Trans 101: Misconceptions

There are a ton of misconceptions, incorrect facts, half-truths, and a myriad of other problematic information about trans people floating around in the media, academics, word of mouth, and so on. In fact, these misconceptions are often perpetuated by mainstream media and academia. For example, Orange is the New Black which is touted to be extremely positive towards its portrayal of trans people with its trans woman character, Sophia, has its problems. Sophia has had bottom surgery and has been on hormones for a while, I will not spoil any of the plot, but the show ends up showing Sophia sprouting chin hairs and experiencing breast shrinkage due to issues accessing hormones in prison. Neither of these actually happen to trans women who have had some form of bottom surgery. However, the show incorrectly shows Sophia experiencing secondary sex characteristics that are typically male due to her lack of hormones. While minor, these types of misinformation plague the trans community and society at large, creating a lot of confusion and misconceptions about trans people, transition, and their lives.

I am going to dispel some of these misconceptions and misinformation throughout this piece. I have split it into three parts:  Identity/Sexuality, Surgery/Transition, and Choices/Binary/Enforcement. There will be things that fit into several or all the categories. I picked the best category I felt for each option.

Continue reading Trans 101: Misconceptions

Compliments and Intent

Listen up cis people, I want to talk to you today about intent. However, not in the intent isn’t magic sort of deal. Well, that might be a lie. I want to focus on compliments though, especially the one that goes a little bit like, “I would never have guessed!”. I get it. I understand the intent. It’s meant to be a compliment. Now, I want to address that this is my opinion on the subject. It may not be shared by you, and that is ok! I just want people to know that there are many people who take offense to statements like this and other statements like it.

By telling someone you would have never guessed they are trans*, you tell them they are passing. That’s great! Many people want to hear that. However, you are also implying that being visibly trans* is a bad thing. That to be visibly trans* is not how that person wants to be seen. That being visibly trans* is something that no one wants. You also enforce the idea that cis is the norm and the default for people. There is another companion to this quote, one just as well intentioned (insert quote about Hell and good intentions), but infinitely worse.

Continue reading Compliments and Intent

Remembering ALL Our Dead: Transgender Day of Remembrance

Trigger Warning: Violence, assault, murder, suicide, racism, trans*phobia, transmisogyny

Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR) is not without its issues. In fact, TDoR has some pretty big issues. Most of the murders of trans* people are trans women and trans feminine people of color, however, there seems to be a lack of discussion on race and how it impacts the lives of these women. There is no doubt this is not just an issue in theory, but in practice. While there have been women of color speakers at the TDoR events I have been to, they are always run by white trans* people. Clearly the event needs to be broadened and run by trans women of color.

There is another aspect that TDoR ignores. While their website chronicles the reported murders of trans* people across the world at the hands of others. This means that a large number of trans* murders are still undocumented as well due to incorrect reporting, unknown identity, undiscovered bodies, and so on. However, it does not report on the murders at the hands of the trans* people themselves. Trans* people murdered by the idea that society does not want them. Trans* people murdered by the idea that they are not worthy of life. Trans* people murdered by the fact they must face every day in a world that wishes them dead.

Continue reading Remembering ALL Our Dead: Transgender Day of Remembrance

Bathrooms and Prejudice

This piece is going to be relatively short. I am tired of the trope that trans women are harassing or a potential danger to cis women in washrooms, locker rooms, and other semi-private spaces. This piece on TransAdvocate by Zinnia Jones goes into wonderful detail about how the idea of trans women being a threat to cis women is an entirely imaginary harm. I want to slightly expand on her example, and make it more broad, encompassing how some cis women believe trans women are inherently a threat to them.

Chrissy Lee Polis was beaten to the point of having a seizure at a McDonald’s in Maryland. Her assailants were cis women. Polis’s crime? Trying to use the bathroom.

This teen girl was videotaped being beaten by a group of cis women at her school. Her crime? Being trans*.

Then there is the young girl who is currently being singled out by the Pacific Justice Institute. She has been pushed to the brink of suicide due to the lies being pushed by the organization. In fact, PJI went as far as to manufacture complaints about her harassing cis women in the locker room, which has been proven to be untrue.

These are just a few examples. However, I know the argument of “they should just use the men’s room instead” if cis women are under such a threat. Well… Let’s talk about that, shall we?

Continue reading Bathrooms and Prejudice

#DearCisFeminism

Trigger Warning: Trans*phobia, transmisogyny

Following trends like #CognitiveCissonance and #FuckCisPeople, #DearCisFeminism has quickly been spreading like rapid fire across Twitter. This hashtag, like the others, is to call into question the double standards that feminism has towards its acceptance of hateful and oppressive ideology while pushing trans* people, especially trans women, out of the picture. Tweets covered broad topics anywhere from the dominance of butch/masculine people in feminist discourse (while rejecting femme/feminine people as upholding the patriarchy), the refusal to call out TERFs (like Brennan) on their misogynistic and bigoted statements, and how cis feminism often ignores women of color, sex workers, the poor, and others while focusing on their own middle class white cis needs.

