Radfem 2012 has been big news in the blogosphere for a while now. I’ve been trying to avoid trans-exclusionists and people talking about them, because I find that the fact that this divide still exists, that we as feminists are not united against the patriarchy on important issues like access to medicine specific to us or the trans men often mistaken for us, the glass ceiling, the gender wage gap, and the day-to-day sexism that we all experience.
I think we as women, trans or not, have a vested interest in an alliance on healthcare. We must not permit the patriarchy to restrict our ability to control our own hormones, such as with birth control and hormone replacement therapy. We cannot accept a system which physically or economically restricts our access to extremely important surgical procedures representing control over one’s own body, such as abortion and genital reconfigurative surgery. We must rise up against a society which denies us routine medical care like breast, cervical, and prostate exams. We have nothing but common ground on this, and we can’t let theories on the ideal form of a movement divide us on this–we simply can’t afford it.
I do not believe that men should be allowed in women-only spaces. I have gone out of my way to question the presence of trans men in our spaces, because they look, sound, act, and think like men do, and have the same effect on women-only spaces that any other men would–stifling our authentic interactions and creating a zone of patriarchal control. I am an extremist on the matter–I do not believe that any trace of male presence can exist in a women-only space if we are to find a place where we can be free of patriarchy, but trans women are not my enemy, even if they bear a physical resemblance to him.We need all the free female minds we can get, and my sistren are ready and willing to dedicate our lives to our mutual female liberation.
I think we can agree on sex work if we look at it the right way. Your desire to end the victimization of women at the hands of an industry that sells us is compatible with my desire to end the victimization of women at the hands of an industry that sells us. I simply ask for the right to my own personal dignity, self-autonomy, and possibly feelings of pride in my work, when I voluntarily choose to be a sex worker of my own free will. Pimps, johns, police, and attackers are the targets we must choose, and we can choose them together.
I have nothing but contempt for the gender binary system and forced gender roles and forced gendering. I tire greatly of a system that has contempt for me because I am a woman who does not dress or act femininely. I desire a system where butches and androdykes are accepted and valued. I desire a system where having a soft face and a tough swagger is okay.
Perhaps most importantly, I am not a fan of mainstream trans or queer politics. I find trans and queer activists every bit as sexist as you do–I have left queer organizations because of how they treated lesbians, and I have left trans organizations because of how they treat women. I think we can tackle these issues in activism together, as sisters in a movement that is for, about, and by women.
Please, for the sake of so many much more important issues, let us stand by your side as female activists. Remove anyone from those spaces if they, as an individual, jeopardize the safety of the space, but please, don’t paint my sisters with the same brush you used for those of us who do have crimes against other women to answer for. Certainly don’t paint us with the same brush you paint men with, because men have oppressed me for my femaleness just as they have for you, for just as much of my life as for yours. We are every bit as committed to our co-liberation as females, liberation from a patriarchal system, as you are. Punish those of us who personally do wrong. Exclude all the men you want. Just don’t exclude my sisters and our other feminist allies, because we have too much to gain from an alliance.