Having Extraordinary Gifts

Perhaps I was too harsh calling Cassandra and others on classism for not realizing that often, but not always it is money and access to SRS that makes the difference.  I actually think there is something else that often makes the difference in those of us who overcome our situations and those who do not.

I was born poor.  My father was an iron worker, who I rarely saw during the first 10 years of my life.  My mother was at times on welfare and at other times worked for minimum wages.  But she read and imparted a love of books and knowledge to me.  She liked movies and taught me how films could broaden my range of understanding.

I was seriously oppressed by the abuse I endured in school and only sporadically studied yet I had an IQ that was way up there and an ability to make high enough grades to pass with minimal effort.  Instead I put my real efforts into self education of subjects not touched upon in school.

For me that meant philosophy, history and literature.

I was given a left world view by my mother and having a father with a union card.

As a working class kid with mediocre grades I wasn’t expected to go to college, but I won a scholarship to any New York State College I could get into.  I wasn’t planning on going and hadn’t applied yet they found a school to take me.  I deliberately failed out.

When I left home I didn’t wind up in the Tenderloin trap even though that would have been the logical place for a transkid like me to end up.  I saw what was going on there as sort of deadend and a trap, a ghetto that could contain our lives.

Instead I wound up in Berkeley across the Bay.  Close enough to SF to access the doctors and clinics but far enough away to not get caught up in the drag queen/transie tizzy.

I was gifted with an ordinary girl prettiness and enough charm that people bent over backwards wanting to help me.  As a friend reminds me we were the divas, back in the day.

At one point a bunch of us from the office (NTCU), the divas and scholars had a dinner at one sister’s house.  Over wine and much pot we got into a discussion about how easy it was for some of us and how hard it was for others.

The dumb luck of being born looking more like a girl than a boy played a big role in the days before widely available FFS, as did being smaller and having a naturally feminine build.  Being one of those that the doctors said were definitely “born that way”.  You see even in those days we had the stupid and ungainly and those of us who knew them could tell they often wanted SRS as badly as any of us even though it would not do much to change their lives the way it would change ours.

Some of us amassed our money through hard work and borrowing, others by the dumb luck of having someone pay the tab.

But one thing the divas had in common was that they tended to be smarter, quicker witted and prettier with reasonable organizational skills.  They succeeded because of the combination of these factors.  You see the same in some of the kids today.  Ariablue and Anonymous-T-Girl have that same sort of quickness and the intelligence that lets them succeed when others fail.

What really often makes “classic transsexual” different from “classic transgenders” is the ability to focus on attaining goals.  If we get knocked down we get up again and we don’t get side tracked.  Transgender politics are often an energy side track as are addictions, self -pity and the blaming of others. Not to mention the tendency for people with histories of childhood abuse to wind up in self destructive life patterns that include self-defeating behaviors and substance abuse.

Now this accounts for people who are probably really transsexual settling for living transgender lives.

Humanity doesn’t fit in rigid ideological boxes because individuality promotes a personal anarchy that defies such neat and simple boxes.  People fall into ruts, some societally manufactured and some the result of their own actions.

Perhaps those who would have SRS were the situation different are not transgender but are actually the perpetual pre-op that so many of them claim to be.  As an old hippie woman filled with questionable wisdom I am faced with the rhetorical question of: “Who am I to judge?”

On the other hand we do have the true transgenders or if you will the classic transgenders including the often self invented and reinvented Lowman/Prince, whose worst sin of all was his/her (depending on time frame) being taken as the authoritative expert.  There are people who do want to live as the gender not commonly associated with their present genitalia and to not get SRS.

As an old hippie, the adage of “Do as you must, just so long as you don’t feel the need to crap in the space where I live.” applies.  It isn’t any skin off my ass.  Hell I’ll even work to pass laws to guarantee your civil rights and protections just so long as you don’t try to define me.

After all queens have a long history as part of the hip and alternative bohemian culture.  If I’m going to throw rocks at people I’d rather throw them at misogynistic right wing supporters of religious fascist persuasions who oppress women, LGBT/T folks, people of color, the poor and working classes and do so indiscriminately.

They are my enemy not some other poor oppressed person muddling their way through a life made more difficult by laws and customs that also oppress me as a working class woman holding alternative social views.

I’ve been offering an alternative to wasting our energies fighting each other.  It isn’t coming from anything I am reading from either transgender activists or the classic transsexual/HBS faction.  Rather it is grounded in the idea of unifying to fight a common shared oppression that makes life harder for everyone who has to negotiate their paths through these various forms of oppressions.

