Guest Blogger

When Do You Tell?

Filed By Guest Blogger | September 10, 2009 3:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: advice column, marriage, men, relationship, transgender, women

Editors' note: Monica F. Helms is the president of the Transgender Americans Veterans Association.

One of the most controversial subject matters in the transgender community has to do with when to tell a new or potential love interest about your trans status. Logic dictates that this question should be a "no-brainer," in a world where trans violence has become as common as rain. However, when talking about trans people in love, specifically trans women, one can flush logic down the toilet.

In a previous article, "Stuck in Loneliness", I pointed out the many things that make trans people lonely. From personal experience, I can tell you that the feeling of loneliness can be debilitating at times. For many trans women, anyone who comes along to take away that loneliness would be considered a golden find. For a post-op, to keep this person in their lives, they will spend hours of time and a great deal of energy justifying why they should not tell them about being trans. The fear of loneliness does that to them.

One of the biggest building blocks for any relationship, no matter what kind, would have to be "Trust." If you do not start off with trust, then the entire relationship will fail. Trust is the primary foundation for ALL relationships, but especially in the trans community. Why do some trans people feel immune from having to tell the truth to their new love? This does not make us look good overall.

I have a friend who had her surgery last year and dates men now. The ones she has told about her trans history have all walked away. However, as of last week, she hadn't told her new boyfriend out of fear of loneliness. I got very upset with her about this and because of that, she decided to tell him over the long weekend. In her case, the results turned out fantastic. This friend works in a highly technical field and is one of the smartest women I know. But, when it came to love and making sure she didn't remain lonely by not telling potential boyfriends, she acted like a love-struck teenager. Once everything became out in the open with the new man, their relationship can now be built on trust. I'm very happy for her.

Is it dangerous not to tell? There are two names on the Remembering Our Dead list that always come to mind when post-op trans women tell me they won't tell their new boyfriend. Terri Lynn Moore was shot to death in 1976 by her new husband when she told him on their honeymoon. Her husband was convicted of first-degree murder. The other was Jean Shelley Boushard Fox, shot by her husband in 1980 when he discovered her past while reading love letters she had from a former lover.

I can see that the one thing that people who advocate not telling will pick up on. They will say, "These happened so long ago that they are no longer good examples. So much has changed since then." So much has indeed changed. People know more about us. However, the fragile male psyche that can be crushed if they think they just "had sex with a man" hasn't changed. Men who act drastically, like Fox and Moore, are luckily few in numbers. The question one needs to ask themselves would be, "Do I want to risk my life that this man I'm dating is not like them?" Sadly, too many straight trans women would say, "Yes," just so they won't be stuck in loneliness.

Another fallacy I have heard from a post-op was, "If I tell up front, then the only men I'll attract will be those who have a fantasy about having sex with a transsexual or a man who is a crossdresser and figures I would understand." The statement has a bit of truth to it, but these won't be the only men transsexuals will attract, and some may not care if they attract men like that. I had a roommate in Phoenix who met this nice man before her GRS, they stayed together after her surgery and then they got married. That was 10 years ago and they still live together.

Trans women seem to forget that non-trans women don't have it any easier. When a middle-aged woman says, "All the good men are either married or gay," they are not far from the truth. And, you also should remember about having to kiss a thousand frogs to find the one prince. Life does not make the process of finding the perfect match the easiest in the world. Luck and timing has a lot to do with it. If a man does not want to be with you because at your birth, the doctor slapped you on the ass and pronounced, "It's a boy!" then you shouldn't care if that man leaves you. He's just another frog in the journey.

I have also heard others justify not telling by labeling it something different, thinking that will make it go away. It doesn't matter how much psychobabble one wants to use to justify in their own head that they don't need to tell a potential lover, but they place themselves in danger by not starting off with a level of trust. Regardless how you label it, you cannot control how the other person will react. One should base their action on the worse-case scenario and then you will be pleasantly surprised when it turns out not to be so, like my friend.

The most sensible thing to do for a pre-op would be to tell the person in the early stages of your first conversation, before dancing, before holding hands, before kissing and especially before you find yourself in his bedroom. For a post-op, you could go further down the process, but I have heard of some men who have gone bonkers finding out they just kissed a transsexual, even one who had surgery. I would think that you should tell at least before sex. That would be considered a critical demarcation moment for many men.

Most of what I have written here has to do with post-op trans women who date men. To be honest, my suggestions should apply to all transsexuals, post-op, pre-op, non-op, MtF and FtM. Gay trans men need to have all the same concerns as straight trans women, but I'm willing to bet that they run into far less confrontations. Lesbian trans women or straight trans men should not think they are totally safe, because women have been known to cause harm as well. Besides, some women could call a person to come over and "bust your kneecaps." Also, being a post-op lesbian trans woman does not mean you will be immune from rejection from other lesbians.

I hope trans people will not look at this as me trying to tell them how to run their love life. My only concern is for the safety of my brothers and sisters. NASCAR drivers wear a helmet, a fire suit and a neck brace to protect themselves. Soldiers wear body armor and carry an M-16 for protection. Construction zones require a helmet and safe sex requires a condom. And, protecting yourself from a man going medieval on you after sex requires a bit of common sense. It took many of you a long time to look completely like a woman. Live a long time to enjoy it.


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Thanks for this, Monica.

One of my bf's college friends is trans; he knew her before she transitioned, lost contact with her, and then found each other online 20 years later after she transitioned and he came out.

She's married and never told her husband about her past. I guess she thinks he'll never find out otherwise, and maybe she's right.

Very interesting! Thanks for sharing your feelings with us!

I agree that disclosure is usually the way to go, but I wish you wouldn't denigrate those who have found other strategies as "flush[ing] logic down the toilet," wraught with loneliness, or otherwise just not thinking straight.

In the circumstances you describe, sure disclosing makes sense as a personal safety strategy, but you're applying your conclusion to all circumstances -- trans people of all genders, dating folks of all sexual orientations.

What about those of us who date bi/queer/pan folks? I sincerely doubt there's any chance of a violent reaction of "Oh no, I can't believe you're 'really' the gender of my last partner!" Or what about if you're hanging out in a community where trans-positivity is one of the norms, do you still have to announce your trans status before dancing? I mean, in the circles I hang out in, folks would be more likely to be upset to discover you shop at walmart and eat at mcdonalds, but no one is saying it's the obvious logical choice to disclose your shopping habits before holding hands.

Also, I'm a bit concerned you may be selling men short -- as well as our ability to judge them. Sure, plenty of men are violent, even more of them could be violent and it might be hard to tell. But I believe it's possible to know someone well enough that you can be certain they won't kill you. I know plenty of anti-oppression men in my life. I don't know how they'd react to dating a trans person, but I do know it wouldn't be violent.

And of course, let's not forget who's ultimately responsible for anti-trans violence. Men are capable of not commiting rape when they see a woman in a short skirt, just like cis folks are capable of not murdering partners they discover are trans. Having options to protect myself from cis violence is good, but unlike seatbelts, I don't think we need a police force handing out tickets to those who don't use this option in particular.

Tobi,
This is one incident where I will stand by every word. I maybe giving straight non-trans men a lot of crap, but they are the ones I see as the primary cause of anti-trans violence. Not so much for the "bi/queer/pan" folks. If you are in a trans-specific location, then you can be much safer and say less.

As an example, early on in my transition, I hung out at a trans nightclub. A lot of trans fans hung out there and you didn't have to tell them much, because they were there to date one of us.

I will continue to remain angry on this subject until I die. If I scare just one person into protecting themselves and I save their life, then all of my words were worth it.

Sure you want to save people's lives, but let's critically address the effectiveness of this approach. And we can't forget to look at the negative impact it might have. Saving one life is generally great, but not if you kill ten in the process.

1 - Trans panic is usually not actually trans panic. Looking at cases that have actually been investigated, it appears a majority are murderers *claiming* trans panic when they actually knew their partner's trans status a while earlier.

2 - Trans people are murdered for other reasons too. Just as deadly as the reaction some folks have to discovering their partner is trans is the reaction folks have to discovering the object of their attraction is trans. You don't have to have sex with someone, you can just be attractive to them to get the same result. In those cases, disclosing could lead to a violent response, even if it's before you're holding hands. That may even be a bigger risk then disclosing too late when at least you know the person and have a sense of their personality.

3 - Visibility can be dangerous. Even if the disgruntled potential partner doesn't kill you upon learning your status, they may go around telling everyone else -- including someone who might be more violent. Trans people should feel empowered to control their own level of visibility and not be badgered into taking on a level of visibility that feels uncomfortable or dangerous to them.

4 - Suicide kills too. And a sense of inferiority, not being real, being a mere imitation all leads to nasty levels of depression in our community. Telling people that simply living as the gender they are without disclosing is lying and that they have an obligation to announce their trans status to every potential partner right off the bat will further cement existing feelings of being a freak or inferior.

