One of the things I write about in my book is that transphobia largely relies on people not knowing, or not thinking they know, any trans people. I make a very good joke about it that you’ll need to buy the book to read. And the same point is made in this report from LGBT Nation, which talks about polling that demonstrates intergroup contact theory. The short version is that if you know trans people, you’re much more likely to oppose hateful anti-trans legislation.
This is why they want to ban books about or by us, and why they want to erase us from public life. Because as the cliché goes, to know us is to love us.
Transphobia is classic fascism: we are the out-group against whom the in-group is mobilised, the outsiders the insiders are told to hate and fear. And to maintain that, you need to maintain the fiction that we are a dangerous, sinister “other”. Knowing us, hearing our stories, seeing us do ordinary things… that’s something to be prevented at all costs.
This week’s right-wing shitefest (or at least, the loudest one so far; I’m writing this on Tuesday) is over the inclusion of Hari Nef (above), a very beautiful trans actress, in the Barbie movie. Her transness isn’t referenced in the movie at all, and there’s no indication as to whether her character – which, it’s important to note, is a plastic doll – is cis or trans. These giant babies are throwing tantrums purely because a trans woman has a job.
It’s very telling that in the photos many of these ludicrous attention-seeking bigots are sharing in their outrage, they frequently point to a completely different, cisgender, actress as they cry “we can always tell!” So far I’ve seen almost all of the film’s cast identified as trans women or trans men, including the very famous and very cisgender actors Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling.