You cannot have true revolution, real change without bringing everyone with you. If your social justice cause leaves anyone behind, then everyone is at risk of the same. You can get incremental change this way, but you can’t take on the system.
If your activism leaves mentally ill people behind, then all the powers that be need to do to discount you is suggest you are crazy. If you throw trans women under the proverbial bus to get a feminism that puts you first, then all the world has to do is say you look trans to treat you badly too.
My college history professor (who accidentally saved me from a cult by teaching me the history of others) gave me the framework I still use for thinking of a just society. He assigned us all to design a fictional country and determine its hierarchy. After we were finished, he told us to imagine we had to live at the lowest station we had created. If we’d included a servant class while imagining ourselves as royalty, we now found ourselves as peasants. If we’d gone for more balance, we were more content with our role.
When crafting your social justice philosophy, imagine yourself not as the leader but the least esteemed contributor. Who does your movement leave behind? Who will society associate you with to justify mistreatment? Make sure they’re included and listened to. Don’t leave any station you wouldn’t be content to hold for life.
I look at the world from the bottom up, knowing that each person left behind is a tragedy, and an opportunity for the world to decide I deserve the same fate. When any human has their rights violated, if I don’t object I leave the door open to have my own right violated.
Until we raise the status of all women – cis, trans, gay, bi, straight, intellectually disabled, intellectually gifted, physically disabled, thin, fat, athletic, obese, black, white, Latina, Native, Asian, multiracial, mothers, and child free – then all women are vulnerable. Sure I want to break the glass ceiling, but first let’s fix this uneven floor.
Let’s make the poorest person wealthy enough to meet their needs. Let’s make the most disrespected woman safe and free from harassment. Let’s make the most self hating queer only mildly dislike themselves sometimes. Let’s think about the world as if we had to occupy the lowest position, then work to make sure everyone has a position we could live with.