Kelley Winters

Trans Nonviolence and Civil Discourse

Filed By Kelley Winters | January 18, 2011 12:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Transgender & Intersex
Tags: ad hominem attack, civil discourse, transgender, transsexual

Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon. Indeed, it is a weapon unique in history, which martin-luther-king1.jpgcuts without wounding and ennobles the man [or woman] who wields it. I believe in this method because I think it is the only way to reestablish a broken community.
--Martin Luther King, Jr., December 11, 1964

Forty-seven years after Dr. King's acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize, these words remain as inspiring and urgent to us today as they were then. Against a backdrop of national dialogue on hate speech and gun violence, I have been heartbroken this month at escalating personal attacks online among transsexual women and deepening division between communities of gender diversity.

In all social justice movements, there is tension between assimilationists and revolutionaries. There is tension between separatists and unifiers, between those who seek division and those who seek solidarity. This tension and diversity of viewpoint within a movement can sometimes be constructive. Out of this tension can come understanding of commonalities and respect for differences. But when boundaries of civil discourse are ignored, when the language of oppression is internalized by the oppressed, then oppression wins and social justice and human dignity are lost for all.

When we stereotype, scapegoat, or misgender others who have suffered the same discrimination as ourselves, we stereotype, scapegoat and misgender ourselves as well. As President Obama reminded us last week in Tuscon:

It's important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we're talking with each other in a way that -- that heals, not in a way that wounds.

I consider all people whose gender identities or gender expression transcend the boundaries and stereotypes of assigned birth sex to be my brothers and sisters. I consider gender identities and expressions in all of the countless combinations of masculinity, femininity, both or neither to be equally valid, equally precious and equally deserving of equality and dignity. I strive to be a better ally for those whose gender identities, social identities and personal challenges differ from my own and to not impose my own narrative upon others. I strive for unity among those who share common barriers of prejudice, intolerance and false stereotypes of mental deficiency and sexual deviance. I invite all gender transcendent people and people of conscience to join me.

Leave a comment

We want to know your opinion on this issue! While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

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

Kelley, what you're saying here is a lovely Hallmark Card but I wish you would be straightforward about your message. You're obviously immediately referring to the Pam's House Blend posts but what you're saying about them is blurred. If you have an issue with people who ID has WBT or HBS people (I know I do), just be out with it. At least I credit that Autumn didn't tiptoe around the subject.

Personally, I found Sandeen's series hugely overkill but I understand why she wrote it... Ashley Love wrote repeated posts misgendering her. Autumn was sick of people in the community attacking others using that means of putdown. She was probably sick of dealing with the usual candidates (who will likely make their usual sour appearance on this thread) so she went against the next generation of people attacking her. I'm no Autumn fan and frequently disagree with her, but I understand her frustration. Contrary to some transgender activists who have categorized this 4-part series as "online bullying" I don't see Ashley as any kind of victim much less helpless in the least. She has lots of contacts within "Gay Inc," has published on Huffington Post, was quoted in the NY Times and reaches thousands of people with her often negative and vitriolic Facebook posts. If you do 'nyaah-nyaah you're a man' often enough, someone's going to fight back.

But back to your post... usually in public discourse, healing initially requires a process of extreme candor. What isn't spoken about and aired publicly can't be healed. Yes, adults need to express their opinions with tact and politeness, but just saying we "should" respect one another is just stuffing reality back into a Pandora's box.

I can't speak for Kelley, but this issue is one that's been pinballing around for years, whether it's between Autumn and Ashley Love, or whoever else. I don't know that it really helps to single out specific combattants and a specific exchange when the issue goes far beyond both.

When you refer to "extreme candor," that is true, but the problem is that the "true transsexual vs. transgender" debate has escalated to a level where it is no longer a conversation, and healing, resolution or enlightenment aren't likely to come from the back and forth that ensues. I have not been able to follow the exchanges between Autumn and Ashley enough to know if this is the case here, but it has been my experience in many such exchanges.

I do understand your point that when speaking this generally, it can gloss over some of the points of contention that really need to be discussed. I've been guilty of this also. However, the discussion needs to be rebooted before points of contention can be discussed effectively.

Thank you, Kelley, for writing this.

Mercedes... how do you "reboot" this discussion/argument because I don't see any button?

