Storify: Including Trans People In Your Anthology Calls

Storify is shutting down in May and has informed users that we have to migrate our content elsewhere if we wish to save it. This is one of my old threads. 

For the short version of this thread, hop down to the ** addendum at the bottom.

Y'all, we gotta have a serious thread about trans inclusion and some stuff we've been seeing with clumsy allyship. First of all: THANK YOU for accepting enbys as valid and wanting to be an ally!! You're trying and learning, thank you. But some terms.

- "AFAB" means assigned female at birth. AFAB does not mean "women and enbys".

- "Women and enbies" are groups that include AMAB people! (Trans women! AMAB enbies!)

- "AFAB" is a group which includes men! (Trans men! AFAB genderfluid men!)

I see groups struggling with how to say "this women's thing is open to more than women". Like anthologies, meetings, etc. If you say "women and enbys welcome" are you willing to include masculine enbys? including AMAB masc enbys? Are you willing to include trans men? Why or why not?

Side note: I coined "fembys" to include enbys who are feminine identified (demigirls, girlflux, etc.) but I realize that term isn't widespread. So this may be a case where more words help you. And, no, I don't have perfect words for this. I'm not sure anyone does. "This anthology is for women and nonbinary people with feminine-adjacent genders"???? Idk. But understand a few things:

- Enbys include AMAB people.
- Enbys include masculine people (regardless of assignation at birth!)

Please also note someone's birth assignment tells you NOTHING about their genitals either then or now. Please stop mapping AGAB to genitals. "AFAB" and "AMAB" are very useful terms in the trans community for discussion, but some allies are kinda being.... clumsy with them. Think long and hard about what you mean to convey.

If an anthology is for women, saying "submissions from AFABs, pls!" in an attempt to be nonbinary-inclusive then polices out trans women and AMAB enbys--and implies you think trans men are women. Saying "submissions from women and enbys, please!" is maybe okay in theory, but again ARE you okay with AMAB demiboys submitting? If yes, you may want to stress "submissions from women and ALL enbys" or something to make your intent clear.

If no, then what do you want? Women and feminine-identified / feminine-adjacent enbys? I think you can just say that! TL;DR: Inclusion is hard and I appreciate trying, but please think about how you word your inclusion outreach.

This doesn't mean people should stop using AFAB/AMAB, just a request that folks think about what they mean when they use them. Also the gentlest of warnings against broad statements like "AFAB people are socialized to...XYZ." As a general rule, socialization is done around gender. Women and people-perceived-as-women are socialized to XYZ. Socialization is complicated but understand that assigned gender at birth is not something immediately obvious at all times with all people.

I see enbys who are regularly perceived as their assigned birth gender making this mistake of using AF/MAB to mean People Perceived As F/M. And those two things--(1) Assigned Gender at Birth, (2) Perceived Gender Now--are not the same thing for everyone. And socialization about what boys/girls mean and do are soaked up by EVERYONE, not just people with specific birth assignations. When we say "AFABs are socialized to be nice", there's some implied weirdness going on there that, say, trans women missed that message.

I understand why fembys want something more than "women are socialized to be nice" because we're NOT women, but "AFAB" isn't it. "Women and people perceived as women are socialized to be nice" or "Society expects women-perceived people to be nice" maybe. The larger point here is that nonbinary-inclusiveness should NOT throw out trans men and trans women with the bathwater.

And here is the point where I scold cis people very very very gently. Cover your eyes if you can't deal with scolding. Cis Allies, I better see you put AS MUCH IF NOT WAY MORE effort into outreach for trans women and men as you do for us enbys.

Back to 'how do I word the anthology call to be trans-inclusive?' how do I KNOW that "women authors" means you include trans women? "Well, you should just assume I'm not a TERF--" no sir, that is not an even risk calculation there at all. Consider making your trans inclusion explicit and not a quick afterthought. Like: "This is a trans-inclusive anthology call. We accept submissions from cis and trans women, as well as feminine-adjacent nonbinary genders."

If the only way I can guess you're trans-inclusive is a wave in the direction of enbys? THAT IS A PROBLEM, MY CIS FRIENDS. "But I include enby people--" So do a lot of TERFs, my friend. Still doesn't mean you are safe. So please please please PLEASE make your trans-inclusion efforts explicitly outreach to binary trans men* and trans women, not just us enbys.

* An addition, but: Why are you excluding trans men? Consider this carefully because it again ties back into the question "what is the anthology for?" If you're wanting to talk about childbirth and periods, or about growing up perceived as a girl, or really any number of things... trans men are going to have a valid perspective on that. Trans men are men, but they're not cis men.

** If you're open to trans men being included in your thing if they want to be--and 9 times out of 10, I think this is optimal--consider just saying "open to women and all trans people". That covers everyone and you don't have to haul out things like "feminine-adjacent genders" which is going to alienate some folks because it's potentially reinforcing of the gender binary.


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