Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Day 5: I am Pro-Choice, therefore I am Pro-Trans Rights

I kind of went into this issue here, but it bears repeating.

I am pro-choice because nobody has a right to tell me what to do with my body. Nobody has a right to tell me how to use it or how not to use it. Nobody has a right to mandate what I must or must not do with or to my body. As long as I am not harming anyone else, it's my body and I have complete control over it.

Maybe you think pregnancy is a beautiful, wonderful thing. (And, while I'm at it, let me say I would agree with you.) But that does not give YOU the right to force pregnancy onto another woman who does not want it -- because then it ceases to be something natural and beautiful, and it becomes a violation.

Maybe you think pregnancy is dangerous and no woman should ever have to go through it. Or you hate children. Or you think that woman would be a horrible mother and she doesn't deserve to bear children. Or you think "illegals" shouldn't give birth, especially when they're rotting in immigration jail cells. Or maybe you don't think women should give birth to children with disabilities, especially when they have a low chance of survival after birth; that the most humane thing would be to abort the pregnancy before that "defective" child is born. That does not give you the right to force a woman to terminate a pregnancy -- it is her body, and she will do as she pleases with it.

As I've ranted before, "pro-choice" is not a euphemism for "pro-abortion." It's a shorter way of saying "pro-I-get-to-control-my-own-body-because-it's-mine-and-not-yours-so-back-off."

For the exact same reasons I am pro-choice and I fight for reproductive rights, I am -- and, to not be a hypocrite, I have to be -- pro-trans rights. My body, my business, right? I get to control it, and make all decisions relating to it?

Guess what!

Even more basic than the right to control my uterus and what may or may not inhabit it, is the right to identify my own d@mn body. To tell you my own gender.

I am, in many ways, very much a "girlie-girl" (even though I hate using that term because of the gender roles it implies/prescribes). I love all things pink, I love to wear frilly skirts, I like cats. I think bugs and snakes are gross. I hate sports, but love to dance. What other stereotypes can I throw in there?

Point being, the transgender experience is something completely foreign to me. I am as cis as they come. That doesn't give me a pass.

My skin is very pale. Does that mean I shouldn't worry about or fight against racism?

I'm able-bodied, and although I abhor sports I am athletic and coordinated. Not only do I not have any learning disabilities, but I'm also pretty darned smart, if I do say so myself. Does that mean I shouldn't be concerned with ableism and the discrimination people with disabilities face?

What it does mean, in all the above cases, is that I have little personal experience with those issues. And it is my job to educate myself about them. How can I call myself a feminist and claim I am working to end oppression if I don't fight against those oppressions?

I have to admit that, before I followed @nueva_voz on Twitter (and started adding more people from her feed to my list), I hadn't even thought about the existence of trans people. I didn't know what that meant. I knew there were drag queens, because Chandler's dad, on Friends, was one... even though the character was played by female Kathleen Turner; also, when Felicity Huffman was nominated for Best Actress (wasn't she?) for Transamerica, I'm sure the thought vaguely flittered through my brain that trans people were actual people, not mythical creatures like harpies or unicorns, but the thought didn't bother to stay long (I never saw the movie; seeing it might have helped?)

By the way, Warner Bros. and Hollywood, while I'm on the subject, nice #FAIL on casting cis women to play trans women's roles. Especially "a pre-operative male-to-female transsexual." Did you even bother thinking to try to look for an actual trans woman to play the part?

I'm not sure why I felt you had to know all that (in the paragraph before the rant). Maybe it's because I feel I have to confess my ignorance, or maybe it's because I want to get this info out to people who are like I was. Either way, there you have it.

If you call yourself a feminist, you'd better make sure you are actively advocating for all women's rights, not just cis women's. If you fight for the right to have control over your own body, make sure you are fighting for your neighbor's right to do the same, even when she doesn't look like you.

If you're feeling a little lost as to how to go about doing this, educate yourself.


  1. It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia has touched on trans issues, where one of the main characters dates a trans woman, but that trans woman is also played by a cis woman actress. However, the male character is shown studying up on the issue and telling the trans woman that he wasn't embarassed of her, but of himself for not knowing how to be supportive enough.

  2. Progress! (Right?) Baby steps...

    I've never seen It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, but I may have to watch it now!

  3. I think it was around the same time as you started advocating for trans rights, that I came accross @todayyouareyou on twitter and her blog. I had never ever thought about the possibility of a child not identifying with their own gender. Eye-opening, to say the least. I am now following a couple of transgender people on twitter (one of which I found via the local NaNoWriMo group).

    (I have more I wanna write but D is up now soc have to stop)

  4. Well said miss cox and while I aint female...
    I can be said to be a feminist as well.

    By the same token, my being uncomfortable with transgendered folks doesnt make me exempt from fighting for their rights as well as mine and anyone else's that needs an ally in the fight to end oppression.