TransGriot Note: This is a post I've written for Global Comment..
In the days since I wrote a post about finally claiming the womanist label and the warm welcome I've received since, I've had some of my white transsisters express movement envy and surprise that we transwomen of color would be embraced by our cisgender sisters of color.
Some of them have read about the principles of womanism, see the night and day comparisons and contrasts between it and feminism and asked if they can join the womanist ranks.
The answer I've heard from other womanists is no, and not for exclusionary reasons.
Womanism started because of profound disagreements between Black and white feminists over the shabby treatment of Black women inside and outside the feminist movement, the unacknowledged class privilege, and alarm over the transphobia being expressed by radical feminists.
There's also no love lost between some radical feminists and womanists as well on a wide variety of issues besides their hatred of transpeople.
While I emphatize with my white transsisters, womanism evolved because feminism became so narrowly defined, was blind to the ways that it ignored race and reinforced privilege, and became so toxically hostile to anyone who pointed out the obvious shortcomings that people left or disassociated themselves from it.
Just as you have conversations with various groups that we WOC aren't privy to that fall under the 'family business' label, there are conversations that womanists need to have as we explore the role of transwomen within the movement that fall under the same header.
The point I'm making is that you already have multiple social justice movements geared toward white people. Womanism is a FUBU production that we treasure and need to cultivate due to the constant infusion of fresh ideas that continue to fuel its growth and stimulate discussion on various topics.
I can understand why you’d want to be a part of a movement that is
growing, welcoming and continually evolving, while the feminist label
has become something to be reviled. Rush Limbaugh’s frequent use of the
‘feminazi’ epithet, spewed forth from his radio studio to the ears of
his dittoheads and feminism’s detractors, highlights the image problem
that has resulted from the stagnation and tainting of the feminist
If you truly want to embrace the good parts of feminism, then you’ll
need to fight within those circles with other transgender feminists and
your cisgender allies to make that happen. It’s going to be a long,
messy undertaking because the entrenched factions won’t make it easy for
you, but nothing worth fighting for is particularly easy.
You’ll have to respectfully demand your place, just like
African-American transpeople have done (and are still doing) to take our
rightful place with our allies at the African-American family table.
Until then, until feminism becomes more like womanism – in which all
people are respected and welcomed into the fold - and the issues that
caused the split in the first place are dealt with, it’ll probably be a
while before you see white women being accepted into the womanist