March is the home to both Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day. To celebrate, I headed to the University of Texas at Austin campus to investigate how the terminology surrounding women has changed and ask students if they would be comfortable sharing their spaces with trans-women.
Starting off with what it’s like to be a woman today, I was immediately met with a plethora of gender identities and the subject of trans-women was brought up.
"There definitely is some setbacks and challenges," one student began, "I’m queer and so I have some problems with that from a religious standpoint."
Another student shared that she was non-binary but still identified "as a mostly feminine person." A third student went on about the struggles women go through for their gender, "especially if you take into account trans-femme people."
Continuing on, I ran into a male student wearing a skirt, who shared that he had identified as a man for most of his life, but that he recently decided to change his gender to "any at this point."
Recently, Hershey’s released a Women’s History Month ad for their chocolate featuring a trans-woman. I asked students about this recent shift and what their thoughts were on biological men being platformed during a month dedicated to women.
"I think trans-women are women," the queer student shared. "However you choose to present yourself, you are a woman, you don’t even need to have any gender affirmation surgery." Another student shared that we need to be platforming trans-women because "they are women."
"Trans-women are oppressed and stuff," another student shared. Her non-binary friend piped in, saying that "trans-women of color should be uplifted the most just because they have the most oppression facing them."
Trans-women overtaking women’s voices and gender has been an issue. However, a more pressing debate surrounds these biological men being allowed into women’s bathrooms and locker rooms.
As society has become more progressive, more reports of transgender women exposing their male genitalia have become more common. Transgender swimmer Lia Thomas, a biological male who took first place during the 2022 NCAA Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships, has been at the forefront of this issue. Thomas was recently back in the news after a former teammate accused Thomas of exposing his genitals to female teammates in the locker room.
Another report out of California centered around 17-year-old Rebecca Philips, who pleaded for help from her local city council after seeing a naked man walking around the women’s locker room at her local YMCA. When she brought her concerns to YMCA staffers, they shared that the "transgender woman" had the right to be there. Local media also ended up scolding the teen for speaking out, sharing that regarding the trans-woman, "She is a woman and she says she is a woman, period. That’s where it ends."
This follows 80-year-old Julie Jaman, who was permanently banned from her local YMCA after she spoke out against a transgender employee who was present in the women’s shower area. She alleged the employee was watching young girls undress and demanded to know if he had a penis. The employee refused to respond and Jaman was ultimately banned for "discrimination," per the New York Post. She shared that there were no signs or warnings to women that they would be sharing their showers with biological men who identify as women.
Last year, another California trans-woman, who was already facing multiple felony charges for sexual indecency, was faced with a new charge after four women filed a charge for "indecent exposure" after he exposed himself in front of a young child in the WiSpa locker room. Four women and a young girl allege he was "partially erect" while walking around the women’s section of the spa.
Seeing that this has become an increasing issue, I asked college women if they would feel comfortable sharing their bathrooms and locker rooms with trans-women. Every single woman said that they would feel comfortable. I then followed with the fact that some women have felt unsafe due to trans-women being biologically male.
"That’s bulls**t," a green-haired student countered. "Trans-women are women just like I’m a woman. I’m a cis-gendered woman, but just as much as I’m a woman so are trans-women so they deserve every right that I have," she stated.
Another student shared that unless one was supportive of the trans community the conversation shouldn’t even be had. She went on to state that she had never heard of any situation in which a trans-woman had exposed themselves in a locker room and felt that it "was not an issue." These points were repeated by every other woman I interviewed on campus.
I finished by asking the skirt-clad, gender-fluid student if any man who decided to "identify as a woman" would be equal to me as a biological female.
"Well it’s complicated because this is a social phenomenon," he explained. "There’s presenting as a woman, people interpreting you as a woman, there’s also what you feel internally, whether you feel like a woman or not, they’re all kind of intermingled and different." He then finished by going back to the point that if "they identify as a woman then they’re just a woman" and stated that trans-women are more oppressed than biological women in the modern day.
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Remind me next month