Mercedes Allen

Decolonizing Trans As Allies

Filed By Mercedes Allen | July 01, 2011 8:00 AM | comments

Filed in: The Movement, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: decolonialism, gender diverse, labels, language, transgender, transsexual, umbrella organizing

noumbrella.jpgI've mentioned alliance when dissecting the problems with umbrella thinking in transsexual and gender diverse activism, in "The Death of the 'Transgender' Umbrella" and "Why The Umbrella Failed." It's easy to pull something apart - the more challenging question now becomes: how do we do activism if not as a single umbrella community? Why do transsexual and gender diverse peoples ally, and how do we ally? Or should we ally at all?

For the moment, I'm speaking specifically about the rifts between transsexual and gender diverse groups, although many of the same principles apply to LGBT activism as well. Personally, I'm in favour of building communities and building alliances - but ones that are not fraught with the structural framing issues or conformity requirements that umbrella activism is susceptible to. I don't expect everyone to be on board with that, and that's fine - but there are excellent reasons to seriously consider it.

This assumes that you've read parts one and two, and recognize how conflict, erasure and conflated narratives cause strife between transsexual and gender diverse communities. In part one, I provided examples of where the drive for third-gender designations on identification led to othering of transsexuals via India's 2011 census, and where drives for third-gender washrooms potentially leads to segregated facilities, such as what happened for all LGBT people at a samba school in Brazil (albeit caused at least as much by "bathroom bill"-style rhetoric as third-gender washroom lobbying that our communities sometimes do). There is an additional example, this time where where it's quite possible that genderqueer and all other (non-transsexual) gender diverse people are excluded from protections, in legal wording that was enacted as law in Connecticut this June:

"Gender identity or expression" means a person's gender-related identity, appearance or behavior, whether or not that gender-related identity, appearance or behavior is different from that traditionally associated with the person's physiology or assigned sex at birth, which gender-related identity can be shown by providing evidence including, but not limited to, medical history, care or treatment of the gender-related identity, consistent and uniform assertion of the gender-related identity or any other evidence that the gender-related identity is sincerely held, part of a person's core identity or not being asserted for an improper purpose. "

"Gender expression" appears to have been defined with medical transition and gender identity diagnosis as a requirement. For all the points we voiced during the HRC / United ENDA debates about gender expression also protecting cissexual "butch" women and "effeminate" men, that benefit is completely lost if we promote this kind of definition.

There are some distinctions to note: this terminology invites documentation rather than requiring it. Also, the "evidence" is not limited to those listed - a utility bill sent to ones address might suffice, depending on court interpretation. But because of linking (unless some form of clarification is made later) gender expression has been interwoven with transition between sexes, in law. That needs to be a discussion all its own, and I won't be able to do it justice here. But unfortunately, we have another tangible example that single-name, single-issue framing when speaking to legislators, lobbyists and organizers has left open a possibility of people being defined out of human rights. And evidence that it's urgent for us to reassess how we're doing transsexual and gender diverse activism, before the mistake is repeated.

And while not all gender expressions are ones that we might be comfortable with being out there, we have to remember the human rights principle that all individuals need to be regarded according to their individual actions, behaviour, merits and faults, rather than their belonging (or perception of belonging) to a characteristically-defined group.

Without allying in such a way that all parties affected can have a clear voice in shaping the discussion, there continues to be a danger that transsexual and / or gender diverse people will be erased, abandoned or even harmed by what we are doing.

"Transsexual and Gender Diverse People"

I've used the phrase "Transsexual and Gender Diverse" in this discussion. I consider "gender diverse" a temporary designation, since I'm quite comfortable in the binary, and shouldn't be the person defining someone else. I also realize that any umbrella term is likely to be flawed, although I've tried to acknowledge diversity. And it's clunky. I'm open to something better. Maybe gender diverse people - whether genderqueer, crossdressing, agender or otherwise - will prefer to retain "transgender." That's not my call to make.

I'm probably stating the obvious here, but for the sake of clarity, when I use that phrase for issues that both share, I'm denoting a visible difference in narrative and needs between:

  • Physical transition between sexes (usually with binary identification), and
  • Expression of gender that varies from societal expectations, for many different possible reasons (typically not with a medical or life-change track)

We know that both kinds of paths exist and that the people who follow them need to do so, in order to be true to themselves.

I do sometimes use "trans" to keep discussions from being clunky, but using two designations where possible to ensure greater visibility and distinction. "Trans" alone is still vulnerable to umbrella thinking.

Denoting Separate Characteristics, Not Invalidating People

It's important to note that I'm talking about dividing characteristics, and not people. People can be both. I'm not talking about divorce and repudiation of anyone who doesn't fit certain preconceptions - that is not decolonialism, but rather the creation of new borders and hierarchies.

The whole concept of human rights, for example, is that everyone needs to be treated according to their individual merits and actions, and not be prejudged based on a real or perceived membership in any particular class. If we truly believe in the concept of human rights, then we believe in human rights for all. If we seek to make exceptions, then we aren't seeking human rights, we're seeking special rights, which is oppression. We don't put into place protections for disability and then seek to exempt mental disabilities simply because what we believe about this-or-that condition intimidates us.

Not Just the Same-Old Same-Old

If alliance is to be something significantly different from umbrella activism, then it's not likely to follow exactly the same rules. We can't just change the name and proceed exactly as we did before. Being that I'm not the "Supreme Dictator," I can't dictate what those rules should be. I can suggest what I think would make sense - but again, I speak only for myself.

The question now becomes "Why ally?" and that has been an ongoing debate in trans and LGB(T) circles. Because we're thinking in terms of umbrellas, we look for "sames" that unite us - the nature of homophobia and transphobia, the general public's perception of us, gender expression and societal expectations, areas of overlap - and then we face challenges to that by people who focus on the differences. When we're arguing this, we're still thinking in terms of forming colonies and mapping their borders.

Why ally? Well, for social justice purists, the answer is usually simply "because there's a need," or "because it's the right thing to do." But becoming involved with everything that has a need is obviously going to drive people to burn themselves out. So ultimately, we need to be somewhat selective and limit this to "because there's a need and because I can."

Why: Being on the Same Page for Clarity

For those coming from positions of lesser power - or in this case, when both are in positions of equally reduced power - the answer to that question is also often in part, "so we can be heard." Without a presence in a dialogue, one is unable to shape it. So we seek to be involved with movements that are active in issues that directly and sometimes indirectly affect us, or have the potential to define us in the public arena.

The latter is important, because from a pragmatic point of view, transsexual and gender diverse communities have already been so closely linked that each will probably shape the other for years to come whether they intend to or not - unless both can be on the same page about clearly presenting multiple communities, with multiple sets of issues and needs.

Why: Empathy

But most often, the answer to that question comes down to ones willingness and/or ability to empathize. For many of us, those umbrella "sames" we mentioned give us a reason to care, and help us understand another's issues to a greater or lesser degree. Not everyone agrees with those "sames," so trying to force those points of empathy that appeal to you on someone else is a cornering argument, and inevitably will get a cornered response. We care - or we don't - on our own terms. But if we don't, we can't play the victim when others view us in the same manner.

Likewise, if we have a common "same," it doesn't give us a right to speak on behalf of everyone with that commonality (and that's something that thinking in terms of an umbrella sometimes seduces us into doing), but it does give us ample reason to speak our own perspective, listen (and parse), and find a middle ground if it's needed.

Why: Consistency

There is sometimes also a responsibility. For us to protest how a group or society at large disenfranchises or had previously disenfranchised us, we take on a responsibility to not perpetuate that same marginalization on others. This means being involved enough to understand the perspective of people we might be affecting through our movement, or at least honestly seeking ways to minimize any harms we might cause them. Alliance is a process of oppressed classes abandoning many of the internal struggles that cause them to further oppress each other, and look for a path by which they all can progress.

And if we do ally, then there is something that becomes admittedly more difficult than they were when we were expecting people to simply get under our umbrella: building mutual solidarity. This is more difficult because we can no longer simply assume that our vision is right for everybody. And this is more rewarding because it provides a check and balance to ensure that we are seeking out the voices of others, instead of just our own. We cannot presume to change a "father knows best" social structure by adopting our own "father knows best" perspective.

The oppressor is in solidarity with the oppressed only when he stops regarding the oppressed as an abstract category and sees them as persons who have been unjustly dealt with, deprived of their voice, cheated in the sale of their labor -- when he stops making pious, sentimental, and individualistic gestures and risks an act of love. True solidarity is found only in the plenitude of this act of love, in its existentiality in its praxis. To affirm that men and women are persons and as persons should be free, and yet to do nothing tangible to make this affirmation a reality, is a farce. -- Paulo Freire, The Pedagogy of the Oppressed.

How: Listen

"Divide and Conquer" is not the point. Transsexual narratives do not need to trump gender diverse perspectives. Gender diverse understandings do not need to be predominant over transsexual ones. We do not each have to rule The Other, in order to be heard. By separating characteristics in naming, we make clear that we're defining multiple identities.

This will mean reassessing views to see that others' experiences can be different from our own, and equally valid. This means being conscious of language used to judge or invalidate others. This means putting aside words and phrases like "lifestyle choice," "elitist," "fetishist," and "bigot," and listening to how others describe themselves. And there might even be times when one such word is called for with an individual, but keep it clear that you're not accusing everyone on the opposite side of the binary divide of the same thing. We can communicate without generalizing about a person based on their membership in a perceived group. That is, in fact prejudice, and we all have them - but we don't need to keep brandishing them. Instead, we need to listen to what people say about themselves. Keep personal issues separate from the dialogue on characteristics. We cannot define for someone else who they are, what they need and what their life experiences mean.

I haven't delved into it as much as I should have, but invalidation is not simply limited to those terms. There are times that umbrella activists takes up the opinion that "you can never become completely male or female" (chromosomes, skeleton, or some other reason - despite the fact that gender diverse people are often well aware that these things were never infallible in nature in the first place). In doing this, they invalidate transsexuals and people of transsexual history. Most times, this comes about through one of those cornering arguments on why people should get involved, rather than leaving that up to being a question of empathy. Invalidation of transsexuals as men and women is often why we/they are triggered, and why people likewise respond with invalidation. It doesn't excuse that response, but it is a large part of why it happens.

How: Respect

Which leads to a related principle: according respect. Every functioning relationship must have that. The idea that "respect must be earned" harkens to the idea that someone needs to meet your prerequisites. Instead, each individual needs to start out being respected, unless their individual deeds warrant a change to that. And if / when someone does something that merits disrespect, it should not then be extended to everyone else who shares a characteristic with that person.

Respect needs to be a part of the equation, 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)

How: Realize That Nothing Happens in a Vacuum

By defining ourselves narrowly, we are turning away more than we realize. There was an excellent post by hepshiba at DailyKos about people of colour and feminist organizations:

... What I had planned for my meeting with the white women of [feminist organization. I've left off the name because we don't have the context of the full article here] was a set of introductions, and an initial discussion of what, in their opinion, a truly diverse organization would look and feel like. As I expected, their views were universally that a diverse [organization] would be just like the current [organization], except there would be more women of color attending events and volunteering for the organization. Their focus was on "attracting" more women of color. I urged them to shift the focus in two separate directions:

Question 1: "How do women of color stand to benefit by joining the current [organization]?"

Question 2: "Can you see anything about the current structure of [organization] that might serve as an impediment to attracting women of color."

Answers to Question 1 were clustered around the belief that [organization] helped "all women" and that a woman of color's interests were also served by the work of the organization because "they're women too." No one on the board suggested that the category of "women" was not universal, and that communities of women (or women from different communities) might have different needs, and different opinions on how to achieve those needs. There was a distinct air, in some of the comments, that women of color should be "grateful" that organizations like [organization] were fighting for "their" interests, and that the failure of women of color to join [organization] was a kind of ingratitude.

Answers to Question 2 were a bit more interesting. Some suggested that [organization] events were not held in black or Hispanic neighborhoods, that public transportation in the city was terrible for people who needed to travel from those neighborhoods, and that perhaps the hours of meetings were not convenient. Others attempted to argue that [organization] placed no impediments in the way, but that women of color "were just not interested" in participating -- the flaw was in them and not in the organization. The President of [organization] seemed to be in the latter camp. She mentioned, repeatedly, that they did have women of color on the Board, and that Jeannie (the African American board member) had no problems participating.

After that part of the discussion ended, I suggested that they not think about race in isolation, but also include the dimension of class. Is it easier to be a contributing member of [organization] if you are upper- or comfortably middle-class? Is it harder to attend events if you are a working mother? What class of women were [organization] events attracting? Were they serving poor women as well as they were serving everyone else? I asked them to take notes and return with their observations...

The point on including additional dimensions (i.e. class) rather than looking at single-characteristics is particularly revealing. I'd hazard a guess that our communities as we currently perceive them are fissured by more than transsexual versus gender diverse. Involvement in communities is affected by ability or disability, family circumstances, age, economic status and employment. The differences are profound, and the consequences of not seeing and not listening to them are that our communities are defined by narrower visions than we realize. The umbrella never really did cover all as well as we wanted to believe. Just like "LGBT," transsexual and gender diverse advocacy only ever functioned well when it did so as an alliance of perspectives.

How: Revisit How We Frame Our Struggles

"Transgender" as an umbrella implies that we are one issue, with one solution. We've seen now that that isn't the case.

In Canada, when we were lobbying for Bill C-389, activists approached the debate differently. This was at the insistence of someone who I've sometimes 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. It made some discussions much clearer in focus.

Having an umbrella made it easier for medical professionals, legislators, media, employers and the public at large to engage with transsexual and other trans people, and find reasons to care about the issues faced by them. One concern raised was that by changing how we frame things, we'll be destroying everything we might have accomplished and starting over. This is not the case. But we need to reassess and refine our message to make it clearer and more comprehensive. "Gay" doesn't adequately cover lesbians and bisexuals - we can't expect any one word to adequately do the same for all trans people.

This does affect how we approach questions affecting overlapping communities. This comes up when we say things like "intersex is a trans issue." That implies ownership, and is obviously wrong. There are certainly areas of overlap and reasons to empathize and ally. In the case of intersex, there may even be forthcoming science to bolster that. But alliance is the better solution, done by empowering intersex people to speak to what they've experienced, and also educating ourselves by listening so that in those moments that intersex perspectives are not available, then (and only then) we can fill the void (with caveats that make clear that we're not the final authority). It also means being conscious of those areas where transsexual and / or gender diverse activism can actually harm intersex people.

Are Transsexual and Gender Diverse Issues LGB(T) Issues?

As within, so without. Lesbian and gay advocacy functions as alliance, and periodically, it happens that one speaks for the other and gets called on it. But because bisexual, transsexual and gender diverse groups don't have the same visible numbers and the same number of overlaps, they've often been likewise victim to umbrella thinking, and it has caused deep rifts and bitterness. Which is a road I hope transsexual and gender diverse activists can commit themselves to avoiding.

