People were curious about my transition when I first came out as transgender.
A part of me was delighted to answer their questions at first because I wanted them to know that I appreciated their interest in trying to comprehend my situation.
But there is a distinction between a question asked out of genuine interest and one that is loaded with preconceived notions or criticism.
I enjoyed the conversation at first, but now all the questions are wearing me out.
After setting limits, the most common argument I hear in defense of myself is, “Geez, you can’t even ask questions anymore without these social justice warriors becoming outraged!”
They have no idea how many inquiries and hate mail I (and many other trans individuals around the world) get every day.
And although I do appreciate people’s want to learn more, there comes a point when queries that border on or are outright transphobic wear on my patience.
Since they aren’t trying to hurt me physically, many of them consider their inquiries to be entirely harmless.
However, physical violence is not the only form of abuse. They mistakenly believe that their views do not cause harm to others.
Constantly probing trans people with intrusive inquiries is demeaning, harmful, and stressful.
Each inquiry is an invitation to “show me you’re who you claim you are.”
Because it reinforces the idea that trans individuals don’t “fit in” with the culture, this perspective makes life a lot more difficult for trans people. No group of people should ever be treated in such an intolerant manner.
Here are a few arguments as to why transphobia is more than just a personal bias.
First, this is dehumanizing for a number of reasons
The marginalized are often treated as abstract concepts in online discussions. It’s really disappointing to me when hundreds of people discuss trans topics as if I didn’t exist as a human being, and this happens every day.
People who comment on articles about the anti-LGBT bill in North Carolina, for instance, often treat trans women as though we were sexual predators. It is always based on a fear of the unknown, rather than any genuine knowledge about trans persons or unfavorable encounters with any trans people.
Every time they talk about me as if I don’t exist, I want to scream. I exist, and it is proper for me to do so.
When people are dehumanized in this way, others are less likely to show compassion or empathy for them, which can lead to acts of violence and hatred. They are not considered to be human, hence it follows that they are not worthy of basic civil liberties.
Trans people are the most recent marginalized community, largely due to our tendency to frighten others just by being different. They plan on shoving us far enough away that we disappear from their line of sight.
They prefer it if we didn’t exist, therefore they eliminate us at a tragically high rate. This kind of treatment not only makes life unbearable for transgender persons, but it also plays a role in the shockingly high suicide rate among trans people.
No one should have to go through life feeling like this, and no one should have to deal with the actual climate of violence that arises when people are routinely dehumanized.
Secondly, it requires transgender people to constantly prove their existence.
Every day, I have to field inquiries about my transition, which I don’t mind doing in and of itself. However, when seemingly innocuous inquiries pile up, I lose my patience and feel emotionally tired.
Few people appreciate how often I have to respond to intrusive inquiries, and I often berate myself for failing to be more patient.
“Have you kept your penis?”
How about, “Are you having surgery?”
Do you take hormones?”
Can I get you some boobs?
“Wait, you’re seeing someone?” Okay, so are you a lesbian?
“What’s your sex routine?”
If you’re so sure you’re a woman, how come?
Why don’t you just embrace your inner effeminate male?
It’s exhausting to keep asking these kinds of questions. I’d like for folks to give me a break so I can get some rest.
This makes me feel like I have to prove my identity to others by passing a litmus test, and if I fail, they will reject me. They may not intend to treat me like a lab rat, but that’s how I’ve been made to feel.
To elucidate, most people who identify as heterosexuals aren’t subjected to a barrage of questions about their sexuality, and if someone implies that they aren’t hetero, some of them will fly off-the-handle, partly out of homophobia and partly out of frustration that someone isn’t taking them at their word.
Since my gender identity isn’t negatively impacting anyone else’s life, the only thing that should matter to other people is that I’m much happier now. This concept shouldn’t be too complicated to understand.
Since it’s not overtly hostile, this may not be seen as transphobic. In the end, they’re just nosy onlookers, right?
However, it is discriminatory because there is a refusal to acknowledge transgender people as having a legitimate identity. Given the number of inquiries, it’s reasonable to wonder if people think you’re exaggerating.
