Stop Making Excuses for Transphobia
If you agreed with any or all of the above statements, you might be transphobic. And I think it’s time we stopped making excuses for you.
I think it’s time we stopped pretending that people we like, people who are broadly liberal and progressive, need to be cut some slack when they repeatedly misgender someone. I think it’s time that people who claim to support the LGBTQ+ community but staunchly refuse to educate themselves on trans topics need to be told they’re not the allies they think they are. I think it’s time that trans issues weren’t such an omnipresent punchline in the media. I think it’s time we stopped dancing around the issue, stopped tacitly endorsing transphobia, and started admitting that it’s bigotry backed up by ignorance, and that it should never have become the background noise of discussing trans issues.
I’m a feminist and part of the LGBTQ+ world, and in both communities I’ve seen people trying to close down or directly exclude trans people. Don’t bother bringing up trans stuff in general company, as you will find at least one person pulling a face and calling it gross. Whether it’s conservative politicians joking about wishing they had been transgender so they could sneak into the girl’s showers in high school. or famed feminists explaining why trans women are just men trying to impinge on female spaces, transphobia is omnipresent, no matter what political or social groups you align with. And it’s godamn time we stopped dismissing it with excuses- “they don’t understand”, “they don’t mean it”, “they’re allowed to voice their opinions”. All these things could be true, but it doesn’t stop what they’re saying being transphobic. And it doesn’t stop them from contributing to a culture that continually ignores, belittles, or actively attacks trans people. Your ignorance is not a defence.
When you hear people spouting the same tired transphobic rhetoric, call them on it. If you yourself are not sure how to appropriately discuss trans issues, there are some great resources out there- try here and here to start with. Call out the many, many mainstream news sites that promote transphobic articles- including The Guardian and The Blaze. Right now, the attempted suicide rate amongst trans people is at 41%, as opposed to 4.6% for cisgender people. The Human Rights Campaign estimates that 1 in 12 trans people face being murdered in their lifetime. We’re still living in a world where Ruby Ordenana, a trans woman, was found strangled and beaten to death, only for the funeral home to change her clothes from a dress to a suit, a world where a young gender non-conforming man was showered in LGBT slurs as he was beaten, cut, and burnt with cigarettes, only for the police to refuse to work on a composite with him. Only one state in America has officially banned the trans panic defence for the murder or assault of a trans person. Violence against trans people is everywhere, and when we sit back and allow transphobia to flourish unchecked-whether it’s in the media or in our day-to-day lives- we’re further allowing that to stay as the status quo. And we can do better than that- more importantly, we should be doing better than that. Because respecting people as people- no matter what their gender identity- shouldn’t be something we have to debate.