- Be willing to confront instances of transphobia, cissexism, cisnormativity, cis-centrism, cis privilege and other forms of destructive bias where you find them (especially when you find them within feminist, activist or queer spaces), not through “call outs” or other toxic, self-defeating or abusive strategies, but by taking the opportunity for genuine discourse.
- Don’t take a purely passive, reactive approach. Rather than waiting for things like someone saying something overtly cissexist, or a trans person bringing up a particular concern, be willing to proactively introduce trans issues, or trans-relevant aspects of broader issues, to feminist discourse. Likewise, proactively treat possible consequences, perspectives and concerns relevant to trans people and trans experiences as being not only significant but essential to all feminist issues and conversations.
- Don’t assume any given issue is strictly, or even primarily, relevant to cis women. All feminist concerns are also transgender concerns, and vice versa. There are no feminist dialogues in which trans voices “don’t belong”, or to which trans voices have “nothing to add”. There are no social issues related to gender that don’t have consequences for trans people.
- Proactively seek out transgender voices, perspectives and input on all issues, not simply what you regard as “trans issues” or situations where the value of such perspectives is immediately obvious to you. Come to us, rather than waiting for us to come to you.
- Don’t treat the larger social conflict of gender as being dialectic or binary in nature. Don’t assume a unidirectional model of gender-based oppression.
These points are expanded on and explained more in the article. Please do read the full piece - it’s awesomesauce.
As a trans woman, not many things give me a headache the way the entire concept of passing does. Passing is the idea that if a trans woman (or any person who is presenting as a woman) looks, dresses and acts a certain way, people won’t be able to tell they are anything other than a completely “normal” woman. If you look at online trans communities or forums, you’ll find tons of tips on how to pass better – everything from hair removal tips to workouts to how to walk and sit more femininely.
All of this presupposes that there is only one right way to look like and be a woman. And it’s infuriating. On the one hand, whenever I go out in public or post pictures online, a part of me is deathly afraid that I’ll be insulted or worse. I desperately want to be accepted as the woman I am. On the other hand, I hate that in order to feel safe, I’m expected to fit into the very narrow box that is labeled “woman.” Tips on how to pass always seem to say that you should avoid building muscle mass and avoid wearing clothes and makeup that are too costumey, that you should try to hide your shoulders and soften your features. Trans women are often told that if we want to pass, we have to try our hardest to be petite, soft, have just the right amount of femininity, and not stand out too much. But what if I want to be a different kind of woman? What if I want to look like Grace Jones or Kate Moennig? What if I want to look like Beth Ditto or Dolly Parton? They’re all cis women; don’t they pass?
The moral of “passing” discussions always seems to be: if you get bashed it will be your fault.
These wonderful infographics about reproductive health were recently released by The Guttmacher Institute, a foundation which aims to advance knowledge of reproductive health worldwide. They also bust myths surrounding abortion and reproductive health with this super amazing tool called “science.”
These infographics show the often sad realities of abortion in America — for many facing unintended pregnancy, it’s a nearly unattainable, expensive procedure with barriers that worsen for those who are in poverty or are people of color.
Wonderful from a cis perspective, yes, but completely erasing for trans men and non-binary people who can also get pregnant and also need abortions. And even less wonderful when you consider the group they’ve completely ignored will face even more barriers to abortion than their cis counterparts. Not to mention the disparate health outcomes overall.
These inforgraphics have definite scope for improvement.
I think it’s extremely problematic that you look at a study of pregnant people and assume they were all ciswomen. Unpack your knapsack and think about why you didn’t assume that they also studied pregnant transmen.
We live in a world where cissexist attitudes are the default (i.e. no one ever has to “come out” as cis). This means that, in a study where there is absolutely no mention of trans people being included, it’s safe to assume they weren’t included.
If the study *had* included trans men this would have been discussed as a variable. Trans people face even greater barriers to abortion access (and all forms of healthcare), which is what the entire study was looking at in the first place.
