Antonia D'orsay

Gay, trans, man, and pregnant: Let's talk about cognitive dissonance in the media and the movement

Filed By Antonia D'orsay | February 02, 2010 11:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Media, The Movement
Tags: coming out of the closet, Equality and Equity, gays and lesbian parents, heteronormative, inclusiveness, Individuality, KISS-FM, Prop 8 trial, really bad habits of the LGBT community, The Agenda, trans bashing, trans man, trans news of 2010, Transawareness, transmasculine

There's been a recent subject in the news that is vaguely trans and gay related, and it has a particularly squicky feeling about it that's causing issues with all manner of people that's somewhat startling to me.

In this case, it's the recent news that a couple is having a baby. Two men who are running down a dream of family, and, in doing so, they are defeating an age old canard used by the opponents of marriage equality.

But instead of taking it and holding it up and shining a positive light on it and using it to empower the LGBT community as a whole, people are doing something I think is actually pretty negative and defeatist.

You see, one of them is pregnant.

The problem, of course, is based in multiple intersections, but a large and abiding portion of it is due to a concept called cognitive dissonance. This is when someone is uncomfortable holding two contradictory ideas in their heads at once. In this case, the ideas are that here you have a pregnant man and men can't get pregnant.

There is, at this time, a burgeoning effort going on to scold the radio disc jockeys of a radio show where the woman essentially expressed disgust at the idea of a bearded man being pregnant. It should be noted that the hosts followed the basic rules of talking about trans people - there was no misgendering going on. But some pretty blatant anxiety about the idea of a man being pregnant. Note that in this case, I'm using the word anxiety in a more clinical sense: aversion, fear, or intense dislike. You can go from there where you want. When you call a person icky and say eww it's a pretty clear case of having some aversion there to me.

However, this reaction, in studying the particular transcripts of the radio show, is due to the aforementioned cognitive dissonance, if you happen to hold with this structure instead of something like D. J. Bem's self-perception structure. If one does go with D. J. Bem's model, then we are talking about a crapload of actual bigots, and I'm disinclined to find that as accurate here.

For reference, this is the Cornell University researcher who wrote "The Exotic Becomes Erotic", and established the finding that 63% of both gay men and lesbians reported that they were gender nonconforming in childhood (i.e., did not like activities typical of their sex), compared with only 10-15% of heterosexual men and women. His wife created the Bem Sex Role Inventory.

In any case, the reactions to these two men having a baby within the LGBT community is a kind of free-falling discord. Instead of focusing on their usefulness in terms of being legally married and one of them being pregnant and their being gay, people are focusing on their being trans.

Why do you think that is? (That's not a rhetorical question.)

Even if you intentionally misgender them, they are still gay, so it really is a pretty serious part of the whole thing.

One of the reasons is the social concept within the LGBT that since they are trans, they don't count as gay. This creates a liminal situation, and part of the rational underlying much of that is the idea that "they aren't really men." This is not a small thing, either.

There are stories all over the LGBT community about LGB couples adopting and LGB couples going through custody battles, and here we have a couple that is having a kid and standing in pretty strong defiance of what people are actually out there arguing in front of Congress and in Courts and in chatrooms and forums and coffeehouses across the US (and beyond) and instead of finding a way to use it for the benefit of gay couples, they are trying to find a way to avoid doing so.

Because they are trans. I mean, this is news. Truly. This is something that could be used in the Perry case. This is something that folks could show and say "Well, gee, Mr. Bigot, guess ya missed out on that one, huh?"

Because of that cognitive dissonance that's there - that men aren't supposed to be having babies and yet we have one that is - there is an uncomfortable feeling, and so we seek a way to make it less uncomfortable. We look for a means of justifying our own personal attitudes about it so that it isn't a problem in our heads.

And the easy thing to do is say "Oh, well, he's trans." And in doing so, people come up with all sorts of things that make it possible to step away from that idea of two men having a baby.

Well, why is it important that they are trans? Why is it important that they are gay? What difference does it make? Neither of these things is really all that important. These are not things that would count if we really did believe that being LGBT was socially equal.

In order to solve this mental conundrum, we're challenging the idea "Here's a man having a baby," instead of the other one causing cognitive dissonance, "Men can't have babies". Indeed, challenging the latter is the point of the effort to achieve equity and equality.

They can. Not all men, mind you. Not even a significant majority of men can have babies. But some men can indeed have babies.

And here's another scary thing: they don't always have to be trans. But that's another article.

The radio show covered an interestng point as well: why would they want to have a baby? And the underlying concepts in asking that are that being a man means not wanting to get pregnant. It's reinforcing a gender paradigm (or, for those out there who might figure on being a flat earther or creationist - that is, irrational - sort and not believe in Gender, a Sex paradigm) that says is you are a man, you can and cannot do this, this and this.

Which is heteronormativity, something the entire LGBT community is constantly persecuted with. It is, in fact, the equivalent of saying "Well, why does he want to love another man?" about a cis/gay guy.

The radio personality's comments of "eww" and "wrong wrong wrong" are the same reactions of people to the mere idea of two people of the same sex getting their groove on with each other. For the same reason - it's against the notions of what is ordinary.

This is an example of "erasure" by the LGBT community of an element of it. In this case, it's an egregious erasure, because it is erasing the fact that they are gay men, in order to make it easier on the people encountering the story.

Some might say that I'm calling for erasure here. Which is possible, although I suspect that erasing the fact they are also trans as well as gay, simply isn't going to happen if they are discussed, and not merely because of the cognitive dissonance involved. There's still the factor that they are one of the few gay couples who can have kids - not something new, either, given it was done in the late 90's as well by some people well known within the LGBT community.

There is a wrong going on here, and it is on the internet, and the conventional wisdom says that if there's something wrong on the internet, someone should speak to it. Here we have two men who were on top of the world one night, and this American girl is wondering why it is that the LGB community is refusing to step up to defend them, step up to acknowledge them.

