Dear Hero Of Mine: An Open Letter to Bette Midler

My dear Bette. I adore your fire, your tenacity, and your career. But I have to be honest about something, and get it out of the way before we continue here. You're older than me. At a humble 28 years old, I have a fraction of the nonsense from naysayers under my belt, less than half the wisdom, and am very new to the fights you have fought before I was even a twinkle in my mother's eye. The fights that I am now engaged in tooth and nail are the ones you thought were over and dealt with by your generation of brave and thoughtful women. I know how much you've been let down. I see the same pain in you that I see in my mom, and the other mothers in my circle, that call me every day apologizing to me for not doing enough. As if they are to blame. The Supreme Court ruined the lives of many people with uteruses, and yet the burden of care has fallen on (surprise surprise!) on women. The women who fought the first ten times, and then ten times again, are coming under fire more than ever. It is supremely unfair. But Bette, we gotta talk.

"Bette, I love you... but we gotta talk."

I firmly believe, darling, based on your history of pro-LGBTQIA+ community support, that your words (that turned out to be a response to an article with even worse word choices than your response), were not meant to harm. I also firmly believe that they were harmful, but here's the thing; you're exhausted. When the fight was first won, the biggest question of the time, and every time it has come up since then, is "But how do the men feel about it?" because we know too well that men dominate the conversation. Every conversation. It's annoying, disrespectiful, and destructive.

This is all the more evident today as the same battles that troubled our past are shadowing our present. You thought it was done, and you moved on to keep fighting the other big fights. You never stopped, and you are so loved for it, but having to go through the reproductive rights fight again is a lot, and you're not the only one who feels this way (see above calls from my mother). Only this time, the word "woman" is still getting buried. What the hell, right?! We've come so far, surely we can make this fight about what it's always been about for once!

Well, that is the good and bad news for you, Bette. We have come so far. The trans community that has always existed is coming out of the shadows, and making themselves known and proud. Isn't it


"We've come so far, surely we can make this fight about what it's always been about for once!"

I pray that you do in fact know that it's a wonderful thing, this bright, and colorful, and expressive world we now live in. As Captain Raymond Holt once said, "everytime someone steps up and says who they are, the world becomes a better, more interesting place." However, I understand that when it comes to this particular battle, the new language is confusing, and aggravating, because when we say People with uteruses, we aren't just talking about nonbinary people and we aren't talking about trans women, clearly. We are talking about trans men. Having the faith that I do in you, I believe that you know that trans men are men. I suspect that seeing the conversation steered that direction is jarring and traumatic for you. Once again, your experience with fighting for a traditionally women's issue is being taken over by men. I can also understand how, after so many years of fighting for human rights, the phrase People with uteruses sounds clinical, dehumanizing, and removed, like we are objects. Chattle. Nameless faces responsible for replenishing the domestic infant supply.

"...the phrase People with uteruses sounds clinical, dehumanizing, and removed, like we are objects."

All of this to say, I have explored the possible reasons why you feel so passionate about the new language of this old issue, and I hope I've successfully touched on some of it. I have chosen to approach your words in a more thoughtful way than can possibly be expressed in a tweet, because I think your position deserves more than to be screamed at as though you've never been there for the LGBTQIA+ community at all. We know that's not true, I promise we know that. However, even given all that history, and all these factors, and the words that may be troubling at first, I must inform you that inclusive language isn't hurting you. Bette, you owe an apology and you owe yourself some time to do some research and read firsthand accounts of trans and nonbinary individuals. We are never done growing, and although I can defend your intent and ruffled feathers in the wake of the overturn, we don't get to decide whether or not we hurt someone in this life. If they say they are hurt, we hurt them. I've made this error many times. I'm growing out of it. I firmly believe you can grow from this, in ways many women I loved in my youth simply did not. The people have spoken, Bette. You hurt them, and they feel betrayed.

I hope you read this. I hope you become comfortable with the inclusive language. I hope you can welcome any and all to this movement, more than you have already.

Godspeed, Bette. I believe in you.

-Eliza, in the Trees