Almost overnight the topics of gender identity and transgender bathroom access became national headlines, and for the past year, the trans lobby has used memes, slanderous articles, and political force to shut down and label as bigots anyone who voiced a concern about one’s gender identity being used to access sex-segregated spaces instead of one’s biological sex. It has also spent a great deal of time reiterating the dangers that transwomen face in restrooms with other biological males, while ignoring the dangers that women also face from males, and decrying that transwomen JUST WANT TO PEE! But what exactly does transgender mean and who all does it include?
According to the National Center for Trans Equality (NCTE), “the nation’s leading social justice advocacy organization” for trans people, the term transgender refers to “people whose gender identity, expression or behavior is different from those typically associated with their assigned sex at birth. Transgender is a broad term and is good for non-transgender people to use”. Compare this to the American Psychological Association’s (APA) definition of transsexual: “The term transsexual refers to people whose gender identity is different from their assigned sex. Often, transsexual people alter or wish to alter their bodies through hormones, surgery, and other means to make their bodies as congruent as possible with their gender identities”. Does that mean transsexuals and transgendered people are the same? Yes, and no. Transsexuality describes a very specific subset of transgender, which is an “umbrella term” that encompasses many identities, including transsexuals, cross-dressers, the genderqueer, non-binary individuals and those who identify with no gender.
So, while transgender and transsexual seem interchangeable since both center around individuals who feel incongruent with the sex they were born at birth (this sense of oneself as male or female is what is called gender identity), and the NCTE even defines transsexual as an “older term for people whose gender identity is different from their assigned sex at birth who seeks to transition from male to female or female to male” but goes on to say “Many do not prefer this term because it is thought to sound overly clinical,” it is important to note that both definitions of transsexual include a desire to transition, while identifying as transgender, in and of itself, does NOT mean that a person wishes to transition, or live their lives as the opposite sex through pronouns, dress, hormones or surgery, in any way. It simply means a person does not identify with the socially constructed stereotypes that have been assigned to their born-sex. In fact, the idea that trans people want to transition or need to make efforts to pass, i.e. look like their identified gender, is refuted in the trans community. When Bruce Jenner, as Caitlyn, stated in an interview that he thought it was important for trans people to try and pass in order to make others feel more at ease, many in the trans community were extremely upset and called him a transphobe.
One of the subsets of transgender that does not get much mention is cross-dressers. According to GLAAD, “the term cross-dresser is typically used to refer to heterosexual men who occasionally wear clothes, makeup, and accessories culturally associated with women. This activity is a form of gender expression, and not done for entertainment purposes. Cross-dressers do not wish to permanently change their sex or live full-time as women. Replaces the term “transvestite.” The APA adds to this definition that cross-dressing may or may not be tied to “erotic activity”; however, we must consider the word that “cross-dresser” has been chosen to replace: transvestite. Listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual V (DSM-V) as a paraphilia, transvestitism is typically found in males, and means the individual has “intense sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors involving cross-dressing”. In a 2015 survey of over 6,000 trans identified individuals, the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce found that 11% of survey participants were male cross-dressers.
Other paraphilias that bear mentioning are autogynephilia, exhibitionism and voyeurism. If transvestites are hardly mentioned, autogynephiles are like Voldemort: they must never be named. But who are they? Autognyephiles are individuals who are “sexually aroused by thoughts or images of [themselves] as a female”. A quick google search will produce pages of blogs by transgendered individuals and their allies incensed at the thought that people believe such a condition even exists. Yet, it does. Additional paraphilias that are far more common in men than women include exhibitionism and voyeurism. The DSM-V describes exhibitionism “as the exposure of one’s genitals to a stranger, usually with no intention of further sexual activity with the other person… Some exhibitionists are aware of a conscious desire to shock or upset their target; while others fantasize that the target will become sexually aroused by their display”; it describes voyeurism “as psychosexual disorder in which a person derives sexual pleasure and gratification from looking at the naked bodies and genital organs or observing the sexual acts of others. The voyeur is usually hidden from view of others”.
So, follow me for a moment. Transgender individuals want to be able to use the spaces with which they identify. One does not have to want to transition to, or pass as, the opposite sex to be transgender. One can like to dress in women’s clothes for sexual kicks and be transgender. One may have transitioned into a “woman” because it sexually excites them and be transgender. Therefore, a male who looks exactly like a male, and males who are only dressed like women and adopting feminine mannerisms because it turns them on, can ALL call themselves trans and demand access to women’s restrooms, dorm rooms, shelters, locker rooms, prisons etc. Does this sound okay to you?
But how does this remotely relate to voyeurs and exhibitionists you ask? Well, if a man does not even have to bother trying to look like a woman in order to gain access to women’s spaces, what is to stop any male voyeur or exhibitionist from identifying as a woman in order to sit in a women’s steam room or locker-room and get his thrills? By gender identity logic, if he self-identifies as a woman he has as much right to be there as the natal women, and any natal women offended by his boner are just being transphobic and not accepting that some women have penises. Now some of you will say “but no one would say they were trans just to do that”. Why not? It doesn’t require surgery, pronoun changes or even makeup. All he would have to say is that he identifies as a woman, and if you don’t believe him, you’re a TERF! And because genderqueer (also called non-binary) and gender fluid people, those who “who identify as neither entirely male nor entirely female” and those whose gender shifts, also stand beneath the trans umbrella, the man could also claim that he feels neither male nor female or that, because he is gender fluid, he feels like a woman that day. In either case, wouldn’t it be his right to be in female spaces?
The above situation is easily avoidable by saying that all people, regardless of identity, should use the restroom corresponding to their current genitalia. Allowing one’s self-proclaimed gender identity to override biological sex increases the risk for women and girls of encountering males with paraphilias in female-only spaces.
Women are being told to ignore our legitimate safety concerns and just trust that the males who want into our sex-segregated spaces have honorable intentions. This is ridiculous- especially considering that we live in a culture where when a woman is assaulted, she is often blamed for not taking adequate safety precautions. Women, speak up! Do not be bullied into silence, or into believing that a man who may be dressed as a woman strictly for sexual thrills has as much right to be in your locker room as you do. We cannot, and should not even be asked to!, open our dorm/locker/bathroom doors for any male who wants in.
Edit: notice how in the graphic, all but super feminine, brainwashed, “femininity is awesome/empowering/natural/inherent!” women seem to fall under the umbrella. But this has NOTHING to do with adhering to stereotypes, and it’s closed-minded of you to think it does!