Because this is a rampant problem within the LGBT community as a whole, and so long as we keep doing this sort of thing, this kind of least common denominator effort to achieve things, we will never gain the momentum we need to truly have success in our efforts that is resounding and unchallenged.

We are a house that is dividing itself, and this is one example of how we do that. It is an opportunity to look at the full depth of who we are as a whole - and maybe come to realize that the right to be unconventional, be uncommon, be atypical, and to do all of those things without having someone deny us a job, or a house, or an adoption, or a marriage, or a family, or our very selves, is what we are ultimately fighting for.

Because for all our effort to show how we are just as normal as anyone else, what we are saying is that we are not different from the het/cis people out there. In fact, we are different. And those differences shouldn't matter. We speak of how coming out is so awesome - how it frees us to be ourselves, how it loosens the shackles of conformity and enables us to truly be ourselves, how when we do so, we are learning to fly - to be an individual, different from others.

Or am I fighting a different fight than all of you?


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Anthony in Nashville | February 2, 2010 11:45 AM

Your articles are always thought-provoking.

I admit that I am not ready to accept "pregnant men." Biology says men cannot carry children, the necessary body parts aren't there.

Sometimes I feel I'm getting closer to agreement with people who feel "classic transsexuals" (those who have reassignment surgery) have the most logical claim to transgender.

Thanks, Anthony.

Biology says that males can't have children. Men is a function of gender, not sex.

When you say that Men can't have children, the subtext of that statement is that you don't see the men in the pictures as men, you see them as something other than men.

That may not be your intention or conscious will, but that is the necessary underlying structure for you to say that.

The group of people who lay claim to the ideas you are talking about are only some of the people who have sex reassignment surgery. Not all transsexuals have it, merely most of them. And the ones you refer to in specific would state they have the least logical claim to transgender. Their goal, in fact, is to separate transsexuals from transgenders.

A lot of people aren't ready for it, but the simple truth is that part of what we are fighting for -- the tolerance, the equality, the equity, the freedom to live as equals for all of us in the LGBT community, means that we are indeed, fighting for it, since ready or not, here it is.

Anthony in Nashville | February 3, 2010 2:39 PM

Antonia,

Thanks for responding. The way you politely put me in check is appreciated.

It goes to show that there is always room to grow and evolve my thinking on issues that I perceive myself as not being directly impacted by.

Like you said, times are moving on and things are happening whether I'm ready or not.

As an aside, I did not intend for my comment to instigate a "transgender/transsexual" battle. My apologies.

Anthony....

I'm Intersexed.

In 1985, I was diagnosed as an Intersexed male. I looked male - mostly.

In 2005, I had a female puberty. Not completely, not the normal kind. But enough so that after blood tests, androgen tests, karyotypes, MRI scans, ultrasounds... I was diagnosed as an Intersexed female. By then I looked female - mostly.

My son was born in 2001. That took some medical help, the use of syringes etc to extract gametes. I looked male then - mostly - but some bits men have, well, I didn't. And I was born with some bits men don't have, but women do.

So biologically, anatomically, as well as in "Gender", I'm female. But the biological father of a boy.

Yes, it weirds me out too. If the Universe wasn't crazy, I should have carried him, and been able to have more than one. But I'll take what I can get. Most don't get that much.

Some guys want to father children, just as I wanted to bear them. But they too have to take what they can get. Is that so very hard to understand?

Anthony in Nashville | February 3, 2010 2:24 PM

This is powerful testimony. I hadn't given much thought to how intersexed people challenge my conceptions of what is possible.

Thanks for posting!

I am transgendered as well as people here and most other places real or cyber know. The fact that I have really made no effort to hide this has my friends, gay, straight and otherwise, asking about issues such as this, like I am the local expert. I can only speak from my own experience and my own point of view. Couples like this make me uncomfortable but not for the reasons that you listed. I don't resent or begrudge the couples in question the right to live as they choose, to raise children as they may want to.
My discomfort comes from the certain knowledge, the unshakable conviction that people like the DJs you mentioned will take this and exploit it to turn it into something dirty, something almost beneath the low bar set by society for human behavior. Networks like A&E will turn it into a freak show and to ensure "balance" they will include the opinions of "experts" who have an anti trans axe to grind. They will not waste the opportunity to play on that cognitive dissonance to achieve their own ends. It always, inevitably becomes a circus and reasonable, open minded people are left asking themselves, (and me), if the concerns of the DJs, the "experts" and the "concerned" are valid and legitimate. No matter that those concerns are almost never based in any form of reality that I am aware of. My friends can accept and even encourage a gay male couple raising their beautiful son together without a female in the family unit but a MAN having a BABY?!? How is THAT going to work? You get the idea...
So I'm not in any way against a couple doing what they want to do, if they are comfortable with it and do it responsibly, it's their right but I just know that it will be turned into a nightmare dog and pony show by our tabloid media and will do more harm than good in the short term and thus it makes me cringe when I hear bout it.

I should have added that I can't imagine what would prompt a transgendered man to desire to carry a child but all opinions are subjective. I'd love to carry a child but I never had the slightest desire to sire one.

Well, for myself, I've sired children, and I had to go through a pretty serious effort to free myself of an intense desire to bear a child.

I sired kids because it was the closest I'd ever get to being able to bear them. And for me, that desire was very strong.

I can speculate on a host of reasons for them to wish to do so, among them something similar to me, or perhaps even a residual pressure from the culture we live in. But all of that speculation is meaningless, as the only people to whom that reason matters is the individual themselves -- for anyone else, its almost always an exercise in judgement.

Margaretpoa Margaretpoa | February 2, 2010 4:22 PM

Which is why I said all opinion is subjective. I won't speculate, I barely understand what motivates me sometimes.

I had kids for the same reason. For me it was a drive as base as that which drives transition, perhaps even more primal.

There's a wonderful maillist out there for LGBT parents and prospective parents and it has quite a few transitioned men that have, are, or want to have their own progeny. Some don't mind being pregnant; from the outside it seems they don't see it as a threat to their identity. For others, the temporary detransition is hell, but they are willing to go through it in order to have children. And I assume there are other stories as well...