Live by the sword, die by the sword. Ashley went around attacking people by name (including Autumn) and purposefully misgendering them. She did this persistently and with ridicule. She is doing her damnedest to be seen as a "trans leader of tomorrow" even promoting what is, in effect, a phantom 'anti-defamation' organization. She deserved to be called out on it (although whether it deserved a 4-part series is up to question?). She's not someone I'm comfortable with media quoting when it comes to trans issues. (not that I like Mara 'the quote machine' Keisling either). Moreover, she's highly hypocritical when it comes to accusing Autumn as representing Gay Inc. when Ashley has spent much of the last 4 years socializing at virtually every Gay Inc. party of note.

Autumn puts herself up on a 'speaking for the transgender part of LGBT activism' pedestal and chose to name Ashley. Yes, I honestly think her rep (such as it was) has been knocked down many notches by doing both of these actions, but it's her choice. There are obviously large numbers of people in the trans community who have serious issues with her being seen as any kind of 'go-to' person when it comes to reporting on or representing issues which impact us. That's been made painfully obvious by this episode.

Honestly, I think neither of them are leading anyone and are altogether speaking for and promoting themselves. Therefore, the community is actually not being harmed by it other than having a bit of raw underbelly exposed (sorry for the analogy) something the trans community is very well used to. Getting a reality check about self-promoters is, yes, a sign of maturity in any movement.

"Mercedes... how do you "reboot" this discussion/argument because I don't see any button?"

That's the problem. Enough people from both sides need to agree to step back and look at things objectively, baggage aside and acknowledging that neither is going to be absolutely right -- otherwise, the two factions simply end up digging in. Often when this has come up in other communities (feminism, LGB, etc), it takes the next generation to come along with new ways of looking at things. I'd hate to think that this is argument will end up going that route, but it might.

Thanks for the background. I'll still reserve some comment until I can read her writings, but it does explain some of what has been exchanged.

Does Autumn claim to speak for everyone trans? I ask this honestly, because I don't recall her doing so, but then I'm also not always on the blogs, and miss things. I only ever claim to speak for myself, but I'd also learned years ago to communicate in definitive statements because they were essential to effective essay writing... so I've given people this same impression in the past. I wonder if this is a part of what's happening? Just being devil's advocate here.

OTOH, I do recognize that she's sometimes portrayed that way. It's not conducive to revealing a diverse community, but this is not always a person's own "hubris" per se.

I did not single out Autumn and Ashley in this post, because these issues of division, defamation and uncivil discourse are much, much larger than these two women or their recent verbal attacks against each other. For example, just last year a sister transwoman backhandedly maligned me as a narcissistically injured autogynephilic male in the Archives of Sexual Behavior.

What I will say about Ashley and Autumn is that I know and admire them both and consider them my friends. They have both worked hard and made personal sacrifices to fight for civil justice for others. However, I feel that both women have crossed a line that trans, TS and queer people should never cross. I was heartbroken to read their words and even more saddened by the polarized vitriol that followed in their wake.

I believe that Ashley had valid points to make about the low priority and outright erasure of TS-specific medical and legal issues by ciscentric gay/lesbian organizations that claim to be transinclusive. But these points were eclipsed by her maligning and misgendering words against Autumn, the very words that are used against all of us by our transphobic oppressors. I believe that Autumn had valid points to make about harmful division and acrimony among factions of TS, trans and queer communities. But her message was lost in the harsh scapegoating of a single person for social fractures whose history is older than Ashley. We have real world adversaries in real world places like CAMH, Northwestern University and Colorado Springs who are far more deserving of a four-part expose.

My message was not about singling out Ashley or Autumn, but to share four principles of inclusion and respect in the last paragraph of my post. I would be honored by others here who might embrace them with me.

"We have real world adversaries in real world places like CAMH, Northwestern University and Colorado Springs who are far more deserving of a four-part expose."

Kelley, truly no offense meant, but when you're somehow suggesting you're concerned about real issues and they're concerned about petty issues that sounds totally condescending.

