It’s a big day at the world-famous Vagina Museum.
In case you’re unaware, Tuesday is International Women’s Day.
Imagine a gender-equal world. A world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination. A world that’s diverse, equitable and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated. Together we can forge women’s equality. Collectively we can all #BreakTheBias.
To that end, allies can download #BreakTheBias “selfie cards.”
A single click snags slogans such as these:
- We will call out gendered actions or assumptions.
- I will maintain a gender-equal mindset.
- I will help forge a gender equal world.
- We will celebrate women’s achievements.
- I will forge positive visibility of women.
As for the museum — self-described as the “world’s first bricks and mortar museum dedicated to vaginas, vulvas and the gynae anatomy” — this year brings unprecedented diversity.
Via Twitter, the UK establishment announces what presumably is a focus first:
This #InternationalWomensDay, we’re going to talk about trans women in history.
To defend against detractors, the account says, “We’ve turned replies off, because we know some people would prefer these stories to be erased and silenced.”
This #InternationalWomensDay we're going to talk about trans women in history. We've turned replies off, because we know some people would prefer these stories to be erased and silenced.
— Vagina Museum (@vagina_museum) March 8, 2022
Amid celebration of women who are biologically male, the Vagina Museum turns to another “V” word — “vikings”:
We’ll start with some housekeeping. Across time and space, gender has been constructed in various ways. We discuss queering the past in our podcast episode “Trans Saints And Gay Vikings,” which you might like to listen to.
In the same thread, history is hailed:
Many histories of trans women are only known through court records and legal struggles and do not present these people as the whole humans that they were. ELEANOR RYKENER (14th century) is one such story. Eleanor was arrested for prostitution and sodomy in 1394. As well as doing sex work, she was an embroiderer. Her colleagues knew her as Eleanor and saw her as a woman. The court did not. Beyond the records, we do not know much about Eleanor Rykener, or even whether any charges were brought against her.
A rebel’s row of pioneers:
LUCY HICKS ANDERSON (1886–1954) was an African-American socialite, hostess and chef from California. She transitioned at an early age with support from her family and doctors. Lucy fought tooth and nail for her second marriage to a man to be recognized. Sadly, she and her husband were convicted of perjury in 1945, and Lucy was given a court order to wear men’s clothes. After their release from prison, she lived in Los Angeles with her husband.
English model, actor and author APRIL ASHLEY (1935-2021) faced legal proceedings and public outing in the 1960s. Her ex-husband, an aristocrat, didn’t want to pay her support payments, and so he filed for an annulment of the marriage on the basis of her assigned sex.
Many trans women in history are known due to interest in their transitions — they are known largely for existing as trans women. One such woman is LILI ELBE (1882-1931). Lili was an artist who later wrote an autobiography. For much of her life, she lived with her wife Gerda. Due to this, we have many portraits of what Lili looked like, through her wife’s eyes. However, Lili is probably better known for public interest in the surgeries she underwent in the in the early 1930s.
Since it's #LGBTHistoryMonth, let's celebrate the sapphic urge to spend the 1920s prolifically creating beautiful female gaze art of your wife. Here is a thread of some of Gerda Wegener's paintings and illustrations of her wife, Lili Elbe.
Portrait of Lili Elbe, 1928 pic.twitter.com/Uuy67819vG
— Vagina Museum (@vagina_museum) February 3, 2022
Touting transgenderism on International Women’s Day seems an odd move for a joint devoted to female genitals. But it isn’t the first time a gallery’s drawn outside the lines in the name of honor:
In case you missed it:
— Alex Parker (@alexparker1984) March 9, 2022
It’s also not the Vagina Museum’s first occasion of hitting headlines — see “A Community Worries as its Esteemed Vagina Museum Applies for a Liquor License.”
As discussion and debate regarding gender identity grow, Western news is sure to become its own sort of exhibition:
A Woman Undergoes Surgery to Have a Penis Added, but Doctors Remove Her Vagina – Which She Wanted to Keep https://t.co/boaoeKPVRd
— Alex Parker (@alexparker1984) March 9, 2022
Even so, a trace of the traditional remains. Despite being transfixed for International Women’s Day, London’s Vagina Museum still knows where its bread is buttered.
Perhaps the museum’s period story for March 8th is that “trans women are women — period.”
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