What's in a phrase?: Trans/queerphobia vs. trans/queer hostility



Recently, I encountered a suggestion that the words “trans/ queer hostile” should be used instead of the terms “transphobia” or “homophobia.” The rationalization was that “adding phobic (fear) allows too much compassion space.” I disagree with this rationale. The term “hostile” does not fit as a replacement for transphobia because people literally are fearful of trans people due to their internalized transphobia. We all have transphobia, which is in the messages we constantly receive from the world around us, including our families, the media and so much more. We internalize those received messages that other trans/queer folx, leading to a fear of trans people. The fear is so deeply rooted that we access it through emotions that cover up the fear such as anger, embarrassment, disgust, shame, violence and so much more. The term “hostile” means unfriendly, antagonistic or opposing, which minimizes the realities that we who are trans/nonbinary/ and many more identities experience when we are experiencing transphobia. People who engage in transphobia are beyond being “hostile.” They are literally in fear of being with someone who is trans, being around a trans person, believing that trans people are real and so much more. Their actions are to get rid of us in any way possible: preventing us from accessing health care, medical procedures, name changes, gender marker changes, adopting, accessing a restroom, and procreating; sterilizing us, invalidating us, calling us crazy, institutionalizing us, criminalizing us, killing us, pushing us out of spaces, refusing us housing, jobs, food, shelter, and love; creating laws around us that make it legal to kill a trans person with the defense of “trans panic” that justifies a person’s actions for murdering us, and so much more. Someone with arachnophobia has a fear of spiders and will do anything to not be in the presence of spiders by: avoiding them, killing them, having others get rid of them, ignoring them, pretending they don’t exist, proclaiming that they should not be in the same space with them, and so much more. If you step on someone’s toes and apologize, while it may be unintentional, that does not eliminate the pain inflicted on the other person. Telling the person whose toes you step on to not scream the next time you step on them (i.e. to tell the person how to communicate and express their pain) is the equivalent of what a lot of us (trans/non binary/queer/non cis and many more marginalized identities) experience every single day, when we are tone policed and told how we “should” respond to the pain that is being inflicted on us via transphobic micro/macroaggressions.

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