I assume that if people feel the need the spend endless hours rehashing this stuff it's important to them and I can chose to listen or validate it, or not. There have been countless threads about the CAMH on many blogs with only a few comments, whereas these identity-related arguments get many. Dismiss it if you will, but it's obviously something people in our community need to discuss and they need (not just want) to discuss it their own way even if it's not served with their pinky up. That doesn't mean these issues supersede United ENDA or the DSM, it just means some people are trying to suggest certain issues in the trans community shouldn't require any more passionate discussion... and they're obviously so wrong. Sorry, but your definition of 'unproductive' isn't universally accepted.

No offense taken, Gina, but please don't misquote me. My sentence said that we have "real adversaries" (and neither Ashley or Autumn are my adversaries). In truth, I emphasized that both women had valid points to make about identity related issues, but that their points were obfuscated, buried, by their ad hominem attacks upon each other. Personally, I agree with you that we need discussion, passionate discussion, around these evolving identity issues: outer social identity, inner gender identity, and the ambiguous nature of the word, "identity." But, as Autumn and Ashley unfortunately demonstrated, without respect, without civil discourse, this discussion is impossible. It is to enable dialogue on these important issues that all of us should take note of Dr. King's and President Obama's words on nonviolence.

Great post. Lots of people who invoke MLK could learn a thing or two about nonviolence from him, a means he said was just as important as the ends.

" Yes, adults need to express their opinions with tact and politeness, but just saying we "should" respect one another is just stuffing reality back into a Pandora's box."

I used the expression 'Pandora's box' in a reply to a post by Reverend Heath a couple of weeks ago. After I put up my reply I immediately became uneasy. I looked into it. The original expression is Pandora's Jar. Erasmus of Rotterdam is the one who is said to have mistranslated Pandora's Jar to Pandora's "Box" from the Greek.

Pandora's Jar or "Box" has a lot of different connotations and has been the subject of controversy for some time. Jean Ellen Harrison, who became involved with the Bloomsbury Group, saw 'in Hesiod's story "evidence of a shift from matriarchy to patriarchy in Greek culture. As the life-bringing goddess Pandora is eclipsed, the death-bringing human Pandora arises."'

Pandora's jar is also said to contain hope. Apparently, any optimistic way of looking at a situation is in the eye of the beholder. Nietzche was quoted in the same Wikipedia article "Zeus did not want man to throw his life away, no matter how much the other evils might torment him, but rather to go on letting himself be tormented anew. To that end, he gives man hope. In truth, it is the most evil of evils because it prolongs man's torment."

both quotes are from:

I don't see myself transcending anything. Somehow, I found myself on this rock just trying to get along like everyone else. It seems to me everyone is transgender in one way or another. I don't understand the "separatist" labeling. Separate? Separate from whom? What are the lines of separation. What does separating imply. If one is not a "separatist" it seems to me that what would keep one from being separate with others who are "trans" would have to make them separate from those who are not.

I don't want to extend the metaphor of the "jar", the "vessel", any further than I have. I have a feeling, however, the most vehement sentiments have not yet been heard from if that were the criterion on which the lines of separation were based for female. Look it up if you have the time and know where to look for examples of what I mean.

Being separate is not always a matter of choice or self identification. Within the subcategories of male and female, other sub-categories can be made. If there are subcategories made it does not negate one's maleness or femaleness as things stand. If the situation is viewed from what separates male from female rather than what separates "trans" from male and female one would find it possible to separate out of those categories people who have always taken for granted that they belong within those categories. Sex is not a binary phenomenon. If some would like to create a third category, it should be voluntary. It should not be a category that some are drawn into or placed into because they've been separated out of the other two and then forced to separate from in order to be part of the other two categories, whether they have trans histories, or not.

Not to be too much the Pollyanna, but I'll admit that I'm a bit of a dogged optimist about our lot in the wider world--and I mean that for a broad 'us,' for anyone who self-identifies as transsexual or transgender or genderqueer. I figure that, as long as we identify our common cause in striving for social justice and skip getting hung up on the tedious Stalinesque exercises in semantics, that together we can overcome most any challenge, given time, patience, and an acceptance of our common humanity. Thus might we all strive to do some wee bit of additional good in this world.

To their credit, both women have achieved something on our behalf... and then they diminish themselves and their own important value to all of us as examples and leaders through this sort of needless, avoidable, unproductive, and fundamentally petty public horizontal nonsense.

That it came to this is our loss, not theirs. I'm grateful for Kelley's sentiment, but also for gina's not holding back.

Excellent comment, Christina. And I especially appreciate the phrase, "tedious Stalinesque exercises in semantics".

