Right now, trans people are under more pressure than usual. A recent New York Times article details the Trump administration’s plans to stop protecting transgender people from sex-based discrimination under title IX, a civil rights law that every college student should be familiar with. Trans women are women, so they face the same problems as cis women (cis meaning someone who identifies with the gender they were assigned at birth), like sexual harassment, lower wages and impossible-to-follow beauty standards. It makes sense, then, that trans and cis women should both be included in the feminist movement, which sets out to fix these problems. Here are some ways that you can make sure that you include trans women in your feminism.
First, you need to speak out if you see trans women being excluded from groups or spaces that are open to women. Trans women do not pose a threat in any way to cis women, and in fact, they face much higher rates of violence than cis women do. Rather than making a space that is only open to some women, we need to make sure that feminist and women-only spaces celebrate our differences and allow all women’s voices to be heard.
It’s also important to make sure that you don’t use transphobic language when discussing problems that women face. Many people say “feminine hygiene products” when referring to tampons and pads, but you have to remember that not all women have periods. You may know that trans women don’t have periods, but even some cis women don’t as well for many reasons. Instead, try to refer to pads and tampons as “disposable menstrual products” or even just “pads and tampons.” Avoid language that enforces that vaginas = female, like “pussy power,” because this excludes some trans women. Small changes like this will ensure that trans people in your life feel safe and included.
Finally, you need to listen to trans women. Today, cis women tend to be the face of many feminist movements, which makes it easy for the issues faced by trans women to be ignored. Because feminism is so focused on cis women, the best way to hear what trans women have to say is to seek them out yourself. Try reading articles by trans authors, watching ted talks by trans speakers, and, if you don’t already, follow some trans women on social media. Trans women know their issues best, so hearing directly from them what’s wrong will tell you what needs to be fixed.
Since 2015, the murder rate of trans women has steadily increased, with 2018 set to be the deadliest year for trans women yet. Clearly, trans women need protection, but they often get ignored by mainstream feminist movements if they are not excluded outright. This is not right. As feminists, it’s our job to help all women, and right now trans women need a lot of help. By excluding trans women, cis feminists are hurting everyone. Instead, we have to band together to fight sexism so that all women can enjoy a happier and safer future.