A transgender person “adopts the appearance and lifestyle of a gender different from that of their birth. Whether born male or female, the transgender person changes or even rejects their biological sexual identity.” Cis-gender, is a type of gender identity where the felt gender of a person corresponds to his biological sex, assigned at birth.
Transgender women in history
You perhaps know Marsha P. Johnson. She was a black, transgender woman activist in New York City during the 1960-90’s and is the emblematic figure of the LGBTQ+ movement in NYC, she participated in the “Stonewall riot”, which was a series of spontaneous and violent demonstrations against a police raid that took place on the night of June 28, 1969. These riots are represented as the symbolic moment marking the real emergence of LGBT activism in the United States and around the world, taking place in a very homophobic context. After this a legal battle to obtain the right to demonstrate took place, as a consequence of that the first demonstration of a few hundred gays and lesbians takes place, and the pride march was born.
Today, the rights and the distinction that a transgender woman, notably, is a woman, are being called into question. In fact, in France, even if Simone de Beauvoir, a feminist French icone said “one is not born, but rather becomes, a woman”, this fact is questioned by several “feminist figures”, who consider themselves as feminist but transphobic, nommed TERF:“trans-exclusionnary radical feminist”.
Recently, collage groups against femicides have been created on the initiative of Marguerite Stern, former Femen activist (feminist movement created in 2008 in Ukraine). Marguerite Stern, expressed herself in a thread on twitter, on her opinion that collages should not include messages including trans women, because for her, they are not real women, and do not face the same sexism as cis-women. Several feminist personalities such as Christine Delphy, a French sociologist and a feminist activist, joined her, signing a transphobic stand. Other famous “feminists” in all the world have the same stance as Germaine Greer a writer, journalist, art historian, Australian academic and known to be a major figure in a current of feminism known as the second feminist wave.
In the thread of Marguerite Stern we can read sentences like: “No, I am not a “vulva person”, I am a woman. I was born a woman, and even before I was born, in my mother’s womb, I suffered discrimination because of this. I have suffered things that a man who would like to become a woman can never apprehend.” Or “I am in favor of deconstructing gender stereotypes, and I consider that transactivism only reinforces them. I observe that men who want to be women, suddenly start to wear make-up, wear dresses and heels. And I consider it an insult to women to consider that it is the tools invented by patriarchy that make us women. We are women because we have vulva. It is a biological fact.” Up to saying: “I interpret this as a new male attempt to prevent women from expressing themselves.“
Why they are wrong
At first, we are not born as a woman but we become one, by building with oppression, and gender stereotypes imposed by society. Imagine being born in a society without what it would really be “to be a woman“? So, to reference Sartre we are not essentially a woman, so a trans woman is a woman. Trans women are also more discriminated than cis women. They suffer daily stigma, sexism, transphobia, sexualization, exposed to physical or sexual assault, domestic violence, rape, unequal opportunities on the job market, to the health system… and many other forms of discrimination due to sexism and transphobia. So how is it possible to speak of less discrimination? In addition, transgender people have never been the starting point for gender stereotypes. Cis women themselves convey these stereotypes, and people don’t blame them to shave, to wear heels, to make up…
@Aggresively_trans, the pseudonyme of Lexie a French transgender woman on instagram, return to this controversy by explaining that, “gender codes are sometimes not a choice but a need for visual inclusiveness, so yes it is partly to join stereotypes but that cruelty to refuse to a person what is necessary for him when himself is estimated to have the right to perpetrate the same stereotypes just because we are cisgender“. Society and the system have interwoven these stereotypes and it is against them that we must fight.
The feminist should not include only white heterosexual cis women, but be inclusive for all women, whether Black, Asian, veiled, disabled, bi, lesbian, intersex, trans, fat, slim, sex worker… we are fighting for the same thing: equal rights and the death of patriarchy!
To end this article, I would like to say that I wrote this article as a white, cis, privileged woman, but as an ally in the fight for recognition and right of LGBTQ + people.
by Aimée Niau Lacordaire
March for women’s rights in Malmo, Merle Emrich, All right reserved
Marsha P. Johnson, Steven Oldak, CC BY 2.0
“Trans Women are Real Women”, Alec Perkins, CC BY 2.0