Why "Transgenderism" Is Not Only Not a Word but Shouldn't Be a Word.
Being transgender is not a belief and not an "-ism"
Regardless of what you believe, the existence of transgender people is a fact. Aside from the fact that transgender people exist, experiments have been done to demonstrate that transgender women have similarities to cisgender women in their neurological anatomy that are not shared with cisgender men.
Transgender people too often face discrimination and one of the oft heard refrain that there is such a thing as the "trans agenda". The "trans agenda" is a term that is similar to the fearmongering term the "gay agenda" that was used a decade ago. In reality, the "agenda" in question is a freedom from discrimination and oppression.
The affixing of "ism" to the term "transgender" is an attempt to make being transgender seem like an ideology, when it cannot be further from the truth.
Trans People are Not a Hegemony
Trans people only have one thing in common: we were assigned the wrong gender at birth. We tend to be more left-wing or centrist than right-wing, though this is more likely due to oppression from the right-wing than anything else. With right-wing parties and actors fearmongering about trans people and spreading lies about trans people, it would be obvious that many trans women would be left-leaning.
However, there are a few trans people who are not left-leaning. Even though there are right-wing parties that are not overtly transphobic or somewhat LGBT-affirming (in this case, I'm thinking of the Likud Party in Israel), there are even trans people in the United States who are right-wing.
What is Typically Meant By the Suffix "-ism"?
The suffix "-ism" typically denotes a belief system or ideology. Like, "communism", "capitalism", "liberalism", "conservatism", "totalitarianism", "feminism", etc. When you think of any or all of these terms, you think of a certain set of values that are generally held by the adherents to these movements.
However, being transgender is different as being transgender is a trait, not a belief system or an ideology. You can't will yourself out of being transgender. While some people have detransitioned, the common reason for this is due to the societal transphobia. However, this is not enough to resolve the dysphoria the individual may feel and they may be compelled to retransition at a later date.
A UK National Health Service Study on Detransition and Regret
So, What Is The Common Desire For All Trans People?
The reason why being transgender is not an "-ism" is due to the common desire for all trans people. It's actually the desire of most of humanity: the freedom to live life authentically and free. To be seen for who you are, warts and all. I think that this is a very common thing that transcends belief system, unless your beliefs involve fraud and deception.
This is why we transition. We transition in order to live authentically as who we are. I know that for myself, every step I took on this path has made me feel more well and better about myself. I am aggressively pursuing facial feminization surgery and vocal surgery in order to finalize my transition and just live my life. The reason why is so that people won't erroneously call me "sir" or unintentionally use the wrong pronouns with me.
This doesn't mean that there won't be people who will falsely accuse me of being "a man" or "male". Transphobia is still a thing. However, I think that when you're a transgender person in a transphobic world, it's a little easier to develop thicker skin against bigots and the honest mistakes tend to cut a bit more deeply.
Looking at this, I can hardly see a "belief system" centred around this unless you take a really cynical and meaningless view of the term "belief". Or, as comedian John Oliver put it on his show "Last Week Tonight":
"Bros before Hoes? That could be a religion. Red Vines are better than Twizzlers? That could be a religion."
- John Oliver
Use "Being Transgender" Instead
The phrase "being transgender" is more accurate for the thing people most commonly mean when they use the term "transgenderism". They're usually referring to people who are trans rather than any sort of ideology. You can call transgender people just that... transgender people. And for people who believe transgender people should have equal rights to cisgender people? Equal rights activists. Though, the term "trans rights activist" should be used with caution because, as the good people at RationalWiki put it:
A transgender person that supports the mainstream transgender rights movement (as opposed to TERF/GC views). The name is made to echo the sexist "MRA" movement, in an attempt to draw an equivalence.
© 2020 Véronique Bellamy