teens

"That shattered me." What it's like to be a 15-year-old feminist, transitioning into a male.

At Mamamia, every day is International Women’s Day. But this year, we’re celebrating March 8 by sharing stories from some of Australia’s most influential women, as well as columns from voices spanning 5 generations. Here, 15-year-old Oscar shares his experience as a feminist, trans teenager. You can find all our International Women’s Day stories on our hub page.

My name is Oscar Martel. I’m a fifteen year old queer, transgender, kid who uses he/him pronouns. Even before I realised I was transgender, the adult women around me made sure I had a feminist upbringing. I filled my Instagram feed with feminist pages using words I didn’t know – intersectional, third-wave, misogyny. I took to the comment section (never a good idea), and battled against republican, and edgy meme pages.

Meeting my best friend – a nonbinary, punk, thirteen year old – was revolutionary to me. It took me two weeks to realise I was queer, and about six months to begin questioning my gender identity. Then, I saw in a thread about abortion: “If you’re not a woman, you don’t get a say in this.”

That shattered me, because I agreed with it. It was disgusting that men thought they could tell people what to do with their own bodies.

But feminism was so important to me. I felt like if I accepted my gender identity, I would lose my part in this movement that had become so important to me. If I came out as transgender, even to myself, I would be betraying the feminist movement I had come to love.

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Oscar, age 6. Image supplied.
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I felt like I had to choose between my trans identity, and my feminist identity. Sure, men can be feminists - and male feminists are important - but if I came out I would be a man who tried to talk over women. Or, worse, I’d never be a ‘real’ man because I still engaged in feminism. Even worse, I’d be betraying the ideals that my feminist role models stood for. I know, and knew, full well that feminism is trans inclusionary but that didn’t make it better.

Gender politics are complicated, especially for a feminist trans kid. The intersection between my gender identity and my feminist worldview wasn’t something that was easy to navigate. It wasn’t some big revelation that led me to accept myself, it was gradual and painful. It involved coming out again, and again, and again, and again, and sometimes being outed. It took time to realise that I could be trans and present in the feminist debate, and still be valid as a man.

Feminism is intersectional. As it becomes more visible, it becomes far more inclusionary. The Riot Grrl punk that had become so important to me was exclusionary of black women. The campaigns for women's rights to vote again didn’t include non-white women for decades. Even many of the groundbreaking civil rights campaigns neglected the LGBT community.

It is up to us, feminists of today, to tell young people what our feminism is. We need to reject trans exclusionary radical feminists and their ideology. We need to stand up for black trans women who are being massacred in America. If you’re not living in America please support the work that the Black Trans Travel Fund is doing. We, as feminists, need to teach trans children that they can be valid as transgender and as feminists, because feminism fights for LGBT people as well.

It's a few years on and I'm out to everyone, and I've socially transitioned - I'm living as male. I'm still a feminist, but I find healthier outlets than the dreaded comments section. I go to protests and spread awareness of court cases and transphobic bills - such as HB500. I'm a feminist, but there are more ways to be feminist than I knew.

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"We need to reject trans exclusionary radical feminists and their ideology." Image supplied.
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Coming out as transgender didn't betray my feminism, or my womanhood. If anything, coming out was a powerful feminist act. Feminism has paved the way for trans people to be able to come out and ensures them a community of support. There are still those who want to estrange me from feminism - such as TERFs who call me a 'lost lesbian'. Their logic is flawed and regressive, and it doesn't even make sense - even if I was a woman I wouldn't be a lesbian.

Now, more than ever, feminists from all around the world need to band together to protect trans kids. Trans homelessness statistics are horrific, trans suicide statistics and transphobic murders are climbing. We need to tell trans children that they are valid and that they are real, and protect them from transphobia. It is up to us to help transgender people like myself, and to include them in our feminism.

If any transgender young person is reading this, I want to tell you that your feminism and your gender are not at odds. You can be trans and feminist, and those two important identities do not contradict one another. You have a space in feminist discussions. You are valid. You are loved. And feminists reading this - share that message with the trans people around you. It is up to you. We can do this.

Oscar Martel is a 15-year-old writer who uses he/him pronouns. He enjoy herpetology, entomology, and reading. You can follow him on Instagram: @feralbasterd

Mamamia is funding 100 girls in school, every day with our charity partner Room To Read, and our goal is to get to 1,000 girls every day. To help empower women this International Women's Day, you can donate to Room to Read and make a difference in girls' futures.

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