Question: Internalized Transphobia

A reader asks…

Everyone I know has been really accepting towards the fact that I am ftM transsexual, but I think some of them have some internalized, subconsious transphobia. A few of my friends get randomly angry at me when the topic gender comes up, when my voice gets unstable or when I act, in their view, ‘macho’. I find it difficult to talk about this as they do not want to see themselves as remotely transphobic. Should I just drop the topic or is there a way to handle this without calling my friends transphobes?

Please post your response in the comments below.

» Ask Genderfork «

Posted by on April 13th, 2010 at 04:00 pm

Category: questions 8 comments »

8 Responses to “Question: Internalized Transphobia”

  1. Anna


    instead of applying to them something like “transphobe” that sounds identity like, you could call them on the specific transphobic behaviour/phrase/incident they were involved in, as in “this comment you made … is offensive to be because …, people do perceive this as transphobic”

    sidenote, many “normal” ways of behaving like a man are in fact sexist. therefore by behaving like the “average guy”, it is possible to behave in a sexist way. maybe by calling you macho, this is what people wanted to tell you. of course I do not know, I have not been there.

    we live in a sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic, therefore it can be expected that BEHAVE sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic … acknoledging different forms of oppressive behaviour is hopefully a way of dealing with it


  2. epinards

    If I were one of your friends I would definitely want to know what my reactions evoked in you. I don’t think you have a duty to tell anyone, after all it is your life and you can’t go around explaining things to people all the time. But if you feel like you would like to tell them, then I think it would be a great benefit to them. This stuff is really hard to figure out and we all need all the help we can get.


  3. Katie

    There are probably a lot of layers of nuance going on here and I think the best thing for you to do is to be open with your friends. Tell them how you feel and when you think they are acting angrily toward you, maybe say, “when you say/do _____ after my voice breaks, I feel ________” or “can you help me better understand what you mean by macho?”

    Like the first commenter, I want to acknowledge that we live in a world where sexism exists. Is it possible that they are experiencing something you are saying as sexist? Possibly transphobia on their part AND sexism on your part are co-existing at the same time. I’m not sure, of course, since I’m not in this situation. But it seems like open dialogue, approached with a sense of curiosity and respect, is a good way to go. Best wishes!


  4. Cassie

    I might not call them transphobic out right, because I know if I said that to my friends, they’d go off on me in the defensive. I’d definitely bring up that they’re disrespecting you and that it’s hurting you, though. Let them know that the world doesn’t follow a gender binary and you are no exception. It’s up to you, but I wouldn’t want to drop such a topic with my friends. And if they are truly your friends they will understand. If not, you’re better off without them, especially if they’re going to disrespect you at least every time the topic of gender comes up. Even if they can’t understand or empathize, they should at least respect you.


  5. question poster

    I’m pretty sure I have not been acting sexist. And the friends I was speaking of frequently act sexist themselves so I don’t think that would even bother them. Nonetheless, I know I really haven’t been remotely sexist.


  6. Heretofore Anonymous

    The keywords in your post are, “get randomly angry.”

    Also, it sounds like they might have initially thought that, being FTM just means wearing men’s shirts, and calling yourself by a traditionally man’s name. Without actually changing it, or anything else. They may be a little nervous if it seems to be more serious and real.

    I suggest dealing with each “randomly angry” person separately. Maybe by email, so that there can be some thought without pressure on you or them.

    But, generally, in group situations, perhaps you should drop the subject. And consider the real possibility of dropping the “randomly angry” friends, as well.


  7. Corbyn

    Just talk to them! If you don’t communicate with them then they will never know and never understand. Not every one is knows a lot about the trans community and the best way to be supportive whether or not they have friends that are trans. Also every person is different and needs different things during their transition. You need to be able to communicate to your friends in an appropriate non-hateful way in order (if you want them as friends) and explain your feelings explain how what they are saying or implying is hurtful and what would be more appropriate and less offensive to you.
    Not everyone is purposefully offensive and many people don’t have the same emphasis on gender that trans and gender queer people have and so those people don’t often know that what they are saying is offensive. THey will never know if you don’t tell them


  8. question poster

    Heretofore_Anonymous, I think you hit the mark there. They say and think that they’re okay with my being FtM, but they get uncomfortable when they’re confronted with actually seeing me turn into a man.
    Dealing with each individually sounds like the sensible thing to do, yeah. Thanks for that advice.


Leave a Reply

Can I show your picture? If you have a Gravatar associated with this email address, it will be displayed as your photo. If not, I'll just put a picture of a fork next to your comment. Everybody likes forks.

Be nice. Judgmental comments will be quietly deleted and blacklisted. There's plenty of room for those elsewhere on the web.

For legal reasons, you must be age 13 or older to post a comment on Genderfork.

You can use some HTML tags for formatting, e.g. <em>...</em> for emphasis (italics) or <strong>...</strong> for strong emphasis (bold) or <a href="http://(url)">...</a> for links.

Back to top