Here, here, Kelley. Very well said.

I never fail to be astounded that no matter how small the GLBT minority group, that we manage to subdivide ourselves further. This is a luxury we cannot afford.

The one thing that is not being discussed here, except by the questions I raise, is what the lines of separation are and should be. Expressions such as "gender congruence" or determining that one is no longer "gender incongruent" is pretty much saying that one is either a "man of history" or a "woman of history", "woman or man born transsexual". It is rather simple. A person of transsexual history's goal is not to have rights as a trans person. It is to have the same rights as any other man or woman. That has been said over and over. Why can't a person who has legally changed sex simply be accepted as the sex legally transitioned to? Plenty of people from transsexual backgrounds would be willing allies if they were first acknowledged as male or female. Why should more be expected of them than of anyone else who doesn't consider themselves gay, lesbian, bi or transgender? If a person of transsexual history engages with a member of both sexes or the sex legally transitioned to, then who becomes the separatists? Isn't it other gay, lesbian or bisexual people who won't accept us as such but only as trans?

I don't belong to the clique of the most vocal woman of history, most of whom are married. That is not the point, however. Beyond all the rancorous name calling, those who insist on solidarity with with people whose only similarity is the way they were assigned at birth pose a threat to some of those legally contracted marriages. Why is that never acknowledged when it is so obvious? Currently, that is not my problem. It is difficult for me to see how anyone in such a situation would not fight tooth and nail anyone who would dismissively imply that their marriage wasn't valid because their sex really isn't what it reads on their legal documents, though. There are countless heterosexual marriages. Why not pick on everybody because the way the situation now is not fair or equal.

The issue of people who are in the process of legally transitioning from one sex to the other is not a problem if one understands those people as involved in the transexual process of the legal transition from one sex to the other, the end result being male or female, not "transsexuals". I don't see how this has any impact on securing legal rights for people who are not transsexual to live as gender queer or identify as transgender. What I hear is a very careful avoidance of any emphatic statement from any transgender activist that men and women of transsexual history are accepted as such without reservation.

Census figures are often used to broaden the base of a constituency. Those who are transsexual, post operative
and transgender activists would have a lot to lose by limiting their constituent base to those who are transsexual who represent a tiny minority of what that constituency represents when people who are transsexual are included. Using the argument that one is post operative to make the point there is no distinction to be made between being transsexual and transgender, should be taken with a grain of salt for that reason. Vertical and horizontal dimensions have nothing to do with this situation. It is not even an apples and oranges proposition when one considers the fact that Dennis Rodman is looked upon as a 'transgender warrior', please!

I don't think the way the idea of 'separatism' is being used as analogous to questions of race and the civil rights struggles of the sixties is a valid one to make. I am reminded of Kenneth Zucker's remark about changing sex being like trying to change the color of one's skin. I don't think so. I would not want to consider myself belonging to that camp of transsexual and intersex deniers.

You wrote:

"Plenty of people from transsexual backgrounds would be willing allies if they were first acknowledged as male or female."

This is true, but there is also a corollary argument that often happens where many of these same people take the position that you either are male or female and there is no in between -- sometimes even for those in transition and still in self-discovery. The respect has to be mutual and as long as each is defining the other, there's not going to be a whole lot of willing alliances.

"What I hear is a very careful avoidance of any emphatic statement from any transgender activist that men and women of transsexual history are accepted as such without reservation."

(speaking only for myself here, though others might agree) I've always considered that an unspoken understanding. I'm accepted as a woman in my day-to-day life and would expect no less. However, there are occasional physiological issues and socialization issues that still come up where trans people can provide more help and insight than cisgender women of no trans experience.

I understand how over the years that trans history becomes a distant memory, but I'm not personally ready to disavow it altogether in the name of assimilating -- and sometimes that is what other people of transsexual history expect me to do, when they insist that I do as you say.

This is extremely dishonest of you Mercedes. I did years and years of very active advocacy for trans identified people even when some of them were personally attacking me. I have always clearly stated I have no problem with others deconstructing their gender only when they think they have the right to deconstruct mine is there a problem. I do oppose colonization and erasure of a medical condition in the name of identity politics in the name of simple sanity.

