Autostraddle has to be one of my favorite places on the internet. While I am not their main demographic (since it is a queer women’s site aimed at, you guessed it, queer women), there are articles that pertain to my interests as well as my life. Articles like I’m A Trans Woman And I’m Not Interested In Being One of the “Good Ones” and Panic! in the Locker Room: On Fighting for Trans* Youth with Words as Weapons are two of the reasons I started writing again. However, places like Autostraddle fulfill an important place in the queer world.
Unlike most places, Autostraddle celebrates and ensures the voices of trans women are heard. In the blogging world, many places are dominated by trans men/trans masculine narratives, often over trans female/trans feminine ones. Places like tumblr (and even wordpress) are filled to the brim with trans men often to critical mass. That is not to say there are not trans women/trans feminine people on these places, just that often their narratives are not as prominent (from my experiences). Places that even try to be inclusive of everyone have trouble gaining trans female/feminine participants. Even in physical spaces I hear stories about them being boys’ clubs and how trans women often do not feel right, even if the space is advertised as an all trans* welcome place.
Now, this isn’t to say there is a problem with trans male/trans masculine only spaces. Trans women and trans men have very different transitioning stories and effects and being able to discuss these with people of like-mind and like-experience is beneficial. It’s when these experiences begin to overtake public places that they become problematic. Places like tumblr are not inherently geared towards trans men or trans women or non-binary people. They simply exist as a neutral standing ground. The problem is when a certain narrative over takes these neutral grounds and pushes the lean one way or another.
Places like Autostraddle allow trans women to be heard, to a large reader base. It allows trans women a place to not have to worry about being drowned out by other trans* narratives. Autostraddle prides herself on being a place that welcomes all queer women, including trans women. Too many queer places silence trans women, or override their narratives. Autostraddle proves a safe place for queer women to let their voices be heard, especially those who are usually silenced even in queer spaces.
Trans women have often been excluded from queer women’s spaces. Take example Michfest (Michigan’s Womyn’s Festival) which takes a very TERF (trans exclusionary radical feminist) approach to trans women. These places often allow trans men in, but not trans women. They function under the idea that you much be assigned female at birth to truly be female. While this erases all trans* identities (and ungenders them), this attitude is held mostly towards trans women. Thus, Autostraddle fills a much needed place in the world of queer women. They do not see trans women as anything but fellow women and accept them with open arms and sees them as an essential and wonderful addition to queer women’s spaces.
Now, this exclusion of men is not based on the idea that men are terrible, inherently evil, or inferior. Society is still a male dominated one. Male privilege seeps into every aspect of life, including queer spaces. As I mentioned before, trans* spaces seem to be dominated by trans men and trans masculine people both on and offline. Even just general queer places tend to be dominated by gay cis men, with trans* people at the bottom, especially trans women/trans feminine people. Places like Autostraddle allow for queer discourse without the worry or issue of male privilege overriding discussions. It allows for women of all types to share their thoughts and feelings with other like minded women (and sometimes men, or other non-binary people) without worry or backlash. Places like Autostraddle allow safe discourse for aspects of queer women’s lives without excluding any type of women and allowing everyone to feel welcome. Even readers (like myself) who are not part of the main demographic can learn from Autostraddle and the articles they provide. So while the site may be geared towards queer women, everyone can profit from the sites existence.
Please continue to do what you do Autostraddle and provide a safe space for all queer women. Continue to amplify the voice of not just my cis-ters, but all my sisters as well. Allow all trans feminine and trans women a welcome place for them to be among queer women like them without worry or restriction of their identity. Continue to allow voices generally silenced to be heard loud and clear and to spread messages that are much needed in the world.