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Transmisogyny

Transmisogyny Education

Content Warning

Transmisogyny can also be written as trans misogyny and trans-misogyny. As a content warning, this resource page will talk about sensitive topics that may make the reader uncomfortable depending on each reader’s lived experience. Transphobia, misogyny, violence, trans deaths, incarceration, and police brutality will be addressed. 


In addition, we wanted to make a note about the word “transitioning.” Our LGBTQ+ Glossary defines transitioning as “taking one’s internal gender identity and outwardly expressing it in their life.” There are a few aspects to transitioning: social, emotional, and/or medical. However, we recognize that transitioning may look different for each trans person. Each person’s transition is valid, regardless of whether they choose to transition in some or none of the previous aspects.

What is transmisogyny?

Transmisogyny describes the intersecting oppressions and discriminations of transphobia and misogyny (Sojka 2017). Transphobia is the discrimination and oppression of trans people for their gender expression. Misogyny is the hatred and devaluation of women and of femininity (Kacere 2018). Transmisogyny primarily affects trans women and transfeminine people (Sojka 2017). However, it also affects trans and nonbinary folks who may be perceived as feminine (Kacere 2018). Thus, transmisogyny works to portray trans women and transfeminine people as less than, questions and devalues their gender identity, and sexualizes their femininity (Sojka 2017). 

 

Transmisogyny was coined by Julia Serano, author of Whipping Girl and trans activist (Sojka 2017). Serano proposes that transmisogyny is based on the assumption that femininity is worth less than masculinity, and that femaleness exists in the service of maleness (Serano 2017). By coining transmisogyny, Serano recognizes intersectionality. While transphobia and misogyny impact many people’s lives, these oppressions compound and join together. Thus, someone who holds both the identity of trans and womanhood/femininity is affected by these oppressions simultaneously. By understanding this intersection, people can better understand the origins and the effects of transmisogyny. 


Examples of Transmisogyny:

Transmisogyny can manifest in a variety of ways. The following is a non-comprehensive list:

  • A trans woman wearing a dress or make up may be ridiculed on the street by an onlooker. They maymisgender or deadname her (transphobia), as well as comment negatively on her feminine clothing or makeup (misogyny).
  • In a movie , jokes may be made to disparage a trans woman’s desire to be feminine. This does not respect the trans woman’s gender identity (transphobia) and portrays femininity as undesirable (misogyny).
  • A media representation of a trans woman may be overtly sexual, or portray her desire to transition as sexual. This questions her process and reasoning in transitioning (transphobia). This devalues womanhood, by defining its purpose as sexual (misogyny). 
  • A trans woman/femme may be more likely to experience violence than a trans man/masc. The violence is in response to both the person’s gender expression (transphobia) and the devaluation of their womanhood (misogyny). 
  • A feminine boy is more likely to be brought in for psychotherapy or counseling than a masculine girl. This devalues femininity, as femininity is seen as “less” in comparison to masculinity (misogyny). In addition, there is the fear of a feminine boy wanting to transition or expressing their gender expression (transphobia).


 

What is transmisogynoir?

Transmisogynoir is similar to transmisogyny, but with an added identity. Transmisogynoir highlights the intersection between transphobia, misogyny, and anti-Blackness. The term was coined by the writer Trudy. It stems from the term “misogynoir.” Misogynoir emphasizes the intersections of misogyny and anti-Blackness, particularly towards Black cis women . This term was coined by Moya Bailey. 

The effects of transmisogynoir are most apparent in the statistics of violence committed against Black trans women, as outlined in the next section.


 

Violence

Content Warning: Violence, trans murder, police brutality

Transmisogyny is an underlying cause of violence, both on an individual level and on a state level. On the individual level, transmisogyny manifests itself in the disproportionately high rates of murder of trans women (Kacere 2018). Trans women are seen as “less than,” both because of their gender identity as women (misogyny) and their identity as a trans person (transphobia). The intersection of these oppressions leads to the devaluation of trans women’s lives by the people that choose to take their lives. This is particularly harmful for trans women of color. Since 2013, 78% of of trans deaths are transgender women of color. Furthermore, Black trans and gender non-conforming individuals are disproportionately represented, with their deaths making up 66% of all victims of total violence. Trans women of color and Black trans and gender non-conforming individuals are affected by racism and/or anti-Blackness. Transmisogynoir is clearly a threat to Black trans people’s safety, and its effects are clearly shown through these high rates of violence. On the state level, transmisogyny is apparent through the disproportionately high rates of incarceration and incidents of police brutality for trans women. Twenty-one percent of trans women have been incarcerated at one point in their life (Kacere 2018). These rates are higher than the average. Due to transmisogyny, trans women are seen as criminal and artificial (Serano 2007). This leads to disproportionately high rates of incarceration. Furthermore, for Black transgender people, this rate is forty-seven percent (Kacere 2018). This is due to the transmisogyny and transmisogynoir that is especially apparent in the criminal justice system. These high rates of incarceration are harsh statistics, especially considering that transgender people in the U.S. experience police brutality three times more than cisgender people (Kacere 2018). The lives of transgender women are incredibly important and valuable. Their devaluation, both as trans individuals and as women, is due to transmisogyny. Trans women, particularly Black trans women, experience violence as a result of transmisogyny. 


