Why are trans men always left out of the conversation?

Why are trans men always left out of the conversation?

Out of sight — As a trans man, I've seen first-hand how male privilege can transform your life. By giving us a platform, we can become valuable allies in the fight against misogyny.

Close your eyes and think of a transgender person. I bet you’re thinking about a trans woman.

Transparent, Orange is the New Black, Butterfly – all the cultural breakthroughs we’ve seen recently place trans women front and centre of the narrative. Media coverage is no different. So why do trans women get all the spotlight while trans men get an occasional flicker, and non-binary trans people are left to scramble in the dark?

There are a few reasons, but the main one is misogyny. In the West, straight white cis men are the kingmakers. Femininity is portrayed as weaker, less-than, embarrassing. It’s why you throw like a girl and cry like a bitch. It’s why men and women alike think nothing of using a female name to imply that a man is somehow less than.

Trans women are a bigger story because we live in a world that thinks it’s understandable you’d want to masculinise. Who wouldn’t want to join the ranks of the best? Go the other way? You must be crazy! Trans women represent more of a visible threat to the patriarchy.

I know that male privilege is real: ever since I transitioned from female to male, I’ve benefited from it first-hand. Thanks to the potency of testosterone, it can be easier for us – at least publicly – to blend with the rest of the world (many call this ‘passing’). From no longer having to worry about being attacked on my way home at night, to being taken seriously when I talk (just because everyone assumes I was born with a penis), life’s a breeze compared to when I was living as female.

But when trans women start living their lives in full view of the public, they go from the top of the totem pole to the very bottom. Not only are they being mistreated for being trans, they encounter the misogynistic abuse that cis women have dealt with their entire lives. To then be attacked by other women who claim to be feminists – as they have been in the media and real life for some time – must be soul destroying.

Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists (TERFs) are one of the best groups at pretending trans men don’t exist, lest it shatters their delusion that all trans people just want access to women-only spaces so we can attack them.

The truth is, attacks on women in bathrooms haven’t risen exponentially since transgender people “became a thing.” Researchers at the Williams Institute, a UCLA School of Law think tank, found no relation between crimes that occur in bathrooms and transgender access. It was the first study of its kind, but it confirmed what we all suspected. There is more credibility to the theory that the moon landings were faked – yet it somehow seems to be the general consensus, and one these so-called feminists are happy to push.

In reality, feminists and trans activists are on the same team. The right-wing political forces that aim to control women’s bodies by denying them access to contraception and abortion, are also the ones fostering hate towards trans women. The TERF fight is a counterproductive one, and one that conveniently ignores the wider trans experience.

So it’s a shame that society isn’t more clued up on trans men. We move in circles that are off-limits to women. The misogyny that hides us in the mainstream can also give us cover. Not only do we get to peak behind the curtain of male privilege, we can, if we want, help to draw it back. The ability of trans men who transition to blend seamlessly into public life should be the way it is for all trans people, but it isn’t.

Do not keep us on the sidelines of this argument. Let us use our anonymity to act like gender ninjas, dismantling the patriarchy from the inside. Help us explain the reality of life as women, while forging a path towards being better men.

Follow Lee Hurley on Twitter.

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