The Biotic Woman: Transphobia and Ecofeminism
Transphobia and anti-trans sentiments are not uncommon among ecofeminist writers and activists. It’s a disgusting and painful reality. Feminists working on all sorts of issues know that transphobia and anti-trans sentiments are not uncommon among radical groups of any kind that nevertheless label themselves as open and tolerant. What’s particularly disturbing to me is not that this happens in any one place—context aside, oppression sucks—but that in a movement of people working on issues around valuing all life, human and non-human alike, there are still vocal opponents of trans rights and inclusion. How completely bewildering and shameful.
I will admit that I was largely unaware of the anti-trans sentiments of many ecofeminist writers for many years because while I personally was drawing together my concerns for the environment, animal rights, and human rights, I wasn't reading a lot of the specifically veg*n/ecofeminist literature that has been so blatantly hurtful and anti-trans/transphobic. Becoming aware of this damaging, exclusionary legacy has been startling and disconcerting and outright shameful, and I'm honestly confused as to why this wasn't long ago dealt with by a feminist community that is (at least in my mind) supposed to be working to end all intersecting oppressions. Some ecofeminist writers—a disturbingly large proportion, in fact—have openly attacked transsexuals in the past, something that is often overlooked as these writers are eulogized or praised by up-and-coming activists. However, a few really terrific bloggers have been pointing out these contradictions for a while, especially L.O.V.E., The Vegan Ideal, and Questioning Transphobia.
I know as someone with cissexual privilege, it took me some time to learn how to recognize and undo my privilege, and it's something I continue to work on. For a long time, I was quite confused by trans issues, said some awfully hurtful things, and while I have learned a lot from my jarring missteps, there’s always space to improve. No one person can be expected to know all history, but it’s also our job as allies to educate ourselves.
I encourage you to read the links in this piece, as well as the pieces linked below, which shed more light on this problem than I eloquently can. I hope folks will take time to reflect on this and educate themselves instead of instantly responding, possibly defensively. In my next post, I’ll be talking to Ida Hammer, who runs the indispensable blog The Vegan Ideal and has long dealt with hostility as a trans women in veg*n/ecofeminist circles. Her words are wise and generous in the face of mistreatment, and I’m looking forward to further highlighting her incredibly insightful work.
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