Gender… Schmender #$%@&^*

The whole ideology of gender is purely sexist bullshit.

Gender is a pure social construct, a fiction that oppresses both men and women but more women than men.

When I hear “gender assigned at birth” I want to slap someone. I wasn’t assigned a gender at birth.  The doctor looked between my legs and said, “It’s a boy.”  I was assigned male by reason of having a penis there later in life I had an operation that reassigned me to female based on that same genital appearance factor.

When I came out in 1969, I came out as a feminist.  Women in the collective gave me clothes. While the guys claimed they respected me but they also started treating me in a way that told me they expected me to adhere to the sex roles both hippie and movement women were expected to adhere to.

When other movement women saw this they introduced me to feminism.  When SDS split into Weatherman and other factions I became Weather, largely because of Bernadine Dohrn.  You see there weren’t very many strong women’s voices in SDS and the Anti-War Movement.

Bernadine Dohrn gave great rants…  Maybe months later on reflection you went WTF but at the time…  Oh how I admired her audacity and how she inspired me to act courageously.

I also learned from other radical women. Putting women and the interests of women first yet never forgetting that sexism was only one axis of oppression. Consciousness raising and analysis gave me/us an understanding of what the world expects of women.

Many of us who were dealing with having been born with transsexualism owe far more to feminism and the feminist movement than we ever did to Stonewall and the Gay Liberation Movement. We weren’t gay men even if we had male lovers.  Especially if we had male lovers… being transsexual and having a male lover meant we were straight or more accurately heterosexual since straight also had other connotations.

We weren’t some “T” so recently grafted on to what was first a Gay Liberation Movement.  We were women in transition to female having to deal with the same sexism as natal female women had to deal with.  It didn’t much matter if we were radical feminist Weather Nation women or Cosmo “Sex and the Single Girl” women.  We had to deal with sexism and pay discrimination as well as sexist assumptions based on what are now called “gender” stereotypes.

Gender was something used to keep women oppressed.  It was the idea that women are weak and stupid; fit only to be sex objects or mothers. Daddy’s little princess until given to a man only to lose her last name and become his property.* Gender became a way of telling feminists that they were not real women since they questioned the marketing of very high profit items based on pandering to a sense of insecurity in one’s own womanhood or attractiveness.

When feminism challenged those who were dealing with transsexualism part of the challenge was due to the tendency of so many of us to embrace all the marketing of gender without insight or even a sense of irony.

But gender as it is so often used today is if anything a far more sneaky and loaded with subtextual readings semiotic. Gender has now replaced sex in so much of the common discourse that we look at the construct as reality and skip over the subtextual readings of the semiotic.

Whereas once upon a time the Cockettes Troupe in San Francisco deconstructed gender and showed it as performative through the usage of exaggerated costumes and the performing of equally over the top stereotypes taken from films of the 1930s and 40s I now have some people ask if these performers were transsexual or transgender. The answer is maybe some were.  One was in the Stanford program at the same time I was, others were gay men and some were natal females.

By breaking the rules of gender through Absurdist Theater they created both campy comedy and a critique of sex roles. One of the crucial mistakes in feminist criticism of more traditional drag is the assumption that women are the target when it often seems the aim is more a matter of ridiculing roles portrayed in movies.

But Second Wave Feminism went even further in delivering a devastating critique of sex roles as defining what the proper role of women was.  When women dared step beyond the stereotypes and enter male dominated career field they were told that doing so would un-sex both women and men.  Fashion magazines and all sorts of corporate interests dished up massive loads of propaganda aimed at undermining the confidence of women seeking equality of opportunity.

One of the critiques of transsexual to female people is that we have not been socialized as women. This is an assumption that is often times contradictorily both true and false. Transsexual to female people grow up as transkids and are influenced by the same sales pitches and indoctrination as natal women yet they are told it is something they must adhere to and we are told it is something to be ashamed of.

This makes it hard for us to have a critical eye regarding this propaganda when we first come out. We may acquire it with experience but it is equally possible for us to join the masses of women who march to the beat of Sex in the City rather than to NOW and more radical feminisms.

At some point sex became gender and roles acted replaced that which was written upon the body. The ironic labeling of sex as a definer of maleness or femaleness as essentialism has resulted in many people with a poor understanding of feminist theory using it as a careless accusation.

Dividing people into classes of male and female based on the appearances of genitalia would mean that heterosexual post-SRS women and men would be able to legally marry partners of the other sex.  No more Christie Lee Littletons, no more Nikki Araguzs.

But when the misogynistic reactionary forces of both religious fundamentalism and ultra right wing politics united to defeat feminism as well as LGBT/TQ liberation and the progressive movements of the 60s and 70s they seemed to unite with corporate interests in reasserting misogyny.  Trying to sell sex roles and their importance after 15 years of serious feminist critique was more of a struggle than repackaging sex roles as gender.

The Total Woman by Marabel Morgan was supposedly a self help book for women.  In reality this 1974 publication was grounded in the rising right wing Christo-Fascist backlash that also spawned the rise of the homophobic bigotry of Anita Bryant and crew.

Along with Phyllis Schlafly these genderists put forth an ideology that could have been penned by the late transvestite activist pioneer, Virginia Prince.  The ideology was one that kept women in their places by telling them that they weren’t real women unless they filled this total woman gender role.  The same gender role feminists had critiqued under the name of “sex roles.”

Now I view “gender” as a culturally defined social construct that varies a great deal according to culture and time (see Margaret Mead’s work.  BTW her “debunker” were right wing McCarthyites).

With western modernism the naturally occurring over lapping of sex traits and abilities lead to a lessening of rigid gender roles that are more often found these days in non-western cultures.

Defining people as real men or real women based on gender is a characteristic of conservative values often based in religiously fanatical cultures which is why I find the embrace of “gender” as definer by Transgender Inc. to be more reactionary than progressive.

I read a story on Bilrico about some creep beating an infant boy to death to make him act like a man. http://www.bilerico.com/2010/08/man_kills_17-month-old_boy_for_acting_like_a_girl.php This is the problem with putting so much emphasis on gender.

In the real world an Emo boy even with nail polish and a magenta streak in his long black hair is still a boy.  The rocker girl with facial piercings, tats and black leather motor cycle boots is still a girl.

Of course without the ideology of transgender Thomas Beatie is a masculine woman who dresses and acts like a man when she isn’t having children.  But c`est la vie.  And no I wouldn’t mis-gender him like that even though I am supremely irritated by the neo-quiver full thingie.

Gender is masculinity or femininity not maleness or femaleness.  We got suckered into discussing that core identity of male or female as being gender based on Stoller’s book (Sex and Gender) way back in the 1960s.  We didn’t have a whole lot of information to operate on and lacked a vocabulary to describe what we were feeling.  We should have used “core sex identity” for that sense of being female trapped in a male body.
Little did we realize that even then introducing “gender” in to the discourse was using poisoned seeds from the fruit of a poisonous tree.  The misogynistic world according to Virginia Prince became the bullshit crop of the transgender social construct of gender.

The way Transgender Inc. uses gender is not the least bit liberating.  It can’t be as it is based on a construct that defines membership in the sex class of female or the sex class of male not based on what one commonly uses.  Male and female are generally based on whether one has a penis or vagina.

Yet the simple reality of hole or pole unites both Transgender Inc and the religious fanatic/right wingers in finding ways to tell women born transsexual that their pussies do not really make them women.

Christine Jorgensen and Roberta Cowell

It has been some 40 years since I read Christine Jorgensen’s carefully redacted ghost written “autobiography that came out about the same time I came out.

A year or so latter I saw that horribly done film version of her life story starring some no name boy who looked like the foot ball player in drag that he was.

I met Christine at the San Francisco premiere of the film.  I was young and terribly sexy wearing one of my sleazy dresses from a Telegraph Avenue boutique that I loved, she reminded me of one of my chain smoking never married aunts who lived in LA and went to Las Vegas for her kicks.

But Christine’s story had never been the transsexual life story that captured my imagination.  I was too young or perhaps too scared of my own problems with being a transkid to express any interest in it when she was a news item.  Possibly I was too sheltered by my environment.

The transsexual stories that did get my attention started filtering into my active awareness about 1960 or so and centered around the stars of Le Carousel in Paris.  Coccinelle, Capucine, Bambi and April Ashley were the sisters I found ready identification with.  Coccinelle was as they said of buxom sexy women in those days, “a Bombshell”, a transsexual Bridget Bardot or Jayne Mansfield.

April Ashley’s story hit the tabloids the summer of 1962 and gave me a name for what had been euphemistically referred to by my parents as “my problem”.  My problem being that I was an obvious transkid blossoming into a teen queen.  One who got busted regularly for dressing in mommy’s clothes and for showing signs of wanting to be noticed by the sort of boys who would take me riding in their cars.

As a historian I have actually worked on recollecting books I once had and either sold or lent and never saw again.

Over the last year this blog has attacked  the all too frequent claims of often contradictory and generally sketchy forms of intersex on the part of people who are garden variety women born with transsexualism.

Everyone of them seems to think they are original in making these claims.  Yet nearly 60 years ago Roberta Cowell was making similar claims of spontaneous changing of secondary sex characteristic and trashing Christine Jorgensen as a homosexual transvestite because Christine’s body didn’t respond as well to her hormone regime.  At the same time according to the biography written by Richard Docter, Christine was also making unsubstantiated claims to being physically intersex.

Both were making these claims at a time prior to Dr. Georges Burou development of the pioneering surgical techniques that gave those who graduated from Le Carousel their vaginas.

But more importantly these two were the pioneers of what has now become the infamous, “I’m real and you are not” trash talking among women born with transsexualism who had similar if not identical sex change operations.

And this claim is documented not speculative thanks to biographies and ghost written “autobiographies”.

Taiwanese TV host had sex change operation in Singapore

Asiaone

Popular TV host, Liching, underwent a sex change operation 29 years ago in Singapore. -TNP

Sun, Jan 31, 2010
AsiaOne and TNP

By Charlene Chua and Germaine Lim

HER legions of fans in Singapore and Taiwan idolise her for her looks, her skills at auctioning anything and her husky voice.

Now, they will have another reason to gawk.

