In Defense of Excluding Transwomen from Feminist Spaces

Washington, DC (TFC) – Like many trans-critical feminists, I have a serious problem with transwomen who demand access to female-only spaces. They’ll often use the following arguments:

“It’s transmisogynistic to exclude us from your feminist meeting!”
“It’s offensive for you to be suspicious of me just because I have a penis!”
“I’m a rape victim too, so I need to be in your safe space!”

So I would like to use this time, to defend the concept of transwomen-exclusive, female-only spaces. Literally it’s this simple: when a woman says “do not cross this line,” it means do not cross this line.

Better yet, I’ll give you some metaphors, because I know at least one person out there is going to be intentionally obtuse: 

– You don’t demand access to the funeral of a stranger, because you know that the people gathering there to mourn, share the specific lived experience of mourning the dead person

– You don’t demand access to the birthday party of a stranger, because you know that the people gathering there to party, share the specific lived experience of knowing and loving the birthday person

– Likewise, you should never demand access to a gathering of females, because you know that the people gathering there to talk, share the specific lived experience of being oppressed based on their female anatomy.


Lilong Dolrani, 5/22/2009 CC BY-SA 2.0

Certain events exist, to serve the needs of specific people, regarding a specific issue. Sometimes, that specific issue is the issue of being a woman who has a vagina/uterus/ovaries/etc.  Sometimes, we want to talk about our experiences of misogyny, and about our own bodies, without being corrected every 5 seconds by the Trans-Lingo Police. And we absolutely have that right. Just like transwomen have the right to make their own safe spaces, for transwomen-only.

That’s it, that’s all that needs to be said.

The fact that this even has to be explained, reminds me of conversations I’ve had with MRAs who can’t understand that there are contexts — many, in fact — in which their penises are not relevant to women. (Oops, did I say that out loud??)

But apparently, a group of women can’t simply say no and expect you to respect that. That isn’t good enough! Those women have to give you a good reason why you shouldn’t violate their boundaries!

This is what rape culture looks like. This is male-socialized entitlement.

And this is why, nowhere in this article, did I use the common defenses I see other gender-critics using (like “what if one of the women at this female-only gathering is a rape survivor?”). While it’s valorous to consider trauma survivors as needing extra attention and care, using Schrodinger’s Rape Victim as a defense only reinforces the idea that women have to justify their desire for private spaces, or that the trauma of women is a fit bartering tool (“I’ll trade you one PTSD for a 30-minute feminist meeting”). What if nobody in the female-only space is afraid of being raped? You know what, we’d still have the right to assemble as we please, without the intrusion of a male-bodied person.

To all my fellow trans-critical feminists, please consider the following: women don’t need a convincing reason before being granted privacy, agency and safety. We don’t need a reason at all. And to play into the transgenderists’ game of “Well, why shouldn’t transwomen be included in everything women do?!” by providing arguments to pacify the aggression and entitlement of the male ego, is counterproductive. Like, come the hell on. Do we really have to keep explaining to males that not everything is about their penis? Not everything is made for them?

It’s baffling to me when transwomen cry “transmisogyny” only moments after emotionally manipulating and punishing women for wanting to create a circle for people with a specific shared experience. The only misogyny I see here, is male-bodied and male-socialized people demanding that women put their own feelings aside, stop having boundaries, and let them into an intimate space, despite having done nothing to earn that trust. That’s misogyny. And we fail to see it for the predatory behavior it is, because we’ve all been well-trained to hear a woman say “no,” and interpret it as “convince me.”

I, for one, am tired of justifying my boundaries. The only people who should be justifying themselves here, are the transwomen that blatantly and violently refuse to back off when a woman says “no.”


Some great (well, disturbing) further-reading on the topic:

Trans* Women in My PTSD Group – a sexual abuse survivor describes how the behavior of trans women at her PTSD support group served as an obstacle to her healing

Why Women’s Spaces are Critical to Feminist Autonomy – the revolutionary aspects of female-only spaces, effectively explained, and with beautiful prose to boot!

Building Bridges – some thoughts from a transwoman on respecting women’s spaces