[ETA: this post comes with an All About Me warning.]
Tonight I spent one bright, washed-out hour in a cafe in Soho talking shop and solidarity with two wise and steadfast trans activists, and am now feeling brave enough to stick my head above the parapet. Yes, I have been following the fiasco over Friday's protest against Julie Bindel's appearance at Queer Question Time, with her dangerously transphobic views in tow. Yes, I read and was tremendously upset by the casual transmisogyny of Bea Campbell's attack on the peaceful protests, including shaming the event organiser for using the phrase 'having the balls'. Yes, I'm glad that a retort made it into the mainstream press, and was delighted to see the Guardian giving space to C L Minou, who very graciously namechecked my recent F Word piece. But more than anything, I'm sick of this fight.
I'm sick of this fight, this childish, pointless, energy-draining fight to include our trans sisters within the feminist movement. Got home to find out that no, the anti-transmisogyny workshop that Sarah and Sally and I had worked so hard to push onto the agenda at Feminism In London 2010 will not be happening. Despite the fact that the workshop was designed as an expression of much-needed solidarity between transsexual feminists and the rest of the movement, despite the work we did to set it up as a signal that despite the many, many instances of transphobic speech and action by cisfeminists in recent years, the wider movement is ready to grow the fuck up and make room for trans people within our debate spaces, the workshop was not deemed a priority. We're still holding out hope that the workshop can be held on an alternative date, and maybe that will happen, and maybe progress can be made. I will never stop agitating within the movement for the vital importance of building solidarity with transsexual feminist women. But right now, I'm sick of this fight.
I get to be sick of this fight, you see, because I'm cis.
Because I am a cissexual feminist, I can divert my energies elsewhere and return to fight another day. Transmisogyny is my problem, because it's every feminist's problem, but when you get down to it, I can still walk into the lavatories or changing rooms assigned to my chosen gender without fear of punishment. Yes, I'm genderqueer and a bit of a weekend butch, yes, I have been and will continue to be privileged to act as a mouthpiece for transsexual women who are unable to bring their terrible Y chromosomes into cisfeminist 'safe spaces'. But when you get down to it: I am cis. I can walk away. If I disagree with my cissexual sisters, I will still be allowed to march alongside them and demonstrate with them and work on common issues and raise my voice in sisterhood and solidarity.
Because I am a cissexual feminist, I can put these issues to one side as the movement prepares for the massive right-wing backlash that's rearing on the horizon, whatever the result of the next general election. I can help strategise over how best to defend against Tory plans to limit equal pay audits, to "put marriage back on the agenda", to attack abortion rights. And I know without a doubt that when the fightback begins, trans women will be standing beside me.
I know without a doubt that next time we need to march on Whitehall to defend women's right to choose to terminate pregnancy, trans women will be marching alongside me - even those who, like many cissexual women, do not happen to have the capacity to bear children themselves. I know that my trans sisters will be there, standing up for the right of all women everywhere to decide what happens to our bodies, standing up for our right to control our own physical destiny even if that upsets the moral majority. Because when a shuddering, bone-crunching beast of patriarchal, hierarchial backlash is coming over the hill, solidarity has to mean something - doesn't it?