My previous transphobic views were made known to me when I started watching the series Transparent on Amazon Prime. Suddenly I had access to a positive narrative about a transgender woman who after an entire life of living as a man with a wife and family made a decision to transition to what she always had been. An earlier recognition of my flawed understanding of gender came from Laverne Cox's role in Orange is the New Black but I still lacked sympathy or proper acknowledgement of the validity of being transgender.
I am ashamed to admit that my conscious transphobia was influenced by radical feminists and Second Wave feminists some of whom believed that transgender women were not real women and were just men in disguise here to take our roles and rights all over again. Okay so a white woman who can present as a man can still take advantage of white male privilege but that really, really isn't the point. To argue that transgender issues are not a part of feminism, a movement which endeavours to provide equality for all women, is, I realise now, wrong and absurd.
I think that some feminists and women are afraid of the concept of transgender because it challenges what it means to be a woman. It's not just having a vagina that qualifies you for womanhood. I think that feminists fear that the attention will be taken away from reproductive rights, which are so important to women and to their womanhood, including mine, and that part of themselves will be diminished. But transgender women do not make the struggles of being a woman disappear. It is a different type of womanhood, and who are we to say that is wrong?
In fact what learning more about what it means to be transgender or non-binary through art, writing or otherwise, has taught me is that my own gender has been confined to a box and I am now understanding more about what it means to be me. I have learnt that I am more feminine than I am masculine and that I should celebrate my femininity because society is always trying to disempower it. I have learnt that my female body is important to me and my womanhood, but that it does not define it. I have learnt that I know that I am a woman simply because I just do, and I don't need to know the reason why, it is just instinct. I have learnt that I know nothing about what it means to be transgender and I am trying to understand it more everyday.
I've realised that I was completely wrong, and I am very sorry for that, but I am also very grateful to be able to love and feel empathy for more people in this world than I did before.