(Note that the article in the link references a second article, also worth reading, which is available here)
A couple of recently published articles caught my eye this week, both of which focused on the issue of transphobia within the larger lesbian, gay, and bisexual community. I really wasn’t all that sure of how to write about them, really. I really feel like it’s something that needs to be talked about quite a bit more than it is, and it fits really well into the whole idea that the ’T’ part of “LGBT” is often very, very minimized, and only in part due to visiblity. It’s as though it’s more often “LGB…(t)”, sort of whispered at the end with a bit of a confused look and a shrug.
So how do I write about this, really? I mean, both articles are written by people who very clearly put in words an epiphany of transphobia, and in two very different ways. Both articles provide good examples of what the authors consider to be the transphobia involved in the rest of the queer community.
I guess it’s just that there’s a good portion of my own story that fits in along with this and I’m not sure how much of it is just me looking for assocations and how much is actually relevant.
I remember some time around first grade coming up with a pithy explanation: “gay guys are just guys who want to be girls and gay girls [having not learned ‘lesbian’ yet] are just girls that want to be guys.” The concept of sex is pretty clear to a first-grader. People are very obviously different at that time (often due to parents’ influence, granted), and that’s what one latches onto at that age. A guy wanting to go out with a guy must just want to be the opposite, right?
So even after I understood the whole idea of what a sexuality was - lets go with some time in middle school, say twelve or thirteen - I still didn’t really get gender. It wasn’t something that really crossed my mind, really. I understood sex, of course, and I understood attraction, but even though I can remember the discomfort of gender going all the way back to third or fourth grade, I didn’t really understand the concept of gender as being an aspect of oneself separate from sex.
Even after getting into high school, even after exploring sexuality a little further. Even after deciding that “girls aren’t so bad”. Even after winding up in a relationship with a delightful trans guy. Even after growing into something resembling a real person, I still didn’t quite get the whole thing with gender. I knew enough about it to talk about it at a shallow level and I could, with a little effort, use the right pronouns for whom that mattered.
A lot of transphobia, a lot of bigotry and phobia in general, comes from the inability to really understand what something is, or why it is. It took a lot of time, a lot of introspection, to really figure out what gender is, what trans* anything is, it took it becoming pertinent to me, it took experience, and I think that I’ve been incredibly lucky to have had people in my life and information available to me in order to help make that not just possible, but relatively painless. I’ve run into a lot of transphobia in the larger queer community, just as I participated, myself, and so much of it was bound up in misunderstanding.