Trans people are not a monolith. I would know
There has never been a community in which every member agrees completely on every question. Individual human beings are too unique and complex to fit neatly into ideological boxes. Indeed, one of the characteristics of a healthy and vibrant community is the promotion of diverse points of view.
Majority groups are often assumed to have differences of opinion within them. But in smaller communities, especially those small enough to have only limited contact with most people, members are assumed to all share the beliefs of a handful of vocal activists. These activists are treated as representatives of these communities, despite never having been elected, and despite holding views with which the majority of these communities often disagree.
Unfortunately for those who disagree, the activists with the largest public platforms are often the most resistant to even acknowledge dissent, let alone engage with it. This is motivated as much by fear as it is by fervency: the dissenter’s fear of disproportionate and vicious censure over having “the wrong ideas,” and the activist’s fear of platforming them.
I am a transsexual man and a former police officer, and I have witnessed this firsthand. Many activists in the trans community have gone out of their way to try to smear the reputations of my friends. When one of my friends, a trans police officer, and liaison to the LGBT community, was getting an award at a local LGBT community center in Southern California—with her parents, children, and fellow officers in attendance—trans activists showed up to protest, oinking and holding up signs calling her a “pig.” She was devastated.
In October of 2021, I personally experienced these attacks when I was removed as chair of a national trans healthcare organization's Advocacy Committee. I’m not sure exactly why I was removed, since the board members have refused to tell me, but I believe it may be due to my brief association with another trans-led organization—one that recognizes that our biological sex doesn’t disappear when we transition. It may also have been for believing that medical and mental health professionals who work with minors should help them explore their ideas about societal and cultural expectations of gender roles, rather than instantly affirming their cross-sex identification and referring them to medical specialists.
This same organization had selected me for one of their highest honors just a year earlier, in 2020, and they still regularly call on me to offer training to professionals seeking certification to work with transgender individuals. I continue to accept these invitations despite my removal from the committee because I believe it is important for emerging and established mental health providers to hear diverse points of view, especially from trans people.
That is also why I am working with FAIR to advance a pro-human response to gender diversity. I want to help promote a path for advancing transgender acceptance and rights that don’t involve disregarding our scientific understanding of sex—as some activists often propose.
While certain members of the trans community deny the existence of biological sex, many of us do not. I have no issue recognizing that my biological sex is female, even though I present and live as a man, and all of my legal documents list me as “male.” This truth matters in many ways, and its acknowledgment has numerous effects on my health. A heart attack doesn’t look the same in biological men as it does in women. Drug dosing can be different based on sex. My risk of developing certain diseases is different as a result of being biologically female. Certain procedures I may need in the Emergency Room differ as well. Yet referring to this truth is often called “misgendering” and “transphobic,” cited as "hateful ideology," and has gotten people removed from social media.
Is this helping the trans community, or is it just advancing the goals of those same trans activists?
Consider the push to tell each other our pronouns upon first meeting someone new, or to put them in our social media bios and email signatures. Adopting this as a social norm can have negative effects on all social interactions, but it also does not even benefit all those it is purported to support. What about the people in the questioning phase of their gender transition, or those who end up deciding not to transition—or to detransition? They don’t always find it helpful to feel pressured to reveal their pronouns publicly. As a matter of fact, it can increase gender dysphoria by forcing people to decide on which pronouns to use when they might not be ready. And for those of us who have completed transition, requiring us to publicly declare our pronouns can be a forced reminder that we were not born the way we currently identify or present.
This push for announcing pronouns, and “neo-pronouns” like “zim/zer,” have come from activist members of the trans community who seek to advance the notion that sex and gender are fully fluid and non-binary. But this notion makes it harder for those of us who move from one end of the binary to the other. It minimizes our gender identity’s existence and often comes along with accusations of “cis-privilege that reinforces heteronormative notions of gender expression and sexual orientation.”
We are told that the goal of gender transition is to live in the world in an authentic and honest way, but according to many trans activists, some of us are living our authentic lives inauthentically.
Trans people are not a monolith. We come from many different religions, socio-economic groups, geographic regions, and political parties—and we have different ideas about all the things that matter. Truly respecting trans people means respecting that diversity, and trying to understand and appreciate the various ideas that people in our community hold.
The voices of trans people deserve to be heard, and the progress we seek must be achieved. But we need allies and collaborators in this endeavor. When we allow for diversity of thought and seek to understand competing and conflicting ideas, we are able to get all the information necessary to be a better ally to trans people—and to build a better world for all of us.
The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the Foundation Against Intolerance & Racism or its employees.
In keeping with our mission to promote a common culture of fairness, understanding, and humanity, we are committed to including a diversity of voices and encouraging compassionate and good-faith discourse.
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