Some personal reflections on two recent events:

The first, and I will not link to the source of this story for their own protection, was a Lesbian woman watching a Dyke march who came across a Transwoman, on the march, with their penis on display. It was a public march and a Transwoman felt it was acceptable to display their penis without any concern for those around them. Regardless of your political beliefs, I don’t think it’s too much to ask that genitalia not be displayed in public. It’s not generally considered particularly people-friendly.

1 in 4 women are victims of male sexual violence. At least 25% of the women born women on the Dyke march will have been a victim of male sexual violence. Other Transwomen will have experienced male sexual violence. Displaying one’s penis in public isn’t a form of protest. It is the belief that you are more important than anyone else around you, including children who really don’t need to be exposed to the genitalia of complete strangers in the middle of the road. I would go as far as to suggest that this was a form of sexual harassment with the deliberate intention to trigger women.

The second incident I came across on a blog. I’m not going to link to the blog or name the Transwomen who wrote these statements on twitter. Instead, I’d like the statements to stand for themselves.

If cis women were forced into sterilisation and criminalised for having sex we would hear about it. Trans women though, few care.

As a woman I can never have kids b/c of cissexism. Where is the outrage that trans ppl are being sterilised for being poor? Nowhere.

I was going to ignore both of these statements because, frankly, the lack of basic knowledge of 20th century is just embarrassing.  Then I googled and discovered that this complete ahistorical understanding of sterilisation isn’t necessarily uncommon. It is predicated on the fact that the hormones Transgender people take render them infertile. Clearly this is true. But, is it “forced sterilisation”?. I take the definition of forced sterilisation to mean without consent. Transgender people take hormones with consent [except in the case of Iran where Gay men and Lesbians are forcibly required to transition in order to cure them from being homosexual]. Becoming sterile is a consequence. It isn’t a nice consequence but it’s a consequence many women born women experience when they have treatment for cancer, degenerative conditions like arthritis and even mental illness. It may not be a nice choice to make but it is not the same as “forcible sterilisation”.

Many millions of women born women [and men] have been sterilised in the past 150 years without consent.

It’s called eugenics.

Even if you know nothing about the history of North America [and particularly the state of California], most Western-educated people should have heard of Nazi Germany. The Nazis sterilised a lot of people: for being “asocial” or “subhuman”. The Nazis forcibly sterilised women convicted of prostitution, those deemed mentally unwell, people with learning disabilities, physical disabilities and anyone else who didn’t meet their specific ideals of the Aryan nation. They sterilised prostitutes and women with “inappropriate political beliefs’. In the concentration camps, men had their testes removed in surgeries performed without pain killer. Women’s uteruses were injected with toxic chemicals. And, these were some of the “experiments” which people managed to survive. The first people the Nazis murdered were the mentally and physically disabled to prevent them from reproducing their defective genes.

Eugenics is still codified in law across the world. Look at American states which require women [and usually only those of colour] to be sterilised in order to receive state benefits. These “non-permament” forms of sterilisation have a nasty habit of being permanent; not withstanding the issue of medicaid only paying for the original treatment. If the women react badly to the coil or other forms of not-quite temporary sterilisation, they have to pay to have it removed themselves.

Until recently, Sweden required all Transgender people to be forcibly sterilised before transitioning. That is “forced sterilisation”. Choosing to take hormones which make you sterile is not the same as the government sterilising you without your consent or being required to be sterilised before transitioning.

Claiming that no “ciswomen” have ever been sterilised without their consent is asinine and simply wrong. It demonstrates a rather remarkable inability to understand women’s lived experiences. Transwomen who are poor aren’t the only ones who lack reproductive choice. Many women cannot conceive and cannot afford the very expensive medical treatments required to test why they are infertile. Not all women-born-women are fertile. Some can conceive but can never carry a fetus to term. This is the reality of women.

Women are also frequently criminalised and labelled “asocial” for having sex. Ask any rape victim who has been told it’s their fault or any child in Afghanistan who is forced to marry their rapist. Teenage girls who get pregnant are treated as pariahs and blamed for the destruction of society whilst the boys who help get them pregnant are never held responsible. Women are labelled sluts and denigrated in the press for having sex whilst men are celebrated for being sexually promiscuous. Prostituted women are criminalised for selling sex but the men that buy them suffer no real consequences, even when they rape or torture prostituted women.

I know these examples are only of two Transwomen but, increasingly, I becoming extremely uncomfortable, particularly on twitter, with the discourse that Transgender people should not be held accountable for the consequences of their actions or words because they are vulnerable. Millions of people are vulnerable. Making statements which are clearly fallacious helps no one. Allowing someone to state such ridiculous things without pointing out their historical inaccuracy is enabling behaviour and it is good for no one.

Particularly not the millions of people forcibly sterilised who are erased from this narrative of victimhood.