Written by: Alexandra Chandra (she/her) @iamlexchandra
It is not lost on us that International Women’s Day and Transgender Day of Visibility occur every year during the same month: Women’s History Month and yet transgender women have been historically overlooked and erased from the category of “woman” for decades. Golden Globe Winning Actress Michaela Jaé Rodriguez just got picked for “Woman of the Year” by Times Magazine and yet people are out here mad at her being picked for that category. Lia Thomas, a transgender swimmer has been called transphobic epithets for competing on the women’s team even though Lia is a qualified female swimmer who just became the first openly transgender NCAA D1 champion.
This is how (trans)misogyny operates.
If some woman is thriving, people will inherit that as a personal attack, like they are losing something because of it. As an openly transgender woman writer, I’ve partnered with Momotaro Apotheca this month to compile a list of ten important reminders that explore the nuances of womanhood and celebrate trans women for enriching it.
Here are 10 important reminders for you about womanhood for your Women's History Month:
- The idea of universal womanhood is false. There is not just one way to look “woman.” There is also not just one way to be “feminine.” Some women: are tall, have a deep voice, have facial hair, have broad shoulders and big muscles, cannot get pregnant, do not have a uterus or period, and have small breasts. Yep! Cis women are diverse as hell! Oh, and trans women too!
- Women do not have to be cisgender.
- Femininity and womanhood do not belong to cis woman and cis women should not gatekeep femininity and womanhood.
- Trans women are not “becoming women,” trans women are women.
- Trans women do not have to look like cis women to be “legitimate.” Trans women do not have to shave, have surgeries, take hormones, wear makeup or dresses, have high-pitched voices, and have long hair to be validated in our womanhood.
- Trans women are not a threat to womanhood. Trans women enrich womanhood.
- People do not have to identify as “women” in order to be “feminine.” Detach your concept of womanhood from bodies.
- Trans women are not “womxn” or “woman-identifying.” Trans women are also not “transwomen” [without a space]. Trans women are women. Period.
- Women do not have to exclusively use “she/her” pronouns. Women can use whatever pronouns they choose because gender self-determination is gender justice.
- Women’s history is trans history.
My wish and Momotaro Apotheca's is that for Women’s History Month everyone would take the opportunity to genuinely explore and uplift these nuances of womanhood.
Additionally, I wish everyone, including cis women, would stop reaching for the easily memeable low-hanging fruit when it comes to issues facing trans women specifically. Centering pronouns, using inclusive language, and saying things like #transwomenarewomen are not actually that helpful. Instead, my dream is that Women’s History Month engages with and brings attention to the material conditions of trans women instead: the cost of transition for trans women specifically, the lack of jobs for trans women, states legislating against trans women athletes, insurance scams that send trans women to inexperienced surgeons, the lack of gender-affirming coverage, exclusion from shelters, the number of trans women in men’s prisons, the wage gap for trans women, domestic violence, houselessness, the outrageous transition costs that force trans girls into exploitative jobs and/or abusive relationships.
Women’s History Month should center trans women, but it shouldn’t virtue signal in ways that make the month seem more woke than it might actually let on. Not only does avoiding the real crisis facing trans women refuse to scratch the surface, but they distract from the real deep-seated issues altogether.
Additional Resources for Trans people and Allies:
Alexandra Chandra (she/her) is a trans writer, editor, content strategist, and public speaker in New York. She is the first trans woman to lead socials for model Munroe Bergdorf and the @Feminst platform on Instagram. She began her career with her own virtual platform, @iamlexchandra, where she brought a daily dose of much-needed realness to the world of social media by sharing vital pieces of information for the transgender and queer communities.