Why We Need The Women's March On Washington

Why We Need The Women's March On Washington

Someone wake up Susan B Anthony.
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Grab your sashes and top hats! The Women’s March on Washington is set to take off this Saturday in the heart of DC; with sister marches occurring in select cities. There has been much anticipation for the arrival of this event, as it is expected to be the largest gathering focused on women’s issues since the Suffrage Movement of 1920. The movement originally began after the presidential election of “grab em’ by the p*ssy” Donald Trump and will take place the day following his inauguration. But what started as a Facebook event page has now gained national attention, as this will be the first major form of protest after Trump’s transition into power. With crowds expected to be larger than Trump’s inauguration, the world will be watching.

The march was originated out of the fear that the Republican Party, who now controls all three branches of government, will strip away women’s rights and choices. These include Roe vs. Wade, access to affordable birth control and healthcare, and sexual assault prevention. The movement will be sponsored by various organizations including Planned Parenthood, the Sierra Club, NAACP, and Move On.

Women’s issues became a large topic during the presidential election. And while Trump’s “Make America Great Again” plans primarily focused on infrastructure, immigration, and trade agreements, the Republican Party supporting the new president has received harsh criticism for their beliefs on women’s issues. As he has mentioned various times in his speeches on the campaign trail, Donald Trump plans to defund Planned Parenthood and overturn Roe vs. Wade with his Supreme Court Justice pick. Trump describes the controversial law as a doctor’s permit to "rip the baby out of the womb" with only a few days left until birth.

The Trump team has also been under fire in regards to sexual assault prevention since the infamous “Trump Tapes” were leaked by Access Hollywood. Betsy DeVos, Trumps pick for education secretary, recently stated while being interviewed by the Senate that she "could not commit to the Obama administration’s guidance that schools who do not investigate sexual assault claims will be in violation of Title IX and can lose federal funding."

With the new regime in place, many feel uncomfortable and uncertain as to how Donald Trump will handle such important issues. If Trump is to follow through with his comments on defunding Planned Parenthood, millions of women will not be able to gain access to affordable forms of birth control and other reproductive health care. Planned Parenthood has also been responsible for providing sex education in middle schools and high schools in across the country. Without proper education in the consequences of having unprotected sex, millions of young adults will become at risk for teen pregnancy and contracting sexually transmitted diseases.

While Roe vs. Wade, and the overall issue of abortion, is determined by the state many conservative states, such as Texas, have implemented laws causing the closure of abortion clinics. Texas lawmakers recently overturned a state law that denied abortion clinics to meet the surgical standards of other medical facilities and denied doctors to have admission privileges at nearby hospitals. This leaves only a few clinics available in the large state, making it difficult or impossible for women to receive the procedure. A federal ban on abortions might cause desperate women to go to extreme measures in order to avoid having their unwanted child; putting both the mother and fetus at risk. As for DeVos, critics argue that her lack of a plan when it comes to preventing sexual assault on college campuses is putting millions of other women at risk. Studies show that 1 in 5 women and 1 in 16 men are sexually assaulted while attending college. However, 90% of these attacks are unreported. Universities have become more aware of these statistics and are required to collect and report any cases of sexual assault on their campus. However, if there is a lack of punishment for individual colleges who do not take the safety of their students as a priority; more colleges are less likely to report sexual assault cases in order to maintain their image.

The Women’s March on Washington is important because it brings awareness of important issues that directly affect half of our country’s population. Rather than being viewed as an anti-Trump rally, the Women’s March will show our new leaders in Washington what values and problems Americans are focused on. If all goes well, hopefully, Trump and his new cabinet will listen to the voices of the American people.

If you are interested in taking part in the Women's March in Washington, a link to the official website will be provided here. And if you can't make it out to DC here is another link to the list of sister marches that will occur the same day in most major cities. And if you still want to show your support without all of the extra cardio, you can share the movement through social media by using the hashtags #WomensMarch, #WhyIMarch, and #IMarchFor. And of course be sure to check out the movements Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram where there will be live coverage and videos from celebrity supporters including Scarlett Johansson, Julianna Moore, Amy Schumer, and much more.

