Which Side Are You On, Girls? The Role of Trans Widows in Feminism

The inclusion of transsexuals in the women’s liberation movement means necessarily pushing out their former partners – the trans widows.

I am a Trans Widow, I married a man who later decided that he wanted to “live as a woman” and so our 10 year marriage ended.

When this happened to me, my sanity was saved by feminism.  Feminism gave me the tools to analyse my experiences through the lens of male entitlement, and gave me the motivation to help other Trans Widows who wanted to leave unhappy relationships.

But this could have been very different.

Imagine if my ex-husband, instead of being a Trans Rights Activist, claimed to be a gender critical feminist, or a Lesbian, or the acceptable face of Autogynephilia?

Imagine if I had never been able to connect with other Trans Widows on Mumsnet, because he got there first. Imagine if he wrote articles which were reposted by women all over social media, lauding him as stunning and brave, and imagine if women queued up to praise him.

Imagine if he spoke from platforms at women’s meetings, arranged by organisations that purported to give a voice to women. Imagine if he used forced teaming to build up a network of personal friendships and obligations with prominent academic feminists.

Where would this have left me when I needed help from women and from feminism? Where would this leave my daughter, and other children of transitioners when they grow older and begin to try and make sense of their experiences?

Imagine a woman’s liberation movement so concerned with being seen to not be bigoted that they would choose him over me. When you clapped his speech, would you wonder if there was a wife at home, looking after the children and putting on a brave face to the world?

I ask a simple question- who is more important to the Womens’ Liberation movement: me or my ex-husband? Which of us do you chose? Because you can’t have both. The inclusion of transsexual “allies” in feminism, excludes trans widows.

This is a question that the leaders of some feminist groups seem unwilling to answer, but it is one that cuts to the heart of the debate over women’s rights and gender identity.

How many women are being silenced because their voices are given lower priority in feminism than that of their husband, father, son or male acquaintance? All of the transsexual “allies” have women in the shadows.

This is a subject that I have been banging on about for several years now, so it has been heartening to see it mentioned in recent articles by Julia Long and Dr Em.

I endeavour to support and amplify the voices of Trans Widows. Enabling their voices to be heard amidst the “stunning and brave” cacophony has been an uphill struggle. It is constantly hampered by the need that Trans Widows have to stay anonymous, in order to avoid reprisals from our ex-husbands and their supporters. But although difficult, it has been a worthwhile struggle, and it is starting to have some success.

When I first started making contact with other Trans Widows, I honestly had no idea about the prevalence of two things in their experience: Autogynephilia and domestic abuse, because they had not been a significant factor in my own experience. But these are the two main themes that I hear over and over again. To the extent that I am coming to the conclusion that this is no coincidence and that the two things are inextricably linked.

Autogynephilia is not a benign, solo activity that has no impact on others, it is actively detrimental to women either directly because actual women are coerced into participating in it, or indirectly because it mimics and fetishizes a patriarchal view of female sexuality. Additionally, women outside the relationship are unwittingly forced to play along with the fetish when the AGP individual is out and about LARPing as “one of the girls” in female spaces, which of course includes participation in feminism.

Many Trans Widows tell of how they were coerced into participating in sexual activities that are just not of interest to a heterosexual woman who has entered into a marriage with a man. In addition there are often layers of financial abuse and coercive control in these relationships as the would-be transitioner lies and manipulates those around him and spends excessive amounts of money on feminine fripperies.

Trans Widows are manipulated and gaslighted to believe that our interpretation of reality is incorrect, flawed, and if we could only adjust our view of the world and of ourselves we could have a happy future. The reality of this is a total loss of personal agency for the woman, to the extent that some heterosexual Trans Widows who stay with their husbands end up declaring themselves to be Lesbians.

It is difficult for any woman who is in a relationship with an abusive man to leave, but Trans Widows are in the unique position where large parts of society celebrate the mechanisms of their oppression as evidence that their husband is stunning and brave, and expect them to share in the celebration of that oppression rather than escape it.

Many feminists consider themselves to be alert to the dynamics of coercive control, but have not joined the dots with regards to Trans Widows.

