Mercedes Allen

Confessions of a Middle-Aged Transinista

Filed By Mercedes Allen | January 24, 2008 11:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: drag queens, Harry Benjamin Syndrome, intersex, LGBT community, transexual, transgender, two spirits

[EDITOR'S NOTE:] This guest post is by Mercedes Allen. Mercedes' guest post from last week, Transbigotry, was one of the most popular posts of the week. For today's entry, Mercedes asked to blog about some of the controversy surrounding her last guest post.

Somewhere along the line, I became a Transinista. I don't know how it happened -- there was no recruitment drive -- I just found myself looking at a photo of myself dressed in combat boots, mirrored sunglasses, floppy angel wings trimmed with sequins and feathers, and sporting a lit stogie dangling out of my mouth. "Holy Jeebiz," I muttered. "That's got to be Photoshopped. And I don't appreciate the moustache."

Now, I think my credentials are pretty good. I'm not a litigation activist, my focus has been on community-building. Part of this has meant learning a lot of perspectives (our community is incredibly diverse), and then trying to teach T-folk what the other groups of T-folk are all about. And learning what I could about Intersex, crossdressers, gender renegades, drag performers, Two-Spirits, non-op transsexuals as well as those who clearly need the operation has introduced me to a wide experience of unique people who I respect. I never assume that my experience of being trans is the only valid one. It's the approach which drove me to write "Transbigotry."

Maybe this is sort of the equivalent of the cartoon squirrel who scurries up with an olive branch, squeaking, "why can't we all just get along?" before someone pulls out an M16 and perforates her, a note of satisfaction for the far right-wing and far left-wing types who resent "bleeding heart peacemakers." But I've actually found diplomacy to be an approach that most people -- both at the grassroots level and in the online world -- to be usually quite open to. There are, however, always people of strong opinion who won't be swayed:

This colours my point of view just as those who identify as some brand of trans come from an entirely different point of view. I see the world through the eyes of a feminist woman who has studied history and is also a pagan theologian. I live within the greater world where the dominate viewpoint of gender is a strictly bi-gendered one where most people's understanding of gender is limited to there are men and women and if slightly more enlightened, some people are born intersexed and some are born transsexual but both these groups get put in either the male or female bin. -- Cat Kisser, from "Not Ready For Prime Time, Or: How the TG Rights Movement Went Insane By Talking Only To Itself."

One of the major schisms of the transgender community is the struggle between "Old Guard" transsexuals and the newer deconstructionist movement. This isn't a comment on ageism -- a trans teen can subscribe to Old Guard philosophy, while a senior might encourage and participate with the deconstructionists. But Old Guard philosophy tends to be prevalent among transfolk who have gone through their RLT and surgery prior to the 1990s (or outside the community, usually choosing from early on to shun it), and have had to fit the older Harry Benjamin Standards of Care quite rigidly in order to do so. And the fact is, I have no intention of taking sides: Old Guard is not "wrong," it is a perfectly valid choice for those who feel the need to transition completely through the accepted process and live stealth. I can certainly understand the need to become "Mercedes the woman" to the outside world, and not "Mercedes the woman who used to be a man" and am reserving my own right to one day slip into anonymity. I don't vilify Old Guard thinking -- I do, however, take exception to the idea that the Old Guard experience of transgender is the only valid one, just as I would take exception if that attitude were to come from deconstructionists. The argument, which first appeared at Trans-Feminist, continues:

While I have no problem with someone deconstructing their own gender, I have a major problem with someone deconstructing my own but this is exactly what the trans community demands. Think I'm full of it? Think again. Recently on the Bilerico Project a woman of transsexual history was told by a prominent transgender blogger and loud voice in TG activism that:

"You want to get technical [name]? In the strictest definition, you're not female. The distinction between the "sexes" is that a female has the ability to produce ova, and the male has the ability to produce produces sperm. Your "sex" isn't based on an organ but on your reproductive ability. For that matter, your neo-vagina isn't even an "organ." An organ is tissue or a group of tissues that constitute a morphologically and functionally distinct part of an organism. Your "vagina" isn't a social construct, it's a surgical construct. And an incomplete construct at that! Go find your bartholin glands...."

I can't speak for the beliefs and motives of the person who made the argument in question, but I would hope that it hinges around the phrase "in the strictest definition" used, possibly as a way to theorize based on general public perception, as if to say, "this is always something that people will be able to throw at us." Either way, despite this, my experience of deconstructionism has been that it questions everything -- rather than deciding it has all the answers, which are declared absolute and applied to all transsexual or transgender folk. On the other hand, there are some elements of the Old Guard entrenched in the desire to sever any and all association with non-transsexual, non-surgical transpeople. Although Cat doesn't go to that extreme, she does say regarding the general term "transgender:"

I find being lumped under that umbrella extremely offensive as I do the equation of those with a sexual fetishistic driven disorder to equate themselves with those with a neurological birth condition.

