Every single day, Breitbart News, which has become as much of a go-to news source for Trump supporters as Fox News, publishes at least one article about a member or members of the transgender community that is intended to outrage and inflame their readership. And outrage and inflame them these articles certainly do.
Every article, like this one, is followed by more than a thousand comments from people whose anger can be intensely felt radiating from the words, declaring that science has determined that there are only two possible genders, male and female, and that these genders are immutably set in stone, that transgender individuals are trying to indoctrinate our children in their perverse lifestyle, and that they are in danger of attacking everybody’s wives and daughters in public restrooms. None of these assertions have any basis in fact, but their acceptance among Trump supporters is pervasive. I challenge you to find a single Trump supporter who doesn’t cling to these misperceptions and outright lies about transgenderism as if they were gospel.
Where does this anger and hatred of transgender individuals come from and why is it so intense? Why do Trump supporters have such a heightened fear of a very small segment of the population embracing a gender identify that, in reality, doesn’t affect the Trump supporters in even the tiniest capacity?
Trump supporters vehemently believe a number of things that just aren’t true and can be pretty easily debunked. They believe that man-made global climate change is a liberal hoax, even though scientists overwhelmingly declare that it is a significant and increasing problem facing humanity. They believe that Barack Obama is a Kenyan born, and a secret Muslim, when in fact he is obviously an American who has always identified as a Christian. They believe that, instead of closing in on Donald Trump and his family and inner circle, Robert Mueller is preparing to arrest Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. They also believe that science has proven that men are men and women are women and never the twain shall meet.
Before we attempt to tackle the reasons behind Trump supporters’ hatred and fear, let’s first take a look at what the current science actually has to say about transgender identity. According to a recent article in Scientific American, imaging studies have demonstrated that there is an actual observable difference in the brains of those who identify as transgender from those who identify as cisgender (defined as those who identify with one of the traditional, binary gender roles).
Furthermore, evidence suggests that male to female transgender individuals have brain patterns that more closely resemble traditional females than traditional males. The reverse is also true. Female to male transgender individuals have brain patterns that more closely resemble traditional males than traditional females. This suggests that the primary factor in determining whether or not someone identifies as transgender is genetics rather than choice.
Studies also show that both gender and sexuality are far more fluid than we have previously understood them to be in this country. There are potentially infinite gradations between 100 percent male and 100 percent female. In American society, gender roles have been traditionally pretty set and rigid, but other societies, including several native American ones, have recognized and found value in more gender identities than just the basic two.
So once again I have to ask, what is the genesis of the hate and fear that Trump supporters show for this community? Even if there was no genetic element to transgenderism and it was merely an offbeat choice that some individuals decided to make, what difference would there be? Why should the choices of what has been determined to be somewhere between 0.3 and 0.7 percent of the population affect the rest of us at all? Frankly, if someone wanted to identify as a tree, there is no reason why that choice should anger or frighten anybody else in America.
One obvious point is that people who identify as conservatives are a lot less receptive to any kind of change than people who identify as liberals or progressives, and those conservatives are also more likely to cling to traditional elements of American society. I think it’s a lot more than that, however.
I think the overarching mind set of Trump supporters at this time, and both Fox News and Breitbart are more than happy to help reinforce this on a daily basis, is a feeling of being under siege. They believe themselves being attacked from all sides, by immigrants and feminists, by globalists and homosexuals, by Muslims and advocates of Sharia law. More than anything else, though, they see themselves being attacked by progressives and liberals. Progressives and liberals call them racist and stupid. Progressives and liberals want to take away their guns and force them to have abortions.
Some Trump supporters believe that progressives and liberals want to round them up and force them into camps. They have been taught to hate and fear liberals and progressives as well as to hate and fear “the other,” and the transgender community falls into both camps. They know that liberals and progressives support equal rights for transgender individuals, just as they support taking action to combat climate change, so they know that these things need to be fought at all cost.
Of course, I’m only guessing here, but part of the hatred and fear could also be a product of Trump supporters having difficulty watching other people live out their truth in happiness and freedom while they have elements about themselves that they are not able to accept.
This would all be sophistry if not for the real life human cost of the marginalization and discrimination that members of the transgender community suffer. Transgender individuals, particularly those in their teens, suffer from depression at a higher rate than cisgender people, and the rate of transgender suicide is extremely high, according to this article in the Huffington Post. This is a natural outcome among people who have been as ostracized as the transgender community has. The continued repression, the constant repetition that there is something wrong, something dangerous or evil, about people who are simply following their genetic mandate and trying to live in their truth costs actual lives.
It’s probably a hopeless cause to try to deter the minds of Trump supporters from this particular prejudice, or any of their others for that matter, but we need to keep challenging them on this subject. It may save the life of the next transgender teenager on the edge.