FireShot Screen Capture #054 - 'Twitter _ stuxnetsource_ #dearcisfeminism Fuck you for ___' - twitter_com_stuxnetsource_status_400005854352515072

Continue reading #DearCisFeminism

Double Standards

Trigger Warning: Trans*phobia, transmisogyny, cissexism, femmephobia

There lies a double standard in feminism and society on a broad scale, not just radical feminists of the TERF variety, that holds trans* people to an entirely different set of qualifications than their cis counterparts. It’s interesting how feminism is about freedom of expression and freedom to simply be without policing. Yet at the same time, police exactly how one should be a feminist and a “real” person. Trans* people’s bodies are not seen as our own. In an age where we fight for bodily autonomy, trans* bodies are still at the mercy of others, whether it be doctors, therapists, other medical professionals, or fellow people. Trans* bodies are not allowed to exist as their own and hinge on the validation of others for their existence. We are not allowed to be in control of our own lives, bodies, and identities in the same way that cis people are.

These double standards exist is different degrees and different ways for trans* people. Trans women, trans men, and non-binary people are held to different standards, even among themselves. Feminists and those who proclaim to be all accepting (or even openly discriminatory) highlight these differences quite explicitly. For example, it is easy to see how many feminist spaces are dominated by more masculine or butch people. Even among trans* circles, genderqueer, genderfluid, trans men, masculine of center, or trans masculine people who are FAAB, dominate discourse and discussion (heck, even butch cis women). These people are often celebrated for forsaking the gender binary and transgressing it while at the same time, trans women, trans feminine people, and even feminine cis women are seen as promoting stereotypes and binary oppression. Femme people, across all gender categories, are seen as tools of the patriarchy who have succumb to media and social pressures and thus, have submitted to these forces.

Continue reading Double Standards

Hey Hey HRC

“Hey hey HRC, no more transmisogyny.” This is something my friends, partners, and  I chanted at the Philadelphia Pride march as the group of HRC reps went by. This sentiment isn’t something that just my friends and I believe in either. There is a long history between the HRC and the trans* community, one that is not just contained to the issues involving ENDA (which they were the last equality group to support a trans*-inclusive version of). This is something that has been covered by several other people, in great length.

With the recent passage of marriage equality laws in Illinois, New Jersey, and soon to be Hawaii, I want to focus on the HRC’s support for marriage equality, or in some cases, lack of support. Nikki Araguz and her struggle, multiple at this point, are a clear example of this. Her recent post on the HRC facebook highlights the issue:

araguzmarriage

Continue reading Hey Hey HRC

Faces of Trans*Phobia: Victoria Brownworth

Trigger Warning: Trans*phobia, transmisogyny, cissexism

This piece will not be about how Brownworth exploited a minor to show her his genitals for journalism. This piece will not be about how Brownworth has been attacking trans women about calling her out on her pedophilia for profit either. This piece will focus on going into the very root of her beliefs and exposing her for the trans*phobic, transmisogynist that Brownworth is by virtue of her own writing, interviews, and views. Just like I did with the Brennan interview, I plan on doing the same with Brownworth. If you want to know more about the previously mentioned, the TransAdvocate and Sophia Banks have done very well for documenting this and her harassment. I may touch upon those in this article, but that is not my focus as two very prominent women have already covered that (and continue to).

Brownworth says she is an ally of trans women and trans* people. However, for an ally, she spends her time around people like Brennan and other TERFs. When called out on twitter, she falls back into these people for support against these ‘vicious’ trans* people. Often, she resorts to the same TERF tactic of saying anyone calling her out is harassing, stalking, and obsessed with her. She uses the same fear mongering tactics employed by those who wish to keep trans* people, usually trans women, from peeing in peace (as an example). I feel nothing better suits this and proves this point than her piece on the Michigan Womyn’s Music Fest (Michfest/ MWMF), minus all of the stuff on Twitter of course.

Continue reading Faces of Trans*Phobia: Victoria Brownworth

You Can’t Ignore the Bug

Trigger Warning: Trans*phobia, transmisogyny, cissexism, rape, assault, violence, harassment

I write this piece from a position of privilege and thus, my beliefs and opinions on this are also tainted by this privilege. As a white trans man who has no worry about being outed for being trans*, I am able to write and discuss something that has little effect on my personal life (in terms of my identity, rights, and body). Thus, I respect and understand beliefs, reactions, and thoughts that are different than mine. Not everyone is afforded the same luxury I have with this.

I see many people talk about how ignoring Cathy Brennan is the best course of action. How is we stop feeding into her trans*phobia, cissexism, and especially her transmisogyny, that she will just go away. I have a major problem with this approach. Cathy Brennan is more than just a very vocal TERF, Cathy Brennan is a very active person in the queer community. She actively works against trans* people, especially trans women, and their supporters. She slanders their names and posts them to websites along with murderers and rapists. She accuses their existence of raping cis women and that they are actively homophobic against lesbians. She contacts their places of employment, sometimes outing them as trans* which puts their livelihoods (both physical and monetary) in danger. More recently, Brennan and her crew have pushed a young trans* teen to be put on suicide watch.

Continue reading You Can’t Ignore the Bug