Mercedes Allen

The Death of the 'Transgender' Umbrella

Filed By Mercedes Allen | June 01, 2011 8:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Best of, The Movement, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: identity, labels, language, transgender, transsexual

If you've traveled anywhere among trans or LGBT blogs in the past year or three, you've inevitably come across an ongoing battle over labels, and particularly "transgender" as an umbrella term. noumbrella.jpgIt seems to be a conflict without end, without middle ground and without compromise.

Yet for discourse on human rights and enfranchisement for transsexual and transgender people to move forward at all, at some point that discussion needs to have some sort of resolution, and some thorough dissection of the argument will need to take place. Could an alliance-based approach be a solution? Or more accurately, could enough people on both sides of the argument be willing (that is, to not see their position as immovable) to seek an alliance-based approach for it to make a positive difference in the discourse?

I don't know. But something that has become clear to me over the past while is that the language is changing. And I don't have to like it, but I have to understand what that means.

I only speak for myself. In the end, it's all I really can do anyway. I don't speak for any trans-related community, don't speak for The Bilerico Project or any of its other contributors, don't speak for any other place I've posted or published writing, don't speak for Alberta trans people -- just me.

I say that because the international trans community is in a state of flux. As the community defines itself, we're discovering just how diverse "trans" really is, and just how inadequate any one single definition is when it tries to cover everyone.

A result of this is that in 2011, while the mainstream world is just starting to twig on to trans anything, trans and LGBT forums are finding nearly every conversation on trans issues, trans rights, gender studies and identity disintegrating into a debate about "transgender," its use as an umbrella term, and whether there should even be an umbrella at all. It's reached the point that it's stalemated any and every other discussion.

Ultimately, I realize that nothing some writer and blogger from Southern Alberta says is going to change that, but I can make my own declaration on the matter. And in that, I speak for myself.

Because our language for trans issues is changing.

Some Background

Years ago, as I found community in the developing Internet (it took much longer to find any local community), I watched the language we used to communicate our experience change as we fumbled from flawed term to flawed term trying to figure out which word was a better fit. From Usenet newsgroups to UBB forums, contact sites to support message boards, the language metamorphosized.

Back then, sometimes the banner was "transvestite" or the abbreviation TV (which I never liked, but it seemed to sometimes be the only option on trans-friendly discussion forums or contact sites), until the medical definition's emphasis on clothing fetish became the predominant cultural meaning and consequently the word was no longer appropriate. Other times, the word was "transsexual," but many felt that even though it was technically correct (that is, about physical sex), it too generated a public perception that gender identity was about sex (as an act or orientation) rather than about who we are. Some women even used the porn industry's "shemale" for awhile, until it became obvious that the "she's really male" undertone of that term was inappropriate.

It was clumsy and it's more than a little weird to look back on now, with people having once gathered at places called "Trannyweb" and the like, since those terms were often the only words we had. Terms like "GG" (which meant alternately "genetic girl" or "genuine girl") weren't any better in what they insinuated than the word "normal," so they've gradually disappeared (although they regrettably pop up from time to time from people who've never heard of an alternative).

Even in moments of our history that are looked back on as being classic - like in the songs "Lola" or "Walk On The Wild Side" - you'll find things that were well-intentioned or fun at the time, but would be button-pushing now. Consequently, many of us gravitated to "transgender." It seemed to have far less baggage - although we would later learn otherwise, since the person who coined it - Virginia Prince - had meant for the term to to be exclusionary too, applying only to non-transsexual crossdressers who were attracted to women.

In the past couple years, the "don't call me transgender" rallying cry has gained in volume. It seems as if there's always allegations of misrepresentation, annexation and invalidation at the mere suggestion of having anything at all in common with anyone who willingly wears the label "transgender." The language is changing.

Looking Past Assumptions of Bias

I still (and probably will always) see some of this coming from bias. There are folks who believe that if transsexuals could divorce themselves from a "transgender" umbrella term and make the public at large see a black and white difference between them and other trans people, then finally we would be able to obtain human rights, respect, dignity, access to medical care and legal name changes, and more.

Homophobia is sometimes in the mix too, with heterosexual-identified trans men and women resentful of being characterized as anything but straight. These are distinctions that a person certainly has a right to clarify, but when it's accompanied by disavowal and outright disparagement of others, it becomes exclusionism, it's throwing people under the bus, and it's bigotry. And it's clouded even more by the fact that many of the folks with this prejudice are entirely blind to it.

But separatism is not the only reason that the term "transgender" has become no longer viable, and it's also not the motive of everyone who takes this position.

Some of the division has formed because of fears of being associated with radical ideas. Those who embrace a gender binary don't always understand those who see various shades of gender. A March 2011 move by the Australian Human Rights Commission catalogued over 23 different genders, including "transgender, trans, transexual, intersex, androgynous, agender, cross dresser, drag king, drag queen, genderfluid, genderqueer, intergender, neutrois, pansexual, pan-gendered, third gender, third sex, sistergirl and brotherboy."

I'm not even sure what a couple of those mean, myself (although I'm prepared to listen and respect). But not everyone is comfortable with ideas more radical than their own.

There is also some backlash coming from the literalist perspective, in the same way that other terms used to describe trans experience have evolved and changed. "Trans" means across, or indicates a transition of some sort. Technically, if someone transitions and obtains surgery, it is their sex that changes -- not only have they not changed gender, but they've aligned everything else to it.

There is also a difference in emphasis that we as individuals put on the terms "sex" and "gender" -- driven by seeing our issue as a question of biology versus social construct, physical versus mental. But although sex and gender characteristically differ and can be in opposition -- as happens with transsexuals -- I doubt the two concepts can ever be completely decoupled.

Post-Transsexual

Don't get me wrong: I do believe that a transsexual man or woman who reaches a point of relative "completion" (often seen as when surgery happens, but as far as I'm concerned not always requiring that) and slips into the gender binary is entitled to call themselves a man or woman, and should no longer be "required" to identify as trans in any way. Indeed, my own experience is that trans issues and memories fade as time passes, so it wouldn't make sense to force anyone to continue to identify as transsexual, although that does rob us of role models and pioneers.

Personally, I have no issue with those who do wish to leave "trans" anything behind, as long as (again), it's not done so in a way that invalidates. Transsexual, transgender, trans... there is a serious problem if we start viewing these as rigid boxes that have no escape clauses -- indeed, the whole concept of trans-anything is (at its core) about thinking outside the boxes.

Erasure and Crossed Purposes

As said, the characterizations above aren't the only reasons that a case is being made that a "transgender" umbrella is no longer viable. We are remiss if we fail to look at some of them, because there are some reasonable issues to consider. Ironically, because of the level of anger and volume, the "don't call me transgender" conflict unintentionally erases some of the very issues it attempts to raise.

One of these is the subject of erasure, and the idea that by including transsexuals under a "transgender" umbrella, transsexual-specific issues such as medical care, identification issues, legal status and surgery disappear into a fog of gender theory. And depending on where one lives, this may in fact be true.

In my experiences in Alberta, Canada, though, if you say "transgender," the general public thinks first of transsexuals (and usually specifically transsexual women), so from where I stand, it would seem more like we're in danger of erasing everyone else.

There are also, at times, some very real conflicts between what transsexuals who are fully-identified as men or as women need and what people who identify as a third gender or third sex need. We're seeing this especially in gendered spaces, where transsexuals simply need to be accommodated as the men and women they are and live as, while genderqueer, third-gender and/or third sex people might require independent acknowledgment.

In 2010, for example, Australia's norrie mAy-welby became the first person (possibly in the world) to be officially designated "gender not specified" - a designation that was sought at norrie's initiative, but probably wouldn't sit well with many other trans folk. In India, this also became clear with their 2011 Census, which was hailed as the first to have an option for trans-identified people:

"But while some like Sarita succumbed to family pressures, many others deliberately chose the `female' option on the Census sheet, claiming that it was their real identity. They said, "For the last 15-20 years, we have been living like women and that is what we want to be known as and not `hijras'".

Sometimes, these conflicts result in even larger groups of people having someone else's will imposed upon them, such as in Unidos da Tujuca, a famous samba school in Brazil which went a step further:

"Moves by Brazilian samba schools to provide separate toilets for gay, lesbian and transgender people have divided the GLBT community in the country.

"... However the head of the Brazilian Government Program to End Homophobia has compared the move to racial segregation."

It's not hard to imagine what that kind of sudden "othering" feels like to people who'd already settled into everyday life without always having to be singled out.

There are also concerns at the medical level. Some fear that any alliance with non-operative trans people creates the impression that transition is optional, when the reality is that for those who require surgery, it is often an absolute need. The cost of surgery and the barriers that we encounter during medical transition are incredible, and obtaining insurance coverage similar to that available for any other legal medical procedure (short of abortion) is becoming almost impossible.

But that has a flip side: when there is emphasis on surgical intervention, this can also work to invalidate genderqueer people by implying they "just need to be fixed" somehow, as well as to push intersex people toward a surgical "correction" that they might not need.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution, and that's what makes any sort of alliance daunting.

Speaking For Myself

In the end, though, I can only provide part of the picture as to why it's now largely felt that "transgender" is no longer viable. I don't represent that position. I also can't claim to represent a genderqueer side of the debate. I can speak only for myself.

My first major blog article was about transmisogyny within the community (although we didn't really have a name for it at that time). Since then, I've listened to the reasoning, even if I'm still not inclined toward division. Regardless of the rhetoric, we do have a responsibility to consider any valid points that might be behind the fight, if we're to grow as a community or communities.

Should There Be An Umbrella?

Like the language, I guess my thinking has changed on this somewhat. I still have no personal dislike for the term "transgender" and have said before that I don't really care what the term is, just as long as there is some point where varying trans communities can meet on any shared issues, and shared healing during shared tragedies.

When it comes to human rights, I still strongly believe that if we work for the inclusion of gender identity/transsexuality in legislation and leave behind gender expression/transgender (or whatever term one prefers), then we have only accomplished half of what is needed, and have perpetuated exactly the same kind of abandonment that we once experienced - it is not a responsible or socially-conscious action.
I don't believe the naysayers who claim that binary-identified transsexuals don't need explicit human rights and already have adequate rights as men and women, since I've seen it happen time and again where we are redefined according to other peoples' standards, regardless of how "complete" our transition and documentation may be. With every day's newsfeeds come some new incident where any revelation of trans history has sparked discrimination.

Is there an umbrella? Well, if transsexuals are separate from "transgender," then who does the latter term include? Crossdressers, genderqueer people, non-gender or dual-gender expressions, maybe a few people involved with drag (although many drag performers are otherwise cisgender/cissexual, and wouldn't characterize themselves as trans)... if "transgender" today covers such a widely diverse range of people, then it can only possibly be an umbrella term. Whether there is an umbrella is not the issue, but rather whether or not transsexuals belong and/or are willing to stand under it.

But in the current argument, though, there is a tendency to see "transgender" as a depository for everyone who is trans in some way but non-transsexual. That doesn't really work, either. If concerns about erasure and misrepresentation justify designating transsexuals as distinct and separate, then we have to consider whether an umbrella for "everyone else" does the same for anyone else trans.

Given the number of times I've seen "genderqueer" conflated with "fetishist," the "gay agenda" and more as though these are elements of some singular whole - even by trans people - I'd have to conclude that that's indeed the case. At that point, "transgender" as an umbrella becomes an outmoded concept, and an alliance-based approach or total division are the only possible outcomes.

And in the end, where there are conflicts between what binary-identified people need and what third-sex or third-gender people need, if we can't broach them as a "community" of trans people of every stripe and find some kind of equitable resolution, then how can we expect cisgender and cissexual legislators to figure it out? More likely, if we can't devise something that makes sense within the social order and if we do get past society's insistence on cisnormativity, then we'll probably have one perspective thrust upon the other. And at that point, someone has become further disenfranchised, and we have failed them as a community or communities. Or betrayed them.

We Are Different, With A Few Sames Between Us

The trans community is emerging, self-defining and shaping itself, and making the same mistakes that most disenfranchised groups do, including the creation of divisions. What is happening right now in trans culture is really nothing new to any emergent social movement. The need to self-define as a community causes us to self-define as people, and discover that while we sometimes have similar needs and aspects, we are not all the same. Inevitably, some are going to feel threatened by that, or react negatively to those perceived differences as we struggle to emerge from the margins.

And we are emerging from the margins. It's just not always easy, not always perfect, and when we look back in hindsight, there will have been errors -- and probably some of them will have been hurtful. It's not always easy to see them when we're standing in the middle of change. But we have to try to be diligent to avoid what we can foresee.

So "transgender" seems to have become the latest casualty in trans self-definition. At this point, I don't see how I can proceed under the assumption of a single community, considering the division and rhetoric. At the same time, I'm still not prepared to leave anyone behind, let alone villainize them to make myself look better. If I have to jettison the terminology in order to keep involved with issues surrounding both gender identity and gender expression, then that's fine. Because the language is obviously changing.

So what's new here?

Some of this I've said before, and I've made no secret about walking away from discussions on labels and terminology over the past couple years because of the way they all inevitably turn into something like a shark feeding frenzy for everyone involved. My own language has changed to utilize "transsexual" for those specific needs and "trans" for shared issues because I simply got tired of being clubbed over the head about words.

I still believe that medical verification is neither some magical event that's going to suddenly legitimize transsexuals in the eyes of transphobic people, nor is it clear whether there might also be a similar biological origin for other trans people. Nor should the biology-or-choice question even be the basis upon which which we decide who is "worthy" to be equal in the first place.

An Alliance-Based Approach

What's different is that something needs to be jump-started now, so we can move beyond this. Because we desperately need to move beyond this. And if that means divorcing transsexual from transgender, and if that means asserting that we need to forge an alliance in which each party at least tries to respect the other (even if we don't understand each other) and work toward our mutual enfranchisement, then it's past time to propose that that is what we need to do.

Part of this will require us to stop making assumptions about everyone else and start listening to how they define who they are, what they need and what their life experiences mean. Which means to stop assuming that everyone who isn't exactly like us should be dismissed as "not real." And means to stop assuming that third-sex or third-gender identification is any less valid than binary identification or that accommodation of both is irreconcilable.

And if the "transgender" umbrella has to die, then so be it. But if we're negotiating a separation of terms, then it's important to define the borders in such a way that both can co-exist and seek solutions to the problems of legal accommodation, conflicting identification and anything else that we come into conflict on.

I fully expect that after this post I'll have offended absolutely everyone on either side of the question, and be accused on the one hand of having spinelessly acquiesced to separatism, and on the other be told I'm still drinking the Borg kool-aid. So be it. For me, the issue is done and past relevance. Semantics aren't going to help someone find a doctor, devise a workplace policy with their employer, or find a shelter. So to me, the labels are barely a sliver of what is important in order to achieve positive change where it matters.

And in that, I suppose, I can only speak for myself.

(Crossposted at Dented Blue Mercedes.)


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This is fantastic. Thorough, thoughtful, and putting out various sides of the debate even if you didn't agree with them. Bilerico, let's make this a featured article!

Great post, and I think you've convinced me that it's time to let transgender as an umbrella that includes transsexual go when it comes to discussion among people who read and participate in internet forums (and I'm someone who almost always used trans or transgender as an umbrella term up to this point). That said, I think that in conversations/communities in my smallish city, transgender is both relatively uncontroversial as an umbrella and useful as a way of bringing people together when there's not necessarily enough folks active in support or political groups to sustain separate organization. Yes, there's a lot of erasing/confusing that happens when people use the same term to talk about radically different experiences/lives, but I think that might be the price we have to pay in order to be able to maintain the conversation. And, every time I try to use more specific language in a support group meeting (for example, describing myself as transgender but probably not transsexual, at least not strongly so), people look at me like I've grown a second head. There's a lot of folks out there who just don't know the language distinctions that are common among activists and folks on the internet.

Yes, I totally think the alliance concept is better than the 'umbrella.' And I think the term transgender should be used by people who actually want to use it and have a specific meaning, not crammed down everyone's throat (and now I'm seeing terms like 'trans*' becoming requirements among the terminally hip). Use it or you'll be sorry.

While I agree that endless squabbles about labels seem less important than medical care, school safety, supporting youth and employment/housing protections, there's no proof that being passionate about labels means you don't care about those other issues. And to me when I hear someone start telling someone else "why don't you worry about important subjects instead of what you're getting in a tizzy about" I think that's a cheap way of telling others to shut up and painting oneself as some kind of activist saint. Also, as tired as I get of certain people who want to derail discussions with labeling arguments, I also think that... this is something they truly care about, who am I or anyone to tell them they're being silly. Yes, I can tell them please don't derail this discussion but I'm not going to tell someone "you're concerning yourself with trivialities for caring about this." Who deserves to make that decision?

Point taken. The reason I brought that up is that the argument sometimes ends up drowning out discussions about medical issues, housing and such, even if the label doesn't come up in the original discussion at all -- people feel that passionate about the issue.

It's frustrating. But despite that, I'm not trying to silence anyone. The point is to listen, but also to keep focus on the larger picture.

Jay Kallio | June 1, 2011 11:42 PM

My concern about the vitriolic debate over an umbrella term is that there are concrete life and death concerns for too many people still unresolved in the fight for equal protection under the law and anti discrimination legislation. I need to prioritize my energy and activism, and when I observe people getting fired from their only means of self support, being denied basic survival needs like housing, and medical treatment for life threatening conditions, being assaulted and harrassed for who they are, I'm afraid for me those issues do take precedence over intellectual arguments over semantics, and admittedly, over people feeling their "identity is erased" by an umbrella term, which is an argument that polarizes people and alienates outside support, which we will really need if we are ever to win our rights. It's the divisive, energy draining effect of this never ending argument that undermines other efforts that are more important to me.

I share all the concerns cited in Mercedes Allen's post, and would totally welcome any terms that would be acceptable to all, but considering the rather deafening charges raised in this conflict I despair of ever reaching common ground.

I often decide to avoid participating and have usually chosen to work with the LGB and queer sections of the LGBTQ movement, simply because they appear to be more engaged with positive, constructive efforts than in tearing each other down over perceived slights. If that is a value judgement, so be it. I, like everyone, have limited time and energy and need to make concrete choices over where to put my personal energy.

My personal choice is to ally with people who profoundly respect one another, regardless of gender identity, presentation, sexual orientation, race, class, etc., and engage in responsible creation of a more socially just and safe world. I especially gravitate toward people who speak with each other respectfully, talk things out, and are willing to see the other person's point of view and consider compromise when appropriate.

I do care about people's feelings about "erasure" of their identities, but I far prefer to work on survival issues and mitigating drastic social injustice that destroys people's lives. I'm moving on from this discussion, which seems like a mostly destructive energy drain. I will remain involved with people who are more clearly applying their efforts toward improving everyone's lives, and if the T movement lets me work in some limited fashion toward T rights without verbally hacking me to death for it, I will keep trying to contribute...

When I speak in public, I am going to continue to use the word "transgender" for myself, even though technically I am transsexual, because I rather emphasize my community membership, rather than my individual medical condition. I'm simply never going to feel comfortable with some questionable claim to greater "legitimacy" for acquiring basic human rights by having a "medical condition". We all deserve equal rights. To me, it's like "wearing the Star of David", and I refuse to leave anyone behind.

I hope there are others who feel the same, and will join me there.

Over the course of writing this, something that grew clearer is that this is less of an issue about the word transgender, which is obviously changing, but more one about the umbrella concept.

We sometimes see the concepts of umbrella and alliance as interchangeable, but that is very much not the case. There are very clear differences in thinking that go with each, whether, we've intended them or not. The umbrella perspective is one of inviting people to "come over here and stand with me." Alliance can still achieve some unified strength, but without folding a complex web of diverse needs into one nebulous vision. Respect still needs to be a part of that, yes, but it has to be a kind of respect that doesn't imply a need for conformity and conversion. (Which I don't think was what most people were consciously asking, but it was still what the umbrella implied)

Jay Kallio | June 3, 2011 9:18 PM

Mercedes, I just don't see how renaming "umbrella" into "alliance" will change the basic conflict, which I would characterize as the innate difficulty involved in getting disparate groups of people who have little in common except for a common enemy, who do not trust one another, and do not understand each other, to work together toward the common goals we all share. Those are the often intractable issues that prevent coalitions and groups from working together and achieving any goals. Each little faction ends up competing for air time, showboating, and insisting on going first, which just divides and conquers us from within. We don't even need a right wing to mobilize against us to stop us, we have already destroyed our own cause by our own inability to play well with others.

Perhaps you are right in that "alliance" might have some effect in shifting some of the expectations going into the conflict, but the real intensity of that conflict remains unaddressed.

I added a second comment below to talk about how I feel many T people are demanding that this LGBTQ+ movement respond to what are essentially interpersonal needs for affirmation, well beyond what any political movement can satisfy. I often wonder whether the isolation and rejection so many of us face, and the lack of good enough mirroring of our inner self concept means that many look to the movement to be far more emotionally satisfying than it can ever be, and overload that relationship with emotional expectations that are doomed to disappointment. Perhaps if we had the social supports and love that every human being needs then we would not have to look to a political movement for so much more than it can deliver.

"Transgender" is only a word. Something to be used to headline press releases so that they get filed in the right place. It's not who we are, and can never, ever convey who we are in a sound bite. Each of us is far too complex, and marvelous, to ever be adequately represented by a word, unless perhaps someone suggested "transcendant". :)

Mercedes I could honestly not care one bit how those who are attached to the LGB and are some form of past or present T or G or any combination of them wish to identify themselves. What I care about is that there is a clear publicly known disclaimer attached to it that not all of those lumped under what was known as the Transgender umbrella are to be called that name or automatically associated with the LGBT. There must be no claim that those people who wish not to be included in your LGB aligned group are simply doing that because they are homophobic. I sincerely believe the days of the LGB claiming all T's or however they identify are coming to a close and its going to happen much quicker than you'd like. Control of the T is no longer in LGB or LGBT aligned hands.

I must be blind in my own way, or just not exposed to the greater community enough on my own, because I have always identified as a "Transgender Female" Meaning, born male, now no longer, regardless of sexual orientation or surgical changes. I always felt that Transexual focused on sexuality or sex as it's selling point. Perhaps it's because I am a direct part of the community, that I just saw a GC person as a GC person, and never felt a need to lump them into anything, and if the Transgender community made political progress, it would only benefit them as well. Your writing is quite good, and I linked it over on Facebook. It's made me really look and think about What we publicly represent to the world other than those that change gender. I do feel that we need unification, and representation, and clear definitions, to be absolutely honest. For example I find zero benefit for me to say, join a social circle or support group for "transgender" individuals, when I am the only TG, and I'm surrounded by CDs, now identifying as "transgender". I noticed the change years ago, when CD's were suddenly labeled all over as "TG". Maybe I didn't get the memo that I needed to change my label for me to "TS"? Either way, I do feel that you're right on pretty much all accounts, I also see that I really need to be more aware of the community as a whole, and recognize where I *now* fall in the community, isn't the same as it was a few years ago.

You wrote:
"I always felt that Transexual focused on sexuality or sex as it's selling point."

That may have been a perspective that developed regionally. My own experience was pretty much the same -- that is, "sex" doesn't bother me personally, but its place in "transsexual" was a hot-button in my local community that doesn't seem to have developed in the same way in other regions.

I do agree with your other points, but I now see unification when coupled with an umbrella mindset as something that runs counter to clear self-definition.

@Danielle,

My POV has been that those of us who are trans* are born different, and we are not ever really properly assigned to the birth sex. At birth, we have brains that zigged whilst the genital tract zagged (yes, an oversimplification of the ontological development in gestation).

Now, I understand that not everyone has had the same kind of epiphany with regard to reviewing the scientific literature of the past 17 years or so, and that if we develop our own personal narrative without having had such an insight, it's easy to accept the initial assignment - after all, we did (or even may still) have a genital tract development that is consistent with the initial assignment. Even those who have had the insight might base their acceptance of the initial assignment on the basis of a belief that the genital tract development alone is a determinant of the individual's correct sex assignment (this also leads to viewing GRS as a "bright line" distinction).

