Trans-exclusionary feminism isn’t true feminism

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Feminism is for all women, not just cisgender women. 
 
In 2017, the Canadian government passed Bill C-16, which introduced human rights protections for transgender Canadians. This was a landmark decision for transgender rights, prohibiting discrimination on the grounds of gender identity and expression. 
 
This decision has incited transphobic rhetoric amongst conservatives and so-called feminists alike. 
 
Trans-exclusionary radical feminists—commonly called TERFs—incorrectly believe that trans women are men who thus contribute to the oppression of cis women. This often comes up during debates about bathroom use, for example, when TERFs accuse trans women of threatening their safety. 
 
In reality, trans women aren’t a credible threat to cis women. Unfortunately, they’re more often victims of violence themselves. 
 
According to Egale Canada, 74 per cent of transgender students in Canada report verbal harassment and 37 per cent report physical harassment. Of all the trans individuals in Ontario surveyed by the organization Trans Pulse, experiences of transphobia were found to be nearly universal—at 98 per cent of respondents—specifically for trans women, who reported the highest levels of transphobia. 
 
While there’s limited data on violence against trans women in Canada, in the United States, trans women have a life expectancy between 30 and 35, while their cis counterparts live to around 78.
 
This violence is a result of patriarchal values in our society that demonize those who break out of the rigid gender binary. 
 
It’s important to note that trans women face significantly more violence than trans men—it’s a gendered issue. Trans women are women too, and violence against them is part of the violence against women that feminists are often fighting against. 
 
Meghan Murphy, a noted trans-exclusionary writer, spoke at an event at a Toronto Public Library in October. This was met with protests, calls for cancellation, and petitions, but ultimately, the library refused to cancel the event
 
Feminism shouldn’t be just for cis women. We should condemn those who peddle transphobia under the guise of feminism, and not offer them a platform.
 
We’ve made great strides toward bettering women’s rights. My life looks significantly different than the women who came before me, and I’m thankful every day for the opportunities that I have. 
 
Acknowledging the privilege that cis womanhood offers doesn’t take away from the hard work of the feminists who came before us. Instead, it means that we can use our privilege to support the marginalized and continue to stand for the beliefs of equality that feminism calls for. 
 
Feminists fought long and hard for our rights. It’s time to do the same for our trans sisters.
 
My feminism includes trans women, and so should yours. 
 
Amelia is The Journal’s Production Manager. She’s a fourth-year fine art student.
 

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