Kylie Marco is a professional designer who create the Coleur D’or BDSM line-up. She also hosts her own podcast – Kylie with the D – where she discusses a range of topics around being trans, sexuality, and what being trans means to her.
Kylie teamed up with one of our content contributors – Lydon – so we could tackle some of the problematic myths surrounding trans people and debunk them once and for all.
1) Trans people are sex workers.
Lydon: This is an interesting one, and I can’t really understand how it came about. Obviously, it’s incredibly generic and untrue, but what are your thoughts on it?
Kylie: It’s offensive. Definitely. But, for more than one reason. Of course, like you said, it’s impossible to categorize “all people” as anything, there’s no way to even check that. But, it also paints sex workers in a bad color.
Plenty of people choose sex work because they enjoy it. Some people are forced into sex work to avoid homelessness or for a variety of reasons beyond their control. Sex work isn’t something that should be demonized or framed as this immoral act – if everything is consensual then there’s no reason to shame it.
Trans sex workers exist, there’s no denying that. And there are plenty of reasons for that which I don’t want to go into. But to categorize all trans people as sex workers is just another attempt to demonize/criminalize trans people AND sex workers. Throw this myth away and come up with something original.
2) Trans is a fetish/porn category.
Lydon: This one certainly sounds… bad. How do you feel about it?
Kylie: It makes me laugh, honestly. Not in a `that’s funny` kind of way but more of a… WOW… kind of way.
Look, trans can be a fetish – and it certainly is a porn category (though even then it’s hard to find good porn with trans people in it!) but that’s not all being trans is. If you have a fetish for trans people, then fine, but don’t treat people like they themselves are your fetish. There needs to be a separation between a person’s fantasies and reality. If you have a fetish for spitting, or socks, or whatever, you still need to separate it from outside of the bedroom. You can’t look at everyone wearing socks and decide they’re a sexual object for you.
At the end of the day it all comes down to respect. Trans people are exactly that, people. And your focus should be on finding the person hot, not just the fact that they’re trans. If you refuse to see trans people as anything but a fetish created to serve your dreams, then you’re a problem.
You can find trans people sexually attractive, I mean trans people like sex as well you know? But we’re not a living sex doll, and just because trans is one of your fetishes doesn’t give you the right to approach someone you don’t know and expect sexual interactions with them. Just, no, stop.
3) You must get surgery to be trans.
Lydon: At SVAKOM we’ve previously published posts about how to navigate the world of dating a trans person, which briefly covers the transitioning period. In that, we talked a little on how not all trans people seek out or want surgery. Based on your experiences as a transwoman, would you say this one is complete myth as well?
Kylie: Absolute myth. 100% a myth. And I think this boils down to the obsession people seem to have with “what a trans person has in their pants”. It’s a strange level of invasiveness as well as a perplexing form of gatekeeping.
A person is trans whether they haven’t had gender affirming surgery yet, never want to get surgery, or have had it. Regardless they are trans. There is no right way to be trans, no clean-cut example of a trans person. The same way there are many different types of cis people, there are a variety of different bodies, personalities, and styles that make up the trans community.
When we don’t understand something, we try and force it to fit into a… uhm… a category, and a bad no-no area, to be cliché, a box! We want it to make sense to us, we need to understand it. So, we slap a label on it and call it a day – even when that label doesn’t really work. If a person says they are trans, then they’re trans. And the same way I wouldn’t walk up to a guy and ask `hey, is your dick cut or not?` you shouldn’t be walking up to trans people to ask about what their genitals currently look like.
4) Having a trans friend means you can’t be transphobic
Lydon: This kind of situation comes up quite often – usually as a defensive technique. Typically, it comes down to people not liking the idea of being `bad` or doing something `wrong` so they trap themselves in a corner trying to deny responsibility. Do you have any experience with this or any thing to say regarding it?
Kylie: It happens a lot. And, honestly, often it comes down to the person not actually registering their friend as trans. For example, chances are they met this person after they came out as trans, so they’ve always known them with the correct pronouns and maybe even with a body that better represents who they are. From there, they met that person in a situation where in their mind they haven’t registered they’re trans.
