Misperceptions About Trans Folk
The Way Bigotry Skews People's Perception of Trans Women
A critique of a petty, mean-spirited article, bordering on transphobic.
This is a response to a piece by Y. Vue. Is there any truth to the author's point? Yes, some. It IS true that women who lived three or four deceased hiding among men, passing as men, are likely to develop traits that help them survive among men - hyper-competitive, "winner-takes-all" zero-sum attitudes, oneupmanship, talking in statements rather than questions, taking up space. Traits that are not typically as common among women, and that can be harmful when deployed on other women.
It is also true that fully understanding what it's like to live visibly as a woman in this patriarchal society can only fully be understood after experiencing first-hand the objectification, infantilization, objectification, dismissal, and sometimes even physical and sexual violence that men tend to heap onto women.
So why do I object to the article? Because it has all the vibe of a white Karen speaking about the negative traits of Black people. The vibe of a white conservative speaking about Mexicans. The vibe of an old white man speaking about Indians. The vibe of an able-bodied person bitching about handicapped parking spots. In other words, all the vibe of someone othering and stereotyping a marginalized population, without any understanding about the oppression and suffering that leads to the perceived "bad traits." All the vibe of someone with no empathy for someone else's suffering. In other words, it has all the vibe of bigotry.
And on what does the author base her piece? Where is the research, the case studies, the interviews, the data? Nowhere. She bases it all on hearsay about one single story, told from her distorted lens.
When a partner in a long-term relationship undergoes gender transition, it tends to cause massive disruption for both partners. The transitioning partner is trying to survive the most significant, scariest, most difficult life event of their life. Meanwhile, the other partner is confronted with a massive disruption of the framework they've built over years of commitment. It is quite natural for the transitioning partner to feel unsupported, to feel scared, to center themselves. AND, it is quite natural for the spouse to feel terrified, to feel abandoned, betrayed. With enough communication (and maybe therapy), they may find ways to process their trauma in healthy ways, and to hold one another through it. OR, they might not succeed in this. Humans are frail, and this is a very challenging situation for anyone.
But to frame this as "toxic masculinity"?
This is deeply biased, deeply unkind, and quite inaccurate.
Further, sprayed throughout this article are a number of transphobic dogwhistles - which help one decipher the influences and motives driving this article. The word "transwoman," spelled as one word. The phrase "welcome to womanhood." The shockingly offensive phrase "losing a dick."
I'm not accusing the author of being a transphobe. I'm criticizing her article for being an uninformed and inaccurate rant, steeped in casual transphobia. (I'm not talking about who or what you are - I care about what you did.)
In terms of the author's contention that there is no mirror phrase for "trans women are women," her assertion that there is no "trans men are men," a simple Instagram search yields 28,109 posts with that hashtag. Yes, much less than #transwomenarewomen (134,319 posts), but not zero. And the fact that society tends to dismiss the existence of trans men while constantly vilifying trans women and constantly bullying and victimizing trans youth is NOT a trans problem, it is society's problem. Just like racism is not Black people's problem - it is white culture's problem.
I recommend the reader take a look at a piece I wrote in 2018: