What makes a woman? The short answer: just please don’t even go there. Professor Eleanor Burkett did. She isn’t down with gender neutrality. She isn’t down with reconceptualizing womanhood from her essentialist second-wave feminist standpoint. She doesn’t want to stop using words like “sisterhood” or “vagina.” She doesn’t like how Caitlyn came out as a full on glamazon sex babe. Given that Caitlyn is a conservative Republican, I’m not at all surprised, or bothered, though I do hope we adore all trans women, not just those who pass with flying colors. Burkett’s issue with Caitlyn is one over words: who has the right to speak for whom? Who has the right to claim an identity, an experience? As Dana Beyer writes, that Caitlyn’s bombshell looks and love of nail polish “doesn’t make first or second or even third wave feminists comfortable is not necessarily a bad thing, as most American women identify as none of the above.” And while Professors Burkett is penning her New York Times Sunday op-eds, on May 31st, Francela Méndez Rodríguez, a transgender woman who was a prominent activist in El Salvador was killed. While we worry about what makes a woman, 67 percent of anti-LGBTQ murder victims were trans women of color. Trans people were 7 times as likely “to experience physical violence when interacting with the police” than cisgender people. Transgender people are “four times as likely to have a household income under $10,000 and twice as likely to be unemployed” than most people in the United States. What makes a human, man or woman or neither or both, deserving of such violence? While everyone might not buy into Caitlyn’s style (though can anyone really argue that she isn’t so so fucking hot?), she still has the potential and the promise of highlighting the lives of trans folk who don’t have her opportunities, her liberties, her safety. So, where’s the good fight: squabbling over who gets to carry the “woman” banner in the great feminist parade, or raising awareness and support for all human beings who suffer from gender-based violence? Get with it Eleanor!
Fuck That Noise indulges skepticism. It doesn’t buy into your bullshit, but it doesn’t write it off either. Instead it’s leaves you with more questions than answers.