Transgenders are bodies that are subject to victimization for gender transgressions. Discrimination against these bodies is prevalent, however underreported. Many studies show that many incidents of transgender violence go unheard of, which is a major issue in today’s society.
In 2011, ‘Dancing with the Stars’ (DWTS) was one of my favourite shows on television. Season 13 featured phenomenal cast members, such as Chaz Bono, Ricki Lake, Kristin Cavallari, Rob Kardashian, Rob Artest, Carson Kressley, and many other famous stars. Chaz Bono on DWTS aroused major controversy with the media because he is a transgender male (FTM). In the picture below, we are able to view the transformation that Chaz went through with a “before-and-after” photo. In the before photo (left), ‘Chastity’ Bono (female) had long hair and more feminine features, whereas the after photo (right) shows the transformation Chaz went through (FTM) where he encompasses more masculine features.
On Fox News online, Keith Ablow (2011) posted a transphobic article ‘Don’t Let Your Kids Watch Chaz Bono on ‘Dancing with the Stars.’’ Ablow refers to Bono as a “transsexual” woman, therefore right from the beginning we can tell that he has no idea what he is talking about in reference to Bono and trans people. Chaz Bono is in fact a transgender male. Ablow continues to refer to Chaz using female pronouns, such as “she” and “her” and humiliate him by saying how he is a “woman who underwent plastic surgery and takes male hormones in an effort to appear to be a man, and who asserts she is a man.” The ways in which Ablow is referring to Chaz is degrading and a form of trans bashing. Ablow is a white, successful man who is ultimately arguing that trans people are confused and that this is an issue that can be fixed if they just get help. Ablow believes that trans people do not have a place on the gender continuum. Keith Ablow’s positionality definitely puts him at the highest level of the hierarchy, whereas Chaz Bono, a transgender male who is clearly at a lower rank on the social scale with limited advantages. Bono steers away from cultural gender roles that are deemed normative. Ablow states that by watching Bono on this TV show, children’s gender dysphoria “is a toxic and unnecessary byproduct of the tragic celebration of transgender surgery.” In psychology, I have learned that transgender individuals do not feel any sort of suffering or pain because of their gender identity, therefore this statement is used solely to humiliate these bodies by arguing that trans people do not exist or have a place in our society or world.
Ablow continues to argue that parents should keep their children from watching any episodes that include Bono as children are at their most vulnerable state. He believes that by making their kids subject to such a horror, it “can erode our children’s evolving sense of self.” Trans people are continuously attacked by the privileged, especially those who are cissexual. By denying their children from watching this TV series, they are reinforcing the stigma that is associated with transgender individuals. Depictions of trans people in the media often perpetuates this violence and reinforces the negatives stereotypes associated with these bodies, such as Ablow’s transphobic article. Due to this stigma, trans people are often victims of physical, sexual and verbal abuse, such as rape, hate speech, and other forms of abuse.
Transgender bodies are constantly being victimized for transgressing against normative gender roles. The law is designed for a cissexual body and as a result, transgender individuals do not possess any form of sexual citizenship. Consequently, this leads to violence against trans bodies in many different spheres of society, such as at school, workforce, in the home, jails, etc. For instance, transgenders in prison are extremely vulnerable, especially when compared to those who are cissexual. Cissexual bodies in prison have many more advantages compared to transgenders. This is an example of cissexual privilege, where the advantages cissexuals possess in prison vastly exceeds the rights possessed by transgenders when in the same environment. An LGBT person in prison encourages an atrocious amount of violence. ‘Just Detention International’ (JDI) recorded studies on abuse in juvenile facilities and “found that kids who reported a non-heterosexual identity had been assaulted at twice the rate of youth detainees overall.” Moreover, other surveys have shown that “adult prisoners have found that gay and transgender inmates are, by far, the most likely to be raped.” These studies show the tremendous amount of vulnerability that is associated with being queer. Cultural hegemonies at stake are those minorities, such as transgenders due to cissexual privilege.
Transgender bodies are victimized solely due to their gender that they identify with. Those with cissexual privilege degrade trans bodies by dehumanizing them, using derogatory names and blaming it on a psychological disorder. For instance, Ablow argues that those who are transgender are experiencing a “journey of a very disordered person who endured, and likely will continue to endure, real suffering based on extraordinarily deep psychological problems.” These issues concerning transgender people are increasingly perpetuating violence, should not be tolerated and must come to an end immediately.
Article on Juvenile Detention International on Vulnerable Inmates:
Article by Ablow on Chaz Bono:
Article on Trans Violence (on Queen’s Library website):
Gender Violence: Transgender Exepriences with Violence and Discrimination by: Lombardi, Wilchins, Priesing and Malouf.