Transgender Inc and GLAAD

I’ve come to view Transgender Inc as being like Scientology.  Or the Borg, “We are Borg, you will be assimilated.”

To disagree with the party line of Transgender Inc. is to be considered a bigot, a separatist, and opens one to being “Fair Gamed”, a Scientology term for the launching of a full scale “Shock and Awe” sort of attack.  Kind of like what Autumn Sandeen did to Ashley Love recently.

The way it proceeds once some one has been declared “Fair Game” is that all sorts of folks who have bought into the ideology of Transgender Inc feel free to join in the attack.

Gay Inc and Lesbian Inc has never known exactly how to deal with transsexual women and men.  To them we have always been queens and dykes who went too far.  Either we couldn’t accept being gay men who did drag or butch women who did drag.  The subtext being that we were really mentally deranged gays and lesbians who couldn’t accept being gay or lesbian. I’m not going to speak to the transsexual to male experience here because I haven’t particularly discussed this aspect with any brothers. The idea is that transsexual to female people are queens who are only getting sex change operations so they can have sex with straight men is a long standing trope in the gay male community.

In spite of Transgender Inc.’s revisionist history, transsexual to female people weren’t really part of the gay community because even if we briefly passed through a phase of being part of the drag queen community we were more or less strangers in a strange land, aliens who may have looked like they were part of that community, but were actually more like participant observers.

The early history in San Francisco reflected that with each group saying of the other group, “That is not who I am, that is not what I am about.

My coming out experiences included briefly checking out the gay scene, mostly via survival sex.  I was spectacularly unsuccessful in attracting gay men and even more unsuccessful in the few sexual encounters I had with gay men.  I was too feminine for all but the chicken hawks, who assumed I was a runaway/throwaway minor.  Then I was told having sex with me was like having sex with a girl and that wasn’t what gay men wanted.  I contrasted that with having straight men attracted to me and who respected my physical boundaries when having sex and realized gay men could be good friends but not lovers.

Just who was doing the rejection?

Actually the gay men who rejected us for being too much like girls/women had a point.  We were girls even before starting the process as that is how being born transsexual works.  We were uncomfortable within our own skins and with our own sex parts, gay men are attracted to gay men who are comfortable with their male sex parts even if those gay men are drag queens or transgender and attracted to men.

Gay men couldn’t imagine some one having a sex change operation that obliterates their penis and uses the tissue to create female genitalia. There was also a feeling that we were somehow betraying Gay Liberation by de-queering our having sex with men by becoming female.

As I stipulated earlier I’m only superficially aware of something similar going on in the lesbian community, and yet I have heard the complaints regarding all the butches who were “going over to the other side” by coming out as transsexual to male.”  I have read enough memoirs by men born transsexual to know that many have the same sorts of body issues as do women born transsexual.

Transgender Inc has insisted on rewriting our narratives, making transsexualism as well as transgenderism all about gender and not about our bodies or our discomfort with our sex organs.

If we question this or claim that after surgery we feel we are finally really members of the sex we have been surgically reassigned to we are told we are, “essentialists” and therefore beneath contempt.

This goes beyond erasing people with transsexualism from the transgender narrative and becomes a matter of invalidating our lives and our experiencing of our lives.  It becomes a way of telling us we do not experience what we have in reality experienced.

I remember when the protests outside the Michigan Women’s Music Festival first started in the early 1990s.  Yes lesbians have sometimes been hateful towards post-transsexual women.  But in many other situations we have been accepted, tentatively at first perhaps but accepted nonetheless.  Therefore I was not surprised that post-SRS women were accepted as long as they weren’t part of the Camp Trans protests and didn’t make a big deal out of their history.  Post-transsexual women were not and are not supposed to accept such inclusion as long as our transgender sisters are not accorded the same acceptance.

You see this is the open secret about people with transsexualism.  We don’t revel in our gender queerness, embrace being a third sex or gender.  We aren’t transvestites or bi-gendered after our sex change operations the majority of us just want to be like other cis-sex/gender people.  Some of us are straight and others of us are gay or lesbian.  Rather than our betraying those post-SRS people who embrace transgender, those post-SRS people who embrace transgender are betraying transsexual people and are the quislings.