As for respect, for around 15 years I have opposed the umbrella use of transgender to include women like myself on the grounds it is ungendering of us, the ultimatum in misgendering. I spent years trying to just get agreement to transgender AND transsexual to respect identity. Not a single trans activist would agree to even that much in all those years Recently Suzan Cooke asked the same thing and tried to build bridges of understanding with the same results.

Well, I wasn't referring solely to you, but if you insist:

I don't doubt that you began doing trans advocacy. When we first came into conflict, though, you did insist that it was an either/or proposition -- that I as a transsexual woman in transition either had to be surgery-minded, or else I could not really be transsexual and had no right to claim to be such -- and the latter was accompanied by several presumptions about myself and my motivations (i.e. "crossdresser," "fetishist" and the usual assumptions that go with those). So my statements about mutual respect and mutual self-definitions hold true.

But this is an age-old dispute and I have no intention of reopening it, beyond this point. It's old news. Done. Gone. I've mostly walked away from labels save for a generic "trans" because it just takes too much energy to fight over terms that nobody's going to define the same way twice, anyway.

However, I do accept that you're a woman of trans history. If you're prepared to accept that I can be a woman with a transsexual present or past who still believes in and embraces a diverse community, then we can talk. I really don't want to rehash the old $#!t, and am willing to put that aside and go forward if you are.

Which is the kind of reboot I'm talking about. But it's not something that can be done unilaterally.

This is true, but there is also a corollary argument that often happens where many of these same people take the position that you either are male or female and there is no in between -- sometimes even for those in transition and still in self-discovery.

Very clearly, I am not now, nor I have I ever been a member of the "no in between party". Also, my trans history is not as far behind me as I would like it to be. The matter of the fact is there are only two recognized legal sexes. It is way too easy for me to acknowledge the fact that things are far more complicated than that. Things are a lot more complicated than dividing sex into three, also, and far more dangerous. It just results in the creation of another us/them dichotomy. Rather than male/female, things become trans/cis.

I think, Mercedes, you understand there are a lot of people who do not reject their sex assignments who do not enjoy cis privilege. Intersex exists. So does transsexualism. The terms are not interchangeable because the connotations involving transsex are totally different than intersex but people do exist with mixed sex characteristics. As of now we all exist as male or female. One of the most salient factors that makes transsex different from intersex or cissex is the brain/body contradiction. Sometimes the body does not contradict the brain as much. Sometimes it does.

I find there is just as much of a lack of comprehension among intesex people of transsexualism as there is among LGB people and others. Among transsexual people I find a lot of misunderstanding of intersex, as well. I have my ideas as to why that is and it all has to do with the physical body and the fact that what a transsexual person considers a beneficial and necessary medical procedure is a non transsexual person's tragic nightmare, whether it be something as simple as hormone treatment or hormone treatment coupled with surgery.

If a person is transsexual and it is possible for them to do something about it they will. Possible is a loaded word and I find too many women of history calling people liars. Transsexualism is a very serious thing. I think that fact should be acknowledged. I think it is dismissive to characterize transsexualism as simply a matter of gender when there is a long history of evidence based medicine which proves that medical treatments are very beneficial to people who are transsexual but have opposite and very adverse effects in people who are not, mainly intersex people who have had treatments imposed upon them. I think more emphasis has to be placed on transsexual treatments for those who need them along with education. Those who need them will take advantage of them if they are informed and have treatment available. That would free anyone who is transsexual from exhausting and distracting arguments over privilege, gender expression and sexual orientation and allow them to focus their energy on all those issues if they are of concern.

I've gone on for too long. I am not exclusively genitally focused when it comes to sex determination but that's a far cry from saying genitals don't matter. If one looks at things from the opposite direction, it isn't very much different than insisting another woman's uterus doesn't matter. That's the problem. Sex is messy and not always distinct. One cannot say "all men have this" or "all women have that" and without these characteristics they can't be either men or women. That has never been the case. Culling people without complete sets into another category is not the solution. It is possible in this day and age to change sets. I don't see a problem if some want a place in the middle. I think everyone should be more aware of the fact, however, that non consensual sex assignments have occurred and can result in tragedy for those who reject them. "minority" group is woman, roughly half the population.

