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Owning My Own Discomfort

facing internalized transphobia

Date: 05/22/2000

Posted - 22 May 2000 11:26

to immortal fem:

(1) i confess having similar feelings. even though i try to be trans-positive, i haveto confess being uncomfortable with the presence of transsexual women in a woman-only events. and i do find transsexual men so attractive quite often.

(2) but these are my personal feelings, and i own it. there is a difference between feeling certain way and acting our the prejudice in an oppressive manner. i want heterosexual people to stop killing us or taking away our human rights, but i can't force them to like me. being a trans ally does not require you to consider transsexual women as part of your dating pool, but it does mean you do not act oppressively.

(3) yes, there are times transsexual women "feel men" and transsexual men "feel women" to me. but what is the basis i am using to decide whether someone has male- or female- vibes? we should not be upholding the patriarchal fiction of femininity as if that is central to who we are, or attack those women and men who do not fit into stereotypes.

(4) i think it's bogus to say that transsexual women are "just like other women" given how they were raised and treated while growing up; but this "difference" is no more significant than differences in other areas, such as race and class.

(5) i am a japanese american, and i know that my grandparent's generation of japanese americans were put into concentration camps by the u.s. government because they were not seen as "real americans." many japanese american men had to volunteer for the most dangerous military operations to "prove" that they are "real" americans, to "prove" their loyalty to the nation that did not even recognize their civil rights. i do not want trans people (both mtf and ftm) to have to sacrifice themselves in order to prove that they honor our community. sadly, many do, just like many battered women stays with her husband.

(6) many gay and lesbian children end up committing suicide. is that because gays and lesbians are inherently sick, or is it because we live in a society that hates us, attacks us, and erases us? the suicide rate among native americans who were taken out of their traditional culture is much higher than that of white people. are native americans themselves at fault? the way you describe the high suicide rate among transsexual people is extremely insensitive, given the fact transphobia is a major force, if not the largest force, that pushes transsexual people to give up their lives. you should know that similar arguments were used against gays and lesbians as well as native americans, and it's *oppressive*.

(7) when someone i've known as a lesbian for a long time came out as a transsexual man, it made me feel really sad. but why should i feel sad that someone felt comfortable enough about themselves to come out as who he always felt he was? i did a little internal investigation, and i think my sadness came not from the fact he came out as a trans guy, but from the fact transphobia was powerful enough to silence his true identity for so long even from me. i felt sad because i had thought i knew that person well, only to find out that there were parts of themselves that they did not trust me enough to feel safe to disclose. that is why it makes me sad. but as i've said, i have my own transphobia that i need to unlearn before i deserve to be trusted more, and my feelings are more about myself than about them.