Transgender women experience hate and intolerance

The Transgender Discrimination Dilemma

I’ve been blessed that a vast majority of the comments and email replies I’ve received for running Crossdresser Heaven have been positive. It’s been so overwhelmingly skewed that I could almost lull myself into believing that the comments on this site represent in some way the attitudes of folks out ‘in the real world’.

Very quickly the scientific part of my brain would kick in and bring up phrases like ‘self-selection’, since you’ll get very few transgender haters surfing the Internet looking for crossdressing websites. The few that do don’t have the best intentions at heart – As a quick word of warning to sisters who run a website, never NEVER publish your address or phone number on your website. This is usually a recipe for disaster.

Sometimes logic and reason isn’t enough to persuade us and we require the passionately hot prodding of an emotional attack to wake us from our fantasy land. This happened for me the other day when I received a comment from a user named psychosausage on my post ‘America’s Top Transgender Model‘. It went like this:

sick. you think its acceptable for our children to grow up thinking this is normal and that freaks should be paraded out on national tv. i hope a bunch of redneck hillbilles catch hold of it and drag it behind a pick up for a few miles…

As you can probably tell this comment isn’t overflowing with love and support. Yet I’ve left it up for a few reasons. First, I’m a strong believer in the a discussion that includes all points of view. Even though we may not agree with the other person they deserve our respect as a fellow human being. I wrote a bit more about this earlier – what does Namaste mean for the crossdresser?

Secondly, I think it’s important that we don’t get lulled into a sense of complacency. I’m passionate that my small piece of the Internet world provides all people in the transgender community support, love and encouragement. An important part of this is the realization that there are those who practice discrimination against the transgendered, and it would be naive to assume otherwise.

Finally, I believe that one cannot defeat hate and intolerance with more hate and intolerance. Hiding the hate under a rug might calm it for a little while, but many times it continues to mutate and thrive like a fungus rejoicing in darkness, far from the light.

To my reader’s comment now. Thank you for giving me the honor of your attention, for taking the time to share your thoughts with your fellow human being. I’m disappointed with the viciousness in your violent proposal. I do think that it is interesting to consider the affect that societal acceptance of those in the LGBT community will have.

Collectively as a society this poses good questions, and I can appreciate the fear that children who would otherwise have grown into “normal” heterosexual cisgendered people become something they are not because the option is available to them. It is also interesting to ponder the affect that this choice has on the individual so eloquently described by Barry Schwartz in his talk The Paradox of Choice. If we can truly be whoever we want, the choice of figuring out who we are becomes much more difficult. I’ve spent a significant portion of my life grappling with my transgendered nature, trying to define (or discover?) who I am. It would be easier intellectually, though more painful emotionally, to hold fast to the belief that any deviation from the normal is a sin and something to repent from.

What do you think of transgender discrimination? Do you think the fears I mention are well founded, or just another tool of intolerance meant to subjegate our lives to another’s limited scope of acceptance?

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14 Comments
  1. Petra Bellejambes 11 years ago

    Hey Vanessa. Always a pleasure to visit and read your thoughts. Less of a pleasure to read the thoughts of your correspondent, but to your point, it is neccessary to know that they exist. They are ignored at peril.

    Friction happens at frontiers. We are presently at a frontier of acceptance that has been argued and won by other groups before us.

    The language of condemnation, fear and ignorance remains the same. The “tribe” that the language is focussed on is the variable.

    This tide will swim over us, and wash up crudely on some other group of people 5-10-20 years down the road. Same language, and perhaps a few new mouthpieces.

    It does us all well to remember though that the whole world is not holding the door open for us, and that we should be cautious as we engage beautifully with our world.

  2. Joanna Santos 11 years ago

    Hi Vanessa,

    and thanks for the thoughtful post once again. I have not yet been personally touched by intolerance although have recieved the odd comment or look of disdain / disgust. I think that so much of this has to do with self acceptance and self love as much as other people who before us have felt the sting of discrimination – be they handicapped, visible minority, homosexual, transgendered.

    In my own life journey I have found that as we come to accept ourselves our tolerance for others increases. Therefore I put forth that those who are full of prejudice are not very secure or happy in their own skin.

    Society continues to grow and learn about us and as their level of education is raised so will be the level of understanding. However a certain segment of the population will always be ready to pounce on the preceived weaknesses of others – so we must be prepared and vigilant.

    I have come so far in my journey that I would never go back to where I was. I hope for the sake of the negative poster that he grows to a level where he can find peace and love for others.

    • Vanessa Law 11 years ago

      @Petra: I like your phrase ‘friction happens on frontiers’. I think as humans we have an innate fear of change. The growing acceptance of those in the LGBT community marks a fairly dramatic shift (at least in the US). I think this change (perhaps even more so than the character of the change) evokes fear and resistance in some people.

      @Joanna: Thanks love. It is wonderful to hear that you haven’t had this happen to you. I know that for some of us even an odd comment or look of disdain can shake our confidence. Self-confidence is what makes the ‘little things’ easier to bear, and some sociologists might even argue that it allows us to avoid some of the larger incidents as well. I think there is strength in our community. Alone even the strongest of us can appear weak, but together even the weakest of us will appear strong.

  3. Joanna Santos 11 years ago

    I agree with you Vanessa that self-confidence makes the little things easier to bear. I find that the more I work at just not giving a damn about what people think the better I feel and the better I pass (I used to have that nervous frown which was a quicker way to get read). Now even the teen girls dont pay me any mind perhaps thinking I am a gg (and I am 6′ 1″).

    Yesterday I was at the mall dressed as Joanna and this big guy was walking around with his gf and he was wearing a skirt and big Rocky Horro boots. He was so comfortable as her was and you could tell he did not give a hoot. I think that is where we need to be instead of lurking in the shadows.

  4. jamieghee 11 years ago

    Vanessa, what you wrote about psychosausage, your analysis and reply to that person are well thought out and written. I haven’t experienced transgender discrimination because I’m not out in public en femme, and am still very hesitant to do so. In all of this I find the word “normal” to be the most troubling. It seems like both an ambiguous and a volatile word.
    For example, it may well be that it is normal for a person to be angry about something or with someone. But is it normal to push that another step and then call it normal to threaten physical violence, and then another step, and accept that it is normal to carry that violence out? And isn’t that the word most often used by people when they encounter something in their lives that they do not understand, nor want to? “That’s not normal,” they say, as if everyone knows and agrees with what that means. I also spent a great deal of my early life considering myself not to be normal, which had nothing to do with crossdressing at the time, but had to do with being treated and told that I wasn’t normal. It was agonizing for so many years, until I finally learned that normal didn’t mean that I had to be like a clone of someone else.
    You are right to say that all points should be given a hearing or reading in this case, but when an opinion goes beyond that to a threat of harm to another, then a line has been crossed. Does that person really deserve the curtesy of a gracious reply?
    I will likely remain hesitant to go out in public dressed as JamieGhee, because I’m not sure how I would react to a confrontation. I fear that my faith would be severely tested, and that my otherwise tolerant and accepting nature would lose. Of course, the down side of that is that hiding in my closet doesn’t really help either.

    • Vanessa Law 11 years ago

      Hi JamieGhee,

      Yes, normal is a loaded word. Everyone thinks they know what is means, yet we all place our own nuances on it. It’s normal to be Protestant (if you are, but it’s not normal for those who are Catholic, or Jewish, or…). I like your characterization of when people use the word normal in spite. It’s easy to reinforce hatred and stereotypes by appealing to what society would think (or at least the society you’ve come into contact with would think).

      I thought a lot about highlighting and replying to the hateful comment left by the poster. In truth, I believe that they do deserve a gracious reply. Partly for selfish reasons – as this is the best way to grow understanding and acceptance, and partly because despite their hateful response they are still human. We should not feel as if we have to respond to hate with hate. Perhaps when Jesus admonished us to turn the other cheek, He was asking us to let go of the hurt the transgression has caused us and still treat the other with dignity and respect.

  5. Joanna Santos 11 years ago

    Hi Jamieghee,

    You might be surprised at how easily you can get used to going out in public and how much confidence plays a big part in making it work!

    I have experimented over the years with this and find that most people just dont give a hoot and the rest might manage a smile or a giggle or just surprise you with their tolerance and outright acceptance. Also the feeling of having someone compliment you on your dress or opening a door for you is very validating.

    Hope this helps.

