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):
If coming out as transgender brings the actor formerly known as Ellen 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.
— Sister Outrider (@ClaireShrugged) December 1, 2020
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.