Transphobes being creepy, or a day ending in Y

As you probably all have heard by now, Elliot Page has announced his coming out as a trans guy. While this has been greeted with joy by a lot of people, there’s of course also a particular group of people who is absolutely outraged at the thought of a young-ish* person afab deciding about their own life, body and future. Now, actually it’s two, but the one I’m talking about is nominally feminist transphobes. Page has long been an icon of the queer community, lending voice and fame to its struggles, but since they don#t consider trans people to be part of the community, this is now a massive betrayal of a community transphobes don’t want to be part of anyway.

This is what a well known transphobic lesbian, Claire Huchan (does it surprise you that she is British and a Swerf?) had to say (CN deadnaming):

I find it depressing how many young lesbians now feel that, because they do not perform or feel invested in conventional femininity, they can no longer be women. And so they shift from identifying as lesbian women to straight men. Compulsory heterosexuality all over again. If coming out as transgender brings the actor formerly known as E… Page any measure of peace, then I am glad for them. But my heart also breaks as the lesbian community grows smaller. Again. And loses a role model. Again.

So. Much. To. Unpack. Here.

First it’s the presumption that being trans or not is about gender roles, expression and gender performance, not about gender itself. Which is rich coming from people who fiercely police people’s gender roles and expressions, who are ok with threatening and excluding cis butch women because they don’t look feminine enough, and who also criticise trans women for being “too feminine”. Pro tip: it’s not trans folks and their allies who are policing people’s bodies. We don’t go on and on about jaw lines or hip width or facial hair. We aren’t trying to find the exact amount of make up a woman is allowed to use before she becomes “a tool of the patriarchy” or are claiming that a trans woman or drag queen putting on make up is akin to “blackface”.

Next comes an idea that is big with transphobes: Trans men are really silly little women who don’t know their own head. You’re not getting more misogynist than that, but here we are. The claim at the centre is that trans men cannot be trusted to know who they are. Now, they don’t believe that trans women are who they say they are, but the reasoning is usually different: trans women are really men, and men are inherently predatory, so a trans woman is really just a predatory heterosexual man who wants access to cis women (straight trans women exist, but transphobes will tell you that they’re probably just making their heterosexuality up). With trans men it’s different. Since they’ve been placed in the inherently harmless and fragile class by transphobes, the predator argument makes no sense. Instead, they are poor victims of the patriarchy. They cannot be trusted to know who they really are. Instead they’re confusing “not being into make up” with being a guy, because that’s definitely something that happens. Especially with a world famous actor. Married to a gorgeous wife. Yes, that’s absolutely the person who knows nothing about the difference between putting on some clothing and make up and being somebody. And that’s just the first tweet.

The second tweet takes it all into creep territory. Because now they actually mourn for Elliot Page, claiming that the lesbian community lost him (funny how a trans man who fancies women is hetero (correct), yet a trans woman who fancies women is somehow also hetero?). As if Elliot Page wasn’t a person with his own life, feelings, and desires, and not some asset to the lesbian community, a canvas ion whom they could project their ideas and desires. Her heart breaks over Elliot Page finding happiness? Lady, that’s creepy as fuck. That’s obsessive. That’s acting like this person owes you something, like he has to live his life according to your rules. And also, what’s up with the role model shit? Can a trans man no longer be a role model? And while representation is important, can you only have role models that match your own identity 100%? Because I guess I’m seriously out of luck here and have to be my own role model.

And last but not least, it’s the blank dishonesty in mealy mouthed support for Elliot Page and his happiness. If you were glad for him, you wouldn’t do the thing that you exactly know is causing him and other trans people harm, and that is deadnaming him. The longer this goes, the less differences there are between Christian Conservatives and self proclaimed “radical” feminists. They both treat people afab as their personal belongings, their bodies as a thing they need control because the owners of said bodies obviously don’t know what’s good for them.

*I mean, he’s 33, but according to transphobes, people afab only become adults once they agree with transphobes.


  1. says

    TERFs have been showing their whole selves a lot more lately. Not only have they been cozying up with conservative Christians, as it turns out if you base a big chunk of your identity on hating a group of people, it’s easier to hate other groups so of course there has been stuff coming out where they are pretty much blaming the Jews for trans people.