Sexualization

Content Warning: Interpersonal Violence, Transphobia, Sexualization, Misogyny

As a result of transmisogyny, trans women are often oversexualized. This is shown in a couple of ways. First, trans women are sexualized and fetishized in media (Serano 2007). For example, many trans women are portrayed as sex workers on television. Their bodies are leered at or viewed as exotic (or a rare object that is desirable). Thus, the focus is not on trans women’s characters, but on their bodies. This has further consequences- trans women are targeted and arrested for sex work (Kacere 2018). Second, trans women are catcalled or questioned about their bodies (Serano 2007). Both the catcalling and questioning are highly inappropriate. Catcalling leverages power against the person being catcalled (Serano 2007). Questions towards trans women’s bodies are incredibly invasive, and would be considered unacceptable to ask a cisgender woman. These instances of sexualization are, in part, because of transmisogyny. Trans women’s motives for transitioning are questioned. This is based on the false, transphobic idea that trans women transition because of their desire to attract men. This invalidates trans women’s reasons to transition and ignores their felt sense of gender. In addition, misogyny implies that a woman’s only purpose is to be sexual, and that this should be in the service of men (Serano  2007). Thus, transmisogyny encourages sexualization. The sexualization of trans women is harmful and due, in part, to transmisogyny. 

Why is it important for the UCSB Campus Community to be aware of transmisogyny, transmisogynoir, and misogynoir?

The systemic issues of transmisogyny, transmisogynoir, and misogynoir affect individuals in the UCSB Campus community. At UCSB, we have students who are trans, trans women, transfeminine. According to the 2014 UCSB Campus Climate Survey, roughly 0.9% of participants were “transgender” (75 out of 8,193 participants). This student population experiences transmisogyny daily. In addition to these statistics, we also have a small population of African, African American, and Black students. While we do not currently have the statistics on this intersection of Black trans women/femme, we know that the individuals belonging to this demographic are affected by transmisogyny and, in particular, transmisogynoir. By recognizing people’s identities, and the intersecting oppressions they may experience, we as a campus can better understand how to help these communities. 

Since 2014, the number of students in these communities has grown. Their struggles may be mental, emotional, and physical and can affect their success as students. For example, according to the 2014 UCSB Campus Climate Survey, “trans” students were less comfortable with the overall campus climate than “women” and “men” students. A higher percentage of trans respondents experienced exclusionary conduct, roughly 89% of which indicated that this conduct was based on their gender identity. Thus, the UCSB Campus Community has a responsibility to learn about transmisogyny- an issue that affects students on our campus. In educating ourselves, we can identify moments of transmisogyny in our lives. When these moments happen, we can take the opportunity to raise awareness on transmisogyny by speaking up and directing people to resources. The oppressions of transphobia and misogyny affect people beyond our school’s population. Thus, by combatting transmisogyny and uplifting trans women and femmes, we uplift everyone.


 

Resources and References

Videos on Transmisogyny

Resources

 

References/Further Reading

“Black Trans Women and Black Trans Femmes: Leading & Living Fiercely.” Transgender Law 

Center, 26 Jan. 2021, https://transgenderlawcenter.org/black-trans-women-black-trans-femmes-leading-living-fiercely. 

Erlick, Eli. What Is Transmisogyny? - Youtube. 27 June 2017, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FdypzDFWlpk.

Kacere, Laura. “Transmisogyny 101: What It Is and What Can We Do about It.” BWSS, 26 Sept. 2018, https://www.bwss.org/transmisogyny-101-what-it-is-and-what-can-we-do-about-it/. 

Serano, Julia. Whipping Girl : a Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of 

Femininity  / Julia Serano. Berkeley, CA: Seal Press, 2007. Print.

Serano, Julia. Trans-misogyny primer. 2009. https://www.juliaserano.com/av/TransmisogynyPrimer-Serano.pdf. 

Serano, Julia. “What Is Transmisogyny?” Medium, Medium, 10 June 2021, https://juliaserano.medium.com/what-is-transmisogyny-4de92002caf6. 

Sojka, Carey. “Transmisogyny.” The SAGE Encyclopedia of Psychology and Gender 2017: 1727–1731. Print.

University of California Santa Barbara Final Report - UCOP. Mar. 2014, 

https://campusclimate.ucop.edu/_common/files/pdf-climate/ucsb-full-report.pdf.