Cisgender Norms Applied to Transpeople: A Rant

So a few things have been mulling around in my head lately and I need to have a little rant to get them off my chest.

Everyone’s least favourite transperson, Caitlyn Jenner, is on record as saying that the hardest thing about being transgender is deciding what dress to wear and that the worst thing a transperson can do is to look like a man in a dress because cisgender folk find it disturbing. Firstly whatever secondly, is she serious? Now normally I try and steer clear of Ms Jenner’s ridiculousness as she does us all a lot of harm with her inanities, but then a friend of mine was bashed on Facebook because he decided to dress in drag on Saturday and his appearance did not meet his critic’s aesthetic standards.

Now all that I can say is that if you believe that the hardest thing about being transgender is deciding what to wear then you are clearly delusional and there really is just so much wrong with the statement that I hardly know where to start. Suffice to say relationships suffer, your mental health can be fragile, work can suffer and of course there are all the issues relating to doubt, dysphoria, fear and a myriad of other issues. I think choosing a frock every morning is rather a small problem.

What concerns me more about Ms Jenner is her idea that there is some sort of universal aesthetic that we need to uphold. Now I do believe that we have a duty to represent ourselves and our community as best we can but that is not the same as saying that we need to meet some sort of standard of appearance especially not because it confuses, offends or otherwise confounds someone else, no matter who they may be.

We are not all blessed with Ms Jenner’s financial resources. Crucially we do not all tread the same path. Some of us are very much part time. Merely wishing to express an element of ourselves to the wider world from time to time.  Others are full timers and of course there is everything in between. Not everyone can express their femininity in a cis-normative fashion. Not everyone has access to wigs, breast forms, shapewear, gaffs, and medical interventions such as hormones or surgery. Not everyone even necessarily wants these things. Some of us have place to store our clothes, others are less lucky. Some of us have smaller feet and find it easy to buy the right shoes and others do not. Some of us are able to get the right clothes (by good luck, good taste or better opportunity). Others less so as we are all learning style, where to get our clothes etc.

In short some of us have to make do and make the best of what they have and that is fine. Ultimately how someone looks is no concern of yours. All that matters is that they express their true selves in a way that is true to themselves. People need to stop shaming people. This is obnoxious but it is especially so when done by a transperson who should know better.

It is time to stop projecting your notions of femininity onto anyone but yourself. This is true whether the object of your scorn is a cis or trans person. Our society seems to think that a woman’s appearance can be criticised, made to conform and is generally fair game. This is in its very essence a highly sexist and misogynistic practice and needs to be stopped for the good of all women whether they be trans or cisgender.

I am far more interested in the way we present ourselves to society in terms of behaviour, respect and what we have to say. There is a massive amount of prejudice out there and it is our duty to show society the many facets of our community. It is true that some of us are fetishists. It is true that others are transexuals. There is certainly nothing wrong with either of these groups but they do not represent the entirety of the transgender spectrum. Far from it. They are a small proportion (arguably at opposite extremes) of the spectrum and in between there lies a mass of interesting, perplexing, loving people. We owe it to each other to educate others about who and what we are. Having the likes of Ms Jenner sprout her sexist right wing claptrap unchallenged is not helpful.

There is no prize for being the ‘Transiest transperson in Transland’. There is a prize for saying and doing the right things for the right reason and that is acceptance. As long as we are seen as people who mimic what women experience and are unable to understand what it is to be a woman; as long as we focus on inconsequential things like clothing choice and ignore real issues that affect us (and indeed ciswomen) then we will find our road a very hard and rocky one. We should all focus on the real prize and work towards that.



Add yours →

  1. Not a rant at all. You make very valid points indeed. I would say that in our presentation we should aim to be both comfortable with who we are and to be the best we can be in every respect. That does not mean being the cat walk model or what ever some think, but to be yourself. Getting out into the public is not for all and those that do generally learn to fine tune things to suit our situations. No different infact to the population in general. As you rightly say how one appears is no one elses business. We are all different.

    Her deciding what to wear is her biggest problem? She badly needs to get a life. If that is the extent of her problems then she is very shallow indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You have it said. If Ms. Jenner had only to worry about what dress to wear, then I guess she has none of the psychological, marriage, parental, and other emotinal issues. Not to mention the fear of some person causing physical harm to us, coming from no where to beat us into the hospital or worse. I suppose that her figure is correct, and her voice is fem. I stopped watching her show after two episodes. I saw to much “me” not enough of support to the trans community in her actions and words. Even my wife brought this up.

    Liked by 1 person

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