5 - Harm reduction works. Having had one sexual partner I didn't disclose to myself, I can see dozens of ways one can reduce the risks involved. Example: Let a friend know where you are and have them do a safety call -- better yet, make it a threesome and have your friend there with you. By having a respectful and open conversation around disclosure people can make safety decisions that make sense to them. The "Just say no" approach to sex without disclosure prevents those conversations from happening.

6 - Scare tactics don't work. Even if you disagree with each of my points and feel that early disclosure is the only and best option in every circumstance, your approach is not being effective. The overly simplistic approach didn't work for drugs or sex, it wont work here either. By insulting anyone who disagrees with you and claiming they are just being illogical, you're not winning any converts. Some basic respect for those who don't already share your point of view could go a long way in getting people to listen to you.

I noticed you didn't mentioned the need to have "Trust" in a relationship. I must be an old foggy who grew up at a time when parents instilled the need to have trust to form the foundation of a good relationship. Well, at least Bil understood.

Huh? Did you even read what I wrote? If you look carefully, you'll see I'm not saying disclosure is a bad idea or that people shouldn't do it -- I'm saying your approach is disrespectful, ineffective, and could cause more harm then good.

Of course I trust the people I form relationships with. But you're not asking people to build trust, you're asking people to have it instantly, in one of the first conversations, before even holding hands. If I know someone that well before hand holding, then I'll probably trust that they'll not react violently when I bring up the subject later -- if I don't know them well enough to trust that they won't react violently I'd rather not disclose right away. If a violent reaction is a possibility, disclosure itself can be dangerous.

I can see from your other comments that you're refusing to address the criticisms people are making, continuing to claim those who disagree with you are below your level and otherwise insulting us, and simply repeating what you've already said over and over. I made six points in a clear logical structure yet you're pretending I said nothing. Frankly, I think you're the one flushing logic down the toilet here. This is a complicated issue and I'd love to have an in-depth conversation about it, but if you non-responsively repeat your talking points without listening to what others have to say then that's not possible.

This has never been the right place to have an in-depth discussion on any subject. I would love to talk to you more about this in detail, but the written word lacks a lot of soul and cannot always be understood easily (as you noticed.) We can always Skype or phone each other. You are one of the few people who I suspect could change my viewpoint a bit.

Also, I received an E-mail from a psychotherapist who has been helping trans people for over 25 years. She said this was a good article. Dr. Virginia Erhardt.

Sure, a phone conversation sounds nice. Email me at nodesignation@gmail.com and I'll give you my number.

This is horrible. What's next, an advice column for straight women on what not to wear so you don't get raped? A column on how gays shouldn't flaunt it if they don't want to get beaten up?

I began this article expecting a thoughtful treatment of what is a very challenging and complicated issue for transgender people.

This prescriptive pandering to the bigoted sensitivities of violent, homophobic men would never be tolerated on a progressive blog if it were advice for gays or lesbians, so why it it okay to treat transgender people like they're to blame?

"Why do some trans people feel immune from having to tell the truth to their new love? This does not make us look good overall. "

-with all due respect,(and i sincerely
mean that)!

this is a very problematic sentence.

as we all know, (for instance)
the people defining themselves as 'women who (were) transsexual'
are not interested in sharing their histories.
why need they?

i am not saying that THEY right for YOU.
just right for themselves.
i believe that THEY
are the ones to make that decision.
same for the ftm community.

"he is not worth dying for"
is a great sentiment, but it is not always the case. as tobi points out, this is generational, too. not everyone kills.....
the warning signs of violence need to be addressed but that can be for ANY gender.
not just us T people....
(if you think they might KILL you, don't DATE them!)

and,one could "disclose" any history,
and risk losing a partner of a certain generation, because of outdated biases.
so do 55 year olds date
15 year old genderfuck warriors?
or emo boys?or "new men"kids?
kind of doubt it....
you need a common ground to bond....
not much chance of a long term relationship if things are too far age and culture wise...

and,why , again with respect,
is this all the "place" of T people?

why do we "owe" something that we may not consider "true"?
if you are a women , why "admit" you are a "man" to the world?
we all know that is mostly the end result.
people rethinking you as"differant".

pam's house blend put up as post asking
"would you date a T person?"

i'd like to see that here on TBP(any takers?)
then we can see the statistics on this....

but in the meantime, you don't "owe" anyone a "truth" that you don't believe yourself.
is one "not as good" if T?
i reject that, you do, too.

you don't owe anyone your chromosomes,
just your love and respect.
you MAY owe them
the body they expected,
for me that is respect, i don't "suprise"
that is un-cool! and
if you are bigender
you can't hide it undressed.

but if you do happen to be
post op, you are as good a woman as ANYONE
CISGENDER!

other people should see you
as HOW YOU want to be seen.
(across the board)
trans, bi/duel/genderqueer, T...etc.
tho i hate labels.we are PEOPLE.
the glb community is moving past identity politics,the T should, too.
i'm human, myself.

but i'm not "apologising" for myself.
F*** that.
we need to take lessons from Feminism on this.
THEY need to come to terms with US, we don't need to "apologise"for our chromosomes.
these arguments end up "pathologising" T people.
how can that be fair?

sincerely,
j

we don't need to "apologise"for our chromosomes.
these arguments end up "pathologising" T people.

I don't think disclosing that you're trans is apologizing for it, and it doesn't need to be disclosed in such a way that it seems like a disease or something. My girlfriend is trans, and she disclosed this casually early on by talking about how it's hard to find clothes that are the right proportions.

That said, I can definitely relate to the desire to not risk a relationship for something that doesn't necessarily have any bearing on the present. Fear of loss can be overwhelming, and I don't know how I'd handle it if I were in that situation. I'm bi and poly, and have been open about with new partners well before the "having sex" stage. But I've been very lucky to be in a community where these are pretty accepted.

It makes me really angry to hear about how my girlfriend has been treated by some intolerant people in her past, so I think we should all try to cut each other some slack because it's a difficult life.

monica, "he is not worth dying for" YES.!!!!!!!

the rest...
grey area.can we all try to
see each others sides as a community?
talk?
you are not wrong!
just not RIGHT on all points,
this is important to keep dialoging on OPENLY!
without anger.i hope all can do that here.

but hope is the thing with feathers....

maybe alittle give and take.
i hate these possible shout outs.
we need to try to see EACH OTHER'S sides....
who else will?

If only one person . . . just ONE person dies because they refused to tell their lover, then is it worth it to let others die if you can say something to warn them? True, not every man will act that way, but it only takes one. You don't get a second chance if you meet that one. When in Vegas, I gamble, but I won't gamble with my life.

No person. No lover. No intimate relationship with anybody on this planet is worth my life. None. Nadda. Zippo. It is your life and you will live it the way you want and take the chances you want. I won't take those chances, because I plan on living a very long life. And, if I die of old age without a lover in my life, then so be it.

Denise Brogan-Kator | September 15, 2009 11:52 AM

Monica, I've known you a long time, and I consider you a friend. And, coincidentally, *I* have always chosen to disclose my trans status to potential partners (but, then, I disclose to everyone for other reasons).

When you said, in a comment, that YOU would always choose to disclose, I thought that should have been the thrust of your article. To argue that your choices are necessarily correct for everyone is, well, narrow. I think that Tobi made some great points and I'm disappointed that you took that conversation offline. Yes, the written word is sometimes more difficult to interpret. But, this is a written forum and it started from your written word. It would have been nice to see you react to Tobi's specific points.

In the end, I simply believe that we much each listen to the input and advice of others, but then make our own choices. We really should NOT be held responsible for the violence that is sometimes foisted upon us.

With fondness,

Denise

Denise,
I did react, but I used a different medium then here. We talked on the phone and communicated by personal E-mail. I learned a lot from that conversation with her.

Well, now I'm really confused. This must be a confusing issue for a trans person who is in it.
I'm looking at the article and reading the responses and I think this has made it more cloudy to me.

*I'm looking at the article and reading the responses and I think this has made it more cloudy to me*

that is the point!
it's like "what do women want"
"what do gay men want"

no one is a 'hive mind'
we all have our ways of dealing with things differantly, we are all differant.

monica is addressing the potential for extreme violence that exists from some troubled people when confronted with "the other"
we could be gay, african amertican, T, etc.
the homocidal violence.death.

no person is worth getting killed over.
oh yah.

but, you know,
women live with this fear every day,
trans women and cis.
negotiating this mine-field is the problem.

and one can "other" oneself and have no
gain to speak of.
then there is pride, or dignity.
how do you get it?
"telling"?
not "telling"?
what ARE we?
this IS cloudy.

but there are no simple answers in the human race, anyway.
...i don't agree or disagree.
i just don't know.
it's cool that you,(m) do.
best,
j

Wait, Monica's trans? Why didn't someone tell me?

