Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Put Your Tranny Wheels On!

Let me start today's post by saying as a passable post-op male to female transsexual that in the war for acceptance, tolerance and civil rights for transgender people, it is our obvious, stereotyped and non-passing transgender sisters out there who are the bravest of us all.

It is they who face the ridicule, rejection and even hatred at the front line of our community. It is they who do not have the luxury of blending into "mainstream" society as part of their new gender. It is they who do not have the luxury of escape. They literally have no option but to stand and face the music the rest of us tend to escape because we have just been lucky by God's own grace to be "beautiful" enough to blend into invisibility. Most often, they are the ones fighting the hardest for every gain we make in terms of medical care or civil rights. These are the sisters and brothers who do not have the luxury of saying that the "GLBTI movement" has "done nothing for them" or to sit around and slag off other members of the pink community just for a few narcisistic giggles.

Please bear in mind as you read this post, if you are a transgender person who is closted for fear of your life (or just plain fear), this article is not pointing a finger at you. It is addressed to the people out there who are closetted for whatever reason - AND who act like bigots themselves.

In the very real "culture war" we are in, among the trans community, they are the ones who draw the most fire. And what makes it even more tragic, is that some of the fire comes even from behind friendly lines. Yes, you read me right - some transgender people think they are being very clever taking pot-shots at our own. They think that because they are passable and can "blend in" with gg's, it entitles them to sit on the zoo wall and throw rocks at the stork - or if you will, the gay penguins. They even blame the unwelcome attention the trans community receives from bigots the world over on this very visible part of our community, forgetting that they too - upon coming out and starting transition - were just as visible (and vulnerable) if not more so.

Yesterday I had a good old rant on my blog about the transphobic tranny dinosaurs I encountered on another blog site. Yet the sad thing about it, is that this is not an isolated incident. There are many younger trans people, in the thirties and forties even - who feel the same way. I am all for friendliness and courtesy, after all - one can even respect one's enemies - but I do tend to go a little wonko when I see unbridled hatred and bigotry coming toward me at full gallop.

Quite frankly, I really do not care what certain people - bigots in particular - think about me - I know who and what I am and that is what matters to me.

"Everything bad that has come down since the transgender revolution has been a direct result of transgenders that had no hope of ever assimilating into their target gender, getting all load mouthed about it, assimilating transsexuals into the GLB ghetto, and bringing dissrespect to transsexuals that were quietly woodworking with mainstream." - THIS is what you think makes you better than other transgender people? You think this gives you the right to call yourselves "true transsexuals"? Instead of criticizing and attacking other TS sisters and brothers who have the same feelings and experiences as you in terms of gender issues, you should show them compassion. They cannot help not being passable - just as you are just plain LUCKY to be passable. The closest thing to sense I can make out in that jumble of venomous commentary is a matter of timing - you just happened to get there first. Ergo, should you have had to transition later, you might not have because it would have required more courage to?

"We transsexuals never needed to achieve equality, tolerance OR acceptance before..." - no of course not, people just naturally welcomed you with open arms - which is why you found it necessary to hide in a closet a slightly different shade of 'gay' for the last 30 years...?

They blame the bad image of the trans community on "gay men" simply having GRS (Gender Reassignment Surgery - a.k.a. sex changes) "on a whim" and hanging from balconies while dressing like drag queens and being loud about their transsexuality.

I think it is a very big fool indeed who is a gay man and who has GRS just for a lark. In fact I am sure this occurs very, very rarely. It is also easy to see such a remark as a blatant anti-gay slur. In fact I see it as an insult, even as a transsexual person. It is actually downright offensive, no matter which part of the spectrum of the pink community you identify with.

I understand that not everyone is advocacy material and that not everyone can handle the pressure of being out and open - this is not the issue I have addressed here. What I have found exceptionally disturbing is the fact that while such people are "closeted" they still see room to feel smug and superior to others who may be obvious and do not have that luxury - and also to viciously attack and even to mock them and to oppose their efforts.

"Most true transsexuals indeed have nothing but contempt for GLBT politics" They crow. I am sorry - but where do they get their "facts"? Have they performed an opinion poll of so-called "true" transsexuals? Or have they just labelled those who agree with them "true transsexuals"?

I for one have never seen a check box on any online forms asking people if they are "true" transsexuals - or if they are only "part time" or "just kidding".

