Making A Commitment To Stand In Solidarity Against Transmisogyny

My fellow trans people who happen to have been CAFAB:

I’m so, so sick of this shit.

Every conversation about transmisogyny— literally every conversation— descends into a mess of privilege denying, privilege qualifying, and derailing.

Yes, we get it. CAFAB trans people are oppressed by transphobia. We know. CAFAB trans people can be oppressed by femmephobia. CAFAB trans people may not be granted male privilege 100 percent of the time because CAFAB trans people may not have passing privilege 100 percent of the time. Yes. We know. We have it hard too.

But this is not fucking about us.

We are not oppressed by transmisogyny, and in fact we benefit from it. Why is it so fucking hard for us to own this?

Why, instead of joining in conversations about transmisogyny to express our rage that it exists and lend our support to CAMAB trans people and stand in solidarity with them and, most importantly, listen to what we should be doing to help make things better… are we pulling the same shit again and again?

Why do we incessantly make it about us? Why are we so fucking threatened by admitting that we are privileged, on at least one goddamn axis, on the axis of transmisogyny, and that we benefit from that privilege?

I rarely, make that almost never, seen real hardcore privilege-owning from CAFAB trans folks without a bunch of fucking qualifying. And yeah, I get it, your privilege may be fucking qualified. But it’s still better to have qualified privilege than unqualified oppression. Or even qualified oppression.

And even more rarely than hardcore privilege-owning do I see CAFAB people making any commitment to actually oppose transmisogyny. In fact, by derailing these conversations, by making it about us, we are contributing to transmisogyny. We are making it worse. We are centering our privileged selves while oppressed people are trying to discuss, process, and oppose their oppression. We don’t lift a goddamn finger to help. Instead, we hinder. Every. Step. Of. The. Goddamn. Way.

I can’t stand this shit. Stoppit. Now.

Here’s the sick thing. I feel like CAMAB trans people generally have my back. I feel like CAMAB trans people I know are actually very sympathetic to my CAFAB specific issues like “eff tee em” fetishization. Maybe that’s because I don’t center them all the fucking time. But broadly, I see CAMAB trans people reaching out and being willing to have solidarity and give support to CAFAB trans people, and CAFAB trans people just fucking smacking it down, intentionally or not, all. the. time.

It’s ironic that the phrase “oppression olympics” is used to shut down so many conversations about being privileged by transmisogyny. Because that’s exactly what we do. We make it about us. Not just oppression olympics, an oppression pissing contest. Who has the most complicated relationship to masculinity. Who is most conscious of the nuances of passing in daily life.

Fuck that shit. When the topic is transmisogyny, talk about transmisogyny. Do not fucking make it about you.

Better yet, make a commitment to learning about transmisogyny, listening to the people who experience it, and supporting their struggles.

For the love of fuck why is this not already happening?

Signed,

A trans man who gives a shit about transmisogyny

P.S. Not identifying as male does not mean you don’t benefit from transmisogyny.
Being non binary does not mean you don’t benefit from transmisogyny.
You’re femme? Cool, you still benefit from transmisogyny.
You don’t pass all the time? You still benefit from transmisogyny.
Not on T? You still benefit from transmisogyny.

P.P.S. Saying “not all of us are like that!” in this context isn’t gonna work anymore, especially when that same protest has been used to derail so many threads on transmisogyny. Not a privilege-denying jackass? The burden of proof is on you. Show it in your actions.

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About Asher

Asher Bauer is fast becoming a fixture in the San Francisco kink community, and intends to stay that way. He has worked as a Queer Educator at LYRIC (Lavender Youth Recreation And Information Center), and since has taken his talents as an educator to a wider variety of audiences, teaching on subjects ranging from safer sex to BDSM to trans and queer identities. He is also one of the hosts and originators of Transmission, the new trans-centric party at the San Francisco Citadel, and Invasion, the Citadel's all-genders queer party. View all posts by Asher

22 responses to “Making A Commitment To Stand In Solidarity Against Transmisogyny

  • A Noun

    It would be helpful to know what cafab & camab are.

    • Asher

      Google it. I already wrote a trans 101, I don’t have time to make every post accessible to people who don’t know basics.

      • Alex

        Asher,

        I appreciate your article and think you’re spot on in what you say – but your comment to the above is fucked. How are we going to get anywhere if we don’t create safe spaces for questions whether they be “trans 101″ or “advanced”. It took more time to write that response than to explain:

        “CAFAB stands for Coercively Assigned Female At Birth”

        A

      • Asher

        “Allies” have plenty of safe spaces to learn. Holding cis people by the hand at all times only fosters their sense of entitlement. Not everything I write here is designed to be accessible to outsiders. Especially not outsiders who can’t use google.

      • Patience Newbury

        Because you excluded it, ironically so under the comments of this particular essay on transmisogyny and the systemic browbeating of CAMAB trans people, “CAMAB stands for Coercively Assigned Male at Birth”.

        Whether negligent or otherwise, “That goes without saying” does not go without saying — not here and, preferably, not ever again.

      • Patience Newbury

        The previous remark was addressed to Alex, not Asher.

        Asher: thank you.

      • Lindsay Jack

        Hey Asher,

        Love this article but very uncomfortable with your reply to Alex. I believe I understand your position and reasons for not hand holding and ally walk throughs. I find it interesting that you frame your reply around “access” and accessibility. Shouldn’t accessibility/safely accessible spaces be the starting place from which we have conversations about trans-misogyny and social justice in general? I know this opens up a can of worms like access to whom, rights to access re: cis-people but not all trans people find trans jargon accessible. I’m trans and I had never read these acronyms before. I appreciate your posts and will continue to read but I wish my first reply wasn’t a follow up on exclusive use and defense of baffle gab.

