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Transfeminism Revised

how I came to disagree with my "manifesto"

Forum: WMST-L
Date: 01/21/2004

On 1/20/04 9:57 PM, "Hannah Miyamoto" wrote:

I have paged through "Catching a Wave," and it seemed more conscious of race and class issues than "Manifesta." "Catching a Wave" has an article by Emi Koyama, which is why I was excited to examine it.

Well, thanks. But that is an article I wrote way back in 1999, which may not seem "way back" to some of you, but it is for me since that's when I was still working toward my bacheler's degree and had just moved to a big city for the first time in my life. As you know, it takes a long time for a paper to go through the publishing world...

The paper, "The Transfeminist Manifesto," is a radical feminist text that followed the radical feminist orthodoxy as closely as possible while attempting to make a pro-transsexual and transgender argument. The problem is that in the process I had to limit myself to defending only certain *kind* of trans people, while remaining silent about others because they did not fit into the radical feminist worldview that I was basing my argument on. Its consideration of race, class, and other social factors was also weak, because at the time I did not feel confident enough to challenge the primacy of sexism as the fundamental oppression.

At best, the paper was my attempt to reconcile the radical feminist views I had been taught at undergraduate Women's Studies courses and my frustration at a major bashing campaign against a transsexual woman friend that was happening at the time in Portland, Oregon lesbian community (you can read about this particular transphobic incident in Diana Courvant's piece, "Speaking of Privileges," in "This Bridge We Call Home" as well as Deke Law's "Evolution" in "This is What Lesbian Looks Like").

I have since come to disagree with much of what I wrote in the "Manifesto" itself, as I became more confortable discussing trans issues (and anti-racism, anti-classism, and so on) on its own merit rather than from within a preconceived framework, and so the published version of the "Manifesto" in "Cathing the Wave" now includes a "postscript" that explains this and invites more transfeminist manifestos to be produced.

So anyway--if any of you ever use this paper in the class, I'd appreciate it if you could specifically discuss this change in the author's perspectives as expressed in the "postscript" section.

Emi K.

-- * Putting the Emi back in Feminism since 1975.