Nov 16, 2020
The point of these posts is to educate the wider (cis) community about the struggles of trans people, and why certain actions and arguments are transphobic. First and foremost, please remember that if a trans person tells you that something is transphobic, it is. There is no discussion. I'm offering them free, because this content is so important, but please consider becoming a patron to help support me.
Where possible, I have linked to scientific studies (or breakdowns of the studies). If there is no link, I am speaking from personal experience and that of other trans men I have talked with. These links are given so that cis people, when confronted with transphobia, have sources to link to.
In this part, for Transgender Awareness Week, I wanted to talk about trans men, since it is so personal to me.
Sadly, trans men often get left out of the whole transgender conversation all together. When transphobes attack me, they usually say, "You're still a man!" because they think I'm a transgender woman. They only know transgender women, because transgender men are not in the media (slowly changing) and certainly not in the spotlight of trans rights. For example, how many famous trans women can you name? How about how many famous trans men?
How many transgender events happen where the only people performing are cis men in drag and trans women? Where are the AFAB (assigned female at birth) people? We are consistently left out of our own community. From personal experience, it stings when I'm left out of transgender events, which is pretty much always.
TW: suicide and frank talk of sex
Did you know that half - HALF - of male transgender teens have attempted suicide? Did you know that's more than their female transgender counterparts? Did you know that in transgender women, death by suicide declines over time, but in trans men it does not?
Why do you think this is?
Because trans men do not get the support we need both before and after transition.
Speaking from personal experience, trans men are actively excluded from the trans movement by trans women. Yes, this is shocking and disappointing.
I was once told by a prominent trans woman on Twitter that trans men cannot be trusted to advocate for themselves and other trans people and should sit down and be quiet and let trans women lead the way. This same woman told me specifically that trans men's needs were not her concern, and that she, as a trans woman, was going to prioritize trans women. While I can agree to that to a certain extent, this same person stated that trans women should be the ones advocating on behalf of all trans people. So, if she is not going to advocate for trans men because she is a trans woman, and trans men should sit down and shut up, who then will advocate for us? I have called out multiple trans women for casually excluding trans men in their blanket "trans people" statements ("All trans people want boobs" could have easily been changed to "All trans women want boobs" and yet I was attacked for suggesting it).
On a tweet thread where I defended trans men remaining in the lesbian community, I was again attacked by a trans woman who claimed to speak for all lesbians in that trans men are not welcome in the lesbian community because they are men. She tried (and failed) to get me piled on by other trans women and lesbians because she claimed I was dangerously trying to tell lesbians whom they are allowed to have sex with.
So, here's the problem: trans men are AFAB. We grew up as women. Many of us went most of our lives living and existing as women. Acknowledging that trans men were perceived of (and lived as) women does not negate us being men now. Denying that trans men have been victims of misogyny is transphobic. Our transitioning does not negate the problems we have faced up until then. ESPECIALLY since any male privilege trans men receives is based upon how much he passes as a man and how masculine he is. Trans women often deny that trans men are victims of misogyny due to them perceiving this as somehow misgendering us, which leads (in pretzel logic) to trans women believing that acknowledging this still somehow equates to trans women having male privilege (I talked about why this is not so previously).
I hate to say it this way, but AMAB (assigned male at birth) people are still talking over us AFAB people, and while this is not male privilege, it IS still toxic masculinity (which can be upheld by any gender).
And so trans men do not get support from the trans community.
Gay cis men are so fixated on size of genitalia that many of them will refuse to date trans men because we lack said genitalia (forgetting that a trans man 1) could have had surgery and 2) can use any size, shape, or color strap-on). Misogyny is rampant in the gay community, with such comments like "ew, a vagina" being extremely common. Such is the hatred of women and vaginas that there are such things as "gold star gays" (men who have never had sex with a vagina) and even worse, "platinum star gays" (men who have never had any contact with a vagina because they were born by C-section). These terms are misogynistic AND transphobic, and it's time the gay community stops using them.
