Originally Posted by HRoi
But maybe it's because I naturally dislike labels and try not to use them. The woman in the mail room is just Christina (not real name), period. It's rarely relevant for me to mention that she used to be a man, so it rarely does.
I think the point about labels is absolutely central to this issue. I am not a trans person. I enjoy an enormous privilege because of that: when people interact with me, they don't interact with me qua
person with a particular gender identity. I am allowed to deal with the world as L'Incandescent, not as L'Incandescent the trans person. If I were a trans person, on the other hand, my gender identity would very often be the most salient feature of my social dealings. And in the vast majority of cases, that fact would work to my disadvantage: I would be subjected to lots and lots of strong signs of social disapproval, and I would need to be very aware of the threat of physical violence. As someone with the statistically normal gender identification, my privilege is more or less invisible; it seems like the most natural and obvious thing in the world. If a name is given to my gender identity, then the naturalness of my privilege disappears. My gender identity is all of a sudden commensurable with the gender identities of those other people, and that is galling because those people are an insignificant minority, or a niche group, or unnatural, or pathological, or just plain bad. In short, those people just aren't to be taken all that seriously.
I have no doubt that you treat Christina as just plain Christina, but I also have no doubt that a very large percentage of her social interactions--and the very worst ones at that--have been as Christina the trans person. I'm sure she'd love to be regular Christina just like you are regular HRoi, but that is not an option for her. Having a word for the statistically normal gender identification brings that out.