In light of Pride Month and in honouring the radical Stonewall Riots in 1969 that occurred over 50 years ago, I feel it is necessary to discuss the overly passive concept of asserting validity, particularly in regards to transgender (trans) people and the related communities.
It is without a doubt that since the Sexual Revolution in the 1960s, the LGBTQ+ communities within North America and Europe have made tremendous strides, ranging from the legalization of same-sex marriage nationwide, to allowing trans people to transition easier in various parts of the world.
More specifically and recently, the trans community has overcome several hurdles. This includes allowing trans individuals to utilize whichever bathroom they feel comfortable using in certain places to providing tools and support for those currently undergoing a transition.
Alongside these developments, the notions of being perceived as ‘valid’ have also come about within various LGBTQ+ communities and beyond. But what does it mean to be ‘valid’? Has the concept of validity lost a lot of meaning in light of the progress made by the various communities at hand?
Here is a key and crucial example: James Charles, social media icon and makeup artist, has consistently been put in the spotlight for his transphobia.
“there have been girls in the past that I’ve thought are really, really beautiful, there’s also been like, trans guys in the past that I was like really, really into for a moment in time.”
The above quote is from one of James Charles’ videos highlighting why he does not perceive himself to be “full gay”.
In turn, he effectively equates his attraction to women as the same as his attraction towards trans men, therefore creating an imbalance in regards to trans validity.
After coming under a massive attack by fans and trans activists, he released an apology on Twitter, expressing disdain for the implications made in his video.
In his supposed apology, we see the term ‘valid’ being thrown around quite a bit. He expresses the notion that trans people are “valid in their identity”. Many people were satisfied with such an apology, but at the same time, many were not.
The most prevalent replies on the tweet mentioned above were discussing how the apology and reference to validity did not cover what he said at all, especially in regards to the potential implications and harm that it could cause to the trans community as a whole, which still faces significant obstacles concerning their identity in a societal sphere.
When discussing the various notions of trans validity, it is crucial to understand what is meant by the phrase itself. Validity has been used as a scapegoat to effectively get away with blatant transphobia and then instantly come back from it without facing any sort of legitimate backlash.
Likewise, the apology somehow allowed Charles to get away with keeping the content in question up without seeking to go through the effort to edit the comment out of the video.
Correspondingly, the damage that was initially done through the comments made in the video is still up and running, thus presenting the grounds for future damage to be done to the community.
But that’s fine because he apologized right?
Looking to the future, the radical element of trans liberation should not be forgotten, nor should it be undermined in the slightest. Accepting liberalized notions of validity as a response to transphobia continues to allow for transphobia to exist in the first place. The most important thing to take away from this is the fact that actions speak louder than words. Expressing support of validity does nothing if it does not bind you to demonstrating it in the first place.