Six years ago, popular 48-year-old Taiwanese TV host Liching had shocked the Asian showbiz scene when she announced that she was a hermaphrodite who had a sex change operation to become a woman.

The term hermaphrodite is used to describe a person who is born with ambiguous genitalia.

But now, in a bizarre twist, the doctor who had encouraged her to undergo surgery in Singapore 29 years ago has come out to say that she was not a hermaphrodite, but a man.

Dr Zhang Qizhong exposed her in a Taiwanese medical journal that he wrote to document his 35 years in medicine.

He said the article was meant only for internal circulation to encourage people to face their sexuality, reported Next magazine, a Hong Kong weekly.

But the Asian media soon picked it up, leaving Liching distraught and forcing her into hiding.

Dr Zhang had referred Liching to a Singapore hospital in 1981 for her sex change operation because such surgery was then illegal.

It is likely that the operation was performed by the late Prof S S Ratnam, who was then the only Singapore surgeon skilled enough to carry out a sex change operation.

Prof Ratnam was a pioneer in sex change operations. His department atKandang Kerbau Hospital had performed 500 such operations between 1971 and 1995.

Continue reading at: http://www.asiaone.com/print/News/Latest%2BNews/Showbiz/Story/A1Story20100129-195346.html

The trouble with the whole “I wasn’t transsexual, I was really intersex.” lie is that it is too easy to contradict.  Especially when ever garden variety of sister tries to pull it.  Especially given how few brothers try to pull it when the logic of infant genital surgery for sex assigning purposes would suggest that they would vastly out number those surgically assigned as male.

Remember too big a clit gets cut down and too small a penis gets turned into a clit.

Fighting for a hate-free union

By Christine Darosa

From Socialist Workerhttp://socialistworker.org/2010/03/30/fighting-for-a-hate-free-union

Christine Darosa reports on the fight of a transgender union activist in Service Employees International Union Local 1021 to remove a union supervisor from his position because of his reported prejudice.

March 30, 2010

SAN FRANCISCO–On the heels of the reform slate “Change 1021″ victory in Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1021’s first elections [2] comes another victory: a supervisor in the union’s San Francisco office has been fired for what activists say is his prejudice.

Andre Spearman, one of the staff supervisors in the Union’s San Francisco office, had reportedly created a hostile work environment through a heavy-handed, top-down approach to working with both staff and rank-and-file membership, combined with blatant disrespect of the membership and staff.

Gabriel Haaland, Local 1021’s political coordinator for San Francisco, and a target of what he calls Spearman’s harassment, described Spearman as having “a very anti-membership-participation perspective” in a progressive local where the membership has historically been very engaged. In fact, Haaland feels that Spearman’s presence and conduct were part of a systematic effort to tamp down rank-and-file activity and involvement in advance of the election.

Over time, Haaland says that an obvious pattern of dismissiveness and derision emerged, though it was difficult to challenge due to Spearman’s abusive management style. As workers in the office began to share their experiences, it became clear that Haaland in particular seemed to receive an extra share of abuse due to his identity as a transgender man.

For example, when Haaland was not in the room, Spearman would refer to Gabriel as “he” in a sneering, belittling way–treatment Spearman also reserved for a transgender woman in the rank and file who crossed his path.

In November, Haaland filed a grievance on behalf of the unionized staff with SEIU management. When the grievance was ignored, he filed a complaint with the San Francisco Human Rights Commission.

- – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -

WORKPLACE DISCRIMINATION is still all-too-common for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. A 2006 San Francisco study by the Transgender Law Center (TLC) and Bay Guardian newspaper found that 57 percent of transgender people surveyed had experienced employment discrimination in some form, despite the city having had transgender-inclusive non-discrimination laws since 1994. Further, only 12 percent of those surveyed had filed a formal complaint.

Haaland, a longtime local progressive figure, has been involved in drafting protections and raising visibility around the harassment of transgender workers, and was part of the group of people who worked to get the TLC/Bay Guardian study underway.

Still, it took Haaland some time to make the decision to file the complaint against Spearman. This was due in part, he explained, to not wanting to give ammunition to union-bashers and his belief that, surely, the union could do better–but also in part to the personal difficulty of taking this step.

If deciding to file a complaint was so challenging for Haaland, it is clear how much harder it would be for people in more precarious situations or those who are isolated in their communities. With the threat of repercussions–such as job loss in a population where unemployment is as high as 75 percent–it is easy to understand why so few people might come forward.

Haaland said that when he found out that the Change 1021 slate had won 26 out of the 28 contested union positions, he knew immediately that the new leadership would be responsive to the issues raised in the grievance. He “knew and respected” the people who won, having worked alongside them in the union for years, he explained.

As Larry Bradshaw, the new third vice president of Local 1021, commented recently:

[M]ost of us that were elected to office on the reform slate knew that there were many internal problems with staff and staff management, but we had no idea that there was this sort of harassment occurring. The first we heard about it was when we read about it in the local press a couple days before we took office, and our new rank-and-file chief elected officer moved within a couple days to remove Mr. Spearman from his position in the union.

Haaland feels that Local 1021 is now returning to the “long tradition of progressive, democratic unionism” that he had signed on to when he took his job with SEIU. He also feels that Change 1021’s win is connected to the actions happening elsewhere at the grassroots–from labor to the LGBT movement to the March 4 Day of Action against the budget cuts in California.

“Things are different now in a number of different contexts. Old ways of doing things are shutting down,” he said. “It excites me…We’re winning a lot–in transformative ways, not in traditional ways.”

- – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -

Material on this Web site is licensed by SocialistWorker.org, under a Creative Commons (by-nc-nd 3.0) [3] license, except for articles that are republished with permission. Readers are welcome to share and use material belonging to this site for non-commercial purposes, as long as they are attributed to the author and SocialistWorker.org.

  1. [1] http://socialistworker.org/department/Labor
  2. [2] http://socialistworker.org/2010/03/09/sweeping-victory-for-seiu-reformers
  3. [3] http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0

STATEMENT ON DESPATHOLOGIZATION OF TRANSSEXUALISM

Cuban Multidisciplinary Society for Sexuality Studies

http://ilga.org/ilga/en/article/mg7Y7pB1Rg

In CUBA ,24/01/2010

The Sexual Diversity section of the Cuban Multidisciplinary Society for the Study of Sexuality (SOCUMES) proposed the adoption of the following Declaration in its General Assembly of Members on 18 January 2010 in Havana, based on a proposal made by the National Commission for Comprehensive Care of Transsexual People, of the National Center for Sexual Education (CENESEX).

Recalling the current inclusion of transsexuality as a mental disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV (DSM-IV) published by American Psychiatric Association (APA) and the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) of the World Health Organization (WHO);

Recalling also that the Standards of Care adopted in Cuba by the National Commission for Comprehensive Care of Transsexual People rely on those published by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH), which also includes the classification of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and International Classification of Diseases E-10;

Considering that the American Psychiatric Association will publish in 2012 the fifth version of the above mentioned manual and that the chief and other specialists of the working group responsible for the review have recently proposed the non-removal of this category, as well as the application of corrective psychological therapy to children, to the sex assigned at birth;

Taking into account the concern expressed by individuals and human rights groups at the international level regarding this issue,

Considering that all transgender people -including transsexuality, transvestites and intersex people- may be vulnerable to marginalization, discrimination and stigma, based on the socially regulated binary approach that recognizes only two gender identities: male and female;

Considering also that the above classifications perpetuate and deepen social discrimination against these groups, causing irreversible physical and psychological damage that can lead these people to commit suicide;

Considering in addition that transsexuality and other transgender expressions are not an option for a lifestyle and that the modifications to their bodies have no cosmetic intentions. It is a right and an inner need to live with the gender identity which the person feels to belong;

Recalling the Yogyakarta Principles on the application of international human rights law in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity, especially Principle 18 on “Protection from Medical Abuses” which, among other things, make States and governments responsible to “ensure that any medical or psychological treatment or counseling does not, explicitly or implicitly, treat sexual orientation and gender identity as medical conditions to be treated, cured or suppressed”;

Considering that the right to public health and universal free access to its services are guaranteed by the Cuban government for all, but still requires additional laws to fully protect the rights of transgender people;

Recalling Resolution 126 of Public Health Ministry, of 4 June 2008, which regulates the procedures involved in health care for transsexuals;

Recognizing that multidisciplinary care provided by the National Commission for Comprehensive Care of Transsexual People, since its foundation in 1979 until today, has led to a remarkable improvement in the quality of life of transsexual people and their families.

Express our support for the removal of transsexuality from the international classification of mental disorder, especially in the DSM-V update to be published in 2010.

Reject the application of psychological therapies for transgender people, in order to reverse their gender identity, as well as sex reassignment surgeries performed to those under 18 years old.

Reaffirm that transsexuality and other transgender identities are expressions of sexual diversity, to which it must be ensured all psychological, medical and surgical treatments required to alleviate alterations to the mental health of these individuals, as a result of stigma and discrimination.

Also reaffirm that the implementation of these procedures respects sexual rights of each person, and are consistent with bio-ethical principles of autonomy, nonmaleficence, beneficence and justice.

Reaffirm in addition that transgender care should be comprehensive, beyond just medical and psychological care, to ensure recognition and respect for their individual rights.

Reiterate the need to consider all necessary legislations to ensure recognition of these rights, especially the Gender Identity Bill, which includes the identity change regardless sex reassignment surgery performance.

Call for a broader implementation of educational strategies regarding sexual orientation and gender identity at all levels of education and to the general population, as stated in the National Program for Sexual Education.

Reaffirm the need to include the attention to transgendered people in comprehensive social policies of the State and Government of Cuba, in correspondence with the “Declaration of the General Assembly of the United Nations, condemning the violation of human rights based on sexual orientation and identity gender “, supported by Cuba on 18 December 2008.

Havana, 22 January 2010

No More David Letterman in this House

Most male comedians aren’t all that funny and most spend an inordinate amount of time disparaging both women and gays in an orgy of misogyny and homophobia.

When they turn their sights on transsexual and transgender people they manage a two-fer that tends towards the even more vicious since both women and gays have spent nearly the last 40 years gradually raising awareness that such naked abuse is actually wrong.

