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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Monday, April 15, 2024

Being, and being seen as, trans

A brief analysis of the transgender experience and our perception in the Western psyche.

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There is something sacrilegious about being transgender. One sheds everything that is sacred about being woman or man: the sanctity behind living out the life blessed to one by the divine. The irony is that I write this as someone raised nonreligious. To this day, I don’t logically buy the stories of the Bible or the validity of its institutions. It’s debauched, then, that I have still chosen, either consciously or not, to impose a worldview of religious gender and sexuality on myself. But what is a logical acknowledgment does not belie the irrational recognitions we all have.

The religious dogma that’s infused in our society begets the trans person’s feeling of sin. This idea that the institutions — churches, mosques, the Papacy, Bible teaching — we laud could be pernicious and destructive is an uncomfortable reality for many people, but it is still a pragmatic truth that I believe we need to collectively grapple with. Admittedly, religion is not the basis of every trans person’s tumultuous relationship with their gender and sex. I speak only for myself. Still, this sense of invasion into the closed identity of our birth-given gender foil engenders a universal feeling of perversion I wish to specifically address.

But I do not mean to reaffirm to the world my perpetual struggle, and the tension of my perception of my sex that prevents me from functioning to some semblance of normalcy. I share the same concerns as other young women in university: classes, internships, unrelenting situationship issues. But the underbelly of my life, the moments when my mind isn’t occupied with the stresses of simply being a person in the world, is a constant negotiation with the most bestial, unmanageable part of my transness. What’s particularly draining is that I do not always have the time in the day to manage being a woman at this stage in my life while coping with the reality of my transness. This is because being trans is not simply a matter-of-fact identity that can exist neutrally within a person. It is by its very essence an internal struggle with self. All external forces aside, transness has a uniquely personal dimension to it that will continue to permeate one’s happiness and internal sense of emotional stability. My relationship with my gender won’t ever reach a level of banality, as one’s womanhood might within the right hypothetical where misogyny might cease to exist. I am in conflict against the very real internalized binaries of sex and gender within myself.

Beyond the internal struggle, there are many uncomfortable realities of being trans that are derived from our negotiations with the external world. Admittedly, this is not new analysis; the entirety of the reactionary Abrahamic world is hyper-aware of the vigilance at which the world views and criticizes our identities. This deduction derives from my own experience as a trans woman; I intimately understand how the world so critically perceives me and my body. But what still so many socially conscious, woke, cisgendered people continually misunderstand is the crux of the world’s opposition to transness. I challenge the idea that it is because we compose a jarring contradiction to manhood or womanhood that evokes a rational confusion or understandable fear. This easy conclusion to draw reconstructs the transphobe into a naive victim of the human reaction to strangeness and oddities, and also neglects the heart of the modern world’s fears: The Abrahamic-religious world is terrified by sex. The crux of cisgender disgust of our identities is — according to the psyche of Papacy-incited repulsion to sex — a confrontation with trans sexuality. There is nothing more retaliatory and antagonistic in any other human identity than our own. Indeed, we openly declare a rejection of and search for genitals and secondary sexual characteristics. I guess then there is something more pernicious behind transphobia as a fixture of the Judeo-Christian and Muslim world. To grapple with the transgender wave of the 21st century is to grapple with our discomfort with sexuality as vulgarity. These institutions have made sexuality latent in our minds, but transgender people have revolutionarily resurrected to the surface.

Unending scrutiny of sexuality is a uniquely trans experience. While many feminists might decry my analysis, there is a distinction between cisgender-female and trans sexualization: the breadth and intensity of our bodies’ surveillance. In the case of the sexualization of cis women, in my opinion, men at least have the capacity to occasionally grant women their rationality and understand that, surprisingly, women can exist independent of their feminine sexuality. Conversely, for trans women, we are never given the benefit of being people perceptive above our waistbelts. Our existence is rendered down as an act of sexual subversiveness.