I can’t say I ever really got into the Three Musketeers except for hey! swords and hats with cool feathers. But today’s the sort of day where their motto is on my mind a lot. Today is International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, and I’m proud to take part in the blog-hop to support it.
When I was growing up, I had my eyes opened by radical feminists. People like Germaine Greer taught us to look at society and its expectations as (sometimes subtle, often overt, always deeply entrenched) ploys to keep women as second class citizens, as not good enough to be men and have a man’s privileges. They showed us that misogyny was the warp and weft of our society. I thought that here was someone, a small group of someones, who had found a voice for us, who spoke for us with wit and biting, incisive intelligence.
I grew up in an exciting time, socially. Women had refused to go back into their little (and belittled) roles after the war, education was evening up, the Pill meant that a woman’s sexuality didn’t have to be suppressed for fear of pregnancy, we had pay equality locked into legislation. Sure it’s not perfect—there are still glass ceilings, women are still judged on appearance, there are still huge gaps in career achievements and lifetime earnings—but we really are light years ahead of our mothers’ experience.
I *owe* those women who fought and argued and struggled to lift all of us up in their wake. I truly owe them.
So, imagine my reaction when so many those feminist icons of my early adulthood turned out to be raging transphobes. Rarely homophobic, oddly (at least, not openly) but definitely transphobic. They treated trans men and women as some sort of subversive attempt to destroy feminism. This is Greer, on male to female transgender:
“Nowadays we are all likely to meet people who think they are women, have women’s names, and feminine clothes and lots of eyeshadow, who seem to us to be some kind of ghastly parody, though it isn’t polite to say so. We pretend that all the people passing for female really are. Other delusions may be challenged, but not a man’s delusion that he is female.”
Dunno about you, but that makes me feel pretty sick. When she writes ‘us’ and ‘we’, she sure as hell isn’t speaking for me. She’s stopped speaking for me. Her voice isn’t my voice. That biting incisive intelligence is conspicuous by its absence. Bitter hate has taken its place.
No. Not my voice.
This is my voice.
The bottom line, for me, in all our struggles for equality—for women, for gay people, for trans people, for the undecided, for the asexual, for the queer, for black, for white, for every colour in between, for the able-bodied and those who aren’t, for every darn person who breathes on this endangered planet of ours—is simply this:
It’s about all of us.
You can’t pick and choose. No really, you can’t. It’s not about rights, equality and liberation just for one bit of our society but about ALL our rights. If misogyny is in the warp and weft, the threads are homophobia, transphobia, racism, ableism. If, as a cis woman, I expect all civil, societal and human rights and responsibilities, then that same principle applies to everyone.
And here’s another true thing:
It’s not a competition.
There isn’t a finite amount of “equality” out there in the world. If I win equality of pay, for example, it doesn’t mean I’ve used up the entire pot so there’s nothing left over when it comes to dishing out access to services for people with disabilities. My right to feel safe in our streets doesn’t mean that I’ve used up all the “feeling safe” bit of the societal pot so that there’s nothing left over for the transgendered and all I can do is shrug and say “Sorry. Too bad. Feminists needed it most.” It it sure as hell isn’t a case of my suffering and my experience is worse than yours, buster, so stop that damned whining.
I’ve said this once before on this blog, but I’ll say it again. If the rights of one group are threatened and denied, then all our rights are at risk of being threatened and denied. The people who would deny rights to gay people and the transgendered? They don’t like women much either and they’re the ones leading the fight against hard-won reproductive freedoms by denying birth control and restricting abortions. The fight ain’t over yet, folks.
We’re all in this together. People matter, not their sexual orientation or their gender, their colour or race or their physical or mental abilities. Just their humanity matters. Fighting for one bit is useless. Fight for all. Be a Musketeer.
So, Stephanie, I never did tell you this when we worked together because it was never an issue and to even mention it would make it one, but it never bothered me at all that you used the ladies loo even though you hadn’t yet had your final operation. Not a problem. You identified as female. You are female. Still thriving, I hope, and I’m sorry we lost touch as we moved on to different jobs.
And Germaine? I owe you so much for helping me understand how I’ve been shaped by society, and for paving the way for the advances women have made, but I gotta tell you something. This equality shtick you’ve been espousing all these years? You’re doing it all wrong.
132 writers and bloggers have joined the blog hop and you can find a list of them and links to their blogs by clicking THIS LINK
Enjoy the blog hop. There are lots of cool prizes on offer from the participants and you’ll get to read a myriad of views and experiences that will, I promise, enrich your day.
Comments left here on this post will enter you in a giveaway for my novella, FlashWired. Leave your email address in your comment if you’d like to enter the giveaway. When the blog hop ends on May 24, I’ll stick a pin in the list of names to choose one, and send you the ebook.
Have a great day. All for one, remember.