Morgan M Page is a writer and expert on trans history. She has a podcast called One From the Vaults where she explores important trans historical figures and events.
She was one of the first trans people I followed on Twitter as I was starting my own transition, and I’m pretty sure it was through her that I discovered Topside Press (see “A conversation with Torrey Peters”) and the trans lit scene of the early 2010s. One of the things that I’ve taken from her is a rule she has about not publicly criticizing other trans women.
It might seem like self-censorship, but I’ve found it to be a good rule for a number of reasons. The trans “community” — which is a misnomer, to be sure — isn’t a monolith, and if you follow enough trans people on social media, especially Twitter, you’ll bear witness to dozens of hot takes and flame wars among various trans cliques over all manner of seemingly mundane or minor issues. Let she who is not “problematic” cast the first stone, right?
It’s also important to note that any time a trans woman does something worthy of critique, or even something innocuous, there is a long line of cis people waiting in the wings to offer up opinions on why that trans woman should be shunned, mocked, silenced and/or expelled from civil society. There’s really no reason for another trans woman to add on to that.
For those reasons, among many, I try to refrain from offering negative comment on the actions of my fellow transes.
Politics always tests our principles though, doesn’t it? It’s not like it hasn’t been a hard enough year for trans people, with state legislatures across the country rushing to criminalize and ban the existence of trans people, but now Caitlyn Jenner, a Republican, has become the face of the campaign to recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat. Jenner was also recently quoted voicing her opposition to allowing trans girls to compete in girls’ sports, an issue at the heart of a number of the anti-trans bills being considered. No one tell her that California has had legal protections for trans athletes since 2014.
Though disappointing, it isn’t exactly surprising. Jenner was an early Trump supporter, but then renounced him in 2018. Jenner isn’t even novel in her approach — YouTube personality Blair White has been doing the same bit since 2015. There will always be an audience for trans people who are willing to parrot anti-trans talking points, unfortunately.
It will be interesting to see if that audience will be able to elect the first transgender governor.
Part of Jenner’s problem is that she is wildly disconnected from the realities of not just the trans community, but average citizens. During a recent interview with Sean Hannity she said, “My friends are leaving California. My hangar, the guy right across, he was packing up his hangar and I said, ‘Where are you going?’ And he says, ‘I’m moving to Sedona, Arizona. I can’t take it anymore. I can’t walk down the streets and see the homeless.’”
Please won’t someone think of the impact homeless people in California are having on private plane owners.
She’s like some kind of monkey’s paw wish for trans elected officials. In November we celebrated the victories of trans politicians like Colorado’s Rep. Brianna Titone, Virginia’s Delegate Danica Roem, Delaware’s Sen. Sarah McBride and Kansas’s Rep. Stephanie Byers, all Democrats. Now Jenner, a Republican, emerges, cicada-like, screaming about trans athletes and homeless people.
I’m sure cis people will have a lot to say about that.