Whew! It’s been a whirlwind. Three posts in four days discussing the transgender debate — now 4 in 5 with this post. I hadn’t planned it this way, but after posting a statement on Friday other developments rapidly followed.
I’m going to give myself and my readers a break. I was planning to follow up my Friday statement with some posts featuring short films but will hold off for a while.
There are two aspects to the transgender debate that trouble me most. First is the seemingly wholesale rejection of transgender people’s lives and experiences. The counterpart in my world are those who insist I’m gay because I choose to be, like choosing tea instead of coffee. I can’t imagine transgender people would put themselves through all the medical rigors and social hardships they face on a mere whim. I trust there’s something deep inside compelling them, and science is looking at this.
Referring here to trans women specifically, the other aspect that bothers me deeply is that transgender rights and women’s rights seem to be mutually exclusive in the eyes of many. The two cannot co-exist. Transgender people can have rights, of course, but not fully as women because they’re not women and never can be women according to this line of thinking. They will have to live permanent “split lives,” neither man nor woman socially and politically. To me that’s a life without hope.
I have a very hard time accepting this. I cannot accept that it’s impossible to find a way where all women, cisgender and transgender, can be equals — where the advance of one doesn’t have to come at the expense of the other.
I’m not a woman and so I acknowledge I lack a vantage point from which I can fully see their perspective. But I think we can all put ourselves in the place of the other. It just takes intention, attention and compassion.
Barring some new big event, I’m going to step back from the polemics here and study. Eventually I’ll delve into the science of gender identity, but I’m putting this on the back burner. My immediate concern now is this fundamental conundrum of trans rights vs women’s rights. If we don’t solve this problem the science could be rendered almost irrelevant.
There is absolutely no question that the advance of women’s emancipation to date is an historic conquest and essential prerequisite for the further advance of the working class and society. I don’t take this lightly. At the same time, I have to hope that somehow there’s a way this progress can be consolidated and advanced without relegating transgender women to permanent marginalization.
I’ll spend the next period reading, pondering and talking to people. I might think out loud here on occasion and invite input, or wait until I have some more final thoughts and conclusions.
If anyone wants, I’m open to thoughts and comments below. Comments with reasons or examples illustrating or supporting your opinion are especially welcome and helpful. Please keep it civil and not argumentative; I’m in listening mode. I won’t argue back, and probably won’t even reply. I’m just interested in considering people’s ideas or concerns or preferences. Thanks!
Title image is from the Library of Congress on Unsplash with 14-year-old striker, Fola La Follette, and Rose Livingston. Photograph shows suffrage and labor activist Flora Dodge “Fola” La Follette (1882-1970), social reformer and missionary Rose Livingston, and a young striker during a garment strike in New York City in 1913. [https://www.loc.gov/resource/ggbain.12397/]
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