The sort of dominating behaviour displayed by AGP males is familiar to anybody who is aware of narcissism, Lundy Bancroft, the Freedom Programme or the Duluth Wheel.

AGP is the ultimate expression of male entitlement and woe betide anyone who comes in the way of a man’s right to indulge it.

In the light of this, what is it that makes some leaders of the modern Women’s Liberation movement willing to give platforms to, and accrue obligations towards, the transsexual “allies” who are Trans Widow’s husbands and ex-husbands? What could it be that they are prioritising over outcomes for women and girls? They have personal friendships with these males but is there also something else?

The fairly obvious answer is that it is their desire to bring the political left, in particular, the UK Labour Party round to a more gender critical viewpoint including ending Labour’s Support for reform of the Gender Recognition Act.  

Many of our current feminist leaders are like me, Labour Party members and Trade Unionists. Others are left leaning academics. They wish to frame an argument that is acceptable to the left. They believe that being seen to not be bigoted is an essential strategy in achieving this, and the way to show their anti-bigot credentials is to have a pet transsexual ally as a “get out of jail free” card that they can hold up against any hostile accusation of bigotry. “Look, this trans person agrees with me!”

The problem is though, that as well as the barriers this creates for Trans Widows, it is politically counterproductive. This was shown in the debacle over the fall of gender critical support at the Morning Star newspaper earlier this year.

The Morning Star had been the only left wing UK newspaper that had a consistently gender critical approach, publishing articles by feminists such as Jo Bartosch who had been silenced by other outlets.  However when they published a cartoon that was perceived by some to be “transphobic” there was a strong backlash, led by LGBT groups and activists on one side, and on the gender critical side by the transsexual friend of Women’s Place Kristina Harrison.

With condemnation from LGBT activists, and Trade Unions threatening to pull funding from the Morning Star, the final nail in the coffin of gender critical support in the mainstream left wing British press, came when Woman’s Place UK, issued a condemnation of the cartoon. Because Woman’s Place could have very easily stayed out of this debate altogether, one can only assume that their intervention came from a sense of personal friendship with Harrison. Particularly as their statement said: 

“We are grateful to those trans people who have worked with us, spoken at our meetings and supported the sex based rights of women and girls. Their solidarity has meant so much to so many and we stand beside them now.”

The Morning Star then had to issue a grovelling apology reminiscent of a Maoist struggle session, which even included a new found support for the reform of the Gender Recognition Act. Woman’s Place UK had (probably unintentionally) colluded in the downfall of the main source of support for the rights of females, in the British left wing press, in order to appease its transsexual male friends.

What has this compromise and others like it, from feminists, achieved?  Has it had any impact on the Labour party? Has sacrificing Trans Widows borne fruit? No. It is the Tories who seem to have kicked the reform of the Gender Recognition Act into the long grass, whilst the Labour MPs are still queuing up to sign documents as ludicrous as the Labour Trans Pledge which called Woman’s Place a “trans-exclusionist hate group” and implied that its supporters should be expelled from the Labour Party.

For some feminists, the road to hell is paved with the well intentioned desire to not be seen as “transphobic”. 

Feminism is nothing if it does not prioritise outcomes for women and girls, even the ones who are married to your male friends and allies, even the ones you secretly think must have been a bit weak to get into their situation, even the ones that stay at home, keep quiet and pretend that they are OK, even the ones that don’t have PhDs.

If feminists do not prioritise females, including Trans Widows, it is very clear that nobody else will.

To find out more about Trans Widows, please visit the new website Trans Widows Voices.

Transwidows are anonymous women who have lost partners to transgenderism.

Article Discussion

  • Posted by Delia

    27 December, 2021 at 1:37 am

    I have thought this for decades. I have always seen the victims, the wife and the children of transvestite/transsexual men and know the wife and family are doubly abused having been conned in marriage and than conned by society approving of the male. Also do not tell me these men do not know before they marry. Right now trans allies tell us children as young as four can be transgender.

