Transgender people exist

Continuing the discussion from Popular queer Native American Twitter account turns out to be unpopular straight white woman:

I think there is a good chance that the post that spawned this might disappear, so I will summarize: The poster asked why people who believe that a person can unproblematically “choose” their (the post used “its”) gender identity believe that choosing a race/heritage/ethnicity is “forbidden”.

I am not going to respond in the thread because it’s off topic. Also, I think it is certainly the case that most of the time a person posing that question would be doing so in bad faith, trying to stir up shit, thinking they are more clever than transgender people and than people who listen to transgender people.

But the reason I’m posting this is because if you think there is a parallel between being transgender and co-opting a racial identity to sell books, promote your twitter or otherwise benefit yourself, you are flat out incorrect. I want to make it clear to anyone who thinks this is a valid point that this is not more clever than looking at the actual world and learning about actual people. It’s easy to think that if you ask a question an no one will answer you it’s because your question is one they don’t have an answer to, not because they find you insufferable.

This is a long read presented by a non-expert, so if you don’t want to waste your time, don’t waste your time.

Here’s the deal: transgender people exist. They aren’t something that millenials made up to be “woke” about. They have existed throughout human history. Because gender is a social construct transgender people have been called different things, conceptualized different ways and treated better or worse (usually worse) by different cultures.

And because gender is a social construct our concept of what it means to be transgender has embedded cultural elements. I might describe a transgender person as a person whose gender (which is a self-assigned thing) does not agree with their sex (as assigned to them by others based on the shape of their body or perhaps their genetics). Transgender people in other cultures might not think that’s a good description of their experience at all, I don’t know because I haven’t asked every transgender person in the world.

Whether we can agree on language is beside the point though, language doesn’t make reality. Fire didn’t become hot when we discovered that the heat was the average kinetic energy of the molecules. People who thought it felt hot before that weren’t hallucinating, they were experiencing reality through their own understanding which was informed by their culture. Transgender people aren’t transgender because someone else can write a definition in a dictionary, they are transgender because that’s who they are.

You don’t counter a widely felt human experience that crosses centuries and cultures by saying, “What about this person who created a fake twitter profile?”

The selfish motivation for creating a fake twitter profile to promote your real twitter profile is transparent. People lie to benefit themselves. But I’m going to go further than that: I don’t know the inner world of that professor. As a person who has the experience of hearing voices in my head, and who sometimes has ascribed demographic traits (such as age and gender) to those voices, I’m not going to say, “There’s no way that person wasn’t giving voice to a part of themselves.”

However, when you give voice to a part of yourself it’s on you to do so in a way that doesn’t harm other people. Pretending that a transgender Indigenous professor who is part of your inner world is part of actual reality is co-opting racial and trans experiences. Because your experiences are still your experiences. An out and proud trans woman friend of mine can’t (and doesn’t) claim that she had the experience of being a teenage girl, of being seen as others as a teenage girl and treated by other as a teenage girl is treated. It would be wrong for this friend of mine to go out in public and describe the sexual harassment directed at them by teenage boys when they were a teenage girl because that didn’t happen. It would be absurd.

By creating a fake twitter account of an Indigenous transgender person, the professor basically claimed to have the life experience of being treated as an Indigenous person in society and made claims based on that. That’s not okay. And it’s in no way equivalent to a person coming out as transgender to their family, their coworkers or the public - a painful experience at the best of times that can’t possibly create any benefit other than the benefit of being true to yourself and being accepted for who you are (neither of which make any sense unless you are actually being true to yourself).

People have really thought this stuff out, and I’m not even one of them. I’m just giving an off-the-cuff layperson account of this based on conversations with a friend, reading one book, and reading things like the transphobia discussions on this blog. To anyone who thinks they are cleverer than transgender people and their allies because they can say, “What about Rachel Dolezal” I just want to say that the dismissal you get isn’t because you’ve outsmarted people. It’s because thoughtful people have looked beyond the simple interpretations of sex and gender that they acquired when they were young children and actually figured this out. And - I wish this went without saying but it doesn’t - a disproportionate number of those thoughtful people are transgender.

And by the way, yes, somewhere in the big wide world there is someone who is lying to you about being transgender because people do almost everything for all kinds of reasons. If you want to say that you don’t believe people when they tell you their gender because people lie then I guess that’s your jam. Just as long as you don’t believe apparently cisgender people. Because the odds anyone has ever in your life misled you into thinking they are trans are very, very low. But somewhere out there you have a transgender friend, coworkers, cousin, parent, child, etc., and if you don’t believe that gender is self-defined then they are definitely keeping that secret from you.

ETA: I realize that in posting this, just like I did when I posted the White Culture thread, I’m basically opening the doorway to some real fucking bullshit. Plus, I get that I might be inviting debate on whether transgender people exist. So let me be clear: that is not a subject for debate. If someone implies transgender people don’t exist or are equivalent to someone making up a false identity on twitter they either need to educate themselves, or to be told that that’s some unacceptable shit, probably both (if only they had the emotional fortitude to hear “that’s unacceptable” and think, “oh, I should probably go educate myself”).


Replying to this here:

I’m biracial… and taken at face value, your question seems both nonsensical and intentionally offensive.

Mixed race people do exist and we are called many things including multiracial, and multicultural.

We are NOT “transracial” which is NOT a real thing; because race is a manufactured societal construct while gender, gender expression, and sexuality are NOT.


This has been gone over so many times - people asking should really do some of their own research.

I will say that it’s useful to remember that up until four or so years ago transracial was a descriptor for adoptions only. And even if the newer attempts to apply this word to an empty category had currency - one has to note that it’s a one way trip.

