We can see this zero-sum idea so well in the world of LGBTQ rights, where a minority of LGB people, frequently lesbians, speak out strongly against the rights of transgender people.
It often seems as if the most vociferous of them are jealously guarding the rights they assume they will lose if other people gain more rights.
Sometimes transphobic ideas get expressed in an explicit zero-sum sense. “We didn’t fight for our rights as lesbians only to have young women start saying they’re transgender men. They’re trying to erase lesbians, and that’s wrong.”
Lots of other ideas get thrown in the mix, many of them based on false assumptions about transgender people, but it often seems that the deeper you dig, the more trans exclusionary philosophy has to do with fear of losing a share of a limited quantity of tolerance or acceptance.
Lots of implicit biases are involved, and then people create explicit ideologies that support those biases, in a process that must be largely or completely unconscious.
As with racism, it’s very difficult to have conversations about it rationally, because far less reasoning is involved than people think.
Much of it is happening under the hood where we can’t see it.