Seriously though, I find myself agreeing with Monica on this one. I think it's something that should be "told" - not as a sin or a disease, but as part of a person's history and experiences. I'd never go into a relationship that I'd kept full of secrets (or one big one) just because I'd not feel that level of honesty and trust I'd want for a relationship.

ok so you'd date a transman then?
post or pre-op?
take this the right way, but since you just said the above, i think the community might deserve an answer.

if someone "discloses" do YOU, bil,
still see them as a man?
can we please ask:
"would you date a T person?" here on bilerico?

is it a post YOU would put up?(as owner?)
here's hoping you will...
because THIS IS why there is the fear of "disclosing", bil.
-j
ps i'm really hoping you will respond to this.

I'm sorry javier, I didn't see your comment or I'd have responded earlier.

if someone "discloses" do YOU, bil,
still see them as a man?
can we please ask:
"would you date a T person?" here on bilerico?

Of course, I see them as a man, javier. There have been times that I'll mess up pronouns, but if you tell me your gender, I'm going to stick with it. After all, the person telling me knows better than I.

As for your second question, the last major crush I had was on a transguy. He's one of the hottest guys I've met and I adore him without reservation. Yes, I'd date a trans person.

I realized there is a part of this that I left out of the article that needs to be included. It has to do with "self esteem." Society has devalued trans people so much that many have a low self esteem, even after they get all of their surgeries. Having someone who loves them helps to boost that self esteem, so they will do whatever it takes to keep that person around, even not telling.

I guess the reason I see a problem with this is that I don't have a low self esteem. I like who I am and who I have become. Sure, there are improvements that would help, but my life does not stop because I cannot afford those improvements.

I think a lot about how nice it would be to have another person in my life who loves me. I've had several so far. But, I will not go against my integrity to keep that person around. If I have a new love, it will be a person who wants me as I am and not who they think I am. I guess I'll always be considered a rather odd person in the trans community for this and other reasons. Hey, that's my lot in life.

If there's a chance of a long-term relationship, I tell all.

If there isn't, I don't. But I do broach the subject in general terms. The type of guy I'm attracted to is geeky enough to be interested in Intersex conditions. Along with firefighting, firearms, military history, astronomy....

You make so much about trust in this piece, Monica, but I can't stop wondering about what it is that you're encouraging us to trust him with--as you seem only to be talking about M to F spectrum, not F to M spectrum, and only in "straight" relationships.

I put straight in quotes because there seems to be no differentiation in your piece between pre and post op transsexual women, no differentiation between full time crossdressers and part time crossdressers--transgender women.

Is it your argument that we are all the same, and all face the same practical danger?

First, I disagree that we all face the same practical danger--because we are all, of course, very different. At least, my analysis--grounded in reality--sees this; I do not impose some kind of ideological intention, however laudable, for unity and sameness, on the diversity that are transgender and transsexual women.

More than that, addressing your emphasis on trust, what is the deep dark secret that we must share to make the relationship work?

If one starts from the assumption that we are holding something so shaming, such an abomination that we will die from holding it so close, then, well, maybe we should find the right man to share it with us, because we're not able to do so on our own.

But I don't believe this is a deep dark shaming secret.

You speak of self-esteem. I cannot avoid the conclusion that your urging us to share doesn't really go with what I certainly hope is your belief that we have nothing to be ashamed of!

If there is the assumption that, say, post op transsexual women are not what we seem, that we are deceiving men, then, by all means, urge us to share this secret of deception.

I agree with Zoe and concur with Tobi.

Maybe your analysis of deception applies to crossdressers, though I cannot speak for them.

It doesn't apply to those who have proudly gained their selves in the face of those who call us deceivers

"You make so much about trust in this piece, Monica, but I can't stop wondering about what it is that you're encouraging us to trust him with-"

I can see that by this statement alone, you may just not understand the basic concept of "trust" in a relationship and why it is necessary for a good relationship to work. Since this is a difficult idea to grasp, then I really don't see a need to respond on anything else you said, because we are obviously not on the same page, the same book, the same library, or even the same country. Enjoy life.

Does your apology extend to me, Monica?

Or do I, concerned about the apparent shame that, as a woman of transsexual experience, I must bear/bear my soul, before I can ever have a real relationship with a man, remain beyond the pale?

This is not to say I wouldn't share this part of my past, as I might share the part that I was molested by a camp counsellor when I was 12--that was such an important part of my life for so many years, as was the overwhelming fear there was physical damage from his abuse.

But that has faded.

I might well share this with a man, but then, I might not. Since I've always been the person I now present, why is it important to do this according to some imposed timetable?

Though I suspect, given I've worked to realize that I'm not ashamed of my past, that it is not a secret of shame, as is my past of molestation; I'm not as sure as you this is the first thing, or any thing, that should be shared--according to an imposed timetable.

Anymore than I accept an imposed identity.

I have responded to your commentary--why do you decide it is beyond your convenience to respond to mine?

Except to dismiss it. . . . .

Only if you apologized from the multitude of times that you have disrespected me each time I have posted here on Bilerico. Deal?

Monica. Your last post interestingly hits on what I think is the biggest problem with the article. Deciding when to, if, and how to disclose to a partner is a very complicated matter for a lot of trans people. For many of us it is an individual experience which changes for each partner. I fully agree that there are situations where your advice is the path I'd take with a partner, but you seem to refuse to see that there are many other equally valid approaches. Also, do you think that most if not all transwomen aren't aware of the risks to our lives? Trying to scare people with murder if they don't conform to your specific plan for disclosure is a great way to drive someone into depression.
We all offer a unique perspective to the world, and it's critical to listen and understand the perspectives of others as well.

You seem to be a bit more willing to approach this in a more respectful manner. You talk about my approach could cause depression. I have seen that a person who has depression will risk more to get out of it, including their lives. So, I see it in just the opposite way. Depression drives some people to the point of not telling.

Murder is the extreme, and has been proven to happen. What we don't hear about about the other violence that happens to trans people that does not result in death. Since murder is rare in those occasions where a person doesn't tell, then would that make the other violence more acceptable? "Hey, I may not get killed, but I'm okay with having my face bashed in. I can take that chance." Sure, no one would ever say that, but the end result can be the same.

I have this vision that there is a six-shooter with one bullet being passed around the trans community and too many are willing to spin the chamber and pull the trigger. I just cannot see the logic of doing that, just like I fail to see the logic in any comments that support not telling.

Arguing that there are certain situation where you don't need tell does not make an excuse for those time when you should tell. Hell, if I'm at a conference of other trans people, even I don't see the need to tell. Saying that trans people are murdered for other reasons is nothing more then a "Duh statement." It still doesn't account for the times when you should have told.

Oh I just caught this. I notice you're responding to a couple of my points in your last paragraph here. I didn't notice that at first because you didn't mention that in your response to me. Anyway, I think you're missing the reason why I bring up those examples.

First off, you seem to agree here that not EVERY situation requires disclosure right off the bat. I'm not using those examples as evidence we should never disclose, I'm responding to your position in your post that we should ALWAYS disclose under every circumstance. Perhaps we actually do agree here, but elsewhere you were saying that people should disclose in all circumstances and that those who don't are stupid -- my point was that those who don't might simply have circumstances that don't require it.

Second, when I mention the other ways trans people get killed because early disclosure before you know someone very well, especially if you think they may respond violently, can be dangerous in itself. And also because your approach of insulting and scaring people until they do what you say might contribute the depression and suicide that is rampant in our community.

Every one of my partners except for one knew I was trans before our connection began -- and that one was a special case not intended to last more than one night. So please don't assume I'm advocating non-disclosure. Especially don't assume I'm advocating non-disclosure in long term relationships with people who have violent personalities. What I object to is the suggestion that disclosure is needed before hand holding, in every circumstance, and that those who take different approaches are only doing so because they are wraught with loneliness.

Any hard and fast rule will, ultimately, kill people.

Discovery arguments are often based on a failure to understand certain cultural issues that have in interplay in such things as well as situations that are outside the experience and understanding of those who promote outright discovery.

Disclosure, to date, has been what has resulted in the deaths of the majority of those killed by someone they had involvement with.

People who will do such things will do such things regardless of when they find out -- regardless of the timing of discovery.

So any hard and fast rule of this nature will, in the end, cause the death of people.

Trust is something that is personal and variable. I can trust one person explicitly in one area, and not trust them at all in anything else.

Trust is not absolute for everyone -- so as a hard and fast rule to be applied to everyone, it fails, logically.

Absolutism is the refuge of fear.

I, for one, spend a lot of effort towards not being afraid.

