Anxiety is expressed when people experience stress over something. For example, a worry that they or their children are being pressured into transitioning. Or concern that trans needs might somehow place them at risk. Or when the bathroom issue is raised and people talk about how trans people are “unsafe”. This is often erroneously referred to as fear, but fear is not the only aspect here.
Aversion is when they actively engage in habits and actions intended to reduce or avoid dealing with trans people, transness, or trans issues because they are trans. An example here is when people go to great lengths to define people by biology, or say that they are not attracted to trans people, or demand that trans people not be present in their space *because they are trans people*. Another is when people use terms that indicate disgust about some aspect of trans people, in particular anatomy.
Animus is the rarest of the three. It was, not too distantly, the main component, and it is still recognized when people engage in the brutal physical violence against trans people that is noted weekly. It does include more than physical violence, however — it incorporates all forms of physical violence against trans people, transness, or trans material. It is direct overt or covert hostility directed at these elements for the express purpose of causing them harm in various ways.
A person, in and of themselves, cannot be transphobic. It is their actions — their words, their deeds, their way of doing things, that is transphobic.
The culture we live in here in the US (and, in recognition, many other countries around the world) is transphobic. It manifests in the ways in which people are resistant towards elements of trans lives that enable us to live our lives with liberty and recognition and equality as trans people.
The effort to live our lives as women and men is separate from that, in the abstract, as is our effort to live our lives as gay man, bisexuals, and lesbians. It is separate from our efforts to live our lives as persons of color. In the abstract. These intersectional points that strike us at different times and in different ways, are a challenge that exists in addition to each of the discrete lines that form these intersections.
In the concrete, these things are all part and parcel of a coherent struggle on multiple fronts to live our lives in freedom, recognition, and equality as people with just as much right to be assholes or heroes as anyone else.
In the concrete, because the culture we live in is filled with such, we receive these messages from our youngest ages, As we grow up, they layer one after the other on top of themselves, and they become part of the stuff that makes us who we are. This is despite the hurt and harm that such cause. This stuff gets inside us, settles in, and internalizes — becomes part of how we decide, think, feel, and react to the world around us.
It is also found in everyone around us.
However, just because it is there, dos not mean that people do not grow past it. It does not mean that people do not grow out and around and away fro it, that they do not overcome it.
Not everyone. On average, about 15% of those who oppose a social issue will never change. The rest are all fair game.
The first folks at bat are the innovators – that would be us and those who work most closely with and around us and actually care. This is around two and a half percent of the population.
They are followed by the early adopters, who we convert fairly easily — family, friends, and service providers, etc. This takes a while, as this makes up the next 13 and a half percent. Early adopters are typically younger in age, have a higher social status, have more financial lucidity, advanced education, and are more socially forward than late adopters. More discrete in adoption choices than innovators. Realize judicious choice of adoption will help them maintain central communication position
Once you reach that 15% threshold (or thereabouts, these numbers are only rough guidelines), you start the long and troubling climb.
We passed that point in the early 00′s. or early Aughts. or early two thousands. Take your pick. I like Aughts.
After the early adopters are the Early Majority, which is where we are struggling with right now. They make up about 34% of the total population, and are the key folks. When you get to this point, yo start to see fringe groups strongly and vocally begin to protest. These fringe groups make up the core of what will be the Laggards, who, as I noted before, are those who will resist this stuff to the bitter end. Early Majority tend to be slower in the adoption process, have above average social status, contact with early adopters, and seldom hold positions of opinion leadership in a system
Once you pass the early majority stage (and we are not there yet, but we are working on it all over the country, and if you *really* want to help, then you will get both visible and also ultra pleasant, both of which suck, especially the ultra pleasant part, when you consider what all that lifelong internalization can result in.), you get to the point of late majority, and while this is the slowest growth stage, once you are here, you are pretty much not going to have any problems.
We are in the Early majority stage. That, in and of itself, is the key to reaching critical mass, and we are, without question, very, very close to critical mass.
Which is why collections like “peak trans” are coming into being — they are backlash against our success — and their existence means we have succeeded.
Lest you think I am pulling any of this out of my ass, I am using the structure of Diffusion of Innovation, which is a well established and thoroughly proven element of sociodynamics that while our opponents can question it, and condemn it, is really just an exercise in making people eyeroll.
The Late majority stage folks approach an innovation with a high degree of skepticism and after the majority of society has adopted the innovation. Late Majority are typically skeptical about an innovation, have below average social status, very little financial lucidity, in contact with others in late majority and early majority, very little opinion leadership. This is where the LGBT movement is (ok, ok, yeah, its really the Gay and Lesbian movement because they have done everything they could to deny us even though we have been there all along since the mid 1800′s).
The laggards are those people who show little to no opinion leadership. These individuals typically have an aversion to change-agents and tend to be advanced in age. Laggards typically tend to be focused on “traditions”, likely to have lowest social status, lowest financial fluidity, be oldest of all other adopters, in contact with only family and close friends.
Now, you might be saying, well, now, wait a minute. The Cockroach is not at a low social status, and she is wealthy, and she’s not real old, and she has a platform.
And my response is going to be that she a woman, that fluidity is not the same as wealth, that laggards *tend* to be such (especially in the realm of technology), but that in the realm of social systems and sociodynamics, these are people with conservative tendencies more than age (and she is very conservative), and she is positioning herself to be a leader of the people whom the laggards are going to coalesce under, almost entirely for her own personal profit. And if you doubt me, look at other efforts — the leaders of TVC and FOTF and the AFA are doing pretty well for themselves. She’s someone who works with money. She’s *all about* the money.
