Good Evening everyone, today I’m not going to talk about transgender people…
Now before you ask if this article is click bait, let me assure you it’s not. While I won’t be talking about transgender people, I will be talking about people who talk about transgender people instead of actually talking with them. If you’re new to this blog, and who isn’t, since this is only the second article here, you may not realize that I’m non binary genderfluid. What this means is that I do not associate with either of the traditional binary genders and instead float between masculine and feminine depending on the day. There’s quite a bit more to it but for this article you won’t really need to know much more.
Something that trans people experience is conversations going on about us yet not including us. Several Cis gendered people talking back and forth about some topic that affects trans people. Before I get too much farther I want to point out that I’m not disparaging allies, folks willing to speak up whenever trans people are attacked online is very much appreciated. So to all the allies, thank you and much love. The types of people I’m talking about are folks that may not have the slightest clue what it is to be transgender, and trying to speak in place of a transgender person. Usually this occurs between an obvious transphobe and someone who, while not transphobic themselves, misunderstands trans people to the point that even there defense comes across as transphobic.
You’ll hear people say stuff along the lines of , “if such and such feels more comfortable as a woman then who are we to say they can’t be one?” This may be said completely in support of a transgender person but it associates being transgender with simply feeling as if you are another gender and not that you actually are another gender. It dismisses the fact that most of what we see as gender norms are simply society driven and not actually attached to gender itself. It says that while you respect us enough to offer lip service you don’t actually believe our gender is valid. So while you may seem to believe you’re helping, in the end you may end up hurting the trans friend that you initially had in mind that you were defending.
So what’s the answer?
For one, get to know trans people. Talk to us, respectfully of course. Learn about the struggles we face and possibly gain a perspective on why some of your own views may still carry the remnants of transphobic ideology. This isn’t to say that you are transphobic but that many of the ideas about trans people, that are inherent in our society, are archaic and transphobic at their core.
Second, realize that sometimes we can fight our own battles and may simply need a shoulder to cry on from time to time. The best person to defend trans issues is a trans person, of course. As I said before this isn’t meant to say you shouldn’t speak out or is it meant to disparage allies, but many times trans people, who are defending ourselves in an argument, find themselves pushed out of the very conversation they were engaging in, being replaced by Cis people who fight back and forth often with poor information and ideas.
Lastly, realize that like anyone else, trans people hate to be talked about as if we don’t exist. So if you find yourself engaged in a conversation with a transphobic person, message a trans friend, seek their advice on how to proceed, and see if they might have any insights that you could have missed during your interactions with this other person. This can help you be a better ally, it will show your trans friends that you respect their input and their person-hood, and it will in the end make sure you don’t inadvertently hurt the friends you were trying to defend.
Never forget that we’re all in this together and we all want respect, acknowledgement, and love.
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