Yesterday, while USians were curled up at home feeling thankful and/or gluttonous, feminists around the world were celebrating a different day: the UN’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Few noticed in the US, I’m sure, because of their own major holiday, but there were things to note. In the coverage of the protests by Agence France-Presse, reporters noted that many demonstrations sang A Rapist In Your Path, a song written & first performed in Santiago, Chile.
One might think that Chileans would be particularly proud that a local protest song has become a worldwide dance anthem, translated into dozens if not hundreds of languages on its way to being performed on every continent. (Except Antarctica?) And likely many are, considering how many showed up to those protests, but the government in Santiago is not among the fans: they used water cannon on the dancers. Yes, in another spectacular example of Unclear on the Concept, feminists protesting violence against women were met with violence against women.
That doesn’t mean the news from yesterday is bad: we saw in the USA this summer that when Black Lives Matter protests were met with violence, the protests redoubled. The initial protests are something to celebrate and I look forward to even greater numbers showing up over time as the violent response to non-violent protest makes it ever more clear that action is needed.
But even that isn’t the end of what I’m thankful for in yesterday’s protests. Read this paragraph from AFP:
A large crowd of women and their supporters also marched in Mexico City, including native women, trans women, and relatives of people who have been murdered or have vanished during the country’s drug war.
20 years ago was the first time I marched in support of indigenous women – curiously in Canada, a dozen years before I had any thought of immigrating – and when I did so, I did it as an out trans woman. 24 or 25 years ago I first spoke at a demonstration in support of women’s reproductive rights, including abortion, in Portland. I spoke specifically as a trans woman who, though lacking a uterus, was intensely familiar with government efforts to control what I could and couldn’t do with my sexed body. Even longer ago than that I marched against the sexual and domestic violence that targets women, specifically as an out trans woman.
We’re drawing awfully close to 30 years since I first began using the word transfeminism casually with friends. I’ve lost track of exactly when the word first entered my writing and public speaking, but that was 1996 at the latest, and could easily have been 25 years ago.
When I first began talking about feminist solidarity between trans & cis women, the gulf was wide and incredibly difficult and dangerous to cross. Although there were more positive reactions than negative (and more bewilderment than either), there were times when I was harassed locally and had national feminist publications single me out for hatred and contempt for daring to speak, march & demonstrate on behalf of feminist causes.
But today AFP reports that trans people are an established part of the larger feminist coalition, marching beside our sisters and other siblings for just causes, for feminism, for an end to violence. And while I’ve seen similar first hand in Portland and in Vancouver and in Victoria, it delights me to see transfeminist action in the international news.
I could not be more proud or more thankful.