All too often, trans people are vilified, demonized, and excluded from considerations of basic humanity. Cisgendered people – when they realize they’ve seen a transsexual or transgendered person – will not hesitate to interrogate us about the shape of our genitals, challenge our competence to make decisions for ourselves, and hurl bigoted slurs at us. We have to fight for civil rights that are assumed as a given for cisgendered people, because who we are and what we do is not respected and often reviled. No Designation defines “transgender” as :
“Transgender or Trans – Traditionally defined as a person who doesn’t identify with the gender they were assigned at birth, I prefer to shift the focus away from assigned gender and define transgender as a person who’s gender is not universally considered valid. That means that someone, somewhere, will tell a transperson that they are not the gender they say they are. (ex: a transman is someone who identifies as a man and that there would be someone out there who would tell him that he isn’t a man)”
In other words, our gender is (as transgender and transsexual people) not respected, invalidated, insulted, and hated. We are denied personhood because our gender is not heteronormative enough: Proper men do not want to become women, and proper women do not become men, never mind the nuances of transgender identities, from two-spirits to androgynes, to ftm-spectrum and mtf-spectrum people who choose not to go all the way. We have trouble finding jobs and when we do Social Security is required by federal law to out us to our employers (in order to fight terrorists, you see). Trans people are murdered at a rate of 2-3 per month in the United States, and in states where violence against trans people for being trans people is not a hate crime, the “trans panic” defense is often used successfully. Trans people of color and with disabilities have to deal with oppression due to race, disability, or both in addition to oppression due to trans people, and the number of trans people of color who are murdered every year is disproportionately high, compared to the number of white trans people murdered. When we come out to our families, we risk losing them and getting thrown out on the streets (if we still live at home). Many of us turn to prostitution to survive when that happens. When we try to transition on the job, we are often fired.
Those who seem like they would be allies attack us. Barney Frank provided much of the rhetorical ammunition for conservatives to attack transgender inclusion in ENDA. John Aravosis openly questions why he has to be associated with “men who wear dresses and cut off their penises.” Radical Feminists attack us on every level, from the political to the personal. Lesbians and feminists sometimes exclude trans women from their spaces, even while they welcome trans men. They do not respect trans women as women, and keep us out. They do not respect trans men as men and let them in.
Some radical feminists attack us under the guise of criticizing our politics, but the politics are crafted from whole cloth, straw trans people (usually trans women) propped up solely to attack some aspect of radical feminist politics and then set on fire. This somehow proves that trans politics are bad and wrong for feminism and must be stopped at all costs.
This anti-trans bigotry goes back decades. It goes back to the early 70s, when trans people were forced out of the gay rights movement. It goes back to the late 70s when trans women were forced out of feminist spaces – Sandy Stone at Olivia Records, for example. It goes back to Janice Raymond’s hate screed, The Transsexual Empire: The Making of the She-Male. It goes back to the early 1990s, when Nancy Burkholder was ejected from the Michigan Women’s Music Festival for the crime of having been born male. The Human Rights Campaign spent years trying to keep us out of GLB politics. Feminists such as Sheila Jeffreys, Germaine Greer, Mary Daly, and Andrea Dworkin all took time to lambast us for simply trying to live our lives.
The core of trans politics is for transgender and transsexual people to have opportunities equal to cisgender and cissexual people, and to be acknowledged as who we are – human beings. This is what radical feminism says that is so intolerable, so philosophically depraved, that it must be mandated out of existence. When they say “against politics, not people” they’re saying “hate the sin, not the sinner.” “Hate transsexualism, not transsexual people,” as if transsexualism is separable from who we are as men and women, as if hating something that fundamental about us – our gender – is somehow separate from hating us.
What happens when someone “hates the homosexuality, and not the homosexual?” We call that homophobia, bigotry, or prejudice. When somene hates womanhood, we call it misogyny, when someone hates races other than their own, we call that racism. When someone hates disability, we call that ableism. When someone hates transsexualism, or transgenderism, we call that transphobia.
This blog does not just focus on radical feminist transphobia, but society’s transphobia, GLB transphobia, transphobia from anywhere.