I will advocate, now and always, for telling strictly on one's own personal terms, and that anyone telling someone different is wrong.

Even you, Monica.

Lastly, this is the speech of victims.

Don't dress that way, don't go over there, don't play with that one. They might hurt you.

It is, inherently, an indirect blaming of the victim of brutality.

All too often, it is based on propaganda of 1 in 12. Propaganda based on a number that is orders of magnitude off of the reality. By that model, the total number of MtF transsexuals is less than 26,000. And we know that just the top ten surgeons in the last fifteen years alone have done more surgeries than that.

Meaning that it does not include any non-operative people -- the one's most affected by this propaganda.

That I won't do, nor allow to be done, without speaking up.

When to tell? When you want to do so. That may be upfront, that may be after sex, that may be never.

Anything else is a restriction on freedom -- the most important of civil rights.

I was wondering when you were going to comment.

"Restriction of freedom?" Oh, well. It takes all kinds.

Monica, don't be so dismissive, gal, lol.

If you find a flaw in my logic, then indeed, tackle it head on.

For example, you make an emotional but illogical correlation between verbal discourse of physical armor here:

"My only concern is for the safety of my brothers and sisters. NASCAR drivers wear a helmet, a fire suit and a neck brace to protect themselves. Soldiers wear body armor and carry an M-16 for protection. Construction zones require a helmet and safe sex requires a condom. And, protecting yourself from a man going medieval on you after sex requires a bit of common sense."

n order, logically, for your examples to be applied, you should be saying "go out on dates with full body armor on". Because words will not protect you the way a steel crash cage, a reinforced hard hat and steel toed boots will.

It's an * emotional* appeal, without rational merit, and you know me well enough by now to know that I can spot such pretty much instantaneously.

The examples you gave are still quite timely -- but it is the discovery itself that led to their deaths -- the fact the men knew is what got them killed.

What will you argue against that point in specific? That the men are just men and all men will do that on finding out?

That had they told before it wouldn't have happened? How do you know that it wouldn't have happened before? More names on that list are from people who simply guessed or knew only a short while than those two. And saying that because they didn't tell those men that they were trans that they died is saying they are responsible for their deaths.

Indeed, you use that very point in the article: " they place themselves in danger by not starting off with a level of trust."

They (the victims) place themselves in danger.

That is, indeed, the equivalent of saying that when I go out in my short shorts and skimpy top and blonde hair that I'm asking for some guy to grope or worse me.

Because by doing so, I "place myself in danger".

There is also the factor of sex work -- and it might surprise you to know that not all sex workers are upfront or practical about it -- indeed it is a matter of status and pride to be able to pull it off without being clocked.

Among many ethnic communities, what you are suggesting is to walk up to someone and do the equivalent of saying "hey, shoot me."

Lastly, there's another issue there. What, exactly, is it that one is revealing? That you are a woman? Well, that's pretty obvious (even to you, lol) in my case.

And, if I'm a woman, why do I need to reveal that?

These are all logical examinations of points you've made in your own post above.

And I know full well how passionate and emotional you get about them.

If you have an issue with what I am saying then do not merely dismiss it -- because you know I'll call you on that the same way I do Bil or Father Tony.

Argue the point. Prove me wrong.

I'm not emotionally invested in being righteous, I'm intellectually invested in being correct.

And, in this case, the best advice I know of is to remember that hard and fast rules will always kill someone.

And that no one should be scared into behaviors that endanger them.

And yes, you knew I would eventually since I'm just as intensely dedicated to this point as you.


I've heard your argument before, in DC, remember? Remember these lines in my article, "I have also heard others justify not telling by labeling it something different, thinking that will make it go away. It doesn't matter how much psychobabble one wants to use to justify in their own head that they don't need to tell a potential lover, but they place themselves in danger by not starting off with a level of trust."

I put that in the article because of your comments in DC. It's nothing more than psychobabble. If you wish to use all of this extensive justification for your own life, that's fine. You have two boyfriends now and they both know. You have nothing to lose to come up with this kind of justification . . . nothing yet. Reality doesn't usually follow the "best laid plans."

Well, limitation: I used different arguments in that post than I did in DC. Thanks for disrespecting me by not giving my comments honest consideration.

Secondly, psychobbable refers to psychology -- in particular, psychology that the listener doesn't really want to bother dealing with because they don't have any respect for it.

And, indeed, to the point I made in my response, you did exactly what I was talking about:

you blamed the victim by saying they place themselves in danger.

Don't scan what I write. Respond, Monica. I give you that respect and courtesy -- it would be nice if you did the same.

Everything I wrote was derived form your comments. SO if it is psychobabble, then its not mine,

So, let me get this "straight," for lack of better word. I have made an attempt to advise straight trans women on the possibility that some men can be dangerous and to avoid violence by telling before the man has invested a lot of time and money in the relationship. And, by doing so, I am now somehow blaming the victim? Ah, correct me if I'm wrong, but don't you think it's a good idea not to have any "victims" at all? Your "suggestions" does not do that. You come up with all the reason a person doesn't need to tell. Calling it "disclosure" doesn't change the man's personality, or final outcome.

Both Erica and I stated that the less time and effort men put in a relationship, the less likely they will be violent when they find out. You say that a man will be violent right off the bat if they are that kind of man. So, you can get shot by just saying hello? By being in the same room as that man? I do not believe this at all and you have no proof it has ever happened to a trans woman in the past.

The difference between your approach and mine is that your ideas still has the possibilities of creating new victims. I don't want any victims at all.

Misrepresentation of *one* of my points, and ignoring the others.

IN fact, completely ignoring them in favor of that one.

Worse, you are going back in time, while I am dealing with what you are saying right now, in the post above.

My position, however, was not that they will be violent right off the bat if they are presdisposed to it. I said they will still do the same thing, regardless.

*You* added the time factor into it (just as you did then), not me, and I won't argue a point that I didn't make. Please stick to my points, not the one's you decide to interpret into them.

And yes, as a matter of fact, Monica, you can get shot just for saying hello. Or are you that insulated from the ethnic community and the news reports of the day? We may not like the rate of violence, and it is over reported, but it is still there and we do have issues in the community with it.

Read that list of yours, Monica. Read it closely, once again. Then tell me I have no proof.

The difference in our positions is that we both see the other's as creating more deaths.

Working in the sex worker and ethnic communities, what I see and know is that your advice would indeed cause them greater trouble -- and does, every time it is applied.

Perhaps you are missing what I mean by that, or you aren't grasping the issues that I'm talking about due to privilege. I don't know -- but I do know that what you are saying is indeed, more dangerous to the ethnic communities -- if what you are saying is that this should be a hard and fast rule.

It shouldn't.

And so you know, my advice is the same that was already pointed out by Zoe and Tobi -- that it is up to the person, not some untenable absolute rule.

In some situations, yes -- but to project that out to all situations is in error, and the people who should be making that decision are the people involved.

Not you, not me, not anyone but the transperson involved (and I do mean just the transperson).

So before you say "my suggestions" again, please keep in mid that I didn't make any suggestions, and you are once again being dismissive of me instead of actually thinking about my points as I've presented them here, instead flashing back to a conversation that was several months ago.

You have misrepresened my statements, been dismissive, obviously not read anything I wrote, added into what I wrote things I did not write, and generally avoided dealing with any of the flaws I pointed out. Please stop that. It's extremely triggering when people do that to me.

So, to help you out, simple questions:

1. How does your statement "they place themselves in danger" NOT blame the victim.

2. What, exactly, is it that one is revealing?

3. If one is a woman, why reveal that?

4. Are you suggesting this as a rule that should always be applied?

5. Are you aware of the nature of disclosure in ethnic communities such as the many different Latino/a ones, each of which has a different take on acceptability and permissibility?

6. What makes you think that Terri Lynn Moore and Jean Fox would have lived had they told up front, as you imply in your article?

7. What makes you think that "The most sensible thing" thing -- as opposed to merely a sensible thing -- is to tell in the early stages of the first convo?

8. What makes you think that your friend's relationship wasn't built on trust before she told?

9. What makes you think that "Trust is the primary foundation for ALL relationships," is true, when I can stand here and say that trust actually has nothing to do with any relationship I've ever been in?

10. What truth is it that you are saying people should share? Come on -- out with it.

I give you these 10 questions so that you can stay onto the points I've been making.

Instead of one's I'm not.

I just had a wonderful conversation with Tobi on the phone and it seems her and I are closer in believing the same thing then we originally thought. I hope she writes an article on the same subject.

I realized, with Tobi's help, that I needed to phrase things in a clearer fashion to be better understood. I was talking about the extreme situations and not all situations. I'll have to be more careful next time. Please accept my apology.

Thanks Monica for bringing up this issue.

