Transmisogyny (sometimes trans-misogyny) is the intersection of transphobia and misogyny. It was coined by Julia Serano in her 2007 book Whipping Girl and used to describe the unique discrimination faced by trans women because of "the assumption that femaleness and femininity are inferior to, and exist primarily for the benefit of, maleness and masculinity",[1][2][3] and the way that transphobia intensifies the misogyny faced by trans women (and vice versa).[1] Transmisogyny is a central concept in transfeminism and is commonly seen in intersectional feminist theory. The suggestion that trans women's femaleness (rather than their femininity) is a source of transmisogyny is rejected by some feminists, who say trans women are not female.[4]


Transmisogyny is generally understood to be caused by the social belief that men are superior to women. In Whipping Girl, Julia Serano writes that the existence of trans women is seen as a threat to a "male-centered gender hierarchy, where it is assumed that men are better than women and that masculinity is superior to femininity."[5] Gender theorist Judith Butler echoes this assumption, stating that the murder of transgender women is "an act of power, a way of re-asserting domination... killing establishes the killer as sovereign in the moment that he kills."[6]

Trans women are also viewed as threatening the heterosexuality of cisgender men. In media, "deceivers" such as Dil, a transgender woman from the 1992 film The Crying Game, have been observed to invoke outrage and male homophobia in an audience when their "true" maleness is unveiled.[7]

I think perhaps that if a trans woman flirts with a man who is straight, and that man feels humiliated or embarrassed (is that last word strong enough? maybe mortified), it is probably because he is identified by the trans man as someone with whom flirtation is possible, who could himself be involved with a trans woman or might himself be one. For some straight men, it may be possible to flirt back or to say, "thanks but no thanks," and for others, they reach for a gun. What accounts for those differences? I presume that the straight man who shoots the trans woman, he feels like he has been "attacked" by the flirtation. That is very crazy reasoning, but there is lots of craziness out there when it comes to gender identity and sexuality.


Julia Serano coined the term "transmisogyny."

Trans women face an overall higher rate of oppression than trans men.[8] This is most marked in the typical areas of sexist discrimination, like sexual assault or street harassment. A 2011 survey of 6,456 transgender and gender non-conforming people in the United States found that up to 20% of the trans women surveyed had been subjected to sexual assault. Specifically, 12% of the trans girls and 20% of the trans women prison inmates, who were surveyed, reported sexual assault.[8] This compares, for example, to a 2009 survey of 5,446 US college women, most of whom were not trans, which found that 19% of these women had experienced sexual assault during their time at college.[9][10] "Tranny" and "shemale", two common transphobic slurs, are reserved for trans women. A 2008 study of 64 trans women and trans men in the U.S. found that the trans women got a pay cut after transition, but the trans men got a pay raise. The researchers concluded that "male-to-female workers tend to be penalized and female-to-male workers modestly rewarded because of anti-woman, rather than just anti-transgender, discrimination."[11]

Transgender women are often depicted in media as drag queens, sex workers, dead bodies, or tragic objects of pity or scorn.[12] Some put forward the idea that this conflation of trans women with sex workers is a reflection of transmisogyny.[3][13]


Julia Serano in Whipping Girl pointed out that transvestic fetishism, a disorder listed in the DSM-IV, only mentions cross dressing by men.[5] Similarly, autogynephillia was a recognised disorder in the DSM-IV, but autoandrophillia was not.

Sexual harassment

Julia Serano notes that, despite transitioning, trans women are still commonly perceived as male; however, they are rarely sexualized as such. In the porn industry, whose target audience is primarily heterosexual men, largely show trans women as sexual objects rather than "predatory".[5] Serano observes that when she is in a social environment where she is known to be transsexual, for example places where she performs spoken word poetry, she receives many more blatantly sexual comments than when in a similar setting where she is assumed to be cissexual.


Part of the cause, may be that transsexual women, by nature of their relative rarity, are viewed as "exotic", however this is not wholly the situation, as Julia Serano points out, "there are plenty of types of women who are relatively rare, but they are not all sexualized in the same manner that trans women are."[5] In Whipping Girl, Serano writes on what she calls a "predator–prey dichotomy", where "men are invariably viewed as predators and women as prey." Because of this view, trans women are perceived to be luring men by transitioning and "turning [themselves] into sexual objects that no red-blooded man can resist."[5]

Relation to transphobia

Julia Serano states in Whipping Girl that "When the majority of jokes made at the expense of trans people center on 'men wearing dresses' or 'men who want their penises cut off' that is not transphobia – it is transmisogyny. When the majority of violence and sexual assaults committed against trans people is directed at trans women, that is not transphobia – it is transmisogyny."[5]

See also


  1. 1 2 "Transmisogyny primer" (PDF). Retrieved 10 September 2014.
  2. Harrison, Kelby (2013). Sexual deceit: the ethics of passing. Lexington Books. p. 12. ISBN 9780739177068.
  3. 1 2 Battis, edited by Jes (2011). Homofiles : theory, sexuality, and graduate studies. Lanham, Md.: Lexington Books. ISBN 9780739131916.
  4. Jefferys, Shiela (2014) Gender Hurts, Routledge, ISBN 978-0-415-53939-5, page 8.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Serano, Julia (2007). Whipping girl ([Online-Ausg.]. ed.). Berkeley: Seal Press. ISBN 1580051545.
  6. "Why Do Men Kill Trans Women? Gender Theorist Judith Butler Explains | Broadly". Broadly. Retrieved 2015-12-24.
  7. Serano, Julia (2007). Whipping girl ([Online-Ausg.]. ed.). Berkeley: Seal Press. ISBN 1580051545.
  8. 1 2 "Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey" (PDF). National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. Retrieved 27 April 2015.
  9. Sexual Violence – Facts at a Glance published by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (pdf). Retrieved 2015-07-07.
  10. Krebs, C.P. et al. (2009) College women's experiences with physically forced, alcohol- or other drug-enabled, and drug-facilitated sexual assault before and since entering college , Journal of American College Health, volume 57 number 60, pages 639–47. doi: 10.3200/JACH.57.6.639-649
  11. "Before That Sex Change, Think About Your Next Paycheck by Catherine Rampell, September 25, 2008". New York Times. Retrieved 31 March 2015.
  12. Ryan, Joelle Ruby. "Reel Gender: Examining the Politics of Trans Images in Film and Media". Ohio Link. Retrieved 11 September 2014.
  13. Queer Necropolitics. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis. 2014. ISBN 9781136005282.
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