Contradictions

Zoe Brain made a comment that is worthy of greater discussion:  (Edited to make more general)

“The problem is that by writing in this blog, you “out” yourself as a woman with an unusual medical past. You become one of those “Activists” to some degree.

The real problem is though that so many have it worse. How can I *not* help? And how can I retain my privacy when I *do* help?”

When I was part of Students for a Democratic Society/Weather Nation we spent a fair amount of time discussing “contradictions” and working to resolve them within ourselves.

We would first discover the contradiction.  As an example feeling resentful regarding being swept up by “transgender” ideology.

Part of WBT is ownership of self.  Autonomy.  This means telling those who use “transgender as umbrella” that we find this an unacceptable act of colonization, a form of imperialism that makes it difficult if not impossible to function as a coalition of equal in working upon issues that may well affect both our groups.

Mind you that what set me as well as my partners and others off on the path to WBT was refusal on the umbrellaists  to use “transsexual and transgender”.

We did not feel we were transgender because  our sense of self was different from that described as part of what defined transgender.  Our attempt at reconciling those differences by saying transsexual and transgender were angrily rebuffed.  We were told to shut up and when we continued to state our case many forums silenced us.  Others defamed us.

I faced a chioce I could shut up and let the bullies win or I could continue to speak out even if that meant being open within a sub-culture.

I’m a life long activist with many causes so I do not have much of a problem speaking up regarding what I see as injustices.  I think this is part of personal courage that come out and start the process of becoming female in 1969 rather than living behind a mask until middle age. Granted this in and of itself represents the resolving of a number of contradictions and is the result of not one major act but many, many small acts of courage.

For me, but not necessarily others.  I am a person in history.  Not the big history of presidents and kings but the small history as described by Howard Zinn and Studs Turkel.  I was part of the early history.  Treated by Dr. Benjamin and was one of the first few “Transsexual Activists”.  Historian Susan Stryker impressed this fact upon me.

The simple act of giving an oral history placed me within this context.

I started attending events and I’ve had an on line presence within various mailing lists for over 12 years.  I discovered that we are a sub-culture and one can attend an event or conference and walk outside of that conference and not have the larger culture see you as a member of that sub-culture.  Granted this works better for some than for others.

Much depends on what you personally want, what you find important.  I’m writing a memoir that places my coping with transsexualism within the frame work of other history that also caused me to be part of Weather, aiding deserters, the NTCU, the lesbian movement and a feminist.

I believe it is important for us to tell our individual stories.  You may not feel that way. Your life path may well be different.

Life experiences vary.  A decade ago on the net we used YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary) when describing this.

I take stands.  Taking stands is not required unless you want to.

If it is any comfort I too have had to struggle with the contradictions of wanting to be just ordinary and knowing that like the Act-Up slogan “Silence = Death”, even if it is the small death of having my own life experiences dismissed and surrendering my self to the control of others.

I personally believe standing up for what you believe in is one of those existential acts of courage that defines us as individuals.

YMMV

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