Alexa Chung, Zoe Kravitz, Mary-Kate & Ashley Olsen are my inspirations.
Alexa Chung has been a fashion icon of mine since I was in high school. I have graduated for a long time now. The way Alexa expresses her fashion makes me shout yes! Or I have that! I wear that! Her awkward boy, little bit of feminine, preppy effortless look is everything I have in my wardrobe. She has not worn anything that I didn’t like. She is my ultimate fashion icon.
Zöe Kravitz a great musician and a cool actress but one word to describe her I’d say is Gorgeous. She just has a cool aura, badass, very street, tomboy look and it is awesome. My style is very much influenced by Zöe. I was lucky to get the opportunity to meet her and let me say I want to be her. She is the definition of cool.
Mary-Kate & Ashley Olsen who doesn’t know these fashion powerhouse twins. I remember as a little kid watching their teen flicks religiously. And have been growing up along the twins witnessing the Olsens change and influence fashion. Not only are they fashion icons but they are an inspiration for women wanting to succeed in the business of fashion.
This is a hard post for me to write, at the same time I feel it’s something I need to get out once again. I already know in advance that opinion within the trans community will probably be divided over the words I’m about to write, some may just write me off as someone who has internalised transphobia, but upfront I embrace my trans identity while at the same time remaining self critical not only of myself but the community that I’m part of. To others, well, I’m just going to be preaching to the choir.
Now this may come across as a personal attack on one particular person, but it is my experience of them that I feel better inform the overall intended message of this post and if you look hard enough you’ll find other shining examples of this behaviour created by others.
A former online friend likes to post about how they dislike cis people. I have seen lots of posts from around the internet along these lines, some from definite trolls, but I can verify this persons identity, and so know that they are a trans person and their social media use is a stream of their thoughts. I will not post exact quotes to protect their privacy, but their comments included saying that being cis made a person automatically lesser in their estimations, of having a hatred of them, and that the world would be a better place if everyone was trans.
As someone who is surrounded by cis people (at 95-98% of the population it’s hard not to be) and has been nothing but loved and respected for being me, I am insulted on behalf of the people they’re bashing. They are insulting my partner who loves me deeply; her family that supports her decision of being with me and in turn lovingly accepts me for who I am. Then there’s my family and friends, who once again are nothing but loving and supportive towards my choices even though they all just so happen to be cis people, they had no choice in such things, just as I had no choice in being trans, at our foundations we’re all human and should be respected as such.
One of my main issues regarding such venomous outbursts is cis people don’t feel as though it’s their place to pass comment for fear of instantly being written off as transphobic, despite how considered and well articulated the opinion they aired, which to me just comes across as sticking your fingers in your ears and shouting “LALALALALALALALA”. So I pick up the baton. As a trans woman nobody could really label me as transphobic and so I’m entitled to have an opinion, to weigh in on this topic.
I’ve tried to have a handful of reasoned debates with the person mentioned above, most of which lead to a scatter shot of buzz words and ill conceived comparisons that in my mind aren’t comparable to the plight of the trans community. In our last exchange I deconstructed all their points and put across my perspective, but they never replied and so I decided that this person wasn’t someone I want in my life. I personally am someone with the mindset that if you can create a reasoned argument as to why the way I think or feel is wrong, if you can unravel my arguments with an alternative way of thinking that makes more sense, then I will hold my hands up and admit I’m a jerk or ill educated within this area and go about my business with a fresh new perspective, until then obviously my opinion as bullish as it may seem and won’t alter.
Now I understand why there is some default hatred for cis people, I get that, I feel that, but at the same time at no point do I think they deserve to have my unhappiness due to my situation projected onto them. For example, ever since I was a teenager I’d look at other woman and be so jealous it angered me, “why couldn’t I be like them?” or “why was I born male?” would be the generic default thoughts going through my head. Despite this internal anger, I never projected it onto other women, I knew it wasn’t right, if I ever did it would be misguided and unacceptable to me personally. Another example and more recent development is how much I’d love to be able to carry and give birth to a child. I know this will never be my reality, but no matter the logic behind my previous statement, it still doesn’t stop me longing for it and being jealous of those who can. This point is where you either let go of that jealousy/anger or you embrace it and add it to the reasons why cis people are privileged when compared to you.
Lets move on to some of the reasons why some think cis hatred is acceptable.
(1) Some compare being trans to that of the systematic socially acceptable abuse and mistreatment that still continues to this day towards people of colour (POC).
(2) I have been told that I “wouldn’t criticise a POC for expressing hatred for white people because of their situation” and therefore shouldn’t criticise other trans people for the same reason.
To me, point one is ludicrous. POC have been an oppressed part of our world for centuries, and while legally this is now unacceptable, there is no denying that socially things are still not equal (thus influencing the effectiveness of law).
