At an event hosted by Penn Democrats Thursday night, students and panelists discussed the importance of intersectionality in light of the recent Women's March in Philadelphia.
The event, titled "Intersectional Feminism and The Women's March Panel," featured a discussion with several panelists, including LGBT Center Associate Director Tiffany Thompson, Penn Women's Center Associate Director Elisa Foster, and Hazel Edwards, an educator and outreach specialist at the Attic Youth Center, a community center for LGBT youth in Philadelphia.
Penn Dems Legislative Director and College sophomore Sarah Jones facilitated the panel and said the event had added significance because of last month's Women's March.
The national Women’s March on Washington came under fire after the march's co-chairs were accused of anti-Semitism. The march has also been criticized in the past for failing to be inclusive of all women.
“I really want people at the event thinking more broadly about feminism and about human experience,” Jones said. “It’s important to allow all kinds of people to speak."
Edwards said the march excluded key groups of women, including transgender women.
“Where do I fit in?” Edwards said. “There is no space for me if everybody’s only talking about women’s rights through the lens of genitals.”
The event was also co-sponsored by campus groups Penn Association for Gender Equity, the LGBT Center, United Minorities Council, and Penn Non-Cis.
Thompson said the march was not inclusive of all women, adding that leaders of the march “miss the mark” and continuously fail to address key questions surrounding inclusivity.
“It’s an issue that we continue to kind of wash over until next year,” Thompson said.
Foster said a key part of intersectionality is understanding and acknowledging the experiences of others, adding that "we all experience and navigate the world in different ways."
The panelists also shared their own personal experiences and challenges with inclusivity.
Edwards said her experience as a transgender woman of color significantly differs from that of a white transgender woman.
“I see a lot of white trans women being able to have opportunities because they’re not prone to racism,” Edwards said.
Penn Dems Membership Director and Wharton sophomore Chris Cherian said the event helped those interested in feminist and intersectionality theory understand the perspectives of others.
“Intersectional feminism is really important to make sure that different groups can get together and achieve a goal,” Cherian said. "At the end of the day, the more people working towards something, the better.”