March 8th is International Women’s Day, a commemoration that’s been happening on this date every year since 1911. My mother was born ten years later, and thinking back to her life, her opportunities, and her world, it’s amazing how much progress there’s been here in the United States.
Still, it’s nowhere near enough. This year’s International Women’s Day theme is “make it happen”, which can be interpreted in a number of ways. Most will associate that with taking relevant action in the pursuit of women’s empowerment and gender equality (or at least equity), but I’d argue that what most needs to happen is to make changes in the way we think about women. And about being women, or the parents of girls who will become the future of women. And yes, we need to have some serious and long overdue thinking about men and their relationship to women.
My perspective isn’t the same as most women’s. You see, as a transsexual woman I arrived at my womanhood through a back door, in my 50s, and never experienced a girlhood. A small part of me continues to mourn that loss when I marvel at my daughter’s blossoming as a young woman, when I see any girls happily at play, or when I note young women enjoying respect and admiration. I reflect on the girl trapped all that time within me, and what she missed. Many women are quick to remind me that being a girl or a young woman has some remarkably difficult challenges; society, the media, “traditional values”, and the still resilient patriarchy in every country influences, constrains, exploits, confounds, and diminishes the dignity and freedom of girls and women. You might think that in 2015 we would know better, but we don’t. We’re not even close. When I recently read the comments of convicted Indian rapist Mukesh Singh’s opinions expressed in a BBC documentary, I knew that these views are an extreme case – but not an uncommon one. Continue reading International Women’s Day – A Trans Woman’s Thoughts