Monday, July 26, 2010

Transwomen are Real Women

After reading a very painful passage in a book this morning that completely invalidated transwomen, I think I need to make something perfectly clear.

Transwomen are women. They are "real" women. They are not men who want to be women. They are not men who "think" they are women. They are not even men who identify as women. They are not delusional or liars about their womanhood. They are not frauds, or freaks, or fakes, or trying to destroy the feminist movement.

Transwomen are not "really men." They are women. Regardless of what genitalia are currently between their legs, they are women. A pre-transition transwoman is just as much a gal as I am, or as a post-transition woman is. The fact that they were born with a penis and a prostate instead of a vagina and a uterus doesn't make them less of a woman. More than once, when confronted, cis-women have told me that a transwoman can't be a "real" woman because, you know, she doesn't have a uterus or anything! She can't have kids, never could never will!

To that I have to cry bullshit. Lack of a uterus or inability to have children does not remove someone's womanhood. A childhood friend of mine had to have a hysterectomy at age 6 because of a rare cancer. She has no uterus, and is completely infertile. She can't have kids, never could never will. Does that make her something less than a woman? She sure as salt isn't a man, or a boi, or a grrl, or genderqueer. She's a woman, an ordinary cis-woman, but the rational that invalidates my trans-parent's womanhood would remove this girl's as well.

Please, think before you completely invalidate someone else's gender. Remember that, in our culture, we constantly and incorrectly use gender and biological sex terms interchangeably. A "male" is generally accepted to be a human with masculine secondary sexual characteristics, a penis, and usually XY chromosomes. That is biological sex, which can be greatly altered through surgery and hormone therapy. "Woman" refers to gender identity, which does not always match up with biological sex.

That's part of why it's called "transgender": because the gender does not match up with the biological sex. Transitioning refers to the process of fixing the sex part of the equation, because the research has shown that gender can't be changed. One of the most important things to remember is that the person's gender always trumps the biological markers. If a transperson tells you she's a woman, but she has a penis, she is a woman. A little voice in the back of your head may quip: "Oh, ok, she's a dude!" No. Reach back and correct the voice. She is a chick. She may have a dick, but she's still a chick. Respect that, even if it's not your cup of tea. You don't have to want to fuck a transgendered person to respect their gender. Respect that, and you'll earn the gratitude of a terribly marginalized community.

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  1. YES. It gives me the willies when I hear someone insinuate that a transwoman is not a real or actual woman. I'm sorry you had to deal with that stupid passage.

    Reach back and correct the voice. -- EXACTLY. It's okay for people to have thoughts like that, but they should learn those thoughts are incorrect and should DEFINITELY never vocalize them.

  2. It really threw me, since it was in an otherwise empowering book about feminist topics. And then suddenly, out of nowhere, they take a chunk of page to very specifically say that all this only applies to REAL women, that it doesn't apply to transwomen because they are really men. I was appalled.

    We can't always control what that little voice decides to say, but you're right, it sure as hell shouldn't be said out loud. Heck, I live with a trans-parent, and occasionally I'll even catch it mid-sentence going "Oh, wait, penis--END THOUGHT." But I never let those thoughts rise up and hurt someone. I've seen what it can do, what a single accidental use of "he" can do to a transgal.