The following is taken from a brief Face Book exchange I had with Max yesterday. I edited two notes together and broke it into a couple of paragraphs.
Max Valerio is the author of The Testosterone Files: My Hormonal and Social Transformation from Female to Male
A number of years ago I went to the Forward Motion Conference in Burbank at the time I was friends with several brothers as well as academics who were going to attend the conference and I was give a discount to go due to my having played a role in the early transsexual movement.
Prior to this I had listened to some activist talk and talk about some sort of united transgender community.
Now I have never shrunk from doing movement grunt work, passing out leaflets, collecting petition signatures etc.
For several years I had been trying to increase the number of transsexual and transgender people who would march as TS/TG people in the Pride Day Parade and year after year no matter how many leaflets I handed out the same dozen or so people would show up., put on their transsexual Menace t-shirts and trudge down Santa Monica Blvd.
I was asking, “Where is the ‘community’?”
At the conference I got the answer. There isn’t one community there are many communities and the T to Male communities have the same sorts of arguments although not as publicly as T to F people have.
This has left many post-transsexual people saying we were better off before the construction of this fictitious umbrella. Other are asking why are we being lumped in with gay and lesbian folks when we are straight. I don’t know about T to M gay men but a lot of T to F lesbians would be quite happy to just be part of the lesbian community and not have the transgender community claim them.
I highly recommend Max’s book, it is one of those memoirs that takes the telling of the story deeper than many of the earlier books.
“I do agree here and watched in the 90’s, with some trepidation as the decision was made to go and bond with the LGB political agenda for solidarity and “numbers”. Really, this strategy does have its limitations and in some ways is somewhat beside the point.
While we can certainly ally ourselves with LGB people, we are not the same and our concerns are necessarily different. Because of this, we get swept under the rug and are also, pushed to “queer gender” in order to remain “queer”. Unless we are indeed LGB in orientation, “queer” is beside the point. And, these people are queer in orientation, but not in gender identity, they are usually binary.
Medically transitioned transsexuals necessarily violate the PC norm of “tearing down the binary” by our very existence. We must “believe” or understand biological sex as well, biological to one degree or another and not entirely socially constructed since we do radically alter our biological sex from birth to the one opposite our birth sex. I mean, if we really believed that “gender” was socially constructed entirely and that sex and gender were interchangeable terms (as they’ve become) WHY would we ever do this?
This is the large contradiction that Queer politics smells and why they distrust us intrinsically. And, they are right to because no amount of covering up from Bornstein is going to change the fact that she went to drastic measures to alter her biology to a female form. Her pose appears inauthentic and strikes other trans people (like myself) as mere pandering to “Gay Inc.” for acceptance and well, generous fees for public appearances. And, this stance ultimately does not suit the needs of the majority of transsexual people, who merely wish to live as men or women as the case may be and most definitely not as BOTH or worse, a “queer gender fuck” version of the sex they were born into. Some of us are not hooked into appearing “transgressive” and this is not our life project. I’ve been saying this for so long, I am worn out.
I do feel passionately about this issue and now and again I get involved but I have to admit after almost 22 years of this, I feel burned out. Well, let’s say, more accurately, 19 years since the first couple years of my transition were not that political and I think the whole “genderqueer” thing started sometime in 1990 or so. It really is a thorn in the side of so many of us transsexuals!
It often seems like more energy is spent by those trying to keep post-SRS people under the umbrella than the people who are voluntarily a part of that umbrella spend fighting to pass laws that would improve their lives.
Equally predictably every time there is a low point in the likelihood of the Transgender Movement passing any laws to their benefit they turn on post-SRS folks and people with transsexualism (usually women) who don’t want to be part of the transgender collective mind set.
Max’s original posts were regarding Autumn Sandeen’s using Pam’s House Blend to trash Ashley Love