A rather good article explaining why cis women need to actively oppose transphobia within feminism was published on The F-Word a couple of days ago.
This piece was written by Ray Filar, a member of the steering committee for Reclaim the Night London. The organisers of this annual demonstration against sexist harassment and violence have long maintained a studied ambivalence on the subject of trans inclusion. To my pleasant surprise, the article announced a welcome change in policy:
Every year, the women-only march Reclaim the Night London is questioned on its attitude towards trans women. As one of the members of this year’s steering committee, I’m pleased to say that it will now be made clear on our website that Reclaim the Night welcomes all kinds of women, whether trans, cis, disabled, of colour, lesbian, able-bodied, white, bisexual, Muslim, Jewish, straight or otherwise.
This new approach is echoed by the Reclaim the Night London Facebook page, which includes a picture of last year’s trans inclusion bloc amongst the small number of images used to promote this year’s event. On a more personal note, I’ve also been asked to DJ at the demonstration after-party for the second year running, and I’m not exactly silent about my own trans identity!
So, we’ve “won”, right? Well, not quite. Filar’s post continues:
But the discussion is far from over, and it is a small and rather pathetic step for a group which officially acknowledges that trans women are just as welcome as cis women, but doesn’t really want to say so openly. We still have to appease the transphobes. Their voice is small, but by god it is vocal. The committee that finally agreed to welcome trans women on our website, (but not our flyer, oddly) was split down the middle; a small minority expressed opinions that would make even David Starkey blush.
We still have a long way to go before we eradicate transphobia within the women’s movement. Nevertheless, I feel more progress has been made than Filar perhaps realises.
From a trans perspective, one of the biggest problems with Reclaim the Night has always been that organisers and volunteers who said that they were trans-positive never seemed prepared to actively oppose the transphobic attitudes propagated by their peers. This situation finally seems to have changed, with the shift in policy indicating that a critical mass of cis feminists have decided to act like true allies and stand up for trans inclusion. There’s a lot still to be done, but we’re getting there.
Cis and trans feminists alike need to keep up the pressure in a sisterly fashion. To that end, I hope to see more trans and genderqueer women at this year’s Reclaim the Night march: let us never forget that we fight for trans inclusion within feminism because we ultimately seek to smash patriarchy!
I wrote about why individuals who identify at any intersection of “trans” and “woman” should consider participating in Reclaim the Night last year. This post included a brief discussion of gender policing and genderqueer inclusion.