One of the big lies pushed by both the Transgender Borg Collective and Transgender Inc. is that the Doctors warned us as pre-ops not to hang out with other sisters and to never ever have other sisters as friends after SRS.
The first part of that proposition is obviously contradicted by the existence of transsexual peer support groups run by and for pre-op transsexual women that actively worked with various medical professionals.
We were the ones who generated the advice that if you were in the process of changing your sex from male to female perhaps it might be a good idea to actually associate with assigned female at birth women. After all you don’t really learn about being a woman from drag queens or even other transsexual folks who are going through the same process you are.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s there were other reasons. for one thing the police arrested both queens and transsexuals who congregated together in the ghettos. Especially if the places they congregated were known centers of prostitution. Hence the our advising each other to not go and hang out in those places.
Those places were pretty shitty places to become anything other than a “trannie hooker” and substance abuser. You see with few exceptions nearly every bar I’ve ever been in that was predominantly a Drag bar/Trans bar has been a focal point for prostitution and other forms of criminal activity.
Advising transsexuals in the process of becoming women and hopefully integrating into the world of women to avoid these places and this culture makes sense.
As does suggesting the avoiding of people whose lives revolve around such places.
The purpose of our getting sex change operations was to become women, not to become post-op transsexuals.
We looked at Sex Reassignment Surgery as a pivot point. On one side of that pivot point we had a lot in common with queens and transgender people after we had our sex change operations we didn’t.
There is a difference between being a woman and being a transvestite, even a full time transvestite like transgender folks.
What ever happened to the idea of getting your sex change operation to become a woman and then actually doing just that, becoming a woman?
Beth and I have actually known each other since the early 1970s even though we lived in separate spheres with only occasionally intersecting paths. In a recent e-mail exchange I mentioned how my being accepted in the gay and lesbian/feminist world grew out of my having first been in SDS, then the feminist movement, gay and lesbian liberation etc., including being involved in the LA Women’s Building. In other words my becoming feminist and lesbian was part of my growth and development.
I learned about feminism through reading all of the radical feminist writers including, Solanis, Millett, Firestone, Bunch etc. I also listened to women folksinger/songwriters and women’s music. Read women’s literature including fiction and memoirs. I listened to women and learned. The first year I started living as Suzan (1969) I was still living in the remains of our Action Faction commune. The guys knew I needed private space so they let me have the big room at the back. I furnished it with India Tapestries, and stuff salvaged from the streets including a record player. It became our living room as well as my room. We would get stoned on weed in the evening and when it was time for bed they would go off to their spaces and I would close the door and listen to a Laura Nyro album.
In short I immersed myself in woman culture, filled in the gaps my socialization by proxy had left me with. That first year I was the only person with transsexualism I spent my time with. Instead I spent my time with my female friends and learned from them.
I gradually became part of the sisterhood of women and especially after I took a Marine Corp deserter as a lover and sheltered him garnered their respect. I was in the process of becoming a woman not a transsexual and especially not a transgender forever.
Quote from e-mail with Beth:
Me, too. The DOB women (SF and LA) gave me a chance to prove myself. Funny, but some TS women do that while the TG “accept me and my penis as a woman” crowd has no clue about that … I have a new housemate with a trans friend of whom she’s remarked on the lack of women’s/feminist books on her bookshelf.
Think about that for a moment…
Now consider those people wedded to the Transgender Community. So caught up in that transgender community that every thing is seen through the culture of transgender, so isolated from the lives of ordinary women and men that they coined new words to describe those ordinary women and men. I’m speaking of “cissexual” and “cisgender”. Everyone in that isolated world is caught up in an ideology of”identity” and “identifying as” Identity trumps physical being in that world.
In Transgender World one learns about gender and being a woman from “gender theory” and from other transgender, transvestite and transsexual people.
But this is a really fucked up way to learn about being a woman. You learn about becoming a woman from other women, like Simone de Beauvoir says, like Diane di Prima said in her book My Life as a Woman. You do not learn about being a woman by absorbing the corporate message produced via the male gaze.