  2. says

    Transphobia is a necessary consequence of radical leftism. Not only does radical leftism require an extremely authoritarian mindset (notice how glibly white, affluent hetero men of the far left set the terms for liberation for everyone else) but it requires that opposites remain opposites. Feminism is the last bastion of this line of thinking. Class mobility, even in the worst examples of market capitalism, biracial, multi-ethnic families and communities all serve to screw up the Manichean us-vs-them dynamic.

    Gender was their last hope. And, transpeople screw up that dynamic by blurring the lines once again for the far left. And thus, transwomen are infiltrators and transmen are quislings.

  3. says

    It’s not the only example of TERF toxicity this week. Cosmetics manufacturer Lush was caught donating to a TERF group while pretending to be “inclusive” in its advertising. And medical unprofessionals in the UK declared that “16 year olds are not capable of forming consent” when it comes to puberty blockers.

    Meanwhile, the sexual mutilation of Intersex children and infants in the UK continues without their consent. Apparently, consent is only “required” when the person deviates from being heteronormative, not when they conform to it.

  4. Jazzlet says

    The really sick thing about the legal decision is that we already have a legally accepted way of determining whether children are capable of making decisions about medical treatment, the judges could have said “Nope we don’t need to rule on this, just use the Gillick criteria as usual”, but no they had to go and put completely arbitrary obstacles in the way of consumate professionals doing their already difficult jobs.

  5. M Manu Rere says

    @3 —

    Can you go into a little bit more detail about how anti-authoritarianism is authoritarian, how the left is responsible for the transphobia of the center-right, how tankies are the only true leftists, and how all of us on the left are hallucinating our opposition to transphobia?

  6. says

    When did the far left ever *really* support LGBT rights? As an end in itself, I mean, and not as a means to the end of being disruptive? The radical left views transpeople with the same contempt and disgust that “proper” people do, but they’ve always been happy to use us to scare the straights and/or as a fashion statement to make themselves feel cool and transgressive. Witness the epic butthurt that happened when Mayor Pete wasn’t making campaign stops wearing nothing but glittery Speedos, for example. Or that, apart from being gay, he was an average, middle-American guy rather than an avant-garde vulgarian. That his politics weren’t radically left was almost as much of a betrayal as just not being edgy entertainment for them.

    As for “anti-authoritarianism”? I don’t know many anti-authoritarians who talk about overthrowing the government an using force to impose their views on everyone else. It’s a Horseshoe Theory thing, really. The hardcore Trumper and the hardcore BernieBro differ in ends, but not desired means.

  7. says

    I should have said “may differ in ends” because the far left really doesn’t have much trouble with ignorance and bigotry, does it? I mean, a middle-class white college student who bitterly complains that certain national politicians aren’t “black enough” for his liking can’t be all that woke, yes?

  8. M Manu Rere says

    Thanks for lecturing a queer leftist about how I don’t really support myself, and how all my comrades haven’t been loudly pro-queer-liberation for years. What I really needed was a centrist to overrule all the leftists about what we actually think. Not gaslighty at all — why, when you declare that people whose whole political position is based on rejecting hierarchy and authority that we’re absolutely authoritarian because we don’t agree with your stereotypes, you’re showing exactly how educated you are about the contemporary left.

  9. M Manu Rere says

    I mean, gatekeeping is garbage generally, but at least most gatekeepers have the decency to gatekeep communities they are part of.

  10. Rob Grigjanis says

    Susan Montgomery: Who are these radical leftists you keep going on about? In the US, AOC is considered radical, even by mainstream Democrats. Is she transphobic?

  11. says

    Yes. In the sense that she sees us on the same terms as any conservative. And she only accepts us so long as we fit into what she deems is our place -- in opposition to what we might call “mainstream” America. We’re only acceptable to her so long as we behave like we’re in a John Waters movie. And even then, so long as we’re useful. And we’re useful only so long as we’re transgressive.

    We all saw Bernie flirting with Joe Rogan during the primaries, how long will it be before AOC decides that it’s much more “revolutionary” to start holding court with TERFs -- you know, for the sake of “balance” and “fairness” and all?

  12. says

    Susan, I think you’re pretty off here. You aren’t making a consistent argument. “People didn’t like Mayor Pete enough” and “AOC will betray trans people, despite the fact that there is currently no indication for this but a lot against it” really aren’t convincing, especially not to queer leftists.
    I’m not saying that “the left”, however you want to define that, has always had a spotless track record with queer folks, but it is not a very convincing position when a lot of queer theory has its roots in other leftist theories.

