There was a worrying item on the BBC London lunchtime news about a huge rise in transphobic hate crime. Transgender people are being picked upon and discriminated against more and more, usually by people refusing to respect their preferred/chosen gender. It goes without saying that this appalls me: I saw it happen to Lyn once or twice. She took it in her stride, of course, but it made me exasperated to realise how closed minded and arrogant people could be.
Now, that being said, I want to add a small, potentially contentious caveat: when people are transgender, they are transgender. Something deep down inside of them, usually far beyond their consciousness, tells them that they were born into the wrong gender and would be more comfortable if they transitioned. Obviously in such cases nobody has any right to question their decisions, and doing so constitutes transphobia. These days, though, I get the feeling that a few people are declaring their selves trans for less innate reasons. They like the politics of it, and want a louder say in the alternative lifestyle discourse, so they emulate transgender people they know and declare theirselves trans while never having shown any sign of it in the past. It’s a type of what I call cultural intrusion, which I think is also happening in the disability community. Such self-styled ‘activists’ usurp the whole discourse and drown out those of us with genuine concerns, baselessly accusing others of transphobia when confronted.
I can’t be sure how widespread this phenomenon is, but I’m pretty sure I’ve encountered it (online) a couple of times. Such people seem to think they can speak on behalf of an entire community, taking it’s politics and language as their own, even though they might not really belong to it. To be honest I think such people should be confronted as their behaviour, in a way, mocks or devalues the turmoil genuine transpeople go through. Being trans has nothing to do with whatever ideas you may have about gender equality. The danger there is you end up sounding just as bigoted as those who misgender and bully people like Lyn.