Naming the Shame Surrounding Trans Women

Janet Mock argues that when we shame men who interact with trans women, we negate trans women, too.

By Aura Bogado Sep 12, 2013

If Mr. Cee’s resignation has proven anything, it’s that many of us continue to base our conversations about trans women on a sense of shame and secrecy–and a troubling, unnecessary urge to pathologize certain attractions. As writer and activist Janet Mock points out in a critical essay today, the conversation about Mr. Cee isn’t one about "soliciting sex from someone he perceived as a trans woman;" it’s about a pervading ideology that questions the mere existence of trans women:

The shame that society attaches to these men, specifically attacking their sexuality and shaming their attraction, directly affects trans women. It affects the way we look at ourselves. It amplifies our body-image issues, our self-esteem, our sense of possibility, of daring for greatness, of aiming for something or somewhere greater. If a young trans woman believes that the only way she can share intimate space with a man is through secret hookups, bootycalls or transaction, she will be led to engage in risky sexual behaviors that make her more vulnerable to criminalization, disease and violence; she will be led to coddle a man who takes out his frustrations about his sexuality on her with his fists; she will be led to question whether she’s worthy enough to protect herself with a condom when a man tells her he loves her; she will be led to believe that she is not worthy of being seen, that being seen heightens her risk of violence therefore she must hide who she is at all costs in order to survive.

You can read Mock’s full post, titled How Society Shames Men Dating Trans Women & How This Affects Our Lives, over on her site,