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Republish it! But please do not edit the piece. Also make sure that you attribute the author, and mention the article was originally published on Scholars Strategy Network. \u003Cem\u003EBy copying and pasting the markup below you will be adhering to these guidelines.\u003C\/em\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Cp\u003E\u003Ca href=\u0022\/republishing-ssn-articles\u0022\u003EView additional guideline details.\u003C\/a\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\n \u003Ctextarea\u003E\n \u003Cdiv about=\u0022\/brief\/danger-seeing-transgender-people-partnerships-and-families-born-way\u0022 typeof=\u0022sioc:Item foaf:Document\u0022 class=\u0022ds-1col node node-brief view-mode-stealourcontent_node clearfix\u0022\u003E\n \u003Ch2\u003E\n The Danger of Seeing Transgender People, Partnerships, and Families as \u0027Born That Way\u0027\n \u003C\/h2\u003E\u003Ca href=\u0022http:\/\/www.scholarsstrategynetwork.org\/scholar\/carla-pfeffer\u0022\u003ECarla A. Pfeffer\u003C\/a\u003E, University of South Carolina\n \u003Cp\u003E\n At state and federal levels, gay men and lesbians have won striking victories in having their relationships and families legally recognized. Legal recognition of same-sex marriage and inclusion of \u201cout\u201d gay men and lesbians in the military have advanced as Americans shift views on why people are gay or lesbian and \u003Cem\u003Ehow\u003C\/em\u003E they become gay or lesbian in the first place. Increasingly, mainstream views are summed up by Lady Gaga\u2019s hit, \u201cBorn This Way.\u201d If gay men and lesbians cannot change their sexual orientation, then they should not be legally discriminated against when it comes to joining institutions like the military or marriage.\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Cp\u003E\n But not everyone embraces these ideas. In my earlier research, I have shown that convictions about the genetic or biological basis of gay and lesbian identities do not always lead to increased support for gay men and lesbians, just as (mistaken) beliefs about the biological grounding of racial identities have not ended racism. What is more, insistence on biological determinants tends to preclude alternative understandings of gender and sexual identities as grounded in personal choices or complex sets of factors.\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Cp\u003E\n \u003Cspan class=\u0022brief-title\u0022\u003EAmbiguities and Paradoxes for Transgender Partnerships and Families\u003C\/span\u003E\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Cp\u003E\n Consider, for example, women who are partnered with transgender men. Use of testosterone among some transgender men leads to development of facial hair, a deeper voice, and redistribution of body fat. Some transgender men also use fabric binders or surgeries to flatten their chests. In many states and jurisdictions, transgender men are able to legally change their names and sex designators from \u201cfemale\u201d to \u201cmale,\u201d making them indistinguishable from non-transgender men. A considerable number of women who partner with transgender men, therefore, report being perceived as unremarkably heterosexual or part of a heterosexual couple. This is especially true if the couple is raising young children. Many assume this situation to be socially advantageous, but my experience interviewing women partners of transgender men suggests that the story is much more complex.\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Cp\u003E\n Over a period of two years, I conducted in-depth interviews with fifty women partners of transgender men. The majority of these women had previously identified as lesbian. Some had lesbian-identified partners who \u201ctransitioned\u201d to live life as a man, while others met their transgender partner during or following his transition. For some of these women, being perceived by family or strangers as heterosexual or part of a heterosexual partnership did have its perks. Such women reported being accepted and welcomed in a way they had not experienced when they were perceived as lesbian or part of a lesbian couple. For instance, they noticed older couples smiling at them as they held their transgender partner\u2019s hand in public \u2013 something they had not often experienced when seen as a lesbian couple. Some women also told me their parents were relieved and felt vindicated in thinking their daughter\u2019s lesbianism had simply been a \u201cphase\u201d they would outgrow. Paradoxically, this newfound acceptance confirmed the true depth of homophobia that exists in their families and communities.\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Cp\u003E\n Many of the women I interviewed did not take comfort in the perception that they were in a heterosexual relationship. Many said they valued their \u003Cem\u003Equeer\u003C\/em\u003E identities and felt both sadness and anger at having it erased or misrecognized by others. This was especially true when they felt that their queer identity was invisible to other members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. For example, women reported previously feeling a sense of camaraderie and recognition when encountering other lesbian couples, something they lost when their partner transitioned. In a sense, this group of women felt challenged by others\u2019 failure to recognize them as they saw themselves \u2013 as queer women. And many reported that their transgender partner experienced discrimination within social locations previously considered \u201csafe spaces\u201d \u2013 such as gay and lesbian bars, clubs, and social events. Some reported that bathrooms became especially dangerous spaces for their transgender partners because of gender policing by others \u2013 even by those who are lesbian or gay-identified themselves.