To be effective, social change must be implemented on a large scale

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A lot of current social justice momentum is focused on changing individuals. For instance, some LGBTQ YouTubers made videos last August arguing that people who refuse to date transgender people need to self-reflect on the transphobic basis for their dating preferences. The point of these videos is to prevent individuals from harming oppressed people and therefore create safer spaces for the oppressed people. However, the strategy that focuses on changing individuals does little to nothing in terms of changing the overall structures that have created these individuals' problematic thoughts and behaviors in the first place.

In her video "Are genital preferences transphobic?," Riley J. Dennis states that she's "trying to show that preferences for women with vaginas over women with penises might be partially informed by a cissexist society," so people "should examine the societal influences on [their] preferences." She is essentially saying that having a genital preference is rooted in the belief that trans men and women are not real men and women, which is a transphobic belief, so by addressing one's societally engineered transphobic biases, one may learn to find binary trans people attractive. Marina Watanabe, another YouTuber, makes a similar argument in her video "RE: Arielle Scarcella and Genital Preferences": "Sometimes it's good to look at societal bias and how that might affect our preferences. It's never a clean cut like you have to do this, you have to f*** this trans person, but, hey, let's examine our biases and start a conversation."

Both of these women are acknowledging that the issue is really society and not the individual at all. In a society where it is common practice to assume that a child is a certain gender until proven otherwise, where the government tries to prevent trans people from using the bathroom matching their gender identity, where the narrative about transgender people is that they start out as one gender and become another rather than that they discover who they were all along (even the word "trans" suggests a movement from one thing to another), it is not a surprise that people would have a instinctual association of genitals with gender and doubt the realness of a trans person's gender. Dennis and Watanabe's solution to this problem is an individual reflection. While perhaps this individual reflection and education can change an individual, it's like putting a bandaid on a bullet wound — individual reflection won't do anything to change the fact that people are raised to only see the validity of cisgenderism.

A more effective solution might be to implement more legal protections for trans people that let them do things like use the bathrooms of their gender rather than of their biological sex or give them more legal frameworks under which to press charges against harassment. Such laws would represent a national culture of acceptance that would empower and validate trans individuals. Additionally, education on transgenderism should not be a private endeavor. Rather, children should learn in school about gender identity and expression so that they can grow up with the assumption that transgenderism is legitimate. These open-minded children would grow up into accepting and informed adults more accepting of the idea of gender-based rather than sex-based sexualities. A third solution is to increase mainstream media representation of transgender people. Transgender people are largely missing from movies, TV shows, and books, and the few that they do appear in are either obscure or problematic. When transgender people are pushed to the fringes, it furthers the narrative that cisgenderism is the norm and transgenderism is a deviation. There should be more movies about the trans women of color who led the early LGBTQ rights movement, books about trans people in love, and television shows about realizing one's gender identity and coming out to those close to you. And this media should be normalized to the point that everyone consumes it regardless of whether one is trans or cis.

Sexual attraction is among the most subconscious, primal human experiences, so it can be nearly impossible to consciously change them, and attempting to dictate people's personal choices can actually drive them away from the movement. If it were a society that changed, however, people would not be systematically molded to have transphobic biases in the first place. If trans-accepting changes were made in the three areas of public policy, public education, and media, it would redefine the way that people see and define gender, so transphobic dating preferences would become a thing of the past.

The left often takes the sort of individualistic approach promoted by Dennis and Watanabe to solve systemic social problems. Especially in leftist social media activism, the onus is on the individual to educate oneself and prevent the propagation of oppression. Perhaps this happens out of necessity, as real liberals are rarely represented in positions of power, or maybe it happens because people want to create safe places for marginalized people in the moment. Either way, this sort of patchwork change doesn't really affect the overall systems at play. Instead of trying to change individuals, we should strive to create a society where acceptance doesn't have to be taught because it can be intuited.