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Trans Inclusion/Exclusion

in response to an inquiry

Forum: WMST-L
Date: 02/28/2001

I am working on a paper that makes an argument for inclusion of trans women in feminist movements. I draw parallels between trans exclusion and the exclusion of lesbians and women of colour during the '70's and '80s.

I hope that you read my article, "Whose Feminism is it Anyway? The Unspoken Racism of the Trans Inclusion Debate," which basically argues that the argument for and against inclusion of trans people in "women's" spaces as expressed by white middle-class lesbian feminists and white middle-class trans activists are both based on the same racist assumptions that radical women of color have been criticizing for decades. It is found at the "reading corner" within my web site,

what I am looking for are contemporary writings of feminists who felt that issues of queer women or women of colour did not need to be addressed by the feminist movement. I've been trying unsuccessfully to find good examples of this, so any help would be very much appreciated.

I hear frequently people expressing this sentiment, and I do witness them in writing on some feminist discussion boards and customer reviews, but I doubt that any reputable feminist scholar or activist would allow themselves to be associated with such a comment - that is, unless you include anti-feminist feminism as a branch of feminism.

In the article I mentioned above, I pointed out how some trans activists, not familiar with previous contributions by feminists of color, express sentiments similar to what you are looking for. This makes sense, because transsexual women are often viewed as "not real" women, and so, in order to prove that they are "real women" (whatever that means) they feel compelled to be more extremely women-centered, unfortunately forgetting that women's movement is not the only struggle worthy of their effort.

While I criticized their failure to recognize such issues as racism and classism as valid feminist issues, I can identify with that as a Japanes American. I feel that this is similar to how Japanese American soldiers of my grandfather's generation felt compelled to behave extremely heroically almost to the point of recklessness in order to prove their loyalty to the United States when their national identity was challenged and questioned.

Frankly, though, I want to *so* get over the stage where we are talking about whether or not to include trans people, and begin focusing on what trans people are contributing to the feminist discourse, because trans feminists are out there doing great work whether or not you want to include them. One of the goals of the intersex & trans feminisms anthology I am co-editing is to transform this unproductive and dehumanizing discursive landscape. While the anthology won't be in market until next year, it looks awesome and I wish I could deliver it to you soon... My co-editor and I will be speaking on transfeminism and third wave feminisms at Yale University on April 9 if you want to hear more about our work (or better yet, sponsor us to come to your school!).

Emi Koyama
-- * Putting the Emi back in Feminism since 1975.
No, it isn't an Eminem fan site.