This is a loaded issue, and one I'm not going to be able to do justice to here. I'll expand upon it at a later date. Some of my thoughts are probably obvious, but I want to reiterate that what I want to see is the building of communities and building of alliances. This is not a clarion call for further rifts.

How: Mutually Empower

Which leads to the next logical step: if colonization is the problem, then the antithesis is to empower. This means providing opportunities for diverse voices to speak, acknowledging clear distinctions and recognizing that there isn't a single solution to trans struggles. There are in fact more than simply two voices ("transsexual" and "gender diverse") that need to be represented, too - for example, I as a transsexual woman cannot claim to speak for transsexual men. As capable people become active and available, invite them into the levels of advocacy that shape the movement. This is both true without and within our own movements.

Any organization aiming to undertake transsexual and gender diverse advocacy does need to invite available, capable and willing trans people to be at the forefront of that, and understand that they need to have a place in shaping the script. Because all too often, when you advocate for people without involving them in directly framing the discussion and without a deep understanding of the range of their experiences, this can happen:

A rift has emerged among advocates for Australia's sex and gender minorities, with the peak intersex advocacy group Organisation Intersex International (OII) Australia refusing to participate in the first national sex and gender diverse people's rally on May 12.

OII Australia president Gina Wilson said the rally had misrepresented intersex needs by applying its demands to all "intersex, sex and/or gender diverse (ISGD) people," when some did not apply to intersex people and, if applied to them, could be detrimental...

How: Preemptive Resolution

We can't simply attempt to make the gains that are within our reach now and let the conflicts that later arise sort themselves out. We need to consciously drill down to find where our conflicts are, and shape what we're asking accordingly, to ensure that the gains we attain now will not harm others later. Some of those conflicts we'll need to examine include:

  • Clarity on when accommodations in gendered spaces is needed and when third-gender accommodation is appropriate,
  • Clarity on the existence of two or more narratives when lobbying legislators or addressing the public,
  • Clarity on when identification as men and women is needed and when third-gender identification is appropriate

Can we advocate for transsexuals' integration into a binary world and for non-binary spaces at the same time? I'd think it should be easier and make more sense to the public from an allied "transsexual and gender non-conforming" position and language than otherwise. This is where an alliance makes far greater sense than an umbrella.

Envisioning Alliance

In envisioning an alliance, I'm not picturing simply changing a word, although the clarity of giving name to multiple communities is a part of that improvement. But there also needs to be a wholesale rethinking of how we take ownership - often without realizing it - and voice one narrative without making it clear that one narrative does not represent the whole. Anything less than a commitment to clarity is half-hearted at best.

Words are absolutely important. When "transgender" was used as an umbrella term, it was meant to be a union of purpose, not a union of narratives or an intent to erase. The trouble is, the latter still happened regardless of what we intended, by the faulty language we'd adopted. That language has to evolve in a meaningful way.

At the same time, though,"The Community™" needs to be seen as communities, neighbourhoods of people who don't always need exactly the same things that we do, and to whom we should do no harm - or better, when there is the opportunity, with whom we should work together. And if we do choose to build those alliances, then it will sometimes mean standing up for things that don't directly affect us sometimes. Because that's what alliance is.

I'm not expecting to win over hardliners on polar opposites of the "don't call me transgender" debate. When people simply outright refuse to respect anyone who doesn't fit the narrowest interpretation of an outdated clinical diagnosis that was written by (and continues to be written by) John Money disciples who still try to divide transsexuals by their sexual orientation, or insist that potentially trans kids can be cured by aversion therapy, that is not something that will ever build alliance or empower. And likewise when someone has had their eyes opened to how single-naming erases, annexes and ignores some critical differences in need trajectory that are destined to conflict, and then still insists that complaints are solely bigotry and otherwise substanceless, that is likewise a presumption of governance that is unwilling to question itself and change to avoid errors before they lead to further harm. Most of us are further toward the middle, and it is those people who I see as best able to start building the alliances in their friendships, homes, support groups, communities, social networks, cities, organizations, states and provinces that I'm referring to.

An alliance is a compromise, but a compromise on an equal footing, entered into with conscience.

It's Time For Me to Shut Up Now

Thank you to everyone who read through some really long and sometimes pontificating posts. In the end, this series needs to be a conversation starter, and not an ender.

Thanks to April and Jill who offered suggestions to the drafts, and also to the many commenters who have also visibly shaped how this series has evolved. It should probably be noted that of the many who have commented on the threads, it has been a small few who hung around to the end to invalidate people - the rest, I see, are looking to move forward. I see that as positive.

Antonia did this previously, but at that time, it's likely that people didn't really see the extent of the distinction between umbrella activism and alliance, or umbrella thinking as a form of colonialism that needed to be taken off the table. It's my turn to shut up on the subject for awhile, and turn direction over to readers, whether here or on your blogs or Facebook or anywhere else:

  • Should we seek to create an association of all transsexual and gender diverse organizations that would allow communication among the many groups now in existence?
  • What would you envision an alliance or alliances to look like?
  • Should there even be an alliance?
  • If so, what are you prepared to do to forge those alliances?
  • How do you feel about doing so, without the sameness that an umbrella implied?
  • What do you require from others to be able to ally with them?

There is a reason that the last question was placed last. In alliances, that question can't be your first and only concern.

Which is why they can be difficult. Better isn't always easier. But I believe it's where we need to go, in order to avert growing stalemate and division.

(Crossposted at Dented Blue Mercedes)

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I'm having connectivity issues this morning and my laptop may be dead, so I may not be able to respond to comments right away.

Wow Mercedes,

You have been reading AND listening. I did my first reading. You covered just about everything you could. I stayed up late last night struggling to find a copy of Leslie Feinberg's "Transgender Liberation: A Movement Whose Time Has Come (Paperback)" I could download for free but with no luck. That's a long story. I ended up skimming through Susan Stryker and Stephen Whittle's transgender study reader, particularly chapter 16 on Google Books. Zagria has an interesting piece on Feinberg, too. From there I had to go to the Wikipedia article on the Workers World Party and read about their support of the Cultural Revolution in China, the Soviet invasions of Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Afghanistan, their support of China during the Tibetan uprising their consistent defense of the Black Panthers and the Weather Underground along with Vietnam Veterans Against the War, their support for women's liberation, Jesse Jackson and so forth. I am not making judgements, here, just stating facts.

From there, I went on to read the Wikipedia article on SDS. SDS is the one I remember the most. I turned 18 in 1969 and started college in the fall of that year. It was a very tumultuous time. Actually, that is an understatement. I hitched down to Washington, D C several times that year and the following year, many times to the peace demonstrations that were happening in the capitol. The colleges shut down across the country after the expansion of the war in Cambodia. Teach-ins substituted for regular college classes. There were initiatives set up to start "Free Universities" that were ultimately unsuccessful but did have a long term impact. The article on SDS is very interesting, it's relationship to SNCC, the Free Speech Movement at Berkeley, the civil rights movement, the refusal to take an anti-communist stance which caused a rift between SDS and the Liberal Industrial Democrats, etc.

There was a lot of splitting into factions within and without the SDS. I remeber going to see Mark Rudd speak. He had body guards on either side of him and his jeans were tucked inside the boots he was wearing. There were very straight looking people (straight had a much different connotation in those days) from the Progressive Labor party. I particularly remember a thin guy with receding strawberry blond hair distributing leaflets in a white dress shirt and, as I remember, denouncing Rudd's faction. Oh the memories. I remember, after the lecture, a gathering outside the student union at the university I enrolled in. There was a guy with long curly/kinky hair and black rimmed chemist glasses talking to a group of people. He was an English lit major and had a lot of his poetry in one of the student publications. I was really taken by what he said about Rudd and the rest of the contentious bunch. He said he played football in high school. He said Rudd and the PL contingent reminded him of watching a football game. He used the football metaphor to relate to war and politics, in general, how their always had to be an us/them dichotomy to make things work, how that really prevented peaceful coexistence, how the contentious aspects of activism and radical politics was not too much different than the capitalis/communist standoff that was responsible for the brutality in Viet Nam. Of course, there was the brutal black/white divide at home which point out inequialities and the oppression of women and sexual and other minorities, too. He articulated this way better than I can right now. I wish I had enough time to describe the whole scenario with the hip, radical sociology professor and another history professor and others who were there contributing to the analysis of the events of the evening. Anyway, I digress. I took away a lot of what was said that evening about the cultural aspects of societal change, about getting involved within the working class to foment change rather than staying removed from it an so on. I took it very seriously.

I ended up with a distaste of politics and the dynamics that power differentials played and the egos involved. I found a lot of hypocrisy. I realized that real change had to be cultural and to be wary of those who were looking for followers so they could become leaders. My mantra is "don't follow leaders, watch your parkin' meters" - Bob Dylan. I have read about the history of gay liberation, women's liberation, the NGLF, James Fouratt, Abby Hoffman, the Yippies, etc, etc, etc, Sylvia Rivera etc, feminist thinking, etc, etc, etc, a little Leslie Feinberg, etc, etc, etc. I have been to a couple of Translating Identity Conferences in Burlington, Vt., now, and become aware of Michael Foucault, Jacques Derrida, etc, etc, etc, read a little Judith Butler, etc, etc, etc, become aware of Monique Witting, Julie Kristeva, etc, etc, etc, So, I kind of see where you're coming from.

One thing I know, regardless of much politics I've read or all the analysis I have read at various blogs and in support groups, is that being transsexual is something I had to acknowledge in myself, understand how and why it made sense, how I had to live with it and, most importantly, just how unique a phenomenon it is and then, later, just how unique a phenomenon it is even among those who are transsexual . It is a matter of being. It is not a political act. I think the spirit of Leslie Feinberg fails transsexual people, there. I really worry about very deeply personal matters being wrapped up in politics. I was going to write another post about the snip you took from the Connecticut anti-discrimination law you have put up. I can't right now. I am in the middle of an emergency. I will say I am very concerned about the way "gender identity" is written into the law, which is beginning to smell an awful lot like a GID diagnosis, similar to the way GID has been written into the law with the U S Tax Court decision. That is a very bad thing as far as I am concerned and really conflicts with one's legal sex status and is stigmatizing at the same time - very bad. Quite often and more and more often, I am beginning a more laissez faire approach where post transsexual people are concerned might be the best one. Call it binary if you like. What about the entire population? Are they wrapped up with a binary self consciousness? I don't think so. I think most transsexual people, if not all, long for an existence where they can live unselfconsciously. I don't think there is anything wrong with that. I think everyone should be able to.

I apologize if there are a lot of typos. Life moves faster than I can. There is an awful lot here. It is coming at people fast. I am really worried about the effects "gender identity" is going to have on taking people seriously. Gotta run. Life is tugging at my sleeve right now. Que sera, sera . . .

While I realize your post is addressed to Mercedes I think both of you have done a great job at listening to people and showing a willingness to look outside your comfort zones for answers.Thank you Edith for taking the time to dig into why I am bothered with the political and social implications and associations of those who have promoted the word Transgender.Edith I hope everything is okay for you concerning your emergency.

I am game to form alliances but I am curious to see what direction it takes. I agree with you that sexual orientation shouldn't be a dividing point between Transsexuals but I feel that we should be having a serious talk about what is actually an LGB transsexual and what is actually a heterosexual transsexual. We really need to have that conversation and devise a strategy for informing the general public about what is or isn't a gay or heterosexual Transsexual and why. That doesn't mean that I don't support LGB identified Transsexuals I just don't think they fully understand what is at stake by not clearly defining this issue or how important it is to some of us.I think it is also important to avoiding all of us being third sexed by the mainstream and having our relationships questioned for how we see them.
I also like the idea of an Alliance because it should allow for some of us as being seen outside the LGBT but supporting it on issues we share common ground with or simply support to advance the quality of life for those within the LGBT. Like it or not we should also be allowed to distance ourselves from LGBT issues we don't support. I think people undervalue what it means for people to see that just like them we are wide and varied on all the same issues that they are. Just like them some of us are military Vets. Some of us dream of or have achieved the house with the white picket fence. Some of us are in long term relationships and marriages with or without children.Diversity among us and being seen as being diverse by the mainstream world I think will gain us rights and acceptance far faster then being seen as a small dysfunctional group forced to band together against our will. Good post interesting stuff but I'm afraid that there isn't enough people with the stomach to hammer through all of this stuff or are to set in there ways to move away from the Transgender word as an Umbrella term. I do believe that in the not so distant future those who are unwilling to drop the Transgender umbrella will be discredited for it and called to answer for it because of its discriminatory and belittling nature. I fully realize that some are going to flat out accuse me of being the problem or part of the problem but I don't think they've been really paying attention to what I've been saying or what I've been saying that I support and why. I also think they have no idea the lengths I've gone to or the money I've spent trying to help LGB, Transgender and Transsexual identified people. I am much more an activist then they assume and I fully understand what it means to be discriminated against by those in the mainstream and LGBT.

I like the idea of alliance. I'm at a point in my journey where I now have the energy to be actively political instead of just passive.

When working with others to achieve positive change I think the most important thing is to ask, "what is YOUR perspective and how do you see yourself?" Followed by, "what are the barriers you are facing?"

My needs are not always your needs some of them may or not be the same. If we work together to find out ALL the needs the whole will be greater than the sum of its parts. When we fight among ourselves we make it a lot easier for those in the 'mainstream' of society to do nothing, we do the work of those who are opposed for them.

Wolfgang E. B. Wolfgang E. B. | July 2, 2011 4:18 AM

Lisa wrote, " I agree with you that sexual orientation shouldn't be a dividing point between Transsexuals but I feel that we should be having a serious talk about what is actually an LGB transsexual and what is actually a heterosexual transsexual. We really need to have that conversation and devise a strategy for informing the general public about what is or isn't a gay or heterosexual Transsexual and why."

Indeed, it's been my experience, in conversations with outsiders (by which I mean people with little or no knowledge of trans issues) that they tend to think of sexual orientation entirely in terms of genitals. In their view, gay=same genitals and straight=opposite genitals. They also tend to think of gay vs. straight minds along a male/female continuum--That is to say gay men are feminine and lesbians are masculine, in their thinking. So, when confronted with the idea of gay and lesbian transsexuals, they're left scratching their heads. I'm not sure what the solution is, other than more education. Is a flaming gay guy really feminine is his demeanor? Is a stone butch lesbian really masculine? What do the terms "masculine" and "feminine" really mean? Part of this is a language problem. We don't have enough words, so that the few we do have--sex, gender--have such broad definitions that they make it difficult to discuss the GLBT experience in precise terms.

Still, with people who don't know I'm trans, I say I'm gay if the subject comes up, and they correctly assume that I'm attracted to men. They don't need to know any more than that, since, in my day to day activities, I don't go around advertising that I'm trans. I certainly prefer to be thought of as just another guy in most situations. Among people who do know I'm trans, (mainly those who knew me before I transitioned, or during transition before I was reliably read as male by strangers), I also refer to myself as gay, though I don't mind admitting that mine is a different type of gay, given the presence of a certain "female" (though I personally don't think of it as specifically female) body part. In any case, I'm certainly not straight.