Transgender Inc has hegemony regarding even the terms of the debate.  Am I the only person who has noticed how certain words such as “transvestite” have become politically incorrect?  Oh I know supposedly transvestite automatically means fetishist, but it really doesn’t.  It, like transgender means a person who dresses in clothes and like a member of the sex not commonly associated with their current sex parts.  In reality transvestite is a part time transgender person and neither wants to have a “sex change operation”. NOTE “sex change operation” is also terribly politically incorrect and even sex reassignment surgery is deemed questionable.  Those who think such an operation makes them ‘realer” than those keeping the original plumbing are “essentialists”.

More galling for many of us has been the insistence of grafting a “T” on to Gay and Lesbian when so many in the transgender movement are straight male cross dressers (transvestites).  Many of these people come off the same as Men’s Rights Advocates, a movement that has been subject to biting criticism in feminist circles.  The main Transgender Inc. demand  of total acceptance of their version of the world in which man/woman-male/female is based on “identity and presentation” rather than any sort of physical reality comes off as egocentric in the extreme.

Yet organizations such as GLAAD have bent over backward in creating a partnership between Gay/Lesbian Inc. and Transgender Inc. In the case of GLAAD this has produced a style guide that completely caves to the hegemonic demands of Transgender Inc and turns GLAAD into a willing partner in the ethnic cleansing of  any transsexual dissent from Transgender Inc.’s politically correct party line.

From GLAAD’s Style Guide

Transgender An umbrella term (adj.) for people whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. The term may include but is not limited to: transsexuals, cross-dressers and other gender-variant people. Transgender people may identify as female-to-male (FTM) or male-to-female (MTF). Use the descriptive term (transgender, transsexual, cross-dresser, FTM or MTF) preferred by the individual. Transgender people may or may not decide to alter their bodies hormonally and/or surgically.

Transsexual An older term which originated in the medical and psychological communities.
(also Transexual) While some transsexual people still prefer to use the term to describe themselves, many transgender people prefer the term transgender to transsexual. Unlike transgender, transsexual is not an umbrella term, as many transgender people do not identify as transsexual. It is best to ask which term an individual prefers.

Transvestite Derogatory see Cross-Dressing

Transition Altering one’s birth sex is not a one-step process; it is a complex process that occurs over a long period of time. Transition includes some or all of the following personal, legal and medical adjustments: telling one’s family, friends and/or co-workers; changing one’s name and/or sex on legal documents; hormone therapy; and possibly (though not always) one or more forms of surgery.

Sex Reassignment Refers to surgical alteration, and is only one small part of transition (see Transition above). Preferred term to “sex change operation.” Not all transgender people choose to or can afford to have SRS. Journalists should avoid overemphasizing the role of SRS in the transition process.

Cross-Dressing To occasionally wear clothes traditionally associated with people of the other sex. Cross-dressers are usually comfortable with the sex they were assigned at birth and do not wish to change it. “Cross-dresser” should NOT be used to describe someone who has transitioned to live full-time as the other sex or who intends to do so in the future. Cross-dressing is a form of gender expression and is not necessarily tied to erotic activity. Cross-dressing is not indicative of sexual orientation.

Gender Identity Disorder (GID) A controversial DSM-IV diagnosis given to transgender and other gender-  variant people. Because it labels people as “disordered,” Gender Identity Disorder is often considered offensive. The diagnosis is frequently given to children who don’t conform to expected gender norms in terms of dress, play or behavior. Such children are often subjected to intense psychotherapy, behavior modification and/or institutionalization. Replaces the outdated term “gender dysphoria.”

Intersex Describing a person whose biological sex is ambiguous. There are many genetic, hormonal or anatomical variations that make a person’s sex ambiguous (e.g., Klinefelter Syndrome). Parents and medical professionals usually assign intersex infants a sex and perform surgical operations to conform the infant’s body to that assignment. This practice has become increasingly controversial as intersex adults speak out against the practice. The term intersex is not interchangeable with or a synonym for transgender.

Problematic: “transgenders,” “a transgender”Preferred: “transgender people,” “a transgender person”Transgender should be used as an adjective, not as a noun. Do not say, “Tony is a transgender,” or “The parade included many transgenders.” Instead say, “Tony is a transgender man,” or “The parade included many transgender people.”

