Tuesday, 22 March 2011


Some time ago, Helen posted a piece on QT about reporting on trans issues (it sucks, nothing new there), and one of the comments got me thinking about the representation and the demographics of trans women (a rather western concept, by the way) as a whole.

There's obviously privilege working here: if you're super-rich (on a global scale) and have access to cultural and social resources needed to transition smoothly, you're obviously less likely to suffer massively. But the chilling thing is, you're also less likely to die. It's obvious, yeah, but consider this: what if trans women who have vaginoplasty (white, affluent, middle-class+) are the tip of the iceberg because the rest gets treated so abominably they just curl up in a corner and die? It's not that long a shot. It's not just about the money and privilege, it's also about being able to survive: to have a roof over your head, enough food to keep on going, enough social interaction so you don't shrivel up and die, enough mental resilience to be able to keep on going despite the numerous economic and social hurdles a transition entails.

I strongly suspect trans women who do actually transition are just the tip of an iceberg: the rest plod on the best they can - some seemingly successful, some perhaps institutionalised, and some just die, either by their own volition or get killed. Yup, mighty depressing.

1 comment:

  1. It's a horrible thought but I think you're right. Even if you were just to look outside of the affluent West, there must be a huge number of trans people who have no hope of transitioning. Looking in the West, though, I also wonder how many more people would transition if they were in the economic and social position to do so.

    Even in countries with healthcare that supports the cost of transitioning, getting that first step into the system often requires some form of privilege (like having a doctor you can actually talk openly with) and an environment which will provide some form of hope of a life after transition. The risks of violence in this situation would also by significantly higher, I'd imagine, so how many never get that far due to fear or die due to violent attacks?

    Yes, it's hugely depressing.