Week 10 Day 2 Discussion Question 1 Holly Allen Uncategorized April 15, 2018 3 Comments How does Serano define transmisogyny? How is transmisogyny different from transphobia?
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Transphobia is a concept that is familiar to many, and is used to refer to any type of anti-trans sentiment or targeting of trans people for their failure to conform to gender norms. “Transmisogyny,” by contrast, is a term coined by Julia Serano to describe a particular type of transphobia in which trans women are targeted for both their feminine gender expression and their female gender identity. According to Serano, transmisogyny is a product of our male-centric society, in which masculine gender expression is valued more highly than feminine gender expression. Given this societal bias, trans women are more likely than trans men to be demonized, sensationalized, or characterized as “frivolous” or “artificial.” Thus, while many people use the term “transphobia” as a catchall to include these types of discrimination or prejudice against trans people, Serano argues that “transmisogyny” is a more accurate term where the subject of trans discrimination or stigma is on the female and/or feminine spectrum.
In addition to coining the term “transmisogyny,” Serano provides numerous examples of it in her various works. In “Excluded: Making Feminist and Queer Movements More Inclusive”, Serano describes how transgender expressions of femaleness and femininity, such as the wearing of makeup and feminine clothing, are frequently ridiculed or stigmatized. She also relates an anecdote in which a speaker at a feminist conference described the appearance and feminine expression of one of her trans feminine patients in great detail, deliberately eliciting giggles from the audience and objectifying her in the process. Serano provides additional examples of transmisogyny in “Trans Woman Manifesto,” noting the frequency with with trans people are reduced to stereotypes of “men who wear dresses” and “men who want their penises cut off.” Finally, Serano cites as examples of transmisogyny the fact that women’s and lesbian organizations have historically been much more accepting of trans men than trans women, and that the overwhelming majority of violence and sexual assault against trans people is perpetrated against trans women.
Serano defines transmisogyny by telling two stories. The first one discussed how cosmetics, women’s clothing, and ways trans-women decide to dress/decorate themselves is referred to as “shit”, whereas for a cis woman it would not be noted as “shit” and is deemed normal. This story showed us that trans-misogyny is both “informed by, yet distinct from, transphobia and misogyny, in that it specifically targets transgender expressions of femaleness and femininity” (Serano, 5). The second story talks about how at a Women in Psychology conference, a psychologist presented and talked about two of her transgender clients. The way she chose to graphically discuss and animate the description of the trans feminine client and her clothing, shoes, and makeup, shows how objectifying trans-women is a part of transmisogyny. Serano says “comments that would typically be considered extraordinarily misogynistic if they were directed at cis women are not considered beyond the pale when directed at trans women.” Serano says that “expressions of trans-misogyny do not merely focus on trans women’s female gender identities, but more often than not, they specifically target her feminine gender expression” which she goes on to say people “typically view feminine gender expression: as manipulative, insincere, and artificial” (5). Transmiogyny is different from transphobia because it directly targets the female gender expression and not the fact that these humans are simply transgender women, but the way in which they decide to express their femininity once they transition.
Writer and activist Julia Serano defines transmisogyny as when a trans person is “ridiculed or dismissed not merely for transgressing gender norms, but for…expressions of femaleness or femininity”. Examples of transmisogyny are jokes about “men wearing dresses”, sexual assault committed against trans women, and the concept that it is acceptable for women to wear “men’s” clothing but not vice versa. We live in a society with a male-centered hierarchy and masculinity is viewed as superior to femininity. When people are born male and “choose” to be female, they pose a threat to the hierarchy, causing the existence of transmisogyny.
Serano defines transphobia as “an irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against people whose gendered identities, appearances, or behaviors deviate from societal norms”. Transphobia is intertwined with the idea that cissexism (the belief that transsexuals’ identified genders are less than those of people who are not transsexual). Transphobic people deny people the “basic privileges that are associated with the gender the trans person self-identifies as”. Examples of this include purposeful misuse of pronouns and having something to say about who uses what bathroom.
The main difference between transmisogyny and transphobia is that one is cultural hate directed towards trans women and other people on the feminine end of the gender spectrum whereas the other is cultural hate of transgender people based on their gender expression. In other words, transphobia is discrimination against trans people whereas transmisogyny is discrimination against transgender women in particular.