On this World Women’s Day, I can’t help but think about the ways in which we forget about women we don’t see, or don’t want to see. I think that the only way we can really move forward working for justice is by centering those who are faced with the most injustice — those who are repeatedly denied their basic human rights, or humanity to begin with. It wrenches my stomach to see so many of my friends support causes that regularly exclude people on the basis of their identities, exactly when they are fighting for justice. It isn’t enough to fight for justice for some. It’s time to fight for justice for all.

I’ve been trying to teach some of my undergraduates about the history of feminism that they don’t learn on TV. Of course, you don’t learn much on TV aside from bra-burning (which, I understand, never really happened) — which I guess doesn’t say much on one level. But on another level, there’s the fact that trans women are routinely erased from the history of the gay rights movement, too. After all, it was trans women (especially trans women of color) who led the charge at Stonewall. Why is it, then, that we say that Stonewall was a crucial moment in gay rights? It was a crucial moment in trans rights too, or rather, first.

I’ve been trying to explain to people that not only is it not my job to speak for all trans people (nor is it any trans person’s), it’s also absurd to ask me to really tell you about injustices committed against trans people. After all, the murder rate for trans masculine folks is still far and away closer to the murder rate for the general population. On the other hand, trans women face numbers closer to one in twelve. While some days I spend adrift, feeling alienated from much of the world that surrounds me, I am rarely threatened. I continue to be privileged in other ways, too — I live a comfortable life, to be sure.

And I can’t help but think that some days I continue to wake up and go about my life, collude in the oppression of others, even when my writing and work continually grows, becomes more deeply rooted in a tradition of anti-oppression activism, and I become more and more ferocious an advocate for an agenda that leaves nobody behind.

Recently the publisher of the book my essay “On Love, and Its Place in the Academy” will appear in changed the name of the volume. It’s awful. I was incredibly incensed by it, as well as by the idiotic, othering text of the book flyer. The flyer notes that the book’s contributors are “women, men, and transgender people.” The book’s title explicitly states it’s about empowering women. We all know what that means.

I talked to my editor about it on Friday. I feel anxious and stupid, but it’s also a bit late to have material entirely stricken from the volume. I’m not sure I entirely buy her arguments about including my essay as a choice of the “lesser of two evils.” Including another voice is good, of course. But in what ways am I degendered in this process? In what ways does my inclusion, and the exclusion of others (for example, trans women, none of whom appear in the volume) do a disservice to the spirit behind the book’s publication? In what ways does the exclusion of trans women from the publication reflect the exclusion of trans women in academia? In society?

I want to make clear, on World Women’s Day, that this kind of shit rips me up inside. I don’t think we have to settle for less. I don’t think we should think of our decisions as choices between the lesser of two evils — because there is something that is decidedly un-evil out there, and that’s empowerment and work against oppression. But I have settled for less. I’ve given in.

But I’ve also learned my first lesson of publishing. And that is: don’t get too excited. Always make sure that you’re ready to stand behind the publisher, the editor, and the publication. With mainstream academic publishing (which, by the way, also wrests legal rights from the authors), this is generally pretty hard to do. As an academic, as a human being, I deserve better. We all deserve better. And I promise here and now it won’t happen again.

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