- 07 Jul 22
While this could be a time where all people affected by the Roe v. Wade ruling come together, it is instead tearing people apart. It seems many are creating in-fighting by targeting trans and non-binary people, instead of focusing on the real enemy: the Supreme Court and those threatening our bodily autonomy.
In the midst of a battle for reproductive rights in the United States following the overturning of Roe v. Wade, countless celebrities have used their platform to speak out on the issue – some turning to transphobic rhetoric. While many have shown their support by sharing personal experiences with abortions and condemning the Supreme Court decision, others have shared allegedly damaging opinions about a marginalised community.
American actress Bette Midler went viral for a tweet in which she claimed cisgender women are facing "erasure" as a result of inclusive language surrounding reproductive healthcare. The statement reads, “WOMEN OF THE WORLD! We are being stripped of our rights over our bodies, our lives and even of our name! They don’t call us ‘women’ anymore; they call us ‘birthing people’ or ‘menstruators’, and even ‘people with vaginas’! Don’t let them erase you!”
WOMEN OF THE WORLD! We are being stripped of our rights over our bodies, our lives and even of our name! They don’t call us “women” anymore; they call us “birthing people” or “menstruators”, and even “people with vaginas”! Don’t let them erase you! Every human on earth owes you!
— bettemidler (@BetteMidler) July 4, 2022
This tweet sparked backlash from the transgender and non-binary communities, as well as their allies. Reproductive healthcare effects these groups just as severely. The movement towards utilising "people" rather than "women" in healthcare avoids alienating trans and non-binary individuals who are capable of getting pregnant. It also reduces the attachment of femininity to reproduction, given that many cisgender women struggle with infertility or don't have uteruses. Trans men and assigned female at birth (AFAB) non-binary people can become pregnant and need healthcare services relating to gynaecological care, reproduction and more.
Midler has faced harsh pushback from her millions of followers, with many calling her a TERF (Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist). Panti Bliss, Irish drag queen and LGBTQ rights activist, replied, “Don’t fall for the anti-trans panic fake nonsense. No one is erasing women. In a few small healthcare cases where appropriate they are using trans inclusive language.”
No. Don’t fall for the anti-trans panic fake nonsense. No one is erasing women. In a few small healthcare cases where appropriate they are using trans inclusive language. That’s all.
— Dr Panti Bliss-Cabrera (@PantiBliss) July 4, 2022
Mae Mayfield, non-binary comedian, also wrote a response on their Instagram page.
It reads, “I was born female, grew up with all the struggles that entails, but I am trans/non-binary, not a woman. I am medically and culturally transitioning and so ‘woman’ is not an accurate word to use when describing me. The use of inclusive language when talking about abortion rights means that I - with all my shared experience and shared threat of pregnancy as I also sleep with cis men- can participate and be acknowledged in the conversation and fight alongside women.”
Mayfield hopes to be able to educate others who feel threatened by the trend toward inclusive language, and remind them that this is a shared cause. Continuing, “We all have the same goal and common enemy. We don’t want to be reduced to our anatomy, we want to be whole people with equal rights.”
— The Guilty Feminist (@GuiltFemPod) July 6, 2022
Midler attempted to clear her name by pointing to a New York Times opinion piece that she was referencing with her tweet, titled “The Far Right and Far Left Agree on one thing: Women Don’t Count” by Pamela Paul. This piece shares the sentiment that women are being erased due to the emphasis on inclusivity and trans people.
Paul writes, “The noble intent behind omitting the word ‘women’ is to make room for the relatively tiny number of transgender men and people identifying as non-binary who retain aspects of female biological function and can conceive, give birth or breastfeed. But despite a spirit of inclusion, the result has been to shove women to the side.”
American R&B singer Macy Gray has also faced backlash for her transphobic comments in an interview with Piers Morgan.
In this sit-down talk, she stated, “just because you go and change your parts, doesn’t make you a woman, sorry.” She also agreed that trans women have no place in women’s sports, despite the fact that rigorous standards must be met before trans women can compete - such as years of taking estrogen injections, which weaken bone density and muscle.
Following the response on Twitter from hurt and upset fans, Gray claimed to be “misunderstood” and defended her support for the LGBTQ+ community. However, her initial words are hard to forget for longtime fans, still disappointed in her ignorance and bigotry.
"Just because you go change your parts, doesn't make you a woman, sorry."
Don't miss Piers Morgan's interview with singer Macy Gray on tonight's show.
TalkTV, 8pm.@MacyGraysLife | @piersmorgan | @TalkTV | #MacyGray pic.twitter.com/qHSNa6kXYx
— Piers Morgan Uncensored (@PiersUncensored) July 4, 2022
Ireland has had a turbulent history with abortion laws as well. Although the 8th Amendment was appealed in 2018, permitting access to abortions in some cases, many are still forced to travel to the UK to get abortions. Especially those in Northern Ireland, where the Department of Health still has no abortion services setup despite legalisation.
Although there is Irish legislation in place to protect transgender rights, like the Gender Recognition Act of 2015, trans people still face an enormous amount of discrimination and hate. Since the bill was cemented into law, relatively few people have used it, and most of the public didn't even realise it existed until this year when UK groups spoke out against self-ID. Arguably, it can hardly be dangerous for cisgender women's "sex-based rights" if it wasn't even noticed for seven years.
In 2021, the Sunday Independent, published a column by Eilis O’Hanlon stating, “it’s time to say no to extremists who want to let children pick their gender.” In this piece, O’Hanlon shared false information in an effort to spread fear and target hate towards the trans community. The Transgender Equality Network of Ireland responds, “The irresponsible, hate-filled scaremongering views expressed by O’Hanlon have a direct impact on the lives of trans people… Transphobia has no place in the pages of a national newspaper.”
While this could be a time where all people affected by the Roe v. Wade ruling come together, it is instead tearing people apart. It seems many are creating in-fighting by targeting trans and non-binary people instead of focusing on the real enemy: the Supreme Court and those legislators and judges threatening our bodily autonomy. Those wasting their energy on speaking out against trans people should focus on the more important issues at hand.
According an article by Forbes, at least 375 transgender people were killed in 2021, a figure that has risen since last year's total of 350. For such a small portion of the population, the violence committed against trans and non-binary individuals - especially people of colour and those with disabilities - is shocking.
The report authors say this makes 2021 the 'deadliest year' of violence against gender diverse people since records began. One in four of those murdered were killed in their own home.
Ireland's National Gender Service receives more than 300 referrals every year; there are now 863 people on the waiting list, and the waiting time is currently 2.5 years. By the end of 2022 it will be three years. Healthcare is a core facet of trans rights, and this country has little to offer the community. Why would they be the reason for cisgender women losing rights when they're still having to focus on gaining their own basic needs met?
The Abortion Support Network help with funding and travel plans for terminations, if necessary. You can donate here to support safe abortions.