Content warning: assault, sexual abuse, harassment, suicide
I’ll begin this the same way, and for the same reason, JK Rowling began her blog post. This won’t be an easy piece to write, for reasons that I hope will become clear. I write this without malice or desire to add fuel to the toxicity that already exists. I write this because it’s my lived truth, just as JK Rowling expressed hers.
I am a trans woman. I understand now through reflection, realisation, real life experiences, and through the help of professionals, that I have always been a trans woman. My time to realise this was just delayed due to the era I grew up in, and the lived experiences I dealt with.
Like many trans people out there, I faced childhood sexual abuse at the hands of a male family member, harming me both physically and mentally. Throughout school I was bullied for being ‘camp, effeminate, gay etc’, and once again I was both physically and mentally harmed. At one stage, it even included a teacher as the perpetrator. As an adult, I survived through not one, but two, violent, controlling, and sexually abusive relationships.
Being seen as an easy target at work, I was released from one job, at a time that there were no employment protections for LGBT people in the UK (which thankfully is no longer the case). I attempted suicide, feeling this was my only option to escape the hatred I felt from others, and towards myself.
This is not a personal sob story. These are experiences shared by many people out there in the world, maybe less, maybe more, but all experiences as valid as each other. Many LGBT (and trans people in particular) face much of this, and over recent times this has increased. Despite living in a country where the laws that view being trans as a protected characteristic, there has been a dark element set out to demonise trans people, painting us as something we simply are not.
Through real life experiences, through reading, through sharing experiences with others, through transitioning itself, through the eyes of others, through the eyes of myself, I have unknowingly spent a life time gaining a huge amount of understanding and knowledge about many trans matters from the science through to the laws, from the bullying through to the living, from the long dark nights, through to the glorious moments of awakening.
The one major connection that all anti-trans rhetoric has is inaccuracies and fear mongering. As a violence and sexual abuse survivor myself, I can easily recognise that I was not raped or beaten by all men. I was raped or beaten by specific men. When I was bullied it was by the bullies. When I suffered childhood sexual abuse, it was from a predator. When I was beaten black and blue and had my nose broken, it was by an abuser. When I lost my job, it was because of a bigot. I am able to recognise that the actions of one (or some) person or people, is NOT a reflection of all.
Throughout life, we all have examples in front of us, on a daily basis, that show people of all genders to be awful, vile, horrendous, disgusting human being, capable of the very worst. But instead of thinking we are all like that, we spend our lives attempting to show the very best. Intent on not letting the despicable words or actions of a minority of people, we go through our lives looking for love, laughter and light. Trans people are no different. Whilst I am sure there will always be the minority who will do or say something bad, just like with cis people, they will never speak for the majority.
We all forever could fear monger by awful stories fed to us by media, and by the lived experiences of some, and live in a world of people mistrusting people. We could all forever hold grudges for all, due to the actions of some. Everyone could choose to live in world of unhappiness, due to the unhappy times experienced by others. But is that truly a world any of us really want? Would we get so passionate, so upset, so opinionated if we all didn’t really feel like we were fighting for a better world?
Shutting trans people out of a safe space will not stop cis men attacking, raping or murdering. It will at most further the fear that all men must be kept at arm’s length, just in case. No one should ever attempt to cross a road again, just in case.
If you truly want to shut out harm, turn away the harmful.
If you truly want to stand against the abusers, turn away the abusers.
If you truly want to end violence, turn away the violent.
If you want someone to blame, to hold a grudge against, to hate, blame the perpetrator.
One of the many inaccuracies regularly shared by anti-trans people is that self-determination would allow men to identify as women at free will (what happened to the trans men in this lie?). This is simply not true. We can look at Ireland for a true example of what this means. There is an administrative process involved whereby the trans person seeking to self-determination would have to still satisfy certain criteria, facing sensible gate keeping against those who wish to abuse the system for nefarious purposes. There are also still protections for reasonable individual formal requests of treating people differently on the basis of their gender.
Leftie, Snowflake, Gammon, TERF, TRA, Remoaner, Brexiteer … These are all terms coined by one person to begin with, and then used by many after, to describe an opinion on a group of people. Often, the people it is directed against wish for others to know they feel it is a slur. They get offended either by the word itself, or the acronym it stands form, even in situations where it correctly describes something, or someone. TERF began its life in a Trans ally piece of writing back in 2008, and that writer (Viv Smythe) was actually cisgender. I tell you this as most anti-trans people wish you to believe it was made up originally by trans people. Viv also went on to say that she prefers the term TES (Trans Exclusionary Separatists), as she feels this better describes the people who position themselves with the more general anti-tans views, that aren’t particularly feminist, let alone radically feminist. I tend to agree.
There are so many lies that are used to try and sow division, with an attempt to cause separation, by the Trans Exclusionary Separatists. In the same way a racist would sell you fear of a whole group of people, in the same way homophobes would insist all homosexual people are paedophiles, in the same way a dictator would silence anyone who disagrees with their insistence to only see those who are different around you as a threat and outsiders. I encourage us all to deal with difference in a way that avoids unnecessary harmful separation towards others.
Quite simply I recommend we all talk, discuss, share, and trust.
When someone gives you a fact, learn you can trust what they’ve told you by looking it up or asking for their source. Generally, if something sounds too weird to be true, it probably isn’t true. If someone sends you a picture that sets off warning bells in your mind, do a reverse image search and check out the true origin of the photo. If someone demands you ONLY see or hear or respect their version of an event or beliefs, simply ask yourself why. The world is big enough for us all. This doesn’t have to be a ‘them or us’. Together, lets educate, experience, and trust.
Cis people: trans people are asking you to trust us.