OSR Journal of Student Research

Article Title

Pussy Hats and Anti-Trans Sentiments: When Second-Wave and Third-Wave Collide


Sean Maulding


Trans inclusion within the feminist movement has varied over the past sixty years. During the feminist second-wave of the 1960s through the 1980s, trans inclusion rose and then fell, with many second-wave feminists of the day adopting a clear and deliberate anti-trans feminist ideology. These feminists worried about whether their alliance with the even more marginalized trans community would ultimately hurt the second-wave cause. During this time, the trans community struggled to fight many of the same battles as feminism, largely without the help of its feminist cousin. A review of the second-wave of feminism and a review of the trans community and activism reveal the main, seemingly incompatible difference between the two movements. It was found that this difference is in how each group defines gender. Second-wave feminism links gender directly to the biological sex, while the trans movement differentiates between sex and a more socially defined, experienced-based gender. These differences continue to impact the activist movements of each community. An analysis, using online news articles covering the women’s rights marches, of two symbols seen at one of the women’s marches: the pussy hats and an anti-feminist poster, found that, while more radical anti-trans feminist ideology continues to influence some feminist thinking of today, the key to the reconciliation of the feminist and trans activism may be the more personal nature of the third-wave of feminism. A more exhaustive review of the women’s rights marches and of trans theory and activism is needed to further support these initial findings.

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