Transphobia in the Trans Community
Siena Stott explores transphobia within the trans community and how this plays out through social media and real life.
Dylan Mulvaney rose to social media fame as the creator of their ‘Days of Girlhood’ Tiktok series.
Dylan faces controversy from cis women such as Youtuber and political commentator Blaire White, regarding her ‘fetishation’ of hyperfeminity, the apparent novelty of tampons, and extreme stereotypes about what it means to identify as female. But as a cis woman myself, although a little cringeworthy at first watch, I see that Dylan is experiencing what girlhood (emphasis on ‘girl’ being prepubescent) would have been like would she have grown up as a female. To me its very innocent, and I can see how her series can be deemed as sexist and enforcing of outdated stereotypes, yet we need to remember that there are many adult cis women who choose to live their lives in heels, love pink, frequently cry, and are scared of bugs too.
This is perhaps more of a discussion of what femininity embodies as a whole.
Hyperfemininity exists and its role models, such as Dolly Parton, are put on a cultural pedestal for their ‘womanly’ features.
For this reason, Dylan does not deserve the criticism she gets from cis women. We know that her videos are not a spoof or at all intended to be mocking, and aside from the ‘Days of Girlhood’ series, she’s a very well-spoken and educated social activist. Cis people don’t know what it’s like to have a trans identity. Putting cis women’s experiences of sexism, misogyny, and biological hardships into perspective; we don’t know what it is to come out into a new identity and experience transphobia in today’s worrying climate.
So next time a cis woman feels too inspired by JK Rowling and says ‘They don’t know how hard it is to be a woman’, just imagine just how hard it is to be a trans woman, where you’ve fought so hard to be the gender that you truly identify with just to be rejected by that community.
Now that’s cis women covered, let’s turn to trans women’s criticism. Starting with Time Magazine’s Person of the Year 2015: Caitlyn Jenner.
In the full interview with Time Magazine, Jenner said “If you look like a man in a dress, it makes people uncomfortable”. As a pillar of the trans community, that’s one of the worst things you could possibly say, knowing that it’s going to be read by hundreds of people, many of whom are striking up the courage to come out as trans. Of course other social factors are involved such as generational differences - Jenner being 73 compared to Mulvaney being 25 - plus the obvious wealth advantage. Most trans people can’t hide in their mansions until they receive the surgery that they need (many of whom won’t be able to afford the surgeries for many years if at all ever).
So this is where my qualm begins with Jenner, who then goes on to attack Mulvaney in 2022 in a tweet to Marsha Blackburn saying “Let’s not ‘normalise’ any of what this person is doing. This is absurdity!” and in another tweet, “Dylan…congrats you’re trans with a penis”.
Not only is Jenner maliciously humiliating Mulvaney to her 3.4 million Twitter followers, she also uses the incorrect pronouns insisting on calling Mulvaney a ‘he/him’ and is encouraging transphobia, consciously or unconsciously.
Dylan Mulvaney responded eloquently on Tiktok (now removed but you can find snippets online), addressing the fact they haven’t been on hormones long enough to qualify for surgery yet. She concludes her video with “they will use you to make me and the trans community’s life a lot harder than it already is”.
Despite the LGBTQ+ umbrella, we are still waiting for union between transgender and cisgender queer people.
Until that happens, the unfortunate reality is that it will be a long journey until queerness is fully accepted by all in the West before it can even begin to come into conversation elsewhere in the world. To catalyse this I encourage you to read, watch and listen to queer/transgender conversations and challenge others on their inclusivity. And please remember as the generation of future leadership: hate can be taught, but so can acceptance.