Cover Image Credit: The New Yorker

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No, I Don't Have To Tell You I'm Trans Before Dating You

Demanding trans people come out to potential partners is transphobic.
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In 2014, Jennifer Laude, a 26-year-old Filipina woman, was brutally murdered after having sex with a U.S. marine. The marine in question, Joseph Scott Pemberton, strangled her until she was unconscious and then proceeded to drown her in a toilet bowl.

Understandably, this crime triggered a lot of outrage. But while some were outraged over the horrific nature of the crime, many others were outraged by a different detail in the story. That was because Jennifer Laude had done the unspeakable. She was a trans woman and had not disclosed that information before having sex with Pemberton. So in the minds of many cis people, her death was the price she paid for not disclosing her trans status. Here are some of the comments on CNN's Facebook page when the story broke.

As a trans person, I run into this attitude all the time. I constantly hear cis people raging about how a trans person is "lying" if they don't come out to a potential partner before dating them. Pemberton himself claimed that he felt like he was "raped" because Laude did not come out to him. Even cis people that fashion themselves as "allies" tend to feel similar.

Their argument is that they aren't not attracted to trans people, so they should have a right to know if a potential partner is trans before dating them. These people view transness as a mere physical quality that they just aren't attracted to.

The issue with this logic is that the person in question is obviously attracted to trans people, or else they wouldn't be worried about accidentally going out with one. So these people aren't attracted to trans people because of some physical quality, they aren't attracted to trans people because they are disgusted by the very idea of transness.

Disgust towards trans people is ingrained in all of us from a very early age. The gender binary forms the basis of European societies. It establishes that there are men and there are women, and each has a specific role. For the gender binary to have power, it has to be rigid and inflexible. Thus, from the day we are born, we are taught to believe in a very static and strict form of gender. We learn that if you have a penis, you are a man, and if you have a vagina, you are a woman. Trans people are walking refutations of this concept of gender. Our very existence threatens to undermine the gender binary itself. And for that, we are constantly demonized. For example, trans people, mainly women of color, continue to be slaughtered in droves for being trans.

The justification of transphobic oppression is often that transness is inherently disgusting. For example, the "trans panic" defense still exists to this day. This defense involves the defendant asking for a lesser sentence after killing a trans person because they contend that when they found out the victim was trans, they freaked out and couldn't control themselves. This defense is still legal in every state but California.

And our culture constantly reinforces the notion that transness is undesirable. For example, there is the common trope in fictional media in which a male protagonist is "tricked" into sleeping with a trans woman. The character's disgust after finding out is often used as a punchline.

Thus, not being attracted to trans people is deeply transphobic. The entire notion that someone isn't attracted to a group of very physically diverse group of people because they are trans is built on fear and disgust of trans people. None of this means it is transphobic to not be attracted to individual trans people. Nor is it transphobic to not be attracted to specific genitals. But it is transphobic to claim to not be attracted to all trans, people. For example, there is a difference between saying you won't go out with someone for having a penis and saying you won't go out with someone because they're trans.

So when a cis person argues that a trans person has an obligation to come out to someone before dating them, they are saying trans people have an obligation to accommodate their transphobia. Plus, claiming that trans people are obligated to come out reinforces the idea that not being attracted to trans people is reasonable. But as I've pointed out, not being attracted to trans people supports the idea that transness is disgusting which is the basis for transphobic oppression.

The one scenario in which I would say a trans person should disclose their trans status is if they are going to have sex with someone and are unsure if their partner is attracted to whatever genitals they may have. In that case, I think it's courteous for a trans person to come out to avoid any awkwardness during sex. But even then, a trans person isn't "lying" if they don't come out and their partner is certainly not being "raped."

It is easy to look at the story of Jennifer Laude and claim that her death was due to the actions of one bigot. But it's more complicated than that. Pemberton was the product of a society that told him that disgust towards trans people was reasonable and natural. So when he found out that he accidentally slept with a trans woman, he killed her.

Every single cis person that says that trans people have to come out because they aren't attracted to trans people feeds into the system that caused Jennifer Laude's death. And until those cis people acknowledge their complicity in that system, there will only be more like Jennifer Laude.

SEE ALSO: Yes, You Absolutely Need To Tell Someone You're Trans Before Dating

Cover Image Credit: Nats Getty / Instagram

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