One thing to be cautious of is painting large groups of people with a broad brush, such as when some of the commentators assert that non-op transsexuals can only be fetishists. Assuming this is just plain wrong. I'll give one example, a Two-Spirit transwoman, a DES birth with evidence of being born intersex (a malformed ovary), who displays the primary characteristics of transsexual psychology, including an aversion to touching the existing body parts except when necessary, and who doesn't mind that her Hormone Replacement Therapy has decimated her sex drive. Instead, she chooses to keep the parts and make what peace she can with them, because on a spiritual level, she wants to discover all that she can about being Two-Spirited (thinking that surgery brings her that much closer to single-spirited) and about being transgender. She also feels that there is a higher purpose for having been born as she is, and feels that she should explore it. She is reserving the right to decide to have GRS at a later date, and suspects that someday she will.

Absurd? Not at all. I am talking about myself. I am of an age and background where the Old Guard approach would probably suit me best, but I choose to know more about "the dark side," the deconstructionism, before I decide where I belong. And despite the author's contention that the deconstructionists have subverted the transgender community, I too have faced exclusion for my decision. However, one thing I have learned from being in that middle is that the two sides are not incompatible.

Much of these arguments boil down to the need to define oneself, and to differentiate oneself from the impressions given by other segments of the transgender community. However, it is one thing to define oneself, and it is entirely another to do so at another part of the community's expense, wholesale.

She goes on to insist that:

What has happened is that actual civil rights that in a practical sense would cover transgenders as well as people of transsexual history and those in transsexual transition have taken a back seat to the agenda of deconstruction of gender for all.

Again, I don't see this. ENDA, a piece of legislation meant to protect GLBT folk from employment discrimination, from which transgender folks were later dropped, was the number one battle for the U.S. transgender community in 2007. Either way, I don't see that deconstructive philosophy has taken over, nor do I see where advocates suddenly became guerillas staging a bloody palace coup.

Hm. That calls for another cigar.

Further discussion following the article reveals a number of other attitudes from the Old Guard and anti-trans Intersex sort, such as:

If you have a penis use the boys room and don't intrude upon the spaces that offer privacy to those with vagina's. -- comment by Diane.

Of course, doing so would get many MTFs dismembered and impaled on stakes as a warning to others. For some of the Old Guard, this appears to be inconsequential to them. (To be fair, the original author did not say this, although she does condemn anyone "talking about the 'rights' of people with penises to enter women's space") I wonder: if I lined up three photos of transsexuals, one post-op, would you be able to tell me which one would be "entitled" to use the ladies' room? Too bad for those TS folk who are nearing eligibility for surgery, can't afford it or are precluded from it for health reasons. I guess in the meantime, the other option is to hold their pee until they get home -- not an easy task for someone in the middle of an eight-hour shift of work.

And one of the participants in the discussion is Nick K.D. Chaleunphone, known for his predominantly pro-intersex and anti-transgender blog, The Kallmann's Syndrome Life, where he has quizzically linked to both "Not Ready For Prime Time..." (with the divisive tone of it), and then also my "Transbigotry" (which opposes divisiveness), saying of each that they "finally hit the nail [on the head.]" The latter link may, of course, disappear following the debut of this post.

That's the same issue we have within the intersex community. Those who stay intersex and don't transition are fine and okay. They are content with where they are. It's the ones that do transition and who want call themselves intersex trans after they transition is what bothers me and irks me.

Nick also asserts that the intersex community is falling victim to a transgender take-over attempt, and that the two should not be associated. But I think that this results from some confusion in perspective. I've continually said that I believe that transgender will one day be a smaller aspect of the larger concept of intersex. With the provocative research found regarding Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs, including DES), genetic studies like the recent one from UCLA, and demonstrations of how the minds of transgender people are most often in line far more with the minds of the gender to which they identify, I do believe that someday transgender will be found to have largely biological origins, rather than psychological ones -- even in the seeming "fringe" folk, where their transgender need is so far less intense that it becomes explored in lesser, part-time and even sexual ways. Someday, intersex will annex that, much to Nick's chagrin. It will also encompass a significant number of intersex people who were lucky enough to be assigned at birth to the gender with which they identify, and therefore not understand the transgender experience, not having experienced it. To them, I suppose, we'll always be the embarrassing sister or brother that they would rather not have anyone know is part of their family.

Returning to the article, though, it is important to note that Cat Kisser says:

The issue has always been the same one, a total lack of respect for women of transsexual history by the TG community that drives them out viciously then claims to speak for them.

and:

Literally the most horrible abuses and transphobic attacks I have suffered since I first transitioned all almost exclusively from the TG community.

One thing to remember is that feelings of this intensity don't spontaneously ignite in a vacuum, although once ignited, they can be fueled by as many misinterpretations as face-value experiences. When she says she's experienced discrimination from the deconstructionists, I don't doubt it. And it was horrible when the lesbian community of the politically-correct '80s jettisoned everyone who fit the "butch" or "femme" stereotype because they were said to propagate bad clich├ęs about lesbians - especially because many of those "butch / femme" people numbered in the majority of lesbians who were first to come out and worked hard for the community, at a time when there was not a lot of support. It will be no less reprehensible if deconstructionists do this to Old Guard transfolk. But the challenge to both the Old Guard and the deconstructionists is to meet halfway, willing to choose to show mutual respect, even if they don't understand or agree with each other. I'd hope that Old Guard and deconstructionists could somehow arrive at this, rather than what we're seeing here.
----------------------------------------------
Something that "Transbigotry" and this post do is point out divisive problems faced by the vast transgender community. They do not yet, however, provide solutions. I suspect that any solution will need to follow this course:


  • Awareness.

  • A resolve to mutually respect each other, despite all differences, and despite the hurts that have gone on before.

  • A vow to work earnestly to achieve the needs of all trans elements, and while doing so, attempt to acquire as deep an understanding of them as possible.

  • It is, of course, one's prerogative to disagree at times. It is not, though, in the best interest of the community to attempt to detonate another's foundations or sling around slander, hate or disrespect in the process.


If my convictions are correct, these points need to filter through the community at every level, from the national organizations down to the local support groups, in order to -- at the very least -- prevent any further bitterness like we see here... or at the very most, develop some real unity and change. They need to be discussed earnestly, rather than just given lip service, and probably reiterated from time to time. If the greater GLBT community can get behind transfolk in the form of UnitedENDA via a choice to respect and try to understand a community notably different (homosexuality is about sexual orientation and transgender is about gender identity... one does not dictate the other), then why can't the transgender community pull itself together?

Perhaps that is the community's challenge for 2008.

There goes Mercedes, again, running around with squeaky voice, saying, "why can't we all just get along?"

I am waiting for the bullets.


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This is indeed a good post Mercedes
Thank you for taking the time to compose it.

Some of us keep hoping for the day when there is more tolerance within the TG community.

Take Care
Sue

Having been warned, I shall limit my comments to this, The Cat Kisser blog is mine and I stand by it. I am not an outsider but actually the co-founder of NTAC and it's first facilitator, It's Time Ohio and it's first chair, Equality Ohio and active in the NYTG Coalition at the time of the SONDA debacle in New York and devoted almost all my spare time and energy to lobbying on a federal and state level for several years. I was a respected trans civil rights activist at the time most of the current activists were just getting involved. During the Katrina disaster along with Ethan St. Pierre, I collected and disbursed money to help LGBT victims.....and while "hiding out in the Catskills" took in a number of homeless transwomen as part of the Cybeline outreach. The restoration of the Cybeline faith the culmination of my life work.

I begged repeatedly that a unified community would be much more likely to be a reality if only the community referred to it's self as transgender and transsexual because this was such a sore point with so many transsexual women.....I was attacked just for proposing this, repeatedly and viciously. Eventually I gave up on trans activism as hopeless. And yes, if I were to list what I suffered at the hands of the transgender movement that declared me the enemy for trying to find common cause it would shock most to the core and I almost never have a transphobia problem in my day to day life, it just doesn't happen. The problem remains today the same as it was then, unwillingness to respect other's identities, specifically those of transsexual women.

many of us who have preached a moderate and tolerant path for the transgender community have been burned at the stake by the extremists in the community who now appear to be in high profile positions.

Thank you for your service to the transgender community.
Take care
Sue

Pshaw, Cat. You weren't really "warned" as explained the rules when you mentioned getting banned from other sites. And with respectful comments like this, we have nothing to worry about! *grins*

But I'm confused by something you said. Seriously.

I begged repeatedly that a unified community would be much more likely to be a reality if only the community referred to it's self as transgender and transsexual because this was such a sore point with so many transsexual women.....

I don't understand how the community refers to itself then. I thought it was the transgender community?

And what's the difference between transgender and transexual? I thought transexual was just the outdated way of saying transgender. Kinda like homosexual vs gay...

I only see this kind of debate in internet based venues (usenet, mailing lists, and now blogs) but not in real life venues. Maybe its because there is a level of self segregation that occurs in real life, but I wonder why that doesn't also occur in internet venues as well. These kinds of arguments are just a continuation of the arguments from usenet, probably with the same people as well.

Also, social constructionism does not detract from the authenticity of people's gender. Its a theory that is useful to describe everyone's gender trans, nontrans, men, women, and everyone else. To say gender is a social construction does not mean that one person's gender is more or less authentic then another. Its not an either/or issue.

Bil back before the transgender community hijacked the term transsexual. The term met a person who was changing from one sex to the opposite sex by following the these steps.

jPsychological therapy to determine fitness to live in a sexual life and role other then their birth sex.

Hormone replacement including suppression of the dominant sex hormone.

Real life experience, living in the role of the opposite sex 24 hours a day 7 days a week for 2 years (the old standard)

Changing one's documentation to reflect their new sex role and life in society.

hair removal as required.

