Transphobia: The new road block

Introduction

I am not transexual or transgender, by definition, so I do understand how this fully affects people who are transgender, transexual, etc. Right now this is just research and resources. If you would like to add a person encounter with this, feel free.

People who identify as transgender, transexual, etc can encounter transphobia in the workplace, when receiving healthcare, at school, at home, in the bathroom, in the LGBT community, and probably many other places.

If you have ever encountered the question “what are you?”, or been pressured to leave the bathroom due to your ambiguity, you probably have encountered transphobia.

Also, here are some terms that I did not cover in the broad overview of definitions that apply to transgendered persons, transexual persons, etc and are more articulate than I can be about this subject.The following words are what the person calls “sub-groups” of the definition transgender.

The following sub-groups are presented roughly according to the line that is crossed, though they are not meant to understood as rigid or mutually exclusive categories:

biological: transsexuals, intersexuals, androgens

social: transgenderists, transvestites, drag kings and queens, cross-dressers, gender-benders, women who pass as men, and men who pass as women

morphological (appearance): “masculine” looking women, “feminine” looking men, bearded women, women bodybuilders (that is, women who have crossed the line of what is considered socially acceptable for a female body)

Most transgendered people, however, cross more than one line. As well, there is a significant psychological component to every transgendered person’s experience as a transgendered person. In other words, being transgender is as much about a person’s experience internally as it is about social perceptions, and for that reason transgendered people are those who identify as such.” (http://mypage.direct.ca/h/hrp/gendertr.html)

Definition

Transphobia (or less commonly, transprejudice) refers to discrimination against transsexuality and transsexual or transgender people, based on the expression of their internal gender identity (see Phobia – terms indicating prejudice or class discrimination). Whether intentional or not, transphobia can have severe consequences for the object of the negative attitude. Many transpeople also experience homophobia from people who incorrectly associate the medically recognised condition of gender identity disorder as a form of homosexuality (see Homosexuality and Transgender).[1]

Discriminatory or intolerant behaviour toward transsexuals might include harassment, assault, or murder. Direct forms of intolerance may also manifest themselves in non-violent ways. Indirect discrimination may include refusing to ensure that transgender people are treated in the same manner as non-transgender people.

Trans-bashing is the practice of victimising someone because they are transgender and is a form of transphobia.[2] Unlike gay bashing, it is attacking someone based on their gender identity rather than because of their predisposition regarding sexuality. Some believe that accusing transgender people of being victims of “gay-bashing” erases their identities and the truth of what happens to them.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transphobia)

Transgenderist: “Transgenderists are individuals who do not identify with the gender identity assigned to them at birth. Transgenderists may take hormones to bring their appearance closer to their chosen gender expression, but often they make no attempt to change their physical appearance. Transgenderists generally perceive their experience of conflict between their sex and their gender to be the result, not of “being in the wrong body,” (as may be the case for transsexuals) but rather of society’s expectation that they assume a gender identity that is, for them, inappropriate.” (http://mypage.direct.ca/h/hrp/gendertr.html)

Expressions of Transphobia

-the belief that a person is not a “real woman” or a “real man” if s/he is transgendered;
-the assumption that transgendered people are “sick” or incompetent or that they are psychologically unstable;
-the unwillingness to trust a transgendered person, because of that person’s transgendered status;
-feelings of discomfort or disgust which prevent someone from dealing with a transgendered person as they would any other person – for example, a medical professional who is unwilling to locate resources relevant to their transgendered clients, and who, for lack of knowledge, are therefore unable to refer transgendered people to those much needed resources;
-when someone is unaware that s/he is dealing with a transgendered person, or doesn’t bother to enquire when s/he suspects that the person with whom s/he is dealing is transgendered;
-when someone is aware of the transgendered status of the person with whom s/he is dealing, but continues to refer to the person in a way that is inconsistent with that person’s presentation;
-when someone fails to rent an apartment, or to give a job or a promotion, or to provide a service to a transgendered person because of that person’s transgendered status;
-when a transgendered person is excluded from activities, discussions or decisions because it is felt that that person doesn’t “fit in.” ” (http://mypage.direct.ca/h/hrp/gendertr.html)

News Media about People who have been affected by Transphobia

  • Brandon Teena (may seem familiar by the documentary or Boys Don’t Cry)
  • Gwen Aruajo
  • Fred Martinez
  • Nizah Morris
  • Lauren Harris

Actions that can be done to prevent Transphobia

-increasing awareness of the issues of transgendered people while taking steps to affirm the identity of transgendered people;
-being willing and available to provide support, care and counsel as appropriate;
-being comfortable and inclusive around transgendered people;
-exploring the connections between transphobia, racism, homophobia and sexism.

