The same people hate us for all the same reasons they hate you, sometimes even more so.
Body shaming, body autonomy, income inequalities, tone policing, differential standards, role restrictions, sexual monitoring by others. If you believe, as I do, that any of these limitations and double standards are wrong for women, as I do, then they must be wrong for everyone. Anything less is not striving for equality, it is merely deciding who gets to be equal and who does not.
No human should be afraid of having their body violated. No adult human should have their health care limited by anyone other than themselves and their doctors. Every adult human should be compensated at their jobs for the quality of their work and nothing else. Every human deserves access to income and health care sufficient to meet their needs. Every human should feel free to dress and express themselves with pride. Every human deserves an equal voice in government, and equal access to advancement and power under fair standards for all.
The reason all these issues are disproportionately women’s issues, feminist issues, is that these examples of unfairness and abuse disproportionately affect women more than men. They also disproportionately affect black people more than white people. Ditto for the disabled vs. abled-bodied, poor vs. well-off or rich, and every other oppressed minority, more of whom exist than I even know, I’m sure.
Ditto for transwomen.
The question I would ask anyone reeling under the oppressive arm of patriarchy is, are you against all these various personal and institutional levels of unfairness, or are you merely against them being used on you?
Many people have heard, even repeated the phrase, “No one is free until everyone is free.” I’d like to dial it back a bit from the hippy-dippy feel-good meme it has become, and look at why this is so at a deeper level.
I would argue that while individuals and individual groups have made strides for themselves in this quest for equality, a piecemeal approach has thus far failed to effectively attack or question a system which is propped by levels of oppressive hierarchy dependent upon dividing us along lines of gender, race, ancestry, sexual attraction, etc. The result always seems to lead to a disproportionately large number of rich, white, straight cis men in charge of almost everything. I’ve known plenty of wonderful people in this category, but I do question their inherent dominance. No one will be free until everyone is free, because as long as we keep in place structures and systems of dominance, no marginalized group’s hard-won freedom can be taken for granted. As long as the systems themselves are in place, those rights can be taken away in a heartbeat.
Anyone who doesn’t get this has probably been on a meditation retreat somewhere without internet for the last six months, drunk on fermented yak’s milk.
We will never be free, none of us, until we dismantle the entire structure of inequality. And that includes transwomen. It includes everyone else, too, of course, but we are generally the first ones kicked out when a movement feels it can garner support from a few more bigots by turning against us. Not talking conspiracy theories here, so much as history.
No one is free until everyone is free, because to truly challenge these structures, we need everyone on board. Excluding people narrows and limits the scope and power of any movement. Excluding people shrinks the pool of help in making these changes happen. In order to make any significant changes, we need a broadly-based mass movement. Nothing else has ever changed the course of politics and culture in the U.S. A piecemeal, incremental movement which sends some of us to the back of the bus will never bring the changes we need. These arguments benefit those in power who would love to justify their inaction or lack of urgency for equal rights far more than they do the people affected. Only a large movement, with everyone included, will have the power to challenge both Republicans AND Democrats on all these vital issues. We need everybody. Bernie Sanders knew this, and drew unprecedented crowds with amazing energy. The Women’s March on Washington knew this, and made history. It’s all there, we can do this, but only if we include everyone.
No one is free until everyone is free, because we need to not merely focus on the important single issues, but on the moral underpinnings of hierarchy and equality. That’s where the energy comes from, that is how we sustain ourselves in the long term. Bringing our diverse voices and leadership and energy, across all intersectionalities, with no one, NO ONE excluded, together in universal struggle for equality for all is a very different calling than each of us struggling separately for our ‘special rights.’ A banner of fairness and equality for all allows us to join together, to unite our strengths. But it only works if we include everyone.
The Women’s March on Washington called for working towards the ERAA – Equal Rights for All Amendment. A broad-based movement will give us the power to both elect and challenge Democrats to adopt this, and other progressive platform planks, and run against them if they still refuse.
Sound ambitious? Maybe not so far-fetched, though. While most people in the U.S. react negatively to the labels of ‘liberal’ or ‘feminist,’ most people also agree with a majority of our positions. The right-wing fear-mongering has had its effects. Nonetheless, most people support equal rights, breaking up the bank, re-regulating Wall Street, taxing the 1% at higher rates than they are now, a $15 minimum wage, gay marriage, and combating climate disruption. Would that more of the Democratic Party did, as well, beyond the rhetoric.
One thing I promise: if we ask for little, that is all we will get. If we accept limitations put upon us by those in power, we will never gain the power and equality we all deserve. Our only chance of getting there is through radical inclusion.
And, yes, that includes transwomen.