There is No Gender Revolution

There is No Such Thing as a Gender Revolution

Transgender people are getting a lot of attention in the media. Everyone is getting more attention in the media, there is way more media! Laverne Cox, Chaz Bono, Danica Rorem, Buck Angel, loads of trans representation and information that never used to be accessible. Some say there is a revolution in our midst, a gender revolution. Trans, non-binary and gender nonconforming identities have been categorized as radicals. To the assuredly cisgendered person, all this talk of gender-changing is an enigma. They don’t believe anyone can change their sex, and they don’t understand gender dysphoria. Perhaps instead of questioning a transgender person’s uncertainty, they should question their own.

Take a step back and ask yourself: how does gender revolt?

In order for something to qualify as a revolution, there are some requirements. When in doubt, Merriam-Webster is a friend, indeed. The first definition is scientific, here is the second definition of revolution:

a: a sudden, radical, or complete change

b: a fundamental change in political organization

especially the overthrow or renunciation of one government or ruler and the substitution of another by the governed

c: activity or movement designed to effect fundamental changes in the socioeconomic situation

d: a fundamental change in the way of thinking about or visualizing something : a change of paradigm

Ok, let’s talk…

A: A sudden, radical or complete change

Compared to the 1950’s, we have experienced radical and complete social change. Women can live alone, travel alone, own property, and get divorced with dramatically less stigma than before. Civil rights happened, racial equality has hope, LGBTQIA rights exist now, and we have many organized social movements dedicated to fighting for a better society. Things are objectively superior to the way they were. The 1950’s happened 58 years ago. In the grand scheme of things, that is fast. In the post-internet age, the age of anxiety, that amount of time is immeasurably miserable. For a trans person, none of this speculation matters, because you’ve been busy being trans.

This is how people feel about Trans bathroom use

Transgender critics often claim that the gender revolution is a movement to be feared. Fear the trans people in the women’s bathrooms; they  are deceptive and motivated to do much more than piss. Fear the transgender students at your school; don’t let them get comfortable, don’t encourage this child’s mental illness. Fear transgender-mania; the world has lost respect for men, there is no natural order,  everyone is changing gender willy-nilly. The only comprehensive explanations of transphobia are fear and ignorance. Fear and ignorance is the lifeblood of American society in the Trump era. He campaigned on fear, he won on fear, and now he governs on fear. When people react to a transgender person negatively, that is an opportunity to correct them. We tell children not to play with their poop: if an adult is playing with their poop, they get sent to the hospital. If it was as socially taboo to ridicule trans people as it is to play with shit, most people would stop ridiculing trans people. Instead, our president-elect mocks disabled reporters, women, trans people and all minorities for sport. His contempt is a lifestyle, born and bred. He will never stop being contemptuous, and he will never apologize for the confidence he gains from contempt.

See how Trans people experience society compared to LGB people

Has there been a radical social change? If there was, would any of this be happening? Some say all of these current events are a response to the changes we have been experiencing. A “backlash”. Given the excess of hate and violence shown towards the LGBTQIA community over length of history, it’s safe to say this is not a black-lash, this is how things are. The changes we have seen have not produced results on the level of a gender revolution. Public opinion on transgender individuals has not changed radically enough to constitute revolution.

b: a fundamental change in political organization

If Trump trumps so trumpily, it is safe to say there has not been a fundamental change in our politics that has signified a true gender revolution. The existence of Trump brand politics is proof that the gender revolution does not exist.

What?

Take a second and consider the millions of voters that hit the box for the cheesey guy from the Apprentice who still does “you’re fired” poses. The millions of voters who insist that Obama put the kids in the cages. The millions of voters that think Peurto Rico didn’t want to do the job for itself. This fanatical fan base is nationalist in nature. Trans critics do not originate exclusively from this crowd of trumpies. Plenty of liberals are terrified of transgender people, and wish their party didn’t include the LGBTQIA agenda.