      • Asher

        This is legit but I did in fact write a trans 101. I have a whole page of trans basics linked at the top of this blog. I am a person with limited energy to constantly go over things which are basic to me and considering that I have in fact gone over this before in places which are easy to find I have limited patience for constant review.

        Also considering the alternatives to CAFAB and CAMAB (shit like female-bodied/male-bodied, born female/born male, etc. etc.) I am not particularly sympathetic to dismissal of these terms as baffle gab.

  • Ally

    I’d like to cross post this on Nuts and Bolts if you don’t mind. It’s kind of exactly the shit I’d like to have on N&B. Rock on, Asher–if folks like you keep speaking out about this–THIS hard, we might actually see some change about it.

  • accidentalbeard

    Hell yes. This needs to be said, thanks for getting right to the point.

  • Susie Schen

    I’ve read a fair bit and I’ve encountered the terms below, but never the actual acronyms. I can google things though :) . . .

    Coercively Assigned Female At Birth

    Coercively Assigned Male At Birth

  • sivkoburko/CXW

    Great post, Asher. Thank you. I’d be really interested to hear your thoughts on what actions CAFAB trans people can take against transmisogyny (and misogyny more widely). Owning one’s privilege(s) is a good step as is the generally excellent advice to listen and hear what is being said and to avoid derailing, but beyond that?

  • JackRad

    A resounding fuck yes to all of this.

    I especially like that you mention that “mab” (I dispise that language but that’s what you used btw as someone who has been involved in the trans community for 7 years I have no idea what the ca in cafab and camab is so maybe your comment to the post above was a little harsh) trans people are almost always amazing to me and sensitive to my issues as a “fab”trans man and I would venture to say too forgiving based on what they should expect of me based on how most fab trans folks generally treat mab trans folks.

    Anyway thanks for your post

    • Asher

      “Coercively Assigned Male At Birth”

      “Coercively Assigned Female At Birth”

      Don’t care how long you’ve been in the community, google could’ve told you.

  • voz

    I think the other commentors could use a bit more handholding. Perhaps you could chew their food for them so that they do not starve to death for being so helpless?

    Seriously, a core component of oppressing people is draining their energy by wasting their time and jacking their workload. Props for not playing that game.

  • Tobi

    As always I’m glad to see your writing. You’re right that this is something that needs to happen more often. To give you a bit more optimism, though, I can say that I DO see it somewhat often. It’s still rare compared to the alternative, but I know at least a dozen or two trans male/masculine folks who fight transmisogyny and are strong allies to trans female/feminine folks — including my trans mentor who helped me when I was coming out about 9 years ago.

    I think one thing that can really help is to identify and pre-empt people’s insecurities about being told they are “privileged.” No it doesn’t mean you don’t also experience oppression, no it doesn’t mean you’re a bad person, no it doesn’t automatically mean that you are being oppressive. It *does* mean that you are automatically benefiting from oppression, for example, perhaps people will be more willing to listen to you than other folks, and you can use that unearned respect and attention to draw attention to this kind of oppression then highlight and redirect to the voices of people who are being ignored, i.e. be an ally.

  • Cary

    Well said, Asher.

    As a trans guy married to a trans woman, I am aware of my privilege and the power of transmisogyny every day. As you say, I regularly encounter other CAFAB trans people who don’t want to own their privilege, but what truly boggles my mind is hearing victim-blaming and dismissing of transmisogyny from them. “She should just chill a little and not get so angry at everything,” or “Estrogen sure makes people emo and sensitive.” These are the same classic misogynist lines tossed at “angry feminists” and “bitchy women with PMS,” now somehow ok when coming from the mouths of trans men and genderqueer folk assigned female at birth.

    People, please: be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

  • Amy Fox

    I am a transsexual woman who is butch and who has a lot of cissexed (passing) privilege. As such, whatever gender people read me as, they usually assume I was assigned-female and am masculine.

    So however I was assigned, however I identify, society reliably grants the privilege you speak of, and it is on me to own up to that. One way of doing that is: when educating people about (trans)gender issues, pointing out how well off I am because of how little (trans)mysogyny I experience compared to women who are femme and/or who do not have my cissexed (passing) privilege.

  • Cereus

    Thank you for this.

    -A CAFAB Person. (are the letters in the right order? *shrug*)

  • The Gender Ternary: Understanding Transmisogyny « A Radical TransFeminist

    [...] which, in a piece talking so much about male privilege, is an huge omission. Bear in mind Asher’s caution on the subject, [...]

  • The Gender Ternary: Understanding Transmisogyny | Gender Agenda

    [...] which, in a piece talking so much about male privilege, is an huge omission. Bear in mind Asher’s caution on the subject, [...]

  • Andrew

    I agreed with the principal argument of this post about the need to fight transmisogyny, but, in general, in just about any context, I experience a refusal to define one’s acronyms as a hostile act, a barrier to understanding which an author deliberately places across the path of the reader through the text in order to impede communication. (Exception: chemical acronyms, like MDMA, because the acronym stands for some polysyllabic chemical name which, to a non-chemist, is usually as opaque as the acronym itself.) The same goes for untranslated French and Latin phrases. This blogger aggravates the insult by writing a reply to a query on the subject, a reply which was longer than it would have been had he just defined CAFAB as coercively assigned female at birth and CAMAB as coercively assigned male at birth, in which he directed a reader to his Trans 101 Post, in which these acronyms do not even appear, either as acronyms or as full phrases. Advice to bloggers: when you use a term I don’t know, which I then have to google, sometimes I get distracted by what I find googling and never return to finish reading the post. This is a bad habit, but I’d wager it’s not likely to be a unique one.

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