Of course, that last view may be dangerously close to birth genital essentialism - and birth genital essentialists deny that even GRS can effectuate ay "change."

If we adopt the view that the initial assignment was incorrect, then whatever we do to bring the rest of our body to conform as closely as we can obtain to the way our brain developed, should be sufficient to allow for a correction (not a change, a correction) to themore correct, or now "predominant" sex.

When I encounter a reference to *me* as having been "born male," I will alert the referrer to the idea that "born male" is judgmental, and that a properly neutral term would be "assigned male at birth" (or as one magazine correction went, "was assigned a male gender at birth"). The assignment is usually done by the attending physician and duly noted on the birth certificate - and the ideal standard for correction would be to have the correction noted by the individual's current attending physician (or mental health professional). A correction, not a change.

It's consistent with the idea that surgery is "genital reconstructive (or confirmation) surgery" and not a "sex change." It is also consistent with the idea that GRS, while a very good thing and often enough necessary, should not be the sole determining factor, and that other factors, such as hormonal transition, should be taken into account as well.

I am trying to share the meme about the distinction between "born male" (or "born female") and "assigned a (male/female) gender at birth. The latter really does allow for the idea of correction, while the former will always imply that transition requires a "change."

I see the treachery of the sex/gender distinction at the root of a lot of these problems. I just happened upon Jennifer Germon's "Gender". It's available on Amazon but here is the full text: http://www.intersexualite.org/Germon.pdf

I have only read the introduction. It was very informative, regarding the origins of the concept of gender:

Money's introduction of the concept a decade earlier. To engage with Stoller’s work is to engage with the consequences of his various interventions. Stoller made what was for him a relatively benign conceptual turn by divesting ‘gender’ of its interactive relation to ‘sex’. In a metaphorical sense, Stoller placed that relation in a state of suspended animation so that he could get on with the (seemingly) not so messy business of developing a theory to explain male to female transsexualism. Stoller placed everything that he was not going to be concerned with under the rubric of ‘sex’, which he interpellated as the natural, the material and the carnal. The things that Stoller was interested in became ‘gender’, that is, the psychical or psychological elements of sexed subjectivity.6 This conceptual turn effectively sanitised ‘gender’ by removing from it, any association to body lust and the ‘dirty business’ of sex. The sex/gender split offered a contemporary expression of the age-old mind/body distinction. Cartesian dualist logic demands, of course, that ‘gender’ not merely be contrasted to ‘sex’, but framed in opposition to it. Stoller’s conceptual bracketing left the production of knowledge about ‘sex’ above or beyond analysis. The effects of that theoretical suspension were soon made manifest. Yielding to the compelling simplicity of either/or propositions, the sex/gender distinction began to assume a life of its own and before long became thoroughly institutionalised in sexological, medical and social scientific discourses.7 It is unlikely that Stoller would or could have predicted that what was for him a convenient conceptual bracketing would lead to the institutionalisation of a desexualised ‘gender’. So desexualised in fact, that ‘gender’ would transform into something akin to that orifice-free space between the legs of the otherwise highly sexualised figures of Ken and Barbie dolls (Money, 1985; 1995; Bockting, 1997).
Chapter four takes as its focus ‘gender’ as it related to the feminist project of the late twentieth century. Gender was appropriated from the sexual sciences by a number of early academic feminists and put to work to argue against women’s inferior social political and economic standing. Yet for the most part, that appropriation happened with little clear or critical analysis of the assumptions that underpinned the concept, nor where those assumptions had taken sexological theory and practice. Today, gender has an assumed ahistorical status as if it has always been available as a descriptive and a conceptual tool. The significant and powerful interventions into gender by feminism over the past thirty years have contributed much to augment gender’s axiomatic status.

The discussions taking place here are very inbred. Clinicians and feminists have discussed these things for years. Like the feminists Germon mentions in her piece, there don't seem to be many who question the origins of their perceptions on sex and gender. For transsexual people there are many antagonists - Hausman, Epstein, etc., those who use expressions such as the "material production of sex", and so on. Most of these people start off with intersex people, some who are very sympathetic to the way intersex people have been violated and traumatized through the material production of a sex that matches legal and theoretical concepts of gender. The techniques involved in transsexual surgeries were developed at places like Johns Hopkins and also by war time plastic surgeons, the best known of whom are McIndoe and his cousin Harold Gilles.

Transsexualism is a heavy duty topic. There is much resentment among many intersex people who have been used as guinea pigs. It is impossible to separate the two. Many intersex people resent transsexual people because a lot of the experimenting on intersex people led to techniques that make transsexual procedures possible. The need to pathologize transsexualism for many transsexual people to provide justification and incentive for medical treatment is in deep conflict with the way intersex is pathologized to justify treatments that are non consensually imposed on them.

You can discuss gender presentation and expression until the cows come home. You are not going to do anything to deal with transsexual people fairly or justly until you begin to do the heavy lifting. There ARE intersex people, whether they're xxy people who have been put on testosterone supplements unwittingly at puberty or people born with ambiguous genitalia. The physical issues are just too deep to relegate to the sphere of sociology and psychology, alone. There is sex and there is gender. To separate them just leaves the door open for mistreatment when it comes to transsexual people; intersex people, as well.

Freedom to express gender is very important for LGB people and some transgender people. Transgender, is, however, a very complicated word with very many treacherous implications, that has its roots in the sex/gender false dichotomy. On the one hand there is the Virginia Prince meaning of the word. On the other there is the meaning that goes way beyond the meaning it has for a person who lives as a woman or man and takes hormones. Then there is the Benjamin Scale. No one is in agreement. Trans isn't really any better.

I think the best way to understand sex/gender is to realize they're interactive, start from the middle of the entire population, work your way from there to both sex/gender extremes, only resort to labeling and categorization when absolutely necessary but recognize that it will continue to be necessary and that anatomy does matter, recognize that there is intersex and that it is very real and very diverse, recognize physical sex change, its necessity for those who need it, recognize physical sex change for the realities it presents to people, recognize that diversity actually makes it so nobody should get a free pass, that there is no normal, and there are no exceptions to that rule that no one is normal.

You cannot expect people to compromise themselves and disregard their needs for the sake of policies that could actually work against their best interests. The focus of "gender" is really very disingenuous and superficial in a way that is dangerous to many of us. Worst of all, it is dismissive of transsexual and intersex people. I doubt any of what I said will be well received, unfortunately.


I'm going to need to think about a few of the things you raised here. But definitely Money's legacy highlights another of the divisions that took place -- that the same work that fueled the emergence of gender clinics and GRS throughout the Western world also did -- and continues to do -- terrible damage to intersex people.

I will disagree with "Trans isn't really any better" though, since my own feeling is that it does avoid imposing gender or sex assumptions.

Christine | June 2, 2011 12:44 AM

Just how timely is this article! A few weeks ago I was having a conversation with Laura Gonzalez, promoter of Club Shine and TGCD in Los Angeles, among many other contributions to our community. She asked me to write a guest column for her, and I chose the TG umbrella as a timely topic, particularly in the face of H.R. 1397 of the 112th Congress.

In the article I observed, "From an individual perspective, 'transgender' has become meaningless because of the wildly disparate demographic it covers. If you tell someone you are transgender, what does that mean? Are you a heterosexual guy who dresses up on weekends and goes to a certain club to socialize with others like you? Are you a gay guy who dresses up for fun or for sexual purposes? Are you a female impersonator? Are you a married man who self-pleasures himself with his secret lingerie stash? Are you someone who goes out in public sometimes as one and sometimes as another gender in your daily life? Do you live full time as a woman but have no desire to lose your penis? Are you awaiting surgery? Already had it? Using that generalized label can lead to a five minute explanation or leave someone wondering about you, how to address you and relate to you, etc."

I then argue how trying to lump everybody together is counterproductive for some political purposes: "Only by dividing up the gender spectrum into meaningful groups and then determining the best way to protect everybody is the only way protective legislation is going to pass within the next twenty years. Those fortunate enough to work for accepting employers and those who are 'deep stealth' capable (or think they are) might argue it would be better to educate and take twenty years to get that wide-spectrum full protection, but people are being hurt right now by the current situation."

Where this goes from here, I'm not certain, but this is a conversation we must have internally before another serious run is taken at ENDA, among other serious issues. Note that the full article appears at http://tgirl.glamazon.net

You wrote:
"Where this goes from here, I'm not certain, but this is a conversation we must have internally before another serious run is taken at ENDA, among other serious issues."

Exactly. Before one perspective is imposed on all without seriously dissecting the consequences. I'm not partial to defining in legislation, but if that happens and if anyone will be defining gender identity and gender expression, then it should be an alliance that understands all that needs to be included.

There are also, at times, some very real conflicts between what transsexuals who are fully-identified as men or as women need and what people who identify as a third gender or third sex need. We're seeing this especially in gendered spaces, where transsexuals simply need to be accommodated as the men and women they are and live as, while genderqueer, third-gender and/or third sex people might require independent acknowledgment.

In 2010, for example, Australia's norrie mAy-welby became the first person (possibly in the world) to be officially designated "gender not specified" - a designation that was sought at norrie's initiative, but probably wouldn't sit well with many other trans folk.

norrie mAy-welby had also transitioned, as I recall.

In fact, quite a few of the people you seem to separate from the category of "transsexual" for being non-binary either need access to or have accessed transition-related medical procedures - HRT, surgery, etc. norrie mAy-welbie was asking for nothing different than what any other transsexual person seeks in transition: Official recognition.

I also think that whether or not non-binary genders (this is a much less awkward construction than what you used) are acceptable to some binary trans people, this shouldn't really be used to justify sentiments against people with non-binary genders. Yes, it's pretty clear that a lot of people have pretty harsh, negative, and erasing views of non-binary trans people, but separating them entirely into a separate category that has nothing to do with transsexual people is not really helpful, either.

This is not an either/or situation where you have binary transsexual people on one side and non-binary transgender people on the other with no overlap. There is a lot of overlap, and a lot of non-binary trans people who would otherwise access transition are barred from it because it is difficult for them to find someone who will take them seriously enough to help them get the care they need.

What, I think, might help a lot more is less claiming of ownership of categories and insistence that certain categories cannot exist at all.

And I mean, I think this constant wrangling over terminology and how insulting it is to hear "transgender" being applied to one strikes me as an endless waste of time. Maybe it's just that I don't mind being called "transgender" (for many reasons), maybe it's that "transgender" is applied to transsexual people by the dominant culture (not that this makes it right or anything), but I feel like internecine warfare over something that honestly is not sustained by trans people doesn't achieve anything.

Also, I forgot to mention, for purely informative purposes: The first time I came across "transmisogyny" was Julia Serano's Whipping Girl, which I read in 2007. Of course, the language was still filtering out. I think a lot of people dislike the term, though, as it simply names intersectionality (transphobia and misogyny) and doesn't need a special term.

Transitioned, but then had further surgery, I believe. It's not really my business though, so that wasn't the focus of the example. So you could be right, norrie mAy-welby's situation might not be the best illustration of what I mean, but the point is how binary identification and non-binary can run counter to each other.

Re: "non-binary genders" -- thank you. You have a gift for clarification.

You wrote:
"What, I think, might help a lot more is less claiming of ownership of categories and insistence that certain categories cannot exist at all."

Close. I think the issue is speaking for others. On both sides of the question. The idea of an "umbrella community" seduces us into doing that too, we just have difficulty seeing that, except in those instances where start examining what we might have done to make people of colour uncomfortable in mainstream communities, for example.

Transitioned, but then had further surgery, I believe. It's not really my business though, so that wasn't the focus of the example. So you could be right, norrie mAy-welby's situation might not be the best illustration of what I mean, but the point is how binary identification and non-binary can run counter to each other.

I don't see how binary and non-binary identification can run counter to each other. What I have seen is knee-jerk rejection of non-binary identification as invalid and thus it must be stopped. Often, the person saying this will say in practically the same breath that gender isn't real. I don't get it.

I'm sorry that I need to ask, but could you clarify that point in some way?

Close. I think the issue is speaking for others. On both sides of the question. The idea of an "umbrella community" seduces us into doing that too, we just have difficulty seeing that, except in those instances where start examining what we might have done to make people of colour uncomfortable in mainstream communities, for example.

It seems to me what happens more often is speaking against others, as noted above.

It's a little bit of both. Seeking to define each other is probably more to the point.

Which is exactly the conflict I mean. How are we to be identified in society? Are we to be accepted as men and women, or have a third-sex / third-gender designation? As long as we're under a single name, society will look for a single solution and see us as a single entity, so there's a serious risk of it becoming an either/or question, affecting identification, accommodation in gendered spaces, and to some degree how we interact with society overall.

We don't get to frame the whole debate, but the way we frame it when we initiate it through lobbying and protest speaks volumes. Society's understanding of trans people is growing and evolving, and with the "you can't change your chromosomes" attitudes that are out there, it's certainly a risk that as society becomes more trans-aware, non-binary gender markers could become the easy solution for legislators, seeming to appease both trans people and our opponents (because they always always always look for an easy way out). Except that a non-binary gender marker becomes a scarlet letter for many transitioned transsexuals. It also potentially becomes an easy way to exclude us from marriage in places without SSM, which seems to be everyone's top priority.

We're not consciously doing it, but this is how we're presently initiating the discussion.

In Canada, when we were lobbying for Bill C-389, we'd approached the debate differently. This was at the insistence of someone who I've sometimes seriously disagreed with, but I'll give her credit for seeing this before I did. From the outset, the bill was framed to address protections for both gender identity and gender expression (not "gender identity / expression"), for "transsexual and transgender" people. And it was thus easier to clarify that there were two sets of needs, and why.

lisa-lane lisa-lane | June 2, 2011 1:35 AM

Excellent article. Probably the best commentary I've read on the situation.

what can I say? this out, proud, binary-female-identified, vajayjay-bearing, transsexual woman bi dyke of transsexual experience and gay history wants to cruise on Grindr as MtFtM-ftw! (amongst other things) I think I might be queer. and trans. :D

Eric Payne | June 2, 2011 2:53 AM

Back in the late 2970s, possibly the early 1980s, I had my first exposure to "T."

It was on the Phil Donahue Show (the first one, before he retired). The show's topic was something along the lines of "Homosexuals in Society." As guests, Donahue had the standard assortment of effeminate gay men, one "regular, you'd never even know unless he told you" gay man... and a biracial couple (Caucasian male, Black female). The "twist" of the couple was that the wife had been born a man, had surgically transitioned, had successfully sued the state in which she lived to have her birth certificate altered, and had legally married her husband.

She explained her "condition" (as Donahue put it) as having always been a woman, and the transition surgery simply reversed her birth defects.

Addressing the gay men who were guests, she said: "I have nothing in common with these people."

I will never forget the snide way in which she said "these people."

Last year, on Bilerico there was a contributor with whom, it seemed, I never agreed. Out of ignorance, I never used the proper "T" term, and she was attempting to claim everyone in the LGBT community was, actually, transgendered, based on some nebulous beliefs she held. It got nasty; I left Bilerico the day before she was to be elevated from contributor to one of a panel of persons who would approve what would, and what would not, be published at Bilerico. Before I returned, a year later, I checked on her status here; she's, apparently, gone.

Am I transphobic, a claim she made many times here, and on her own website (which she's, apparently, abandoned)? No, I'm not. As I told her, repeatedly, the way someone introduces/presents themselves to me is the way in which I address and consider them. If a 6'6", hairy, African-American introduces themself to me as "Margie," then, as far as I'm concerned, they're Margie.

Labels change. A person's sense of identity doesn't.

I vaguely remember that, though not well enough to know peoples' intent at the time.

From a semantic standpoint, there is actually something that LGBT people can find as a point of empathy -- that transition is seen by society to violate the rules of heteronormativity, and attraction to a same-sex partner is seen by society to violate the rules of gender normativity.

This is separate from a question of whether we can be allies, but can say a lot about our ability to have empathy for each other, and how close that alliance can be.

Again, I'm not speaking for anyone's intent, just making a detached observation.

Well, the nice thing is that people are still around, and their intent is readly available.

You caugt the nature of the semantic argument -- whic, in terms of social systems, is accurate beyond the semantic construct as well.

To the poin tof the transphobia -- t is not the individual, it is the statements that belie any such sentiments, and I'll stand by such.

As far as abandoning my blog, this is incorrect. Its being ended in its current form whilst I prepare for a new one with a different focus.

There is more to being free of transphobia than merely using the name they gave you -- a point that others seldom got.

Eric Payne | June 3, 2011 1:53 AM

It must be a full moon.

Still as fetching as ever, I see.

Don't believe she's fetching, people? Go on... throw a stick.

I am reminded of the old joke about the guy who says he's not a racist because he knows a few S----- Ey--.

Eh.

SarasNavel | June 2, 2011 3:45 AM

The one trend that seems constant is the apparently overwhelming urge for people to apply general terms to others, largely because of two reasons:
--It makes fighting common enemies easier if you appear to have some sort of unity, even if it's based solely on commonality of persecution.
--It makes image building (and fund raising) easier if you can simply lump all of "those" people into a single letter in an acronym.

There are a multitude of spectrum with which to measure sex, gender (identity or expression), etc.. And there are groupings, intersections of those spectrum where more people tend to fall. The simplest example would be body relationship; are you at odds with the sex of your body, does it fit, or is it truly neutral? That's one dimension to measure; individuals will clump in a few clear groupings. Now consider another aspect, so-called gender identity (Male/Female/Both/None/Trans). Again, obvious groupings emerge, despite the spectrum being multi-dimensional (not just Male at one end, Female at the other). Those clumps of individuals in separate measured aspects often appear to correlate, but in fact are independent. But, like those who are gender and sex congruent from birth, people have to really sweat to think it could be any other way (and still don't really get it). Add in social gender role. Gender expression. Socialization. And the big ones that are never taken into account, personality types and adaptations to personal history.

This is very much akin to the whole, 'sexuality is separate from gender' that everyone seems to get by now, but on a more subtle and complex level. Is it really so hard for people to understand that these are all independent traits that can but don't have to overlap?

Crossdresser. Genderqueer. Gender-transcendent. Transgender. Transsexual. Post-Transsexual. Gender-fluid. BiGender. AGender. Effeminate. Butch. Gay. Straight. Bi. Male-identified. Female-identified. Trans-identified. Agender-identified. Bigender-identified. Social conformist. Social radical....and on, ad nauseum. It's not hard to see that you can end up talking to a quiet effeminate man assigned female at birth who does not identify as transgender. And his brash macho husband, who does.

That is why 'Transgender' is utterly useless as an umbrella. It attempts to reduce a multitude of wholly independent aspects into one of two definitions, depending on who is wielding it: gender-nonconformist or transsexual. Often neither fits, sometimes both do. Rarely does either usage respect the individuals being grouped together. Each individual must stand on their own and choose to work together.

I think it is important to respect the broad human diversity that exists among gender diverse communities; none of us has the right to erase the identities and medical needs of others who are different than ourselves. However, I feel that solidarity is equally important in the face of common societal intolerance and prejudice; no one deserves to be demonized or scapegoated by others who share the same social barriers (or by anyone else).

In my experience, much misunderstanding can be avoided by defining the context in which we use terms of gender diversity. For example, transsexual is used in three different contexts: as a diagnostic term of mental illness and sexual disorder (the ICD analog to gender identity disorder in the DSM), as a phenomenon of human diversity, and as a term of social identity-- with three very different meanings. Transgender is used as a loose term of human phenomenon, an inclusive term of social identity, and in an exclusionary historical Virginia Prince context, again with very, very different meanings. I choose to use transgender and transsexual terms in the context of consensual social identities, only inclusive of those who self identity as members of those communities. I use different terms, such as gender transcendence, to describe phenomena of gender identities and expressions that differ from expectations of assigned birth sex. For diagnostic nomenclature that is respectful of those who need access to medical and/or surgical transition care, I advocate language that (unlike that in the current DSM) is distinct from social identity and not related to conformity to birth-assigned gender roles.

I'll add that I proudly identify as a woman, a transgender woman, and a transsexual women and see no conflict between these social identities for me. I consider all who transcend the bounds of stereotypes of their assigned birth-sex to be my sisters and brothers in the struggle for human dignity.

One of the most thorough articles on the subject at hand, and very well done!

It's an interesting topic of discussion at my home, living together in a 2 trans* household. I identify as a post-operative transgender lesbian most of the time; I'm pretty binary in my identity, but my expression borders on soft butch, which to many, is non-binary, in itself. For me, surgery and full legal recognition as a woman was necessary to my overall well being. However, I continue to identify, for myself, as transgender, because I personally do not like the sexual overtones of the word transsexual. I will, however, fight to the death for the right of any person to continue to use it, if they feel it fits them. Likewise I respect the wide varieties of gender out there, and realize that the binary is not the answer for many.

My partner, on the other hand, is a non-binary, omnisexual transgender woman. She's on hormones, has changed her documents, and now lives full time, but is not pursuing surgery. Yet she's the one who's stealth at work; I'm not.

Speaking now only for myself, I tend to agree in the alliance. It's difficult at times, with as many ways to cover the topic as there are, but that's why everyone needs to speak! The biggest downfall with modern democracy is that the majority is the loudest. Otherwise, if only the fully surgical transsexuals are the ones speaking to our community, who will lobby for the specific needs of the rest?

My feelings on the matter of the umbrella itself are, at least to me, simple. Your identity is yours, and I will respect it. My identity is mine, please do the same. I've been told time and again that, being post surgical and having some passing privilege, that I need to leave the trans community and focus on myself. I refuse; if I do, who will the next generation look up to? I've been out as transgender for longer than my music career, which I also use to spread awareness.

Is the umbrella itself dead? Had you asked me yesterday, I would have said no. Now I'm not so sure. Very well written piece.

Marja Erwin | June 2, 2011 6:37 AM

I am in a hurry right now, but I wanted to say that "transgender" has always rubbed me the wrong way, not for the reasons discussed in the article, but because it roots trans activism, and theory, in something as inconsistently-defined and often-antifeminist as "gender."

I also tend to use "transsexual" more loosely than some of the others who prefer the term - I don't see any reason to exclude, for example, sexqueer and neutrois individuals from the transsexual spectrum, since they can share similar medical needs and they may share similar biological causes with the rest of the transsexual spectrum.

I am in a hurry right now, but I wanted to say that "transgender" has always rubbed me the wrong way, not for the reasons discussed in the article, but because it roots trans activism, and theory, in something as inconsistently-defined and often-antifeminist as "gender."

Not all feminism is rooted in the idea that gender is bad and must be destroyed. That's a particularly second wave idea, and one that is not universally shared.

I really don't take most people who make this argument seriously, as I especially doubt most of them even know what it's like to not have a gender, and are appealing to a utopia where apparently "no gender" means "no oppression," but this strikes me as unrealistic and quite probably wrong.

The idea of gender being nothing but oppression tends to be used to place women in a category of never ever ever having any privilege or power, thus all women are equally oppressed, which means no white women have to worry about not being racist, no straight women have to worry about not being homophobic, etc, because it's not as if women are capable of real oppression. This is also used to justify transphobic sentiments, since trans women are allegedly privileged over cis women (due to being "really men"," allegedly), thus it's impossible to ever do anything wrong, and probably impossible to ever effect real change.

The entire premise and ideology of "gender is bad" strikes me as problematic and possibly missing the point.

Considering I have also seen binary trans women outright attack non-binary trans people for not being binary because "gender is bad, therefore we have to all be one of the two accepted genders," and end up basically mirroring cis radical feminist arguments against all trans people, all. It kind of amazes me, you'd think that someone who sees gender as oppressive would see how gender is oppressive to people who simply do not and cannot fit into the binary, but instead the opposite happens - they're attacked for stepping outside of the socially approved boxes.

