Guess what, Chadwick Moore: there is no such thing as transgender privilege.
During a segment on Fox News (ugh, of course) on Wednesday, the conservative journalist implied that Democratic candidate Christine Halloquist—who made U.S. political history earlier this week when she became the first openly trans nominee for governor in Vermont—won simply because of “transgender privilege.”
“She can get away with many, many things simply by being transgender,” Moore said. “I mean, who knows if that’s even how she won this primary. But while the entire country is fixated on the fact that she’s transgender, nobody knows anything about her policies.”
I’m sorry, WTF?
The LGBTQ community was quick to respond to this degrading and ignorant comment on Twitter with the sarcastic hashtag #transgenderprivilege, where trans people get real about their very real struggles—which are anything but privileged and, in fact, are often violent.
Trans folks are made to feel invisible
#TransgenderPrivilege is being told that you don’t exist even though you’re standing right in front of them.
— Amy (She/Her) (@AmyGotBeauty) August 16, 2018
Say it with us now: sex and gender are *not* the same thing. Yet, many trans folks experience dehumanization and invisibility because they aren’t “trans enough” to medically transition or they are forced to live as their gender assigned at birth in order to find a job, as just some of the many examples. Twitter user @AmyGoyBeauty shared her personal experience, writing “#TransgenderPrivilege is being told that you don’t exist even though you’re standing right in front of them.”
Black trans women are especially vulnerable to violence
— Monica Roberts (@TransGriot) August 16, 2018
The systematic violence that trans folks face is undeniable, but Black trans women are murdered at higher rates than any other section of the community. For example, of 111 transgender and gender-nonconforming Americans murdered between 2010 and 2016, 72% of them were Black trans women and gender-nonconforming femmes, according to a report by the NCAVP. As Monica Roberts (@TransGriot) tweeted, “#TransgenderPrivilege is a Black trans woman celebrating if she makes it past age 35 #BlackTransLivesMatter.”
Using a public washroom can be extremely dangerous
#TransgenderPrivilege is planning your entire day around knowing when it will be safe to use the bathroom
— Mel Stone (@MelStoneMusic) August 16, 2018
There has been much debate over gender-neutral washrooms in recent years—writer Ivan Coyote’s TED Talk on the issue is mandatory viewing. And while many workplaces and public institutions now have inclusive restrooms, they can still be dangerous spaces where trans individuals are harassed, outed or physcially forced out. Twitter user @MelStoneMusic illustrated this by writing, “#TransgenderPrivilege is planning your entire day around knowing when it will be safe to use the bathroom.”
Cisgender actors are cast to tell trans stories
#transgenderprivilege is having cisgender actors portray your stories so they can be told how brave they are while you try to figure out how to pay the electric bill.
— ⚧ TransEthics™ 🏳️🌈 transethics.org (@TransEthics) August 16, 2018
Yes, we’re looking at you, Scarlett Johansson. The actor was under fire recently for accepting the role of Dante “Tex” Gill in the film Rub & Tug. She later withdrew because of the widespread criticism she received for being hired to play a trans character. User @TransEthics recently tweeted on this issue saying, “#TransgenderPrivilege is having cisgender actors portray your stories so they can be told how brave they are while you try to figure out how to pay the electric bill.” On the other hand, recent wins include trans actress Nicole Maines being cast as TV’s first transgender superhero, but there is still a lot more work to be done.
Preferred pronouns are considered “optional”
#TransgenderPrivilege is people suddenly starting to use the wrong pronouns for you as soon as they learn you're trans, even though they never had a problem gendering you correctly before.
— AKA Horus Cheston (@ChromiumJones) August 17, 2018
Pronouns have huge impact on a trans person’s identity. There has been particular controversy around the singular pronoun “they,” which is typically used by gender-non conforming people: some have argued it’s not grammatically correct (excuse me while I roll my eyes) and others just completely disregard people’s preferred for no particular reason, using whatever they feel suits the person best. Twitter user @ChromiumJones highlighted this point, saying, “#TransgenderPrivilege is people suddenly starting to use the wrong pronouns for you as soon as they learn you’re trans, even though they never had a problem gendering you correctly before.”
These insightful tweets remind us that instead of delegitimizing Hallquit’s historic win by blaming it on made-up transgender privilege, we should be celebrating what this means for trans representation in politics—and it means a lot.
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