Damn, I realize that this is so much longer than I intended it to be. Sorry! So I used to be someone in support of trans people, I actually found it inspiring that trans people were willing to flout convention and be whoever they wanted to be despite what society says they should be. To me it represented the dawn of a future of acceptance and freedom. I fully bought into the idea that they are trapped in the wrong body and that they are the gender that they believe they are. The very first thing that popped that naive bubble was when I realized that the only trans people that you see in the media, the only ones who are getting support and respect, are trans women.
I thought to myself, why, since men are the ones with power in society, is it not trans men who are visible, leading the movement? I asked this question on another internet forum, and someone answered simply, the reason trans women are getting respect is because they are actually men, and the reason trans men are virtually invisible is because they are actually women. At that moment I had the uncomfortable realization that despite having transitioned, trans people are still afforded the amount of privilege and respect, or lack thereof, that the sex they were born with accrues. That was the first small puncturing of the rosy bubble.
Then I became friends with a guy who had previously identified as trans. He was no longer trans when I met him, but there was still so much cognitive dissonance going on. The following is going to be a rant about him that I need to get off my chest. He told me when we met that he was in depression in his teens and 20s because he wanted to be a girl and that he almost transitioned in his mid 20s, but didn’t go through with it because he realized that he wouldn’t pass as female transitioning this late in life. At first, I found the story interesting and felt bad that he had felt trapped in the wrong body for so long and had hated himself.
But then I realized that a lot of things didn’t add up. I had always thought that most TIM are trans because they have typically feminine interests, feminine mannerisms, are often gay etc . but he had none of this whatsoever. He is masculine, there is NOTHING feminine about him. Had he actually transitioned he would have been the butchest woman alive. I asked him about this and he said, “well, I thought I’d just be a tomboy girl.” His interests, way of moving and speaking, way of communicating and relating to the world, to women, EVERYTHING about him was stereotypically nerdy heterosexual male. He told me that he didn’t start to desire to be a girl till he was 11 or 12.
I also found it odd that he watches almost exclusively typical straight male sci-fi and superhero movies. For example he loved the creepy male fantasy film Passengers. If he actually feels like a woman, shouldn’t he be identifying with the female characters in movies, not the male characters? If so, why does he only watch movies that are from male perspectives, where the women aren’t fully fleshed out and are viewed as romantic/sex objects? Despite being a typical guy, he viewed himself as feminine. He would ask me, am I feminine, is my face feminine? When I would tell him, no, there’s nothing feminine about you, you are masculine. No, you’re face isn’t feminine, he’d become offended.
I went to a ladies night at a club with him, and I realized that it was inappropriate for him to be there and I told him this. His response was, “you don’t get it, I don’t feel like a man, and maybe there are some bisexual women at the club” I said very firmly to him, that it doesn’t matter how HE feels, he IS a man, and therefore it’s not appropriate for him to be there and even if there are bisexual women there, they didn’t go to a ladies night to meet men. I tried to explain to him that sometimes women just want to be with other women and away from men. He protested that it was unfair to exclude him and that he didn’t believe in gender anyway. Then the whole controversy over the female-only screenings of Wonder Woman came up. I chatted with him about it and he said, “when you’re othered by a group, you suddenly feel very disconnected and isolated from them.” This just astounded me that he is protesting about being othered by a group that he IS other to! You’re not a woman!
When I met him, I thought that the fact that he had considered himself a woman for so long would make him more sensitive and understanding of women, I was wrong. His so-called feeling like he’s a woman had NOTHING to do with identifying with actual women. If it did, he would watch movies with female protagonists, he’d have female friends etc. He would have felt himself a girl pre-puberty. Instead his desire to be a woman came from sexual fantasies, he told me how he would watch porn and imagine himself as the woman.
His insistence that female-only places are discriminatory comes from a complete lack of understanding of what it’s like to be a woman in the world. It is not discriminatory for women to want spaces where we can actually feel free, because like it or not, we are always restricted when around men because they are stronger and more aggressive than women, and are often looking for sex from women. Even a town with only females, or a business that hired only women, would not be discriminatory, because women are placed at that much of a disadvantage to men, just because of our biology. He didn’t understand any of this.
His insistence to be included in something he doesn’t belong in shows a lack of respect for women and our experiences. His belief that he’s feminine comes from a denial of actual women, who are the ones who are actually feminine. There are some men who are feminine, but he was not one of them. If he had knowledge of the way women relate to others, move around the world, engage in conversation, he would realize he isn’t feminine, but I guess he had never observed women closely enough to realize he isn’t like the majority of them. His trans-ness didn’t come from feeling like a woman in any way. That was all bullshit. It came from his own narcissistic desire, with a total lack of acknowledgement of actual women and that we are in fact different from him.
This made me realize how dangerous denying gender/sex is. Gender/sex affects all of us. With small exceptions, there are two kinds of humans, and the experience of being the two kinds are very different. His denial of this is childish and self-serving. He was a pretty cool guy in many ways, but this was a wedge that couldn’t be surmounted. This friendship made me realize that a denial of gender also means a denial of feminist issues. At the women’s march, there was a group of girls holding up a sign saying, “men are afraid that women will laugh at them, women are afraid that men will kill them”. I pointed to the sign and said it was true. He became offended. I told him I wasn’t talking about him at all, but that it IS a reality of being a woman. He just wouldn’t have it, he thought I was trying to make him feel bad about being male by pointing out that sign. I wasn’t trying to make him feel bad, I was just pointing out a sign that was true, should I have held back because he’s a guy and his feelings might get hurt? How are we supposed to have a conversation as a society about rape, sexual harassment, and violence, when men whine that their feelings are hurt when you point out that men do the majority of these things?
Since then I have also come to realize that a lot of people who transition do so because they don’t feel accepted as a gay person. For example, the singer Charice who has transitioned to being a man. When she first transitioned, I felt happy for her, because I thought she was finally getting to be her true self. Then someone pointed out the amount of abuse she got when she came out as a butch lesbian, and that transitioning to male was probably her attempt to escape that abuse. I am not inside Charice’s head, so I can’t say with certainty what is motivating her, but I think that person was probably right and that makes me very sad. So all of this combined with recent attempts to erase the word woman to say “person’s with uteruses” and the push to get anyone who identifies as trans on female sports teams etc etc, has made me realize this trans/ a-gender movement is erasing women, erasing us a category, erasing the protections we have, erasing gay people. I have realized that it is not a progressive movement at all, but another form of males getting to do whatever the hell they want at the expense of women.