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"Menacing Feminism, Educating Sisters" by Robert J. Hill

Below is an excerpt from Robert J. Hill's article he presented at conferences. He cites his interview with Emi as well as her The Transfeminist Manifesto. (I did tell him that I dislike this "sisters" model, but oh well...)

Menacing Feminism, Educating Sisters
Robert J. Hill
Adjunct Faculty, Humanities Program
PennState Capital College


One respondent offered, "What I experience as a transexual woman is exactly what other women experience, but on a much deeper level, in my view. I could cite examples from employment discrimination to child adoption to rape and hate crime. I believe, and have for decades, that the experiences of transexual women could be a great benefit to women everywhere. But this never gets articulated because we remain the 'bastard stepchildren' of the women's movement. We are an image problem and a public relations nightmare to them. It is sad, but true."

In contrast, another reflected, "it's futile [and flawed] to insist that we trans women are 'just like' non-trans women; as a group, we have distinct experiences...and are different in certain ways from non-trans women as a group. We are pretty unique, so to speak....However, we are not so unique that our experiences put us outside of the feminist constituency." For example, Koyama (1999), a respondent, wrote, "transfeminism cuts through all of the major themes of third wave feminism: diversity, postmodern identities, body image/consciousness, self-definition, and female agency." It has been pointed out that this "is not merely about merging trans politics [with] feminism, but it is a critique of the second wave feminism from third wave perspectives."

Koyama also points to the diverse strands of "transfeminism." Transfeminism has at least two distinct expressions in the trans community. One is the application of feminist perspectives to the trans-discourse, aptly called "transsexual feminism." The individuals espousing this are feminist transsexuals; people who bring feminist principles to transsexual discourse. The publication, TransSisters: The Journal of Transsexual Feminism, champions this perspective. In its statement of purpose, the journal reports, in part, to "[give] voice to the ideas, feelings, concerns, and perspectives of transsexual end the misperceptions that transsexuality and feminism are end the invisibility and marginalization of transsexual persons within the feminist promote feminist consciousness within the transsexual community ...[and] to [empower] transsexual persons through feminist principles." This is premised on an extrinsic acceptance of transsexuals as women, and of women as humans deserving equality and justice. External acceptance of any group however does not ensure that a culturally democratic process is operative.

A second manifestation is "transfeminism." This strand is more than a transsexual reading of feminism. It is about establishing transfeminism within the mainstream of feminism with specific content that relates to transsexuals' experiences, but which are applicable to all women. Transfeminism has characteristics unique and special to the trans community. When articulated, this trans/vision makes the family of feminisms (Marxist-, radical-, clack-, lesbian-, socialist-feminism, etc.) richer.

A scholarly illumination of this is found in the unpublished writings of Emi Koyama. Her work, titled The Transfeminist Manifesto, should become mandatory reading for those interested in feminism in general and transfeminism in particular. In it Koyama contends that "transfeminism is primarily of and for trans women who view their liberation to be intrinsically linked to the liberation of women as a whole. It is also open to other queers, intersex people, trans men, non-trans women as well as non-trans men who are sympathetic towards the needs of trans women and consider their alliance with trans women to be essential for their liberation (Koyama, 1999)."