I was on the fence for a while with the TS vs. TG debate but every single time I tried to talk about my thoughts, I was viciously attacked and called a lot of names. It certainly pushed me off the fence and the more I hear it the further from the middle I go. I am sick of being called Transsexual Taliban, White Woman Born Transsexual, NAZI and all the rest of that crap. Perhaps that was an attempt to tell me to just shut my mouth but that doesn't work with me. And yes, I do my share of name calling such as using the Transgender Borg to describe those who tell me I don't have my own voice.

Can there be an alliance? I would like to see constructive discussions about it but I am not going to hold my breath.

And I am sick of being falsely called a fetishist, i am sick of my FEMALE to MALE partner being also called a fetishist by the false assumption all non-binary gender identity people are males in panties for erotic kicks and, what was it said recently, oh yes we were called "a blight on society". A piece of clear hate-speech, clear bigotry which was undeniably offensive. And not only did the perpetrator of this hate-speech refuse to apologise for the offensive remark but another who joined in the discussion who i asked to make clear they did not support such comments did not reply.

I'm totally sick of the false myths and straw-man arguments and vilification of bi-gender people which erases the entire FtM spectrum and bi-gender Intersex.

Dana, i sympathise with you being vilified for holding a particular view. I hope you sympathise with me and my partner also. There are bigots and hate-speeches from both sides and we must not draw our conclusions or side on any one side because of lies and hate because its coming from both sides. We all deserve respect do we not? Dana, i publicly affirm that i respect your rights including your right to not be subjected to vilification. I ask you to publicly reciprocate. Maybe then we can both call on everyone to stop disrespecting and villifying each other in these discussions.

Bayne I believe it was me that you asked to refute what was said. I can't remember exactly what it was you asked but I'll go back and find the comment and give you a reason why I didn't refute it at the time and why I still may not refute it. In case I can't find it if you post a link to the story I'll go look at it and give you my answer.

Okay here we go here is your comment Bayne MacGregor | June 23, 2011 11:59 PM

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?
Here is the Statement that you refer to made by Brandi;
Brandi Parker | June 15, 2011 9:54 PM

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.

I have to tell you Bayne in reviewing many of your comments I find myself in a position that I can't refute her comment and I can't refute yours because I see both of you being wrong but I'll give you this she is rougher around the edges.

Lisa, she called an entire class of people "a blight on society" what can possibly be cause of an instants hesitation in denouncing (not refuting, DENOUNCING) that hate speech?

Remember(capitals used as people seem to keep missing these words) I'M THE PARTNER OF A FEMALE TO MALE CROSSDRESSER.

Something that shatters the MYTH that they are "heterosexual straight mostly married men with male gender Identities playing out a dress up "Fantasy" Nothing more." well thats proven bunk right there. Q.E.D.

Brandi's arguments are fundamentally impossible because by her notions my partner and I and most crossdressers genderqueers and bi-genders i know do not and can not exist. But we do. I get my knowledge of crossdressers from years of being a bi-gender person in a relationship with an FtM crossdresser with a good number of friends online and offline who are crossdressers some of whom have in fact transitioned! If you think i'm wrong at all you should say where and how and why i am.

Rough around the edges? She called an entire class of people A BLIGHT ON SOCIETY. How is that anything other than hate speech? I ask you again to DENOUNCE the specific remark calling the entire class of people which includes my partner "a blight on society".

I would never call crossdressers "a blight on society". Most crossdressers ARE heterosexual men. I don't see how you having a girlfriend that crossdresses would change that. It doesn't shatter a myth because it isn't a myth. There is a huge difference in men who crossdress and women who do it. The motivations are totally different. There is also a huge difference between F2M and M2F transsexuals. One leaves the male privilege world and the other enters it.

Want to see some examples of a crossdressing man who tries to control women of transsexual histories?

This guy has written no less than 10 articles about me and other women of history. He calls me a 'Transsexual Bigot' and I am totally puzzled why. But he is most definitely using his testosterone powered keyboard when he types.

It is easier for me to respect crossdressing men who don't try to push their agenda on me. Why should I cower to his aggressive attacks? I won't. And I also won't ever cave in to playing along with their fantasies. I will accept they have a fantasy but I won't help them with it. I do think they should be legally protected when it comes to jobs and housing. What they do on their own time is their business. I will also not support laws that allows them to use women's private spaces. Men need to be educated that some men wear dresses and need to pee.

Wolfgang E. B. Wolfgang E. B. | July 2, 2011 10:55 AM

Brandi wrote, "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."

What Brandi, and Lisa--since she refuses to refute Brandi's comments--don't understand is that there is a massive, multi-faceted spectrum of people who *have* been diagnosed with GID and who *have* followed the current SOC, people who have made a variety of different medical decisions based on their own unique needs. There is no one-size-fits-all transition.

Please don't drag me into this because Wolfgang I replied my position above to Bayne. I don't believe the Transgender drivel your selling when its so obvious the reason behind it.There is a huge difference between some who really feels they are the opposite of their birth sex and someone who is only playing with screwing with the system by choice to either elevate themselves in society or to destroy a political system they don't believe in.

I'm willing to work to change the system so that someone doesn't have to feel like they have to abandon their sex to gain status. But I'll never support someone who is using people by proclaiming they are just like them to destroy that person or to destroy a whole system because they believe their system of oppression is better.

I'm willing to work to change the system so that someone doesn't have to feel like they have to abandon their sex to gain status. But I'll never support someone who is using people by proclaiming they are just like them to destroy that person or to destroy a whole system because they believe their system of oppression is better.

Wolfgang E. B. Wolfgang E. B. | July 2, 2011 12:55 PM

And why do you think that non-binary transsexuals are doing this? Where did you come up with this notion? From where I'm standing, it looks to me like you're ascribing motives to other people with absolutely no basis in reality.

Wolfgang E. B. Wolfgang E. B. | July 2, 2011 11:52 AM

I highly doubt anyone transitions for that reason. Care to back up your highly incendiary assertion with facts?

All you have to do is look at third world countries where women have stated they transitioned to male or want to, to elevate their social standings. I have read many articles and scene news stories about this happening throughout the years.I think its a shame that you can see this in the United States if you look closely enough at what radical feminist are doing.

Wolfgang E. B. Wolfgang E. B. | July 2, 2011 1:16 PM

Let me get this straight. Based on (how many?) interviews with FtMs in 3rd world countries, you have extrapolated, by examining something (?) that radical feminists are doing, that non-binary FtMs in the U.S. have the same motive for transitioning.

Sorry, but I don't buy it--I'm not even sure what it is. I've got an idea for how this discussion can become more productive though: How about if everyone, when putting forth an argument, assumes that no one else has read the same materials or has the same social background, and presents said argument in a logical manner--without making libelous assertions about other people's lives?

Wolfgang how about history I'm sure that you've heard of and that most here have heard of the American civil war. It is widely known that some women fought in the war as men.Those women are drug into transgender history by people like Leslie Feinberg and those of you who claim shared history. Some women dressed as men to be by their husbands during the war. I think pulling them into Transgender history is disrespectful of them and their motives. They wanted to be close to their loved one there is nothing queer about that. The motives are completely incompatible with those of a Transsexual or a crossdresser. The same could be said for a woman that might of fought in the war as an economic incentive and as a chance to gain land ownership rights. It also excludes the fact that a woman might have dressed as a man to fight in the war out of sense patriotism. Simply dragging people into the Transgender umbrella for the clothing they wore instead of looking at the reason's why they put on the clothes is bastardizing history and what it means to actually be Trans or to love your husband or country enough to risk your life for it.

"There is a huge difference between some who really feels they are the opposite of their birth sex and someone who is only playing with screwing with the system by choice to either elevate themselves in society or to destroy a political system they don't believe in."

And when someone whose body is neither male or female has a gender identity neirther male nor female? Or someone whose anatomy is one way or the other but who has a non-binary gender identity? Your narrow list of possibilities shows you have not and are not actually thinking about this. You are assuming the impossibility of bi-gender identity people. But bi-gender identity people do exist.

Um hmmm, calling an entire group of people a "blight on society"... sounds like the kind of defamation I could swear I heard Jillian say she wasn't going to tolerate at Bilerico. It's a shame Mercedes' thoughtful essay degenerated into bigoted discussion like this. :(

Actually Gina what is the difference between calling an entire class of people a blight on society and someone calling an entire class of people transsexual taliban? Just for the record I don't support using either of those positions or name calling.

Then why did you not denounce it when i asked you to the first time, or again the other day?

Because in your own way I see you as bad as Brandi. I see you selling the Transgender warrior crap based in Communism of Leslie Feinberg. Shared experience doesn't equal community neither does a word forced upon people.I have enough labels to deal with I don't want or need another one called Transgender. It is unethical of anyone to force that label or gay community association on anyone against their wishes. Just the history of the word itself should be enough to convince anyone its already dead.

Where have I made an unethical argument? Try actually following my arguments and reading what i am actually saying for once.

And if you think that any (percieved) error in my arguments gets you off the hook for failing to imediatly condemn a blanket inexcusable hate-speech remark in a conversation you leaped into then you may need to review the subject of Ethics more than a little!

You should note my actual arguments on the universal human right to self identification. Try talking with me, not the straw man.

Bayne I'm sorry that you haven't read all the articles that I have commented on but just so you know I have said things to Brandi about her comments both here and elsewhere long before that comment was made. I've always tried to stick just to arguing positions and not bashing other groups as bad as the history of the word Transgender is there is no need to bash other groups to force the end of its use.As far as all the brain studies go I've written college papers on them to include the MRI scans of gay and Lesbian Brains.While their brains have been signifantly feminized or masculized to the point of same sex attraction there is one huge difference their personal sense of what sex they are wasn't. In the case of Transsexuals the region of the brain thought to control the sense of sexual identity is different but the brain shape stay the same as their for lack of a better wording birth sex until hormone usage begins then within months the brain structure changes to that of the sex they identify as. I don't see as much in common there as you do because I see the brain development occuring in Lesbians and Gays at a different time in utero then Transsexuals and then there is also the issue of Bisexuals what do their brains look like?

Lisa, i didn't need to read any other articles you commented on, because the hate-speech was in a specific discussion that you joined in on where i asked you to publicly denounce the hate-speech, something that then was brought into this discussion, any other comments elsewhere in the universe are a seperate matter not directly pertinent. Though i am glad to hear that in general you condemn such.

As for terminology and brain scans... the scientific nomenclature will collect things based on whats technically useful categorisation, in that the personal experience is but a minor detail of developmental hormonal neurological variations. If we measure other connections rather than scientific technicalities, social, cultural etc then experiences are a more important factor.. but still then we have the studies claiming increased gender varience of GLB kids so can we still pretend that theres no connection?

There's a pretty good chance don't you think that Bi-Gender identity may also have some measurable neurological variations.. after all we see mild forms of neurological variations such as Autism and Aspergers... what would a mild form of feminisation of the gender-identity sections of the brain result in? After all with many intersex assignments being pretty much a coin-toss we dont see a 50-50 rejection of assingment rate which some suggest means some are more weakly gendered or more flexibly gendered and others more strongly so. Perhaps there is something similar with bisexuals... its the logical hypthesis, and we won't know for sure till a very rigourous study or two is done to test it.

I responded to this but included a link and it didn't get approved.

"a blight on society".

This is something I don't think nor would I ever say it.

My main concerns include, but are not limited to, these (not necessarily in order):

1) Transgender people who invalidate the necessity of treatment for transsexualism. I am talking about women here and not men. Treatment for men born transsexual is not adequate as far as surgery goes. Non-op transsexual women should be rare, not simply a menu choice. I understand financial problems and that is why I actively lobby my employer to cover triadic treatment in their insurance policies.

2) Transgender, the word: When there are laws or policy changes being looked at by the general public, lawmakers and employers, the very definition of the word DOES group cross-dressers, transvestites and gender variant people with those who have (or had) a serious medical condition that NEEDS treatment. I would like to see specific wording that reflects exactly who needs what. Then there is Charles Prince. Hater of all transsexuals.

3) Men in womens' private spaces: I am totally against this and for legitimate reasons. I think the majority of women would agree. Educate men and tell them some men wear dresses and need to pee.

4) I think all transgender, transsexual, intersex, etc., should be protected under the law as far as housing, employment and hate crimes, however, there are some things that transsexual and/or intersex specifically need. The transsexual and/or intersex condition is not a lifestyle choice.

Unless the transgender community can use the words Transgender AND Transsexual, I can really see no alliance happening. I am not transgender, I am currently transsexual and hopefully one day soon will be cured of this curse.

You wrote:

"1) Transgender people who invalidate the necessity of treatment for transsexualism. I am talking about women here and not men. Treatment for men born transsexual is not adequate as far as surgery goes. Non-op transsexual women should be rare, not simply a menu choice."

Okay, first of all, people make too much out of the "inadequacy" of phalloplasty. There are certainly guys who've had phallo and are happy with the result. And in fact, phallo can have certain, um, advantages over a typical penis. But that's besides the point.

The existence of non-operative transsexual women does not invalidate operative transsexuals. I've spoken extensively on the need for GRS health care funding here, and never had a problem with the general public understanding why some transsexual women remain non-op and others absolutely need surgery. It's rather easy to communicate that. That may be because I lived as decidedly non-op for years, totally understand why someone would do so, and know that whether a woman is operative or not, she still needs to live as female.

"The transsexual and/or intersex condition is not a lifestyle choice."

Nor, often, are other trans expressions. Nor is "choice" the basis upon which we should be deciding who is "legitimate":


While I agree that there is a need to differentiate transsexual and gender diverse narratives in advocacy, it does not absolve us of any need to listen to or respect what others say about themselves.

"and never had a problem with the general public understanding why some transsexual women remain non-op and others absolutely need surgery"

What are some of the reasons you would understand as far as non-op mtf? I am curious. Personally, I can't see how a woman would be okay with having a penis between her legs (that she owns).

And I am clicking on the "Receive notification of further comments" checkbox...again....for the 3rd time. Hope it works this time.

You wrote:

"What are some of the reasons you would understand as far as non-op mtf? I am curious. Personally, I can't see how a woman would be okay with having a penis between her legs (that she owns)."

The way I generally describe it to cis people is that transsexualism is an inner understanding of oneself as the sex opposite one's genitalia or birth assignment, and an overwhelming need to live accordingly. It is often (but not always) accompanied by distress related to the genitalia which can vary by degree per person. Some cope with it, but to others it can be so extreme as to cause 24/7 distress and an impulse to self-harm.

In those terms, I've never had anyone express trouble understanding why some people don't need surgery and others absolutely do, to the point of it being a medical necessity. And with the media and public discussions that happened after Alberta delisted health care funding, that's not been due to a lack of occasions to speak out publicly about it.

