What Does a Feminist Look Like?: A Transmasculine Perspective

I found this video on twitter from Remy, the author. I think it does a great job of laying out much of what’s at stake for a truly inclusive feminism.

Transcript after the jump–thanks to Remy for providing it

Hey everyone, I’m Remy, twenty three years old, queer and trans academic and activist in Minneapolis, and I’m a feminist, but I take issue with some of the ideas that both cisgender and transgender folks sometimes carry on in the name of feminism. If you don’t know what ‘cisgender’ means, you might be one of them.

But seriously, this isn’t Whipping Girl– the healthy dose of transfeminine perspective that this celebration really needs is already in Julia Serano’s book. This is a transmasculine perspective on what I believe is the new face of feminisms. It shakes and troubles sex, gender, and sexuality altogether, at their cores. It is truly about gender liberation for everyone, and every body, everybody.

Let’s be honest, not only has feminism “not always been the most welcoming towards lesbians and transwomen,” as the founder of Feminist Coming Out Day states, but many forms of feminism and LGBT activism still put down marginalized genders and sexualities, and sexual behaviors and practices, while focused on their own ‘struggle for equality.’ We need to bridge more than just two movements here! There’s a whole lot more going on

… and P.S. When did it get erased that feminism has also been incredibly cruel to transmasculine folks?

Feminism, if it’s really about gender and not just women– cis and/or trans– means recognizing what’s already in the room, folks, in the way that Sara Ahmed describes the role of the feminist killjoy in her newest book The Promise of Happiness. This is about way more than sexism or marriage inequality. Feminism, to this “feminist, but” means working together through all of the genderist, racist, classist, transphobic, and downright oppressive words still spouting from the mouths of what I consider rather un-feminist feminists, as well as LGBT or queer and trans folks.

Take these not-so-fictional and anonymous bits of chatter on, fellow feminists! I need your help!

  1. A well-respected, cisgender, lesbian, feminist professor of Women’s and Gender Studies says, “I didn’t fight so hard and so long for women’s liberation just to have all of my friends become men!”
  2. Another professor of similar description is not supportive of multi-stall gender neutral restrooms, saying “I just wouldn’t want to use the restroom at the same time as a transgender person.”
  3. A self-identified straight transguy who recently started using testosterone, is overheard at a local queer bar saying “You’re just not really trans unless you use hormones.”

So what’s wrong with all of these vignettes? Where’s the feminist perspective, the feminist lens, the feminist slant, tilt…? It’s missing. So I’ve got a challenge for Feminist Coming Out Day– I’m coming out as a feminist, but declaring that I have huge problems with racism, classism, ableism, transphobia, trans exclusion, talking about gender in terms of women and men.

My challenge for all of you for the first ever Feminist Coming Out Day is to think really critically about our own implications and roles in these very systems that I’ve laid out with the three previous vignettes. Think about what’s wrong with those pictures! And what’s your role in stopping, interrupting, and problematizing? Because that’s where feminism’s at.

Truth is, we all benefit by co-creating a world in which gender liberation is a reality for all people, all bodies, everyone.

And that’s why I’m here with my shirt off, to show as an example what a transmasculine “feminist, but” looks like. See, my message of gender liberation, of solidarity with movements for gender freedom, of feminism, and community, is right here on my body– even if you can’t read it– it’s telling you that “all I need is your love and a revolution.” And it’s not wishy washy, folks. If we can all work to really, honestly love each other, respect and affirm each others identities and bodies– then we’ll bring about the revolution. But, fellow feminists, I need your help!

Feminist Coming Out Day, I challenge you to highlight this on your site. Spread the message: gender liberation is for everybody.

Join the Conversation

  • http://feministing.com/members/gaulding/ Jill Gaulding

    I love this. Hope you — and your message — will be a real presence at Creating Change (Minneapolis 2/2-2/6).

  • http://cabaretic.blogspot.com nazza

    It’s about the movement, not about the self. Me, personally, I make an effort to differentiate Spirit from body. When I follow Spirit, I am unselfish. When I follow self, I am selfish.

  • http://feministing.com/members/radicalhw/ Shannon Drury

    Minneapolis feminists represent! Thanks for this, Remy. I just posted this link on the Facebook page for Minnesota NOW (who will be tabling at Creating Change, with yours truly taking a shift or two in my role as chapter president), because the more we talk about and ACT upon creating a more inclusive feminism, the stronger our movement for equality will be.

  • http://feministing.com/members/moviesofmyself/ Remy Corso

    Jill, nazza, Shannon– thank you for your comments! I will indeed be at CC11 here in my fabulous city. I’ll primarily be representing the MN Transgender Health Coalition, but will likely also be doing lots of hanging around the table for the U of MN GLBTA Programs Office, where I used to work and my partner still works.

    I just shot video for a follow up to this (actually, part of a follow up series) that will be called “Feminist Reframing: Let’s Talk About Genderism.” I hope to have it live soon, and will definitely share. I agree with you, Shannon, that we only become stronger through recognizing the interdependency of our liberation and then actually DOING something about.

  • http://feministing.com/members/alesbianandascholar/ radicallyqueer

    Oh, HURRAH! I’ll definitely be sharing this. I know that as a genderqueer person who up until recently identified as a female/lesbian feminist, I have a long way to go in working for gender equity, but I am committed to that effort. We DO need a revolution. I recently posted about the need for a queer movement along similar lines. I think the “traditional” LGBT and feminist movements tend to be too narrow, but I am so excited to see folks speaking out online and challenging the status quo. Also, on a side note, love the tattoo.