So, there has been some controversy on Facebook regarding the blacked out profile picture protest. This has been done to protest domestic violence. The idea is that if women become invisible for one day, they may realise how sad life would be without us. Some transgender women have taken issue with this saying transwomen in particular need to be more visible, not less visible in society. Here is my brief take on the ongoing Facebook profile pic protest.
Solidarity only works if you work in solidarity. You don’t get to pick and choose when you will stand with someone and when you will ignore their plight. If you do that and then they do the same, pretty soon cohesion falls apart and collectivism fails. Good luck going it alone when protesting systemic and cultural oppression, because that always works, doesn’t it? Seriously no major societal changes can be taken without collectivist action. This is a truism and explains why people ally with others around ideological issues.
Obviously everyone has a right to protest and a right to not protest. People do get to choose what they care about. Furthermore, if there are obvious legal/ethical/moral problems associated with protesting then I fully support an individuals right to choose not to participate. However, to my trans sisters out there, if we want and expect women to welcome us as equal partners, to accept us into their spaces without question and help us fight our battles then I don’t think we as transwomen get to say ‘thanks for that but when it comes to YOUR real issues (domestic violence, rape, sexual harassment etc) I choose NOT to support you because I think my sub group is either not affected or needs to protest different issues right now in a different way…’ To my mind, that attitude just doesn’t cut it.
I understand that we all have a right to do what we think is the ‘right thing’ in any given set of circumstances, but I also think that if we wish to set ourselves and/or our particular subgroup aside, then we should not be surprised when others set us aside.We can oppose domestic abuse, rape etc AND still fight for transgender visibility.
In deed, by becoming invisible for one day, we may actually heighten awareness and become more visible than we are now and by standing in solidarity with other women we stand to gain far more than we stand to lose. I don’t think removing your profile picture for one day will suddenly make us all less relevant or visible in society, conversely by making a stand and standing out from the crowd of profile pictures we actually become more visible and we also will win friends and allies who will see our action, appreciate it and maybe help us out next time we need support.
The stand against domestic abuse is if anything allied to what we need society to do for us. It is about respect, human decency and the right to safety and security. These are not mutually exclusive battles. We can do both. We can do more! I am happy and proud to stand with my cisgender sisters. I encourage you to do the same.