Opinion — 22 May 2017

By Jennifer Snook @sirjid

By now, trans people have a fair amount of visibility. Most people are aware of our existence. There are even a few trans celebrities, like Laverne Cox, Jen Richards, Lana and Lily Wachowski and (sigh) Caitlyn Jenner.

You may have noticed something about that list, however.

They’re all women.

Now, I’m not going to say it’s a bad thing that trans women are gaining visibility, but it does have an unfortunate side effect.

Many people are unaware that there are different ways of being transgender. Not only are there also trans men, there’s also the diverse aspects of nonbinary people. As much coverage as people like Caitlyn Jenner and Laverne Cox have received, other gender identities are all but ignored.

There are almost no trans men in the public eye.

The few I can think of are Chaz Bono, who is most famous for being the son of Cher and Sonny Bono, Ian Harvie, an actor and comedian, and Aydian Dowling, who’s hot.

It’s not entirely surprising.

Trans women are shocking, while an ingrained belief in male superiority makes trans men seem almost obvious. In fact, according to Freud’s psychosexual development theory, all women secretly want to be men, at least for a time during their childhood.

(Interestingly, I thought the opposite was true. When I was five.) While there are a lot of problems with Freud’s theories, they did affect how people thought of gender for decades.

An even more deeply-held belief is that of the gender binary. Any deviation from it is seen as an invitation of anarchy. However, the concept has led to discomfort, hostility, the mutilation of intersex babies, which is something that deserves its own article, and the ridicule and exclusion of nonbinary people.

It’s not as if the idea is new. Several classic music stars actively defied or ignored gendered conventions: Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, Boy George of Culture Club and David Bowie of… well, probably space. You can’t prove he’s not.

And their legacy is being continued by their modern counterparts. Jaden Smith is well-known for his style, which includes skirts and dresses. Miley Cyrus came out as genderfluid and advocated for LGBTQ rights.

People like Smith and Cyrus, along with agender activists like social media personality Tyler Ford and rapper Angel Haze, are starting to force the country to discuss different gender identities.

I’m happy that there are many successful trans women. I’m proud of the advances we’ve made, both legally and socially, recent developments notwithstanding.

But all the acceptance and equality doesn’t mean anything unless it’s universal. And even though we have a long way to go, it’s important to remember that we have a lot of people standing with us.

Whoever you are, you’re not alone.

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