The fallout over Caitlyn Jenner’s controversial comments to Time magazine about “men in dresses” (see two preceding posts here) is growing. Sadly, so is the reinforcement of that particular transphobic stereotype, as even some trans people seem to be defending her and agreeing with the comment.
It is almost as if Jenner and company have raised the bar and are saying: if you are a trans woman but you look anything like a “man in a dress,” you may be making people feel uncomfortable. So, don’t wear dresses. Slink away. Hide yourself . . .
It’s total nonsense, of course, as I have emphasized in my posts here. Dress to please yourself, no one else. If anyone feels uncomfortable around you, that’s their problem, not yours. You cannot please all the people all the time, as the saying goes. The same goes for cisgender women: dress as thou wilt, and disregard the patriarchy and its vision of how you should look.
But there could be a more serious problem now: the message seemingly sent to Time magazine’s readers and being triumphantly echoed by right-wingers around the world may make many people feel it is OK to be uncomfortable around trans women, and to be less than tolerant. As a result, trans women could find themselves subject to open ridicule on the Internet and in public.
And the risk of physical attacks on American trans women is surely higher now than it was before the comments were made public.
Whether you believe Jenner’s comments were taken out of context or not, they are still out there, and trans women may be in more danger today as a result.
So, dear trans sisters, be extra careful out there.
— Jillian Page