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The following roadmap is simply based on my personal but informed understanding of transphobia, attached to a model of perpetrator-transformation that I believe resonates and works.
These understandings are informed by radical feminist teachings and take deconstructionist, anti-essentialist, and anti-empiricist views of gender, sex, sexuality, and attraction into account.
He wanted to know two things: ‘was this transphobia, and if so what does he need to do?
’This 101 guide is a summary of our conversation and a basic outline to those questions and these popular ones as well: (1) when does declining a trans woman qualify as transphobia?
You get to establish your comfort and anything that crosses that line is sexual harassment and possibly assault.”What I needed Crush to understand was that he was the sole determinant as to who gets access to his affections: romantic, sexual, or otherwise.
Such that, his reasonings for declining anyone, transphobia or whatever may have you, is always secondary to his personal comfort level at that time, at that moment.
With all my jargon-heavy, ideological and academic biases out the way, we can now dive into the 4 steps for Black men looking to avoid practicing transphobia in their romantic and sexual encounters.
For Crush, this made sense, because as he told me, he once found Laverne Cox physically attractive, because of the way she presents herself, but fought this attraction upon learning that she was trans. Your Comfort Must Be Established, Consent Must Always Be Acquired, and Violence Should Never Be Pursued Now that he had a framework for understanding his preference for feminine presenting people, it was time to lay some ground rules for the non-intellectual part of the task at hand.“No matter what, your comfort level always gets to be legitimated and acknowledged, regardless of your motivations for feeling that way.
It does not wish however to suggest that all or even any trans people should adopt this posture in working or defending themselves against transhobia.
Additionally, I recognize that I do not speak for all trans women, trans people, Black trans people, or trans women of color.
“If someone’s breath stinks, if you are not physically attracted to them, if they have a trash taste in music, by all means turn them down.” “But,” my voice became stern, “if you are otherwise attracted to someone [like in the case of Laverne Cox] and your only impetus for turning them down is their trans identity, then yes, you are being trans discriminatory and transphobic.”I connected this back to my own experiences with internalized transphobia and my point about interrogating our attractions and desires.
I told him how embattled I felt, learning about the ways in which I practiced transphobia, even as a self-proclaimed activist for LGBTQ people.