Last week on Facebook Max Wolf Valerio, author of The Testosterone Files: My Hormonal and Social Transformation from Female to Male wrote a comment that included the observation that follows this introduction. When I read it I immediately asked him if I could publish it.
He edited out names and polished it up a bit and handed it to me. leaving me to give it context and a frame.
One of the things that has long bothered me about Transgender Inc is the total domination by people who are mostly privileged female gendered transgender people, the majority of whom are male bodied for one reason or another. Theoretically this should not be a problem and indeed probably wouldn’t be a problem were the dominating voice open minded and more willing to hear dissenting voices. Unfortunately the dominating “leaders” hysterically attack dissent with a ferocity similar to level one found under Stalin.
Too often the dominating faction of female gendered folks have used the cost of T to M sex reassignment surgery along with the greater surgical difficulty to further the ideological concept of SRS as being an elitist option only available to small numbers of privileged Transsexual to Female people. There is a tendency to downplay the physical aspects of changing sex whether T to F or T to M in favor of identity.
Then there is the one size fits all “Transgender Community” which bears a startling resemblance to the Borg Collective from Star Trek. Once the collective has claimed you as a member, resistance becomes futile, you will be assimilated.
Over the years I’ve gained perspective from listening to the guys, the brothers, who are T to M.
The paradigm of one size fits all “Transgender Community as Umbrella” doesn’t fit many of them any better than it fits many post-transsexual women. But one would never know that from the Transgender Borg Collective leadership, which loves to homogenize people as well as use them as tools to serve the collective ideology, but which hates to hear dissenting voices.
When T to F post transsexual people say they don’t feel they are part of “The Community” or that they feel their point of view is erased they are called elitists and other names. One would rarely know if brothers embrace the harmonious choir of the Transgender Borg or not because one rarely hears T to M folks at all.
The one thought that seems most anathema to the Transgender Borg Community, which embraces all sorts of gender diversity, is the idea that post-transsexual men and women might want to be just ordinary men and women without any trans-prefixed words as adjectives in front of that man or woman.
Too often the opinion of the Transgender Borg has a hegemonic effect within the LGBT/T Communities resulting in actions and terminology that we find insulting, degrading and offensive. Further the one size solutions offered “other” us by including us in this “Third Gender” category that seems automatic with the label of “transgender”. That form of hegemony demands we embrace the Transgender Borg “Identity” while denying us the autonomy to just be ordinary women and men.
Here is a story of interest:
By Max Wolf Valerio
I just came back from the New York area where I gave a reading and talk at a Domestic Violence Shelter and another reading for a more general LGBT audience. The shelter was doing a “transgender” training to facilitate awareness and sensitivity toward any trans clients that may need their services. I understand that “transgender” is seen as an “umbrella” term, and while I didn’t make a stink, I certainly did take great care in my talk to distinguish transsexuals who medically transition – from those “transgender” people who do not.
One of the interesting things about this training was that one of the newer employees at the shelter was a very nice and very young genderqueer person who went by “they” and “it”. Sigh…
Now, this person, a biologically intact natal female, (what else?) picked me up in the morning from my hotel and drove me to the Domestic Violence Shelter training. She was gracious and I was certainly not going to be rude to her in any way. (I am going to say “her” as ALL the people who do talk about her when she is not in the same room tend to call her as “she”. They feel a bit funny about it, but really — it is HARD TO CALL SOMEONE “IT” or “THEY”).
I did get some sense as events unfolded of how confused the genderqueer (FTM) person is making people at the shelter. Some view her as a “transgender” spokesperson. Now, that is all well and good but there are alarming aspects.
One became more apparent as my visit was about to conclude. I did not know until I was just about to get on the train to LEAVE that — she is trying to get trans men accepted into the shelter. I mean as people being sheltered. This domestic violence shelter is only for women and children.
I had assumed, of course, that since the shelter was having an issue with trans people, that they were having an issue with accepting trans women into the shelter! But, NO, the big issue, the one causing controversy was whether or not FTMs should be allowed in.
