Republished in full with permission:
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
We refuse to say that we are all exactly the same.
Give Me Back My ‘T’! Give Me Back My Transsexuality!”
By Teresa Ellen Reeves
It is amazing that Autumn Sandeen and the baristas of Pam’s (Spaulding) House Blend are eager to serve up a bitter brew of poison and declaring war against all transsexuals on behalf of a gay mindset dominated “transgender” community.
As a pioneer transsexual woman activist with some seniority and experience in fighting the war for transsexual acceptance, I am amazed at the massive influx of new people under the umbrella wielded by Gay Inc. in the service of promoting a non-transsexual agenda.
I began my transition 35 years ago this week– January 14, 1976.
That day I began living as a woman and I progressed forward in the “real life” test that led to my sex reassignment surgery in Trinidad, Colorado on April 21, 1977.
All I ever wanted to be was a woman, and a female bodied one at that. My mother had had an intrauterine device that fell out as she became pregnant with me and there was an infection that threatened her pregnancy and she was given dieththylstilbesterol (DES) and perhaps some estrogen and progesterone to save the pregnancy at risk.
In utero studies with animals and later with people similarly exposed have shown the possible effects on gender identity and gender related behavior of the administration of hormones at critical points in fetal development. This may be one possible reason for the birth of intersex and transsexual persons due to apparent anatomical differentiation that can make gender assignment ambiguous— or gender identity uncertain due to biological, genetic, hormonal and neurohormonal differentiation which may remain hidden and undiscovered until later.
I believe that I had a birth defect that I wanted to be corrected. The idea that I was “a female trapped in the body of a male” made sense to me. The “Standards of Care” in 1976 dictated that I, for the most part had to get permission from men– psychiatrists, physicians and surgeons to receive the therapy– counseling, hormones and surgery. Men were set to evaluate the quality of my presentation as a female. Chauvinistic men who would rate my ability to pass based on whether they found me to be attractive.
I wanted the acceptance and approval of other women. I wanted to be a woman among women and if I were not accepted by them, I would not have believed in my being a woman. But my mother accepted me and stood by me all the way and I was to become that woman among women.
There were other people going to the support group I went to in Los Angeles who were not like me. They were not seeking the congruence of mind and body, the medical treatment and correction of a biologically determined birth defect. They were doing something else.
Thirty-five years later all those people who were doing something else have taken over. The transsexual minority has been shoved aside and we have been relabeled without our permission and tossed under an umbrella where we are hopelessly outnumbered by people who are not us or like us who are all doing something else.
Now the emerging transgender minority is ready to kick us out of the community because we refuse to equivocate. We refuse to say that we are all exactly the same.
I am not ‘transgender”.
No more than I am a kindergartner. I crossed a gender boundary long ago and graduated to be the woman I am now. Gender– a culturally bound construct that defines certain people, their roles and behavior as male and masculine or female and feminine. based upon anatomy at birth. But to cross the gender boundary doesn’t require surgery. It’s like the men of Shakespearean times playing the roles of women in the theater when women were not allowed to do so, a cultural gender role proscription.
But I “transed” gender a long time ago and the word is vague, ambiguous, and it is not enough to describe what I have gone through to become congruent and whole in being a woman.
These days we are told that it is wrong to subscribe to the “gender binary”, that it’s wrong to want to be a woman, nothing but a woman, and a female-bodied one at that. We are supposed to bend, blend, androgynize, neuter or express fluidity of gender , or flamboyantly declare ourselves to be something else, all kinds of gender outlaws including she-males, chicks with dicks, genderqueers, female impersonators, drag queens & kings , crossdressers and pregnant men- nothing that would require anyone to have sex reassignment surgery at all.
My mother understood me when I said that I felt that I was a “female mind trapped in the body of a male”. She and most people would not understand why such a female mind would want to retain the body of a male. Or someone who declares themselves to be something else other than a woman or a man.
All I ever wanted to be post-operatively was a woman among women. I was seeking a community of post-operative women who shared some of the same experiences I had . In the 1970s and 1980s there were so few of us. But I did find acceptance in a feminist community of cis-gendered women.
But the leading transgender community group in Seattle didn’t want my training, abilities, skills and experience as a counselor and facilitator for a post-op transsexual women’s group. They used to have one but discontinued it in 2006. That same year the Seattle Gay News began to erase the word “transsexual” from its pages, ending 13 years of regular use of the word. The SGN and the transgender community was erasing the word like in George Orwell’s “1984”– if you erase the word then no one will be able in the future to identify as a transsexual. This erasure has been done to the word “transvestite”.
The group leaders made it clear that they loved “transgenders” “genderqueers” and “transmen”. Post operative transsexual women found it to be very lonely there. It was as if all the energy spent and time invested was for those in transition and this was true for another open “all-trans” support group when I was told I wasn’t supposed to be there because it was a transition group only.
So now they’re trashing Ashley Love because she’s fighting our marginalization and assimilation into the “transgender” mold. They trash her for being too young! Well they trashed me for being too old- but I transitioned at 21. They expect that when all of us older transsexual folks die out, then the transgenders can take over. As long as there are people like Ashley Love around standing strong and standing on principle, it won’t happen! What our detractors hate about us is our certainty of who we are and for the determination and perseverance we showed in pursuing the course that led to our congruence and wholeness–and the medical necessity of what we have done and accomplished in becoming who we are. And for our refusal to be relabeled and regendered for the benefit of a non-op group of people who are not us and not like us.
I have always supported the Human Rights, Civil Rights & Equal Rights of all Transsexual, Intersex, Transgender, & Gender Diverse People. But I will not equivocate. I will not say that we’re all exactly the same people with the same wants, needs, issues or rights. Some have been able to change the laws allowing for the legal status and identification of all who identify as a gender regardless of surgery or treatment. While I accept as a woman all who identify as a woman– I find it disturbing and cognitively dissonant that a certain number of these women proudly proclaim their non-op status or declaring themselves to be “chicks with dicks”, “she-males” or male-bodied lesbians”— where they can legally be female in some states- but I can’t change my birth certificate in Ohio despite having had SRS.
I despise the use of the word “tra**y” by those who use it to describe themselves or others. It is as vile to me as the “n*****r word that is sometimes used by some African Americans. The fact that some people use and even embrace these words doesn’t make them right.
And I want the word “transsexual” to be reserved for those who intend and seek to have sex reassignment surgery and become congruent in mind and body and not be claimed by those transgender people who say that “sex” is all a matter of mind”– so that they are all transsexual, too– thus rendering the distinction between transsexual and transgender to be meaningless. If the majority of transgender people don’t want sex reassignment or other surgeries, someone will think it’s not necessary for transsexuals and declare us to be abnormal and pathological.
I am of Native American heritage, so in some ways I qualify as a Transsexual Woman Person of Color. But I have no knowledge and would not claim to be an African American. But I do not want transgender women to claim the word, our word “transsexual” for themselves when they have no intention to seek that which was medically necessary to correct our birth defects and make us whole.
Nor do I want people who are not like us or even those who are to claim the “tra**y” word.
Give me back my “T”!. Give me back my transsexuality!
And stop fighting the war on love. Or against Ashley Love. Or me.
Because you will never succeed by making us out to be the enemies. Because we’re not.
Anyone looking at my photos can clearly see that I have found a place as a respected woman among women. But why does it feel like I’m the only transsexual woman who has been able to do this?
Am I really the last transsexual woman in Seattle?