Space, bodies, and the attack on women

*TRIGGER WARNING: sexism, rape, rape culture, abortion*

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, and I’m going to put some thoughts out there to potentially open up a discourse on the recent issues affecting vaginas in the United States.  This is not intended to start arguments, but rather challenge how we approach trans*masculine involvement in the women’s/reproductive rights movement.

The recent moves in the United States to ban access to abortion and birth control and limit access to reproductive healthcare is a major issue, and one I find extremely offensive. As a human being, I don’t believe anyone has a right to tell anyone else what they can or cannot do with their body—or what happens inside it, for that matter. The fact that politicians in this country think a fetus is more important than the person carrying it to term is just far too frightening.

I am a firm believer in bodily autonomy. If there is anything certain in this world, it’s that your body is yours. What you choose to do with it should be entirely up to you. As a trans*person, this means a great deal to me because I have to live in my body. It should represent me as a person, as a human, and not be intruded upon by someone else’s beliefs. If I don’t like something about my body, I should be able to change it and care for it as I see fit. It’s more than an ideology; its a basic human right.

As an FTM-spectrum person who has a vagina, uterus, and reproductive capabilities, I very much sympathize and even empathize with the groups being targeted by these reproductive rights policies. I stand with every other person who is fighting back against the injustices being signed into law across the nation. But I struggle with arguments that this is not just an attack on women, but an attack on vaginas and uteruses everywhere.

I think that support from the trans*masculine community is awesome.  We’re talking about invasions of privacy, limiting healthcare, and violating bodies—issues that arise in the trans* community on nearly every level.  But I get upset when FTM-spectrum or masculine identified FAAB folks say this is an attack on them because of the fact that they have vaginas and uteruses too.  As someone with these body parts, I am equally outraged, but I don’t think it’s the place of masculine-identified, or male-identified people to make these issues about them.  Inclusivity makes total sense, but redirecting the focus of reproductive justice from women, I think, is an invasion in-and-of itself.

These tactics are being used as a way to target women, control women, and subordinate women.  And while the issues themselves also affect trans*people who seek the same access, it is not about being trans*.  At least, that’s how I see it.  So while I can be outraged about the injustices against women, I as a masculine-identified person cannot lay claim to this movement as part of the targeted group.  I’m not.  The reproductive justice issues that I face have more to do with transphobia than sexism.  By claiming this movement as my own, I think, I would be taking up space that isn’t mine to take.

It’s also important to remember that many of the issues being brought up (contraception, abortion) are steeply rooted in sexist ideology.  They come from the idea that women are not to be sexual, and when they are, they should be punished regardless of their involvement (i.e. no abortion, even in cases of rape.)  Furthermore, these offenses are being perpetrated by upperclass, cisgender, (mostly) white men, the very epitome of oppressor.  To lay claim to the movement while receiving much of the same privilege as the perpetrators seems like a gross violation of women’s space.

I’m open to discussing this with anyone who wants to have a conversation.  I am not putting this out there to start arguments, but rather to discuss privilege, bodies, space, and sociopolitical issues.  These are the kinds of things we need to talk about, in order to effectively support equality across all differences.

(This content was adapted from a post previously published on my personal Tumblr.  The original post can be found here.)

Disclaimer: This post was written by a Feministing Community user and does not necessarily reflect the views of any Feministing columnist, editor, or executive director.

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