The intersection between transphobia, racism and misogyny – a combined oppression

Laverne Cox sheds light on the intersection of transphobia, racism and misogyny from an insider’s perspective in a video published by Keppler Speakers. According to Laverne Cox, it is the trauma of oppression that still governs the black community’s perception of themselves, and it impacts how the black community treats her, as a transgender woman. This is a community that still struggles to prove itself in a society that is on the verge of transitioning out of racism but doesn’t seem to get there. Cox asks, “what is it about you that you have a problem with?” She goes on to tell stories of harassment and violence which affect the lives of transgender people, and how the harassment is based on several power structures: “they began to argue whether I was the b-word or the n-word”, Cox explains during a retelling of an incident that happened to her in New York.

As Cox shows us, different types of oppressions intersect and it is often hard to separate them. Often, they rely on each other to survive and uphold the hierarchy within a society. So what is being protected?

The Australian sociologist Raewyn Connell published her book “Masculinities” two decades ago, sparking a debate on the subject that would be discussed and evolved for years. This was the first time that the term had been spoken of as plural. In her book, Connell popularized the term hegemonic masculinity and suggested a hierarchy within the gender. Hegemonic masculinity is understood as the dominant form of masculinity – traditionally seen as the ideal, which carries with it connotations of power, strength and government. This type of masculinity is content with the gender binary as well as the hierarchy within their own gender seeing as it suits their interest of maintaining their position in society.

Another category in the hierarchy is the cooperative masculinity, which may not meet the strict standards of hegemonic masculinities, but enjoys the benefits that come along with being a heterosexual male in society. The next group in the hierarchy is the marginalized masculinity, which does not fit into the mainstream model of masculinity. This group largely consists of lgbtq men as well as non-white men, who do not strive to achieve or uphold the status of hegemonic masculinity, and thus challenge its construct.

The feminist movement has caused a lot of unease specifically for their attempts to even the field between genders. One recurring fear is that the equality of women will lead to imbalance in society – the very fear of losing the concept of a woman, which is complementary to the man. People of color, a marginalized group in Western society, as Cox points out, also carries with it a history of oppression which is being reexamined in today’s society. The fear is deepened by the existence of transgender people, which simultaneously undermine the gender binary as well as undermining the masculine hierarchy. What are some of the problems that occur when oppressed groups come together in one body?
The ultimate, combined force of the abovementioned marginalized groups is that they represent unknown territory, and few types of fear are greater than the fear of the unknown. When we remove the social structures we have become so accustomed to, what is left? How do we understand the world around us? The consequence of operating on a system that categorizes people based on color or gender is that it breeds injustice. As we see in society today, this is a system that is oppressive and one that society has outgrown. Despite great strides in equality and ongoing debate concerning all mentioned parties, the biggest obstacle is the internalization of the categories that separate us. We recognize and respond to people who do not fit into the binary and we impose sanctions on their behavior because it contests with our understanding of how the world should be. This circles back to Cox asking, “what is it about you that you have a problem with?” It appears that we as a society punish each other because of the restrictions imposed on us. If I am not allowed to be a free, complete version of myself, then neither are you. Still, what is most important is that these outdated values are challenged and talked about. Historically, human rights movements have often moved forward together, as they are in the current wave of lgbtq, gender and race equality. It is perhaps not a coincidence that these events take place as education rises worldwide (worldbank.org).

– zarmel

http://everydayfeminism.com/2014/12/laverne-cox-intersection-what-to-do/

Connell, R W, Messerschmidt, J W: “Hegemonic Masculinity: Rethinking the Concept”

http://gas.sagepub.com/content/19/6/829.short

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SE.SEC.ENRR/countries/1W?display=graph

http://culturalstudiesnow.blogspot.ca/2011/07/rw-connell-masculinities-relations.html

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4 thoughts on “The intersection between transphobia, racism and misogyny – a combined oppression

  1. To be frank, I am very confused with the layout of your review. How can we say, “it appears that we as a society punish each other because of the restrictions imposed on us,” when this is a large generalization. There could be serval reasons as to why humankind acts they way it does, and may not be because of the impact of society in this manner. I throughly understand where you are coming from but I think all sides should be discussed and examined. Yes, society has negative impacts but what about the positives, and why put people into this negative category when they do not belong there.

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  2. I agree with nkabs. I do believe that your layout is confusing. I also agree that all sides should be discussed an examined but I also understand that we were given limited space to discuss and examine all sides. My biggest critique would be that you clearly outlined the problems but you did not provide us with any sort of solution for these problems. You also did not touch on the solutions that Cox proposed. I would have just liked to see more solutions but other than that good job. It was easy to read and had some good information.

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  3. I agree with both nkabs and choustoo; the layout of your blog is confusing and hard to follow. The way that you incorporated hegemonic masculinity into your review was something that I found interesting, but I believe that you focused too long on the topic. A main concept that the review was lacking was the connection to the Laverne Cox speech, you didn’t really cover the main topics or ideas that she discussed in her talk. Also, a stronger introduction paragraph which draws in the reader would have also improved the review. Overall, a clearer theme to the review would have been beneficial.

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  4. I thought that your blog touched upon many ideas and gave background to these ideas and terms such as hegemonic masculinity etc. As well I agree that we are socialized to not only fear marginalized groups such as people of colour and people in the lgbtq community and that a mechanism of reorganizing this socialization is through education. I.e. the GNDS class we all find ourselves in that puts us on the path to investigating and re-imagining our own socialization!

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