Transgender Stereotypes

As I said a few months ago, I will be doing a series addressing stereotypes for LGBTQ+ people—talking about people who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer, as well as people who are intersex and asexual. I look forward to continuing through this series.

As I am going in order of the acronyms for LGBTQ (or LGBTQIA), it is time for me to discuss stereotypes associated with being transgender. But before going into details about those stereotypes, I should start by talking about what it means to be transgender and stereotypes associated with friends, fellow writers, celebrities and others who are transgender.

The consensus definition is that being transgender means that your gender identity differs from the sex that you were assigned at birth.[1] I should note, though, that not everyone has the exact same definition of the word transgender.

Now that we’ve defined what it means to be transgender, we can start to understand what sort of stereotypes are associated with being transgender. Here are a few such stereotypes:

  1. Transgender people are not “real” men or women. People who are transgender may not be “real men” or “real women” to certain individuals, but separating the real men and women from trans men and women is dehumanizing (as if trans men and trans women are somehow “fake”). Just please avoid categories of realness and fakeness.
  2. Trans women athletes have an unfair advantage. A journalist (I forget for which outlet), when covering the success of a transgender collegiate athlete, said that trans women are forgotten when they fail and delegitimized when they succeed. It is true, though, and I should add that not all trans athletes who transition from the male category to the female category (or vice-versa) succeed.
  3. Transgender people are still fundamentally the same people they were at birth. I can’t begin to emphasize how problematic this sort of attitude is. This is the sort of attitude that leads to deadnaming, which is calling someone by their birth name instead of their new chosen name. It’s also the sort of attitude that leads to deliberate misgendering of transgender people. Having an attitude that leads to deadnaming and misgendering is problematic, because for most transgender people I know, their birth name and previous pronouns are a reminder of a period of life when they tried to live as someone they were not—a great source of pain indeed.
  4. Transgender people are predators. For whatever reason, there is this stereotype among some that transgender people are predators. Because of that stereotype, some states look at, or even pass, laws that keep transgender people from using the bathroom that fits most closely with their own gender identity. In reality, however, the overwhelming majority of trans people just want to use a bathroom they feel comfortable using, without all the harassment and discrimination. Is that too much to ask?
  5. All transgender people have/had gender dysphoria. This was something I used to think and had to unteach myself, by the way. I had to unteach myself—by remembering that gender dysphoria is when someone experiences distress because their biological sex does not match their gender identity.[2] However, many transgender people do not experience discomfort from the fact that their gender doesn’t match with their biological sex, and therefore never had gender dysphoria in spite of being transgender. I would also note that by assuming that all transgender people have/had dysphoria, it promotes an attitude, whether intended or not, that being transgender is a disorder.[3]

This post hopefully covered some of the major stereotypes associated with being transgender. If anyone wants to add to any of my stereotypes, or has stereotypes of your own, feel free to comment below!

Previous posts in my series on LGBTQ+ stereotypes:


[1] This is pretty close to the definition that Merriam-Webster had for transgender: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/transgender

[2] https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/gender-dysphoria/#targetText=Gender%20dysphoria%20is%20a%20condition,the%20appearance%20of%20the%20genitals.

[3] While doing research for this piece, I found out that gender dysphoria used to be called gender identity disorder. When you connect the term “gender identity disorder” with being transgender, one can see how being transgender was considered a mental illness (not that I defend this, by any means, and in fact it was awful that being transgender was once considered a disorder).

16 Replies to “Transgender Stereotypes”

      1. Do you put your regular bloggers/correspondents into your phone’s spelling and grammar checker? autocorrect?

        Might be a good habit to get into when you correspond with a blogger for the first or second time…

        Liked by 1 person

      2. The last two or three times I’ve made typos on my phone while replying to someone’s comment (and those times, it also involved names as well), the names were on my phone. In spite of that, my phone wanted to default to a different name. It’s frustrating because I like the personal touch of referring to someone’s first name when I reply to posts.

