TRIGGER WARNING: sexism, rape, rape culture, abortion
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, and I’m going to put some thoughts out there to potentially open up a discourse on the recent issues affecting vaginas in the United States. Please do not attack me for this, but rather converse with me on it.
The recent moves in the United States to ban access to abortion, birth control, and limit access to reproductive healthcare is a major issue, and one I find extremely offensive. As a human being, I don’t believe anyone has a right to tell anyone else what they can or cannot do with their body, or what happens inside it. And the fact that politicians in this country think a fetus is more important than the person who carries it to term is far too frightening.
I am a firm believer in bodily autonomy. If there is anything certain in this world, it’s that your body is yours. What you choose to do with it should be entirely up to you. As a trans*person, this means a great deal to me, because I have to live in this body. It should represent me as a person, as a human, and not be intruded upon by someone else’s beliefs. If I don’t like something about my body, I should be able to change it and care for it as I see fit. It’s more than an ideology; its a basic human right.
As an FTM-spectrum person who has a vagina, uterus, and reproductive capabilities, I very much sympathize and even empathize with the attacks on reproductive rights that are being perpetuated in this country. I stand with every other person who is fighting back against the injustices being signed into law across the nation. But I struggle with arguments that this is not just an attack on women, but an attack on vaginas and uteruses everywhere. And this is where I might piss some people off, but again, please let’s talk about this without attacking one another.
I think that support from the trans*masculine community is awesome. We’re talking about invasion of privacy, limiting healthcare, and violating bodies—issues that arise in the trans* community on nearly every level. But I get upset when FTM-spectrum or masculine identified FAAB folks say this is an attack on them because of the fact that they have vaginas and uteruses too. As someone with these body parts, I am equally outraged, but I don’t think it’s the place of masculine-identified, or male-identified people to make these issues about them. Inclusivity makes total sense, but redirecting the focus of reproductive justice from women, I think, is an invasion in-and-of itself.
These tactics are being used as a way to target women, control women, and subordinate women. And while the issues themselves also affect trans*people who seek the same access, it is not about being trans*. At least, that’s how I see it. So while I can be outraged about the injustices against women, I as a masculine-identified person cannot lay claim to this movement as part of the targeted group. I’m not. The reproductive justice issues that I face have more to do with transphobia than sexism. By claiming this movement as my own, I think I would be taking up space that isn’t mine to take.
It’s also important to remember that many of the issues being brought up (contraception, abortion) are steeply rooted in sexist ideology. They come from the idea that women are not to be sexual, and when they are, they should be punished regardless of their involvement (i.e. no abortion, even in cases of rape.) Furthermore, these offenses are being perpetrated by upperclass, cisgender, (mostly) white men, the very epitome of oppressor. To lay claim to a movement while receiving much of the same privilege as the perpetrators seems like a gross violation of women’s space.
I’m open to discussing this with anyone who wants to, but please do not attack me. I am not putting this out there to start arguments, but rather to discuss privilege, bodies, space, and sociopolitical issues. I don’t need hate mail. Let’s talk about this calmly, please.
Bringing this up again.
I love this post. Thank you for sharing! I have felt somewhat uneasy about discussions saying that attacks on reproductive rights are also attacks specifically against trans* men…but I couldn’t figure out WHY I was feeling uneasy. I just knew the discussions didn’t sit right with me. But your post really articulated a lot of what I was feeling, so thank you so much for sharing.
It is of course very important to be inclusive when talking about reproductive rights and reproductive health (for example, we need to remember that there are masculine-identified people that still need access to things like cervical cancer screenings and treatment for ovarian cysts…and we need to make sure preventive health care efforts for “women’s health issues” are reaching these groups too). But like you said, the laws that are attacking access to reproductive care are not being proposed because lawmakers are specifically thinking about trans* men and how they don’t want them to access abortions or PAP smears or whatever because they are trans* men. These laws are largely targeting women simply because they are women. I mean, trying to control all women’s access to vital medical services is an incredibly powerful way to manifest control over women as a whole.
Most of these lawmakers, for better or for worse, have probably never even considered the fact that there are male-identified people seeking these services too. Their focus is solely on cis-women (and especially low income women and WOC) and being able to control their bodies, their sexuality, and their private medical decisions. So while masculine-identified FAAB people may certainly be impacted by these laws, the attack against reproductive rights is really an attack against women and women’s bodies.
Anyway, that’s just my two cents. Thanks again for sharing. :)
But equating attack-on-uteri with attack-on-women is exactly the problem here. No one is arguing that DFAB trans people are the explicit targets of these campaigns, but reducing people to genitals is hugely erasive, and not only to DFAB trans people. There are many women who simply aren’t affected by anti-abortion and anti-birth control laws, and to say that simply because it isn’t directed at DFAB trans people that women are the only ones being attacked is really problematic. If you’re going to say attack-on-uteri is an attack-on-women, you really need to take another look at what that really means. I feel like I’m being less articulate than I could be but I’m exhausted and I think my point is pretty clear.
I think it may be beneficial to view who is being targeted from the view of the legislator who introduces such a bill. Traditionally it is a cis straight white Republican male who introduces such reproductive control bills. If you were to ask a legislator with this sort of background whether trans* men and masculine AFAB’s (who do not identify as women) are men or women they are more than likely to say that they are women. So when such a legislator writes a bill that targets women they are including (even without conscious recognition of the action) trans* men and masculine AFABs in that targeted demographic. So to say that trans* men don’t deserve an equally central role in either the war on AFAB’s or on women would be to segregate trans* men and masculine AFAB’s from a war that targets them while simultaneously using trans-erasure to force them out of their gender role. I guess it revolves around the discrepancy between the legislators definition of woman and the oppositions definition.