Really, What IS Wrong With Being……………………………………………..

By Tina S.

Perhaps you can “draw a neat line” between the experience of pre and post-op women.  My experience tells me you can.  It is, in part, because PERCEPTIONS change when our reality changes.

I know every post-op was once a pre-op.

I know most pre-ops are (at least initially) known to those around them as such. I know most pre-ops are (at least initially) concerned somewhat about “passing” in their everyday life.

Most pre-ops experience transphobia.

It seems that misogyny is recognized after folks make that transition to being seen as women by the “outside world”.

It is then many understand that quite a bit of what they saw as “transphobia” is actually misogyny. You really do not get the full import of misogyny in society until you live as, are seen as, experience every day BEING the woman you have believed yourself to be all, or almost all, your life.

Embrace of a “transgender umbrella” is, I think, a rejection of your reality as “just another woman”. It is a way to remain “outside”, a way to continue being “special”.

If some folks need that, more power to them. That’s just not me, or most (if not all) WBT’s.

The “transgender umbrella” concept also tends to calm some of the more rabid anti-trans lesbian and gay folks. They can look at the concept of “transgender” and say (think?) “Well, those folks are not REALLY women or men — they have their own community. THANK G*D.”

It makes it easier to shunt us aside. It does not require them to be open and accepting. It means they do not have to look at their core beliefs, do not have to THINK.

After all, just look at how much trouble the CONCEPT of bi-sexuality brought to the L&G folks over the years.

O.K., pre-ops are usually known as such.

As I’ve said before, that, in many ways, makes them “special” in their various circles. Quite often pre-ops meet other pre-ops — conversation often revolves around hormones, when, where and how to get SRS, whether or not to have an “orchie”, and when. There are times pre-ops join a T-mailing-list and get upset if post-ops do not have all the answers about hormones, surgeons, clothing, hair, foundation garments, etc., etc., etc.

Most of those “interests” die away after being “just a woman” for a while. Some pre-ops cannot accept that as an answer. Of course, if they go on and have SRS, they find the very same things happening to them. I vividly remember a pre-op on a list who cursed all the post-ops for “abandoning the community” — then she had SRS, kept up a brave “community face” for a while, said her needs and interests had changed and disappeared forever.

After SRS, things change, and you cannot know how much UNTIL you have SRS. It’s more for some than for others — but, stuff changes.

Some pre-ops continue to use their male organs when having sex. Orgasms are still possible.

Some of us avoid all sex during that period.

Others have to constantly “remind” some of the “tranny chasers” we might go out with — “now, remember, I’m the girl”.

It’s amazing how many “tranny chasers” want us to be “tops”. It’s also amazing how many “full out”, totally “done”, except for SRS, “T-girls” ARE “tops”.

In other words, there are so many different WAYS of BEING “pre-op”, or, for that matter, “non-op”. Folks rarely talk about all this “stuff”. Many want us to just be pure, little “whitebread”, girls/pre-ops/transsexuals.

The fact some of this stuff is not within YOUR experience does not mean it does not exist. It does not negate the reality of our varied experience, history. We come from different backgrounds, different classes, have different expectations, different dreams. ALL of that has to be factored in if you want to CLAIM you speak for “the community”. In truth there are many communities.

Post-SRS women, no matter their previous history, are usually interested in getting on with their life. I remember, very distinctly, standing in front of a full length mirror, soon after all the packing, drains, catheter, etc. were removed and saying (to myself) “Finally, all the ‘trans-this’, and ‘trans-that’ is over. It’s done. I’m finally a woman.”. My way of seeing myself changed with SRS.

Later that summer, after I healed (it took me a while), I was playing softball with the dykes at a picnic, and one of the women said, “You are so comfortable with your body – I wish I felt that way.”

That’s one of the rarely realized, ignored, results of SRS — being so comfortable in your own skin. You don’t realize it until after it happens — after all, you can’t miss what you’ve never known.

No pre-op or non-op can experience that feeling. No non-op or pre-op can experience being in a women’s locker room, or some “women’s space” without a measure of fear, no matter how slight, of being “found out”. Physically, there is nothing to “find”after SRS.

