Transgender, Transsexual, Transphobia: An uneducated opinion in support of trans individuals and against transphobia

I didn’t know any transgendered* individuals until my junior year of college. Well, I didn’t know any that were out of the closet. When a friend of mine announced that, although I knew her as a he, she was a she, I was a bit thrown. Not thrown in an oh-someone-else’s-god-don’t-touch-me way. Just thrown because I wasn’t expecting such a revelation.

I saw her almost every week, but since she didn’t go throw any major physical changes or even tremendous wardrobe changes it was difficult to get used to the knowledge that she was a she. I consistently had trouble remembering to call her by the female name she adopted and using feminine pronouns was equally difficult. Getting used to the fact that someone has discovered their gender identity does not match their physical sex is tough. For me, it was actually rather similar to trying to remember that someone I’d known for several years has gone from being called Judy to Victoria without major outer appearance changes. I always felt pretty bad and apologized if I screwed up and called her by the wrong name or used male pronouns to refer to her.

That being said, I never had any real problem with the change. I was happy that this friend** had discovered**** something so important about herself. I knew she had had a variety of other difficult things going on in her life, and while I know being transgendered comes with its own set of problems, I hope that realizing you are transgender is better than not realizing it. In my view it’s not really any of my business what your or anyone else’s identity is unless I can somehow help you figure it out.

I do not understand transphobia. I understand confusion surrounding the term “trans”. Transgenderism and transsexualism***** are not things that we really learn about in school or from most of our parents. (All I recall is a discussion of gender identity disorder as a psychological disorder and the story of David Reimer.) Homosexuality has become mainstream enough that we all learn at least something about it, but trans issues and definitions are hardly ever mentioned without being treated as abnormal psychology (as in, “something’s wrong”). So being confused or ignorant is an understandable position.

But fear? What are you afraid of? Are you afraid if you meet a transgendered individual, you will no longer understand what it means to be your own gender? Are you afraid you will lose your gendered identity? That’s more absurd than the people that assume they are so darn attractive that a homosexual is going to hit on them******.

It really disgusts me how many people denigrate transgendered people, transvestites, and transsexuals. You might view them as odd or strange, but that’s no excuse to treat them as subhuman or discuss them like they are insects to be ground under your shoe. No one should have to deal with having their basic rights as a human called into question.

I wish I knew what else to do to raise awareness about transphobia and how misguided and harmful that phobia is. Hopefully this blog post contributed at least a little to the conversation that needs to happen. I know I’m rather uneducated on the terminology used to describe gender issues. If anyone knows of a guide for said terminology or feels like writing one, I promise to include the link in my next “What I’ve Been Reading” post (as long as you tell me about it). I apologize if I misused any terms: feel free to correct me (in a friendly manner).

*Please forgive me if I get the terminology wrong. I don’t really know the difference (if there is one?) between transsexual and transgender.

** Friendly acquaintance? Acquaintancely*** friend?

*** Yes, I know acquaintancely is not a real word. I don’t care.

**** Is discovered the right word? Decided doesn’t seem to fit quite right.

***** Who knew? Transsexualism is recognized as a word on my spellcheck and transsexuality is not. I guess that makes sense.

****** How to recognize self-centered/vain people: what better way of saying “the world revolves around me” for a heterosexual is there than, “I don’t like being around homosexuals because they’re going to hit on me.” To these people I must say, if you know someone is homosexual (and you are hetero), how likely are you to seriously hit on them?

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7 thoughts on “Transgender, Transsexual, Transphobia: An uneducated opinion in support of trans individuals and against transphobia

  1. Thank you.

    I do not think the terminology matters particularly unless you are using it in order to hurt. We can categorise ourselves, and the scientists do, but you don’t need to know that. Saying what you say- this is no reason to pick on someone; trying to use the right pronouns; it all helps. Ask the person themself.

    • Thanks for visiting my blog and sharing your thoughts! 🙂 It can be hard to tell how important terminology is to different movements/groups/people, you know?

      • I could criticise the genderpsychology glossary, in that it accepts the word “transsexual” as a noun. I am a “trans woman”- not a “transwoman”, which is something other than a woman, a trans woman- a woman with a particular characteristic which there is not always a need to mention: you do not refer to all Black women, always, as “a black woman”. I can quibble wildly. What matters is sympathy or condemnation. Don’t speak for us, is a good rule for an ally- but you are not, you are talking from your own experience, sympathetically. Thank you. I tend to feel the language matters less.

  2. Jimi says:

    My own blog titled, I Hate Labels, or something to that affect, touches on this issue as well. The terminology really is confusing and comes about from our, collective, need to put labels on everything. Questions that arise are: What is masculine and what is feminine? What does it mean to be male or female? Is it merely an outward biological thing or is there some inner aspect to it as well?

    Having gone through many transformations in my life, trying to figure out who I am and who I want to be, I have touched on most every topic there is to defining a person–including “gender”. The best solution I have come up with is identifying to myself how I see me and trying to explain that to everyone else; which does not work well even in the best of circumstances.

    ** A quick note on your comment about heteros being worried about homosexuals hitting on them; while the idea itself makes me laugh, what makes it even funnier is when said homosexual proclaims “Sorry you are not my type” and hetero responds with “What? What is wrong with me?”

    • “** A quick note on your comment about heteros being worried about homosexuals hitting on them; while the idea itself makes me laugh, what makes it even funnier is when said homosexual proclaims “Sorry you are not my type” and hetero responds with “What? What is wrong with me?””

      Hilarious. Absolutely hilarious.

  3. Thank you very much for this, Amanda! As for the terminology, there’s a good glossary over here: http://www.genderpsychology.org/transsexual/glossary.html

    • It seems like the least I can do. Thank you for sharing your thoughts in your post that I linked to and for being so open about who you are. And thank you for the link to the glossary!

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