Transphobia is a White Supremacist Legacy of Colonialism

Michael Paramo
7 min readJul 17, 2018
‘Bloom’ (Art by Michael Paramo) — @m.azeart

I still remember the first time I dressed in clothing not socially marked as acceptable for a “boy” to wear. In the body of a seven-year-old, although my appearance in “feminine” attire strayed from social acceptability for a “male-bodied” individual, the threat my gender expression posed was merely excused. I was a child, not a “deviant.” As I aged beyond a perceived state of “childhood innocence” however, attitudes shifted dramatically into the negative, resulting in confrontations marked by physical, verbal, and psychological violence that repeatedly forced me to question my validity as a human being who existed outside the gender binary. Fearing a continuation of these violent consequences for defying the gendered expectations of the category of “man,” I began to self-police and constrict my own gender expression, effectively eliminating my visible “threat” to the gender binary throughout my adolescence and young adult life.

Since birth, the vast majority of us have been conditioned to only perceive our identities (how we understand our gender, sexuality, race, etc.) within the limited social constructs or categories provided to us. For instance, we are conditioned to accept “man” and “woman” as natural forms of gender, and simultaneously deny other gender categories as mere fabrications in comparison. While the gendered rules of the former (i.e. how to acceptably live as a “man” and “woman” in society) may not ideally correspond with how we internally desire to express our gender, most of us condition ourselves, whether unconsciously or not, to conform to the expectations that directly correlate with what it means to be a “man” or “woman.” While we may or may not feel entirely comfortable in adhering to these “rules of the category,” we tend to identify and express ourselves in compliance with them in order to more conveniently, securely, and advantageously navigate a society that enforces and polices their continuation and dominance.

Gender binary enforcement and policing is most often accomplished through regulation of the self. Many of us unconsciously “act” or “perform” how we have been conditioned to believe a “man” or “woman” should move, present, speak, or otherwise act, as determined by the social scripts the dominant society has marked as either “masculine” or “feminine.” We have become so…

Michael Paramo

PhD student in interdisciplinary humanities.


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