Nearly one million adults in the US identify as transgender. And yet, most people know almost nothing about them.
Even many feminists have trouble distinguishing identity from identity, term from term, myth from reality. How many of your friends and family can properly define the term “transgender?” If you’re like most of us, the answer is, not many.
Why do we know so little about transgender people?
When it comes to gender and sex, transgender people are breaking the rules. And since patriarchy’s very existence depends on everyone’s compliance, those who break the rules are a threat. So they must be silenced.
Transgender people are systematically silenced on a daily basis. They are not adequately represented in politics, government, or media. They are not encouraged to freely express themselves in a society that fears them. They are often not even safe on their own streets. We don’t know them because, frankly, we don’t see them.
When transgender people do live their lives in the open, they are deemed freaks, deviants, and perverts. They are told that who they are is wrong. They are even hated, hurt, and killed. When transgender people are represented in the media, they are often portrayed as over-sexualized, uncontrollable freaks (think “Jerry Springer”). Or are presented as drugged out prostitutes (think “Cops”). Or are misidentified as flamboyant drag queens (think “RuPaul”). We know this is wrong.
But, we may still not know what’s right.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of stereotyping this group that you may find hard to understand. Maybe you already have. That’s okay. Being feminist doesn’t mean being perfect. But it does mean making an effort to change your ways of thinking and debunk the myths that society tells us about certain groups of people. So let’s confront some of the most common myths about transgender people, and change our ways of thinking about them. Myth #1: Transgender people live crazy lives.
This is probably the most...
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