There is no such thing as a "true" or even a "classic" transsexual. You are either a transsexual or you aren't - and if you are a transsexual, you are either a type "A" or a type "B" transsexual. Type "A" manifesting signs of transgender bias from early age and following through from an early age. Type "B only manifests or acts on such instincts later in life. This is recognized as occuring because of various factors, including social, peer and family pressure, and fear of coming out. While I may be type "B" I am still as much a transsexual as any one of them. And that is the only true statement on their site about the subject.

"GLBT has stripped us of a legitimacy we once had" they say. I'm sorry, did I miss something? When did we ever have "legitimacy" outside of anything other than a medical manual or a science lab? Ever since the first recorded improvised GRS operation was performed in Paris 1909, we have been spectacles of curiosity and viewed as "freaks". The common perception has always been that we are gay, even today - whether people accept us or not - and the only thing which will change this is education and fact. Sorry to point out the obvious, but attacking each other because we don't like how the ignorant masses see us won't change that.

They literally attack all GLBTI groups and politics as doing them "harm" and bad for their desire to not actually be seen as transsexuals. It seems that they are so ashamed of being transgender that they wish to not be reminded of it, they deny it - and yet they sit and make bigoted cracks about others like us on little anonymous transgender blogs and forums. This takes an unprecedented amount of bravery and courage, doesn't it?

And yet, despite their hate for themselves and the rest of us, it is actually unfair to blame them for something which they had to grow up with - fear and self loathing brought about by social intolerance and general ignorance. Once again, the answer to this is education in fact and truth.

If they are so unhappy with GLBTI politics, then surely the best approach is to get involved and to change GLBTI politics from the inside? It will not get better for us by itself. And as the old saying goes, you cannot break an omelet without making eggs - no wait, that's not right - well, anyway I think you get the idea.

But this is too much like work, it seems. For one thing they would have to give up their highly prized anonymity and their warm cosy closet. Rather let the plebs lower down in the pecking order do the hard work - and we passable "aristocrats" can sit and derogate them for fun and say "let them eat cake" while they fight our battles for us. At least, that is how it looks to me. It seems that in general, few passable transsexuals ever take up the fight for transgender rights publicly - and even fewer still take on the whole spectrum of GLBTI civil rights.

Our more obvious, less closeted sisters and brothers are the ones out there who fight the hardest and the loudest for our group rights. They take the brunt of it. And they also take hits from these anonymous, closeted and cowardly members of the trans community who for some indefinable and unjustifiable reason consider themselves "better" and make this perfectly clear in their derogatory remarks. This while reaping the benefits of their efforts! And as far as I am concerned, they damn well deserve far better treatment than this from the rest of us for it!

As if it isn't bad enough that young trans people have to run the gauntlet of bigots nailing them from the heterosexist perspective, now they also have to worry about some of their own kind screwing them over as well. Bravo.

What does bother me about all this is that the contempt visible in the way sexuality and diversity is addressed by them, is so like the rhetoric and propaganda and hate speech coming from the groups who hate all GLBTI - regardless of whether we - or you - like each other or not. The similarities are uncanny. Bigotry is no respector of persons.

I would expect sister/brother transsexuals to possess far more understanding and compassion than what was demonstrated there. Or not, as the case may be.

"Everyone who post here has been called a bigot more times than you can count…" they brag. That is quite strange, isn't it? Because the only people who have ever called me a "bigot" before are religious fundamentalist Christians who attack me for defending the pink community against them, which oddly enough, they see as "persecution of the church".

Perhaps they should ask themselves what they are doing wrong? I would suggest that perhaps they are attacking the wrong people - yes, yes that's it - they should be taking on the bigots and making life harder for them instead of doing their work for them. They get enough money from church donations and government grants as it is - they should let them work for it themselves.

These transgender bigots pride themselves on the fact that they have weasled their way into straight heteronormative "mainstream" society in secret and shed their transsexual shame. They would have all who follow them do the same, leaving no-one to guide them or to show them that there is no dishonor or shame in being transsexual. In the end, it is very difficult to fade away completely as they suggest. For one thing, everyone who knows us, knows our past and our nature. Moving to the other side of the planet or faking your own death and having facial reconstruction to look like somebody else isn't always an option.

They - or even you may view being transsexual as something to be ashamed of, but this is simply the result of enforced stereotyping caused by years of social stigma and misinformation and conservatism. I am not ashamed - I have done nothing wrong in being transgender. And attitudes around the world are changing, because far more transsexuals are now open about being transsexual than in the past.

"Time has taught me to keep my mouth shut" - That's funny - time has taught me the opposite - that silence gives consent - and that people walk over those who do not speak out.

