Marriage Equality, Assimilation and TransFeminism

This article was written by Jessica Fisher

Feminism. What is it? What should it be? What can it become? As a Trans*Feminist I feel like I’m often supposed to accept that the marriage equality movement is the most important thing. Why are transgender* people being asked to sit and wait our turn?

In my opinion intersectional feminism should look past the white washing of the LGBT* movement, look past the hyper focus on marriage equality to see the broader issues we face, from the high rates of LGBT* homelessness to the broken education system that teaches abstinence/heterosexual/cisgender only education. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not against marriage equality. I’m not against all couples being recognized equally under the law, and yet, I am against a society where I can be fired for my gender identity. I am against a society where I don’t have a safe place to use the restroom.

I am against being told to wait.

Now is the time to embrace our inner intersectional feminist and look at broader issues, now is the time to reach out to our fellow humans and to tell them they no longer have to wait – because they don’t, and they shouldn’t! I personally will not tell a young trans*woman who is being bullied on top of her confusion and uncertainty that she has to wait for her friend’s parents to receive a tax break before anyone will reach in – past administrators, teachers and parents turning a blind eye to her while her peers are treating her like a plague, or threatening her with how much worse it can get if she doesn’t stop acting like such a little queer – to put an end to this aggression, to this bullying.

If you force me to pick between marriage equality and bullying in K – 12, I’ll pick addressing bullying every time. On a larger scale, today’s modern gay marriage movement presents us with a great problem – equality vs. assimilation or rather, equality as assimilation. We see this as feminists, the idea that we have to be the pants suit politician or business person, we’re not encouraged to create our own rules, our own reality, our own world, we’re encouraged to ‘make it’ in the cisgender, heterosexual male world – that isn’t equality, that’s assimilation.

As a young trans*woman I see this as I transition – that my shoes need to match my skirt and that I need to be cleanly shaven, as if these things are going to stop people from staring at my pre-hormone, pre-surgery attempts at passing. This is equality through assimilation. We need to realize the dangers of being encouraged to assimilate into a system we know is broken, and I think we need to redefine the aspects of feminism that encourage us to march arm in arm in our pants suits with clean shaven legs towards marriage equality and marriage equality alone until marriage equality is achieved and until we reach that point this working class, college student trans*woman who can’t afford hormone therapy will continue to receive calls from the HRC asking for her $100 to support a president who hasn’t done anything for her, and I won’t do it.

Check out this article on the HRC’s white-washing assimilationism: Queer Dreamer: Human Rights Campaign forced me back into the closet.

(Author’s Note: If it’s ones choice to wear a pants suit or shave their legs, which I do, I’m not speaking against that choice or that preference, I’m only speaking against uniform assimilation into a broken system that has systematically attempted to break us.)

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