Before becoming "sexually active" as it were, I advocated universal disclosure early on. Now I think it depends too much on circumstances.

For example, in the context of being post-op, consider being proactive, seizing the initiative.

A really good way of getting to know a guy is during pillow-talk. After you've screwed each other senseless a few times, you have a pretty good idea of what his reaction would be. Bodily intimacy leads to sharing confidences. You tell each other secrets.

Then it's up to you. Break off, and never disclose. Or reveal all, as he's revealed all to you. Remember, this is after you've really and repeatedly pleased him sexually, as only a woman can do (if he's straight). Brutally, you've used sex as a weapon, as women have done to dangerous men since time immemorial.

Not just oral - though that has its place - but REPEATED episodes of vaginal sex, so his instincts and subconscious can't see you as male in any way. He can still be homophobic, but you get classed as "girl" not boy, not just intellectually, but emotionally, viscerally.

This requires keeping those pelvic muscles in good shape, and doing your kegels. It helps to be multiply orgasmic, with a classically, even cliched female sexual response.

Monica, I'm as straight-laced as they come. Staid. Prim. Prissy. Prudish. But although this is traditional, the behaviour of every courtesan, kept woman and mistress, it's been proven to work very effectively. Before feminism, it's all we had. It's still all the oppressed women in the middle east and elsewhere have to make their effective slavery bearable.

Of course, if you find "Mr Right"... then in addition to giving him your body, you can give him your heart.

I'm not looking: I want to practice on a few Mr Wrong's first. Those who are just in it out of lust. For one thing, I'm married, to a woman I love very deeply. It's just that both of us are straight.

I have gotten to know you over the last couple of years, and I have always been impressed with you and how you approach subjects. This is yet another page in the Zoe book that allows me to understand you. Thank you.

In my case, I'm not looking for "Mr. Right," but "Ms. Right" would be all right.

I'll get to your questions later, d, but not necessarily here.

Right now, I want to approach this from a whole different angel, since trying to keep oneself safe in certain situation doesn't seem to be that big of a concern to some of you.

In a basic, most common, romantic/sexual relationship, there are (for the most part) two people involved. I'm sure that is something all of us can agree with. And, I have heard for all my life that good relationships are the ones where you are equal partners.

I see here, by some of the comments, that the feelings of the man in some of these relationships are of no concern of yours. Have any of you even give a thought that it just might be nice to let the man make the decision on whether he wants to be with a woman of trans history or not? I get the feeling that as long as some of you get your sexual jollies and whatever else from this man, that his concerns and his feeling on the matter of your past falls in the category of "So what?"

I guess it gives me the basis of my next article, "Why some trans people are selfish and self centered."

"I see here, by some of the comments, that the feelings of the man in some of these relationships are of no concern of yours. Have any of you even give a thought that it just might be nice to let the man make the decision on whether he wants to be with a woman of trans history or not? I get the feeling that as long as some of you get your sexual jollies and whatever else from this man, that his concerns and his feeling on the matter of your past falls in the category of "So what?""

You can see what?

*sigh*

1. What makes you think that I have no concern for the thoughts of another person?

2. That decision is one they can make with or without that knowledge, isn't it?

3. Do you realize that the phrasing of "whether he wants to be with a woman of trans history or not?" places being trans as more important than being a person?

4. Do you think that being trans is that important?

5. Why do you get those feelings about my nature? Indeed, what prompts you to even think that -- could it be that you see women that way? Or is it just transwomen?

Excuse me but tell what?
I used to be a man?.......I was never a man.
I had a hysterectomy?, none of his business since at 60 no one should expect I'll be having their child.
I had some things corrected?....is he required to tell me he's a potential homicidal killer? If he takes viagra?

The fact is when and if to tell is the right of anyone post corrected depending on circumstances. You have zero standing in this discussion, about the same weight of authority that Bil does, meaning an opinion only, not some divine messenger.

In this thread Tobi, Zoe and dyssonance have amassed ideas and made arguments on behalf of transsexual women, women of transsexual experience. My own contribution has been to also raise the question of what do we have to be ashamed of.

The question you continue to be raising seems to be that we really aren't what we say we are, that, somehow, we are deceivers and, in your next article, Why some trans people are selfish and self centered you will point out why.

It is almost as if you are taking the part of the poor man in this argument, that, somehow, we are more powerful than he is.

Please address the arguments and ideas raised here. Or not.

If you have nothing to be ashamed of, then I don't see a problem telling the man you are with, unless you don't really care enough about his feelings.

You see this as the biggest, most important thing in your life, I suppose; this is less and less that important to me.

What is he interested in, the woman I have always been and am now, or something I am not now, nor ever was?

Your vote, obviously, is for what I am not now, nor ever was--and must be the biggest thing in my life. Because without telling him there is no chance of anything ever being between us.

That's not a logical chain of thought, Monica. That's you leaping to a conclusion using a form of verbal attack referenced as passive aggressive.

Just because someone is not ashamed of something doesn't mean they aren't telling because they don't care about other people.

Would you say that Caster will now have to tell someone for the rest of er life that she was the "woman who won the 800" or the "woman who won the 80 and had testing done?"

You are arguing for asterisks.

Part of Trust, Monica, in understanding that people need their privacy, as well.

Editors' Note: This comment has been deleted for Terms of Service violation. You can see our commenting policy at the bottom of each thread.

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I love how these elitist transgender types have opinions on conditions they were not born with. But for what its worth, here's another transgender woman who agrees with Monica.

http://jasperswardrobe.wordpress.com/2009/09/08/passing-and-stealth-are-bad-for-us/

This lovely transgender woman even goes after the intersex claiming she can own that identity too, just because.

I'm so glad we have non-transsexual "transwomen" like Monica and Jasper to tell us how to live, and who we really are.

Aria,

If it's any consolation, there are plenty of transgender women (transsexual or not) who get upset with that kind of stuff too. In fact, I was just listening to a group of transgender folks who were complaining about that exact blog post.

I don't think this acrimony will end until people admit that some of us really were born with a condition. I don't appreciate people like Helms weighing in on a birth defect that I have been battling with most of my life. I never have a problem with anyone who plies the gender waters until they feel a need to attach it to this thing that almost killed me. The fact that the GLBT endorses and condones this practice makes them into bullies too, and creates an enemy relationship.

Editors' Note: This comment has been deleted for Terms of Service violation. You can see our commenting policy at the bottom of each thread.

While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising. Repeated violations of the policy will result in revocation of your user account. Please keep in mind that this is our online home; ill-mannered house guests will be shown the door.

Overall, I thought Monica's essay was not bad; should it have been addressed to pre/non ops and lesbians only it would have been excellent.

However, it's more than problematic when that group (preop/nonop and lesbians) weigh in on an issue only a post op can appreciate. Someone who is both not post op and never been with a man can hardly speak to what the outcome of being with a guy will or will not be. Any so-called or inferred "obligation to tell" when it comes to a post op is simply ludicrous...each of us will do what we feel is the right thing, and in my mind there truely is no right or wrong way to approach that. Regardless, this threads undercurrent that somehow shame is involved will not play a part in the decision.

Another point that I'm sure will be misconstrued is the character of one's choice for a partner in the first place. No, there's no guarantee, but if one hooks up with a low life, tatooed, skin head gangbanger, or the likes, the chance of violence will increase regardless of what one's gender situation is.

As well, as this has been alluded to, it seems to be the pervasive mindset that everyone in the mainstream is out to kill or attack on sight any and everyone who is gender variant in any way. That's BS. That frame of mind, that the entire planet is transphobic and hell bent on eradicating "all dem trannies" at the first opportunity, is almost a cottage industry to many of the transgender. Sure, walk into a redneck bar on Saturday night looking like a bad Dolly Parton on Halloween and yell your an out and proud transgender and you just might get what you're looking for...on the other hand, being laughed out of the place may be your only sentence. The truth is people are generally good and could generally give a good damn what other people do, whether they approve of it or not.

One thing is certain, if a preop/nonop intends to date straight men, they better reveal right up front, before they ever even go out with the guy, and not be in his presence when she does so. The transgender can foolishly say genitals don't define male or female if they want to...they can say genitals don't matter till the crows roost, but they very much do matter to many (though not all) men who are considering asking a "woman" out on a date.

Ahhh, Miss Jasper "This is What a Transwoman Looks Like" Gregory, transgender personified. More than hilarious to watch the transgender back away from Miss Jasper like the plague while using the same rationale they have vilified classic transsexuals for using over the past ten years...but that's another story.

Susan,

I agree that one needs to be much more careful when speaking outside of their experience as Monica is doing here (not as much as you might think, though, she discusses dating men in this very thread). However, right after you say that pre/non-ops should never tell post-ops what to do, you go on to tell pre/non-ops what they should do. Does that not seem like a problem to you?

