Transphobia is a term used to describe the intense hatred, fear, violence, and dislike towards trans or those who are thought to be trans people. It is a type of detriment and discrimination close to racism and sexism that subjects trans people of color to all forms of discrimination at a go.
Transphobia can be manifested in many ways including:
- negative attitudes
- discrimination against trans people
- intense hatred
- bullying and violence
- using non-preferred pronouns
Transphobia makes transgenders’ life difficult, hence deterring them from achieving their goals in life. For example, many trans people are denied jobs, health care, or housing just because they are or are thought to be trans.
Related: Transgender Issues in Healthcare
Why are People Transphobic?
Different people have different reasons for being transphobic. Some are transphobic since some parents and close relatives installed transphobic beliefs in them while growing up.
Some are transphobic due to misinformation or they have little knowledge of trans identities. Or they may not personally know of anyone who is a trans hence they cannot relate to what they go through.
A trans person facing transphobia is at risk of having other mental challenges such as:
Children who are victims of transphobia face bullying from schoolmates, harassment, violence at school or foster care, and other programs they participate in. This negatively affects the performance of the kids, leading to low grades which can have a long-lasting impact on a child’s life.
As a child, going through challenges such as transphobia can cause some negative emotional challenges that lead to substance abuse, running away from home or suicide attempts. A high percentage of kids experiencing transphobia lose hope in life and have challenges meeting their dreams.
Adult victims face public ridicule, misgendering, violence false arrests, and robbery; many of them feel unsafe in public. A high percentage of adult victims report cases of sexual violence.
They feel threatened by political and religious groups that oppose laws protecting them. Ironically, they also experience discrimination from people fighting for gender and sexual minorities and from feminists.
Besides all the risks and discrimination, they also experience negative emotional challenges that lead to substance abuse and suicidal thoughts.
How are People Transphobic?
Transphobia can be intentionally misgendering of people. For example, referring to a trans man as a “she” or “it” even after knowing that they are a man.
It can take quite some time for family, friends, and teachers to get used to the new pronoun, but if they are using the wrong pronoun intentionally to hurt your feelings, they are being transphobic.
Another way of being transphobic is by discrimination, such as not allowing a trans woman to use the women’s bathrooms.
Transphobia is generated when people think of gender as binary i.e., people born male should remain as such and those born females should remain female.
Additionally, there is a belief that men should wear and behave in a certain way as well as women. Anyone who does not “behave as they should” is likely to experience a transphobic attitude towards them.
What is Outing?
Outing is revealing someone’s transgender identity or sexual orientation without their permission. It can be intentional or accidental, but revealing someone’s gender secret without their consent is a form of transphobia.
It can make them feel upset and vulnerable and they may take a while before trusting someone else.
If a trans person opens up to you before anyone else, is because they trust you with their reality. Therefore, you should ask them if you can share the news or not.
Is There Help For Transphobia Victims?
Transphobia victims live isolated lives and are afraid to talk to anyone about what they are going through. However, you should not be drowned by transphobia alone. Many trans are going through the same things. You can get support from:
- Online trans people community
- Other transgender around you
- Trans support groups from the nearby LGBTQ+ community center
- Open-minded cisgender people
- A student can talk to a trusted teacher or school administrator
Since not everyone lives near an LGBTQ+ community center or has a supportive school administrator, the internet makes an ideal place to get help and support. You can easily access an online transgender community platform that deals with discrimination and transphobia.
If transphobia is getting in your way of performing well at school, you should talk to someone even if it’s not easy. Don’t let any attitude prevent you from achieving anything you wish for in life.
How Can I Help Stop Transphobia?
No one should discriminate against someone based on their gender or sexuality. We should all try to embrace trans people by ending the ideology of transphobia. The following are things to do to help stop transphobia:
- Never ask a trans person about their genitals, surgery, or sex life unless they want to talk about it
- Do not use slur words against trans people
- Avoid complimenting trans people in a manner that can hurt them. For instance, telling them that they look like a girl or you behave like a boy
- Do not stereotype trans people
- Support trans people vocally regardless of their gender
- Respect their decision about when to come out without pressuring them
- Use gender-neutral language like they, them, instead of he or she
- Ask them of a preferred pronoun
- Respect their chosen names and pronouns
- Speak up for them during a transphobic attack such as bullying or discrimination
- Remember there is more in their life apart from being a trans person
Understanding Transphobia – Final Thoughts
If you intentionally address someone with a name or pronoun they no longer use, you are being transphobic.
Of course, you can accidentally use the wrong pronoun, especially if the pronoun or name is newly acquired. In this case, you should apologize and be careful next time.
You should make an effort to make trans people feel loved and accepted whenever you get a chance. This will make the world a better place for all of us.