My CisBi Opinion on: Transphobia
I have a pretty left-of-centre view on most things. Healthcare should be free, heroin shouldn’t. LGBTQ+ people should be allowed to get married, child brides shouldn’t. Poverty is bad, intergration isn’t. Pretty standard views for a young, liberally educated woman. In fact, my generation seems to agree on most of these things. That is, apart from transgender rights.
The hatred towards the transgender community is alarming. Although I’m not a member of the transgender community -that is, I was born a woman and identify as a woman- I would like to voice some of the complaints I hear said between cisgender people. Honesty is the best policy, etc.
Usually, the hate seems to be targeted at trans women, although occasionally it creeps into a wider fear or distrust of the transgender movement. Transmisogyny- that is, hatred of women who are transgender- definitely seems to have caught the popular imagination of a lot of young men in my social circle. But there are also a lot of young women who appear brazenly uncomfortable with trans women too.
So let’s break down the main anti-transgender arguments I hear.
“Trans women are saying that women can’t protest anti-abortion laws and period taboos now, because it offends them! They are consuming the feminist narrative for their own selfish reasons!”
Wow. As someone who is a feminist myself, I have to say that I’ve discussed intersectionality (minority groups being represented in feminism) at length. Most of the trans women I work with strongly and vocally support pro-choice and period-rights protests. What they object to appears to be the idea that all women, in order to be women, have to experience fertility issues associated with traditional womanhood. Which seems pretty fair to me. A lot of women- transgender or not- do not have periods, and experience heartbreak over being unable to have a child. In truth, sensitivity is key. No one is censoring here, just discussing. I think the argument over #PussyHatGate has been over reported as a done-and-dusted issue.
“ A man in a dress can never be a woman. He doesn’t experience the same sexual harassment, the same childhood experiences, the same discrimination…how dare they think they can put on a dress, giggle and say they are a woman!”
I hear this one a lot. Because a lot of the visual signs of transition are related to gendered-clothing changes, or maybe wearing your hair and make up a certain way, I think the mainstream media has taken this as the be-all and end-all of transition. It isn’t. There are loads of amazing transgender Youtubers and bloggers (I reccomend following Stef Sanjati @stefsanjati, she’s amazing and super funny) who talk openly about their transition. You’ll see that presenting an identity isn’t about putting on a dress or doing your hair. It’s about representing yourself in the way you feel inside. So yeah, not a ‘man in a dress’.
“Trans women are so misogynistic. They say stuff like “oh I knew I was transgender because I liked dolls and make up, and I want to be a homemaker” and “I don’t like feminists because I want to be submissive and wear dresses”.”
Another common one. Amazingly- Caitlin Jenner isn’t the only trans woman in the world, and there isn’t a hivemind where all trans women think and feel the same way. Yes, that’s right. Just like any other women, they have different views, different thoughts on politics and culture, different stories and different ideas. Saying all trans women think that being a woman is being submissive is like saying all cis women (biologically female) think like Sarah Palin. Yeuch.
“They are just gay men who want to sleep with straight men. And then I’m ‘transphobic’ because I don’t want to!”
A lot of transwomen are murdered because they didn’t immediately reveal their transgender status, but chose to later. Murdered. Deciding to be open about your transgender status isn’t something lightly undertaken by many women. It can be a matter of life or death. They aren’t ‘trapping’ you or trying to assault you by not bellowing ‘I USED TO HAVE A PENIS’ the minute you speak to them. If your masculinity is so fragile that you could kill a woman for not telling you her birth gender, I suggest you see a shrink, fast. If it is so important to you, ask before sleeping with a woman. Certainly don’t kill or abuse her. The confusion between sexuality/gender appears to be something very prominent in straight men’s worries: why? Internalised homophobia?
“What if pedophiles dress up as women to get into women’s bathrooms?”
Yikes. Well as a born- biologically female-female (cisgender) I’d say the men who have abused me growing up and as a young woman certainly didn’t bother putting on a dress. If you bother to research the number of pedophiles who pretended to be trans to get into women’s bathrooms, you’ll see it’s extremely rare and something of an urban legend. Many trans women who have had full-transitional surgery physically can’t use a urinal or would get abused going into men’s rooms. Surely that’s a bigger deal.
A lot of these fears appear to stem from an over-representation of radical (oh let’s just say it, extreme) transgender figures rather than the majority of those in the trans community. I hardly think it’s likely that all transgender people are out to destroy women’s rights, sleep with men who are openly anti-trans rights, and sexually abuse and voyeur on young girls and women.
If you do, I think you might need to try and meet some of the millions of transgender folk who might just be a great friend, colleague and fellow human.