By: MK Worthington
Julia Serano’s brief article, Trans-misogyny Primer, promotes a dangers and misleading suggestion that the lives and experiences of trans-women are somehow more dangerous and socially unacceptable than those of their trans-men counterparts. While I can agree the lives of trans-women are certainly more highly publicized and sensationalized, trans-men are by no means welcomed unquestioned into the fold as ‘one of the guys.’ Post-operative trans-women are more numerous and tend to be more easily recognized than post-operative trans-men, making them more often vulnerable to harassment and discrimination on a day to day basis, but the trials and tribulations of trans-men are just as real and just as damaging.
In his article, Look! No, Don’t!, Jamison Green relates his experiences as an ‘out’ trans-man, constantly scrutinized and judged based on his rejection of his inherent femininity and his lack of female qualities. With the help of hormone therapy and surgery, trans-men are often better able to blend in and ‘pass’ as ‘real’ men than the majority of trans-women. When they are ‘outed’ however the consequences are just as dire. Homes and jobs are constantly on the line because employers and landlords have the right to take both away if they consider a trans-individual to be somehow problematic.
Of course, all of this relates to post-operative transsexuals. Generally speaking, trans-women have an easier time obtaining access to hormone therapy and surgery than trans-men do. They are more visible, more widely studied, and more accepted as a reality—albeit in a sensationalized manner- than trans-men are. Psychiatrists are less willing to diagnose female-to-male transsexuals or to prescribe hormones for them than they are male-to-female. They excuse their decisions based on the lack of research and the lower number of examples of successful transition cases. Male-to-female experimentation and surgeries have been performed and publicized far more frequently and for a much longer period of time, making the diagnosis and practice more acceptable and the chances of ‘success’ far greater than those of female-to-male patients.
Another point to consider is the consequences of transsexuals getting ‘outed.’ Female-to-male transsexuals have a greater capacity to blend in and pass unnoticed as a male individual post hormone therapy and surgery than most male-to-female transsexuals manage to as women. Male-to-female transsexuals are more often faced with the daily struggle of being recognized as a trans-woman rather than simply as a woman. They are considered pitiable or laughable and this reality is incredibly painful, but trans-women are free to own their trans-identity because they cannot hide it. Trans-men, on the other hand, are constantly fighting to hide their trans-ness. When ‘outed’ as a trans-man they lose credibility as a ‘male’ and are often stigmatized as traitors to the female sex and interlopers in male society. “Polite society” is indulgent of male-to-female transsexuals while suspicious of and hostile toward their female-to-male counterparts.
Ultimately, society is determined to maintain the sex-gender standard and transsexuals all along the spectrum face very real threats and challenges regardless of how they view themselves.