Within the collective you learn about being a woman from drag queens and those few women who make a career out of the abetting of cross dressers. Or you learn it from the advertising and fashion industry where womanhood is seen through the unmediated male gaze, which is in turn used to sell the generally male idea of what a woman should be.
You do not learn about being a woman though men, not even through gay men. Nor do you learn about being a woman from spending most of your time around drag queens and heterosexual transvestites, even the ones that live full time as women. You don’t learn about being a woman just from other transsexuals. You might learn stuff you need to know to cope with the special problems transsexualism adds to being a woman, but unless they learned what it means to be a woman from women they make lousy role models.
Another message is clear, outside the hermetically sealed world of the Transgender Borg Mothership is a terrifying and threatening place where one will be absolutely alone.
Think about that one for a moment too…
There are two different basic reactions after sex reassignment surgery. Most of us look at those in the Transgender Borg collective and think this is insane. “After all I didn’t get a sex change operation to be a transsexual. I got a sex change operation to escape being transsexual and to become a woman.”
Then you have the Transgender Inc. women, who are sort of enablers. They are often terrified to leave the collective because their whole life is caught up in it.
Now those are admittedly the descriptions of the extremes of both groups with most people neither fully denying or fully embracing their past or any connection to the Borg.
What I learned and what the sisters that I remained friends with learned after the period of time we spent in the programs is that friendship with other sisters required something other than our all having had the same operation.
We also found ourselves bored with the whole transsexual/transgender scene.
Pre-ops ask us to stay and offer support, look to us for words of advice and don’t want to hear what advice we have to offer.
Staying in the transgender community means never actually becoming a woman. Instead it is remaining in limbo somewhere between the sexes and genders. If that is your trip, you are welcome to it. It was a strange and alien space for me even when I was pre-op, most non-transsexual members of Transgender nation are pretty dull and boring people focused on only themselves with little clue as to what being a woman is all about. It isn’t their fault. How could they know? They have enveloped themselves in this Transgender Borg Cult and isolated themselves from experiencing life as a woman.
Hell half the time listening to them is like reading one of those transvestite behind the pink door type fantasies.
Add to this the demeaning way people in the Transgender Community verbally abuse post-transsexual women who have the audacity to say, having actual sex reassignment surgery creates a different life experience from hiding your penis and testicles behind a gaffe, or even keeping your dick and calling it a clit after you’ve had your nuts cut off.
Any one who continues to live in Transgender World after having SRS should really engage in some serious self-examination.
Lately it has become popular to bash the Benjamin Standards of Care, especially the part about the “real life test”. In the summer of 1969 I saw Dr. Benjamin. When we met he asked me why I had come to him. I said I was transsexual and his response was, “Why would a lovely young woman like you want to become a man?”
When I straightened him out and he discovered I had only been on hormones four or five months and had only been full time for a couple months he told me he would sign a surgery recommendation for me in a year or two because as feminine and pretty as I was I still had to do the RLT.
By the way the RLT, didn’t mean transitioning in place and continuing to work where everyone knew you before. It meant leaving the previous life and developing a new one. Becoming a woman or man as the case may be, not being accepted as transgender. Therefore you had to either attend school full time or get an actual job (Easier said than done when one had scanty identification and the Driver’s License folks wouldn’t give out ID with appropriate sex designation until after SRS. But people were better and more open in those days before Reagan)
Today when I look at people who stay in the “Transgender Community” after having SRS I sort of find them kind of sad, pathetic in a way, like a bird who has never learned to fly.
I know why they stay there though. Many were men in prestigious positions and the loss of male privilege entailed with the process of actually being women, the having to start over to build the same sort of career in a world where women are discriminated against seems too much to ask. Many relish the power of being spokes people for Transgender Inc. Living at the top of a professional activist organization, fed by the donations of many who make up the Transgender Borg.
I’d rather be a grunt, a nameless faceless worker in the women’s movement or the eco movement. Writing pamphlets or passing them out than be a leader in Transgender Inc.
This is because I had a sex change operation to become a woman, not to become a post-op transsexual still living in the Trans-Ghetto.