Genital Reconstructive Su4rgury.
Postoperative adjustment to daily life as a member of the opposite sex.

After that the person is no longer transsexual.
Take the rootwords
Trans; to move from one place to another.
Sexual one's physical sex.

Take care
Sue

The use of transgender and transsexual is based on people's political ideology in relation to how they see their gender. Somepeople see a difference, some don't. I tend to use transgender/transsexual in my own writing because people's viewpoint and lives do need to be respected. I also utilize trans as shorthand for transgender/transsexual.

A similar debate in regards to labels can be seen in the use of queer. People have varying issues in regards to its use.

Bil, I actually gave brief history of the word transgender in the other reply on Marti's posting.

Transsexual was a strictly medical term for the most part until about ten or so years ago. It refers to those born with literally a woman's (or man's for FtM) mind, which we know now is a neurological form of being intersexed, in the wrong body and it's the drive to correct the body through and to the fullest extent possible that defines the condition. The FtM state of surgeries is often used as a red herring, FtM's typically pursue change to the level of the practical same as MtF transsexuals do.

Again, a transsexual's gender (sense of being male or female) is consistent throughout their life and therefore is never "trans" or changed or crossed so they literally cannot be "trans-gendered".

The arguments of transsexual women was that we had people who started calling themselves non op transsexuals by choice. The word transgenderist was coined for that specific condition. There cannot be such a thing by the very definition of the word transsexual, only non ops by circumstances. It's the drive to bring body and mind into congruence that is the defining characteristic of the medical term transsexual.

There remains a stubborn refusal on the part of most transgender identified people to let transsexual people out from under their umbrella, a recent thing. They simply will not accept we do NOT want this label and have actually suffered real harm as a result of it being applied to us.

Why is it so difficult to understand that someone who pays huge prices to bring body and mind into congruence wants nothing to do with a term that attempts to drag us back into limbo gender-wise?

Women of transsexual history come in all sexual orientations, the attempts to frame them as anti-LGBT is a red herring. Many feel as I do that our rights are better pursued with the women's movement but that is NOT anti-LGBT.


I wrote an essay some six years ago that addresses much of the reframing of transsexuality within a historical context going back more than 2000 years if you are interested.

http://gallae.com/cathy/essay18.html and one explaining transsexual separatism at
http://gallae.com/cathy/essay12.html

Anthropologist David Valentine recently published a book called Imagining Transgender which goes into detail about the identity of transgender and how people respond to it.

> Nick also asserts that the intersex community is falling victim to a transgender take-over attempt, and that the two should not be associated.

This is odd, since most transgender-identified people of my acquaintance are exceptionally respectful of intersex issues, and in fact it is the HBS group who seem to have gone the farthest to appropriate intersex claims and identity.

Well Val i would like to agree with you but my experience has been otherwise, being intersex myself.

But then what do i know i am not transgender.

Take care
Sue

And in actuality I found out I was also intersexed post transition. And I also am not a transgender.

> being intersex myself.

Oh really? What variant?

Or are you simply proving my own point?

Val
I am an XXY female i found that out in February of 2006.


Sue

Cathryn
It seems to be rather common amongst TS (or HBS identified women) by my own guestmates.. maybe as much as one in five who end up with surgery are intersex. The love of my life is pseudo-hermaphrodite, she also doesn't identify as transgender and stays far away from the community.

Take care
Sue

> I am an XXY female i found that out in February of 2006.

Very interesting. Thank you for the information. Now that I know that I am more inclined to accept certain of your assertions, if not your politics.

What would it take to obtain reciprocity? A chromosome chart? Is a demonstrable genetic intersex condition the sole marker of "legitimate" transsexuality?

what it would take for reciprocity?
first an apology would be a good start.

Sue

Great posts, Mercedes! I find it's quite easy to focus on the great differences between the transgender/transsexual/intersex perspectives when I look at our community from an insider's perspective. But, I think we'd be better served if we take the time to look at it and ourselves from an outsider's viewpoint.

I am a woman who was born transsexual. I live the life of a woman without the burden that many other MTF transgender women have to suffer. I've been blessed and could move on without getting involved in all of this. But, I'm not totally stealth, primarily because I've chosen to maintain my career and personal relationships from my past.

The thing is, that no matter how I perceive myself or by which term I choose to self-identify, I know for a fact that the vast majority of those who know of that past, see me as a transsexual. They don't/can't differentiate it from any of the other forms of transgenderism, and yes, I believe that intersexed people are most often included in this undifferentiated view as well.

I also recognize that I couldn't have made it to where I'm at today if it wasn't for the incredible efforts of those who went ahead of me. It's in respect for them and in hopes that others who follow will be able to achieve a comfortable state of being for themselves, that I try to focus on our common ground. Whether we like it or not, it's there if you look at it from someone else's perspective.

Audrey

> first an apology would be a good start.

Always jockeying for position.

Would saying "I'm sorry" legitimize me? That seems oddly arbitrary.

