Gavin McInnes has a problem with “a guy having his penis removed.” I agree. If a man were to somehow lose those primary sexual organs that so often are considered the essence of manhood, that would– be kinda unfortunate. I am not personally opposed to the castration of dude-variety rapists and sexual predators, but that’s just me. Generally, any loss of any body part can be considered tragic or bizarre.
Only there’s one thing — transgender women aren’t men.
In his article “Transphobia is Perfectly Natural,” Mr. McInnes’ argument is based entirely on the supposition that transgender women are really, actually gay men and trans men are really, actually lesbians. Trans women who get sexual reassignment surgery are actually dudes voluntarily mutilating themselves because of some psychotic break. Something like that.
There’s a fault in his argument, though. Gavin’s editorial integrity falls short because of one little thing: he’s wrong.
Trans women are women. Trans men are men. It’s, uh, it’s as simple as that.
Here’s a little lesson in neuroanatomy, genetics, and prenatal hormone exposure. I’m going to refer to case studies and peer-reviewed articles because if you’re going to spout vitriol about something controversial, it’s usually a good idea to cite your sources.
There was a study led by Jiang-Ning Zhou in 1995 and confirmed by several others later on, which consider the gendered dimorphism within the density, volume, and structure of the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BSTc) between men and women. Based on their neuroanatomical structure, there is no distinguishable difference between women who were assigned male at birth and those who weren’t. The same applies to men — trans or not, the brain is the same. This doesn’t necessarily tell us why trans people exist, but it makes a very clear point: women are women, regardless of the gender they were assigned at birth. Other studies consider the genetic origins of transsexuality or the effect of disparities in prenatal androgen exposure.
What I mean by all this is: there is a lot of evidence contrary to your (obviously well informed and unbiased) “[trans people] are mentally ill gays who need help” theory. Personally, I’d consider researching your subject before publishing an article condemning something you do not understand in the slightest. But hey, Gavin: you do you.
Gavin’s article also tells us, “[T]here are no old trannies. They die of drug overdoses and suicide way before they’re 40 and nobody notices because nobody knows them.” Which, while it’s true that the transgender community deals with significant rates of addiction and suicide, is entirely misinformed. The idea that all trans people are mentally ill suicidal addicts is based on sensationalized media portrayals that are in no way based on reality. Back in the real world, aging trans people face unique difficulties which the more recent generation is struggling to address. Our community’s elders — those who threw rocks at Stonewall, who stood their ground at Compton’s Cafeteria riot, are getting old and boring and sit in rocking chairs complaining about “kids these days.” That’s what old people do, right?
He also fails to address that there are successful and internationally respected individuals who happen to be trans. Janet Mock is a brilliant, well respected writer and speaker with a masters in journalism. Julia Serano has a Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular biophysics, two published (and highly respected) books, and is a pioneer of modern queer/trans/feminist discourse. Trans people are doctors, lawyers, professors… the list of “professions for transsexuals” is about as diverse as, well, those for the rest of the human population. Gavin asks, “Haven’t you seen all the totally functional, happily married, normal trannies walking around? They aren’t all dead, you know.” Uh, we’re kind of everywhere. I’m a (moderately) successful writer, a really good cook, manager at my full-time job, and live a pretty quiet life with my boyfriend. A good friend is an accomplished politician and activist. Another just saw her first novel published to fantastic critical acclaim and is diligently working on her next. She got married a while back and I’m still bitter that I couldn’t fly out to their wedding (which was beautiful, by the way. The things two dykes can pull off when they put their minds together…).
MORE IMPORTANTLY, we should keep in mind that “respectability politics” act as a distraction that leads attention away from the important issue: people being oppressed, discriminated against, and murdered in cold blood because of a minority status. It’s true that trans people deal with high rates of suicide and drug abuse, but that kind of comes with the territory of being part of a highly discriminated against and vilified minority. The ills of the transgender community are produced by a society that exposes us to exponentially higher rates of sexual violence, assault and murder.
Trans people face a murder rate that is approximately 5,874 times higher than the general population. If you think that the real issue is people getting sexual reassignment surgery (when less than 1-1.5 percent of people report experiencing persistent regret at their SRS), and I’ll put this gently, you are a giant selfish dick of a person.
Ultimately, the article I’m referring to is pretty obviously a piece of invective hate speech designed to draw attention and act as clickbait. The folks who came to this little corner of the internet today are probably comprised 60% of people hate-reading or visiting just to consider how violent and uninformed the face of transphobia can be. Still, it’s important to remember that these voices are largely obsolete in today’s world — we’ve come to see trans-inclusive non-discrimination laws and countless legal victories over the past few years. The world is obsessing over Laverne Cox and people who never imagined they’d get invested in trans-inclusive feminism are devouring Janet Mock’s latest book.
It’s important to remember that voices like Gavin McInnes’ are antiques from an outdated and hateful perspective. Gavin, I’d tell you that you’re an uninformed, spiteful individual, but this little rebuttal isn’t for you. It’s for the people who may have read your article and took that vile aberration of an editorial to heart.
Trans people are people. We’re a diverse, complex and altogether lovely bunch. We’re a community that has overcome adversities that no human being should have to face. Ultimately, Gavin, what you have to say about trans people is absolutely and entirely irrelevant. You keep doing you, being wrong and everything — I’ll be over here, being right and kind of half-assedly laughing at your attempt at witty “un-PC” editorialization.
And if you ever decide to come out of the closet, honey, I’m around if you need to talk.