Here’s the thing.
I am a transgender man (see photo of my mug for context).
I love all trans people and I love non binary people. But lately some of my trans spaces (both on the web and irl) that are mainly non binary have started to feel a little hostile.
I want to make something perfectly clear before I continue - I love and respect non binary people, I think their genders are valid and I am in no way suggesting they are any less important that myself or any other binary trans person. I also need you to understand that this isn’t meant to be a post calling out non binary people at all, it is just me talking about my personal experiences in the hope that it can get people to be a little more considerate sometimes?
In university spaces, it seems that there is a growing population of non binary people that tends to dominate trans groups. Which is good in lots of ways, especially since it shows how this generation has become much more relaxed and aware that gender is a construct and fluidity is key. However, amongst people I know there is a lot of ‘ew gross men’, or 'ew gross trans men that are masculine’, while at the same time being predominantly DFAB populations.
Now trust me, I very much understand the dislike a lot of dfab trans people have of men. A lot of us are survivors and I think that does play a big part in how we feel about the gender overall. Not to mention it is not uncommon for men to be, for lack of a better word- wankers. However, I don’t think people consider trans men when we are talking about this.
Making a comment like 'ew men are so fucking gross’ to a room of trans people means that to a trans man you are saying one of two things - 1) you are gross, or 2) you aren’t gross because you’re not a Real Man, and you are excluded from this statement because you are and always will be, partly a woman. Even now I feel uncomfortable 'complaining’ about this. I have to remind myself that just as suggesting that a trans woman is somehow different to other women would be considered incredibly offensive, so is it for trans men.
I didn’t realise how much this stuff affected me until it did. Constantly being around people that talk about, how body hair on men is gross, masculinity is by default toxic, making jokes about my masculinity being toxic when I excitedly tell people that I’ve started going to the gym and its making me feel better about my body. No, it’s not funny. It’s MY dysphoria I’m trying to ease. I as a trans person want to feel supported and loved when I do things that have a chance of making me feel good about my body.
It hit me like a brick wall when I realised how much it had affected me. I was with my partner, and was trying to have sex, but I just broke down. I felt so incredibly disgusted with my body and myself. So much hair, so masculine. The noises I made, gross. The way I touched him, creepy. I couldn’t get out of my head the idea that later in life he would talk to people about how gross and unshaven I was, just like I had heard friends describe ex boyfriends so many times before.
I felt cheated because these were the changes I WANTED my body to make. But now they felt ruined. Spoiled.
It was after that realisation that I decided I had to get out. I stopped going to some of student socials and instead started attending a group for older trans people. It was so refreshing to meet other trans men for once (just because I rarely meet them at uni, and it was nice to talk to someone similar.) It was awesome to be around people who weren’t shitty about trans people being stealth (as I remember I once was.)
There are some important things to take away from all of this:
1) Telling trans boys and men that they are disgusting for wanting to be like men will only destroy self esteem and feed into the toxic environment that a lot of cis boys grow up in.
2) Non binary people are extremely valid and awesome, but also must accept they have a responsibility to cultivate a supportive and friendly atmosphere in spaces where they are dominant (I put this in here for university spaces especially)
3) Laughing at a trans man/woman for being excessively masc/fem presenting if you are a dfab nb person who mainly presents as fem or androgynous is facetious and not respecting that they may have to present that way to stay safe, (especially in the case of trans women that may be more 'obviously trans’) and that despite suffering prejudice in many ways, the one thing you are not realistically facing is street violence and such because you inevitably are not going to be clocked as trans. (which yes, does NOT make your transness invalid but we have to respect the different struggles people in our community face.)
4) Someone being stealth does not mean they are adhering to 'toxic gender roles’. It means they are either 1) trying to be safe or 2) surprise surprise they want to live their life as the gender they identify with. Trans people are not less legitimately trans because you think they are 'acting cis’.
5) Being a binary trans person does not give you privilege over nb people. Like seriously, trans women are literally the most likely to be murdered. Don’t be a dick. Erasure is a problem yes but it’s not the same. I read names out at the TDOR vigil and pretty much all of them were trans women of colour. Respect that. Help the community. This isn’t about scoring points over who has it the shittiest.
6) The idea that the only good kinda of trans men are 'soft sensitive kinda trans masc guys that don’t have surgeries and shave all their body hair’ is shitty and offensive (tho that kind of trans man is totally valid, that not what i mean). Its shitty because one you’re sexualising them either as more childlike or more feminine (both is rude, former is creepy), but its perpetuating the idea that trans men aren’t really men and the best ones are the ones that YOU think still kinda look suitably enough like women.