I've written about my surgical choices only once in depth, and would mostly prefer to leave it at that. But it's obvious that surgery-tracked folks and those of operative history have difficulty understanding, so will briefly touch on it.

I did in fact experience distress regarding the part the genitalia I euphemistically refer to as "the baggage." There were points in my life where I probably would have self-mutilated if I wasn't such a wimp about pain.

The penis, however, I was kind of ambivalent about. I didn't really have a lot of distress about it, although there was a little bit (i.e. there were things I wasn't comfortable doing with it) and I also didn't really care for how it made my clothes fit. I kind of thought of it as a slightly large clit, and mostly came to be at peace with it. It was the devil I knew, as opposed to the devil I didn't. I wasn't so sure I needed another major, incapacitating surgery (I'd lost my kidney, years earlier) along with the loss of income during that time, just to change it.

There was more to it than that, part of which was taking pride in being unique (kind of a middle-finger salute to society) and more. I also had legal ID documentation to consider. But in short, because the distress wasn't that bad, I had the luxury of considering other options.

I won't go into what it was that changed my mind. I have no regrets, aside from those related to complications -- however, I still think I could have been as well or nearly as well off with an orchiectomy. What is not -- nor has ever been -- in question though, is my absolute need to live my life as the woman I am. In many ways, surgery was an independent question from that, for me: not the end objective, but a step along the path.

I don't claim to speak for all non-op transsexual women. However, that was my experience.

You wrote:

"... but every single time I tried to talk about my thoughts, I was viciously attacked and called a lot of names. It certainly pushed me off the fence and the more I hear it the further from the middle I go. I am sick of being called Transsexual Taliban, White Woman Born Transsexual, NAZI and all the rest of that crap. Perhaps that was an attempt to tell me to just shut my mouth but that doesn't work with me. And yes, I do my share of name calling such as using the Transgender Borg to describe those who tell me I don't have my own voice."

And that's going to be the greatest challenge in the beginning: overcoming the invalidation and temptation to redefine others (from either side), especially when faced with people who are seeking to do the same to us.

This is especially true because the concept of an alliance-based framework isn't going to just happen tomorrow -- it will take time to win support and understanding from enough people for it to truly materialize. But in the meantime, support of an alliance-based framework for transsexual and gender diverse activism is at least a way to remove oneself from the debate. And invite others to rethink their approach. I hope.

Great article, Mercedes. I love your ideas. I hope this will help us to start some effective trans political organizations. The few we have are focused on federal policy and courts. We need state and local organizations that can effectively agitate for civil rights.

You wrote:

"I hope this will help us to start some effective trans political organizations. The few we have are focused on federal policy and courts. We need state and local organizations that can effectively agitate for civil rights."

Thanks. I hope so too. I know this discussion has tended to be more heated online than at the local level, but I still see some of the same principles responsible for derailing this effort early on, and hope this can point to a viable way through.

I think having distinct groups representing their own needs and acting to give the assist to one another s a sound strategy. Perhaps 20 years ago lumping everyone under the same movement made sense.

The issue, however, has become three different populations (with significant overlap) trying to make sure their specific needs are primary. his causes confusion, erasure, hurt feelings, suspicion, and discontent. The LGBT and the TS/TG seem to be doing more harm to each other than good.

If a TS-only movement started because TS people simply reclaimed our history and our political movement and moved on, rather than allow segments of the LGBT to eject all portions of the "T", would that create a situation where TS people would have to spend the next 10 years doing damage control instead of building relationships and resources? I ask this because it seems that every time a transsexual woman asserts her community's specific needs and states that perhaps a separation is needed, even GV and GLB folks who had just been advocating for that same separation get very upset at the notion that trans people aren't begging for inclusion and are taking an empowered stand of separation that will uplift trans people.

How do you seperate TS history from the rest of sex and gender diversity history? How do you work out whether le chevlier d'eon du beaumont was Intersex as some suggest or was TS or was CD? How do we diagnose Emperor Elegabalus? How do we divy up the myriad cultural traditions? Who gets the Sistagirls, who gets the Fa'Afa'Fine, who gets the Hijra who gets the Kathoey, who gets the Muxe etc? Who gets Shiva, who gets Krishna and who gets Quan Yin?

Bayne I've got an idea how about we don't claim anybody we let them decide for themselves what and who they are. I was surprised to read an article from Thailand yesterday because they separate Transsexuals from Transgender there and also gay men. It seems they had all been being lumped together and it was causing them harm so they are separating themselves into distinct groups so they can break the discrimination and lobby for the protections each individual group needs. As for what happened in the past let those peoples histories speak for themselves without interference from those who's only agenda is to turn them into tools and political bargaining chips.

Lisa, guess what, i already do, cause every human has the human right of self identification. That means that those transsexuals who do identify with transgender must be respected as much as those who do not.

Do you have a link or reference for the article that you mention? I'm curious about what exactly is this harm you mention.

Here is the link:

I think FTM Transsexuals are having a lot of the same problems as MTF Transsexuals are with the umbrella. They are being erased by gender queer lesbians who are also causing problems for MTF Transsexuals at places like the Michigan Womyn's Music festival and their writing is also being used against Transsexuals by the religious right and Catholics. Then there are video's like this that can be found on youtube:
and this one put out by the same person:
I don't want any of you to think I'm placing all the blame on lesbians because on the MTF side we have the same problem and the same type of people trying to erase us and saying the that SRS and neo vaginas are fake and all sorts of crap so I definitely sympathize with my TS brothers who are facing equally hostile comments and having their penis's attacked. Hearing it said in the media and the lgbt community that they have frankenstein privates. Sorry Bayne but I don't have shared experience with the type of people who say these things. I don't have shared experience with people who claim to be like me yet think surgery is a choice. I don't have shared experience with people who are using me as a tool to promote their political beliefs whether they are "Transgender" or religious right.I don't have a shared experience with people who think its okay to drag a bunch of widely diverse people together and slap a word with such a terrible history as Transgender on them.

What the.... where was the info about Thailand in that? Where was the harm caused by being part of an indigenous culture that connects binary-gender and non-binary gender people in a shared culture? All you did is post some transphobia which indeed is bad but it is not in itself remotely evidence of harm caused by being part of an umbrella, all sorts of communities have internalised oppression issues and hypocrisy. Considering the vile hate levelled against bi-gender people from some (and only some) binary gender transsexuals (like the "blight on society" remark) all you show is that hypocrits are hypocrits, not that the umbrella causes any harm at all!

Shared experience doesn't equal community nor does it obligate me to either accept or support anyone else's political ideals. That is the whole problem with the Umbrella who the hell are you or anyone else to tell me that I have to be part of your community. Get off your high horse you want me want me to be part of your community you better come up with something better than I owe you because of shared experience. Or that because of that shared experience I'm joined to you at the hip. Get real

So you DONT have the thai article?

And now we get the straw-man argument where you attack a view i do not actually hold.

I actually respect the rights of all people to self identify, which means you dont have to be under any umbrella you dont want to! Yep, i totally support your not belonging to any umbrella you dont identify with! But then we are all obliged (cause its a human right and reciprocal ethics demands we respect the same right in all others that we claim for ourselves! All else is hypocrisy and corruption) to respect the self identification of those transsexuals who do self identify too. Both must be respected or neither needs to be. Q.E.D.

You dont have to be part of anything, so long as you respect the rights of those who do want to be. You cant have the double-standard (and neither can those who insist you must be part of the umbrella), there is no excusing the paradox your calling for. Get it now?

Lisa, its a basic fact that Intersex people Transsexuals Crossdressers and all the rest of sex and gender diversity have significant shared history, shared culture, accross much of the world at the very least untill recent decades.

Take a look at this (which is incomplete as i said before, lacking at least the traditions of aboriginal and torres strait island people of australia) and much of that is covered by Indigenous Cultural Rights human rights principals. Not only can that history of connection, that shared heritage belonging to all, not be erased, it's wrong for anyone to try to.

Bayne - it is these very reasons you cite that I feel like there is a common connection between TS and the various G/V peoples. One of mu earliest criticisms of Queer Theory and Gay History has always been colonizing the various third (and more) genders that can be found as examples of social acceptance of sexual orientation. I'd liketo avoid doing the same.

That said, just because a different culture has a specific tradition doesn't meant it is uncritically correct or that it doesn't also do harm to those within that tradition. Like I try to avoid imposing modern Western identities to non-western/ ancient people, I also try to avoid making these people "Noble Savages" who got gender right...

Quite good points.
Of course indigenous culture rights are human rights, rights always include individual choice for the self, a person may choose as much as or as little of their cultural heritage as they choose, they may choose to accept it or reject it to any degree, preserve it as it was in the past or evolve it however they see fit.

We all must respect the cultural rights of each other.

Well Bayne if you respect cultural rights you should be willing to fight to have them kept outside the LGBT and out from under the Transgender Umbrella and in those communities where they belong.

But Lisa that makes no sense whatsover! For there are tens of thousands of years of culture in many indigenous cultures where they ARE part of LGB! (or often LGB are part of them!).

Remarkable article! I didn't get a chance to read all of it, but I will over the weekend. I certainly appreciate how many of the issues you've addressed on community building from all perspectives -- and the fact you've maintained an open mind on the subject, rather than pushing a personal agenda.

I'll be honest, my encounters participating in various gender-related focus groups, seminars, open forums, etc. have made me feel extremely alienated. I've found many of the speakers and even audience members to be vociferous in their plight but at the same far too academic in their approach. The wholly unwelcoming and passionately apathetic inter-social attitudes from everyone at these events gave has me an entirely different perspective of the "transgender movement".

I do find it remarkable how frequently transgender people that I encounter believe that superior intellect supersedes the most basic compassion. I'm sure it's dependent on the context. And I prefer not to over-generalize my own community, but it's almost as if the necessity for "book-smarts" oftentimes by the most outspoken constituents is to make up for some other shortcoming. Perhaps lacking interpersonal skills? Or relationship troubles? I honestly don't know.

Being genderqueer myself, I would never pass up an opportunity to step up to a newcomer and offer a friendly salution -- "Hello!", "Welcome!", or simply "Thanks for coming!" -- if I knew that alone could make a momentary difference in another transgender person's life. Of course, not all my interactions go awry, but more often than not I've gotten the cold-shoulder from other transgender people.

How do we develop a close-knit community if we are so readily perceived as anti-social and self-concerned? I would posit that the efficacy of our personal interactions and our socio-political actions are dependent not solely on communication but on COMPASSION -- in tandem, they are the true means of enlightenment. I want to see us working together not just talking about our issues. Words coming out of our mouth without feelings do not compel people to change nor do they lend acceptance, appreciation, and understanding to our cause.

Let's challenge people's attitudes with compassion.


You say we should 'join' there cause out empathy for the 'oppressed.' How exactly are men who CD part-time for 'excitement' or in the bedroom oppressed? This is just more apologist ideology.

I'm sorry but your assertions that we 'need' the numbers falls flat for me. And we should include CD/TG's because their fetish is gender play!!? By that reasoning we should include all fetishists.

I am perfectly happy with being 1 in 10,000 and strongly believe we are better off fighting for our cause without the distraction of lifestyle choices and Orientation.

When I go to my representatives, I believe they will have compassion for transsexuals who number only 30,000 in the US. Or should we drag along an estimated 10,000,000 cross dresser/gender play and demand all 10,030,000 enter women's private spaces. I think they will chose the 30,000. We are a true minority and will have more success as a minority rather than 'reshaping' society with 10,000,000 cross dressers invading women's restroom and locker rooms around the country.

I fully support the definition "Gender identity or expression" in the Connecticut law passed in June.

I think it would be a better idea for us Transsexuals to seek protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and leave the LGB(t) to the male gender play. Great move on the GL lobby to include 10 million cross dressers in their theoretical activism for men who gender play. I have no issue with the GLB-CD's. Just leave me out.

Please change the LGBt to LGB-CD please.

Oh it's all well and good to use the stereotype of the fetishist as a straw-man but How exactly are Bi-Gender people NOT oppressed?

What about the crossdresser with XXY chromasomes and the drag queen with ovaries or the person who sees themselves as neither and so does all the doctors that examine them (those are all actual friends of mine!). There are plenty of Intersex people who have bi-gender or non-binary gender identities!

What about people like norrie mAy welbe whose battle with the government got international news?

What about my FtM crossdresser partner? Yes FEMALE to MALE!

There are many people with bi-gender gender identities. They face plenty of discrimination in employment, education, identification, vilification, public services and amenities. Even a moments unbiased thought concludes that. So give it a moments unbiased thought!

Drop the argument from stereotype and address the reality of people with bi-gender identities and non-binary gender identities! Cause our reality does not match your comment!

"They face plenty of discrimination in employment, education, identification, vilification, public services and amenities".

I agree with you, IF they are "out". I don't feel like they are "out" as transsexuals are, for the most part.

I'm out, my partner is out, a good number of friends of mine are out, my friend norrie is about as out as out can get, being featured inn international news. And it's surely no surprise that many are not out but are instead suffering the harm of the closet (surely we haven't forgotten the harm of the closet already?). And true many arent forced to be out the way a transsexual transitioning often is, but then they dont have the option of going stealth that comes from transition provisions in law and a binary gender either! And for many whose bodies and/or appearance/expression is significantly androgynous then they are extremely out, being significantly more visible.

Neither are a lot of people, but they still deserve the protections afforded to anyone else in human rights legislation, and not be judged specifically because of real or perceived belonging to any particular class.

Leaving the rest aside, Deliah and Bayne touched on some rather complex questions I have had for some time---

What IS going on with the ADA?

Two part question. First: I know the ADA generally excludes GID,TV, etc. but people who are IS (and who can provide medical proof--meaning they can afford to get medical proof)are covered under the ADA. The "transsexual exclusion" to the ADA specifically says “transvestism, transsexualism … [and] gender identity disorders not resulting from physical impairments", since a good chunk of people who are diagnosed as TS/GID may have an underlying IS condition (such as being chromosomal intersex), that they would not even know about unless they can afford the very expensive tests to find out, doesn't this leave a huge grey area in interpretation of ADA and/or state-level disability law? Can't we use that?

I mean, maybe this is a stupid question, but given that there is a high probability that there are more people who are exempt from the exclusion than covered by it, has anybody tried using that angle to get the ADA exclusion clause quietly rephrased instead of outright dumped? Maybe that would be a good start. I could be way off base, but I would think that would open the door to framing this as arguing for fair protections for people who have a medical condition, rather than an "impairment" or "pathology". Even if we just approach it from the angle of using more PC language, wouldn't that be a good place to start?

Part 2---As mentioned above, the IRS ruling supports that the cost of transition is a recognized legitimate medical expense, but doesn't the Shroer [sic?] decision also mean that at least those TS people who are transitioning or who have transitioned are covered by Title VII--so wouldn't that support the assertion that people who are IS are covered by both the ADA and Title VII? (Does anybody know of any case law that can clarify this?)

