In October, a Filipino woman was discovered dead in a motel bathroom, her head hanging over the toilet. Time Magazine reported that a U.S. Marine is suspected of murdering her by strangulation and pushing her face into the toilet water. Her name was Jennifer Laude, and she had been seen with the Marine checking into the motel before her body was found. According to the article, condoms were found in the trash in the room.
But why was she murdered? Because she was a transgender woman. The fact that someone could kill over something like that is disgusting, but that is the world we live in. Oftentimes, it seems as though cisgender men expect that trans women must disclose the fact that they're not “real women.” That idea alone is ridiculous, as trans women are as real as women who were born with a vagina and ovaries. And it's not something that trans women owe you. They want to be seen as the women they are, not as the stereotypes your mind has made with the idea of being transgender.
Let me be clear: women, trans or not, do not owe you anything. They do not owe you their phone number, sex, or information about their body that they want to keep to themselves. Feminism that fails to include trans women might as well not be called feminism, because trans women are among the women who get criticized the most. They are at high risk for being raped and murdered. And the bottom line is, they need to be included in feminism.
It is completely absurd that we live in a society that is so normalized to violence against women that a man's first response to finding out a woman is transgender is to kill her.
I am not as well-versed in trans activism as I would like to be, and I will never be as informed as someone who has actually lived through the abuse. It is important for feminists to include trans women, but not to speak for them. So, this is me asking you to inform yourself about trans activism and the struggles that trans women face in our society. All it takes is a Google search and a quick skim to figure out if the person writing it is cisgender or not. If more people learn about transgender people, hopefully we will see less murders like Jennifer Laude’s.
Bailey Breece is junior studying English and German. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org