and transphobic abuse, and wish to separate myself from such people completely. I truly believe that, if there is a question of who is more of a “real woman,” then trans women are more real women than I am as a cisgender woman; because I, thanks to cisgender privilege, have not had to fight for people to recognise me as who I really am, namely, a woman. We should be helping women who have had to tell people that they are women, who have been misgendered, bullied, harassed and even murdered.
If there is a question of who is more a “real woman” (though all women are real women), then I firmly believe that trans women are more of a real woman than I am as a cis woman, because they have had to fight to be recognised as their true sex.
Thanks to cisgender privilege, I have always had my sex correctly referred to, and have enjoyed the privileges that the world gives to cisgender people like me. I’m not privileged in other areas (I am a woman of colour, Middle Eastern, Jewish, bisexual, disabled; someone who has had cancer and has severe OCD and anxiety disorder, and fat/plus-size) but I am certainly privileged for having my sex correctly identified at birth. Instead of attacking those who were misidentified at birth (trans people), we should be helping them and standing up for their human rights.
I am sick of a world where my sisters are being killed, where cisgender privilege goes unquestioned, and where young women and girls are being robbed of their lives just for being female. If you want to know who’s to blame, look no further at not only the murderers themselves, but those making such hate speech in the first place: the Germaine Greers of this world.
Denying women and girls their womanhood is an act of violence. Defining gender by genitals is inaccurate and often incorrect, and no better than sexists who reduce women to “p*ssy” or see cis women as walking vaginas who must bear their children. Targeting some of the most vulnerable people in society, especially trans people, and especially trans women and girls, is complicit to their murders.