What does it mean when so many long term post-transsexual women have such generally negative feelings regarding Transgender Inc’s rewriting of history and treatment of post-op women?
How hard can it be to say transsexual and transgender, instead of just erasing our lives and history?
This is reposted with permission
by Teresa Ellen Reeves on Sunday, April 10, 2011
So You Think You Invented Transgender Inclusion in 1994?
For all you “youngsters” out there.
My transition began in January 1976, which means that my transition came before 98% of all trans folks.
I encountered academic lesbian and gay transsexual- phobia in the mid 1980s at USC Graduate School in Counseling Psychology from faculty, students, and fieldwork that targeted me because I had had a sex change operation. Gay professors blocked my advancement in the department, tried to keep me from getting work and have me fired because “I found it necessary to change sex”. They were afraid the community of Laguna Beach would find out a transsexual worked there! They saw me as a traitor to gay men because I wasn’t one. They even feared I would talk naive young gay men in the process of coming out into becoming a woman!
I was recruited to work at the G L Community Services Center, Orange County in 1986 by two enlightened lesbians, including the Counseling Coordinator, Judi Doyle, who had been the President of the California Marriage and Family Therapist Association. I even was invited to co-lead a therapy group for lesbian incest survivors I was among the first transsexual counselors to ever serve as a counseling intern for LGBT clients long before LGBT ever existed.
I served 1500 hours, earning them $25,000. But after Judi Doyle left her job, a transphobic lesbian administrator messed with me and outed me because she couldn’t understand how I as a post-operative transsexual could possibly be a lesbian. This resulted in my being threatened with violence by four lesbians and my ejection from the Womanspace by the admin in her Janice Raymond-born fear that I was a rapist in sheep’s clothing who could “symbolically” rape women with my mere presence. I was purged from my job in 1988 at a time when dozens of transsexual women faced a similar fate across the country.
Years later after I was exiled and fell into despair and depression and I was to be the sole caregiver of my mother with Alzheimer’s, there were some youngsters with a fire in their bellies who decided to do this wonderful thing: They popularized the word “transgender” and invented transgender inclusion into what would become L G B T.
I kept waiting and wondering when anyone was going to apologize to me for the bigotry directed at me for being a transsexual, since after my exile I had become a woman and a lesbian without a country. Despite this new “inclusion”- I was looking for the invitation to transsexual women by lesbians welcoming us. I never found it, I never saw a welcome sign. Certainly no one was sorry or even remembered me.
Who was inviting us in and who were they inviting? Gay men seemed to be inviting drag queens in, because they are sex partners for gay men. But drag queens in the 70s and 80s had made fun of me and harassed me. Lesbians were inviting F to Ms in because often they were partners in a relationship where once both had identified as lesbians. But despite all this talk of inclusion, transwomen were being regularly excluded from the Michfest.
It appeared that transgender inclusion was a “separate but equal” one. Transsexual women were welcome as long as they all stayed together with the other gender variants- as in “Go be with your own kind, the drag queens and crossdressers” and stay away from the lesbians.
And that was the problem with the new umbrella label, “transgender” and the new disorder “transgenderphobia” , a word which came to mean– “fear of a woman with a penis”. Lesbian transgenderphobia was so rampant that because of the umbrella they could not tell transwomen apart, they decided to ban all transwomen regardless of SRS out of fear of allowing a woman with a penis in.
And those youngsters began to force the use of the word transgender on us, a word they said was chosen by us, but no one ever asked for my permission or consent and I don’t identify as transgender. But when I refuse to do so, I am accused of causing hate violence against non-transsexual people.
All I ever wanted to be was a woman, and nothing but a woman, a respected woman among women and a female-bodied one at that. I am not a gender outlaw or revolutionary. It is not a crime to identify in the binary, to want to be a woman. By definition over 6 billion people on Earth subscribe to the binary and are declared to be “cisgender” by people who invented a new word instead of saying non-trans. I am a feminist.. I believe in women and I am for women. To subscribe to the binary these days is made out to be a crime. Would you want your daughter to want to be a woman, or your sister? When they can be gender fluid or gender queer and free from the ties that bind them!
But I changed sex, and gender is a social cultural role construct. Anyone can change gender, and now almost everyone can be male or female by self-identification alone. But my mother understood me when I told her I felt that I was of a female mind in a male body– and I had that birth defect corrected. Because of an infection my mother suffered in pregnancy, and hormones given as treatment, I believe that I had a neurobiological imperative to be a woman. My mother would not have understood why such a person would want to keep a male body.
But I support the rights of transgender people who identify as a woman even if they have not had or are not seeking SRS. But my advocacy wants to stop the deliberate erasure of the word “transsexual” in service of the needs of a non-op majority to distinguish those of us who needed or intend to have surgery in our seeking mind-body congruence versus those who don’t want it. The biggest complaint about transgender women who don’t have surgery is that they “act like women, but f**k like men”.
Laws have been enacted in many places protecting transgender people who are seen by the lawmakers as transsexuals in transition moving toward sex reassignment surgery. But lawmakers are not going to enact laws for those who would proclaim an inalienable “constitutional right” to be a woman with a penis or for those who brag about being “chicks with d**ks”. If transgender people are trying to be working, productive members of society and they have a family life and even a partner relationship, then I fully support laws protecting them from gender identity discrimination. But we are distinctly different kinds of people, with different histories, issues and experiences.
All I want is the restoration and inclusion of the word “transsexual”.
As in “transsexual” and “transgender”. L G B I T &T and GQ Q, etc. Or did I just murder someone by expressing my opinion? Or have I joined the Transsexual Taliban? I am not a separatist. But until the Lesbians let me in to the L room, do not be surprised if I don’t identify with L G B T or with the sexuality of non-op Transwomen, although I support their womanhood. But anyone can be anything sexually by definition, if they can find a willing partner.
(c) 2011 Teresa Ellen Reeves