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.

10 Responses to “Transsexualism and the Tyranny of Experts”

  1. javier Says:

    hi.
    for awhile now,
    i have been trying to create my own little pockets of civility online, and in the leftist community(transexuals, tg, glbt, etc)but sometimes it seems hopeless.
    (see following quote below)
    i got nauseous reading this- maybe you’ve
    seen it(i don’t want to start anything. this however is bigotry, sexism, and misogeny.from an “advocate”?
    i mean, come ON!)

    “We can’t help the fact that some of you are frothing at the mouth and bitter about the fact that you’re home alone and some of my sisters not only look better than you, some of them are in satisfying long term relationships with biomen despite having five inches of neoclit in their lace panties.

    If y’all would check those jacked up attitudes, you might get to use that neocoochie from time to time and not only feel a man inside you, you’ll get to experience what an orgasm feels like.”
    monica roberts

    ok, so “neocoochie”?
    and:
    a “real woman”
    has sex with guys, not, say is a LESBIAN, perhaps….

    unless you are “approved of” by men for your apperance, or they are”willing” to give you their special penis treatment, you don’t exist?

    without men(“bio”men, ie ‘real people not fake like you’
    and of course not “non bio” transmen or men of t history)
    etc etc
    FAIL, or what?
    i’m going to try to respond on her blog, i’m not trying to involve you, but this is so wrong in so many ways.

    i have been fighting briefly with “just jennifer” over the “realness” of genderqueer people, i don’t LIKE her, but this is the SAME shit, but the other way.
    i would never believe that people could call themselves advocates and spew this kind of hate.
    wow.
    well, i’ll try to comment on MR’s site too.
    but i guess she screens…
    *this shit is so messed up*
    best,
    j
    ps
    i wish someone would post on bilerico or somewhere on all of the bigotry ck and forth in the glbt and transexual community by leaders especially.
    this is getting too old,so much for “progress”
    no one calls monica on this i guess….

  2. javier Says:

    also:http://transgriot.blogspot.com/2008/03/hate-on-haters.html

    this is the link, this original post is a “hit back” on the branch of hbs or wbt that hate on monica.but bigotry is bigotry back and forth, so she is just as wrong as they are!
    this would be banned off bilerico, pam’s or feministe.

  3. Suzan Says:

    Monica Roberts often goes off the deep end.

    Yet at other times she is an important advocate for African American sisters. She calls public attention to sisters who get murdered and whose deaths are often under reported because they are black and often sex workers.

    Pain and oppression have often caused people with powerful voices to self medicate away the rage.

    Yet sometimes the rage just explodes. I am much calmer now that I am some 9 years sober. Perhaps I am just too tired with the job I have and have become too practiced at not just screaming out in anger and frustration, but some 10 years ago I too spewed out anger when I drank and my inhibitions dropped,

    I do not know if Monica Roberts drinks but sometime her spewing hatred undoes or undermines her reputation to the point that people ignore the powerfully valid things she offers regarding racism in the LGBT/T communities.

    She also has a grasp of the classism that is there and how poverty is oppressive as well as race.

    I’ve learned to listen when she has a possitive message to deliver and ignore her when she gets on one of her rants.

    Perhaps her bigotry is as bad as Jennifer Ushers but she has far more to offer than Usher could ever dream of offering.

  4. javier Says:

    that’s true.
    however,
    i engage jennifer, and others,
    who verbally oppress people in our community.
    so, i have to say i personally can’t not engage this. i’m not trying to get you to do so.
    i feel that people are fighting way too much. but it would be sheer hypocricy for me to get on jennifer, and not feel that this DOES invalidate alot of Monica’s “avocacy”
    on behalf of the T community.

    she also called a fellow woman of color( on womanist musings site) a “condoleeza rice wannabee” (ie oreo)
    who was DEFENDING T people from misogeny from a “cis”
    so called person.
    that is uncool too.
    the above invalidates lesbian T woman, and is sexist crap
    in other ways, too.
    just saying!
    i am personally sick of this type of hypocricy.
    i am going to try to convey that to monica, i think,
    if she will let me!
    this is not “leader” behavior.
    too bad…..
    best, j

    • Suzan Says:

      I generally try to avoid tangling with Monica Roberts.

      I agree she does stick her foot in her mouth an awful lot and also she undoes the good she does on one hand with her rantings on the other.

      Some people are only able to focus on one element of oppression and set that particular oppression as “the” standard. this tends to produce arguments that turn into oppression olympics and invalidate the often time equal oppressions of others that stem from different causes.

