I, as a transgender person on testosterone who is perceived as male, call myself a Feminist. How can I / dare I do that?
If you’re more a video person than a words person, and for a version that is possibly very definitely more eloquent than mine, watch this TEDTalk by Tiq (trans man) and Kim Milan (queer, cisgender woman) on redefining love, marriage (and feminism).
My identity and practise as a Feminist is informed by many things, many too long to go into; but it is something I studied as a Literary Theorist and a Philosopher at University, and is informed by my experience as a person seen as female and raised as female for 35 years. Many people believe that someone on testosterone who is seen as male by others cannot be a Feminist.
Firstly, I am not male. Having testosterone in your body or adding into your body does not make a person male. I am an AFAB (assigned female at birth)/CAFAB (coercively assigned female at birth), nonbinary, androgynous, gender non-conforming, etc., etc. person on testosterone (a blog post on labels, why label yourself, how confusion about your labels is ok and how changing the labels you use to define yourself are ok too will follow). (If you want to learn more about transgender language, terms and identities, GenderWiki is great!)
Secondly, I’m aware that my being seen as male, even though I’m not, comes with male privilege. I believe that being aware of that, and calling it out when I see it is not only important for me, but essential to Feminism, based on my definition of it.
So, how do I define Feminism? The belief that patriarchy and its gender roles imprison men and women, and this imprisonment is based on the belief that there are only two genders – the gender binary (see this post about why the gender binary is untrue).
Patriarchy structures itself around a binary view of gender that pits women and men against each other and causes misunderstanding where there should be none. The difference between the genders (more than two) is not inherent or biological; it is based on the way we are raised by a patriarchal society.
This incorrect construction of gender by Patriarchy excludes the co-existence of femininity and masculinity in one person, leading to the destructive embodiment of toxic masculinity and the demonisation of femininity, at the expense of everyone in society.
Feminism is (should be) a return to pre-Colonial understandings of gender, where there were more nuanced gender identities, or no gender identities at all. Transgender, intersex and gender non-conforming people are thus essential to the understanding of Feminism as something that needs to be fought by all genders, against Patriarchy and its erroneous and insidious construction of gender roles, identities and binaries.
Therefore, Feminism is not anti-male! Feminism does not hate men! (If it does, it is a butchered and dangerous Feminism). Feminism is against toxic/fragile masculinity. This, however, does not make MRAs (Men’s Rights Activists) right in any way, shape or form. Men, and people perceived as men, have never and never will be subjected to centuries of oppression and systemic violence (both micro and macro) at the hands of women (or any other gender). (This is one thing I’m not going to change my mind about, and if you disagree, I will never change your mind about it, so let’s just agree to disagree).
In a nutshell: and, yes, nutshells are dangerous, but they’re a starting point; and obviously this is a continuing conversation with myself, and debate (not argument) with others, and I’ve discussed this in previous blog posts (incomplete list below) and will continue to do so, because Feminism grows as we grow, as does my understanding of it.
(Some of the) Blog posts about Feminism as a trans person: