Yesterday was my last official meeting for my transgender studies class. And I’m feeling kind of bummed out about it. I wrote on twitter that I felt the class should be a 101 and 102 course because there is so much information out there!
For my final project I have to read an article about transgender phenomena and then do a presentation on my feelings about the researcher. Because of how new transgender studies is, all of the current research being done is helping shape the narrative of what being transgender means. The purpose of the project is to critique where the researcher is coming from and how their work adds to that narrative of being transgender.
Which is super interesting and super useful. Our perspective of what is natural is often formed through science. Through research. Through ideas that are spread. Through what we can see. And so these studies are helping to shape the information that is out there. It’s important to know what those researchers are researching and why.
If you’ve been reading my blog for a long time you know that I often write about what I’m studying or experiencing. That can be frustrating for people. I know I have people who started reading my blog when I was in an open relationship who are now completely bored and confused by my posts about monogamy. But that’s just the nature of my blog. I change and explore and so what I write about is going to as well.
As the class ends, I wonder how deeply I will touch on transgender issues. I wonder how often I will write about it.
I have found it difficult to take on a role of ally because I don’t know what those experiences are like.
The class has positively influenced me by:
1. Helping me use more gender neutral language in my writing, when the gender or preferred pronouns are not made clear.
2. Not assuming all men/women have penises or vaginas and trying to make that clear in my language. Ex: One should have their vagina looked at regularly. Not “women should get their vaginas looked at.” Small differences.
3. Considering this new trans-normativity. How we view trans people within the gender binary as trans men and women. How not all people want to exist within the binary. How being trans is a unique experience.
4. Reminding me to treat people as people despite the gender you perceive them as. I acknowledge a lot of my interactions with people are based on how I perceive their gender.
5. Learning to support people who are trans by listening to their stories, encouraging those around me to use language that isn’t offensive, and helping in any way that I can to fight towards better healthcare.
The abuse of trans men and women is often a result of anger. Of confusion. Of seeing something that doesn’t make sense and laughing at it. But laughing at someone because they are different does so much to dehumanize them. And when someone has been dehumanized, that simply makes it easier to be violent towards them. Education and visibility is a small step towards something better. If you see someone as human, and as an equal, it becomes more difficult to cause harm to them.
I believe that I can support people who are trans and be an ally by continuing to talk about the things that I do know. Mainly: that the gender binary and these sexist ideologies aren’t real. Men and women are both hurt and shamed by ideas of what we are supposed to be.
For those of you who had a hard time following my posts about transgender studies, I’ll definitely be laying off for a bit now as I ease out of the term. If anyone ever has any questions that you feel like I could answer (about gender in general) please submit it to my blog. Gender is complex and ideas about gender are always changing. It’s worth talking about.