Common Myths about Transgendered People
-Trans people are just SUPER gay.
-Trans people are just gays who want social acceptance
I think this comes from the misconception that crossdressers are all gay. Some people get the idea that transpeople are just gay crossdressers taking it too far or even gay men trying to corrupt straight men. This is inaccurate on a few levels.
Most crossdressers aren't gay. Some other misconceptions about crossdressing: http://crossdresserswife.com/index.php/2009/02/20/11-crossdressing-facts/
Orientation in transgender people usually goes by their gender identity. A trans woman who is only attracted to men is straight. If she were only attracted to women, she would be a lesbian. I don't know the statistics on transgender orientation- but it's fairly common for a trans woman to be married to a woman at the time she comes out, and many trans men complain about how hard a time they have finding a partner in the gay male community, so while there are people who could be seen as gay before transitioning (although even then it probably wasn't 100% accurate), it isn't the rule.
Finally- The idea that anyone would transition for social acceptance ignores the discrimination transpeople face. The rate at which transgender people are murdered, considering how few transgender people there are, is extremely high. People who murder transgender people are still getting off easily. Even a "perfect" transition won't guarantee safety as a stray google search or background check could out you and paper trails are getting increasingly more difficult to completely erase.
Trans people are mentally ill and need to be cured by therapy, not surgery.
Unfortunately, transsexuality is still in the Diagnosis and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. A person who wants to transition must be diagnosed with "Gender Identity Disorder" to do so. As a result, there's a common misconception that transgender people are mentally ill and it can be cured by therapy and (non-hormonal) pills- not surgery and hormones. Transgender people have a higher rate of depression and anxiety due to dysphoria and society's intolerance, but otherwise aren't any more likely to be non-neurotypical than cis people are. It's been shown that there's no way to "cure" a person of their gender identity, professionals see medical transition as the only way to "cure" transsexual people, not trying to "fix" their gender.
Homosexuality used to be listed as a mental disorder as well, but it's now known that gay men and lesbians are just as mentally healthy as anyone else. Hopefully, in the future, the same will be true of transgendered people.
Transsexual women are just men who are turned on by the thought of being a women.
This refers to "autogynephilia", or the attraction to oneself as a woman. I believe Ray Blanchard was one of the first to suggest that transsexual people just have autogynephilia. Some people do believe him, but most of these people are not transgender and I don't know how many have actually tried to medically transition.
To suggest that the need a transsexual person feels to change their body is just sexual arousal completely ignores the pain of dysphoria and the reality of their gender. Sex may be a consideration in transitioning for many people, but it's never the only reason.
I'll let Dr. Becky explain this, she does a better job than I could. http://www.drbecky.com/raymond.html
Gender is just a social construction, so no one can be trans.
I think a lot of what we concieve as gender is a social construction. In the past century feminism has broken down a lot of boundaries separating men and women, as well as a lot of misconceptions of what men and women can and cannot do. We're slowly beginning to accept, as a society, that women can be strong and men can be sensitive. Gender defined as "boys play baseball and girls do ballet" is a social construct.
But that doesn't mean that gender identity is inherently nonexistant.
I think it's unfortunate that transgender people often use roles and stereotypes to "prove" their gender, because to people who believe men can play dolls and wear dresses without being women- this doesn't prove anything. I've also seen people get offended by this method of proving gender, such as a woman who's a weight lifter that doesn't wear dresses feeling that transgender people are saying she's actually a man.
However- the opposite is often true. People will see a trans man do something "feminine" that plenty of men do, and his gender is questioned because of it, trans people are kept under much closer scrutiny and are expected to be better at "being" their gender than cis people are expected to be. Transgender people aren't the only ones guilty of using stereotypes to prove or disprove identity.
There are trans women who are tomboys and trans men who a feminine. It's not unheard of, they just don't make as good a story as the "girl" who never wanted to play with girls or do girly things and ended up transitioning to male.
Trans people reinforce the gender binary.
I'm non-binary, or identify outside of the male/female binary, so clearly not all transgender people do.
Men and women can also acknowledge and accept that there are genders outside of the binary. There's nothing wrong with identifying as a man or woman, or wanting a body that you're comfortable in. I know quite a few trans men and trans women who are great supporters of the non-binary community. There are also people whose gender is both in the binary and out of it, such as genderqueer men and women.
Unfortunately, some trans people do reinforce the binary because they think that cis people won't take us seriously if they don't.
But identifying as a man and wanting a male body doesn't reinforce the binary. Believing that everyone is either a man or a woman does- and that's not limited to transgender people, nor are they the cause of it.
Trans people are anti-feminist.
Personally, I think transgenderism and transsexualism should help gender equality. Many trans women did very well in male-dominated careers before transitioning- for example, Calpernia Addams is a decorated war veteran -but they were still women at the time even if they weren't accepted as such. Clearly whatever difference there is between the genders doesn't mean much.
Trans women's experiences as women who are perceived as male and trans men's experiences as men perceived as female can be illuminating about effects gender has when sex-based discrimination is taken out of the picture. This is especially true of the trans people who socially transition so have first-hand experiences in the difference of how people perceived as male and people perceived as female are treated.
This does not mean that feminism should appropriate trans experience's to prove their views- it means that feminism should be helping trans peoples' voices be heard and their genders be acknowledged as real so that when a trans woman stands up and talks about her experiences as a woman percieved as male vs her experiences as a woman perceived as female, she'll be heard and listened to.
Because of the history of feminism and trans people, there are trans people who do not identify as feminist and have problems with feminism. But this doesn't mean that they're opposed to gender equality or don't want to fight sexism.