Nic Crosara ponders over what some might find daunting about those who embrace their authentic selves
SCREENSHOT VIA YOUTUBE/HBO/POSE FX/NETFLIX
As a member of the trans community, the alarming rise in transphobia here in the UK and around the world has filled me with fear, for myself, but even more so for my trans and non-binary siblings who do not have the same privileges that I do.
The devastating boom in transphobia is often brushed off as the false belief that trans women cannot gain rights without taking away the rights of cis women. I’ve never bought that. I’ve frequently written about the intersections in the rights that both the trans community and women are fighting for: bodily autonomy, equal opportunities and a life free from violence – to name just a few. In fact, I have fortunately encountered only a handful of women with anti-trans beliefs. But one look at Twitter or the news shows that there is still much fear and hatred.
While the increase in hostility toward the trans community is easy to pin only on the rise of fascism, there has to be more to the picture. Yes, it’s hardly breaking news that far-right movements are intrinsically linked to the anti-trans movement. I’m well aware. But what about everybody else, who isn’t right-leaning? Why, at a time when trans people are under attack, is true allyship hard to find?
Why are some of the most marginalised members of our society so feared?
People like to blame it on the poor children – with claims that we groom young children and recruit them onto the “trans agenda”. Any LGBTQIA person who grew up under Section 28 will know that this argument is regurgitated bigotry once used against gay men and lesbian women. And often still sadly is, just look across the pond to the US with the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. I’ve always found this argument completely ludicrous, after all, we all grew up in a world that conditioned us into believing that being “normal” means being straight and cis, and yet many of us still grew up to embrace being LGBTQIA.
The world right now is a terrifying place for trans people to simply exist. And it’s dwelling in this anxiety that has led me to ruminate on what exactly it is that fuels society’s fear. And then the other day, I was scrolling through TikTok when a clip from the queerstory making show, Pose, started playing. The groundbreaking show was a fabulous moment for visibility and broke records for having the largest cast of trans actors in TV history. In the iconic scene, Elektra, Angel and Lulu are out enjoying drinks when a transphobe calls them “too loud” before saying “I know a man pretending to be a woman when I see one, and I see three right in front of me. This is not that kind of establishment.” Elektra stands and continues to read the woman for absolute filth saying: “God may have blessed you with Barbies, a backyard with a pony in it … None of these things make you a woman. Your uniform of ill-fitting J.Crew culottes, fake pearls and 50 cent scrunchies cannot conceal the fact that you do not know who you are. I know our presence threatens you.”
Rewatching this mighty comeback all these years later, with these questions fresh on my mind struck a chord. “You do not know who you are” kept repeating on loop in my mind. It was finally a cause I could understand. Though of course, this does not justify the actions of anti-trans individuals and movements.
We live in a world that not only conditions us to be straight and cis, but to also fear change and ourselves. That is afterall what helps capitalism and the patriarchy to thrive. And yet, despite a system constantly kicking trans people down and pushing us to margins, we stand, we speak up and we embrace ourselves. We know that trans is beautiful.
From the moment we’re born, we’re told we have to live life a certain way. Wear pink or blue. Go to school. Go to university. Get a job. Get married. Have children. Rinse and repeat. We are told if we do this, we can build a life of our dreams, and we will be happy. So why are so many of us so dissatisfied, despite following all the rules? It’s the world that is broken, not trans people.
Through existing, through shaking up the status quo and still finding joy, community and love we can be a very daunting mirror. We can reflect back to others their fear in how unhappy they are. I don’t mean to say that every transphobe is secretly trans, god no. Of course not. But perhaps they are lost. Perhaps they have never dared to look too deep within. Perhaps they have been following a script their entire lives, married the person they were supposed to marry, played out the roles they are supposed to play and yet, is it what they really wanted? On top of this, these are certainly uncertain times. It can sometimes feel like we are living out an actual apocalypse. Lockdown taught us all how much we seek normalcy. How much we desire order and to be assured everything will be okay and we can continue doing things as we always have.
However some of us never had “normal”. If such a thing even exists. The world is super scary. But do not let your fear become hate. The tools it would take to dismantle transphobia are also the tools it would take to free us all. And those who seek to eradicate trans people will not stop there. The ones who hold the most power are not acting on fear, they are acting on hate. And they will not stop with us.
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