Don’t get me wrong… I applaud the growing numbers of transsexual folks demanding recognition of the difference between transsexual and transgender.
Yes I agree that transsexual or transgender doesn’t mean gay or lesbian.
I may shock some with my saying that neither transsexual nor transgender should automatically be considered part of either the gay or lesbian community. For one thing people with penises who have sex with women are straight men no matter how they obscure that point with rhetoric about being lesbian. I know, I’ve had relationships with “lesbian” transgender folks and while they may have been femme in the streets they were boys in the sheets. Male lesbian is oxymoronic.
I think Yvonne Cook Riley permanently laid to rest discussion of the origins of the “transgender as umbrella” paradigm https://womenborntranssexual.com/2011/08/17/yvonne-cook-riley-the-invention-of-transgender/. In spite of all the attempts by Christan Williams and others to write the history backwards and place the origin some place other than with Virginia Prince, IFGE, Tri-Ess and other heterosexual transvestite based organizations.
There is a reason why I do not recall these various “Transgender Organizations” as being part of the Gay and Lesbian Communities during the 1960s-1990s. They weren’t there.
Even the organization I co-ran in the early 1970s wasn’t a “Transgender Organization”. If anything we were Separatist. Not out of design but because the queens weren’t surgery tracked and we assisted people with getting their surgery. In case you are new to this blog, the National Transsexual Counseling Unit was very much a pre-Stonewall organization that grew out of the 1966 Compton’s Cafeteria Riots.
For what it is worth there were sisters in the Stanford Program who were out lesbians. I wasn’t out as a lesbian at that point, hell I don’t think I even thought I might be lesbian, as I had a boyfriend I was very much in love with.
That made me straight at that point, at least from my POV and the POV of my other straight sisters. The folks who became Transgender Inc and the Transgender Borg… Well they were telling themselves they weren’t gay and weren’t transsexual. They also considered those of us who loved men to be gay men, who were going too far or getting SRS so that we could act out a male fantasy of what a woman is all about. The Transvestites who later gave birth to Transgender Inc and the Borg were the ones pushing the whole idea that one could not be transsexual and attracted to women. Indeed they were the ones pushing that meme to the doctors like Stoller and Green. (Virginia Prince).
So remember the next time someone says you couldn’t be attracted to women and get SRS they are repeating a fiction. Even Dr. Benjamin’s book which was a collection of writings spanning the period from the mid-1950s to the mid-1960s mentioned transsexuals who had been married to women and had fathered children prior to transition.
The “Transgender Community” feels like a strange construct I was never part of. Not even when I was going through the process. When I went to San Francisco, searching for… Who knows what, answers, enlightenment, revolution… I didn’t go to the Tenderloin where I would have found a “Trans-Community”, I went to the Haight and later to Berkeley where I found a left wing radical community.
I had friends who dealt with transsexualism by getting SRS, but even then I was sort of the odd hippie lefty.
I felt more at home at the Women’s Building and working for the Lesbian Tide.
There is a myth that the Doctors discouraged us from being part of a “Trans-community” or even associating with other transsexuals. The reality was that once your surgery was over and done with the world opened up and you were no longer limited to the ghetto. As for friends? I found I didn’t have all that much in common with most other WBTs.
It isn’t like we all have the same back grounds and interests. Just being into esoteric folk music, jazz and punk rock instead of disco and divas made me seem weird to a number of my acquaintances.
Liking being behind my cameras better than modeling or fashion caused some sisters to think I was strange.
This may sound odd to people who are so totally caught up in Trans-World, whether as part of the Transgender Borg, Transgender Inc. or even the Transsexual Separatists who so enjoy fighting with both Transgenders and Lesbian Feminists, but I had both WBT and Transgender friends. They were nerds, artists, musicians, painters with geeked out living spaces. Some even built their own cabins in the woods and lived alternative life styles. Others haunted the surplus electronics stores or flea markets for parts to build computers and other gadgets or art assemblages.
Mostly though they could talk about something other than transgender this or transsexual that. We could hold intelligent conversations about various artists who were part of the New York school of abstract expressionists.
It wasn’t as though transsexual or transgender was the only thing we could talk about.
With so many, but not all of the separatists there seems to be an obsession with fighting with transgender folks. All their conversations are ever about is proving how different they are from transgender people. It is as though their entire sense of self is dependent upon not being transgender.
Add to that the homophobia that has reared its ugly head in both the transsexual and the Transgender Inc camps and I’m pretty disgusted. I’m a lesbian, not a lesbian separatist but the sort of lesbian, who considers herself part of the Gay and Lesbian Community. I don’t need a “T” grafted on or even a “B” although I’ve had both male and female lovers over the course of my life.
Homophobia, simple anti-gay and lesbian community sentiments separates me from both Transgender Inc (who I feel are just using the gay and lesbian communities.) and many of the Transsexual Separatists, who proclaim they are not queers, but heterosexual and that the Gay and Lesbian Communities are using them.
This gets very tired, very quickly.
I’m not a lesbian separatist. Yet I believe having a vagina between your legs is a qualitatively different life experience than having a penis there, no matter how hidden by feminine appearance and mannerisms that penis is.
Autumn Sandeen has labeled this genital surgery essentialism. Autumn also thinks castration makes one a woman, which is straight from Virginia Prince’s “How to be a Woman, Though Male.”
