There’s nothing feminist about transphobia

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Over the past five years, U.S. Americans have become increasingly aware of transgender people, who have found themselves, unfairly, at the center of a culture war. liberals and leftists, with a few exceptions, support the transgender and gender nonconforming community, while conservatives fearmonger and spread hateful rhetoric about those who don’t conform to traditional standards of gender. This plays out on social media, within families, and even in the halls of Congress. In April 2019, while Republicans on the Judiciary Committee were disparaging the transgender community, Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Seattle revealed that her child had come out as non-binary the previous year, and in February, newly elected Georgia Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene chose to troll her colleague and hallmate, Congresswoman Marie Newman of Chicago, whose daughter is transgender, by hanging a banner outside her office that read “There are only two genders, Male & Female.” Some who consider themselves “radical feminists” or Trans-Excusive Reactionary Feminists (TERFs), like J.K. Rowling, argue that supporting transgender women dilutes what it means to be a woman and consider their bigotry progressive and feminist. And some cisgender members of the gay, lesbian and bisexual community have decided that trans and non-binary people are not real members of the queer community and have come up with the “LGB Alliance”, purposefully excluding the “T”. The latter is particularly infuriating since it was gender non-conforming people like Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson that started the Stonewall Riot and sparked the gay rights movement.  

The framing of trans people as predators is extremely problematic. Trans people have around a 50% chance of experiencing sexual violence at some point in their lives, especially if they’re homeless, Black, or in prison. Jules Williams, a Black, transgender woman in Pittsburgh, reported being sexually harassed, verbally harassed, and raped by guards and fellow inmates in prison, where she was incarcerated with the male prisoners, according to the ACLU. Trans people are not the predators, but in fact, often the victims of predators.  

Trans people face more than just discrimination and sexual violence: transgender and nonbinary individuals are murdered at a higher rate than their cisgender contemporaries. Muhlaysia Booker, Nina Pop, and Tony McDade are the names of some of the transgender people murdered in the past 3 years, and they represent only a small percentage of those facing violence. We still need to say their names and remember the people they were, not just the horrific acts of violence committed against them. In 2020, 44 transgender Americans were found murdered, and in 2021, that number jumped to 375.  That’s just the USA. Many countries, including Brunei, the Gambia, Indonesia, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malawi, Malaysia, Nigeria, Oman, Saudi Arabia, South Sudan, Tonga and the United Arab Emirates, to some degree or another, perpetuate this violence by criminalizing the lives of gay, bisexual and transgender people.  

Also, according to the Williams Institute, transgender people have about an 80% chance of having considered suicide during their lives and a 40% chance of having attempted it. The study showed a clear correlation between discrimination, rejection and lack of access to gender-affirming healthcare and suicidal thoughts or attempts. Let me be very clear: every attempt at passing anti-trans legislation, every child that is denied the care they need and every piece of hateful, anti-trans propaganda that’s put out by people like J.K. Rowling makes it more likely that a transgender child will attempt to kill themselves. This is a dangerous game being played, and the people who push this narrative have blood on their hands.  

As much as TERFs and the “LGB Alliance” like to pretend their bigotry is about being progressive and protecting children, women, and the gay community, there is nothing progressive about this. Excluding, harassing and spreading hateful lies about the most marginalized people in our society is bigotry, and it’s especially shameful to see it from people who know what discrimination is like. Transgender people deserve to be able to live their lives without being targeted. For those who believe it’s wrong or sinful to be transgender, I propose a simple solution to you: don’t get hormone replacement therapy, gender affirming surgery or change your pronouns and leave trans people alone.