Dyss wrote:

I sired kids because it was the closest I'd ever get to being able to bear them. And for me, that desire was very strong.
{{HUG}}

Yes.

People vary. Some guys have a paternal instinct so strong they're even willing to go through pregnancy. Every Gay or Lesbian couple that had children has the same kind of problems, and worse in some ways.

I got to have a child with the the genes of the person I was in love with. Still am, even though we're both straight. With Gay/Lesbian couples, a third party has to be involved. So I guess we're lucky, aren't we? And how many straight mixed-sex couples are mutually infertile? We're lucky in comparison to them too.

So why am I complaining? I mean, it's like winning second prize in a lottery, and moaning that you didn't get first.

It's still a primal instinct, an urge that can never be fulfilled though, isn't it. Hard-wired in the neuro-anatomy. It helps to think of it like that.

Hugs again.

Yeah, I gloss over it hard. Good lacquer takes a while to apply, and mine took a while.

Were I a decade younger and in a better situation, kids would absolutely be a focus of mine, and I would do a lot to have them.

I have three step daughters and one step son, and one biological son. He is a miracle, given that before and after are about four miscarriages.

And prior to that, even more.

btw, thanks for commenting on IS issues. I touched on it briefly, but didn't want to go into it deeply here.

We had 13 miscarriages before we succeeded. One of them during an ultrasound to detect the foetal heartbeat.

Driving home after that was... not easy. I was more upset by it than my partner was.

I guess that it's issues like that, issues that are part of the experience of being IS or TS, that make all the "Gender Politics" stuff seem so... trivial? Meaningless?

So many people concentrate on the "Big Issues", the matters of Great Worth and Moment, philosophical and ideological disputes, that they forget that Trans people and Intersexed people are People. Humans. With Feelings.

If you cut us, do we not bleed? etc etc Yes, we're different. Our mere existence upsets some people. We're used to that. Sometimes I think we're a little too used to it.

Wolfgang E. B. Wolfgang E. B. | February 4, 2010 8:28 PM

I'm a transman, and I have mixed feelings about these pregnancy stories. Admittedly, my main objection is a selfish one, in that I hate fielding questions about pregnant men from friends, family, and acquaintances. I never wanted to get pregnant myself and resent any implication that I might. However, those very questions often trigger my rebellion reflex as well.

For example, people ask, "Why would someone who identifies as a man want to engage in behavior that is, almost universally, considered feminine, such as bearing a child?" My knee-jerk reaction to such a question is to question why pregnancy should be thought of as a female thing. But then, I sometimes forget that most people haven't spent their entire lives lamenting the fact that our species is sexually dimorphic, and so, have never even questioned biological sexual roles, let alone sought to dismantle them in their own minds.

My true feeling on the matter is that society is wrong for making the idea pregnant men an issue. It shouldn't be. If cis-males had uteruses and ovaries, many, if not most, would make use of them. So there is nothing "unmanly" about pregnancy, and these men are just using what they've got in order to have the children they want.

Antonia, I think you are fighting a different fight or rather a more indepth, evolved fight. It seems lumped into the same 'other' category, but your argument requires that people evaluate their own cognition, which as you've mentioned is challenging.

Its difficult for people to grasp the concepts. Its seems everything is about identifying the other and categorizing it into something we can understand. It reminds me of a quote I often see on the subway during my morning commute "Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world."

I think the real freedom to be oneself comes when we let go of the need to categorize by others standards and allow ourselves to cultivate an understanding of who we want, think, and feel ourselves to be.

The reality is that all things are far more fluid than any of us would like to admit and yet we all so desperately try to latch on to something firm and tangible.

Kevin, in the words of an old musical, if ya don't mind a paraphrase...

By Jove, I think you've got it :D

Anthony said:
Sometimes I feel I'm getting closer to agreement with people who feel "classic transsexuals" (those who have reassignment surgery) have the most logical claim to transgender.


Kevin said:
I think the real freedom to be oneself comes when we let go of the need to categorize by others standards and allow ourselves to cultivate an understanding of who we want, think, and feel ourselves to be.


Danielle said:
I think the problem with the small camp of armed "Classic Transsexuals" is that they haven't kept up with the times. They transitioned in a time when your only option was to be fully femme and want to be post op. They also transitioned in a time when there was no internet, and no daytime talk shows "exposing" us for ratings.


Kian said:
I am a transsexual man and I could care less what other trans men are doing with their bodies. Their bodies, their business...Real transsexual men come in many forms...

No one else should be telling trans men how to live their lives. The fact that its coming from within the trans community really bothers me. This is what I am fighting against.


I have struggled with whether to respond to this thread, and how to respond. My feelings about the whole transgender/transsexual thing have changed quite a lot over the few weeks due to the discussion of trans issues on Bilerico. And really, I have gone from totally on the side of the widest inclusion of transgendered expression, somewhat toward the side of the 'classic transsexuals/HBS folks' in some ways, though I feel that the most vocal ones are often pretty angry and rigid. So I kind of agree with some of the stuff from both the extremes (and to me, the transgender camp can be pretty extreme, too, and hateful, just like the TS/HBS folks).

I just feel, as I have mentioned before in previous threads, that it isn't as simple as 'everyone should just be who they are and demand acceptance of that.' The ppl who judge all trans ppl based on one or two impression may be deluded and unfair and scary, but really, they are society, and I for one have to deal with these sorts on a daily basis. Trust me, I fully believe in the right of other ppl to live their lives and express who they are in their own unique way, but when I see something like 'the pregnant men,' I just cringe, b/c I know how that is going to impact me living *my* own little live peacefully (NOTE: I put pregnant men in quotes only b/c that is how they are portrayed in the press; as far as I am concerned, a TG woman can impregnate a TG man, and they are still a woman and man, respectively, and it gives me no heartburn, contrary to what someone said over on Cassandra's blog).

