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Trans Activism Of The Monstrous

It is time for a feminism of the monstrous.

~Little Light

Image: Autumn SandeenI am not a monster. I am not a creature of tooth and claw, scales or deformity — I am not any sort monster that is an evil antagonist bent on chaos and destruction.

I am not a monster. I don’t prey on women and children in public restrooms as some body essentialists in the religious right and feminist communities imagine I do. In high school, I trained to be a preschool teacher’s aide and was certified as such. I’m a parent who is currently actively assisting my oldest adult child as that young adult prepares for his career. I posed (and pose) no danger of predation to children of all ages.

Thumbnail link: The Traditional Values Coalition June 12, 2012 Fundraising Letter  Creating The False Character of Mary The Confused TranssexualI am not a monster. I’m not the essence of the epithets and pejoratives that I’ve been called — or the ones my peers have been called — my peers and I are not inhuman monsters.

I keep saying “I am not a monster”…I am especially not a monster within the depths of my being where I care about loving my neighbor as myself.

And yet, I also know that I am perceived as a monster. If the sociological model’s definition of a situation is true — the definition which states “if a situation is perceived as real, it is real in its consequences” — then the perception I’m a monster is real in consequence.

Mary is a little, shall we say, confused…

…but Mary isn’t confused about whether or not the Employee Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) is going to allow someone like him to keep teaching your kids while he undergoes his transformation from ugly caterpillar into a beautiful… something or other…

~~Traditional Values Coalition Fundraising Email (June 12, 2012)

As transgender monsters, my peers and I have been identified as shemale, it, and that thing.

The Traditional Value Coalition has called trans women “shemales” many times— so have Peter LaBarbera and Matt Barber as well. As a trans woman I’m perceived as the monster named “Shemale” — that is real in its consequences.

Or maybe we’re fed cake for the monstrous in being misgendered as an “it” or as a “man.” We are perceived to be less-than-human-beings suitable to be the tools of jokes meant to demean others to small measure and us a great deal. As a trans woman I’m perceived as the monster named “It” and the monster named “Man In A Dress” — those are real in their consequences.

Perhaps it’s time for the trans activism of the monstrous. That’s not to embrace the idea that we are confused bathroom and elementary school predators, or are men pretending to be women and therefore deserve to be the butt and brunt of jokes, but instead to embrace the monstrous activism of fighting back with rhetorical tooth and claw against those who define us as monsters. It would be embracing the monstrous activism of trans “monsters” we choose to name “Humans” — being not truly monsters at all.

Yes, we can contend against those who would dehumanize us as monsters. We can monstously do it by being human — by demanding our humanity be fully acknowledged.


One way I engage in monstrous activism for trans people’s ordinary equality is to give to the trans-specific non-profits that contend for it. Both the Transgender Law Center (TLC) and the National Center For Transgender Equality (NCTE) are organizations that embrace the humanity of trans people and push back against the idea trans people are monsters. If you want to follow my example — if you want to give $35 so you can with equal force push back against the Traditional Values Coalition’s defining of trans people as monsters — you can do it here:

Donate: Transgender Law Center

Donate: National Center for Transgender Equality

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Autumn Sandeen

Autumn Sandeen