Bisexual author Roxane Gay is standing up against anti-trans bigotry in feminist circles.
Speaking to New Statesman, Gay opened up about various issues including body positivity, rape culture, American politics, and transgender rights.
American politics in the Trump era
Gay does not have ‘a tremendous amount of hope’ for the future of America, noting that she thinks Trump will fail to be unseated in the 2020 presidential election.
She stated that Trump and the ‘smug and righteous’ Kavanaugh are two parts of the same misogynistic phenomenon.
‘If an American president can say “grab them by the pussy” and still get elected, then of course Brett Kavanaugh can be confirmed to the Supreme Court, despite the fact that he sexually assaulted a woman,’ she said.
‘It just shows that we don’t believe women. And we have a very permissive culture where a woman is the one suffering,’ Gay continued. ‘I do believe people on the confirmation committee believed Ford. I think they believed her, and it wasn’t enough. They believed her, but they did not believe that attempted rape was enough to keep Kavanaugh from his job, from his dream job. So now we have this guy on the Supreme Court and that means we have two sexual predators on the Supreme Court, which is quite a statistic when you think about it.’
‘It was really distressing to me that nearly twenty years after Anita Hill had to defend herself against Clarence Thomas and it didn’t matter. That it was happening again. We don’t learn from history.’
The #MeToo Movement
For Gay, it’s important that the #MeToo movement grows to recognize the struggles of working-class women, who can’t always afford to come forward about abuse due to social and financial pressures. With this, there is a struggle to make ‘white feminists’ care about the issues facing non-white women.
‘That’s always the focus: how do we reach white women,’ Gay said. ‘And it’s like, girl: we don’t. These are people who are highly educated and highly aware – they choose. They have a very selective amnesia about what they care about, and I don’t think there’s a magic set of words that’s going to make them all of a sudden develop enough empathy to care about others. Either they come to the light or they don’t.’
‘It’s like, in addition to highlighting the fact that marginalized women are dealing with sexual harassment and misconduct at even higher rates, it’s highlighting that they have far less recourse. Like, how do you not know that? It’s just not rocket science to figure that out.’
This extends to the issue of trans women, who some feminists (known online as TERFs — or Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists) have issues including in their activism. Gay believes that the plight of trans women has been ‘woefully’ failed to be considered by this group.
‘The world is transphobic and I think it’s appalling, because trans women are women. When I see how trans people are treated and the agony that a lot of trans people deal with – the suicide rates, the murder rates of black trans women. I just think, “Do you really think that’s a choice?”’
‘I think a lot of feminists are very comfortable being anti-trans. And that’s painful to see because we should know better, having been marginalized as women throughout history and today. How dare we marginalize others now.’