Content advisory: there follows reference to transphobia, and the unpleasant impact on people thereof.
Today is the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia, commonly referred to as ‘IDAHOBIT’, and nothing to do with diminutive humanoids with hairy feet who live under hills and eat seven meals a day. Unless those humanoids are gay/lesbian, b/pansexual or transgender in which case it’s as much for them as anyone.
[Contrapoints]AS A TRANSWOMAN[/Contrapoints] I always feel I should make a contribution to this kind of thing. But I’m never sure what. I’m not a natural campaigner – I’m not organised enough to arrange events. As far as I do politics – and I do, let’s be honest – I tend to be more “generalised expressions of pessimistic rage” than “constructive organised winning of hearts and minds”.
Nor am I particularly creative. I would love – love – to write poetry, write a novel, paint pictures, or otherwise do something, anything, that would express my own experience and understanding of what it is to be transgender and bisexual in these politically fraught and precarious times. But I don’t have those skills, regrettably.
So what can I do? What should I do? What do I need to do? And why?
LGBTQ+ people today have a lot to be thankful for. We have rights that, only a handful of years ago, seemed unattainable. We can express ourselves more freely than ever before in modern times. We can marry the ones we love, and enjoy rights in marriage equal to those that straight, non-transgender people have been able to take for granted for years. Centuries. Millennia. Things have come a long way.
But there remain problems. Countries around the world still victimise and persecute LGBTQ+ people for being who they are. Homophobia and biphobia is still rife in the UK, and transphobia – the fear, and the fear-rooted hatred, of transgender people – is systematically enabled in Britain by a media keen to air anti-trans viewpoints, and to propagate ‘controversies’ manufactured solely for the purpose of alienating and othering trans people. On social media it’s worse still, with modern anti-transgender agitators promoting the very same misrepresentation and fearmongering about transgender people as that routinely directed at gay and lesbian people only a few decades ago. “They’re predators!” “They’re a threat to children!” “They want to take over and subject us all to their Evil Agenda!”
These are the age-old claims, the same well-worn allegations and accusations made for any troublesome group all the way through human history. “Think of the children” is a tired cliche (and a recognised logical fallacy all of its own) precisely because it is the go-to argument of all of those who wish to portray a group they hate as being dangerous to you, to your family, to your society.
What do trans people really want? Well, obviously it varies from person to person. What do non-trans people want? What do you want? Safety? Security? Freedom? Opportunity? The ability to be yourself, and express who you are? The right to your opinion? The chance to live in peace? To have enough food to eat and a place to live? Are these the sort of things you want?
You wanna know what the Gay Agenda is? Or the Trans Agenda?
That’s what it is. All that stuff I just said. That’s the Agenda. It’s what we want.
So why do we make such a fuss? Why do we insist on Shoving Our Gay Down Your Throats (I mean, yes, ew, granted)? Well, that’s simply because while a lot of progress has been made there’s still an awful long way to go yet – see above re victimisation, persecution and illegality in many countries; plus the systematic propagation of anti-LGBTQ+ narratives in media, and all that stuff I said before. Because that’s still going on, there still has to be a drive to overcome all that bullshit with facts, justice and good old basic fairness. LGBTQ+ people are still being excluded from opportunities afforded to others, and that needs to stop. Transgender people are still being abused and murdered because they’re feared and hated and because they lack access to services and protections that non-trans people take for granted.
And one of the most difficult parts of this for me is that I have a lot of privilege to acknowledge. As transgender experiences go, I’ve been very lucky to have had a damn easy ride, comparative to some. I’ve been lucky to have thoroughly decent people around me, for the most part, with friends, family and colleagues ranging from wholeheartedly supportive to, at the very least, indifferently accepting. I’m good with all of that. I’ve been lucky never to have experienced direct trans- or biphobia, and I’m thankful for it.
Doesn’t mean I’m blind to it happening to others, though. I’ve seen the stories. I’ve seen the lives disrupted, ruined, and even ended because of the unwillingness of some in our society to accept that trans people are simply who we say we are, and that we want only what everyone wants. I’ve read the names. I’ve seen the last-ever tweets and I’ve read the suicide notes.
And I see the casually hateful articles in the Daily Mail, in the Sun, in the Express and other such shitty rags. I see the so-called ‘feminists’ (#NotAllFeminists) insisting that a trans woman is a man who wants to ‘take over’ feminism, or lesbians (#NotAllLesbians) insisting that a trans woman who’s attracted to women is just a man trying to ‘erase lesbians’. I see the likes of Graham Linehan, former comedy writer, now full-time social media anti-trans agitator, promulgating dangerous hysteria and misinformation, and working to have support removed from trans-identifying children, in the name of ‘protecting’ them. And I see the statistics as those same trans children try to decide whether death is preferable to living a life ashamed of who and what they are: the rates of self-harm, suicidal ideation and even suicide attempts and completions amongst trans children and youth are harrowing.
But it’s all okay, because it’s ‘only’ trans people. And they’re the acceptable targets in the media right now.
Yeah, I get a bit angry about it, I’m not gonna lie.
Anyway that’s why I feel like I ought to do something for IDAHOBIT. The problem is what. And in the end I come to the conclusion that, really, the only thing I can do is be who I am, and make myself open for others to ask me the things they want to know about being transgender. While IDAHOBIT is about more than trans-ness – it’s about LGBTQ+ people more generally – I can answer only for the Trans and the Bi parts of the equation.
So for the record, I’m open to questions. I positively invite questions. If there’s something you’ve ever wanted to ask a trans person, or a bisexual person for that matter, but you’ve always been worried about whether or how to raise it, raise it with me. Ask me, and I’ll give you my understanding of it. And that might not cover everyone – everyone’s experience will be unique to them – and I’m a binary trans woman, so I can’t necessarily answer well for non-binary people, as their experience is quite different to mine; but if I can answer, I will. And this is a standing invitation: not just for IDAHOBIT, but for good. I’ve done this before for Trans Day of Visibility earlier this year and I’m happy to do it now, and any time. And nothing’s off-limits. Don’t be afraid to ask me whatever you wanna know, and if it’s something I don’t feel I can answer I’ll say so and tell you why.