Closet Transphobe

I’m transphobic.

This is my coming out letter. I’m transphobic.

I remember when I was young, maybe I was a 7–8 years old, walking down the streets to go get myself some chocolate ice-cream. These were the days before puberty fucked up our lives forever, which also means my days of innocence, when the only emotions I knew were “Happiness” and “Sadness”. I was humming tunes to my favourite song, when I heard the stereotypical clapping noise.

I froze.

Fuck you, popular culture.

The three transwomen approached me, grabbed the money off my hands, but they didn’t leave. They stood there, their eyes scanning me from top to bottom, and then one of them tried to make small talk with me. Asked me for my name, asked me how old I was, and then started touching me. I didn’t say a thing. I was shivering.

Then one of them leaned over and kissed me on the cheek.

I ran as fast as I could. Away from them, away from their maniacal laughter, and straight into my home. I Locked myself in my room, buried my head in my pillow, but I couldn’t cry. I was just terrified.

I don’t hate transpeople. I firmly believe that social exclusion is a problem, that these people deserve equal rights, equal opportunities and discriminating against them is plain wrong and must not be tolerated.

But I am uncomfortable around them.

I am not proud of this, I am ashamed to admit it, but that doesn’t make it less true. In situations where they’re being discriminated against, abused or physically attacked for being who they are, I will stand up for them. I will do everything I can to ensure that their rights are being protected, but I am not likely to hang around when they’re safe. I am not likely to approach a transperson and strike a casual conversation. It’ll take me a lot of time to warm up to them when we’ve been introduced, and there is this overwhelming sense of insecurity and discomfort when I’m in their vicinity, purely because they’re who they are.

What does that make me?

Maybe I’m a bigot.

Years of watching films, reading books, news articles, and listening to people speak about them have internalised this attitude within me. Everytime I look at a transgender, my mind immediately flashes memories of 7 year old me. Transphobia is internalised within me, but that’s not society’s problem. That’s my problem.

My discomfort, my fear is a problem. Because my experience pales in comparison to the abuse that they must’ve gone through as children. My attitude of excluding myself from them, when practised on a large scale by society, is the definition of Social Exclusion, and that is a problem. What happened when I was a kid cannot be an excuse for centuries of oppression. Does any of this make my emotions, or what I went through invalid? No, but the validity of my emotions doesn’t make them less harmful.

I’m disgusted with myself.

It’ll serve me well, I think, if I stop blaming society, films, and all of popular culture for my emotions. My transphobia is my problem, and I have to deal with it. Maybe the indoctrination of negative attitudes is not my fault, but living with them definitely is.

I recognise my privilege. Being born with privilege isn’t my fault, because just like them, I didn’t choose my birth. But spending my life without acknowledging privilege, and without doing anything to level the playing field is.

To any transperson that may be reading this: I’m sorry. I know that a sorry doesn’t quite cut it, but an apology is all I have to offer. I am, however, working to make myself a better person everyday.

So this is my coming out letter.

I’m transphobic, but I don’t want to be.

Help me.