Awards for Good Allies

Edited by: Oishiki Ganguly

 

Trigger Warning: transphobia, gender essentialism, sexual connotations

 

Disclaimer: This concept is taken from the Instagram account @awardsforgoodboys, run by Shelby Lorman. Shelby is an illustrator and writer who’s authored the book “Awards for Good Boys: Tales of Dating, Double Standards, and Doom”. Her Instagram account is dedicated to “good boys” who expect awards for doing the bare minimum. 

 

“Actually, I am attracted to trans people. But I’d rather sleep with a trans woman who I know is trans rather than one who is posing as a cisgender.” Sir, I promise that trans woman you would sleep with, wouldn’t sleep with you. There are so many things wrong with what this guy in my Facebook comments said to me (beyond just the terrible grammar in “a cisgender”), but let’s first get into his thought process. Because a cishet man who could be prevailed upon to date or (gasp in shock) sleep with a trans woman really seems to think he’s doing them a favour. So let’s acknowledge that, shall we?

 

Ribbon awarded to cishet man on the internet, who dates (sexualises and sleeps with) trans women, even though it’s kind of gross. 

 

Now that we’ve placated this man’s need to be validated for doing something that is--as our dear friend Baloo would say--a bare necessity, let’s move on to peeling back the layers of transphobia built into this statement. First and foremost, trans people are not posing as cis. Them having to do what they can to “pass” is a product of a cisnormative society, something they ultimately cannot be blamed for. Keeping aside the fact that trans people, just like anyone else, do not owe personal information to anybody unless they choose to divulge it, their identity is not a performance for you to judge. They don’t pass or fail as who they are because you have a narrow idea of what it means to be male or female. How confused must this person be when he meets someone outside of the binary? As an agender person, I’m pretty sure I’d give him a stroke. 

 

This conversation was altogether way too long, so I won’t get into all of it, but something else to be noted is the casual switching between “dating” and “sleeping with”. No one is forcing you to sleep with trans people. No one is forcing you to sleep with any people. Having a genital preference is a part of human sexuality that doesn’t label you a TERF, or as I like to call it, transphobic anti-feminist- I’ll get into this in a bit. If you’re dating someone, however, and there is a relationship beyond sex, then it’s not about “posing” (not that it ever was). Saying that you won’t sleep with a person with certain genitals isn’t transphobic. Saying you won’t date or sleep with a trans person, however, is! When it comes to the “nether regions” as the intellectual man in my comments section chose to phrase it, I can assure you that your assumptions about genitals can be wrong. As with any assumptions, they’re just that: unverified guesses based on an incomplete understanding of the situation. 

 

Ribbon awarded to a cis man in your class who said “oh yeah, I knew, it’s cool bro- I mean, sis” when you came out to him.

 

You don’t know who’s trans. But I- No. No, you don’t! I promise. In certain situations, it might seem “clearer” than others, but the fact is that what you see is gender expression. Not identity. The root of this problem is assuming a binary- not everyone who dresses femme is female, and not everyone wearing Axe deodorant is male (though there’s an overwhelming majority). And, surprise surprise, there are other genders! Make your expired “attack helicopter” jokes all you want, but it says more about your masculinity than your friend’s gender when you get offended by them wearing a skirt. This probably doesn’t need to be said, but when someone labels themself with something you don’t understand, it’s not about you! It’s for their comfort and to give them a way to claim space in a society that oppresses them. And no matter how many genderqueer or trans people you know, you do not get to speak for their experiences or excuse your bigotry.

 

Ribbon awarded to cis man (or world-famous author of a children’s book series who shouldn’t be allowed to tweet) who wants to help you by “simplifying” your own point for you, which he can do, because, you know, he’s met at least three trans people.

 

 As you must have seen, J.K. Rowling recently decided to go butterfingers on her twitter and out herself as the most unexpected transphobe of the decade-- for the second time; remember the Maya Forstater incident? She defended her transphobic views by claiming that she was just saying that sex was a real thing, that she wanted to protect the rights of women, and that she was “loved and cared about” trans people. I don’t want to harp on the first two for long, but I will say a couple of things. First, trans people don’t say sex isn’t real. They just say it doesn’t indicate gender, which is a psychosocial identity. Trans people, especially the majority of them who transition physically in one way or another, acknowledge the role and power of biological sex: that’s why they feel dysphoria! The other thing is about “protecting women’s rights” and being a feminist. Rowling got extremely offended when she was called a TERF, comparing it to words like feminazi, bitch, and witch. I was also offended when people called her a TERF, by the way. Not because I don’t think she’s trans-exclusionary, but I don’t think she can call herself a feminist. Saying trans women aren’t women isn’t just stupid because women is in the term, but also because you’re basically admitting to seeing women as walking vaginas. Sounds pretty misogynistic to me!

 

But coming back to the idea of “knowing and loving” trans people. You can’t love someone you don’t respect or support. And you definitely can’t speak over or for someone just because you know them. Your theoretical, incomplete, and biased study of a subject that doesn’t personally impact you doesn’t justify you making judgements about those who really go through what you’re turning into “fun debate”. That would be like cis men telling cis women not to have abortions. And that’s ridiculous. Right? 

 

Ribbon awarded to the closeted transphobes who pretend to be accepting but only “tolerate” trans people as long as they’re not loud enough to cause ripples in their thick bubble of ignorance. 

 

Some things that shouldn’t have to be said: trans people aren’t just their bodies. They can’t be reduced to their genitalia, chromosomes, physical features, or anything. Their existence isn’t an act for you to evaluate; they don’t owe you their passing, their expression, their personal information. They don’t owe you answers to any of the questions you claim to ask out of innocence. They don’t deserve to have their voices silenced because you were never told you were wrong until now. And if it wasn’t clear, you don’t deserve any awards for doing the bare minimum.

 

To all the real allies, we love you, we appreciate you. Thank god you don’t need an award.