Tina and I went out to dinner tonight, a sort of pre-New Year’s Eve because we will not venture forth into the world of drunken drivers tomorrow night. I mentioned that it was on this night 41 years ago that I decided to come out.
I was depressed, I had been raped in jail, assaulted in the streets and arrested for causing gender confusion on the part of some pigs who rousted me outside of Maud’s in the Haight.
I was part of a cadre, a 1960s version of a black bloc. I belonged and was afraid they wouldn’t accept me. The internal contradictions came to a head and it was either commit suicide or tell them. The Golden Gate was across the Bay and singing the siren’s song.
I was stoned on something and freaked out. My best friend, Morey, a beautiful boy my age talked me down. I wanted to tell him how much I was in love with him. Instead I told him there was something about me that I was afraid to tell anyone because I was afraid they would no longer be my friends if I told them.
He assumed I was gay and I was okay with that because I wasn’t sure of how to phrase things.
I don’t dress up the telling my friends what I was in euphemistic psychobabble about transition and all that. My roots are red/black and purple. I didn’t marry a woman, my first sexual experiences were with men. It was only after becoming part of the cadre that I tried having sex with women.
If changing sex had been impossible I would have been a queen. Prior to November of 1967 and reading the Hopkins Announcement I had assumed I would be a queen.
Transition? I changed the way I wore my hair. Wore women’s hippie clothes instead of guy’s. Took hormones.
I came out. I told people. I changed sex.
I had a vocabulary that I used that is now dismissed as being derogatory towards transgenders. It was the language of transsexuals and queens, the words we used before people who pretty much enjoyed heterosexual male privilege for xyz number of years started telling us how we had to describe our lives.
I’m still pissed with having some PC folks start telling me about 15 years ago that I shouldn’t even metaphorically describe being transsexual in terms of feeling like I was a woman trapped in a male body. WTF… My life, my right to describe my internal feelings in my own words without some supercilious overly privileged IFGE type telling me that using my words to describe my life experiences is oppressive.
As far as I am concerned I like the word “trannie” or “transie”. We grew these words ourselves in the sexual outlaw bars of the Tenderloin and Hollywood Blvd. Trannie is more deserving of the mantle of umbrella term than is transgender. Like Trans* it dooesn’t have an ending that favors one group over another.
And screw transition. My life has been one long series of coming outs. Coming out atheist, coming out red, coming out gay, coming out transsexual, coming out lesbian, coming out anarchist.
The over intellectualization that accompanies so much of transgender seems like a pasteurization process aimed at making it safe for the heterosexual cross dressers who have come out as transgender, a way of dequeering translives.
One of the more bizarre acts of the powerless that has become a substitute for direct action and demanding equality even for those who are different has been the use of euphemisms and word games.
Yesterday there was omne of those columns over at Pam’s House Blend that just left me saying WTF.
Way too much of the fighting between people with transsexualism and people with transgenderism has been about those with a political agenda hegemonically colonizing and erasing the lives lived by people who had sex change operations and do not hesitate to call them sex change or sex reassignment operations.
Many of us are as guilty of the use of euphemisms as those Transgender activists with the whole bit about it not being a sex change operation but sex confirmation surgery and it not being transsexualism but rather HBS. For that matter there is a particularly bigoted set that identifies as “Classic Transsexual” coded language of the same nature as the use of “family” by the bigoted Christo-fascist right wingers.
As for me I had a sex change operation as did my friends Diane, Laurie, (all five or so Lauries among my friends), Leslie, Kim, Jan etc. Screw Glaad. We used transsexual and sex change as well as trannie or transy 40 years before this language was declared Verboten by a bunch of politically motivated people in academe and transgender activists who wish to erase the differences between transsexual and transgender lives.
There are differences. rather than my getting pissed off and screaming about those differences I am going to make the point that we know, those of you who haven’t had a sex change operation do not know. We get angry when pre-ops and non-ops tell us there isn’t because no one knows what is between our legs. Or the one about how it is only important to my sex partners.
This is a particularly Barbie or Disney type genital erasing point of view that assumes one does not pee several times a day or wash. Yeah it matters and yes it is different. One of the big aha moments is the first time you pee after decatheterization and dekinking of your urethra.
I have my own style sheet. I do not use transgender as a substitute for transsexual or transsexualism when some has had surgery or is surgery tracked. I do not use transgender as an umbrella term when using it in that manner erases the differences between people who have had their lives defined by other transprefixed words like transvestite or transsexual.
I see Transgender as Umbrella as a fiction. a political identity created by lazy people who wish to use those of us who had surgery to further the politics of those who have not.
Anti-colonial wars get fought over such matters.
By the way… To further discourse I agreed to stop calling names. I did not agree to surrender my principles. It does take two to make a fight and the systematic hegemonic erasure of the differences between transsexual and transgender is an act of unilateral aggression. It is not in the spirit of, “In spite of our having major differences let us work together for things that would benefit our different groups of constituents.”
Mostly though… Autumn, nice words and polite fictions are a piss poor substitute for an equality that recognizes differences and does not use those differences to deny rights every human should have no matter what their color or sex. The right to dress and present as one wishes is pretty implicit and shouldn’t require us to all be transgender or gender variants when gender itself is a fiction that oppresses women.