Today (November 20) is Transgender Day of Remembrance. Please take a moment to honor those whose lives, health, and safety have been taken from them because of their gender expression. My fellow queer writer Hanne Blank posted something on Facebook today that sums up my feelings about transphobia perfectly. It’s reposted with permission below.
On this Transgender Day of Remembrance I am thinking of those we’ve lost and thinking about the connection between anti-trans violence, misogyny, femmephobia, and, most of all, power.
When people on the transfeminine spectrum are attacked for being trans, a large part of what is going on is that they are being punished for having the audacity to relinquish masculinity and the symbolic power of masculinity while being, or originally being, male-bodied.
This is power and that is supposed to be inherent and inseparable from being male-bodied.
When people on the transmasculine spectrum are attacked for being trans, a large part of what is going on is that they are being punished for having the audacity to claim masculinity and the symbolic power of masculinity while not being, or not originally being, male-bodied.
This is power that it is supposed to be impossible to possess if one is *not* male-bodied.
I am, of course, oversimplifying. Anti-trans violence consists of many things. But I oversimplify to make a point, because anti-trans violence is at root the violence of misogyny and femmephobia.
Anti-trans violence rests, in a fundamental way, on the notion that maleness equals power and femaleness equals lack of power.
The fact that so many people get attacked and killed because their bodies and/or genders and/or gender performances disrupt this equation is one reason that as a feminist, and a cisgendered woman, I care deeply about trans* issues and trans* safety.
Trans* folk are unsafe in this world for exactly the same reasons that I as a cisgendered woman am unsafe in this world: any power I have or exhibit looks like a threat to many people invested in the vast complicated power of patriarchy. It destabilizes what they rightly perceive to be the historical source of their (supposedly innate, rightful, inalienable) power.
I would ask you to think about this today, as you remember the trans*folk who have been attacked and killed as a response to the ways they destabilized the myth of inalienable and inevitable male power.
And I would ask you to think as well why it is that we have no day of remembrance for cisgendered women who are attacked and killed for the same reasons.
If you care about one, it is morally incumbent upon you to care about the other. Because they are, at root, the same thing.
My cisgendered femme feminist solidarity has been with trans*folk from day one because I have always perceived the ways in which we face a common enemy.
With love and deep appreciation I am asking you to consider this, and what it means — or perhaps should mean — for your own expressions of political and cultural and community solidarity around the problems of sex, gender, and power.
(Note: Yes, you may repost/link/etc. if you wish, but please credit me, Hanne Blank)