Tuesday, January 5, 2010


There are some things that we can't recognize until someone else points them out to us, even though we live with them every day.

When I was a teenager I discovered feminism and it blew my mind.  I said, "Yes, it's true that people have treated me disrespectfully because I inhabit a female body, and all my life I've heard people saying derogatory things about females."  But I never acknowledged it until I heard someone else (in fact, several someones) say it.

There was no one to say any words to me about transgender, and so it took me many more years to put that into words.  Now I've invented a new word:  transignorance.

Misogyny is when someone looks at a female body and responds with contempt.  Transignorance is when someone looks at someone else and sees only their body.  There is no other gender there.  Transphobia is when someone suspects the existence of transgender/transsexuality in another person and responds with hatred or fear.  If you don't see it, you can't condemn it.

The difference between active prejudice (such as misogyny or transphobia) and transignorance is the difference between: "You're inferior" and "You don't exist."  The key point is that the person who says "You don't exist" is looking right at you at the time.

Afterword:  This was probably inspired by learning of Mary Daly's death yesterday.  I was never able to read anything by her except the Wickedary, mostly because her fondness for capitalizing Words drove me Insane.  I was aware of her problematic attitude towards racial issues; was not aware of her transphobia until today, but I'm not surprised at all.  She seemed to me to be one of those people who could not contend with difference in any positive way.  She spoke powerfully for her people . . . but if you were not one of her people, forget it.  Still, she was a great feminist and even though feminism has its limitations, I honor her for that.

No comments:

Post a Comment