Posted on March 31, 2021 Issues: In the Movement LGBTQ Equality

In observance of Women’s History Month and Transgender Day of Visibility, we write this letter as feminist leaders in advocacy, business, entertainment, media, politics, and social justice who stand as, with, and for transgender and nonbinary people. Trans women and girls have been an integral part of the fight for gender liberation. We uphold that truth and denounce the ongoing anti-transgender rhetoric and efforts we witness in various industries.

We acknowledge with clarity and strength that transgender women are women and that transgender girls are girls. And we believe that honoring the diversity of women’s experiences is a strength, not a detriment to the feminist cause. All of us deserve the same access, freedoms, and opportunities. We deserve equal access to education, employment, healthcare, housing, recreation, and public accommodations. And we must respect each person’s right to bodily autonomy and self-determination.

It is time for the long history of assaults (legislative, physical, social, and verbal) against trans women and girls to end. For far too long, lawmakers have worked to strip trans women of their civil liberties—in 2021, once again, we’ve seen a wave of bigoted governmental policies and legislation. Many of these laws target the rights of girls to play school sports or criminalize doctors for treating trans youth and their families. The women’s movement has seen doctors targeted before for providing us with necessary medical care and services, and we refuse to let youth endure that now. Plus, we know that anti-trans sports bans are as unnecessary as they are harmful—and that women athletes at both the professional and college levels support inclusion.

These bigoted efforts are also aided by a contingent of self-identified feminists, who have been promoting damaging and violent ideas about trans people for years in the United States and internationally. Their vitriol is, in fact, not feminist at all. True feminists do not wish to limit any woman’s identity or freedom to fully be herself. Allowing transphobic rhetoric to go unchecked also strengthens the legislative efforts of anti-trans politicians—who now cloak their bigotry in language about protecting or supporting women.

Further, all verbal attacks support the ongoing epidemic of murder and violence plaguing Black and Latinx trans women. 2020 was the deadliest year on record for the transgender community, seeing more than 44 killings, and, so far, there have been at least nine deaths reported this year.

It was Audre Lorde who said, “I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.” Since the dawn of feminism, our movements have experienced our fair share of inflection points. We continue to reckon with a history that has often excluded women of color, of different sexual orientations, socioeconomic statuses, ages, body types, religions and regions, and who are disabled. However, the feminist movement has largely expanded in beautiful and powerful ways. We have more language and understanding than ever before to describe how our unique experiences are threaded in the larger tapestry of womanhood.

We all must fight against the unnecessary and unethical barriers placed on trans women and girls by lawmakers and those who co-opt the feminist label in the name of division and hatred. Our feminism must be unapologetically expansive so that we can leave the door open for future generations.

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