-making resources available to transgendered people and others on issues related to transgenderism;
-adopting a zero tolerance policy regarding transphobia that treats transphobia as seriously as racism or sexism
-inviting a transgender community organization to work against transphobia with staff and others, and speaking with transgendered persons about gender identity and sexual orientation;
-consciously addressing the myths and stereotypes about the transgender community, and not ignoring inappropriate jokes” (http://mypage.direct.ca/h/hrp/gendertr.html)


How Transphobia Affects Everyone (and Homophobia)

“Homophobia and transphobia affect everyone; they have serious consequences for both GLBTQ and straight youth.

Ways that Homophobia and Transphobia Affect GLBTQ Youth

  1. Homophobia and transphobia make many GLBTQ youth feel isolated, lonely, and ashamed.
  2. Homophobia and transphobia create an environment in which GLBTQ youth may have to face harassment and even violence in their schools, communities and/or homes.
  3. Homophobia and transphobia make some GLBTQ youth ‘act straight’ to hide their sexual orientation or gender identity.
  4. Homophobia forces many gay, lesbian, bisexual, and questioning youth to become sexually active before they really want to, choosing partners of the opposite sex just to hide their sexual orientation or their questions. Transphobia forces many transgender youth to become sexually active before they really want to just so they can hide their gender identity.
  5. Homophobia and transphobia contribute to the self-doubt that makes many GLBTQ youth turn to drugs and/or alcohol to numb their feelings.
  6. Homophobia and transphobia cause many GLBTQ youth to drop out of school and/or run away.
  7. Homophobia and transphobia cause many GLBTQ youth to think about and/or even attempt suicide. Many of the youth who kill themselves are GLBTQ.

How Homophobia and Transphobia Affect Straight Youth

  1. Homophobia and transphobia pressure straight people to act unkindly or even cruelly towards GLBTQ people and encourage bullying and cruelty toward anyone whose appearance or behavior isn’t sufficiently ‘macho’ or ‘feminine’ (from the viewpoint of the bully).
  2. Homophobia and transphobia force straight people to act ‘straight,’ limiting their individuality and self-expression. Straight youth often choose their clothes, hair color/style, friends, and even behavior to ‘prove’ that they are not GLBTQ.
  3. Homophobia and transphobia can destroy family relationships. Some parents, sisters, brothers, and even grandparents break off their relationships with GLBTQ family members.
  4. Homophobia and transphobia lead many straight youth to become sexually active before they really want to just to ‘prove’ they are straight.
  5. Homophobia, along with racism, sexism, and poverty, makes it hard to end the HIV epidemic.
  6. Homophobia and transphobia make it very hard for straight people and GLBTQ people to be friends.
  7. Homophobia and transphobia make it nearly impossible for people to appreciate diversity and the wonderful variety that exists among all people.

* Adapted and reprinted with permission of the Gay-Straight Alliance Network, San Francisco, California.” (http://www.advocatesforyouth.org/lessonplans/activistally2.htm)

Conclusion

The most important thing to note is that this affects EVERYONE. Transphobia is damaging to people, not just people who identify as outside of the gender binary. This is an increasing issue within the glbtq community because trans people do not fit into the girl who likes girl or boy who likes girls, or boys who likes a boy. Trans people acknowledge and show how gender is complicated and Transphobia is a result of people wanting to keep the perceived norm that there are only two genders, sexes, what have you. It is not just the issue of Transphobia, but the issue of difference. It is struggle and may continue to be a struggle for people to accept others who express themselves in way that transcends or is different from the norm. People will continue to differentiate themselves, but perhaps we can treat those differences with consideration and understanding, or try to understand those differences.

See Also

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1 Comment

Filed under Education, Sexuality

One response to “Transphobia: The new road block

  1. femme

    Transgender also includes men who sleep with men, women who sleep with women, people who sleep with either gender, in fact not so long ago a woman wearing pants instead of a dress would also fit in as did women who did what was considered male jobs and men who did what was considered female jobs.

    The term includes anyone who in anyway transgresses the “norms” set up by “society” of what is supposed correct behaviour, dress, actions, etc. of people who are female and male.

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