      I think the elites that do the over all oppressing are the only ones who benefit when the oppressed fight each other rather than going after the actual oppressors.

  5. queenemily Says:

    Putting aside Monica Roberts (and yeah, that’s a pretty horrific post, no doubt)..

    You make a good point about the ever-present spectre of “experts.” The likelihood of a trans woman getting those cushy academic jobs herself, whether they be queer theory or psychiatry, is slim to none, and what work we do gets ignored. Our expertise in actually living this shit counts for not much next to that of cis “experts.”

    I think the thing is, we get described as objects, “informants,” not valuable thinkers in our right. Sadly, a Judith Butler will always outweigh a Julia Serano on trans issues…

    • Suzan Says:

      Monica Roberts is an unpleasant person who tells even more unpleasant truths. But racism is extremely ugly and while we no longer call it Jim Crow it is still a present fact and walks hand in hand with classism in creating an Apartheid Nation where being poor and Black means the worst schools, the worst housing, the least opportunities and the greatest amount of hopelessness.

      Riki Wilchins described our relationship to the “experts”. That was one of the things that motivated us in the 1990s. Unfortunately Riki became enchanted with Judith Butler.

      We actually have people in the same or similar fields of study as Judith Butler. Jay Prosser and Viviene Namaste come to mind as people I’ve read. Aaron Devor and Judith Halberstam are people whose books I should read.

      I get teased by my life partner for doing all this research for material when I should be working on my book instead of my blog but I want to make people think and not just spew personal anger.

  6. queenemily Says:

    Yes, Jay Prosser and Viviane Namaste’s books are both quite under-appreciated. Both certainly have their problems, but are undoubtedly far more compelling in writing on transness than Butler.

    Haven’t read Devor, but Judith Halberstam is a butch dyke/sometime drag king fyi, and given that she frequently assimilates transsexual as well as transgender to queer and discusses trans men in a chapter in “Female Masculinity” I suspect she’d irritate you. I find her an entertaining writer but immensely problematic, but YMMV..

    • Suzan Says:

      Met Judith Halberstam at a lecture by her and Jake Hale at UCLA in the 90s and like Lilian Faderman I found her to be connected to the butch element in the lesbian community that has pretty much been subsumed by T to M albeit less so than often suspected by those advocating the transgender umbrella.

      What is saddest about all this is that it isn’t only WBTs and MBTs or pre-ops who should be fighting this absorption and erasure. Major elements of gay and lesbian culture are also being erased.

      I met Aaron Devor about 10 years back at an F to M conference that may well have been one of his last appearances prior to coming out as Aaron so I met Holly and not Aaron although Aaron was barely beneath the surface and already semi present.

      I’ve met some really brilliant sisters and brothers over the years. Just knowing them confirms my belief that GID as psychiatric disorder is a fraud.

  7. tinagrrl Says:

    I’m a woman. I was born “transsexual” —- therefore, I’m a Woman BORN Transsexual — I’m NOT a “transwoman”, nor am I “transgender”.

    The only “umbrella” I fit under is one to keep the rain off.

    At the same time, there is no earthly reason for me to oppose ENDA, Gay Rights, Expanded Marriage Rights, or (oh! horror of horrors!!) Transgender Rights.

    As a woman in a same sex relationship (lesbian) supporting equal marriage rights makes sense. As a human being, supporting equal rights for other human beings also makes sense.

    I cannot quite understand how supporting equal rights for other American Citizens suddenly makes me “transgender”. Does that mean that Barney Frank is now “transgender”? Are all the straight allies now “transgender”?

    Just because I changed my sex to match my inner self (or whatever you want to call it), and support my position in a traditional binary, does not, in any way, mean I cannot support the rights of others who do not agree with my stance.

    Of course, there are some minor details — respect my decisions, as I respect yours. Do not attempt to co-opt, colonize, my life, my decisions, by insisting on some unworkable, fictitious, “Umbrella”.

    I cannot understand the position of the (seemingly) right-wing, anti-gay-marriage, homophobic, post-ops (whatever they call themselves) who seem to have swallowed the entire pack of right-wing lies and distortions.

    It’s just like the folks who were born white, smart, middle, or upper middle class, with fine educations gained in fields women were virtually barred from, who had good jobs, solid incomes, saying they never had ANY “male privilege” when they transitioned.

    It’s time for some serious soul searching by many of our sisters.


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