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Breaking Down Transphobia

Breaking Down Transphobia

Transphobia is more common than people may realize. But what is it and why does it exist? It's important to break it all down.

The Gender Recognition Act in the United Kingdom is currently being revised to make the process of being recognised as your chosen gender more streamlined. The government has encouraged transgender and cisgender citizens of the UK to answer some questions regarding the act, and as a result, my news feeds across social media have become more openly transphobic than before. There’s been newspaper adverts, mass posts online to get people’s attention, and general hateful and ignorant remarks. It’s hard to ignore it and it’s pushed me to write this article on what it means to be transgender and what causes transphobia.

So, what is transgender?

Being transgender is when you are born with one biological gender but you identify as another. This could mean you’re ‘born male’, or assigned male at birth but you identify as female, or you’re ‘born female’, or assigned female at birth but you don’t identify as any gender, and instead prefer to be neutral ‘they/them’ pronouns. Gender is complicated and a broad spectrum. It can take a while to figure out how you identify, sometimes you can know from an early age that you don’t identify with the pronouns people call you, sometimes it can be a lot later in life. It really depends on the individual.

So, we know it’s complicated and can be overwhelming, so why the transphobia?

Why are people angry at the idea of streamlining the process? Well, the loudest voice to come through the debate of the reform is that of TERFS, trans exclusive radical feminists. The main argument is that women are worried ‘men’ are going to start invading their spaces, such as changing rooms and public bathrooms. This argument ignores that transwomen exist and instead jumps straight to this misconception that men dress as women to go into their private spaces to assault women. Transphobia stems from a lack of education, a fear of the unknown, and the common occurrence of sticking to your own group and excluding anyone outside of that group. Transphobia can be anything from not feeling comfortable near a trans person to overtly hating them and wanting to cause them harm.

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Being trans is hard, not just because of the transphobia.

Some trans people experience dysphoria, where they feel disgusted by their own body to the point they want to harm themselves, needing to change it to match their identity, and feeling sick when anyone calls them the wrong pronouns. The process to get hormones and surgery and changing their name and gender on medical certificates and records is incredibly long, takes months of therapy, and a lot of having to ‘come out’ to people. Trans people can experience very serious depression and anxiety and can sometimes struggle to even wash themselves because they don’t want to touch their own body. If you, a transphobe, think it’s bad they have the ‘wrong’ genitals, think how they feel? They want this changed as soon as possible.

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Being trans isn’t this scary, alien thing.

Trans people don’t mean you any harm when they want to use the changing rooms which matches their gender. They want to ease the dysphoria and they want to finally be recognised and feel comfortable in public spaces, something everyone should feel. Everyone has the right to not feel threatened or frightened when they simply want to use the toilet, wash their hands, and leave. The biggest threat when it comes to trans people is the threat of transphobes causing them harm.

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While there’s been a larger exposure of trans people in the media, with Laverne Cox and Caitlyn Jenner now being household names, there’s still a great deal of attitudes which need to be changed for everyone to live in a more peaceful, less terrifying world. If you feel threatened by trans people using your bathrooms or changing rooms, the problem isn’t them, it’s you. You need to become educated on what it means to be transgender, and you need to accept trans people as they are. Trans people have existed throughout history, and they’re not going to stop existing, they’re going to keep coexisting with you.

What’s your opinion on transphobia? Tell us in the comments!
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