Yes, I’m trans. Why is that such a problem for you?

July 31, 2010

This is not a trans womanI begin to wonder if the increase in cis people’s awareness of TS/TG people has a downside, in that they’re finally beginning to see us everywhere. Kind of like when someone says, “Ooh, there are loads of red cars on the roads these days” and suddenly you start noticing that, yes there are a lot of red cars around. That doesn’t necessarily mean there are more red cars all of a sudden (although I suppose it might), just that you’re suddenly noticing them more because someone’s put the thought, the awareness, in your head.

As far as the increasing visibility of TS/TG people goes, this wouldn’t be so bad if so many cis people didn’t have this obsessive need to point it out, like they’re playing some twisted game of I Spy. But I don’t know if I’m becoming more aware of people doing it to me, or whether they really are doing it more.

I’ve just got back from doing a weekly grocery shop in my local supermarket where two cis men construction workers decided to mention it. The number one favourite phrase: “It’s a tranny”. “It“. Fucksake. “Tranny” is bad enough; “it” just drives the point home that I’m not a member of the human race, that I’m an object with no sense or feeling. And paradoxically it’s always said in an exaggerated stage whisper, deliberately loud enough for me to overhear.

It’s harassment. It’s transphobic. It’s the third time it’s happened to me (that I’m aware of) in the past couple of weeks. And you know what? It’s happened to me so often that it’s gone beyond being just upsetting. It fucking hurts. It hurts like hell. It makes me want to lock myself in the house and never leave it again. It makes me wish I lived somewhere I never had to interact with another cis person ever again. Increasingly it feeds my gathering depression and yes, I’ll say it: it makes me wish I was dead.

What I really don’t understand, though, is why cis men (it seems it’s always cis men, although I’ve no reason to believe cis women don’t do it too) think it’s okay to behave like that. What do they gain from it? Is it some sort of shoring up of their own insecurities, that by pointing out someone who they’ve been brainwashed to think isn’t “normal”, to the point of letting me know I’m some kind of freak with no feelings, they make themselves feel better about their blinkered little lives? Well let me tell you something, guys, if we have to use such divisive language, I have to say that I don’t think it’s me who’s the abnormal freak.

Mostly though, I’d just like to know what kind of cheap thrill you get from telling me I’m trans – Oh really? Well gosh. Thanks for letting me know. Y’know, I’d have had no idea if you hadn’t pointed it out. What kind of sick pleasure do you get from tormenting me – Yes, I’m human too. Why do you do it? What does it achieve? Do you do it to other people too, or is it just “trannies” like me that you pick on?

Cis people, can you tell me why you do it? I’d really like to know.


Other posts in the category Street harassment

17 Responses to “Yes, I’m trans. Why is that such a problem for you?”

  1. Ruth Says:


    I know that “it” starts bloody early (“is it a girl or a boy?” – whatever sex a child was assigned, they’re not a fucking ‘it’) and I hate “it”, it’s a cheap and nasty way to de-humanise someone.

    And as for why it’s apparently so hil-fucking-arious, I think it’s a blend of general arseholery (same people might also shout “show us yer tits”, etc) but also combined with this idea that trans misogyny is somehow “funny”. How many “comedy” shows or films are there where the “hilarious” joke is that a woman is trans? It’s frightening to realise that I can think of four without even trying, and I don’t watch that much telly. And often from the same comedians who would be horrified at accusations of, say, homophobia.

    It does make me feel fucking angry to think that they made you feel like that. And honestly, like I said on twitter, even in their wildest dreams they couldn’t be as strong and as awesome as you. Also, they probably think they’re hard as nails but they couldn’t walk a centimetre in your shoes, actually, never mind a mile.

    I guess that’s cold comfort though when you’re feeling like that.

    I think, though, these people are the tip of the iceberg in some ways, there will always be arseholes, but, what really is the deeper problem is that it goes unchallenged so often, not so much the arseholery (although I do think people walking by should stand up and say something if they hear stuff like that, actually) but also in general, I think cis people, like myself, should try and challenge these attitudes with other cis people, it’s just not on. Even if you can’t change someone’s opinion you can let them know that there is at least one other person in the world who does not think like them.