Maybe I am just being naive, but reading Mercedes article made me think that perhaps the best way to achieve our overall goals is to break it down into chunks, with coordinated, simultaneous efforts. For example, if we can get the wording in the ADA exception to the exclusion re-worded as "biological cause" or "underlying medical condition" and (after the changes are made), make sure that employers, hospitals, etc. are made aware there are protections for those people who can prove they have an "underlying medical condition", we know that that would make other gender diverse peoples an even smaller minority, so we simultaneously start working on getting other gender diverse peoples recognized as a "suspect class". The key would be timing and coordinating efforts--figuring what we can do simultaneously, and putting aside our differences long enough to follow through on a plan...most importantly, making sure that nobody gets thrown under the bus, or told "we'll come back for you later".

A lot has been written about all this lately, but the whole thing is so complex that I am sure that there are efforts being made that I am not even aware of.

Thoughts anyone?

Deliah, I have felt the same way since EDNA failed with the HRC. I am trying real hard here. I am afraid of the "Alliance" to be just a new name, same agendas. I have the same fears you do. I feel like allying with the 30,000 and millions of women. It will be interesting to see how all this plays out with the Alliance. Holding my thoughts for the time being.

Allancies need to be formed when needed as the T has its own little family of allancies that most of the LGB folks are clueless on.So yes we need to stay in contact all the time but at times our issues are hardly the same as our firends in the LGB and theres ours. Hmm 1969 wow milestone year for yours truely a confused 13 year old who looked way better dressed as a girl than she did as a guy and almost became one of those names you read about that couldnt take it any more.

My narrative isn't very Person-Ovesy. I turned thirteen in 1964. That was the year my baby sister was born. She was the eighth. I was the first. She called today. It was also the year I was supposed to have my genital surgery. Too long a story but in 1969, very often, you had to wait until a person turned around to see their face to tell whether they were a guy or a girl. It was the facial hair that made the difference. I spent half the year in classes at a Christian Brothers academy. Corporal punishment was not only allowed there, it was the stuff of legend. The short hair caused me great distress, so did my father, secondary male characteristics? When it came to me they didn't pass those out. 1969 wasn't exactly a milestone year. It was the year I came of age in years but not by most other measures. I did a lot of hitchhiking, though. I have all sorts of coming of age stories from that year. Learned quite a bit. Almost died trying to get to San Francisco three years later. That was only the first time I tried too hard to do what was possible for others but not for everyone. Somehow I survived. I made compromises.

Actually, I just remembered. Jim Fouratt graduated from the same high school I did ten years earlier than me, just before he entered the seminary. I remember reading some of his hitchhiking stories. I get the impression he was much he was on top of things most of the time. My experiences were much different, always.

1964 the last year of the baby boomers and silver coins and also the year I was born. I don't remember much of the 1960's other than going with my grandmother to get Vienna sausage to send to my uncle in Vietnam. Then there was going to the drive in and catching the occasional glimpses of the war and protests on TV and the cars that's about it.1969 that's my favorite year for automobiles might have something to do with cartoon characters on them especially Roadrunners and horns that went meep meep.

Why Transsexual and Gender Diverse People and not Sex and Gender Diversity?

* not all transsexuals are binary-gender
* many issues are shared between binary transsexuals and binary intersex
* many issues are shared between non-binary intersex and non-intersex gender diverse people

My own feeling is that it's still likely to be prone to umbrella-style presentation, as one group with one need and one solution, and thus confound what it is we're asking when talking to legislators and allies. If anything, I think even "gender diverse" may be a bit too umbrella-sounding, but again, that's not really my call to make.

We've also seen the phrase "sex and gender minorities," used in some advocacy in Canada, and it's often used as a loose container for LGB, transsexual, gender diverse, sex work, poly, BDSM and other communities, so here it would also cause some confusion.

I want to note that this is not how it is usually presented in most situations I've seen.

It isn't a monolithic structure, and I suspect there may be a disconnect between what the media describes, and how the issue is presented in efforts relating to such.

I'll also note that the general public doesn't give a rats ass *until they face the subject*.

At which point, they deal with the subject not as a monolithic structure, but as individual segments of a very complex structure (structure in the sense that opposes/relates to agency as a sociological concept).

I'm most willing to concede that there are people out there who do tend to present a monolithic version -- and typically they have less success that a wider and more aware one. However that's a factor of internal education and requires what I discuss below.

Something that is forgotten about the notion of umbrella is that it is recognized by that same general public as a concept that means "a bunch of different types of people who do not all have the same overt problem, but who are related by an underlying problem".

To speak about "transgender" without recognizing its use as an umbrella term is an error -- it is incumbent on those who do the outreach work beyond the community to expalin the whole of it, and should they fail to do so, then that's not the fault of framing on the part of the community as a whole, but rather a failure on the part of the individuals involved in the work itself.

That's one part that you haven't made what I consider a strong case for yet -- the way that framing influences those outside the community (in the US in particular) to work in a negative way such as you describe.

The CT law is, thus far, one that was influenced most strongly not by the umbrella framing, but by the framing of those who oppose the umbrella. Which one can determine by speaking to those who framed the issue.

But doesn't Transsexual and Gender Diverse leave out Intersex? Yet the issues of the gender diverse effect plenty of bi-gender and a-gender intersex people and many of the issues that effect transsexuals also effect intersex.

If we need a term for alliance or whatever then surely it must be inclusive of everyone who needs to be part of that alliance and that surely includes Intersex, and also it must not privilege any one part of the alliance (which is a huge problem with the identity acronym GLB(TIetc) which tends to list identities in order of descending privilege leaving off plenty of the most oppressed alltogether or becoming unwieldy).

Whereas you could have a term for an alliance such as GSSD or Gender, Sex and Sexuality Diverse. A group of categories rather than identities, neat short succinct and listed alphabetically :) with Diversity right there in the title making clear its a group of very diverse people gathered by the neccesities of the common issues. Isn't that both simpler and fairer?

As a reminder to those who don't know and those who seem often to forget, this may be important for some people to read (note that it is incomplete, it is missing at the least the the traditions of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island peoples of Australia).

It is important to remember there are Indigenous rights involved in this human rights discussion, which include many different identities and traditions.

I have to go back and read what Antonia D'Orsay wrote a couple of weeks back. I am not sure whether I agree with her or not but I believe she was making the point that gender expression non discrimination should be covered as widely as possible. I very strongly agree with that. I am writing this on the run but I want to say what a bad idea I think it is to have to be required to . . .

provide(ing) evidence including, but not limited to, medical history, care or treatment of the gender-related identity, consistent and uniform assertion of the gender-related identity or any other evidence that the gender-related identity is sincerely held

Wow! As I said, this stuff comes at you so fast. So does the rest of life. Who has time to keep up? This seems so bad on so many different levels. It really makes me wonder why this wasn't noticed before.

I am not crazy about the expression gender non- conforming, not because I don't like TG, CD or TV or GQ, etc. I don't like the concept because it implies there is a gender behavior that can be judged as conforming. I had enough of that in Catholic School - bad stuff. Gender is variable according to time and culture, so in a certain way every culture is variant with what came before, what will come after and with what goes on elsewhere. I think self expression is extremely important. I think being true to one's sense of self is the only way for a person to grow. I think it is extremely important to allow as much freedom of expression as possible because I think that is the only way to find one's true sense of self. Suppression and the resulting repression is a very bad thing, as we know from the results of people who try to suppress a person's feelings of selfhood through the work of Rekkers, Zucker, etc.

I know a lot of people are happy to see Brandy girl go. What I wonder, however, is why so few confronted her about her misguided feelings about why being diagnosed with a disorder was such a good thing. Who will be the gatekeepers in Connecticut? Will the requirement change when the regime changes? I think the best thing to do is to keep from defining gender as much as possible without being unrealistic because it is inevitable. I think it unrealistic to think that on every occasion genitals don't matter. I think commitment is very important. I don't think having standards of behavior written into the law, the way it seems written in Connecticut is a good thing at all. There I said it again. I would rather have sex that does not conform because of sex at birth written, along with significant sex change written. Anyone who would change sex because they didn't feel that way would have to be crazy. I don't think anyone who finds a need to change sex should have to prover they're crazy in order to change sex - very bad idea. The rest, I think, could be covered by having very good and inclusive anti-discrimination wording that protects self expression

Wolfgang E. B. Wolfgang E. B. | July 2, 2011 2:49 AM

For once, I agree with everything you just said.

Hi Wolfgang,

I took a quote of yours from Pam's House Blend a while back because it illustrated certain problems with certain assertions that were made here by others, not you. I am sorry if I misrepresented what you believe and feel. I really don't know you that well. These arguments go all over the place. There is relative importance involved where a person's anatomy is concerned. There really isn't much balanced to the way people attach or deny importance. I firmly believe that the whole is more than the sum of its parts but that the parts play a strong role in what the whole will turn out to be. Some parts play a primary role. Others play a secondary role. Within the classes of male and female there is a lot of variety, including those with mixed parts, to varying degrees.

I am not interested in being defined as "transsexual", much less "transgender". There are a lot of misconceptions about Thailand, it seems to me. Women who have undergone SRS still have to report for the draft because the Thai government does not classify them as women but as males who are too defective to serve. Those without SRS, which does not seem to be officially "SRS" in Thailand but who have secondary sex characteristics, I believe, are no required to serve. Other women are not. SRS is considered as the words imply what it means, here, and taken very seriously in almost half the states, regardless of negative outcomes from court challenges to that reality.

I am on my way to writing another long comment but I have to go back to the hospital. I took heed of what you said about sexual orientation and how it is perceived by the general public. R I just passed a domestic partnership law. Believe me, I know how sticky issues can be.

I can picture a scenario where I wouldn't have been able to have SRS. I have, however. It really does make a difference. Not only that, but a lot of other sticky issues develop because of the dismissiveness of others without regard for the real significant issues sex change involves. Sometimes that dismissiveness is more outright hatred than simply dismissiveness. I believe everyone should have as much freedom as possible but lets face it, our bodies place limitations on all of us. There is no way around that.

Wolfgang E. B. Wolfgang E. B. | July 4, 2011 12:51 PM

Edith wrote, "There is relative importance involved where a person's anatomy is concerned."

Of course, and relative is the operative word. The importance varies from one situation to the next. But that doesn't change the fact that no one should be forced or pressured until getting surgery that he or she doesn't want. And, surgery or not, the need to change identity documents remains. The police officer who pulls me over for a burned-out tail light doesn't need to know what the organs between my legs look like, nor does the cashier at the liquor store.

I have trouble keeping up with all the laws. I don't see any existing law regarding someone's ability to changing identity documents presenting any kinds of problems. I strongly believe in self determination. I absolutely against anyone being required to have non-consensual surgery. I do not want any right that I am aware of currently that I would advocate taking away from someone where liberalization of sex marker change on identity documents has taken place. I am in favor of as much limitation, as possible, regarding the presence of sex markers on identity documents. I am sure sex segregation will take place in various instances, however. The currently proposed U S federal ENDA legislation, Section(8)(a)(3) seems to be a real problem. No one has discussed at length. The expression "gender identity" is a problem, too. I think the Connecticut anti-discrimination law is probably a very bad thing. I think the the DSM-IVTR, etc as well as the current DSM proposals are very bad for a whole host of people. I think the U S Tax Court decision is very bad for people who are either transsexual or post transsexual. I think people who insist that genital surgery is irrelevant are very dismissive, sometimes hateful and cause a great deal of harm and misunderstanding. I think the current legal status of post transsexual people needs to reinforce the legal status of post transsexual people in the gender they transition to. I speak for someone who has transitioned to female. I don't speak for those who were assigned female who reject that assignment. I don't speak for people who were misassigned a sex and raised in a gender non consensually to the best of my knowledge.

Sorry about all the errors, omissions, non-sequiturs, writing and editing that is even sloppier than usual. I have been at the hospital all weekend. Bilerico, sites like the Daily Kos and even the Huffington Post are blocked on their wi-fi network. I have been pressured to write quickly and move onto the next thing. Life is too much for words. That's all I should say at the present moment.

Jay Kallio | July 2, 2011 3:57 AM

For me the bottom line remains that we won't win trans equal rights and protections under the law unless, and until, we do have a trans umbrella and unite with LGB people. There is very little in common between lesbians and gay men, yet despite all their huge differences, they have managed to find common ground and work as a team. That is why they have been effective as advocates, despite constant disagreements.

Perhaps the pain simply isn't great enough at this point that trans people need to win equal rights. Perhaps we are content with going stealth, and when we are discriminated against we don't want to publicize it, because it will ruin the stealth option in other aspects of our lives? Perhaps we are content accepting injustice and injury, and rather just sneak off to somewhere new where we can go back to stealth and start anew? Maybe that is key here in the ongoing internecine warfare where no one is interested in alliance? Maybe we just don't care about each other enough to bend or compromise, and sacrifice any of our precious identities, in order to achieve a common good. That seems to be a choice many are making here.

I'm going back to working side by side with the LGBs and straight allies who see our need for equal rights and protections as their own struggle, who care about us more than we appear to care about each other, and are willing to sacrifice and generous enough to support the advocacy. Good luck to everyone who wants to continue arguing about how we trans people have nothing in common, and all the reasons others have no valid oppression or need for justice. There is hope, there.

Wolfgang E. B. Wolfgang E. B. | July 2, 2011 11:11 AM

Jay wrote, "For me the bottom line remains that we won't win trans equal rights and protections under the law unless, and until, we do have a trans umbrella and unite with LGB people."

I don't see how we can either. We certainly can't ask the general public to learn the subtle distinctions (and to people who've never given the subject much thought, *all* those distinctions are subtle) between the various trans and post/trans identities. That's asking way too much.

Jay Kallio | July 2, 2011 5:06 PM

I too find it very bizarre that some trans people appear to believe that any of the public gives a rat's a** what our individual nuances of identity are. There is a major problem of groupthink that seems to develop when people arrange themselves in small cliques to reinforce each others' opinions and demonize other kinds of people.

Then it is truly bizarre when people blame the very allies who have gotten us this far in terms of public and political acceptance, because then they still have to do the continuing work of advocating for ID changes and medical access that the others do not need, but are willing to help us in our struggle to get. As though the allies are the problem, not the solution.

This is a work in progress, and the worst of all possible strategies is to dump on allies and call them the problem, instead of turning to them in gratitude and solidarity and saying, "Thank you for including us, and now that we have attained a modicum of public and political awareness of our needs, and a little equal rights legislation here and there, we need you to understand our special needs as well, and stick with us in advocating for the full equality and inclusion we need to live". That is the positive, gracious, and accurate perspective that we, as a miniscule minority group, need to have in order to progress.

The problem is not that we are "lumped together" with others, the problem is the public and legislators need more information and persuasion that some people have special needs for respect and recognition, that are distinct to their gender identity and expression. Persuading the legislators and public ("winning the hearts and minds") is our job, and our allies will help, if we don't trash them for their alliance and help.

