Blog Two: Trans Gender Violence and Trans Misogyny in the media

In her speech, Laverne Cox explains the unique intersectional experience that black transgender women face on a daily basis doing activities such as walking to the subway. A vast majority of trans women face discrimination and mistreatment on a daily basis and Cox’s speech specifically focuses on the intersection of racism, sexism, misogyny and transphobia that occurs when women are catcalled on the street. Part of her speech which I would like to further discuss is the problem with street harassment, violence, and media depiction of trans gender women and why conversations including these topics are important to have.

Misogyny is a societal problem that is rooted in the idea that women and femininity are inferior to men and being a woman automatically places you at less value. This mind-set gives some the idea that violence and harassment whether it be vocal or physical, is acceptable. Trans-misogyny specifically targets women who were assigned male at birth but now identify themselves as women. Trans-misogyny manifests itself in many ways such as how many “violences committed against gender-variant individuals targets individuals on the trans female/feminine spectrum”(Serano). Unfortunately, being a target of violence and discrimination is the reality of many trans women. Trans women risk street harassment and violence 8% of the time compared to cis-gender women and do not have cis-gender privilege. What I mean by this is that that if they were to report this violence, often times police officers will continue the harassment or do little about it (Dylan Finch). In 2010, the National Coalation of anti-violence projects found that out of all murder crimes committed against LGBTQH (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and HIV infected) 44 percent were trans women (Hammer). This is evidence enough to believe that violence and discrimination against trans women is simultaneously anti trans and anti female and understanding trans-misogyny as only anti trans or only anti female is neglecting its intersectional roots. Furthermore, “it can be expected that [any trans woman] will be unfairly interrogated because apparently all trans women are people who provide commercial sex, simply by virtue of walking and being a transgender woman”, which is otherwise known as trans-objectification (Dylan Finch). Trans- objectification is a process in the bodies of trans individuals is reduced to their body parts and others get pre-occupied with medical procedures may have been undertaken (Serano). Laverne Cox in her experience walking to the subway exemplifies trans-objectification on a daily basis. The two men who were harassing her were so caught up in gendering her that they end up objectifying and reducing her to nothing but her external appearance.

The topic of gendering and trans objectification is important when looking at ways trans women are depicted in the media. Julia Serano points out in her piece called “Whipping girl” the two ways trans women are shown on television or in movies. Either trans women are seen as the “deceptive” or the “pathetic”, both of which are incredibly inaccurate depictions as they portray trans gender women as having one goal which is to achieve ultra femininity (10). Simply put, deceivers are those who successfully “pass” as women and others generally see this as a threat, versus the pathetic who claims to be a woman trapped in a mans body and is generally not seen as a threat. The most important part of the way that the media depicts trans women is that it makes the audience believe that the goal of all trans women is to live out some sexual fetish and the way to do this is through appearing ultra-feminine. This view is evidently problematic because those who do not have knowledge on sexuality outside the binary might interpret what they are seeing on television as truth and thus may carry the idea that trans women aren’t real women.

Penny Proud was a trans gender woman who was fatally shot in New Orleans and was the fifth reported trans woman of colour in the United States to be pronounced dead in the past month. Following her death, police misgendered Proud and focused on the area she lived in which neighbours reported to have prostitution. However, this had no direct correlation to the murder (Peck). Another problem arises seeing the way trans women and trans men are ignorantly misgendered in the news. The media is widely consumed that it has such an immense influence on the way people think so by misgendering and victim-blaming it sends a message to the public that trans individuals set themselves up for brutality, thus the trauma they endured is fault of their own. It is crucial that the way trans women are depicted in the media whether it be on television or in the news needs to adjust because it leads to violence, harassment and mistreatment.

Overall, trans women evidently are at a higher risk of harassment just based on their outward appearance and the general stigma that surrounds trans people. Furthermore, it is important to note the intersectional roots of trans misogyny in order to fully understand how to combat systems of oppression. I think for larger changes to occur in society, smaller ones need to start happening. These changes can start in the media seeing as it is one of the largest influences in modern western society. News reporters should start respecting the identity status of those who are trans gender, because mis-gendering only facilitates violence. and hopefully can extend its influence to start changing the mindset of individuals who lack proper knowledge regarding transgender individuals.

