Why The Trans Hate?, Part VIII: Grab Bag
We've had a theme to the last several entries in this series, but today we're going to just run a selection of
interesting responses we've gotten to the question "Why the trans hate?" And so:
- M.J. in Granger, IN: I have really enjoyed, and much more, I am grateful for the multi-day
posts on trans hate and the feedback from a large background of people. It has made me smarter and more informed on
this issue (which your site does on a regular basis!)
However, I am very concerned about the political wedge issue this is. Why? It is going to resonate with a lot of
middle-of-the-road voters. I am a 56-year-old Democrat in a red state. I think the last Republican I voted for was
Richard Lugar and that was only because he read to my son at a local library event (and the Democrat wasn't very good).
The reason that I give this biography is because I am not, nor have I ever been, interested in limiting people's rights
or access to the freedoms that I enjoy.
But I am concerned about the sports aspect of this debate. My wife does not understand how big a role sports have in
many people's lives. I have coached everything from TBall/baseball to soccer to basketball for both girls and boys and
on mixed-gender teams as well. But I am uncomfortable, and I suspect many people are, having female trans athletes
competing against cis girls. Not because I am against any type of choice (or biological imperative) but because I truly
value gender-exclusive sports. My wife, an elementary school teacher, has argued with me vociferously about how girls,
at the elementary school level, often are bigger and stronger than her boys. Which I do not doubt. But I do not feel
comfortable having transgender girls competing on the girl's side of sports.
The girls I have coached have demonstrated and executed at high levels and their accomplishments are real. But in my
experience, boys have generally been better gifted physically; Better hand-eye coordination, greater muscle mass,
generally quicker, etc. And let me be crystal clear, this is not to say there aren't some elite women athletes that can
just torch most men/boys in sports. I think Caitlin Clark could play on many men's Division 1 basketball teams. But
generally, that has not been my experience. And I feel uncomfortable with the idea that my daughter might have lost out
on the thrill of victory. And, yes, I know that this implies that my daughter's team might have lost just because of a
transgender athlete on the other team. They probably wouldn't have. But we have girls' sports for a reason, which I
value and do not want to dilute the competition with potentially unfair advantages or scapegoats for lack of
Now, I feel very, very uncomfortable with this position. But that is why it is the perfect wedge issue for the
Republicans. I am not advocating for a ban on trans athletes. I do not know the answer. But I do know that ignoring
and dismissing the reasoning for most of the anti trans sports bill(s) is a way to alienate voters. I have not seen
any solutions that address the bottom-line issue of fairness and the basic discriminatory nature of "banning" athletes
from participation. Maybe someone else has a good compromise to balance out each side?
- E.O. in Medford, MA: There are a couple of aspects of the right-wing obsession with trans
people and gender/sexuality issues in general, and how the rest of society deals with these things, that I keep coming
The first is that there's a lot of misogyny in the way the right wing culture warriors talk about trans people, and also
gay people. There's much more attention and revulsion toward the idea of men dressing or acting like women than the
reverse. A man dressing in drag is ridiculous or degrading. There's a fear of "losing your man card" if you embrace any
of the things generally associated with femininity (like pink, or knitting, or dresses, or makeup). And there's an
unspoken fear that if you don't put down any man who embraces girly things, the other men will think you are secretly
also an unmanly girly man.
Which brings me to my second point, which is that so much of this obsession with assigning things to gender expression
boxes just seems so incredibly shallow. We assign genders to all kinds of stuff that seems arbitrary if you think about
it. Short hair vs long hair, pink vs blue, specific kinds of decoration, food and drink preferences, hobbies, the list
goes on and on. It's even crazier when you realize that lots of the things we gender one way today have been gendered
the other way around in various other times and places, or engaged in by both men and women.
Personally, I'm a straight cis woman. I also have a buzz cut and almost all my clothes are from the men's section. But
they are comfortable and fit me and are appropriate to my lifestyle. I know how to use a table saw, and I also know how
to use a sewing machine; and honestly, I get the same kind of satisfaction from using both machines and they require
very closely related skills. So why should one be for women and one be for men? I support anyone who identifies as
gender non-conforming, but I am also concerned that the obsession with gender identity might be making it harder for
people to just like what they like regardless of what category it's assigned to instead of easier. Just being a man who
likes to wear a skirt sometimes shouldn't have to make you nonbinary.
Lastly, there's also a major double standard at work here. I can wear my normal clothes anywhere in the country, and no
one will notice or care which part of the catalog they came from. No one has ever asked me how come I was dressing in
drag, not a single time. However, if my male partner were to put on a boring, generic, basic skirt he would attract all
kinds of unpleasant attention and might have good reasons to fear for his safety in some parts of the country. Again,
the men's version of a generic outfit is unisex and generic, and it's fair game for anyone without comment; the women's
version is weaker, pinker, smaller, and only for women or sissy men who lost their man card (probably by knitting a
scarf or ordering a wine cooler).
