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Transphobia (or less commonly, transprejudice) refers to discrimination against transsexuality and transsexual or transgender people, based on the expression of their internal gender identity (see Phobia - terms indicating prejudice or class discrimination). Whether intentional or not, transphobia can have severe consequences for the object of the negative attitude. Many transpeople also experience homophobia from people who incorrectly associate the medically recognised condition of gender identity disorder as a form of homosexuality (see Homosexuality and Transgender).[1]

Like other forms of discrimination such as homophobia, the discriminatory or intolerant behaviour can be direct (such as harassment, assault, or murder) or indirect (such as refusing to take steps to ensure that transgender people are treated in the same way as non-transgendered people.) However, direct forms of transphobia can manifest themselves in ways that are not related to violence.

Trans-bashing is the practice of victimising someone because they are transgender and is a form of transphobia.[2] Unlike gay bashing, it is attacking someone based on their gender identity rather than because of their predisposition regarding sexuality. Some believe that accusing transgender people of being victims of "gay-bashing" erases their identities and the truth of what happens to them.



There are many recorded examples of transphobia in many of its different forms and manifestations throughout society. Some instances clearly involve violence and extreme malice, while others involve little more than a lack of understanding or experience of the condition sometimes involving unconscious predisposition based upon various religious edicts or social conventions.

Difficulties encountered by transgender people

Sometimes homeless shelters have engaged in practices that have a disparate impact on transwomen, refusing, for example, admission to women's areas and forcing them to sleep and bathe in the presence of men[citation needed]. This situation has been changing in some areas, however. For example, on February 8, 2006, New York City's Department of Homeless Services announced an overhaul of its housing policy with the goal of specifically ending discrimination against transgendered people in its shelters.[3]

Some notable cases with transphobia themes and violent crimes include Brandon Teena, Gwen Araujo, Fred Martinez, Nizah Morris[4] and Lauren Harries.[5]

Transphobia in healthcare

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. She later died in hospital.[6]

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 gender 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 transman, for ovarian cancer, of which he subsequently died.[7][8]

Transphobia in employment

Transphobia can also manifest itself in the workplace. Sometimes transsexuals lose their jobs when they begin the transition. A study from Willamette University states that discrimination is so rife it's virtually impossible to find a job at all to begin with.[9]

News stories from the San Francisco Chronicle and Associated Press have cited a 1999 study by the San Francisco Department of Public Health finding a 70 percent unemployment rate amongst the city's transgender population. On February 18, 1999, the San Francisco Department of Public Health issued the results of a 1997 survey of 392 MTF (male-to-female) and 123 FTM (female-to-male) transgender people, showing amongst other things that only 40 percent of those MTF transgender people surveyed had earned money from full or part-time employment over the preceding six months' period. For FTMs, the equivalent statistic was 81 percent. The survey also found that 46 percent of MTFs and 57 percent of FTMs reported employment discrimination.[10]

In the hiring process, discrimination may be either open or covert, with employers finding other ostensible reasons not to hire a candidate or just not informing prospective employees at all as to why they are not being hired. Additionally, when an employer fires or otherwise discriminates against a transgender employee, it may be a "mixed motive" case, with the employer openly citing obvious wrongdoing, job performance issues or the like (such as excessive tardiness, for example) while keeping silent in regards to transphobia.[11]

Employment discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression, or the like, is illegal in a growing number of U.S. cities, towns and states. Such discrimination might be outlawed by specific legislation (as it is in the states of California, Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, New Mexico and Washington state) or city ordinances; additionally, it is covered by case law in some other states. (For example, Massachusetts is covered by cases such as Lie vs. Sky Publishing Co. and Jette vs. Honey Farms.) Several other states and cities prohibit such discrimination in public employment. The United Kingdom has also legislated against employment discrimination on the grounds of gender identity. Sometimes, however, employers discriminate against transgender employees in spite of such legal protections.[11]

There is at least one high-profile employment-related court case unfavorable to transgender people. In 2000, the Southern U.S. grocery chain Winn-Dixie fired longtime employee Peter Oiler, despite a history of repeatedly earning raises and promotions, after management learned that the married, heterosexual truck driver occasionally cross-dressed off-the-job. Management argued that this hurt Winn-Dixie's corporate image. The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against Winn-Dixie on behalf of Oiler but a judge dismissed it. The case, however, led to a picket of the company's Jacksonville, Florida, headquarters and a boycott against the company. One now-defunct website,, claimed it was "the largest-ever public demonstration against gender-based bigotry." [12]

Sometimes transgendered people facing employment discrimination turn to sex work to survive, arguably placing them at additional risk of such things as contracting sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV; enduring workplace violence; and encountering troubles with the law, including arrest and criminal prosecution.[10]


Transprejudice is a similar term to transphobia, and refers to the negative valuing, stereotyping and discriminatory treatment of individuals whose appearance and/or identity does not conform to the current social expectations or conventional conceptions of gender. [13]

Transprejudice may be manifested in ways similar to other prejudicial beliefs, such as homophobia or sexual prejudice. As Blumenfeld (1992) suggests, homophobia functions on four distinct yet-interrelated levels: personal, interpersonal, institutional, and cultural (also referred to as collective or societal).[14] Adapting Blumenfeld’s (1992) framework for use with transprejudice, personal transprejudice would refer to an individual’s belief system (prejudices) about TG/TS individuals. Interpersonal transprejudice would be evident when a personal prejudice transforms into discriminatory behavior. Institutional transprejudice would be seen in the ways in which government, business, religious, educational, and professional organizations (e.g., the medical and psychiatric community) systematically discriminate against TG/TS individuals. Finally, cultural transprejudice would refer to the social cognition that influences attitudes toward TG/TS persons.