I will not apologize for offending you, since you have gone to some lengths to cause offense, and there's quite a bit too much scrambling for the "who is the most offended" medallion in this community.

I will apologize for misunderstanding where you're coming from.

I'm a bit surprised, though... many intersex people want to have nothing whatever to do with *any* of this... transsexual, transgender, transthewholedamnedthing.

And for good reason, in my view.

I'm a bit surprised, though... many intersex people want to have nothing whatever to do with *any* of this... transsexual, transgender, transthewholedamnedthing.

You can be surprised if you really want.

Since i use to be Paleo-Transgender (came out to everyone in May of 1980) I have dealt with all issues TG and TS folk deal with in a time well before Gays and Lesbians saw fit to include transfolk I allied with the only group that would have me, Straight Mainstream Folk. I have been a supporter of transfolk and been there to help many along their way to living in the mainstream.

I have invested all this energy well before i found out why my body was so weird.

So it really shouldn't be such a surprise.
My girlfriend on the other hand has nothing to do with the TG community.


Take care
Sue

> My girlfriend on the other hand has nothing to do with the TG community.

Why does this make me think of that T-shirt that says "I'm not a lesbian but my girlfriend is"?

> My girlfriend on the other hand has nothing to do with the TG community.

Why does this make me think of that T-shirt that says "I'm not a lesbian but my girlfriend is"?

I wouldn't know Val.
I am not Transgender Just an HBS survivor.


Bil, "transsexual" has been pretty well defined, except that some prefer to leave the label behind entirely afterward, and some don't mind considering themselves a "post-op transsexual."

"Transgender" is actually a construct of Charles (Virginia) Prince, said to have derived from "transgressing gender." It was a label originally intended for crossdressers (the early Tri-Ess shunned transsexuals or androphiles, and if anyone either made motions to transition or had male lovers -- Prince's vision only looked at the MTF segment -- then they were alienated). Many of the Old Guard (defined a little better at http://dentedbluemercedes.wordpress.com/2008/01/24/old-guard/ ) still have the crossdresser community connotation, and aren't fond of the expansion of it to include transsexuals, gender rebels, etc.

That's where I get concerned. Differentiation easily turns to hostility. To use the song reference from "Transbigotry?" it is one thing to declare that "I'm not a drag queen," and another to declare that "I'm not a fucking drag queen." I think that self-identification is a healthy part of the community, but the hostility is not (and the refusal to have any association is also not, because we often do share more needs and traits than we realize). People need to become more conscious of that dividing line.

Great posting and responses I was a cross dresser for years not a drag queen. Now when talking to preop trans girls on the early chat rooms I soon found out I was the un wanted step child of the family so yes there is a pecking order within even the TG community. But now I consider myself Trans but in the early stages of making the big jump. So keep up the good work with postings like this.

I've been staying out of this one for the most part (mainly because I've been spending more time curled up under a warm blanket than in front of my computer for the last day or so), and I'm not going to go expound about who has the right to what descriptor. However, here's the short version of my take on trans self-identity (my own anyway):

I am not female, and I will not be unless and until I have surgery. I do believe I'd like to have surgery in the future, but I've intentionally held off making a firm decision one way or the other until I have the financial resources to potentially make it happen.

I'm also not, of course, a natal female, nor will I ever be, nor will anyone who begins life male-bodied, regardless of what comes afterward. That is something one must be born to.

What I am, however, is a woman. That is my gender, the way I live my life, and how I present myself to the rest of the world. It remains true regardless of whether I have had SRS, or ever have it in the future.

In the comments on Marti's post, Monica Helms brings up an excellent point about the other side of the coin, the one no one ever seems to give too much thought to:

Those who are so quick to want to exclude pre-operative transwomen from the ladies room and label us men based solely on our genitalia, forget that what they are also demanding is that FTM's use the ladies room.

As an example, here's the profile of my dear friend Ethan St Pierre. As much as I love Ethan like a brother, I don't think I'd be comfortable with finding someone who looks like him in the ladies room, would you? Yet, that's exactly what these women are asking for, bathroom and locker room use based strictly on biology, regardless of gender presentation and appearance.

Add to that the fact that just about every bathroom has at least one stall where one can privately attend to one's needs, and this seems like probably the single stupidest argument to divide a community over. We should be teaching others how to get over things like this, not giving credence to the bigoted fears that keep us excluded from full equality under the law by showing that even some of our own community validate such positions.

actually the bathroom issue was addressed.....
here and elsewhere...

I think i have said this five times now :)

Nobody gets naked in a ladies restroom.

There is no problem with Pre-Op's using the ladies restroom as long as they conform to the customs of the ladies room.

I am not going to address the F2M component of this as i don't have any authority in those issues except to say that i would imagine the same general rules would hold true.

I think the important thing you brought up here is we do self identify. It is our right.

Get well and take care

Sue

I think this needs addressing. A Taxonomy stating how we differ, and what we have in common.