I also tend to use "transsexual" more loosely than some of the others who prefer the term - I don't see any reason to exclude, for example, sexqueer and neutrois individuals from the transsexual spectrum, since they can share similar medical needs and they may share similar biological causes with the rest

I tend to think that by any definition of the term, transsexual would necessarily include anyone who requires this kind of medical intervention.

Yes, at this very moment "we" are drifting---farther and farther away from the task at hand. The Transgender continent is splitting into subcontinents---indeed some of "us" proclaim that "we've never been transgender---"we've always been transsexual and nothing but. This is truly an identity crisis of epic proportions. "We" must decide who the "we" is...for if we don't reach a common identity...the best "we" will ever accomplish are token victories achieved from sympathetic non-participants---while we continue to run in place...tread water...maybe even run backwards as is the case now with our vehement disagreement over "nomenclature".

It is time to step back, take a deep breath, and look at "us" from the eyes of "them". "They" think we're all crazy, deranged, disordered...deviants...anything "they" hear with "trans" as a prefix immediately catapults a red flag skyward. Of the two "suffixes"...gender and sexual....neither works any more. Gender, as seen from the "public's" eyes comes in two flavors and two flavors only----"we" of course know better, but remember "they" get to define us despite our objections...if only because there are abundantly more "theys" than "us".

Look...there are three die that have been cast: "trans", "gender", and "sexual". None are giving us what we need. All three labels have now become liabilities --in part largely due to online access of stunningly negative information.

Solution: we pick up the die and toss again. By the way, it really is about restroom use...if only because of the children. No one will every accept a male in the ladies room...although the opposite isn't necessarily true. Now back to the die...they must be re-labeled as MALE, FEMALE AND OTHER...well not as "OTHER" but we must seek a label for our community that rises to the level of legitimacy as the use of MALE and FEMALE. Transgender and transsexual have become sharply divisive swords.

We must do four things immediately: keep the undivided focus on us as PERSONS first--not its, she-males, "others", or any other subhuman iteration. Next, we must adhere to the only two gender options availed to us: MALE or FEMALE. Thirdly, we must put our privates back into the bedroom---surgery, what's "down there", SRS---pre-op or post-op...these are medical privacy issues and MUST stay that way. Indeed this is fueling the debate today. By associating our privates with gender we are obfuscating gender and sexuality. Our Id's don't have a field for "privates"...only for gender (M or F). Lastly, we must replace the dice labeled "other" with a modifier that will indicate a legally-permissible journey from gender A to gender B.

I submit that the word transition has no negative connotation...not at all. So I propose we redefine ourselves (it appears we've established the urgency to do so) in the following manner: quite simply as "gender transition"...this would be a "nicer" umbrella. Further stated: replace trans-female with gender transitioning female...trans-male with gender transitioning male.

In the end, the focus is now on "gender", not on "trans" gender as it should be. The restroom access we seek is because of an active gender transition...not due to the sport of cross-dressing. It is not "us" who draw these lines...it is "them"...and "them" whom we need to assure of the medical urgency and quality of life issue made possible through a legitimate gender transition. Let us remember than when laws get passed that protect our community...it is the word "gender" that is used primarily...we must do the same.

Subhuman? Honestly, Dee, can't you see that such a line of argumentation means that we are arguing against civil rights, and will make it all too easy to invalidate such a movement? I agreed with you until I saw that word in your comment.

Yes...poor choice of words in the wee hours..."attempt to color in any disparaging manner based solely on subjective interpretation of appearance" would have been more clear!

Thank you for your concurrence with the rest of it! I am honored!

Dee

Great article, but you can't create a movement to "not be transgender." Critique is valuable, but by itself, it can only alter an existing movement, not build one of its own. Movements have to be for something. If we could create a viable "transsexual movement," I'm for it. But it is unlikely that such a movement can occur at this point in time. Very unlikely. Although I agree with the idea on a theoretical basis, I don't think it will ever go beyond talk.

When I started doing my academic work, I focused on "transsexuals," and never used the word "transgender." (See http://bit.ly/kQB0IN) However, after incidents, such as a noted gender scholar telling me he used my work in his class to show how limited the transsexual model is, I quickly realized that the concept of "transsexualism" was passe in academia. I soon learned that, in order to receive any credence in the academic world, I had to conform to the new conceptualization of the field, namely, "transgender." I didn't like it, but I went along because there were no other voices out there. Transsexuals are counseled by their health professionals to erase their identities, and to disappear into society, and so there was no one to create a movement with -- they were all gone, nowhere to be found. The only people left are those starting their transition, or who don't fully transition. The former don't have the energy to participate in a transsexual movement, and the latter don't have the will. In addition, we need powerful allies if our people aren't to be left in the gutter, and I saw the emergence of a gay-based transgender movement as a hopeful sign, though I had qualms about this development. A noted legal scholar argued in an influential 2001 article that making transgender issues central to the gay legal movement would protect all non-conforming people, gay and trans. The subtext suggested this would move gay people more to the center of the US political debate, thus giving the gay movement more traction. I interpreted this as using trans people as a puppet to deflect conservative anger, thus increasing the incentive to focus on gender non-conforming identities only, the more non-conforming, the better. But though I had my qualms, I was glad of any attention for our people at all. I moved away from transsexualism and into transgenderism. I also saw the high degree of transphobia in the gay community, and saw how transgenderism was making inroads into that problem by theorizing gay people as gender non-conforming. Nonetheless, a transgender emphasis creates insoluble theoretical and practical problems, such as the impossibility of defining "transgender," which makes it impossible to figure out who would be represented by such a movement, and such as the evils of defining gender discrimination as separate from sex discrimination, which would leave women unprotected (if there even is such a category as "women" allowed). I have studied "transgender" intensively, and I agree with many of the criticisms leveled against it in the academic community. But that doesn't mean I want to abandon ship and try to swim in the ocean forever. So if it were possible to create a viable transsexual movement, I would be for it.

The problem is that a transsexual movement is very unlikely. Creating a movement requires certain things, like leaders, and organization, and a platform, and connections to people in power. We have none of these. Meanwhile, a lot of time and energy and money has been put into creating a transgender movement. It will take a lot of time, energy and money to convince people that's a mistake, and the ones with a voice will not go quietly. Furthermore, while there are perhaps a few dozen very angry transsexuals decrying the transgender movement, how many transsexual people out there are really willing or interested to create a separate movement? I don't know the answer to that question. Until that question is answered, and the answer shows that a transsexual movement is possible, I will keep my feet firmly planted on the ground.

Dr. Weiss,

I really like your post and I think it is spot on here. I for one hope the transsexual movement DOES take off. To me it's like identifying all cancer patients as just that, whereas each type of cancer is very different and needs to be understood for what it is to be treated. I find it ridiculous that academia would lump everyone under 'transgender' and treat them as a whole with a 'gender identity' issue. I hope the transsexual movement gets wings not because I want to separate but because I want people to focus on the needs of transsexuals individually. I want them to be able to focus and get results no different than any other member of the 'T' should want. We all need to represent ourselves and be responsible for educating the public on our own not under some unwieldy umbrella where we all fight for different things at the same time.

An alliance will be tenuous at best because there are absolute differing opinions between members of the T. The best example I can think of is public accommodation's. There are many TS women who do not want public accommodation's to cover crossdresser's. So how do you have an alliance when two groups will be pitted in direct opposition to each other? This remains to be seen...

@Laura,

You have valid points about how at least some issues are *not* in common. At least until recently, most legislative efforts have been aimed at things like human rights and hate crimes laws, that would apply to a broader spectrum, and marriage rights, which would cover a still broader spectrum (one in which lesbian and gay cis* people, straight trans* people, and some bi* people might have an interest).

Recently, there has been movement on issues involving identity documents, including birth certificates. In New York and Illinois, there are lawsuits and negotiations going on; in Washington State and Vermont, new regulations or statutes are now in place, and the U.S. State department regulations adopted in mid 2010 have had an influence. (In other states, reactionary forces have still been charging forward with antithetical legislation and litigation, particularly aimed at denying marriage rights and local legislative initiatives.)

Of course, there are some vocal elements in a part of the *transsexual* community who would leave other persons of transsexual experience (like me) behind by supporting identity document correction only for those who have had GRS, and not for any other reason.

When it comes to restrooms, I tend to look at it this way - when we enact a law that protects gender identity and gender expression, the "gender expresion" term applies to those persons who have a "gender identity" that is consistent with that expression. (It would not be "gender expression" but rather a costume, otherwise. A man who identifies a a man puts on a dress is still a man who identifies as a man. What you get is a situation where there would likely be a split in where part time m2f CDs might be "covered" by such laws - if they don't identify as women, or don't identify as bi-gendered, intergendered or gender-identity variant in some way as to have an "inner woman" lurking in their brain, then they'd know that they shouldn't use a public multistall women's rest room facility. I think the idea is that these laws would not protect a male-identified man "in a dress" who would want to use a women's restroom, though that would end up being an issue of fact to be determined, as to how an individual identifies. If such a crossdressed man were to use a women's restroom solely to use the facility for the purpose and in the manner intended, wash hands and leave, I don't actually see a harm. If the individual is loitering in there to hang out and peer under stall doors, that is another story entirely - and such human rights laws that include public accommodations would not be any protection. (But I get your point, that those who identify as transsexual and are militant about also not being referred to "transgender" because they think it could be taken to mean they are somehow "the same" as male voyeurs in dresses, are not likely to be supportive of himan rights laws that refer to "gender identity and expression" - but I think that is just because they are misinterpreting the meaning and intention of those statutory proposals in the same way that, say, the "Rev." Duane Motley from New Yorkers for COnstitutional Freedoms interprets the proposals.

I don't have an answer - there is never likely to be unanimity on the terminology, on the issues, or on the legislative or litigatory approaches. There will always be some who find it convenient to associate themselves with points of view that are similar to those of people who oppose human rights and dignity, even for them, but in the perhaps vain hope that by being like the oppressors in relation to another subgroup, they might be able to gain recognition and acceptance for themselves. (This seems to be similar to the approach taken by an L/G organization called GOProud. Could there be a GOPost(op) group in formation out there with similar goals?) I think that it's a futile approach - licking the boots of the oppressors doesn't help - they hate us all for being different, regardless of exactly how much different we may be. If we're not Cis* and we're not Het* then we're all lumped together as "gay" or "queer" or what-have-you.

Joann I am one of those Transsexuals that have a problem with birth certificate change for those who aren't post-op. I see that as part of the reason why Republicans are now putting transsexual and Intersex marriage under the gun of banning Transgender Marriage.It is my experience in dealing with Transgender leadership that they could care less about keeping these hard one rights as they don't fit in with their agenda of winning gay marriage rights and legitimized gender deconstruction. I don't know that I would even support allowing birth certificate change even if same sex marriage was legal before it happened. I don't support gender deconstruction and I really don't see a legitimate need for birth certificate change before SRS. I can however support the idea of allowing someone to change the gender marker on their drivers license, and social security file for a limited time pre SRS with a built in option for indefinite extension for a valid reason such as a medical condition that prevent surgery. While as Jillian likes to point out there may only be a few dozen transsexuals that actively voice their opposition to the word transgender be very careful in thinking that anyone of them doesn't have very powerful political connections and a willingness to use them.

Wolfgang E. B. Wolfgang E. B. | June 10, 2011 8:16 PM

"Joann I am one of those Transsexuals that have a problem with birth certificate change for those who aren't post-op."

Even though having a birth certificate that doesn't match one's physical appearance puts many trans people at risk for discrimination, and sometimes even violence? How can you justify the harm that such a policy would cause, (and does cause in some areas of the country), all for the sake of defining sex solely by the shape of genitalia?

Hopefully, it's not a movement to "not be transgender" so much as one to acknowledge the different people we are. Which does not have to lead to division if we keep our intent to work together. If anything, alliance makes us more conscious of a need to reciprocate when needed.

Would we have to be so unified that we're one-name and one-minded peoples in order to work toward change? I know that's not what you're saying... more like being pushed in that direction (sort of) and finding it useful, but that's probably a bad paraphrase.

An allied community would still inevitably need a name, and that too will probably need to be an evolution of language. I have found "trans" to be useful for issues that overlap, bridging from old terminology to new without much confusion, and without imposing a definition on people that assumes our collective issues are specifically about gender, about sexuality or about physical sex.

I know there's no perfect solution. That said, you've raised some excellent points to consider. And I also owe you a thanks for helping me clarify some things in my own head as this was being written.

Jillian I'm ready and willing to join you or anyone who is serious about starting a separate Transsexual movement likewise I agree it's badly needed. I feel It's wrong to lump HBS Transsexuals who have gone through extremely long and argues transitional journeys in with your common garden variety cross dresser or transvestite under a transgender umbrella. It's and Insult to Transsexual people and to the self validating journey they have taken.

I happen to agree that Birth Certificates shouldn't be change for non-ops or pre-ops. I don't think that Individuals who can't have surgery because of health Issues should be considered either, here's why . The total numbers of diagnosis Transsexuals is small. The number of Transsexuals who can't have surgery due to health even smaller, if you start making allowances for Transsexuals to have surgery because of health your soon going to have the transgender community try to ride that gravy train and yelling not fair not fair.

I also don't think cost of surgery should be considered at ALL as an excuse for changing a birth certificate. WE all knew transition was going to be expensive from the beginning, it's not like these cost caught anyone off guard everyone knows what it cost to get through transition, besides I feel surgery is an important step in transition maybe the MOST important steep as it is the surgery that removes the dysphoria, IT IS THE CURE. The crux of Gender Dysphoria is that one is dysphoric about ones body and and in particular the genitals, so how can anyone who claims to be be gender dysphoric and says they have the gender Identity of the opposite gender say that anything short of surgery is truly going to remove their dysphoria ? They can't. True transsexuals are "Driven" to get surgery some how some way. I also think that the T should be removed from LGB, it has nothing in common with orientation and has lost its true meaning haven been co-oped by the Transgender Inc. The "T" originally stood for Transsexual but just like they co-oped the gender Identity diagnosis they co-oped the T all for their own political gain, so yes Remove it.

Lastly let me say while we're discussing terms that in my opinion the term Gender Identity" ONLY covers GID/GI diagnosis Individuals while "Gender Expression" covers anyone wanting to dress in a manor opposite their birth gender who lacks a diagnosis. As a Transsexual women of history and someone who's very comfortable with the binary and whom has blended back into society exceptionally well I would NOT want to share a restroom with a Transgender person, to me I'm sorry I don't see them as women since they lack the diagnosis in my opinion they have no bonafides. We have only their word that they have this medical condition known as gender Identity and I'm sorry I need a little more than that. If Gender Identified transsexuals are ever be taken seriously in the houses or power We must separate ourself from those who would proceed down transitions path without a diagnosis and whom choose to go around the SOC, for in my opinion they dilute the validity of the diagnosis and give people the conception that transition is a lifestyle choice...it isn't. That is whats happened with the restroom issue and with ENDA the right has jumped on these issue because those that are most vocal the transgender community are the ones who for the most part have for go the SOC and the process of getting a diagnosis but still want to claim they are gender Identity dysphoric.. hog wash ! If we we're talking a medically diagnosis Transsexual and bathroom issue the ring wing religious nuts wouldn't have a foot to stand on as NO politician is going to vote against someone who has a documented medical condition and thats for sure.

"besides I feel surgery is an important step in transition maybe the MOST important steep as it is the surgery that removes the dysphoria, IT IS THE CURE"

If that was the case for you, fine. It is, empirically, not the case for everyone who transitions. Why should your experience be the definitive one? Because it's the one most sanctioned by the PATRIARCHAL, ANTI-FEMINIST medical establishment? (Really, I could ask that question in response to any of your posts.)

"True transsexuals are "Driven" to get surgery some how some way."

You're sounding here like the folks who want to eliminate welfare. Truly driven folks will get money somehow, and the ones who can't find a good job are just lazy. That's the narrative. It's false, of course, and, more than that, it was purposefully crafted by the haves to keep the have-nots down. You're just making a more specific form of that argument.

"If we we're talking a medically diagnosis Transsexual and bathroom issue the ring wing religious nuts wouldn't have a foot to stand on as NO politician is going to vote against someone who has a documented medical condition and thats for sure."

Yeah, just keep telling yourself that.

Woo, how many times have I had another hole torn in me for expressing my views on this? Good on ya for tackling the subject. This article is clear, well thought out, and very fair to both sides.

I was taught this definition of "transgender" when I first hopped into the community: One who has identified themselves with a gender marker other than the one they were assigned at birth. (No, that doesn't assume that you can only identify as one gender either.) I've found the definition to be simple and pretty inoffensive. I still get screamed at for calling people who started with an M and now have an F on their driver's license "transgender." I could never figure out why.

Erasing past identities, I think, is one reason. If someone perceives themselves as "finished" transition and no longer wishes to be called "trans" anything, okay. I have to treat that on a case-by-case basis (based on what they ask me to call them) because it is absolutely none of my business what's in someone's pants and I tend not to think about it.

And me? Where do I fit in all of this? I'm an FtM transsexual, strictly speaking. I don't really feel the need to tell you which bits have been chopped off/added/removed. I call myself "transgendered." Why? I like the term. I like it because it puts an emphasis on the identity that exists in my head. I think that's the most important part of a person, really. The human body has so many shapes, variation, individual eccentricities that who you are in your mind is the only thing that really matters to me.

I don't like having to explain my body to people who don't specifically need to know. My wife and I have jokingly created a club called the "Get Your Mind Off My Crotch Project." As funny as it sounds, it goes a long way towards explaining how I feel about the term "transgender."

In terms of an alliance, I think it's a good idea as long as we're throwing no one under the bus. Is there an umbrella? Should there be an umbrella? Should transsexuals stand under that umbrella? Well, if you have a look at various legislation aiming at protecting transgendered people, they also protect transsexuals. I think it's a good idea to make laws that protect the greatest number of people. While I respect the eternal human struggle to defy definition, to resist the boxes society tries to put us in, I also recognize that law requires language. Specific language. So, you can see why, in the interest of providing recognition and protection for the greatest number of people, I use "transgender." I see it not as a slur, but an expression of solidarity. I've never seen someone get so angry at another person for saying: "I've got your back. I won't desert you. We're in this together."

So, yes, I have various reasons for wanting to steer people's minds away from genitalia, specifically mine. One, because I just don't want them thinking about it. It's creepy if I'm not attracted to them. Two, because I don't like being judged by it. I've run into this problem a lot with this argument. I think it's important, as the author said, to determine the legitimacy of a person based on their merits and convictions, their sense of self, rather than whether or not they've gone under the knife, or had hormone therapy. It's not cool to pressure other people into surgery just to gain recognition.

That's sort of how I've come to see this whole separatist argument. It's like haggling for human rights. "Oh okay, you won't give us all the right to identify how we will without persecution ... you sure you won't budge on that? Okay, well how about just this group of us?" That's not a good idea. I don't even have to explain why that's not a good idea.

I've actually had fellow transsexuals tell me that I can't call myself "transgendered," how that I've had The Operation. Or that I "can" but they "don't see why you would as it's inaccurate." Okay then. I've also had fellow transfolk, and even some healthcare providers tell me that once I've had my final Operation, I'll no longer be "transgendered," I'll just be a man. I tell you what: I understand that some people have had a traumatic enough childhood that they cannot go on with their lives unless they block it from memory. I know. I've done it. A good chunk of it is still blank. I'm working on it. That said, I honour my past experiences and all that they've taught me. I will always identify as transgendered. Someone who started off being called one thing, and decided to call himself another.

So we can't agree on a definition? This is not unusual. I graduated uni as a linguist. Couldn't even get all my professors to agree on accepted terminology and concepts. Important? No. (Well, yeah but only on my exam scores.) Linguists are protected under the laws that protect (or are supposed to) everyone. Trans-people aren't. This is what I focus on.

Thank you, Mercedes for a wonderfully cogent and sensitive article. You have sparked a marvelous discussion, thought provoking, respectful (for the most part) and intelligent. As you stated, we all must learn to listen. This issue will not be settled by tomorrow but if we learn to listen to each other, we may come to some place of peace with each other and influence in our terribly confused world.

What a thoughtful article, Mercedes. I'm glad to see that it's sparked a good discussion instead of the usual flamewars. From now on, when this debate breaks out, I'm just going to steer folks to this thread to continue the discussion and keep other posts' comment threads on topic. :)

There are transsexual women or men who wish only to be known as women or men. There are a few - a very few - transsexual women who have no wish to be "forced" into an umbrella term like "transgendered". And there are some transsexual women who have no wish to be included under the rainbow at all.

I can't see anyone being forced into anything here at all. How one self-identifies is a personal decision and always should be so. Courtesy demands that others accept this personal decsion and use appropriate pronouns. However, when it comes to joint political and perhaps social causes grouping facilitates cooiperative action. As but one example in politics, "Right" covers many who would not sit at a common table; "left" includes many who would and have fight each other at the drop of a hat. "Black" includes many shades, "Brown" includes many variables, just as "White" covers many ethnic origins. We do this type of grouping all the time. It is not an issue of being "forced" at all.

We are not alone in this world. Out there, not too far and always just around the corner, is the world of "others", the so-called "normal people. They care little about the fine line distinctions between transvestite and cross dresser or even the broader lines between transsexual (pre-, post-, true, HS, AG, Primary, Secondary, and more) and "all the others". In fact, one need not even go any distance or around the corner, for the rest of the GLB types don't generally give a damn either.

My own observation is that those who argue against use of an "umbrella" term noramlly do so out of some sense of status, of needing to create and "us" and "them" where "us" is always a little bit better than "them". In this instance, the only real need for distinction comes from law and the need for changes in birth certificates and other identification.

Leaving aside its historic origins, is use of such term as an umbrella designation useful? I suggest it is. For those who wish to seek group action for rights and equality in common with the GLB group, it makes them part of the rainbow without causing the rainbow to add endless initials to satisfy each and every self-identified group. It is a short form acknowledgement for cooperative political action. As to the great unwashed, it lets them know that there are others out there, neither Gay, Lesbian or Bi-Sexual, who also face discrimination.

Those grouped under the umbrella term can further segregate themselves as they wish and have always done so. Or they can cross over to the other side into the "normal" world and leave the whole arguement behind, only to find that the normal world has similar word problems into which they are "forced".

I am a woman, a transsexual, and a transgendered person. Each is true, according to normal usage and none are "forced" upon me. I am also a great many other things - politically, relgiously, culturally, ethnically, and more. Some I might like and demand, others I might not and perhaps resent. But in the end, I am me and no mere label can change that...

Willow...you encapsulated so well what I have been fervently advocating for some time now--> immediate cessation of the civil war that is threatening to be a fatal diversion to the task at hand: civil rights.

Because of the extreme vitriol often exhibited that replaces a civil constructive dialogue so necessary to reach some kind of compromise, my first instinct is to suspect sabotage by transphobic persons masquerading as trans females or males. The end result of combative argument is an escalation..a conflict..battle lines being drawn...a declaration of war which is what has been the case between the transgender camp and the transsexual camp. This is where we find ourselves today---mired in the mud that is threatening to solidify and entrap us.

This is why those of us who are willing to compromise for the good of all by constructively debating the issues must come to the rescue as Mercedes and everyone here so beautifully and refreshingly has! The best and brightest are really glistening in the sun! I am elated!

In closing, I wish to address what threatens our struggle for civil rights---it is ourselves. This clear and present internecine fight must cease...for me this fragmentation began long ago...when "gay" became "gay and lesbian"...followed by bisexual...in turn followed by lumping together sexuality and gender by the LGBT alliance. This tells me that we didn't benefit from competent and qualified leadership or that there was another sense of urgency for creating the LGBT "umbrella".

At this point it is would be more valuable to simply call ourselves "do-do heads" rather than all the consonants that threaten to make the umbrella even larger. Part of the problem with the "public's" perception of a gender transition is their erroneous assumption that sexuality has anything to do with it. Sexuality has to do with one thing: sexuality. Gender has to do with one thing: gender. Mixing the two results in the byproduct we know as "confusion". Surgery relating to our privates is not sexual anything--it is about "sex" only insofar as it is synonymous with reproductive organs commonly associated with gender. Until we remove ourselves from under the LGBT umbrella, this public perception will never end.

