Mischa Haider tells us how difficult it is being a trans woman with children. People look at her funny in the playground.
In these moments I am reminded how easily our worth as individuals, along with the bonds we form with our loved ones, can wither before the relentless gaze of society. That is the prison not only for transgender women and mothers but, I increasingly realize, for all women and mothers.
It’s interesting that she’s only now realizing that women are subject to social scrutiny and devaluation.
We inhabit a world in which we are seen as passive receptacles, defined by an oppressive normative gaze sharpened through millennia of misogynistic formulations long accepted as inarguable facts of nature. In this gaze, personhood is the realm of men, while the value of women resides in their physical bodies.
Yes, we do, but we already know that. Quite frankly we don’t need trans women explaining it to us. We already know it, and we know it better than trans women do. We haven’t been sitting around waiting for trans women to tell us about it all this time.
Transgender women occupy the fault line of this gender gulag. Our womanhood resides solely in who we are as persons, not in the set of physical attributes conventionally expected of our gender. Therefore, granting transgender women their womanhood is tantamount to granting women personhood.
No. No it is not. Our personhood does not depend on trans women.
I do not have the parts in flesh that are required of me in the patriarchal constructs to be accepted as mother. The uterus is prized more in this regime than the countless years of attentive engagement with babies that motherhood entails. Breast milk is hailed as liquid gold, while the hours of rocking and settling a newborn is mere detail.
Wow. What does that sound like? It sounds like MRAs raging at the mothers of their children. It sounds like misogynists trying to erase women from everything, even childbearing.
The post-birth care of infants is – obviously – not mere detail, but that doesn’t mean the extremely hard work of gestating and bearing a baby should be belittled, let alone erased. Breast milk is not “liquid gold” but then it wouldn’t be any use to infants if it were, would it. Nursing a baby isn’t something to sneer at.
Though there is no womb of flesh in my loins, there was a womb in my heart that carried all three of my children; my soul was pregnant with them though my body could not be. It is of little relevance to those who deem me unfit or incapable of motherhood that my young children know nothing of eggs and sperm, uteruses and labor; they know about cuddles and stories, diapers and creams, and my bottomless love.
But that’s true of fathers and of adoptive parents, too. Of course cuddles and stories and love matter; of course infants and children need them to thrive; of course they create bonds between parents and children. Haider is her children’s adoptive mother, which means she’s their mother. That’s how adoption works. There’s a strong social consensus that adoption is parenthood, and that mother and father are the right words to use. That does not, however, mean there never was any biological mother or father. Haider wants it to mean that.
I am a mother, and those with presuppositions to the contrary must lose them. I am the real, entire, and, in my case, only mother of my children.
No. Real, sure, entire, sure, but only, no. A woman or two or three carried those children and gave birth to them. She or they should not be erased.