Finding Common Ground In Our Differences

If I haven’t mentioned this before, though I am pretty sure I have, being trans is not for the faint of heart. We face being ostracized by our families, harassment at work, confusion in public spaces and even violence. We are often marginalized even by those that fight for the disenfranchised. In particular we often experience some rather brutal rhetoric from the radical feminist community.

This, of course, leaves us hurt and even more confused. These are people who want to undo the system that has left us in the cold, surely they must be allies. Instead they accuse us of perpetuating that system, often using language that does not just reinforce our status as outsiders, but outright labels us enemies. The curious part is that, for the most part, this invective is directed at the segment to which I belong, male-to-female transgender women. Female-to-male transgender men are still welcome in Womyn’s conferences and concerts.

It is easy to get angry at these attacks, and on this reduction of all people to biology (the latter especially considering it is hypocritical in light of feminism’s overall mission.) And I do get angry. However, I think it is counter productive to react with reflexive hurt and rage. Belittling all radical feminists as hate and fear mongers closes off avenues we need and in a way is cruel to them. It ignores their experiences in the patriarchy that hurts us all.

Please do not misunderstand me. I would never tell you to not feel angry or to even eventually vigorously voice that anger toward radical feminists for their transphobia and cis sexism. I would just recommend before doing so taking a step back and understanding how cis male privilege has hurt us all and left them ready to fall into these attitudes. Be ready to educate first. If they still don’t want to listen, by all means, write them off.

It’s tough. White, male, cis, hetero, sexist Christian privilege has hurt large swaths of our society, including those whose privilege it seeks to protect. It is easy to make enemies out of friends, and sometimes, those would be friends have no interest in checking themselves. Some of them might however, and we owe it both to them and ourselves to offer the opportunity to do so.

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