Category: Trans Community and Politics

How To Be An Ally, and Mean It

I want to make it clear that I am in no way trying to diminish the importance of the support I have received since coming out and going full-time. The words of encouragement from friends and family mean the world to me and have helped me immensely.

But I’d trade it all for this.

Trans people don’t need you to tell us you’re proud of us, or you admire us. Trans people don’t need you to tell us we’re brave. Trans people don’t need you to tell us we “look great” or anything of the sort. It’s really, really nice to hear those things, don’t get me wrong. But it’s not what we need.

Trans people need you to stand up for us when we aren’t around. Trans people need you to advocate not just with us, but on our behalf when we’re not being listened to anymore. When we are judged and pushed out and ostracized from a group simply for making the excruciating decision to come out, we need you who are left behind to make a big deal about it. We need you to stand up to transphobia and hate and fear. We need you to care not just about us as people, but the environment in which we have to exist. We need you to care about the trans people who can’t come out yet, or may never be able to come out. We need you to say something to the people who snicker and scoff behind our backs. We need you to be as brave as you say we are.

It’s easy to support trans rights when you’re trans- you’re already being judged, so might as well own that shit. And of course, when someone who wishes to stand against us hears our calls for equality, they fall on deaf ears, because we are seen as less, as freaks, as aberrant or deranged. But when you stand up on our behalf, it means something very different. When ever someone outside a marginalized minority stands up for them, it means more to those who look at us from the outside and cringe. It’s harder to rationalize away. It’s significant.

That’s what we need.

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Trans Women and “Male Privilege”

There are a lot of things on which the trans community disagrees. One such thing relates to the concept of “male privilege”. As trans women, we live part of our lives as if we were men- at least until we figure it out and do something about it. As such, some folks think that trans women benefit from “male privilege”- the inherent societal advantages that come with being perceived as male. In fact, many TERFs (Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists)/ “gender critical scholars” use this claim as part of their position that trans women aren’t “real women”. Conversely, others point out that trans women are certainly not perceived as being “male” in the sense that cis men are, and are far from privileged in any way (especially in the case of trans women of color, who have shockingly high assault/murder rates).

I’m going to assert that the confusion and disagreement over privilege stems from the fact that privilege is not a singular thing, but rather can be divided into what I call “internal” and “external” privilege. This not only serves to unpack and elucidate issues of privilege as it can pertain to trans women, but carries important implications on how we can address issues of privilege in the way we raise our children.

There is no doubt that (unfortunately), most children being raised as male in our society are taught to have very different expectations than those being raised female. The extent may differ, and there are certainly those who struggle to minimize such things in their own children, but in general, boys grow up expecting to be listened to when they speak, for example. Many women will freely report that such expectations were not ingrained in them. Even if we work to minimize projecting “gender roles” as parents, we live in a society that imprints such things on our children despite our efforts. So, boys grow up thinking certain things about their relation to people around them that girls likely do not. It is these ideas about one’s place in society that informs the position that trans women carry their “male privilege” with them through social transition. If you are raised to believe that you have a place in conversation and generally control your own situation (to varying extents in relation to other marginalizing factors like class or ethnicity), you retain those ideas even as you present as the woman that you have always been. This, they say, makes trans women fundamentally different from cis women, and they therefore experience the intangible benefits of this privilege. This sense of using the term privilege, note, is purely internal. It is about the way people think, act, and see themselves, and so I here label it “internal privilege”.

“External privilege” is exactly what one would assume in light of this- the privilege realized from the way others see and act towards us. We have little to no control over external privilege- others treat us how they treat us. Classic examples of external male privilege include such events as women being ignored in group conversations or business meetings, or even the casual nature with which sexual harassment occurs. Men are far less likely to experience these events than woman are.

It should not take much convincing to demonstrate that trans women don’t experience external privilege. In fact, it could easily be argued that without total “passing” (yet another privilege), trans women are even lesser considered than cis women. This would be the crux of the objection to the idea that trans women continue to experience male privilege, and I think it significant enough to reject the claim. Trans women do not benefit from male privilege, because this external privilege is far more impactful on one’s life, options, and even safety, than the internal privilege that may have been acquired before social transition. We could go even further and point out that depending on just what sort of upbringing one had, how one identified throughout their pre-discovery life, and even how soon a trans woman recognizes that she’s trans, will all have an impact on her views and attitudes about herself in relation to society. It’s entirely possible for a trans woman to present male for a significant portion of her life and *not* acquire the self-identification that we are here associating with internal male privilege.

