An article in elciudadano.cl today tells of how eight or nine thugs in Ancud, Chile, attacked a pretty transgender girl with no justification, choosing to pick on her due to her being transgender (and, I’m adding: “and pretty.”)
She’s alive but in bad shape — teeth missing, nose broken, and of course in the hospital. This sort of brutality against transgender girls is not unusual — they’re not just killed or hurt but intentionally disfigured as if the violence were intended to punish the person and erase their prettiness or sexiness.
Why? I’m not a psychologist, but could be that the field of psychology has already figured out and explained part of the issue. There are probably many factors, but I’m focusing on one, specifically, in this write-up.
The website PonderAbout.com has a quote:
“Shame” denied and projected is “contempt.”
In the movie American Beauty, one character is vehemently negative towards anything to do with homosexuality, and ultimately initiates violence. Turns out that this character was himself gay, hated himself for it and turned the hatred on others.
A. As a matter of scientific fact and historical record, some subsection of the male population is gay or bisexual as a matter of, Kinsey showed, simple biology. They don’t choose it; it’s a given.
B. Some men have anti-gay cultural values.
Some men might be in both groups, i.e., are gay or bisexual yet have anti-gay cultural values. This group has the potential for psychological conflict and denial.
Transgender girls, especially sexy ones, are more likely to be closer to what has so far actually or officially sexually aroused gay or bisexual males who are repressing such feelings. The repressing person feels self-disgust and follows an odd but established psychological pattern of blaming the person who aroused him.
Whoever commits anti-transgender violence is actually outing himself as clearly as if he were to put on hot pink shorts, walk into his parents’ living room and announce: “mom and dad, I’m gay.”
The excuses don’t stand up to scrutiny. For example, could be that a transgender person looks odd due to being a blend of male and female due to not having transitioned fully for whatever reason. Could be she has big hands and there’s no changing that, and that looks odd. Could be she looks like Barbie but has a male voice, and that’s odd. So, it’s certainly possible that transgender people can be odd socially. But, so does a genetically integrated girl whom I know, who enjoys dying her hair many combined weird different colors. And, so does someone else whom I know who has unusual tattoos. And so do people who are exceptionally short or tall. My point is that “oddness” is no automatic trigger for hatred and violence. There’s something else going on, something that fuels the hatred and requires explanation. The criminal hating his own gay or bisexual nature — that might be a good explanation in many cases.
The issue has a deep psychological root. Examples:
1. In the movie “Top Gun” the female instructor admits to a pilot that she sees real genius in his flying skills but she chose to not acknowledge that publicly for fear of it becoming generally apparent that she’s romantically fallen for him.
2. A close friend of mine told me how her grandma explained to her that it’s easy for a girl in elementary school to see which boy is in love with her; it’s the one who is mean to her, pulls her pigtails and so on.
3. I personally can relate; in elementary school, I had a crush on a girl and instead of admitting to it, I was rude to her, terrified of admitting my true feelings.
The phenomenon is so well-known in psychology that it’s formally named and taught about: “reaction formation.” Wikipedia defines it as follows:
“In psychoanalytic theory, reaction formation is a defensive process (defense mechanism) in which anxiety-producing or unacceptable emotions and impulses are mastered by exaggeration (hypertrophy) of the directly opposing tendency.”
In the context of sexuality, Wikipedia explains:
“a heterosexual individual who is fearful or hateful toward those who identify themselves as homosexual and bisexual may be seeking to counteract deep-seated and often untouched homosexual desires. A reaction formation is used to exaggerate heterosexual behavior outwardly, to relieve inward anxiety regarding homosexual desires.”
Cultural standards around the planet vary; in some places, general culture is as yet unaware of the information you have just read, and anti-transgender homophobic criminals believe themselves to be socially safe. Were they to realize that anti-transgender homophobic violence announces publicly that the criminal is himself gay, he’d be too terrified to act on his violent inclination since it would result in the one thing that he’s so desperately trying to prevent: being outed as gay.
In a generally healthy society, there is one other known explanation, as a valid alternative to the person being gay to some extent and terrified of it: some individuals are simply and irredeemably horrible. Given the opportunity, pretext and mood, they’ll initiate violence. Their violence is targeted at easy individual victims or at groups perceived to be hostile such as another race, gang etc. Such a violent criminal today will attack a transgender person and tomorrow will attack someone’s grandma or pet, or whoever seems vulnerable and comes along. Healthy societies tend to be quite unanimous that if someone belongs in this group, then they need to take him off the streets and lock him up.