Problematic: “transgendered”
Preferred: “transgender”The adjective transgender should never have an extraneous “-ed” tacked onto the end. An “-ed” suffix adds unnecessary length to the word and can cause tense confusion and grammatical errors. For example, it is grammatically incorrect to turn transgender into a participle, as it is an adjective, not a verb, and only verbs can be used as participles by adding an “-ed” suffix.

Problematic: “sex change,” “pre-operative,” “post-operative”
Preferred: “transition”Referring to a sex change operation, or using terms such as pre- or post-operative, inaccurately suggests that one must have surgery in order to transition. Avoid overemphasizing surgery when discussing transgender people or the process of transition.

Too often Transgender Inc guidelines seem straight out of the Transvestite Bible according to St. Prince, in spite of the denials and the refusal to discuss how the early usage of transgender as “the” preferred term came about. Yet when ever post-transsexual women challenge the hegemony of transgender ideology those who identify with Transgender Inc. open their mouths or start typing and it comes across as if those words were channeled directly from St Virginia Prince, right down to the trash talking of post-transsexual women’s genitals.

14 Responses to “Transgender Inc and GLAAD”

  1. quenyar Says:

    Quite a lot of well-meaning, self-serving effort went into GLAAD. When I did my thesis on a transgender topic, I did quite a bit of research to develop and accompanying glossary that would enable straights to read my thesis. There sure is a bunch of disagreement over relatively ordinary terminology isn’t there – usually because the person who controls the terminology controls the discourse.

    I get bored splitting hairs. I know it can be really important, but I get tuckered out fighting over syllables.

    I am who I am, you are who you are. We’re different. OK. I don’t need to measure the differences either quantitatively or qualitatively. I just accept us. Differences are a fact to me. Endlessly arguing over them is like requiring an answer to “why is there air?”

    I just wish we lived int he same town so we could argue semantics and polemics over dinner, instead of this stale medium.

  2. tinagrrl Says:

    As I said in one comment — Autumn Sandeen just HAD to re-start the “trans-wars”. Couldn’t leave well enough alone.

    We had been bad mouthed time and again for just standing up to the co-opting of transsexual lives by some TG folks. We were called all sorts of names, and were misquoted — all while being banned from defending ourselves.

    Once again, anyone who disagrees with TG Inc. gets trashed.

    Once again, our TG sisters have shown us “there is no future being the ‘T’ in LGBT” — especially if you are transsexual, pre-op, or post-op.

    Once again, we HAVE to work toward THEIR agenda — without saying a word.

    There are too many different facets for to be any sort of “T Community”. There are many communities. .

    I do not think it’s a matter of degree — transsexual is not just a TG who “grew up”, “graduated”, or “went too far”. I honestly think TS and TG are different.

    Even within the WBT/post-op/etc. world, there are straight sisters, and lesbian sisters. Many straight sisters are not that comfortable in any part of the gay or lesbian community. In this, they are like many “cis-sexual” straight women.

    We also have a very wide range of political views — from very far right to very far left, and everything inbetween.

    However they put it, Transgender Inc. doesn’t do any of us a favor.

  3. tinagrrl Says:

    WBT as a pro-post-op concept came about after a very simple request was dismissed and laughed down. We requested (not a demand, a simple request) that folks use “transgender and transsexual”. That was it. That was the extent of our “rebellion”.

    We were patronized, laughed at, dismissed. when we asked again, we were called names. We were “separatists”, “extreme”, “elitist”.

    When we spoke with more vigor — they said vile things about our cunts.

    This is about much more than “splitting hairs”.

    When a WBT asks to be removed from the “transgender umbrella” — and is told she does not have the right to even ask, it’s about much more than “semantics and polemics” — it’s about our being, about our lives.

    It in no way impacts the lives of those who tell us who and what WE MUST BE. It’s a power play, pure and simple.

  4. quenyar Says:

    @tinagrrl My apologies for seeming to trivialize your struggle. It is part of the dynamics of organized efforts that they get pulled this way and that by different people at different times for different purposes. It is one of the things that makes working with others difficult. If you focus on the differences and the disputes then you tear the group effort to shreds.

