There has been a growing movement for people to love their own bodies while also respecting others, regardless of their shape or size. Overall, I think the body positivity movement is great for the mental health and well-being of everyone. However, I have seen this thrown into the face of trans people for not loving the bodies they were born with. This is problematic at best and I wanted to share my personal view on this.
Body Positivity Disguised as Transphobia
Comments aimed at transgender people positing that we should learn to love the bodies we were born with, or worse accuse us of body shaming ourselves, are shortsighted at best and transphobic at worst. It’s one thing to tell someone who is overweight that they are beautiful as they are and that they shouldn’t be ashamed of how they look. It’s entirely another to say the same thing to a transgender person, with the implication of accepting the body they were born with.
I’ve seen this all-too-often online where someone will casually comment. “You’re a beautiful man/woman! You don’t need to change your gender. Accept and love the body you were born with!” Gender dysphoria is a lot more than just how our bodies look, although that is part of it. It’s also how we’re viewed by society. Being able to transition allows us to change our gender expression beyond the clothes we wear, how we style our hair, and whether we choose to wear makeup. When we transition, we are more likely to be identified as our gender, instead of as someone of one sex dressing as a different gender.
Body Positivity for Everyone
Saying all that, the growing body positivity movement is a wonderful thing. Tolerance and acceptance of all people, regardless of looks, size, color, or whatever, is something we should all embrace. It’s possible that the people who are using body positive language toward transgender people are coming from a good place, and just using the wrong approach.
For anyone who truly isn’t transphobic and believes in body positivity, try this approach instead. Don’t ask transgender people to learn to love the bodies they were born with. Instead, you and they should love and accept the bodies they are transitioning into. Even after transition, many transgender people struggle with dysphoria. For example, many transmen are shorter than the average man. So, like any other shorter-than-average man, we need to learn to love and accept our height.
Society needs to, at the very least, accept and tolerate transgender people as we present ourselves to the world. Asking us to accept our birth sex is not being body positive, it’s showing your intolerance. It becomes difficult for transgender people to love our authentic selves, when we still face so much hatred and discrimination in the world. If you want us to love ourselves, then you should accept us as we are, and not as you think we should be.
Isn’t that the entire point behind body positivity?