A big problem with the whole TS people are not TG concept is that it's a demonstrably fallacious idea. Many of us know that NGLTF published the largest American trans study ever with around 6,500 respondents. Care to guess how many self-identified with the term "transgender"? 90%. Yup; as in almost everyone but a small minority.

Also, I've not yet yet seen the TS not TG movement address a double standard I regularly see:

The TS-not-TG group will regularly group TS and IS people together when talking about themselves because being grouped together with other types of trans folk is offensive to them.

However, the TS-not-TG group seems to have a blind-spot when it comes to acknowledging that in many regions of America, intersex people are offended when they are grouped with transsexual people.

So, it's not okay to not be grouped with other types of trans folk because they very idea is too offensive to contemplate, but it doesn't matter that grouping themselves with IS people is offensive to some IS people. That's a double standard.

I've also noticed that a majority of these folk really feel that they were grouped with other types of trans folk sometime in the 1990s. Perhaps where they come from, this is absolutely true. However, it's demonstrably incorrect to make that claim for all of America. In Houston, Texas (for example) our community purposefully began working to create one community that encompassed all types of trans people in the mid 1970s.

Another thing that irks me is the demonstrably false notion that if we are grouped together, transsexuals won't get their civil rights. If that's so, why then is it that in Houston (Bush-land) TEXAS, a deep-south RED State we have...

- We have Houston City Council members sponsoring a TRANSGENDER events

- The TRANSGENDER community supported the mayor of Houston - an out
lesbian - into politics.

- We have the 2nd openly TRANSGENDER judge in the nation

- Houston is home to the only TRANSGENDER Center and Archive in the nation

- Houston enjoys a Executive Order protecting TRANSGENDER people from discrimination.

- The County Sheriff, Houston Mayor, a number of elected Judges and most of Houston city council always attends and supports any event our TRANSGENDER community puts on.

We did all of that in one of the Reddest states in the Union by becoming one cohesive an active community back in 1975 when HPD could and would get away with literally murdering people like us.

It's simply a demonstrably false idea that presenting a united trans community somehow slows the march towards transsexual civil rights.

Lastly, I want to point out that regardless of what definition one chooses to confer upon the term "transgender", according to the English language, transsexuals are transgender. Look up the word in an English language dictionary. Just because Bilerico uses a word in a manner consistent with the English language and in a way that the majority of the population in question would agree and self-identity with, it's (IMHO) unreasonable for a TS-not-TG person go around claiming that they've been somehow wronged (especially given their double standard and some of their demonstrably false ideology).

At PHB, I wrote a piece called "What part of transgender do we not understand?"....the transsexual minority who advocates disassociation with all things transgender was incensed...but it was factual.

If being transsexual is based solely on the "swapping of private parts", without a gender transition as part of the whole package, then a MtF person would still appear as male...until he disrobed.

So I ask again...what part of transgender are we failing to understand?

darksidecat | June 2, 2011 5:41 PM

I disagree with you somewhat. I do not disagree with the point about some TS ided people playing a "we do not want to be grouped with you freaks"/dismissal of identities of others is a problem. However, I think that the right to self identify is important and someone can think a term does not fit them or feel right for them to self identify themself with and still not be hateful to those that do use that identity. For example, I am a genderqueer bisexual who does not identify as a lesbian and who in the past has gently corrected people who used that term to identify me. That does not mean that I have a problem with lesbians, it just means that the boundaries and feelings I have around the term do not make me feel like it identifies me. I do not have a problem with a TS person who feels like the TG term does not fit them personally, my problem is with people who think that certain surgeries, diagnosis, hormones, presentations, histories identities in or the binary, or lack thereof of any of those mean that their self identities are superior and their civil rights are the only ones that count-dismissing the group they see themselves as not a part of as having invalid genders, bodies, and being undeserving of rights. Advocating throwing certain people's identities and rights under the bus under the auspices that you think that cis heteros will find you more easier to swallow if you are not associated with us "freaks" is hateful.

So this "I identify as transsexual, but not as transgender, please use the former term to identify me" is fine with me, but "you freaks/fakes do not deserve public accomadations, medical care, respect, etc." is not. It's not the words a person does and does not use for themselves, it is what they believe about the identities of others that can be a problem.

Interesting thread Mercedes. Words often get in the way of communication. Take umbrella for example. I could never quite get my mind around the visual. Is it that many different people need to cluster under some shield to protect them when society at large decides to take a dump on civility towards certain disparate segments of people? I am human and share many traits with other humans yet I am unique just as you and everyone else is also unique.

I was traveling with a friend on the way to a sociology class some time back and she made a comment about how interesting it would be because there were to be crossdressers, transsexuals, spouses and other various people on the panel in an open discussion format. I made the comment that I wasn't sure society was ready to fully accept freaks. She said "so now I'm a freak". I laughed and said sure and I'm a ditz. It was a fun moment and yes we are still friends.

Since then I have had a lot of fun with the word because everyone, me included, is some kind of freak to someone else. I've played the acronym game with the word and decided that freaks means "For Respect Every Alternative Known to Society". Freaks is not an umbrella term, it is simple reality. Peter LaBarbara is a freak and so is every member of Congress. I don't know of anyone who is not a freak.

Many of you may think I'm just being silly but I challenge each of you to say these words .. "I am a freak". Put a little pride in it because you are unique. Tell your congress critter that she or he is a freak and ask them if freaks should be denied human rights. Organize a parade and ask your hetero-normative friends to march with you because they are all freaks also. We can create FU (Freaks United) badges and banners. Jimmy Buffett can write us a new song. The possibilities are truly endless.

So yes, I am not like you. I wouldn't have it any other way. Freaks don't need an umbrella. They just need to stand proud and be themselves.

Fantastic article Mercedes and this is a great template for people to begin to discuss the issues. It may not solve anything but it sure will get people talking and that's a great first step. Kudos to you!

Gaytorguy | June 2, 2011 12:02 PM

I think, one of the main problems with umbrella terms is our community (LGBTQAI) equating an umbrella term with the umbrella terminology used by those outside our community. Basically, the straight and un-informed community.
How often, even in these days, if you say you are gay or lesbian, does the question of who is the wife and who is the husband, or who is the man and who is the woman, come up in the uninformed?
I live in a university town with a younger population during terms, but a basically educated populace. And still that question arises more often than not.
So, with that in mind and with years of such questions being asked by illiterati, we find the umbrella term to be mutated to an almost derogatory terminology by the majority. (I will say majority here, but my thought is there are a lot mor bi than str8, but that is for another time.)
I have used the term "trans"to cover the entire spectrum of this section of our community. But to be honest. When I meet members of the "trans"community, I ask them what term would they like to use to describe themselves. Funny, but they mostly seem to use the same terms we use; transvestite, trans-sexual/transgendered, et al.
It almost seems like there should be a convention of members of this group in our community to come up with the terms they wish to use universally, and if needed, an umbrella term.
Consider when I was a teen, the term was homosexual, or homo, or queer. The came gay. Now, I hear college kids using the term queer again. Terminology, like words, is always in a state of flux. Sick used to mean sick or ill or something disgusting. Now it means good, cool, etc.
I loved reading the article and found it thoughtful, though-provoking and insightful. But the chips will fly as every generation takes offense or like to terms used in the past and present.
Like the pink triangle, like the yellow star in Hitler's camps. A derogatory term/symbol becomes a favored symbol. Sometime, the terms will gel, especially when the APAs decide on their terminology.

I see a problem in that you only mention Virginia Prince and don't even mention the real villain in all this Leslie Feinberg. I wrote a brief history about the use of the word transgender in a complaint I wrote here is part of that letter:
In 1992 Leslie Feinberg wrote a pamphlet called Transgender Liberation: A Movement whose time has come. It was Later expanded into two books called Transgender Warriors 1997 and Trans Liberation Beyond Pink and Blue 1999. Feinberg reused the word to form a political alliance for those associated with the gay community and that fell into by her description Gender Variant people who do not fit into the societal norms of men and women and suffer politically for it. Again most transsexuals are trying to fit into the societal norms of men and women so it only makes sense that this usage would be offensive and separates them from what they are trying to do which is to find comfort in their body and fit in. Feinberg’s definition of the word includes- Crossdressers, Transgenders, transvestites, transsexuals, androgynes, butch lesbians, effeminate gay men, drag queens, people who would prefer the use of new pronouns or none at all, non stereotypical heterosexual men and women, the intersexed, members of non- Western European native indigenous tribes who claim such identies as Berdache and Two Spirit (native American), Brazilian Travesti, Indian Hirja’s, Polynesian mahu, Omani xanith, African female husbands, and Balkan sworn virgins. If not for the marginalized status of such a large and diverse population I believe there is one obvious question that hasn’t been asked why was she and the Lesbian, Gay and bisexual community allowed to basically not only rob so many people of their identity but also to rob them of their rights of political and social association? Leslie Feinberg is an admitted Marxist.
After reading that hopefully you can get an idea that the real bullies in all this are the ones that adopted Leslie Feinberg's recoining of the word transgender. While I'm not exactly happy with Virginia Prince's use of the word Leslie Feinberg stole it and used it to force a whole bunch of people into the LGBT.I believe colleges, the LGBT and medical communities that have adopted this word and continued to promote with it it's forced inclusion into the LGBT are unethical have probably engaged in illegal activity and should be held accountable for it. There can be no more forced groupings or forced associations, or anymore of the we out number you so you must bow to us attitude. No group should ever be allowed to claim sole control over a bunch of people especially the LGBT when with little thought it is easy to see the vast majority of those people are heterosexual just like Virginia Prince was.Yes she lived like a woman but she was a heterosexual male by her own description.There can be no more tolerance for bullies claiming to be leaders or the moral high ground. Even more so those who are leaders of trans that are associate with the LGBT be advised your being put on notice you no longer get to control the message you no longer get to force people into your control your done its over get a life. For those leaders that understand that and haven't forced an association think outside your box and think outside the LGBT that's where the real strength and the real numbers are.

You wrote:
"I think it is important to respect the broad human diversity that exists among gender diverse communities; none of us has the right to erase the identities and medical needs of others who are different than ourselves."

This is exactly true. And most people who envisioned an umbrella probably never intended for it to cause erasure. But it's from seeing the inevitability that some are erased or that conflicting needs resulted in an imposition of will that forced me to rethink how we're building and approaching our communities.

Don't get me wrong -- I'm not going to get upset at anyone who refers to me as "transgender" either, or rush to correct everyone as though it should be the single most important piece of information we divulge about being trans in any way. It's just not the word I commonly use anymore, partly because it has accumulated baggage and partly because I've realized where it has made us overlook some of that diversity and distinctiveness that I think we need to be continually conscious of.

In the UK, we largely overcame these tiresome squabbles over the term "transgender". I myself was on the "no to transgender" side of the debate in a rather vehement way.

We overcame it by coining the term "trans". Not transsexual, not transgender, not transvestite, not transanything. Just "trans". It removes the issue of historical pejorative origins. It removes the semantic arguments. It's easier to say. It's more versatile to use without the grammatical arguments and misuses.

Broadly speaking, it refers to anybody with lived experience of either crossing the gender binary, living outside of it, or having had a gender assigned at birth that didn't match up to who they are now.

More specifically than that, people either identify by it, or they don't... there's no great effort to decide who falls under the trans 'umbrella', there are few objections to the use of the term, and people identify by it in their own particular way.

Problem solved. In the UK at least. It's actually unified us to a greater extent than ever as a body of people, without all the hassle. How about you Americans? Does it work for you?

Problem solved. In the UK at least. It's actually unified us to a greater extent than ever as a body of people, without all the hassle. How about you Americans? Does it work for you?

No, not really.

The differences are not so much over words, but ideological approaches. For some, nothing more than only acknowledging the validity of binary trans people is acceptable, and opposition to "transgender" is often mired in this. I have received vicious personal attacks of many kinds for saying that surgery is not necessary for sex or gender, that there is no mystical value in - say - having a vulva that makes a trans woman who's had genital surgery more legitimate, more real, and more worthy of being called "woman" or "female," and being allowed access to restrooms and locker rooms to the exclusion of those who have not had surgery.

And this is why I have labeled as part of the hated "transgender opposition" by some. Because I have a perspective rooted firmly in self-determination and do not believe that anyone else has the right to define others like this.

Also, I find that my acceptance of people with non-binary genders (and sexes) tends to draw fire as well.

I don't just mean me, but these are personal attacks I have experienced.

Yes Bill! I subscribe to Google email "push" which scours the 'net for all things relating to gender transition. Thus I was led to this site. There are countless sites that tackle this debate and yet this article has been so well presented that Mercedes has achieved preeminence. Although I am "schooled" by vocation in the art of combat, such schooling specializes in self defense. Flaming wars effectively hijack the topic at hand, placing everyone into a "combat" posture, to everyone's detriment.

You may not realize it but saying that you are "going to steer folks to this thread" provoked me to say "AMEN!!"...and second "your motion". For me, your statement has the potential to have lasting positive impact in that our community so desperately needs a gender transition "HQ". Decentralization works for some, and at some point might work for us...but right now CRITICAL NEED #1 is to firmly establish "GROUND ZERO" for purposes of civilized discussion to sort out "what our name" really is. Our march toward civil rights has come to a dead stop with this issue---we are all losing. Whichever we choose, let no one deceive him or herself...choose we must---and soon.

I am beyond impressed with Dr Julian Weiss...it is more than an honor to be even part of any discussion that includes as participants someone of her professional standing and someone with the unique ability to articulate like Mercedes.

I close with the following: movements require at minimum one person to begin. It then develops momentum as two join together followed by three then four. No one should doubt that we need to get moving again...not as a fragmented group but with focus.

I pose a challenge to all...we have heard all of the arguments for/against our two "names". It is now time to poll the jury and reach a decision...transgender or transsexual. Although I think we need a "do-over", Dr. Weiss has impressed upon me the imminent need to stay with what is mostly working and move on---time is in short supply. It is time to close the debate and choose. I choose TRANSGENDER. There are many instances where a "negative" label has ceased to be such with time. In the end, the sum total of who we are will redefine our name---for good or ill. I also choose to make Bilerico.com as "ground zero" for this debate and all future debates that we shall face---without an "HQ", we will never have a commander or structure so critical to marching forward.

In the end, names and places do matter, but not as much as naming a name and selecting a place. Only after establishing this secure beachhead will we make progress "inland".

It's not either/or. See my post, just above yours.

The last time I saw a reference to that Australian report as identifying "23 genders" it was in an article by a Catholic deacon who was critical of trans-anything.

Here is an excerpt from my reply to Deacon Fournier, found at my blog at:

http://trans-cendence.blogspot.com/2011/04/e-pur-si-muove-response-to-keith.html

After quoting from the Reuters article, including a quote from me, he still does not have a clue, despite the words pointing him in the right direction for inquiry.

The next thing, Deacon Fournier starts some gibberish about the Australian Human Rights Commission recognizing “23 genders.” The ignorant article he first refers to cites to the Australian document – which does not identify 23 genders at all, but rather 23 terms for various gender identities on the spectrum of transgender identity that is in the gray area at the edge of the artificial binary that Western society imposes on the physiological sexual diversity in the nature of human beings. Those who accept the binary of sex as some strict “male and female” construct will shrug off those who don’t quite fit into their arbitrary definitions as abnormal, as “freakazoids,” or as delusional.

For Deacon Fournier’s edification, my best guess as to what “neutroi” might mean, is perhaps a weakly bigender identity that is the gender identity equivalent of asexuality. But that is not itself a “gender” if by gender Fournier means “sex assignment.”

Fournier is confused by all this, and he is in turn confusing apples with oranges – it is as if he is saying that some school board is no longer dealing with students as “boys” and “girls” but as” jocks, brainiacs, nerds, geeks, cheerleaders, skaters, outcasts, preppies, artsies, druggies, goths, gangstas, punks, rednecks, queers, etc.”

I am not suggesting that Mercedes is confused as I did with Deacon Fournier - but I do think a reference to the original document would clear up any issue as to what was being described - not 23 different "genders" but 23 different identity terms.

The actual Australian report is here:

http://www.hreoc.gov.au/human_rights/lgbti/lgbticonsult/discussion_paper.html

and here is the relevant excerpt (with added emphasis being mine):

The phrase sex and/or gender identity is used in this paper as a broad term to refer to diverse sex and/or gender identities and expressions. It includes being transgender, trans, transsexual and intersex. It also includes being androgynous, agender, a cross dresser, a drag king, a drag queen, genderfluid, genderqueer, intergender, neutrois, pansexual, pan-gendered, a third gender, and a third sex. It also includes culturally specific terms, such as sistergirl and brotherboy, which are used by some Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

The Commission occasionally uses the phrase ‘gender identity’ in this paper because most of the existing state and territory laws use terminology related to gender.

On reviewing that, it's not really a finding of "23 genders" as misstated by Fournier and by his intermediate source, but of 23 terms used by various ethnic and other groups to describe gender identities that might well have significant overlap phenomenologically.

The use of different identity terminology in different sectors of the trans community derives from the use of different definitional assumptions as to what the various terms "transgender" and "transsexual" mean. There is not going to be any resolution of the definitional differences - this is a discussion that has been going on for at least a decade if not longer, and there is really no resolution in sight.

The mainstream media generally uses the term "transgender" to mean "transsexual," though I have seen instances where either term has been used to describe anyone who is gender variant regardless of identity. My suggested resolution is to suggest that the media use the individual's preferred terminology, even if it requires an explanation so as to not confuse the readers.

Thanks for clarifying that. I've run across more "23 genders" rhetoric than fact and not had the time to dig deeper. Something about it smelled like the X number of "sexual orientations" trope that the far right (borrowing from the DSM) used to oppose ENDA, awhile back.

Mercedes,
Excellent post. I agree with what Jessica Max Stien said. This is my 7th try at a comment.

Oh God! The comments about her post! I am going home to cry myself to sleep. So much masculine gender expression viewpoint from feminine gender identity. I have not felt so belittled since the 10th grade, 38 years ago. I thought I was helping transsexual people, me, a mostly male gender identity mostly feminine gender expression, birth sex male person. I'm sorry I thought I had even the slightest connection with the transsexual community.

Um, crying yourself to sleep and feeling ejected are so not the responses I was aiming for. But differences don't have to mean disconnectedness.

mikeymikem | June 2, 2011 11:24 PM

I hope you continue to write more thought provoking articles like this one, I learned a lot, as a bisexual male it did include messages pertaining to relationships I've had in the past. (And the article didn't contain attacks on bisexual males, so that is nice).

Tall Stacey | June 2, 2011 11:46 PM

I would be remiss if I did not begin my comments with compliments. Mercedes, congratulations on a well thought and beautifully presented piece. Thank you. And thank you for stimulating such interesting discourse. To those who have commented, thank you all for an intellectual and respectful discussion.

As an old broad, I remember when Christine Jorgensen was the first of our kind. We were all just Queers back then. We were indeed one big family fighting the common issues of exploitation and persecution by the straight establishment. Then came the segregations of gay and lesbian identifiers, and Bi, and then the T umbrella, and the beginnings of the political pursuit of equity and justice as a common cause. And shortly thereafter G and L threw T to the political wolves.

Once upon a time when I was still presenting as "him", a well-meaning relative gave me a tool for Christmas. It was one of those all-purpose things, a combination hammer, wrench and screwdrivers, pliers, shovel, hedge trimmer and pruning saw, none of which it did well. I smiled, handled it a moment, and thanked the giver for their kindness in remembering me. As a transsexual woman I've pretty much felt the same way about "transgender". Like so many things designed to encompass all, it does none of them well. Like that tool, I accepted it, and tucked it in the drawer to be used only when it was so inconsequential, or too problematic to go get the proper tool. And on all those occasions I regretted it.

Personally I wish we could all accept the theory of a gender continuum and agree that all people have a place upon that scale and that very few people inhabited any particular point, even in the “normal” ranges. I’m not much of a theologian but Psalms 139: 17-18 pretty well sums it up: “How precious to me are your designs, O God; how vast the sum of them! Were I to count, they would outnumber the sands; to finish, I would need eternity.”

As has been pointed out above, the infighting under the T umbrella has been divisive. We've spent so much time shooting each other in the foot that now all we can do is hop around on 1 foot. No wonder we are making no progress. Worse, we have alienated our often tenuous allies in both the Gay and Straight communities. As I have commented elsewhere, and as is noted above, our community must put away our differences and unite to the common cause or we will surely find ourselves under the equality bus again. This time it will be of our own doing.


In case you have not noticed, Ladies and Gentlemen, the same-sex marriage battle has already been won, and protections based on sexual orientation are next; it's all over but the shouting! Even the right wing concedes it. When that happens our only allies in the current fight will be gone. Look at the polls, there is overwhelming support for gay equality. Has anyone seen general support for T?

Also in case you have not noticed, the religious right is already ramping up their next battle with all manner of gender variants as their bogeyman. Today's children are being taught to be the Christian soldiers of the coming T war. Unless we can find a way to ride along on the orientation equality wave, we will find ourselves alone in a most difficult battle for survival. I suggest that we do everything we can to ensure that we ride that wave.

Whether we call ourselves transgender, or transition, or trans or them or anything else that begins with T really doesn't matter. GLBT is a recognized entity, what the T stands for is not. We need to capitalize on the identity that we have, get over our petty turf wars and semantics snubs and focus on the purpose of equality based in gender identity and/or expression. We need to unite ourselves and present ourselves as the respectable people we want to be recognized as. We need to unite with our G&L&B allies as equals. We need to be visible and vocal or we will not be recognized.

As Dee suggests I agree that we need an HQ, and with Bil’s permission, I would agree that Bilerico.com is a good a spot for a Ground Zero - it is clear that there are already a number of thinking people here, I would hope that leadership could come from it. The question is where do we go from here? How do we begin to unite the various organizations, factions and fractions? Time truly is of the essence Ladies and Gentlemen, it is sink or swim time.

Personally, I am in it for the long haul, I am not going back. I deserve equality.

As I read this, I see some good arguments on a number of issues. But one thing remains constant, the opening statements included the idea that we all agree to move to a common point that allows us to present our case from a position of unity.

The broader problem has two parts--first, our own individual AND SELFISH desire to have "MY" title accepted as the most important, thus furthering the splintering and adding to the marginalization and oppression of others that are "not like me".

The second part of the problem is deeper. Those who argue for special and distinct classifications, especially those who do so at the expense of "the other" fail to realize that EVERY ONE OF US who in some way, however small or great, transgress the gender normative binary faces the wrath of those who fear difference. That is not limited to trans folk. Most of the research into violence and discrimination against LGBTetc people is based on this one element--transgressing binary gender expectations in some way. From the Tom boy who does not want to wear a dress I high school to the man or woman who loves someone like themselves, to the person who is expected to live an act according to physical appendages instead of the dictates of their spirit, we all face coercion to fall back into line with the norm police. Because we are not acting like a “real” man or a “real” woman.

For a long time there has been an argument about how many more letters we add to our community centers, our organizations and our legislation. The answer is that we should simplify the acronym to one that encompasses all of us, ONE SINGLE TERM that covers the nature of the discrimination, rather than our own place in the gender and sexuality cloud. Addressing the issues of sexual orientation and gender identity when proposing legislation and educational materials is the core of the issue, so why not accept one of two titles: QUEER because of it's provocative nature and in your face attitude (I already hear the wailing and gnashing of teeth); or SOGI-pronounced “so-jee” (sexual orientation and gender identity) which is a functional title that clearly addresses the core of the issue. In either of these ALL of us yield up our pet titles and petty differences for the good of the cause and we ALL provide a united front. Maybe we would then have a chance of winning a decisive victory, because we are fighting the same battle against the real enemy.

Mercedes, thank you for a thoughtful and well-reasoned piece. I was expecting to hate it, because frankly, there's nothing I hate more than the 24/7 Definosphere discussion of who's who and what's what and who belongs where that tends to devolve into a circular firing squad. People stop listening and get back to real life.