And so we do not get support from the gay community.
Before transitioning, many trans men find welcome in the lesbian community (on a personal note, I am not one of them; as a bi "woman" I was left out of the lesbian community). Many identify as lesbians before realizing they are trans. A lot of them wish to remain in the lesbian community because that is where they feel safe, that is often how their partner identifies (I find this problematic, but other trans men and lesbians are free to disagree), and where all their support systems are. But yet there are many TERFs in the lesbian community, as well as women (trans and cis) who believe that trans men do not belong in the community because they are men, forgetting that we are all still AFAB and grew up as women.
And so we do not get support from the lesbian community.
And what about feminine trans men? Those of us with long hair, or pretty faces, or who decide not to take testosterone for any number of reasons? Our masculinity is called into question, and we get asked why we claim to be trans men at all if we're going to be so feminine anyway. Thus our gender identity is invalidated unless we are ultra-masculine, which, if we are, we get told we uphold toxic masculinity (which is entirely possible though not by default). If we are too feminine, we are told we can't possibly be trans men, and if we are too masculine, we get told we are gross and toxic.
TERFs tell us that we are too stupid to know our own minds and that we have been duped by patriarchy into wanting to be men. According to TERFs, we should just accept that we are really women.
Is it hard to imagine why so many trans men attempt suicide now? We are invisible to the general public because we have been deliberately (and sometimes accidentally) left out of the transgender movement. We get no support or acceptance from gay men, lesbians, or the wider transgender community. There is nowhere left for us to go.
We are attacked by famous TERFs who still somehow make an inclusive statement for trans men into it being about trans women. Seriously, did you notice that even though JK Rowling's public transphobia started because she took issue with "people who menstruate" (an inclusive term for trans men and AFAB non-binary people) that everything after that has been about trans women?
Most people assume that trans men have an easy time of transitioning. Testosterone is so powerful that most (not all, but most) trans men can easily pass after a few years of being on it. And yet, not all of us can (or want to) pass, and our ability to pass and "disappear" into "cishood" is not determined by anything we can do, but by how testosterone affects our bodies (which is, in turn, determined by genetics). Not that disappearing into cishood does us any good anyway. If we are assumed to be cis, many cis men will engage us in "locker room talk" in which we face a bad choice: engage in it and be secretly hurt by it, or rebuff it and get our masculinity called into question by cis men. Considering that areas like locker rooms are by nature private, the choice to rebuff is a dangerous one. Trans men can (and have been) assaulted, and murdered, for being trans men by cis men.
In fact, trans men are far more likely to be victims of other kinds of violence - even more so than trans women. This type of violence explains the exceptionally high suicide attempt rate in trans men. Additionally, trans men get the same treatment as both cis men and women when talking about violence against us: either "man up" and don't talk about it or "why didn't you just leave?" Considering that many of us believe we are unlovable, you can imagine what a trans man would put up with because we are very unlikely to find partners that accept us wholeheartedly.
This all leaves us with a feeling of invisibility and helplessness that can be hard to shake. When trans men demand our rightful place, we are censored for being too "pushy" (sound familiar?) or too "masculine." So many of us have a hard time taking up that space. If you see trans men pushing back, support us. There's a reason.
Not to leave out non-binary people, but a lot of this applies to us too (I am non-binary but I also identify heavily as a trans man/transmasculine person), but to a lesser degree. The significant problems that non-binary people face are the exclusion of AMAB non-binary people and the idea that "non-binary" just means "woman-lite." Non-binary people, while facing misunderstandings in general, are somewhat more accepted due to this perception: that they really are just women but are breaking free of gender stereotypes. This causes problematic statements like "I like to wear pants, so I don't really identify as a woman" which was actually spoken by a person at a C2E2 panel that I nearly walked out of (hint: gender presentation is not the same as gender identity).
Part IV will be upcoming.