There is no chance this study did indeed include a cohort of trans men and completely neglect to mention that fact. I simply don’t believe that accredited and peer-reviewed research entities would forget to discuss something so important. Especially when they’ve been conducting this longitudinal study for the past four years and have had ample time to think “oh yeah, all those trans people we interviewed, we forgot to write about them or their unique circumstances”.
And in case you missed it, I am actually critiquing that perspective not endorsing it.
P.S. It is generally considerate to put a space between “cis” and “woman”, and between “trans” and “man”.
P.P.S. Due to this post and this post, and the way you worded your commentary above, I’m almost certain you’re a troll. However, I’ve decided to give you one sincere “benefit of the doubt” response. I won’t be entertaining any further responses from you.
Yes, I do like this idea! Thank you for being awesome and helpful as always <3
What happens to women denied abortions?
by Annalee Newitz
Abortion is a hotly debated and poorly studied medical procedure. There are a fewstudies of dubious validity that connect abortion to mental illness and drug use. Politicians have used these studies to justify greater limitations on women seeking abortion in the United States.
There has been no sustained effort to study what happens to women who want abortions but can’t get them due to restrictive rules. Until now. These women are called turnaways. A new longitudinal study reveals what happens to their economic position, health, and relationship status after seeking an abortion and being denied it.
Public health researchers with the UC San Francisco group Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH) used data from 956 women who sought abortions at 30 different abortion clinics around the U.S. 182 of them were turned away. The researchers, led by Diana Greene Foster, followed and did intensive interviews with these women, who ran the gamut of abortion experiences. Some obtained abortions easily, for some it was a struggle to get them, and some were denied abortions because their pregnancies had lasted a few days beyond the gestational limits of their local clinics. Two weeks ago, the research group presented what they’d learned after two years of the planned five-year, longitudinal “Turnaway Study“ at the recent American Public Health Association conference in San Francisco.
Here’s the short version of what they discovered, from a post they made on the Global Turnaway Study Facebook page:
We have found that there are no mental health consequences of abortion compared to carrying an unwanted pregnancy to term. There are other interesting findings: even later abortion is safer than childbirth and women who carried an unwanted pregnancy to term are three times more likely than women who receive an abortion to be below the poverty level two years later.
Below, you can find the longer, more complex version of the story. I spoke with Foster about the groups’ preliminary findings.
The women in the Turnaway Study were in comparable economic positions at the time they sought abortions. 45% were on public assistance and two-thirds had household incomes below the federal poverty level. One of the main reasons women cite for wanting to abort is money, and based on the outcomes for the turnaways, it seems they are right.
Most of the women who were denied an abortion, 86%, were living with their babies a year later. Only 11% had put them up for adoption. Also a year later, they were far more likely to be on public assistance — 76% of the turnaways were on the dole, as opposed to 44% of those who got abortions. 67% percent of the turnaways were below the poverty line (vs. 56% of the women who got abortions), and only 48% had a full time job (vs. 58% of the women who got abortions).
When a woman is denied the abortion she wants, she is statistically more likely to wind up unemployed, on public assistance, and below the poverty line. Another conclusion we could draw is that denying women abortions places more burden on the state because of these new mothers’ increased reliance on public assistance programs.
Violence and Drug Use
In the Turnaway Study, the researchers could find no statistically significant differences in drug use between women who get abortions and women who don’t. There appears to be no correlation between abortion and increased drug use. One interesting bit of data they did find was that drug users who couldn’t get abortions were more likely to give their babies up for adoption.
Unfortunately, when it comes to domestic violence, being denied an abortion makes a really big difference. Turnaways were more likely to stay in a relationship with an abusive partner than women who got abortions. A year after being denied an abortion, 7% reported an incident of domestic violence in the last six months. 3% of women who received abortions reported domestic violence in the same time period. Foster emphasized that this wasn’t because the turnaways were more likely to get into abusive relationships. It was simply that getting abortions allowed women to get out of such relationships more easily. So it’s likely that these numbers actually reflect a dropoff in domestic violence for women who get abortions, rather than a rise among turnaways.
