Recently, white feminist Laci Green was “red pilled” and has decided to engage with and give a platform to anti-feminist YouTube. This doesn’t surprise me, granted she is incredibly privileged as a white, cisgender, able-bodied woman. However, one of the things she has been doing is having discussions about trans issues without trans people.
In fact, it’s quite common these days for much trans discourse to be dominated by people who have absolutely no idea what they’re talking about: cisgender people.
Especially in a time where there is barely any trans representation, and the most notable trans celebrity is the horrible role model that is Caitlyn Jenner, authenticity is vital when it comes to discussing and representing trans issues. The more accurate and real the information about trans people that is put out into the world, the better. Although I’ve only been able to have a few trans role models to look up to, I would be nowhere as a non-binary person if it wasn’t for them, as they have helped me to understand who I am and how I fit into this complex world. It certainly wasn’t because of a cisgender person that I came to terms with who I am.
My main problem with cisgender people centering themselves in trans conversations is that authenticity is incredibly important. How do you, as a cisgender person, fit into all of this? What do you have to bring to the table? Because as someone who is not transgender, you inherently do not know what it is like being trans. You could be the child of a transgender parent, be dating a trans person, have a trans friend, and be doing gender studies at college, and you would still never know what it is like to be transgender. Thus why would you be in the middle of a conversation that you know nothing about?
In my experience, quite a few cisgender people also have this need to fill every space possible and partake in every conversation about trans issues there is. As someone who spends much of their day to day in these discussions, there never fails to be an ignorant cisgender person in the comments section, taking up space that really isn’t theirs to take up. A lot of the time there tends to be this cisgender savior complex occurring, in which the idea of transgender people being left alone to have these conversations is mortifying to the average cis person. It is often implied that in order for the discussion to progress smoothly and for an enlightening conclusion to be reached, there needs to be a cisgender person to umpire and provide balance. As someone who has been engaging in trans discourse for years, productive and significant exchange of thought surrounding trans issues is only ever really had with other trans people because unlike cis people, we know what we’re talking about.
Furthermore, it is important to note that we have been having these conversations for years. I’m certainly not the first non-binary person to ever have an opinion, and I won’t be the last. Just because in all your cisgender ignorance, you spoke to one transgender person and now you have a million different opinions on issues that don’t affect you, that doesn’t mean that you’re the first one to talk about, for example, reproductive rights for trans people. Your opinion isn’t the most groundbreaking thing to ever grace the earth.
As a cisgender person, you need to always remember that your place in trans discourse is as an ally. You do not speak for us, over us or in place of one of us, because you’ll most likely be taking up space that a trans person would be better suited for. By centering yourself in a discussion that you really have nothing to do with, it’s no wonder that there are so many myths and misconceptions when it comes to trans people. Use your energy and your strive to support us by amplifying and uplifting our voices, where possible and when needed. I can guarantee you that by taking a step back and listening to trans people in these conversations, you’ll learn a lot more than by taking the wheel.