When the world economy is poor, it is an extra hard sell to persuade legislators on any measure that will increase the public expense burden, and selling the public on any "special needs" for some, such as publicly subsidized medical transition services, is going to be a very hard sell, especially when governments are backing away from subsidizing even life and death health care services for the general public. That is really going to be difficult for legislators to justify to constituents. Not long ago we had a 7 year old boy die of a dental infection because Medicaid was not available to pay for a $75.00 tooth extraction for him. That kind of thing happens very often, and generally is not publicized. Sp tens of thousands of dollars for surgeries and hormones will be very difficult to get passed. That all has nothing whatsoever to do with our being "lumped in" with allies who help us.

Identifying the real problem and doing the work to make further progress is our next step, not throwing our much needed allies under the bus. Blaming them for the fact that we are not done with our struggle is very counterproductive, to say the least. it's not their fault.

Some of them who have worked very hard to understand us and help us rightfully see it as a betrayal to then be trashed by us because our work is not finished already. Not a good idea, folks.

Seriously Jay.. who are these allies and how cam "we" throw them under the bus? From your prevous comments I believe you are talking about the LGB. Tell me again how NH 2009 was an act show of alliance? How is MA 22 years worth of gay protections and not even hate crime reporting based on Gender Identity and little interest from the married homosexuals who live there to even notice that solidarity? Why should I be thankful to the LGB when time after time and trans women after trans women can easily state that straight cis men are FAR more accepting of trans women than cis gay men? You makes these statements that trans people should be kissing the rings of our lords and masters the LGB simply because they let us in just enough to dump us when it is convenient.

You wrote:

"I too find it very bizarre that some trans people appear to believe that any of the public gives a rat's a** what our individual nuances of identity are."

The public doesn't. Which is why it is encumbent upon us to present two groups, two sets of needs and two resolutions. Otherwise, a "quick fix" will be found, and will screw someone over.

"Then it is truly bizarre when people blame the very allies who have gotten us this far in terms of public and political acceptance"

In fact, I don't blame our allies, although those alliances haven't always gone well. I blame our framing -- something we've imposed upon (or at least accepted for) ourselves, failed to adequately question and now ignore.

"... publicly subsidized medical transition services, is going to be a very hard sell, especially when governments are backing away from subsidizing even life and death health care services for the general public..."

Yes, and the larger fight for public health care is definitely something that we could find empathy with.

No umbrella term is without diversity within it. No two Goths are exactly alike for example (subgroups include cyber-goths, rivet-goths, steampunk-goths, romantics, baby-bats and many more), so why are people thinking that diversity within a trans umbrella would somehow invalidate the term?

Not every gay person is alike, nor every catholic, nor every gypsy, nor every doctor. All have plenty of subgroups and diversity where each individual is unique. The existence of subgroups, even extremely defined ones (a doctor of philology is quite different from a doctor of medicine for example, yet both are quite legitimately doctors. A marine biologist may study several different things from an industrial chemist or a quantum physicist but that doesn't mean we shouldn't call them scientists) does not invalidate having a term for the connection.

After all, i don't go into a rage any time someone considers me a human, even though it means i share a species with such extreme monsters as Stalin and Hitler.

Now that doesn't mean i dont think that the umbrella term cannot be improved, i often favour Sex and Gender Diversity as an even more inclusive and more accurate term.

Having a word or term for commonalities does not in itself erase individuality any more than the term human does. And fighting over stereotypes is pointless when of course stereotypes are themselves both harmful and plain poor thinking.

And Internalised Oppression leading to hostility between subgroups also does not invalidate any commonality, it just points out the presence of internalised oppression and the need to heal it.

There are commonalities. Of history, culture, experience, oppression and quite likely related causation. Just one commonality would be sufficient for justifying having ways to discuss the commonality and the acknowledgement of the commonality... that there are myriad commonalities and overlaping Human Rights issues makes that case even stronger.

Of course each person has a human right to identify themselves as they wish, but not to define others (in.. or out!) nor to erase commonalities.

Sure there are crossdressers who have transphobic views about transsexuals.. and at times that comes from their internalised transphobia fighting their own inner truth. Its not like we haven't seen cases of homophobia from gay and lesbian people, especially those battling with self acceptence! And there's also plenty of transphobia launched at crossdressers from transsexuals (like the recent "blight on society remark) and similar from some transsexuals against other transsexuals.. often being about a binary vs a spectrum experience and/or identity. That all just looks like the same thing to me, the same pattern of internalised oppression.

A case could be made for better defining any umbrella term/s. A case could be made for better representation of the diversity (in any group). A case could be made for better inclusion of issues within everyones activism (such as the identification issues of bi-gender and a-gender people, a whole panoply of intersex issues etc). A case definately exists for peoples right to self-identify (which alas also defeats those who demand all transsexuals be forcibly excised from the umbrella even if they want to be part of it, its each person who gets to decide for themselves and themselves alone). But none of that excuses one breath of vilification, stereotyping, hate-speech, or the erasure or dissmissal or devaluing of shared issues or commonalities.

Remember, rights are governed by reciprocal ethics.. next time any of you attack the rights of another remember that you lose the validity of your own claim to that right yourself!

I have to challenge this notion that it is too much to explain all these subtle distinctions to the general public.

I can see it being too much to ask of them to remember and recall all of these variety, but not to explain it to them and have them understand it at least superficially.

Granted, this entirely subjective, but it has practical daily impact and approach, so treating this as a given when we are otherwise a part of the general public and can grasp it with varying degrees of accuracy strikes me as unwise and impractical.

Wolfgang E. B. Wolfgang E. B. | July 4, 2011 1:21 PM

I probably didn't word my preceding comment as well as I could have.

You wrote, "I can see it being too much to ask of them to remember and recall all of these variety, but not to explain it to them and have them understand it at least superficially."

The first half of your sentence is kind of what I meant, but also that they have no inclination or reason to keep track of the variety. And they shouldn't be expected to. At any rate, as a coalition, we still need a single term that encompasses all of us sex/gender diverse people in order to facilitate conversation at the national level.

Since I'm being accused of being like Brandi I decided to post this piece I wrote for my blog here. I don't think it is off topic and it explains my feelings on the word transgender and why I won't accept it.
My top five reasons why the word Transgender is inappropriate and unethical for use as an Umbrella Term applied to a wide and diverse set of people that are not all LGB identified.
Posted on July 1, 2011 by amym440| Leave a comment

1) We’re way to diverse a group politically and socially for anyone to even think we’d all give our consent to either have an unwanted extra label put on us or want to be part of the LGBT and its political stance on issues. We are not cats that need herding we are people that need to appreciate and respect each other’s rights to live and associate as we see fit.
2) Having all of us dumped under the Transgender umbrella and forcibly pulled into the LGBT community hurts us rather than helps us. Simply doing that creates a false belief that we are “other than” like other people or groups. All people are different in their beliefs and their ability to achieve things. Some of us are poorer than dirt while others are doing pretty good and some are in the middle. Some of us are liberal some of us are conservative and some of us are somewhere in the middle. That’s exactly the way it’s supposed to be and just like it is for other people or groups. Name one single issue of discrimination from the LGB towards T’s that has ever been resolved? Towards the end of reason number three I point to one of the big LGB discrimination issues towards T’s that have never been resolved. I can also point you towards a Catholic Paper that shows how LGBT’s and their writings are being used by the religious right to persecute transsexuals. Just ask me and I’ll deliver you the proof. If you’re on the outside you have more power to change things then you do on the inside contrary to popular belief. Also just because someone chooses to be on the outside doesn’t mean they can’t be an allie or that they’re being on the outside hurts you. Plus as an added benefit being on the outside means I don’t have to support LGBT politics that I see as outside my belief system, working against me or as really having nothing to do with LGBT or transsexual rights like illegal immigration. Simply look at the high numbers of TS/TG unemployed and tell me it makes any sense to support people who have no respect for our laws are taking jobs from us and are depressing wages. Oh and if you’re one of those that like to say Americans are lazy speak for yourself.
3) The history of the word Transgender is just horrible. It first started as Transgenderist by Virginia Price AKA Arnold Lowman an admitted Transvestite who disliked the word Transvestite. Virginia coined the word to separate Heterosexual men who liked to dress as women from gay transvestites and transsexuals. All the groups credited to either being run by or began by Virginia Prince did not allow either gay men or Transsexuals to join them. Here is the Beginning of the Virginia Prince story by Dr. Richard Ekins the man first credited with documenting the word Transgender.
Here is how Dr Ekins describes the beginnings of the word transgender in his book the Transgender Phenomenon. Notice on Page five it mentions that it is founded in Marxist theory.

The Transgender Phenomenon

The Transgender Phenomenon

Dr Richard Ekins

Buy from Amazon

After Ekins Leslie Feinberg is credited with making it an umbrella term and devising the strategy to pull everyone she could push into the Transgender Umbrella into the LGBT. I see it as nothing more than a political power grab meant to increase LGB numbers high enough to increase political clout with no real benefit to anyone drug in she also wrote multiple books and promoted it heavily in the 1990’s. Notice in this article that both and Jamison Green and her both went to enter the Michigan music festival in 1994. Leslie is also pictured attending the Michigan Music festival a good question is why are Transmen attending a women’s festival yet there Lesbian TS sisters aren’t fully accepted at that festival? Also notice that Leslie wrote up her Transgender plan in a Marxist way and is an admitted Communist. That means since its very beginning as an umbrella term Transgender has been based on Communism. I think that is why people are so unwilling to do just about anything to push the Transgender word on people with little regard for morals or personal freedom. It reminds me of the old Soviet Union pretty disgusting stuff.

4) Being lumped under one umbrella hurts all the groups under the umbrella and hurts scientific research. It is also unethical for any medical professional or university to say that anyone that has a medical condition and may or may not be heterosexual or gay is to be considered automatically part of the gay community. Simply put it’s not their right and they should be held accountable for their unprofessional behavior.
5) I’m an American I can choose to associate with any group I wish or accept any label I wish and if someone is trying to force an unwanted and unjustified label with a troublesome history on me against my will I have a right to take legal action against them. Simply not wanting to be labeled Transgender does not make a person either Homophobic or Transphobic and in my opinion those two accusations are libelous statements by those who use them to falsely batter and abuse people simply seeking to exercise their rights.
As a closing statement notice in my five reason’s that I’m giving you not once did I pick on crossdresser’s or any other group that would be considered under the fictitious Marxist Communist created and pushed Umbrella term Transgender.

"4) Being lumped under one umbrella hurts all the groups under the umbrella and hurts scientific research. It is also unethical for any medical professional or university to say that anyone that has a medical condition and may or may not be heterosexual or gay is to be considered automatically part of the gay community. Simply put it’s not their right and they should be held accountable for their unprofessional behavior."

Could you please explain how you feel the umbrella harms scientific research? Especially considering that cross-sex neurology claims have already been made from studies on gay and lesbian brains which, if accurate, would mean that G and L are related neurological phenomena to TS! That study suggests that the scientific evidence may join us under a scientific umbrella of natural real-world physical evidence doesn't it?

I'm also curious about this article, as all the information I have from Thailand has always indicated that while there are social and cultural distinctions between Kathoey and Sao Praphet Song (Second kind of woman) the community is generally unconcerned with who is what and why they call themselves what they call themselves.

Laughrio Tgirl here is the article if you read it Transgender, Transsexual and gays in Thailand are tired of the government lumping them altogether. I think their argument resonates here with those of us who are tired of the LGBT lumping us all together and saying but your needs are all really the same.

Lisa, I don't think the problem in Thailand is the problem you seem to think it is. I was wondering if you were talking about the ID issues or something else. The issue they are having in Thailand s that while society is largely accepting of the population, the government won't change their IDs.

The complication is partly social, because homosexual (read effeminate) gay men and TG and TS women are seen as kinda the same thing by most people andthe government is using that as a reason to keep IDs reflecting born sex assignments. It isn't indicating any rifts or social/political schisms - since that is largely not happening there ti my knowledge (and I have pretty reliable contacts in Thailand)

My thoughts on this are the same as they always are. Why is it primarily binary-identified pot-corrected women living in industrialized nations trying to draw the lines? Where are the trans men/ trans-masculine spectrum people (I mean have a discussion about who can reclaim words or who should be in women's spaces and trans guys aren't shy about their opinions). Where are young trans women in this? (They have the internet also, and they know how to use it). Where are people who don't live in Europe, Australia and North America who likely have a different context of where sex and gender overlap?

Seriously - I'm a no-op binary TS who asserted her womanhood early. I had a diagnosis (as if that is really important) when I was 20 and and I've been on HRT for 10 years. I navigate my life with a few complications based on my anatomy, but largely my complications are because I'm a woman- not trans. How I've related to gender stuff has largely not changed. My personality, my interests, my style, my emotional reactions are about he only constant I've had in the past 15 years. I'm really tired of people telling me my live is fulfilling some sex fantasy on one hand and people telling me my life is an expression of gender-fluidity and queering people's ideas of Male and female.

My life is my life - please stop playing theory football with it.


Thank you for acknowledging. You are certainly correct -- it was definitely not the time. Perhaps I'm ahead of the curve on a lot of stuff, perhaps I'm just a tad bit to "academic" combined with my own prejudices.

I did have that discussion I mentioned elsewhere, and discovered there is something unique about that law that will cause harm to the cisCommunity in a way they are not prepared for, and that it does cause harm to the trans community as a whole, regardless of category.

I've read through the comments here, and watched various positions play out. One thing stands out in *very* sharp relief, and I'm afraid that many readers missed the point of what you were trying to note here.

Within this post, several comments have derailed on the notion of people who are neither male nor female or perhaps both male and female. This includes, in the words of one person, people who are "part time women".

In order for alliance to exist, fundamentally, the sort of thinking that holds that people are perverts, fetishists, that all crossdressers are heterosexual men that play at being women, and even the very notion that one group of trans people "embarrass" or "make us look bad" all have to cease to exist.

You are correct that the division *appears* to be one between binary and multiplicity of gender individuals.

I am, however, not certain that such a division is the *actual* point. Take for example the term "crossdresser" -- it is a very useful term for demonstrating why I don't think the division lies in that space.

What is it?

In my work, I do a great many educational efforts. And among the things I do often is ask the room I am in to write down their definition of such, quietly, on an index card. I then collect them.

And read them out, without reference to who said it or who it was. And a funny thing happens -- one finds out that there are *multiple* descriptions of what it means, and that all of them are based on stereotypes.

It doesn't matter -- you could, in private (and private is important as it allows one to express themselves without regard to the group, which kicks in a different dynamic that is highlighted here) poll all the commenting people here. While you can see similarities among them, remember that the foundation of much of what is going on here is not about similarities, but differences, so one must look at the differences in those definitions.

Seriously, look at the discourse here, Mercedes.

This is superficially civil stuff. Yet the dogwhistling that's going on here is deafening to those keyed into it.

And there is one last thing that you *must* deal with, and that is the social issue -- all of what you have written is excellent stuff, but it is also all only of value within the communities that understand it, and they are not the wider population.

