Ron Gold over at Bilrico managed to get himself trashed for daring to write about transsexual and transgender people from the limited perspective of a gay man who probably came out in the World War II period.
He displayed a remarkable level of ignorance regarding the nature of the “Transgender (as umbrella) Community”. From his point of view the transgender community was either drag queens and butch dykes or transsexuals.
The big question should be… Why do we expect gay men and lesbians to be more understanding than heterosexuals? Do straight men show a whole bunch of sympathy or understanding towards straight transvestites? Or for that matter, why do transsexual and transgender people get a pass when they say the same thing?
Perhaps we need to ask ourselves some serious questions.
In the words of Rodney King, “Why can’t we all get along?”
Why is it that every time I get a serious questionnaire asking about a serious topic regarding people described at one point or another in their lives by a transprefixed word, can’t I ever get past about the forth or fifth question. Seriously… I wasn’t fucking assigned a gender at birth. I was assigned a sex. I didn’t change my gender, I changed my sex.
Perhaps transsexual and transgender people need to look at the bullshit they have been putting out for the last ten to fifteen years with all the gender this and gender that crap.
Even those of us who have libraries full of the books and theory see it as an attempt to dazzle with brilliance and baffle with bullshit.
We substitute myth for actual history. Outside a few of us who have actually made a study out of transsexual and transgender history and culture most people are woefully ignorant regarding the lives lived by actual people transsexual or transgender people could claim as their own pioneers.
Yet there is a reluctance to claim much of anyone other than Sylvia Rivera as if simply being at Stonewall was more important than all the work done organizing.
You can argue that transsexual and transgender people have traditionally occupied a space in the gay and lesbian world as drag queens and bull dykes, but even then the dykes and queens occupied a special class, who were often excluded from the political discourse aimed at furthering the rights of gays and lesbians.
The Daughters of Bilitis didn’t want to be associated with stone butches, in part because stone butches were an under class, who couldn’t or wouldn’t pass as straight, something that femme lesbians were capable of doing. See: Boots of Leather, Slippers of Gold and Stone Butch Blues.
Remember the argument was, “We are just like other women, except we love women.”
When the Mattachine Society picketed the Capitol demanding equal rights the gay men wore suits, the lesbians wore dresses. Queens and dykes need not apply.
After Stonewall we saw the emergence of the cult of, “I am a masculine gay man who is attracted to other masculine gay men.” And so it goes… The dykes and queens who had been the face of gay and lesbian, the shock troops for gay and lesbian liberation were once again left by the wayside with the lesbian community arguing against dykes because they were mimicking men and gay men arguing against queens because gay men were not supposed to be feminine.
A few years back when there was the big emergence of F to Ms I quipped, “There really are two kinds of lesbians, women and men.” Nasty but true. Norah Vincent wrote a really snotty piece in I believe, Out Magazine, or perhaps The Advocate attacking transsexuals. Considering Norah’s book about passing as male for a year and the gender issues Norah has shown since just who was Norah arguing against? Internalized self hatred in dealing with issues of her own, perhaps.
Jim Fouratt was another case of open mouth, insert foot. I bumped into Jim a couple of times in 1967. We were both radicals involved the anti-war movement. He was a feminine looking angelic blond hippie boy who looked rather queenish.
Me.. . I was following the road map laid out in John Rechy’s City of Night looking for sisterhood in the gay world and having a hard time finding it among gay men. Queens were a separate underclass. I first connected with transsexual and transgender sisters in jail, the queen tank of the San Francisco city jail to be exact.
You see I explored enough of the gay world to know it wasn’t a place for me. I had too many gay men tell me I was a girl and they weren’t into girls. My explorations taught me of the differences, just as getting to know non-op queens helped me to see I wasn’t one of them.
But back to Norah Vincent and Jim Fouratt, their snotty remarks are reflective of a certain mindset common in gay men and lesbians. Transsexual and transgender people remind them of the abuse they received as kids for being too girlish or too boyish.
Actually though gay men and lesbians have been taking shit for not being real men or real women from time immemorial. After Stonewall both gay men and lesbians distanced themselves from the queens and butches. There were the class issues. Queens and dykes didn’t clean up nice and were not someone the “community” could present to the corporations as a marketing demographic. The queens and dykes were too lumpen, too down by law for that one to fly.
Earlier I mentioned a transgender rewriting of history, a substitution of myth for history that places a paradigm that came into being in the mid 1990s anachronistically into situations where the historically accurate terminology would suggest using the language of the times and referring to those people as queens and butches or transsexual. The term transgender wasn’t in common usage then.
Even today an awful lot of people reject the hegemony of the transgender as an all inclusive paradigm. The paradigm of transgender as umbrella has always had a synthetic feel to it. Further its supposed inclusiveness tends not to extend to a fair number of people with legitimate claims to citizenship within the gay and lesbian world such as the female impersonators and “she-male” sex workers. Perhaps they are too queer for a movement that has many of its roots within the heterosexual cross dresser world.
Ron Gold managed to insert not one foot but both into his mouth showing remarkable flexibility for a man his age.