I do not speak for non-ops. Nor do I speak for pre-ops. I can speak for myself. I can speak for the portion of WBT’s who agree with me.

I do know that SRS make a huge difference. I know that many who claimed, “It (SRS) makes no difference if you do your transition correctly” (usually as judged by them), will admit, after the passage of time, “Well, it made more of a difference than I thought it would — BUT — what I said before still stands — sort of.”.

Statements like that just make me laugh. Once again, it’s about people making definitive statements about things they know nothing about. It’s also about the inability to say, “I was wrong”.

I cannot abide others who know nothing about me attempting to speak for me. It really does not make sense for those who have not walked my path to speak for me. It makes no sense for those who are not post-op, or those who accept the “transgender umbrella” to speak FOR me, telling the world what I think, how I feel, who I am — without even bothering to ask.

As far as speaking for women who have not had, or cannot have SRS for years. I do not speak for them. I do not tell them what their experience is.

I have found some who claim to speak for me. I have found some who tell me what I’ve experienced. I’ve found some who tell me my experiences are “wrong”, that they are not “respectful” of their lives.

How can MY experience be disrespectful of YOUR life?

Other folks want to negate what they call the “standard transsexual narrative”. They call us “liars”. They say we “copy” other stories. They want to deny our truth. Then they want us to deny our truth. They tell us what to think, what we “really” went through. Some even break us down into totally false, insane, limited, categories — and say we are ALL “just like A or B”. They deny our own narratives, they deny our experience, they call us liars — then they put us into little boxes THEY constructed – with no real input from us. Very strange.

” I tend to think that the constructive conversations around this topic are more about how to make surgery more accessible for everyone who needs it, and not focus on what everyone’s crotch looks like.” — Lisa Harney

O.K. — let us say that would be a very positive conversation. How does that relate to what you said in the prior sentence?

You said: “I also think that referring to trans women (before or after having surgery) as male is reductive and essentialist, and probably doesn’t help make any points to women who can’t access that surgery. That is, I think by using that language you’re actually excluding women who haven’t had surgery from the conversation. Not just that language, but talking about how womanhood is itself inaccessible to those women.”

Given how many of those folks want to subsume us within the “transgender umbrella”. Given how many want to claim “SRS is not necessary” (usually to further their agenda). Given how many want to say our PERSONAL EXPERIENCE is somehow “elitist”, or “racist”, or even “classist” perhaps your prior statement needs some further looking at.  TALKING about anything is never excluded.  Speaking of your experience is always positive.  Attempting to deny MY experience is not positive.  Saying it’s “all the same”, when that does not fit what I have experienced is not a positive.  Telling me I’m wrong about that is not a positive  —  especially when you have not yet experienced what I have.  Perhaps telling me what you think might just work better.

The folks who are placing us within some “umbrella” or other do not want to go there themselves. Those who still have their “male bits” are attempting to REDEFINE “woman”.

The very folks who INVENTED the current concept of “transgender”, seem to be rejecting it for themselves, and are now attempting to redefine what constitutes a WOMAN.

In doing that, the focus HAS to be on gender, gender roles, being SEEN as woman.

Once again, it’s as if men are telling women who, what, how THEY are — and WHO can be one (a woman).

Please remember, it’s not about “womanhood” — it’s about BEING a woman.

Now, if you wish to turn the conversation to access of surgery. If you want to turn the conversation to human rights, T rights, equal opportunity, etc., etc., etc. — that’s great.

Please do not redefine woman. Please do not redefine female.

Please do not do the old “male woman” thing again.

Y’all are the folks who defined us all as “transgender”. Y’all are the folks who said we (post-ops/WBT’s/etc.) are not revolutionary enough. Y’all told us we are “essentialist”.

Now you want to abandon transgender (at least for yourselves), want to eliminate (or so it sreems) SEX, and join some mythic “female gender”.

Basically, it’s essentialist. You want to join the “club” — but one you have defined, invented, and (it seems) control.

As I was told after SRS — “You’re the same person — it just fits better.”.

The differences, for me, before and after were rather great. I do not think I can say that enough.