    I’m so sorry Helen. (((hugs)))

  2. Says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Katie, Alicia Allan, John O'Dwyer, Anne Marte, The F-Word and others. The F-Word said: "Yes I'm trans. Why is that such a problem for you?" #bop #blog […]

  3. anonymous Says:

    I feel so ashamed to be married to a man who does pretty much exactly this. :'( I’m really sorry. I do not understand it in the slightest and I do confront him about it but I do not think he cares/understands. It’s horrible.

  4. Jehefinner Says:

    They do it because they are small minded and afraid of stuff that thier tiny brains can’t fit into a neat little box. You challenge them. You make them question themselves. You confuse them. You *scare* them. So they put you down, objectify you, dehumanise you. It’s a form of self defence. It’s human nature, at it’s lowest, most dispicable worst.

  5. zoebrain Says:

    From the explanatory notes to the so-called “Equality” Act 2010.

    “A counsellor working with victims of rape might have to be a woman and not
    a transsexual person, even if she has a gender recognition certificate, in order
    to avoid causing them further distress.”

    There ya go. Transsexual people with GRCs are not women. It says so in UK law now.

    So much for the Gender Recognition Act 2004.

  6. Helen G Says:

    I’ve never been asked for my GRC by anyone and I really don’t think it would stop the harassment and hate speech even if I waved the fucking thing in their stupid faces.

    I guess I don’t understand your point, I’m sorry.

  7. Carrie Says:

    This is nothing short of awful and I am absolutely with you. Words from strangers feel like cold comfort but please know that so many of us know exactly how you feel – nothing like being read with complete humiliation to screw the day. Stay strong and DO NOT OWN THEIR BULLSHIT – you are clearly far to awesome for that. Believe it.

  8. Sarah Says:

    Buhhhhhh. Fucking street harassment. I’m cis and female and I’m sorry these assholes are assholes. I’ve heard both men and women engage in this hateful behavior and when I confront them about it I never get a solid answer why. It’s like they don’t even know why which is shitty in a special kind of way. I’m really sorry people treat you that way. They suck, and you’re awesome.

  9. kinelfire Says:

    Right, that’s it. I’m coming down with my big boots and the Frying Pan and I will sort out everyone who ever says anything like that about you.

    You are worth many billion of these thoughtless, ignorant bigots. And I think you’re an awesome person. ((((((((((huggles)))))))))))

  10. Grace Says:

    yeah early on in transition especially, it seems like just about everyone thinks it is their special duty to shame, humiliate and hurt you everywhere you go.
    Some have the idea that perhaps you did not notice that you’d dressed “wrongly” today and somehow had a dress on instead of jeans and shirt like you “should” and are a crazy person needing redirecting, ha ha – so funny! Or a deviant and therefore sinful, evil and require to be dealt with harshly and banished from their sight, violently if possible – and many lesser variants of the same.
    You get customer service people thinking it’s OK to ignore you or refuse service (we don’t serve “those” people), you get deliberate comments from passers-by.

    Sometimes you even get spat at and chucked stuff at. And all this, while your hormones are all over the shop and you’re unsure of yourself and bravely going into the world as a new transperson and are at your most vulnerable.

    I know in the states some places don’t even have laws making such treatment illegal and the churches play right into it and actively encourage people to give us a hard time.

    Being trans is really tough. And some people don’t make it, and no surprise.

    But the good news is, that is gets easier and it ceases to be about transition or even being trans, and you move past that and just get on with things. But everyone has bad days – they are just harder for us.

    My answer was to get militant, and toughen up. If I get snide remarks, I call them out. I face people and shame THEM. I put it right back. A checkout chick thinks it’s cool to insult me? well, how about me versus her in front of a manager? Let’s see what customers think of that. I know not everyone can do that, but learn to threaten it. Learn to look someone in the eye and give them the message, you are the wrong girl.

    Don’t let them get away with it. Be prepared to write letters, and insist on fair treatment, and respect.

    And a loud remark back, even to the air, puts the stage whisperers in their place – Oh look, there goes a homophobe!

    YOU can use attention to your advantage.

    The lesson? _Refuse_ shame. They might use it against you, but the truth is, only you can allow yourself to feel ashamed.

    Regards, Grace

  11. Les Says:

    I’ve got no insight into cis people, but I want to offer you solidarity and ((hugs)) if you want them.

  12. zoebrain Says:

    The point is – that by the “Equality Act 2010” any legally sex-segregated area can now legally exclude anyone who’s trans from either being employed there, or as customers.