  13. sonofrojblake says

    (straight trans women exist, but transphobes will tell you that they’re probably just making their heterosexuality up)

    … or that they’re not hetero at all, that they’re just gay men who’ve gone in for some radical body modification.

  14. sonofrojblake says

    We all saw Bernie flirting with Joe Rogan during the primaries

    Yeah, bloody Bernie, the splitter. What was he thinking, trying to reach an audience of people who don’t already agree with him? He should have been doing what radical left politicians are supposed to do, which is only ever preach to a tiny audience of people who’ve been carefully vetted for the purity of their opinions and whose vote he’d be guaranteed of anyway. I mean for Bod’s sake, if some of Joe Rogan’s listeners changed their minds and voted for him there’s a realistic danger an actual progressive-left candidate might reach a position of real power, and then they’d have to actually DO something, and we must not ever have that.

    Sorry if this sounds bitter but I’m in the UK and we’re just emerging from the most damaging left-party leadership phase of my lifetime (against stiff competition from Michael “longest suicide note in history” Foot). In Corbyn’s radical left Labour party there’d have been no place for Bernie, of course. And to someone from outside the US the idea that AOC is “radical” is bleakly funny -- Overton window and all that.

  15. says

    @Susan, you are accusing AOC of transphobic attitudes without presenting any evidence and contrary to her actually voiced opinions on the matter. That does not work if you intend to convince rather than antagonize people. Plus calling AOC radical authoritarian leftist is a bit excessive. I have lived thirteen years in a state that was led by a radical leftist authoritarian regime and from the point of view of that state, she would be seen as both not enough left and not enough authoritarian.

    I do agree with you somewhat that many things that are considered leftist issues in today’s USA were not so in even recent history. The spectrum on these things is not so much left-right as conservative-progressive. Contrary to many people’s opinions, the USA political spectrum is not representative of all there is, although it does its best to poison the political discourse around the world. There can be, and are, socially progressive right-wing people and socially conservative leftists. The former USSR regime was, for example, a lot more conservative than the Czechoslovak regime. I wrote in the past about how transphobic and homophobic the former USSR regime was. Today’s Russia state-sanctioned homophobia is a continuation of that, despite today’s ruling politics in Russia being decidedly right-wing.

    I also agree that there is a lot of people both on the left and on the right whose politics, in order for the state to function at all, would need very strict, strong, and wide-reaching authoritarianism from the state. With all the nastiness that follows. Centrism is not the universal boogeyman that some on the left see it, some compromises are and always will be necessary, because any working political system must accommodate the wide spectrum of human characteristics -- the altruistic and empathetic as well as the self-centered and selfish -- enough to forestall open conflicts. Systems that fail to toe that line will eventually fail one way or another.

    However, that being said, there are issues where meaningful compromise is genuinely not possible. We can for example argue about how high and/or progressive taxation should be and eventually reach a consensus that does not piss any demographic too much, but we should not argue about whether some demographics should be allowed to intentionally hurt another one, or being recognized as human for that matter.

  16. says

    @20 Well, everything’s relative. AOC would be a moderate in Europe, I suppose. But then again, transphobia is much worse on the left in Europe, so draw your own conclusions.

    And bigotry isn’t always a subject that can be boiled down into simple terms either. Maybe AOC does support trans people, but she supports us on her terms and not ours. She’ll support our “freedom” to be sassy street hookers living in slums (because that’s the only permissible mode of existence for transpeople.see @15) because she (along with the rest of the Rad Lefties) believes that she has the power to set the terms for our liberation. It’s the “nice slave owner” thing for them. No matter how much they may superficially support us, they still see us on the same terms as the people who don’t. That a queer person can be an otherwise “normal”, non-transgressive person just isn’t on their mental radar because they’ve presumed ownership of queerness.

    But I sense that I’m kind of veering of the point. I’m sure there will be other posts on FTB where it can be more relevant to the discussion at hand. You can always stop by my poorly-written Blogspot and chat if you like.

  17. says

    Yes, I’d like to ask to please stop here or at least bring some evidence for the pretty outrageous claims you’re making.

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