I liked the fact that you point out there are other fissures in the "Transgender" edfice besides just post-op versus no-op. The pure economics of medical care, race and class, and the rising visibility and social integration of trans men are all factors as well the one that's the most inevitable in any social movement; age.

It's also good to remember that our humanity doesn't stop at whatever our demands for recognition of identity are. Being the only trans person at an art museum or in line for a hot dog is a soft guerrilla act; I'm all for the barricades, but being a confident and happy trans person in public erodes our "strangeness" like water on stone, one wave at a time.

Thanks for being an intelligent and honest voice of reason.

Thank you for a truly excellent and thought provoking article.

I describe myself as sex &/or gender diverse rather than any other label. It covers a myriad of meanings without specifying anything in particular.The problem with particular labels as I see it is that our language has fluidity in word meaning. What started out as one thing becomes another over time. New words come into being. I wonder how long the word gender has been around?

I see that this debate will continue for some time yet. I do wonder if we will ever find "common ground" on which agree. I hope so because I feel that until we do, we will continue to be marginalised by mainstream society.

I find this whole controversy stupid. Instead of educating people we're just going to junk the whole thing and start again? After we've already educated so many folks? Ridiculous. A big part of the problem here is this ME attitude so many in the community have. This has to change to a WE attitude. Get out of this transitiona tunnel vision you have and try to think globally.

We don't need new terminology, we need a new attitude.

Not to scrap everything, but to reassess our approach and refine it as obviously is needed.

Jay Kallio | June 3, 2011 4:14 PM

I have now read this comment thread for the third time and one cliche keep popping into my head; "Don't go to the hardware store for grapefruits".

My sense is that many people are looking to a mass movement (LGBTQ) for some personal affirmation and restitution that it will never provide, because mass movements are simply not constituted to provide such emotional succor, or specific services such as personalized medical treatments.

Mass movements, if we are lucky, may provide legislative change, codify rights, provide recourse for evidence based egregious wrongs, and that type of legal protection for the harmed. They are simply not constituted to provide affirmation of every facet of one's being or nuance of gender, and specifics such as the right to medical treatments are best decided by individual case evaluation between a patient and their doctor, not by legislative fiat. When people insist that either an "umbrella" or "alliance" provide recognition and a perfect mirror for their personal characteristics I am afraid they will never receive satisfaction, no matter how well intended and affirming that mass movement may be.

For personal affirmation of one's being go to friends and family one feels safe with, and reveal yourself, That's what friends are for. Movements cannot do that for people, no matter how much we wish they would. If people continually expect they will feel included and loved and affirmed by any movement they will be sorely disappointed, and end up bitter and resentful. There are no "grapefruits" to be found there. Only hardware.

I'm only looking to get "hardware" out of this movement. I will feel satisfied if it can deliver hardware.

I'm not going to split hairs about differences between umbrella and alliance, for me the basic, unavoidable difficulty is that of widely disparate people working in some form of coalition, which is always the most difficult of circumstances. The ultimate fact remains that in a democracy a tiny minority, such as "transsexuals", will never be able to attain rights and services because we are so very miniscule a minority. We don't have the votes. We need friends. MANY friends. So being identified with a larger group, such as the LGB+ movement, and straight allies, is our only means to gain life sustaining rights.

To ever have a successful movement and obtain trans rights first of all we need those allies, we need numbers, and then we need MOMENTUM as a group. Those are the raw facts in politics. Numbers plus momentum. Every win begets more wins. Success fires up more energy and success. Dividing us destroys both critically necessary elements. I do not see how dividing us down to transsexuals vs trangenders will further any cause.

If we are allied with a broader movement then every win for LGBTQ people, be it gay marriage, or DADT, will help give us momentum for further wins for trans rights. There are coattails.

And every movement for equal rights has been achieved through incremental (partial) winnings, never once has there been a total win of equality in one fell swoop. So every win is still a win, and it is a major error to insist on perfection. In this respect, perfection is the enemy of the good. Take what we can get, folks, that will lead to further wins. Forsaking a win in order to wait for everything at once is a demoralizing defeat, that kills further momentum, and retires the issue.

We can disagree on strategy and tactics at every point in this struggle, but even a cursory study of political movements shows the way to success. This can work, although it will be slow.

Get friends and loved ones to fulfill personal needs, suck it up and bear with a clumsy, often callous LGBTQ movement to get equal rights, insist that medical care is between a doctor and patient and go to an informed, trustworthy health care provider for transition related services. The fight to get insurance to cover these services is a separate fight, one we can only win with momentum and numbers.

Politics is a brutal blood sport, filled with apparent betrayals and losses at every step, so I fear that if people are looking for the tender mercies of personal affirmation of identity and personal preferences that they will be forever disappointed by the movement, and leave embittered. Those expectations are killers. All we have to offer in the movement is hardware, and I am very wary of offering more than that - it would be false advertising.

We Trans people do have friends, many of who are waiting for us to get it together enough with a name and consensus on goals so that they can be of help. For me that is more than enough incentive to put this conflict to rest and continue in the real struggle with the real enemies we face.

Eric Payne | June 3, 2011 7:08 PM

Very astute commentary, Jay.

This "mass movement" has been defined not by the individuals of the mass, but by the morals of those not a part of the mass. We've been lumped together and identified based, solely, on their viewpoint of sexual deviancy.

And let's be further specific: We've been lumped together and identified based, largely, on their viewpoint of sexual deviancy regarding how men, and in what type of act, have sex. Men who suck dick or get fucked in the ass are perverts and, obviously, really want to be women. Men who wear what society deems to be women-specific clothing really want to be women, even if they only have sex with women. Oh, and women who have sex with women are perverts, too... but it's only until the right dick comes along and, besides, it's fun to watch.

That's the "community." We were lumped together by the politics of exclusion. Everyone from Harry Hay to Barney Frank has attempted full inclusion when striving for political and legislative means to further our, supposedly, inalienable civil rights.

All have failed.

Look through the archives of any "community" blog. You'll see a schism between certain "sub communities" of the whole which can never be repaired. And the arguments continue, ad infinitum.

Jay it really sounds like you are giving a pass for all the shady deals made by LGB orgs that used the statistics of anti-trans (woman) violence and unemployment to pass laws that intentionally leave trans people out or vaguely covered under "sexual orientation".

You also don't seem to recognize the often ignored associated community to the trans community. The straight and bi men and women who date/love/hook-up with/fetishize trans people. My personal activism is to educate this population and to help bring them out of their own cowardice and shame. So that they can be full and equal partners in a movement that has real personal impact for them. Unlike out LGB "allies" these are folks who have a vested interest and benefit directly from supporting trans-specific legislation etc.

Here is a population who may be a minority (maybe), but has access to the economic and social power of the majority. Why are we not focusing on a group that WANTS to help us, but feels alienated by the larger LGBT movement? Why are we not reaching out to guys who only have porn to guide them, who could directly benefit from personal and larger social education? Why are we focusing on a group of people, that most trans people I know finds hardest to actually educate? What is the RoI for the greater LGBT umbrella vs. a focused movement that includes the cis people who love/ want to love us? (This shouldn't be mutually exclusive, but it seems to be)


Mercedes,
Thanks for a well written and well reasoned article on this subject. This debate needs more of that.

Ellyahnna | June 3, 2011 7:36 PM

I try to keep my reply short. I don't think that the trangender umbrella helps anyone. I mean I hate to single anyone out but that gives us no defense against our opponents when it comes down to legislation. The fear tactic of men in the women's restroom. I'm a transsexual woman and I hate being placed in the same group as a bearded man in a mini skirt. It's not the same. Again I'm not trying to single people out but it's a fact there is a difference.
I'm pre op soon to be post op. I don't have a hobby of cross dressing. I'm transitioning and dress according to my new sex. I have my identification changed. There's no switching back and forth. No sexual fetish. And I don't think any transsexual woman wants to be placed in that catagory. If there is the she is surely in the minority. I haven't met one yet. And I surely don't. No offense to anyone.

How many bearded men in miniskirts are there using the ladies' room? We're not helping anyone if we keep repeating panic rhetoric regarding something that in fact does not happen.

We also don't hear about pre-operative or non-operative transsexual women attacking people in the ladies' room. That argument is statistically unfounded.

While we're defining who we are, we have to be careful to avoid defining others. This isn't a case of "it's not us, it's them." It isn't any of us. One of the first things we can do is to stop feeding myths.

Death of the umbrella? If anything i think the umbrella needs broadening (and a rename)! Because at every single human/civil rights issue table that transsexuals sit at there will be Intersex and there will be Genderqueers and there will be Crossdressers etc. And often if one group fights solely for their facet of a human right issue they may trample on the rights of some of the others.

Like surgical requirements for chaging birth certificates may be fine for those transsexuals who can afford and are medically able to get and who need such surgery but not only may it trample on the rights of the transsexuals unable to get it (or often in the case of FtMs decide the surgery is not yet up to scratch) but such requirements often prevent Intersex people from fixing their birth certificates too!

Didn't people read Injustice At Every Turn? Cause regardless of peoples comments about Transsexuals being so different with different needs that studies findings found plenty of Crossdressers who intended to have surgery and who battled with suicide, the difference appeared to be in degree but still vastly higher than the cisgender cissexual average! So much for being intrinsically different unconnected groups without shared needs.

So if there is no real border of difference between the two how can there be a valid seperation? At every legislative battle, at every human rights table, there gonna be there anyway and they will have to work together or they will hypocritically trample on the rights of others.

So if we are connected and our issues are connected then what can we do to make it easier to discuss our issues without the constant nomenclature nonsense battles? How can we stop the constant jockeying for position of dominant meme, the battles for who gets to be the stereotype?

And after all it makes sense to be able to disscuss groups like CisGender Transsexual, TransGender Transsexual, Transgender CisSexual and CisGender CisSexual doesn't it? (Though Trans is listed in my oxford dictionary as not just accross but beyond, transcend)

In Australia the term S&GD has been used by the Australian Human Rights Commission, Sex and Gender Diversity. It's still an evolving term (some use ISGD counting Intersex not under Sex diversity but as a seperate letter, others suggest Intersex should not be included at all) and it's still controvertial but it does have plenty of advantages. It doesn't have a list of identities (which often end up listing in order of descending privilege, focus, resources, acceptance and with a wide number left off the end) and it includes diversity right there in the name so people can't as easilly missunderstand it as a single homogenised experience erasing all diversity.

At the end of any open-minded exploration there are overlaps in each category that require our acknowledgement. There are Crossdressers who want to and do transition with surgery and hormones, there are Transsexuals who don't want some of the surgeries, there are Bi-gender Crossdressers, Bi-Gender Transsexuals (yes they exist and i'm friends with several) and Bi-Gender Intersex and there are those who aren't Bi-Gender too. Every issue from the rights of kids to surgery to identity documents to marriage involves people in every group. If we diagramed it up it would be a series of massively overlapping circles resembling a flower where each group overlapped nearly every other group on each and every issue.

The problem is deeper than the name. It's umbrella thinking, as opposed to thinking in terms of alliances. It's a subtle distinction, but it's an important one.

The umbrella assumes that everybody needs to "get over here," we've got it all figured out and everyone needs to get with our program. Alliance assumes that we're working with people who are different, have different needs and need to respectfully find ways to find what's best for both.

Yes, there are overlaps -- that's one of the incentives to work as an alliance. But there are also conflicts (as outlined above), and thinking in terms of an umbrella community has caused us to overlook them.

But i'm not sure most people ever got to any sort of 'umbrella thinking'. Some have just replaced the word Transsexual for Transgender as a way to shed negative associations, meanwhile others have objected to Transgender for about the same reason (just non-binary-gender phobia instead of the homophobia) and so on and so forth with such type squabbles over who the word Transgender really applies to. I've seen the same rubbish arguments from bigoted crossdressers not wanting to be associated with transsexuals as vice versa, just with a gew variables in the algebra swapped over. Usually built around stereotypes of what crossdressers, transsexuals etc are rather than what many really are like.

And i think any conflicts between needs are surface-only. Get to the heart of the issue and the it's the same problem at the cause and there's the solution for everyone.

Conflict?: Intersex kids need protection from medical changes, Trans kids need allowance of them? No, dependants need their 'best interests' defined by maximum future choices when able to decide for themselves. Suddenly the trans kids get their hormone blockers and the intersex kids are spared the knife, and it fixes problems for many others too, from circumcision to the comatose.

Conflict?: Bi-Gender folk need sex-not-specified documents, binary-gender are harmed by being made into a 3rd sex? No, the problem here is sex markers on documentation in the first place, they have nearly no practical use but in policing the ban on same-sex marriage and causing hardship to visually/perceived non-binary people, so wherever possible be rid of them alltogether and allow easy change (with no surgical requirements and a voluntary sex-not-specified option protected by antidoscrimination law) for the rest.

Conflict?: Bathrooms. I wont even go into this as we all know it but the solution is easy again, make all bathrooms single-user disabled access unisex bathrooms. Suddenly all manner of vulnerable people are protected!

What we need isn't Alliance thinking, it's Holistic thinking. We need to look at the Whole of each problem, cut it down to the core and work together on that.

Conflict?: Intersex kids need protection from medical changes, Trans kids need allowance of them? No, dependants need their 'best interests' defined by maximum future choices when able to decide for themselves.

I am in agreement with this from mainly a trans perspective (I don't know where most intersex people are on this). But this is a resolved conflict, the kind that can happen when allied people sit down as equals and look at what can be done for all concerned.

No, the problem here is sex markers on documentation in the first place...

I actually agree with you that we don't need gender markers on ID. Having lobbied for this, I can tell you that our legislators are adamant that there be some authoritative documentation on what a person's birth sex is. It might be a decade or more before gender marker removal would even be looked at for birth certificates, although driver's licenses we might be able to realistically do. There is an insistence on policing some things using foundation documents, and I'm sure it will be especially worse in areas with restrictions on same-sex marriage. In the meantime, as in my reply to Lisa, because of policy-makers looking for an easy way out, there is a realistic risk of the debate being reframed for us.

the solution is easy again, make all bathrooms single-user disabled access unisex bathrooms.

I don't know about elsewhere, but in fiscally-charged Alberta, the cost of converting all washrooms would be a huge issue, akin to when we switched to the metric system or implemented a national sales tax where one hadn't previously existed. The poor "small business owner who can't afford it" (i.e. WalMart) will trump us, for certain. You can lobby for that if you want, but here, I think I can be more effective defending transsexuals' rights to use facilities appropriate to how they identify, while also encouraging the building of more single-stall washrooms for non-binary and disabled people, and parents with kids.

There is a point where we agree: that we need to come together. It's how we come together, and the terms of that agreement that have to be reassessed.

The easy fix for the cost of converting dangerous public amenities into safe ones is to start with changing the building rules for future buildings, then further down the track you do the same for renovations and within a fairly short time the problem is dealt with with minimal added cost.

I read most of the comments and didn't see what I am going to put forth here, but forgive me if I have missed it somewhere.

I think there is strength in an alliance or umbrella sort of relationship (with the larger blg community and within the t community) because what blg people are doing---though they might not identify it as such is crossing barriers around their sex and gender---and so everyone can be thought of as trans-something. The reason gay men are invalidated/harassed/shamed is because they are doing something with their sex or gender that other males (the majority) don't. This is not my primary reason for posting here, however.

I work with college students (in the US) and what I am starting to see and hear from them is "trans*" or, "trans star" when said aloud. I think this is great. The "*star" implies that there is more to the conversation or term and causes one to think more carefully about who and what is being discussed on a very individual level.

What is the consensus on this here? I'd love to hear feedback. I am happy to explain in more detail if need be however, since I'm in a bit of a rush, this can possibly get a conversation started. :)

Angela Brightfeather | June 3, 2011 10:47 PM

The term Transgender never was perfect, as ascribed to by it's inventor Virginia Prince. She also felt that it had been co-opted. How do I know this......she told me on two occasions. She confided to me on a trip between Syracuse, NY and Hamilton College where she had just finished speaking, that she felt the word Transgender did not suitably fit and asked me if I thought there might be a better term.
We talked about it all the way back to my house where she was staying, and that evening, we both admitted that it was "incomplete" and that it did not suitably act as a term that everyone could live with.

That was around 1986.

Virginia was a wordsmith of a person who went to the trouble of trying to come up with a word for an emerging community that she knew full well it needed. She would correct the imperfect use of words if they came from a college English professor or from anyone behind a lecturn at a conference, but she did not invent it to be divisive or to try and put people in convenient boxes. She knew it was going to be needed because she was one of the first of us to experience the "push back" from anti-Crossdressing forces early on who always asked the big question "who the hell are you anyway". It's not people like you or me that wanted the box to begin with, it was the politicians who refused us any freedoms, put us in jail under antiquated laws and turned the other way when we got fired or beat up in the streets that said we needed to explain who we were. It became very evident, very early on, that we needed to at least imitate a community with some numbers that might affect some changes. We needed to be recognized and that first recognition had to come from within the GLB community, which was the first to ask us "who the heck are you and why should we care about you?"

In fact....one of the biggest impediments to friendly legislation in the beginning, even in accepting places, was the language and how it would be stated and who would be considered. The CYA attitude of anti-Trans people was simply to first ask us "who are you and where does it officially say who you are, so we can put it in the legislation" and "what about the bathroom issue." The only thing that has changed in that argument so far is "who we are" and we can point to Webster and the word Transgender which is finally defined, although not to everyone's satisfaction. They would still be asking us what to use to describe us in ENDA if Transgender were not available to them and isn't it better that we tell them what to use than to let them decide for us? Would it have been better to have ENDA state that it protects gender diverse people or Transsexual, Crossdressers, etc, etc, and how far do you think that piece of legislation would have gone? The religious bigots would have had a ball with it, to say nothing of the media.

My point is that at least from 1986 until now, 25 years in total, no one has come up with a better word, group of words, terms or any language that could make sure that no one was left behind.

Transgender may never be crystal clear for everyone. But does it have to be to be used in legislation designed to protect all of us, and where is all the discomfort coming from? There was very little of it in 1986 and the word was heralded then and later as at least "acceptable". The cries of "not good enough" have grown since that time, not so much because it is a bad umbrella term, but because a growing minority formally under that umbrella, has matured and become more acceptable due their commitment to be who they feel they are or must be, and the growing number of people who have learned that changing one's sex isn't just a walk in the park and deserves at least the recognition of bucking the odds and making some kind of commitment instead of sitting on the fence and exercising the prerogative of expressing themselves in different genders at different times.

In turn, it is our enemies and those who would deny human rights to all of us who have seen our divisions and continue to seek to make them wider and more divisive under the umbrella. They use our own inability to accept each other's version of gender diversity, to make us marginalize each other, to their great satisfaction, and simply use the word "bathrooms" to make us foam at the mouth and fight with each other about who is what. One has to wonder how many times people like Barney Frank have retired to their office after a hearing on ENDA and thrown his hands in the air and asked why we don't even understand who we are or know how to define ourselves.

No one of us is perfect and no one word can be so perfect as to describe us all. But until someone can come up with another word that does not leave huge segments of the gender diverse community behind and at the mercy of those forces that have applied hatred and discrimination to all of us all these years.....I can live under the umbrella of the one imperfect word "Transgender" that allows us to at least imitate a political minority that needs meaningful legislation in order to help save people's lives.

We may be maturing in many ways and helping others to understand about gender diversity and accept the reality of it, but as long as we continue to seek to divide and marginalize each other, we will continue to run into that immovable wall.

I have a question for all of you. Considering what you know about the word Transgender and who uses it do you believe it is okay to hang that word on a child?

The words I got hung on me as a child were "fag", "pervert" and "deviant". I'd have been grateful to just be called "transgender".

Wolfgang E. B. Wolfgang E. B. | June 10, 2011 8:53 PM

"I have a question for all of you. Considering what you know about the word Transgender and who uses it do you believe it is okay to hang that word on a child?"

First, I need to state what I actually do know about the word and who uses it. "Transgender," as I understand it, is a term which applies to people whose gender identity and/or expression do not fully (or at all) align with their physical designation as either male or female at the time their birth. As to who uses the term: Most people, when referring to the above described group or individuals who seem to belong to that group.

I live in a small town in the midwest, surrounded by other small towns, and close to a couple of large towns. On the rare occasion that transsexuals are mentioned in area newspapers, "transgender" is almost always the term that is used. The reason is simple: These small town folks have a certain sensitivity to the word "sex" and all its derivatives. Most of them are embarrassed to say "sexual" in polite company. While I personally think it's a bit prudish, that's the way it is.

As far as "[hanging] that word on a child," I'm not sure any word should be hung on a child. Children should be free to explore their gender identity and sexuality in their own way, and ultimately come to their own conclusions about who and what they are.

I am so sick of people harping on this issue instead of attacking the real problems. This so-called debate, which is not really anything worthy of being labelled such, is not only counterproductive, it is completely IRRELEVANT, and articles like this only reify the nonsense.

The fact of the matter is that the label with which any particular person is most comfortable, or feels is a more accurate descriptor, has absolutely nothing at all to do with the reasons why we face discrimination.

The people who are at the heart of pushing this issue are people who want one thing, and one thing only: to reinforce the segregation of our society based upon form of genitalia, primarily because they live in constant fear other people. It has, contrary to what they would have you believe, absolutely nothing to do with critical thinking about the nature and origins of sex and gender, much less any sort of responsible treatment of the nature of rights or morality, in general.

There is no serious debate whatsoever about these issues when you join the ranks of those who are fighting the actual battle, which is the battle of the equal protection under the law of the inherent rights of all people, because the people who are actually working on getting the needed legislation passed already under stand that there are multiple categories that need to be protected, and those categories are listed in various ways that boil down to: Sex, Sexual Orientation, and ACTUAL OR PERCEIVED Gender or Gender Identity/Expression/Appearance/Behavior regardless of whether or not traditionally associated with sex assigned at birth, a fact which you can discover with about 30 minutes of using Google to read the actual laws.

Any person who argues against any part of that list is simply trying to oppress another group to advance their own agenda, and is not worthy of a critical response.

As for the subject of documentation changes, the scientific community is quite clearly coming to a consensus that the gender identities, if you will, of transsexual people are a natural outgrowth of their natural variation in human sexual differentiation, and that this is true and observable prior to any medical care being administered; therefore, we have a legal right to documentation changes regardless of surgical status. This is being done in a responsible manner by submitting to a legally binding process of documenting one's transition and having it corroborated by a medical practitioner, thanks to a lot of hard work by people who really understand the situation.

We never needed an "umbrella" term in the first place, because our language has an amazing capability...it allows us to use multiple words in a sentence. Use whatever term you like to define yourself, I don't care, we'll just add it on to the end of the list. What I do care about is when you think you have the right to use that label as a bludgeon against the rights of other people, especially when the labels themselves carry multiple definitions depending on the context. The label you choose doesn't change the fact that we are discriminated against because of the perceptions of others who seek to discriminate rather than because of any debating we do here about the topic, and ignoring this is akin to shutting your eyes and yelling, "I can't see you!" or putting your fingers in your ears and yelling, "I cant hear you!"

Unfortunately, there is wide misunderstanding about the nature of sex and gender, in the first place, thanks to the manipulations of the identity politics crowd, notably the queer theorists and feminists, and this is the root of the confusion, especially the flawed concepts that gender is nothing but a construction of sociology (it is in fact not, but an evolutionary adaptation that enhances one's fitness or availability for reproduction that is based in sexual biology, even if it is mostly sociological in nature) and that sex cannot be changed in any meaningful manner (the fact that limitations exist in our medical technology is no reason to consider from a legal standpoint that when the primary and secondary sexual characteristics are irreversibly altered that we have not "changed sex").

There is also widespread misunderstanding about the nature of transsexuality and transition, because that information is so heavily manipulated by religious, academic, medical, and psychological influences who possess a vested interest in the control of the presentation of that information, and because those same people are responsible for silencing the voices of those they with to demonize or exploit to protect that interest. The narrative of the experience of being trans told by trans people themselves is only relatively recently becoming divested of the need to modify itself for the purposes of avoiding the denial of critical and necessary transition-related healthcare.

