Moving on from my previous article concerning the way society expects Transmen and Transwomen to adhere strongly to typical gender norms, I would also like to address elements of the Transgender community and the divisions between them that also seek to dictate someone’s qualification as ‘Trans’. Some attitudes amongst the community itself can be pretty toxic and only serve to undermine each other and our credibility to society at large.
With the recent coming-out of Caitlyn Jenner, suddenly the Internet is awash with people, both within and outside the Trans spectrum weighing in on this debate.
If you are Transgender, you have to have an opposite identity to your birth sex.
Nonesense! Trans is a spectrum. People who don’t fit into the ‘either/or’ norm still count as Trans and should be awarded the same courtesies and respect to their gender expression, whatever that may be. If your gender is more of a pendulum (A Gendulum perhaps?) you should not have your validity as part of the Trans community challenged.
If you don’t transition young, you are not really Trans.
Twaddle! Our society has been, and in many areas, still is hostile towards LGBT people. It is within my not-that-substantial lifetime that LGBT people, Paedophiles and Rapists were openly treated as pretty much the same thing. The done thing was to prove how ‘normal’ you were by doing ‘normal’ things such as getting married and having a family and a career… all things you could lose by coming out. There is a romantic notion that if you are truly Trans than nothing will stop you, but Trans parents are still parents, and any good parent puts the welfare of their children before their own. With recent liberalisation of society, it is now seen as less shameful and less damaging to children and other family, and so therefore many of the obstacles that stopped people transitioning younger in life are not so obstructive.
If you transition young, you are not really Trans.
Poppycock! Many people in the community write off the very young being able to transition, despite the fact that many people in the community insist they knew their Gender Identity at a very young age. It appears there must be a period of suffering before one can meet this group’s high standards.
If you didn’t know from the age of two, then you are not truly Trans.
Absurd! Some of us knew right from the get go, some of us were a little older. Some of us didn’t know until puberty started pulling our body away from our brains, and some don’t figure it out until even later. That is called human diversity.
If you are sexually active pre-op then you are not truly Trans.
This one is pretty insidious as it seems to be part of the actual psychiatric assessment of Trans people when considered for surgery. The idea that one is capable of sexual arousal, stimulation or even using their own genitals in the traditional way, yet having a different gender identity seems to be an unfathomable concept. It seems you are only allowed to hate your original genitals. Making do, but looking for an upgrade seemingly isn’t an option. Sex is a big part of forming romantic relationships, and some of us are happy to use what we have for our partners if it will satisfy them. Get over it.
If you are ‘Non-Op’, then you are not truly Trans.
You know what? Some people find living in their desired Gender role enough. Some find themselves satisfied with their bodies with only HRT or other cosmetic procedures and don’t feel the need for genital reconstruction. Be happy for them! If someone can reach a state of contentment within their bodies without the need for extensive, dangerous surgery, good on them.
Passing privilege doesn’t exist.
Oh it bloomin’ does! If you can walk down the street without anyone knowing you are Transgender, then you get a far easier time of it than if you were walking down the same street looking very obviously Transgender. You may experience sexism of course, but that’s another kettle of fishies. Abuse of Trans people is still an everyday occurrence for many. Physical assault is a very real and common threat, yet there are those who are fortunate enough not to experience these things because they present in their gender role very effectively. If you are Trans and don’t get abused or attacked for it, that is a privileged position. You do an injustice to those who suffer daily abuse to deny that difference.
If you are attracted only to people of the same gender identity as you, then you are not truly Trans.
There appears to be a small, yet vocal subset of the Trans community that is rather rife with internalised homophobia. Accusations of living as the opposite sex merely to fetishise them are bandied about and utterly harmful. Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation are both quite complex, and ultimately unrelated. (We wouldn’t have Gay cis-people if they were, would we?).
Trying too hard means you are not truly Trans.
You get up early every day to do your make-up, hair, tweeze your eyebrows, shave your legs, paint your nails… You wear holdups, lacy underwear and impractical heels even to go to the shop. You’re obviously doing this to play dress-up. That’s not how REAL women act, where are your sweats and hoodie?
Not trying hard enough means you are not truly Trans.
Why are you in sweats and a hoodie? Flipflops without a pedicure? Have you even brushed you hair? Did you even shave your face today? Are you actually making an effort with your voice? God! You can’t be Trans, you’re not taking it seriously!
EDIT 11. (Can’t believe I missed this one) Having kids before you transition means you are not truly Trans.
Like seriously? Trans people aren’t supposed to want children? Are we seen as so selfish that the human desire to reproduce is supposed to be alien?
Seriously guys, gals, miscellaneous and variants thereof, this snobbery needs to end. Let’s not bicker amongst ourselves because we have our own narratives and ways of expression. Yes, there are those among us that make us look bad… they who sell their story to tabloids or ‘Take a Break’ who sensationalise transition so much that it makes us all look like proper nobs. There are those within the Trans community who side with the TERF arguments that Transgender people do not really count as what their Gender Identity decrees and so undermine our fight to be recognised as such. There are big issues that face us… we are under attack by religious fundamentalists, certain radical feminists, hyper-masculinity, a toxic media and flagging comedians who know turning us into one big joke will get a cheap laugh.
Let’s not get bogged down trying to set the narrowest parameters we can for our own identities. It is ultimately, and very quickly, self-defeating.