People who tell me it’s not so, tend to anger me. Folks who call me “elitist” and other names with their left hand, while demanding I support their right to redefine female and woman with the right, are just being foolish.

I support all human rights. I support the rights of ALL transgendered folks — even the ones many transgendered folks do not want to accept as such.

I FULLY support women’s rights. I support women as equal. I support the rights of women to be treated as equals. Equal pay, equal access to health care, equality before the law, control of their bodies, control of their future.  I am “woman identified”.

I oppose patriarchal restrictions, and their remnants.

I understand many non-ops do not accept this. They do not see what they are doing as anti-woman. I suspect it’s all about being conditioned, taught, by the patriarchy.

I also think it’s grounded in the concept of “gender”, and the current desire for sharply delineated “masculine” and “feminine” “genders” that sometimes seems to exist only to sell stuff to insecure people.

This totally ignores the reality of male and female. It refuses to admit we are all a mix of “masculine” and “feminine” genders.

It is the direct opposite of “free to be you and me” — a “dangerous” concept if there ever was one.

Embrace transgender. Accept transgender. Accept pre-op. Let’s talk about access to SRS. Let’s talk about health care. Let’s talk about co-operative communities. Let’s talk about human rights. Let’s support each other. Let’s accept and support our differences.

Please do not attempt to redefine woman. Please do not call this imposition upon women as “revolutionary”. It really seems to be just another act of patriarchal power.

What Is Wrong With Being Transsexual?

Or in the case of people who have been post-op for a number of years, what is wrong with having been transsexual?

Why did you get a sex change operation?

Because I was transsexual. Does this mean you are still transsexual? Nope. Since the operation I have never again felt a deep seated need to change my sex nor have I felt trapped in a body of the wrong sex.

But you can’t really change your sex.

Arguably you can and that is what the operation does.  At least if one considers the standard criteria of determining the sex of an individual.  Not some philosophical test or test over and above the test non-transsexual people are subjected to.  If one uses the common test of sex determination, a visual examination based on hole or pole I am indeed female just as I was male prior to surgery.  This means that no matter what weasel words one uses as an euphemism for the operation it does by common criteria change the sex of the individual it is performed upon.  Hence it is a sex change operation.

So are you a transgender?

No I am not.

They hadn’t even invented the word or the social construct when I had my sex change operation By the time they had the transsexual part of me was part of my life history. I doubt would have embraced it even if I had heard it far earlier given the term’s source, Virginia Prince. Virginia Prince was a thoroughly unlikeable pig who managed to combine both homophobia and misogyny in a package that exuded both male privilege and an air of arrogant condescension.  I liked those founders of the pre-Stonewall Gay Liberation Movement that I met over the years far more.

You mentioned that you viewed being transsexual as a part of life history and not as an identity…

Maybe it is a little of both. Transsexuals get sex change operations and then get on with their lives. Yet it is very difficult to escape history although it is possible for many to deny it.  Some go as far as to create a false history and while that may work with the outside world I would have a hard time with extending that exercise to my interior world as it would mean denying so much that shaped me into the person I am today.  Part of that is my activist involvement  in all sorts of political campaigns to save the world before I transitioned, that is still a part of who I am.

Why do you hate transgender? You are part of the transgender umbrella.

I don’t hate transgender. I am quite willing to carry a picket sign or collect petition as part of campaigns to insure the civil rights protections of transgender people. Perhaps the umbrella is like a peculiar religious sect that requires every one who support its right to exist in a non-discriminatory society where rights and equality are respected even if your beliefs are ridiculed to adhere to its complex theology of half baked and often misogynistic beliefs. Thank you but while I support your rights I think the whole ideology is sketchy at best. Perhaps it would be good for those espousing transgender as umbrella to study the history of the gay and lesbian movements of the 1960s and 70s.

Its all about gender…

Gender… I have a hard time with that much abused concept that seems to reify both sexism and sex roles. None seem to dare call all the gender babble for what it is, i.e. more misogynistic bullshit that divide the sexes by roles and require women to only show their abilities in certain fields, only be interested in certain things and adhere to oppressive standards of appearance and behavior. Gender seems like the repackaging of oppressive sex roles that those of us who were second wave feminists critiqued way back in the 1970s.