    I had a dream last night that I woke up and it was 1948. I was in a panic, because so many things I counted on were just plain gone. Right, wrong, or indifferent, the LGBT movement, even including LGBT Inc, has made important strides in getting us all human dignity, if not outright respect and we should stand tall and stand together.

    You sound kind of like Treebeard, when asked who’s side he’s on. “I’m not completely on anybody’s side, because no one is completely on my side.” ( Echoes of “Which Side Are You On? repeating in my head in Pete Seeger’s voice)

    Given a choice between LGBT Inc and the Christian Right, the choice is really clear to me. I may not love LGBT INc’s love of dogma, but I like their dogma better.

    Yours most respectfully, Jessica

  5. This « Enough Non-Sense Says:

    […] …was very, very well said, […]

  6. tinagrrl Says:

    I support LGBT efforts. After all, being in a same sex relationship puts me squarely in their camp (all possible puns intended).

    That said, I do not have to agree with “movement transgender”.

    The entire concept is an attempt to “shoehorn” totally different people into one large group — usually for the benefit of a small minority of that group.

    The “leaders” of “transgender as umbrella” appear to smooth over the internal contradictions by attacking any dissent from the canon.

    That’s no way to run a movement of any kind. It also does not meet the needs of many folks that “leaders” claim are part of “their” movement.

    The attempt to demonize those who say, “wait a minute” — once again, for the Nth time, just gets tired.

    Every time we go through one of these things (what else do you call it?) I just shake my head and move in my own direction.

    Over the years there have been attacks on transsexuals from both the right and left. From lesbians and gay men. From academics and bozo’s (sometimes the same person, or group, is BOTH).

    In spite of this many of us still support the goals of equality for all — there have been many defections — post-op transsexuals who actively campaign against the L, G, B, and T as not meeting ANY of their needs. As a rule they are misguided, mistaken, of a class where they suffer no hardship, or just angry — often that their fantasies have not been met.

    I do not see myself as a part of any of those groups. I do see myself as Being opposed to the current concept of “transgender” which serves not only those who (for lack of anything else) identify as transgender, but also all the folks in the LG and B world who are “uncomfortable” with transsexuals/post-transsexuals. By supporting something as amorphous as “transgender” they do not have to deal with their feelings about all the “icky” TtF’s or TtM’s.

    That’s not a valid reason to include so many different folks into a “group”, but it does mean they do not have to deal with their discomfort with us. After all, we are a “third” — “transgender” — never to be either men or women — as opposed to the right which says we are STILL men or women.

    It’s like the situation a lefty is in if they decide to vote for President — a right wing “Democrat”, or a rabid-right-wing Republican.

    It’s a lose-lose — just a matter of how much.

    By the way. Labeling us ALL “transgender” also means those who support us in the L and G world can also fetishize us, if they so wish. This makes the fact we are one of the many different “trans” sorts the MAIN reason they are attracted to us. Also, not a good reason to maintain a relationship.

    This does not even begin to address how so many of us are fetishized by various academics — where so many folks earn livings, reputations, and their degrees.

    As I first said many years ago — “there’s no future being the T in LGBT”.

    Think about it a bit.

  7. quenyar Says:

    LGBTXQ then? (as in transseXual).
    There are quite a number of good arguments for “one size fits none.”
    Maybe I just feel better in a bigger herd… to roll us back, they have to push us all off the civil rights cliff, not just some of us a little at a time.

    • Suzan Says:

      Tina and I are part of a bigger group… Women… But FYI I have been using LGBT/TQ for transsexual and transgender since the inception of this blog a couple of years ago.

  8. quenyar Says:

    I am a member of lots of groups: working class, parent, homo sapiens… Yet I, and most woman, feel continually isolated and vulnerable. I don’t like being excluded from your T any more than you like being excluded from mine. I’d like to share. If that can’t happen, I’ll go with plan B: mutual respect and shoulder to shoulder collaboration as much and as often as I am capable.

    • Suzan Says:

      It isn’t a matter of your being included in my “T” or not. Transsexualism is something I was treated for. this is why you hear so many post-SRS women searching for terms to describe what it is like to be past all the surgery and hoohaw about transition. How five-ten years down the road there isn’t much connection to even people going through transition.