Personally, I think there's less difference between the groups then we often pretend, not to mention some overlap. I think we can provide adaquate advice across surgical status, but again, theres a need to be much more careful when we speak outside of our experience.

As for Jasper, I think a clarification is in order. No one I know is upset at her because of how she looks. In fact I know other pre/non-transitioning folks who face some of the same problems with the trans hierarchy she mentions. The problem is when she tries to turn that hierarchy upside down, placing herself at the top, and claims that only her experience is pure and that those who pass or are stealth in their workplace are doing something bad.

The folks I know, both transsexual and transgender, don't appreciate anyone who says unfair and hurtful things about other trans people -- regardless of who is being villifyied. I have to admit, it's always kinda awkward talking with you because in my small town nobody makes a distinction between transsexual and transgender. There's so few of us that we all have to work together.

In most of the public, there isn't a distinction between transsexual and transgender.

Oddly enough, the only groups where thee is one are trans groups and their related medical areas or academia.

When it comes to pre-op and non-op, genitals matter. If not to the guy or girl they are with, it should at least matter to the gal they are attached to. If it doesn't, then if the partner is a woman, that doesnt make you a lesbian, and if the partner is a male, that doesn't make you a woman.

Post op, if you tell too soon you will likely get rejected, tell too late and you will likely get a beating. At some point, you will reach the point of no return, you either go forward stealth or you take your chances and tell. Been there in both situations .. and both suck.

Just remember this, it takes less than a minute to tell, once done, you can never take it back.

Note from Bil: Part of this comment has been removed for violating terms of service by personally attacking another user. The pertinent part has been left.

First; You are saying I not only need to tell about something that I never was but I MUST because two non-disclosed women in the last what ten years were murdered by their lovers?

Monica, do you have any clue how many straight women just like me are murdered each year by their lovers? It's OVER three a day in the USA alone who are murdred with another 600 hundred more sexually assaulted or raped., Mind you this is not every ten years, not every five years or even in one year, but EVERY SINGLE FRICKING DAY, 365 days out of the year. Just in case you haven’t done the math, That works out to one woman sexually assaulted raped or murdered by her lover every 23 seconds just in the USA!

The risk of being assaulted raped and murdered by our lovers is simply part of being a woman. Men are quite wonderful and I adore them but they can also be violent. That same drive and power that makes them men also has its dark side and in the wrong context it can result in violence towards women. That violence is something woven through out their being and all women learn about it when they begin to interact with men so they deal with it as best they can as women have since time began..

Second;
How dare to pull out that same worn Trust and Truth card that everyone who has not a clue about transsexual seems to love so. Just like them you try to play that card in a game you know nothing about.

What truth might I ask? That I am a woman? Honey I rather much think he gets that one without my saying so! If he doesn’t then he is dead!
What trust? That I will be faithful, That I won’t allow other men into my bed? That I will want him always? If he earns those trusts then he gets them… Otherwise no! No trust give!

Oh wait!

You mean… “The Truth that I am a man!?” But I’m not a man Dear! That thing between my legs is a vagina. Can you say. V-A-G-I-N-I-A!? It is NOT a penis! Makes a world of difference in that whole man / woman thing ya know!

“Trust?” Ohh back to the above is it? I can’t build a relationship with a man unless I tell him “I am a man!” Kinda circular logic there isn’t it? Well dear if you like circular logic then my answer to your “Trust” has to be the same as to your “Truth.” I am a woman!


That I once had a medical issue? That I once had a terrible calamity in my life? That I once suffered horribly for something that was not my faut? I need to disclose all that, Why????

Do you think that many on the ball women tell their lovers and husband everything that happened to them before they met? Wake up and smell the coffee Sweetie! Women keep all kind of secrets from their men that are not their business and that should not be any of their business!

Things like… That abortion they had. The child they gave up for adoption. The size of our bank account. The number of lovers they had. How good those lovers were were! Trust me they certainly don’t tell how big they were! We women don’t give a recitation of every injury every bruised ego every slight received and we certainly do NOT give a history report on our vaginas! I am a woman, dear and if he finds me desirable and I find him so too then I may take him as my lover… If he is my prince then I may take him as my husband.

Might I suggest to the moderators that this comment be removed from the thread? Regardless of the author's status as a transsexual woman, the amount of ungendering and transphobia in her post has no place on a LGBT blog. This is hate speech should not be tolerated, regardless of the source.

That's ridiculous. The original post was transsexual-phobic in the extreme and flat out denies our womanhood. The response was more than measured and quite restrained. Your request is way out of line

The part of the comment that was a personal attack against Monica has been removed. I left the pertinent part that addressed the actual post instead of the author.

Might I suggest to the moderators that this comment be removed from the thread? Regardless of the author's status as a transsexual woman, the amount of ungendering and transphobia in her post has no place on a LGBT blog. This is hate speech should not be tolerated, regardless of the source.

And it looks to me like you are simply afraid of hearing the truth. Uncomfortable truth founded in your mysogynistic gynophobia.

My goodness, what a train wreck this thread has become.

I'm not going to take sides as to when a person should reveal intimate details about her life. I see merit in many sides that people have argued and I'm just not certain what the answer is.

However, I am rather distressed at the level of invective surrounding the post-op vs. non-op/pre-op and dating men vs. lesbian divide. In spite of all the different lines of division we might draw between each other, society hates us for pretty much the same reason: we violate the common understanding of what female and male means. Of course, I don't agree with that narrow understanding and many folks on this thread probably don't either. Nevertheless, common folk tend to feel otherwise. So, regardless of our surgical status, our genitals, or who we choose to date, a whole lot of people hate us. As far as I'm concerned, that's the bottom line. I don't care what kind of genitals another trans/transsexual woman has. We're in this together and given that we *all* have been attached to penises at some point in our lives, I have a hard time excluding Monica from the fold simply because of her genital status.

I'm sure y'all have heard of divide and conquer. Right now, looking at this comment thread, it seems like we're doing the hater's work for them. Who needs enemies and bigots when we can tear each other apart with no need of outside assistance?

In the spirit of addressing these unfortunate behaviors, here are a few things to keep in mind:
1) If the world sees you a woman, it doesn't matter what shape your genitals are. We are subject to the threat of male violence just as any other woman is. If the man in question discovers that we are also in possession of a penis, there's a good chance he's going to be even more pissed with us. It seems to me that non-op/pre-op women have even more at stake in this conversation than the rest of us.
2) How many lesbians started out dating men? I'll give you a hint: more than you can shake a stick at.
3) How many guys insist on pursuing a woman even after she tells him she's a lesbian? Here's another hint: your arm is going to get tired of shaking that stick.
4) Sexual orientation can be quite fluid. Those folks who ID as lesbian today might find that they ID as bi or straight many years down the road. Folks go in the opposite direction, too.
5) I've know a few lesbians who wound up with guys as life partners. Some of them are still predominantly attracted to women, but something about that one guy made their hearts melt. Should we exclude lesbian identified women with male life partners from a conversation about male violence and dating? Or do we include them?
6) What about those women who would have surgery if they had the money, but are just too poor to afford it? Essentially, they get disqualified from speaking on this topic because they're poor. Given the world's nasty history of giving people of color the economic shaft, this means that a lot of trans/transsexual women of color are excluded from this conversation via poverty as well. Classism and racism have a habit of exposing a flawed basis of exclusion as the ugly prejudice it truly is.

The moral of the story? Life is wacky and can't be shoved into nice, tidy little categories. Consequently, we have much more in common with each other than we might realize. Plus, in spite of our best lesbian intentions, many of us could wind up dating men. It's probably a good idea for all of us to think about the reality that surrounds dating a man and being a trans/transsexual woman. It's better to consider the ramifications beforehand, rather than having to make a spit-second decision when you meet that one guy who melts your heart. Last but certainly not least, when we insist on drawing lines of exclusion, we sometimes access (and possibly abuse) more sources of personal power and privilege than we might want to admit.

Now then, can we stop beating each other up with the surgery/sexual orientation stick? When to share one's life experiences as a trans person is certainly an important topic to discuss and it's a darned shame that it's being derailed by sectarian infighting. Whether we like it or not, we're all in this together. It's counterproductive to ignore that reality.

Just for the sake of full disclosure: I'm a white post-op trans woman who is bi, leaning heavily toward lesbian. I lost my virginity to a guy while post-op, but I'll probably never date a guy again. Then again, life is simply too long to make that prediction with 100% certainty. So, am I qualified to speak? Honestly, since I don't fit neatly into folk's boxes, I really don't care.

I don't see a problem at all, Tobi...I've been preop, preops haven't been post op...yet. And, I'm not telling anyone to do anything, I'm strictly offering an opinion based on experience.