Are you intersexed?

How should I know and why should I care? Will it erase one bit of the history of child abuse that I went through? Perhaps if more people who claim intersex were to get up close and personal with a variety of dicks on a variety of men there would be far fewer claims of being intersex. The dark line down the scrotum is where the developing sex organs fused prior to your birth and is not the result of doctors operating on you. Transsexualism or transgenderism probably has pre-natal roots, may even be an intersex condition. What difference does it make?

Focus on the Family and all those other right wing hate groups hate us because we use a word with sex in it.

No they hate us because they are hate groups. See The Southern Poverty Law Center.  It is part of their job as hate groups to target other groups for scapegoating.  Get over it.  You do not want to be part of their group any more than they want to be part of ours, or at least most of ours as transsexual and transgender people are more likely to be on the progressive side of the aisle. They hate us for obscure passages in their book of religious mythology and because they can use us to scam their sheeple.

It is not my goal in life to be friendly with bigots.

But isn’t it about gender and gender identity?

I sometime have the feeling that gender is more like a religion than something real.  Much of this goes back to Virginia Prince’s conversations with Dr. Robert Stoller than it does to anything coming from transsexuals during that same time frame.  Virgina Prince according to her biographer Richard Docter was in the closet regarding having sex with men.  Thus it seems there as a lot of internalized homophobia and subsequent projection.

Even in the early 1970s WBTs were seeing “gender identity” as problematic and were using the slightly more precise “core gender identity” to describe that inner sense of maleness or femaleness as opposed to adherence to gender roles.  Julia Serano even dispenses with with “core gender identity” in favor of “core sex identity”.

We have been ridiculed for using the metaphoric expression “women trapped in male bodies” even though that describes our feelings.

Non-op transsexuals and transgender people say they are just as much women as you are.  Isn’t it essentialist to claim that you have to have a vagina to be a woman?  Isn’t woman simply a social construct?

It infuriates post-SRS women with a transsexual history to no end to have their life experiences dismissed by people who have not gone through the same process and claim to be women although male.  I am no longer into playing name calling games. Being human is the basis for having human rights and equality. The thing is that post-ops were once pre-ops and pre-ops were never post-op.  We know what it is like to have been in the position pre-ops are in, they do not know what it is like to be a person with a vagina and that reality.

That physical reality separates us and makes misogyny more a factor in our lives than transphobia, especially for those of us who blend into the world where people are mostly the same sex they were assigned at birth.  This is also why many of us say it takes at least 10 years after SRS to really become women and others to say it is a lifelong process.

I think it is more an existentialist matter than an essentialist matter in that having a vagina between ones legs results in qualitatively different life experience than does living as a woman though male (a Virginia Prince statement describing the lives of transgender people). It is harder to measure qualitative than quantitative as there is no yard stick to measure quality.

What about people like you who can’t take hormones, get SRS or even live as women due to medical conditions, aren’t they transsexuals and as much women as you are since they identify as women?

That is a hard question.  If one has any sort of heart then one does not go around abusing people, especially those who are differently-abled.  The main problem is transsexuality is tied in with process rather than with some sort of definitive diagnosis. It is not like they draw blood, run tests and offer up a diagnosis of transsexual.  People are transsexual because they change their physical sex characteristics to accommodate their internal feelings not simply because they have those feelings.  That is what makes transsexualism an existential action based thing rather than simply an identity.  I have no doubt that some may feel the same motivation I felt and yet be unable to act on it for a variety of reasons and yet thinking or wanting is not the same as doing even if that phrase sounds as though it is coming from a harsh place.  I can recognize that I was able to get SRS in 1972 in part because those were far better economic times when one could live on next to nothing.

Today there is a certain level of class difference between the inability and the ability to access the care that allows the process of changing sex to go forward.  That same class structure makes it harder yet for people of color or people with compromised immigrant status. Yet if anything these problematic questions of status clarify how sharp a distinction there is between pre-op and post-op life.

To be continued….