Teaching about trans people by explaining that gender and sex are different is a mistake that actually bolsters anti-trans arguments based on 'biologicial sex.' What's important to know is that trans people exist and have needs similar to other marginalized communities.
Centering the conversation on possible distinctions between sex and gender encourages debate about the origins of transness and What We Really Are, Actually, which is the opposite of productive. We're here. We've always been here, surviving.
Gender and sex are incredibly complicated entities best suited for discussion by gender theorists and biologists. Encouraging the average person to become an amateur at either doesn't help trans people and keeps the conversation stuck at a basic level.
What's less complicated is that trans people experience substantial discrimination in employment, leading to high numbers unemployed and higher numbers underemployed. We experience crises of housing discrimination from parents as youth and landlords as adults.
Much of the bigotry we face is designed to make existing as a trans person difficult for closeted trans people to consider going successfully. As a result of all of this, the rate at which trans people die by suicide is way, too high. Trans people deserve equal rights and dignity
If you're a cis person, I don't expect you to understand what being trans is like. It is, by definition, impossible. But you can reasonably fathom the discrimination that too many trans people face and how that might be fixed. You can understand that we, too, are humans like you.
Approaching trans activism with a focus on the unmet needs our community has instead of basic visibility and demistifying can promote broader solidarity with other marginalized communities rather than a goal of acceptability to the white patriarchy. Liberation, not assimilation.
30% of trans people have experienced homelessness. The unemployment rate for trans people is DOUBLE the national average and the underemployment rate is 44%. One in five trans youth attempted to end their life THIS YEAR. Those numbers are more important than your thoughts on sex.
This is why trans people get so irritated by like a new trans flag Apple Watch. We don’t need shiny consumer products, we need safe places to live and employers to give us a chance. We need allies to make states pay a political and economic price for the boot on our necks.
We need to decriminalize sex work, stop imprisoning people for nonviolent drug offenses, and stop throwing trans women in prison with men where we get sexually assaulted or worse. Those disproportionately harm trans people, people of color, and especially trans women of color.
If your solution to the problems I’ve described is “stricter hate crime legislation,” consider that carceral repercussions are an imperfect deterrent at best and that trans people who have not survived will not benefit from them. We need policies that keep trans people alive.
Far too much energy in trans rights discourse is spent trying to justify why we exist to people who aren’t going to understand the reasons anyway. What is more important is educating that we do exist, have always existed, and we aren’t going to go away. You can’t extinguish trans people any more than you can left-handedness, or autism (despite numerous people’s best attempts to do so). This is the same shift that happened in pursuit of gay rights; for decades there was intense focus on why homosexuality existed, to no answers. We still don’t know what part of human development controls what morphology a person is drawn towards, but it doesn’t matter, because the discourse changed.
Once science stopped trying to prove why homosexuality exists and people just accepted that some people are gay, thats when the tide shifted (at least, in North America and parts of Europe). While there are still many people who wish to suppress gay people, society as a whole accepted that doing so is harmful, and sexual orientation became a protected category of human existence. The same needs to happen for trans people before widespread acceptance can gain a foothold.
Furthermore, so much anti-trans discourse revolves around “biological sex” that discussing gender in terms of how it isn’t related to sex does nothing to counter the claims being made. The house is on fire, and we’re trying to put it out by digging a well. We need to teach people that sex is more than whats between someones legs, we need to fix the damage done by a hundred years of bad biology education.
@AriDrennen I feel like a major disconnect is in the way gender is so often framed as psychological instead of biological. They see it as being something all in our heads, rather than a product of physical development.
@AriDrennen I’ve tried to teach that the brain is a sexed organ independent from the genitals, and that gender is a product of biology, but then people think I’m preaching biological essentialism and the point gets completely lost.