"Transgender" is used mostly because people became uncomfortable with saying "transsexual" in public, because it has the capacity to either invoke images of sexuality or of self-mutilation in the audience, and in my first encounters with the community, it was usually the case that people only used the word "transsexual" to refer to those who had completed SRS, while "transgender" was reserved for those on an SRS track or to avoid bringing up the imagery of surgical "mutilation", and "transvestite" or "cross-dresser" was used to describe those people who had absolutely no intention of pursuing a permanent transition, but occasionally felt the need or desire to attempt to acquire in some way the experience of being a different sex or gender. Nowadays, I think most of us use "transgender" simply because it's convenient, and it has become/is becoming fashionable, if you will, to refer to oneself as "transsexual" if one is transitioning, now that the word "transgender" is being used in some ways to also describe "those disgusting perverted men who play dress up to metaphorically, or literally, rape women".

Then, of course, we have that crowd that wants to limit the legal definition of "transsexual" in the hopes that they will somehow be magically welcomed by the people who would much rather see each and every one of us exterminated, and they have decided to be collaborators with the kyriarchy in a vain attempt to secure their own survival at the cost of others'.

So what? So we toss all the pre-ops, non-ops, and cross-dressers under the bus. The oppressor class applauds you, and thanks you for doing the dirty work of declaring cross-dressers (or whatever it is this week, is it "people who weren't born with a legitimate medical condition of transsexuality at birth", or is it "people who want to destroy the social construct the identity politics wonks call gender, as opposed to sex"?) subhuman or just unworthy of the equal protection under the law of their inherent and natural human rights for them, then happily and promptly stabs you right in the back, because as far as they're concerned, you're just as subhuman and unworthy as the poor souls to whom you just pointed out the way to the "showers". Have fun cleaning the ovens.

As has been suggested before by myself and others, the real solution is to stop forcing people into sex-segregated facilities, and we know the real issue isn't multiple-seat public toilet facilities, which virtually always have individual, lockable stalls, and which are rarely the site of any sort of violent or improper behavior (and I will point out YET AGAIN certainly NONE of this has EVER been documented to have occurred at the hands of a person whose rights are now equally protected as a result of any of the fully-inclusive anti-discrimination legislation in this country in the 35+ year history of its existence), the which I will note is already illegal and punishable by law and rightly so. No, we know that the real issue that is primarily responsible for the denial of our rights is the fear of our access to facilities where nudity is practically unavoidable, like dressing rooms, locker rooms, and showers. Again, non-consensual contact is already illegal, and no amount of ensuring that people are protected from discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, or the gender-related categories listed above is ever going to make it any less illegal.

While the ideal situation would be to eliminate sex-segregated facilities entirely, of course this is unlikely to happen outside of Utopia, so long as people remain the fearful creature they have always been, so the only answer we can responsibly make is to provide access to private facilities to all who need or require them because they cannot tolerate the presence, sight, or gaze of their fellow human beings. These are the people who are truly "disordered", and they deserve our pity and assistance. Don't give me any fallacious arguments about forcing businesses to spend money; we did something similar with the Americans With Disabilities Act, and we can do it again.

Just lie back, think of America, and all the economic activity it will create!

In all honesty, I'm sick of the arguing too, and had to step back for a considerable amount of time before re-approaching it. But it is important, because it affects all of the ways we frame our struggles, and affects our messaging outside our own borders. It's causing us to conflict in our messaging, and with the potential for worse on the horizon.

You wrote:

The people who are at the heart of pushing this issue are people who want one thing, and one thing only: to reinforce the segregation of our society based upon form of genitalia

and your paraphrase:

So we toss all the pre-ops, non-ops, and cross-dressers under the bus.

That's not what I wrote. We need to affirm both binary and non-binary -identified people, but also recognize where they conflict and find a way to communicate both in a way that is workable. Don't read the article if you don't want to or skim, but don't make broad assumptions about what it says.

And yes, I actually do advocacy work.

I didn't really mean to imply that that was necessarily anything that you said, and I am aware of your advocacy work. I read the article, several times, actually. My response was meant generally, to the entire community.

Every time this issue is brought up, it makes it seem as if this is a legitimate issue and lends it weight and substance that it does not deserve, when all it really is is infighting generated by people who desire to make themselves feel better about the deviance they perceive in themselves at the expense of others. The vast majority of people I have heard weigh in on this in the trans community disagree with the standpoint of the separatists and easily see through their motives.

The issue doesn't need framing. It's long since been framed. The legislation that is on the books already provides the template needed to protect all the individual categories that need protecting, namely sex, orientation, and the gender-related categories. So, unless somebody is going to add to that list, all we need to do is expand the number of jurisdictions that offer the guarantee of equal protection.

It doesn't matter what you, I, or anyone else decides, in the end, to call themselves. Discrimination is discrimination, and the number of ideas that underpin that discrimination are fewer than the number of categories we can dream up to separate every conceivable identity.

Mercedes, despite your valiant efforts, I am afraid you are attempting to empty the ocean with a teaspoon. Despite your seemingly reasonable exhortations, the views expressed by Gemma are set in stone and anyone disagreeing with those views will be summarily painted as an ignorant bigot. Believe me, I know. Been there. Had it DONE to me.

If I protest being de-legitimatized, well....I am a bigot.

If I feel that there is a LEGITIMATE difference between a CURABLE MEDICAL MALADY and a lifestyle choice, well.....I am a bigot.

And because I am a minority of one and there are most likely fewer than a few dozen who share such radical, separatist views, the chances of our being offered a place at this table so politically dominated by the GAY and TG/GV majority, we archaic binarists will just have to deal directly with our elected representatives, personally, as women of character have ALWAYS done. We will do it quietly and effectively as we have always done.

But "Good on ya" for trying Mercedes. Good on ya.

I'm not aware of the history of personal exchanges between the two of you and cannot comment on that. However, be aware that in the context of trans and LGBT struggles, "lifestyle choice" has taken on dismissive and invalidating overtones. It's reasonable to show a difference, but not so to invalidate others in the process.

This might have been unintentional on your part, and I know that it's something that has happened on both sides of the debate, but I believe this distinction is why the discussion has become so heated and why opposing sides sometimes reach a point of bitterness and no compromise.

As far as I am aware, there is no history.

Sam22's attitude, however, is typical of the separatists in claiming that they are somehow being "de-legitimized", "erased", or some such other nonsense, and furthermore, that they are being labelled "bigots" for believing that there is a difference between being a transsexual and being a cross-dresser.

They usually attempt to reinforce this point by alluding to the idea, as Sam22 clearly does here, that anyone who agrees with them must therefore be a cross-dresser with a "lifestyle choice", and "no true transsexual". Although I have no real need to establish my bonafides here, I will simply state that the complete and thorough documentation of my transition and my intentions are available for free online, and speaks for itself.

PWIW, I also decry the disparaging nature of the way the terms "gay" and "binarist" were used, as I myself have a binary-compatible gender expression and I am also a homosexual woman, in addition to being a transsexual, rather than transgender woman. Why any of these things should lead me to deny the rights of others is utterly beyond me.

No one disputes this point, that there is a difference, but when you take that difference and use it as a bludgeon to beat down those you clearly view as inferior in a vain attempt to bolster the case for your own rights, then, yes, you are a bigot by every sense of the term that has ever been attached to it.

As I have said before many times, this argument is irrelevant and counterproductive to getting the real work done, and people who want to concentrate on making an issue out of this nonsense are not deserving of serious consideration or intellectual respect.

"Curable malady"? Now there's a loaded term if ever one was spoken, in both parts, and if ever that term applied to me, then it ceased to apply the moment I grokked my womanhood. No medical, psychiatric, or surgical treatment was ever necessary for "curing" this "malady", only the acceptance of oneself.

A word of advice, "Sam22". If you want people to take you seriously, you need to step out from behind the veil of anonymity. You will note that Mercedes Allen and I are public people who identify themselves with their actual names and have actual, verifiable histories.

But that was the point, is that there is some very real danger of erasure, of one perspective or the other. As much as the language of the arguments may bother us, we need to listen for when there are valid concerns behind it. Part of the reason the debate had been so heated up until now is that on both sides, there is so much invalidating and being offended at being invalidated. We have to get past that to what's behind the discussion.

Mercedes, there is a very large difference between claiming that one's feelings are hurt and establishing any substantive truth for the supposed erasure that we hear so much harping about.

I challenge these people to find us one legitimate practitioner who deals with the latest information and thinking on the subject of medical needs of sex/gender variant people who denies the reality of transsexual people. Go ahead, I'll wait. And wait. And wait...because they can't find any. None. None, whatsoever. It's a simple task, yet it cannot be completed, because there isn't a legitimate practitioner out there "erasing" transsexual people and refusing them transition-related healthcare.

Does no one find it significant that the vast majority of the complainers I have witnessed are in the main heterosexual transsexual women who transitioned long ago? Does no one else notice how captured they are by antiquated versions of the WPATH SOC?

As far as people being offended by terminology, well, so be it. If people want to be offended because they lack the desire or ability to challenge their own assumptions, that's their choice. There is also a huge difference between bigotry and calling people out on their bigotry. The world moves on every day, and what was once considered acceptable behavior often becomes regarded as outdated and offensive.

No responsible person ought to lend credibility to those who engage in arguments without any substantive grounds for their position. We have to have some standards for what constitutes intelligible debate here, or we're never going to get anywhere.

Hmmm..Lot's of "buzz" words. Lot's of TG "talking points". Lot's of slogans and "strawman" arguments, but predictably no substance. As for being offended, I find it offensive that you would presume to associate my now long cured medical condition with the likes of Misogynists like his that claim your "hallowed" "umbrella term"....

http://silverhalidedreams.blogspot.com/2011/06/great-transsexual-miscalculation.html#comments

Is there a threat of erasure? Yes but not of who you think! the study Injustice At Every Turn shows a significant number of self-identified crossdressers intend to transition one day, want/need surgery and suffer a serious suicide risk far above the national average... in other words the study shows a clear overlapping population between Crossdressers and Transsexuals! Any attempt to totally seperate Crossdressers from Transsexuals erases them!

The survey Injustice at every turn is unscientific drivel with maybe a shred of truth in it. The fact is the survey concentrated on only those associated with the LGB and Transgender communities. These are the people most likely to know how to buy overseas hormones, the easiest doctors to get approved for SRS etc. No wonder why the survey showed such high numbers for suicidal thoughts for both pre and post-ops.Then you have to wonder what psychological effect placing yourself in such a marginalized group has on a person. Go into any of the many transgender support groups and you'll see most people say they are transsexual even the most obvious crossdressers.Those crossdressers will state they want to transition and everyone in the group will encourage them to do so.I've met more then a few crossdressers that attempt transition and they usually detransition within a year but at what expense to their personal health and safety? It has been shown that after just a couple months on hormones major changes have occurred in the brain. I was just informed by a friend of mine that one of these detransitioned crossdressers was just complaining about how the hormones have negatively effected how they think.If you want to fix the problem you remove Transgender and Transsexual support groups from the LGBT and you require they be supervised by trained medical professionals. You end the allowance of hormones being shipped into this country from foreign countries. Changing your sex or how it is perceived by others should never ever be allowed to simply be a choice the consequences of that type of thinking are fatal its as simple as looking at the injustice at every turn survey to see it.

You don't like that study? Maybe you have a study instead that tests crossdressers for the same biological causations found in transsexuals to rule out the Probability that like Autism and Aspergers transsexualism occurs in degrees on a spectrum. Nah you just plain dont do you.
What justification is there for policing strict male and female boundaries when that violates:
* The rights of indigenous peoples as theres many cultures with gender-diverse traditions
* The rights of thoase Intersex people who identify as both male and female or neither.
That is just for starters and already your arguments are Human Rights Abusive. Bi-Gender Identity people do exist. Equal rights are for everyone. Get over it.

Samm2 I couldn't agree with you more I don't what the hell that dribble was gemma seymour was spouting as I and many other HBS women of history feel the very same way you do like our Identities have been hi jacked along with our diagnosis co-oped by transgender Inc to vilify their lifestyle. I actual had someone tell me on a blog that they thought transgender were the ones who had sex changes and /transsexuals only dressed up pretending to be women thats how F$%%&^% up things have gotten and if thats not eraser then you tell me what is. IMO their are two genders and ONLY two male or female anything else is just a hot mess trying to force it's way onto society as normal ie: the transgender non-op.

If their are only two genders, how do you define intersex individuals? That is, people born with indeterminate genitalia and those who do not have a strict xx or xy chromosomes. While intersex is a rare condition, it does happen. If biology is so important, how do you explain cases where the biology cannot be used for binary categorization?

Simply really. IS is a genetic anomolly, just like red hair or blue eyes. Unfortunately, it is not quite as socially acceptable.

However, to be clear, IS, being a genetic anomoly, is a biological condition. It has NOTHING to do with "gender" which is a social construct.

I find your comment that being intersex as socially unacceptable offensive. Why the hell should we judge somebody based upon a biological condition that they were born with?

Also, I'm confused. If there are more than two biological sexes, why should society then only construct two genders? What is the reasoning there?

Mercedes...your ability to remain cool, calm and collected baffles my mind...and stands in sharp contrast with the self-mutilation that seems to be without end over "termacide"...(as in terminology) the end result of which can only be self-annihilation. Indeed the hostility is so strong that I am becoming convinced by the day that our community has been infiltrated by those who would rejoice at such a destructive end to our noble efforts at seeking elusive equality.

Being Hispanic, this would be akin to engaging in the fatal mistake of creating what has happened in our community---a hierarchy that resembles an upside-down tree. At the very top would be the word "Hispanic". Below that would be hyphenated Hispanics, a pecking order that leads to inevitable self-implosion as is occurring here. This adversarial internecine struggle of course is beyond race---it gets to the core of who we are...even down to the chromosomal level for some.

Mercedes...in my hierarchy...your superbly articulated position paper identifies you as a leader...worthy of pointing the way. We have media heroes and web heroes...many who have traveled the same road as us yet with a twist---self-promotion. Your intelligence is as refreshing as a cold drink in the sun, with no shade to be found. Keep up the outstanding work! Other equal rights struggles, if anything, leave as historical fact, the need for leaders that engage wholly in sacrifice, for the greater good. Thanx for giving me the opportunity to chime in...constructively of course!

Huh? What? I'm going to be a human sacrifice? Wha?

:)

Thanks everyone for the generous comments. I don't know about "leader." Pedestals hurt when you eventually fall off them.

Huh? What? I'm to become a human sacrifice? Wha?

:)

Thanks, everyone, for the generous comments. I don't know about "leader." Pedestals tend to hurt when one eventually falls off them.

I've never really gotten the TG/TS terminology debate. This really appears to be one of those western things that simply doesn't happen outside of North America and Europe and Australia.

SE Asia, specifically Thailand, HUGE numbers of SRS performed on the local population (not to mention folks traveling for the lower costs). So, clearly there is an identifiable "post-op community" - people who would be considered TS. There is also a large population of no-op or not-SRS-tracked-right-now people. From my friends and colleagues in Thailand, this isn't really a conversation they are having.

Obviously, there is a tradition of of more than two genders and sexes, so this informs the community and the culture and the politics. The gals in Brazil, not so much a difference - some gals only dress for work, some gals dump every bit of money they have to fund transition, some gals don't have any money at all, some gals go to a point and feel "right" in their skin and don't go further toward SRS. Different needs - one community - rather simple really.

I think that Gemma's comments have more that made my point. I stand duly "bigoted by every sense of the term that has ever been attached to it"; duly invalidated by having my opinions judged "irrelevant and counterproductive to getting the real work done, and being "labeled" as oe of those "people who want to concentrate on making an issue out of this nonsense (and) not deserving of serious consideration or intellectual respect".

Thank you Gemma for allowing me my identity DISTINCT from yours, so long as I go along with getting YOUR "real work done."

Brandi - please, you do your cause much harm by confusing "gender" and "sex". There are two sexes (man and woman) with a range of intersex conditions that blur even that observable binary.

"Gender" is all the external stuff society places on the sexes. You know, clothes, interests, occupations, emotions, on and on and on. Since most people embrace and reject gendered stuff based on their own experience and personalities it could easily be debated that there are as many "genders" as there are people.

Historically, we have cultures with traditions - that survives to this day in some places - of a variety of "genders" that are neither masculine nor feminine or a combination of the two.

So the short hand for you:

Sex = bodies = transsexual = person with a disconnect between their sense of self and their physical bodies.

Gender = external things tied to sexed bodies = transgender = disconnect between the expectations placed on their social role and their sense of self.

(Overly simple and really far more nuanced than this, but I'm hoping you will be able to use the right terms to make your points next time)

T Girl perhaps you should look at the Harry Benjamin Scale and see were you think you fit.I suspect if you have no desire for surgery that you may want to look at #3 or #4. For what determines whether an Individual is GID/Gi is NOT a matter of if ones had surgery it has to do with one DESIRE for surgery Gender Identity Dysphoria is in one brain and has to do with how one see's ones self. For According to Harry Benjamin who discovered gender identity dysphoria. His Scale clearly shows that those who DON'T have a desire for surgery Aren't Transsexual.

http://www.genderpsychology.org/transsexual/b...

Brandi - I hoped that you would actually get the point of my post. I figured you wouldn't, but hope springs eternal. Look sex and gender are not the same thing. That's been the drum the HBS crowd has been banging since I became aware of this turf war.

Also, you are not correct in your summation of Dr. Benjamen's views on Transsexuality. Harry Benjamin openly advocated on treating a patient to the point where their feelings of discomfort were alleviated. He noted that there were various points that people had in common where they felt cured. Thus, the "scale" used by you in your silly pissing contest. At no point did Dr. Benjamin claim that not wanting surgery excluded one from being transsexual.

T Girl Harry Benjamin clearly makes his views known with his scale and his scale clearly shows that Individuals who don't desire surgery Aren't listed As Transsexuals but have another title can you guess what it is...I bet you can.

Brandi, if you can't grasp the basic difference between gender and sex, I'm afraid I don't trust your analysis of the Benjamin scale - current findings about the medical nature of transsexuals or much beyond your need to use anything at all to prove your legitimacy to yourself.

Ok T girl so your saying that because you don't think I can grasp the differences between gender and sex that your refusing to believe a known medical scientist ? Yeah sounds very transgender just ignore medical facts you don't want to hear because they contradict your meme....go drink another glass of Transgender Inc kool aide maybe it will get you standing back on your legs all three of them. Current findings about the medical nature of transsexuals shows that True Transsexuals have the brain gender of the opposite sex they were born to. I realize there is evidence of different brain development in transsexual folks but it seems the real meat is the limbic system which is easiest to study post Mortum ? I would wager that an Inspection of transgender brains wouldn't reveal anything not normally found and a male brain.

No Brandi, that is not at all what I'm saying. YOU are the one who stated there are "two genders" - this is false. I pointed out that you confusing the words "gender" and "sex" like this works against the point you are usually trying to make. The good Dr Benjamin never said that people who didn't have SRS weren't Transsexual, he never even implied it. If you read his scale he was intentionally vague in his wording (things like "most", "likely, but not always", "usually") because, as a medical Dr (not a mental health professional), he realized that after diagnosis, the treatment of a condition should be the least invasive, least radical (in a medical not political sense), and most cost-effective to alleviate the patient's symptoms.

True Transsexuals have a BRAIN SEX - of the opposite SEX. Bodies are NOT gendered, they are sexed, the brain is a part of the body. AS long as you continue to beat the drum of TG = fetishistic cross dresser, you better be darn clear to use the word "gender very very clearly and correctly. Obviously, you do not get the basics of the position you continue to argue - and you accuse me of drinking Kool Aid.

I have two legs - very simple human biology. Is this another basic issue you don't grasp? Or are you trying to (again) comment on what you suspect my body looks like? If the latter, you really do need to stop being creepy about your need to picture what other people look like naked.

T girl if you take a look at the scale Dr Benjamin was very clear Items 1,2,3 aren't even titled as Transsexuals in fact transsexual doesn't even appear until the four term under non-op and even then the list them as wavering between TV and TS. True Transsexuals finally appear in term five and six and both of those desire and require surgery one more then the other but both are driven to have surgery. I fully understand that gender is between the ears and sex between the legs, but if don't have the desire for surgery then I would suggest that they most likely fit one of the other categories like 1,2, or 3. I think you are the one who has gender confused with sex because while the brain is part of the body is the sole determining factor in how one see's one self and it decide everything else about ones self and it's a huge stretch for you to say that because it's a body part it sexed because it's not.

Likewise there are only two sexes male and female and two genders to go with them. IMO those that are intersexed still fall into either male or female both in their gender Identities and in their sex.

Brandi I have been reading this back and forth. Did you ever meet Harry? He was an endocrinologist who put forth his observations molded into a theory that he himself regarded as simply a beginning point. You would be making a serious mistake to treat his scale or his works as definitive when he did not view them that way himself.

I will ask you to set aside the debate on whether someone fits into some category on the Benjamin scale and focus instead on the real "rub" in these discussions. When a crass dresser asserts that he is just like me I ask in what regard. If he is saying that society is very prejudiced and "dumps" on anyone outside the hetero-normative citizens then I would have to agree. On the other hand if he is asserting that he (an admitted male who likes to wear women's clothing) is the same in either sex or gender then I would have to say no. It all boils down to communication and trying to understand what the other person is attempting to communicate.

From my perspective (and I am sure yours will be a bit different) I gave up arguing with "the bois" long ago because women do not generally win debates using words with men. It is much simpler to win with a small chuckle and a concession that "I'm sure you must be right, now would you like another beer". Have confidence Brandi because the overwhelming majority of the population can easily perceive the difference between a cross dresser and a woman so there really is no need to debate the issue.

Deena The point I'm trying to make is for the vast majority if not all transgender the ONLY proof they have that they have any kind of gender issue ir their word... and that and 5.00 dollars will get you coffee at Starbucks for me thats not good enough they've latched onto the "gender Identity Diagnosis, but yet they skip the therapy skip the counseling skip the blood work skip following the SOC or going through RLT likewise they could care less about the requirement of letters of recommendation for surgery since they have no desire to cut off their male privilege. This in my opinion tells me they DON'T have gender Identity dysphoria for no one in my opinion that every feel like they were suppose to be a women would want to have a penis. Those who wish to I've as women yet don't want surgery are just living out a fantasy and are more like cross dressers gone to far I think. I like the binary and see zero room for anyone not wanting to be a part of it. just like I have NOTHING in common with a common everyday cross dresser because regardless of how he dresses he''s still has a male gender Identity I see the Transgender as the same they have male gender Identities in my opinion to and since they have zero proof that they don't they can't dispute me. Unlike HBS transsexuals who has followed the SOC they have a medical diagnosis therefore they have Proof they were born in the wrong bodies and rightfully can claim they are GID.

I also don't advocate that People who merely claim to have GID (ie: the transgender) but don't have a medical diagnosis don't deserve laws to allow them to force their fantasy upon society ie: public accommodations,housing, or employment I feel that ONLY diagnosis Transsexuals should be provided laws that protect and secure their reentry into society.

Maybe your opinions would have weight if you have access to the medical records of everyone you claim superiority over.

And hey, I have four diagnoses ( my parents kept taking me to different psychiatrists in hopes of finding one that wouldn't diagnose me as transsexual), I guess that means I'm a SUPER-transsexual!

"likewise they could care less about the requirement of letters of recommendation for surgery since they have no desire to cut off their male privilege."

The fact that you see having a dick as a "privilege" says more about yourself than it does any trans folks.

I mean, people don't walk down the street looking into passing women's pants to check their genitals. And if they did, do you really think they'd treat the women with penises better?

Also, is SRS free where you're from? Because I know a lot of American trans women who want it but can't afford it.

So, Deena made most of my point about the scale. Let us also note that he tries to tie it into the Kinsey scale, and I hope we can all agree that sexual orientation is not directly tied to one's understanding one's sex.