While many cultures have a history of Trans and/or Third Gender people, medical advancements during the last hundred years and changes in social attitudes have made transitioning in western society an actual reality, we now have the opportunity to be who we are. The advent of popular, and later social media has raised awareness and allowed our numbers to swell. Just by sheer time scale alone, both things cannot be compared and, to some degree, trans rights have progressed at a far faster rate than that of rights for POC. While we have spent centuries unable to exist at all (except in certain circles), we were not systematically treated as lesser than human – we were just trapped by the same system that was controlling cis men and women of the same period.
Personally I see this comparison as a very white privileged statement to make. All of the people who I’ve seen make this comparison have been white, and have no idea what its actually like to be part of a constantly oppressed part of society solely based on the colour of skin. I personally cannot speak on behalf of how POC feel about this comparison; it would be good (for all of us) to actually hear their thoughts on this matter. But my main issue is that for most POC, they will never be able to “pass” as white. Clothes, make up, tone of voice, given names, language and modified body shape can be used to create an illusion of gender. Skin colour is more permanent than that. I am not saying all trans people pass, and so for some it is harder to create this illusion, or to fly under the radar. But skin colour is there from birth, making a person out as either white or “other” in a societal structure in which one is beneficial, and the other not.
2 – I would never criticise a POC for expressing a hatred of white people, because I, as a white person, have benefited from being so, and cannot understand how they feel. However, as a trans person, I will criticise those in my community who I feel are misrepresenting it. I do not share these opinions, and feel somewhat gagged by the mainstream trans narrative, and so I am going to speak out and say how I feel.
Next we have the whole notion that we’re socially forced into the notion of “passing” and that it is only an issue for the trans community. That hatred of cis people is justified because they create the rules of acceptable and unacceptable, passing and not passing. Lets shatter that concept right now, not only is the concept and use of the word “passing” something thrust upon us by gender clinics as a way to gauge how serious we are, but also a notion that the trans community keep alive themselves. You can literally go onto websites like 4chan or reddit and find threads create by a trans person asking, “how passable am I?”
Firstly I want to clear up that women are under a lot of social pressure to look, be and conform to certain standards of acceptable womanhood via everything around us. This causes many of them to constantly question their self worth, cause them to feel as though they’re not beautiful enough because they don’t look a certain way or fit in certain clothes, the statistically higher rates of Eating Disorders in women than men (a spectrum of conditions that the media wants us to believe is about vanity, but is in fact more often about a person needing to having control over something –anything- in their life).
By proxy, that same media effects trans women too, but we decided to fragment ourselves into it being about us passing and how we need to look, not just a state of patriarchal bullshit forced upon women - cis, trans or otherwise - on a constant basis. Essentially, despite it being exactly the same pressures placed upon us by society, we’ve decided to call this cancer by a different name and use it against cis people. Lets not take anything away from the mens either, they are also forced into constructed, (painful, destructive) cookie cutter moulds by the patriarchy too and that’s pretty much what Gender is about.
Then there’s the notion of passing we place upon ourselves and the rest of our community. Personally, I cant wait to get to the stage where I don’t need to wear layers of make-up as a mask to make myself feel comfortable in the world. The day I don’t have to wear foundation will be a dream come true, but at the moment I need that make-up as my armour, which means I essentially conform to a form of “passing”.
The person I mentioned above came to visit me for a few days. Now, I’m a massive singstar fan and I will happily admit I’m shit at singing. I am - for all intents and purposes - tone deaf and I own that so I can have fun. During some good old fashion singstar action this “friend” started making comments about my voice and how it wasn’t that feminine, how theirs was far superior because they’ve spent hours training it. Now, I don’t give a shit about training my voice, fuck that noise, I have zero time for such things. If it’s something you want to do, I say go for it, I’m not going to judge you and I expect the same in return, but this person - who is part of my community - was vocally attacking me because I didn’t conform to their standards of passing (or because they just wanted to make themselves feel better by putting someone else down). My partner also witnessed they’re attack and was equally taken back by it as there wasn’t any rhyme or reason behind it.
If this was a person on the street, I wouldn’t give a second thought, but this was someone I invited into my house, someone I would have thought would have a huge degree of sensitivity towards other trans people, and so I took it more personally than that (or than an online comment). I’m still angered by this exchange now, but in that moment I chose to take the high ground, I could have mirrored her attack by finding some feature or other that could be seen as problematic in a good old eye for an eye fashion, but I thought better of it – because who would be helped by that? Who would benefit? Why are those the rules on what makes an acceptable (or “better”) woman?
This is one example of why I feel more judged on appearance and actions by people within my community that those outside of it (cis people). If anything, none of my cis friends would dare say the things that person said to me, because, one, they don’t care how I sound, and two, they don’t want to hurt me. This is where I take insult by that person painting cis people as the devil, who would also lead you to believe that cis people are constantly intolerant and attacking the trans community in every way possible on a daily basis, when in actual fact they and certain members of the trans community attack one another far worse than any attack I’ve had targeted at me by a cis person.