There are people in the world who, in asking me these things, genuinely care about me as a human being. However, I am also aware that if they were to be asked if they thought I was actually a woman while hooked up to a lie detector, they would all fail.
If they bothered to discover that this is a real and valid identity that has been in use for thousands of years, all of their questions would be answered by a fast Google search.
It would be great if, when someone identified as trans, people accepted them without question. After all, no one enjoys having others suggest they are not who they say they are.
Thirdly, it presents pseudoscience as fact.
Some self-proclaimed “rational” person writes a comment that I read every day. This person has done extensive research and is eager to share their findings.
Real gems like “If you have a penis, you’re a guy, and if you have a vagina, you’re a girl,” are doled out by them. It’s a fact of biology.”
They act as if they’re about to drop a microphone into an ovation after saying it. Many people still hold fast to this idea, making it difficult for even open-minded people to break free of the shackles of pseudoscience.
To even bring up science makes me feel like I need to prove my existence all the time, but I think it’s important to dispel a few common fallacies.
To begin with, the “it’s biology” statement in the preceding paragraph is referring to biological sex, not gender. There are more than two sexes, hence their assumptions regarding biological sex are also incorrect.
However, gender is a subjective experience and can be thought of as a spectrum. The true depths of the diversity of sexes remain mostly unexplored.
Over fifty genders have been identified, therefore this is already more scientifically sound than the critics’ arguments.
Second, it’s incredibly condescending to insist on needing scientific evidence to establish that anything is “real.” It’s eerily similar to the way the identity of gay individuals was questioned, leading to the fruitless hunt for a “gay gene.” Furthermore, as we saw with the racist history of eugenics, the use of pseudoscience as a tool of oppressing people has been around for decades.
I assume that those who bring up “biology” in these contexts have little interest in actual biology. They seek “concrete facts” to support their claim that an entire group of people possesses some sort of innate deficiency or inferiority.
No matter how much they complain, the facts are not on their side even if we look at their “biology” argument, and I don’t think their anxieties deserve to be justified in the first place.
To them, the evidence against the new paradigm is inconclusive because they are not accustomed to perceiving it.
The Fourth Group That Is Paying Attention Are Young People
It’s almost as if politicians like Ted Cruz who spew hate speech at the LGBT community or internet trolls who spew as much vile vitriol as possible don’t realize how many young kids hear and read what they’re saying. What kind of harm this does cannot be predicted.
Many transgender kids and teens are hiding their identities because they fear retaliation from their communities. The transgender youth suicide rate has increased because they were informed their lives don’t matter.
Children and teenagers who are not transgender may also internalize the message that it is acceptable to treat others unfairly because of their differences. Intolerance and bigotry are learned behaviors. The chance of bigotry in youngsters decreases when they are taught to respect others, because children have not yet processed as much disinformation as adults.
Last year, when I went to see my extended family, I was more concerned about my 11-year-old cousin who had always referred to me as a man. It surprised me how easily she understood what I had assumed she would find difficult.
But to my delight, she grasped the idea more thoroughly than anyone else. She had a better grasp of it than I did, in part because she hadn’t assimilated nearly as much disinformation as the adults had (including myself, unfortunately).
Her only comment upon hearing my gender reveal was, “So Robert is actually a female and is now named Robin?” Then it’s appropriate to refer to her as a she, right? This was a no-brainer for her, and I never had to worry about her confusing my gender.
If we can instill tolerance in young minds, it will be much simpler for people of all ages to be themselves in the future.
We can’t break the cycle of murder and hatred if we, as a society, keep spewing vitriol towards those we label “other.” I believe we are nearer than ever to ending the cycle, but much remains to be done.
A poisonous society is the result of a systematic effort to exclude certain groups. No one in the trans community is looking for favors. The bottom line is that we refuse to accept discrimination, oppression, and maltreatment. We seek acceptance and inclusion, yet transphobia stands in the way.
The disenfranchised aren’t the only ones who feel its toxicity. The oppressors suffer losses as well. There must be a great deal of resentment and animosity within the minds of those who hold such discriminatory views, otherwise they could not possibly maintain such prejudiced convictions.
Accepting one another as one naturally is not only the correct thing to do, but also something that benefits everyone involved.