The Daily Gamecock

Column: Don't forget about trans women


This past Saturday, over 500,000 supporters in Washington, D.C., and several millions of women worldwide got outdoors and marched for women’s rights and other social issues. The turnout was so vast and powerful that it overwhelmed the established march walk, and many protesters were rerouted to other parts of the nation’s capital. Thousands of colorful (both chromatically and linguistically) signs flooded streets around the world, shouting responses to the events of Inauguration Day and the future they represent. However, much of the rhetoric used in this march caused some division between women, as many trans women felt alienated by the movement.

Many of the signs and themes in the march centered on women’s reproductive health, which is certainly under attack in this new administration. With Trump having made claims about removing Roe v. Wade, abortion laws and reproductive rights are very much under fire, making one of the main goals of many women and supporters marching in Washington and around the world to bring attention to their right to their own bodies. With this emphasis on reproduction, many of the signs featured uteruses and explicit references to female genitalia. However, this emphasis on biology was alienating for many women who don’t share that biology.

To defend the march, as I do believe it was an amazing display of solidarity and dedication to a long fight, many of the vagina-centered signs and displays were in direct response to Donald Trump's comments. “This Pussy Grabs Back” was one of the most popular signs, and while it does center on female biology that is limited to cisgender women, it was also a very pointed attack at the words Trump himself said. It was specific, it was personal and it was every woman with a vagina letting Trump know that just because he is famous, a celebrity and now the president, he still has no right to it.

If cis women are in danger under the Trump administration, then trans women are even more so. With a platform as big and powerful and mobilizing as the Women’s March, to have all of the emphasis on biology was incredibly isolating for trans women, who need just as much representation and protection as cis women. A uterus does not define womanhood: being a woman does. And with transphobia still rampant in today’s society, trans women were right to feel excluded.

Janet Mock, a “trans woman-writer-activist-revolutionary of color,” helped inclusion efforts with her moving keynote speech at the Washington march. She acknowledged that the fight to freedom was intersectional and that some women in the movement might be more privileged than others. Some trans activists feel as though this wasn’t a women’s march but a white, cis women’s march, and if you look closely at the news coverage, you might find that to be true. But Mock and other leading activists refuse to let this be a failure. The women’s march wasn’t meant to be divisive, but the most unifying moment in this last election season was Trump’s advice to “just grab them by the pussy.” That call to action — for men to be rapists and women to not speak up, was centered on the harassment and assault of women, not just the ownership of a vagina. This goes beyond biology and affects the safety of all women.

The emphasis on reproduction and the direct retaliation to our now-president’s rapist language brought many cis women together. What we can’t lose sight of is all the other women that most conservatives wouldn’t even recognize. In the words of my favorite sign from the march, “support your sisters, not just your cis-ters.”


Trending Now

Send a Tip Get Our Email Editions