Transwomen and Discrimination
Safe access to things such as the restroom, place of work, and homes is something that is important for everyone. For those who are cis-gendered, people who identify with the gender assigned to them at birth, these are things that are taken for granted. Transwomen face discrimination for not identifying with the gender assigned to them at birth, and this discrimination can take the form of not being able to participate in sports, not feeling safe using the restroom corresponding to their gender identity, and gender-based violence.
Image is courtesy of ACLU.
According to Coe, there are some who don’t know the difference between sex and gender, and these two concepts are often used interchangeably when referring to an individual’s gender identity. Sex simply refers to the biological and physical characteristics such as chromosomes and reproductive organs. Gender is based on socially constructed characteristics used to identify if someone is more feminine or masculine-presenting. Since these are socially constructed, they are vulnerable to change depending on the society or time period. When others discriminate against transgender people, they often confuse someone’s sex with being equal to their gender identity.
Transwomen face discrimination for being trans as well as misogyny. Transwomen of colour may also face more harm for also being racialized individuals. In 2020 alone, a majority of the violence done to gender non-conforming or transgender people has consisted of Black and Latinx transgender women, according to Hrc.
Transwomen in Sports
Trans women are often excluded from participating in sports under the assumption that they possess an advantage over cis-gender athletes. Earlier last year, Idaho passed the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act,” as mentioned by abcnews, banning all trans women and girls from participating in female league sports, with other states following that same path. There are about 30 states that have suggested or put in place bills that make it impossible for trans women and girls to compete in sports in their academic careers. This marginalization has psychological effects. As well, a Youth Risk Behaviour Survey done by the CD reveals that out of 132,000 students, 27% of those who were trans felt unsafe travelling to or from school, and 35% attempted suicide.
The idea that transwomen may pose a risk to cis-gendered women and girls using the restroom is a common and disrespectful argument used to discriminate against them. The disputes about gendered toilets reinforce the fact that society loves classifying people in order to preserve a damaging framework that stigmatizes individuals who don’t comply with their given gender expression or sexuality.
One example of this is the notion that transwomen are trying to deceive cisgender women and harass them, which enforces stereotypes about transwomen. This harmful conception refuses to acknowledge transwomen as women and insists that since men are more hypersexual than society’s standard of women, transwomen could be a danger to cisgender women in washrooms.
However, this narrative of men being aggressive refuses to hold cisgender men accountable for these same actions in favour of discriminating against transwomen. In doing so, this creates an environment where transwomen are discriminated against by cisgender women in public washrooms. Cisgender women police other women who they suspect to be trans or people who don’t conform to the gender binary as a means to maintain society’s structure.
Article Author: Idil Gure
Article Editors: Stephanie Sahadeo, Victoria Huang