'Pregnant men,' genderqueers, transgendered ppl who consider themselves neither men nor women are all fine with me, in fact, I find all the diversity uplifting and interesting, but I personally don't identify with any of that, it just isn't me. I transitioned far after ppl knew what 'trans' is, but honestly, I am not surgically altered and femme b/c that was my only choice, or b/c that was the only accepted way to do it, but b/c that is who I was and what I wanted, for me personally. My original therapist tried to get me to 'just be' genderqueer (made me read books on it, all that, too, even tho I kept insisting that wasn't for me), and not have any surgery or anything, but that wasn't what I wanted.

Tho I don't at all want to see all those other folks go away, and I fully support them to anyone who attacks or ridicules them, I do feel that the transgender community could do a bit better to accept that some ppl just want to live their lives as men or women, and aren't into pushing the boundaries of anything, and respect that and maybe feel for those of us who *aren't* big boundary pushers. For me, I try to do like a lot of hated minorities, and work twice as hard and be twice as nice so I don't give transgendered ppl a bad name.

More to Antonia's point, I really just don't see how 'pregnant men' being all over the media really helps anyone at all. Maybe I am just missing something, as I am not the brightest person in the world, I dunno. Maybe the idea is that being in ppl's faces is the only to reach the point that ppl *can* express who they are?

Sorry for all the quotes, and for the long post, but thanks for your indulgence.

Carol :)

You wrote:
..."Here's a man having a baby,"...They can. Not all men, mind you...But some men can indeed have babies. And here's another scary thing: they don't always have to be trans. But that's another article.

What man can have a baby that isn't trans? An intersexed individual? Do you have any links that I can check out because this is completely novel to me?

I do, floating around in my ten year old emails and old records, as its a rather fascinating subject.

But as I said, that's a different article, and one that touches on some nastiness about how some people are viewed as being ur-men and ur-women, and how the stigma there affects their ability to do so.

PubMed is a good place to start digging around, though.

To give you an idea of the kinds of things that happen - and there's over a hundred IS conditions, all with varying degrees so that pretty much anything you can imagine (plus many you can't) is possible....

See
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2010/01/picture-gallery.html

Before my transition, I looked a tadge more male than the (46XY Plus AIS 2-3: Sex Identity Male) case. The diagnosis in 1985 was AIS grade 1.

I looked a tadge less masculine than the (46XX Plus CAH : Sex Identity Male) case. You can see though that the difference was subtle, only detectable to a specialist.

The point was, my Sex Identity was female... but when you look like that, what's the point? Other girls have "body issues" too. It's just that some of us have them far worse than others.

(Pardon me, need to blub a bit... the memories can't hurt me now, but are still painful)

I don't look great. I never will. But I look OK, and the difference between "OK" and "not OK" is vastly more than that between "Sex Goddess" and "OK". Trust me on that.

To be precise, 'cognitive dissonance' is when someone has a belief so strong that if the objective world presents evidence to the contrary, the person revises their perception of of the outside world to fit the internal irrational belief.

In this case, "Men can't have babies" is the belief. A man had a baby. The expression of cognitive dissonance is in the subtext of 'he's not a man'. Notice the irrationality? That is why his being trans is so crucial to this story: It is the only way that inflexible minds can make the facts fit their belief. Obviously, these people never had a pet seahorse as a kid.

Deconstruct Male and Female to prove the point:
Large or Small Gametes?
Genital location and appearance?
General Appearance?
Social Role?
Ability to give birth?
XX vs XY chromosomes?

In each case there are plentiful enough exceptions throughout Nature to make it a failure in determining sex. In fact they can and are freely mixed to best meet the needs of the given species.

Let's face it: Nature is far more creative than any god created by humans. Our society's views were shaped by a patriarchal religion. Nature, however, is more creative than our society.

We need to evolve.

Leigh, I approved this comment because of Anthony's statement earlier, and it's direct bearing on that.

Wow, just wow at your blog post. I am a transsexual man and I could care less what other trans men are doing with their bodies. Their bodies, their business. I just have a problem with the news media and the ways in which they talk about trans bodies. And they always seem to follow this narrative: Well, if you are a real trans man then you wouldn't want to do something so womanly, so they must not be real transsexual men. Real transsexual men come in many forms and are more willing than MTFs to forgo bottom surgery because of cost, the possibility of poor results, and many others. Every single trans men goes through this process of trying to decide exactly what kind of body modification is necessary for them to comfortable, to be at peace, with their body.

No one else should be telling trans men how to live their lives. The fact that its coming from within the trans community really bothers me. This is what I am fighting against.

Nothing like a little intentional misgendering, purposeful missexing, and general erasure to make one's day, huh, Kian?

I thought for a bit before allowing the comment, since the post linked to violates the TOS here something fierce. And the reason I went ahead and approved it was because some people might think that there's some merit to the arguments presented by the "classic transsexuals" mentioned earlier.

I chose to let the post speak for itself.

Some place other than here.

Danielle McKowan | February 2, 2010 7:18 PM

I notice you approved her comment, but she won't approve my comment on her blog.

That's very fair and balanced of her. ;)

I think the problem with the small camp of armed "Classic Transsexuals" is that they haven't kept up with the times. They transitioned in a time when your only option was to be fully femme and want to be post op. They also transitioned in a time when there was no internet, and no daytime talk shows "exposing" us for ratings.

They feel hurt because people actually recognize them as trans now, and everyone knows what trans is now! Back when they transitioned, no one had an opinion on being trans because most people didn't know we existed.

They knocked down a lot of doors so we could walk through them, so I have a lot of respect for the women who transitioned before me, and broke those barriers, but it's not the Transgender camp you hate, it's the media that sensationalizes all of us. You will never get the mainstream media to separate Transgender from "Classic Transsexual." It's just not going to happen. We live in an age of instant information, people carry the internet in their pockets... there's no going back to a time when no one knew what Transsexual meant. There's no going back to a time before the prejudice existed. There is simply no going back.

