Internalised Transphobia

Internalised transphobia. That is not something I have really thought about or considered. It refers to feelings some people have inside them that might not even be aware of with reference to how some people hate a part of themselves and are ashamed of it. It is that thought inside yourself that tells you “You are not a real woman”. 

Why does this happen? It would seem that it is a result of the perspective created by discrimination, ignorance in society against any form of being different. Trans people have been and are a group where it is acceptable to make them the butt of jokes, to make fun of them making them seem “less than, inferior” and an object for derision and sadly violence. By growing up in an environment where this happens on a regular or common basis it is something that one might take in and assimilate whether you believe it or not. It is the natural way of society. It is learnt from people around us before we become self-aware.

Certainly when I was growing up subliminal message are received from teachers and parents when we are really young that any form of gender non conformity is bad. For example, be a man, don’t  be girlish etc… This indoctrination often comes from people of authority, those we are supposed to trust. Parents, teachers, the church.

The trouble then is that if you start to become aware of your own non-conforming feelings, that you are possibly transgender you find out that you belong to a group, a minority that you have already learnt is a group to be mocked, derided and even hated. The result is that you end up hating something which is a part of ourselves, in fact hating our very core. This is internalised transphobia.

People with internalised transphobia feel shame and hate part of themselves resulting in low self-esteem often leading to feeling inferior, embarrassed and unlovable. They start hiding themselves or forging a different identity pretending to be someone else. I did that quite successfully for decades. You end up feeling sad, always unhappy, lonely and often angry; though again you tend to disassociate from those feelings, feeling nothing.

It gets better, the first step is recognising how you feel, that you have internalised transphobia and then step by step with support become accepting and positive about who you are. To learn to like who you are. It takes time to learn to be transphobic. It takes time to undo deeply held beliefs about people who differ from gender norms.

I have been taking those steps and do feel positive about who I am a trans woman. I had not identified that what I had been doing was undoing internalised transphobia. It might have been easier if I had understood it more, I don’t know. It has been interesting looking at my journey through a different perspective.

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