Editor’s Note: We received this statement from a trans friend in the Occupy Wall Street movement and are publishing it here to highlight the importance of inclusiveness in our movement. We denounce transphobia in all its forms and stand in solidarity with our transgender comrades.
As feminists, we enthusiastically support women’s groups and women designated safer spaces, but as trans women and allies, we oppose (and will categorically block) any group or space that excludes trans women, as well as any standard that functionally asserts authority over our self-determined gender identities. Most immediately, all of us—transgender and cisgender alike—must stand together to block the trans-excluding aﬃnity groups “Women Occupying Nations” and “Strong Women” from Spokes Council participation.
By denying the existence of cisgender privilege and furthering the disempowerment of trans women, trans-excluding groups and spaces violate both the letter and spirit of our Principles of Solidarity. The elimination of systemic oppression against marginalized people is a core goal of the Occupy movement, but self-identiﬁed “womyn-born-womyn” do not constitute a marginalized group relative to other types of women. Throughout the world, trans women are among the people most marginalized by systemic oppression. In the U.S., trans women face extreme violence (a 1-in-12 chance of dying from a violent crime), poverty (ﬁfty percent unemployment rate) and criminalization (trans women, especially trans women of color, are routinely subject to police proﬁling).
To ﬁght this systemic oppression—including transphobia, cis-centrism, cis-supremacy, and trans-misogyny—it is essential we support the self determination of all people oppressed by coercive, non-consensual gender assignments.
Allowing any group or space to deﬁne gender by cis-centric standards is intrinsically at odds with gender liberation and trans people’s right to autonomous self-determination. It is a fundamental aﬀront to solidarity.
For decades—from the Stonewall Rebellion to Occupy Wall Street—trans women have stood at the forefront of social justice movements, often at great personal risk. But even within these movements, trans women have been excluded, silenced, shamed, and abandoned as political liabilities. Since mid-July, trans women have played a critical role in OWS, including the creation and operation of OccupyWallSt.org, the de facto voice of the global Occupy movement. Nonetheless, we are prepared to leave the New York General Assembly and its empowered Spokes Council en masse if trans-excluding groups, spaces, and individuals continue to be tolerated by this body.
Over 50 groups have already signed on to a trans-inclusive safer spaces policy (and any group which has not is encouraged to join!), but for Occupy Wall Street to hold true to its Principles of Solidarity, we must take the additional
step of ensuring that trans people’s identities are respected, and that trans women are safe and welcome in all women’s spaces.
Block Or We Walk.
Signed, a bunch of trans women occupiers.
About This Statement:
I am a homeless trans woman and sex worker from D.C. who has organized in trans communities for years. I am also a trauma survivor and a person with psychiatric disabilities. While serving as spokes for the Queering OWS caucus at the November 9th meeting of the New York City General Assembly empowered Spokes Council, I suﬀered a severe panic attack triggered by the angry and extra-procedural discussion of heavy topics like rape and racism. Along with several other trans women present at the meeting, I was alarmed that many of these disturbances involved a notoriously
disruptive, unrecognized aﬃnity group calling itself Women Occupying Nations. I have also heard that other spaces within the occupation—including spaces designed for survivors of assault—may be hostile to or excluding trans women. As a rape survivor, and given the fact that trans women are more likely to be victims of sexual assault than cis women, I am shocked to see a culture of transphobia attempting to co-opt OWS. For these reasons, I have partnered with members of the NYCGA queer, women’s, and people of color caucuses (as well as trans and trans-allied supporters of the Occupy movement more broadly) to author this statement.
1. For the purposes of this document, we use trans women broadly to refer to all male-assigned and intersex, non-
male-identiﬁed people who feel they have a place in womens spaces. For deﬁnitions and background, see this Trans
101 Glossary at The Distant Panic: http://thedistantpanic.com/glossary
2. This would include any policy that deﬁnes gender by individuals coercively-assigned-sex-at-birth, current or
former body type, assumed socialization, or adherence to medical standards. Even if such a group or policy were to
include certain types of trans people but exclude others based on arbitrary distinctions, it is still transphobic and
oppressive. For example, some people – including segments of the trans community itself – allow trans women who
have had genital reconstruction surgeries to enter women-only spaces, but continue to endorse the exclusion of trans
women who have not had such procedures. Even when supported by a trans woman, such ideologies violate trans
peoples self-determination and are contrary to the goals of trans liberation. Many trans women elect not to have such
surgeries, while others simply cannot have them for health reasons. Additionally, the exclusion of non/pre-operative
trans women is classist, as such procedures are extremely expensive. Most importantly, a central tenet of feminism
asserts that a person should not be deﬁned by their (past, present, or future) biological bodies. Sex and gender
are socially-constructed categories; there is nothing inherently male about any type of body, and possessing certain
genitalia does not make a person more likely to be violent. For more on the myth that trans women experience male
socializations see Tobi Hill-Meyers article Language, Reality, and My Trans Girlhood.
3. “Recognizing individuals inherent privilege and the inﬂuence it has on all interactions” and “empowering one
another against all forms of oppression” are foundational Principles of Solidarity, consensed upon by the Liberty
Square General Assembly on September 23rd. http://nycga.net/resources/principles-of-solidarity/
4. The very idea of womyn-born-womyn spaces is connected to tangible histories of exclusion and transphobic
violence. The concept originated during the cis-supremacist witch hunts which sought to systematically remove trans
women from feminist organizations during the 1970s. Such policies have resulted in physical violence against trans
women and other gender non-conforming people, ranging from the denial of life-saving services and safer spaces for
women who are survivors of rape and sexual assault to the physical expulsion of trans women from feminist music
festivals. See Trans Women Belong Here (a group of women protesting trans-exclusion at Michigan Womyns Music
Festival) and The Curvatures blog post about Vancouver Rape Relief.
5. See the DC Trans Coalitions Reports and Research or Campaigns pages for more facts about trans oppression at