When We Accuse Each Other of “Transtrending”

Bailey C.

Gatekeeping. It’s a term we’ve likely all heard whispered throughout the trans community. It pertains to the medical field, and how a lot of medical professionals will demand strict requirements for transgender people looking to access treatment, such as Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). It can be a frustrating and painful hurdle to jump for a lot of us looking to transition medically. The trans community is often outspoken against those who try to decide what makes someone transgender. This is why it makes no sense for us to place strict specifications for each other in the community.

The term used is “transtrending,” and it refers to someone who isn’t cisgender, but doesn’t appear to “follow the rules” of being trans. Often targeting non-binary people, “transtrending” is an idea that suggests some young people see being transgender as a trend and decide to hop on the bandwagon but they aren’t really transgender. Some behaviors that are often labeled as “trending” are a lack of interest in medically transitioning (hormones or surgeries), lack of effort to “pass” as cis, or the way they talk about being transgender or non-binary.


In the past, I found myself using this label against others; why would a trans person not want to pass as cis? Why would they refuse HRT? Why would they not even change their everyday presentation? But as time went on, different questions came to my mind: Why should they have to transition like I did, just because it worked for me? Why couldn’t there be gender non-conforming trans people, like there are cis people? Who am I to decide how people identify? Am I inside their minds, seeing their true thoughts and feelings?

When we accuse someone of “trending,” no matter the circumstances, we send out a message that it’s okay to impose rigid rules of gender identity and decide other people’s true identities, like the gatekeepers in the medical field do. I know there are going to be some trans people reading this who think it’s necessary to call out “trenders.” If you are one of these people, then as someone who prefers to “pass” in my everyday life, let me ask you something: Do you like it when cisgender people try to pick apart your identity and try to tell you how you think, feel, and see yourself? I’m guessing the answer is no. If that’s the case, then why would you do that to others?


One thing I often see as a reason for “calling out trenders” is the fear that we as a community will not be taken seriously. I can understand that fear, especially when jokes like, “DID YOU JUST ASSUME MY GENDER??????” are thrown around tirelessly. However, by trying to identify “trenders,” we can’t be taken seriously either. It weakens the trans community by tearing off chunks of it. We all want basically the same thing at the end of the day; to live as however we identify and not have anyone persecute us for it. If we are to achieve anything resembling that, we can’t attack each other.

The world still has a lot to learn about gender identity and expression, but if we can’t listen to and learn from each other, how do you expect the rest of the world, including the gatekeepers, to do so?

Comments (1)

I understand your point. Another view though. The Transgender Umbrella was given to us by author Leslie Feinberg, I believe it moves too many groups under the umbrella. The gender nonconforming have always been part of queer society. Drag was part of the Gay community. Butch or masculine females were part of the Lesbian community and CD's (transvestites as we knew them back then) were part of the cis community. Transsexuals (TS) were a loose thread. Not really accepted in the CD community (don't want to upset the wife's with talk of hormones. Not really accepted in the drag community as Rue Paul pointed out "we (TS) were on performance enhancing drugs (hormones) and thus unfair to compete. Gay's called me straight and the straight's called me gay. The gay community dumped the "T" right after Compton's Café and Stone Wall. Silvia Rivera (self described drag queen/transvestite) pointed this out in a 1973 NYC Pride event. She fought her way to the stage and accused the L&G of dumping the transvestites and colored gays to present a pretty white image for the media. With gay marriage passed the different gay organizations need someone else to defend. To keep the donation dollars and their jobs. Since transsexual is too small of a population you need a larger population. Virginia Prince who published Transvestia magazine and founded the "Society for the Second Self for male heterosexual cross-dressers." Pushed the concept of Transgender aka TG for individual like her that progressed to living fulltime on hormones but had no desire for bottom surgery. Politics moved the TS population to the TG banner saying it was about gender and not sex. Then came the umbrella to bring us up to 2% of the population (4% total if you include the 2% of Intersex individuals) which groups like HRC could raise funds for. HRC in the past had a poor track record for trans issues, but now they claim to be all about the "T". Check you history on other groups and you will find a similar story. When you say Transgender to the public, most think TG/TS. The majority of this umbrella is not understood to be included by the public and as the point you are trying to make are not seen as part of the umbrella by the TG/TS community for the reasons above. If TS's sometime have difficulty understanding the nonsurgical views of TG's there is a significant disconnect with the non-binary or the individuals who claims to be female but presents male (or vis versa.)

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