Trans Identity Within Women’s Spaces

Where can women discuss their bodily functions if not in women's groups?

Trans Identity Within Women’s Spaces

To date I have stayed well away from the trans issues that currently dominate many areas of feminism. Why? Because I largely work with pregnant women and women who have birth trauma and I have never encountered an actual trans person who has needed my support in these areas. But as time goes on I get more and more hate mail from liberal feminists, for not altering year’s worth of work to be trans inclusive and now I’ve reached critical mass, and I’m going there.

I understand that some people find themselves pregnant, and yet do not perceive themselves to be women. I also understand that it must be incredibly complex to experience a pregnancy when you do not identify as a woman. There should be support out there for people who find themselves facing these predicaments. You’ll not see me argue with that.

I work in a large international VBAC group and help administrate several others, and I created a large birth trauma group. Each and every member that is in those groups is a born woman and we do not allow men who are openly male into the groups.

If a trans person were to approach me and say that they needed some support in one of those areas due to a pregnancy, I would offer as much support as I could, including speaking to the group about adding this person if the group agreed. Odds are really good that the vast and overwhelming majority of the women in the groups would say HELL YES! We need to provide support to as many people as we can!

But I will not alter everything I have ever written to remove the word WOMAN from it. I won’t do that. Don’t waste your time asking me for that and don’t bother telling me that I am a TERF. It makes me roll my eyes in contemptuous boredom.

I see a lot of discussions where lesbian women are accused of being bigoted because they will not consider a person with a penis as a viable sexual partner. You know what I don’t see? I don’t see heterosexual men being called bigoted for the same thing. Why is that? Because everyone knows that men won’t move over and make room for that rubbish. If a man says no to sex it’s because he doesn’t want to have sex, so have a cup of tea and move on. If a woman says no to sex ….. look out, here comes ….. A BIGOT!

I see a lot of discussions where women, in WOMEN’S GROUPS are asked not to discuss bleeding. A feminist group run by a friend of mine completely collapsed when members who needed support and advice about their periods were told they were discriminating against trans people when they discussed their own bodily functions. So they couldn’t help women, with women’s issues, in a women’s group, because it might offend someone who identifies as a woman!? And this isn’t a problem to many people? Where should women get support to talk about these things if they can no longer discuss them in women’s groups? Perhaps they could join a football club and ask there instead.

What I’d like to know though, is whether men who are suffering from erectile dysfunction are also discriminating when they talk about it. Are there moves afoot to have all mention of MEN WITH ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION changed to PEOPLE WITH ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION? I sure hope so!

You see if we need to erase women from their own physical lives by not allowing discussions of bleeding, or by altering the way we talk about pregnancy and birth trauma, surely it makes sense that we remove men from their predicaments too. No more men can have erectile dysfunction, heterosexual men must sleep with trans women that have penises. No more prostate cancer campaigns aimed at men! Those should be aimed at PEOPLE. You know how more men than women die of bowel cancer and heart disease? Oh heck no, YOU BIGOT! It’s all about the people from now on. We must in no way whatsoever raise awareness for men about bowel cancer, because that is unfair to people who identify with genders that don’t match their physical bodies.

At what point does this go too far?

What we need to do here is recognise that the issues faced by people who are struggling with gender identity are very serious within our heavily gender based society. People who need support for that, need support from the entire community. It’s only fair that everyone has a space where they can lives their lives with as much happiness, kindness, and community support as possible.

We need to set aside gender identification entirely for these problems to go away, but that’s not going to happen over night so we have to work with what we have, and gradually build it up.

The trans movement is gaining momentum, but that’s just what it needs to be. It needs to be a TRANS MOVEMENT. Women and men who identify as trans need to create their own spaces, not demand that women move on over and make room for them. Women who were born with women’s bodies and who are content with those need to be able to discuss menarche, childbirth, rape, male violence, and all the other issues that face us, and trans people need to be free to discuss THEIR issues, in spaces where there won’t be interruptions. In spaces where they can identify as whatever gender they need to identify with to seek out the support they need to live happy lives.

Silhouette of crowd talking
People gathering.
License: Creative Commons CC0.

Basically by demanding that women alter the way we discuss our bodies and our biology you are demanding that we alter our identities so that YOUR identity goes unchallenged.  It’s a really big world out there, there’s plenty room for women to talk about their birth choices, and there’s plenty room for trans people to talk about the issues that they face too, but those spaces aren’t always going to be one and the same. I spent years living in a world where there were no spaces for me to discuss my birth trauma, or future birth choices because people found it too confronting and you can be damn sure I won’t go back into that box without one hell of a showdown.

22 Responses to "Trans Identity Within Women’s Spaces"

  1. LynB  18 June, 2016 at 5:08 pm

    This is great. Thank you for writing it.

    • MHeket
      MHeket  18 June, 2016 at 6:21 pm

      Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment!

  2. Gymrat Wowblizzcon  8 October, 2016 at 8:43 am

    this is awesome. thank you for speaking up. Most people won’t say anything but just go along.

  3. sketcher563  8 October, 2016 at 1:18 pm

    Fantastic. Thank you.

  4. Charlotte  8 October, 2016 at 8:03 pm

    Yes I totally agree, thanks for writing the article.

  5. rhonda  8 October, 2016 at 8:13 pm

    Wow! Well said…this was not confrontational or insulting at all but level headed and fair. I hope that you have success in making this point because you certainly have women who are behind you on this all the way….

  6. catkisser  9 October, 2016 at 6:29 am

    As a woman who was born intersexed and was one of the first tier trans-activists in the 90’s and early 2000’s, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU. I have been trying to make these points for twenty ‘fing years only to be called every name in the book for my trouble.

