First of all, thank you. Thank you for going beyond being mad on the Internet, to being mad in person. Thank you for showing up at your local Women’s March last year, and thank you for flying across the country to go to the big one in D.C.

Thank you for staying connected to #TheResistance by joining your local Together We Will, Action Together Network, Indivisible or other Resistance group. Thank you for joining more than one. Thank you for starting and leading these groups. Thank you for calling Congress, and sending postcards, and phone banking, and text banking, and fundraising, and protesting, and just plain showing up.

Thank you for being in the fight since before I was born or thank you for taking your first steps as an activist in this current era, whichever is your story.

We’ve accomplished a lot together over this last year, and it was hard work, and I know a lot of people stretched outside of their comfort zones. Thank you for all of it.

Please know that I see and value all that you’ve done, and this next sentence is not an attack on you or your contributions.

Please don’t wear your Pink Pussy Hat to this year’s Women’s March.

I don’t want this to be a fight. I know that many millions of people around the world came together under the pink floppy-eared hat, making it a de facto uniform for those resisting the particular badness of a then 1-day-old Trump presidency. But, even then voices were rising – “I’m a woman, but I don’t have a vagina.” “I have a vagina, but I’m not a woman.” “My vagina is not pink.”

There’s a word that is central to the leadership here at Together We Will USA – Amplification. Our jobs as leaders is to listen for these voices in the crowd and pass them the microphone. So let’s turn down the ambient soundtrack of everyday life for a moment and listen to people who are feeling left out and further marginalized by the cultural symbolism of the Pink Pussy Hat.

The Pink Pussy Hat’s mission statement is to advance women’s rights and human rights through the arts, education and respectful dialogue.

So let’s have some of that respectful dialogue.

I understand that it is both “just a hat” and “not just a hat”.

If it was just a hat, no one would be feeling hurt by it and no one would mind being nicely asked not to wear it anymore.

But, it’s not just a hat. It is a symbol of personal empowerment and feminism. For many, it’s a symbol of a type of feminism dominated by middle-class white women who have not always been stalwart allies of women of color or transfolks or marginalized folks in general. And to be frank, it’s been a pretty rocky year on this front.

This doesn’t mean you, individually, did anything wrong. In fact, you might be thinking to yourself right now, “Hey – I am a transwoman of color, and I feel really empowered by wearing my Pink Pussy Hat!”

I want all of my allies in this fight to feel as empowered as you do. I’m going to go back to that central tenet of TWWUSA – Amplification, and introduce another one Empathy.

Having empathy doesn’t require us to agree with the other person. It requires us to value the other person’s emotional needs above our desire to “be right.”

Many of our allies in this fight have expressed to us that they have an emotional need to have their allies empathize with the harm they’ve felt, and to stop further harm.

And all we have to do to stop some of that further harm? Just stop wearing a hat.

That’s it. Seems so simple. I hope it is.

So, again – thank you so much for all your hard work and your commitment to equality for all people. And, please don’t wear your Pink Pussy Hat to this year’s Women’s March.

 

Rhiannon Woo is a training professional in the area of food safety and conservation co-management and serves as the Newsroom Editor for Together We Will USA.