Stop Erasing Me!

“But without him how would Hitler have condemned him at Dachau? Without him Caesar would have stood alone. He’s the one who gives his body as a weapon to the war. And without him all this killing can’t go on.    Universal Soldier by Buffy Sainte-Marie       (regarding those who assist the horible oppressors including those that stay silent and those just following orders)

Back in January a couple of weeks before the last women’s march I sent a message to the organizers that I hope for our local sister march to the one in Washington we would have representation for the transgender community. I was told that there would be representation and that they are called “women.”  Nice erasure.

On that cold January day I  wanted everyone at the march to see me so I wore 4 inch heels making me stand over 6’2″ for others to remember to support transgender issues, especially transgender women’s issues that we fight for on a daily basis. Yes I stood above most of the crowd, estimated between five and nine thousand. I am not sure how many people saw me that day but it would have been hard not to see my head above most of the other women and many of the men’s heads. It harder to erase me if you have to look at me.

I know that there are many issues that I support cisgender women on in our fight that may not ever affect me. In return I  want cisgender women to support my fight.  We have a lot issues n common and what we don’t have in common we should have empathy for one another.

True empathy is the ability and willingness to put ourselves into other people’s shoes, especially those who are different from us-not in a presumptive way, but to sincerely listen to what they have to say, to understand their circumstances, concerns, frustrations, and fears.                         excerpt from                   Empathy Politics          by     Julia Serano

So like a lot of other women, men, and children. I stood in the courthouse lawn and listened to activist , poets, politicians, preachers, and leaders in the community. Each person speaking got the crowd to cheer and chant.  I am sure it looked to many as if the people who planned the event were inclusive. But even with many different women represented, there was no one who looked and sounded like me,  it looked more like they just wanted to look diverse.  I don’t believe this was an oversight. I think it was done purposefully.

Part of one of the chant that the organizers ask people to say was, “…gay, straight, brown, black, and white women…” again erasing me.  I made a simple comment to the organizers on-line that when others were saying that line in the chant that I would add the word “transgender” myself. I did not demand that the word  be added or the chant be changed or that everyone should utter the word “transgender” at certain place in the chant, I simply said that I would be adding it. I was told by one of the admins that transgender was included in the word “women.” Thanks for telling me how I should react to being erased.

The day of the march came and I knew that I would have to walk a lot and yes I know the value of sensible shoes. I just ran a marathon the week before. I decided I needed to be visible and the best way to be visible is to be seen. I am slightly over 5 foot 10 so with 4 inch heels on I would tower at 6’2″ and it would be hard not to see me. Not that I cared to be seen by anyone in particular but to remind people who consider themselves part of the movement  that transgender women need to be included when they talk about women’s rights.

I am not trying to pick a fight with anyone. I try hard to get along. I didn’t take offense to the vagina caps, even though they tend to erase transgender women. I didn’t take offense to there being no transgender speakers on stage that day.  I walked and smiled and greeted people and never let on that I was disappointed. I also stood tall and made sure as many people saw me as possible. I also want things to change for this movement in the future.

I realize this march was just a first step. As first steps go for movements, like toddlers learning to walk, they are never perfect and often are very awkward. Transgender women need to be more than just to be visible, we need to be an intricate part of the movement and not just window dressing.  Many transgender women are made to feel not welcomed in feminist movements. I’ve been personally attracted by a feminist who told me that I didn’t belong in women’s spaces because of male privilege.  We are the target from conservative lawmakers legislating our restroom use. Last week I had my representative in the Kentucky legislator tell me to my face that my safety was not his concern. There are hundreds of  bills in legislative chambers across the country right now that threaten our very existence.

So yes, I will stand tall, I will always be proud to be an out transgender woman, and I will fight for all women’s rights. If this movement wants to gather legs and start to run, rather than be just a series of first steps, they will need many collective voices. As a friend of mine reminds me often, there is a big difference between actual inclusion and so-called “diversity.”

 

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