by Juniper Cordova-Goff
To challenge our internalized oppression, it is no longer enough to consider diversity and inclusion. We must deconstruct everything we’ve learned. This is crucial in creating a society in which the intersection of transgender, femininity, and race is no longer a site of violence, one that is not plagued by misogyny and racism.
As a trans feminine person of color, each of my identities have taken some time to completely accept. Quite frankly, this is because each of my identities made up the person I was taught to avoid ever becoming. To be trans was to break a binary no one was allowed to question, to be feminine was to voluntarily present weakness, and to be proud of my browness was to admit my lack of whiteness. As I have worked to embrace these parts of me, I’ve come to realize that our communities (be it the queer community, brown community, etc.) are also complicit in the oppression of folks who identify similarly. This needs to end.
Our society’s addiction to patriarchal tradition serves as the most evident issue within this conversation. The value that we place upon masculinity has been detrimental to the perspective and treatment of womyn. Misogyny is the unequal pay within the workforce, to the hypersexualization of female bodies to strict gender roles and rigid expectation. When we take transgender people and femininity into account, the reality is only more oppressive. Transmisogyny essentially is misogyny that is intensified to reflect the continued transphobia within our world, the leading cause of the rising violence directed at the trans women, primarily trans women of color.
Part of our revolutionary generation is highlighting the need for an intersectional fight toward justice. We must recognize that the system that targets racialized bodies is a system that is interwoven with the system that violently reinforces the gender binary. We cannot take actions that genuinely bear subversive and liberatory potential against white supremacy, without also challenging the gender binary. As we work to end the violence our communities are subject to, we must remain intentional about ending all systems of oppression in order to liberate all womyn of color.
This intersectional effort includes improving our language and terminology usage. The easiest way to work against the trans community is isolation. Instead of referring to this movement as one for “womyn and trans womyn,” avoid the indirect transphobia and say womyn. (Hint: transwomyn are womyn.) As we continue to be intentional about language, we must remember that not all feminine people are womyn, and also may not be men. The inclusion of all genders is vital in ending transmisogyny in the form of erasure.
Opening spaces for gender expression is also important in order to achieve justice for all. This may look like feminist spaces ensuring that womyn and people of all expressions from femme to masc and androgyny are welcomed and supported at all times, in every conversation.
Yet, most importantly, we must deconstruct and rebuild the value we place on femininity. As I mentioned, I grew up understanding that being feminine was voluntarily presenting a weakness; femininity was choosing to look gentle and reserved. Little did I know, some of the most powerful badasses walking this planet are the most flawless femme queens in existence. Our community needs to realize this however. We must remind ourselves that education is not just for studious people in blazers, but also femme scholars. We must check ourselves when we question a feminine person’s sexual actions that is also slut-shaming. We must also move past the idea of feminine people relying on the protection of masculinity. My heels can do the same, if not more, damage than the fist of a macho man.
As people working towards the day of liberation, it is important to stay mindful of our the systems of oppression are pushing our trans femme siblings down and out. We also need to take action and work against these micro- and macro aggressions on a daily basis.
There is a war on femininity and they’re messing with the wrong femmes. *claws out*