So, I've always loved to write genderbend fics (not the gross kind that focus on genitals, just switching one character's gender and seeing the way it effects the story) as a way to relate better to certain fandoms that have all-male casts and as a way to explore the effects of gender. I was crushed when I came on tumblr only to find that my favorite types of fics to write were apparently transphobic. I've never actually gotten an explanation for why that is, though. (1/2)
(2/2) they say to write trans fics instead, which I would like to(I have a bunch of trans headcanons) but I’m scared to try because of the way fandom behaves towards people that mess up, plus it doesn’t have the same personal connection for me.
I’m so sorry that tumblr has scared you out of writing something that gives you joy.
I will call the kind of genderbends you’re talking about ‘cisswaps’ (cis male > cis female and visa versa). I think using the term ‘genderbend’ to refer to swaps of this kind erases nb/queer identities by implying there are only two genders.
That said: cisswaps are considered transphobic because they imply that gender is synonymous with biological sex, and assumes that the swapped character was cis to begin with. (This is written by a trans person who feels that genderbends are always inherently transphobic.) And maybe some cisswaps are done to promote transphobia or gender essentialist attitudes. There may be a worthwhile conversation about common cisswap tropes and what they betray about societal opinions on gender markers. However, I don’t think the act of switching the biological sex of a character is automatically transphobic. As ever, there is nuance to consider.
I subscribe to the idea that cisswaps and trans headcanons serve different purposes and saying that cisswaps can always be replaced with trans headcanons rather implies that the experiences of cisgender and transgender people are interchangeable. (This is a twitter thread written by a trans person who feels that cisswaps and genderbends are both fine, and believes that fandom coming down hard on cisswaps has resulted in a lot of badly-disguised cisswaps being called ‘trans’ to avoid harassment.) As you noted, anon, you yourself have both cisswap content and trans content you like; they do different things for you and mean different things.
Furthermore: because this is fandom, not canon, the creation and sharing of a cisswap does not exclude others from creating and sharing trans character content. They can both exist in harmony as long as everyone is aware that in real life, gender and biological sex aren’t the same and that gender exists on a spectrum.
(PS - disagree on calling focus on genitals ‘gross’. There’s certainly people who create cisswaps that focus on genitals because it reflects harmful attitudes and opinions they carry into real life, but assuming that genital focus is always because of bigotry isn’t entirely fair.)