Question about transphobia

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AStranger
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Question about transphobia

Unread postby AStranger » Wed Dec 09, 2020 4:03 pm

Hi, it's me again!
Recently I saw a situation blow up on a social media regarding someone being transphobic.
The person said that they are gay and wouldn't be with a trans man (one who hasn't gone through transition)
Some say that it is simply a preference (with genitals...?). Others argue that that is invalidating to a trans person (which is completely valid).
The thing is, I feel like I wouldn't be comfortable having sex with trans man who has a vagina (I'm a girl, and I THINK I am straight). Of course though, I would accept his identity.
Am I transphobic? If so, how can I turn this around? :|

Heather
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Re: Question about transphobia

Unread postby Heather » Thu Dec 10, 2020 8:52 am

Hey there. :)

One thing I just want to gently remind you about is that the community here is very diverse and absolutely includes transmasculine people with vaginas. So, when we have conversations like this, it's important to keep in mind that they won't ever be conversations where the people you're having them about won't also be here reading them or sometimes even answering the questions. Just be sure and be as sensitive as you can. <3 I also want to give you props for asking -- I really appreciate you wanting to check in about this and caring.

I think this is a tricky thing to answer without knowing what you know about a few basic things to start.

For example, did you know that genitals are not even actually dimorphic in the first place? In other words, we often talk about them and reproductive systems as two groups or ways, particularly when we're giving people the most basic information, but they are actually much, much more diverse than that. Reproductive systems as a whole are more complex than just being one way or another, with a range of variations, and external genitalia are waaaaaaaaaaay more diverse than that. It's actually pretty fair to say that external genitals exist on a spectrum, and there are points on a spectrum where you would find it very difficult to look and say whether someone even *has* a penis or a vulva, and you'd have to ask them. (This is also all tricky for some intersex people: some intersex people don't fit standard M or F chromosome or genital assignments and don't want to be made to fit them or to have to pick from them.)

Which leads me to my next point: which genitals we have when it comes to what*gender* they are is totally up to us. The idea that men have penises and women have vulvas is, itself, for sure a transphobic concept, because it literally excludes and discriminates against transpeople. It says that genitals say what your gender is, not you, and if you say you are a given gender and don't have the genitals that "match" either you or your genitals are "wrong." That's textbook transphobia.

I say all that instead of just answering your question with a simple yes or no because I don't know how much you even know about even those two very basic starting places for all of this. If all of that is news to you, then it may well be that your attitudes are transphobic, but those attitudes are probably entirely inherited and learned rather than really your own, you know?

Let's not get too deep just yet -- I'm going to take a puse there for now and see where you're at. How do you feel about that?
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

AStranger
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Re: Question about transphobia

Unread postby AStranger » Thu Dec 10, 2020 9:28 am

Yes, I'm aware! I was pondering wether to maybe put a warning in the title, because I'm afraid to make them feel dysphoric. Actually, should I do that? (Is it possible for me to do this?)
Thank you for the patience... A lot of things still confuse me and I really want to clear them up so I can take an assertive stance on things.

Is this about the physical differences the genitals can take on? I don't really understand, sorry:(

And yesss, I know that notion and am against it. :( My problem is regarding the "preference" thing — is it really preference or is it inherently transphobic?I've seen trans people saying they aren't bothered with it, but eeeeek.. I am afraid to say more because I don't wanna damage anybody :| I'm a little bit insecure with talking more

I'm here!

Heather
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Re: Question about transphobia

Unread postby Heather » Thu Dec 10, 2020 10:13 am

Just a quickie, I'm right here, a nonbinary instead of a cisgender person, so we're kind of past a "them" with this, you know? (I don't identify as cis, but I also don't identify as trans, but that's political for me rather than personal, about being cautious around co-opting. From a personal standpoint, as someone who doesn't experience a feeling of a given gender at all, there's literally no such thing as my genitals matching or not matching my gender.)

There's really no way to warn about something like this, I don't think, the question itself really can't be softened. You do say this is about transphobia in the title, so I think you're as clear as you can be that this could be in there, but again, I appreciate the care.

And while everyone isn't going to feel the same way about it, I don't think it's always so much about dysphoria, but that's pretty complicated this early on in the discussion.

I bring up the physical differences of external genitalia to point out that even our ideas of what a penis is and what a vulva are are often pretty busted. For instance, you might well get involved with a cisgender man who has a penis that looks more like what you'd think of as a vulva than a penis at some point in your life, which is actually a really good way to get to the heart of this, maybe. If what he had looked like a vulva instead of a penis but he called it a penis and a doctor called it a penis, would that matter to you? On the other hand, if what he had was a vulva and he called it a penis, what about that? What's the difference there, if there is one?

I'm not meaning to blow you off about the preference thing, I just think that can be a bit of a red herring and a deflection. I also think that might make sense when we're talking about what color hair someone has, but it's really an entirely different matter when we're talking about if someone does or doesn't have certain body parts or other much bigger things, like a vulva, a leg, the ability to breathe without a machine or a certain color of skin. Get what I'm saying?

(By the by, please know I am always going to assume that anyone asking questions like this isn't a jerk, and means well. We live in a very ableist, transphobic, racist, sexist and otherwise discriminatory world. The idea any of us can grow up picking none of that up or absorbing none of it is a beautiful dream, but a really unrealistic one. We all have this stuff in us to deal with. Better to try and find it and work it through and out than to just leave it there unawares!)
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

AStranger
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Re: Question about transphobia

Unread postby AStranger » Sun Apr 11, 2021 10:03 pm

Hi! Sorry for not replying, I got scared of internal conflict and ran away. I am deeply thankful about your kindness in answering. If I were less scared, I would've read your last note and probably answered quicker lol
As much as I might not have responded, I spent the absent time with this question in the back of my head. I think I'm more open to let it in now! Recently I've read this scientific article about sex on a spectrum, and thinks are starting to make a bit more sense.

Oh, that makes sense Heather(about the notions of genitals), I think you also were right about the deflection thing. I think I *do* associate gender with genitals...And how they look¿
If he had a penis that resembled a vulva and I became uncomfortable with that, how could I change that discomfort?
I really want to change, but I don't really know where to start. These ideas (as you said) are something I absorbed from my conservative family, and so they were formed from years of listening to their bigoted views. I'm ready to be responsible for my perspectives now, nonetheless!

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Re: Question about transphobia

Unread postby Sam W » Mon Apr 12, 2021 7:15 am

Hi AStranger,

That's okay, we want users to reply here when they're comfortable doing so!

Before we get into discussions of how to address that potential discomfort, I think it might be most helpful for you to take some time and read up on trans subjects and see how other people break down the fact that gender doesn't equal genitals. Welcome to Trans Summer School! is aimed at trans folks, but it addresses a lot of questions cisgender (people who identify with the sex they were assigned at birth) folks have. I think you might also find some useful ideas in this article: https://www.scarleteen.com/article/advi ... _trans_man.


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