In order for the gender revolution to exist, Danica Rorem is going to need company. I’d believe that there is a nationalist revolution, perhaps there is a gendered-revolution, but there is certainly no gender revolution. Isolated, embittered angry men seem to be having a revolution of their own. If things were actually fully moved on from the 1950’s, this would not be the political scene. Trumpism is a continuation of nationalist, fascist ideology from the 1930’s and 40’s. When the French revolution overthrew the monarchy, they had a fiery movement behind them that overwhelmed the existing political infrastructure. This is not how things are, instead Trumpism is the fiery movement that overwhelmed the existing infrastructure. MRA’s are having a revolt against feminism, and bystanders are saying that the feminists did it. If the gender revolution is happening, where is the other side? Where are the thousands of trans and non-binary people, storming these conservative republican castles?

There aren’t any angry mobs of trans people because there aren’t enough trans people to constitute a mob. Sorry to say this, trans folk, but there probably will never be enough trans people to constitute an angry, effective mob fit for a revolution. Thats because trans people, as courageous and numerous as modern trans folk are, are a minority. A very oppressed and insignificant minority. If there was ever to be a gender revolution, it would rest in the hands of happy, healthy, loud, talkative and well-adjusted non-binary folk. Trans people do not have the power to influence society on the scale that is being insinuated by critics. They just don’t have the numbers do influence in such a way, and media exposure is not enough to be so influential as to inspire a literal, actual social revolution.

This is not to say that non-binary and gender non-conforming folk do not have struggles. Check out my article on genderqueer identity, it discusses how confusing it can be to sort out your sexuality, your gender identity and your gender expression. Or you can have a laugh at my 10 Signs you Might Be Genderqueer listicle where I grossly generalize the non-binary experience. The average person does not understand the difference between a non-binary person and a transgender person, so non-binary and gender non-conforming folks need help and support the same as anyone who is struggling with gender. Transgender people who seek out medical intervention to help with their transition often have debilitating gender dysphoria, and are at a high risk of unemployment and suicide. Non-binary and gender non-conforming folk experience many of the same issues as transgender people. Each trans individual’s path is unique and comes with its own unique set of challenges. The worst acts of hate and violence, however, have been perpetrated against transgender people of color.

Check out these statistics on trans teens: not exactly huddled masses!

The sexual revolution heavily relies on bisexuality, bi-curiosity, pansexuality and non-conforming sexualities. If there were to be a gender revolution, it would have to be led by intersex, non-binary and gender non-conforming people, not exclusively transgender people. Intersex people are living proof of a third gender, our society needs to acknowledge and respect their existence. There are not enough intersex people, not enough trans people, not enough gender non-conforming people to influence our culture on the level of what could be called a “revolution”. It is the responsibility of the majority to protect such a harmless, burdened and harassed population. Non-binary identities are the key common ground for educating and empowering individuals about gender expression. I suspect there are many individuals who are unaware of how genderqueer they might be. Most people do not strongly identify with any gender in particular, and often just feel like themselves. Trans people are no different, they’re just trying to be themselves.

c: activity or movement designed to effect fundamental changes in the socioeconomic situation

There is more money in the hands of women than there used to be. Still, most of the world’s money is controlled by men, as it always has been. A true gender revolution would mean that men are no longer in control of the world’s wealth. This is highly unlikely, as everything about society has been built around men controlling all the wealth. It would take multiple generations for this gendered financial shift to happen, and it will probably never happen. Providers will always provide, and last I checked, many male-identifying folk identify strongly as a providers. Trans people are some of the most impoverished people. They often face discrimination in their own family, at work, at school, and pretty much everywhere else. Where the heck are they going to get enough money to control society?

