Trans-misogyny is a term that was invented by author Julia Serano in the book, Serano, Julia (2007). Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity. ISBN 1580051545. OCLC 81252738. to describe how "traditional sexism - the belief that maleness and masculinity are superior to femaleness and femininity" are applied to transsexual women in the attempt to enforce the traditional patriarchy. This sort of discrimination can be seen when a trans woman is ridiculed or otherwise sanctioned for expressing her femaleness or femininity.
One theory to this is that gender variant anatomical males "threaten" the (personal) masculinity or dominance of males in a patriarchal social structure. This is often tied to misogyny on the belief that women are "lesser" then men.
Trans-misogyny can be discerned from transphobia by examining if the female to male transsexual is subjected to the same discrimination. Therefore, when jokes are made about "men in dresses" or "men who want their dicks cut off" it can be seen that trans-misogyny is the driving force behind them. Obviously, the same jokes wouldn't work if they were aimed at trans men.
Trans-misogyny as a factor in hate crimes directed against trans women
A perusal of all the names and stories of the trans identified people on the Day of Remembrance website shows that the majority were those who could be identified as male to female. From Rita Hester, in 1998 to young Lawrence King in 2008, the preponderance of those who are assaulted, beaten or murdered became victims largely because they dared to express femininity from a male origin. This fact shows that, while trans men are by no means exempt from violence, the greatest portion of it can be attributed not only to transphobia but specifically to trans-misogyny.
Trans-misogyny in psychological diagnosis
Julia Serano points out that cross dressing by men in female clothing is listed as a disorder, transvestic fetishism, while cross dressing on the other direction isn't mentioned at all in the DSM-IV. This is an obvious manifestation of Western culture's tendency to allow the expression of masculinity in women (as long as it doesn't go too far) while severely sanctioning the expression of femininity in males, a clear case of trans-misogyny.
Evidence of trans-misogyny in the Media
Trans characters in fictional stories on television, as well as participation in reality shows by trans identified contestants, has recently become more prevalent. From Alexis Meade on "Ugly Betty," played by Rebecca Romijn, to the recent appearance of Isis King on "America's Next Top Model," trans women are becoming more and more visible on television screens in the US. Yet trans men are practically nonexistent, except for a few documentaries or interviews. Whether this is an unconscious reflection of societal attitudes or a conscious choice by television writers and producers, it still illustrates that those who transition from male to female are still considered to be much more shocking, exotic or newsworthy than those of us who transition in the other direction.
Many documentaries and even sympathetic movies, such as Transamerica, tend to reinforce the "artificiality" of trans women's identity by showing them putting on makeup or high heels, practicing their voices or even shaving their faces, as if to note that, "Yes, they say they are women and they might even look and sound like women but they aren't really. Just look at the lengths they have to go to in order to convince us!" This also highlights the double standard that is often applied as part of trans-misogyny since those activities are almost never even mentioned when natal women are portrayed. Their femininity is assumed, a perfect example of the intersection between trans-misogyny and cissexual privilege.
Feminism and trans-misogyny
Feminist responses to transgender women have been divided, ranging from transphobia on the part of some separatist lesbian feminists to transfeminism which sees supporting transgender people as a feminist cause.
In the former case, exemplified by the book The Transsexual Empire by the feminist author Janice Raymond, based on a belief that "transsexuals rape women's bodies by reducing the real form to an artifact," the trend in certain lesbian and feminist groups has been to reject and exclude, even to condemn, trans women. Likewise, the influential feminist thinker Mary Daly, the dissertation adviser for Raymond's The Transsexual Empire, rejects transsexualism as a feminist issue. This influence extends to the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival which by limiting attendance to "womyn born womyn," excludes transgender women from the possibility of being accepted as women. This form of trans-misogyny has been generally associated with the Second Wave of feminism.
On the other hand, transfeminism, which advocates support of transgender people as a feminist issue, is most often associated with the feminist Third Wave, though it can be traced back to the work of Sandy Stone and Sylvia Rivera during the Second Wave. The term transfeminism was introduced by Diana Courvant in the 1990s; she later initiated it as an area of academic study in 2000 along with Emi Koyama. Other writers who have been credited with introducing the concept of trans feminism in the 1990s include Patrick Califia and Jessica Xavier. The Third Wave saw criticism by women of color, lesbians, and working class women, among others, of the belief that all women share a common experience. The intersectionality of oppressions, as articulated by Julia Serano, allows these different groups of women to join together, each from their own perspective, to criticize patriarchy as the source of their various oppressions which can intersect in any number of ways.
- Julia Serano's website on Whipping Girl
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