Defending Our Validity

For this week’s blog assignment our professor asked us to talk about which movement in our text we identify most with, why we identify with it and how it impacts our lives.

Except I do not identity with any of the movements listed in our text.

I am a Transfeminist and am part of the Transfeminist movement.  I have been for over five years now.  And so when I when I pointed out that I identify with a movement not listed in our text, our professor suggested I analyze why it might be that Transfeminism is not listed in a predominately white focused and highly cissexist text.

Yes, as far as I can tell, this is on top of the other request.

Sometimes it is challenging being on the bleeding edge of activist movements.  And by bleeding edge movement, I mean a movement that has been around since roughly the 1980s and that has its own annual gathering and protest just outside the Michigan Women’s Music Festival.

The sad fact is that even at the cusp of fourth wave feminism, movements which address the needs of oppressed groups are still being required to prove their legitimacy.  Time and again, oppressed groups are still being asked to do the extra work to help privileged people understand.

I need to talk about my reaction to my professor’s request.  I was, and still am heated, angry and resentful.  And though it might not have been the intent of my professor to challenge the legitimacy of the Transfeminist movement, but that is how it impacted me.  Rather than include that here, I’ve opted to address that in another post.

So why is Trasnfeminism lacking in the text?

Could it be authors are cissexist, and don’t care to pay attention to trans issues?  Or that trans issues and trans inclusion in feminism is seen as controversial?

Could it be that trans people face discrimination in every facet of their lives?  And that because of this level of discrimination most trans people, including most transfeminist activists, are focused on dealing with the basics of work, housing, violence, mental health and health care just to survive.  And that because of the level of poverty within the trans community, there is a massive lack of trans academics or trans oriented academic programs.  And that this lack of representation leads to our movement not even being researched within the mainstream acededemic community.

Could it simply be a lack of due diligence on terms of the author of not even bothering to check to see if there is such a thing as Transfeminism?

So yes, there is a lack of representation in academia.  And I am not sure that it is appropriate to ask a member of an oppressed group to prove their existence and explain the lack of representation.  Shouldn’t we be asking the privileged group why we were not invited to join?

I would also like to point out Transfeminism is not the only women’s movement which is notably lacking in our book.  There is a total failure to mention many other minority feminist movements, such as the Chicana Feminist Movement, Asian-American Feminism, or Native American Feminism.  Nor is there mention of even Riot Grrrl (another movement I identity with).  Why were those not mentioned?

There was another question I was asked as well.  How would inclusion of Transfeminism expand the existing dialog?  Basically a question of why it should be included.

I cannot even begin to answer that.  So not only was I asked to explain why we are not present, I have to explain why we should be included?  I don’t know, maybe as a white person, I should ask an African Americans, Asian Americans or Mexican Americans why their voices should be included in the discourse.  Or disabled people?  Or gays and lesbians?

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3 Responses to Defending Our Validity

  1. Why not make that his answer? That’s more than he is really entitled to, after all.

  2. sable says:

    Her answer actually.

    And because while leaving it at the visceral response would be tempting, being persons with intersecting minority identities – trans and woman – it means we have to fight extra hard to get as far to get the same level of representation.

    I can totally understand why so many trans women who can afford college simply go into professions related to the computer industry. They are just easier to deal with. As long as one can code monkey well, the are not nearly as many challenges to our thoughts and ideas. Or why so many our advocates and writers just give up in frustration when faced with trying to get our works recognized through academia.

  3. Kaylee says:

    You, Sable, see farther and feel more than most of the people I know. You “get it” at a depth that very few people are even capable of.

    From what little experience I’ve had of it, I know that being in the vanguard of activist movements can be uber-frustrating … And it’s especially frustrating when you’re aware that said movements have been around for a while, but have never hit the mainstream because of how foreign it is to the larger society. (In this case, 30 years or so).

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