    Regardless of whether they have a GRC or not.

    All the proprietors have to prove is that it’s genuinely possible some of their clientele might be lost should they allow a “transsexual person” to be present on the premises.

    Note also that the converse does not apply: it is illegal sex-discrimination to require counsellors for trans people to be trans themselves.

    Equality Act 2010 (c. 15)
    Schedule 9 — Work: exceptions
    Part 1 — Occupational requirements
    (3) The references in sub-paragraph (1) to a requirement to have a protected
    characteristic are to be read—
    (a) in the case of gender reassignment, as references to a requirement **not** to be a transsexual person (and section 7(3) is accordingly to be ignored);

    This act effectively repeals large sections of the Gender Recognition Act 2004 – to wit, in all areas of provision of legally sex-segregated services. Things like toilets for example.

    Note that it does not apply to transgendered people who are not transsexual persons. Only those who have started or completed the process of transition. Crossdressers good, transsexuals bad.

  13. Helen G Says:

    Thanks. And I didn’t think I could feel much lower.

  14. zoebrain Says:

    The first part of curing a problem is to diagnose it. What has been passed in Parliament may be amended in Parliament.

  15. harukoraharu Says:

    Sorry to hear this Helen.

    I think a lot of cis people have never considered their gender at all, everyone else outside of this is just not normal. I think a lot more people have been in a situation where they have questioned their sexuality, whether it was a gay or lesbian friend or an attraction to someone of the same sex or trans. This last one I have mixed feelings about… thinking of ‘The Crying Game’ type scenario (pro) vs ‘There’s Something About Miriam’ (anti). Whatever, it seems to raise much stronger feelings than just LGB!

    Most people are conditioned by the rules in society not to make a fuss about anyone who looks a bit different. Yet, I’ve been in awkward situations with friends who said nothing when some idiot made a snide remark to put me down which obviously upset me. To my mind these friends were as complicit as the idiots who make the remarks for not raising it then or later. This has made me a lot more militant about who to call a friend.

    I accepted it during transition, got a fair bit of it living in a housing estate here and on my clinic visits to London. I just laughed it off but I’m not witty enough to come up with clever repostes. A few years later a friend came over to Cambridge from Brussels and had a hard time from the locals. Many towns and cities in England seem a lot worse for tolerance than Belgium, or indeed several other European countries I’ve visited, maybe with the exception of Poland.

    Sadly, the worst experiences I’ve faced has been within Cambridgeshire Police uniformed and plain clothes. On different occasions both male and female officers have used their privileged position to make me feel very uncomfortable by outing and other comments while reporting a card fraud and in the relative safety of my favourite pub minding my own business. I can understand (mainly) guys in manual trades like builders and scaffolders who objectify women and have no hesitation in voicing their gender supermacy comments in public but the Police! Needless to say my opinion of the Police has slipped to nothing more than scum in uniform.

    I’d be interested in hearing more from zoebrain about Equality Act. I find that troubling though transitioned before GRA back in the day when I used to read about PFCs valiant efforts for this on TGFolkUK

  16. Wren Says:

    I’m a cis woman from the southern US, and I was raised under the rule that one should never, ever be rude or teasing to anyone, no matter what they look like, and Especially not to a total stranger, because it’s none of my business! I was really shocked at my work when some of my coworkers were asking, “Is that a boy or a girl at the front counter?” Who cares??? I said, ‘He’s a boy; or at least he’s identifying as a boy, which is what counts.’ Someone replied, “Maybe it’s a he/she!” I refrained from throwing something at their heads, as that wouldn’t have helped (but it would’ve made me feel better), but I did tell them, politely but firmly, that that was a rude thing to say and I’d appreciate them not using that phrase around me as it insults me and my friends, whom I support completely whether cis or trans.

    I’m not looking for an ‘entitlement cookie’ here or anything, but I did want to let you know that, even in places where racism/homophobia/transphobia still hangs on with a firm grip, there are those who support you, and we’re not afraid to point out when someone is being rude. I learned how to be polite to everybody, no matter what, and I hope the rest of the world catches up one day.

  17. […] look have the potential to “infect” those who are supposedly “normal,” and it supposes that by their very nature, trans* bodies are Frankensteinian. It would be appropriately called childish if it wasn’t so incredibly harmful. Such behavior […]

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