Any trans person in today’s world has been affected by transphobia at some point in their lives. Transphobia and prejudice against trans people are sadly all too common in our society and trans people often are met with discrimination and prejudice when they try to get on with their lives and perform everyday activities. As with all other prejudices, transphobia is based on misconceptions and negative stereotypes about a group of people (in this case the trans community or those who are perceived to be trans) that are used to “justify” discrimination, harassment and even hate crimes.
Do we live in a society that people are so into themselves that they can’t see around their own judgements? I realized how society was when I came out as a lesbian and dealt with homophobia. When I thought nothing could get worse I came out as trans and realized that I would run into people who were transphobic as well. Although I have not yet encountered some of the same hate I received from being a lesbian I have encountered some transphobic behavior. Just because we encounter transphobia doesn’t make us any less of a person without it. We simply just have to learn to deal with it in our own ways. Here are some things that people may say or do that can be translated into transphobia.
- The belief/insistence that trans women are not “real women”
- The belief/insistence that trans men are not “real” men
- The belief/insistence that non-binary genders are invalid
- The belief/insistence that transsexual people are gay people in denial and wish to have sex reassignment surgery to attempt to restore ‘heteronormativity’
- The refusal to acknowledge a trans person’s true gender
- Refusal to use the correct name for a trans person
- Repeated and deliberate mis-gendering of trans people
- Exclusion of trans people from activities, services or conversations
In every aspect of our lives we may encounter insulting transphobic behavior from mainly cis people, but that isn’t to say that you may not encounter transphobia from another transgender person. My last post talked all about internalized transphobia that transgender people encounter so if someone is troubled with their own trans identity they might force that attitude back on someone else who is trans. You never know where you are going to receive transphobic behavior from so you must be ready.
For me I can handle the insults because I brush it off to ignorance on the other persons behalf, but it can get hard when they become belligerent in their behavior or continually do it over and over again. Recently I had a conversation with another trans guy that is currently in the closest, but talks in a group chat among trans and cis folks. He told me about how there are two cis guys that are constantly making inappropriate comments about trans people, essentially making fun of them. He came to me asking me for help on what he should do because he is in the closet. Just because you are in the closet or stealth does not mean you can’t stand up for what you believe in. It doesn’t out you to simply sat to the people making the comments that you don’t condone their behavior and you believe it should stop. I know this isn’t always the easiest approach because you are never sure what kind of response you may get, but that’s where being ready is vital.
When handling transphobic behavior you want to try to stay calm. If you get mad, upset, irate, or any other behavior you might get the person doing the transphobic behavior to get more intense. This will just escalate the matter and make things worse for you in the long run. I know it’s not that easy when someone is degrading the person you are simply because they don’t like it or understand it. Still stand up to them and speak your mind just do it in a tactful manner.
If you are encountering physical transphobic behavior do anything you can to get away from the situation. Unfortunately this is to common in today’s society. Look at the amount of trans people who have already been killed today. The hate is out there whether or not you personally see it or are affected by it or not. Protecting yourself from violence is your number one importance from being any part of the LGBT spectrum. If you can’t get away from the offender do your best to protect yourself. Adrenaline is a magical hormone we posses to help us in situations like this. When I was a lesbian I was in several physical altercations due to the fact that I was a lesbian. I was jumped several times, one time being thrown into a retention pond over a 7 foot tall fence. There were times I put up my fist and tried to protect myself as well. You have to quickly evaluate the situation and determine what is the best outcome.
No matter what we do or say transphobia is going to be a part of this society. Unfortunately as much as we would all like we aren’t just going to be able to erase it off the face of this earth one day. Hatred towards groups that are beyond what people consider the “norm” are always at risk for verbal and physical abuse. We have seen it for generations and generations. A lot of the mindsets get passed down from generation to generation too. It unfortunately is how our society works. This isn’t just in America it is all over the world. We just have a little more freedom in America to be ourselves. Remember stand up for what you believe in and stay true to you because at the end of the day no matter how much transphobic behavior you encounter you have to answer to you.