Whatever the circumstance, it’s a sucky situation to be in if you’re trans. Having trans friends doesn’t exempt you from being transphobic – but it does put you in a better position to learn and grow. People make mistakes, or they don’t understand things, or they don’t have the life experiences to realize how their actions or words can cause harm. If you’re told something you did is transphobic – thank the person for bringing it to your attention, and then go educate yourself.
Back in the early 2000’s, the 90’s, the 80’s, TV was filled with lots of transphobia framed as jokes, so for some people this was ingrained in them growing up. But if you truly want to be an ally and be a good friend, then listen and learn and think about why you did what you did or said what you said.
5) You need to `pass` to be trans
Lydon: Passing is a fairly weighted term no? It’s the idea that a `good` trans person or an `authentic` trans person is able to confidently be identified as the correct gender from appearance alone. Would you say `passing` is problematic?
Kylie: It can be. Definitely. But it’s more about how passing is used. The wording alone implies someone checking and gatekeeping the door to transness. As if someone is checking you’ve passed the code or test.
Some people can pass, and that’s not a bad thing obviously. But when we start bragging about `passing` or expecting it as a minimum requirement to be a trans person – then we have a problem.
Regardless of if you pass or not, there’s no right way to be trans. Similarly, being a trans women does not mean you have to be super flowery and feminine and being a transman doesn’t mean you need to be all macho 100% of the time. The personality doesn’t change, and neither do personal preferences. The focus shouldn’t be on whether someone can `pass` or not, to go back to what I said earlier; if a person says they’re trans then they’re trans. That’s it. The end. Done.
6) Trans people have a mental illness
Lydon: Onto a slightly heavier one. A lot of people, especially transphobic people, believe that being trans is a sign of mental illness. I think we alone can safely debunk this and say that’s wrong, it is in no way a mental illness, but I’d like to hear your thoughts on this one if that’s okay?
Kylie: Of course. This is… basically just hate speech [laughs]. I really wouldn’t call this a myth but it’s still worth bringing up.
For a lot of people, they see being unhappy with your body and assigned sex as being mentally ill, having something so wrong with you that you’ve started attacking yourself. It’s not, of course it’s not. It’s a frustrating one to argue because it’s a theory and belief made entirely from fiction, and this means people who perpetuate this level of hate can shut down any counter argument with further make-believe.
Being trans can cause some mental illness such as sever anxiety, depression, and body dysmorphia. But this isn’t because their trans, it’s because they’re trans in a world that doesn’t want them to be, in a world where making the changes to be who you are is either ridiculously difficult or damn near impossible.
7) Transitioning is just a method of getting into bathrooms
Lydon: I’m sorry to bring this one up and think I should start this by saying at SVAKOM we are aware this is completely false. However, I would say this one has had some of the most talk time in recent years and should be discussed – are you okay talking about this?
Kylie: No, of course, I expected this one would show up on the list somewhere. It’s false, it’s just false. Firstly, people have been going into bathrooms to commit crimes for YEARS without needing to go through the process of transitioning.
Depending on which country you are, how difficult getting sex reassignment surgery is changes – usually from difficult to really difficult. You have to sit through multiple mental health assessments to check that you `really are trans`, as well as essentially plead your case for being a trans person. Then you have to begin taking hormones which cause extreme mood swings and drastically alter your body. After all that is done you have to undergo an invasive surgical procedure. Who is putting themselves through all of this just to get into a bathroom? No one is! We just want to use the bathroom that matches our gender, because in some cases being a trans person and walking into the bathroom of the sex you were assigned at birth? Dangerous. Really dangerous.
Personally, I’m willing to accept and understand that there is a fear in the unknown. That for cis people the idea of trans is confusing. That for cis parents of a trans child there’s a level of fear – seeing how the world treats us. But, I will never accept malicious hate and bigoted beliefs cemented in ignorance. If you don’t understand something then get searching online for resources, go to the library and check out some books, the resources are there and in the age of technology we live in there’s no excuse to remain ignorant.
This is not just a myth, it’s a lie concocted by transphobic people with too much spare time who refuse to spend it on resolving real issues that haunt people’s everyday lives.
Lydon: Thank you for talking with us on this Kylie, before we finish off is there anything you would like to say?
Kylie: Just this – leave me alone. Leave us alone. Treat me and my trans brothers & sisters like any other person and leave us alone. I always appreciate and welcome support, but ultimately, I just want to live my life the same way I would be allowed if I were cis.