My name is Gina de Vries. I am writing because I am disturbed by the exclusion of male-to-female (MTF) transgender women from your survey on romantic and sexual relationships between women. I would like to respectfully ask you to change your exclusion of trans women from this survey, and include transgender women as well as cisgender (non-transgender) women in your study. I am also writing because I am a cisgender woman in a relationship with a transgender woman, and if my partner were included in your survey guidelines, I would be happy to participate in your study.
You say that your survey participants have to be "a woman (biological sex)." The term "woman (biological sex)" is both a misnomer and essentialist. "Biology" is simply the science that studies living matter in all its forms -- which would lead me to believe that all living people's sexes are "biological," regardless of whether they are transgender or cisgender.
However, when people reference "biological sex" in the context of transgender people, what they generally mean is that cisgender people's bodies are "biologically" sexed, and that transgender people's bodies are not "biologically" sexed - that trans people, by virtue of identifying as a gender other than that which they were assigned at birth, are somehow artificial, unnatural, and not "biological." This is not only extremely offensive - it is absurd. Transgender people's sexes, genders, and bodies are as "biological" -- as alive, and as authentic -- as cisgender people's sexes, genders, and bodies. And it is my fundamental belief that trans women are biological -- living, breathing, and above all, real and authentic -- women.
Excluding trans women from this survey creates a hierarchy in which women with certain kinds of bodies are privileged over others; where a woman's identity as a woman is based upon her body parts, or body parts she may have once had, or hormones, or chromosomes, or some combination of those attributes. And while I am a cisgender (non-transgender) woman, I have had the experience of people basing my worth and identity as a woman on what my body looks like.
But our bodies, what we choose to do with them, and how we choose to modify them, are not the sum of our parts as women. What makes women women -- trans or not -- is not about hormones, chromosomes, or what might be between our legs.
Put simply: There are many biologically female cis and trans women couples, and there are many biologically female couples where both women are trans. By excluding trans women (and their cis and trans women partners) from your survey, you are missing out on some potentially fruitful and insightful information.
Please cease your exclusion of trans women, and reconsider your wording about who is "biologically" female and who is not. I firmly believe that your survey and your project as a whole will be stronger if you include trans women.
Thank you very much for reading this,
Gina de Vries
From: Cassandra Golding [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Saturday, September 06, 2008 4:01 PM
To: Gina de Vries
Subject: PLEASE help with female couples research
I am a clinical psychology doctoral student at the University of Rhode Island currently collecting online data on female couples who have been together for at least six months. Could you please post the below request for participants to your list-serve and/ or pass on to people you know who may be eligible? Thank you, in advance for your help in completing my goal of 1200 participants. I really appreciate your contribution to this research.
Survey Link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=UFljHZ2zpImhM4jkRag4oA_3d_3d
Request for Participants
You are invited to participate in a research study to explore romantic relationships between women. I am a doctoral student at the University of Rhode Island. The information gained through this research will be used to better understand how women relate in romantic relationships and how they define, view and experience closeness in their relationships. Your participation in this study is completely voluntary, confidential and anonymous. Once you complete the survey, you will be given the option to be entered (via email) in a random drawing for one of 25 monetary rewards totaling $600 (one $100, four $50, ten $20 and 10 $10 American Express gift cards or similar).
In order to participate, you must be:
- at least 18 years old,
- English speaking, and
- a woman (biological sex)
- currently in a committed, romantic relationship with another woman for at least six months.
Your participation does not depend on the way you identify in terms of your sexual orientation. Therefore, you may identify as lesbian, gay, straight, bisexual, or any other term you choose.
Just click the below link and you'll be directed right to the survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=UFljHZ2zpImhM4jkRag4oA_3d_3d
Please complete this survey as soon as possible. Thank you in advance for your help and please forward this invitation to others who may either meet the criteria or know people who would. Thank you again.