Things transphobes say (no. 2 in a series)

After I wrote my piece on JK Rowling, I started thinking about other things that transphobes say. It didn’t take me long to remember one from my own life that I later discovered was a relatively common reaction from family members or people close to you when you announce your transition or even simply that you’re trans.

“Someone has been influencing you.”

It’s a strange thing to say. Clearly they’re not trying to change your mind. Insulting you is hardly the best opening to a reasoned argument. Or do they even know that they’ve just said you are so weak willed you are easily manipulated into changing your gender and that they know you better than you know yourself?

Political history reveals the purpose behind this odd response. Accusations that outside agitators are influencing the common people is a time worn strategy that has been used by both autocratic and democratic regimes to discredit protest movements that challenge existing power structures. During the civil rights movement in the southern United States, for example, state authorities blamed communist infiltrators for inciting protests. This removed the agency of Black folks and deflected attention away from legitimate anti-racism movements. Autocratic regimes blame mass protest against their abusive governments on foreign influences for the same reason. In recent years Russia, Ukraine, China and Venezuela have all employed this stratagem. (The United States is usually the default country in this context.)

The image of former Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu looking baffled when people started jeering him is a reminder of how those with power over others are prone to self delusion.

The purpose, therefore, is to remove your agency as a trans person. It’s so transparently transphobic that it’s hard to understand why anyone would think it credible. I suspect people who respond in this way are, however, controlling by nature and probably believe what they say. They are like the dictators and autocrats so deluded by their own grandiosity that they refuse to accept that the little people would have any interests that don’t align with theirs.

There are numerous ways transphobes try to discredit trans folks, but their strategies are surprisingly predictable. It’s just the same old lying shit oppressors have used for generations.