Gatekeeping in the trans community is baseless & harmful

The internet allows the LGBTQ+ community to connect more easily than ever before—but not all spaces are as safe as they may seem.

I’ve noticed a wave of users on online platforms, such as Tumblr and Reddit, supporting the “transtrender” idea. Apparently, some people aren’t really trans—they’re just pretending to be for attention.

Transmedicalists, subscribers to this belief, generally claim a person must experience a certain amount of gender dysphoria and express their gender identity in a certain way to qualify as trans. Ironically, this thought process involves similar principles to cisnormativity.

Cisnormativity implies that gender is based solely on biological sex. While this isn’t what transmedicalists are claiming, the fundamental ideas of gender having a strict definition are quite similar. Many transmedicalists, like transphobes, support the idea of a strict gender binary, denying the validity of nonbinary gender identities.

Some trans people conform to traditional gender roles more than others, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But enforcing strict rules for being trans justifies transphobic beliefs, regardless of whether the enforcers are trans themselves.

Others accuse “transtrenders” of taking up resources “real” trans people need, like hormone replacement therapy or transition surgery, believing they don’t deserve these resources because they’re not truly transgender.

The long wait times trans people often face for gender-affirming procedures and treatments are a grave issue—for some, they can be lifesaving. The Women’s College Hospital in Toronto, for example, currently lists wait times of up to two years just for surgery consultations.

However, the factors contributing to these long waiting lists are more complex than simply a large demand for these resources. According to Health Quality Ontario, surgery wait times are based not only on the number of patients waiting to be treated, but on the urgency of the procedure and the available staff and equipment. COVID-19 has made scheduling surgeries in a timely manner particularly difficult.

If there really are people out there choosing to identify as trans because it’s “cool,” I honestly fail to see why this is a problem. Trans visibility has increased in recent years, which I believe has led many people to openly identify as transgender when they otherwise never would’ve.

Personally, I didn’t realize I was trans until several of my friends came out as trans themselves. This isn’t to say I chose to be trans just because everyone else was doing it—rather, having other trans people in my social circle made me understand it’s okay to question my gender identity and to reconsider whether I felt comfortable as a girl.

While there’s still a lot of progress needed in terms of trans acceptance, I think it’s wonderful there’s more opportunity than ever for people to come out in a safe, welcoming space.

If being trans really is trendy, so be it.

Martin is a fourth-year English and Classics student and one of The Journal’s Copy Editors.

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