Sistas, black transgender women are apart of the black feminist movement, so stop excluding them.
A few weeks ago, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie expressed her opinion on transgender women which were, ” that the experiences of transgender women, who she said are born with the privileges the world accords to men, are distinct from those of women born female.“
Black transgender women have a pivotal role in the black feminist movement, and have always been a part of the movement before is was somewhat accepted to be black and transgender. Adichie’s comments, marginalize an already marginalized group of people because they do not fit into the cisgender heterosexual black woman life experience. Cisgender is the gender that you are given at birth that corresponds with your biological sex. Transgender women add a rich experience and outlook through the feminist lens. If your feminism is only for cisgender women, then Sis let’s regroup on this very quickly.
Adichie like a number of black feminist have to realize that they cannot articulate the oppression and marginalization of black transgender women, because their entire life has been spent as a black cisgender woman. Black cisgender women have developed formative images of black transgender women and because of this, they ignore the fact that black transgender women are a part of black feminism just like black cisgender women.
According to GLADD, transgender is defined as, “people whose gender identity differs from the sex the doctor marked on their birth certificate.” Gender identity is defined as, “a person’s internal, personal sense of being a man or a woman. For transgender people, the sex they were assigned at birth and their own internal gender identity do not match.”
The black community has issues with gender and sexuality, which is why there is an overwheleming amount of violence towards black transgender men and women. The patriarchal society that we live in wants us to play into our differences, so we cannot work together. I want to know what type of oppression free life that Adichie thinks black boys and black men who are transforming or have transformed into women have? No, the oppressions of black men and black women are not the same, but black men for damn sure are not living some oppression free life.
You are playing into the patriarchy when you limit the oppression of a woman because she is transgender and not cisgender. Black transgender women can articulate points of gender and sexuality that black cisgender women cannot, and that helps to expand the knowledge we give to the youth and overall community as feminists. Black transgender women open up the idea to more gender and sex positivity, which has not always existed in black feminist thought and theory.
Black elite feminism as it relates to gender and sexuality, has always condemned being anything but a black heterosexual cisgender woman. It never tried to use its platform to add black transgender women into the equation. In black elite feminism there was this big notion of saving black men, all of our work being geared towards uplifting black men, and being married. Fuck all of that noise.
Although a number of black feminists may think they have moved from that elite thinking, Adichie proves that our notions of gender and sexuality have not grown over the centuries. Silencing black transgender women, is silencing yourself Sistas, so stop doing that shit. Black transgender women are dying on a daily basis, but I guess we can all sit in silence since they are not “real women”. What about the young black girls who identify as boys and plan to become transgender boys or men, do they count in the feminist movement, or do they not count either because they are now transgender boys or men?
This gender issue shows the discomfort that the black community still has with gender and sexuality. Elite black women in some cases, do not want anything to do with transgender women, because that is not who white society endorses. White society endorses the smart black elite feminist, and decides that she is the voice of all Black women. I am here to tell you that one black woman is not the voice or face of black womanhood. We are all different and unique as Black women, with different life experiences.
Put it like this, I am from a black lower middle class college educated family, which means there are certain aspects of black womanhood that I can articulate. But that is also another reason why I cannot articulate the life experiences of other black women who do not have that background. I cannot articulate the life a black woman who has lived in poverty or has been homeless, because I have not been through those things. I cannot articulate the life of an upper class woman, because again I have not had those life experiences.
I say that to say this, black heterosexual cisgender women cannot articulate points about black transgender women. And because you cannot do that, it is important to broaden your platform as a feminist to include other feminists with those experiences, so you do not truly walk around this hegemonic patriarchal society, thinking that black transgender women do not belong in black feminism.