    Love,

    Joanna

  6. jamieghee 11 years ago

    Thank you for your comments Joanna. We apparently live in different worlds. I’m not sure if you are the same Joanna whose crossdressing success story is currently on this page. If so, or even if not so, we have already dealt with the subject of spousal discrimination, and the rejection of dressing as an acceptable behavior in that posting. I have been “out” at home for a number of years, but going “out” had very clear consequences for me.

    I tried to put what I was saying as clearly as I could, by using the word, public. After some very intense further discussions, I was finally able to obtain a dispensation to attend a cd/tg event last year. This was in the relatively sheltered environment of the hotel where it took place, and no where near where we live, which was the major-major negative. I could not have been more thrilled, and Vanessa tells me my little write-up about it will be posted soon.

    But, I’m still not going to be going to the local grocery store enfemme. I’m not even sure I want to do that. I live in a rural/small town area, not even a small city. Yes, I wish I could go out more often now, but no, I am not going to put my life at risk to do that (life being inclusive of marital relationship).

    So, good for you, but be careful about encouraging others into risky ventures. Somtimes just waiting for the right time is more valuable than pushing the envelope.
    JamieGhee

  7. Joanna Santos 11 years ago

    Completely understood but please dont mistake my words of encouragement as a clarion call for what for you might be reckless behavior. I only meant to say that for those who want to and are perhaps hesistant things are never as bad as in our own minds. And yes I am the same Joanna.

    Take good care.

  8. Tracy 11 years ago

    I’ve gone out in femme off and on for the last couple of year ,but mostly only to clubs or bars that I know are TG friendly, but sometimes I’ll push it to a grocery store or gas station.

    Luckily, I’ve never had any major bad experiences. Only once ever has anyone openly said anything directly rude to me and it was “nice tits dude” from some drunk guy at a pool hall. Putting that into retrospec, only hearing 1 rude comment out of 100+ trips in public en femme is actually an amazingly low rate. I say that based on the fact that in my normal “guy mode” day to day live I’ve heard countless rude comments. Just people being pricks and mouthing off for no reason.

    Of course there’s the stares and noticeable double-takes from people, but I don’t take that personal. I’m aware crossdressers are rare and most people want to get a good look at something they rarely, if ever see, when they get a chance. I have a friend who’s a midget (he’s 3’6″) and me being dressed in public is nothing compared to what he deals with 24/7. Anytime we go out he’s a pure focal point of nearly place we go. I’ve first hand seen people literally freak out from having a phobia of midgets and make a seen trying to get away from him. He’s actually helped me alot in teaching me the art of just ignoring people staring at you for being different.

    • sweet lill betty 10 years ago

      iv lost 2 jobs in the last 4 years..i live in connecticut..iv fond that this state is nothing but a swamp of hate…i love the fact that most women can crossdress wearing mens clothes hats tshirts even underwear…no one bats an eyelash..yes im angy..and sooo deeply sick of women geting ..and liveing a privlige..while men are scrond booood..laugh at..this makes me deeply hurt.. and frustraited…this is the real truth people …women are so lucky..we are losers and freaks..and just plane hated…we must fight..and fight hard…thats all people

      • Vanessa Law 10 years ago

        Sorry to hear of your experience hon. “Swamp of hate” is a very descriptive phrase that, unfortunately, applies in too many places. Dear, I hope you find acceptance, or failing that at least tolerance and a fair shot. There are many places in the country which display the acceptance (generally in the West and North East) so if you’re up for some Seattle rain or Cali sunshine I can recommend those as trans friendly places 🙂

  9. Joanna Phipps 10 years ago

    It wasnt that long ago that I recieve an email from a “Catholic Lesbial”. The email spouted the line that is familiar to all transsexuals, “God doesnt make mistakes, why cant you be happy the way he made you.” this line seems to be only used on those who are gender varient.

    I responded with a much longer email, meeting ignorance with information, idiocy with intelligence, blind rhetoric with fact and hate with love. I tried to explain the reasons for doing what I had to do, and tried to help her see that there was nothing wrong with it.
    Sadly the email didn’ help but I did what I coud.

  10. Josephine Shaffer 9 years ago

    Of corse people think i'm male at birth it's a it's a discrace to man kind to dress oppisite that i born as remember that's the religious belief right now i feel the catholics are sensetive about this whole thing, some other are the same. well i don't caqre what those people i like living as a woman.

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