I don’t do gender. I see gender as sex roles in different, reactionary drag.
I believe women should be able to keep people with penises out of locker rooms, changing room and if they wish out of certain Women’s Music Festivals. Godless Goddess only knows women are excluded from enough places and one doesn’t see the hordes of Transgender Inc struggling to break down those barriers.
I shop at Walmart, with a list for those items that are 20-50-75 cents less per than at the other market. Yes I know Walmart’s policies suck. I also know the economic pinch. Last time Tina and I shopped there our Check Out Clerk was obviously Transgender, of the Gender Queer tribe, her friend, who seemed to be training her had visible tats and piercings. This in a suburb of Dallas.
It’s employment. So is Starbucks and other places that hire the non-conformists, the old, racial minorities etc. Why do I get the feeling when I listen to the professionals in Transgender Inc, that these are not the jobs they are talking about? Could it be because the phrasing of the language is so shallow as to cause me to think they are ignorant of matters like mandating employer paid health coverage, living wage and the way part time is used to keep people at an economic level where they can’t really afford to live.
Instead in the world of both Transgender Inc and the Transgender Separatists everything seems to be about transsexualism or transgenderism.
It’s a pretty privileged mindset on the part of both groups. There is a lot more going on in the world besides transsexual and transgender.
Many of us are poor, others are have issues of racial and ethnic prejudice to deal with. Yet others have substance issues.
But also, particularly those of us who are a long time past surgery have other interests.
Tina and I built a raised bed garden this year. We’ve had what seems like an endless summer of 100 degree F days and a drought that wiped out much of the effort except for the basil and other herbs. A friend of mine from Northern California put up pictures of the hen house she is constructing. I wrote her saying I envy her being able to have chickens.
This last week we went to a Move-On demonstration. We were out there in opposition to right wing austerity programs that threaten job as well as Social Security and Medicare. I post a lot about environmental concerns because it is one area I am concerned about.
Perhaps it is being post-transsexual for so long, twice as long as the time before I came out.
Things that concern people in both TG Inc and the Borg as well as much of what concerns the separatists is such ancient history that I feel completely detached from it.
I’m not particularly into “Trans-Culture”, if there is really such a thing. Most trans-themed movies bore me to death, when they don’t actively disgust me. Although I do like documentaries.
Much of the joy of being post-transsexual is being able to not give a shit about Trans-World. Being able to say, “This is not my fight because it is not part of my life.”
That doesn’t mean I wish you harm, or even that I oppose your cause. Hell… I support the human rights and equality of all people.
I am just not very passionate about taking up the banner of either Transgender Inc or for that matter joining in with those Transsexuals whose main focus in life seems to be fighting with the Borg and Transgender Inc.
I’d rather be part of the same movements I was part of before the whole Transgender Inc/Borg ever existed. The same movements I’ve always been a part of and felt comfortable with even when the Transsexual Menace and other Transgender Inc organizations were forming.
My news feeds are filled this morning with items about Chaz Bono appearing on “Dancing with the Stars.” Like this is supposed to be important to me. I’ve never once watched that show or for that matter “American Idol.” Hell I don’t generally watch the big three networks.
Anti-transgender violence isn’t the only violence I see. I see it in the context of a great deal more violence that is directed towards women, the poor, and other minority groups. I generally categorize anti-trans violence as anti-woman and anti-sex worker violence.
I don’t need a “T” to be part of the Lesbian and Gay Community. I’m a lesbian, who actually likes gay men. I’m repelled by the homophobia I see in both the Transgender Faction and in the Transsexual Faction.
Lesbians and gay men have been working towards marriage equality since the 1970s, long before the 1990s creation of the “Transgender Community”. They were passing anti-discrimination laws too. transgender Inc didn’t exist and wasn’t part of the Gay and Lesbian Community, which is why they weren’t included.
Indeed both Transgender Inc and the Transsexuals often avow their straightness and therefore have greater claim to being part of straight society than the Gay and Lesbian Community.
Either way, I have a life beyond the Gay and Lesbian Community.
I am very concerned with the environment. We have hit the Malthusian Limit. We are past peak oil and are in a climate crisis. We are not going to be able to feed the 7 billion people we have. We should pay people to not have children and charge people extra taxes when they have more than one. Zero Population Growth isn’t enough. We need to engage in population shrinkage because we do not have the two and a half planet earths we will need to feed the present population when we do not have oil.
To feed our present population we are currently consuming the solar energy that fell upon earth during the Carboniferous Period. “The Carboniferous Period occurred from about 360 to 286 million years ago. At the time, the land was covered with swamps filled with huge trees, ferns and other large leafy plants. The water and seas were filled with algae – the green stuff that forms on a stagnant pool of water. Algae is actually millions of very small plants.” (See: http://www.energyquest.ca.gov/story/chapter08.html)
I’m concerned about the wealth inequality in the US and other nations. The rise of insane religious cults that accompany the environmental crunch of too many people and too few resources.
Mostly though, transsexual is only one aspect of my life, more a part of my history than a part of my present. One element that is rarely ever the dominant element. Odd as it may seem even during the three years from coming out through getting SRS, transsexualism was only part of what was going on.
When I tune into what people in the Transsexual and Transgender Factions are constantly fighting about I find myself thinking, “Damn that’s really freaking obsessive.”
Then I look at the other things I could spend my time on and they seem both more productive and more fun.