I can't see the point of your comment or question to me unless you feel preops should go out on heterosexual dates without revealing they are preop to the heterosexual men they intend to be with. Is that your position, Tobi?

Susan,

Have you ever been non-op? Have you ever tried to hide your trans status during sex while pre/non-op? Do you know about what techniques and tactics folks use to successfully do so? Have you done so this millenium?

I'm not saying you can't weigh in or have life experience to offer, but my point is that speaking outside of your experience requires being careful. Making sweeping statements about what an entire population should do when you're not a part of that group is generally not a good idea. (Don't take my opposition to your sweeping statement as an endorsement of a different sweeping statement -- my argument is that sweeping statements are inapropriate here.)

You take offense at the suggestion that all post-op folks should disclose, and I agree with you there. But if you look at the conversation that's gone on here before just today, you'll see numerous arguments I and others made for why it's inapropriate to tell anyone that they have to disclose under all circumstances, including pre/non-op folks.

I just have to repeat for clarity: This "article" on Bilerico is a thinly-veiled hitpiece on every woman who has ever transitioned. It is the standard stock in trade of the "non op" transgender to attack our legitimacy and deny our womanhood, as if they have the right and the power to tell us who we are. I have seen this over and over again in "trans" circles. It is nothing more than woman-hating abuse, and it apparently has the blessing of the GLBT.

"Transgender" is about using "cissexual" privilege to attack those of us who were differently-born.

http://ariablue.wordpress.com/2009/09/13/transgender-is-cissexual/

Aria,

I'm not sure where to place myself in this stratification, being post-one-op, pre-another-op, and non-for-now-the-rest-ops. But speaking from the non-op position I'm often placed in I'm just as frustrated with this article as you are, and frankly I think it does just as much a disservice to non-ops as it does post-ops, though perhaps in different ways.

My main criticism of the article is that it focuses on a specific sceneraio and isolated incidents but makes prescriptions based on them for everyone. Something that is very akin to what you are doing here, by announcing that this article is representative of the kind of thinking non-ops have in general and claiming that everyone placed in the non-op category is atacking you.

I don't doubt you have been treated unfairly by people who are non-op, I've been treated unfairly by non-ops wielding cissexual privilege too. I've also been treated unfairly by post-op folks and pre-op folks for that matter. But none of those individuals are representative of everyone else with the same surgical status.

The vast majority of non-ops I know don't really talk about it, have no problem with other post-ops and aren't really visible as non-op. When you lambast all of them (oh fine, all of us) as being anti-transsexual and woman-hating, it feels to me like you're commiting the same hyperbole and prejudice that you are criticizing.

I'm being treated unfairly *right here* Tobi. And yet no one will step up and tell this woman-hater to shut up. This IS the TG standard of behavior toward women like me. If I don't address it toward the non-op representatives as they are deemed by virtue of posting privileges, whom shall I address? These phantom non-ops that don't have a problem with women like me? How generous of them. I never gave a thought to them either until their sister non-ops began this all-out assault against women who were born like me.

So there are plenty of genderqueer and non-ops who don't do this. Where are they? Why aren't they telling other non-ops to tone it down or keep their mouths shut? It tars all of them by association with these woman-haters. If indeed they do disagree.

If the non-ops don't want to be labeled as being the same as these hateful misogynistic non-ops, they better start speaking up. We stayed silent and out of the GLBT game for many years, and look what it got us. If you don't want politics played in your name, you have to find your voice and say "Enough!". So far, I haven't heard one non-op, anywhere, saying that they disagree. The most I've heard is from you saying that this post troubles you about it's limited scope. So where are they? Silence is agreement.

Aria,

I don't think Monica identifies herself as non-op in this piece, and she certainly doesn't claim to represent all non-ops. You wonder where the genderqueer and non-op folks are? Take a look. This post has been up for 4 days and has 63 comments so far. How many of the trans people of any kind endorse this article in it's entirety? I don't know everyone's surgical status here -- as most folks don't announce it in every comment -- but I see a wide range of folks making the same criticisms you are, many of whom wouldn't fit into the "post-op transsexual not transgender" category you're speaking from.

Second of all, it shouldn't matter. If you think Monica is attacking you, you're not going to deem her a representative of all African Americans and announce that African Americans are attacking you, right? You're not going to say she represents all lesbians and announce that lesbians are attacking you, right? So why is it appropriate to deem her a representative of all non-ops and announce that non-ops are attacking you?

That's prejudice 101. When a person from another group wrongs you, it doesn't mean all people from that group will act similarly.

Where are all the non-ops and genderqueers? Some of them are defending you, right here, even before you arrived. But most of them aren't reading Bilerico, living their lives, and could care less about what someone on the internet said.

"I am rather distressed at the level of invective surrounding the post-op vs. non-op/pre-op and dating men vs. lesbian divide. In spite of all the different lines of division we might draw between each other, society hates us for pretty much the same reason: we violate the common understanding of what female and male means"

Actually, that is a falsehood. Society is sick to death of being told who they should consider male or female. Actually society, if you listen to them have a very good idea of who is male or female, and the hate part you mention is aimed squarely at those types that do not vibe what they claim. Society does NOT hate us all equally and if you were to perhaps listen to what those post op women here are saying, the reason you might think they hate all of us for the same reason, is because you and others try to make it appear that we are all the same when in fact there is a world of difference between transsexuals, and transgenders.

Um there is the little problem that many folks--myself included--identify as both transsexual and transgender. So, do I get to be recognized as a woman or am I just a former penis owner masquerading as something I'm not? Just wondering.

So where do we draw the line, anyway? Intersex women often don't conform to society's expectations of genital shape. Do they get tossed from the merry band of societally approved women? Butch and androgynous women often don't "vibe" in the way that mainstream folk consider "womanly." Shall we toss them into the ditch, too? Oh wait, what about this whole women loving women, fiasco? That's not quite right either. You know, women were meant to bear children. Two women can't do that--at least not naturally. Let's vote them off the island, too. Hey, wait: transsexual women can't bear children at all! Uh oh... Well, you know what that means.

Being a woman is a tough position to fill with very exacting standards. I'm sure you'll be very understanding when "real" societally approved women demand that *you* (and I) should quietly drop the label "woman" when requested to. It's just no fair to those who are rightfully women for the rest of us to try to redefine the category without their permission and input, right? Right?

Someone please explain what transphobia means in the context of the supposed phobia coming from a woman of trans history ?

Asserting or implying that a trans/transsexual person's gender identity is not valid is a common manifestation of prejudice against trans/transsexual people. The text that was deleted from some of the comments above manifested that behavior. These behaviors are commonly understood to fall under the category of transphobia.

We certainly would not tolerate this kind of behavior from people who are not trans/transsexual. Why should we tolerate this kind of behavior from one of our own? Does being trans/transsexual make this abuse somehow more palatable? How can we expect others to respect our identities if we can't respect the identities of other trans/transsexual people? Is this not hypocrisy?

I'm still shaking my head on how my removed comment in any fashion violated the TOS of this blog.

Helms is an avowed non/perm-pre op. Helms has zero experience living as a post corrected woman. These are well established facts that Helms writes about constantly.

Every single post corrected woman has been in the physical reality space Helms is. Helms has never been in the place we are post corrected. This again is self evident. Self evident as well should be that Helms thinks it appropriate to dictate "proper" behaviour to an entire class Helms has never been or had even a second's experience as and the comments by Helms using generalized insults towards post corrected and other women here who disagree with Helms' opinions demonstrate this clearly.

Helm's position clearly depends on a viewpoint that post corrected women are not "real" women. That Bil understands this should also be clear given the number of comment discussions on this very point so it's also clear Bil takes this position as well since he allows endless guest blog from individuals from this viewpoint without balance. Personally I find that position insulting and bigoted in the extreme.

Only in the topsy turvy world of transgender can the opinions of someone with 1/2 the experience be routinely given weight over those who have been through the entire process but there you have it. Since it is those who fully identify as "real" women who's opinions are discounted routinely, one must conclude this is gynophobia and mysogynoy, no other conclusion is even possible.

I feel compelled to add that since Helms is claiming the right to write from a position of authority on a subject regarding post corrected women, Helm's oft declared pre/non op status is totally on point. If my mentioning that is the reason for the TOS violation, that is completely out of line IMHO.

My question to Bil is why is Helms entries from a position of authority on a group Helms is not a member of allowed in the first place?

I'll only answer this once, Cathy, since it's been a recurring problem and you're well aware of the Terms of Service. Lord knows you've written us enough trying to use the TOS to your own advantage.

Unlike all 70-some comments that didn't get deleted for violating TOS, your comment(s) just attack(ed) Monica. If you can't make your point without having to personally attack the author, your position doesn't have much merit, IMO. Plenty of other people seem to be able to understand the Terms of Service, follow the rules, stay within them and still win arguments.