That said, I have noticed that no one has commented that Autumn placed on the sidebar of Pam's, a couple of well known right wing bigots AND four women of history. Ashley, Sharon of TS-Si, the unknown woman who wrote a single blog entry and myself. Ashley, Sharon and myself have all done much much work in the civil rights area. And yet four women are linked to the worst of the religious right as "enemies of the LGBt state" by Autumn for disagreeing with her. Ashley and myself have been subjected to front page character assassinations by Autumn on Pam's. Even though I carefully do all online blogging and commenting under nicknames for legal reasons, Sandeen put up my full name which is exactly what two other people on Pam's were banned for even suggesting to another there.

This is typical of my experiences. And I have experienced out and out violence for just holding an opposition point of view.

Separatist? have to be something in the same grouping to then separate from it. Assimilatist? To what, being a feminist, Pagan, hippy woman? Just what assimilation is involved here?

I am a member of the LGBt world as a B, not a t. What is so hard to understand about that? Just how many decades does one have to live a woman's life in a woman's body before that is actually respected by the t's? That's the real question that is never never never asked or answered.

Restart the conversation?......exactly how?


Perhaps you can find someone who understands the issues within these "discussions" to better frame the questions.

The classic transsexual does not identify as a member of a community of "gender diversity" and is quite happy with the gender binary.

Which is not to say that we are stereotypical. I come from a family of feminists, and my gender expression is anything but stereotypical.

Things always get so much more interesting when the WBTers and HBSers arrive!

Personally I feel the solution is to develop some trans equivalent of Goodwin's Law...suggestions?

and this is in the spirit of the post exactly how?

I submit you are the problem, not the solution.

Personally I am walking away from all this identity politics nonsense and the oppression Olympics that go with it on all sides.

My day to day life is fighting for the elevation of woman, all women and religious freedom.

Really, it isn't much in the spirit of the post, it was an observation on the comments--things *do* get much more interesting when the ppl who identify as being WBTs or having HBS arrive! An it's ironic to see them making the usual rigid points, which are totally non-negotiable.

And it is also ironic how where one falls in the whole 'identity' spectrum defines who is the problem and who isn't.

And I will believe you will walk away from the whole fight when I see you do it. You just published an article two days ago which says:

"This is a link to an essay I wrote about three years ago. Consider it my answer to the transvestite activists and their religion of gender deconstructionism."

and one last month which included in the first paragraph:

"Boehner cries as easily as a transgender crossdresser newly on estrogen to grow a set of titties and potentially his finger may be on the nuke button!"

Sad thing is, I agree with your general premise of the double-standard for powerful women showing emotion versus powerful men showing emotion, and the hypocrisy of the right, but your nasty sideswipe at trans ppl who aren't WBTs soured me on the whole thing. Really, that is my general response to your site.

Even when I agree with your point, the nasty, insulting tone distracts me from considering your content. Really, flip the politics, and it sounds just like something written by a rabid Tea Partier.

For example, just last year a sister transwoman backhandedly maligned me as a narcissistically injured autogynephilic male in the Archives of Sexual Behavior.

Seems to me the most significant remark made throughout this whole thread. It would be my guess the person you are referring to is a post operative person who expects to be addressed with feminine pronouns but insists post op transsexual women are just "men with their penises cut off", as her mentor whose protege she considers herself once said, because it suits her self interest. If the person who maligned you is the person I think it is, it says a lot about how much trust one should place in a person's credibility based on their post operative status when there are conflicts where their self interest is concerned. In this case the conflicts are huge.

We have real world adversaries in real world places like CAMH, Northwestern University and Colorado Springs

I couldn't agree more. What rights could we expect to have afforded to us as long as the characterizations of these people stand?

Why should it matter how many comments an issue generates? Is who and what a person is up for popular vote? Is it like voting for or against Sarah Palin's daughter on Dancing With the Stars or like sweeps week for some tabloid entertainment show that comes on after the nightly news? This whole she said, she said controversy that generated this thread has left me with a strong tabloid taste lingering in my mouth. Heaven forbid we discuss real issues rather than personalities.

"Heaven forbid we discuss real issues rather than personalities."

Edith, this is a huge over-simiplifiction. First off, these aren't discussions about personalities, they're about defining community which IS a core issue to any group. And I think you'd find that all the people immediately involved are probably as much involved in those "real" issues as you are, it's not an either/or situation.

