This post is actually the second in a recent Internalized Transphobia post here in Cyrsti’s Condo. Yesterday, we featured Calie’s comment. Today, here is Connie’s:
“Internalized transphobia is within the individual, but it can manifest itself within the transgender community, as well. Especially for those of us who started sensing our dysphorias during the social climate that existed over a half-century ago, there is a deep-seeded notion of guilt and shame associated with our gender identities.
We may have started out thinking that we were the only one in the world who was trans (or whatever label we might have applied to ourselves at the time – for me, borderline insanity). No matter what measures we may have taken toward mitigation over the subsequent years, that notion never really goes away. We can change our appearances, our mannerisms, our voices, and/or our bodies, but we can’t escape that notion of guilt and shame.
I can tamp down my guilt and shame through building my own confidence and self-esteem. I’ve even had a spiritual experience, wherein, I truly believe, it was God’s voice that came to me – saying, “It’s OK; You are OK.” As much as I accept and believe that, however, I have, at times, asked God, “When are you going to let everyone else know it?”
Most cis people spend very little time thinking about their own genders, whereas a trans person can sometimes be obsessed by their own gender identity. I think that could be internalized transphobia, in itself. Through my own transition, I have become less aware of my gender identity. I am certainly more at peace with myself this way, but it is not without some effort that I can achieve it. My own vanity requires much of my effort, although I work on my appearance and presentation more as another vain woman would than I did when I cross dressed. Still, I am reminded in the shower every morning, and in the mirror when I get out, that there is more than just a trace of masculinity that needs to be made as less-evident as possible to others, as well as myself. That comes out of my internalized transphobia and dysphoria, I know, but it is usually easy enough to squelch through a well-developed denial – long enough for me to do the necessary cover-up. Doing so doesn’t bring excitement, as it might have when I was switching gender presentations as the occasion demanded; it’s the necessary evil of which I have come to expect.
When trans people interact, we often see ourselves in each other. Whether that is good or bad depends on many things, but a projection of internalized transphobia, or even the perception of it, can make things challenging. If nothing else, it is difficult to escape the idea of self-gender identity at all when one sees it in another. As much as I like to believe I am accepted as a woman – who happens to be trans – by society,
In general, I can’t get past the feeling of being no more than a trans woman when I am in the presence of another trans woman. The individuality and autonomy I have worked so hard to achieve seems to disappear, and I revert back to a time when my self-confidence was not-so-strong. I wind up comparing myself to her, and then have to remind myself that there is no right way to be trans. I’m no better, and I’m no worse – because we are all just individuals. I know that, but I allow those old feelings of guilt and shame to resurface (to one degree or another). It’s just easier to avoid the problems by avoiding other trans women. Then, of course, there is the guilt-by-association factor, which may be real, but much more powerful through perception. I could tell many stories of how I wanted to make to make it clear that I was not the same as my trans friend, when we were out in public together. Sometimes, I actually did, and it may well be the reason I don’t hear from them anymore.”
I agree with the idea of seeing each other when we meet another transgender person. We are reminded of the journey we took and how the same journey affected the other person. Fairly or not, I am not judging another trans woman (or man) on their looks so much as their attitude. An example would be one of the two people I met years ago who went all the way through genital realignment surgery. One had a I’m better than you edge to her while the other was very nice to the point of not hanging out very much with the cool girl clique. In other words, she exuded a feminine class that some cis women just seem to have. My favorite point is all females don’t necessarily transition into women. Cis or not.
Thanks Connie for the comment.