There is a very real amount of discrimination and in some cases pure hatred directed towards transgender people. This fact alone makes it very easy to play the transphobia card when someone simply doesn’t like us or wrongs us in some way. In many cases it may be justified to call out discriminatory behavior. However, there needs to be some restraint because it is not always a trans thing. People may very well dislike you because of some other factor that is not in any way related to your gender identity.
There are many reasons a person may not like you from a personality clash to even some of your behaviors. If someone meets me and they have nothing in common with me and my personality is not a fit for their life, I cannot be shocked if they do not like me. It has nothing to do with the fact that I am a transgender woman. Sometimes the dysphoria likes to drop the thought into my mind that it is a trans thing. However, it clearly isn’t and if I take a second to think about it I am able to realize that point fairly easily.
I once knew another transgender girl from back when I initially transitioned who was simply not a nice person. I watched her once as she entered a store and it was a very interesting thing to observe. The clerk greeted her warmly and my friend didn’t respond initially and if anything presented a hostile body language that obviously put the clerk out of her comfort zone. She then was mean to the clerk as she offered to help her and the clerk responded slightly defensively to that behavior. It escalated as my trans friend assumed it was transphobia and it didn’t end well as she accused the clerk of exactly that.
My friend’s version of the events were obviously colored by her perception of transphobia. She would have seen the initial greeting as a simple formality and in her mind she was most likely thinking that the clerk was studying her trying to figure out if she was trans. The second colder exchange from the clerk would have been the clerk figuring it out and beginning to show her disgust. The final exchange where she called out the clerk on her transphobia was her putting the clerk in her place.
My perception of the exchange is greatly different and not colored by dysphoria. The clerk seemed like a nice girl and there was not transphobia in the exchange at all. I am actually pretty certain she had no clue my friend was transgender until it was thrown in her face. She responded to my friend’s behaviors and not the fact that she was transgender. After sharing my perceptions with her, my friend simply accused me of being naïve and said I give people too much credit. The funny thing is that her continued bad behavior eventually drove me away too.
I do not want to make light of transphobia, as it really is awful when it is real. The thing is to be sure that we do not use it as a catch all for any and all negativity directed towards us. It is always wise to think before you react and I know it can be hard to do that sometimes especially when emotions are potentially charged. Luckily, if people don’t like you because of your behaviors towards them, those behaviors can be fixed.