As I started writing this, it first began as a rebuttal to JK Rowling and her terrible, fear-mongering views, but the more I wrote, the more I realized I didn’t want to talk about her. Because it’s not about her. She has a huge platform, and on the subject of transgender people, she uses it extremely poorly.
I’m writing this to bring light to a subject that some struggle to cope with or understand. More so, this blog is for people who don’t know anyone who is transgender. I’m going to do my best to give factual information, but please feel free to reach out and correct any mistakes/misunderstandings.
Although I am not transgender, I do have a perspective that I would like to share. My last ex boyfriend was a transgender man, and while I will try not to speak for the trans community, I do want to use what privilege I have to speak out on how we treat the trans community by discussing my first-hand experience and what I learned.
First and foremost, I never discussed this before because, to me, it was a non-issue. I felt it was important to talk about now because there are so many misconceptions and ridiculous thought processes around trans people. When I met him at work, he had already been transitioning for more than a year before we started dating, and I never knew him as anything other than a man, though I knew he had transitioned.
Within the first meeting, I asked him what his pronouns were. He was flabbergasted, but answered me with he/him. Then, he followed it up by telling me he had not come out to our co-workers, so they always referred to him as “she.” This took an emotional toll on him, and after several more months, he came out to the team. Some handled it well, others not so well. From that moment on, I made a point to correct pronoun issues and problematic language when I heard it. Most people had not met a transgender person, so it was not necessarily out of anger or hatred but confusion and misunderstandings.
Our relationship began as a friendship. Because he felt comfortable with me, he talked about his feelings surrounding his transition, and how he was worried about his family finding out because they were very religious. There had already been some backlash to the beginnings of his transition.
His first stage was binding. This means, he wore a heavily compressed shirt to give him a flatter chest. This is one of the fastest and most dangerous ways to help FTM (Female-to-Male) feel more aligned with their physical appearance. The danger arises when people do not bind with correct garments or they leave the garments on for too long throughout the day. It can cause lifelong health issues when done improperly.
Once he decided that taking his transition further was right for him, he was required to attend therapy before initiating HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy).
Note: Though many people decide to surgically transition, many others choose not to take that path. Many stop at HRT, some find they are comfortable simply by binding, packing, tucking, etc. This is their choice, and no option is better than the other for the whole group. It depends on the individual and their wishes. This does not change who they truly are.
When I realized I was attracted to him, I told my friends. Some sat with me and asked me questions about whether this made me a lesbian or bisexual, but I told them no. I was attracted to him. He is a guy. Many times, I sat with people and discussed the implications of sexual orientation… not just for me… but for him. Most of my friends had never met anyone who was transgender, so they were unsure of what terms to use. So, I want to break it down:
Trans woman who likes women — Lesbian
Trans woman who likes men — Straight
Trans woman who likes men and women — Bisexual
Trans man who likes women — Straight
Trans man who likes men — Gay
Trans man who likes men and women — Bisexual
I found that many people were surprised to learn that orientations remained the same when concerning trans people, but I think it comes down to what you truly understand and whether you accept trans people as a whole. Trans women are women. Trans men are men. From there, it’s the same that you would use for any grouping, but it is also up to them. Some people identify as Queer, Asexual, etc. Straight is not the default setting, and unless they tell you their orientation, it’s none of your business.
Much to the chagrin of many a trans person, the first question many people ask is what’s in their pants. 1. It’s none of your business. 2. Don’t do it. 3. Again, it’s none of your business.
If you want to ask a trans person a question, first think of them as a human that you’re interacting with, and remember that what’s in their pants is none of your business.
I will not be discussing that aspect as it, again, is none of your business.
Let’s talk about fear.
Right now, many people around the world are in fear of sharing a bathroom with a transgender person. They worry they will be watched, assaulted, harassed, murdered, etc. Fear without willingness to educate only breeds more misunderstanding and hatred.
If a transgender person is going to the bathroom, chances are, they need to go to the bathroom. If they’re changing clothes for the gym, chances are, they need to change clothes for the gym.
You know what I feared? Every time he went to the bathroom in public, I feared someone would kill him. I worried that someone would beat him up. I worried that they would kill me for being with him. I worried that I would have to choose to step in and defend him if they started beating him. You know what? He worried the same.
He went to the bathroom because he needed to. He changed in the gym because he needed to. But everytime he was in there, he kept his eyes down, stayed submissive and quiet. Not because he couldn’t have handled himself, but because all it takes is one ignorant person to realize he is trans and his life could be over.