    • MHeket
      MHeket  11 March, 2017 at 12:20 pm

      I’m sorry you’ve faced the vitriol. It’s inexcusable isn’t it. Thank you for taking the time to comment.

  7. Laura Rane  9 October, 2016 at 1:18 pm

    Female erasure (subject of a fothcoming book edited by Ruth Barrett) is a significant issue – in some ways, it might be said that the demands of trans people (in reality, the ones doing the demanding, in very male fashion, are men who want to be defined as women) is the ultimate in male privilege. Just eliminate the reality of women, and let men, once again, define what “a woman” really is, and just as in the past, we must shut up and surrender our privacy. But that eliminates not just birth and biological experiences, but also social experiences in a male dominated society – such as unwanted pregnancies and the stigma attached to them, rape culture, sexual harrassment, domestic violence, etc. ……….. and the lack of self worth and empowerment so many women must spend a lifetime creating for themselves in a male dominated culture.

    Additionally, insisting (as is happening in the U.S.) that excluding trans “women” from any women spaces, including bathrooms, support groups, women’s shelters, the (now defunct) Michigan’s Women’s Festival, and other places of refuge for women is illegal – is dangerous. The laws are defining a “transwoman” as any man who says he is now a woman. Any man. That’s all the “proof” he needs to “be a woman”.

  8. DebraV  9 October, 2016 at 3:30 pm

    Fantastic piece. Thank you!

  9. K.C.  11 October, 2016 at 7:40 am

    Yay! Great writing and great, strong spirit.

  10. Trishka  12 October, 2016 at 2:54 pm

    The problem with only having a trans specific movement is that so much of the male trans movement is about forcing women to believe, say, do what they want them to. If they can’t force this on women, and force themselves into women’s spaces then there’s no point in being trans ‘women’.

  11. Jamie  13 October, 2016 at 8:20 am

    Being trans myself – not once has the thought of belittling or shaming someone else of their body ever crossed my mind. I could never silence the words of those who were born into the gender that I identify as, purely because I don’t have what they have. People who get defensive about such need to re-evaluate themselves.

    Yes, trans women may never be able to give birth, experience periods or a number of other challenges that naturally born women face, but that doesn’t mean those women in particular shouldn’t talk about it. For years, women have been prevented from talking about periods, due to its nature being seemingly ‘taboo’… Now, that they can talk about as such, as they have the FREEDOM to do so — certain people who cannot experience them are now getting offended? That’s absurd!

    And for the subject of lesbians not seeing a trans woman that identifies as being lesbian: I see no reason as to why they should be thrown under the rails, purely because they’d rather have a woman with feminine appendages. Whether you identify as such or not, everyone should be equally allowed to express themselves. Physically wise – if you have a penis, you are still technically male, whether you identify as one or not, especially in the eyes of third parties. So, I entirely understand that lesbians who were born as women do not want that as a partner. I would never ask them to do otherwise, as that is THEIR choice.

    Sorry for the ramble. I’m just happy to see that someone is being logical with their text, and I felt the need to reply. I am a trans woman who is currently in a relationship with another trans woman, and identify as a lesbian couple in public, where our genitalia does not matter, as we’re not going to be openly having sex in public. But I could never truly call myself such, unless I were to magically have the internal structure of an actual woman, with appendages that display as such.

    Thank you for writing this, it’s incredibly descriptive and I am grateful to know that someone with such a sound mind is running these groups. Keep it up!

    • MHeket
      MHeket  11 March, 2017 at 12:18 pm

      Thank you for your comment!

  12. Redpeachmoon  16 October, 2016 at 12:17 am

    Thank you! So REASONABLE!
    And well written.
    Best to you.

  13. greysynsghost  3 January, 2017 at 9:18 am

    Thnak you so much.

  14. KathyB  23 February, 2017 at 10:21 pm

    Brilliant. Thank you for saying this, it really needs to be said. The rights of one group should not overwrite those of another. Women need to be able to discuss women’s issues without being shouted down.

  15. Rosie  24 February, 2017 at 4:17 am

    Here here! Well said, more women need to stand up and speak the truth, our biology and reproductive capacity is the basis of out oppression and if we can’t claim it we can’t fight it.

  16. greysynsghost  24 February, 2017 at 9:11 am

    Wow, great article, Thank you!!

  17. aljoscha70  24 February, 2017 at 6:56 pm

    Thank you for this!

  18. frontlinegranny60fitzgerald  24 October, 2017 at 6:46 am

    Just heard KPFK Women’s Magazine talking about how switching rape of women to rape of people, via mainstream corporate influenced institutions like the UN, to degenderfy crimes against mostly women. At the end of interviewing a woman who has worked with the Vancouver Rape Relief and Domestic Violence Center talking about language gutting work dealing with the crisis women still face, a disclaimer was made by the “feminist” woman hosting the program. She stated how offensive “women born women” is to transwomen. What really bothers me about this blanket approach to transwomen is the fact that many transwomen have brigades of transbullies willing to threaten to rape, beat and kill women who don’t comply to forced outlook changes that are now called transphobia which includes operating with impunity around wrong bully behaviors. No discussion allowed to behaviors that are straight out of patriarchy. Women gatekeepers are no help. I am not going to pretend egregious bully behaviors i personally saw after occupy did not happen. Nope. Reminds me of what happened when i spoke out to rapist activist men about their crimes. I was blackballed, excluded and slandered. Same shit now.

    • MHeket
      MHeket  29 October, 2017 at 4:37 pm

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. I agree 100%. We are in very dangerous waters on all fronts.


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