Only a very tiny portion of society consists of attractive transgender girls, and so when one of these is the victim it would be statistically highly, highly unlikely that she just happened to be chosen. totally independently of her being transgender. In case the criminal prefers to be classified as a menace to society rather than gay, it would rarely be an accurate claim. Statistically it’s vastly more likely that he is homophobic.
In addition to that, homophobic violence tends to have a disfiguring agenda, so if that’s evident, the only available explanation is that the criminal is gay or bisexual and terrified of that trait in himself.
Neither of these two camps provides a cheerful alternative for the criminal to explain himself. If someone is guilty of anti-transgender violence, he’s outing himself as either:
- a closet gay, cowardly and dishonest and afraid … or
- a menace to society.
Could be that the relevant criminal can eloquently come up with and argue for a third alternative, but … not likely.
I’m omitting the context in which the prevailing culture is so blatantly irrational that it actively encourages such violence as a matter of social propriety, such as in many countries in North Africa and the Middle East. It’s hard for me to explain anything when the entire context is anti-rational.
One might argue that some small towns in the American South deserve to be classified as such too, and that thugs who beat up transgender girls are simply doing what’s generally accepted as their civic duty. For those inclined to argue that point, there’s an overwhelming counterpoint to that.
Most such communities are deeply religious and specifically Christian. Whatever else the Christian churches disagree upon, they agree about Jesus Christ being the central figure in the Bible and the Church. Imagine the teachings of Jesus being applied to the question: “when meeting a pretty transgender girl, what would Jesus do?” A likely answer would hardly be “beat her face to a pulp.” Rather, such violence is as anti-Jesus an agenda as I could imagine — and there’s no way that any Christian can in good conscience conclude otherwise.
To try to evade the issue, some people try to refer to passages in the Old Testament that are admonitions against homosexuality — but in that general area, there are also admonitions such as “Don’t wear clothing woven from two kinds of thread: for instance, wool and linen together” and “You must sew tassels on the four corners of your cloaks.” I won’t even try to guess what the original premise was for providing such instructions to ancient Israelites wandering around the Middle East thousands of years ago, but it’s not a reasonable interpretation that those ancient instructions also pertain to people in modern society, here, today.
What it at most provides is an ostensible pretext for anti-gay feelings, in direct contrast with the Golden Rule and the “love one another” premises that Jesus is said to have conveyed with such abundant clarity that anti-transgender violence can in no way be logically reconciled with Christianity. A homophobic Christian who resorts to anti-transgender violence hates his own gayness so much that he’s willing to violate the most fundamental teachings of Jesus as well as the most basic rules of human interaction, taught from an early age: be nice, be kind, don’t initiate violence, and so on. He is so overwhelmed by his self-hatred that nothing else matters.
Information tends to find its way around. I’m working to have this information become common enough knowledge that for a homophobic violent criminal to commit anti-transgender violence in a healthy society will immediately result in being publicly outed as overwhelmingly likely to be gay. This will terrify most such criminals to shirk away from such violence.
And finally, a major cause of anti-transgender violence will have been neutralized.
Meanwhile, if you’re transgender and at increased risk for anti-transgender violence, do something about it, personally. Arm yourself, effectively remove the moral high ground of the criminal, move away — whatever it takes. Violence against transgender people is astronomically high relative to how small a group we are. Don’t become one more news story that begins with:
“The mangled body of a transgender girl was found …”
As an example, I own a variety of firearms, each optimized for a particular type of threat. I have a concealed carry weapons permit. I have undergone personalized training with a transgender-friendly former Marine who now specializes in professional personal protection. I’ve taken enough Judo and Karate classes to be able to put these skills to good use. I’m clear that I have the right to a vigorous self-defense and I am always alert and ready to exercise it even if it were to get me into legal trouble. I also make a point of favoring rational jurisdictions where my right to self-defense is officially accepted — which is one more reason why I’ve chosen to live where I do.
“A group of would-be attackers got given coroner’s toe tags, courtesy of well-armed, straight-shooting transgender girl who calmly shot them each dead, in self-defense. The District Attorney is pressing no charges and says it’s about time the tables were turned (and later wins re-election by a land-slide, as a direct result).”
In the Harry Potter books, someone unfairly sends some assassins (“dementors”) to take out Harry Potter, and he commendably defends himself. Unfairly, he ends up in a some legal trouble as a result but at least he survived the attack. Ultimately, he is acquitted and vindicated.
That’s the spirit I live by, and endorse.