I can understand the lure of the Ghetto. The first couple of years after I had SRS and bought my first Nikons I spent a good deal of time hanging out in and photographing the Hollywood Trans-Community.
I enjoyed the sort of star status. Then I got raped. I discovered that the Trans-Community had basically a male or maybe gay male attitude towards rape.
I started observing and saw how androcentric/male gaze oriented most transgender people’s ideas of women were. I also saw the misogyny and contempt that most of my transgender friends held for assigned female at birth women.
I discovered I was spending less and less time with transgender folks and more time with women. I discovered the more time I spent with women and the less time I spent with transgender folks the more I became part of the sisterhood of women and the less I had in common with the sisterhood of transgenders.
I was a pioneer, I co-ran what was probably the first peer to peer transsexual counseling service after the people who started it moved on into their post-transsexual lives. I felt guilty about abandoning “the community”. So I went back periodically.
What I found was that I was treated like a star. The first reactions toward me was that I was a lesbian social worker or a lesbian working with the LA Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center and not a post-transsexual. Then people would encourage me to take positions of leadership, which lasted until they realized I hadn’t done the Transgender Borg post-graduate work and received my doctorate in gender studies.
Being an unreconstructed 1960s and 1970s era left wing hippie feminist dyke meant that I had a tendency to listen to the post-modern wordy rapping games and offer up a serious critique by calling it a pile of bullshit.
Now when pre-op transsexual sisters, the ones actually surgery tracked instead of post-modern word salad tracked come to me and ask for my advice I tell them.
Avoid the Transgender Community, or if you do get involved in it make that only a very minor part of your life. Immerse yourself in the culture of women. Not the male gaze oriented surface culture found on television and in fashion magazines but actual woman culture. Read women like Doris Lessing, Simone de Beauvoir, Erica Jong, Marilyn French. Read women’s fiction along with the non-fiction.
Become a woman not a transsexual. Transsexual was something you were born and get an operation to get away from being.
Having been born with transsexualism does not require you to live forever in Trans-world. Be like those of us who were the pioneers. Get your sex change operation to become a woman with out a prefix.
Letting yourself get sucked into the role of post-op transsexual star within the ghetto of Transworld is like entering an abusive relationship. People praise you as long as you are the enabler, as long as you meet their needs, as long as you say and do exactly what they want. But if you start to think for yourself or start to question the dogma they turn on you with a ferocity similar to that seen in the Communist Party USA during the Stalin and post-Stalin era. Say something that contradicts the gospel of the Transgender Borg or Transgender Inc, something like, “I feel differently about my body and genitals now that I am post-op…” and you will find the abuse starts.
Say something like, “I feel I am being erased and my being is being disappeared by the imposition of the Transgender Umbrella, as I do not feel I have that much in common with much of the “Community” and you will be ostracized. The ostracizing will seem straight out of a playbook describing what happens to Scientologists who question the dogma of Scientology.
I got Sex Reassignment Surgery to be a woman, most other sisters I am friends with who had the same operation I had have voiced a similar intent.
Look around at how the idea of assimilating into the world as an ordinary woman is treated by the inhabitants of Transgender World. Look at the contempt aimed at those who live in the real world as the sex to which they have been surgically reassigned and fit in. Separatist and assimilationist are the nicest things the Transgender Borg say about us. I don’t want to hear your whining guilt trips about how you will never be a beautiful woman. There’s that male gaze again. Neither will the vast majority of assigned female at birth women.
If you do not wish to be constantly guilt tripped about your ability to assimilate into the real world as a woman then you had better get away from Transgender World where they will lay heavy numbers on you if you aren’t constantly “out”.
What kind of life is that?
Better to keep your distance from the “Transgender Community” if you are really transsexual and want to become a woman and not a post-op transsexual member of the Transworld Ghetto.
Better to make the Transgender Ghetto a place to maybe visit or play and not the core of your live.
Better to get your sex change operation and move on, get a life in the real world and say good-bye to the Ghetto.
Integrate and assimilate into the world of women instead.