Over the weekend CBC published an opinion piece by Jessica Triff, which wraps itself in a misleading critique of “in-your-face activism” to assert that trans women who have not received hormone treatment, gender therapy, and gender confirmation surgery should be denied access to women’s spaces under the guise of reasonable safety restrictions. This position is transphobic. The author being a trans woman does not negate that fact.
In the course of transition, trans women who wish to receive gender-affirming care face long wait times, a shortage of physicians willing or able to provide treatment, and extensive transition-related costs not covered by our medical system. To set hormone treatment, gender therapy, and gender confirmation surgery as the benchmark to womanhood is to put it beyond the reach of many in the trans community. It is anti-poor, and it is cruel.
Furthermore, some trans women elect not to undergo some aspects of transition as is their right to bodily autonomy. There is no right way to “look like a woman,” which is evident because cis women can also receive anti-trans harassment when they fail to conform to traditional cissexist heteronormative gender standards.
Trans women face many of the same forms of oppression that cis women face, including sexism, misogyny, intimate partner violence, and sexual assault. They have a right to safe access to spaces that align with their gender, as do cis women. One’s access to those spaces does not impede on the other.
Claire Yacishyn (she/her)
Project Manager, TransSask Support Services