This pattern of violence is also part of a larger pattern that shows turnaways are more likely to remain connected to the fathers of their children. Obviously, this isn’t always a good thing, as the violence statistics reveal. But even in the vast majority of cases where violence isn’t involved, Foster noted that these men aren’t living with the turnaways. The researchers asked women about cohabiting with partners, and found that men were no more likely to live with a turnaway who’d borne their children than they were to live with a woman who had an abortion. “The man doesn’t stick around just because you have the baby — that’s the crude way of putting it,” Foster said.
One of the biggest concerns about abortion is that it causes emotional problems that lead to clinical depression. The Turnaway Study looked at that question from two angles: how did turnaways and women who got abortions feel; and did they become clinically depressed. “It’s important to remember that how you feel is a separate question from whether you have a mental health problem,” Foster said. We’ll look at women’s emotions here, and discuss mental health in the next section.
As the researchers said at the American Public Health Association Meeting, “One week after seeking abortion, 97% of women who obtained an abortion felt that abortion was the right decision; 65% of turnaways still wished they had been able to obtain an abortion.” Also one week after being denied an abortion, turnaways told the researchers that they had more feelings of anxiety than the women who had abortions. Women who had abortions overwhelming reported feeling relieved (90%), though many also felt sad and guilty afterwards. All of these feelings faded naturally over time in both groups, however. A year later, there were no differences in anxiety or depression between the two groups.
In other words, the Turnaway Study found no indication that there were lasting, harmful negative emotions associated with getting an abortion. The only emotional difference between the two groups at one year was that the turnaways were more stressed. They were more likely to say that they felt like they had more to do than they could get done.
None of this translated into clinical depression. “Abortion and depression don’t seem directly linked,” Foster said. “We’ll continue to follow these women for five years, though. So we might find something else down the line.”
Physical and Mental Health
The Turnaway Study found no indication that abortion could be linked with increased mental health disorders. There were no statistical differences between turnaways and women who had abortions when it came to developing clinical depression.
But turnaways did face a greater health risk from giving birth. Even late stage abortions are safer than giving birth. The researchers said at the APHA meeting:
We find physical health complications are more common and severe following birth (38% experience limited activity, average 10 days) compared to abortion (24% limited activity, average 2.7 days). There were no severe complications after abortion; after birth complications included seizure, fractured pelvis, infection and hemorrhage. We find no differences in chronic health conditions at 1 week or one year after seeking abortion.
If you look at all this data together, a new picture emerges of abortion and how the state might want to handle it. To prevent women from having to rely on public assistance, abortions should be made more widely available. In addition, there is strong evidence that making abortions available will allow women to be healthier, with brighter economic outlooks. By turning women away when they seek abortions, we risk keeping both women and their children in poverty — and, possibly, in harm’s way from domestic violence.
The Turnaway Study was funded entirely through donations. If you would like to support more research into the lives of turnaways around the world, please consider donating to the Global Turnaway Study on Indie GoGo.
I have a conundrum and I would appreciate advice.
So, I know it’s extremely lazy activism to reblog cissexist stuff and simply put an asterisk/content warning to acknowledge the language is cissexist. Like, yes, it’s good to remind people that men can get pregnant but I feel this asterisk/warning doesn’t go far enough.
So, I’m thinking why not go further and actually get rid of the cissexism? There are ways to present the above information without erasing trans people and their reproductive rights.
But, the conundrum arises because I don’t think it’s always okay to edit something in order to be more inclusive. I mean there are instances where I think it’s fine (you might disagree), and I wouldn’t hesitate to make someone’s commentary on Tumblr more inclusive (obviously putting a footnote to that effect).
But, when it’s citing a study that contained only cis women as participants, making the language gender-neutral erases a relevant part of the study.