You can accept reality and move forward with us, or you can be consumed and marginalized by your own misguided hate. The choice is yours.

Well, now this is a "glorious bloom of absurdity" while discussion elsewhere of phantom limb syndrome has them wondering if they are too highbrow.

Let them disagree. Without darkness, you never learn to cherish the light.

They could learn a lot from examining cases of Intersex.

and you both would benefit from learning simple manners...... You didn't invent intersexuality Zoe and sure as hell aren't the only one who dealt with being born one commenting here.

Dyss, comments about a Zoroastrian light vs dark theology to paint your opponents as evil when you, just a few days ago on your own blog openly bragged about your self admitted anti-social agenda, placed your self then and now in opposition to 99% of the world because of your faith you are right and anyone who disagrees with you is evil (not wrong, not disagreeing--evil) should be a violation of the TOS here.

You won't allow the possibility that our solution for our lives is right for us and we are simply defending that...and we are the hateful ones? And, opps, I am a registered member so I can comment without your Divine approval.

Seriously, I was expecting a typical trans-positive blog post, but it wasn't at all. I may be naive when it comes to MTF politics, but that article woke me up a bit. Perhaps my politics have been informed by the feminist "keep your politics off my body" sort of stance, but I was under the impression that most trans people would like to be under less scrutiny. Its the scrutiny that can damage us, not our personal details. We need others to realize that there are so many more ways to be trans than what is televised to them every day. Our lives are constantly policed by therapists, doctors, the government, strangers, you name it. The last thing I need is other trans people to tell me how I'm doing it wrong. /rant.

Classic transsexuals are not trans positive.

Crash2Parties | February 2, 2010 9:36 PM

Kian,

I'm sure there are people in the trans community that say such things. However, as I understand it HBS women / "women of transsexual history" do not consider themselves part of the trans community and find it offensive should they be included.

Because of this, at times I make a point of trying to exclude them when writing or speaking of such things. Of course, at other times I push through the cognitive dissonance and point out that if they truly were no longer trans they would take on the same attitude as the women born women crowd, or perhaps just typical mainstream women. In other words, we wouldn't be hearing from them in trans friendly spaces. But we do, so I assume I am mistaken and welcome their oppositional viewpoint.

This thread is beginning to approach the rationale Jack Drescher uses to make the very offensive argument that women born with CAIS and partnered with men in legal marriages, are all "gay men" because they have a "y" chromosome.

The remark about "phantom limb syndrome" is pure Anne Lawrence. To assume there are only two points of view is blind arrogance. There are many reasons for genital surgery and there are many different reasons for one to decide it would be better for them to have it. It is a personal decision. Why do people get up in arms when a well considered decision is made by a person born transsexual and no one seems very concerned about the non consensual surgeries performed regularly on children and infants? Also, why is it always assumed that a transsexual person's medical history might be a simple one.

I didn't think this was a "trans blog". I thought it was a gay, lesbian, bisexual and "transgender" blog. I am married to a woman. If I want ENDA protection, I want it because I am in a relationship that would be considered a lesbian relationship. If that is not how it would be applied to me, I would consider it discriminatory, and a step backward for me.

If I divorced and wanted to marry a man, I should be working for Title VII protections. Under DOMA legislation, I am considered a woman. Why should I want to give up that status even if I believe DOMA should be repealed and think it is terribly unjust. Would any other woman be asked to do the same?

That is not my situation, however. That is why I am here. That is why other transsexual women are so upset. I don't have to agree with them, when they make homophobic remarks, to understand why they would be so upset when someone wants to put them into a category they never opted for.

I agree that anyone who identifies as "trans" should have their civil rights ensured. It isn't anyone's civil right, however, to force anyone else to give up rights they already have. The "super tranny" video demonstrates very clearly what is involved here. To imply that me or any other woman has anything in common with the people in that video is as ridiculous as it is offensive. To imply they don't have a right to express themselves that way would be just as arrogant and offensive.

Thomas Beattie? I don't know. Germany and some other countries have provisions in their laws to accommodate legal transitions to the sex opposite to the one assigned at birth, only under the condition candidates for sex reassignment undergo sterilization procedures. I am certain that there are biological variations that cause a person's sense of self to be in contradiction with their reproductive capabilities. I believe people should be allowed to live to their fullest potential. Eugenics is the motivation for keeping a person from reproducing against their will. Eugenically removing gay, lesbian, intersex and transsexual people from the gene pool would weaken the species by making it less adaptable.


They won't lose their civil rights, though, Edith.

They would only gain additional resources that they may or may not have cause or reason to take advantage of.

The phantom limb comment is actually being used with a positive intent by people who strongly condemn Anne Lawrence, so the statement it's pure her is inaccurate.

Seeking title VII protections is a crapshoot right now, because, despite what your daily life tells you, when it comes to matters of law, you are still trans, and where you live and the judge you get right now, as well as the lawyers you have and that are arrayed against you, is what will determine if you get them. ENDA would solve that issue. For anyone whom the law considers trans (or, more accurately, as being persecuted on the basis of their gender identity as it is defined in law, which would include you and the women who support and the one who wrote the linked article even if they did not feel that was the case on a personal basis), regardless of how they identify.

The law does not really give a damn about how one identifies.


Antonia said:
despite what your daily life tells you, when it comes to matters of law, you are still trans, and where you live and the judge you get right now, as well as the lawyers you have and that are arrayed against you, is what will determine if you get them.


This is one of the scariest things for me, having read some of the relevant cases: it doesn't matter what you do physically, or what documents you have changed, you are only allowed to be considered as a man or woman as long as it is in the convenience of the the ppl in power. At that time, if the issue is, oh, say, you are suing for sex discrimination as a woman, instead of addressing the facts and your claims, the defendant's legal team will quite likely simply work to have you considered legally a man, so you have no standing to bring the suit. We are all, always at risk, until something changes legally.