Obama’s appointment of of Amanda Simpson to a senior level government post is a first.  For transsexual and transgender people it is a first on the order of the first woman to occupy such a position, the first African American or the first gay or lesbian person.  If we do not feel a little twinge of pride then perhaps we should.

As expected all the Christo-Fascists with their coded language of bigotry attacked her.  The neo-Nazi pundits were rolling in the aisles.

But we did not expect the snickering and nasty jokes coming from liberal comedians.  Although perhaps we should have.  Particularly in light of all the hardy, har, har about Ann Coulter.  I don’t like Ann Coulter even though she is totally outrageous and taught me the wording I should use to get away with saying shit I think but can not prove, without getting sued.  If Ann is transsexual or transgender it is wrong to attack her for that.  If she is perceived as possibly transsexual or transgender it is equally wrong to attack her for it.  It is irrelevant and there are plenty of things said and written by Ann that are far more worthy of attack.

Letterman has crossed the line into pathetic dickwaddery on numerous occasion over the past few months.  Again like with Ann Coulter I am certainly no fan of Sarah Palin, yet even I have to acknowledge that his joke about Alex Rodriguez impregnating the Palin girl was both crass and misogynistic as well as seriously offensive and not funny.  Nor are the charges of sexual harassment funny.

Put together they add up to Letterman being no more than a pathetic, over the hill misogynistic loser.

Perhaps it is time for him to retire.

The Incident

HRC’s Response

Human Rights Campaign Sends Letter Condemning CBS Late Show with David Letterman Skit, Asks for Apology

Late Show sketch includes “incendiary remarks” over Obama Administration’s first transgender appointment

1/6/2010

WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, sent the following letter today to David Letterman and CBS Corp. in response to a Late Show sketch mocking the appointment of Amanda Simpson to a senior position at the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Simpson, who until recently was Deputy Director in Advanced Technology Development at Raytheon Missile Systems and was a test pilot for 20 years, was appointed to be Senior Technical Advisor to the Department of Commerce, where she will work directly with the Under Secretary of Commerce on international trade and national security issues.

In a skit during Letterman’s opening monologue, the host announced Simpson’s historic appointment and revealed that she is transgender, displaying a photograph of her.  The show’s announcer, Alan Kalter, then feigned “trans panic,” implying he had some prior relationship with Simpson but was not aware of her gender history, and ran yelling from the stage.

Letter from Human Rights Campaign Associate Director of Diversity for Transgender Issues Allyson Robinson:

January 6, 2010

David Letterman
Late Show with David Letterman
1697 Broadway
New York, NY 10001

CC:      Nina Tassler
President, CBS Entertainment
51 West 52nd Street
New York, NY 10019

Dear Mr. Letterman,

I am writing on behalf of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, to express my disappointment over the inappropriate and incendiary remarks made on The Late Show with David Letterman last night on the appointment of Amanda Simpson to a senior position in the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The decision to ignore the fact that Ms. Simpson is incredibly well-qualified for this vital national security position and focus instead on her gender identity reflects transphobia.  Ms. Simpson’s appointment represents meaningful progress for the LGBT community and in particular transgender Americans who have faced significant and well-documented discrimination in the workplace and their communities.

You may not be aware that the punch line in your skit has been used as a defense in nearly every hate crime perpetrated against transgender people that has come to trial.  For example, the “trans panic” defense was infamously used by Allen Ray Andrade, who was convicted in 2009 of beating 19-year-old Angie Zapata to death with a fire extinguisher after learning of her gender history.  According to media reports, it has also been the main defense employed by Juan A. Martinez for the killing of Jorge Steven López Mercado, 19, in Puerto Rico last November.

Your skit affirmed and encouraged a prejudice against transgender Americans that keeps many from finding jobs, housing, and enjoying freedoms you and your writers take for granted every day.  We ask that you apologize publicly to Ms. Simpson and the transgender community for this unfortunate episode.

Sincerely,

Allyson Robinson,
Associate Director of Diversity for Transgender Issues
Human Rights Campaign

Both the You Tube Video and the HRC response were taken from Pam’s House Blend

http://www.pamshouseblend.com/diary/14730/hrcs-response-to-david-lettermans-skit-about-transgender-obama-nominee-amanda-simpson

Why I like the Term, “Transsexual” Better Than the Alternatives

Too often those espousing the identity politics of “Transgender as Umbrella”, in order to enlarge their numbers from being  a small minority group within world of L/G communities, set such broad factors for inclusion in the transgender label that it appears that only a small minority of people aren’t transgender.

This of course erases transsexuals to the point where GLAAD’s style book and folks like Autumn Sandeen appear to think that it is appropriate to change transsexual to transgender when ever the word appears in print. The same goes for pre-op, post-op and sex change operation which enter the Orwell New Speak Morphing Machine and emerge as the nicely euphemistic and neutered “transition”.

Since when did “transsexual” acquire the same sort of stigma as a word like “nigger” that requires its being euphemized?

For me transsexual means changing sex or physical sex characteristics.   Not to mention living 24/7/365 in a manner consistent with the sex you are becoming.

At its core transsexualism is about the deep seated need to change sex from that assigned at birth.  Arguments as to why change with the seasons and are almost matters of faith.  Reasons are all legitimate to those doing the changing.  No matter the strength of evidence as to a physical nature there is no argument that will ever convince the bigots.

People with transsexualism have struggled to put words to what they feel ever since we started putting pen to paper and trying to relate our stories in the 1950s (I am currently rereading Roberta Cowell’s autobiography) The language lacks the words to relate what we feel inside and so we are forced to use metaphors.

At its core transsexualism is about having an operation to change one’s assigned at birth sex, that is why it is sex reassignment surgery.

Transsexualism has several common narratives.  Those narratives distinguish us from others who appear similar but who do not have the same desperate drive to actually have an operation to change their sex.

To placate the bigots we have desexed transsexualism to the point where it seems that wanting to be able to have sex as female or male bodied people (depending on the direction of change) no longer plays a part in our wanting SRS.

We have desexed transsexualism under the rubric of transgender to the point where wanting our bodies to look consistent with our gender of presentation when we are naked is looked upon as elitist rather than consistent with our changing sex to have our bodies match our core sex identity.

I view gender as suspect. Over thousands of years gender roles have been used to keep women as second class humans.  Substituting gender for sex reifies gender roles that keep women as second class humans deemed inferior to men.

What is gender identity if gender itself is an abstract construct that shifts over time and location?  Gender identity makes sense in the claims of transgender people as they are claiming that acting the role makes them real.  Indeed they denounce the “body essentialism” of those of us who point out that women are adult females and that men are adult males irrespective of their  presentation.

But I am a woman born transsexual and not a woman born transgender so I do not have to stake claim to womanhood based on my ability to adhere to an abstract gender role that I claim such an intensity of identity to, that it allows me to deny my actual body.

My femaleness in all its mix of masculine and feminine hippie anarchist feminist elements is confirmed every time I squat to pee, shower, make love or masturbate.

Now there are some who feel the need to add “Classic” to their transsexual.  I generally find these people to be conservative and heterosexist if not down right homophobic.  It especially sends them into a tizzy when two sisters form a lesbian bond.  It also seems as though “classic transsexual” is the latest incarnation of BBLZ etc’s AGP/AP model.

I am vaguely amused when lesbian sisters who initially embraced the term discover that it doesn’t mean those of us who have had SRS .  That it isn’t a substitute for post-op the way WBT was initially envisioned and instead it requires the embrace of a heterosexist stance that says post-SRS women who are lesbian should work for the protection of heterosexual marriage for post-SRS women. While lesbian sisters are expected to  settle for civil unions for themselves because same sex marriage would denigrate the heterosexual marriages entered into by “classic transsexuals”  At the same time “classic transsexuals” refuse to recognize the validity of lesbian relationships within the post-op transsexual community.

You know there was a time when those of us who had sex change operations were rare, indeed. When I got mine there were maybe a few thousand people who had the same surgery I had.  But now there are hundreds of thousands of us and the only thing that unites us is having had sex reassignment surgery.

Now I’ve know post-ops who have been perfectly flawless in every way and others who can’t live outside the ghetto.  But the vast majority of them who didn’t flat out lie and deceive the screeners had elements of that basic set of early established narratives as part of their life experiences and that makes all of them “classic transsexuals” in my book, which means I can dispense with the classic modifier.

If you want to say transsexuals who actually get sex change surgery then say it.  Don’t beat around around the bush.  When you start using “classic transsexual” in any other context than post-op then you are as much as saying there are many different kinds of transsexuals.  With many comes validation of the claims of transgender people to being “non-op transsexuals”.

I am also not a fan of HBS.  I liked Dr. Benjamin.  He was nice in an old school liberal, paternalistic sort of way but like most of those who study us he leaped to many many erroneous conclusions.  But even more so syndrome isn’t much of an improvement on disorder if any.  It is as though we are making Dr. Benjamin into some sort of definer of us rather than a facilitator who learned from what we told him.

We existed in ancient times and in every culture.  I perfer the term transsexual.

Now the argument can be made that it is tainted by association with sex workers.  Yet long before the emergence of IFGE, NTAC and other Transactivist groups, sex work was often the only means of survival we had.  It still is for way too many people.

By the same token isn’t the transgender argument for the use of transgender instead of transsexual based upon transsexual being the term of choice for so many trans* sex workers?

To me WBT, transsexual, post-op, woman of a transsexual history, classic transsexual all pretty much mean the same thing.  They all mean that the person to whom those various terms are applied had an operation that changed their genital from those of one sex to another.  All the other stuff is just window dressing that tries to hide the fact that having sex reassignment surgery is what defines us as transsexual.

Not having it and talking about gender as though it is more than clothing and mannerisms is a transgender thing, not transsexual.  We don’t transition, we get sex change operations hence the term transsexual.

Ron Gold, Jim Fouratt, Norah Vincent et.al.: Why Do We Attack Gays and Lesbians While Giving Transgenders and Transsexuals a Pass when they Say the Same Thing?

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?