But this also points out something about privilege. Internal privilege is *learned*. We raise our boys in ways that enforce these ideas. So, we could just as easily raise our daughters with the same concepts of self. If part of the experience of being on either side of privilege is internal and related to how we see ourselves, we can teach ALL our children such things. We can raise our girls to expect a seat at the table, and we can raise our boys to expect girls to take their seats. I would even go so far as to argue that external privilege grows out of internal privilege- people project the values they have onto their interactions, and create the atmosphere in which they live. No matter where we fall in relation to this demarcation of privilege, we subconciously contribute to it unless we actively work against it.

No offense meant, but . . .

I’m not a very politically correct transgender woman. I had a hard time connecting with most of the trans people I met in the Reddit forums when I started seeking out information for my impending journey. They mostly seemed young, thin, and fairly liberal leaning in their politics. They worry a lot about offense and hurt feelings.

And I get it. A lifetime of little micro-aggressions is like being bit by mosquitoes perpetually for your whole life- one bite is nothing, but the psychological toll of never-ending bites is just excruciating. I *totally* get that.

But that sort of thing makes me defiant. It makes me want to take on every mosquito out there, as well as the blackflies and the chiggers and the yellowjackets and the scorpions and spiders and and and I’ve probably taken this analogy too far. But the point is, my response is to fight. Yes, I recognize that I might have the inclination and ability to do that because I *didn’t* have so many mosquito bites, but I don’t think that matters, because I’m not telling people to ignore their mosquitos. I’m saying I want to kill EVERYONE’s mosquitos and if you can help, rock on with your self and get the fuck in here. If you can’t, take a knee. We got this.

It’s why I LOVE that T-word slur people throw at us. I revel in it. Yes, that one. NO, I’m not gonna say it here because it *does* upset some people, but for me it’s a badge of honor. It’s taking what they try to insult me with and throwing it back in their faces. I own it. I strut in it. I take it as a mantle to represent every other woman who was cut down by it. Fuck you, fuck your silly words. I’m stronger than your words.

I’ve been doing more hiding than fighting until recently. I had some good excuses, maybe some of them even valid. But while my gender is not what I used to think it was, my spirit and character remain unchanged. I’m just way more fucking fabulous now.

Can Someone Explain Why We’re Supposed To Be Democrats?

I will not talk about politics.

I will not talk about politics.

I will not talk about politics.

Screw it.

Why in hell does nearly the entire LGBT community think that the Democratic party in the US is the party of LGBT rights? Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama BOTH spoke out AGAINST marriage equality as recently as 4 years ago. Obama went ON RECORD during his first term as saying that such issues were a “state matter” and “not for the federal government to decide” yet seems more than happy to take credit for the recent Supreme Court decision. And are we so short on memory that we forget that Bill Clinton signed that atrocious Defense of Marriage Act which defined marriage as “one man and one woman” (and was later thankfully struck down as unconstitutional) ? Or all the time the Democrat party had control of the White House AND Congress and chose to do NOTHING to help LGBT rights?

At least we know the modern Republican Party leadership doesn’t support us.

Meanwhile, the Libertarian Party has had LGBT rights/equality as an official part of the platform since the 1970s. I recently brought this up in a Reddit thread talking about Sanders (don’t get me started on the cesspool that is Reddit and my love/hate relationship with the trans subs there; that’s another post in itself) and was “refuted” with more untruths than a Rush Limbaugh vs Rachel Maddow debate (despise them both, btw). My favorite was the one where I was “provided” with an article about Rand and Ron Paul. Pretty sure the R after the name doesn’t mean Libertarian, little campers.

It’s time the LGBT community in the US stopped falling for this pandering bullshit every election and throw our support behind a party that actually supports us, and doesn’t just lie to us every November and dump us by Christmas like a cheap lover avoiding having to buy a gift. Libertarian, Green, I don’t care…..just stop drinking the Kool-Aid. Red and Blue are the same damn flavor.