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….