- S.S.T. in Copenhagen, Denmark: I will here try to offer a perspective on your very
interesting series on hate towards the transgender community.
I am a teacher at a school in Copenhagen, Denmark. I have over the years had the honor and joy of experiencing trans
and nonbinary students galore. It has never been a problem, and I do consider myself rather open to all sorts of sexual
preferences having myself explored various possibilities as a younger man before realizing that I am an entirely
straight male (with a penchant for dressing up as a woman when the carnival is coming to town).
What compels me to write this comment is the comment from I.F. in Toronto on "nonbinary" and the problems concerning the
negative use of this term by activists towards people not fully agreeing with their stance.
I have myself been through a very bad experience on the social media when I opined that the term TERF is not supported
by any scientific evidence and that J.K. Rowling might actually have a point in some of her viewpoints. The most
vicious attacks came, invariably, from straight people defending their LGBTQ+ friends while I was always able to
respectfully discuss my opinion with nonbinary and transgender people without being characterized as a TERF, racist,
misogynist or whatever else misnomer other people used for me.
Still I would say that the main thrust of the hate towards trans people are not those activists but as many others have
opined: fear. Fear of not fitting in, fear of the secret and suppressed feelings you might carry around yourself.
- J.L. in Colorado Springs, CO: My older child was born biologically male, came out as
female with a different name at age 12, then went non-binary 6 months later, and 6 months after that returned to
identifying as male. He ended up keeping the non-binary name for school, but he says he'll use his male name when he
starts high school in the fall.
My younger child was born biologically female, came out as male with a different name at age 11, went non-binary 6
months later and had a subsequent name change about 3 months after that. This child presents pretty female and often
gets referred to with she/her pronouns.
It certainly has been a struggle and emotionally challenging to deal with all the changes while trying to be a
supportive parent. Along the way, I've done my best to use the names and pronouns my children have asked for. My mom (my
kids' grandmother) has struggled more with this and their changes.
My point here is not that "oh, just wait, they'll come around, trans is just a fad," because I believe that for some,
being trans or non-binary is not a choice. However, part of growing up is figuring out your identity, and coming of age
in today's America means that there are more options for that identity. For M.K. in Wilmington, "John" probably would
benefit from having gender-affirming treatments as they start puberty. For my children, it was wise to hold off on
medical intervention to make sure these identities were really who they are. Overall, I wish that we demonstrate more
love and acceptance to people, to be supportive of how complicated and difficult it is to grow up today, and to
understand that this whole thing is pretty nuanced.
- M.A. in Knoxville, TN: I have a bit of an unusual contribution to add to the trans
discussion. Last year I discovered and read a manga called
Boku ga Watashi ni Naru Tama ni.
(In English: In Order for Me (Male) to be Me (Female).) It is an autobiographical story by the artist about their trip
to Thailand in order to undergo gender reassignment surgery, to transition physically from male to female. They also
include flashbacks about their journey that led to the surgery.
Anyone who thinks someone opts to be trans on a whim should be required to read this. The surgery is not easy, it's
quite painful, even with modern surgical techniques and pain management.
Japan is pretty hostile to transexuals. She had to travel long distances to find doctors that would treat her gender
dysphoria, and even after the surgery had trouble finding clinics closer to her home that would provide the estrogen
injections she needs.
The manga is only one volume of eight chapters. This is a fan translation, as no official translation exists. (And
almost certainly never will for something so niche.) It's well worth a read, and I encourage everyone to read it,
especially if they're anti-trans.
- K.M. in Olympia, WA: I was considering submitting a closely written piece combining my
Anthropology education (MA, Indiana University 2000) with my experience as a transgender woman (transitioned 2001). But
then I figured "Why bother?"; no one's ever had their mind changed on this by reason, just by seeing someone they know
go through it. So what I'd like to say to all our detractors, whether on the right or on the left is:
- What's it to you?
- What makes you an expert on gender?
- Mind your own business.
Because people who berate us usually come across as paternalistic and condescending, just like they do to LGB kids:
"You're too young to know, it's just a phase, you'll change your mind when you get older/fall in love/have sex." Their
attitude is that they know better than us, that if they don't experience it then we can't, that we can't be trusted to
make our own decisions. They're wrong—I knew by the time I was 5 that I was different, even though I couldn't put
that difference into words. And I soon learned that it was much safer not to try! And later when I did learn something
about it I hesitated to do anything because of all the B.S. I'd have had to put up with. I did in the end, of course,
and what's more I'm not going away, or detransitioning, or even going back into the closet. And if you've got a problem
with that, you can KMTA!
Thanks, as always, to the contributors! We'll have a bit more this weekend, and then next week. (Z)
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