What’s Really Behind Homophobia And Transphobia?
The person to be wary of is the one who’s the most frightened — frightened of confronting something buried deep within themselves
“No one, in the history of the human race, has ever been angry, without that anger being a direct response to fear. The two things are always directly proportional, anger always a reaction to fear, without exception.” — Louise Carole Sumrell
One of the many serendipitous benefits of trans advocacy is the amazing trans people you end up meeting. While learning how to best support my own trans kid, it seems about monthly that I end up with even more incredible trans folks in my life who I’m proud to call friends. Frequently, from both trans and cis people, I’m told how “lucky” my trans kid is to have me as a parent, but from my perspective, just the reverse is true:
I’m lucky to have my trans teen. I’m lucky I get to be her/their mom (my child was assigned male at birth, but uses both female and non-binary pronouns). I’ve grown as a person more in the 13 years that I’ve been mom to a trans kid than I have in my entire 45 years on this planet.
I haven’t done anything special; I’ve simply loved unconditionally. Isn’t that what all parents should do? Letting go of expectations — gendered or otherwise — and realizing it’s not my job to make a clone of myself, but try to make someone who’s far better? That doesn’t make me any sort of hero. If anything, it makes me a bit embarrassed that it’s taken roughly 30 years to understand the concept of having privilege: cisgender privilege, heterosexual privilege, (“cishet” for short), and white privilege, to name a few.
I was so steeped in cishet, white privilege, I didn’t even know I had it, and certainly, wouldn’t have ever admitted to having any at all. It took having a trans child. It took being forced to experience life through their perspective (albeit through a very small window), to see exactly how many things I’d taken for granted or never even thought about.
Louise is one of those trans people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting — at least online. Through our brief chats, and from just absorbing her writing, I’ve heard the profound, calm, rational life-wisdom she has to offer. Over time, I’ve had the chance to become quite familiar with this type of calm, profound wisdom; it seems to be a spiritual gift that’s common within the trans community.
After knowing all they’ve been through, which often includes a lifetime of shame, guilt, and trauma induced by fearful parents, and reinforced throughout society, one might expect trans people to be bitter towards cis people like myself. Especially those of us who take our life privileges for granted, or flat out deny the existence of them at all.
Yet, I haven’t met a bitter trans person yet. It seems they remain always steady, calm, and unflappable. Even in the face of willful ignorance, overt discrimination, and verbal assault.
It’s no wonder Native American two-spirits are among the most revered members of their tribes, seen as more spiritually gifted than the typical masculine male or feminine female.
Louise is a 60 year old trans woman who grew up in an era when “feminine” boys were not accepted, let alone, tolerated. She describes her gender journey with short, succinct statements. “As a small child,” she explains, “I knew, (just as you know that if you reach your hand up to your face, you will find your nose right in the middle), that I was a girl.”
She vividly describes one memory from her youth which seems to transcend all others. She was very young, and the setting was a Christmas morning where she’d desperately wanted a new baby doll, like the ones her sisters got, but she ended up with a G.I. Joe doll instead. She recounts how, based on her parents’ response, the devastation on her face must’ve been obvious:
She writes openly of her difficult life, from surviving abuse at the hands of her older sisters, to her drug and alcohol addictions that were once her coping mechanisms, to a life of survival sex she was essentially pushed into, all driven by gender dysphoria and her family’s refusal to accept her as she was.
I recently met another badass trans woman, Kira Wertz. In the comments section of a piece I’d written about homophobia, there was a criticism that stood out; it was written from the perspective of someone we could reasonably assume was a TERF (trans exclusionary radical feminist). The first writing of Kira’s that I had the privilege of reading was her response to this TERF.
It was such a good response, so thorough, so perfect, that I was compelled to reach out to her and ask permission to share her comment in a separate piece, one I titled Don’t Mess With Kira. And though I’d already met Louise, she left a response on this piece as well.
With her permission, I’m sharing her response too, because it’s deserving of its own audience:
Thank you for a very thorough refutation of anti-trans extremists.
Since I don’t have a degree beyond high school, Gender dysphoria having caused me to drink my way out of some of the finest colleges and universities on the east coast around forty years ago, allow me to “qualify” myself.
I learned to read, beginning at the age of three, with the help of my older sisters, who, of course, later became school teachers.
By the time I was seven years old, I had read, and re-read, the entire set of World Book encyclopedias that our father procured for me.
I started school at the age of five, and by the time I was 14, had scored a 147 on the Stanford-Benet IQ test.
At age 27, I scored a 99 on the ASVAB, (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery), stoned, having smoked an entire joint in the parking lot, before entering the armory. (99 was the highest possible score, at that time).
I have read, and often re-read, many thousands of textbooks on all of the physical sciences, philosophy, psycology, medicine, and anything that piqued my interest, over the last fifty years.
I consider myself qualified to offer my, considered, opinion.
Homo/Trans-phobic people are, quite simply, terrified.