      It isn’t about friendships or even about supporting civil rights and protections. As you put it, being “T” is about belonging and we no longer belong there.

      In late November Tina and I went to the Day of Remembrance and while it felt important to go there wasn’t a sense of sameness with the transgender folks who were there. I felt more like one of the lesbians or even gay men who were there in solidarity with the transgender community rather than because I was part of that community.

  9. Lisa Says:

    Transgender is not transsexual. … there is, quite literally, a cut off point.
    Now, I know there are reason why some people cannot undergo surgery, but the cost these days (since it’s less than the price of a 2nd hand car) is not one of them. Health reasons are acceptable, if genuine. Likewise geographical location can be a real block on transition. But relocation is usually possible. Religion is also a BS reason.
    Social reasons, marriage and job commitment reasons, are also bullshit. Choosing to fuck with gender is a fine ideal, but it’s not IMHO a transsexual trait.
    I would have happily killed myself rather than live with a man’s body. I did anything I could to earn the money that enabled me to travel halfway round the world for surgery. I lost family, friends, social status and male privilege. I sucked dicks with the other women who, like me, needed the money bad enough.
    Any genuine transsexual person would have the strong desire, at the very least, in having their body fixed surgically to match their mind. If a person does not have that desire they are NOT transsexual, period.
    I make no apologies for being anti transgender, or anti ‘trans’ – as it has become in the UK. These people cause me real problems.
    I transitioned over 20 years ago as a 23 year old. I am many years post op. In recent years, the ‘trans’ campaigners have reduced my legal status from woman to ‘other’ They have removed my position as ‘L’ in the LGB community and branded me with a ‘T’ that places me with drag queens and straight men who wear their wives panties at the weekend. This trans community is one I have no wish to belong to. Call me elite if you like. I just think I’m genuine.

  10. quenyar Says:

    @Lisa – I think it is terrible and wrong to brand someone as “Other” who wants to identify as “M” or “F” and I don’t see any good reason for doing so. I also have never seen any reason why any woman could not be an L or any man a G, who wanted to identify as such, regardless of their past — but many L and G people do feel that way.
    As an older person who identifies as genderqueer and not transsexual, you’re probably mad at me. I am prepared to be mad at transsexual people who trivialize other peoples’ trans identifications the way you did in your post, but I understand your ire.
    Are you saying that it is not OK for you to lose your job because someone finds out your birth sex is different from your identification, but that it is OK to fire the bloke who likes to wear his wife’s underwear in private on the weekends, if that comes out? You may not want to be associated with such people, but I doubt you wish them actual harm. Or maybe you do, in which case we have another disagreement.
    I object to being called a fake, if only by proxy. I know you are real. I am genuinely who I am, too. I am different from you. I have always said that I spent 30 years knocking on the wrong doors, causing myself and my family much grief and that I often wish I had stumbled across the actual reason for my dissatisfaction with the life process decades sooner than I did. Had I done so, I would have been a different person. That person might very well have been transsexual. Who knows? But that didn’t happen and I am the person I am. Just as you don’t need to make excuses for who you are, so I am unwilling to apologize for being who I am. I make my choices now, just as you do. I do not have any right to call you names or to say you’re not a real woman and you do not have any right to call me names or say that I am not a real whatever it is that I am. And please do not tell me I will not be an actual real, complete person until I make the same choices you made.
    I sincerely wish that people were constituted differently so that it was not so easy or convenient to defame others in the process of defining one’s self.

  11. Angel Says:

    Well, this whole ongoing battle has certainly done one thing… it has shifted focus away from the “Lurleen” sock puppet debacle. In fact, if one were to consider the timing of Sandeen’s posts regarding Ashley Love, one might even suspect that it may have been intentional, in order to shift people’s attention away from what happened on PHB, by capitalizing on the deep divisions that already lie between the transgender movement and those who see transsexualism as a medical condition.

    Ah, but that’s probably just my imagination running away with me.

  12. DaisyDeadhead Says:

    Tina, you may be tired of this whole thing, but I didn’t know ANY of this stuff, and I am learning.

    This disagreement is like the piece of a jig-saw puzzle I’ve been looking for, and finally located it under the coffee-table years after the fact…

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