"1. nobody really wants to know because it’s not polite to discuss sexual matters;" - such topics regularly come up in casual conversation - and in any case, talking about sexuality is "not polite", but indulging in character assassination is?

"2. if they do know they will never consider you anything more than your birth gender (close friends & lovers or relatives aside)," - not in my experience. Where I work I regularly get straight male attention, even though my past is general knowledge. The women accept me as one of them also. In any case, I don't care whether people think of me as trans, as long as they address me correctly and with courtesy. Everybody at my workplace (300 plus people in a military environment) have known me since my transition 10 years ago - and since I am so open - I have helped educate them about transsexuality and many of them are now far more open minded and accepting. And yes, even some of those who made death threats in the beginning now wave and smile at me sheepishly in passing.

Why? Because people fear the unknown and what they do not understand. And now since they know me and understand me they no longer see any reason to fear me. And because they know me, they now have a more open mind in dealing with others like me - and with other people who challenge their gender or sexual binary concept.

"3. what people know and what they might guess are two very different things, so why confirm it for them." - education is how we change people's minds. If I can help show people that trans people are not a threat to them - or their children - that we are not freaks, and if it means being out and known - then so be it.

These folks place a heavy emphasis on passability. We all hope to be able to pass as the women or men we want to be. We all want to be physically beautiful. Yes, it is important if you hope to disappear into a black hole of anonymity after transition. As they pointed out before, there are those who are not as fortunate as us - those who will never pass - and from them the general public develops the stereotypes they so despise. The next paragraph is specifically addressed to you passable sisters and brothers who are safely anonymous while derogating our lesser fortunate siblings:

Now, consider this: By disappearing from the scene as a passable transsexual, are you not adding to the stereotype? By this I mean that the general public do not know that the beautiful passable woman or man they are drooling over in front of them is as much a transsexual as the obvious example they have just made a mockery of over sherry and giggles?

If more of us who are passable are out and known, will we not reduce and eventually expunge such an unfair stereotype?

I will leave you with that thought.

Pretending that we are and always have been what we never were simply does not make it true. It is simply trading one prison cell for another.

I like being out and open best. Why? Because I'm free.

"You are not free. You only think you are."

- Sorry, fellas - that's what counts - and makes it true.

2 comments:

  1. I agree with the points you make but wish to point out some issues not mentioned.

    1. *Very* few of us MTF TSs really "pass." Meaning the so-called closeted TSs (FYI I'm pre-op and way out of the closet) are so only in their own minds for the most part.

    2. Most full time TSs have many interests besides our gender identity. Successfully transitioning is largely about making our gender identity of relatively little importance and moving on with our lives. Which is difficult if we decide to spend much time educating people about trans issues and/or on LGBT activism.

    3. Support is a two way street. If you're full time ask yourself how many of your non-full time trans acquaintances will go out with you anywhere but a gay bar or motel room for quick sex. Additionally, how many trans activists do you know who will spend much time with you except on activism? Traditional (i.e. full time uni-gender identity, assimilated into society) TSs would be much more supportive of the other flavors of trans if they gave us any support.

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  2. Hi Nerissa,

    I agree with you completely on point 1, though there are few who "pass" percentage-wise in comparison to those who don't "pass", there are quite a lot of them in terms of numbers.

    On point 2 I agree with you on the other interests, though if you recall I did not attack people simply for not being involved in activism - but for joining our mutual enemies in attacking those who do. Besides, if you look at it in terms of those who do not "pass" - can they ever really "move on"? Which is why I admire them so for their efforts and bravery.

    You are absolutely right about the support. All the full-timers I know still in transition in my area prefer to "cruise the gay bars" or to stay at home and be safely anonymous. I am the only one I know of who is directly involved in activism in my city, and only one of two in the leadership structure of the same national advocacy group. I know of several who transitioned quite a long time ago - and they seem to share this arrogant assumption of their own superiority over the rest of the GLBTI spectrum that I discussed in my posts.

    I am sure the other flavors of TG feel the same way about transsexuals who are forever making unfair comparisons and nasty remarks about them. The solution to this is not to try and figure out who is right or wrong in this respect, but to decide what goals we all want in our own groups and to see how much we can benefit from working together toward attaining them.

    After all, standing together as one community doesn't mean we need to sleep with each other - just that we are working towards the same goals and to make all our voices louder.

    Besides, I think people may find that we have far more in common than they may think.

    C

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