That you can't do that, while still complaining the entire time that you're being victimized for not being allowed to flaunt the rules or make up your own, speaks volumes about your character. That this is a recurring problem says even more.

So my question to you is, "Why can't you just follow the same rules everyone else does and have a civil conversation without having to resort to cruel and bitter personal attacks?"

When you stop with the personal attacks, your comments won't be deleted for violating the TOS. After all, your earlier - on point - comments are still there.

Helms has been allowed to personally attack me viciously here for the past year.

I complain and get no response.

I deny that anything in that deleted comment was a personal attack at all.

i strongly recommend saving comments before posting them.

It's the only way to vindicate yourself when opponents, pretending to be neutral moderators, silence you.

Remember that the definition of 'attack', more often than not, is very one-sided.

And failing the ability to justify it, a hostile moderator will just fall back on the old classic 'tone' arguement.

....i guess bil DOESN'T take "this position":


*Helm's position clearly depends on a viewpoint that post corrected women are not "real" women. That Bil understands this should also be clear given the number of comment discussions on this very point so it's also clear Bil takes this position as well
-radical bitch*

i asked re this point earlier:
"would you date a (transman)T person?...etc"
here on bilerico,
his(bil's) response:

"Of course, I see them as a man, javier. There have been times that I'll mess up pronouns, but if you tell me your gender, I'm going to stick with it. After all, the person telling me knows better than I.

As for your second question, the last major crush I had was on a transguy. He's one of the hottest guys I've met and I adore him without reservation. Yes, I'd date a trans person.

-Bil Browning"


so i guess bil DOES see T people as they identify...
some people DO walk the walk.
straight, gay, etc.
allies are allies.
and if you don't get THAT, that is only one of MANY problems in the T political spectrum....
-javier

ps
also,thinly veiled anti-transgender
sentiment hidden as "disclosure" discussion
is still othering, for the transgender women that the 'classics' would like to make "go away"
it's still bigotry.if some people are tg, and some are women BT, why can't you stop othering them?
"helms".
i guess monica doesn't rate a name.

...that blows "gender discussions"
out of the water, right there."he"
you can lose your audience pretty fast, that way.
you still get to post here, though.
(oh,those wimpy liberals!)
lol

pps:
*Helm's position clearly depends on a viewpoint that post corrected women are not "real" women.
-RB*

isn't that the "classic" position on tg women?
just askin'.
i don't expect a response.
lol

"Woman" is a social construct based on a human being's gender expression that appears on the feminine side of the scale.

"Female" is a biological term based on the internal and external attributes that have been scientifically established over centuries.

All transsexual women are indeed women, so the rumors to what I believe are totally wrong. MtF crossdressers are also considered women when they present that way.

However, all, but a few transsexuals and all MtF crossdressers are NOT female. That is an undeniable truth. Do you have pelvic bone with a birth channel? It is okay to say you are a "woman," but don't try to convince people you are "female."

I disagree here. "Female" has actually been disagreed upon for centuries. The one "scientific" definition is based upon being able to produce eggs. But no one ever claims that a woman who's had a hystorectomy is no longer female.

The other thing that the scientific community agrees on is that there are only males and females in humans, so everyone needs to be catagorized as one or the other even if there are some inconsistencies.

How any given trans person would be understood by the medical/scientific community as "male" or "female" would undoubtedly be up for debate. The decisions people would make would be based on what cultural values lead them to apply different value to each sex attribute they see. In this way, sex is just as much a social construction as gender.

Given that sex is a social construction and that there is no consensus on how to categorize people with the conflicts you mention, why can't you just leave sex to self-identification the way you do with gender?

I disagree here. "Female" has actually been disagreed upon for centuries. The one "scientific" definition is based upon being able to produce eggs. But no one ever claims that a woman who's had a hystorectomy is no longer female.

The other thing that the scientific community agrees on is that there are only males and females in humans, so everyone needs to be catagorized as one or the other even if there are some inconsistencies.

How any given trans person would be understood by the medical/scientific community as "male" or "female" would undoubtedly be up for debate. The decisions people would make would be based on what cultural values lead them to apply different value to each sex attribute they see. In this way, sex is just as much a social construction as gender.

Given that sex is a social construction and that there is no consensus on how to categorize people with the conflicts you mention, why can't you just leave sex to self-identification the way you do with gender?

Do you have pelvic bone with a birth channel?

yes, as a matter of fact I do. And part of my organ systems are XX, part of them are XY.

But the real question is what is your continued motivation in telling women of transsexual history, you know, women with vaginas, they are not female? Why this overwhelming need to repeat this?

Because in the world of intersexuality, women with born with blind vaginas are female, women born CAIS are considered female.

In the mundane world, most people "get" that someone with a vagina (regardless of how they got it) is both woman and female.

Additionally I would ask where you studied anatomy? Are you aware that 1/3 of Caucasian women have pelvic structures that, as skeletal remains, would appear closer or exactly like male norm? Have you ever "sexed" a skeleton? It's considerably harder than you apparently think as variations within humans are quite large, especially in the pelvic area.

You continue to trot out skeletal remain arguments, glandular differences and when pushed finally genetics......and I think you know better or at least should.

When I took anatomy, I won the argument about skeletal sexing with my instructor.

Really Monica? The fount of wisdom continues to gush forth I see. Do please continue to tell everyone who they are. I'm sure the favor will be returned shortly.

I am female, and I am a woman. Monica has no such authority to make silly statements. What does she know about "biology" anyway? Talk about an essentialist!

Holding those views is why I say that they, the hardcore militant transgenders, are cissexual. Their bodies and their brains match up, that's why they don't make physical alterations. That's their own definition. Transgender = cissexual.

But crossdressers are women when they dress up??? This keeps getting funnier. Do you expect people to actually believe that?

You are in good company though, here is someone that agrees with you:

http://jasperswardrobe.wordpress.com/2009/09/15/i-am-an-authentic-woman/

Hey Monica, do you think that people are just their reproductive systems or lack thereof, really? Is that who everyone "really" is? Wow, that pretty much explains the transgender to anyone who still doesn't get it.

You know what else that females have that you don't, Monica? I'll give you three guesses.

ROFL...too much.

The ole "when-they-dig-me-up-in-five-hundred-year-pelvic-bones" argument.

Not to be confused with the "they-hate-all-of-us-equally" response...

Nor the "passing-privilege" retort...

The "genitals-don't-define-gender" reply...

Or the "sex-and-gender-are-not-synonymnous" diatribe.

I mean, does anyone really think for a moment that anyone else on the planet but the transgender libertines and some, not even all, of the social scientists/biologists/psychologists see sex and gender as different. Some must really get out more. The mainstream has no problem wrapping their arms around a post op's dilema, but I'd love to be a fly on the wall when a transgender tries to convince average person that they are female yet have a penis...want to keep it...and their penis has no bearing whatsoever on whether they are man, woman, male, female, boy, or girl.

Seems the transgender confuse the passing of discrimination legislation and the general righteous concept that no one should be discriminated against...with somehow that legislation validating acceptance and understanding when in fact it is just another form of a "live and let live" mindset.

I just can't wait until there is same-sex marriage everywhere and ENDA passes, for if there was ever a doubt before that the transgender were going batty trying to convince society of their dogma, once the gays and lesbians bail it will be a given when the transgender are talking only to themselves.

Susan,

I hate the "pelvic-bone" retort as much as you do, and I also dislike the separation of sex and gender. But your comment about how hard it is to convince folks that genitals don't define gender... that's exactly what I meant about talking outside of your experience.

You may have been pre-op at one point, but you obviously never tried to "convince" someone that genitals don't define gender, otherwise you'd have no need to be a fly on the wall. Not to mention that, while I don't know what time period or geography you were pre-op in, era and geography can have a big impact on things.

I'll only speak to my queer community experience, but let me tell you that when someone meets me, I don't flash them my genitals first thing. I generally pass. When I don't, I just correct them and they assume I'm a butch cis woman rather then assume I'm a trans woman. Either way, I'm pretty solidly female in most people's minds from the moment they meet me. By the time I talk about my genitals or they get to see them, I don't have to covince them of anything. Granted there are exceptions, but there are exceptions to society recognizing the gender of post-ops too -- my local homeless shelter, for example, puts the post op trans women in the men's wing.

So when you assert that society has no problem recognizing the gender of post op folks, I think you're right on point. But when you indicate that pre/non-op folks trying to have their gender recognized (despite their genitals) is doomed to failure and laughable... not only is that hurtful and just plain mean to folks having trouble with that, but it's ignorant and also wrong. You really could benefit from dropping the assumption that you know what life is like for all or even most pre- and especially non-op folks.