Content note: this post discusses transphobia
Last week, an awful New Statesman column was published which featured a cis woman whining about being called cis. Me and Cel West wrote a takedown of it.
Things haven’t died down since then. In fact, a lot of cis women seem to have become empowered to spout utter nonsense. I will not link to specific nonsense, lest I get accused of being Big Mean Stavvers Bullying The Poor Defenceless Women, but suffice to say there’s rather a lot of cis women who agree with the the original assertion that they don’t like the word cis.
And it gets worse. Today, I have had nakedly transphobic hate speech tweeted at me, and tweeted at me from corners I would have never expected. It came from people I had previously thought to be all right, but it was that same old nasty cis supremacist line which has never quite made any sense to me about how trans women are really “males”.
It strikes me as particularly sickening that this comes in a week where Lucy Meadows had been disrespected in death by the mainstream media, the same mainstream media that may well have played a role in killing her with their violent lies, replicated again and again by people who think themselves feminists.
Yesterday, over 200 people mourned Lucy Meadows, standing in the cold with candles, outside the Daily Mail offices. Over 100,000 people have signed a petition calling for Richard Littlejohn to be fired for his tirade of hate. A part of me wondered–as it did in January when Julie Burchill and Suzanne Moore went on transphobic diatribes to mass outrage–that perhaps the tide was beginning to turn. That maybe, just maybe, we were overcoming the seething cissexism of society.
But we have not. If anything, these vile sorts are gaining traction, crying about being silenced. It is defended by women who do not think they are bigots themselves, finding that calling out any woman spouting hate speech to be far worse than the hate speech itself.
It really, really isn’t. It is utterly vital that we reject transphobia wherever it exists–even where it is within our backyard. Especially when it is in our own back yard.
I am fearful that we have hit a pivotal point in the discourse, one where the bigots have effectively managed to neutralise any attempt to point out that they are bigots by complaining of bullying. They wave their hands like a stage magician, diverting attention from the very real bullying they themselves are perpetrating, the structural violence that they perpetuate, the things they say that can very easily kill people.
And I don’t quite know what to do about this. I’ll keep on fighting where I can, but suddenly it feels far bigger, far more daunting. As a cis woman, I am not personally affected by transphobia. This is precisely why I fight it, because I know I have more strength and more resources to do so. But it’s a thankless task, and some are such severe bigots I believe it is impossible to reason with them.
So cis feminist readers, I ask you to join with me in fighting the rising tide of cis supremacy. It is not acceptable. Be a fucking ally. Stand with your trans sisters in solidarity, and don’t let this slide. We have a huge struggle ahead of us, against a structure many of us have internalised, but if we are to win anything, we must first attack the problem within our ranks.