Saturday, June 20, 2009

Infernal Affairs

Many people, including some in the transgender community have been heavily criticizing the Beatty couple for deciding to rear their first child themselves. The latest, second pregnancy in which Mister Beatty has also opted to carry their second child has raised the ire of the transphobic bigots and trans community alike.

Although the negative response is much, much less than the first time round, I cannot help but be saddened by the irony and paradox in all this.

The first time round, when Oprah interviewed Thomas on her show - bigot groups referred to the event with contempt as "Woman Has Baby - So What?" As any transman would tell you, being reffered to in this callous way would be a most hurtful experience. Being reffered to in this way by bigots who have no idea what it is like to be targeted in such a personal way - or any idea what it is like to be gay or transgender is hurtful enough - but when attacked by the community you are a part of - who should know EXACTLY what you are going through - and quite frankly, should know better - the wound is so much deeper.

Somewhere out there, there are brothers and sisters in the transgender community - of which I too am a part - behaving in the same disgraceful way as the bigots who hate all of us in the pink community as a whole. This is shameful and also serves as an acid which eats away at the foundations of the gay/trans civil rights movement.

Many homophobic and transphobic people attack the transgender simply because of their lack of understanding of the transgender condition. What, I wonder, can be said about the critical voices from within the trans community? I suppose on closer inspection the only difference between what Beatty and a MTF who saves sperm to have children later does - is that he can actually carry his offspring himself.

I am actually a little jealous. Perhaps these others are too?

It is an old argument that the transgender community enforces the same boring old stereotypes on ourselves that the binary straight society tried to force on us all. Binary - two, meaning you are either male or female - and you have to pick one and there is no other alternative between the two. Generally their view is that you have to live with the choice that has already been made for you - by what you find between your legs the first time you look there. The thing with us is that we disagree and our challenge disorients them and threatens their binary little world with a gender meltdown.

Poor things, it really does terrify them. They should try it from our persepective, it's no picnic here either.

Yes, we as the transgender community do cross the gender barriers and tend to blur them as well at the same time. That alone evokes the hostility of people, particularly the patriarchy who above all seek to protect the dominance of the male gender against what it perceives to be attacks upon it. Trans people care a stuff about the dominance of the patriarchy, the still somewhat priviledged position of the male condition over the female - and the apparent "power" we reject to take our place among the females - and never would they accept a lowly female among their hallowed ranks as an equal and as "one of the men".

They view us with suspicion as "traitors" and "the enemy".

For many of us as transgender people, we would like to pass completely once finished, even to start complete new lives pretending we never had to transition. Many would prefer to not dwell on a past often filled with unhappiness and sorrow. In doing so are we not deserting those who follow us, by disappearing as sources of support, too afraid of speaking out in case we are "outed" once more? Too afraid to stand up against people who would hate us for being transgender as much as they would hate gay people? - but that is a separate issue.

Many people who know nothing about transgender actually confuse transgender people with gay and lesbian people - and in their ignorance also bundle all the different groups within the description of GLBTI together under the heading "gay" - or as is typical with such narrow minded folk - "perverts". As I have pointed out so many times before, our opponents and enemies see us all as one group - it is strange that we as the pink community are so reluctant to. For reasons of unity and strength in numbers and making a louder more coherent voice as one community - we should as well.

Those who criticize people like Beatty for enforcing what they see as a negative image for trans people, accuse him of "being confused" and "not knowing what he wants". I disagree - I think he knows exactly what he wants - children, and a family of his own blood. And as good fortune would have it, his body up to this point still retained the ability to provide him with what he wanted, even if it wasn't exactly in a way he would prefer it to. I am sure that he would prefer to father his child with his wife the good old fashioned way, but alas, the medical science which allows us to cross the gender barrier so successfully has not yet advanced quite this far. It will be quite some time before we can add reproductive capacity to the list of items on our list as we transition.

While many people define being a man or a woman as being dependant on reproductive capacity, it is worth noting (should such a superficial argument present itself) that there are many males and females who are born male or female and cannot reproduce either. Are they to be considered "not male" and "not female"?

It is our nature as transsexuals to strive for full membership of the physically opposite gender, and there are also many other variations within the transgender theme who are quite content to stop their transition anywhere along the road where they feel comfortable, happy or even due to finances or other conditions which limit the possibilites. I know this is not the same thing exactly, but I think it is very unfair for us to sit in judgment and openly criticize of one of our people in exactly the same way for pretty much the same thing as what we complain others judge and criticize us for.

Yes, we need to enforce positive images and discourage negative ones - but we should not include what and who we are as part of the negative.

There are already enough bigot groups out there doing that for us without any assistance from the pink community, thank you very much - we really don't need to pitch in to help them. At any rate it does not really seem to matter that much, as the bigots will include everything gay and trans in the negative images they propagate about us anyway - and make up a good deal more besides.

Regardless of what Mr Beatty does or doesn't do, the bigots out there will continue to judge and attack us for being trans and for blurring lines which they are quite happy enforcing and have hissy fits every time one of us crosses them. Sad, but true - but that should serve to motivate us even harder to educate the world.

The problem isn't the blurring of gender lines and stereotypes - but the prejudice in their hearts and minds - and their reaction to diversity.

Again, regardless of Beatty and his babies, the key to extinguishing prejudice is opening people's minds through fact and education.

Speaking as one who has been out since day one of my transition, having had to deal with all manner of prejudice, discrimination in the workplace, threats, lost friendships and social exclusions and even incidents in public on occasion - and in recent times even more so as a result of advocacy, let me assure you it is not that bad. I am proud to be who and what I am, openly so - and if people are narrow minded and shallow enough to despise me for that, then too bad - it is their problem.

Knowing who and what I am and have been - and that I hopped over the gender fence caused many problems for me at work, but constant exposure to me and who I am and the information and education I openly supplied them with gradually brought acceptance and tolerance - and even friendships. The recent news that I have been in a relationship with another trans girl for almost nine months now as opposed to waiting in vain for some "mister Right" to sweep me off my feet - has not negatively affected my interpersonal relationships at work or in my family one iota.

This tells me that the more people are educated through information and exposure to our existence, the more they understand us - and the more they understand us, the less they fear and loathe us. And when it comes to rallying calls from the far right fanatics to act out of hatred and intolerance against us - they realize that they actually know one or two of us, and that they can tell fact from the fiction the bigots propagate that we are some kind of "threat" to society, civilization and "the family".

It is through education in fact and truth that we win ground, and the more people we educate, the less the hold the bigots have over us.

If you would like to know more about Christina Engela and her writing, please feel free to browse her website.

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All material copyright © Christina Engela, 2019.


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