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A failure of imagination

January 26, 2016

I know it’s been a while, but I’ve been thinking in the shower for a good twenty minutes and I’m still falling short in my imaginative powers this evening.

The problem is this: When men (yes, yes, NotAllMen†) are transphobic, I understand why. They’ve been marinated in patriarchy’s macho bullshit since birth. Of course they fear transgender people. The idea that men would give up their privilege to descend the ladder and become a woman must frighten them to the tips of their very, very manly toes. Equally, their homophobic alarm bells are likely to be going off – what if I accidentally cop off with someone who used to be a bloke? It doesn’t take much imagination either to see why they’re lairy of female-to-male transition. Why should a mere bird be able to access all that male privilege? And they can’t possibly be a proper man, can they? Real men are born, not made, etcetera, etcetera… (I may need another shower after all this imagining. *shudders*)

But try as I might, I can’t imagine why some feminist women are also transphobic. Surely if you’re onboard the slow boat to equality, you should support all women – cis and trans – and also support those who don’t feel comfortable in female skin and want to transition to male. What is there to fear from someone who simply wants their gender to match their body?

We have the potential to be good trans allies – it worries me that not all of us are. And if I can’t put myself in the shoes of those women, I can’t begin to know how to open a discussion that might just change their minds…

† I know there are people who would like to banish the phrase NotAllMen, but I find it tremendously helpful in swiftly identifying (and then, hopefully, avoiding) sexist assbutts.

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