Paula's Place

Paula's Place

Friday, 5 January 2018

Feminism and the Trans Woman

Lets get this clear from the start ~ I consider myself to be a feminist!

I believe in equality of opportunity, equality of respect, equality in education, in employment, in politics, in business and in law.  I believe we should all be treated as equal regardless of race, class, disability, place of birth, gender, gender expression, sexuality and age.   I would hope that it would be difficult to find anyone who would argue with any of this these days, yet it does not reflect the society we live in.   When we look at our business leaders, our political leaders, or indeed those in control of almost any aspect of our lives they are predominantly white men, white men from a certain back ground.   I've nothing against white men, after all I used to think I was one, no it is the imbalance that hurts.

I have a friend who tells me that the answer to this imbalance isn't feminism, or black lives matter, gay rights or any other special interest group ~ what we need is a total overthrow of the whole of society and the system that runs it. I tend to think it is more possible to chip away at one aspect at a time. I want to see more women in positions of power, I want to see a society that is more centered on women, children and families. I believe that through increasing opportunities for women we liberate men and make a kinder fairer society.   This is what I understand by feminism, for me feminism is not about battling men, it is not about hating men, it is as much about liberating men as it is about liberating women.

There is a stream of radical feminism that undermines support for the more general aims of feminism through their hatred of men, and indeed anyone they consider to be, or to ever have been a man ~ which rather strangely seems to include both tTrans Women, and Trans Men!   This is a group known as TERFS (Trans Exclusionary Radical feminists) that has joined in a sort of unholy alliance with the political extreme right to try to deny equal rights to trans people ~ indeed to deny our very existence.

This last year I feels as though there has been a concerted attack on trans women, there has been so much hate and vile misinformation spread by the more scurrilous organs of the news media, there is a pretty good summary of that here.   Many of my Trans friends have felt that all of these attacks are personal attacks on them and their personal identity. Given that we are Trans, it is something we are, not something we do, or a lifestyle we choose to adopt, it is an attack on us. I try not to take it personally, but it does hurt.

I want  to make it clear that this is not the position of the vast majority of feminists ~ I have found that much of my support comes from feminists, I have found that one of the biggest affirmations I have had of my womanhood was when I was accepted to play with the Women Of the World festival Orchestra.   I first saw an advertisement for orchestral players of a good standard who are, or identify as, woman back in 2014 for the 2015  festival.  I applied as much as anything to see if they really meant what they said ~ and they did! I have played tuba with the orchestra for the last three years.

Last years brass section
WOW is the UKs premier feminist event taking over the South Bank complex for a full week in March, the orchestra form an important part of the final big event in the Festival Hall.  Each year we have to apply afresh; one of the questions is about what playing in the orchestra will mean to me, in 100 words or less.   Previous years I have said something about my personal development as a woman and a musician, the inclusion of trans women, or the affirmation of my womanhood, this year I was a bit more angry and had a lot of difficulty limiting myself to 100 words, this is what wrote:~

"Playing with the WOW Orchestra the last three years was one of my most formative experiences as a woman, and as a musician. Now Transgender Women are under attack in the media it is important that as a Trans Woman I take my stand as a feminist in the UKs premier event in my prime role as a musician.
It is important to show the World that we are real women and that the vast majority feminist accept us as such. This year it feels like my opportunity to make a political stance through playing music with other women."

Now I have to wait for an answer as to whether I will be playing again this year. We have been promised an answer this month, I truly hope that this will not be the year when they decide to give somebody else, maybe somebody younger, a chance. I really hope, but I am quite sure that if they do decide not to include me in the Orchestra for 2018 it will not be because I am trans, and I will probably go anyway.

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