Combat transmisogyny and fill the gaps in services to that trans women are supported when facing gender based violence.
What is the challenge?
Transphobia is discrimination of and negative attitudes toward transgender people based on their gender expression. Misogyny is the hatred and denigration of women and characteristics deemed feminine. The central belief is that femininity is considered inferior to masculinity and requires patriarchal protection.
Transmisogyny is the confluence of these: negative attitudes expressed through cultural hate, individual and state violence, and discrimination directed toward trans women and trans and gender non-conforming people on the feminine end of the gender spectrum.
Transmisogyny is deeply entrenched in our culture, and systems such as government, health care, and the criminal justice system are uniquely violent to trans feminine bodies. In short, trans women experience society’s misogyny, but are denied entry into womanhood, and are then punished as transgressive ‘men’.
- Transfeminine people and transfeminine people of colour are at a higher risk of sexual victimization or violence
- Transfeminine people also experience more stigma and discrimination when seeking support with substance use, mental health, crisis centres, shelters, and other health care settings. Research shows that there is often a lack of intervention from staff in situations of harassment.
- Discrimination around gender identity is common in gender segregated health and housing services, and so is discrimination around gender expression. For instance, this may mean requiring to trans women to fit into typical feminine gender expression (“cis-passing”).
- The exclusion of masculinity, or traits seen as masculine, marginalizes trans women. Even spaces for “women & non-binary folk” or “women and gender diverse people” imply that those who are seen as masculine are not welcome. This makes these spaces unsafe for trans men who ‘pass’ as cis men, nonbinary people who were assigned male at birth, and trans women.
- In a cruel irony, trans women who are visibly trans are more likely to experience harassment, discrimination, and transphobia, leading them to be more in need of support services AND to come up against more barriers in accessing them
WHAT NEEDS TO HAPPEN:
Societal assumptions and stereotypes that frame transfeminine people as suspicious, deceptive, violent, oversexualized, or other negative traits need to be combatted and destroyed. Efforts to combat gender-based violence, and access to safe spaces, must be based on behaviours and actions, not physical traits.
We call on the government and our community to increase an awareness and understanding of trans issues, barriers and challenges, to identify the gaps in service for trans women who are escaping violence (including access to shelter’s women’s centres, counselling and other resources) and work with partners to fill these gaps so that transfeminine folks can access they supports they need.
WHAT CAN YOU DO:
- If you provide services or spaces for women, make sure that they aren’t only open to trans women on the condition that they are “cis-passing”, as this is not something all trans women want or can achieve, nor should it be. Hair, genitalia, body types, vocal pitch, etc. are not inherently gendered traits.
- Learn the history of the trans women of colour who started the Gay Rights movement of the 60s, and the ways that transfeminine people have been pushed out of Gay/Lesbian and feminist spaces. Be bold in your support and allyship to the trans community and push back against “both-sidesing” or false equivalences that allow misinformation to spread.
- Support the decriminalization of sex work and safe working conditions for sex workers. Employment discrimination and other social factors often lead transgender individuals to sex work as means of survival.
- Build understandings of community safety and gender-based violence prevention that do not rely on or reinforce policing and prisons. Because transgender people, particularly transgender women of color and undocumented transgender immigrants, are disproportionately represented among individuals engaged in sex work, they are frequent targets of laws criminalizing prostitution and related offenses. Prisons and policing are sites of gender-based violence against people of all genders, but because transfeminine people are often pushed into more criminalized survival strategies, because of the way transfeminine people are treated with suspicion and contempt due to transmisogyny, and because of the gender-segregated nature of prisons, trans women experience prison and police violence disproportionately.