The first step towards making things better, as these women tell Bustle, is acceptance by cisgender women. "If the women’s equality movement is truly fighting for the autonomy and independence of all women, as I believe it should be," Kling says, "it’s not enough to limit the movement to a certain type of woman." Ignorance, Dr. Anderson believes, is part of the driving force behind this exclusion. "Most people, even educated people, do not know that by our best estimates, one in 200 persons born in the USA are transgender, and one in 600 are intersex," she explains.
Beyond acceptance, there are many strategies for women's equality to become more inclusive, and the steps it could take to reframe it. Dorian Wright emphasizes the importance of discussion. "We really need to have conversations about womanhood and learn to broaden our definitions of it," she tells Bustle. "In my journey to discover what womanhood meant to me, I confronted constant policing about how I should be a woman or how I should look or act, from within the queer community and from society at large. And, of course, I face constant invalidation and abuse by men who find my gender disorienting, who I’ve discovered are often the very same men having battles with their own gender or sexuality." Openness and education, she believes, could make women's equality more of a universal reality. Kling highlights that a gender-equality movement that helps trans women needed to focus on issues that particularly effect them. "Women’s equality must mean transgender rights. It must mean criminal justice reform. It must mean labor rights, and immigrant rights, and voting rights, on and on. It must mean all those things and more," she says.
Expanding the definition, for Larson, might mean fighting for equity, rather than equality. "Women of color's struggles, trans women's struggles, undocumented women, poor women, queer women's struggles, all illuminate the differences we each face to exist," she tells Bustle.
Dr. Anderson echoes the importance of inclusiveness. "I am working for the day when all women are accorded respect and opportunities commensurate with their abilities," she says. "In such a society, one’s competence and character matter more than one’s history, pedigree or body." And Alcosiba adds that transgender people add a necessary perspective to ideas about gender. "Transgender people are living proof that men and women are innately equal," she explains. "There is no masculinity nor femininity, but simply humanity. We deserve as much respect and rights as anyone. Nothing more. Nothing less. We ask for equality."
Anderson and Dorian Wright also emphasize the importance of being visible as trans women. "So long as it is safe to do so, we need to make ourselves visible and occupy space within society, because we slowly change minds and enlighten just by existing," Dorian Wright notes. "I wish every cisgender woman could become acquainted with a transgender woman, and in turn every man with a transgender woman," Dr. Anderson says. "Each week, I make the acquaintance of someone who has never really known a trans woman. I believe that I make a difference just by living my life and being authentic."
A women's equality movement that emphasizes and helps the transgender female community, actively addresses its concerns and helps to redress the balance that leaves trans women so far behind, says Kling, "is a women’s equality movement I would be able to believe in." But, she adds, "Is that a movement that will believe in me?"