[tw: rape, transmisogyny, discussion of trans exclusion]
Anonymous asked you:
I object to being told that I am a terrible ally because of asking about trans women being allowed in abuse support groups. I AM A SURVIVOR. I was raped when I was 9 years old. I feel horribly uneasy around men. OBVIOUSLY I put that aside in day to day life. But in the one safe space I have, I feel I can only be around cis women. I will not apologise for that. I don’t want “mandatory genital exposure” that is fucking ridiculous. I meant you would just ask “are you cis” and hope for an honest answer. If there is only one survivor group available for transswomen, then you could hold multiple survivor groups on different nights.
The only reason I was asking you is because you are the only trans person I know and I wanted to know if you understood why some women need this, or if you were very offended by this. All of these arguments about “people being abused by women too” and “I couldn’t tell children to stop playing” are invalid because I am talking about a very specific situation — survivor groups for women abused by men, which are supposed to be completely safe spaces. I fully support the right of trans people to do whatever the hell they please, but in a survivor group where I am most vulnerable and feel triggered, this is the one place where I could only be around cis women. Why is that so awful?
I think you are severely underestimating how difficult it can be for a trans person, especially in these sorts of spaces. The problem is that it cannotbe as simple as having a gatekeeper ask, “are you cis or trans”, because disclosing that you are trans is a very dangerous, emotionally volatile situation. There are only 11 states in the United States that offer legal protection from discrimination based on gender identity. In any other state, a trans person (or anyone who is perceived as not cis gender) can be fired from their job, evicted out of their home, denied housing, and many other things based on their gender. There is zero legal protection for someone in that situation.
Disclosing that one is trans is not something that a person can just tell everyone in casual conversation. I’m not going to tell the random person at the door anything about my gender identity. I don’t know them. For all I know, they are actually transmisogynistic and will go around telling other people I’m trans so that I am fired from my job. Revealing one’s identity is something that must be carefully calculated and inventoried on a specific list of “people I have told”, because even one wrong person knowing could do a whole lot to make your life miserable or even threaten your well-being/ability to survive. So the idea that someone could simply ask this question is…impossible, really.
It is far too dangerous for a lot of trans people to even be able to answer that question. Which brings me to my next point— even if you openly and very clearly advertised that the group was for cis women only, and even if you had someone at the door asking, you still could not make a 100% guarantee that there would be no one with a penis. You are assuming that there are places with multiple survivor groups that could provide an alternative. Um, I live in a tiny little town that doesn’t even have ONE sexual violence survivor support group. If a group suddenly sprung up, I would be so incredibly happy.
But if that group decided to exclude trans women? If I thought I could pass properly, I’d just go right in and tell them I was cis anyway. NO ONE WOULD BE THE WISER about the fact that I have a penis. I could even use vague language if genital discussion ever came up (“there” or “that place”, etc), and people would assume that I am just like them. If you want a space that is free of people with penises then even this very simple kind of gatekeeping is bound to fail, because we’re talking about a group of people who are already very excluded and who are desperate for some kind of place to find support.
Anonymous asked you:I kind of agree with your anon about abuse support grroups, and I don’t think it is right for everyone to be so angry with them about this. While I don’t agree that trans women should be excluded, I do understand that it is a difficult issue and I absolutely understand why it would be difficult for cis women. I agree that exclusion would be upsetting for trans women, I just think the views of cis women should be heard in this case. Survivors of abuse are not like the general public…
You are minimizing how important this is. Being excluded from a group that may be a person’s only chance is not just “upsetting”, it can be dangerous. Not everyone can afford therapy, and a lot of therapists are transmisogynistic. A lot of trans people are already poor people of color. They also face additional shame because there’s cultural ideas surrounding rape that make it 1) penetration-centric, and 2) only apply to people with vaginas. So people NEED these spaces very badly— to exclude them only makes an extremely marginalized group even more marginalized.
There’s also something we have not mentioned, which is the fact that a lot of trans women have been hurt by men, and do not feel safe around them (myself included). If I had the choice between a (cis) woman group and a (cis) male group, I would absolutely attempt to pass and go to the women’s group, because I know that the male group is basically guaranteed to be filled with people of a certain attitude who make me feel extremely unsafe. I am a woman and I belong around other women, especially when it comes to this issue.
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