Class Structure in Transworld vs the Reality Based World

Sara Seton asked me:

So what do you think of someone’s proposed caste system amongst TS?   Here is how I think the grass roots sees this “ladder” as ranked, from top-to-bottom:

“Post-Op TS, living as female
Pre-Op TS, living as female
Non-Op TS, living as female
CD, living as female
Pre-Op TS, living in both genders
Non-Op TS, living in both genders
CD, living in both genders
CD, living as male, but appearing publicly
as female on occasion
CD, male exclusively, but at home “en-femme”
among family and/or friends
CD, only “dressed” when alone
AND THEN, ME: Pre-Op TS, on HRT- living as male, never dresses
as female, and may never will. It’s not my issue!
There is much trouble ahead for me. I will undoubtedly be an object
of derision and scorn at that meeting. I can understand why, too.
They will think me a pretender or a coward. THEY fight the battle in
the trenches, I choose the path of least resistance, where the outside world is concerned. So, I will be the pariah…the laughingstock… the object of negative attention, in spite of my wishes and best efforts, even among my own sisters! This really hurts me!”  (from a winner at Laura’s suicide site.)

It seems to me that this is a very male competition based form of class structure that is at once both misogynistic and very TV fantasy based.

I think that the idea that the poor closet transvestite or even worse closet hormone taker is some how on the bottom rung is akin to the white guy who blames affirmative action for giving all those unqualified women/people of color the position he deserves.

Excuse me while I go hunt for the world’s smallest violin.

I’m one of those post-ops, the flawless kind who had my operation what seems like a hundred years ago and I sure don’t feel like I’m atop some sort of freaking pedestal.  Plus I’m seriously feminist enough to see the pedestal as being as much a form of misogyny as any other form of de-humanizing objectification.

Being at the top of the TV fantasy class structure and a pre-paid ride card gets me on the subway and little else.  You see if one is flawless, even pretty and passes well enough to assimilate in to the world of women then one becomes part of the class “woman”.

The patriarchal systems structure of oppression means that no matter how far up or down the socio-economic scale she is she will in the vast majority of cases always be consider as less than a man of the same class and talents.

Always First Lady and never the President because the idea of there being a First Gentleman seems on the face of it to be absurd.  Such is the reality of sexism, misogyny and gender/sex roles.

This means that one’s place in the real world is determined by education and the amount of class privilege one brings to the table.  If you are a lumpen poor trannie sex worker and you have sex reassignment surgery you become a lumpen poor sex working female.  If you are a high status person before and you are in a protected field then your status has a good chance of translating into your continuing that status.

Your status can also be dependent on your being heterosexual and the status of the man you marry.

I would also disagree with the placement of the CD at the bottom in any world outside the mind of the TV fetishizing other people’s lives.  The closet TV, even one who takes hormones continues to possess and be able to exercise male privilege.  Unless he is so obvious as to be viewed as an effeminate gay man this means he has a “male” job and is a man in what still remains a man’s world.

This level of male privilege means he generally speaking does not need to be as good at his job as a woman would be in the same position and that he will probably earn more over a life time than a woman would and that he will enjoy greater autonomy than a woman.

That said it is possible to lose both male privilege and what “Questioning Transphobia” would call “cis-sexual privilege”.  That happens when one comes out publicly and starts to transition.  It is particularly true if one’s appearance makes them so obvious as to subject them to public mockery.  If it makes one the actual “man in the dress”, rather than the often cited mythical one who supposedly haunts rest room scaring nice right wing Christian ladies, then there is good chance homelessness and unemployment will ensue.

Hardly the step up envisioned by the closet CD creator of this mythical hierarchy and in fact a step downward.

Even for the person who presents well and offers an acceptable image as a member of the sex they are transitioning to in their profession and class faces having to do some serious explaining while executing some pretty fancy footwork to avoid the down button on the class and status elevator.  But let us say for the sake of argument the newly transitioned person manages to stay in the same profession and maintain the general respect of peers in their field. As the person moves further and further into transition and eventually into assimilation one’s status ceases to be related to trans and becomes more related to the status of other members of the sex one has become.  Generally women have a lower status than men.

Often coming out involves a complete loss of status and instead of being a respected if closeted heterosexual CD one finds oneself on the streets.  If one is a pretty transkid, the hot envied by cross dressers, babe, who is also a throwaway kid with no resources…  TVs envy this kid but not what she has to do to survive.  They envy the image, put her on a pedestal but how many envy the turning tricks to survive part?

Listen to how the respectable CDs talk about the “trannie whores” and you will find the real answer.

One of the most problematic ideas that came out of Dr. Benjamin’s book was the idea of a Kinsey sort of scale with closet heterosexual CDs on the 0-1 portion of the scale and those who get SRS on the other.  The leap of presumption in the formulation of that theory based on the miniscule number of patients Dr B had actually seen is astounding.

That leap pre-supposes that all those trans prefixed words are descriptors of a continuum of the same phenomena when there is an equal likelihood that there are a number of different phenomena that only bear a superficial similarity most closely tied to the Biblical injunction against cross dressing.

At any rate being transsexual is not like entering either a sports event or an academic competition if for no other reason than the objective being ordinariness rather than the perceived extra-ordinariness projected by the above cited cross dressers projected hierarchy.

The lack of reality based world experience can be seen in the total neglect of the misogyny factor that even the prettiest and most capable of assimilation post-SRS women face simply by being ordinary or even exceptionally brilliant and talented women in a world where women are still by and large the second sex.

At any rate the idea of the hierarchal structure projected by the above cited CD seems far more Transworld based than reality based.

Assimilation Happens

One thing that should be obvious but often isn’t is that “transsexual” really doesn’t belong in the LGBT/T category once one is post-SRS.

It is there because of how laws and politics work rather than how lives are lived.  Discrimination in matters of employment and access to medical care are obvious issues.

WBTs have been called “separatists” for just going off and assimilating.  Calling people who post all over the place “stealth” is a bit of a joke considering how easy it is to track ISPs even when folks use sock puppet e-mail. But let’s assume that most people who have assimilated  are only out in the world of 3D to a select circle of friends or for certain purposes.

It isn’t some separatism for most of us.  It is lack of common interests.  I have known a number of sisters who were involved in the bar and even ball cultures, who found themselves excluded from those scenes once they had SRS.

Once you have had SRS queens no longer relate to you as being one of the gang.  If you do not limit your involvement in their scene they will ask you why and you find yourself labeled as both odd and having made a mistake.

Having a vagina others you to people who live as women but keep their male parts.  Queens put their post-SRS friends they used to see as sisters on pedestals and tell them how brave they are while gossiping behind their backs,  “Well, she got her surgery and thinks she is better than us (forgetting that they put us on the pedestal to begin with) so why is she still hanging around us?”

The message is that we no longer belong there.  Time to move on with our lives.

Of course the activists then accuse us of separatism and deserting the community while conveniently forgetting how every year at Pride Day the same dozen people show up and how most of the “community” is dressed in sequins and riding on one of the bar/club floats.

After a few years even when one is an activist being part of that same dozen people starts to feel like being part of a severely marginalized Trotskyite Faction.  What is the point?

Perhaps it is different for those who come out through the IFGE route but I suspect it isn’t.

I know it isn’t if one is part of Tri-Ess and actually comes out as transsexual, I’ve read Tapestry in the past and have heard the stories at gender groups of how old CD friends are uncomfortable and nasty towards anyone who realizes they are not transvestite but are actually transsexual.  I’ve had transgender friends tell me the same thing about how they were put on a pedestal when they went full time.  Told how lucky they are that they can now dress full time. Never mind that the transgender sister has taken the down elevator on the socio-economic scale.  Comments like that are why transgender sisters who live 24/7/365  call episodic transvestites fetishists.  It isn’t so much that they fetishize the clothes as they hegmonically covet the lives of sisters willing to pay the price in order to live their lives according to their inner needs.

The main reason I believe “transgender” should be limited to only those living 24/7/365 is because, like transsexuals they have their lives colonized and objectified by those of the transvestite class.

At the same time people who are transgender either  because that is where their internal compass has landed, or due to economic issues, face conditions the majority of post-SRS sisters are less likely to face such as violence, ghettoization and denial of both economic opportunity and social safety nets.

The Day of Remembrance will soon be upon us.  I post articles regarding the murderous violence and senseless slaying of TS/TG sisters even though it isn’t a part of my world where violence more often takes place in the form of denial of health insurance, loss of work due to layoffs and fraudulent financial practices on the part of corporations.

While I will mention DOR the likelihood of my going to an event is very slim.  Not because I am afraid of “outing myself” or because I am disinterested but more out of a sense of futility and having to work.  The same reason I missed Pride Day.  Going to something like this requires planning and the arranging of time, a commitment that conflicts with day to day life in a Nickel and Dimed world.

As time passes after SRS the world of TS/TG is less an active part of life.  Even for those of us who blog and consider ourselves activists.  It takes little effort for me to be transgender inclusive on so many issues.  I learned that while working towards adding gender and perceived gender to the hate crimes laws of California.  It isn’t like adding a few phrases that protect transgender folks to any bill aimed at protecting gay and lesbian folks really makes that bill harder to pass.

Yet there are so many causes, so little time and most of my causes are bigger than the identity politics of the “Transgender Community”.  Part of why I have called a moratorium on  name calling, other than feeling like it is sort picking on people who have a harder life than I do, and not wanting to add to their oppression, is that engaging in name calling takes energy away from more important causes.  Like universal health care, hate crimes laws, ENDA, Same Sex Marriage, defending the environment, women’s rights etc.

Of course my working for any of a menu of causes that are positive for me means automatically extending those protections to all.  See I’m not some Ayn Randian right wing moron who is all hooray for me, fuck you.  I actually believe in equal treatment and the right to human dignity.

But as I said assimilation happens…  Even for activists who step beyond identity politics.

It happens for most post-SRS folks without them even trying, indeed it sometimes seems that folks who remain crusaders almost have to constantly make an effort to make themselves visible as transsexual.  The exceptions to this are those who are physically obvious although working retail and having encountered many people whose appearances are different, even odd.  It sometimes seems that facial hair is the only real give away.   I don’t know about some folks but for most of us assimilation seems inevitable.

Particularly if you are authentic and not pretending.  The goal was to be a woman, SRS removes the ties that bind one to those who stay transgender and time does the rest.

