I love having friends who constantly challenge and educate me. Who are not afraid to call me out on my shit and say, “Christina, you fucked up. Stop talking about shit you may not know about.” That’s why I was so excited when one of my best friends posted a very valid and honest post on Facebook about the issue of abortion. I will not screenshot their Facebook post into this blog post, nor will I say their name, but I will give you a quick synopsis of what they said. They stated that, “abortion is not only a cis woman issue. Trans individuals need access to abortion and reproductive health as well. Many afab (assigned female at birth) trans individuals feel as though they have no voice and cannot have an opinion on the issue given mainstream feminism.”
I know it was a very quick post, yet those are the best ones such as in this case. It packed a punch and opened my eyes to an issue I had never truly thought about. I am a cis woman so when the topic of abortion is brought up I argue passionately for the subject as I do feel it is something that affects women everywhere. Although, as an ally, I had never thought about how abortion may affect the trans* community and afab trans* individuals.
In the last year, there has a been a recent push amongst reproductive and abortion rights activists to use more gender inclusive language where the focus for those who would need access to abortions is not only focused on cis women. But where there is a push for something there is a push that goes against it. There have been feminists who have stated that the use of gender inclusive language of pronouns would “. . . render half of the population, those who got pregnant, invisible.” (Link to article here)
That’s ridiculous. It even sounds ridiculous. How does using gender inclusive language render the female population invisible when a person obtaining an abortion should not solely be based on their gender? What I mean by that is, I view abortion as a solution to a problem that has happened in a person’s life. They may not have a lot of options and this may be the one act, the one solution, that gets them out of this problem. It is asinine to think that abortion can only be inclusive of cisgender women when it should all-inclusive to transgender men and non-binary individuals as well. Those who are a part of the transgender community face not only discrimination within society but also discrimination within the medical field and failure to use gender inclusive language when talking about abortion rights only furthers the problem and limits the trans* community's accessibility to medical and reproductive services as they do face increased discrimination.
The issue of abortion rights has always been viewed as a woman’s problem, an issue that only affects women and their bodies, but that is a basic and limited way of viewing the abortion rights issue. Unfortunately, that mindset and that view of abortion rights is what drives the abortion rights cause. Many feminists feel as though by not specifically using the term women or talking directly to women you are leaving them out of the conversation. Those who are a part of the mainstream feminists movement have gone so far as to create an ultimatum, “. . . To address privilege in the movement threatens women and, therefore, strengthens patriarchy.” (Link to article here)
Inclusion makes a movement stronger as it causes more people to feel included and respected. What you may lose in individuals who do not agree with your new message, you make up for with integrity and respect towards new individuals who want to be a part of your movement once you started being more inclusive. Using gender-neutral language does not make women invisible, yet using and portraying the idea that only women need access to abortions does make the trans*, non-binary and genderqueer community feel invisible. I think when it comes to feminism, there's a history of feminists speaking out on injustices and issues that "white, upper class, cisgender women" (Link to article here) find to be important, yet not including, maybe even "othering" those who do not identify as "white, upper class, cisgender women". I think those a part of the feminist movement, including myself, need to do our part in portraying those who are a part of oppressed groups, not only women, and not only the groups many feminists may feel comfortable with. The first step to making those who are a part of oppressed groups feel included is to start using inclusive language.