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Transphobia

Transphobia (by analogy with homophobia) refers to various kinds of aversions towards transsexuality and transsexual/transgender people. It often takes the form of refusal to accept a person’s new gender identity and is rarely rancorous.

Whether intentional or not, transphobia can have severe consequences for the targeted person. Many trans people experience homophobia as well, from people who mistakenly believe gender identity disorder as a form of homosexuality.

Like other forms of discrimination such as homophobia, the discriminatory or intolerant behaviour can be direct (e.g. harassment, assault, or even murder) or indirect (e.g. refusing to take steps to ensure that transgender people are treated in the same way as cisgender (non-transgender) people.)

However, direct forms of transphobia can manifest themselves in ways that are not related to violence. One example of this is the case of Tyra Hunter. Ms. Hunter was involved in an automobile accident, and when rescue workers discovered she was Transgender, they backed away and stopped administering treatment. Two well-noted transsexual victims were Brandon Teena and Gwen Araujo.

Trans women (male-to-female transgender and transsexual people) are sometimes denied entry to women’s spaces, with the explanations given for such denials often being transphobic. The Michigan Women’s Music Festival, for instance, is a perennial violator of trans’ rights due to limiting its attendance to “womyn-born womyn”. This stance denies access to all but cisgender women and trans men, who are regarded as women by the organisers.

Transgender people depend largely on the medical profession to receive not only hormone replacement therapy and sex reassignment surgery, but also other vital care. Often it can be difficult for transgender patients to receive proper health care and treatment, because medical gatekeepers who are transphobic (or who misunderstand the nature of gender identity disorder) will refuse to administer necessary treatment. In at least one case that included the refusal to treat Robert Eads, a trans man, for ovarian cancer, of which he subsequently died.

Although the word transphobia is widely used, the phenomenon can be thought of, in some instances, as an aversion more than a phobia.

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