More about Infant Sex Assigning Surgery vs. TS Alien Space Abductions

Recently I received an e-mail from On the Issues magazine one of the many left wing and feminist publications I read.

And y’all thought I was brilliant enough to think up all the stuff I write and report on myself but I actually do quite a bit of research regarding some of the things I write and call upon a number of sources beyond the internet.  This one fell into my lap as I was pondering how to follow up last week’s major post.

I came to some pretty radical conclusions once I realized that both Tree and Laurent were compulsive liars who poisoned the entire pool of information regarding intersex people in a way that Agnes never did.

Remember Agnes didn’t let the doctors keep on thinking the conclusions they had come to regarding her.  I’ve been around long enough to recognize there are all different levels of honesty and ethics among those of us who were born transsexual but none the less I am saddened by the blatant liars whose sheer lack of ethics cause them to think nothing of creating a whole level of fantasy that both harms actual people with physically apparent intersex conditions and allows them to trash people born with transsexualism, a less obvious form of intersex condition.

The catalyst, the motivator for the original article was a “spazzer”* on a GID reform list who had loudly accused Dr. John Money of surgically mutilating her and making her into a boy.  This person posted from New Zealand.  This immediately set off my bullshit detector.  John Money wrote thousands upon thousands of pages reporting on research regarding the development of sex and gender.  He was in the nurture school but even he postulated that sex/gender identity was fixed before 18 months.  John Money didn’t do the circumcision in the David Reimer case that went awry.  For that matter, while John Money probably observed surgeries preformed on intersex/transsexual people it is highly doubtful he ever wielded the knife as he was a psychologist and not a surgeon.

Further his career as a professor and professor emeritus was at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, and a world away from New Zealand. The story told by the spazzer combined both elements of ignorance regarding actual intersex with geographic improbability.

Nonetheless there non-consensual surgery is routinely performed on male infants, circumcision is at best of questionable medical value but considering the rarity of actual adult SRS prior to 1970 I found myself asking the question.  “What sorts of non-consensual sex related surgery are historically the most common?  The answers were circumcision, female genital mutilation and castration.

I also have the feeling that one of the more common cases dealing male infants is probably bringing down non-descended testicles along with hypospadias repair.

Many other forms of intersex are not apparent at birth.  Forms such a CAIS, extra x or y chromosomes or conditions such as those alleged of Caster Semenya have something in common with transsexualism in that they are not discovered until the person is later in life.

This brings us back to those basic procedures:  Male circumcision is perhaps the most widely practiced in the Western World.  It was initially circumcision gone awry that led to the unfortunate case of David Reimer, not surgery aimed at correction of an intersex condition.  While Dr. Money appears to have acted unethically and far too enthusiastically  regarding the opportunity to study some one with the potential to prove or disprove some of his theories regarding gender identity development, this was not dealing with an intersex person. Further, even though male circumcision is considered a simple procedure it quite probably has more consequences than commonly thought as well as more complications.

Female circumcision is a euphemistic name for a barbaric practice once far more wide spread than it is today.  While it is now most commonly found in Muslim as well as non-Muslim African nations it is still practiced in certain circumstances in the West.  As misogynistic and monstrous as this is this is not where I am going in this article.

Male castration is another practice that is limited in Western society.  Freud aside, males including male Doctors tend to view castration on someone else with the same horror with which they would view it if it were performed on them.

In the late 19th and early 20th Clitoridectomies were performed on girls and women as a way of curing masturbation.  Freud’s misogynistic theories may have inadvertently furthered this practice as he ascribed to the idea that clitoral orgasms represented an immature form of female sexuality and that wholesome mature female orgasms were vaginal.

As I said in the earlier piece on this subject in adult sex reassignment surgery it has always been easier to surgically reassign people from male to female.  Interestingly enough many of the early male to female procedures were aimed at creating a “sensitive vagina” rather than a clitoris and often left people like myself without a clitoris.

Male doctors place a high value on the role of women being to please a man, so much so they ignored the fact that natal female’s vaginas are not the source of orgasms and that their clits are.  What were they thinking?  Oh well this was before Our Bodies, Ourselves and feminist writings about the “myth of vaginal orgasms”.  On the upside as a result of the work of Lonnie Barbach and Betty Dodson as well as consciousness raising sessions at the Women’s Building in LA helped me find the remaining nerve bundles and with the help of a Hitachi Magic Wand I learned how to reach orgasm.

When looking at the probability of a number of alleged infant intersex procedures given the taboos that were until recently in place regarding adult transsexuals one has to assume that most of these procedures were aimed at placing the infant in the category they were perceived as truly belonging in rather than “reassigning the infant” based on arbitrary factors.

That brings us to the following article first published in On the Issues

The Tyranny of the Esthetic Surgery’s Most Intimate Violation
by Martha Coventry

Big clitorises aren’t allowed in America. By big, I mean over three-eighths of an inch for newborns, about the size of a pencil eraser. Tiny penises, under one inch, aren’t allowed either. A big clitoris is considered too capable of becoming alarmingly erect, and a tiny penis not quite capable enough. Such genitals are confounding to the strictly maintained and comforting social order in America today, which has everyone believing that bodies come in only two ways: perfectly female and perfectly male. But genitals are surprisingly ambiguous. One out of every 2,000 babies is born with genitals that don’t elicit the automatic “It’s a girl!” or “It’s a boy!” Many more have genitals that are perceived as “masculinized” or “feminized,” although the child’s sex is not in doubt.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends surgically altering these children between the ages of six weeks and 15 months to fashion their bodies into something closer to perfection. Everyone can then breathe easier, except for the child, who may well spend the rest of her or his life trying to let the breath flow easy and full through the fear and shame created by such devastating surgery.

On a November night in 1958, I was playing in the bathtub in the cheery, country home of my childhood. I was six years old. My mother came in and sat on the edge of the tub, her kind face looking worried. I glanced up at her, wondering, “Time to get out so soon?” She told me that I had to go to the hospital the next day for an operation. I knew this was about something between my legs. My chest felt tight and there was a rushing sound in my ears. I begged not to go. Please. But my mother told me only that I must. Not a word was said about what was going to happen or why. The next day, it took the surgeon 30 minutes to make a U-shaped incision around my half-inch clitoris, remove it, and put it in a specimen dish to send to the lab. He then closed the wound and stitched the skin up over the stump.

Take no comfort in the fact that this took place 40 years ago. Today, most parents and doctors in this country are still unable to see that a child has a right to her or his own sexual body, even if that body is deemed “abnormal” by their standards. If a parent is uncomfortable, a doctor can be found who will be willing to make irreversible changes in the child’s body, in order to ease that discomfort. My gynecologist told me about a case in which he had been involved the year before: A woman brought her five-year-old daughter to his office in Minneapolis; the mother felt that the child’s clitoris was too big. He examined the girl and assured the mother that her daughter would grow into her clitoris, which was no longer than the end of his little finger. The mother left. A few weeks later, he was called into an operating room to help another doctor who had run into trouble during a surgical procedure. On the table, he found the same little girl he had seen earlier. She was hemorrhaging from a clitorectomy attempted by the second doctor, from instructions he had read in a medical text. My physician stopped the bleeding, and managed to keep the girl’s clitoris mostly intact.

Continue reading full article at:
http://www.ontheissuesmagazine.com/1998summer/su98coventry.php

Yet when one looks at all the “intersex” narratives in Transworld one rarely sees mention of this most common of all procedure and instead one hears all sorts of fantastical stories that there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of coverage of in medical journals.

Given the temptation to plead intersex surgical treatment as a reason for my less than perfect genital with their lack of a clitoral structure along with the graft site scar as a way of avoiding suddenly becoming “Transsexual Suzan”** in the eyes of someone I was hoping to develop a serious relationship with I can empathize with someone exercising that option.

However once that story gets repeated too many times by too many people giving into the same temptation we find ourselves faced with a fictitious monster of a transsexual created myth.  All created due to shame of admitting the truth about ourselves.

Call it stealth, call it compartmentalization of information or what ever you want but too many of us have lied out of shame and have created a myth that goes far beyond the harmless sweet loving lie of intimate relationships.

Further these trans-created fictions threaten to prevent serious research that may show a real biological cause from being taken seriously.

I promise that this is not the last post regarding this subject and that more will follow.

* “Spazzer” British slang for a person who fakes being learning disabled or simply fakes terrible ignorance to which they are firmly attached.

**”Transsexual Suzan”  One of the realities of our lives and one which encourages us to be stealth is that our medical histories supersede all other factors in our lives.  We could win a Nobel Prize and yet were our medical history to come out the piece of information that would precede our name would not be “Nobel Prize Winner” but rather “Transsexual” or worse “Transgender” ______ formerly _____ would  be deemed the most important aspect of our entire life and all our accomplishments.

Alien Abductions and Claims of Improbable Intersex Conditions in Online discussion Groups

Over the last 15 years or so that I have been on line I have evolved from some one who read and posted on various “Trans” Usenet newsgroups and internet forums to first a member of a number of “Trans” mailing lists.  Some 9 years ago Tina and I started the Women Born Transsexual mailing list.

I started this Blog in mid February.  Add to this some 40 years of experience since coming out.  This means I have met hundreds, if not thousands of people over the years who have had their lives impacted by association with one or more trans prefixed words.  I’ve read most of the major literature, a ton of biographies.  Some much more factual than others and some much better written than others.

I have a pretty wide ranging knowledge base in a number of fields, something typical of those with life long liberal educations supplemented with autodidactism.

This means I’ve read a number of works regarding intersex conditions including John Money and Anke Ehrhardt’s Man & Woman/Boy & Girl as well as the more popular John Money and Patricia Tucker book Sexual Signatures: On Being a Man or a Woman.  Another Book on the subject is Dr Richard Green’s Sexual Identity Conflict in Children and Adults.

Not only have I read these works but prior to writing this I went to the library and pulled them from their shelves.  Now you might say, “But both Green and Money and Money are discredited monsters?”

I would agree with you except for one thing and that was their co-editing of the Johns Hopkins book Transsexualism and Sex Reassignment in 1969-70.  They later drifted with times to far more conservative positions with the rise of the far right wing in both the US and GB.  Green was probably never a friend to people with transsexualism but Money was.

