Once more for the people at the back: abortion rights and trans rights are the same struggle

Content note: this post discusses anti-choice sentiment and transphobia

Today, I got a tweet from a TERF expressing a desire to reduce the abortion time limit, using the same concern-trolling language as noted womb-botherers such as Nadine Dorries.

It didn’t surprise me.

Let’s get the most obvious out of the way first: TERFs are about as feminist as Jim Davidson. They’re also very comfortable with forming political alliances with conservative men, and indeed prefer to date conservative men as they have more in common with them politically. So it’s hardly a shock that they’ve been parroting patriarchal talking points.

Then we have the media transmisogynists like to pretend that trans women pose a problem for reproductive rights activism, which is a deliberately disingenuous misrepresentation of the fairly uncontroversial demand that when we talk about reproductive organs and human bodies, we’re gender-neutral about it, because that’s more precise. It simply isn’t true that trans women are a block to reproductive rights. In fact, they’re doing more than any media transphobe ever has.

How do we know this? One of the places to look is Ireland, where there is a huge struggle for access to abortion. I follow this activism keenly, and do what I can to support and boost their work, so I’m aware that there are a lot of trans women deeply involved in this crucial action. I’ve met many Irish trans feminists who participate in reproductive freedom work. And likewise, Irish feminists don’t want these UK TERFs anywhere near their work, having recently produced a widely-signed open letter telling TERFs exactly where to fuck off to.

If you actually care about reproductive rights, you’d know this, and that’s how it becomes abundantly clear that your transmisogynistic bigots are simply using abortion access as a dogwhistle for “women are defined by reproductive organs and only that.”

To me, feminism is always and has always involved liberating women from our biology. A refusal to define us by whether or not we can bear children. I’ve written before about how this biological essentialism promulgated by transmisogynistic bigot feminists is identical to that promulgated by misogynists. I’ve also defined my stance as pro-trans and pro-choice.

But I want to say it once more, loudly, for the people at the back: trans rights and reproductive rights are intimately linked. You cannot have one without the other. It all boils down to bodily autonomy.

Organisations like Planned Parenthood understand this, and provide therapy for trans people as well as reproductive care. On the flipside of this, 20 countries in Europe still require sterilisation for trans people if they want legal gender recognition.

It is no coincidence that the religious right and fascists want to crack down on both reproductive healthcare and trans healthcare: all they want to do is refuse us bodily autonomy.

Our struggles are the same, and scratch a transmisogynist, and it’ll bleed womb-botherer in the end. Don’t let them win, and let’s continue to stand shoulder to shoulder against these attacks.

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4 thoughts on “Once more for the people at the back: abortion rights and trans rights are the same struggle”

  1. I was at their meeting on Tuesday evening (organised by “A Woman’s Place”). The speakers were Pilgrim Tucker, one of their founders Steph Pike, Lucy Masoud of the FBU and a chair who was from the TUC. During the planned speeches they kept to the script and went on about “the effect of self-identification on vulnerable women”, but once it opened up to contributions from the floor, most of it was a volley of TERF sloganeering. I was expecting questions to be answered by the panel, but they spent hardly any time responding to questions (I always thought “not a question but a statement” was something you normally hear from men, and public-school types at that).

    What concerns me is that these women call themselves socialists but do not have an answer to the issue of feminists approaching the Times, a reactionary paper which sells bigotry on its front page, with complaints about trans women being places they think they shouldn’t be. Apart from the sheer unethicality of that, if we have the Times proclaiming “Labour will let men into women’s wards” (even if this started under the Tories), it could easily tip the balance in favour of the Tories (plus the impression of “it’s the loony left on the march again”). I even had one of them boast over Twitter that she’d vote Tory. How can someone be a socialist if their hatred of trans women is greater than their passion for equality and justice?

    (And before I go: I’ve never seen such a sea of white faces. They certainly aren’t building bridges with some minorities that might sympathise with them by advertising in the same paper that printed the infamous bogus story about the foster carer on their front page.)

  2. I bet these are the same people who argue for sex-selective abortions to be banned on ‘feminist’ grounds… because nothing could be more feminist than taking away women’s choices.

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