The importance of listening to people affected by trans identity

The documentation Trans, unique will air this Thursday at 9.10pm on M6 while the climate is uninhibited transphobia. In August, a simple family planning poster about supporting pregnant trans men triggered an avalanche of offensive and discriminatory language. A minority of feminists are also fighting to exclude trans women from their struggles. On another level, the editor who Delphine Cinier, the director of the documentary, has been working with for eight years has refused to work with her this time. “He said to me, ‘I’m not interested, I don’t want to know her [les personnes trans]”I’m uncomfortable, I don’t want to,” she says. She couldn’t change his mind.

“People forget that we are human,” laments Aëla, a trans woman in her 30s whose journey was followed by Channel Six’s cameras. We are almost reduced to a state of furniture or animals that we could attack as if we were creatures from a parallel world. Some haven’t had the click yet to say to themselves, “I have no right to hurt that person, even if I don’t understand who they are and what they’re going through.” Here we have to clarify and give answers. »

“You have to communicate, it’s a human issue”

So it is a pedagogical work that Aëla has agreed to testify in the documentary. Ditto for Zach, a 20-year-old trans man. “Before I discovered what trans identity was, I was in pain without knowing why. It is thanks to the greater visibility afforded to this topic that I knew it existed. Not to talk about it would be to deny reality. »

Emma,​​60, third protagonist of Trans, unique, he repeats: “We have even been criticized at times for communicating too much, allegedly because it tires the public. So what do we do ? Are we still hiding? I believe in communication, it’s a human issue. »

Delphine Cinier admits she knew nothing about trans identity before starting the documentary. “I could make a lot of mistakes when I talk about transgender people,” admits the director. It was Karine Le Marchand who offered her this project in 2019 with her flocked Potiche Prod Producer hat to accompany the three contemporary witnesses over several years. “I always decide on topics that I don’t know,” says the host Love is in the meadow. I arrive with my ignorance and my received ideas. I have to delve into people’s lives and understand who they really are in order not to make caricatures of themselves. »

Karine Le Marchand and her big clogs

But as the saying goes (almost), hell is paved with good intentions. On the screen we find Karine Le Marchand’s style: the role of the good friend with an attentive ear and heavy clogs. She claims to have shown Zach, Aëla and Emma a working copy of the documentary. “We didn’t change anything after that because we didn’t water down the message or change reality. The fact that the witnesses tell me that they recognized each other is the best compliment one can give me. »

As a spectator, however, one feels a certain uneasiness in the face of a tendency towards misery or in the face of the useless reconstructions of certain scenes, including physical aggression, which the testimonies illustrate. The fact that the first names Emma and Aëla bore before their transition are pronounced multiple times will no doubt challenge those in the know to what extent the use of dead names means violence for those involved.

Additionally, Zach specifically disapproved of the use of his first name. “I don’t want people to think of me as a female name. We don’t want to remember the discomfort we were in in the past,” he explains, looking at the camera. However, he agreed to confide childhood photos “to testify one last time before he turns the page”. Emma, ​​she has given her consent to have her identity explicitly mentioned prior to her transition. “I switched late, I didn’t want to throw 60 years out of my life. I had a man’s life,” she says.

moral panic

But it is above all the debate led by Karine Le Marchand at 10.55 p.m. after the documentary has been broadcast that should cause a stir. Justified Transgender child: what to do?he’ll invite Zach, witness of, around the table Trans, unique, psychiatrist Serge Hefez, Solange, who, according to the press release, is “the mother of a transgender girl and refuses to accompany her child until it begins a multi-year psychiatric analysis,” and Blandine, who presents herself as “definitely feminist” and “refuses until towards the concept of gender choice”. We find the latter among the signatories of a forum that considers “that trans people should not be included in areas reserved for women, nor should they be at the center of the feminist agenda”.

“The system put in place by M6 brings (…) a young transgender man and two activists who promote transphobic discrimination (punished by law) face to face, with one portrayed as a simple concerned mother, a guarantee of credibility if you don’t let your child speak”, The Fransgenre Association is outraged in a press release Signed by many feminist organizations and groups and/or fight against LGBT phobia.

The issue of minors’ trans identity, which has been very much in vogue in the media in recent months, springs from a moral panic that mixes alarmist remarks and disinformation, as Slate recalled last year. “I understand the caution, it’s normal, but we mustn’t forget that the law doesn’t allow everything,” emphasizes Emma.

“We have always been there”

And to add that feminists who exclude trans people from their struggles, dubbed Terf after the acronym of trans-exclusionary radical feminist, “are a small number that tends to grow and make a lot of noise”. .

“They fight against the wind,” replies Aëla. Many consider transgender to be a hot new concept. That’s not the case. If you scratch a bit at human history, the gender spectrum is much broader in pre-colonial civilizations, for example in Malaysia and North America. We have always been there. We always will be. Ensuring we don’t exist is sweeping away part of humanity. I don’t know how to analyze the fear we arouse in them. By just being ourselves, we awaken many unconscious things in people. All the more reason to listen to trans people who are directly affected by the issue and not to those who speak for them without knowing it.

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