This International Women’s Day, ‘Break The Bias’ by breaking the binary

Our feminism must be intersectional and it must be trans-inclusive or it’s not truly feminism at all.

Splitscreen of International Women's Day logo and a serious looking woman

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is ‘Break the Bias. IWD explain on their site that “Individually, we’re all responsible for our own thoughts and actions – all day, every day. We can break the bias in our communities. We can break the bias in our workplaces. We can break the bias in our schools, colleges and universities. Together, we can all break the bias – on International Women’s Day and beyond.” 

The context and need for IWD is as vital as ever, and from a queer perspective, continued intersectional work is fundamental to enacting social change. 

It is my belief that the only way we can truly ‘Break the Bias’ of patriarchy is by breaking the gender binary that limits us all and reinforces polarising and restrictive expressions of gender identity. 

Working for an independent LGBTQ+ press like GCN means that the team and I are confronted daily with the struggles and horrors experienced by LGBTQ+ and female identifying folks around the world. We seek to represent and amplify the lived realities for our community and I’m sorry to say there is still a lot of suffering and a lot of change needed to support and protect all the members of our queer communities equally. 

As evidenced by much of the content of our current print edition with the provocative cover art from Emmalene Blake. Gender based violence has always been and remains a queer issue. 

I’m also sad to say that recently, when we post trans content to our social media channels, our replies are filled with moronic vitriol and transphobia from the “gender critical” brigade. 

Internationally renowned academic and author Susan Stryker was one of the keynote speakers at the Lesbian Lives Conference in UCC and in the current issue of the magazine, Lilith Ferreyra Carroll spoke to her about the global context for trans folks and her insights on trans people’s role at this point in world history. 

When we shared this interview online, there were significant transphobic replies. 

My sense is this, for us to truly get to grips with transphobia and stamp it out at every level of society, we must break the binary. Breaking the binary is the only way that we’ll break the bias of gender inequality. 

Bell Hooks explained that, “Patriarchy, like any system of domination (for example, racism), relies on socialising everyone to believe that in all human relations there is an inferior and a superior party, one person is strong, the other weak, and that it is therefore natural for the powerful to rule over the powerless. To those who support patriarchal thinking, maintaining power and control is acceptable by whatever means.” 

For any of us that have ever been “othered”, we know this construct all too well. We live it everyday.

Racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism: all of these prejudices have that idea baked in. “We are better than you,” “we don’t want you in our country” – it’s all power and control. 

One of the benefits  of being “other” is that this viewpoint affords us valuable insights and approaches into how to we can change systems for the betterment of society. Think of some of the most evocative social changes campaigns of the last 50 years – so many led by queer and female folks. 

We will not have gender equality until we have equality for the most marginalised in our communities. Trans folks and particularly trans women of colour are some of the most harassed and persecuted in our society, a society that still, let’s face it, hates women. 

By centring and understanding the struggles of the most marginalised, we can begin to unravel the architecture of oppression that is baked into every single modern societal structure. The binary is another such structure filled with toxic and limiting ideas about what makes a “woman” and how she should be in the world. 

GCN continues to stand in solidarity with all the most marginalised parts of our communities and will continue to platform and amplify the amazing work done nationally and globally to smash the patriarchy and create a truly equal society for all of us.

This International Women’s Day, the key to breaking the bias is breaking the binary. 

La Lucha Continua.

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