As to how many people are on threads... yes, it does mean something important and can't be flicked away. Kelley & Jillian have repeatedly written many threads on Bilerico about "real" issues and had zero or minimal response (and there are a lot of trans people on this site). The Ron Gold post received hundreds of highly impassioned essays. So you may either dismiss the intelligence of people in our community or you might actually start to accept that people in the trans community are still intensely grappling with certain highly emotional issues and that they think about them more than what you define as substantive issues.

I don't know where to begin, Gina. I read just about all those comments over at Pam's House Blend. A lot of it amounted to nothing more than name calling. I think most of us have little in common. Some are totally at odds with their sex assignment, some just with their gender assignment/expression.

The expression HBS'er has been used for quite some time to paint a picture of one as someone stubbornly intolerant of the views of others. It's been used a few times in this thread. I know there are some who tried to start a faction by describing their "condition" as Harry Benjamin Syndrome but I haven't got a clue as to who they are. I never considered myself to have a condition. I consider transsexualism a naturally occurring variation.

I think Harry Benjamin's observations are far from perfect but I don't think there have been many improvements made since he died. I don't think Benjamin was focused so much on etiology the way those who dominate research do today. The one thing beneficial I see coming out of those long comment threads is the stark contrast in point of view which exposes the deeply rooted differences between those who are characterized as having common interests. That seems to prove the current assessments provided by the people who dominate the research deficient. They have more impact on how the world sees us than anyone.

Obviously, the world has little interest in who we are beyond caricature. The problem is when push comes to shove people go looking for the "expert opinions" of those who dominate the field. Why and how who has come to dominate the field that most involves involves a lot of dirty business and maneuvering for power. We'll never be treated fairly, kindly or with any kind of deference as long as they maintain their hegemony. It is problem #1, the root of all evil for transgender, transsexual and gender non-conforming people.

There is a lot of focus in these discussions about subjective identity. Of course, for each of us, whether it is simply taken for granted or a matter of deep conflict it is the most important consideration. Objective identity, however, is an extremely important consideration. In these discussions, I think the people who participate have a widely varying sense of who they are and how they feel about themselves. I think what a lot of people object to is homogenization where their individuality is reduced to a common denominator to such a point they don't even recognize who they are by the way others, who really don't have that much in common with them, describe them.

I think when groups like these turn inward there has to be a lot more respect for the real differences between us. I don't think we will accomplish anything turned inward towards ourselves. Our problem is how to confront those who identify us in an objective way so we can have input into how we are defined. As it stands, there are too many assumptions being made about a "common purpose", when many of us don't really have a tremendous amount in common. Until we acknowledge and respect the differences between us people will either be left out or be totally misrepresented in our dealings with the world that exists outside the insular groups where these discussions take place. That's where all the heat is coming from. We need more light. That is the realm of ideas, not personality and ego.

Unfortunately, some people's attempts to identify themselves and clarify their histories seem to regularly result in gleeful misgendering of others. When that happens, it's hard for me to respect them no matter where our interests overlap. Last time I looked, all "light" is being held by someone with a personality, ego and some form of agenda. All we can do is explore how our agendas and identities overlap.

Edith... your last post kind of proves what I was suggesting... most trans people have intense feelings about issues revolving around identity and how they're classified. Those aren't going away anytime soon, and they're unlikely to be solved in polite forums by 'experts'. Most of us have had enough with the experts, attempts to classify our lives or to be spoken for by 'community leaders.' Which is why I think, for the immediate future, things are going to stay pretty messy and 'hanging the laundry out' in the trans community. That doesn't mean we can't still work for United ENDA, health care issues and aid to trans youth, but it's naive to think these identity arguments (and hissy fits) are going away anytime soon so maybe we need to not judge them so harshly.

I realize this is pointless but, hey..

Gina, this '"misgendering" y9u bitch about is very recent and due to over 15 years of your side misgendering ours by refusing to hear us when we tell you that calling a woman who lives a woman's life a "transgender" IS misgendering and taken as exactly that.

Some of us have grown exhausted trying to communicate this and being ignored and even shouted down and insulted for doing so. We showed you the respect and it was never returned. How about walking a mile in our shoes. Since merely telling you hasn't worked, tit for tat is all that is left.

Well, I guess no one's gonna be able to hold back the tide, just wish it were enough wash out that ring around the collar.