#ChooseToChallenge Transphobia This International Women’s Day

By Amber Turner-Brightman

Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images, slate.com

As International Women’s Day rolls around again, it’s exciting not only to reflect upon the progress the feminist movement has made over the last year, but also to look forward to developments that are yet to come. This year’s official theme is #ChooseToChallenge, which focuses on the role of our personal thoughts and actions and how these can have an impact. I think this is something we should all contemplate, especially with the recent rise in transphobic rhetoric here in the UK.

This year, I think we should take time to reflect upon what we consider womanhood to be. Do you feel like somebody’s status as a woman should be defined solely by their genitals, by their ability to reproduce? It’s important to challenge these outdated preconceptions where they arise. In the past, our International Women’s Days and our feminism have been largely centred around our biology- our vaginas and our uteruses. This seems innocent enough on its surface, but actively makes IWD and parallel celebrations inaccessible to trans women, as well as cisgender women with reproductive issues. Regardless, reducing women to their genitals and reproductive abilities alone is traditionally misogynistic.

It’s also important to note that whilst all women are likely to be affected by misogyny, trans women are uniquely affected by transmisogyny, a distinct and more specific type of marginalization which Laura Kacere describes as being “based in their unique position of overlapping oppressions- being both trans and feminine” (2014). Trans women are also at risk of several forms of violence, with more than a quarter of trans people finding themselves subjected to domestic abuse, and a quarter having experienced homelessness as a result of their identity. This is one of many reasons we should take it upon ourselves to make sure trans women feel safe and can find refuge within women’s spaces. 

It is impossible to fully overcome misogyny without fighting the oppressions that trans women face. In line with this year’s theme, we should make this one of the feminist movement’s main aims for the future. By taking it upon ourselves to simply alter the language we use to be more inclusive, and to challenge preconceived biases which may arise both around us and within ourselves, we can ensure all women feel included in our IWD celebrations, and are safe in our communities. 

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