International Women’s Day (IWD) is billed as a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call for accelerating gender parity. As a lesbian woman living in the UK today, IWD is something I am extremely proud of. I am proud of my achievements – finding love, raising three cats and walking 12 miles with my beautiful soon to be wife (cardio wise I was fine, but wow did my legs ache!).
On a serious note though, I am proud of my career achievements – winning Leicester Pride’s Unsung Hero Award for my work with trans and non-binary youth was a real highlight. Culturally, I am proud to be able to be open about my sexuality and still lead the life I lead – without feeling like I have to hide.
I’m not just proud of myself, I am proud of all women. Women from different demographics of society and from all across the globe. I am proud of those women who strive on even when they face persecution; perhaps for their sexuality, their gender or for being too outspoken for change. I am proud to call them my sisters.
WHAT MAKES ME A WOMAN? HOW DO I KNOW I AM A WOMAN?
But what makes me a woman? How do I know I am a woman? Do you know something, I would love to know the answer to that so that I could tell you. Is it my genitalia and chest that make me feel like a woman? Is it that people refer to me as ‘her’ and ‘she’ and that feels okay to me? Perhaps, the latter yes. But truth be told I don’t know why I feel I am a woman and why it feels okay when people refer to me as female. It just does.
In the same way that I don’t know why I am okay with being a woman, I accept, respect and welcome with open arms that trans women and non-binary trans women feel they too belong in this category or label and that this identity fits in some way with them. They too are my sisters.
Some people believe that trans women are men using a gender pretence to invade female spaces or that because they grew up being perceived as male they don’t belong and can’t be female as they don’t understand the hardship or injustices that women face. Of course, everyone is entitled to their own views, but these views aren’t mine.
WE SHOULD ALL ACCEPT TRANS WOMEN FOR WHO THEY REALLY ARE
Trans women and non-binary trans women face hardship and persecution of their own; invisibility, dismissive and judgemental attitudes, verbal, physical and sexual abuse and sadly the list goes on. So this IWD I believe with all of my being, that we should all be accepting trans women and non-binary trans women for who they really are. The lengths that trans women and non-binary trans women go to just to be able to be their true authentic selves and be recognised for who they are and as women, often goes untold. With this in mind, how can anyone criticise them for not being real women or not be accepting of them as part of our sisterhood?
So today I am celebrating my own achievements, the achievements of all women all across the world and I’ll remember all those wonderful young trans women and young non-binary trans women I have worked with and supported to be their true authentic selves. They too are my sisters and they too deserve to be celebrated.