LGBTQ Magazine

On the Cult of Masculinity

By Wildgender @wildgender

by Dianna Dragonetti

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I read the other day a complaint that statements of misandry “inadvertently” target transmen and affiliated transmasculine identities. Let’s be clear: there is nothing “inadvertent” about this. Transmen ARE men and are therefore entitled to male privilege—arguably varying in degree by their alignment with binary “maleness”—allowing them to be justifiably lumped with cismen in such a statement. But this opinion of “inadvertence” does not seem uncommon, especially as held by people outside of the community. I do not think there is enough of an understanding—internally and externally—of transmale or transmasculine privilege.

Though transmen and transmasculine identities (including those who are non-binary, like myself, though this variety complicates definition) exist as a minority, the nature of their oppression is, by and large, not on par with what transwomen and transfeminine identities face. A clear example of this is found in slurs, the three most common (which I need not repeat here) being markedly transmisogynistic. Transmen may have their identities invalidated, which is a facet of systematic abuse, but they are not born into a context that invasively and aggressively questions who they are to the extent that transwomen suffer. Transmen also benefit from passing to an arguably greater extent that transwomen do: while they are rewarded for alignment with traditional “maleness,” transwomen experience no immunity from abuse in their alignment with femininity, the slightest hint of “deviance” posing challenge to acceptance. That said, transmen/transmasculine people have no right to claim oppression under the erroneously generalizing umbrella of “transphobia” when what so often occurs is transmisogyny. Statistics only compound this: in 2012, for example, the NCAVP reported that 53% of Anti-LGBTQ homicides were transwomen, particularly women of color, making them disproportionately the most targeted group for violent crimes; and “in all reported homicides involving transgender people, the victims were women.”

This is worsened by the fact that transmen can—or are socially pressured to—assert themselves as men through misogyny. In the compulsion to conform to toxic masculinity, in order to have their maleness validated—and somewhat understandably, given the imperative faced by all transpeople to pass—transmen may take on the same abusive affectations perpetuated by cismen, further blurring the kinship of oppressive privilege. Even if a transman or transmasculine person does not overtly identify with masculinity, the generalization of oppression is, itself, toxic, for erasing the disproportionate experience of abuses and implying a solidarity that does not exist.

That is why I would suggest that transmen assert their masculinity in more proactive ways: for just one example, by refusing to apply to institutions marked “women’s” (which are often cissexist in their own rights) and rejecting rhetorically TERF invitations into feminist or other women’s spaces. For transmen to remove themselves from these ventures would be to negate their own institutionalized misgendering in a basic sense, and would also discourage the tendency to overstep bounds, to occupy spaces that do not belong to them. Privilege deserves examination, even within minorities, and transmen/transmasculine identities, myself among them, must engage ourselves—through listening and proactive practice—so we will not speak for transwomen/transfeminine identities, but support advocacy that allows them to speak for themselves.

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Dianna Dragonetti is dead and gay. 

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