This absurd controversy arises, inextricably and necessarily, from the view that maleness is an achievement, a status that can easily be lost by doing non-male things. Nobody freaks out this way over girls wearing masculine trappings because they don’t see femaleness as a status that can be lost. YMY contributor Julia Serano’s book Whipping Girl is foundational reading on this subject. It’s inherently misogynist — the devaluing and rejection of females and femaleness — to freak out about boys wearing girl clothes or makeup.
I’m tempted to say that’s all I have to say about that. But it’s not. This isn’t just about the small portion of the population who can’t make peace with the assignment they got at birth. This is about gender and how it’s constructed for all of us. Those of us who were raised as men absorbed a lot of ideas about what that means and what we can and can’t do; that manhood is something we can fall off if we take a wrong step. That pressure doesn’t just disappear because we don’t examine it.
I have got reasons to care about trans folks’ issues that are not altruistic. My liberation is bound up with theirs. Trans issues are everyone’s issues.