Feminist Writer Laurie Penny Demonstrates How to Write About Women’s Oppression and Be Trans Inclusive

in Real Talk

Writing about LGBTQ issues can be challenging. Our acronym covers so many different identities and experiences that treating our community as a single entity doesn’t always make sense. Over-generalization can quickly lead to no longer speaking to anyone’s experience. Certain topics resonate more with a transgender lesbian audience, than say with a cisgender gay one – and that’s OK!

That being said, we can be different and still stand as one. Just like uniting our great diversity under one acronym is essential for strengthening each other, it’s also essential for us to learn how to discuss complex issues without disregarding our own diversity. There lies the true challenge of inclusivity.

At its core, inclusivity is an exercise in awareness and rethinking how we discuss the world around us. Earlier this week, feminist author Laurie Penny found herself at the heart of a “Twitter Gender Theory War” around “the biological and reproductive basis of women’s oppression” and trans inclusivity.

The spat kicked off with Penny sharing how the stigma around dysmenorrhea (a.k.a period pain) affects her work life:

Journalist and feminist campaigner against sexual violence, Julie Bindel, challenged Penny’s inclusion of “other people with wombs” calling it “nonsense”. Penny was presumably referring to trans men and non-binary individuals, some of whom have wombs. Bindel’s comment is a sad example of how many old-guard feminists are not trans-allies. Even the feminist legend Germaine Greer has expressed transphobic views, particularly with regards to MTF trans people.

Penny tackled Bindel’s comment in a three-part response:

Being trans-inclusive doesn’t mean cisgender women have to stop talking about the biological and reproductive basis of women’s oppression. Being trans-inclusive doesn’t negate cisgender experience, but failing to be inclusive negates transgender experience. Laurie Penny shows just how easy it is for cisgender and transgender people with different experiences to still stand as one.

Bindel accused Penny of only including “and other people with wombs” to avoid getting “masses of flak” and being “accused of ‘trans-phobia’.” Ironically, the most flak Penny has received has been for adding the parenthesis, something she didn’t fail to point out:

Why do you think different minorities have so much trouble supporting each other?

Photo: Basso Cannarsa/LUZphoto/Redux

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