Unfortunately, tho I hope ENDAs pass for many reasons, I don't have the feeling that things will be much better when they are in place. I haven't really looked for case histories where ppl actually brought suit under one, but I know that any sort of discrimination case doesn't have much of a chance in local and state courts, and that the current SCOTUS is very antagonistic toward such plaintiffs, and favorable toward companies. Plus, there are are always ways to get around discrimination laws, and prolly always will be...

Though theoretically I feel that we should all be accepted as we live and identify, I feel that the best thing would be if we could get a court order or something to legally and bindingly declare us whatever we have transitioned to, and have that be irrevocable by anyone but ourselves. I doubt that will happen any time soon tho, and even if it does, ppl will still have to deal with harassment and discrimination if they want to keep their jobs, or at least be employable in their field.

Hi,

I am up wondering why I wrote what I wrote here. The thread seemed to go off topic and veered toward the referencing of the transsexual/transgender battles. I think I was whipped into a frenzy by the "Super Tranny", totally missed the point, wrote something about Thomas Beattie and ended up wondering what am I investing so much time here for.

I don't understand the BIID thing, no, no, no.

Yeah, what's going on? Are they two gay men or what?

I am still wondering how an inclusive ENDA would include me. I hope the "Super Tranny" video is not some sort of harbinger.

When I came to this article I was not aware of this controversy. I didn't know there were already eighty some odd comments on Pam's House Blend regarding "the second pregnant man". There was no mention made of that in this article.

I have spent hours trying to sort all this out. I read thirty-two pages on "Erotic Becomes Exotic" theory which references studies by all the usual suspects. I read the Wikipedia article about "gender roles". I have read over fifty, sometimes very contentious, comments on this thread.

I linked to the Facebook page with the person who is having the baby, who also has male secondary sex characteristics but obviously female primary sex characteristics. Really, why shouldn't he have a baby if he can?

What still has me mystified is what you mean as far as how "the law defines gender identity".

I have spent the past week reading re: Kevin; Transgender Identity, Textualism, and The Supreme Court: What is the “Plain Meaning” of “Sex” in Title Vii of the Civil Rights Act of 1964? by Dr. Jillian Weiss; and THE PROOF IS IN THE HISTORY: THE LOUISIANA CONSTITUTION RECOGNISES TRANSSEXUAL MARRIAGES AND LOUISIANA SEX DISCRIMINATION LAW COVERS TRANSSEXUALS – SO WHY ISN’T EVERYBODY CELEBRATING? by Katrina Rose.

It all seems very difficult to sort out.

Further complicating things is this court decision regarding the status of people who are transsexual in relation to immigration law :

http://www.ilw.com/articles/2004,0817-mehta.shtm

//But this is an extremely simplistic view of transsexuality. Experts generally agree that sex is not just identified by external genitalia manifested at birth, but that there are at least seven variables that interact to determine the ultimate sex of an individual, to wit: (1) Chromosomes (XX female, XY male); (2) Gonads (ovaries or testes); (3) Hormonal secretions (androgens for males or estrogens for females); (4) Internal reproductive organs (uterus or prostate); (5) External genitalia; (6) Secondary sexual characteristics; and (7) Self-identity, [citation omitted]. Maffei, v. Kolaeton Industry, Inc.,626 N.Y.S. 2d 391 (S.Ct. of NY, March 14, 1995) (discrimination based on sexual orientation extends to transsexual under NY City antidiscrimination law). //

The latest research indicates that "sex" chromosomes are not what determines the way a human body will differentiate in terms of sex, however. Self identity is mentioned in this article, not the John Moneyesque term "gender identity". So, what has gender identity got to do with sex? It seems the law has trouble defining sex. If the law has trouble defining sex, how does the law define "gender identity"?

I would like to see ENDA pass. I would also like to see the state of Tennessee change the law so I can have the SEX on my birth certificate changed to reflect my current physical status. If I am discriminated against for behaving in a way that is typically female, I would want to be defended as a person who is being discriminated on the basis of sex, not as some with a "gender identity disorder".

So, if you are not worn out by now, can you please explain to me what the law says about my "gender identity"? I would like to know what else it is I'm up against.

Would it be too old fashioned to hope for a healthy baby and a happy family? In the end isn't that what really matters?

Not at all, Greg. Not at all :D

And yes.

I think it's interesting how this post is once again all about gender politics, and semantics and no one is mentioning how the presence of increased levels of testosterone is likely to produce children with syndromes like Autism. (while not proof... the first transman I'd heard of who gave birth to a child was Matt Rice, Patrick Califia's partner and their child has severe autism). Someone who's taken T for several years may very well be putting their child at increased risk. Funny how a woman who drinks alcohol while pregnant would be looked down upon (and even prosecuted) for the potential harm to her fetus but all we can talk about here is transsexual vs. transgender.

I also find it interesting how everyone is talking about how important it is to them bear children while no one talks about adoption and why that isn't a viable alternative for transmen who wish to parent? Any moron can sire a child in a minute (and many have), but parenting is all about raising a child. In fact, there are a wide number of adoption programs throughout the country for queer and trans people to adopt. There are agencies in the Bay Area (where these two men live) like Adoption Connection which was specifically for LGBT couples. As an adoptive parent myself, why is it so wonderful people are making a big deal about bringing another child into the world when there are children already here who need families?

To break my opinion of this story down... yes, of course they have a right to give birth and they look like good dads. I hope they have a healthy baby. Do I like yet another transgender man publicizing their pregnancy to make a point (or money)... no. Do I think the man giving birth is a transsexual... no. A transsexual would have done his best (or have the strong intent) to have a hysterectomy/oophorectomy. I consider him to be somewhere on the transmale/transmasculine spectrum, but not transsexual.

Especially since I don't own a blog ... as Toni will verify

Verified. To the best of my ability to deduce or discern, Leigh does not have, nor has she, to my knowledge, expressed an interest in having, her own blog, preferring to be a guest poster.

