The first national survey on violence against trans people […] found that 48% of respondents had been victims of assault, including sexual assault and rape, and 78% had experienced verbal harassment. Other research conducted in the US found that 43% of the participants had been a victim of violence or crime, with 75% of those attributing a motive of either transphobia or homophobia to it. (Source)
There is no doubt in my mind that trans women are experiencing escalating levels of violence which are disproportionately high in relation to our numbers. Following last year’s International Transgender Day of Remembrance and the publication of the preliminary results of the 2009 update of the TGEU Trans Murder Monitoring project, it became known that more than 160 murders of trans people had been recorded in the preceding year. This prompted the equality/diversity campaigner Christine Burns to carry out this ‘back of the envelope’ calculation:
If trans ppl are (say) 1 in 10K of the population then 200 trans murders equivalent to 2 million in wider population
I can’t help but think that if 2,000,000 cis people had been murdered for no other reason than that they were cis, there would have been an international outcry. But by anybody’s standards, this is surely worthy of the attention of those with the power to initiate the attitudinal changes that are urgently needed to bring to an end this undeclared war on us.
As we know, cis women are also subject to violence and you might think that all women, no matter how we self-identify, trans or cis, would have a common cause and shared interest in claiming our human rights to life and security. And as the Million Women Rise website says:
A woman’s right to live free from violence and / or the fear of violence has not been achieved.
If you think this needs to change, then join us on a public demonstration to show those in power that it’s just not good enough!
However, it is unclear to me if the “us” that MWR uses is a fully trans inclusive “us” – or whether it refers only to cis women. The insistence on using the phrase “women only” – the website has an entire page of its own on the subject – is a definite cause for concern. To a trans woman like me, the term is contentious because it carries the baggage of nearly half a century of our exclusion from so-called “women only spaces”. The bitter irony, of course, is that we have just as much right to be in these spaces as cis women. The reason we’re not there is because those spaces have been taken from us by cis women feminists, often by force and always without accountability.
Lynne, in her excellent post at The F-Word, says that some may think this is nit-picking, but as far as I’m concerned, and to paraphrase a friend, the point is not whether or not women like me would probably be okay on the march, the point is that we wouldn’t feel safe.
In my opinion, any feminism which causes any woman, trans or cis, to fear for her own safety is a feminism which fails all women, trans and cis. And when this happens at such a high-profile event in one of the world’s biggest cities, it makes me wonder why an organisation which can, apparently without hesitation, turn its back on some women but not others, is considered by so many to be a suitable representative of the womens’ movement, a decade into the 21st century.
That is the heart of it, and that is why I will not be attending the 2010 Million Women Rise march.
Addendum: If this state of affairs leaves you as frustrated/infuriated/despondent as me, you may wish to contact MWR directly to express your views and ask the questions that they have been evading for far too long. According to their website, MWR can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org but, if my experience is anything to go by, don’t hold your breath for an answer.
Previous, related posts:
- Million Cis Women Rise (March 2, 2009)