Sara Seton asked me:
So what do you think of someone’s proposed caste system amongst TS? Here is how I think the grass roots sees this “ladder” as ranked, from top-to-bottom:
“Post-Op TS, living as female
Pre-Op TS, living as female
Non-Op TS, living as female
CD, living as female
Pre-Op TS, living in both genders
Non-Op TS, living in both genders
CD, living in both genders
CD, living as male, but appearing publicly
as female on occasion
CD, male exclusively, but at home “en-femme”
among family and/or friends
CD, only “dressed” when alone
AND THEN, ME: Pre-Op TS, on HRT– living as male, never dresses
as female, and may never will. It’s not my issue!
There is much trouble ahead for me. I will undoubtedly be an object
of derision and scorn at that meeting. I can understand why, too.
They will think me a pretender or a coward. THEY fight the battle in
the trenches, I choose the path of least resistance, where the outside world is concerned. So, I will be the pariah…the laughingstock… the object of negative attention, in spite of my wishes and best efforts, even among my own sisters! This really hurts me!” (from a winner at Laura’s suicide site.)
It seems to me that this is a very male competition based form of class structure that is at once both misogynistic and very TV fantasy based.
I think that the idea that the poor closet transvestite or even worse closet hormone taker is some how on the bottom rung is akin to the white guy who blames affirmative action for giving all those unqualified women/people of color the position he deserves.
Excuse me while I go hunt for the world’s smallest violin.
I’m one of those post-ops, the flawless kind who had my operation what seems like a hundred years ago and I sure don’t feel like I’m atop some sort of freaking pedestal. Plus I’m seriously feminist enough to see the pedestal as being as much a form of misogyny as any other form of de-humanizing objectification.
Being at the top of the TV fantasy class structure and a pre-paid ride card gets me on the subway and little else. You see if one is flawless, even pretty and passes well enough to assimilate in to the world of women then one becomes part of the class “woman”.
The patriarchal systems structure of oppression means that no matter how far up or down the socio-economic scale she is she will in the vast majority of cases always be consider as less than a man of the same class and talents.
Always First Lady and never the President because the idea of there being a First Gentleman seems on the face of it to be absurd. Such is the reality of sexism, misogyny and gender/sex roles.
This means that one’s place in the real world is determined by education and the amount of class privilege one brings to the table. If you are a lumpen poor trannie sex worker and you have sex reassignment surgery you become a lumpen poor sex working female. If you are a high status person before and you are in a protected field then your status has a good chance of translating into your continuing that status.
Your status can also be dependent on your being heterosexual and the status of the man you marry.
I would also disagree with the placement of the CD at the bottom in any world outside the mind of the TV fetishizing other people’s lives. The closet TV, even one who takes hormones continues to possess and be able to exercise male privilege. Unless he is so obvious as to be viewed as an effeminate gay man this means he has a “male” job and is a man in what still remains a man’s world.
This level of male privilege means he generally speaking does not need to be as good at his job as a woman would be in the same position and that he will probably earn more over a life time than a woman would and that he will enjoy greater autonomy than a woman.
That said it is possible to lose both male privilege and what “Questioning Transphobia” would call “cis-sexual privilege”. That happens when one comes out publicly and starts to transition. It is particularly true if one’s appearance makes them so obvious as to subject them to public mockery. If it makes one the actual “man in the dress”, rather than the often cited mythical one who supposedly haunts rest room scaring nice right wing Christian ladies, then there is good chance homelessness and unemployment will ensue.
Hardly the step up envisioned by the closet CD creator of this mythical hierarchy and in fact a step downward.
Even for the person who presents well and offers an acceptable image as a member of the sex they are transitioning to in their profession and class faces having to do some serious explaining while executing some pretty fancy footwork to avoid the down button on the class and status elevator. But let us say for the sake of argument the newly transitioned person manages to stay in the same profession and maintain the general respect of peers in their field. As the person moves further and further into transition and eventually into assimilation one’s status ceases to be related to trans and becomes more related to the status of other members of the sex one has become. Generally women have a lower status than men.
Often coming out involves a complete loss of status and instead of being a respected if closeted heterosexual CD one finds oneself on the streets. If one is a pretty transkid, the hot envied by cross dressers, babe, who is also a throwaway kid with no resources… TVs envy this kid but not what she has to do to survive. They envy the image, put her on a pedestal but how many envy the turning tricks to survive part?
Listen to how the respectable CDs talk about the “trannie whores” and you will find the real answer.
One of the most problematic ideas that came out of Dr. Benjamin’s book was the idea of a Kinsey sort of scale with closet heterosexual CDs on the 0-1 portion of the scale and those who get SRS on the other. The leap of presumption in the formulation of that theory based on the miniscule number of patients Dr B had actually seen is astounding.
That leap pre-supposes that all those trans prefixed words are descriptors of a continuum of the same phenomena when there is an equal likelihood that there are a number of different phenomena that only bear a superficial similarity most closely tied to the Biblical injunction against cross dressing.
At any rate being transsexual is not like entering either a sports event or an academic competition if for no other reason than the objective being ordinariness rather than the perceived extra-ordinariness projected by the above cited cross dressers projected hierarchy.
The lack of reality based world experience can be seen in the total neglect of the misogyny factor that even the prettiest and most capable of assimilation post-SRS women face simply by being ordinary or even exceptionally brilliant and talented women in a world where women are still by and large the second sex.
At any rate the idea of the hierarchal structure projected by the above cited CD seems far more Transworld based than reality based.