Transignorance is not Transphobia
Let me explain. No, there is too much...let me sum up.
Most people in our culture view transsexual and other gender expressions as "freaks", "weird", "ill", whathaveyou. Television has far too frequently portrayed us as such, and let's face it--some of us have not been Our Own Best Representatives. And how many people that do not participate in Queer Community can actually say, "I have a friend who is trans"?
So how are they to understand? How easy is it to assume that the Television is true? How easy to be misinformed? Though biologists have known for years it's not true, we still teach kids that penis = male and vulva = female. If my position is unclear, let me say directly:
THERE IS NOTHING TO FORGIVE WHEN SOMEONE DOES NOT UNDERSTAND WHAT THEY ARE SAYING.
My wonderful aunt L and I had a discussion the other day about things I post on Facebook and how they bother her... she was very disturbed by a joke logo i made at the suggestion of a friend. With the colors of the Trans flag in the background, the bold, all-caps text reads "BOOBS-B-GONE". That really disturbed her and made her uncomfortable. In fact, a few of my female relatives have expressed upset specifically at my work toward top surgery.
I could be wrong, but I get the feeling it is something like "i identify with my breasts" + "i identify you as female, so you should too" = "you're insulting me by wanting them gone." I think because they would be very upset to lose them, they are upset I won't have any anymore. Auntie L, if you read this, please confirm or correct.
If I'm right, that's an example of transignorance: The assumption that despite my statements, I am female because that's what they always thought; and that therefore, I should feel the same toward my body as they do about theirs. Consider the ratio of folks whose sex and gender do/not match and it's a reasonable assumption, just incorrect.
It's possible that as we get to know each other (provided I manage not to act like some self-entitled, whiny moron), her discomfort may cease. It may not, but it's certainly not worth fighting over. After all, it's not as if she said something like these words from Sacramento Shock Jock Arnie States:
ARNIE STATES: If my son, God forbid, if my son put on a pair of high heels, I would probably hit him with one of my shoes. I would throw a shoe at him. Because you know what? Boys don’t wear high heels. And in my house, they definitely don’t wear high heels...You know, my favorite part about hearing these stories about the kids in high school, who the entire high school caters around, lets the boy wear the dress. I look forward to when they go out into society and society beats them down. And they end up in therapy.
So a kid oughta be beaten for being trans. Nice. I don't care if they're 'shock jocks', it's bull to write this off. Late last year, a transwoman named Ruby Molina was killed in their town, and I would hazard this was another aquaintance murder like Angie Zapata or any of many other cases. He may not understand trans issues, but he knows what violence is. Saying things like that, you know someone will be naive enough to take him seriously and think this is acceptable.
*ahem* Anyway, so we have someone who doesn't really accept or understand the identity of another... versus someone who (regardless of whether they were being literal or not) expresses a hope that violence will visit the life of another.
Get the difference? Thanks, Auntie L, for being on the positive side of this spectrum.