As you’ve probably heard, Sarah Silverman recently starred in a National Women’s Law Center fundraising video. The purpose of the video was to draw attention to gender inequality as it relates to wages.
In the video, Silverman decides that to combat what she refers to as “the vagina tax,” making less money than men doing the same job, she would get a sex change. a She chooses the type of penis she’d like and magically is accepted into the boy’s club as soon as the surgery is complete. It’s silly, it’s mocking, and it’s absolutely unacceptable.
As a die hard feminist, I agree that something should be done to eliminate the wage gap. I believe that gender itself is an outdated construct that should fade into irrelevance as soon as possible, but that’s for another day. There is no gender more apt or more qualified than any other. Equal pay is not only the correct option, but there is no alternative that is acceptable.
However, the trans community faces a far larger employment gap than even women. Transgender Americans are by far the most un- or underemployed demographic in this country, and it’s legal the vast majority of states to discriminate against us in the workplace. This is an issue that is so largely ignored by general society as well as the LGBT and feminist communities. To blatantly disregard the employment struggles of the trans community to make a pithy statement about an issue we should be fighting together is hateful and mocking. Coming out as trans at work puts one at intense risk for being fired, not promoted, and even physically injured.
That a comedian would make a transphobic statement in the name of feminism is absolutely disgusting. There will never, ever be true equality unless all marginalized groups stand together to fight against our shared oppression by the structure that be. As it is now, Silverman and the National Women’s Law Center have perpetuated false, demeaning, and dangerous stereotypes about the trans community. Here are the unfortunate truths:
1) Trans is not a well protected demographic. Trans people face discrimination in all aspects of their lives. We can be discriminated against in employment, housing, health care, and education. Further discrimination by other marginalized groups is hateful. We’re starting, thanks to retiring Attorney General Eric Holder, to be protected under Title IX, but the protections are limited to the education front and are so new as to not be well enforced yet. Thats not even to mention the fact that Holder’s replacements may not take such a kind view of things.
2) Trans men face misogyny. Contrary to the apparent belief of Silverman and The National Women’s Law Center, women are not the only victims of misogyny. Trans men, regardless of their level of transition, face much of the same misogyny as women do. We were born female, after all, and our bodies are nearly identical physiologically. We are the butt of jokes and harassment from men, and women, alike. We are told we’ll never be men, that we’re traitors to womandom. But we’re demeaned, cat called, and seen as third class citizens.
3) Surgical Transition is dangerous, traumatic, and expensive. Transition surgeries, particularly on the genitals, and particularly on Trans men genitals is extremely precarious. Many opt not to have bottom surgery because science has not yet arrived at a place where a fully functional penis can be achievedTrans penises do not and cannot yet look, function, or feel like a biological penis. The choice to undergo such a risky surgery, rife with possible infection, blood loss, and sexual or bladder problems, is incredibly traumatic. For many who do chose to undergo bottom surgery, it is a matter of life or death. It is never something that the trans man enters into lightly. It is painful, both physically and emotionally, and that’s not funny.
4) Gender Equality will never be attained until trans inclusivity is the norm. The logical endpoint of feminism, regardless of what Republicans and Tumblr users might say, is true and full gender equality. Equality and justice for all, as they say. It is impossible for true equality to exist when there is discrimination, even upon only two percent of the population. There are many people in this world and in this country who are binary transgender, either male or female, who are constantly berated about how they are not, how they are other. There are still more people in this world who are neither female nor male, and disregarding their existences is intellectual and social genocide.
Trans lives matter. Trans lives and experiences are not funny and they are not part of a political agenda that refuses to consistently support them. So, fuck you Sarah Silverman and National Women’s Law Center for dismissing lives.