\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Cp\u003E\n For this group of women, sexual identity is not experienced as simply a product of biology or nature, something that they were born into. Their identities and relationships could not easily be subsumed into the categories of lesbian or heterosexual; and bisexual was an untenable category for some, since their partner could not be assured that they were attracted to them as a man rather than as a woman. Existing labels no longer quite fit them or their partnerships. Despite the fact that they were often perceived as heterosexual, they did not want to be perceived in this way. Instead, many understood their identities and partnerships as a challenge to the social status quo and discussed their commitments to politically advancing social equality. Espousing queer labels offered more wiggle room for them to define their own identities, partnerships, and families. They often understood identities, partnerships, and families in a more expansive way.\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Cp\u003E\n \u003Cspan class=\u0022brief-title\u0022\u003ESocial and Policy Implications\u003C\/span\u003E\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Cp\u003E\n This research suggests a number of actionable conclusions:\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Cul\u003E\n \u003Cli\u003ERights claims grounded in ideas that people are \u201cborn this way\u201d should be approached with caution. Rather, rights should be extended to members of stigmatized and marginalized groups without regard to specifying how people became members of such groups.\u003Cbr\u003E\n \u0026nbsp;\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003Cli\u003EDiscussions of stigmatized and marginalized groups should sharpen understandings of the social processes and mechanisms by which stigma, marginalization, and discrimination operate, rather than focusing on the people who are \u003Cem\u003Etargets\u003C\/em\u003E of exclusion and stigma.\u003Cbr\u003E\n \u0026nbsp;\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003Cli\u003ELesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, partnerships, families, and communities must not be classified or understood as damaged, inferior, or less-than others; instead, possibilities for understanding them as social barometers or innovators should be explored.\u003Cbr\u003E\n \u0026nbsp;\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003Cli\u003EInstitutions, individuals, and groups must take care not to marginalize or exclude members of the transgender community and their loved ones. Gender policing and exclusionary practices and policies can be subtle as well as overt, and fighting discrimination means taking active steps to avoid these social ills.\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003C\/ul\u003E\n \u003Cp\u003E\n \u003Cspan class=\u0022brief-footer-comments\u0022\u003ERead more in Carla A. Pfeffer, \u201c\u003Ca href=\u0022http:\/\/www.journals.uchicago.edu\/doi\/full\/10.1086\/677197\u0022\u003E\u2018I Don\u2019t Like Passing as a Straight Woman\u2019: Queer Negotiations of Identity and Social Group Membership\u003C\/a\u003E.\u201d \u003Cem\u003EAmerican Journal of Sociology\u003C\/em\u003E 120, no. 1 (2014):1-44.\u003C\/span\u003E\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Ctable align=\u0022left\u0022 cellpadding=\u00221\u0022 cellspacing=\u00221\u0022\u003E\n \u003Ctr\u003E\n \u003Ctd\u003E\n \u003Ca href=\u0022http:\/\/www.scholarsstrategynetwork.org\u0022\u003Ewww.scholarsstrategynetwork.org\u003C\/a\u003E\n \u003C\/td\u003E\n \u003C\/tr\u003E\n \u003C\/table\u003E\n \u003Ctable align=\u0022right\u0022 cellpadding=\u00221\u0022 cellspacing=\u00221\u0022\u003E\n \u003Ctr\u003E\n \u003Ctd\u003E\n September 2016\n \u003C\/td\u003E\n \u003C\/tr\u003E\n \u003C\/table\u003E\n \u003Cp\u003E\n \u0026nbsp;\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E \u003Cp\u003EThis article was originally published on \u003Ca href=\u0022http:\/\/www.scholarsstrategynetwork.org\/\u0022\u003EScholars Strategy Network\u003C\/a\u003E. Read the \u003Ca href=\u0022http:\/\/www.scholarsstrategynetwork.org\/brief\/danger-seeing-transgender-people-partnerships-and-families-born-way\u0022\u003Eoriginal article\u003C\/a\u003E.\u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Cimg height=\u00221\u0022 width=\u00221\u0022 typeof=\u0022foaf:Image\u0022 src=\u0022http:\/\/www.scholarsstrategynetwork.org\/stealourcontent\/track.gif?nid=37332\u0022 alt=\u0022\u0022 \/\u003E \u003C\/textarea\u003E\n\n \u003Cp\u003ECopy the above code and paste it into your website or CMS to republish.\u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n"}]