And the wider population is the group that needs to be involved in this discussion, with all their privilege and oppressive behaviors, because in the end, they are who this alliance must be against, and a wider alliance that uses much more broad based language is statistically far more likely to have a negative impact on forward movement in the short term.

Discussions such as this have to go backwards a ways, and start not at the point of the people involved in them, but at the point of the people who are not. THose who are just starting.

THere are people in this thread who think that "transgender" is just a way of saying "I am a man in a dress and I like being a man". And they can have this discussion and seem like they are being reasonable, but if that is the underlying understanding they have of the term, then it is all illusion.

We cannot form alliance until all the groups are at the table, and all of them can fully recognize each other. Otherwise we are, in the end, merely furthering the same problems we have now, with just different names on it.

You don't want to be offensive and won't apply names to terms in order to express some of this. I'm not so limited -- indeed, I have to. And I just keep my ears open for better expressions that come from others.

So let's toss this out, shall we? And while there will be some terms that seem to be relating to sexual orientation, none of these refer to orientation, and all of them come from people who have used them not as identity, but as in trying to describe themselves:

cissexual, cisgender, transsexual, transgender, polysexual polygender, pangender pansexual, bigender, bisexual, agender, asexual, intergender, intersexual.

Cis, Trans, Poly, Bi, Pan, A, Inter. That's *seven* groups right there.

Until all of us can acknowledge that all of those groups deserve an equal say in *any* effort (any law, any blog post, any service), without using meaningless terms like crossdresser which can be applied to gay men and lesbians as easily as straight or even bent men and women, then we are not having a discussion with great and lasting value or real meaning.

One has to go to the basics. What *is* a transsexual. What *is* transition. What *is* a crossdresser. What *is* transgender. What *is* gender identity and what is sex and how important is any of this?

We are all talking as if we all know, and what I'm saying is that we all do not know. Or, more accurately, those in this discussion, here, do not all agree on what any of those things are.

And until they do, all of this is just words in the air.

Those are not intelligible groups of people, just a list of prefixes that don't refer to anything on their own. And conflating gender and sexual orientation language is not helping.

Plus you seem to be saying that nonbinary people should get 70% of the say in any decisions about gender.

I *didn't* conflate them. I stated that none of them were speaking of sexual orientation.

And those prefixes are intelligible. Each of them describes something distinct from all the others. Right now, however, they only make sense to those who've taken the time to learn them.

And the point I'm making is that we, as a collective groups of varied peoples, cannot form an alliance until we all know what they mean, and what they signify.

I'm curious, as well -- how is it that you get the sense regarding what I said you describe -- the 70% of say? What leads you to that mindset?

I agree with a lot of what you say Antonia but you lose me at certain points. First why do I have to be against the mainstream? Why can't instead I be working to be part of the mainstream and included in the mainstream? I agree with a ton of what Edith said and I see the value in protecting freedom of expression but I think the Transgender umbrella and queer theory work against it. I also see the value in finding uniform definitions of what constitutes a crossdresser, a Transvestite, A Transsexual, a Transgender etc and just importantly what communities are they or are they not of and can some be a member of one community while others are part of another community. But who gets to decide the definition or which groups they can be a part of? That's important I don't want either the LGBT community or the religious right to determine those definitions because of their obvious bias.I think we should be looking outside the community for a neutral source to provide these definitions. One that isn't politically biased and that is willing to take this task on.

Where in any of that did I discuss the mainstream, Lisa? Might you be thinking of where I pointed out that the mainstream is against you, not that you are against the mainstream.

There is a difference there, and it is important. We are not a counterculture movement. And it is also important to note that while there is some animus out there influencing the mainstream, the mainstream itself doesn't really care as long as they can continue laughing at transsexuals.

Why can't you be part of the mainstream? Because that nebulous collection of minor variations in general life don't want you to be. The point of activism and advocacy is to change that.

Who gets to decide the definition? Well, strictly speaking, the whole of society. We, as a disparate set of groups, can attempt to come up wtha general definition and encourage the wider world to take it up, but, in the end, just like any major dictionary today, its going to be based on how the population overall uses it, ranked according to commonality, regardless of the accuracy of that usage.

Which, I'll note, is why arguing wth dictionary definition is foolish, as it's appealing to the masses.

And, within ourselves, it should *ideally* be those to who it is applied -- which, I'll note, includes all of us.

I do not find value in determining who does and who doesn't belong to a particular community -- these communites are driven by self identification. THey are social affinity groups -- the only wayin is to become involved through some sense of belonging.

FOr example, your continuous posting here indicates you share some affinity for "LGBT" -- whatever that is. If you didn't, you wouldn't be posting here. You may not like that (and my ndertanding is that you do not), but it is there, because, simply enough, you wouldn't *care* about it if it wasn't.

Which isn't said to attack you or demean you or anything, just to point out a demomstrated fact.

These communites are often multiples. I'm in the femme community, the Bi community, the transsexual community, the transgender community, and more.

Yet I don't *identify* as any of those things. They are simply expressions of who I am, and I share much in common with all of those communites.

So trying to create lines about who does or who doesn't is going to restrict the ability of people to find their community, which is essetnial for good health, a sense of belonging, self esteem, and more.

I'm known for giving separatists a great deal of grief -- and yet I've long said they need to have each other. We don't need to "get rid of them" -- they exist as a group in order to give themselves those same benefits since they don't get the same from the other groups.

THe same, however, can be said for groups like NOM. Whch is important to keep in mind when discussing such. They represent a segment of society that needs that sense of belonging in order to enable them to have positive views of themselves.

As for the LGBT determining those views, you eliminate the entire "t" when you say you don't want them to do it. Then you say you don't want our opponents to do so, either. That would mean it would have to come from people who don't care one way or another -- like the people who created the stereotype of a man in a dress.

There is no neutral source on this. It is a social structure. Neutral is not being involved.

Where I am at Antonia is that I share with other people the experience of being on the operative track and post-op all the rest is feel good social work as far I'm concerned. Sharing the pre and post-operative track with other people doesn't necessarily dictate a community only a shared experience.Why I am here like I said some of it is feel good social work and some of it is to tell certain people to quit peeing in my cornflakes. I don't need alliances to speak for me I'm quite capable of either phoning my Senator or Congressmen or going to see them in person. I find the idea that somehow we must all be shackled to the gay community at best a bad joke and in truth a huge part of what is holding us back. I realize for some life without the gay community would be terribly detrimental to there welfare but I would also argue that the gay community itself is detrimental to their welfare. I'm not bothered the least bit about you pointing out that I comment here. I'll even point out that many of my posts here don't or haven't had anything with being TS, But when I do post about being TS here it has to do with the fact that certain people within the T community feel that it is there right to drag me into the gay community and under their Transgender Umbrella. I'm here to remind them they don't have that power and I'm working outside of here to make sure that my Senators, Congressmen and Women, The President and anyplace else that needs to know it knows it.That said it doesn't mean that I don't support rights for others I'll even support them on certain issues or vote for them when given the chance. What I'm saying to you and others is don't hitch your wagon to mine without my consent.

Lisa, part of what I'm pointing out is what you describe in this statement:

"But when I do post about being TS here it has to do with the fact that certain people within the T community feel that it is there right to drag me into the gay community and under their Transgender Umbrella."

Basically what I'm saying is that no one can drag anyone into a social affinity group.

And that the only way you could be a part of such is if you feel that you do have some part in that group.

If you didn't have that feeling -- which, in this case, you express as feeling like you've been dragged into it -- you wouldn't be here.

And I say this because it isn't "my wagon" and I'm not hitching it to anyone. If its going to be a wagon, its more along the lines of those people who decide to help pull it who make up this grouping.

I do have a couple of questions.

How is the gay community detrimental to the lives of gay trans people?

How does the gay community have control over this umbrella you speak of?

I beg to differ that no one can drag someone into this group. The people that have been pushing the immoral and unethical word Transgender have been doing a pretty good job of forgetting to remind people that not all of us are okay with it.Just look at most of the comments here people talk like everyone is part of the group they can't help themselves.What people forget though is if you look at the numbers of those who would fit under the umbrella they are estimated at 700,000 the most any Transgender organization have been able to poll is 6500 not even a drop in the bucket and definitely not enough to claim that transgender is even close to being a widely accepted word. It also begs to question how since there is only such a small number out of the big picture how they are being given political power over the majority who clearly don't identify with them or their positions.I give you credit for acknowledging that people should be able to walk away. But I'm also troubled by the fact that your still wanting to control their message outside the LGBT and any alliance or umbrella I see that as transphobic and freedom of speech phobic.As for me being here I've now built up a long history that shows I've repeatedly asked both LGBT and Transgender leadership to quit claiming they represent all of us. I'm no longer requesting this but now I'm in the process of making that reality.If someone can build an alliance that people freely want to join and it isn't LGBT specific I'll consider supporting it if it merits it.As for my believing the LGBT is an unhealthy environment I'm sorry but I'm not sharing my evidence here it will come out in time though I'm sure.

Come on, the word is not inherantly immoral or unethical, the use of it could potentially be but the word itself cannot.

Especially as it's a word that is just two existing word segments joined together and thus has an already established and obvious meaning gleaned from those two parts long-existing meaning regardless of who coined it first or why or what ever else they may have intended the word to mean.

Trans is an ancient prefix to cross or go beyond or to transcend, gender we all know pertains to the sexes and that which is associated with them. The only inherant intrinsic meaning or value to the word is whats right there in the two parts of the word. Anything else is association, secondary, added on.

Calling the word itself immoral and unethical is nonsense. Criticise the appropriateness or inappropriateness of it's use all you want, but just like a hammer is not unethical even when sometimes it may be used as a weapon instead of a building tool neither is a word intrinsically unethical even if you were right in making a claim that it was used unethically.

Bayne I disagree with you the word is tainted beyond repair and because of its history it is very offensive to me and I earned the right to not be labeled it.Go beyond that and it is inaccurate when applied to Transsexuals in its literal sense. Remember the old gender is between the ears line? Well if gender is between the ears and I'm happy with it I'm not Transgender(Changing how I think)I'm transsexual(Changing my physical sex to match my gender.)Its only a matter of time before the general public learns its history and who do you think they'll blame for pushing an inappropriate word?

Lisa you didn't "earn" any right, rights don't work that way at all, you have the right automatically to identify any way you wish, and you only lose that if and when and while you disrespect others right to identify as they wish, including with the word transgender... as you can see that means you have a self-refuting argument (as do some of your opponents!). Also for most people gender isn't 'between the ears', but is used to mean sex (even on government forms in some places!!!) because peoples discomfort with using the word coitus or copulation in the last century had the word sex become first a euphamism for coitus and then a standard word for human mating. And as for telling people that Thing is a parliamentary body rather than an object or that terrific means bad not exciting or that awful means full of awe or that cult has an identical meaning to religion and does not mean a false unstable emergent religion based around a charismatic leader with a predaliction for brainwashing and mass-suicide.. sorry but the history of words, their coinings and past meanings, is just idle amusement for the academically inclined and for the theses of linguistics majors and honor students (guess who has an actual linguist in the family :) ).

I'm aware you beg to differ, and acknowledged such previously.

That does not change the fact that affinity groups are inherently based on affinity.

Statistically speaking, 6500 is more than enough to make effective statements about the usage of the term. Mathematically, its about ten times higher than the numbers typically needed for a demographic of that size.

I note you didn't answer my questions, which I asked in order to understand your position and viewpoints more clearly.

I'll note that I did not ask about your viewpoint the LGBT is unhealthy, I asked about your viewpoint the gay community is unhealthy. The two are not inherently the same.

I need to ask a few more, as well.

How is the word Transgender immoral?

How is the word transgender unethical?

What makes you state that people that are here are not part of the group this site addresses?

Why wouldn't the people here speak of everyone as belonging to that group?

Please state where I exerted an interest in controlling the message of others away from the LGBT.

In what way is LGBT separate from transgender in the field of leadership?

What "us" are you referring to when you make your claim that they represent all of us?

What makes you think that LGBT leadership represents any group other than LGBT individuals (noting that the T includes many groups, including transsexuals, some of whom are heterosexual)?

Wolfgang E. B. Wolfgang E. B. | July 5, 2011 7:12 AM

Lisa, have you considered the possibility that when people use the word "transgender," they aren't thinking of you. They're thinking of all the people who don't mind being put into that category.

It's human nature to categorize--everything and everyone, based on apparent similarities and differences. There's little you can do to control that. You seem to be asking that all transsexuals be removed from the "transgender" category, despite the fact that some transsexuals place themselves in that category. Or perhaps I'm misunderstanding you. I'm finding many of your posts to be frustratingly vague.

Wolfgang the word Transgender being used as an umbrella term begins with the gay community.Can you name one main LGBT organization that has ever said the word transgender only applies to those Transsexuals that are LGBT associated in the mainstream media? The simple fact is everywhere you look the word is being promoted as including every Transsexual even though that couldn't be further from the truth. Sorry but I don't think I could have made it any clearer why the word is immoral and unethical to use I can't help it if some of you are either incapable or unwanting of seeing it or admitting to it.

Wolfgang E. B. Wolfgang E. B. | July 6, 2011 5:14 AM

So, let me see if I'm understanding you correctly. Whenever people in the gender/sex diverse category use the term "transgender," or a similar umbrella term, you want us to emphasize that some transsexuals find it offensive and do not wish to be included in said category. If this is correct, I have to ask: Why do you feel the need to have your separateness from the rest of us affirmed by us? And how does our talking among ourselves about ourselves, using whatever terminology we have agreed upon, impact your right to not identify as a part of our group?

You wrote:
"I did have that discussion I mentioned elsewhere, and discovered there is something unique about that law that will cause harm to the cisCommunity in a way they are not prepared for, and that it does cause harm to the trans community as a whole, regardless of category."

"In order for alliance to exist, fundamentally, the sort of thinking that holds that people are perverts, fetishists, that all crossdressers are heterosexual men that play at being women, and even the very notion that one group of trans people "embarrass" or "make us look bad" all have to cease to exist."

That's pretty final.

I don't know that we can police thinking, although we can choose for it not to be perpetuated on our turf. But I think what would go that much further would be to have more voices out there. It's not only transsexual voices that need to be empowered and visible. And that would help answer those basic questions you bring up -- who they are, in their own words. We can't force people to change their thinking but we can offer them evidence to challenge them.

"And there is one last thing that you *must* deal with, and that is the social issue -- all of what you have written is excellent stuff, but it is also all only of value within the communities that understand it, and they are not the wider population."

Yes, but it is the foundation upon which we build our advocacy, in a discussion that we initiate and define at the beginning.

I agree, it *is* pretty final.And I'm willing to allow that getting rid of it is all but impossible. Which should indicate something about why I said that.

All of those things deal in an aversion to, and anxiety about, or an intense dislike for people who are perceived as trans or gender variant or sex variant or whatever or however one wants to put it.

