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On July 4, a day when selective freedom was celebrated in America, it was only fitting that Macy Gray chose to go on known bigot Piers Morgan’s show Uncensored and reveal herself as a transphobe on national television. After all, trans women in the U.S. are still fighting for their rights and for the freedom “Independence Day” claims all Americans are granted. In the controversial interview, Gray stated, “Just because you go change your parts, doesn’t make you a woman.” Gray’s statement is disappointing on a lot of levels, especially because it completely disregards the identity and humanity of all trans women, but also because Gray is a Black woman. Black trans women are being murdered at alarming rates around the world, and we’re coming off of the deadliest year for trans people on record. The womanhood of Black women is constantly called into question, and Black trans women are dying because of this ignorance. It’s frustrating to see the singer engage in the same violent rhetoric that upholds gender discrimination and marginalizes all Black women — including our trans sisters.
Gray went on to say that she didn’t think people should be called “transphobic” just because they don’t agree, but this isn’t just about a difference of opinion. If someone refuses to recognize my personhood because of my Blackness, then they’d be a racist, simple as that. For Gray to claim that her comments are an issue of disagreement and not a transphobic attack is merely pretense. She also stated that while she supports transgender rights, she draws the line at athletic competitions (and clearly, recognizing trans women as women). You can’t support someone’s rights or claim to believe in their existence as you take away their basic rights — like their right to play on a school sports team. Trans girls and women are being barred from competing in sports in states around the country.
Gray’s trans-exclusionary radical feminist (TERF) behavior isn’t new (J.K. Rowling — who supported Gray on Twitter — and writer Chimamanda Nzgozi Adichie are other famous examples), but it’s even more upsetting considering that cis Black women should be supporting trans women because we’re fighting the same fight against the same oppressors. Our respective struggle for rights amidst the patriarchy are actually not mutually exclusive; they’re intertwined, and freedom for cis Black women isn’t possible without freedom for Black trans women. In a world where we’re constantly fighting against the patriarchy, we need to be banding together, not spewing divisive narratives that tear us apart.
Our respective struggle for rights amidst the patriarchy are actually not mutually exclusive; they’re intertwined, and freedom for cis Black women isn’t possible without freedom for Black trans women.
Gray’s comments are just another disappointing addition to the many celebrities that have outed themselves as TERFs. On the same day that Gray’s interview went live, actress Bette Midler tweeted in opposition to trans-inclusive language in the conversation about reproductive health, claiming that women are “being stripped of our rights over our bodies, our lives and even of our name[s]”. It seems like every day we lose another fave to the TERF camp, and it just proves that celebrities are never the people to look to for true radical and progressive views. Many public figures claim to be for the cause, but it’s become clear that celebrity-branded feminism is not real, nor does it care about all people affected by the systems that they claim to fight against.
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
“I think in this day and age, if you still have issues with women, then that’s weird…I’m all about that — being for ourselves,” Gray once said in a 2015 interview with Marie Claire. The call is coming from inside of the house, because it’s time for Gray to reexamine her own issues with women. What’s “weird” is that she clearly has an issue with trans women who are doing nothing but being themselves. Why does Gray feel the need to question another woman’s existence separate from her own? What gives her the right to question who qualifies as a woman? Do celebrities know that staying quiet and minding their business is free? On Uncensored, Gray defines a woman as a “human being with boobs” and someone who “[has] a vagina.” This is a stupid thing to say; not all women have boobs, including the ciswomen that Gray appears to hold close to her heart. Do women who remove their breasts because of breast cancer not qualify as women anymore?
Ironically, Gray’s statement is right in one very important way: whether or not trans women get gender reassignment surgery, they are still women. Your parts do not inform your gender, so changing those parts doesn’t affect a person’s claim to womanhood. The diminishing of trans women to their “parts” is dehumanizing, and the dehumanization and denial of rights to trans women is transphobic.
Being a woman is not a job. Trans women do not need any qualifications to be women, and they are women, period.
Being a woman is not a job. Trans women do not need any qualifications to be women, and they are women, period. While Gray may not agree, based on her comments, she is, in fact, a transphobe, and I, for one, am happy to say goodbye to any public figure that decides that trans lives are up for debate.
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