. As for adults struggling with what to do about their feelings, I’d tell them too to stay away from the psychiatrists – those prime reinforcers of sex-role stereotypes – and remind them that whatever they’re feeling, or feel like doing, it’s perfectly possible with the bodies they’ve got. If a man wants to wear a dress or have long hair; if a woman wants short hair and a three-piece suit; if people want romance and sex with their own gender; who says they can’t violate these perfectly arbitrary taboos? A short historical and cross-cultural survey should establish that men and women have worn and done all sorts of stuff. I recall reading something by Jan Morris in which it seemed that he thought he needed a sex change because he wanted men to hold doors open for him and kiss him goodbye at train stations. For starters, I’d have told him that I’ve had these nice things happen to me and I’ve still got my pecker.
Perhaps it isn’t needless to say that a No to the notion of transgender does not excuse discrimination against cross-dressers or post-op transsexuals in employment, housing and public accommodation; and I strongly support legislation that would forbid it. I would, however, get after the doctors – the psychiatrists who use a phony medical model to invent a disease that doesn’t exist, and the surgeons who use such spurious diagnoses to mutilate the bodies of the deluded.
Oooh, what a pissy queen, he is. I know the type. He is someone who makes grand pronouncements from total ignorance. He correctly identifies GID as a politically created mental illness but conveniently forgets that until 1973 so too was homosexuality.
In his ignorance he fails to conceive of transsexualism and transgenderism as being like homosexuality; something people are born. On top of that he is a phallocentric misogynistic pig.
The real bitch of the matter isn’t what he said. Really…
The real bitch of the matter is that I have read the exact same bullshit from numerous people in the so called “Transgender Community”. My mother always told me that it takes two to make a fight. I took that message to heart when I started this blog and declared a moratorium on name calling.
I have heard far worse than anything any of the aforementioned people are being pilloried for come from mouths of both sides of the transsexual/transgender wars.
Hell, I’ve grown used to some transgender activists describing post-SRS sisters as mutilated men with inverted penises. Indeed Monica Roberts, who I often agree with regarding the racism among not only transsexual and transgender people but within the greater LGBT/T alliances has a tendency to go off on post-SRS women and use the same filthy abusive language to describe our bodies as Ron Gold did in the above quoted excerpt. (see her current post).
While Ron Gold is probably a lost cause, I actually feel I would have a greater potential for a reasonable dialogue with Vincent, or Fouratt than with some people in the world of transgenders and for that matter transsexuals. I know Jim to have shared some common history and I actually agreed with some of what Norah said about the replacing of sex with gender although her right wing politics put me off.
Generally speaking I have had vile things said about me by some of the most militant pushers of transgender as umbrella and by heterosexual post-SRS women than I have from gay men or lesbians.
In point of fact the first people to hit my permanent shit list were several of the “classic transsexual” faction. Mainly because I would not put up with their homophobic, right wing hostility. So these people who shall remain nameless regularly trash me on their blogs as being a transgender activist.
This is odd because trying to pin me to the transgender cause is so limiting. People who regularly read this blog have probably come to realize I am involved in dozens of causes.
In the end though I have to reflect on the wisdom of an old saying, “Opinions are like assholes, everyone has one.” The nature of prejudice is such that we all too often take the opinion of some asshole and apply it to everyone who shares a common characteristic with the person who is an asshole. The difficult trick is to oppose the opinion, even a commonly shared group think opinion without opposing a class of people based upon their membership in that particular class.
I’ve learned a lot by turning down the volume and not immediately attacking or calling name. One thing I have learned is that dialogue is possible if one gives reasonable respect in exchange for the same.
As the Jill Sobule song puts it “I know everyone’s a good person inside, everyone wants to be loved inside, so whenever I think what a dick what a liar, I try to remember the good things inside.”
Fundamentalist ideology, be it religious, right wing, feminist gender theory, or queer theory gets fucked with by transsexualism. The tendency is to lash out with something that fucks up your otherwise perfectly constructed dogma.
Transsexualism is not homosexuality although people with transsexualism may be gay or lesbian after SRS as well as straight. We are not drag queens or drag kings who have gone too far.
Transsexualism is not transgenderism, in spite of the efforts to lump us all together. Transsexuals may share common oppressions with transgenders (or cis- LGB folks) and have the need to fight those oppressions as a coalition based on common interests but we are not the same thing. Pretending we are and focusing all the energy that has been and continues to be expended on constructing the political fiction of transgender as the universal descriptor just creates a lot of anger.
But back to Ron Gold, Monica Roberts, Jim Fouratt etc. I know they have all done good things in the past and continue to do good things. When ever they run their mouths that song by Jill Sobule just pops up on my mental i-Pod and I try to think they are good people inside and remember we are ostensibly on the same side.
The nagging question is always one of why do these folks feel the need to expound so nastily regarding others whose life experiences are different from their own? Who are nonetheless expected to work for shared political goals such as marriage equality, health coverage, employment and housing non-discrimination etc.
And I will not let those claiming the dubious status of classic transsexual (post-SRS heterosexual) off the hook. Their homophobia and general right wing bullshit sucks just as much as anything put forth by Gold , Fouratt or Roberts and Vincent.
Whey should those of us post-SRS folks who are lesbian, gay or bisexual defend your heterosexual privilege when you will not defend our rights to marriage equality?