People of color can’t be accepted as white.


Even “half-White” folks (aka Biracial people with one White parent) are not ever accepted as “White.”

The One Drop Rule was a thing.


I knew a kid in 9th grade who was a white guy from an upper-middle-class suburban family and claimed he wanted to be black (basically a classic “Poser”).

I don’t know if I would have been able to articulate why I found that idea so off-putting at the time, but it takes a lot of privilege and arrogance to try claiming the “cool street cred” part of being a historically oppressed and impoverished minority without, you know, having to actually endure any of the poverty or oppression.


I wanna live like common people
I wanna do whatever common people do?"


They sure should. I think I get driven a little insane because to me it feels like they are playing a word game, acting like if they can formulate a word (transgender… transracial) then the thing it would describe must be real. I feel like they think they are radical dental theorists saying, "But if people have inscisors why don’t we accept that they have obscisors. It’s because you just coined a random word and it signifies nothing, that’s why.


You’re kinder than I. My experience has been that there’s an attempt to delegitimize trans people’s existence under many of the comments we’ve seen online over the years. Even here quite a few were moderated due to that intent, if memory serves.


Hi! OP here, first of all, thank you all for replying. At first I thought flagging my post as inappropriate would mean it disappears, instead you answered, it took me a while to realize that…

To set things straight: I never wanted to offend anyone. Of course, the case of McLaughin is not a good example for what I called “transrace” (with which I don’t mean biracial, but identifying with another ethnicity than other people would ascribe to you) since her motivation seems to be clear (gain support for the petition concerning her tenureship). And no, I did not want to set a trap to argue that transgender people don’t exist.

But anyhow, I was reminded of Rachel Dolezal and wanted to hear your opinions about why identifying with/pretending to be another race/ethnicity is considered so disrespectful.

The question is not, for me at least, whether I find Dolezal sympathetic, but rather if it is conceivable that it made sense to her, i.e. identifying as black although there “is no drop of black blood in her”. And if it made sense to her, why would somebody have the right to deny her this?

Quoting Melizmatic:
" …race is a manufactured societal construct while gender, gender expression, and sexuality are NOT."

Are your saying that since race is constructed by society, you are not able/allowed to choose/identify with the one you see fit? Why should individuals put up with that?

From my troubled wording you might correctly assume that neither is English my native language nor am I trans or of colour.

Have a nice evening!

What planet have you been living on, seriously?

Racism puts White people above everyone else and does not allow for mobility; that’s how manufactured hierarchies work.

The oppressive status quo is not a matter of what People of Color (or Transgender folks, for that matter) choose to “put up with.”

Frankly, your alleged lack of understanding and incredibly poorly worded commentary doesn’t strike me as coming from a place of verisimilitude.


Why don’t you try it for a few years and report back on your experiences? Tell your boss and wife that you’re a black person now and a woman with a trans background- or man with a trans background depending on your current status?


Woah, playing the game on the Legendary Difficulty setting isn’t for everyone!
You have to grow up with that shit otherwise you stand no chance.


The offensive assumption here, IMHO, is that trans people are trans because they choose to be. I did not make a choice to be straight or cis or white or male, I just am. Folks who are gay, trans, black, etc are not so because they choose to be, but because they just are. Assuming it is a choice is horribly offensive.


Nobody gets to choose what they are, only who they are and how they deal with the world.


Yes, because it makes sooo much sense that someone would actively choose a life of being alienated, hated, vilified, misjudged and of general but perpetual persecution.


I often wonder if the people making such ridiculous arguments realize just how completely full of shit they sound to people who aren’t small-minded assholes hellbent on controlling others’ lives.


Literally nobody would choose that.
Not for a weekend.
Not even in a game.
There’s so many reasons others will pick on just to make another’s life worse.

What you look like, who you pray too, who you love, where you pee.

None of it is important enough for hate. None of it.



You’re severely confused, the only people who claim that race is a thing and who insist people don’t get to decide their own self worth are racist people, the people who insist that gender and sex are the same and that people cannot be anything other than what narrow boxes they’ve set up for other people are the transphobes.
Everyone else is just dealing with a world where these views are codified into customs, law and power dynamics.
Your question only makes sense if it’s rhetorical (even if it is begging the question, it’s still valid as a persuassive device). But you seem to want an answer. That’s a text book bad faith argument.

You might as well ask why the KKK won’t allow a black man that identifies as a white man into their terrorist group. As if that was a line too far for the KKK.


Hopefully you’ve started on some of the other recommended readings, if you’re truly interested in educating yourself.
Two words to keep in mind as you explore this complex and fraught topic: power dynamics.
If you ever find yourself leaning into an argument along the lines of, “but if they can do this thing, why can’t these others do what to me appears to be a similar thing?” Think, “what’s the power dynamic at play here???”
Good luck.


Evidence for transgender people is as old as history itself, it was Herodotus who talked of Scythian men who dressed and lived as women, and drank mares urine (go and look at how HRT used to be made, specifically Premarin). There is evidence for transgender people across many cultures around the world. This gender expression had many forms, from third genders to people who would be called trans women and trans men in the modern western world. They are all valid. Western European empires tried to erase this from history as it didn’t fit their worldview, which was early modern Christianity, not science.

What is more likely, that people across the world and history who have diverse forms of gender expression are correct, or that a rigid gender binary that has to be enforced violently is?

The gender binary is white supremacist cultural imperialism, and all imperialists start by conquering their own people. We are merely rebuilding what centuries of gender binary tried to destroy, and we don’t care if the enforcers are upset.