“Trans women are a type of woman, just as women of color, disabled women, and Christian women are types of women. Just as you would be bigoted to deny these women their womanhood, so would you be to deny trans women of theirs.” -- Raquel Willis.
Raquel Willis describes himself as a "black queer transgender activist, writer, and media maven dedicated to inspiring and elevating marginalized individuals, particularly transgender women of color." And this week he felt inspired to elevate himself to the easy-to-obtain, low status of black woman.
My heart hurts that this discussion will be lost because the transgender discussion is protected right now. Black people continue to have their real struggles overshadowed or disregarded by the latest sexual desire. So homosexuals decided that they shared in the Civil Rights fight of the sixties, having never been denied personhood -- ever -- and black people rolled over and did nothing. And now, transgender individuals lay claim to the civil rights advances made at the cost of black lives. We watch it. We hear it all lumped into one category, rendering the category pointless, and we say nothing.
I will say something. For a man to say he is a woman, just a different "type" -- like black women -- is hurtful, offensive, and reminiscent of a time when black women were actually viewed as manly or not as feminine as white women in America. Don’t you remember the time when black women, especially darker black women, were accepted as “sort of” female? Yes, that was a thing. Black women carry with them the painful history of having been used for gynecological experimentation without anesthesia because they didn’t experience pain like white women. Yes, that was a belief.
Black women can be separated from their children at will because they are stronger than white women -- ya know ... a different type of woman: manly. Even as recently as 2011, black women were left reeling after a British academic published a “study” that concluded black women were less attractive than the women of other ethnic groups. Which groups? Like, any other groups. In trying to explain his findings, which were actually published in the U.S. by Psychology Today, the evolutionary psychologist said, “The only thing I can think of that might potentially explain the lower average level of physical attractiveness among black women is testosterone. Africans on average have higher levels of testosterone than other races … women with higher levels of testosterone have more masculine features and are therefore less physically attractive."
Yep, he said that.
So excuse me while I don’t congratulate transgender activist Raquel Willis for stumbling upon a convenient yet offensive comparison. How dare this man draw upon the pain of black women, exploiting hundreds of years of offense and degradation because he feels he’s a woman! I am a woman, a black woman, and the comparison is disgusting to me. The Mammy, Aunt Jemima, Sapphire of Amos, and Andy fame -- all of these depictions of black women have one thing in common: the masculinization of black women in white society. They are grotesque mischaracterizations of who black women are. Those stinging depictions remain in various forms today, and black women have fought hard to reverse the stereotypes that resulted from them.
In tears we’ve asserted we respect our husbands and expect them to lead. We’ve declared our love for our children. We’ve reminded the world that we cry when we experience loss. All of this and more because we had to say it; it wasn’t a given. We don’t measure our femaleness on a scale. We are women, and calling us "strong" doesn’t mean we don’t feel.
We’re not a type of woman; we are women, and we deserve the consideration and protection afforded women in general. So don’t set us back by claiming to be a woman “like black women are women.” You’re not. You are a man who now feels inclined to identify as a woman. And painfully, you are a depiction of precisely the image black women have spent hundreds of years trying to shake. Is Rachel Dolezal a type of black woman? Is the question offensive? For obvious reasons, it should be. And for obvious reasons, black men cannot be called a type of black woman.