So, advice please?
I want to apologise for posting that cissexist Daniel Sloss gif. It was insensitive of me and I hadn’t considered it from all perspectives. Sorry to anyone who saw it and was upset. I’ll be more vigilant in future.
I’ve been in a lot of bathrooms in my lifetime and I am pretty sure it’s not considered appropriate to check someone’s genitals before they’re allowed in. In fact I’m pretty sure it’s not appropriate to take more than a cursory glance at one’s fellow bathroom patrons.
Pro-tip: if you feel uncomfortable in the presence of trans women that says more about the fact you don’t think they’re real women than it does about whether or not they pose a threat to you.
I would appreciate advice from any trans women who feel like commenting.
Do you think it is appropriative for cis women to refer to radical feminists as “radscum”? I clarify, I’m asking with specific reference to radfems’ transmisogyny and transphobia (as opposed to their anti-porn or sex-negative views which are also problematic but far less “scummier” than denying someone’s right to exist and/or threatening the safety of that existence).
Thoughts and commentary would be very much appreciated.
Thank you in advance.
It is appropriative for white cis women to refer to radical feminists as “radscum”, because they are not targets of radical feminist bigotry. Radical feminism as an ideology incorporates systemic oppression against women of color, trans women, intersex women, and sex workers; people who fall within one or more of these groups (or other groups systematically attacked by radical feminists) have the right to use terms like “radscum” in pushing back against radical feminist oppression.
Thank you so much. Hopefully it’s okay if I ask for some further clarification. Do you mean this sort of in the way that slurs used against groups can only be reclaimed by a member of that group? Is there an appropriate way for white cis women to vent their hatred of radical feminists?
More or less, yes.
When people who aren’t actually members of the groups being attacked take it upon themselves to intervene, they often make things worse by speaking over the actual victims, by spreading misinformation, and/or by inappropriately overgeneralizing or undergeneralizing the issues at hand. These effects are usually inadvertent — they’re generally results of would-be allies failing to educate themselves properly before jumping in — but the lack of malicious intent does not erase the harm caused.
Generally speaking, the appropriate role for allies is to support the efforts of victims rather than to run headlong at the issues.
Thank you. Seriously. I understand the bit about not speaking over and above the marginalised/oppressed group and I also understand why it’s important not to remain silent (and therefore complicit in the oppression). I now see which side of that equation the above-mentioned epithet falls. Thank you again <3
ETA: I’m not sure the best way to go about apologising for having used this term in the past. There is still a lot I have to learn in terms of not hurting other people. This is something I’m working on and hopefully becoming more successful at. Any trans women who have been upset by my language, please know that I have taken freedominwickedness‘ advice on board and I will not use this term to describe radfems again. I have also retrospectively edited any Tumblr posts which contained this term which I hope will avoid any ongoing hurt or the potential for future upset.
This is a photo of text from (my heavily highlighted copy of) Julia Serano’sWhipping Girl (p. 92).
Imagine a pair of boots. A sturdy, well-made, kind of nondescript pair of boots. They are functional enough, but kind of plain. Imagine that you live in a country where every citizen is issued this one pair of boots at birth, and that there are no other footwear options permitted by law. If you grow out of or wear through the soles of these government-issued boots, you may trade them in for a new pair, always identical to your old ones. Imagine that everyone you know wears these very same boots without question or complaint.
Now imagine that your right foot is two sizes bigger than your left one. No matter what you do, one boot will chafe, and the other will slip, and both will cause blisters. When you mention your discomfort you are told that odd-sized boots are forbidden, because they cause confusion and excess paperwork. It is explained to you that this footwear system works perfectly for everyone else, and reminded that there are people in other countries who have no boots at all.
