In order to provide a safe and welcoming world for all women, it is important to discuss transgender and gender non-conforming identities and issues in society. Gender discrimination and violence are important issues in the U.S. and the world. Gender discrimination and violence of all kinds disproportionately impact Lesbian women, overly effeminate gay people, bisexual women, and Transgender people and in particular, transgender women and feminine non-binary folks.
Centering Transgender women is about centering those who are most disproportionately affected by structural violence, exploring our exacerbated difficulties in accessing housing, healthcare, education, and employment.
Based on the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, 26% of people have lost a job due to their identity and another 50% reported harassment in the workplace. Over 41% of all transgender people have attempted suicide, with those surveyed indicating that sexual assault was the biggest cause, followed by physical assault and harassment in school.
More Radical Reads: Visibility and Vulnerability as a Trans Woman
In the Injustice at Every Turn survey, transgender people were found four times more likely to have a household income of less than $10,000 compared to the general population. This clearly outlines the extreme levels of poverty that many transgender people face. For instance, the unemployment rate of transgender people in the U.S. is twice the rate of the general population, or roughly between 10 percent and 14 percent throughout 2008, the year the survey was conducted. All of the aforementioned do not even address the huge roadblocks we face in accessing life saving compassionate gender affirming healthcare.
When space is created to discuss the world that transgender people live in and function, society ignites a conversation about gender as a function of culture and a construct. More importantly, it is a conversation about the right to self-express, so we can ensure everyone walks and breathes unapologetically in their truth.
When we address the false and rigid gender binary, we also push society to engage in conversations about women that are outside the objectification of people based on body parts. Additionally, these conversations strengthen arguments against expected societal norms for feminine people while forging a path for different interpretations of femininity.
Ultimately, addressing transgender people is about addressing gender discrimination. The policing of people based on their looks or body parts leads to a level of oppression that kills.
Cisgender women for various reasons including the removal of breasts, a mastectomy, due to cancer are still women, and it is in this light and from conversations about transgender people that women and feminine beings of all walks of life are made visible, especially in a country like the U.S. where feminism continues to be coopted by abled body, cisgender, heterosexual, middle to upper class Anglo White women.
In my opinion, the biggest reason that transgender people are essential in all conversations about womanhood and gender discrimination is that once one addresses one social construct, other constructs follow. For example, usually, when the intentionality exists, conversations aimed at dismantling the gender binary also address the unscientific and false sex binary and the fluid spectrum of human sexuality. A critical gender lens that incorporates transgender people is about intersectionality and necessitates conversations about patriarchy, heteronormativity, cisgender normativity, ableism, voracious predatory capitalism, and racism, which in turn fights back dehumanizing, invisibilizing, incomplete, and privileged narratives put forward by White Feminism.
More Radical Reads: A Letter to The Women Who Exclude Trans & Non-binary People from “Safe Spaces”
In order to provide a safe and welcoming world for all women, it is important to discuss transgender and gender non-conforming identities and issues in society. Gender discrimination and violence are important issues in the U.S. and the world. Gender discrimination and violence of all kinds disproportionately impact Lesbian women, overly effeminate gay people, bisexual women, and Transgender people and in particular, transgender women and feminine non-binary folks. Narratives aimed at disassociating LGBTQIA populations from conversation about women’s rights, health and justice are nothing but an attempt at pushing us out of spaces for no reason other than bigotry since it is clear once outlined that Lesbian women, overly effeminate men, bisexual women, transgender men who happen to have uteruses, transgender women, and gender non-binary folks are all part of the group of folks affected by the current war on women.
It is imperative that in fighting patriarchy, heteronormativity, racism, ableism, cisgender normativity and voracious predatory capitalism during Women’s History month, transgender voices, experiences, and critical understandings of gender are uplifted, so we can all move towards a free society that values all people and their genders.
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