Trans People Need to Stick Together

Stop Gatekeeping and Infighting

With everything that transgender people have going against us, you would think we’d be more unified so we could stand together against all the hate and transphobia in the world. Sadly, that doesn’t seem to be the case, and I find this very disappointing.

I still can’t believe that some transgender people think that other transgender people are not trans enough, just because they don’t have crippling levels of dysphoria or they don’t plan to medically transition. Some even outright reject non-binary and other people who fall under the genderqueer umbrella.

I’m not here to point fingers or name names, but I’ve come across so many videos online where a transgender person is outright attacking another. Sometimes it’s because the person identifies themselves as a transgender person, but their gender expression isn’t masculine or feminine enough. The idea that non-binary or genderfluid people can’t be trans because they don’t neatly fall into the gender binary doesn’t make them any less transgender.

Not every transgender person comes to understand they are trans in the same way. For some, they’ve known since they were very young. Others may not have recognized it within themselves until later in life. This can depend on which generation we are a part of or the culture we were raised in. This means that for some of us, we may have lived as our assigned birth gender most of our adult lives. Our journey to recognize we are transgender may not all look the same.

In my case, while I clearly remember stating I was a boy when I was very young, I adopted the identity of tomboy because being transgender was not a widely known concept back in the 1970s and 80s. My dysphoria was very mild, and I just focused on living my life since there wasn’t anything I could do to change the body I was born with. Even after Chaz Bono came out, the transgender identity didn’t immediately click with me.

It took a very long time for me to recognize that I was trans. Once the possibility crossed my mind, I spent a lot of time researching. I read everything I could find online. I watched a lot of different people’s videos. I wrestled with whether I was actually non-binary or trans. Now, over a year into my transition, I know I made the right decision. I now proudly identify as a gay, transgender man.

However, if I had come across some of the transgender gatekeepers I’ve been seeing online recently, their rhetoric may have kept me from fully embracing my identity and transitioning. It worries me how many young trans people, who are confused and unsure of their identity, may be driven back into the closet by those who have decided that only their vision of what it means to be transgender is the correct one.

All of this gatekeeping and infighting gives those people in society even more reason to hate us. They can use these arguments that the gatekeepers are using to shame more of us back into the closet. Transphobic people can use this infighting as a rallying cry against us and divide us even further.

Let’s welcome all our transgender siblings and stop judging. It’s not up to us to decide if someone is dysphoric enough or has transitioned enough. We need to present a united front to the world if we are to survive the constant onslaught of attacks against our community, lest we all are driven back into the closets from whence we came.

Transgender writer and author. I primarily write on LGBTQ issues, with a focus on the transgender community.

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