When I look back at where I came from and what I lived through I can see that I succeeded due to being extraordinarily gifted, both physically and mentally.  Also I was extremely lucky and escaped situations that prove lethal to many.  Including not dying when I over dosed a couple of times and talking my way out of getting murdered a couple of times.

Luck too is a random extraordinary gift.

4 Responses to “Having Extraordinary Gifts”

  1. Sharon Gaughan Says:

    In general, I think people sometimes leave themselves open to charges of classism because of the way they state their position. On substance, though, we can be impatient with all of the excuses we hear.

    As you know, I have always been sympathetic with the pre-op struggle to get corrected, a struggle that often continues after SRS as they work on paying of debts and deal with the social fallout. That certainly was my case.

    After SRS, I was attacked and nearly killed in a home invasion (a crime against women – my transition had nothing to do with it).

    I wound up homeless, literally living in a box tucked away in a woods off a main highway. In the middle of the night I would venture out and provide free labor at a bagel/donut bakery in exchange for using their facilities to clean up and look presentable.

    That was hard to do, since I looked a fright after the attack, with one eye nearly devoid of vision. I would go out looking for work after my bagel turn, eventually winding up in retail. Imagine, a one-eyed, very bruised and banged up, cashier.

    One day, after work as I walked the four+ miles back to my box in 90+ degree heat, I ran into someone I knew who was struggling with a decision to transition. This individual told me how the prospects were dim because transitioning in place was out of the question and the only option would be to somehow get the proper ID and flip burgers or work as a cashier or something.

    I explained my situation. The response? “That works for you because you have always been a little strange. Not everybody has your kamikaze attitude.” Last I heard, that person hangs with Tri-ess.

    Some people come from an environment where transition is supported, while others have to make a go of it almost alone. I say “almost” because I hd some crucial help along the way, even if it amounted to emotional encouragement.

    In all cases of successful transition, I have never see a chronic whiner make it through. Most everybody toughs it out.

    I think the reason our particular demographic has seemed so intelligent, energetic, and determined is because that is what i took to survive. As transition and SRS becomes more socially acceptable, we will see less capable people coming through. I believe that is already starting to happen and may partially account for those who are clearly disturbed getting SRS and going wild thereafter.

    Transsexuality does appear to be a random occurrence among humans. At least, we have not yet discerned an incidence pattern. It should not surprise us that the post-op population will progressively become more representative of the general population as a whole. With some affinity; with others, despise. Whatever.

    For now, it seems that transgenders have fallen on the “oh, it is too hard” argument to justify their non-transition (something most of them never really planned in the first place). Others are sincere, but with limited personal capabiities. I care about the latter group without regard to class circumstances.

  2. cassandraspeaks Says:

    I wasn’t going to touch this; however, reading Sharon’s message I feel I do need to comment.
    Some speak with words some with deeds. Those who speak with deeds speak loudest and their words even though a whisper are heard the furthest.

  3. karen A Says:

    But one thing the divas had in common was that they tended to be smarter, quicker witted and prettier with reasonable organizational skills. They succeeded because of the combination of these factors.

    Yep a lot of us modern late transitioners manage do get through it all these days despite being big , dumb,stupid mothras! 😉

    The dumb luck of being born looking more like a girl than a boy played a big role in the days before widely available FFS, as did being smaller and having a naturally feminine build.

    While I don’t seem to have a lot of problems these days, when I do, it’s obviously build related. Had not really worried much about that for years … But in my current situation, it’s one more thing that adds to the worry/stress. It’s hard not to wonder if it was part of the reason I did not get hired after an interview.

    BTW It would be interesting if there was a way to get good stats on the intelligence of TSs … While there has been a range, on average the one’s I’ve known seemed to be brighter than “normal’.

    Is it survival of the fittest, or something else?

    • Suzan Says:

      Is it survival of the fittest, or something else?

      I don’t really believe in the social Darwinist bullshit.

      You have people who as transkids are generally pretty badly abused except for the lucky and privileged few.

      They enter adulthood with all that plus the class and racism issues working against them if they are poor or people of color.

      Luck and sharp wits along with other gifts make a big difference. Particularly now when it appears that having between at minimum 10K up to 50k are pretty much mandatory.

      Especially since the sex work field is glutted with cheap foreign labor (documented or not) who will work without protection.

      It’s brutal out there. I’m glad I’m not a transkid today with the same basic set of circumstances I had in 1969. Rents of 800 dollars instead of 60, surgery costs of 10-15K instead of 4-5K. So few free clinics. So many predators.

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