Melissa Maceyko, Member AAUW California Public Policy Committee
Each year on March 31, the world observes Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV) to raise awareness about transgender people. It is a day to celebrate the lives and contributions of trans people, while also drawing attention to the poverty, discrimination, and violence the community faces.
We understand how women’s history tells the story of misogyny, which is the systemic mistreatment of women, girls, and feminine peoples through forms of physical and structural violence. But we rarely consider how it is linked to transmisogyny, which focuses on the complex intersections between transphobia and misogyny that are faced by trans women and girls, as well as transfeminine and gender non-conforming peoples. It is a term that attempts to capture multiple layers of gender-based marginalization and systemic mistreatment. If misogyny and transmisogyny are not combatted together, then the root of the problem will never truly be eradicated.
Although the past decade has seen a more vocal public push for diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives around gender, the current sociopolitical climate in the United States is not supportive of, and is often openly hostile to, transgender and gender non-conforming individuals. Under this sphere of increased hostility is the explicit targeting of trans women and girls and transfeminine peoples with words, actions, and legislation. It is particularly important for women’s organizations who seek to combat gender-based forms of oppression to build coalitions and take a stand against misogyny and transmisogyny in all its forms, because misogyny and transmisogyny come from the same place. They both describe gender-based oppression that results from the prioritization of masculinity alongside the degradation of femininity.
Targeted hostility against trans women and girls and transfeminine peoples can be seen not only in the alarming uptick in physical violence against this community, but also in the increasing persistence and intensity of public debates over whether or not trans women and girls and transfeminine peoples are “real women” that belong in “women’s spaces,” including gender-specific bathrooms, women’s sports teams, and locker rooms. These debates prioritize misplaced and misunderstood claims of biological authenticity. They are dehumanizing and cannot be disconnected from other forms of violence as they normalize widespread and explicit marginalization and exclusion.
As a women’s organization, the increasingly hostile environment for trans women and girls and transfeminine people should be at the forefront of our collective education and activism – let’s help ensure that history doesn’t continue to repeat itself. Visit the Public Policy website to learn more.