"I fully understand that gender is between the ears and sex between the legs" - Now that is some serious "transgender kool aid" right there. Are you saying that gender has some sort of biological basis? Is there a pink bow gene somewhere? Is "math hard" because of DNA? Is there a neurological jump that can happen that makes a small child identify with adults of the opposite biological sex for early non-verbal instruction... I'd say very likely. But to say that "gender" rests in the human mind (when different cultures and different times gendered things differently) is beyond understanding.

"Likewise there are only two sexes male and female and two genders to go with them." Go talk to a Winkte or Joya among the Native Americans, talk about 2 genders in India, Pakistan, Samoa, and Thailand and see how far that gets you. It is my position that gender has as much to do with being transsexual as birth order or sexual orientation - different things that may or may not be related, but ultimately don't matter beyond the personal, or as sometimes interesting discussions.

"IMO those that are intersexed still fall into either male or female both in their gender Identities and in their sex." - I'm sure IS people are happy to have your opinion about them - you have shown over and over how well informed you are about everything else. Me, I'll let an Intersexed person tell me about their sex and their gender.

Ideologues don't listen. In fact, the harder you try to convince them of something, the more entrenched they become.

This whole blog is a load of garbage. While everyone here has been either complaining for or against the use of the word Transgender Mara Kiesling of NCTE and Monica Helms have been convincing the Federal Government to put the word transgender into government policy. here is the new VA directive http://www.va.gov/vhapublications/ViewPublication.asp?pub_ID=2416
What Monica and Mara don't realize is now that they have done this they are about to become irrelevant in American Politics for it.They should have stuck to safe words now they're going to cost themselves and their organizations heavily. Stupid is as stupid does.

Lisa, I would like to learn more on your take on this.

I have to agree with Carol on this one in that ideologues fail to listen, much less, COMPREHEND what is being proposed by others. This was the main THESIS of this post by Mercedes, which is that some "thorough dissection of the argument will need to take place".

It is my opinion, as voiced in my original comment here, and seconded by the highly esteemed Dr. Weiss, that this "alliance" will never happen, and here is why.

In order for the discourse to even begin, it MUST be recognized that transsexualism IS NOT a SUBSET of transgender.

Gender is NOT the same as SEX

Changing GENDER roles is NOT the same as changing morphological SEX.

XX and XY chromosomes NOT withstanding BRAIN SEX is usually, BUT NOT ALWAYS, directly correspondent to morphological genitalia.

Sexual Orientation has little physical relationship to either TS, TG OR, IS.

Each of these VERY DISTINCT group of people have NOTHING in common, oter than te fact that they are ALL human, breath AIR and need adequate food, clean water and shelter to survive.

I

sam22, I generally agree with you except for one nagging bit. Generally speaking, transsexuals do often report an early, pre-pubescent discomfort with their assigned sex gender roles. Even before an awareness of biological sex differences and the resulting disconnect that denote a transsexual condition, many (most?) transsexuals have already established a set of gendered behaviors that more closely align with the "opposite" sex's expectations.

It has been my observation over the past decade that many people who would be considered cross dressers have the same issues about being gendered at around the same age.

Is this a case where two different "conditions" are present - one dealing with the body and one dealing with more emotional and social relationships? Would having both make one likely to be a binary identified transsexual vs. a more "gender fluid" transexual vs a part-time cross dresser vs a cissexual cisgendered person? Or, are they related in some way and there is an early link between transsexual and transgender that takes a different developmental path?

I AM SORRY t-gIRL. I am finding your some what circuitous reasoning long on self-observed wishful thinking, and just a teeny weeny bit short on factual documentation.

I am guessing there is point here. Might you try again, because I am not getting it. Also just curious...might you also more clearly idendify that "one nagging bit", that makes you uncomfortable.

Wow, a person misses a lot when they go away for a weekend and have no net access.

I'm replying to a number of comments.

The whole point I've made on invalidation of people on either side of the debate remains this: there needs to be a discussion to resolve conflict and erasure that is currently taking place in transsexual and gender diverse advocacy, and it's not going to be helped by continuing to disparage and invalidate others. In order to have a conversation at all, we have to reach a point of mutual respect, even if we don't share someone else's experiences.

To be honest, I'm not interested in sussing out the original intent of a researcher in the mid 20th Century when he developed a scale, and adhering to that as some reified truth. Knowledge develops and evolves as more information becomes available. We know that binary-identified transsexuals exist. We know that people exist who have an overriding sense of being somewhere in-between. We accomplish nothing by dismissing or making wide inaccurate assumptions about one or the other in the process.

What we need to do now is discuss how to achieve a world where both can exist, not be forced into a closet and not be so overriding that one experience is seen as interchangeable with everyone else's. That's the discussion I'm interested in seeing, and not who's "valid" and / or "real."

"That's the discussion I'm interested in seeing, and not who's 'valid' and / or 'real'."

Unfortunately, Mercedes, that's exactly the point. The vast majority of the reasonable trans people and trans leaders in our community are interested in exactly the same thing, but many have stood by silently while a vocal minority has begun to dominate the discussion with falsified claims of the supposed erasure of their superior (as they clearly see it) identities.

We cannot allow this to continue, because it is killing us all. I will not sit idly by and allow these people to drown out the voices of more reasonable people when we are dying because of the denial of our rights.

This misguided vocal minority is intent on fracturing our community by sowing distrust of others in direct contravention of the goals of achieving equality.

Gemma I read your comment and couldn't help but chuckle. Its like oh wow Gemma hurls a few insults and vows to fight to the bitter end. Sorry but that sounds unreasonable to me.

Perhaps we could back up a few steps and begin anew. Just to let you know, I don't particularly side with either the umbrella enthusiasts or the separatist HBS crowd. As I said way back up in this thread I consider every person alive to be unique.

So ... the question becomes .... can a diverse group unite for the simple common purpose of standing up to a vastly hetero-normative majority and saying "enough is enough". My answer would be apparently not while umbrella advocates insist that everyone is some sort of transgender including the whole GLB crowd according to some opinions I have read. In a like vein apparently not when someone like Brandi posts that she wants transsexual rights and is of the opinion that everyone else should be tossed under the bus. I'm not attacking Brandi but simply paraphrasing what she said in this very thread.

G became GL which became GLB which became GLBT. Some even extend it with more letters like GLBTQX and so forth. We could easily add enough letters to make it ridiculous. That is why I proposed in a tongue in cheek manner above that we recapture the word Freaks. I'm not wedded to that so find a word to your own liking. I simply thought that "for respect every alternative known socially" had a nice united ring to it without focusing on any particular aspect. Why it would even include dwarfs, pansexuals, bearded ladies and anyone else deprecated by society at large.

So, I ask you, can we agree that every human deserves certain inalienable rights? Are drag queens, gays, transsexuals, lesbians, and so forth really willing to stand side by side and say yes there is great diversity here but every one of us is human.

I yield the floor.

Gemma. Sadly, but predictably, it is your vacuous ideological rhetoric, that is PRECISELY the point of Mercedes' post, and yet you persist with your tired old memes, and scatter-shot accusations.

I proposed four simple concepts that I consider necessary requisites to even BEGIN a meaningful discussion and yet you do not even acknowledge them and instead revert to your pre-recorded talking points.

Just consider the thinly veiled disparagement and EXCLUSION in this, your statement, alone..."The vast majority of the reasonable trans people and trans leaders in our community...."

Uh huh.....YOUR COMMUNITY, (Not mine?)...REASONABLE, (implying, of course that those disagreeing with YOU are 'UN-reasonable')...."TRANS PEOPLE", (Trans-vestite? trans-gender? gender-benders? gender-queers?

Oh I am sorry. Did I forget trans-sexuals? Gee...aren't they all the same? Do you see my problem? I mean we can go on forever...OR YOU might consider my four little "issues".

In truth it is you, that lacks credibility.

One of my big problems is that I am neither LGB or Transgender identified and I feel the LGBT is violating my rights to not be included either in their community or under their umbrella term Transgender. The GLAAD media guide recognizes that not all Transsexuals want to be labelled Transgender yet disrespects them by placing them under their Transgender Umbrella. Also no wheres in the GlAAD media guide do I find them acknowledging that not all Transsexuals or even crossdressers for that matter wish to be associated with the LGBT or represented by the LGBT. It is time for the LGBT to quit lying to the public by claiming to represent a large population that when push comes to shove either don't want or would never admit to being part of the LGBT. Only just over 6400 people took the injustice at every turn survey out of a population estimated to exceed seven hundred thousand.That's a survey that was out for a year and heavily promoted throughout the LGBT and all the Transgender sites. Those who claim LGBT and Transgender identities are the very smallest part of this very large and diverse group its time to let other people speak for their desires and needs. Its time for GLAAD to change its Media guide to reflect that the vast majority of those they label transgender aren't and wish nothing to do with the LGBT or for the LGBT to claim falsely they represent their best interests.

So somehow the GLBT/TG minority is managing to libel the far larger TS not TG community? I thought the claim was usually the opposite, that the LGBT/TG horde was oppressing the tiny little TS not TG community?

Can you explain to me how the little LGBT/TG group is controlling the majority TS not TG group?

Oh, and I assume you are boycotting services that the VA now offers b/c you don't like the language they use? Ever heard the saying about cutting off your nose to spite your face?

Carol you want to read a comment fully and think about it before you respond it. I said larger TS and CD populations. Like I said the NCTE survey for all its claims didn't even scratch the surface of those trapped under the umbrella. The transgender numbers are so low the LGBT had to take over HBGDA and change its name to promote the image that the LGBT speaks for all of us how pathetic.As for the VA its being handled you don't worry about it.

Mmm, that's what my point was, that if the TS community is really so much larger than the LGT/TG community, how is it that the TSs can't dominate the terminology/whatever. I *did* read the post, and just reread it. Perhaps I am misunderstanding your point. Or you are mine, dunno.

Good to hear you are going to straighten out the VA. I bet the admins at VA are sleeping with one eye open knowing that silent majority of True Transsexuals is watching them.

The thing is that those transsexuals who don't want to be considered under the transgender umbrella don't OWN transsexuality. There are plenty of transsexuals that do not mind being under the umbrella, so there's no way to tell if a given transsexual would or would not object to having the TG term applied to them unless they specifically say so. Media guides are unable to address this beyond saying that some transsexuals do not want to be called transgender and leave it at that; to do otherwise would exclude transsexuals who willingly use the TG word.

The transsexual separatists, however, usually want ALL transsexuals to be defined out of the umbrella, which is unfair to those of us that either like the term or otherwise do not find it offensive. For a group that goes on and on about the right to choose their labels, it comes off as hypocritical to me that they want to force their labelling format on all transsexuals.

SAS if you want to be under the Transgender umbrella and place all transsexuals under the umbrella it is you that is the separatist. It is you that isn't respecting your transsexual sisters and brothers that don't want it hung on their heads. Just because your okay with being labeled Transgender doesn't give you or anyone else the right to hang it on my head or anyone else s head. Media guides such as the GLAAD one is obviously biased towards the LGBT community so it should make sense that it is invalid when it comes to representing anyone outside the LGBT community and it should reflect that. It should state that not all transsexuals are to be called Transgender or considered part of the LGBT. This guide only represents the smallest part of those who we label "Transgender" those associated with the gay community. The roughly 6400 out of 700,000 that the NCTE and NGLTF survey located.

Weren't you just the one that chided Carol for allegedly not reading your post? Perhaps you should read a little more carefully yourself, because I didn't say I wanted all transsexuals to be considered part of the transgender umbrella. I said that since not all transsexuals agree on it, you cannot unilaterally declare that transsexuals are not a part of the TG umbrella because a lot of us are (yes, even straight post-op ones). You can define yourself outside it all you wish, but you do not have the right to tell all of us to do the same.

See, this is what I don't get, and keep trying to figure out:

If 99% of all trans ppl are TSs, how is it that the TGs are able to dominate the story and push the TSs around? Is it that the cis-LGBs are the real power, and they are out there pushing the TG agenda for the TGs?

That would be a pretty ironic thought, since anytime 'gay rights' issues come up, there is always a huge pushback on how the cis gays don't care about the trans ppl.

Sas It's fine that you are ok with being included under the transgender umbrella but it's highly improper of you to say that just because some Transexuals are ok with it means that reason for Transsexuals to be kept under the umbrella for the fact is the vast majority of Transsexuals DON'T want to be Included under the transgender umbrella and therefore it is wrong to force them to be. In my opinion the sole reason for keeping Transsexuals under the Transgender umbrella is so that transgender Individuals can continue to co-op and hijack the GID diagnosis that does not apply to them.

Transitioning from one gender to the other is a very difficult and dangerous process and should ONLY be done when a trained gender therapist says it's necessary. Like wise hormone therapy and surgery should be done under the medical supervision of a doctor. IF these aren't the circumstances then transition should not be attempted. IMO See transition is a life altering experience it's not a hobby or a project and it's certainly not a game were not building an entertainment center here, this is dangerous and has life long consequences.

No one is forcing you to be under it. But as long as there are transsexuals who DO place themselves under it, you cannot accurately say that transsexuals are not part of it. That's not improper, it's basic logic. If you don't want to be a part of it, that's fine, but you do not have the right to force me or anyone else out of it, which is exactly what you're trying to do when you demand that no transsexual can be referred to with the term. I'm also not going to just take your word for what the vast majority of transsexuals think.

As for the rest of your post, your opinions on how transition works and who may access it are irrelevant to the discussion.

shhhh, let's not be using dangerous words like 'logic' with the unbalanced...

You can always tell when someone is loosing a debate when they revert to calling others names.I'm kinda curious here Carol and SAS as to what your definitions of Transgender are and what the word means to you? I've heard SAS claim that since they were bullied in school and called fag and other derogatory terms they're happy to be called Transgender and be associated with the LGBT. But Sas what does Transgender and all its implications really mean to you? Here's something of another challenge for you and Carol how do you propose to end the conflict between those who wish to solely identify as Transsexual and those who are happy with being Transgender? Also since you two happen to think the whole Transgender and LGBT alliance is so important wouldn't you think such an important announcement as the death of the transgender umbrella would merit more than the 141 responses that it has gotten in two weeks? Also note out of these 141 comments many are against the transgender umbrella. Seems Transgender isn't as important you think it is or as widely supported as you think it is.Also SAS and Carol I'd be hard pressed to believe there would ever be a time that you could say that I don't support gay rights. But here's the kicker I've been called a transphobe, a homophobe, a rascist, a Transsexual Taliban and delusional by Carol. What will it take both of you to realize that it is now those who claimed to have been bullied that have become the bullies?

That you would draw equivalence between being called a transphobe and being called a fag shows that it is pointless to engage you further.

That is exactly the cop out I expected. I think being called a Transphobe when you are transsexual by another Transsexual that is trying to force you into an unwanted alliance is just as bad if not worse than being called a fag in high school by a kid that may or may not of have fully understood what they were doing at the time. Like I said those who claim to have bullied are now the grown up bullies that should know better.

And now you're making excuses for the people that bullied and threatened me in person to try and make it seem more equivalent to you getting called out online. That's so incredibly insulting I can scarcely believe it.

I dunno, I thought by now you would have a pretty good idea of my opinions on all this. But, let's see...

I don't have a definition of transgender I want to see enshrined. I just don't think in absolute terms (which is why I get so pissed off at all this 'only thus and such is a legitimate way to be trans'). The use I previously made of the term was 'ppl identifying and/or living as gender other than the that assigned at birth'. That's it. And really, that is to a large degree how I still see it.

However, since my initial naive, let's-all-hold-hands-and-sing-and-smile-and-drink-Coke-together stage, I have learned a lot. For one, that a huge number of trannsexuals (which to me used to mean someone who lived as the opposite gender assigned at birth and who had gone thru SRS) didn't even like that definition, in fact were belligerently opposed to it. Who felt I was misgendering them by even saying that transgender at that very high level might apply to them, and so forth.

Most of these ppl transitioned a long, long time ago, had been involved with getting a lot of trans rights, such as being able to change birth certificates, and things like that, and had then lived through the whole Virginia Prince stuff. I understood why they didn't like Prince or his position, and that the word transgender was tainted b/c of that. Also, a lot of these women had some really bad rl experiences with women who identified as transgender, not just some online shouting matches. So transgender was (and is) a very despised term, and they still see the concept of the word to be the same as Prince oreiginally conceived it.

I didn't live through that, and came on the scene just a few years ago, and saw transgender as just a neutral term. I liked it b/c, as several ppl have mentioned, it didn't have the word 'sexual' in it. Even though this is misleading (as many ppl have said, I still have the same gender as before, just my anatomical sex has changed, as least as much as possible), I liked that b/c the vast majority of ppl I know (including my Mom) think the whole thing is about sex rather than about just living an authentic life. And of course a lot of that *does* come from crossdressers and transvestites.

Really, I used to see everyone who is living as a different gender than that assigned at birth at having a lot of needs in common, in terms of discrimination, no matter if they want surgery or not, have had surgery and record change, any of that. Mostly b/c to me, the ppl who hate any kind of flavor of trans rarely make a distinction based on what is in your pants: once a man, always a man. If anything, I think most of these ppl see those of us who have had surgery as even more deluted and as sinning even worse, b/c we have 'mutilated' the body God meant for us to have (not that these ppl see any hypocrisy in supporting other radical surgery, of course). Of course, the women who hate the term transgender strongly rejected that claim, too.

So finally, I started doing some more looking and thinking about trans ppl who *do* come out of the gay and lesbian communities.

I have to admit I didn't do deep research or anything for the gay community, as I am not particularly interested in it. But I *did* find that the term transsexual seemed to have been used in that community for a long time to mean anything from a drag queen through ppl who more-or-less lived as women, maybe even those who had SRS. These ppl seemed to mostly still be part of the gay community, and fit in and were valued there, it seems as the ultimate transfeminine gay man (I may be horribly wrong and offensive here to these folks, I dunno; prolly noone else is floowing this thread at this point anymore anyhow?). On the other hand, as a whole (not everyone!), the gay community doesn't seem to like or accept trans men, esp ones who claim to be gay men. And they seem to see all trans women, even ones who didn't come from the gay community, as being the same as *their* transsexuals. Also, trannie is not at all considered a slur, many of the trans women from the gay community call themselves that. At any rate, transsexual has a certain meaning in that context, which is different from what I think of as a transsexual.

The lesbian community seems to be the mirror image of the gay community: There are lots of transmasculine women, and trans men, who come from that community and really never leave it (lots of trans men seem to still date lesbians, often the girl they were previously dating, such as Chaz Bono is). I don't know how they feel about trans men who don't come from the lesbian community, really (I personally don't even know of any trans men who *didn't* come from the lesbian community). So, trans to the lesbian community means trans men, and transsexual seems to not really exist. Also, the vast majority of lesbians seem to not accept trans women as lesbians. They seem to love the trans ppl from the gay community, and prolly don't much care one way or the other about str8 trans women.

So now, I don't even have a definition for transsexual, but rather several, based on context. Thus I don't see how one group has priority over the term.

And trans in general to me means a lot of different things, too, based on context. And really, I now see that transgender has a lot of specific uses, not just the one I originally had. I personally do still see all the ppl who call themselves some variant of trans-whatever having a lot of common issues, and feel that some kind of alliance would be to everyone's advantage. However, I do pretty much realize now that the ppl in your camp are so fearful of all the other trans-whatevers that this alliance will never include you (isn't this transphobia?). The attitude of 'go away and die or at least never ever use any word that includes the letters t-r-a-n-s' isn't really one that leads to working together. For that, ppl have to accept that they don't agree on everything, but have enough common cause to work for everyone's interest.

The funny thing is, at the next level down from the most general concept of transgender, I agree with a lot of what you and the others like you say. Str8 transsexuals *are a distinct group, with their own needs and interests; they shouldn't be stereotyped as being the same as the transsexuals in the gay community.

However, that is true in any group. There are a *lot* of different ways to be str8, gay, black, white, whatever. Personally, I just try to correct ppl as I go along: "No, I'm not trans like that (after being taken as a transfeminine gay man by gay men who know I am trans). I am...". I liked that thing they used to have in Curve magazine (lesbian mag) called 'This Is What A Lesbian Looks Like' that showed the wide range of personality and expression in the lesbian community. This is what I go for; I even explain such stuff to ppl who aren't even stereotyping me personally, to try to educate them about the lesbian or trans women communities.

Really, at this point I don't much care about trans or gay anything. I just hate ppl who are so rigid and close-minded, who believe in one absolute right way to do things (which coincidentally always aligns with how those ppl are doing things), as you and most of your camp seem to be. I have no desire to subsume *anyone* under a GLB/TG umbrella, I just get tired of seeing all these scorched earth comments.

And the reason I called you delusional, is that you seem to think that the much larger GLB/TS community is going to listen to a few ppl with extreme opinions making threats and taunts. I don't even disagree with you--what would it cost them to distinguish among some different groups of trans ppl, esp the extremes of str8 crossdressers and str8 transsexuals? But I think for better or for worse, the term transgender is here to stay, and over-the-top, hyperbolic, scathing attacks don't really seem very productive, and are massively annoying. (I mean, really, IamHeldHostageWhatever?)

FWIW,

Carol

Carol I think you did a very nice job describing various contexts and your evolutions over time tackling an understanding of various perspectives.

There was a time when I thought the umbrella construct was good. Then there was a time I disliked it intensely. Then I began getting creepy feelings about some of the separatists. Finally I just accepted that I am unique and so is everyone else. It would be nice if I had a few more rights and it would be nice if society accorded more rights to all the other unique people. Somehow though I suspect other political issues are far more important these days. 2007 wasn't a bad year but 2008 and beyond stink IMHO. I mean that in the sense of unemployment, deficits, home repossessions, continuing senseless wars and all the other mega stuff that has Congressional attention.

Just wanted to let you know I appreciated reading your perspective.

Well the first part of your response makes sense in that you don't even understand what transgender means or what its purpose was in the united LGBT sense. I'll give you this much though Carol you did give cover your behind by saying you don't think in absolute terms because Transgender is anything but absolute at this point and that is a huge part of the problem.I'll let you in on a little secret Carol Virginia Prince didn't coin the term Transgender he coined the term Transgenderist. The association with the LGB with the term Transgender really was less about any of us having similarities and more about a power grab you know increase the numbers so the LGB's would have more political clout. The orignial LGBT use of the word was about lumping a whole bunch of diverse people many straight into the LGB. Its purpose in that context was never about Transgender being an identity but all about a supposed political alliance. I never never signed up for a political alliance with the Democratic party courtesy of the LGBT did you? The thing is the big pushers of the Transgender umbrella wasn't the Transexual Menace as they claim it was Leslie Feinberg and Kate Bornstein. Feinberg has made quite a lot of money off of selling the Transgender Umbrella and now the whole gender queer thing of words like Hir and Zie.Feinberg is an admitted Marxist Commie and it shows in how like a Commie she entrapped a bunch of people into the LGBT all while claiming to help them. Carol while you may not think in absolute terms it helps if you know what your talking about before you write claiming you do it makes you come across as delusional.As for the word Transgender sticking around for a while it might but don't count the word Transsexual out yet its making a comeback. As for the LGBT I believe they have exposed themselves to a financial liabilty for their co-opting of the word transgender and for their mistreatment of transsexuals who don't wish to either be transgender or lgb associated. Do some homework Carol don't listen to anyone google the origins of Transgender and read its history and about who promoted it you might find it interesting and the next time you write you might know what your talking about.

Lisa sweet pea you are beginning to irritate me. Its not that you are incorrect but that you have a particularly snotty attitude towards Carol and others. But hey that's ok. When you give birth to a baby I hope to be in the delivery room cheering you on. Push, push, breathe, breathe. Surely you know the routine.

Poor Bil. I'll bet the report button gets pushed a hundred times on this post. Oh well. I would ask you if you get the point but I suspect that is futile.