1. First, we're all human beings. That needs saying because we too often lose sight of the fact that everyone, even those we don't identify with, even those we feel uncomfortable being around, have human rights. And I speak as a conservative neo-con, not a tree-hugging kumbayah-singing liberal.

2. Then some of us are GLBT - people who do not fit in in some way with the standard bigendered model, where men look and act in accordance with society's norm for men and are only attracted to women, and women look and act accordance with society's norm for women and are only attracted to men. About the only thing such people have in common with each other is that it's the same people who persecute them. Many in this conglomerate - that is, a matrix containing parts of very different nature - don't remotely understand each other, and there's both phobia - fear - and loathing even when they do understand.
There's Androphobic Lesbians who see men, even Gay men, as a threat, Gynaphobic Gays who see anything redolent of femininity as beneath contempt, Homophobic Transsexuals who resent being conflated with those they see as morally corrupt, you name it. And straight Intersexed people who don't see why having an unusual medical condition automatically drafts them into a political activist group made up of weirdoes like mentally ill Transsexuals, Fetishistic Crossdressers, and perverted GLBs.

3. The there are some who are T. This is where it really gets confusing. T for Transgender. And what that word means changes from day to day. The original definition meant straight males who like wearing female attire, and rejected any insane body-modifiers or perverted faggots. Now to the bulk of the populace, it means those weirdoes who get a sex change. To political activists, it means anyone who "transgresses gender norms" of appearance, behaviour or body, except (for historical reasons) in the specific area of sexual orientation. Very often, arguments are based on both sides using different definitions, and sometimes changing the definitions in mid-stream if it supports the point they're trying to make. Again, many feel dragooned into being categorised and confused with other groups they not only don't identify with, but actively dislike, sometimes with good reason.

It appears that the majority of the "Transgendered" in the last definition, and certainly the ones with the most power and money, are (and I hate using RadFem vocabulary, but it fits) Patriarchal males in positions of relative privilege, but who are afraid (with good reason) that they will be marginalised if they have a high profile. The heirs to J. Edgar Hoover. They have much influence, a great deal of money compared to other parts of the TG mixture, but are largely unseen. Cross them, you get squashed like a bug. They have no interest in any medical or marital issues, and wish to disassociate themselves from the highly visible segments. Especially Transsexuals. They're with Virginia Prince on that one.

4. Q: What's the difference between a cross-dresser and a transsexual?
A: Oh, about 5 years...

There's a big difference between the part-time cross-dressing male, and a post-operative intersexed woman. But there's gradations in between, and sometimes it's impossible for an external observer to tell where one begins, and another ends. Operative status is a nice, clean, easy metric to use - but is inaccurate for many reasons. Having major surgery is a Big Deal, not without risks, and neither is it free nor available to those who most need it. Conversely, there are many women who can live with physical deformities - be they having three breasts or one, or even having masculinised genitalia. Unless they intend having some form of love life, and that can be really dangerous for anyone who's transgendered, the benefits may outweigh the disadvantages.

My own view is that hormonal body modification is more a important divider, but even that isn't wholly reliable. So yes, there is a difference, but no, I can't give a simple test for it. You know it when you see it - the guys tend to bubble about silky underwear and frilly dresses, the women about feminism and childcare. However, those who are TS and unable to transition at puberty - and that means most - are evolving in their own identity. 80% cross-dress before transition.

A more pragmatic view would be to look at what concerns those under the great TG umbrella.

The Intersexed are concerned about medical, and to a lesser extent, legal issues primarily. Many have had medical treatment without their knowledge or consent, sometimes sterilising them, sometimes removing all genital sensation, and sometimes leaving them Transsexual, looking like the wrong sex. Many have issues with hormones or electrolyte balances that can be life-threatening, and must confront medical ignorance that can kill them. They sometimes have to fight protracted legal battles to have even the most unimpeachable marriages validated. Generally, they try to stay out of the limelight.

The Transsexual are a subcategory of the Intersexed as far as I'm concerned, I consider the evidence overwhelming. Their concerns again are medical and legal, but unlike most of the Intersexed, they can't hide their condition until after it's been treated. When in transition, they are particularly vulnerable: they go from being unremarkable, to being far too visible, to being unremarkable again- if they wish to be, and if the treatment gives a good result. Often it can't. They are forced by the medical "standards of care" to use target-gender restrooms before surgery can be authorised, hence the concen about rest-rooms. After transition, they suffer all the problems that the Intersexed do.

They suffer the most discrimination in employment, in violence, in legalised persecution (Wisconsin's odious "Inmate Sex Change Prevention Act" - the only legislation anywhere in the USA that specifically forbids necessary medical treatment to a minority group - comes to mind), and in many other ways.

How would the GLB majority react to a similar law preventing treatment of Gay inmates for HIV? Yet most GLB activists won't have heard of it.