Works Cited

Dylan Finch, Sam. “Why Our Conversations About Street Harassment Need To Include Trans Women.” Everyday Feminism. 7 Feb. 2015. Web. 12 Mar. 2015.

Hammer, Ida. “Trans Violence Is Violence Against Women.” On the Issues Magazine. 14 Dec. 2011. Web. 12 Mar. 2015

Peck, Patrice. “Penny Proud Becomes Fifth Transgender Woman of Color Murdered in US in 2015.” BET.com. BET Interactive, 11 Feb. 2015. Web. 12 Mar. 2015.

Serano, Julia. “Trans Misogyny Primer.” Julia Serano. Seal Press. Web. 12 Mar. 2015.

Serano, Julia. “On the outside Looking in.” Whipping Girl: A Transexual Woman on Sexism on the Scapegoating of Femininity. Seal, 2009. Print.

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5 thoughts on “Blog Two: Trans Gender Violence and Trans Misogyny in the media

  1. Feminist12345,

    Really great well-researched, and informative blog. I like that you focused on the media’s failings to accurately represent trans people in the news, especially since so many of them have been the victims of such heinous crimes. I have certainly noticed that a level of victim blaming and misgendering exists in the media. Although it is true that the media has a great influence on how people view the world around them, I think that other institutions also need to seriously restructure the way in which they view and deal with the trans community. The education system, in both Canada and America, should incorporate lessons on gender diversity into their curriculum, so that when children will grow up to be less ignorant about such things. Changes can be made in government, too. Especially in making sure that the rights of the trans community are protected, and that those enacting violence towards the trans community are brought to justice. Can you think of any other ways popular perceptions of the trans community could be changed so that they are met with less prejudice in society? I’d love to hear you thoughts on it.

    Excellent blog!

    Like

  2. I think you are absolutely right and I failed to articulate the importance of the education system in a matter such as this. I think also if more laws were inclusive to trans individuals this can be a start to changes in popular perceptions of trans individuals

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  3. Excellent job, feminist12345! I really appreciated how you explained the different terms you used in your article, as they provided clarity and helped me understand the points you were making. Your article brought to mind an artist based out of Toronto, Pablo Munoz, who said that a lot of times marginalized folk who are considered marginalized in more than one way face racism/homophobia/transphobia, etc, even from marginalized groups. I kept thinking about how Laverne Cox must have faced racism, sexism, and transphobia, even within the communities that she felt a part of. You also make me question other factors that create such a hostile environment for trans women. I agree with bagler902 when he said that education is necessary for improvement, but I also think that community outreach programs can help as well. What do you think?

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  4. I really enjoyed reading this article. I’m a huge fan of Laverne Cox and your commentary on her subway experience was interesting to read. While reading this, I kept thinking about discrimination within marginalized groups. You would expect discrimination to only come from non marginalized groups, but there is a fair amount within the LGBTQIA+ community. I was reminded of this example of a bi POC’s experience at Pride (http://empathizethis.com/stories/prejudice-pride/) I would suggest you check it out, it seems like you guys have a lot of the same opinions and ideas

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  5. Hi feminist12345,

    You chose a very important subject for your blog post, and you handled it very well. I like how you begin with discussing transmisogyny in general before explaining how it is perpetrated by our media. I also like the emphasis you put on intersectionality; I agree that it is something that must be recognized. I have noticed that many people who recognize how misogyny and transphobia tend to operate separately still fail to realize how they come together in the form of transmisogyny.

    You did some good research for your post, and bring up some downright terrifying statistics and facts. Since newscasters often lose public trust and are even fired for delivering false information, do you find it unfair that there are rarely any consequences for misgendering? Especially considering its dangerous effects, do you think that some sort of law should be enacted against it? Is it wishful thinking to demand such a law, given the prevalent transphobia and cissexism in our country? Or could the discussion, at the least, be a step forward to abolishing this prejudice?

    Thank you for the post. I look forward to your next one!

    Like

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