I suppose at some point, I have to stop apologizing for having so few blog updates, because I’ve still been too busy, out there, connecting with women, experiencing my life authentically, and advocating alongside other passionate people. Yesterday, I had the amazing privilege of getting up onstage alongside, and out in the crowd alongside, some amazing people, including our fearless leader and organizer, Lacey Storey, writer Trish Bendix, comedian Lianna Carrera, musicians including Amy Gore, Holly Miranda, Ambrosia Parsley, and Incite the Riot, legislators Lisa Brown and Rashid Tlaib, and women’s rights heroes like Renée and Lara Chelian and Amy Lynn-Smith. It was the Michigan event in the nationwide Lady Parts Justice campaign, with fifty parties occurring in the fifty states, all celebrating women’s empowerment, women’s rights, and women’s freedoms. The events started after our very own Lisa Brown was censured in our MI Legislature for using the word “vagina.”
If you see these hashtags on Twitter, that’s what’s up!
What an amazing crowd. So many passionate women, and more than a few amazing men allies. My darling Teri helped me practice, the entire drive out to Detroit (Thank you, Park Bar, for having us, and thank you, Tigers fans, for letting us finish our Eunice the Uterus cookies and sharing your post-game haunt with us – oh, and congratulations on the division championship you missed that night, but got today!). And the energy and spirit of community in that room was so wonderful, and I just know that, in moments, we both made friendships that will change our lives in unforeseeable ways for many years to come. One of the best parts of the evening, too, was the realness of the stories. Two women got up and bravely told of their personal experiences with abortion and why preserving women’s reproductive freedom mattered to them. I know, already, Teri wants to speak in the future and share her own unique story of how reproductive rights affect her as a woman who cannot bear children, even if she wanted to do so.
Continue reading, please, below, for what I had to say! Also please check out the national Lady Parts Justice campaign. Contribute with your voice, your exam gown selfies, your financial contributions, and maybe even by hosting an LPJ event in your hometown. I promise you, surround yourself with other passionate women, and you will not regret it.
This is just a cell phone quickie picture, you really had to be there to capture the energy, though!
Thank you so much for inviting me to be a part of this night. Aren’t these some amazing women all around us?
As a woman, as a transgender woman, as a lesbian woman, as a professional woman, I want to take these few minutes to ask you to think about two concepts that, at first, seem like they are incompatible, but on closer examination, say something powerful about why I’m here, why you’re here, why that should embolden all of us and our allies, and why that should scare some people out there, who hold a dim view of womenfolk. The two concepts are these: that none of us choose to be women, and that all of us choose to be Women.
As women, we’re acutely aware of the many, many times we do not have choices. We don’t choose to make $0.74 on the dollar. We don’t choose to be the targets of sexual violence, or to be much more likely than men to experience partner violence over the course of our lives. We don’t choose to live in a patriarchal system in which it seems like every man has more of a say over our own bodies than any of us do, ourselves. We don’t choose to be underrepresented in legislatures or board rooms. We usually don’t choose to get things mansplained to us (because, seriously, who loves that?). We don’t choose any of the baggage that society loads us up with. And baggage is a really polite word. Maybe too ladylike for this fierce crowd, although I don’t want anyone here to apologize for being a lady, and I certainly won’t.
Now, my path to womanhood is probably a bit different than most of yours. But, although my path involved many years of hiding until I became brave enough to tell the truth, like you, a woman was what I was always meant to become. So, I do want to emphasize, I didn’t choose to be a woman either (although, I kind of love it. I hope you do, too?). And I’m thankful that sisters like Lizz Winstead, and so many people who’ve been so supportive of me through transitioning and coming out, get that. And on the topic of sexual diversity among our sisters, I didn’t choose that, when my Prince Charming finally arrived to hold the door open for me, she would be a she. And yet, here I am, and here she is, too (and I am so thankful for you, Teri!). So, we don’t choose the particulars of our womanhood, and really, we didn’t choose our womanhood at all. It chose us. Which just means, I guess, that someone up there must kind of like us.
But here’s the thing. Tonight, here, in this bar, alongside our sisters, and all across America, from V to Shining V, we are choosing to be Women. I am. You are. We’re choosing to extend our definition of womanhood beyond our anatomy and physiology, to accept our place in womanhood as a political class, and to show the world that united womanhood is a force to be reckoned with. Here tonight, and everywhere we do it, these acts of defiance – showing solidarity and taking other women’s hands, across racial and ethnic lines, across socioeconomic lines, across queer/straight lines – these everyday choices to be Women advocates let us work together. These choices let us leverage the fact that we are the majority, that the world wouldn’t run without us, and certainly that the world wouldn’t be much fun without us, to create positive change for everybody. When we make this choice and stand tall as Women together, we refuse to let our enemies get away with their old tricks of dividing and conquering us, of driving wedges between us so we fight each other instead of fighting oppression and injustice. And, if each of us stands firm in this choice, and we get another sister, and another, and another to join us, and we get our brothers to join us, and our siblings outside the gender binary, too (I love our allies), well, just let them try to take our rights.
Now, let me admit, it may be hard, for all of us, because we’re not all the same. To make this work, we’re all going to have to get out of our comfort zones and take the hands in partnership of women who don’t look like us, who don’t share all of our experiences, about whom it would be really easy to say, “She’s got nothing in common with me.” I think it goes both ways – we’ve got to stop thinking about other women as less than us, and we’ve also got to start supporting women when they use their privilege to make things better for womankind. So that sister, she does have something in common with you, because she, too, is choosing to be a Woman. Please, get to know her. Take her hand, help her be stronger, and let her help you be stronger. If you’re rich, take the hands of a poor woman. If you’re black, take the hands of one of your Asian sisters. If you’re straight, take my queer woman’s hand. And let’s continue to do the hard work that makes this a movement that leaves no woman behind.
So, there it is. Although none of us chose to be women, we are all choosing, together, to be Women. And thank YOU for that!