Shall we talk about how trans people live in constant fear of being attacked, raped or killed? That the hatred of cis people is caused by fear of the threat of violence?
Women have had the aforementioned happened to them since the dawn of human kind and subsequently live in exactly the same state of fear even today, because certain people who inhabited this world feel that’s its perfectly acceptable to do these things. Trans woman cannot say that cis women have no idea what it’s like to live in a constant state of fear of being attacked, raped or murdered because they aren’t trans and so somehow those exact same fears cannot be one in the same. Yes, certain people react horrifically towards trans people, but at the same time you cant ignore how horrifically cis woman have been treated for decades prior to the so-called “trans tipping point”. The cause of the violence is the same – “other” is unacceptable, and women and trans people are “other”.
In Transwomen, who in my experience are the ones who are most vocally “anti cis”, it does come across as some kind of lingering male privilege, that somehow their problems are far worse than any other humans problems because they happen to be trans, and cis women should just shut the fuck up because they aren’t entitled to have an opinion on anything that’s about them. Essentially, by being a trans woman we step into the misogynistic world where it is entirely within the realms of possibility that we may be attacked, not on the basis that we’re trans, but because we are women. By bending gender norms, we are upsetting the “natural” power balance and by “choosing” to be women we are opting into the default lesser. The violence comes from the same place.
Though it wasn’t any kind of physical or verbal attack on me yesterday, there were two instances where due to male customers identifying me as a female, they threw some sexist bullshit my way. I asked one customer “is there anything else I can help with?” His reply “You can come back to mine to do the washing up.” Right there he decided that as I’m a woman I therefore am only good for doing stereotypical women’s work, which he deems is below him. The second was a customer saying “how good it is to see more women working in this store, especially ones who know what they’re talking about.” For a trans person this is multilayered, on the positive side he acknowledged me as female (points for you) but by doing so he instantly placed certain gendered restriction upon me regarding expected gender behaviour, and put me in a non-consensual competition with other women (1000x minus points). The expectation that it’s not a social norm for a female to be working in such a place, let alone have knowledge about anything within it is infuriating, I am a human and I am good at my job. End of. Due to not growing up with such blatant sexism being aimed at me, I still find it quite shocking how constant it is and the sheer realisation that it becomes a norm for every woman is truly upsetting and eye opening. Women have had this negative shit since the day they were born and many just accept it as just the way things are.
Women did not choose to be born cis women in a world that does not allow them to be free from destructive stereotypes. They suffer from the same restrictions that put us trans people in danger. The same rules about gender and behaviour affect cis people as much as trans people. And they did not choose it anymore than we did.
Moving back on to generally hating cis people, I’m slightly perplexed, have I somehow luckily created a little safe bubble where I have hand picked these cis people I have around me, that I’ve only let the good ones in? Well, you can and can’t say that, as I didn’t choose my work colleagues, which the level of support and positively I’ve been given by them I was actually quite shocked at. I understand fearing the unknown, everyone fears the unknown, but don’t let that isolate yourself from the rest of the world because your doing yourself a huge disservice and limiting the chances of meeting amazing people leading to amazing experiences.
If staying within our tiny community is your bag then fine, that’s your choice, just don’t bash at the rest of the world because you have no prior knowledge of it. If your excuse is you’re scared, that’s not an excuse for being ignorant and not treating a fellow human being as an equal, honestly I personally find that truly disgusting because you’re judging others based on a pre conceived notion - how you assume others judge you without any actual basis for that fear to be real. Because you don’t have any cis people within your life doesn’t mean anyone else who supports our community, whether it be a partner, family member or friend, aren’t insulted by you bad mouthing them, also remember how that makes their trans partners feel, you actively attacking the ones they love because of either a bad experience or lack of experience around a diverse range of cis people.
We want to be accepted and be treated as equals, maybe its time some of us stop segregating ourselves off from the world whilst waxing lyrical that the world doesn’t know or accept us, essentially your creating a fringe elitist culture, the type I experienced as a teenage where certain goths deemed me not goth enough and thus I wasn’t good enough to be friends with them. We’re doing exactly the same, to each other and the rest of the world. In a community with a population as small as ours, and an existence in the public consciousness as short as ours, we need positive representation, we need allies, and we need to show that there is more to us than the tired and outdated stereotypes. Lets keep our eyes on the prize and strive for true equality and freedom for all. x
p.s To cis people, not all of us hate you, in fact some of us love you to bits and wouldn’t be the people we are today without you.
p.p.s. my partner is pretty thick skinned, and isn’t actually offended by “cis hate”. But I am. I am because I love her, and I love our cis family members and cis friends, and I will defend them whenever needed, trans related issues or otherwise.