Misplaced Oppression

| October 3, 2017 | 0 Comments


It’s a loaded word, right? No matter who you are, something jumped into your head when you read it. Maybe you thought about your own experiences with it; maybe you thought of an anecdote someone told you; maybe you thought about something in the news, or in a book; but you thought about something, because we’ve all seen its ramifications in society, whether personal or not.

My relationship with misogyny–the word and the social phenomenon–is complicated. I’ve certainly experienced it. Seventeen years of being a girl taught me that no matter what you do, there will always be someone or something trying to invalidate you for something as intrinsic as gender.

And in some ways I still experience it. Even after coming out as a trans man, I’m still routinely misgendered and perceived as a woman by the people in my life, and that perception alone is enough to warrant misogynistic responses towards me.

I’ve seen a lot of arguments on the Internet that since trans men identify as men, that they are not subject to misogyny in the way that cis and trans women are, and therefore the term is not something that applies. I appreciate the sentiment: it’s affirming to think that I’m a man now, immune to misogyny from this point onwards because of my identity. But the sad reality is that trans men do experience misogyny when they don’t pass 100% as male, which is the case for most trans men, including myself.

Regardless of how I describe myself, there are (and may always be) people who perceive me as a woman and treat me as such. Instead of denying it, I accept it as misplaced misogyny; as non-passing trans men, we feel the misogynistic societal expectations as acutely as women-identified people do, but it’s validating to say that it’s mistaken, that it’s applied to us when it shouldn’t be.

That line of thinking, however, can become problematic when trans men, having broken away from womanhood, feel removed from or above misogyny. It might be misplaced now, but one of the unique aspects of our identity is that we do know what it feels like to be a woman and be treated poorly for it.

The best thing a trans man can do is to hold onto that feeling and allow himself to feel empathy for those women, cis and trans, experiencing misogyny on a greater scale than him. This empathy, the memory of past pain, can be a great unifier, and we can use it to educate ourselves and other men about how our behavior affects women of all identities.

My experiences with misogyny might have been uncomfortable, even painful, but I don’t want to lose those memories or the perspective it gives me. It’s a cause all trans men can strive towards: don’t forget the prejudice you faced, but use it constructively to support women and educate men.

Our unique experiences might help to bridge the gender gap even a small amount. My pain may be fading as I grow into my new identity, but it certainly wasn’t for nothing.


featured photo credit: Soikkoratamo Ranunculus asiaticus via photopin (license)

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Category: featured, Reflections, Social Activism, The (Sex)es

Charlie Scanlan

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Charlie is a journalism major in the College of Communication.

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