Underbelly

In this short post, I want to ask, Who are we forgetting? Who are we leaving out?

In the ongoing journey for equality and civil rights for all, often times we forget about the underbelly of society (underbelly meaning hidden or vulnerable).

I currently work at a non-profit that works with active drug users and sex workers. A population that society has forgotten. A population that my organization seeks to include in conversations relating to policy and health. We constantly search each day for methods to better the lives of this group and to make them feel included within society. We work with those who are transgender and seek to protect their best interests with their help and input.

At our monthly trans support group last month, one transwoman remarked how she never leaves home without her long metal chain. It’s the only way she’s feels protected and it’s the only way she can guarantee her safety. Another transwoman from the group mentioned how often she has faced discrimination in searching and keeping jobs.

I live a bustling metropolis that prides itself on its open-mindedness and liberalness. How do we still have people feeling unsafe and unwelcome here? How do we do nothing to include them in conversations regarding their problems and safety? For such an open minded city, we close our ears to those in our midst whose voices need to be heard more than ours.

And so it is within the modern Mormon feminist movement. At least in my eyes.

We have made great strides in our community in making Mormonism more vast and egalitarian. We pride ourselves on being more open to change than the traditional orthodox LDS Church members. We’re ahead of the curve.

Yet….

When we talk about feminism, are we including transwomen into our conversations?

When we talk about equality (within and outside of the Church), why do we often forget our sisters of color?

When we talk about defending ourselves from the patriarchy, do we also include those who are gay, lesbian, or queer?

Courtesy of mormonfeminist.org

I still read and hear stories of Mormon women of color who still feel left out of the conversation (myself included). It is painfully obvious that there are few voices in our movement from those who are LGBTQ. And is there even a space for those  among us who are transwomen? Just because the numbers are small, doesn’t mean their voices shouldn’t be heard or included.

So, who are we forgetting? And how can we remember them?

East River Lady

24 years old. LDS Convert. New York Native. Mormon Feminist.

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4 Responses

  1. Ziff says:

    Great points, East River Lady.

  2. Anarene Holt Yim says:

    I feel like women who are lower on the socio-economic scale are also accidentally left out, both in the Mormon feminist community and in the church itself. In my experience, they either stay quiet, assuming that their voices aren’t going to be valued, or they are so busy putting food on the table that they don’t have time to contribute to the conversation. I have had a few experiences when I was able to use my privilege to add some volume to my friends’ voices. I have also tried to give them emotional support towards speaking out, but I would love to know how to do more. Lack of money doesn’t equal a lack of good ideas, and lack of education doesn’t equal a lack of wisdom.

  3. Emily U says:

    Thank you for the reminder, East River Lady. And that’s an important point, Anarene, thank you for the reminder. I wish I had more to say than that. Something I want to do more of is to find ways to get out of my sheltered spaces and into more spaces where I meet people who aren’t like me.

  4. Lizzie says:

    I happened on this blog by accident as I was looking for something else but was intrigued by what I saw here. I’m probably what you called a “traditional orthodox LDS church member.” I’m really interested in understanding better your perspective. I know you are not alone in the feelings you’ve shared about equality, the leadership of the church, etc.

    One question I have is what are your thoughts God’s commandments for us? My understanding has always been that God has given us commandments, including chastity and fidelity, and expects all of us to follow those commandments–more particularly those of us who have promised to do so when we were baptized. How do you feel like the LGBTQ movement fits into that? I’ve always thought that these commandments applied to everyone, regardless of whether, say, they found themselves attracted to someone of the same gender, or they were married and found themselves attracted to someone outside their marriage, etc.

    How do you perceive of this issue? Would you agree with my understanding and your goal is to help the larger church community to understand the difficult position of those struggling in these situations? Or do you believe there need to be changes in the commandments? I guess that’s what I don’t understand. Do you believe these commandments have been influenced by the weaknesses of man and don’t actually originate with God? I think it’s pretty clear that the prophets and leaders of the church have always been mortal, imperfect men and at times have said things that weren’t in harmony with the truth. But I’ve always believed that the doctrines and teachings of the church taught by the united voice of the church leadership, including standards of morality, were God’s word for us. If not so, how can we believe in a God who speaks through prophets and messengers on earth? And if we don’t believe that, what in the world would draw us to this church which was founded and maintained on this principle? Anyway, just some questions. I would love to understand your thoughts on it better. Like I said, I know many share them. Thank you!

    P.S. I do realize your post was actually on transwoman, and I understand that is also a really difficult, sticky issue.

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