  • This is an extremely good, well argued article. I agree with you that the interests of "transwomen" (inverted commas) and biological women are mutually exclusive. The former are simply impostors - Dr Paul R McHugh.

  • Posted by Niki

    23 May, 2020 at 9:00 pm

    This article makes so much sense, unfortunately common sense these days is thrown out the window and “inclusion” reigns supreme. It worries the hell out of me... Women and girls were finally getting a footing in this world.. lol, guess our “rights” were only on loan. For me, the left no longer exists. True leftists wouldn’t throw women and children under the bus. I worry so much for the kids caught up in this, the activism they’re being brainwashed with in schools is frightening. “Intersectional feminism”- biggest sham of the century. Thankyou for speaking out.

  • Posted by Julie Rook

    22 May, 2020 at 11:19 am

    I'm gender critical but this article has a lot wrong with it. 'Because you can’t have both. The inclusion of transsexual “allies” in feminism, excludes trans widows' This is objectively wrong. You can support trans widows and trans women. It's perfectly possible to say to a trans woman something like 'I may not think you are actually a woman, but you shouldn't suffer discrimination for wanting to live your life as a woman' whilst still seeing that the trans widow will suffer and helping her. The Morning Star cartoon was a needlessly provocative way of framing a rational concern. But even if you thought it was acceptable, why criticise A Woman's Place for commenting on it? A particularly awful part of identity politics is an unwillingness not criticise the 'home team'. I'm sure that the writer, like myself, has been angered when some trans woman displays truly astounding levels of misogyny and yet isn't criticised for it. Presumably trans groups would say, like the author of this article, 'we simply decided to stay out of this debate altogether'

    • Posted by Fredro

      17 August, 2020 at 7:53 am

      No, you cannot support transwomen and biological women - their interests are absolutely mutually exclusive. Since feminism is meant to be of benefit to women it must necessarily place them first, otherwise there is really no point to its existence. The Morning Star cartoon was "provocative" for a good reason, that it told the truth. Wake up and smell the coffee: Autogynephilia is real and it is the true face of MTF transgenderism. The Left backed the wrong horse in this case, it got fooled into believing sexual fetishism is deserving of legal protection as a human right.

    • Posted by Ute Heggen

      12 December, 2021 at 3:50 pm

      As a trans widow, in touch with half a dozen others who went through the same narcissistic and financial abuse while raising our children, whose father impersonated me repeatedly, I have to correct the assumptions that Julie Rook states here. The pressures on a grass widow (my name for the phenomenon, I want no trans word in my category) are crushing and emotionally overwhelming. While the "transition" is ongoing, the natal mother is to comfort the children, who are experiencing the grief of a death, while being used as props. My ex taught my children the phrase, "evil, mean and vile" to label any reference to the biological fact of his fatherhood. In my upcoming book, In the Curated Woods, True Tales from the Life of a Grass Widow, by Ute Heggen, you will find, Ms. Rook, the reasons why the needs and rights of transsexuals and their former wives are not parallel.

  • Posted by Elaine Hutton

    20 May, 2020 at 11:54 pm

    Thanks so much for thus article. Lots of radical feminists have NEVER gone along with supporting transsexual men and giving them space on our platforms. We need to hear more of this.

  • Posted by C.M.

    20 May, 2020 at 11:44 pm

    Wow! Powerful. Very persuasive and compelling arguments. Well done.

  • this is an entire invisible effect of what the media sentimentalizes over as happily ever trans

  • Posted by ViJai

    20 May, 2020 at 7:51 pm

    Many of us keep saying it, do we all mean it? Feminism centers women (I extend this to children as well). That means we have to act on it. Give WOMEN voices priority over male allies. While I do, completely, understand many people won't hear a woman's voice so it is tempting to lean on a male - even a male in a dress and full make-up - to get people to hear. That's shooting Feminism in the foot.

  • Posted by Lolly

    20 May, 2020 at 5:58 pm

    Brilliant article, spot on

  • Posted by Sue

    20 May, 2020 at 4:27 pm

    Fantastic article. A much needed and too often missing perspective from this debate.

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