You are beat up in grade three because none of the other kids have ever seen feet like yours. The teacher tells you that you should probably just learn to keep your boots on. Your parents blame each other. You end up wearing an extra sock on your small foot to compensate, and never go to swimming pools. Your feet sweat profusely in the summer and you always undress in the dark. You hate your feet but need them to walk and stand up on. You hate your boots even more. You dream of things that look like sandals and moccasins, but you have no words for them.
You learn things will be easier for you if you just never talk about your feet. One time on the bus, you spot a guy with the exact same limp as you, but you pretend not to see him. He watches you limp off at your bus stop and then looks the other way. You can’t stop thinking about the man with the limp for weeks. You are nineteen years old and until that day on the bus you thought you were the only person in the country who couldn’t fit into their boots.
I have always felt this way about gender pronouns, that “she” pinches a little and “he” slips off me too easily. I’m often asked by well-intentioned people which pronoun I prefer, and I always say the same thing: that I don’t really have a preference, that neither pronoun really fits, but thank you for asking, all the same. Then I tell them they can call it like they see it, or mix it up a little if they wish. Or, they can try to avoid using he or she altogether. I suggest this even though I am fully aware of the fact it is almost impossible to talk about anything other than yourself or inanimate objects without using a gender specific pronoun.
It is especially hard at gigs, when the poor host has to get up and introduce me to the audience. No matter which pronoun the host goes with, there is always someone cringing in the crowd, convinced an uncomfortable mistake has just been made. I know it would be easier if I just picked a pronoun and stuck with it, but that would be a compromise made for the comfort of everyone else but me. A decision that would inevitably leave me with a blister, or even a nasty rash.
Perfect strangers have been asking me if I am a boy or a girl as far back as I can remember. Not all of them are polite about it. Some are just curious, others ask me like they have every right to know, as if my ambiguity is a personal insult to their otherwise completely understandable reality. Few of them seem to realize they have just interrupted my day to demand I give someone I don’t know personal information they don’t really need to sell me a movie ticket or a newspaper.
I have learned the hard way to just answer the question politely, so they don’t think I’m rude. In my braver days, when someone asked if I was a boy or a girl, I would say something flip and witty, like “yes” or “no” or “makes you wonder, doesn’t it?,” but I found this type of tactic greatly increased the chances I would get the living shit kicked out of me, so I eventually knocked it off. Then I went through a phase where I would answer calmly, and then casually ask them something equally as personal, such as did they have chest hair or were they satisfied with the size of their penis or were those their real breasts, just so they would see how it felt, but this proved just as ineffective.
A couple months ago, as I was smoking outside the Anza Club after a gig, this young guy marched up and interrupted the person I was talking with to ask me if I was a man or a woman. I told him I was a primarily estrogen-based organism, and then I asked him the exact same question. He took two steps back and dropped his jaw.
“I’m a man.” He seemed visibly shaken by the thought of any other option.
“And were you just born male?” I continued, winking at my companion.
“Well, yeah, of course I was.”
“How interesting.” I lit another smoke.
“Hard to tell these days,” my friend chimed in.
The guy walked off, looking confused and kind of vulnerable.
“He’s gone home to grow a moustache,” my buddy said, then laughed and shook his head.
I thought about it later, how the guy’s ego had crumpled right in front of us, just because a stranger had questioned his masculinity. How scared he was of not being a real man, how easy it had been to take him down. It dawned on me that if you’ve never had a blister, then you’ll never have a callous, either. And if your soles are too soft, then you are fucked if you ever lose your boots.
Imagine a Pair of Boots - Ivan Coyote from her collection of short stories, The Slow Fix.
I see a lot of myself here.
This is kind of my life in France. I am a laughing stock in public restrooms. This happens daily. Seriously daily. And it sucks so fucking hard cause people just yell at you and tell you what you are rather than asking most of the time. Plus I don’t have any other options in French. And also it shouldn’t matter, but I’m primarily “testosterone-based” and I never see shit like this from people like me.
Holy fuck this is amazingly wonderful. Ivan Coyote, you must be some kind of magic.