I am a harsh critic of the concepts espoused, no question, but the people themselves are a separate matter, and one dealt with on an individual basis of them as people.

I have written to you privately Danielle explaining my reasons for not publishing your comments. Actually I rather doubt this will be published but still I'll give Dyss the choice.

So often Classic Transsexuals get accused of hate and really that is very far from the truth. We don't "hate" anyone. We are however tired of being dragged into a paradigm and a group people with whom we have nothing in common. TG's can identify how they choose it really is their choice and we seek no control over that save the one request for which we are running this campaign and that is to not claim "transsexual" when clearly you are not.

Einstein's relativity theory is over 50 years old but it still hold's true today because it is old it doesn't mean it's wrong.Christine Jorgensen hitting the news was 46 years ago Roberta Cowell preceded her. Lili Elbe preceded even Roberta. It does not make what she did any less or more relevant.

What we are about here is not hate but it is about defending the integrity of our narrative and what a transsexual is and is not. Try being less agressive and dismissive sometime and you may find a different reaction.

I did not write the Preghnant man essay on Cassandraspeaks but I do believe what Leigh said has great merit especially in the minds of Joe Public. Long before Viginia Prince talked of "Transgenderists" Transsexuals had a great deal more acceptance and understanding from medical professionals, government and the public than we do now. That fact is due solely to the campaigns that have since transpired. The sexologists and gender theorists and the like have destryed the credibility and integrity we once had. I have witnessed that happen I have been around long enough to observe the whole scenario play out.
We are about what sex we are not what gender role we live. Why is that so hard to see? We do not hate but with all that we have lost is it not understandable that we may "lash out" in frustration.

Cassandra

Cassandra,

I approved your comment because you didn't do anything that I can see that violated the terms of service of the site -- but I'm not a moderator here and do not have anything close to a final say in the matter. Your comment may be removed if those in charge deem it deserving of such.

I didn't think through well enough when I decided to approve Leigh's comment. It has created a shift in the conversation to a point where its going back to the question of "are they a man" when it shouldn't be there, but rather on the question of "what's wrong with men having babies".

I have some slight regrets about doing so, and so I apologize to the readers for having made the decision to go ahead and publish Leigh's link to her guest post at Cassandra's blog.

I am not apologizing to you because she wrote it, and I am not doing so because I feel she deserved to be silenced. I am apologizing because it was an error of my judgement that led to the conversation veering off into an area I did not want it to go.

Lesson learned.

"It has created a shift in the conversation to a point where its going back to the question of "are they a man" when it shouldn't be there, but rather on the question of "what's wrong with men having babies".

Antonia, the two are inextricably linked in the public eye; you nailed it when you gave it the label of cognitive dissonance. It's not a matter of whether it should be there; it *is* there and needs to be discussed. Most people prefer simple binaries despite the fact that they rarely exist in reality. And they will do just about anything, including redefining another person's identity, to keep that reality binary-simple. This discussion adequately reflects that and in doing so provides an explanation of what is wrong with men having babies.

Disregarding the strength inherent to the process of preparing and using a uterus as God intended, Men Having Babies would mean that they too could be considered the "weaker sex" for nine months to two years. This, of course, cannot be allowed under any circumstances, trans or not, as it could mean other pillars of our culture might begin to crumble. Next thing you know women will have to spend all of God's day watching football or nascar while the men get to dote on them. And with that gain in confidence, men will become lazy and step back from their primary responsibilities. To fill the gap, women would be forced to pull themselves up and attempt to fill the positions of authority left vacant, such as corporate leadership, police and armed service or even the ultimate seat of power, political office. Again, this would represent a primal shift in the power structure, the results of which are unpredictable. And we do so crave predictability as a species.

No; men simply cannot be allowed to get pregnant and go about having babies. It's not just irresponsible to themselves but to their families and our society as a whole. Our only hope at that point would be to find religion and just hope it can pull us through.

There are a thousand ways i could have responded to this, and as a result, cannot find myself able to respond at all.

You have done something no one has ever done before. Rendered me speechless.

Well done.

Cognitive Dissonance as Festinger created it was about simply holding two beliefs at the same time when those two beliefs conflicted. It was originally about beliefs of “faith” within religious cults initially but also in relation to emotions. Festinger himself explains that if you see yourself as essentially good and you do something you believe is bad the two beliefs conflict and cognitive dissonance results. To use cognitive dissonance in a case of biological facts that contradict is not cognitive dissonance it is simply a matter of proving which is fact is and which is an error. Males are not biologically equipped to conceive carry and birth an infant. Females are so to say that a male has conceived carried and birthed an infant is plainly not a fact. Cognitive dissonance does not therefore apply.

To use cognitive dissonance in a situation such as this might be described as deconstructionism founded on either errors or untruths.

On a personal level I wish the two people this discussion is about the best of health and well being, however I do believe that their actions are ill advised and largely selfish. My concerns are primarily one of concern for the human child and the potential for harm through unusual hormonal activity in the mother. (the person carrying the child can be described in no other way).

I am not concerned about the morality of what this couple is doing that is a matter for their own conscience. I do however believe it is asking a bit much for me and the general public to believe that the mother is a man. It is simply against biological facts not beliefs.

That post has parts which I will ding you on. The only problem with your comment on cog dis is that it ignores the fact that it is a broadly used term with a well developed use outside the religious aspect. And has for quite some time now. So it is still cog dis, and your intentional misgendering does not contribute. These men are transsexuals, and as such they are not women.

Danielle McKowan | February 3, 2010 8:08 AM

Cassandra,

I have never claimed "Transsexual" I have used the term "Trans Community" in the broadest sense. I do think Transsexuals and Transgenders are linked in the minds of the populace.

I am Transgender. For me, it is about not belonging in either gender fully. I'm married to a classic transsexual, for her - it truly is 100% about being female. I get both sides of the coin.

I think we should take this discussion off this forum. I responded to your email, and will come back to your blog if you wish to discuss it on your home turf.

