Trans People Need to Think of Ourselves as Normal Members of Society
Fight against those who want to harm us, but don’t overreact all the time
Today, I want to address a criticism of my work regularly raised by some trans people: that I am supposedly too tolerant of anti-trans bigotry, and fail to recognize that there are people out there who want to hurt us. Let me start with this: I certainly don’t have an appeasement policy towards anti-trans forces. I have called out the dangerous agenda of truly anti-trans people many times just within this year, and I have also argued that we need legal recognition to protect us from anti-trans forces. I have also called out those who seek to downplay the suffering of gender dysphoria in particular.
However, it is also true that some parts of the trans community have repeatedly overreacted to what people are saying. A good example of this is last year’s Dave Chappelle controversy. Chappelle’s work has always been controversial. It’s part of his brand. In last year’s Netflix special, he made controversial jokes about many groups. However, trans people were the only ones who overreacted. Somehow, trans people seem to be the only ones to think that Chappelle being Chappelle was a major threat to them. This led to headline after headline highlighting the trans-related content in the special, as if he had made a whole special dedicated to trans issues. In reality, the trans stuff was only a small part of the program.
So how can we balance the need to call out and push back against those who really want to harm us, and the need to not overreact to every insignificant thing people say? I think the answer is just to ‘act normal’. What I mean by this is we should think and act like we are normal members of society. What we need to do, is to stop thinking of ourselves as oppressed victims all the time. If we do this, we would stop overreacting to things that almost nobody else thinks is important. We would also stop pushing the rest of the world away by getting combative over minor things all the time. This way, it wouldn’t feel exhausting for others to deal with trans people and trans issues.
On the other hand, we must still recognize that there are people out there who are vehemently anti-trans, who would even support things that would actively make trans people suffer. In the past year, some anti-trans activists have stated that they would want to make it more difficult for people to transition. A few have even said that, in their ideal world, they would like medical transition, the medically necessary treatment for gender dysphoria, to be banned. Given that no normal person would appease those who want them to suffer, it would just be very normal for trans people to call these people out and condemn their cruel positions. Indeed, if we left the Dave Chappelles of the world alone and save our rage for those who really want to harm us, I think we would gain a lot more credibility and support in mainstream society.
In conclusion, acting ‘normal’ towards the rest of the world is ultimately good for us, and to do that, we need to adopt a ‘normal’ mindset, i.e. stop thinking of ourselves as oppressed victims all the time. This would be the key to stop overreacting all the time. We still have to fight against anti-trans forces that really want to harm us, and that is also a natural part of a ‘normal’ mindset. After all, nobody would just allow others to harm them without fighting back, right?
TaraElla is a singer-songwriter and author, who recently published her autobiography The TaraElla Story, in which she described the events that inspired her writing.
She is also the author of The Trans Case Against Queer Theory.