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.
"WHY SHOULD THEY HAVE TO TRANSITION LIKE I DID, JUST BECAUSE IT WORKED FOR ME?"
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?
"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."
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?