Challenging transphobia

When I started thinking about writing a children’s book that dealt with the subject of gender and trans people, one of the bigger issues I had to take into consideration was transphobia and how to challenge it. I try and be as positive as I can, still like to have faith in humans and didn’t naively think that a book that challenges traditional stereotypes would be completely without detractors. But the viciousness of these transphobes has taken me by surprise today.

I saw a link to a poorly written transphobic article by Kathy Shaidle, a professionally outraged writer, which used very abusive language so I called her out on Twitter. I won’t link to the ‘article’ as it’ll just give you a headache and the site owners more traffic.

Now I’ve called out a few people on their transphobia in the past and usually they are reasonable, I’ve blogged about some positive encounters and it’s always nice to feel that you’ve helped to change someone’s views or gently educate them about trans issues. But I didn’t expect the level of bitterness and hate that took up my afternoon today.

You name the tropes, Kathy Shaidle wheeled them out. Predictably I was called a “man,” “it,” and variations on the T word, culminating in her referring to me as a “future suicide” which was left a particularly bad taste in my mouth considering that it was World Mental Health Day today and how well known the suicide rates are for trans people across the world.

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Kathy knows what she’s doing, it doesn’t take an idiot to work out that using language such as this is offensive, she was deliberately using transohobia as a vicious weapon, carefully picking the words she imagined would be the most hurtful. What kind of person does this? What does it say about someone when they deliberately set out to try and cause as much damage to a stranger on the internet as they can? There’s not even any attempt at humour or intelligence behind this, just a common garden bigot and their professionally outraged attempt at courting controvesy.

This is the kind of thing some trans people have to face everyday. This kind of transphobia kills people. This is why a childrens book that teaches children it’s OK to be transgender is so important. I want nothing more than the next generation of adults to know that being gender variant is nothing to be ashamed of, rather that it’s simply a part of their being human which makes them unique and something to be proud about. My book is all about challenging bigotry and ignorance, promoting greater understanding and education as this is vital to empowering trans people to enjoy full, happy lives.

Of course Kathy would have an opinion on it…

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Brainwash other people’s kids? LOL! I just believe that children should be given the opportunity to explore their gender identities, to talk about stereotypes and to come to their own informed opinions. I believe that children should be encouraged to stand up to transphobia, just as they are taught about the harmful effects of homophobia, racism and other attacks on the more vulnerable members of our society.

Here’s a link to pre-order a copy of my book,

Together, let’s wipe out transphobia,

5 thoughts on “Challenging transphobia

  1. Sarah, Just keep going – any minority group has had such hateful characters and history shows these times pass as the acceptibility of any kind of phobic behaviour is diminished. I would however put the police on alert as this is already a hate crime and the lovely lady posting this to you should be advised of this fact but a person with the law behind them too. Just in case….. 🙂 be proud and be strong xxx

  2. Sarah, Just keep going – any minority group has had such hateful characters and history shows these times pass as the acceptibility of any kind of phobic behaviour is diminished. I would however put the police on alert as this is already a hate crime and the lovely lady posting this to you should be advised of this fact but a person with the law behind them too. Just in case….. 🙂 be proud and be strong xxx

  3. I had a chew over this one last night. Opposition to the trans experience appears to come principally from two sources. The first is of course Radical Feminism. Now, while I get as hacked off by TERFs as anyone else, their opposition is at least based on a consistent philosophy about the nature of men and women and their place in society. For TERFs we become the bad guys by association – our existence runs counter to their philosophy after all. People like Kathy Shaidle are not RadFems, in fact I'm sure that for them Radical Feminism is at least as big a target as we are. Because this is nothing to do with philosophy or with deeply held beliefs and everything to do with pandering to the views of the intuitively bigotted Right. I have a deep admiration for Julie Bindel who's a woman who's stuck to her radical guns throughout her life and is probably financially worse off for doing so. It's possible to have dialogue with someone like Julie, even if her views are at polar opposites to those of most trans people. You cant have a dialogue with someone like Kathy Shaidle – any attempt to do so provides a showcase for her to show off her credentials to the people who pay her wages. So keep on barking, Kathy Shaidle – your Masters are bound to give you bone one day.

  4. The thing is, bigots attack others out of their own fear and ignorance, they…………..

    don’t want others to see things outside of their own very “black and white” boxes of either white supremacy, the strict confines of how males and females should act, or their own extreme radical views about gender and sexuality, and what they fear most is losing their influence on how others should think and act.

    Challenging any such strict criteria is absolutely correct, as it allows the freedom for people to think and express themselves as individuals, and……………….

    allows then to accept, and respect, the right of others to develop as unique individuals who understand the many differences we have in our society today.

    Vivé lé difference.

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