A phobia is a fear. For instance, I am agoraphobic, sometimes resulting in a panic attack. It happens and I recognize it as a fear-based reaction.

I suppose this is why I have issues with the words transphobia or homophobia (funny, spell check says homophobia is a word, but not transphobia…make of that what you will).  They do not get to the heart of what they are intended to address, which is something more akin to a hatred or disgust often revealed through speech or actions. A transphobe or a homophobe (again, one clears spell check…guess which) would be someone with a fear of trans or gay people, perhaps a fear that they will accidentally sleep with one of us? A fear of waking up one morning gay or trans?

The horror.

No, these words have been coined to serve as a word such as misogyny. Miso- being the Greek root implying hate and/or disgust. And so a misogynist hates women unlike someone who is gynophobic, who fears them (and who may be a misogynist as well, but hate and fear can go together).

It only stands to reason that we apply the proper root word for those who, rather than fear us for being trans, hate us for being that particular brand of Other that often brings out the worst in them. In that trans is a prefix, we can use the suffix form of mis, which is -misia and get

Transmisia – A disgust or hatred for trans people.

While I’m sure we can delve further into roots and further differentiate hatred for trans women or trans men, transmisia will serve as a catchall (and, yes, I tread dangerous ground applying a catchall term for any group of trans people given the inherent desire to reject any trans related word applied without previous consent – I apologize in advance if you are so offended by my creation and application of a new word in the trans lexicon).

However, I will not apologize to the… transmists. I know it’s not as evokative as transphobe, but it is more accurate. I’ll throw a new label at this kind of person if I so choose.

It’s a simple thing, really, to be a transmist. All you need do is give in to that desire to other another group and, deciding amongst the few remaining groups that are still socially acceptable to other, you pick trans people as your targets-du-jour. We are so simple to ridicule after all. We make for easy jokes. Sure, we suffer to a greater degree as a group than  most, but that’s because we are such easy targets, so easily othered. So easy to hate and deride for any number of reasons, which ever suits you best for your particular need.

You may just need us to generate attention to yourself because some book of yours is about to be re-released and no one would notice or care otherwise. But by inciting transmisia in others via your vitriol, you become all the rage on the interwebz. There is no such thing as bad press after all. You know there are enough transmists out there who will buy your book just to spite the hated trans and so you write some hate filled screed and it makes you relevant just when you need to be to sell some books. Hate sells.

Transmists don’t fear us. They don’t suffer from a phobia. They hate us. They enact violence against us, both in word and deed. Fear would give us power where we have none. And, yes, the Other can be a fearful figure, but only insomuch as we are the boogeypeople used to scare children at night (Be good or the trans woman will pee in the stall next to you!) and not because we wield anything more than the power to have internecine battles over nomenclature. We don’t suffer because people are really afraid of us.

We suffer because people are disgusted by us. Because they hate us.

That’s not transphobia. It’s transmisia.

The Inescapable Misgendering

Ah, misgendering. The occasional slip of the pronoun from someone that, as much as I try to deny it matters, does. It happens very rarely from people I don’t know, except on the phone, but not as often there as it used to…my voice improves with practice.

No, the slips mostly come from friends and family. It’s funny, really, because there’s always this moment of embarrassment on their parts because it’s not malicious, they know they’ve erred and I’ve become much more gracious about it because the fact is that no matter how long they know me as a woman, they will always have that knowledge of me as a man and that is their primary knowledge of me. They will always see me in the present lensed through that past version of me and it isn’t so easy as a mental find and replace of all the male pronouns and names for female. The brain is more complicated than a simple word processor.

I was reading Lynn Conway’s site and while it is very dated, there was one bit on how if you transition in place, you will always be seen as you were in some respect (and I’m paraphrasing a great deal). I find this to be true because just about everyone I know, about  every adult I know, I’ve known for many years and I know it’s not even that they see me as a trans woman, but that they see me as they saw me with a variation in presentation. And it’s not that I’m all that different in certain respects, but I am certainly different in others.

And I don’t want to be seen or treated as a variation of Him. That’s not who I am. If anything, I was a variation of Her…of me, but I cannot expect others to understand that at that basic level where they need to make that switch in their minds and keep it switched always and forever because for whatever reason, keeping the switch frozen in the female position is hard work.

I don’t want to explain to them how much it hurts me because if they knew, every slip on their part would make them feel terribly and I believe to the point where they would prefer not to interact with me rather than make me suffer and suffer in kind. So I’m a martyr, right? I take the occasional wrong pronoun with something like a pained smile and good cheer to protect them from feeling their mistakes are a source of pain for me. There’s no winning with this. Merely a stalemate of feeling uncomfortable every now and again.

All the everything of transition will not erase the past if the past stretches far enough back.