I’ve heard conservatives worry that the “gender revolution is a war on men”. If the gender revolution existed, it would never have a war on men as a component of the revolution. Why not? Because some of the people in that revolution identify strongly as men. They love men, they are men, they just want you to let them live. If trans people were engineering a revolution, bent on brainwashing the youth and changing society to be genderless and “anarchic”, like some people suggest, they’re going to need a much different game plan besides love and acceptance. They’re also going to have to stop trying to be men, stop trying to be women, and stop trying to exist in the binary world you are trying to protect. If trans people were truly at war with gender norms, truly at war with men, and truly at war with heteronormative society, they wouldn’t try to be trans. They would instead do all the crazy nonsense people think they are doing. Instead they just try to live, try to stay alive, try to thrive and love and work and laugh. The gender revolution does not exist, but the anti-trans movement does. It has much more support than the so-called “gender revolution”. It has much more money behind it, and it has a lot more people cheering them on.

d: a fundamental change in the way of thinking about or visualizing something : a change of paradigm

Popular opinion about transgender people is still very hot and cold. All of the media representation is raising awareness, but not necessarily changing perceptions. This has resulted in a surge of violence against trans people particularly trans women of color.

Look at the recent update on Trans violence in America

Just because trans people are more represented in the media does not mean that there has been a fundamental change in the way that society views trans people. It simply means that society has chosen to be entertained by trans people, the same way that it has been entertained by people with dwarfism/little people, black people, and other minorities. Exposure and entertainment value are not signs of love and acceptance. While there is more trans acceptance than ever before, there is also heightened awareness. The rhetoric that trans people are attention seeking, mentally ill and a burden on society is louder and more virile than ever before. Media representation does not help dispel attention-seeking associations.

Lastly, I’m going to write another post about gender as a social construct, and address the often misconstrued point that “if gender is a social construct, then trans people don’t exist”. This is a massive misunderstanding of the social gender ideas that are being discussed. It is also the argument equivalent of “I know you are, but what am I!?”, like a five-year old. TBD

Look at how politics affects views on trans people

Defending a trans person does not make you a trans advocate, it makes you a decent human being. Netflix is not pro-transgender “agenda” because they have trans people on their shows, they are a business hiring quality entertainers for their network. The acknowledgment of the existence of transgender people in no way promotes or encourages their lifestyle. Permitting trans bodies in public is not acceptance, its allowance. Amplifying trans voices in politics is not an acceptance of transgender identity and lifestyle, it is allowance. Permitting a trans person walk down the street unbothered is not pro-trans, its pro-human. I wish I could smack the cigarettes out of people’s mouths when they smoke outside of buildings. I don’t, not because I don’t mind smoking, but rather because I acknowledge that their vice is no worse than my own. I acknowledge their humanity, and I understand that its not my place to brazenly disrespect someone on the basis of their lifestyle. Understanding, education and patience are the best ways to heal the divide between trans people and transphobes. Speaking openly about gender identity is the best way to bridge the gap. Finding common ground, identifying with a non-binary person, speaking out when you hear something hateful are great steps everyone should be taking. The trans community is not fostering a revolution, they need our help more than ever. We need to listen to them, lift them up and build a better future.

6 thoughts on “There is No Gender Revolution

  1. Just a reminder that non-binary, genderqueer, and gender non-conforming people are trans by definition. As an nb individual, it hurt a little to be placed outside of trans people, as if my identity were less valid and less marginalized. We deserve to be included in the trans community, and this article actively places us outside that boundary, as if we exist with some sort of privilege that binary trans folk don’t have. Our challenges are different, but no less difficult. You also claim non-binary to be a type of gender expression, when it is most certainly a gender identity. Gender expression means something very different to Gender Identity.

    1. Hi Samson! Thanks for this, I did not intend to place non-binary people outside of this umbrella. I wanted to make an post that focuses on common manifestations of transphobia. I have other posts about gender non-conforming identities. Of course there is a difference between gender identity and gender expression, but the goal of this post was to try to appeal towards those who don’t recognize or respect either. I wrote it in a rage, a quick attempt to respond the more offensive things I hear about trans individuals, not ever intended to exclude non-binary voices. I myself am non-binary, I am going to revise and edit and to make this post more inclusive.

  2. Hi Becky!
    I think this post is excellent and will be pointing people toward it.
    Thank you for visiting and following my blog, I shall be reciprocating. 🙂
    Stay safe.
    Tish

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