I know I said that I wouldn’t bring up she who shall not be named, but this is the space I feel like it’s appropriate. This particular quote is imperative for you to understand why this is damning to trans people:
“So I want trans women to be safe. At the same time, I do not want to make natal girls and women less safe. When you throw open the doors of bathrooms and changing rooms to any man who believes or feels he’s a woman – and, as I’ve said, gender confirmation certificates may now be granted without any need for surgery or hormones – then you open the door to any and all men who wish to come inside. That is the simple truth.”
I’m going to break this down:
- On the discussion of making girls and women less safe–They are safe. As safe as they were previously. If a person has it in their mind to murder, rape, assault, etc. another person, they will do it. Nothing will stop them. The majority of people are not out there murdering, raping, assaulting, etc. By specifically casting that fear toward trans women, she is heightening the risk for them to be murdered, not cisgender women and girls.
- “Man who believes or feels he’s a woman”–this is SPECIFICALLY a TERF statement. Trans women know they are women. To refer to them as “men who believe or feel they are women”, is cruel and dismissive on a number of levels. Think of it this way: say for one day, you were a man. A magical spell turned you into one for 24 hours. In your mind and heart, you would know that you were female, even if you were in a man’s body. I am not a woman because I have boobs or a vulva. I am a woman because that’s part of who I am. If I somehow woke up as a man tomorrow, I wouldn’t feel like a man. Instead, I would feel trapped in a body I don’t fit in. Many trans people feel exactly that. Just because of an X or a Y, they’re stuck in a body they don’t feel right in.
- “Then you open the door to any and all men who wish to come inside.”–This is a scare tactic, and a TERF statement. This tactic is used to bring up an extreme example of what *could* happen if we progress further. This particular quote takes the extreme by doubling down that trans women are, in her opinion, men, and that their only interest in coming into a bathroom would be to attack other women. And that cisgender men would live a life of being humilated, harassed, beaten up, and possibly murdered simply to take a peak at women peeing on the toilet. This technique has been used throughout history to dredge up fear and build a resistance to progression. They prey on the narrow-minded and uneducated… the easily swayed… and very often, the religious.
- Marriage Equality: “If we start letting people marry whoever they want, what happens when someone wants to marry a goat?” (this one I saw online often)
- Women’s Right to Vote: “It would mean a degeneration and a degradation of human fiber which would turn back the hands of time a thousand years.” -William T. Sedwick
- Interracial Marriage: “Interracial Marriages are unbiblical and immoral. God created different races of people and placed them amongst themselves… There is nothing for [W]hite Americans to gain by mixing their blood with blood of other peoples. There will only be irreversible damage for us.” (for context)
You see, as it happens with many of the LGBTQIA+ community, people relate them to perverts, pedophiles, and acts against God. Not everyone accepts that LGBTQIA+ people are still human. It’s both ignorant and insulting to them and makes you nothing better than a bigot and trash human.
One of the topics I used to discuss with my ex all the time is why straight people thought men would dress up and live this life of pain and misery if they didn’t have to. It’s hard on trans people. It’s not a choice they wake up to and think, “Today, I’m going to be a man.”
I say all of this to show that there are bad takes throughout history, and because of how we’ve grown and progressed, we are able to see them as truly bad takes. This is exactly what will be happening for most everyone years down the line with the trans community. JK’s (and others’) bad views will be recognized for how truly terrible they are.
I read the article she who shall not be named posted about a Lesbian saying the discrimination has only increased over the years because of attacks about whether or not she is trans. Lesbians feel erased, and many of them blame trans people for this erasure. But that’s not accurate.
In reality, it’s cisgender people who erase them through fear and ignorance. Because cisgender people are more aware of trans people now (because they’ve always been around), the ones that are going to lash out at them will lash out toward most LGBTQIA+ people simply because they view everyone as the same “sin.”
Several of ex’s friends (many of whom were lesbians) treated him like trash because they couldn’t even accept him as who he was. They treated him as a leper in many cases and made it seem like because he was living as his authentic self they couldn’t remain friends in the same way they had been. He struggled with non-acceptance from his friends and his family. Some even refused to use the proper pronouns.
It’s not just straight people who can be bigoted. It’s a human trait that you must work and fight against at any chance. And that is why it is so important to take a stand. Not just against the very direct transphobia you may see, but the microaggressions, the small things that people do daily to discriminate and assert their prejudice.
Comparing trans women to predatory men is a direct example of transphobia. Refusing to use pronouns is a direct example IF the person has been educated on said pronouns.
If you want to help, help. Stand up to those spreading lies, micro-agressions, and blatant bigotry. It’s hard to stand up, but it’s even harder to be at the receiving end of that hate. Educate, learn, grow. That’s how this gets better.
Finally, for those who are unfamiliar with terms, I came to know the picture (fromhere) below during an activity at work. It’s a good guide to start with. From there, more research and and open mind will allow you to understand and learn about the different lives that people live.