Given that women especially rural women face many socio-economic, environmental injustices, Gender Based Violence, democratic access to land and land-based resources, discriminatory cultural practices and norms, gender-blind laws and regulations that do not protect women’s rights; organizing and mobilizing rural women to build collective power to challenge the status quo is the solution especially in rural areas.
As a rural transgender feminist and activist if usually find difficult in some rural feminist places where I am always addressed as ‘he’, sir, and most times I try to correct most of the speakers on my actual pronoun which is ‘she’ am usually looked at strangely and with doubt and confusion.
The feminist movement within rural areas is rapidly growing like a wild fire because more focus by the national and international community has been put on the rights of women. Many civil organizations and the government its self-have created projects that are meant for the empowerment of women. The Movement aims at working towards developing women’s activism capacity and ensuring women’s power in their homes, possessing equal rights, and ensuring women’s rights over their bodies, feminist solutions to changing women’s thinking because women represent most obvious groups in their communities.
In feminism movement building especially in rural areas, Trans and gender diversity have become a regular topic of debate and a favored target of rightwing attacks, feminist critics have joined the fray that has put Trans and feminist activists on a seemingly unrelenting path of mutual antagonism. Trans rights have been pitted against sex-based rights for “real” women, with conflict forever spiraling into charge and countercharge of hate speech and silencing, and into bitter social media wars.
One of the most distressing aspects of this relentless feminism versus Trans narrative is that it tells a completely lopsided story. In fact, it sidelines a very different reality of alliance rather than division.
Rural transgender women and rural feminists have certainly had a wobbly relationship over the years, but trans researchers and activists have energetically drawn on and contributed to feminist theory, while rural trans activists has been positively embraced by many rural feminists though not all rural feminists are that accepting that transgender women are ‘real’ women. The story here is not one of conflict but of mutual recognition and partnership.
To return to my starting point, as a trans woman I have found little but warm regard from some rural feminist especially the young feminists who have a liberal thinking of who a woman is. This has been an uplifting experience. But more than this, it has provided a respectful ground on which to mutually live and think through sex and gender and has paved a great way for my activism for rural transgender women within the feminist movement.