I’ll simplify my response by using terms limited to homosexuality. One can safely assume that I am including transgender considerations in that overall category.
Do you remember the sex researchers, Dr. Kinsey, and his wife?
They, through exhaustive studies, determined that sexual orientation is best represented, in the general population, by a sliding scale that they represented using the numbers “0” thru “6”. Zero being exclusively heterosexual, six being exclusively homosexual. While his data-collection was criticized, the approximate percentages he derived from the data are overwhelmingly accepted as a reasonable representation.
The results, put simply for the purposes of my response, were that approximately ten percent of the population is exclusively homosexual, in fact, if not in observed social behavior. Another ten percent is exclusively heterosexual. Eighty percent of the population is somewhere in between, meaning that the vast majority of the human race feels sexual attraction to both the opposite sex and the same sex, to varying degrees, depending on the individual who is studied.
An interesting side note…women, in general, are decidedly less motivated by purely sexual concerns. Women absolutely know this. Most men seem not to.
So, we have a majority of the people on Earth being bisexual, in their innermost thoughts, if not in overt behavior.
Human society, from time immemorial, has placed a premium on heterosexual behavior as a biological imperative. The survival of the species depended on it, though, with the overcrowded conditions we now see, we no longer have a need for it.
This biologically reenforced sociological imperative is ingrained in our society.
Effectively, every child is exposed to the constant reenforcement of this “imperative”, from birth.
The problem with this is that, though children are bombarded with the expectation, from multiple directions, to “be” heterosexual, we are, naturally, (80% of us), not fully one or the other. We fall somewhere in between.
The indoctrination we receive leads us to be ashamed and afraid of the homo-erotic desires that are entirely natural. We have been “brainwashed” into believing that those desires are “evil”, “unnatural”, and worthy only of disgust, and in far too many cases, to be “defeated” by any means necessary.
Certain groups, throughout history, have been excused, by necessity, such as ancient armies,naval fleets, and nunnerys, to name a few, but homo-erotic desires and encounters have been shrouded in secrecy and shame.
In military campaigns, with few camp followers being female prostitutes, not to mention the stds inherent in such a system, many soldiers entered into exclusive, monogamous relationships with their fellows, often,(but not always), returning to heterosexual relationships with their wives apon their return.
Forcing a person to confront something within themselves that they had, up until that moment, succeeded in completely repressing, remaining in complete denial of, can light the fuse on a powder-keg, a very short fuse.
In our present society, the pressure to *be* entirely hetero is great.
Many men, and apparently some women, too, are so self-loathing, and ashamed of their own homo-erotic desires, that they’re “triggered” by anything that reminds them of, causes them to even almost think of their own “shameful” desires, raises in them an existential TERROR of confronting their own shame, a fear that they had tucked neatly away, in the recesses of their minds.
These people, with great anger, shout, “Why do you have to shove it in our faces!?” They react violently, internally, and sometimes externally, to being shocked, suddenly confronted with the specter of their most shameful, top secret, desires, the very desires that they struggle to repress. Forcing a person to confront something within themselves that they had, up until that moment, succeeded in completely repressing, remaining in complete denial of, can light the fuse on a powder-keg, a very short fuse.
Any animal, including us, is hard-wired to react to fear with a fight-or-flight reaction. The “fight” response, in this case, is a violent, (internal and/or external), instant action. The “flight” response, a hysterical denial of the offensive desires within them.
Anyone who has a lot of experience with violent situations will tell you that the person to be the most wary of is the one who is the most frightened.
No one, in the history of the human race, has ever been angry, without that anger being a direct response to fear. The two things are always directly proportional, anger always a reaction to fear, without exception.
The hatred expressed by the opponents of LGBTQ rights, is fueled by fear, often hysterical fear.
Overcoming, assuaging that fear, cannot be done by arguing, fighting back, or forcing the issue in any way.
Violence begets more violence.
When LGBTQ people angrily fight back, they are reacting to fear in the same way that their,(perceived), enemy is. The violence will only feed on itself, leading to catastrophe.
I live in Greenville North Carolina, a small town. I have not won the friendship and respect of my friends and neighbors by angrily “educating” them. I’ve not won their good wishes by angrily protesting.
I have come to a mutually loving and respectful relationship with them by first being kind and respectful of them, and upholding and maintaining my dignity with no angry outbursts, no protests or displays of outrage.
I have, from the start, behaved in a kind and respectful manner, a normal person, a friend and neighbor, no different than any other good friend and neighbor.
I’ll admit that it’s taken a few years, but by being consistent and steadfast, if you gave me any trouble these days, some former “rednecks” and “TERFs” would absolutely ruin your day. (No one gives me any trouble, ever, that’s just a way of illustrating my point).
It may seem trite, but it’s an absolute fact,
Peace Love Kindness Respect- the more you give the more you get 😍
😍😘😇. (consistently, resiliently)