Those ideas are transphobic, inherently, and that means that they undercut the advocacy we engage in, which, ultimately, is meant to do the best it can to erase transphobic ideas and ideals.

If we cannot deal with the transphobia, though, we'll not make an alliance anymore than we've made an umbrella.

I tried pretty hard not to introduce that word, because of the strong reactions that it generates. But in this case, it is essential to raise as a point.

Nor is it policing thinking.Its policing the discourse on the subject, in order to do what you are trying to do -- get rid of all the animus and self defeatist clutter that fills the dialog here.

In order to move forward, with advocacy, with political action, with being able to sit down and have that discourse that you have spent so much effort trying to engender, we must first step away from that language and those ideas because those are the things that stop everything in community.

It is that kind of thought that lies at the heart of these divides, that resides in our allies, ourselves, and our opponents, and so long as we have it within our communities and our groups and our labels, we will continue to find no common ground from which to *be* allies or reside under an umbrella.

At the heart of the divide you've postulated -- binary and not so much -- lies a great deal of transphobia.

Let's say the division strikes -- that all the varied segments I described before actually separate under whatever self description they use. Without ridding ourselves of that anxiety, that aversion, that intense dislike, all we will achieve is a fracturing that further minimizes the already limited social and legal power that we have.

There won't be alliance.

Hence the finality that you sense -- this doesn't mean that we should "drive out the infidels", mind you. Those words written in this thread came about because people really do feel as if they are part of this community.

Which does include not wanting to feel like they are part of it. Wanting to get away from it.

It means finding a way to show them that they are only part of this by their own choice. That if they want to make their way sans the communities, for * whatever reason*, then they are free to do so. But it cannot mean cessation of the activity as a whole.

We cannot go to a wider community that says "all of you suck" and say "no, only some of us suck" -- in doing that, we will be perpetuating the same thing that we are dealing with right now, despite 120+ years of effort conjoined.

But more than that, on a very real and practical and daily basis, when we do that, we give them reason to doubt us, and to blow us off, to smile and nod and say ok and then go off and not change anything, not do anything.

The word that's being talked around here is solidarity. Think about what goes into that. We don't need alliance or umbrellas so much as we need to recognize that the one thing we all have in common outweighs the many things we all have in difference.

And stop worrying about the differences.

There is some transphobia on one side of the argument, yes. And elitism on the other side, when we only take umbrage at any questioning the status quo, and/or dismiss all dissent as transphobia.

Antonia, granted it will take time, but I believe it will be eventually easier for people on both sides of the question to put away the antipathy by seeing each other as different but allied individuals who have an equal voice, than it could ever be by imposing a single framework which -- whether it implies it or people infer it -- creates an expectation of a core narrative that everyone must conform to. Because there isn't a core narrative.

Some of the transphobia you're seeing is more a response to the perception of being defined by someone else, than it is genuine antipathy toward someone else.

And that is why the umbrella causes an all-or-nothing reaction than alliance need not.

I'm not so sure this is the case, though.

That is, the following:

1. I do not see that umbrage is being taken at the questioning of the status quo. I see umbrage being taken at the aversion, intense dislike, and/or anxiety displayed.

2. I do not see the aversion, intense dislike, and/or anxiety being displayed as a response to external definitioning.

It is worthwhile to note that the ovewhelming majority of the incidences of transphobic thought and action are not motivated by animus (being, predominantly, driven by aersion and/or anxiety), however, I cannot accept that intense dislike of the sort expressed here in this thread in some respomses is not directly motivated by animus (since animus is fundamentally founded on intense dislike). But animus is not entirely the point -- animus is visibly not involved in the areas of aversion and anxiety, for example. That doesn't mean that there isn't a transphobic basis for the arguments involved, as a result, even if it might mean there isn't active animus involved.

I can say that there is a great deal of aversion to trans individuals present that is based on their being trans on both sides of the arguments (plural, this is not a singular argument, either), and that it is that which tends to cloud much of the discourse.

However, rather than merely drone on, and to establish a few things, I'll simply ask some carefully crafted questions.

A. What was the status quo narrative prior to the early 1990's in the mainstream media?

B. What is the status quo narrative today?

C. What is the narrative being discussed by those who dissent?

D. What is the narrative being disucssed by those who are "umbrellaists"?

E. How does responding to an incorrect perception of being defned by outside agency (structure, specifically) justify aversion or anxiety?

F. Is it possible that much of the anxiety and aversion I'm seeing is not merely a response to the perception of external structure being imposed, but rather is an expression that is driven by anxiety and aversion to elements within what would be either alliance or umbrella?

G. How are people "pulled into" the affinity group "against their will"? The mechanism of action, specifically, is important to note and describe, and to pass it off as colonization (which is an active will set ont he part of a greater social effort, not an inactive one) isn't accurate.

enough for now. Let me point out a few elements, however, that have been raised thus far as rationales for division and "ending" the Umbrella:

1. Het Transsexuals are different from GLB transsexuals.

2. Transgender is an immoral, unethical, communist term that is belittling, and discriminatory.

3. Third sexed & Third Gendered are harmful (which prompts the question of *how* they are harmful in termsof structure and agency).

4. Transgender is drivel -- that is, the premise of transgender, as a concept (regardless of being an umbrella or an identity), is meaningless and without any substantive value.

5. Some transgender people are being such in order to elevate themselves in society or destroy a political system (aside from the aversion inherent here, one has to question the perception of ability to elevate or destroy political systems).

6. THe above motives are "completely incompatible" with transgender.

7. "Shared experience doesn't equal community" -- note that this is in direct contrast to the definition of a community.

8. Non-op transsexual women should be rare -- that is, that surgery should be a fundamental requirement for the label transsexual in the majority of cases.

9. Transgender as a word includes people who Do Not Need treatment. THis despite many transgender people who are not transsexual needing medical treatment (and idea which is, when noted, fundametnally challenged as false, despite the extistence of such people.

10. Transgender implies men in women's private spaces. It is important to not that in the case of this particular argument,t he individual concerned has described transgender individuals as men, regardless of how they live their lives or identify or exist in the world.

11. Other than transsexual and intersex, all other variants are a lifestyle choice (I will overlook the homphobia that's present in this rationale as well).

12. Men who CD part time for excitement in their bedrooms are not oppressed.

13. CD's are fetishists.

14. People deserve protections if they are "out" only.

15. Being labeled transgender makes one against the mainstream.

16. Being allied with the LGB is a bad joke.

You are trying to peer beneath the exteriror presentation to see what's caled the implicature of the above.

Look at it, then. See what kind of thinking is needed to be able to form the above concepts to communicate them.

I wrote of dogwhistling earlier -- look at those statements. Think on them. See if there isn't aversion and/or axiety inherent in them about some of the elements that make up "T".

To reduce it all to animus in an error -- transphobia is not merely about animus, and to reduce it all to merely intense dislike obscures the value of the concept and acts as an enabling agent to the other elements.

It is not merely the animus that needs to end in order for their to be any sort of alliance. The anxiety and the aversion also need to end. THe animus is not what keeps this at a high temp, it is the anxiety and the aversion that does so -- in truth, if it were merely animus, then this conversation would never have happened because there would never have been a "death".

None of those arguments are based in colonization. None of them are based in reasonable opposition (even accounting for improperly wording or expressing themselves) on such grounds.

Have you arguments from them that are not such, or have you arguments that are not derived in such a way?

Alliance isn't any more possible than umbrella while such exist -- look to the overwhelming issues withing the greater alliance of LGBT and how the aversion and anxiety regarding trans folk has played out there over the years.

Some of my sentiments also Antonia. I have also considered that a poll would help. Your what "is"... questions are a very excellent point. You have lined out some very good stuff. We must come to "understandings" to have a point to work from instead of post after post about differences. I think we need to work from commonalities first, instead of work from our differences, ("Discussions such as this have to go backwards a ways").
As you mentioned cross dresser and transgender, psychologically (and I am not highly educated in this so don't tear me to shreds please), cross dresser and transgender are not necessarily "I am a man in a dress and I like being a man". Sometimes these are steps in a process, of which I considered myself to personally have evolved, all the while living as a man but inwardly considered myself a cross dresser, not understanding as yet that I was transsexual through the years.
Cross dressers and those who consider themselves transgender for the time being surely may find that they are indeed transsexual. These are important steps in a metamorphosis and they are very real parts of transsexualism. One may decide that they can live with being at a certain step(complications in life's difficulties such as surgery or family obligations etc.) in the process and not proceed to becoming a post op transsexual woman, at the time being. Thus we have encountered transgender, as some identify. How they live on a day to day basis defines that even more, whether they live full time as a female or whether there are only times the feel they can "be themselves", and sometimes this can lead to "a man in a dress" if they are not HRT especially.
It is difficult but if we stop discussing, we will never get anywhere other than where we are now. We are seeking a different approach in this that Mercedes has worked up and I do feel we shouldn't stop here. Lets continue to try to ford this river. Bridges might can be built. It is a new approach we are trying to define here, not reminisce our differences. We by now understand most differences that are dividing our community without going the the infinitive, at least the major one as you have presented. We should look at this a "tad" bit academic and try to avoid our emotional stances.

"that the division *appears* to be one between binary and multiplicity of gender individuals".

Christine | July 2, 2011 7:19 PM

I believe that walking away from "transgender" as a label would be a mistake after nearly twenty years of training politicians and professionals to use it, not to mention the general public. The umbrella has become tattered due to disagreements and infighting, but that can be fixed. What needs to happen is to redefine the word and use it as a shoehorn to expand awareness:

As Phyllis notes above, many transsexuals go through a "cross dressing" phase, trying to believe, perhaps, that that's what they "were," before deciding they need to go on - and this keeps me connecting to groups of primarily cross dressers. I show up because a few need me, not because I feel much particularly in common with those who don't. The whole thing can be rather painful, as there is a tendency for "cross dressers" to view me as "a man in a woman's body," which is rather ironic but still unpleasant.

I do feel that the entire gender system is inculcated into us all from before our births, using threats of abandonment, verbal and physical bullying, and so on, and that this gives rise to many of the ills of our society, from patriarchy/sexism to homophobia to gender bullying. The entire system promotes certain kinds of interactions among men, especially, involving intimidation and violence, that would seem to have a lot to do with our drive to war and intolerance in general - and that's what I think we all have in common; a need to dismantle coercive gender roles.

How does any sort of contemporary political jockeying address this? I doubt if much does, but in its way just being trans at least asks the question of this system; is all this necessary? Therefor it would seem valuable to do the secondary political work that will make it increasingly possible for us to exist, to be out, and to bring our voices to bear. And I will keep showing up in various spaces where I may be needed, whether queer or cis- or whatever, in order to make my tiny contribution to our massive collective struggle for human freedom and happiness. I need to be seen as a woman for my own health, but I need to be seen as trans for their health - so, well, okay?

I kind of like the big blanket analogy or collapsed tent analogy, everyone under the blanket or tent are fighting for recognition, not being able to see and interact clearly because of the darkness of the differences. Without working together, there is never a chance of raising that blanket or tent to get fresh air and light in. And on the outside are the unknowledgeable bigots that are bashing any mound that pops up, as they don't really care about the differences, just that they are against difference, so they bash any protrusion from the blanket, not caring who or what category it represents, as they are all equally bad in the eyes of the bigot.

Only by working together, but aligned in teams of some like interests, can the tent be raised over the weight of our differences and outside bigotry.

There is a HUGE difference between "talking the talk" and actally walking the walk.....between "knowing" the path, and actually LIVING the Path.

There sure is an AWFUL LOT of TALK here....A lot of "knowing".

WHY are the gender diverse, the TG so committed to attempting to force those that have remedied their condition, or in the process of doing so into or "under" their umbrella.

Excuse me for being so crass,but the arguements remain the "same ol' same ol'..."

Ahem. I repeat myself (and i'm oine of those gender diverse people) Every one of us has the Universal Human Right to self-identify however we please and to have that identity respected. Some Transsexuals identify as TG, some do not. You are just as obliged to respect those who do as they are to respect those who do not. There is no way out of that for any of us without refuting your own right to self identify.

Arguing that no transsexual is transgender is as self-refuting an argument as to argue all must identify as it. Q.E.D.

Bayne. I agree that you can "identify" anyway you want, "gender diverse", "warhammer" or "supreme martian". (BTW I tried following the link to your contact page and was surprised by the following message...."Sorry.The link you are trying to visit has been reported as abusive by Facebook users. To learn more about staying safe on the internet, visit Facebook's Security Page. Please also read the Wikipedia articles on malware and phishing".)

Nevertheless, when your self-identification conflicts with the PERCEPTION of others there is bound to be a disconnect with the accompanying confusion and conflict that inevitably ensues when there is a failure to communicate.

As others have pointed out on innumerable occasions a CLEAR and AGREED UPON DEFINITION of TERMS Is STEP NUMBER ONE. STEP #2 IMHO is drawing a clear line in the sand between Trans-Gender and Trans-Sexual.

One cannot be NEITHER boy nor Girl and NOT be gender-nonconforming.

Also as another commentator pointed out, it seems to make sense to allow for obvious distinctions rather than to insist on painting everyone with te same ol' "gender diverse" TG brush.

Sam22 what contact page are you on about? You seem to have some serious confusion, as "warhammer" is not an identity but a game, made by the UK company Games Workshop and played by many of my family members and friends, it's been around for about 30 years. "Supreme Martian" is missing part of the name, it's Supreme Martian Overlord and is a webcomic character! A fictional mostly pencil-drawn character based partly on the martians created by H.G. Wells used to make subtle political humour from my long-gone geocities-based website, if you trawl the net further in your looking for dirt you may find pics of the Plush toys of the character which my Mum hand-made and which were rather popular in war-of-the-worlds fandom all those years ago (Jeff Wayne himself has one, and i have a signed copy of the musical dvd signed to the fictional character by Jeff Wayne) or maybe you'll see the image of the character used as the cover of one issue of the journal of the H.G.Wells society of the Americas! So sorry Sam, those aren't identities!

Now that i've corrected the collossal mistakes and ignorances you made in your feeble attempt at cyber-stalking you could try to come up with a cogent argument. A persons Universal Human Right to Self-Identification (did you know H.G. Wells was a key part of the development of Human Rights?) will regularly conflict with peoples perception, especially the IGNORANT who might perceive you as being a satan-worshipping child-molester for posting on a gay website, as usual the perception argument is easilly shown to be as strong as a wet paper bag!

What obvious distinctions? Plenty of people change their primary and/or secondary sex characteristics and thus may be described logically as transSexual and who may yet have a non-conformist or bi-gender gender identity and/or expression and thus logically fit the term TransGender regardless of quiblings. A significant overlap population exists, people both Transsexual AND Transgender. As for "painting everyone" blah blah blah try actually reading my arguments for once Sam as i actually support the term SGD more than Transgender and i totally acknowledge that there are indeed intersex and transsexual people who have binary gender identities which should be respected by everyone. So take your straw man down and try arguing against my actual points sometime.