Four years ago today I finally received my first injection to block testosterone production.
Getting to that point demands almost infinite patience from transgender women in the UK. Some of us have to wait longer than I did since waiting lists even for the first gatekeeper appointment at a gender dysphoria clinic are incredibly long.
Today I read that rules that would allow me to be in a women’s ward of a hospital are going to be reviewed. Just the latest in an increasingly hostile environment for transgender people. The latest call for human rights to be removed in case one woman is worried by another being given human rights.
It seems that we are fair game to have rights removed or not given and that it’s okay to legislate and call for legislation that treats us far from an equal part of society.
Prison rules are being reviewed too – largely because the MOJ made a very stupid mistake in one very public and distressing case. Perhaps the lies told in the newspapers over the course of the last year, falsely saying that a famous murderer wanted to transition and be in a women’s prison contributed to the current discourse too. There’s now talk of having a special transgender wing at one prison to house all the transgender prisoners from everywhere. Segregating us because we’re too dangerous.
Over and over again I see in the media people saying that people like me shouldn’t even be allowed to use a toilet. Over and over I hear that I’m not a proper woman. I hear that I’m a man and people say “I’m incredibly nice so I’ll allow people to identify how they want but they’re wrong and shouldn’t be given the same rights as those who actually are that thing.” I hear that my claim to existence is dangerous to “real women.” I’m told that giving me rights takes away women’s rights, which is a popular absurdity.
Recently I was told that I, like all transgender people, hate all women. I’ve been told that a claim to be me is hatred of women.
I’ve been told I’m not trying hard enough to be a “proper” woman. I’ve been told that I’m trying too hard and so perpetuate antiquated gender norms. I’ve been criticised for liking lots of skirts – because if you’re a transgender woman it’s okay to insult you for your clothing choices and you won’t even get someone use the Everyday Sexism hashtag.
I’ve been told I’m not a proper woman unless I get a vagina. I’ve been told having a vagina won’t make me a woman because that’s not what being a woman is about – and I agree with that.
I saw yesterday that transgender women aren’t afraid of being raped – yes we are – because we can’t get pregnant and would be ecstatically grateful for the attention if we were threatened with rape.
I’m told I should wear make up and hide my man face. I’m told wearing make up perpetuates false ideas of beauty.
I’m told, two days ago, that anyone over six foot is a man. For the record, I’m not quite that tall. Hearing that might come as a shock to our community liaison officer. A cisgender woman. I think she’s six foot three.
Transgender woman can’t win. Be feminine and we’re setting back women’s rights. Be more masculine – like the cisgender women I know who wear lots of men’s clothing – and we’re obviously faking our gender. Whatever we do, someone will criticise us. And that’s before the insults in the street which are pretty constant if you’re not “passing” and so getting “passing privileges” – as if it’s a privilege to not be treated like shit.
I hear that I shouldn’t ever want to play sports, except with men, because testosterone – of which I’ve had less than any cisgender woman for four years – gives me an advantage. It doesn’t. Four years ago it would have done but now it doesn’t, which is why the two year rule is in effect in many places. I saw yesterday that in the future all women’s sport will be “won by men” – men being people just like me.
I hear that being able to self-identify as female for a legal change )rather than going through a costly, dehumanising process that includes fun things like proving your identity to people who will never meet you by gas bills and needing psychiatric letters and in my case explanations of why I don’t have a vagina) will mean that sex-criminal men will start dressing up and entering changing rooms. Even though my legal access to such places doesn’t depend on having a gender recognition certificate. In fact getting the certificate depends on access to such spaces being used consistently, to living fully as my gender for at least two years. We are told both that we have to live a certain way to get a certificate and that we shouldn’t be allowed to live that certain way unless we have that certificate. Now I might want some checks in place in order to get the certificate, for the well-being and protection of transgender people. After all, the legal change under either system is for life so it’s a big decision that we don’t want to make in a rush. But the current system is horrible.
The toilet thing is dangerous to cisgender women. I’ve been told that I shouldn’t use the women’s toilet unless I have got that certificate and have had my birth certificate changed. And that I should be prepared to produce that birth certificate whenever challenged. [When I hear that “transgender women should …” I read “I should …” because I am a perfectly ordinary example.] But we’ve already seen cases of masculine looking cisgender women being challenged. Even thrown out of toilets in clubs and bars because they couldn’t “prove” their womanhood.
So I say it – transphobia isn’t just a danger to trans women (and to ALL trans people.) It’s a danger to ALL women. It’s a challenge to the rights of ALL women. Transphobia is, in practical terms, deeply misogynistic.
And that’s another thing. It’s my gender. It’s not my “chosen gender.” My pronouns are my pronouns. They’re not my “preferred pronouns” any more than they are for cisgender people. This is me. Living as me. It’s not a lifestyle choice.
Charities working for transgender people are demonised in the press and on TV. False accusations are made but once made, any false accusation is believed by more people. “There’s no smoke without fire.” Except there is.
It’s getting worse out there. People used to say, and still do say, “I’m not racist but …” Now they say “I’m not transphobic but …”
A good friend a while back said to me that she doesn’t like transgender people in general because they’re annoying and they all want “unfair treatment” (to be treated as who they are) and obstruct the rights of real women. But she knows me. I’m okay. That’s how some supposed allies talk. That’s how some friends talk, while be supportive in other ways.
It reminded me of the racist with a black neighbour. “I hate black people. Immigrants out. But I know you, you’re okay. So is Mo Farah!” I really should have said that to her. She’s not white so might have easily understood the analogy and applied it to the things she said to me.
Talk like this, “You’re okay but your people are not,” is unacceptable in the media. Unless it’s about people just like me. You’re allowed to not accept me. Then you can be praised. Front page news. You’ll be on TV.
Taking a big dump on transgender people is acceptable.
It’s no wonder that hate crimes against transgender people are increasing. Increasing lots. Every time someone perpetuates any of the anti-transgender language it contributes to a society that is becoming increasingly unsafe for us. Rightly, you can condemn racism. But if I condemn transphobia there are people who will call me a dangerously deluded zealot.
And all I want is to be me. That’s been my cover picture on Facebook since the day I started this account nearly six years ago after all those years of hiding myself away and thinking of myself as a monster.
All I want is to be me.
All I want is to live as me. To do normal things that most people take for granted.
That’s all most transgender people want.
We’re just people. The difference between a transgender and a cisgender person is small. It’s really not very interesting. Or it wouldn’t be interesting if nobody made a big thing of it, if we could just accept each other for who we are.
You know me. I’m okay. But I am transgender people. They are me. We’re a varied bunch of course. But mostly we just want to get on with our lives and not hide ourselves.
When you speak of transgender people, of rights, of equality, of danger, you speak of me.
If the things you say aren’t thing you would say about me then please don’t say them about transgender people in general.