Happy New Year to the Bristol Uni's Women Talk Back! society, who cheers to 1903 with champagne and misogyny!

Bristol Students' Union has sanctioned their Feminist Society and its President for excluding trans women

Alexantra Theodosiou
21st February 2023
Image credit: instagram @carly.ahorne
Yes, you read that title right. No, we haven’t gone back a century, but it seems the Bristol City Student's Union have taken a tumble back in time as they debate over feminist society excluding trans women. It’s 2023, and some still choose to discriminate against women because of biological characteristics, and shockingly a society that labels itself as feminist!

As part of Newcastle’s own Feminist Society myself, I couldn’t imagine calling myself a feminist without intersectionality; including, tolerating, and accepting everyone’s personal views and experiences relating to race, sexuality, class, religion and more. It’s the most important part of feminism to be able to acknowledge everyone’s struggles in order to work together against them – especially for women, our fellow women!

We cannot ignore the fact that in our present society, gender is nothing but performative

Though in saying that, what does it even mean to be a woman? Simone de Beauvoir in ‘The Second Sex’ states that “one is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.” We cannot ignore the fact that in our present society, gender is nothing but performative. No matter who you were born, it is who you present to society that becomes your identity. Who you choose to be, and even in that there is fluidity.

Chloe Wood, Secretary of Newcastle University’s Feminist Society, "Lola Olufemi has written that ‘loosely, feminists have understood gender as our sense of self in the world, how we present our bodies, speak, move - anything that refers to our presentation and relationship to our own bodies’. As feminists then, it is so important that we embrace people for who they are (and remember that who they are is decided by themselves!). In the case of trans people then, why is there still any debate? To be a feminist, first and foremost, you must believe in equality and justice. To exclude trans women from single-sex events is to deny them their identity. People who act this way should not be allowed to call themselves feminists, as invalidating someone’s gender identity is completely unjust and exclusionary."

The essence of being a woman is not in your biological attributes, it’s not whether you wear a dress instead of jeans, or eyeliner instead of chapstick. Our identities are more to us than something for society to manipulate, and feminism is more than exclusion. Bristol City’s so-called ‘Feminist’ Society open a hurtful discussion with a clear answer: feminism is for ALL, trans women are WOMEN, and NOBODY deserves to be discriminated against in such a way. 

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