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Trans women bear bitter tropes of transphobia

by Nicholas Mazur - Campus Talk Editor
Tue, Feb 13th 2018 06:00 pm
Trans women are common targets of violence. There are many reasons people come after them. Many of the reasons are bred out of irrational fear and stem from ignorance. Despite the strength and endurance of transwomen as a whole, they often suffer horrible humiliations at the hands of many, even law enforcement.
Trans women are common targets of violence. There are many reasons people come after them. Many of the reasons are bred out of irrational fear and stem from ignorance. Despite the strength and endurance of transwomen as a whole, they often suffer horrible humiliations at the hands of many, even law enforcement.

Trans women are a people who get the s**t end of just about every stick. They are downtrodden in uncountable ways. Rejecting masculinity comes at a very high price. In the United States and around the world, they walk with a bright red target on their back. Recently, however, it is Indonesia where we must turn our gaze. It was there that a raid was conducted by police against a group of 12 trans women, and five different salons. According to lgbtqnation.com, the police dragged the women out of the salon, shaved their heads and paraded them around, shouting things like, “Are you still waria [trans women] now?”

The chief of police stated that mothers were coming to him, telling them that their sons were being given free treatment at the spa, and were being “seduced” by the “waria.” It was also reported that pornography was found on the phones of some of the women, and is going to be used against them in court, as it is illegal in that part of Indonesia.

Apparently, the reason this was done has a basis in religion. The police chief himself admitted that their ulama, or Muslim scholars, have decreed that being transgender is a disease. Now, before we dive into a discussion about religion, let’s cut that off right before it starts. There are good believers in the Islamic faith, and there are bad believers. The same goes for Christianity and every other religion. Religion doesn’t make you bad, but sometimes it gives people the excuse to do the evil they wanted to do all along. The issue here is a social one, not a religious one.

I do have to applaud these guys; in their inhuman cruelty, at least they managed to hit all the stereotypically oppressive points; kudos for being thorough guys! What, you may ask, are those points? Well let's talk through them, shall we?

First, and perhaps overlooked at times, is the hair. For many trans women, and for transgender people, physical characteristics can make or break your day to day life. When the whole world tells you you’re one thing, and your body looks like it’s agreeing with them, it can be very difficult to make it through the day. Hair can be especially important to one’s identity, particularly when one does not have access to hormone replacement therapy. It’s easy to grow out your hair or cut it, manipulate it to make you feel more the way that you want it to. Cutting off these women’s hair is taking away something very important, and these men knew it. It was concentration camp-esque humiliation of being shaved systematically by men in uniform.

Then comes the verbal abuse. Publically forcing these women to denounce their womanhood is something very common. Not always publically, but many transphobes hunger deep down in their souls for trans people to admit that they aren’t really trans. It is a rhetoric they repeat to themselves, and try to get trans people to admit with unnatural vehemence. This is something trans people, depending on where they are and their surrounding interactions, can deal with daily. It’s a distinctly horrible form of torture to be told something like that every day, even more so when done publicly. 

This idea of “admitting,” or lying, about your identity bleeds into something else these police officers checked off the transphobia list: the “tricked” maneuver. When people find trans women, and when they find them with men especially, they go right for the “tricked” trick. They will say they didn’t know they were trans, or as the mothers allegedly said, “seduced.” This plays into the pornogrophy on the phones too. People love to have trans women doing sex work, but in the blink of an eye, love to shame them for it just as easily. And, of course, no one wants to get caught with a trans woman, indulging in what they themselves believe to be an evil, they shift as much blame as possible onto the trans women, saying they didn't know they were trans, that they were tricked, beguiled by these evil people. It’s a centuries-old tactic, and its pathetic and cruel.

The last point on this list is, of course, religion. The LGBTQ community faces it most vehement hatred from religious fanatics. Homophobes and transphobes love to invoke some sort of religous right to invoke crusade against LGBTQ people. They think that being transgender or gay or bisexual is a curse or a disease or some such nonsense that God wants cleansed from the earth by any means necessary. This is often the most dangerous aspect of transphobia as it is nigh impossible to argue or rationalize with this type of person. Their beliefs themselves are irrational and come from a combination of their own ignorance and their belief that a religion can justify cruelty.

Trans women have a long way to go before they can expect to be welcomed into the hearts of people unlike themselves. The hatred, malice and ignorance people bear toward them is noted deep in their hearts and mind's. What was done to these women in Indonesia was atrocious and disgusting, but it will not be the last time. Until people accept trans women, until they open up their tiny little minds, this article has no choice but to end on a somber note.

 

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