Why Trans People Aren’t Reinforcing Gender Stereotypes
We need to dissect and debunk this myth, once and for all.
Today, I want to talk about the idea that trans people are ‘reinforcing gender stereotypes’. This talking point is popular among certain feminists, and it is increasingly being heard outside the feminist context too. Therefore, I think it is important that we debunk this myth.
Are trans people reinforcing gender stereotypes in reality? I think the objective evidence actually suggests the opposite. Many trans women are not feminine, and many trans men are not masculine, at least in the traditional sense. Some trans women are indeed very feminine, and it should be their right to express their personality in whatever way they want to. However, it is still clear that, overall, trans people are less likely than non-trans people to conform to gender stereotypes, or feel a need to do so.
I guess some people think that trans people transition because they feel a need to fit into gender norms. However, the aforementioned evidence suggests otherwise. Trans people transition because of gender dysphoria, and this dysphoria is mostly physical for many trans people. Even trans women who dress in a stereotypically feminine way might be doing this because it makes them less dysphoric about their body. It is a well known phenomenon that some trans women start out presenting very feminine at first, but later dress in a more casual way, after the physical changes from hormone therapy lessen their physical dysphoria over time. The reason why trans women can’t just be ‘feminine men’ is because the dysphoria is a physical thing, not a social norms thing.
Therefore, if your goal is to put an end to the restrictive and discriminatory gender stereotypes, trans people are not the ones standing in your way. Instead, there are reactionary forces out there which you should be fighting. These forces are often anti-trans too, motivated by religious reasons that they might not highlight in public. Indeed, some gender critical feminists have aligned with such reactionary forces, just because they are anti-trans. They are actually forming an alliance with the kind of people who represent everything they hate, because they can’t see that trans people are not their actual enemy. Well funded reactionary propaganda also plays a role in maintaining this misguided alliance, and I think we need to talk about this more often.
In conclusion, trans people don’t ‘reinforcing gender stereotypes’ any more than non-trans people. Trans people transition because of gender dysphoria, which is mostly a physical thing, rather than a social norms thing. Therefore, they are not the enemy when it comes to ending gender stereotypes. We need to be able to talk about this clearly, and work against reactionary propaganda that is promoting outdated misunderstandings in order to build an anti-trans political alliance.
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.