By Sarah Roberts
As Trans Awareness Week comes to a close, we at the WCC would like to take some time to reflect on allyship and inclusivity. In her introduction of keynote speaker Laverne Cox, Violet Trachtenberg, a Stanford Students for Queer Liberation organizer, spoke about the cultural climate at Stanford towards trans issues. Stanford and Stanford students are rarely outright violent or hostile towards trans students. At the same time, our campus culture of apathy is palpable. Among students, allyship is often viewed as the absence of discriminatory behaviors, rather than intentional action and lifestyle. On the university level, with no gender-neutral locker rooms in the new gym and minimal gender neutral housing options, Stanford does not do enough to actively make trans students feel included.
Lea DeLaria, an actress best known for her portrayal of Big Boo on Orange is the New Black, has recently withdrawn her participation from the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival, citing the festival’s exclusion of trans women as the reason. The Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival has a strict “womyn-born womyn” policy, which only allows people assigned female at birth to attend. Unfortunately, situations like this are not uncommon, even and sometimes especially in the feminist community.
At her talk last night, actress and activist Laverne Cox spoke about how we in marginalized groups can often begin to police and subjugate other marginalized individuals due to internalized oppression and the stress that accompanies abuse. The feminist community is no exception, having historically oppressed and/ or ignored women of color, trans women, queer women, etc. Especially given this history, it is vital that feminist communities consciously act to bring people in. This means including all female-identified people in women’s spaces, and going further by actively creating spaces that are trans inclusive through intentional language. It means going further than just adding buzzwords (e.g. “especially women of color”) to sentences that primarily speak to the experiences of cis heterosexual white women. It means considering the unique experiences of women of color, differently abled, low income women, and queer women. It means going further than inclusivity to make the experiences of these women central to the movement, not an afterthought or a token side note. Only when we consider and value the diverse experiences of all women can we possibly achieve the liberation of any women.