Transgender 101: Episode 5; "Transphobia" Why do I keep getting called a bigot? (You mad Bro?)
Last episode we covered the complex world of gender dysphoria. In this article we are going to crack the surface of what Transphobia is, how it manifests and what can conceivably be done about it.
Let's start with a textbook definition of the term;
\ ˌtran(t)s-ˈfō-bē-ə , ˌtranz- \
Irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against transgender or transsexual people
Also, because I brought it up here is the definition of;
\ ˈbi-gət \
A person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (such as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance
For the purposes of this article I am going to ignore the extreme cases on both sides of this unending slog to equality. Just as no majority is shouting "Did you just assume their gender?!" I am fairly sure that no majority is calling for the round-up and execution of Trans folks. I admit these extremes exist however we are all trying to police the crazy in our respective lanes and I am one to let that happen in house until im directly confronted with it.
I am going to start with a current example. In Ricky Gervais's new special out on Netflix he takes a ten minute pot shot at Trans people in the guise of dumping on Caitlyn Jenner. Now I will never stop someone from dumping on Caitlyn, I have met her and frankly she's a fucking entitled cunt that murdered someone and walked away scott free because she has money. I fuckin hate that bitch. However, regardless of how much backpedaling and double language Mr. Gervais wants to employe the simple fact is he uses Caitlyn's statues as a Trans women to hate on her. He uses Her statues as a trans women to bring all trans people into focus as objects of humor, to be mocked. He compares our struggle to him turning himself into a chimp. Its simply unnecessary and hurtful.
Bigots will use that routine as science based to bash trans women for the next twenty years and it adds to the 200 year history of mocking trans women as men in dresses, taking our womanhood publicly, misogynistically stripping us of our voice and adding to the power drain. Now I will never indulge in his material again and I am pissed because I love love love the office, I have watched every season, american and english versions, at least 50 times. It's one of my calm down shows when I am having a panic attack. Transphobic shit like that from people ruins them and their creative work for me. Its like if you love a painting, then find out it was made by Hitler, maybe it's still good but it taints it and colors the way you see it.
I get told to calm down allot. People like to say, from on high, that I should ignore the haters and move on. That my hate is going to taint the struggle for equality. Oddly, it's not other transgender people telling me this. Mostly its straight white people who want to not deal with how shity the world around them is if your not exactly like them. It takes some serious cognitive dissonance in order to tell someone who has a one in twelve chance of being murdered before they turn forty to calm down and keep quiet because um... progress. To say that there has been progress so we can stop pointing it out when someone is being transphobic is ass backwards. When I was a child there was no word to describe hating trans people. In america we didn't even have a set word to describe what being transgender is. We are not at a rest stop yet. We lit the fire at stonewall.
Now we are starting to point out the ingrained hatred and irrational fear that permeates the system. It's so pervasive and seemingly natural to make transphobic comments that when it's pointed out the gut reaction of your cis het ego is to tell me to shut up. I get it. But because that's still the state of things we can't shut up. Silance about transphobia is deadly for trans people. There are active laws on the books in 47 states defending a person's right to kill a trans person if they are startled by the fact that they are trans during sex. It's not the time for those of us capable of speaking up to be silent. I know that there are advancements in understanding being made, despite the millions of dollars being spent by the family council, I know that changing the understanding of gender because of those advancements is difficult to keep up with.
I am fully aware that some people don't have the inclination to find out about trans people on their own time. Our fight is to ensure enough basic knowledge is available to counter the bigoted narrative of what being transgender is. Allowing transphobia to go unchallenged is a backwards step in this. Don't get me wrong, there are times when my safety dictates i just let shit go by, that's not a willing silence, thats cohershion. In the same way the guns of the state keep people whose opinions would otherwise be laughed at safe the blanket of bigotry and transphobia keeps people safe from the reality of how much damage undertones like that do to minority communities. The number of trans murders is rising with our rate of exposure, exposure is the only way to gain equality, shutting down the misdirection behind transphobia is essential to our survival.
It's not edgy to lack the understanding of why it's wrong to purposefully misgender a trans person. Its hateful and wrong. There's no way around that. Doing so labels you as transphobic. It just does, its why we have the word, regardless of your protest and wish to distance yourself enough to just make fun of trans people that irrevocably means you are transphobic.
If you want to not be described that way, stop using that language, study up a bit and ask a trans person some questions. Knowledge along with understanding and love are the only known cure for transphobia and bigotry. Love is so much easier than bigotry, listening is so much more rewarding then spewing childish hate at what you don't understand. Its lunacy to believe transgender people owe you a word edgewise in a conversation that affects our ability to live life.
Exposure and acceptance is how this nightmare of transphobia run amuck is brought to an end. We are making strides in this arena by talking, and talking, and talking about the way we live, what science has to say and so on. I blow up and get angry because I am submerged in bigotry every day. I have a public facing job I need to have in order to keep my insurance so that one day I can afford my surgeries. I have experienced actual combat in my time in the military and I can tell you the stress of being in the public eye for the majority of the day as a trans women is very similar to the stress of being on patrol. Always on edge, ever vigilant of attack, verbal or physical.
I deal with my anxiety in different ways but inevitably it comes out as anger when someone approaches me at the wrong time or when im too tired to restrain myself. I take full responsibility for those slips, however they are because of the broader scope of transphobia, not because i am hateful. Its like saying a lioness in a Zoo exhibits natural behavior. Nothing about the actions in that cage reflect what freedom looks like.
I hope you are all well. I wish you the very best in your day. Much love to each of you!