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.

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