Sometimes when I am listening to the speech patterns, the set phrases that have come to define the argument that everyone whose life has at any point and time been impacted by association with a trans-prefixed word I wish I could just signal a time out.
All the jargon of the social construct of transgender as umbrella sounds rather crazy to many of us who came out prior to the usage of transgender as some sort of collective noun. Especially since many seem to take pains to apply this label backward in time to an era prior to the hegemonic rise of transgender as universal.
I have a couple of pictures taken during the Stonewall riots above my desk. In those pictures there is one person who might be transsexual or a queen or “transgender”. Amid a bunch of late teen early twenties gay boys. I look at those pictures when I hear the transgender version of history. In all honest I remember the Sheridan Square area of that era. I used to use that subway stop fairly often in 1967. I got picked up by an older man at that corner and lost my virginity with him.
San Francisco was much freer for transkids in those days.
However we really weren’t part of the gay male community. Except those queens who were involved in the Imperial Court pageants. And yes some of us were involved in those but they really weren’t places for those who seriously wanted to change sex.
We had our own community. It wasn’t composed of nice clean places that were safe for heterosexual CDs out for the evening with slumming on their minds.
Hippie sort of provided a meeting place for some of us. Places like the Stud and a couple of other places but for many of us the ghetto sucked and we didn’t want to go to hustle bars so we hung out with the straight hip crowd. We went to the Filmore, Avalon, Winterland and places like that.
Gay guys didn’t want much to do with us and the feelings were pretty much shared. If we wanted boyfriends we didn’t want gay ones.
We used to say that “the operation” made us real and in a way it did. It enabled us to get out of the ghetto.
Oddly I had more gay male friends after SRS than before but that was because of my involvement with the art scene.
The whole jargon of “identity” and “I identify as a woman” seems strange to me. Before I had surgery I was a transsexual. That was why I had surgery. After surgery I was a woman. Identity wasn’t part of my vocabulary, at least not in the manner it is used today.
We didn’t much talk about “gender” either. What we did talk about was sex roles and how they were used by the patriarchy as tools to oppress women.
Transsexual is for many of us a matter of history. What it isn’t is an on-going concern. Not with so many other issues.
I get flamed for my saying that the lesbian part of ENDA is more important to me than the trans or “gender identity” part. But that reflects my day to day reality. Just as same sex marriage is of greater import to me than CDs being able to use the ladies’ room. (For what it is worth I don’t give a damn as long as they conduct themselves appropriately)…
I take heat for saying I’m post-transsexual… I take heat for saying I’m not transgender nor am I “gender variant”. The latter is particularly galling since I view gender as a social construct more akin to team uniforms assigned based on sex. Gender non-conformist would work better since I don’t much let ideas of gender determine what I do or like.
One thing I’m not is post-feminist. I may be post-transsexual or WBT or woman with a transsexual history but none of that means I’m for denying transgender people their rights. But it might mean I have a different ordering of my priorities.
For example I might give same-sex marriage a higher priority or simply women’s issues might take precedence.
But there is a tendency to vilify post-ops to the point where everything turns into a fight. All too often it seems as though transgender folks want to make our rights dependent on their getting their rights. For many of us that one feels like we are expected to give up rights we had that transgender people didn’t have in the name of some sort of unity.
This feels like being taken hostage and being used rather than being asked for support.
Instead we all too often find our experiences as post-transsexuals denigrated.
When sex reassignment surgery opens a door to growth beyond the paradigm of either transsexualism or transgenderism we are chastised if we have the audacity to step through that door.
When I speak of the passage of time removing from our lives much of the relevance of topics of constant discussion by transgender people or people in transition it isn’t out of antipathy or a lack of empathy. If I lacked empathy I would never make a point of dropping in on groups or even reading certain blogs and offering an occasional encouraging word. Sometimes I think the most important thing long term post-SRS women and men can do is tell their stories, warts and all. Because the most important thing we did for transsexual and transgender people is live, do what we did, and survive to tell the story.
Those who came out in the 60s and 70s are now the elders. We lived the history, hell we made the history. Many died too young. Many have become very private and protective of their history and not just from fear but because they were always private about it.
None of us are the same. This is the failure of identity based thinking. I am left wing. I write from that perspective not from some sort of “trans-perspective”. I’m not even certain what a “trans-perspective” is.
Call it conflicting identities if you choose… I view transsexualism as one color in a multi-colored selection of threads used to weave a tapestry of life. It is part of who I am but not the totality.
I am post-transsexual because the act that defines far more clearly than claims of identity ever will took place so long ago.
The struggles of life go on and now that I am past what was once the most important issue in my life I see that there are many more issues than that one. Including matters of classism, racism and sexism.