Addressing Trans-Misogyny In Our Varying Communities

What do we do about the overwhelming misogyny that exists in our communities?
04/22/2017 09:58 pm ET Updated Apr 24, 2017
sandiegofreepress.org

I run with lots of different wolves. Many of these wolves are truly on a journey to be more free, but some of the wolves I run with are shaped by logics that threaten women, most especially Trans-women. So, while misogyny is hard to spell, it sure as hell is easy to practice. Let me tell you a story!

The other day I was enjoying a lovely brunch with a dear colleague in Nashville, TN. We were talking about movement space and she shared with me something that occurred with a group of Trans folks at a yearly gathering of queers. Here’s the story:

A white cis woman was talking to another woman and when this white cis woman learned that the woman was a Trans woman, she immediately became cold toward her and stopped talking with her. Then! This same white cis woman started talking to a guy of color and upon immediately finding out he was a Trans man of color, she began flirting with him and being all flowery with him.

What comes up for you? What comes up for me is misogyny and specifically trans-misogyny.

This is what I know about the socialization of folks, especially queers. Masculinity is sexy, and taking on masculinity is a sexy thing to do. We are attracted to that. Look at the ways that masculine presenting folks are encouraged to go onto T. Futhermore, look at the dominance of masculinity in our varying queer communities.

Femininity, and I did write on femme phobia here a few weeks ago, is something that we find to be devalued (and contribute to the devaluation of it), and when people take on femininity we call them ‘crazy.’ When these folks come out as trans women, we call them “predators.” Just look at the discourse around all the bathroom bills.

So, what do we do about the overwhelming misogyny that exists in our communities? What, specifically, do we do with trans misogyny that exists in our varying queer communities? When we ‘run with wolves’ we learn just how wild people are and this wild logic stems from a deep embedded logic of dominance that emerges as internalized forms of misogyny and sexism.

The story I told you just happened several months ago. I was, in fact, in the room when it happened but was unaware of what was happening. It’s not uncommon for my colleagues and I to trade stories of conferences and talk about the great needs of our varying communities. Movement space is complicated with many expressions of the logic of dominance, and we’ve yet to address the ways in which internalized misogyny and sexism are showing up in outright expressions and practices of trans-misogyny. And, so, I name it here.

Trans misogyny is a real thing that needs to be addressed in each of our varying communities and the point of departure for this work is naming the shit that keeps us oppressed.

And, I want to make a plea to white cis women who fetishize (in particular) trans masculine bodies and masculine of center bodies. That fetishization is wrapped up in your own internalized misogyny, and if you can’t name your own internalized shit, then learning to name our communal practices that reinforce these misogynist practices that perpetuate ongoing gendered violence against trans women won’t be able to materialize. So, a plea to you white cis women: Do your work and commit to naming your own internalized misogyny that propels you toward the socialized sexiness of masculinity.

My hunch is that the masculinity that compels you is a toxic masculinity that is rooted in internalized misogyny and the dynamic between you and your trans man or masculine of center human(s) reify the very practices of trans misogyny that I described above. In fact, you might have been able to remember a time when you acted like the white cis woman I described above! Do you work, and stay in your lane. Trans women are being killed by your inability to have the capacity to unhinge from ongoing practices of misogyny.

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