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Sisterhood - Cis & Trans Integration

Part 4: Do you stand on your own biological privilege to push people away?


Photo by Kevin Grieve

This is the fourth and last article in a series. You can find the other articles here:
Part One, Part Two, Part Three.



There’s been anger among some lesbians. They feel co-opted. They feel encroached upon. And there’s been anger among trans women. They feel unwelcome, invalidated, nullified. Pushed out.


We can all do better.


Women who were born with female biology have a choice to make: To see trans women as a threat, as "invading men;" to make nothing of us, to support narratives that would oppress us — OR, to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with other sisters (cis & trans) and say, "I’ve got you, we’re in this together, I’ll hold your hand."


(This was the spirit of the #illgowithyou campaign.)


It’s an important moral choice — do you stand on your own biological privilege to push people away, to push people down OR do you accept a bit of discomfort into your life for the sake of another?


Women who were born with male biology also have a choice: To stridently and angrily demand room at the table (thus increasing the discomfort and adding to the fears), OR to signal with every gesture, with every word, with every action "I am one of you. You can trust me." Not by demand or accusation, but by solidarity, concern and genuine participation.


We are telling the world we are women. Let’s back those words with action. Let’s stand for all women, cis & trans. Let’s defend all women. Let’s protect all women.


Let’s stand for all women, cis & trans. Let’s defend all women. Let’s protect all women.


Photo by Omar Lopez


To My Trans Sisters: How We Show Up in Women’s Spaces

As we are welcomed into women’s spaces, I encourage you to show up with a good amount of empathy, a good amount of patience, and buckets of sense of humor. It’s integration all over again, just like Ruby Bridges going to school. It’ll take a couple of decades to break the cis/trans apartheid.


Sometimes our gender dysphoria is so urgent, our need for acceptance so great, our pain from social ostracism so present that we may come off as too needy. ("She’s so thirsty!")


Sometimes we’ve been the targets of so much aggression that we’re over-sensitized and wounded. ("She’s so bitchy!")


Sometimes we don’t take the time to understand every other woman in the room is hurting too. ("She’s so self-centered!")


I beseech you, please show up with humility and patience. If a cisgender woman talks to you from privilege, acting entitled and expecting you to "mind your place," resist the urge to get mad. It might not be malice, it might just be ignorance. Be gentle in correcting pronouns, explaining trans basics, correcting misperceptions.


Many would argue it’s not our job to educate folks. I say, for now, it is. We are a generation of activism. We are pioneers. (That’s why I’m typing away at 4:20am).


Do the work. Make it safer for all the trans gals who will follow.


And please, in common women’s spaces, don’t just show up as a militant trans activist. Don’t just talk everyone’s ear off about trans issues. In common women’s spaces, prioritize the larger feminist subjects. Address reproductive rights. Talk about the wage gap. Care about domestic violence. Promote gender equality and gender equity. Challenge gender roles and gender stereotypes. Be a feminist. Women have been fighting an uphill battle for centuries. As a woman, please add your voice to the struggle.


(Read my thoughts on the Women’s March)


Photo by Josh Howard


To All of Us:

We can all stand to listen more. We could all be more compassionate.

And we can all live together, those of us with vaginas and those of us without them.

We can even go beyond uncomfortably tolerating - we can become friends. We can laugh together. We can support each other. We can show up for one another. We can be sisters.


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