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Urging Restraint for the Transgender Community

(Dominique Maria Bonessi/WAMU)

“It is not overwhelmingly different than when I, as a gay man, criticize the gay community for taking things too far by, for instance, bringing both borderline and actual nudity to public Pride Parades, especially in places where children are often present.”

Every community, especially those based around identity, finds itself having to deal with its radical or fringe elements at some point. How these communities respond to outlier individuals within their movement can make or break their efforts. In the case of the feminist movememnt, that fring element was exemplified by those who infamously succeeded in getting #KillAllMen to trend on Twitter in 2013. The failure of feminism to address its more fringe elements continues to turn off possible members, even those who share the movement’s goal of gender equality. 

But now, a different community is having similar challenges. Over the past few months, the transgender community—and some of its members who are particularly active on Twitter—are now being defined by near-constant controversy. In many cases, this is a case of the community going “too far.” It is not overwhelmingly different than when I, as a gay man, criticize the gay community for taking things too far, for instance, by bringing both borderline and actual nudity to public Pride Parades, especially in places where children are often present. (Some defenders of this have actually gone on to explain that exposing children to such displays is a good thing). Other examples in the gay community include pushing child drag queens as an acceptable phenomenon, and excommunicating members of its own community for wrongthink. In this brief piece, I intend to point a few areas where the transgender community has been pushing its boundaries and entering territory that is not only excessive but also potentially self-defeating to their own movement. 

In the transgender community, the self-described “global internet personality” and “social justice warrior” Jessica Yanev is certainly an oddity. Very few trans people can claim to have abused the spirit of Canadian human rights laws by filing approximately a dozen human rights complaints against beauty salons that preferred not to perform waxes on her (she still has male genitalia). She’s also described South Asians as “turban f——”, doxxed a YouTuber, and sent nude photographs of herself to an underage girl. But the trans community remains strangely silent about her. Other than Morgane Oger, who wrote an op-ed in The Globe and Mail denouncing Yaniv’s legal charade regarding the waxing, very few trans activists have been quick to criticize Yaniv. 

In August, 2019, the Vancouver Rape Relief & Woman’s Shelter revealed it had been vandalized with a dead rat nailed to the door, along with various graffiti messages on the front windows of the shelter reading, “TRANS POWER” and “KILL TERFS” (TERF is an abbreviation for the term “trans-exclusionary radical feminist”). The anger appears to stem from the fact that this shelter, “limited its services to biological females,” which, according to National Review, was also the reason various Canadian grant-writing organizations had been pressured to revoke funding grants for the shelter. This is an act that the Transgender Community should denounce. For several months prior, Twitter’s transgender community has been outspoken in their hatred of TERFs, with the phrase “punch TERFs” being commonly found in discussions on Twitter, with some even suggesting that TERFs should be “sent to the gulag.” This rhetoric is made even more problematic by the fact that many people who are maligned as “TERFs” do not even fit the label. 

Then, there is a segment of the transgender community that enjoys forcing people, sometimes against their own preferences, to transition. This most recently came to my attention with the case of Twitter user Avie, who had their Twitter account briefly suspended after being mass reported by a wave of angry transgender community members. What had Avie done that angered them so? Well, Avie was cis feminine man who refused to transition genders. For some reason, this angered enough of the transgender community for a mass flagging of Avie’s account and a subsequent temporary ban

The sentiment directed towards Avie isn’t new. Other transgender community members have, independently, shared similar sentiments towards feminine men who refuse to transition. One Twitter user summed their feelings up with, “To the femboys who plague this world: Why don’t you just do gender reassignment surgery?” This type of behavior is known as “pinkpilling” and ranges from encouraging feminine men to become trans, to outright forcing or tricking them into doing so. 

Overall, this isn’t a complete list of all the problematic behaviors within the trans community. They have other problems, namely the same kind of problems that plague all other identity-based communities, such as “cancel culture” and “feelings over facts”-based censorship. Rather, this serves to document a few of the most prominent problems that are exclusive to the transgender community. These issues are likely going to drive potential supporters away in the short-term, and, in the long-term, these issues could mutate and become increasingly more prevalent throughout trans circles. Given that the fight for transgender rights has only just begun to pick up steam as of late, it is important that this movement does not descend into the extreme rhetoric and actions that have driven people away from other pro-equality movements.

Curtis Powell is a student and writer currently based in Sydney, Australia.

2 thoughts on “Urging Restraint for the Transgender Community

  1. This feels incredibly inauthentic…to boil down any community of PEOPLE to a few members of their group (especially when being trans dictates you have exactly one thing in common with another trans person), and act as if those select members are representative of the whole or somehow their responsibility to silence (what is your remedy to control these people by the way…?). That’d be like selecting a white man that’s a murderer and say that all white men need to deal with the problems of committing murder because it’s making the group look bad. Nor do you lend any insight into radical feminist ideology or the stories of how they’ve worked actively to remove trans access to healthcare (which has zero impact on their lives), perpetuated stereotypes and scare tactics that make trans people fear for their lives or using a bathroom, and made a marginalized community’s life infinitely more difficult. Your article serves to document cherry picked stories and further marginalize a group already at a power imbalance without any of the integrity to explore the story in full or offer any balanced insight. You should try to do better in the future if journalism, rather than narrow opinion pieces, is something you strive for.

    1. I understand your criticism, but I have to disagree. I made a distinction between the whole transgender population, the ‘community’, and then it’s fringe elements. At no point did I make an effort to group them all into one large lump.

      As for radical feminist ideology, I think that would be more suited to its own article that explores those issues in depth. I absolutely agree that the activities of TERFs are generally harmful to the transgender population, and I am not looking to defend the bigotry that comes from them.

      Also, while I share your concerns about marginalising the transgender community, it is worth pointing these kind of things out. If these issues are addressed before they can grow and become even bigger issues, then that serves as less fuel for partisan pundits to marginalise them even further. However, if they remain unchecked, they are likely to grow larger and will likely become fuel for bigoted pundits. I made that very clear in my closing paragraph.

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