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Transphobia (or less commonly cissexism, transprejudice, and trans-misogyny, referring to transphobia directed toward trans women, or trans-misandry, referring to transphobia directed toward trans men) is a range of negative attitudes and feelings towards transsexualism and transsexual or transgender people, based on the expression of their internal gender identity (see Phobia – terms indicating prejudice or class discrimination). Whether intentional or not, transphobia can have severe consequences for the target of the negative attitude. Many trans people also experience homophobia from people who associate their gender identity with homosexuality. Attacking someone on the basis of a perception of their gender identity rather the perception of their sexual orientation is known as "trans bashing", as opposed to "gay bashing".



Transgender activists point to many instances in many of its different forms and manifestations throughout society. Some instances clearly involve violence and extreme malice, while others involve little more than a lack of understanding or experience of the condition, sometimes involving unconscious predisposition based upon various religious edicts or social conventions.[citation needed]

Difficulties encountered by transgender people

Sometimes homeless shelters and prisons have engaged in practices that have a demeaning impact on transwomen, refusing, for example, admission to women's areas and forcing them to sleep and bathe in the presence of men.[1] This situation has been changing in some areas, however. For example, on February 8, 2006, New York City's Department of Homeless Services announced an overhaul of its housing policy with the goal of specifically ending discrimination against transgender people in its shelters.[2]

Notable victims of violent crimes motivated by transphobia include Brandon Teena, Gwen Araujo, Angie Zapata, Nizah Morris, and Lauren Harries.[3]

Transphobia in healthcare

Transgender people depend largely on the medical profession to receive not only hormone replacement therapy, but also vital care. In one case, Robert Eads died of ovarian cancer after being refused treatment by more than two dozen doctors.[4]

Another example of this is the case of Tyra Hunter. Ms. Hunter was involved in an automobile accident, and when rescue workers discovered she was transgender, they backed away and stopped administering treatment. She later died in hospital.[5]

Transphobia in employment

Transphobia also manifests itself in the workplace. Some transsexuals lose their jobs when they begin to transition. A study from Willamette University stated that a transsexual fired for following the recommended course of treatment rarely wins it back through federal or state statutes.[6]

News stories from the San Francisco Chronicle and Associated Press cite a 1999 study by the San Francisco Department of Public Health finding a 70 percent unemployment rate amongst the city's transgender population. On February 18, 1999, the San Francisco Department of Public Health issued the results of a 1997 survey of 392 MTF (male-to-female) and 123 FTM (female-to-male) transgender people, which found that 40 percent of those MTF transgender people surveyed had earned money from full or part-time employment over the preceding six months. For FTMs, the equivalent statistic was 81 percent. The survey also found that 46 percent of MTFs and 57 percent of FTMs reported employment discrimination.[7]

In the hiring process, discrimination may be either open or covert, with employers finding other ostensible reasons not to hire a candidate or just not informing prospective employees at all as to why they are not being hired. Additionally, when an employer fires or otherwise discriminates against a transgender employee, it may be a "mixed motive" case, with the employer openly citing obvious wrongdoing, job performance issues or the like (such as excessive tardiness, for example) while keeping silent in regards to transphobia.[citation needed]

Employment discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression is illegal in some U.S. cities, towns and states. Such discrimination is outlawed by specific legislation in the State of New Jersey and might be in other states (as it is in the states of California, Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, New Mexico and Washington) or city ordinances; additionally, it is covered by case law in some other states. (For example, Massachusetts is covered by cases such as Lie vs. Sky Publishing Co. and Jette vs. Honey Farms.) Several other states and cities prohibit such discrimination in public employment. Sweden and the United Kingdom has also legislated against employment discrimination on the grounds of gender identity. Sometimes, however, employers discriminate against transgender employees in spite of such legal protections.[8]

There is at least one high-profile employment-related court case unfavorable to transgender people. In 2000, the southern U.S. grocery chain Winn-Dixie fired longtime employee Peter Oiler, despite a history of repeatedly earning raises and promotions, after management learned that the married, heterosexual truck driver occasionally cross-dressed off the job. Management argued that this hurt Winn-Dixie's corporate image. The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against Winn-Dixie on behalf of Oiler but a judge dismissed it.[9] The case, however, led to a picket of the company's Jacksonville, Florida, headquarters and a boycott against the company.[citation needed]

Sometimes transgendered people facing employment discrimination turn to sex work to survive,[citation needed] placing them at additional risk of such things as encountering troubles with the law, including arrest and criminal prosecution; enduring workplace violence; and possibly contracting sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV.[7]


Transprejudice is a similar term to transphobia, and refers to the negative valuing, stereotyping, and discriminatory treatment of individuals whose appearance and/or identity does not conform to current social expectations or conventional conceptions of gender.[10]

Transprejudice may be manifested in ways similar to other prejudicial beliefs, such as homophobia or sexual prejudice. As Blumenfeld (1992) suggests, homophobia functions on four distinct, yet interrelated, levels: personal, interpersonal, institutional, and cultural (also referred to as collective or societal).[11] Adapting Blumenfeld’s framework for use with transprejudice, personal transprejudice would refer to an individual’s belief system (prejudices) about transgender and transsexual individuals. Interpersonal transprejudice would be evident when a personal prejudice transforms into discriminatory behavior. Institutional transprejudice would be seen in the ways in which government, business, religious, educational, and professional organizations (e.g., the medical and psychiatric community) systematically discriminate against transgender and transsexual individuals. Finally, cultural transprejudice would refer to the social cognition that influences attitudes toward transgender and transsexual persons.[citation needed]