Coming from someone who stated we should all call ourselves freaks I might take that as a compliment. What you all fail to realize is that while you all you all have a right to your beliefs you don't have a right to force them on others. As far as my snooty attitude it comes from having been called many names for simply wishing to be recognized as not having to belong to the LGB or Transgender. The way it is set up now it is impossible because LGBT groups have promoted the illusion they control all of us. Guess what they don't.

Bravo Lisa ! Bravo ! I couldn't have said it better.

No, but I am sure you could have said it much nastier.

Ok, I knew it was a total waste of time. You are going to hear what you want, and ascribe motives that suit your agenda. That's fine. At least now I know for sure.

Wolfgang E. B. Wolfgang E. B. | June 18, 2011 5:29 AM

Carol wrote, "(I personally don't even know of any trans men who *didn't* come from the lesbian community)."

Now you know of one. I've always been attracted to men, and thought of myself as a gay man, so I never identified as a lesbian.

Oh, cool! Thanks for posting! I hope things are working out for you--from what I know (which admittedly isn't a lot), it seems that trans men have as much trouble in the gay male community as trans women do in the lesbian community. :)

Speaking as a post-op MTF my two cents is this type conversation bores me. People in the real world, as opposed to the LGBT ghetto, care about our integrity, personality, talents, compassion, skills and similar.

My suggestion - get a life and stop focusing on minutiae.

All this talk of distinct differences seems to totally ignore that there is a significant overlap group. The Injustice At Every Turn study has self-identified crossdressers with issues that transsexuals share, issues of the risk of suicide, issues of transition! Yep transition! So if there are shared issues for both crossdressers and transsexuals, if there is an overlap between the two, then any attempt to seperate the two erases those people. To avoid possibly erasing some people you directly and certainly erase other people? That clearly is no answer at all.

You fix the problem of people thinking all forms of Trans are the same by ensuring the diversity is visible not by fighting over who gets to be the dominant stereotype and certainly not by erasing the people in the middle-ground in order to present the false premise of two distinct seperate unrelated groups.

Bayne you really have no idea what your talking about do you ? For Cross dressers have NO NEED of transition for they are heterosexual straight mostly married men with male gender Identities playing out a dress up "Fantasy" Nothing more. The fact that many of them become so entangled in their own fantasy and convince themselves that they were really meant to be women and proceed with transition on their own is a huge mistake. Not unlike the transgender they follow the same path as the cross dresser never seeking therapy and having NO NEED of a diagnosis because they have NO Intention of following the SOC nor do they care if they truly have GID they only care about what they want and that is to be a women and they'll do whatever they it take to appear as a women with the exception of having GRS surgery as their male brain gender Identities can't handle that. They are a blight upon society and I will continue to education people as to the differences between transsexual and the transgender. Likewise I will continue to advocate for laws that protect ONLY those Individuals Diagnosed" with GID as IMO they are the ONLY one deserving of such protection. I do not feel that those do-it-yourselfers warrant protections.

Brandi I think it is time to cut the cards. Lisa too. I am tired of this incessant banter about how your life is being destroyed by the borg. Here's a link for you. .... http://www.aleshiabrevard.com/Videos.htm

Listen to a lady. She is a contemporary of mine. Now let's take it a step further. Are you some poor 300 pound man with a beard sitting behind your computer trying to be a lez from Damascus or a deaf girl in the states?

Do you have the fortitude to take it all the way? Who are you really? Want to meet for lunch in Key West, Washington D.C., New Orleans, Nashville, Houston, Phoenix, L.A. or Seattle? Bring along a body guard or several friends. I might bring my mother. She is close to ninety and birthed 3 children. She is known as the Steel Magnolia and would be glad to disabuse you of whatever delusions you have about womanhood.

Bil may slap me for this reply but I am about where he is. Enough with the crud (notice I didn't say crap). As Harrison Ford said on Air Force One ..... well, I'm sure you know the quote.

Deena like you I also have a video for you to watch http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ShS9kJ33RsM As for me being a 300 lb bearded man sorry honey but I'm for real. Lisa McDonald is for real unlike some of you I'm willing to take the risk of being hurt to stand up for what I believe in. I've also posted my picture here and a few of the posters and projectors here are linked to me on facebook. Most if not all of the Transgender leadership has chatted with me.I can assure you I'm a thorn in their side. As far as you being fed up your nothing to me just another bully hiding behind their fictitious internet persona and since you brought it up most likely to be a 300 lb bearded man.

Nope. She is about 5 8, maybe 125 tops unless she gained weight in the last few years, and irascible as all hell. Think I will give her a midnight call.

Sorry I missed your call. I was peacefully dreaming. Enjoyed your voice mail this morning.

Brandi, you have falsely and offensively claimed i don't know what I am talking about, I shall now prove that you are wrong and i ask you to acknowledge that i have done so and that you formally publicly apologise. I was referring to the study Injustice At Every Turn. Go to the full Injustice At Every Turn study report http://transequality.org/PDFs/NTDS_Report.pdf (25 MB file) page number 174 and onwards and we see 54% of those crossdressers in the atudy intended to transition, that only 44% were heterosexual, that 21% had attempted suicide. That's Q.E.D. Brandi. You are Dissproven. I clearly have read what i was talking about and you clearly had not so next time you want to offensively spout false negative stereotypes at someone and falsely claim they don't know what they are talking about try reading the source material they are referring to first! It may save you the public humiliation of being proven demonstrably wrong. Oh and as my Partner Is A Female To Male (yes, Female-To-Male)CROSSDRESSER which you have referred to as a "blight on society" your generalisation is in fact a personal insult to me and my partner as is your false characterisations built on false negative stereotypes. So thats one apology owed me for your false claim that i don't know what i'm talking about when i have proven via the link that i do and another owed my partner for your hate-speech calling my partner a 'blight on society'.

Bayne the report is of 702 cross dressers about 11% of the whole survey that was taken.. It said "(54%) reported that they did want to transition SOMEDAY" I have known many CD's who have talked and talked about transition, but did/do nothing other than hide from the world and talk about panties, hose and dream. I'm not saying their bad people for this reason, but they are not very much like trans women at all. I for one never Cross dressed, it did nothing for me. Transsexuals are a very small percentage of those labeled/trapped under the TG umbrella, but our voice is much bigger than all the others put together. Maybe we are sick of doing all the work and getting nothing in return but drama???

Coletta i read the report. I also personally KNOW people who self-identified in the past as crossdressers and who have since transitioned. Do you have any stats on how many transsexuals did crossdress or identify as crossdressers prior to transition? The report shows that the attempted suicide rate is about half that as transsexuals and vastly more than the national average. And its not like those are the only shared issues either is it.

Yes Transsexuals are the minority in numbers, but then that refutes a connection how? What would a mild case of transsexual neurology look like? What does a mild example of aspergers or autism look like compared to stronger ones? No until the tests are done on crossdressers we cannot rule out a connection in causation, logic and the example of other neurological variations in humans shows we should expect it, and not to find it would be the surprising result. Not to mention that human rights do not depend on biological causation anyway! You say they are not alike... but HOW? What are the ways they are not alike? Just look at Intersex, itself an umbrella term covering a vast array of different variations from different causations, genetic, hormonal, cheomasomal, developmental etc, what are the real key differences? How big is the overlap population?

And maybe Transsexuals (especially the gender binary fitting ones) might possibly have the louder voice at the moment, but thats hardly surprising really isn't it? Conasidering the climate of hate towards Bisexuals in many places and the forced alterations of Intersex infants.. there's clear patterns of policing. And is it really correct to say they are doing all the work though?

Bayne I own you nothing you thin because you read one half ass study that it makes you an authority of cross dressers and their fantasy of transitioning ? Not Hardly asking 702 cder's if they would like to transition only proves they are completely consumed by their own fantasy. The DMSV clearly state the majority of cder's are heterosexual married men who cross dresser for a variety of reasons most of which involve skirts that are too short and panties and hose and heels that are way too tall. Cross dressers talk and talk and talk about being a "REAL" women and some even jump into transition convinced by their own fantasy that they were really mean to be women they proceed to taking Internet hormone and have breast implants dressing like teenagers. They never seek counseling nor do they care what a counselor or therapist has to say they're only interest is in feeding their fantasy. I have NO use for cross dresser or for the ?Transgender Umbrella.

You most certainly do owe me and my partner apologies. You were replying to my comment ABOUT the study, you can try and refute the study seperately but you were wrong to say i knew nothing about the subject when i was referring to the study accurately. Ergo your statement was demonstably false and was then demonstrated to be false. Proven. Q.E.D. Checkmate etc.

Next i'm in a long-term relationship with a Female to Male crossdresser! Before identifying as Bi-Gender i have identified as a crossdresser. My partner and i met via a crossdresser community. So I do know a lot about crossdressers and all your nonsense about skirt height is nothing more than offensive false stereotyping. Heck i came out publicly after i DID see counselling Brandi, as another of your false claims is utterly and irrevocably refuted.

Thirdly we all know the DSM has been rubbish on matters of transsexualism as its been ignoring neurological and genetic evidence for ages, Lynn Conway has attacked them for their dodgy figures on transsexual incidence and OII has been none too happy about their including Intersex people harmed by wrongful surgery and incorrect sex assignment so using the DSM as some sort of authority on the subject is without any merit at all.

You dissmiss a study with over 700 relevant participants, despite that being a larger sample size than the studies that find biological causation for transsexualism. Yet you have no direct flaw you can show in the methodology of the study other than it disputes your beliefs and the DSM... the DSM that once pathologised homosexuality... you do get that in science new better studies overturn old ones right? So unless you can find a methodological flaw in this one that invalidates it compared to whatever studies (if any) the DSM used in the past then guess what Brandi? It would mean this one trumps whatever old hat you could find.

And logically even if crossdressers were all fetishists, which they are not, the same arguments that got homosexuality out of the DSM would and should equally apply so it would simply be an ethical sexuality where the only harm comes from societal discrimination, so even if you were right about the motivation you would STILL be wrong to discriminate against and insult them! And the reality is that you are very much wrong.

Your cited authority doean't say what you said it does and it has no credibility on these matters anyway. You are merely spreading falsehoods, myths, negative false stereotypes and hate-speech. And you generalise those false stereotypes into universal statements which are utterly destroyed by my own and my partners existence. And worst of all you called my boyfriend a blight on society! There is no justification nor excuse for attacking and vilifying an entire class of people!

Bayne the injustice at every turn survey is a joke. Number one that survey specifically only targets those who identify as Transgender and are in some way associated with the LGBT or Transgender groups.Even considering that around 350 Transsexuals said they didn't identify with the word transgender. The survey also fails to meet academic standards. Also crossdressers and Transsexuals had to identify as Transgender to take the survey it indicates they are more connected to the gay community then the majority of crossdressers who wouldn't touch the gay community with ten foot pole for fear of being outed as gay. The survey is also questionable because it has no way of proving anyone who took it is a clinically diagnosed transsexual. Most Transsexuals I've met through the gay community were gaming the system more than following the SOC and I believe that is one area the injustice survey got right which was the higher suicide rates for both Pre-op and Post-op LGBT associated self identified Transsexuals.

Lisa, thankyou for actually discussing the study. Before i respond i ask that you publically denounce the offencive remarks made by Brandi to show that there is no place for offensive hate-speech directed at an entire class of people.

As for the study itself, you raise some good criticisms. However why do you suggest that the study not having a way to prove anyone who took it is a clinically diagnosed transsexual is important considering the studies aims? And even more importantly even if the crossdressing sample was not demographically representative does it not still not just support the Existance of but provide direct evidence of the Existance of an overlap population and of shared human/civil rights and health issues anyway?

"The DMSV clearly state the majority of cder's ... cross dresser for a variety of reasons most of which involve skirts that are too short and panties and hose and heels that are way too tall."

REALLY??!!! the DSM says this - and *clearly say it*.. care to share a quote that *clearly* says what you claim?

T girl Here for your viewing and straight from the DSMV Transvestic Fetishism Symptoms
This diagnosis is used for heterosexual males who have sexually arousing fantasies, urges, or behaviors involving cross-dressing (wearing female clothing). To be considered diagnosable, the fantasies, urges, or behaviors must cause significant distress in the individual or be disruptive to his or her everyday functioning.

As I thought, no mention of heel height, skirt length, underwear choices, or leg coverings. Unless it is your contention that "women's cloths" are only as you described above.

Also, you say this: "They never seek counseling nor do they care what a counselor or therapist has to say they're only interest is in feeding their fantasy." - If CD's never sought counseling, how could it have been added to a Diagnostic and Statistical Manual? You know, where by definition, there needs to be statistics gathered and a consensus on what treatments have been helpful.

One could make an observation that using Hot or Not ratings and throwing bikini pics around LGBT news sites conforms to "cross dresser fantasy" feeding.

Now, I don't have an issue, exactly, with the point you are trying to make. But when you use examples that can easily be applied to you, or can be dis-proven with ZERO effort - well, you just make your position seem weak and knee-jerk. Not to mention it has the tendency to poison the disposition of people when transsexuals make legitimate points about the differences between transsexuality and gender-based political and social movements.

T girl quite the contrary None of the examples I pointed out nor the ones you so kindly pointed out about me could be used to describe a cder as my birth certificate reads "FEMALE" and therefore my clothes fit my gender which isn't the case with a cder or with you I'm guessing......what say you ?

Guess away Brandi.. it should be noted that I was born in, and live in Ohio... so the status of my birth records has never changed, as I am not legally able to.

Still waiting for the DSM entry on clothing choices or some way the DSM was able to compile statistics and treatments for a population that doesn't seek counseling.

Again, Brandi, you missed the point and don't see how every single argument you use will be used against you using the theory you seem to advocate. Again, don't embarrass the people who are actually trying to thoughtfully decouple transsexuality and transgender without adding stigma to one or the other. Also for he record... slutty =/= to female... that seems to be the justification you were making.

T girl it doesn't matter that you are from or live in Ohio and they won't change a birth certificate as i've heard you state before in your other post that your pre/non-op. Likewise I certainly doubt from reading your post that your one of these Individuals trying to separate TS from Tg just the opposite I would surmise. As for cders going to counseling I'm sure your aware that tons of them go with their wife's once they announce they're a cross dresser in a last ditch hope of saving their marriages, and I'm sure some even go after the shit hits the fan and their divorced trying to understand why... DUH ! because they informed their wife's that they like dressing in women's clothes and prancing around the house or even go out in public for the bolder ones. Lastly as to your reference of "slutty =/= to female" I'm not sure what your trying to say here unless your saying all females are sluts

Brandi, i've already pointed out to you that your knowledge of crossdressers amounts to nothing more than myths and false stereotypes and blanket generalisations stated as universals. For one thing you might be shocked at how many Cisgender women are actually attracted to crossdressers! It shouldn't be a surprise, after all David Bowie and Boy George posters etc were popular on teen girls walls generations ago, but the myths and stereotypes dont acknowledge that and the myths seem to be all you know.

I think if a guy's wife ever dares to put on a pair of pants or a hoodie he should divorce her straight away. How dare she wear men's clothing, she's a woman what is wrong with her, it's an abomination unto the eyes of the lord. Damn women prancing around thinking they're men. I mean it's fabrics and the type of fabric you wear should be more important then the love you feel for you partner and the marriage vows you've taken. What is wrong with these sickos....sheesh women in pants thinking they're men I don't know how their husbands put up with them.

One last thing for you Bigot Brandi (that's your new nic)....what business is it of yours why crossdressers do what they do or how they do it. Who cares if it's for sex or because they're actually transsexuals that are to scared to admit it or both. No one has to justify themselves and their motivations to you to be part of any silly LGBT movement. Mind your own god damn business about what people do by themselves in their own bedrooms and keep your opinions to yourself about people's marriages. I can tell you I'd rather be walking down the street with a bearded lady in pantyhose then with you or with most the people on here. I'd feel less ashamed and embarrassed to be seen with the bearded crossdresser then I would to be hanging seen with you.

All the vitriol and myths being used by many of those who want transsexuals kept seperate from transgender smacks of simple transphobia against bi-gender and gender-fluidity etc.

Of the claims of hijacking and co-opting, which do seem to be the same arguments that women-born-women groups use to attack all transsexuals, the one that seems to have the strongest weight if any is the one from Intersex groups where anatomical intersex is being used to give some validity to transsexuals but without my seeing any discussion of the many important intersex rights issues being discussed by those transsexuals (birth certificate correction of wrong assignment WITHOUT surgery requirements, protection of infants from harmful surgery till they are old enough to decide for themselves and much more).

Maybe thats because as some Intersex people do see themselves as neither male or female or both acknowledging that would unravel the whole tapestry woven to disguise the thinly-veiled transphobic hate and attacks on the majority of transgender people?

And is it just me or does anti bi-gender hate seem very much like anti bisexual hate?

As per my initial comment regarding an "Alliance".........ROFLMAO!!!

I try to avoid transsexual activists and transsexual groups as does my gf who is also ts. I've never experienced such a level of hatred and bigotry towards transsexuals in my life then I've experienced within transsexual 'support' or 'activism' groups.

The hate becomes really apparent when they get angry at you. For example I recently got into an argument with a prominent ts activist about feminism. As soon as she got upset she began to make comments that implied if not outright stated that I was a man, she even told me to hike up my skirt and go back to being a man as I still want to enjoy "male privilege" (whatever that means). I would never and have never no matter how angry I've gotten call another ts woman a dude or he as I actually see ts women as being women, it wouldn't even cross my mind to say such a thing. I think there might even be a little hate for men in there as the worse thing most these ts women can think to call someone is a man, like being a man is some kind of abhorrent and evil thing.

Another example is my gf got into an argument at a ts support/activism group and the girl actually said, "I bet you go out and sleep with gay men!". How hilarious is that, that's the worse insult she could think of to say. it's not only transphobic in implying that my gf is nothing but a drag queen, we can throw homophobia in there too, it's to bad she couldn't put a little racism into it, maybe, "go sleep with a black gay man". This type of transphobia in ts groups isn't just an aberration in my experience. These two women I'm talking about were both prominent in the public arena for ts rights.

These are the types of people who are fighting for 'ts rights'. Myself I just want to live my life and be left alone I want nothing to do with this group of homophobic/transphobic rabid hypocrites.

We actually experience more discrimination at the gay night club then we do in general society. If we use a women's washroom in a mall the worse that could happen (even though it never has) is the security guards may be called to investigate. At the gay club the second the lesbians see you in there washroom staff show up and my gf has to show her ID to prove her gender is officially female and I have to use the men's room. I can't be bothered to have anything to do with these people either. Being low income I find myself identifying more with that straight cisgendered woman at the food bank struggling to pay her bills then I ever do with any of these so-called activists.

I just finished reading the comments ROFL OMG you're actually doing it right here calling each other bearded men and such! LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL

How about this we have only two types of trans people:

W.A.S.P.-like yuppie trans people (we'll call them tra-yups)that run off at the mouth and spend years of their lives babbling over words and definitions. They'll be like the trans equivalent of say yuppie G20 protesters that show up at G20 meetings to play make believe anarchist. These would be the types of transgendered people who's main concerns are to look good in front of the heteros, ya know cause if ya make the heteros mad they'll take away your rights. Shhhh don't bash Christians we don't want to look like we stereotype Christians they might get mad at us. All the while you're doing this people are starving to death and dying from disease all over the world and Iranians are hanging to death gay children.

Then the second type will be trans people of low income that eke out a meager existence at dead end jobs. Or trans prostitutes, I know they're the lowest form of trans life, sorry for bringing them up I know we make you look bad in front of the heteros. Sorry, I don't want to offend any tra-yups using the wrong terminology. Sex trade worker is the tra-yup pc term today for a prostitute? We'll call these type of trans people human beings. I know human beings is a pretty general term but I figure at some point in time we can all as human beings break down our divisions.

I can tell ya if the cops or the fundie christians or whoever show up on the downtown Eastside of Vancouver to round up all the trannys our brothers and sisters would stand beside us, and by brothers and sisters I don't mean you up in your ivory tower I mean our fellow street people, trans, hetero, gay, drug addicted, whatever they'll be beside us.

I hope some day you find the proper terminology to call yourself so you can all be happy and not have to call each other "300lb bearded men behind computers".

Oh god I'm laughing so hard at you all right now I've almost peed myself.

Yes, and if you read the full series and full comments besides the inflammatory exchanges, you'll also see some in here working to change these attitudes. But you're absolutely not going to help the matter by provoking or renaming people "bigot" so-and-so.

Hi Mercedes, Great article, very well dissected and discussed. I'm just jumping into this debate/issue after reading Julia Serano's blog about the same subject. I thought my biggest issue was gonna be dilating 3 times a day! now this ?? Some of the venom and vitriol I have read in the responses leaves my mouth hanging. But I submit onto you one more point and point of view:
Their seems to be a real disgust in their rants against CD's. Do they know what happens when a transsexual female is unable to transition or as a young person unable to live in their target gender? You fetishize femininity. Not just the clothes, but almost all aspects of it become erotisized when one is unable to transition. Those of us who are able to transition can pass through this phase quickly, but it is the ugly secret of many transsexuals. A secret we keep from everyone including ourselves. And as such it becomes the thing we hate both in ourselves and in others. Many female transsexuals that I have talked to including myself have spoken of going through several phases of discovery en route to full transition. Cross dressing, thinking we were gay, lesbian, straight, gender queer,two spirit, ... you name it! But some of us seem to be so ashamed to admit that we were ever anything but absolutely sure we were female the whole time. And completely free of any sexually deviant (what ever that means!) thoughts or desires. We certainly never fantasized about .... well, anything! Except being healthy hetero normal women who just wanted to meet a nice guy and settle down. How boring !! and how antiquated too. It all sounds like the old days of what transsexuals had to do in the 60's and such to qualify for SRS. So who are these women I wonder? these so called "real transsexuals" who are so up in arms to leave the umbrella of shame? I never seem to meet them in person in any circles I travel. It seems they only speak such hateful speech on line. If that is the case, it would seem their separation is complete. So what's all the fuss. I assume they have not only fully transitioned very successfully, but they are also beautiful, happily married, and completely stealth. Or are they ? If they are, did they ever come out to anyone in their transitions? have they ever faced rejection? Were they ever homeless and hungry ? Does anybody know their pasts? do their husbands/boyfriends/lovers know what their identities used to be? How do they explain why they cant get pregnant?
What do they say when a simple back round check reveals their old name, gender marker, and possibly a photo or two ? None of us can outrun our pasts. You can decide to trade one closet for another, but what kind of life is that? For me the hero's of the trans(fill in the blank) movement are people like Amanda Simpson, Julia Serano, Lynn Conway, Calpernia Addams, and Andrea James, to name a few. Women who live out and proud and UN ASHAMED of who they are and who their community is made up of. These other ladies who insist on name calling, and ridicule are cowards. They represent no one except their own fragile egos and possibly their even more fragile gender identities. Pointing their fingers and their anger at all these other gender identities as if they are ruining "it" for them. They forget that "it" is not just for them. "IT" is the right to walk this earth and be free to self identify with dignity. And "it" belongs to everybody. Not just the beautiful, or the wealthy (lets face it, fully transitioning takes cash and lots of it!) or those of us lucky and opportunistic enough to both define and Hijack "normal".
And like Ms.Serano, I never hear any of these ladies ever offer an alternative to the unity they work so hard to tear down. And I think I know why... they don't need one. Think about it,... they are done. They have transitioned and probably pass as cis-sexuals and don't really have a fight infront of them. And dis owning the rest of the TG/TS etc community ensures their membership in the stealth club. As long as they are still connected to some 46 year old TS just starting electrolysis they will always be in danger of being outed themselves. For them, it's not an umbrella, it's a jail! So they would abandon those of you not lucky enough to be born under 5 foot 7, or with narrow shoulders, or cash!
As for me, my surgeries entailed a lot of things. But one thing Dr. Suporn did not do was remove my spine! So I can't turn my back so easily on my sisters. And if the LGB's wanna unite and combine resources, Great!! I for one could use the help, as it would appear some of our own have gone missing.