I stopped fighting a long time ago.
Calling people names seemed childish and diminished my effectiveness in calling them on actions I considered egregious.
I also had no real interest in joining up with most of the name callers in the “Classic Transsexual”/HBS set. Too many were just as willing to call other post-transsexual women names for not meeting some sort of imaginary standard of realness that I always tended to find absurd. Maybe it was coming out in hippie Berkeley, among non-conforming bohemians, artists and radicals rather than surrounded by other transsexuals trying to conform to mass marketing standards of appearance and femininity.
Beauty comes in all shapes, sizes, ages, colors and levels of physical ability. Ugliness does as well.
For a while in the 1990s after reading Riki Wilchins and Kate Bornstein I thought the “Transgender as Umbrella” paradigm was a good idea. I noticed it seriously fell down in practice, while trying to get people across that umbrella to participate in the Pride Day March or put together a table for the Pride Day Festival.
But I had my “Transsexual Menace” t-shirt and I actually wore it to certain events just like another dozen or so people in LA.
We were ignored.
I was a volunteer with the cultural events part of the Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center. I facilitated meetings and collected demographic data as to who was attending. At one point Transgender was added to the choices one could check (Male, Female, Transgender). I helped with “Transgender” support groups on several occasions. Even in those support groups most people checked male or female rather than transgender.
But it seemed Academics loved the term and politicos loved it too. Indeed “Transgender as Umbrella” had the support of the largely white middle class demographic that came out of the heterosexual CD groups and read Tapestry Magazine.
Transgender was perfect in a reactionary era that embraced post-modernism, obscure French Philosophy, and other forms of academic wankery.
Second Wave Feminism had attacked sex roles and had created women’s studies programs. Black Liberation Struggles along with Native American, Asian American and Latino American movements had each created their own studies programs.
Attacking those programs was part of the reactionary right wing agenda. The defensive lines that were drawn led to identity politics.
Multi-cultural programs and gender studies came about as budgets were cut and individual programs were collapsed into multi-purpose programs. The odious concept of “gender” erased concerns about sex role stereotyping and sexism.
Over ten years ago I went to the only Transsexual/Transgender conference I ever attended. It was the Forward Motion Conference in Burbank, Ca., an F to M Conference and I was invited as a person in history.
I liked the guys. It was good to spend a weekend with them and hear their issues, hear what they thought.
I came away with two distinct impressions. the first and most important was, “There is no ‘Transgender community’, there are many different communities made up of a wide variety of people with different trans-prefixed words somehow attached to them.”
The other impression was that M to f Transgender as Umbrella advocates were using F to Ms and speaking for them in the same way they tried to speak for post-transsexual women.
Women born transsexual in part developed out of a need for a label. Tina and I put our heads together, we wanted the meme to reflect that transsexualism was innate and also play off “women born women.”
And we fought with the people who embraced the umbrella. We called names with everyone else. We ran a mailing list for a number of years.
You would think that post-SRS transsexual women might have a better chance of getting along, but that wasn’t true either, what with AGP/AP, young emergers/late emergers and lesbian/straight conflicts. Not to mention the whole HBS silliness, the “true transsexuals” and the ‘classic transsexuals”.
When I started this blog I received support from Andrea James and others. Within days people came here with the ad hominem attacks, attacks on people who weren’t even posting here.
I said, “No name calling, No ad hominem attacks!”
Argue the point not the person.
But this blog reflects me, and unlike many transsexual and/or transgender blogs I have many other interests, many left wing political as well as general cultural interests. Sometimes the rest of those interests occupy more of this blog than does trans-related material.
Which is how it should be since post-transsexual women and men should leave the ghetto for the bigger world.
Spending all one’s time fighting these word wars with transgender folks isn’t leaving the ghetto. The word wars are drama queen games. I find them incredibly boring.
Especially since I don’t have to buy the Transgender Borg Collective ideology to think people who live transgender 24/7/365 should have the same basic civil rights I have plus hate crimes laws and anti-discrimination laws that are geared to protect their specific needs.
But it isn’t my life and so if I limit my participation to petitions and the like it is because I have other things happening in my life and not out of hatred.
The same is true with my post-transsexual sisters. If you do not support me having marriage equality you shouldn’t be surprised if I am apathetic about supporting your heterosexual marriage if you run into legal problems.
I didn’t fight with the ideology of the Transgender Borg Collective because I hate transgender people who live it, walking the walk as well as taking the talk.
I fought the ideology because I hated how it negated my life and everything I have both stood for and experienced.
I did not like being erased or told I can’t use the phrase “sex change operation” to describe the surgery I had. I am not a ventriloquist dummy. Don’t put words in my mouth or tell me I should use words from an approved list when I use words I used 40 years ago to describe my life.
Do not disparage my cunt by channeling Virginia Prince via Janice Raymond and I won’t call you an ugly man in a dress.
I considered what I was doing when I declared a moratorium on name calling on this Blog a couple of years ago to be a way of saying I was bored with the endless “Trans-wars”. I wasn’t going to cast anymore first stones or institute any gratuitous flame wars.
I had people, mostly other post-SRS women devote nearly their entire Blogs to flaming me and I tried to avoid mentioning their names or flaming them back.
In the mean time I have watched the development of positive actions against bullying and anti-suicide messages.
I’ve watched post-transsexual women, who weren’t part of the flame wars burn out on Transgender as Umbrella. I’ve watched hard working activists get tired of all the insane fighting and noise. I watched Mara Keisling get trashed.
What if “Transgender as Umbrella” is actually finally dead?
Does that mean an end to the seemingly endless trans-wars? Or are some people so addicted to the drama of fighting they will find new parties to fight, defame and flame? I suspect some will…
I have better things to do now that the war seems to be over.
This blog has always been more about how the world affects those of us on the outside and not too well off rather than purely about transsexual. I had surgery so long ago I feel like a grandmother to kids coming along today.
I can’t help remembering some of the wisdom of the 1960s which is why I opened this post with a picture of Yoko Ono and John Lennon holding a poster that says “War is Over– If You Want It”.
Perhaps “Transgender as Umbrella” is dead and maybe we can move on. The people who need a movement specifically for transgender people can build a version 4.0 that doesn’t have all the problematic elements of the version that has died.
Perhaps post-transsexual women can quit the drama and flame wars too and find something that suits their interests. I don’t expect many will follow me. I was the outsider from Berkeley in the 1960s and I probably still am.
I have other sisters who are friends. The love of my life is a sister. Having friends you can share the special life problems that go with the past history is nice but not mandatory.
Declare the war over… withdraw from the combat and avoid getting stuck holding on to the runner of the last helicopter out of the war zone.
Declare the “War to be Over.” Turn the energy to rebuilding or building something better.