Now none of these pressing concerns affect GLBs, except perhaps negatively. Gay men are sometimes perceived as being "men who want to be women", and that attack on their masculinity can lead them to persecute Transsexual women just to prove their detractors wrong. (Can't it, Barney?) The "mentally ill" weirdoes who want to get their dicks cut off are an embarrassment to them. Unless those falsetto voices are silenced, they will damage the cause the Mattachine movement has worked for so long to see reified - Gays as just normal people, not mentally ill, the people next door.

And don't get me started on the pecking-order politics of fully-stealth post-ops who are "just women" looking down on post-ops who can't be bothered with hiding their past, and they in turn looking down on pre-ops, who look down on non-ops, who look down on cross-dressers, who look down on fetishists, who look down on effeminate gays.... Enough.

As for me? Technically I'm Intersexed, and one of the weird "ideopathic" varieties. One that causes a natural apparent sex-change, without treatment. I identify more as Transsexual, because I see no essential difference between a transition that's 80% natural and one that's 100% artificial. Especially since so many TS people are mildly IS in other ways anyway. And my sexual orientation went from asexual/lesbian to straight in the process. So I have little time for categories that are merely good approximations being used as absolutes.

I do think that it might be better for all concerned if we were a confederation rather than a union though. We should support each other, with various degrees of enthusiasm, but work towards our own ends, and acknowledge that sometimes what will benefit one group will disadvantage another. We should then get that sorted out internally before facing external foes, and even agree to take different stances on different issues, openly, and without rancour. As it is, and as the ENDA debacle has shown, hypocrisy, treachery and mendacity result if we don't. We still take different stances, while pretending we don't, so disenfranchise and denigrate those who we victimise to avoid admitting what we're doing. We even speak for them, against their interests, to advance our own.

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Marti......the depths you will stoop to are unbelievable! I am not engaging you in defending my life, one of your favourite games.......and you know nothing of any of the events you are speaking about. And I will warn you that repeating libelous remarks might very well land you in a court of law.

Bil, I'm calling foul here.

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Enough.

I am increasingly vexed that some of the people I most respect in the world - Marti, Sue, Cathryn come immediately to mind - are letting their fundamental and deep-seated disagreements cause hurt feelings to be limping about all over the place.

I'm Australian. We don't do Diplomacy or Tact, it's not in our national character. But Jeez Louise, could we have a bit less heat and a bit more light! Yes I know we all have a strong emotional investment in these issues, we've all been hurt and castigated most unfairly by some who have different views.

Look, when Val quite innocently inquired Oh really? What variant? it reminded me of some of the guff I've taken from members of the AIS Support Group Australia since my own condition is still "ideopathic", unclassified. So I'm "not really Intersexed". Whatever. The AISSGA is also vehemently opposed to the idea that TS is a subset of IS., no matter what the Family Court might say.

Well Whoop De Doo. They don't agree with me, and even find some of my views hurtful, so no wonder they're upset. Maybe, just maybe, I should try walking a mile in their shoes, and while still disagreeing with them, see where they're coming from and show a bit of understanding of their position.

Now whether they consider me IS or not, I've now featured in two popular publications, each one bringing IS to the attention of the general populace, and each one linking to the AISSGA as the support site for IS people and their relatives here. Even though I disagree dramatically with them on certain "doctrinal" issues. Even though I'm "not one of them" according to some. Because they do good, and are right in the main. I reserve the right to vociferously disagree with them and argue with them, but I will not disrespect them just because we differ so radically on crucial issues.

Can we please discuss our very real differences with respect for each other. No need to hide the differences, one can be tactless, undiplomatic, forthright, blunt even, without venom.

Try to see things from your opponents point of view. Because if you can't, you can't prove that your own views are correct, as you won't see possible counter-arguments to them. Even if you've been hurt by those views. Especially if you've been hurt by those views. (And psst... you might actually be wrong, I've changed my own views over the years. Not much, but a bit.)

My apologies for being so condescending and pedagogical. It's a failing of mine. And, as I said, Australians don't do "tact".

Jeez Louise, could we have a bit less heat and a bit more light! Yes I know we all have a strong emotional investment in these issues, we've all been hurt and castigated most unfairly by some who have different views.

Gonna step in... I've had to delete 3 comments.

I hate deleting comments. Terms of Service violations give me heartburn. I know none of you want me to suffer physically... *big dramatic sigh* :)

So play nice. No attacking each other personally. No name calling. No dredging up past deeds/misdeeds to try and make it relevant to this discussion. It isn't.

As rational adults we can discuss a heated issue without resorting to childish name-calling. If this issue is important enough to spawn over 100 comments between two threads, then it deserves some respect - and so do all of you.

If you want to squabble and bicker, do it somewhere else.

Don't make me pull this car over!

I am not an outsider but actually the co-founder of NTAC and it's first facilitator, It's Time Ohio and it's first chair, Equality Ohio and active in the NYTG Coalition at the time of the SONDA debacle in New York and devoted almost all my spare time and energy to lobbying on a federal and state level for several years.