In the early days of Sex Reassignment Surgery they decided if one were intersex or transsexual based on one of the cruder tests, a buccal smear and slide stained to look for Barr Bodies, the inactivated x chromosome found in females but not males.  For obvious reasons the majority of these tests came back negative.  Nonetheless many doctors including Dr. Benjamin as well as the Doctors at Stanford where I had my SRS looked at some of us and said, “There is definitely something going on here that our tests are not finding.  You were too feminine before starting hormones for there not to be.  Matters like pelvic structure etc.

But as early as 1970 Doctors had become wary because they had been burned badly in a case circa 1960 at UCLA by someone known in the literature as Agnes.  Her case is documented in Harold Garfinkel’s book Studies in Ethnomethodology.  For those not familiar with the story of Agnes, Agnes was a transsexual to female person who got SRS at UCLA Medical Center in the late 1950s or early 1960s.  She presented herself as an intersex person with male genitals and “spontaneously appearing” female secondary sexual features. She claimed these secondary sexual characteristics just developed and swore she did not take any legally or illegally obtained female hormones.

She talked a good act and managed to get one of the first SRS operations that were performed at a major university research hospital in the US.  Now I can understand why she did what she did as there were maybe a half dozen places in the world where one could actually get SRS in 1960 and many of them were iffy.

The doctors loved her.  Oh, they wrote journal articles about her for JAMA and other prestigious publications.  Then a year or two later Agnes fessed up, she was transsexual and those female secondary sex characteristics were the result of her having first stolen her mother’s hormone tablets and later forging scripts for hormones and were not “spontaneously occurring”.  But the books and journal articles were already out there.

Now the doctors who had written them appeared to be either morons or dupes taken in by a con artist.  Of course they failed to ask the most important question of all, “why?”.  Why indeed?

The obvious answer is desperation at being born transsexual in a time and place when one knows SRS is possible but so rare as to bear comparison to early manned space flight that was occurring contemporaneously.  Something you knew was possible but so rare as to appear impossible for you to do.  Agnes did what she had to do, but she poisoned the well in the process.

All transsexual claims to being intersexed from that day forward were looked upon as being suspect. For what it is worth I can empathize with what those doctors must have felt.  Agnes not only flat out lied to them when they were trying to help her but made fools out of them as well.

In doing this Agnes also selfishly damaged study into transsexualism as an intersex condition. At that point it was decided that transsexual and intersex were distinct condition and not overlapping and intertwining ones as earlier researchers had postulated

When I went to Dr. Benjamin and he examined me he observed that I had under developed genitals and was physically rather feminine.  But that was pretty much as far as that line of examining me went.

I was receiving public assistance at the time and the social workers in Berkeley thought I would be a perfect test case to attempt to get the government to pay for SRS.  The social workers saw me as completely sane and thought I was a great candidate to help set a precedent.  So I was examined by four different psychiatrists who all found me sane.  Unfortunately those were also the early days of Nixon and his killing of the War on Poverty and Great Society programs that were helping people with transsexualism become something other than sex workers.  Instead of them helping me because I was sane and deserved rehabilitative help the new requirements of the more conservative government directives required me to be mentally disturbed and receive permanent disability.

As an autodidact and someone who was working at the NTCU the doctors with the Stanford program were open to discussing details with me and other of the more educated sisters that weren’t discussed with those who lacked the knowledge to actually ask the questions.  They were open to input from those of us with carefully considered insights.

After my evaluative screening session with Dr Fisk.  I asked him, “In your opinion, nature or nurture?”  His honest answer was, “We don’t know.  In your case and the case of some others we think nature yet with other people we think nurture.” He then asked me what I thought.

My answer was a bit of both nature and nurture and that I found it hard to not think it was physical with some of the sisters I met and at the same time a lot of people who came to our office seemed pretty crazy.

The thing was that with Hopkins in the 1960s and Stanford in the early 1970s the Gender Identity Clinics were not just places we went to for SRS. They were also research centers.  Right from the start they faced a good deal of opposition from people who wanted to shut them down.  The Benjamin Standards of Care and perhaps even the GID as diagnosis grew out of efforts to continue to provide SRS to people with transsexualism.

Quite a few doctors believe it is physical just as many people with transsexualism do.  We don’t make elaborate claims of various forms of intersex that are contradicted by our lives. One of the biggest contra indicators of would be fathering children.  Even those of us who liked boys and never became parents generally tend to not claim improbable intersex conditions.

In the 1990s a couple of people popped up and started appearing every where from the on-line world to the talk shows, magazines and the indexes of serious books.  Those people were Cheryl Chase and Kiira Triea.

Interestingly they reared their heads about the same time the talk shows were entranced with Satanic Child Abuse Cults, The McMartin School in Southern California and the supposed million (or some ridiculously high number) of missing children.  A number that would have factored out as a child from every school class room in the country and would have had every newspaper in America filled with little else than stories of missing children.

I’ve heard a lot of stories about all these infant sex reassignment surgeries.  Heart breaking stories from people who would have had to have had this surgery in the 1950s or 60s.  Supposedly vast numbers of people were operated on.  Expensive complex procedures in a nation where  sex reassignment surgery on adults was extremely rare and the techniques were just being developed

Do I doubt that surgeries were done?  No…  But I would pretty much bet no where near as often as Tirea and Chase who were then heading up ISNA implied they were.

I was on some of the same mailing lists as Kiira, along with Heike Boedeker, a strangely abusive European who came and went around 2000.  At one point Kiira made some claims that triggered my bullshit detector.  As a result I began doubting her veracity.

One of those claims was involvement with the Berkeley Women’s Music Collective at a time when Sandy Stone, a WBT was getting seriously trashed by certain lesbian feminists.  I had photographed a number of the women who recorded for Olivia Records, the label that the Berkeley Women’s Music Collective recorded on and there was material in Feminist and Lesbian History archives that I had access to.  I checked and didn’t find her there.  Now she could have used a different name, perhaps Denise Tree and yet I really didn’t find much there but I was reminded of something I had seen happen in the LA Feminist community.

I was involved with Renaissance, a trans-group with Jude Patton, Carol Katz and Joanna Clark (Sister Mary Elizabeth).  Someone came to meetings and photographed some of us.  Those photos were featured in a feminist publication in conjunction with an excerpt from Janice Raymond’s then doctoral thesis, which went on to become The Transsexual Empire.  When these came out my position was one of, “So what…  I experience patriarchal oppression and I am a hard working feminist with good solid politics.”

But this other sister claimed she was actually not transsexual but was really intersex.  I didn’t think much of it at the time and she wasn’t claiming to be intersex and trashing transsexuals by claiming to be realer than the lumpen masses of women born transsexual.

In that same time frame (circa 2000) I started hearing a lot about Bailey and Blanchard as well as their crackpot theories regarding androphilia/autogynaphilia as the motivating force behind transsexualism in T to F people.  One mailing list I was on (Trans-Theory) was invaded by an extremely vicious cabal of people who were sock puppets hiding behind various aliases.  They engaged in a brutal assault of people’s sense of self worth accompanied with occasional threats.

One claimed to be intersexed with CAH and accompanying salt wasting.  Okay, that sounded reasonable.  But why was she coming to a mailing list for Transtheory and pushing Bailey/Blanchard and Lawrence along with praising Janice Raymond?

As time has gone on Andrea James of TS Roadmaps has investigated both Triea and Chase.  She credibly alleges them to be frauds as do others.  ISNA has fallen apart.

This leaves people with far more credibility such as Sophia Seidelberg and Curtis Hinkle of OII to pick up the pieces and undo the damage done by someone who has become the J.T. Leroy of the intersex movement.

Of note I have noticed that the people who appear to be genuine tend to not be overtly hostile to people with transsexualism who do not tend to appropriate their narratives.  Along with our appearing in the same books of early research the approach to sex reassigning that people with transsexualism have of not having such surgery performed without our consent offers a model for people with intersex conditions who wish to exercise existential agency in determining via surgery their membership in one sex or the other.

Even young children are capable of making their desires known regarding which sex they consider themselves to be in a way that infants are not.  Consent and self determination should always be the critical factors not doctors or clergy acting as authority figures.

As I said OII has to undo the damage done by Triea.

But it is not an easy task as I have discovered on a mailing list for the discussion of the removal of the GID Diagnosis from the DSM.  Like many mailing lists this one seems to have died and only the rot from within remains as it has been taken over by the wailing of people with kitchen sinks full of improbable and often contradictory combinations of intersex conditions.

People who in spite of living as men and never having taken hormones are more women than post-SRS WBTs who have lived 10-20-30 or more years as female.

Surgeries performed I guess while they were carried aloft by space aliens in flying saucers because the likelihood of them having been performed in the time frame, location or by the named person seems virtually nil.

The other thing I have noted is that people making these claims often share a common trait that makes me suspect they have Munchausen’s Syndrome as along with these improbable intersex conditions they also often claim some sort of horrific physical disability or disease.  I suspect one is a spazzer (some one who pretends to have a rather profound learning disability).  Either way these people are like vampires sucking the life out of groups in a way I have seen ever since I first became involved in feminist and LGBT/T causes.

Their requirements for attention are boundless.  They find offense and attack back even postings or in a group statements that have nothing to do with them.

I have seen such people come into gender support groups and destroy them by taking the focus of these groups from mutual support to giving all attention to the person so beset by such a terrible history of abuse.  The classic case seen in the media is J.T. Leroy who claimed to having been a child sex worker, the product of an abusive trailer park “white trash” family.  I will grant you the books were labeled fiction but people interpreted them as autobiographical.  The author J. T. Leroy was a fictional being, a middle aged woman who got another woman to pose as this reclusive and evasive transgender person who was not only an author but who was HIV+ and had lived the life of her characters.

When the truth comes out everyone feels taken and people with legitimate claims suffer.

Transsexualism is in all probability a legitimate intersex condition, more nature than nurture.  The evidence keeps mounting for it being physical and although there continue to be staunch defenders of transsexualism being a product of flawed socialization their case seems to offer little beyond increasingly meaningless jargon and post modern babble.

As such people with transsexualism and people with legitimate intersex conditions have far more in common than one would imagine when listening to the people who sound as though they were abducted by space aliens with their improbable claims.