Transphobia in the lesbian, gay and bisexual community

Some in the LGBT communities are uncomfortable with transgender individuals and issues. For example, transwomen (male-to-female transgender and transsexual people) are sometimes denied entry to women's spaces, and the explanations given for such actions betray a degree of transphobia. (The Michigan Womyn's Music Festival, for instance, has caused much debate for limiting its attendance to "womyn-born womyn".)[15] Kay Brown of (“Transsexual, Transgender and Intersex History”) has set forth a long chronology of the ejection of those whom we now know as “transgendered” from gay organizations starting in the 1970s[16].

While many gays and lesbians feel that “transgender” is simply a name for a part of their own community (i.e. the LGBT community), others actively reject the idea that transgender people are part of their community, seeing them as entirely separate and distinct. Some feel that bisexuality and transgenderism are detrimental to the social and political acceptance of gays and lesbians. This phenomenon has been called “internalized homophobia” by some, meaning an irrational fear and dislike of other homosexuals.[citation needed]See Fone, B.R.S. (2000). Homophobia. New York: Metropolital Books; Sears, J.T., and Williams, W.L. (1997). Overcoming Heterosexism and Homophobia. New York: Columbia University Press) This presumes that transgender people are, in fact, “homosexuals,” an equation which is often hotly debated, but with little real meaning due to the nature of the differences between gender and sexuality - for example, if a transwoman is attracted only to other women, then she is either lesbian by nature of being a woman, or is otherwise a heterosexual man.

The nature of the terms "Man" and "Woman" also become unclear in a similar way under this philosophy, and many feel that the only real recourse is to accept that the mind and feeling of a person is the only thing that gives that person identity, and so a person that has a female identity and mind is indeed a woman, as agreed by much legislation in Europe enabling transsexual people to have the sex recorded on their birth certificates amended accordingly[17]. According to this thinking, it becomes clear that in at least a categorical sense, transgendered people should only be accepted in the Gay and Lesbian community if they themselves self-identify as gay or lesbian as any other homosexual person does, and the blanket assumption on the part of some gay and lesbian people on the nature of those transgendered people who are in their LGB community with a view to dis-inclusion constitutes an issue of transphobia[16]. The implacability of this question has been overcome by the rise in the 1990's of Queer Theory and the Queer community, which defines "queer" as embracing all variants of sexual identity, sexual desire, and sexual acts that fall outside normative definitions of heterosexuality; thus a heterosexual man or woman as well as a transgendered person of either sex can be included in the category of queer through their own choice.

See also

  • List of transgender-related topics
  • Transgender Day of Remembrance
  • Violence against LGBT people
  • Transfeminism
  • Transgender Law Center
  • Trans-bashing


  1. ^ Crime reduction - Hate crimes. City of London Police. Retrieved on 2006-09-10.
  2. ^ Guilty plea over transsexual bashing By Mariza O'Keefe in Herald Sun
  3. ^ NYC's Department of Homeless Services Issues a Trans-Affirmative Housing Policy. The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Center (2006-02-05). Retrieved on 2006-09-06..
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ [2]
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ JoAnna McNamara (1996-08-30). Employment discrimination and the Transsexual. Willamette University. Retrieved on 2006-09-10.
  10. ^ a b The Transgender Community Health Project (1999-02-18). Sociodemographics. Descriptive Results. HIVInSite. Retrieved on 2006-09-07.
  11. ^ a b Barbara Findlay, Q.C. (1999-06). Transgendered people and Employment: An equality analysis. Barbara Findlay Law Office. Retrieved on 2006-09-10.
  12. ^ ACLU Lesbian & Gay Rights Project and coalition of activists (2002-09-28). Retrieved on 2006-09-10.
  13. ^ King, M., Webster, B., & Winter, S. (2007). Transprejudice in Hong Kong: Chinese Attitudes Towards Transgenderism and Transgender Civil Rights (under review)
  14. ^ Blumenfeld, W. J. (1992). Homophobia: How We All Pay the Price: Beacon Press.
  15. ^ Taormino, Tristan (2000-09-13). Trouble in Utopia. The Village Voice. Retrieved on 2006-09-07.
  16. ^ a b Weiss, Jillian Todd. GL vs. BT: The Archaeology of Biphobia and Transphobia Within the U.S. Gay and Lesbian Community. Retrieved on 2006-07-07.
  17. ^ UK Gender recognition act, Explanatory notes paragraph 4. UK Office of public Sector Information (2004-07-08). Retrieved on 2006-09-08..
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Transphobia". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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