        A better solution for me, for awhile, is maybe to just not post comments on my phone. While it’s something I sometimes enjoy doing while waiting for a bus, doing this clearly makes me prone to typos. And may this be a warning to other bloggers that posting comments while on your phone may not be a wise idea!!!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Ah – wise!

        Unless you have pre-prepared material and a reliable shortcut.

        The spontaneity of phone comments.

        So many people look practised and concentrated when they are texting fluently, Brendan.

        For the encouragement of the others,

        Adelaide

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Brendan:

    It’s been a great opportunity to discuss transgender with you.

    Thank you in particular for saying, “Let’s avoid categories of realness and fakeness altogether”.

    A person’s identity is their identity; yes? Not yours; not mine.

    So when they say what is real about their experience and their lives; we respect that and support/validate it.

    “A journalist (I forget for which outlet), when covering the success of a transgender collegiate athlete, said that trans women are forgotten when they fail and delegitimized when they succeed.”

    So true. So are intersex athletes like Caster Semanya [South African distance runner].

    And Renee Richards [tennis player] is a classic example of that particular trope.

    That predator fear – it seems to be a virtually universal fear of anyone who is different and for that reason seems threatening to ourselves and/or to things we care about and the societies we live in.

    It is because we feel like prey and defenceless against change.

    It keeps a lot of good people out of fields that they would otherwise add value to – like law; teaching; medicine; recycling; fashion design.

    And part 3 about “fundamentally the same people they were at birth” – I can accept that if we’re talking about things that don’t touch on gender identity.

    And it seems that there are very few things which don’t, Brendan.

    Trans ought to give you a clue – these people are going through big changes and small changes – transition!

    Even if they’re not medically transitioned.

    Thank you for showing the lead to deadnaming and misgendering people.

    I have read your Bisexual Stereotypes before.

    Good point about distress and discomfort too.

    Like

    1. Absolutely.

      A person’s identity is their identity, not mine, not yours. It’s all the more reason to avoid the categories of realness and fakeness, for sure.

      In terms of being ignored when failing and deligitimized when succeeding, you raise a very good point about intersex athletes as well. In fact, I have made a note to myself to include that point when I work on my blog post on intersex people (I will publish a post on intersex stereotypes).

      The predator fear is one I’ve never quite understood, as it tends to be more the opposite (that trans people feel for their safety around others, not the other way around).

      It’s important to be outspoken about deadnaming and misgendering people. While some people may do it by accident and slip up, people who purposefully do it (Ben Shapiro comes to mind) don’t grasp the amount of hurt that causes.

      Thanks for the compliment on my post! I tried to reply to your post as best I can, but I may’ve missed a few points that you made.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Brendan,

        you took on what I felt to be the three or four essential points I made.

        You’re going to make an intersex post! That really does belong on Blind Justice like all the other LGBTQIA.

        The fear of safety from the transgender perspective – I understand it orthogonically. Like mental health and the big crimes which hurt people – people with mental health troubles are victims or try to find a life beyond and transcending that particular identity framework.

        Something about not using success or failure to legitimise yourself and your identity and achievements. “Treat those two Impostors just the same” – Rudyard Kipling in IF.

        Again this is so so hard when you’re in a marginalised community. Especially seeing the vanilla people being so easily accepted and validated – easy to forget they have their troubles/problems too.

        The toilet issue shows it so clearly.

        Today’s kids and toddlers will go into the toilet they feel like going into today and it will be normalised.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes, I will make an intersex post. More appropriately, a post on intersex stereotypes. I will cover every letter in the LGBTQIA acronym (with the “a” standing for “asexual” instead of “ally”).

        As for safety and transgender people, nearly half of transgender people report that they’ve been sexually assaulted in their lifetimes: https://www.hrc.org/resources/sexual-assault-and-the-lgbt-community. It’s a very real threat, and even more real if you’re a transgender person of color, for example.

        Hopefully, that will change. Hopefully, it will become safety to identify in whatever way you want, and to use the toilet one feels like going into.

        Liked by 1 person

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