Transsexualism and the Tyranny of Experts

Because others know what is best for us.

The priests, who function as experts in the rules of the imaginary being in the sky tell us, “God does not make mistakes.”  Even though all sorts of obvious birth defects sort of refute that one.  Of course if one holds to that particular belief then there is always the possibility of god as malevolent being.

But let’s take a look at the claims of expertise on the part of the god interfacers.  With them there tends to be reliance on books of mythology dating back 1500 or more years that have scientific mistakes and impossibilities like earth centric solar systems etc.  Not exactly confidence providing in the scientific arena these “holy” books tend to also be rampantly misogynistic and homophobic.

Mostly the god interface folks seem to be experts at enriching themselves by extortion and begging.  They tend to use people born with transsexualism as modern witches, scapegoats for the short comings of their “flocks”.  According to these enlightened fools, transsexualism is caused by either Satan, failure to pray enough (give enough money to the god interface people), Obama, or feminism.  Because god doesn’t make mistakes it can not possibly be caused by natural genetic variation or environmentally induced genetic mutation.

Then you have the psychiatric establishment with their sciency sounding jargon.  Stoller and others attributed the same sorts of psychiatric “cause” for transsexualism that they had previously used for homosexuality. Nice try but as they say about the expertise of people with transsexualism anecdotal evidence is not science.

Then you have the doctors who operate on intersex infants, because perish the though an intersex person should wait until they can verbalize a desire for surgery that would move their bodies in one direction rather than the other or for that matter to remain with the body they have.  So the experts roll the dice and make the decisoion for them based on their status as experts.  The result is that there are a fair number of pissed off people born intersex who wish the doctors had waited until they had input on what was done to their body.

Now transsexualism started out as a home grown product of people with transsexualism piecing together information.  a snippet of  Magnus Hirschfeld here and a story there, an article regarding sex hormones and a doctor or two willing to help desperate people.

By the late 1960s people with transsexualism were the experts, we had perhaps a half dozen or so books that told us what we had to know about hormone dosages and the nature of the operation.  We knew our own narratives , which were the sanest and most reasonable that I have seen.  We described ourselves as feeling trapped in the wrong bodies.  Not a whole lot of babble about gender.  A lot of us looked like teenage girls except for lack of secondary sex characteristics and having boyparts between our legs.  A lot of us show signs of not being all that receptive to male hormones or as the case may be to have too much male hormones.  In short when we presented ourselves to the doctors we already seemed to be on the road to becoming.

But natural or environmentally induced variations of intersex would have been too simple for experts who all too often overlook the obvious that both men and women are from Earth and neither are from Mars or Venus. Besides the experts were having to deal with uppity women rebelling against oppressive sex roles that reduce them to lesser people of a lesser and oppressed class.  From Lucy Parsons to John and Yoko the truth that women were the slaves of slaves and nigger of the world was being openly stated.

The experts responded by developing “gender” because simply being male or female with a wide range of traits and interests that can be shared by members of both sexes was unacceptable in that it undermined the idea of both opposite sexes and the idea that both were mutually exclusive and immutable.

Because transsexuals, transgenders and other intersex people fell somewhere between or saw the potential in achieving greater oneness of self by moving from an assigned and ascribed as immutable status to a different defined as immutable status the experts viewed us as mind fucks, the fly in the ointment.  We ruin wonderful Ph.D. theses and deeply thought out theories as well as works of literature and art based on “never the twain shall meet.”

The very idea that one might decide based on one’s own thoughts, one’s own core of inner being to actively seize the agency to determine for oneself which ascribed class one belonged to was and is anathema to those who set themselves as “experts”.  And when it comes to intersex, transsexual or transgender people exercising their freedom to control concerns which determine their own destinies there is an abundant range of “objective” experts.

We have the “religious authorities” who cite ancient texts of mythology to determine the proper course of action for those who are born in-between.  Not surprisingly these experts tend to mutter platitudes regarding the infallibility of the sky being and how it is either “his” will (god is always a male in the misogynistic panoply of religions and the invisible man is invariably a male supremacist) or how one must accept the unchangeable.  Unchangeable  even though surgery is available which does change the primary insignia of sex assignment.  Experts of this nature are often the generators of fine points of minutia as to why sex reassignment surgery doesn’t really change one’s sex.

All too often we cave to these experts and cravenly put forth other names for what the surgery does, names like gender reassignment surgery.

Then there are the conservative experts whose thinking runs along the lines of:  If men and women are so similar as to share common traits and interest that people can actually be born who are in-between and capable of self-determination as to which class they belong then the constraints that hold civilized society together will be destroyed.   Women will think they are the equals of men and the very patriarchy upon which the different sex classes of society depends will come unhinged.

We have the legal experts.  Their swords cut both ways and yet for thousands of years men have written the laws that defined women as lesser.  Driven by the Taliban Christers they now write defense of heteronormative marriage that can be construed to deny people with a history of transsexualism or intersex people the right to marry at all.  Their microscopic examination and tight parsing to define who is man and who is woman leaves little space for people who are in-between even when it comes to matters such as rape and laws that define it as a crime only against “females” with the rape of male or people in-between seen as sexual assault instead.

We have the academic experts with their queer studies and gender studies.  Some of the worst of the worst oppressors generate something called “queer theory” which defines us as gender transgressive, what ever that means.  Especially when women born transsexual often show the same mix of culturally defined as feminine or masculine behaviors as assigned at birth females.  Again the “experts” further their careers in their field by oppressing the ‘non-experts” by othering us and denying us the validity of our life experiences.

WBTs and MBTs as well as other intersex people have our narratives discounted as non-objective since they serve to promote our legitimacy over that of religious, academic, psychiatric and legalistic dogma.  Yet we are the only ones capable of speaking with authority regarding our own lives, telling our own stories.

We raise the question of the legitimacy of the experts who pathologize us not because we are pathological but rather due to the misogyny and agenda driven thinking of those experts promoting their own careers and causes based on our oppression.

No more waiting for crumbs

From Socialist Worker

http://socialistworker.org/2009/09/18/no-more-waiting-for-crumbsSherry Wolf, author of Sexuality and Socialism: History, Politics and Theory of LGBT Liberation [1], makes the case for demonstrating in Washington at the National Equality March on October 11. Sherry is currently on a speaking tour of the East Coast [2].

September 18, 2009

THE NEWS this week that New York Rep. Jerry Nadler has proposed legislation to repeal the Clinton-era Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) would have been sufficient to quell the demands of LGBT activists one year ago.

Today, Nadler’s bill is a welcome step. But the fact that it comes seven months into the presidency of a man who promised to repeal DOMA–and amid comments from Democratic leaders like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that getting rid of the federal anti-marriage equality law isn’t a “priority”–highlights the molasses pace of LGBT rights legislation and the bankruptcy of the incrementalist strategy that has guided the LGBT movement for decades.

Like the moribund Equal Rights Amendment campaign for women’s constitutional equality–initiated in 1923, reintroduced in 1972 and never passed by the required 38 states–LGBT gradualists have argued for a state-by-state legislative approach to winning change.

Enough begging for crumbs. If we want equal rights for LGBT people in all matters governed by civil law in all 50 states, we have to demand it from the federal government–and that means getting out and marching on October 11 in Washington, D.C.

That’s what Generation Twitter and thousands of others–via Facebook, street heat and word of mouth–have been expressing in protests across the country since the passage last November of California’s anti-equal marriage referendum Proposition 8.

President Barack Obama’s own equivocation these last months shows the limitations of an electoral strategy–and the importance of struggle.

He is the first president to publicly utter the word transgender and to honor the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall riots last June. Yet his Justice Department first insultingly upheld and then opposed DOMA. And Obama continues to drag his feet on repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell”–a policy that its own author, Gen. Colin Powell, calls for ending.

The relationship between LGBT activists and the Democratic Party has been a dysfunctional one. The Democrats court LGBT votes and money, but offer few gains and a fair share of abuse in exchange.

Notably, openly gay Rep. Barney Frank has refused to sign on to Nadler’s DOMA repeal bill, saying, “It’s not anything that’s achievable in the near term.” Frank, quite busy these days shoveling bailout money to the Wall Street bankers, was also instrumental in tossing transgender people out of proposed employment non-discrimination legislation in 2007.

For LGBT activists wooed by the Democrats, ditching the more militant strategy that won a hearing in the first place for a “don’t rock the boat” approach is the price to play.

Thirty-five years have passed since gay civil rights legislation was first proposed in Congress, yet LGBT people remain an unprotected class of citizens. Whereas the denial of the rights of gays to work for the federal government, for example, was enacted with the stroke of a president’s pen in Executive Order 10450 in 1953, no such swift action has been taken to overturn decades of institutional discrimination.

When Bill Clinton was in the White House, it wasn’t until nearly six years into his presidency that he Executive Order 11478, providing partial relief for lesbian and gay federal employees–not including 3 million military personnel.

But the fact that his action left intact sodomy laws (finally overturned by the Supreme Court in 2003), anti-same-sex marriage legislation (which he signed), the military’s unequal status for LGBT people (which he introduced!), and never mentions the rights of those who are transgender, exposes the failure of the electoral route for winning civil rights for sexual minorities.

- – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -

WE’VE GOT to strike while the iron’s hot. Today, political tectonic plates are shifting rapidly, and groups and individuals need to get on board or step aside to let a new generation push ahead for full equality.

When Harvey Milk’s protégé Cleve Jones put out the call for the National Equality March on Washington in October, almost every major LGBT group balked, arguing that there wasn’t enough time, and a march wasn’t the right strategy.

But the force of events and popular sentiment compelled organizations such as the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) to endorse this march. It’s a positive sign that HRC feels the pressure to endorse–while grassroots activists shaping the march haven’t watered down its demand for full equality now.

Unlike marches of the recent past, this one will not be brought to you by Miller Beer, Citibank or any other corporate entity. Its bare-bones budget is posted on its Web site [3], and celebrities like Cyndi Lauper and Lady Gaga are volunteering their services and paying their own way. It’s grassroots all the way.