Transphobia in the lesbian, gay and bisexual community

Some members of the LGBT communities are uncomfortable with transgender individuals and issues. For example, trans women (male-to-female transgender and transsexual people) are sometimes denied entry to women's spaces, an attitude which Transgender activists consider to be transphobic. The Michigan Womyn's Music Festival, for instance, has caused much debate for limiting its attendance to "womyn-born womyn".[12] Kay Brown of (“Transsexual, Transgender and Intersex History” - nomore online) has set forth a long chronology of the ejection of those whom we now know as “transgendered” from gay organizations starting in the 1970s.[13]

Some trans men face ostracism and rejection from lesbian communities they had been part of prior to transition. Journalist Louise Rafkin writes, "There are those who are feeling curiously uncomfortable standing by as friends morph into men. Sometimes there is a generational flavor to this discomfort; many in the over-40 crowd feel particular unease."[14] Trans men were part of the protest at the 2000 Michigan Womyn's Music Festival, "the first time the 'womyn-born womyn only' policy has been used against trannie boys, boydykes, FTM's, Lesbian Avengers and young gender-variant women."[15]

In the early 1970s, conflicts began to emerge due to different syntheses of lesbian, feminist and transgender political movements, particularly in the United States. San Francisco activist and entertainer Beth Elliott became the focus of debate over whether to include transsexual lesbians in the movement, and she was eventually blacklisted by her own movement.[16][17]

Protesters outside the 2010 premiere of Ticked-Off Trannies With Knives for what they considered to be offensive trans portrayals in the camp film.[18]

While many gays and lesbians feel that transgender is simply a name for a part of their own community (i.e. the LGBT community), others actively reject the idea that transgender people are part of their community, seeing them as entirely separate and distinct. Some feel that bisexuality and transgenderism are detrimental to the social and political acceptance of gays and lesbians.[citation needed]

The nature of the terms man and woman also become unclear in a similar way under this philosophy, and many feel that the only real recourse is to accept that the mind and feeling of a person is the only thing that gives that person identity, and so a person that has a female identity and mind is indeed a woman. According to this thinking, it becomes clear that in at least a categorical sense, transgendered people should only be accepted in the gay and lesbian community if they themselves self-identify as gay or lesbian as any other homosexual person does, and the blanket assumption on the part of some gay and lesbian people on the nature of those transgendered people who are in their LGB community with a view to dis-inclusion constitutes an issue of transphobia.[13] The implacability of this question has been overcome by the rise in the 1990s of queer theory and the queer community, which defines queer as embracing all variants of sexual identity, sexual desire, and sexual acts that fall outside normative definitions of heterosexuality; thus a heterosexual man or woman as well as a transgender person of any sex can be included in the category of queer through their own choice.[citation needed]

See also


  1. ^ Beam, Cris (January 2008). Transparent. Harvest Books. ISBN 9780156033770. 
  2. ^ "NYC's Department of Homeless Services Issues a Trans-Affirmative Housing Policy". The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Center. 5 February 2006. Archived from the original on 15 June 2006. Retrieved 6 September 2006. .
  3. ^ "Transsexual to move to 'safer' LA". BBC News. 6 September 2005. ]
  4. ^ "FTM Informational Network". Retrieved 2009-11-24. 
  5. ^ "Victory in Tyra Hunter case". Retrieved 2009-11-24. 
  6. ^ JoAnna McNamara (30 August 1996). "Employment discrimination and the Transsexual". Willamette University. Retrieved 10 September 2006. 
  7. ^ a b The Transgender Community Health Project (18 February 1999). "Sociodemographics". Descriptive Results. HIVInSite. Retrieved 7 September 2006. 
  8. ^ Barbara Findlay, Q.C. (June 1999). "Transgendered people and Employment: An equality analysis". Barbara Findlay Law Office. Retrieved 10 September 2006. 
  9. ^ Ronald L. Wilson (23 October 2000). "Oliver v. Winn-Dixie Complaint". Retrieved 15 October 2011. 
  10. ^ King, M., Webster, B., & Winter, S. (2007). Transprejudice in Hong Kong: Chinese Attitudes Towards Transgenderism and Transgender Civil Rights (under review)
  11. ^ Blumenfeld, W. J. (1992). Homophobia: How We All Pay the Price: Beacon Press.
  12. ^ Taormino, Tristan (13 September 2000). "Trouble in Utopia". The Village Voice.,taormino,18110,24.html. Retrieved 7 September 2006. 
  13. ^ a b Weiss, Jillian Todd. "GL vs. BT: The Archaeology of Biphobia and Transphobia Within the U.S. Gay and Lesbian Community". Retrieved 7 July 2006. 
  14. ^ Rafkin, Louise (June 22, 2003) Straddling Sexes: Young lesbians transitioning into men are shaking the foundation of the lesbian-feminist world. San Francisco Chronicle
  15. ^ Mantilla, Karla (October 1, 2000). Michigan: transgender controversy. Off Our Backs
  16. ^ Henry Rubin (2003). Self-made Men: Identity and Embodiment Among Transsexual Men. Vanderbilt University Press, ISBN 978-0-8265-1435-6
  17. ^ Geri Nettick, Beth Elliot (1996). "Mirrors: Portrait of a Lesbian Transexual." Badboy Books ISBN 978-1-56333-435-1
  18. ^ “Ticked-Off Trannies,” and detractors, take on Tribeca, Edith Honan, Reuters, April 25, 2010; accessed October 5, 2010.

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