I've heard a lot of people say that transgender people are bullying others into "adopting their worldview." I have... some questions about that.
How would these same folks describe the huge uptick in graffiti designed to make trans women in particular feel absolutely horrid and unsafe? Like the "women don't have penises" (phallic) stickers placed in restrooms?
How would you describe the countless times trans people are described as delusional, mentally ill, disturbed, predatory — without hesitation, directly and publicly — simply because they... exist?
How would you describe the ways in which people go out of their way to misgender trans people, ridicule their bodies and appearances, and mock their genitals on public platforms like Twitter, completely unprompted?
How would you describe the ways in which transgender youth — many of them young teens — are targeted on social media by grown adults, deliberately misgendered and shamed in an effort to silence their voices?
How would you describe the very fact that people can grasp the horror and inefficacy of conversation therapy when speaking about gay youth, but actively encourage its application to transgender youth?
How would you describe publicizing and promoting a "research study" in which opponents of gender-affirming care for trans youth are given a platform and legitimacy for their fear, while the youth they're speaking about are given no voice at all?
How would you describe the uptick in media that questions if a community is truthful and valid, and affirms this as a worthwhile "debate," rather than a shameful attempt to characterize trans people as unilaterally delusional?
How would you describe the avalanche of mocking comments about a visible "adam's apple" when trans women speak out about the violence they've experienced, the murders of their trans sisters, the fear that they live with each and every day?
How would you describe the existence of entire Twitter accounts devoted to stalking trans-created hashtags, systematically replying to every outspoken trans person by suggesting they'll never be "real," and that they will never find love or acceptance for who they are?
How would you describe the astonishing rate at which transgender people are doxed, having their private information revealed in an effort to cause them pain, embarrassment, and an unshakeable sense of violation?
How would you describe the trolls that appear in my mentions who call me "Samantha," not because that's a name I ever had, but because they enjoy feminizing my name to make me uncomfortable — just a pinch of salt for an already gaping wound that trans people live with each day?
How would you describe the trolls who describe my body — my physical being that I live in each day — as "mutilated," "mistake," "hacked up," "ugly" and "damaged," because I chose to get a mastectomy?
How would you describe the forums where the photos of transgender people are shared and ridiculed for amusement?
How would you describe the fact that, because my mom has been supportive of me, she is being characterized as an abusive and sick person?
I could continue with this line of questioning ad infinitum. It's hard to call us bullies if you actually take into account the context... in which we are defending our right to exist.
It's hard to dismiss our anger if you understand where it comes from. If your worldview were "live and let live," we wouldn't bat an eye. But if your worldview is "trans people shouldn't exist" or "trans people don't exist," why is it surprising that we would push back?
Culturally, we exist in a space where the world is hostile and cruel to transgender people. And for whatever reason, adamantly saying, "This is not acceptable" makes us... bullies.
What choice do we have? We are mentally healthier when we transition. We suffer deeply when we don't. But the culture at-large wants to punish us when we do, without providing any feasible alternative. Where do we go from here, if not to make the world safer so that we can live?
There isn't a soft way to respond dehumanization. There isn't a polite way to dismantle the ideologies that advocate for your suffering and shame. There isn't a gentle way to say, "I deserve to exist, safely and with dignity, exactly as I am."
If you don't want transgender people to exist, you have two options: Discover a viable alternative in which trans people can still be mentally healthy without being who they are, or get the hell over it. Spoiler alert: The latter is a lot easier.
Which isn't to say that accepting what you do not understand is a walk in the park. But it's certainly easier than doing what countless trans people, researchers, and medical orgs have deemed impossible — making transgender people cis by sheer force of will (or shame).
How would you describe this scenario: witnessing an entire community find self-actualization, empowerment, and mental health, and deciding that your purpose is to thwart that wherever possible?
This culture is spoon-feeding transgender people poison, insisting that they're wrong to create a life and a world in which they don't suffer. And while you can choose to disengage from this conversation, trans people are steeped in it at all times.
Be grateful that you can make such a choice — that your existence is a given and not an objectionable offense. And then? Choose to be kind to those who don't have that privilege.
You can follow @samdylanfinch.