Ten thoughts on: Jenni Murray: “Be trans, be proud — but don’t call yourself a ‘real woman'”

7. Just because a trans woman might worry about clothes and hair and makeup, doesn’t make her any less of a woman

She dismisses Carol Stone, a transgender woman member of the clergy as being less of a woman because she is worried about what to wear. This is absurd on so many levels.

Firstly almost every woman I know has at one time or another mentioned that they have x event coming up and they need to find something appropriate to wear. Should women feel under pressure to look a certain way? No. Do they? Yes. Furthermore, many women I know and respect as inspirational people and feminists get an enormous amount of pleasure from their clothes. Denying that clothing is not a part of women’s culture is naive.

Secondly, attacking women that chose to adopt a certain aesthetic is non-feminist. In her article, she says that she preferred to wear dungarees as a child. It would be offensive of me to suggest that this makes her less of a woman. So to attack another woman on her anxiety about clothing is equally offensive. As a feminist, I believe in a woman’s choice to chose to present however she wants.

Thirdly, clothing and appearance was a big anxiety for me in the earlier days of my transition. It’s really hard to know what doesn’t look stupid at the beginning. As she points out late transitioning women haven’t been socialised as women for most of their lives and have a pretty steep learning curve. Show some empathy.

But most significantly, what she is attacking, is Carol Stone’s vacuousness in that moment and her lack of understanding the bigger issue that she could be representing as a person with a platform. This doesn’t make her less of a woman. I have found that as I’ve gained confidence in what to wear and how I want to present and have experienced the harsher realities of living as a woman, much more of my mental energy has been available to understand and become vocal about the bigger issues. Citing a nearly two decade old conversation with a brave woman at the start of her transition is misleading at best. I suspect that if Carol was interviewed before her death in 2014, her thinking would have moved forward as she has grown into her womanhood.

It’s also worth noting that the world has moved on in seventeen years; In the year 2000, the debate about feminism let alone trans issues was radically different.

Next page… Number 8

  • skyler

    Thank you! Some people tend to think that male chauvinists treat people based on their chromosomes rather than on behaviour! I think everyone should be free to live the way they feel comfortable! We can’t brand people as mentally-ill for being homosexual, likewise we can’t pinpoint transgenders for their difference! Everyone’s different, if we follow the trans-exclusionary logic, we should create a wide spectrum of categories to tag people. Not everyone’s got the same experience of life, but we must keep in mind that persecution is not acceptable anyway, people don’t need you to be a woman or black person to harass you!

    • Amy Collins

      Thanks for reading and your comment. Your point about excluding different groups of women was precisely what I was alluding to on the last page. Middle class, educated, straight white cisgender women shouldn’t get to dictate which classes of women they want in their club.