Antonia is right, we've derailed the purpose of this discussion.

"Antonia is right, we've derailed the purpose of this discussion"

What exactly IS the purpose of this discussion? It's not about whether or not a man can get pregnant, I think anyone on the planet knows the impossibility of that without devine or surgical intervention. It is about whether or not a biological woman who claims to be transsexual should also be allowed to claim the title of a pregnant man.

When it comes right down to it, what you or I think is of little or no consequence in the grand scheme of things, it is about what Jane Q. Public thinks that really matters, and from what I have read, Jane Q. Public think that this is just another absurd attempt by mentally ill transgenders to attempt to pull the wool over their eyes. It is yet another nail in the coffin for ALL of us at getting the public to accept the validity of transsexuals.

Do you know what the public WILL accept as the first pregnant man? They will accept a birth male, implanted with a womb and a uterus, naturally impregnated and carried to term. In other words, a M-F transsexual that the public will then promptly misgender back to a male, and hence the first pregnant man.

Either way, none of this serves the purpose to gain validity of our percieved sex or gender when it comes to the public. In fact it works the other way. The public does not want to deal with our problems and they outright reject any attempt to make them deal with it. The more you "educate" them, the less they see. In our case more is not better, it is simply more. Classic Transsexuals have known this for decades. The Gays and Lesbians are starting now to realise that more is not better when they keep getting stymied in their attempts at same sex marriage. Many of them are calling for a seperation from transgender, blaming your public visibility for their failure.

You all see this as hate speech, as bigotry and transphobia when it is nothing of the sort. Many of the commenters here see it as a personal slur against them, when it is not. Basically, ya'll need to get over yourselves and quit trying to force public opinion in your favor, because it has been proven over and over that the public will not rally to your cause when they percieve they are being lied to and asked to eat a sour lemon.

Toni, this is my last word on the subject. Thanks for allowing me to voice my opinion.

Danielle McKowan | February 3, 2010 1:20 PM

I'm sorry you feel that way Leigh, because it cuts off all possibility of any discussion or ways to heal the rift.

This isn't about your small groups campaign to turn back time, this is about the reproductive rights of a gay man, who happens to be Transsexual.

This is about acceptance.

You've made it abundantly clear you don't accept us, so why do you continue to come into our spaces? If you are a "Woman of a Transsexual History" and now just a woman, what is your purpose for being here?

Your very presence here puts the lie to your position. You know our fates are intricately linked, you just refuse to admit it out of sheer obstinacy, because we're an easier target for your anger at the situation then the bigots who make all of our lives difficult. Somehow you've convinced yourself that if you mirror the bigotry, you'll be allowed back into their club. I've got bad news sunshine - they're not letting you back in until they let us all in.

Oh look. Another Bilerico thread about trans issues turns into the usual battle between transgender folk and Classic Transsexuals©®™.

Oh, it's more exciting than watching a game of pong. Where's the popcorn?

*turns off monitor*

*takes a nap*

As an FTM, I'm pretty sick of it too.

Anyone buying this brave new transgender world vs. the mean nasty evil women of trans history should check out this link: http://ariablues.blogspot.com/

This is not atypical, this is what I have been on the receiving end of while I was:
Taking in street girls and trying to provide a way out of that life......on my disability income (physical disability)
Coming very very close to changing the Ohio birth certificate situation when I wasn't born in Ohio
Spending almost all my spare time testifying before the Ohio Legislature for trans civil rights
Organizing and running a variety of trans civil rights organizations
Raising funds to help LGB and particularly T victims of Katrina....and I have the letters of appreciation from those I helped to prove it.
and more, much more.....

And the out and out lies! I, and almost all other women of history I know personally, simply do not experience all this hatred and discrimination we are told we do. It Just Doesn't Happen....... except from those who call themselves transgender as demonstrate in the link.

And I do not believe for one second this is widespread among the transgendered, only that it's these loud voices that claim to represent everyone.
You want to see raw hatred?, use that link.

oh, and you won't have to wait long to hear we deserve it too....that's already happened. This is why some of us will never stop fighting this enforced membership in a group that thinks this is an appropriate response to a difference of world view.

And I have no illusions most of you still won't understand, mysogyny runs that deep apparently.

Patricia Harlow Patricia Harlow | February 3, 2010 11:57 PM

Yeah, I'm pretty much over Bilerico. Everytime you pop in it's nothing but negativity. This whole TG vs TS bologna is nothing but a red herring and it's a detractor to the real cause. I see no progress coming from Bilerico, in fact, I get more out of Twitter than the ramblings present here.

Antonia..you rock. I don't know how you deal with so many losers on a daily. It's amazing and you should be commended.

That's it, have a good 'discussion' folks...I'll be outside talking to real people who have an influence on my life, and I on theirs. (Psst, that's where real change comes from) ;)

I just went to that site. I don't recommend anyone else do there.

Raw Hatred?

Yes. I think so. Godwinised too. I didn't bother reading for content. So much creativity wasted.... so much talent and intelligence, and research, all to do nothing more than let out a scream of incoherent rage.

C. you know that I have differences from the CT position. That's not based on observations of TG people though, but on IS ones. Fora of women with CAH. Women who are more biologically and neurologically female than I am, yet are comfy with masculinised genitalia.

Their existence contradicts the whole CT "desire for conventional genitalia dictates your sex" thesis.

And the original post is about a pair of gay guys who have the equipment that I lack, that I would have mortgaged my soul for. Guys who can do something I cannot, yet my instincts cry out that I should do. Should I hate them? Or should I realise that they're coming as close as they can to doing what their instincts tell them they should be doing - fathering children.

While this might be true for the culture at the moment, this way of thinking will start to die down quite soon. I was talking to some of my friends, all straight, male computer science juniors in college, and one of them said that homosexuality was just as effective as birth control as abstinence. The very first response was "unless he's got a vagina". These guys are in no way connected to the LGBT community, but soon people like them who were raised with a more liberal view on gender and sexuality will be in the majority.