AGGGH. My genderqueer host(ess) had hinted at this when I first met her. In retrospect, she had said something about trans men being able to have access since we don’t all identify as “men”. I was very, very uncomfortable when she brought this up, and she was a host, and I was only at the moment being driven to my morning reading and so again, I am a diplomat and do not get in people’s faces – although I have my ways… heh. I mean, as a writer and not as an in-your-face activist type I have my ways … Any way, I did say to her, that I felt that in essence, trans men will self-select as to whether we will go into a shelter like this, and that this helps clear up the issue. And, I believe that is true but this scenario is troubling and shocking nonetheless.
I did make a point right away in my talk that morning to say that I was primarily talking about the experience and lives of medically transitioned transsexuals. I did take care to distinguish us as being simply men and women. I talked about our “transition” as a sex change, since I feel that phrase really says it best. I also made sure to relate that transsexualism is NOT a political movement to over turn gender roles or the “binary gender system”, and that we can be of any political persuasion or religious persuasion from conservative to leftist radical, from Catholic to Buddhist to atheist or agnostic and all things in-between. We are men and women, not stand-ins for utopian gender fantasies.
Later, the next morning as I was being driven to my train to depart, my driver who was another host, a primary host who had invited me, and this time a non-trans lesbian woman. On the drive, she made it very clear to me that trans male inclusion was THE TRANS ISSUE of debate. I shocked her when I declared that I actually was against the idea of trans men being allowed in a woman’s shelter for domestic violence. She was taken aback — “Wow, that is interesting.”
At this point, she was letting me off to get on the train to New York City (Grand Central Station). I did not understand, until that moment, that the issue that was being debated was whether or not TRANS MEN should be at a domestic violence shelter for women and children! I guess this is probably more prevalent than I realize… I mean, genderqueer “FTM” people who go by ambiguous or odd pronouns advocating not for trans women, but for the inclusion of trans MEN in women’s space! Sigh…
Apparently, and I did not know this, many on the domestic violence shelter staff felt that “trans men were MEN” and that we, like all men, should not be allowed in the shelter! CORRECT! Too bad that the genderqueer person and other confused if well meaning people on staff argued AGAINST this basic fact. So, there are people actively undoing our identities and being seen as experts! This is horrifying.
We do have our work cut out for us. This is important work, no doubt. I know I’ve neglected replying to all your posts regarding this matter, but I get so tired of the whole thing. However, this does not mean that we, transsexuals – men and women, should not continue to vociferously defend our identities against the onslaught of “genderqueer”, or even, the popular understanding of “transgender” which is often indistinguishable from that.
And, yes the gay borg is very friendly with the idea of genderqueerish transgender identities because well, they like “queer” gender as often the L and G and B enjoy playing with gender role expression. That is well and good, as far as it goes, but it is not what we are about.
I guess my trip also made me sit up and take notice. It is alarming that this is what average non-trans people are being exposed to.
Another woman who helped sponsor me was very uncomfortable with calling anyone “it” — and was just confused and unsure as to how that fit into the dialogue. She knew somehow, instinctively (she is a bit older, even older than me, an older feminist activist, and somehow savvy) – that doing “sensitivity training” with the shelter staff around calling people “ze” and “hir” and “it” and ah, “they” (AGGGH) was not to the point. Still, how much can people know or understand when the voice of “it” let’s say, is becoming such a dominant voice? Also, transsexual people who have medically transitioned often live in fear of being called “it” if our trans past is revealed. So, here was someone wanting trans men allowed in the women’s shelter since we were not actually men and calling herself “it” and therefore claiming that as a viable choice.
Of course, you know that I give a rat’s ass what anyone decides to call themselves and if someone wants to be “it” that is fine with me.
But please – PLEASE leave me out of your weird politics.
It has nothing to do with me, or us – actual transsexuals who have changed our sex. Sex change still says it – don’t you think? All this “gender transition”. this “genderqueer” crap is muddying the water.
And, turning out to be more trouble than we had imagined.
Max Wolf Valerio