Participants often discussed the need for support in navigating governmental institutions. They also cited the need for a database of businesses and employers that welcome transgender women.
Even if it were true that a biological male cannot know what it is like to be female, this is not a compelling argument for excluding transgender people from gender recognition procedures.
The most famous trans woman deceiver is probably Dil in the movie The Crying Game. She feminizes herself to impress a boy she’s courting, but when he discovers the truth, he slaps her and runs out of the room.
The deceiving trope in general is often used to slam cis women, particularly feminists, who are accused of trying to impose their views of femininity on others through superficial means. But trans women are also asked to prove their femininity, a claim that has its own fetishizing potential.
For example, a character named Reese in Torrey Peters’s vivacious comic novel, Detransition, Baby, announces her plan to “detransition, then have the baby,” a strategy that satirizes both straight and queer orthodoxy. Reese’s gender-play plot is not the first alternative family structure to appear in literary fiction, but it does bring transgender concerns into the realm of bourgeois domesticity. That’s something many cis readers may not like. But for the trans community, it’s necessary.
For Raymond, trans women who wear feminine attire and act like stereotypical women are merely masks or costumes. They do not become real women because femininity is artificial and a product of patriarchal culture. Raymond also ignores trans men in her argument, focusing almost exclusively on trans women and treating them as tokens.
A pathetic trans woman barely resembles a woman and is often played for laughs, such as John Lithgow’s Oscar-nominated portrayal of ex-football player Roberta Muldoon in The World According to Garp or Terence Stamp as Bernadette in 1994’s The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. In contrast, pop culture portrayals of trans women in their most feminine form are often fetishistic and sexualized, such as the opening scene in the movie Normal, which shows bras and panties hanging on a backyard clothesline.
This fetishistic depiction of a female body and identity is especially harmful because it reinforces the idea that only biological women are “real” women and that transition is not necessary to become a real woman. As a result, it encourages cisgender people to discriminate against trans women.
The “biological male”
A trans woman can be a biological male, but they still think and feel like a woman. As the National Center for Transgender Equality points out, it’s very important to remember that gender is a social construct and it’s possible to live as one sex and identify as another without transitioning medically.
Medical transition is often the goal for transgender people to relieve gender dysphoria. Getting hormones, having desired surgeries and using pronouns that align with the person’s affirmed gender are part of that process.
Some transgender women may not have a uterus and are unable to bear children. This does not make them lesser women, nor should it be seen as a reason to deny them access to abortion or birth control services. These people are also not necessarily attracted to men and this does not make them less feminine. These people may use the terms MtF, FtM or X to Y to describe themselves.
A trans woman who has legally changed her gender with a Gender Recognition Certificate is not a fake. However, many trans people do not feel comfortable with language that suggests that their biological identity is a fake. This is especially true for Black trans women, who face higher rates of anti-LGBTQ violence.
The term fake has also been used to describe people who have a “female” identity but not biologically female. This can be a problem because it threatens the concept of what a woman is, which includes a uterus, ovaries and vagina.
It is important to remember that gender identity is not the same as sexual orientation, which refers to one’s enduring emotional, romantic or sexual attraction to other people. A trans woman may be attracted to women, men or neither. Nevertheless, she is not a lesbian because her orientation does not correspond to the sex assigned at birth. This is an important distinction because it helps to distinguish between those who are cisgender and those who are transgender.