Transphobia is a true phobia, as irrational and pitiable as arachnophobia. Just as an arachnophobe’s attention is consumed by the harmless spider, just as they feel fear and sometimes abject terror, so the transphobe is obsessed by the possibility of seeing a trans woman even if none are there.
My friend was so gentle she did not want the spiders that terrified her hurt. With other phobias, the phobes see the irrationality, as does everyone else, whether they sympathise or despise. Transphobes refuse to recognise their irrationality, so must rationalise their fear. So they have to hate as well as fear: to invent some justification, however bizarre, why their fear is in some way proportionate to the tiny minority of mostly harmless trans people, and also to attempt to persuade others to fear us too.
I was going to write a post demonstrating this. So I went to collect transphobic utterances. The barrister Allison Bailey tweeted, “This is a national & international crisis”. Someone shared the tweet on facebook, apparently believing it. Someone told me on facebook all trans women are racist, because women of colour were more likely to have traditional views and be scared of trans women in women’s services. She stereotypes people based on skin colour, and calls me racist. She also said I oppressed women and girls, who would be unable to go out because of the “urinary leash”. There were no women’s loos they could use, because there might be a trans woman in there.
Another claimed women would speak out against trans inclusion but were afraid of violence or being sacked from their jobs. That could be rationalising, claiming her fear was of something real.
I had the core of a post. People I had met, semi-famous or eminent people, random people in comment sections or facebook, all saying irrational, phobic things, mixed with anger and hatred because they could not admit their fear was irrational. And then I sat without showering all morning, because considering such stuff hurts. It makes me imagine a miasma of hostility everywhere, when most people don’t care that I am trans, and many accept me.
I need to be loved, I said.
You are loved! said my Friend.
We laugh at the phobes, on our private groups. Nicola Sturgeon tweeted about how awful it was now, to be a woman in Afghanistan, and someone tweeted, “Afghan women and children are in a horrendous position, but here women and children are being called terfs”. It is ridiculous. When shared on facebook that drew eight Haha reactions. If it’s just as bad, someone said, “I’m sure there are plenty of Afghan women willing to change places with British TERFs”. I hope some people will look at that tweet and see it is ridiculous.
I’ve seen screenshots, but it appears the tweet has been deleted. The account shown, when I searched on DuckDuckGo, came up as Sugar Kane в Твиттер, but referred to Scottish issues from an anti-SNP perspective and had a lot of transphobia. I am sure you could find screenshots with a bit of searching.
Feel the fear and do it anyway. In this strange world of On-Line, passions are so high, and the most recondite interest can come to seem the most important thing in the world because you can spend hours a day scrolling through ever-new stuff. Any hashtag has mockers and doubters, who only serve to drive engagement. Facebook regularly shows me posts where people are energetically debating trans rights, and I got sucked in. So I got called a “racist”. And now I am still dwelling on that- to try and understand where it comes from, to see how important it is, to entertain and enlighten you, of course. I wish trans friends online would spend less time on transphobes.