This week Jenni Murray of radio 4 was given a huge platform, in The Sunday Times, with which she was allowed to publicly proclaim that transgender woman are not “real women”. She wrote “Can someone who has lived as a man, with all the privilege that entails, really lay claim to womanhood? It takes more than a sex change and makeup”.
And yes, a man cannot lay claim to womanhood, however a trans woman IS NOT AND NEVER WAS A MAN. That is the very crux of this matter, the false belief of the cisgender world that trans people somehow “become” their gender, that they come to a point where they suddenly change, from man to woman, from woman to man. Yet that is just not the case.
A transgender person’s sense of their gender identity is just as innate and real as anybody else’s. Yes, a trans woman’s experience of womanhood will be different to yours, Jenni Murray. But so will every other woman’s. The experience of a woman in the UK is different to that of a woman in India, or China. The experience of a white woman is different to that of a black woman. You would never say that they are not real women, so why say that about a trans women simply because her experience differs from yours?
Of course, we are socialised according to our designated gender. I have been socialised as a girl and a woman. I have experienced misogyny, sexism, I’ve suffered verbal and sexual assault because of my perceived womanhood. And that is exactly what it is, perceived.
Just because you view someone as a woman or a man, it doesn’t mean that is who they are, it is simply how you perceive them. The fact that I was raise as a woman is not an indicator of my gender, my parents didn’t know my gender because I wasn’t able to articulate it to myself, let alone to other people. But my ability to communicate my gender does mean that it is not real.
So, Jenni Murray, and anyone else who says that trans people aren’t not “real” men or women. Just because I wasn’t born with a body that you deem acceptable for my gender, it does not mean my gender is less important, that my experience is less real. In fact, how about this….Trans people are MORE of a woman, or a man, than their cisgender counterparts. Because trans people spend their entire lives fighting to be recognised as their gender. They undergo humiliating tests and invasive questioning to be allowed to transition. They spend hours correcting your misgendering, fighting for gender confirmation treatment, for the right name of their paperwork.
Trans people’s experiences are valid. And just because they are not the same as yours (Jenni Murray), it does not mean they are not “real” or authentic, it doesn’t mean that they are less worthy of the position of woman or man or human. After all, we are joined in our experiences as humans, and separated in our experiences as individuals. That is all there is to it.