If you don't know what we mean by transgender people in this document, or if you're unfamiliar with the terms used,
Try reading <QueerWiki - Ⓣ Trans People Are Here (Vol. 1)> first!
Is it wrong for women to use women-only spaces? Then, what about transgender women using women-only spaces? In this article, we will learn about the symbols of the transgender community, reflect on various misunderstandings and prejudices that make it difficult for transgender people to live according to their gender identity, and introduces some transgender celebrities.
Raise a Flag and Honor a Friend
Transgender symbols vary, but the two most widely used within the transgender community are the pride flag and the "Transgender Day of Remembrance." The pride flag symbolizes gender identity, and the Day of Remembrance honors friends who have passed before.
💙 Transgender Pride Flag
This flag made of white, pink, and sky blue stripes was created by Monica Helms in 1999. Pink and sky blue are traditionally considered colors for girls and boys. White symbolizes intersex, people in transition, and people with neutral or undefined gender identities.
💙 Transgender Day of Remembrance
Since the first memorial began in 1999 to commemorate Rita Hester, who was killed in a hate crime, events have been held every November 20th to commemorate the victims of transphobic violence. In 2021 at least 375 transgender people were killed, the highest figure since recording began. Direct murder is not the only problem. According to a survey of 278 Korean transgender people, more than 40% had attempted suicide. The name of the 2018 Transgender Day of Remembrance march held by the Trans Liberation Front was <Stop Killing Us, We Want to Live>. For a week before the Day of Remembrance, Transgender Awareness Week is held to bring visibility to transgender people and the issues they face as a community.
Misunderstandings about Transgender People
While true for all sexual minorities, transgender people in particular face severe prejudice and misunderstandings. Let's go through them one by one, from the assumption of what their appearance should be like, to the belief that they can be cured or changed, and furthermore, the fear that the existence of transgender people themselves is dangerous.
💖 A Woman Prettier than an Actual Woman
When thinking of transgender people, the common image is of thick makeup, harsh weight management, surgery, and fancy clothes to create a “prettier than an actual woman” appearance hiding masculinity and creating an existence slightly different from that of a cisgender woman. Only trans women are considered, and especially only the particular types shown in the media. However, just as not all Koreans are K-pop idols, not all transgender people have a specific appearance.
In fact, it is true that transgender people are generally under more pressure to conform to a "gender-appropriate" appearance. This is because they are in a situation where they have to continually "prove" their gender identity amid constant miss-gendering. So some transwomen wear makeup and high heels, and some transmen grow muscles and a beard. However, there are transwomen who choose to ‘escape the corset’ and transmen who wear makeup or give birth. People are diverse, and everyone including non-binary, genderqueer, transmen, and transwomen, pursue different looks depending on their situations and desires.
▲ Gottmik was the first transgender man to participate in "RuPaul's Drag Race", which usually features cismale contestants. Like the cisgender male queens, Gottmik is usually referred to as he/him in his daily life, but she/her in drag. Like cisgender people, transgender people choose their appearance or behavior according to the situation and sometimes cross gender norms.
💖 Subject to Treatment
Some people believe that a gender identity differing from that assigned at birth, being transgender, is a mental illness and should be treated and returned to “normal”. However, many studies have shown that changing one’s gender identity is incredibly difficult, and transitioning, such as by hormone therapy, is the most effective treatment for transgender people, increasing their quality of life and well-being when supporting them to live according to their gender identity. Diagnosis given to transgender people such as "gender identity disorder" and "gender dysphoria" exist not because transgenderism itself is a disease, but to address the distress and discomfort that can accompany a mismatch between assigned sex and experienced gender identity.
💖 Dangerous Invaders
There is a widespread fear that transgender people will invade women's space with their "male body" and attack women. This is based on ignorance and illogical leaps that transgender people are all of one type, transwomen, who are essentially male and will therefore attack women. The case study on the use of women's toilets by a transwoman shared at the beginning of this article also deals with an incident caused by this prejudice.
But transgender people are diverse. If there are transwomen who use women's toilets, there are also transmen who use men's toilets. Some transgender people choose toilets that they won't be kicked out of based on their outward appearance. Some transgender people experience health problems such as UTI’s from restricting water intake and holding back urine so that they don't have to go to the bathroom outside the house.
Contrary to the fear that transgender people will commit crimes, in fact, there are no significant statistics that transgender people commit more crimes than cisgender people. On the other hand, studies show that transgender people are more than four times more likely to suffer violent crime damage than cisgender people.
These People Too!
Hollywood actor Elliot Page recently came out publicly. He referred to himself as a "transgender guy" and explained that trans masculinity was an important part of him, although he considered himself nonbinary and queer.
Lana and Lilly Wachowski, famous for directing and producing films, came out in 2012 and 2016, respectively. In particular, Lilly Wachowski said that their arguably most famous movie series "The Matrix" is a metaphor for the transgender identity, and that the "red pill" that shows the truth in the story symbolizes the red estrogen pill used as hormonal treatment for transwomen in the past. In Korea, singer Ha Ri-soo and actor Cha Se-bin also revealed that they were transgender during their careers.
In this article, we talked about transgender people with different gender identities to their assigned sex. However, when you talk about various gender identities, there is a question that you always hear.
“But you can’t deny your biological sex! It’s just male or female right?”
If you're curious about the answer, look forward to the next episode!