Transphobia III

What is transphobia? I think of it as phobia, ranging from mild discomfort to visceral repulsion, but how does it arise? I asked, and a friend wrote that it is A system of oppression, frequently so deeply embedded in society that it can be presented as “natural”, which pressures people to assume that sex and gender are the same thing, that gender assigned at birth is ‘correct’ gender, and that conforming to gendered expectations is important.

Conforming to gendered expectations. This does not distinguish revulsion at me, expressing myself female, from revulsion at an effeminate man. I would have to pretend to be a Real Man to escape this obloquy. This could alter my view of TERFs, who have a disproportionate emphasis on trans issues, rather than more serious feminist concerns. Even though they themselves do not conform to gendered expectations, they hate my non-conformity

-because it mirrors their own, embracing what they reject
-or even because they project onto me their hatred of their own non-conformity, which makes life so difficult.
-or perhaps because when they discover RadFems, and feel at home, this is one of the ways to show they fit in with that group.

We should be allies. We suffer equally under the system of oppression, but that system pits us against each other. And they would say sex and gender are not the same thing, but that sex is a matter of reproduction, gender a matter of culture.

One said that people are scared when others do not conform to norms. We feel safe in homogeneity. I hope that when you can accept your own variation, you can accept that of others. She went on to say that we should not ask people to repress feelings of discomfort, but instead avoid wrongful behaviour. Exposure to trans folk may cure the transphobe, who will become more comfortable with us as s/he gets to know us- which is just how you treat arachnophobia.

One referred to playing the trans card, claiming trans discrimination where there is a real reason for different treatment. Having so few cards, I might be tempted by that; and when I am talking of how trans folk are wronged I could object to the conversation being turned onto wrongs we commit. Yet we should not play the trans card, it is an act of weakness. Oppressing others entrenches oppression, exacerbates the distance between us.

The transphobic person feels selfrighteous about it, and will have arguments why their behaviour is justified. Cis folk will not be so alive to the smell of transphobia. We can see it, and trying to persuade others no, it’s really transphobic, is horrible, bringing back to me my worst experiences of exclusion.

There is institutional racism. I read of a diversity course where the trainer posited every example as “What do we think of them?” rather than expanding the we to include groups with differences.

There is internalised transphobia. I feel wrong; being treated as wrong revives all those feelings of despair and rejection; I restrict my activities to avoid situations where I fear prejudice. I feel wary in pubs.

One said the word is wrong. It is hatred, not fear. I would say it is an aversion, and the suffix “phobia” though originally meaning fear has been expanded to mean aversion, as in arachnophobia again.

“It gives ignorant, narrow-minded, stupid people a label.” Um. No, I don’t feel that is helpful, because it suggests they are incorrigible, and I hope no-one is incorrigible. It is worth working to reduce transphobia.

One said, having experienced sexual violence from men, she was wary of men and so uncomfortable who she perceived as a man but who wanted to be treated as a woman. I sympathise. Her “instinctive feelings about her safety” arise from her experience, not just dislike of the unfamiliar. She feels discomfort when her reason- this individual is unthreatening- conflicts with those instincts. Her empathy could conflict, as well: she knows it is unfair to treat me so. I responded without criticising, and she said that she did not mean me: and I wept in relief, for we were not distanced after all, and wept at the distance I feel from others, some created in me, some created in them.


8 thoughts on “Transphobia III

  1. Outside of rad fems I don’t see much Transphobia out there to be honest. Just people working off bad information.

    Radfems are transphobic because they put an emphasis on biology. The idea that trans women are oppressed in the same way non trans women are throws a huge spanner in there entire ideology. It’s much easier for them to say “well you’re biologically male so you must be like the biological males!” – again, ironic as heck that they single males out for their biology while claiming to be oppressed because people single them out for their biology.

    They’re basically a contradiction. One that hates trans women because we emphasise how wrong their world view is. We invalidate their ideas and that really sucks for em.


      • I get that but I suppose people are uncomfortable because trans has got a bit of a reputation. What with people bursting out in anger at any perceived slight against them.

        I find when people get to know me they’re less rejecting upfront. They start to want to learn about it more. That’s partly why I wrote blogs about it too. To get that information out there for them.


        • I don’t experience people bursting out in anger at any perceived slight. Among the ways of controlling us are objecting to any objection we make, making generalisations about “trans activists”. I like your distinction between “disrespectful” and “phobic”, I agree, but some people are phobic- revolted- and often self-righteous about it.

          I am glad I have never really bothered with Twitter. It’s fine for one liner jokes, or agreement, but not for disputes, and lots of people seem to use it for disputes: then it gets worse than any unmoderated comment thread.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Oh God twitter is awful. Save yourself the bother and never sign up! Hahaha.

            I’ve definitely experienced it online though not ever in my day to day. Don’t actually know any trans people in real life though, just me!!

            Liked by 1 person

  2. people are uncomfortable with what they cannot relate to; it is as simple as that. If it doesn’t match with their own experience it must be folly or insanity. But of course it is not.
    Add to that the incredible amount of ignorance in the world and you have a perfect recipe for prejudice and even violence.
    Cursede is perfectly correct in that TERFS are being irrational in their argumentation but then all extremists generally are. They prefer to apply their own twisted logic to their own situation deliberately forgetting that when used in other cases their own cause falls apart.


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