New activists are showing the way forward. When Black lesbians Aiyi’nah Ford and Torian Brown were kicked out of a Silver Springs, Md., diner for embracing, they called a protest in late August–and then got involved in building the march on Washington. A police raid on the Rainbow Lounge bar in Forth Worth, Texas–carried out on the night of the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall rebellion–sent patron Chad Gibson to the emergency room. Outraged LGBT folks called a protest–and now they’re also building for the October 11 march. So are the local LGBT people in Atlanta, who responded with protests after an early September raid at the Eagle bar.

All of these actions have made international news and are forcing authorities to apologize and change policies.

Many transgender people, accustomed to being pushed into the shadows, have thrown themselves into building this march–from veteran Florida activist Donna Lee, who serves on the steering committee, to newer radicals like Dove Paige Anthony in Chicago’s Join the Impact. Trans voices will be heard from the stage as well.

Whether the National Equality March draws tens of thousands or many more is hard to tell since so many established media outlets are ignoring it–though CNN, MSNBC and the LGBT cable network LOGO have agreed to give it exposure.

No matter how many turn out to march on October 11–or attend the vast array of workshops the day before–it will help punctuate a turning point for LGBT civil rights.

And a new network of activist groups will emerge from this march: Equality Across America. As Massachusetts activist Gary Lapon puts it, “We are not simply organizing to protest, but protesting to organize.”

The new mood for LGBT equality is a reflection of a generation that grew up with unprecedented cultural exposure to sexual and gender variance, yet lives with draconian laws and organizational strategies that asphyxiate dynamism and shut down debate. No more crafting our demands to suit the tepid conservatism of a bygone era. We want it all!

President Obama, this is our Rosa Parks moment. When will you allow LGBT people sit at the front of the bus?

- – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -

Material on this Web site is licensed by SocialistWorker.org, under a Creative Commons (by-nc-nd 3.0) [4] license, except for articles that are republished with permission. Readers are welcome to share and use material belonging to this site for non-commercial purposes, as long as they are attributed to the author and SocialistWorker.org.

  1. [1] http://www.haymarketbooks.org/product_info.php?products_id=1774
  2. [2] http://www.haymarketbooks.org/event.php?id=23
  3. [3] http://equalityacrossamerica.org/blog/?page_id=2501
  4. [4] http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0

Greenwich Village: Two Years Before Stonewall

In 1967, I used to escape up-state New York and go to Greenwich Village .  I would stay at the Hotel Albert on 10th St.

I came for the music. I came to be around other hippie kids.  I came to cop some weed.  I came looking for myself.  The Village offered everything small town up-state NY did not.

I didn’t dare go out in public in full drag, instead I would dress androgynously in the pop hippie clothes that looked as though they could be women’s clothes but weren’t.

New York City has the TPF (Tactical Patrol Force) policing the Village to keep the hippies, flower children, weekend partiers and queers in line. Transgressing the limits of what they saw as full drag could result in a trip to the Tombs. That would in turn mean a phone call home and an explanation for my being arrested that I was not yet ready to give.

New York City had a vague three items of clothing law in those days. It doesn’t matter if this was an actual law or a mythical one but it was queen common knowledge although no one could ever tell me if it was wearing more than three items of clothing belonging to the other sex or if one had to wear at least three items of clothing associated with your anatomical sex.

But it was 1967 and androgynous clothes from hippie boutiques allowed one to skirt the issues completely. Sexual freedom was in the air as was freedom of self-expression.  Articles about gays were starting to appear in place like Life Magazine.  Those of us who were transkids knew about Johns Hopkins doing SRS, Benjamin’s book was out there even if no one could find a copy.  Esquire had an article about Transsexuals.

On one of my trips to the city I met the first person who was clearly like me. A hippie queen, she too was looking to the family one could find in the ghettos.  She was wiser than I about survival in the City of Night.

She was the one who told me that San Francisco was a far better place for transsexuals than New York and that one could actually live as a woman there as well as get hormones.  She said, “Queens out there even have their own organizations.”

And queens is what we were, from hippie princesses to hair-fairy, scare queens to those who dared to wear high drag in public.  Some of us were pre-ops, even pre-transition others were simply flamboyant effeminate gay men.

Many of the queens of that era were “scare queens” as described by David Carter in his book Stonewall.

Hippie queens could move from East Village and Alphabet City to the West Village with out attracting the high level of attention scare queens did.  We were like guerrillas, able to blend into the sea of flower children. Scare queens were like shock troops, confrontational in their loud in your face femininity, women’s clothes and make-up worn with no attempt to pass as a woman.

I was terrified that I could wind up being like that because it meant being pretty much a complete outlaw with zero prospects of actually holding any form of legitimate job.

The denial closet was going out of style. However, neither the hippie queens nor the scare queens were representative of the vast majority of the gay male population. The majority of gay men are and were masculine to a greater or lesser degree in their presentation.  Indeed outside of certain events and situation queens, transsexuals and transgenders are looked down upon and discriminated against to almost the same degree as they are in the straight world.  This is especially true when one crosses the line from drag as camp to seriously transition towards becoming a woman or living full time as transgender.

My trips to the city were to learn how to survive and to see first hand what the world I was destined to enter was like.  They were a way of feeling out how I would fit into this world. When I had first started dressing up I told myself that it was just to see if what I felt inside was real.  In New York it was more a matter of learning how to navigate a world I already knew I was part of and a way of life I would soon be living.

I knew this would include sex with men.

The first time I had sex with a man I let pick me up at the Christopher Street Subway Station entrance about 100 feet from where the riot would take place two years later.

I had wanted to shed my virginity as it seemed stupid to remain sexually inexperienced and since I had been labeled as a queen since getting busted in a dress by my parents when I was 13 it seemed only natural that I would have sex with men.

I mean in 1967 it just seemed that if I was going to become a girl I had better like guys. I soon discovered that gay men didn’t like transsexuals, even the pre-coming out kind because we were girls and they were into men.

I was also starting to learn you couldn’t tell all that much about other queens from the clothes they wore or how they acted .

I knew exactly where in the Village to go.  You see the Village was divided into the East Village, Washington Square area and the West Village on the west side of Sixth Avenue.

The part west of the “Avenue of the Americas” was the gay part.

Later that fall after the Pentagon demonstration, someone on the Cortland college newspaper asked me what I thought of homosexuality.  I said something positive about gay rights although I was very uncomfortable about being pinned as gay and I hedged my statement making it sound as though I was speaking in the abstract.  An SDS friend of mine was much more out and proud.

There were out gay and lesbian people in the movements but at that point I was still struggling with who I was, tentatively exploring and yet afraid of making the commitment to being who I knew I was.

Posted in History, LGBT/T, Transgender, Transsexualism. Comments Off

Stonewall 1949-1969: The Back Story

Stonewall is one of those great events.  Up until Howard Zinn’s People’s History of the United States: 1492 until Present, we thought of history in terms of great leaders and special pivotal events.

But history is far more complicated than that.  Pivotal events do not just spring from a vacuum but are more the result of the convergence of a number of elements all building towards that moment.

The riot that happened 40 years ago this weekend had some 20 years of people organizing, agitating, building movements and shifting consciousness. When Stonewall happened it marked the end of one era and the birth of another instead of simply vanishing into an incident forgotten by all except perhaps the participants the way so many acts of resistance from that era are forgotten.

The modern Gay and Lesbian movement started in the late 1940s after World War II had called so many to serve.  And gay men as well as women served.  Transsexuals too, Christine Jorgensen was in the military.

When they returned home many stayed in the big cities of San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York.  They stayed because they had learned during their time in the military that they were gay and lesbian and these cities offered contact with others like themselves.

In 1949, Harry Hay, Dale Jennings, Rudi Gernreich Chuck Rowland, Paul Bernard and other gay men founded the Mattachine Society in Los Angeles.[1]

They came together to struggle for gay right even though they didn’t start using that term until years later. They used the term “homophile” because censorship prevented even the use of the term homosexual  for purposes of placing classified ads in order to announce meetings. This also permitted the mailing of their newsletters and publications at a time when postal authorities censored mail for even using the term “homosexual”, much less discussing it.

In San Francisco several years later Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon organized Daughters of Bilitis, the first modern lesbian organization.[2]

From these two groups as well as groups who broke off from these groups sprang the modern Gay and Lesbian movement.

At first, they had modest goals including simply being there to show others they were not alone.  In this regard, they published newsletters (magazines).  The Mattachine published One and Daughters of Bilitis published The Ladder.

The forces of censorship required a certain degree of subterfuge in the distribution of these newsletters and eventually led to the Mattachine society having to fight a legal case to win their right to send the newsletter through the US Mail.

About this time, Christine Jorgensen got her surgery in Denmark.  She wasn’t the first and she wasn’t the only one changing sex in the early 1950s. [3]

In cities across the nation there was a lively and only semi under ground bar scene.  Sometimes in the gay and lesbian meccas of cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco,[4] sometimes in unlikely locations such as Buffalo, NY.[5]

Fire Island was the gay vacation place and a summer party for gay men from the 1950s onward.[6]

Thanks to the efforts of Virginia Prince and another cross dresser known as Susanna there was the start of what evolved into the heterosexual organized cross dressing scene complete with resorts and conferences.[7]

There are a pair of films available on DVD that offer a glimpse of LGBT/T life both before and after Stonewall conveniently titled Before Stonewall and After Stonewall


[1] Timmons, Stuart; The Trouble with Harry Hay Alyson Pub Boston 1990

[2] Gallo, Marcia; Different Daughters: A History of the Daughters of Bilitis and the Rise of the Lesbian Rights Movement Seal Press 2007

[3] Meyerowitz, Joanne; How Sex Changed: A History of Transsexuality in the United States Harvard University Press 2004

[4] Stryker, Susan; Van Buskirk, Jim  and Maupin, Armistead; Gay by the Bay: A History of Queer Culture in the San Francisco Bay Area Chronicle Books 1996

[5] Kennedy, Elizabeth;  Davis, Madeline;  Boots of Leather, Slippers of Gold: The History of a Lesbian Community Routledge 1993

[6] Newton, Esther;  Cherry Grove: Fire Island Beacon 1993

[7] Raynor, Darrell; A year among the girls Lancer Books 1968?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 160 other followers