I’ve been contemplating transphobia. What is it exactly? Why is it so prevalent? How do we stop it? I have spent countless hours pondering these questions and I fight with my own flawed brain to define transphobia and all that goes along with it. Then I stumbled across a Facebook post from Ms. Santa Clara County Leather 2014 that gave me a great starting point for explaining transphobia. The following is an excerpt from her post (completely unedited, just removed a bit at the beginning and the end) that demonstrates things that are transphobic and goes on to show the ridiculousness of the same logic in other circumstances.
– “I’m a lesbian, I only fuck women” but won’t fuck trans women or will fuck trans men. Congrats, you’re a transphobe.
– “I’m gay, I only fuck men” but won’t fuck trans men or will fuck trans women. Congrats, you’re a transphobe.
– “I’m straight, I only fuck women with vaginas” but won’t fuck post-op trans women. Congrats, you’re a transphobe.
– “I’m straight, I only fuck men with cocks” but won’t fuck trans men post-surgery or hormones. Congrats, you’re a transphobe.
– “I only fuck partners with vaginas” but won’t fuck trans men and post-op trans women. Congrats, you’re a transphobe.
– “I only fuck partners with cocks” but won’t fuck pre- or non-op trans women and trans men. Congrats, you’re a transphobe.
– “I only fuck partners with breasts and a vagina” but won’t fuck post-op trans women and trans men who haven’t had top surgery. Congrats, you’re a transphobe.
This kind of thing looks so ridiculous in any other situation:
– “But you look so white, how was I to know one of your parents was black. Don’t you think this is the kind of thing you should tell me before we have sex? You tricked me!”
– “But I thought your DD breasts were REAL, I didn’t know you’d had surgery to make them look like that! Don’t you think this is the kind of thing you should tell me before we have sex? You trapped me!”
– “But you’re so educated and eloquent, I thought you’d been raised upper class! Why didn’t you tell me you were born blue-collar? Don’t you think this is the kind of thing you should tell me before we have sex? You lied to me!”
– “But you’re Jewish? I thought you were really Christian! Don’t you think this is the kind of thing you should tell me before we have sex? You’re keeping secrets from me!”
If you insist trans people are obligated to disclose because you’d be “uncomfortable” having a relationship or having sex with them–but you would totally bang them if they were cis–you are transphobic. Transphobes are not allys.
“You can do your thing, go, all power to you, pee where you want, marry who you want, just don’t get your trans cooties anywhere near my junk” is not support. It’s justification you use to make yourself feel better for not being bigoted, but it’s a giant lie. It’s transphobia and nothing more.”
She summed it up pretty damn well and I’m not sure what more I can say to define transphobia. I don’t even feel I need to add anything. It’s perfectly acceptable to say “I’m only attracted to vaginas” and not want to date a pre-op MTF. It’s still a little close-minded but people do have preferences and I respect that. But if you like penis (note that I said penis and NOT men, it’s an important distinction) and won’t date a post-op FTM, then go fuck yourself.
As Ms. Santa Clara County Leather 2014 stated, a part of her writing not included above, the most common form of transphobia is not the violence or other “newsworthy” bigotry perpetuated against Trans* people. It’s these little things. These simple “I only fuck real men” comments. People saying “I support Trans* rights” and then turning around to say “you still have a penis and I only date women.” it’s bullshit. Own your preference, you only like vaginas, fantastic. But don’t imply that a Trans* man isn’t a man or a Trans* woman is not a woman.
So now that we have a basic understanding of transphobia, why does it happen? I’m going to have to bypass the major hate crimes, the beatings, the murders, the rapes, because I honestly cannot fathom why anyone could be so fucked up in the head as to think my gender identity is a reason to commit acts of violence against me. I just can’t wrap my head around it at all. So I can’t really gather enough coherent thoughts to make a valid statement that isn’t overly emotional regarding why it happens.
I have friends that identify as lesbian but will happily date a pre-op FTM, all while saying they don’t date men. While that is indeed transphobia, these people are not inherently transphobic. I think the problem is with all the labels we apply to ourselves and others. You can’t exactly be a lesbian and date FTMs and not sound like an asshole, but what can you call yourself if you are attracted only to people without a penis? There is no label for that. I’m not always a big fan of labels to begin with but let’s face it, society runs on labels. It’s a way to align yourself with people of similar interests or backgrounds and that’s not necessarily bad. We have people calling themselves nerds, queer, straight, sapeosexual, emo, goth… And a million other things. It’s all just labels to describe something about yourself and to let others know you may have things in common. People get upset over labels and I’ve seen some pretty big reactions over something so small but I often agree with these people, we don’t need labels at all. Human is a good enough term to describe me. At the same time, some people love their labels and I can respect that too because I very much identify as Trans*. We either need to get rid of all the labels or add more, that are inclusive of all areas of life. Where do you fit if you only date people with penises including non-op/pre-op MTFs? If you are a man, you really only have “gay” and that completely alienates the MTFs you might date. So either drop the gay label or make a new one for yourself. This is why labels hurt us, all of us. Regardless of whether that label is gay, Trans*, or nerd. There is more to each person than what a label can define. Don’t get so caught up over your identity as a lesbian that you essentially call any FTM you date a woman. If you would date a FTM, you are NOT a lesbian. It’s that simple.
Then there are transphobic remarks like “until you have surgery, you’re not really a man/woman. But I totally support you!” I’ve witnessed this come from people who truly meant no disrespect, but there it is slapping you in the face. I feel like this comes from an utter lack of understanding of the difference between gender and sex. It’s a very transphobic thing to say and should not be excused but I don’t think it always comes from a negative place. If you define gender by genitals, the way society seems to be taught, then trying to understand that I am a man with a vagina will be difficult for you. What needs to be understood is that gender is an identity, another label we wear. Gender is not physical characteristics. Penis and vagina should not be associated with male and female because anyone can have any combination of gender and sex. So, I may not have a penis but I am damn sure a man. You don’t get to decide what does and doesn’t make someone a particular gender. You only get to decide your own gender and whether you want to be a dick to other people about their personal identity.
Now, how the hell do we stop transphobia? Again, I’m referring to the non-violent, non-physical here. My heart just can’t understand that stuff…
Ending this type of transphobia is really quite simple but no one really believes me or wants to put in the work and be open…sadly that will only make the process of Trans* acceptance longer and harder. Here it is folks, are you ready?
1. If you are Trans*, educate. Educate everyone you can and be an example of “normalcy”
2. If you are not Trans*, learn. Listen, ask (respectfully) and stop trying to dictate how anyone else lives their life.
3. Problem solved.
It’s unfortunate that, as humans, we are often not willing to educate or learn about topics that make us uncomfortable. I am equally guilty of this on occasion. We need to start reaching outside of our comfort zone and be more open to what the world has to offer us.