Keep in mind that 16% of the population is around 50 million people. Drop the kids, and that leaves you with around 30 million. Many of whom are going to be over 50. Not all, just many.
So transphobia can be overcome. The way to do it is three-fold:
1. Defy their stereotypes. That means knowing what those stereotypes are. Not what you *think* they are, but what those people you are trying to help overcome this problem they have think they are. The Cockroach is useful because she uses all of those stereotypes herself. Seeing how she deals with things gives you an idea of how trans people are expected. Yes, you can be righteously angry, but, in reality, being righteously angry just reinforces their stereotypes. You cannot break one by doing what it confines you to. When people speak about the master’s tools, what they mean is that you cannot use what the master expects you to do to break free.
2. Be visible and outspoken. That means being seen and being heard. Best way to be seen and heard is any sort of video enterprise that has a large viewership. That is the easiest one. Another one is to actively lobby — that means, dressing well, making appointments over and over and over again, literally getting to know and make friends with people who work in the offices of governmental businesses. It means protesting, peacefully. It means writing blogs about trans issues — and showing how the attacks of other people cause harm, not just yelling back. The sarcasm in my posts about the ‘roach is an example of how you can get ugly, but note that I always show how what she does is bad and why.
3. Support efforts to help other Trans people. All of this stuff takes money. I realize that very few of you have any money, but it literally makes the difference between success and failure. I know, because part of my job is to beg for money, and I’ve been doing that, but keep in mind the only reason I do so is because I cannot do it by myself since I’m one of those people who has no fucking money. And I *still* put money in — way more than I can afford to put in. I sacrifice my hormones at times to do it. You must be willing to make sacrifices if you genuinely want to do this. Trying it without sacrifice –without risk — is only going to maintain the status quo. If you make more than 300 a month, you can afford to donate a little. It doesn’t have to be much, and while I prefer you donate to my cause, in the end, any trans organization will love it. And if you cannot donate money, then donate time. Lots of time. Hands and skills and willingness to do it someone else’s way so that you can learn why they do it that way and what works and what doesn’t because trust me, as a loudmouth who couch analyzed the hard work of some large orgs, I found out the hard way that you have to be in there doing it to understand what really works and what doesn’t.
So now you know a lot more about transphobia, and the way that movements shift things, and the nature of diffusion, and how to help a little more. I will also mention organizing, if there is nothing in your area. If your local area has a population in excess of 1000 people, you are not the only trans person around. They may be a child, they may be a senior, and they may even be doing everything they can to not be seen or thought of as trans (because of that internalized stuff).
You can change minds and hearts and the people you need to change are not the ones that will be laggards. And you can always spot laggards because they make an exceptional effort to engage trans people in as negative a way as possible — and not just once. But over and over and over again.
Your Brother who was a total dick to you is not out of reach. Well, to you they are, but to someone else? Nope.
That retail store with the clerk who was obviously transphobic? Not necessarily out of reach. You need to try different things, with different people, over and over again. You need to find a way to reach them where they live, where they think, and most importantly you need to find a way to make them see themselves in your place.
To get them to have an emotional understanding of what it means to be trans.
Because that is how you overcome those issues — you get people to understand that.
You cannot reach people with anger, with resentment, with frustration.
So those things can’t be used (and, as noted, that is what is expected).
But those are not the only ways. Those are not the only tools.
You must overcome the transphobia inside you, as well as the transphobia outside you. Try doing it with your anger.
It will fail.
You can, oddly enough, do it with vulnerability. With openness.
The only time people kinda freak out is when I say that the one thing I don’t do is give out the name I lived under most of my life.
I give out my birth name all the time.
I give out the details on my surgical status in a class if it comes up — and it does not always come up, but I never bluntly answer the question put to me directly, I say that you will likely figure it out when I talk about other stuff. Because all of it is interrelated.
One last thing…
Who you love, who you date, who you fuck, how you do those things?
The only people who really care about that stuff are you, someone interested in you, and the laggards. If it is you and someone interested, that’s not something for the world to see. That is not something you post o the internet.
That’s not me being sex negative, either — I’m not saying that such things are bad.
I am saying that they are not something for mixed company.
The internet is always mixed company.
repeat, for emphasis:
The internet is always mixed company.
Even on tumblr or some other blogging service, where you may think that the only people who read your stuff are those who follow you. Not so.
Tumblr is searchable. Tumblr is on the google. People will come to your site that you never even have heard of and that have nothing in common with you.
Blogs are searchable. Unless you lock them down and make them private.
Facebook has to be locked down — and in all these cases, the default is let the whole world see.
Those are things you talk about with only the people you like to talk about that stuff with. I’m fine with people being into all manner of things, but I am not interested in knowing it about them — it isn’t relevant to the way I deal with stuff and so that will stop me from seeing the rest of what you might have to say because I’m not interested in that.
And that is not merely me — that is the general world. I have no problem talking about how I have sex. Who I have it with. Why I even bother.
But sorry, that’s between them and me.
It is a suggestion, but one based on experience, for whatever that’s worth, and on the fact that among those intersection are the kink ones.
Which are already presumed and are already part of the master’s tools.
(Although, really — damn, get on wit yer bad self)
Remember that laggards have no sense of humor about trans stuff. None. For them, anything that they can make out to be bad is automatically bad and will be used so against you in the court of public opinion.
And remember that Gender is all about the public opinion. Good, bad, or indifferent, that’s a fact that doesn’t make people happy.
So go out and change the world.
Because you can.
Just do it.