TransLucent, formerly Steph’s Place, announced on Sunday it would be publishing an article regarding being “trans as a biological condition”. Which generated a lot of discourse within the trans community.
Steph’s Place are a grass roots group of trans people who recently rebranded as TransLucent. They have done some work praised within the small and fairly close-knit UK trans community. However their recent decision to announce an article which regards trans a a biological condition went down like a lead balloon.
Next Friday at approximately 5:00 pm we will be publishing a groundbreaking article (written by a research scientist) that demonstrates that being trans is a biological condition.
— www.TransLucent.Org.UK (@TransLucent_Org) December 11, 2022
The piece itself aside; this subject generated a lot of conversation amongst trans people about whether narratives like “born this way”/trans as a biological condition are good for us. Or whether they actually do more harm than good. Transphobes also tried to get in on the action but who cares what they think about this.
Those supportive of viewing trans as a biological condition tended to argue in favour of that because they believed it would help shore up access to healthcare. As well as providing a more solid foundation for which to argue for our safety from. Some even pointed to the fact that “born this way” narratives appear to have been successful in steps towards gay liberation.
Those opposed to viewing trans as a biological condition argued that attempts to find a root cause of being transgender could lead to attempts to cure being transgender. They point to old newspaper articles that speak positively about the prospect of being able to abort a gay foetus if they can screen for it in utero.
For me personally – as much as I enjoy trans people getting into the nitty gritty and discussing the nuances of the trans experience like this? I think – as a means of arguing for our liberation – trans as a biological condition is a bad way forwards.
I get both the personal interest and the utility of having a concrete answer for the question “why are some people transgender?” I’ve searched for those answers before and convinced myself that I’d found them in neuroscience, or genetics, or hormones in utero or whatever else.
I felt like I needed to know not only so that I could better argue for my survival but also so that I didn’t feel bad about it. But when you really take a step back and look at that; the fact we’re having to justify being transgender already implies that we think we should feel bad about it. We’re participating in our own othering by treating our existence as if it is something that warrants explanation to everyone we ever might possibly meet.
I do not know and may never know why I am transgender, and I’m at peace with that. That’s enough for me and it should be enough for cisgender people too. I should be able to access healthcare, not be discriminated against and have my human rights respected regardless of the reason I am transgender.
I don’t think our community will be fully liberated until we don’t have to explain ourselves to cisgender people any more – and I won’t fight for anything less than that full liberation.
— www.TransLucent.Org.UK (@TransLucent_Org) December 13, 2022
TransLucent have since apologised and announced that they will not be publishing the trans as a biological condition piece. I believe that they had good intentions with this but ultimately I view the search for the cause of transness as a distraction from the fight for liberation; not a supportive measure. So I am thankful for this decision.
I only hope that TransLucent decide to work closer with other orgs in the community before any future announcements. Perhaps less distress may be caused that way.