Why India Willoughby Is Not Representative of Trans People

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Why India Willoughby Is Not Representative of Trans People

When I saw India Willoughby enter the Celebrity Big Brother House #CBB, I thought it would be good for the trans community and help improve attitudes towards trans people. Transgender people have been popular on Big Brother in the past, and India already has a high profile as a news anchor and member of the Loose Women panel.

Oh, I was wrong.

Of course she got attention. But for all the wrong reasons.

I think part of the problem is that India entered the house of Big Brother prematurely. This is what Shane/Courtney emphasized in their talk. I remember embarrassing a lot of people – especially my family – when I transitioned 15 years ago.

But worse, I really damaged my reputation and it will take a long time to fix.

The challenge was that when I transitioned, all the stress of hiding in the closet was released, and finally, I could be the woman I always thought I was. But it’s not easy. Behind me, I don’t have 50 years of experience growing up as a girl/woman. I missed my teenage years, dressing up all night, in tie tops and miniskirts.

I now have to relearn life as a woman and build some memories and experiences, which has been fun but frankly kind of awkward. I also had to unlearn 50 years of behaviors and experiences growing up socialized as a man – it wasn’t easy either.

I immersed myself in the world of women, found new friends who told me when I was doing everything wrong, and started to learn the new social and engagement skills I needed as a woman.

One thing that helped me a lot was going to college to learn about gender shortly after the transition. Going to university meant I could socialize a lot with young people, especially women, and I was also involved in the LGBT community, where I was generally welcomed despite my age. The whole resocialization process took me about 5 years and it wasn’t complete.

There are some experiences that I will never have, simply because I was brought up. I have never experienced the risk of pregnancy, menstruation or fear of sexual abuse. I have never experienced the joys and pains of childbirth and motherhood. I did experience it, though I didn’t appreciate it until I lost it, male privilege.

So I understand why some feminists get upset when trans women yell “I’m a woman.” It’s as if transgender makes them like other women. it doesn’t. But I’m not a man anymore either.

There is no universal experience of being a woman or being a man that goes far beyond the bodies we are born with. The male-female binary is outdated and obsolete. We need to rethink our entire approach to sex and gender, exploring the rich diversity of third-gender options; India Willoughby doesn’t seem to be relishing doing so.

I think the mistake she made was declaring out loud, “I’m a woman” in one breath and, in the next, “I’m a trans woman and an activist.” If you want to be sure you’re a woman, that’s fine. I know women who never even told their husbands that they were born with a male body. Before you speak up – that’s their legal right. It is a criminal offense for anyone to reveal a person’s gender history without permission.

However, if you loudly claim to be trans, don’t be surprised if people see you as different from men or women. India seems to be practically stuck in a gender binary. She sees herself as a woman, not as a trans woman, and if she comes into the house and becomes one of the women, that’s how she’ll be accepted.

Which brings me to the conundrum of sexism. Who even knew the term before #CBB?

I am a trans woman and I am proud to be a trans woman. There are currently only two legal gender options, so I’d prefer to identify as female. Both my driver’s license and passport show me as female. I have a Gender Identification Certificate and my birth certificate shows me as female. So I want to be called with feminine pronouns and titles, and be called Ms., not Mr.

However, my voice is very masculine and I haven’t done much to try to change it. As a result, I was often referred to as male – the wrong gender.

When it happens, I quietly correct the person and we move on. If they continue to do this, I’ll be pissed off and probably correct them more openly. If someone insisted on calling me male, I might take some action because that’s harassment, and it’s really embarrassing.

If given the option to add a third gender marker to my passport and driver’s license, I think I would. It’s a new world, and it’s going to bring some challenges, especially with pronouns. Kate Bornstein came up with the idea of ​​third-gender pronouns ze and hir instead of he/she or he/she — but no one remembers them. Another option is to use the plural pronouns them and their – which can be hard to get used to.

When writing I use plural pronouns to avoid gendered text. My trick for using plural pronouns when addressing people who identify as bisexual or gender-neutral is to think of them as two people in the same body, a male and a female – making it easy to get the pronouns right.

The government is proposing to introduce a third gender marker on UK passports later this year. However, changing laws is relatively easy compared to changing attitudes.

What India has yet to realize is the backlash against her and her beliefs in the #CBB group on Facebook and Twitter. I think most of it is because she positions herself as different from other women while trying to claim to be the same. It also doesn’t help that she can be very rude and aggressive, a quality women particularly dislike.

I’ve been running transgender awareness training sessions since 2005, and I think I’ve seen a steady improvement in attitudes. Well, 80% of my audience is women, but at least I think most women know about trans people. Obviously not. I am appalled at the level of vitriol against trans people that is often expressed by women.

The hostility towards us is obviously much greater than I imagined.

The question of which toilets do transgender people use keeps popping up. This has been a big problem in the U.S., where some states have passed local laws making it illegal for transgender people to use their gender-appropriate toilet.

I don’t think this is really a problem in the UK – but the past few weeks have shown that many people are being persuaded by the horrific anti-trans movement on social media. Then I read an article in India Willoughby telling trans women not to use Ms unless they are transitioning – and transitioning apparently means undergoing genital reconstruction surgery.

1 in 100 people is transgender – currently around 600,000 in the UK. However, fewer than 10,000 have undergone any surgery. Most trans women cross-dress, and whether they pass as women or not, it is not safe for them to use the men’s restroom. In the UK, using the ladies toilet is perfectly legal and accepted by them.

Articles in India incite harassment and hostility towards trans women, especially underachieving trans women. What she seems to be doing is distinguishing between trans women who have undergone surgery and those who have not, which is discriminatory. Her comments about drag queens lead me to believe that she also doesn’t like trans women who underperform, wear too much makeup, or identify as transvestites.

Not everyone is lucky enough to pass the exam; not everyone is obsessed with fitting into the binary, and no matter how we look, we all have the right to live without discrimination, harassment, and victimization, and without having to undergo invasive surgery and hormone therapy.

All trans people are different India – get over it.

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