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.