Transgender ideology is a loose catch-all term referring to philosophies, world views, and dogmatic statements adhered to by political activists who try to uphold the human rights of transgender people. The political movement of furthering these ideologies is called the transgender movement.
The practice of supporting transgender ideology is called transgender activism (often shortened trans activism) and a person who follows this practice is called a transgender activist (often shortened trans activist). The word "transgender" in the phrase "transgender activist" is not to be understood as an adjective for the person in question (i.e. "an activist who happens to be transgender") but as a reference to the activism they practice (i.e. "an activist supporting transgender ideology"). Many trans activists are not transgender themselves.
Feminists tend to use the term transgender ideology with a critical tone when pointing out sexist, homophobic, or otherwise problematic aspects of the transgender movement. Those who support the movement tend to oppose the term, likening it to the phrase homosexual agenda, which is used to ascribe sinister intent to gay/lesbian/bisexual rights activists. Indeed, right-wing and Christian organizations heavily use the term transgender ideology in their publications critical of the movement, however their reasons for opposing it tend to be radically different than those of feminists.
Trans women are women
One of the core dogmata of the transgender movement is the statement that trans women are women (and the less often repeated trans men are men). Under this view, it's important to write trans woman as two words (adjective and noun) and not transwoman, to stress the fact that "trans women" are literally a subtype of women, just like white women, black women, short women, tall women, and so on. The statement "trans women are women" is not meant as a vague slogan of moral support, but in a literal sense.
This statement contradicts the definition of the word "woman" as seen in some dictionaries (i.e. adult human female). Many trans activists believe that a definition based on self-identification would be better. This includes the circular definition, "anyone who identifies as a woman, is a woman." As such, the statement "trans women are women" is probably best described as a dogmatic position.
As the notion that "trans women are women" is meant literally, many problematic conclusions follow, especially considering that any intact male person can simply self-identify as a "trans woman" without needing to undergo any sort of medical transition.
Intact males in women's spaces
If male people who identify as women are literally women, it would follow that they should be allowed to use the same locker rooms, communal showers, and other such sex-segregated public facilities for women. Helen Staniland summarizes this issue by posing the rhetorical question, "should male born people with a penis be free to enter and undress in communal changing rooms where women and girls are undressing?" The question has been dubbed the Staniland Question. Most trans activists refuse to provide a straight answer, as saying no would mean that they don't agree that self-identified "trans women" should be allowed in women's locker rooms, whereas saying yes reveals the very problem being demonstrated.
The images above are from discussions that sparked after an incident in Wi Spa, L.A., in which a woman complained about a male person with a penis wandering around naked in the women's section of the nude spa.
The idea that "trans women are women" is usually backed by several philosophical viewpoints. Some hold a belief in an essential, inborn, and immutable "gender identity" that every person possesses. Transwomen are said to be real women on the grounds that they possess a "female gender identity" which they are said to share with women. Likewise for transmen and a male gender identity that is supposedly shared by all men. Others believe that all words are social constructs that lack objective definitions. Nevertheless, they argue the terms "man" and "woman" hold a particularly meaningful role with regards to individuals' identities. In the absence of an inherently true definition to protect, they support basing gender in self-identification, which has a substantial benefit on transgender mental health.
The conclusion to such philosophical ideas is that biological sex characteristics do not factor into womanhood and manhood. For example, a few transwomen have full beards and intact male anatomy, and many trans activists claim they are literally real women like any other.
Since gender identity is said to be inborn, it follows that some children would be transgender. Once they show signs of such, medical consensus is to support the child in whatever identity they hold and allow them to freely express themselves. Doctors and trans activists also generally support puberty blocking medication such as Lupron to children who think they are transgender. This prevents them from experiencing puberty that may result in dysphoria later in life and allows them to decide what body is right for them as they grow older.
Some who oppose these medications argue that there are high rates of children who realize they are transgender too late. The studies cited usually include irrelevant statistics regarding children who were deemed unlikely to be trans by their doctors. According to a medical guide published by the Human Rights Campaign, the American College of Osteopathic Pediatricians, and the American Academy of Pediatrics: "It is clear that many children who are gender-expansive or have mild gender dysphoria do not grow up to be transgender — but these are not the children for whom competent clinicians recommend gender transition."
Cisgender people oppress transgender people
Another core tenet of transgender ideology is the notion that many cisgender people oppress transgender people, just like how men oppress women, white Americans oppress black Americans, or how straight people oppress gay men and lesbian women. Trans activists often cite high rates of homelessness, trans minors being disowned by their parents, and suicide rates correlating to societal treatment in their claims of trans people being oppressed.
Supporting "sex work" activism
For reasons not entirely clear, many if not most transgender activists also seem to support the "sex work" movement.
- Alicia Hendley (April 10, 2019). I supported trans ideology until I couldn’t anymore. Feminist Current.
- Carol Hay (April 1, 2019). Who Counts as a Woman?. The New York Times.
- The truth about trans. Stonewall.
- Understanding Gender. Gender Spectrum. "According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “By age four, most children have a stable sense of their gender identity.” This core aspect of one’s identity comes from within each of us. Gender identity is an inherent aspect of a person’s make-up. Individuals do not choose their gender, nor can they be made to change it."
- Transsexualism: The Inside Story. gires.org.uk. GIRES. Archived
- Augustus Klein and Sarit A. Golub (May 25, 2016). Family Rejection as a Predictor of Suicide Attempts and Substance Misuse Among Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Adults.
- Human Rights Campaign Foundation, American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and American College of Osteopathic Pediatricians (ACOP) (September 2016). Supporting and Caring for Transgender Children.
- James Michael Nichols (July 25, 2015). This Incredible Trans Woman Is Challenging The Way We Think About Gender.
- Sessi Kuwabara Blanchard (January 29, 2019). The Ins and Outs of Topping as a Trans Girl.
- Perri Klass (October 15, 2018). Helping Pediatricians Care for Transgender Children. The New York Times.
- Sian Ferguson (March 21, 2014). 3 Examples of Everyday Cissexism. Everyday Feminism.
- Laura Kacere (January 27, 2014). Transmisogyny 101: What It Is and What Can We Do About It. Everyday Feminism.
- Transgender Homeless Adults & Unsheltered Homelessness: What the Data Tell Us. National Alliance to End Homelessness. July 24, 2020.
- Julie Bindel (October 2, 2017). The pact between trans rights advocates and the sex trade lobby. Feminist Current.