Laverne Cox and Caitlyn Jenner
It's not a competition.
A Facebook friend recently posted that she greatly admired Caitlyn Jenner and enjoyed her show, I Am Cait. As someone who watches a lot of reality shows, especially ones about transgender men and women, I agreed and suggested that she might like I Am Jazz even better, because Jazz is a transgender teenage girl who's wise and mature beyond her years.
My friend said that she'd watched I Am Jazz as well, but still preferred I Am Cait. Our whole exchange seemed harmless enough and I didn't think anything about it, until I saw some of the comments following mine.
Apparently, the conversation had turned into a commenting frenzy with one woman shouting that Cait was born a man, had male chromosomes, and no matter how she dressed or what she called herself, she'd always be a man. I couldn't believe the transphobia that was going on.
The world can be a scary and dangerous place for us all, but for transgender men and women, it's twice as frightening. Among the transphobic, there are people who focus on things like appearance, how a transgender person will always be the sex they had at birth, and/or a blatant refusal to use the right identifier such as "she" or "him."
One of the complaints that I've heard from cisgender (individuals who identify with their birth gender), women is that they feel threatened by how Caitlyn Jenner is so heavily made-up and dresses in expensive shoes and clothes; that she fits the idea of a traditional woman better than a cisgender woman who doesn't wear makeup or get her hair done.
But not every transgender female is going to express themselves that way — just like not every woman wears heels. Are lipstick lesbians more of a woman than a less glamorous lesbian? No, because there's no one way to express your gender or sexual identity.
There isn't a competition between transgender women and cisgender women on who's the better woman. How you express your womanhood is up to you, as is whether or not you want to express it. It'd be better to widen the definition of a woman rather than limit it.
We have to work together –– rather than finding ways to exclude each other –– if we plan on making any headway in the fight against sexism. And believe me, we need to fight –– every time we seem to make strides, we as women are pushed back again.
We're all valid and worthy women, whether we received the female assignment at birth or challenged and changed our gender-destiny.
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