The Development Of The 'Not Trans Enough' Mentality

A split in concrete to symbolise the split in the trans community from the 'not trans enough' mentality

As we express more and more diversity in what it means to live a trans life, the trans community is in danger of splitting apart, says Toryn Glavin


What is ‘trans enough’? This is a question which seems to be plaguing the trans community right now. We need to constantly be reminded we are trans enough, that we are valid. So why is this question arising? To understand the trans community of today’s Ireland we have to look at the trans community of the past decades and centuries, if there was such a thing. We need to look to a time when trans people faced so much more persecution than they do today, to a time when their simple existence, and their right to be happy, was questioned at every turn. To a world where trans people were considered an affront to mankind, and to God herself.

For the majority of our history we have been seen as other, so it stands to reason that we had to always try to validate ourselves. For generations we have had to fight to be who we are, and unfortunately it was survival of the fittest. Those who could not successfully pass into society’s norms were left behind. The trans woman with facial hair, the trans man with a large chest – these people were seen to be putting everyone else in the trans community at risk and they were relegated.


Origins Of ‘Not Trans Enough’

It’s important to remember that for much of this time the ‘trans community’ was simply a scattered number of individuals struggling alone. Because trans people wanted to fit in, the invalidating of some distant non-passing trans person’s identity didn’t feel like a slight that was ultimately self- destructive. Instead it felt like self-reassurance. In this we can see the genesis of ‘not trans enough’. It did not come from a place that excluded minority identities within the trans community. Instead it came from a place of self-preservation.

Part of the reason we see this issue rearing its head is down to the self-doubt and worry that inevitably comes with being trans in Ireland. The danger of being trans in public has diminished in recent years, but the stigma has not. It is still considered somewhat shameful to be trans and as a result trans people still feel the need to prove themselves. This can unfortunately lead to us erasing others to make ourselves feel better.


Picking On Each Other

One way which this comes back to negatively affect us is when we begin to question and pick on each other. As a straight trans girl I have a lot of assumptions and rules assigned to me within the trans community. I must be stereotypically bitchy. I have it easier because I’m binary. I must only date cis men. I must be overtly feminine. The judgements made by those within our own community can be very damaging.

I am no more or less trans because I am binary and straight. This does not automatically give me a ‘get out of jail free’ card when it comes to persecution and mental health. Just because my identity seems ‘easier’ does not give some within the trans community the right to silence me.

Assumptions may be made about me as a trans woman, but non-binary and gender non- conforming people are also judged. Attempts are made to delegitimise their identities in the name of making others more comfortable. My identity may be entirely binary but I do witness this oppression.


Trans Enough Hierarchy

There has been a worrying trend growing within the trans community towards attempting to establish a hierarchy of oppression. To suggest that there are groups within the trans community who have it easier because of who they are is absolutely wrong.

The trans community is hugely genuine and caring. We love so easily and support each other endlessly, but unfortunately at times we do get caught up in this race to be the most oppressed, and that will cause us issues and bitterness going forward.

One of my greatest wishes for the trans community is that we can unify and move forward together, fighting to ensure the lives of every single one of us improved. I think we are close to achieving this unity. Beyond this, however, we need to strive to move further and continue to remember that our similarities are abundant and they unify us. We need to join together in all our diversity and reassure every single member of
our community. We need to be mindful of those around us, not just our personal struggles.

We are all trans enough.

© 2016 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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