Personally, I have this rule where I prefer to respect people until they give me reason to do otherwise, and so I do respect that resumee. My concern is what I see as attempts in your writing (less so here than elsewhere) to exclude and invalidate people who don't fit a certain profile, and a tendency to see enemies in anyone who doesn't agree.

On the latter point, most of the exclusion I've seen personally has been from the Old Guard (excluded if one is non-op, excluded if one is a former sex-trade worker, pushed away if one is still questioning, excluded if one advocates working for the needs of a larger umbrella community rather than solely the needs of surgery-aimed persons, etc.), so I continue to disagree that the "deconstructionists" (in this case, everyone who isn't HBS) have taken over. My own experience has not borne this out.

HBS woman after woman has stated that transgender restroom usage is NOT an issue with us.

And yet, some do have issue with it, including the person quoted in the article. I wrote not about you personally, but about divisions I've seen overall, some of which were characterized by your writing, but not in this instance.

----------------------

I think Zoe clarified something important about building community:

I do think that it might be better for all concerned if we were a confederation rather than a union though. We should support each other, with various degrees of enthusiasm, but work towards our own ends, and acknowledge that sometimes what will benefit one group will disadvantage another.

And again, that is the challenge. Who's game?

Pardon me Mercedes..
The person you quoted regarding the restroom was Me.
I have no problem with any pre-op, non-op using the restroom as long as they conform to custom.
what is the issue there?
Enplane.

The popular game seems to be to beat up on those of us who actually did something about our body-mind misalignment.

Remember what you said about Respect?
..

While we are at it..
Marti whom i use to respect has shown a degree of immaturity in this thread unparalleled by anything i have seen to date.

you have demonstrated exactly why the TG community has such problems getting along in the GLB communities and the mainstream.

Is it really any wonder why Post-transition females leave the community as soon as they can.

Take care
Sue

not me........

Literally the only place I ever hear this "you aren't a real woman" crap is from those who's voices here are the loudest and the dominant voices of transactivism, the only other place this surgically constructed neo-vaginas, always a man due to genetics, mutilated crotches etc. comes from is the far far religious right.

The level of total disrespect and the inability of anyone not subjected to it to understand that defies all logic. Frankly all I have seen is putting the women in their place almost stated that baldly by some.

If they insist on being my enemy so be it. If a group continually insists on attacking my body, my identity and my life there can be no common ground with them. You literally find yourself driven to hardline positions just to maintain your own integrity. To willingly associate with such people, that seems madness to me. They are the personification of alpha male behaviour.

My day to day life is free from all this, I'm simply a somewhat eccentric older woman and that is the missing element here, those who never know this can never appreciate it. You do not gain acceptance as a woman by insisting on it, you get it by BEING one.

I'm out of the discussion here. It's pointless. No minds were changed, no insight gained, no hearts won over. Just a lot more crap I no longer have other than in contact with such folks. Being an abuse survivor as taught me to get the abusers out of my life.

Zoe.
i want to acknowledger your comment #30 in the thread...

We are in agreement throughout. I have been working on taking down the pecking order it serves no useful purpose. It's nice having a support/social group ar my disposal to promote getting along and discourage the kind of classism that exists in the TG/TS communities.

I have chosen to align myself with the HBS ideal because it does view transsexuality as a subset of intersex. As responsible members of this community we must be respectful of other's choices and respectful of society's rules and customs. Changing these rules is desirable in a number of instances but should be done quietly and respectfully toward the larger group.

Being the best human beings we can in the view of mainstream society is the best activism.

Take care
Sue


Cathryn;

Literally the only place I ever hear this "you aren't a real woman" crap is from those who's voices here are the loudest and the dominant voices of transactivism, the only other place this surgically constructed neo-vaginas, always a man due to genetics, mutilated crotches etc. comes from is the far far religious right.

i have heard this crap about 25 times in my life. twenty four of them came from transgender activists.
If this is going to upset anybody here (a couple of names come to mind) Get Over It it's most likely your own words coming back to haunt you.

Like you my day to day life has none of this kind of crap in it....
I am just a frumpy middle aged woman and that is how i am seen by everyone who crosses my path.
I might not be slender good looking and young but i have a real life and i am happy with who i am.

The "trans-activists" are good at disrespecting how people identify and good at showing their envy of how many if not most of us go though life and blend into mainstream society.
We don't pass we just are and we just live our lives as the women we were suppose to be at birth.

Some of you had better get a clue and get happy before you are too old to enjoy life. When are you going to realize that grandstanding picking at society's customs in a never ending effort to make society in your own image (that thought scares the shit out of me) will only succeed in making you bitter and old before your time.

Susan Robins

Sue, the comment about washrooms was made by someone identified as "Diane." Different quote, further down.

The popular game seems to be to beat up on those of us who actually did something about our body-mind misalignment.

As I said, I have nothing against those who go through the surgery, and suspect that I will need to have GRS someday, myself.

Mercedes
i apologize.
Take care
Sue