Avoiding Being Part of the Transgender Community as a Survival Strategy

At this time of year, forty-three years ago I was working out the logistics of coming out.  Making doctor’s appointments, working with the welfare department and public health organizations to find exactly where I could go to get hormones and have a doctor who treated transsexualism.

One of the first places I went to was on Third and Mission in San Francisco, The Transsexual Counseling Service.

The sisters there imparted some very important words of wisdom.  Avoid prostitution, get job training, never live in the Tenderloin and avoid hanging out with drag queens because they will get you in trouble with the law.

Now these weren’t middle class sisters from suburbia.  They had lived in the Tenderloin, been part of what is now called the world of transgender, they had been prostitutes and were now in job training programs.

Fortunately I lived in Berkeley, didn’t know any TS or TG people and had a year and a half of college.  I had the support of assigned female at birth women when it came to learning how to conduct myself as a woman.  Friendships, advice and just people to talk with about the wall of sexism that I had been pretty oblivious to.  Male privilege bestowed based on the assumption of my being male permitted me to be blind to the level of crap women had to put up with on a daily basis.

I was lucky to come out in the world of left wing hippies with high levels of political consciousness that allowed me to analyze this sexism with a feminist perspective as that meant I saw it as the common life experience of all women and not as something specific to TS/TG women.

The next year I met and became friends with a queen who lived in Oakland and who did a safer form of sex work using ads placed in the Berkeley Barb. I wound up moving in with her and another sister.  I didn’t need an advanced degree in psychology to see the games or the self destructive life trajectories that Gina and Parrish were on.

I extricated myself from that living arrangement and picked up a boyfriend.  Love and lust were part of why I took up with him but there was also the reality that a woman alone in 1970 was prey.  Particularly if you were on the margins of society and didn’t have the protections of social structures such as family or school acting in loco parentis.

Later I went to work at that center where I first went for advice.  By then the culture of the place had changed and it was less Tenderloin and more in tune with the SF State Berkeley mindset.  I hit it off with Jan Maxwell, we became friends as well as co-workers.  But I was relatively selective as to who I became friends with from the people who went through the office as I could easily see there were quite a few seriously disturbed people with much more serious problems than I wanted in my life beyond the office.

It wasn’t the doctors who told us to get our surgery and assimilate into the non-transsexual world.  The whole point of getting a sex change operation was to be able to have an ordinary female life, experiencing the same sort of life that AFAB women experience.  That requires assimilation and letting go of the specialness of transgender.

One of the things radical feminists get wrong about post-transsexual women’s  cunts has to do with their short comings.  The short-comings i.e. infertility, menstruation are individual issues and society extrapolates from the general and not from the outlier.  If you have a vagina between your legs the rest of the world presumes that you have or will menstruate at some point in your life and they treat you accordingly unless you insist on going around proclaiming how you are transgender and proud.

When one gets hung up in transgender this transgender that or even obsesses on their transsexualism to the point where it is the only thing they ever think and talk about then they haven progressed much beyond transition.  It is like staying locked in a ghetto mindset.

The ghetto isn’t a healthy place to be.

Sex work isn’t healthy, either physically or emotionally.

Smoking weed is one thing.  It should be legal, like alcohol or even respected as a stress relieving medication.  The same can’t be said for all the prescription drugs so many sisters are strung out on.  Not the illegal drugs like speed, coke or smack.  A glass of wine with dinner is fine for those who don’t have problems with alcoholism, several drinks for breakfast not so much and maybe a warning sign.

Unfortunately it has been my experience that substance abuse issues are all to common in the Transgender Community and dealing with personal substance issues requires getting away from that community as part of the work of recovery.

Many in the Transgender Community gravitate to sex work including street prostitution and porn.  Street prostitution is the most kamikaze life choice one can make.  Every year the Day of Remembrance Lists are fill with the names of street prostitutes yet for all the political games there is little effort or even speaking out regarding street prostitution other than to condemn residents who complain about it going on in their neighborhoods as bigots.

Getting away from all that and getting away from other substance abusers and sex workers is a major step on the road to recovery.

Contrary to the guilt trips getting SRS does not obligate one to stay in a ghetto filled with self destructive people or to immerse oneself in a culture where such self destructive behavior is so common place.

I didn’t get sex reassignment surgery to be a post-op transgender person.  I got it to be a woman.

It is stressful and corrosive to spend the rest of my life listen to the Transgender Borg berate me as a separatist with an inverted penis.  The common verbal abuse dished out by the Borg towards any post-transsexual woman who is unwilling to remain in the snake pit of the Borg Collective destroys the emotional lives of post-transsexual women.

Avoiding being part of the Transgender Community isn’t an act of bigotry it is an act of self preservation.

5 Responses to “Avoiding Being Part of the Transgender Community as a Survival Strategy”

  1. catkisser Says:

    I concur completely……. Newly transitioned I had the luxury of idealism towards transsexuality because my contacts with trans people was mostly limited to the internut. My day to day life was working with other women, socializing with other women, a honourary member of the local lesbian communities. Because I had transitioned on my own terms the local gender therapist declared me out of bounds for “her” girls. This turned out to be the best break I ever got from anything trans.

    You transitioned to be real, so go forth and be real.

  2. Kathryn Truscott Says:

    Very well stated Suzan. I tell sisters entering the transition process to get their issues sorted before surgery, because SAS doesn’t make them all go away.
    As you imply, it’s tempting to just walk away and get on with life….. But then one remember how desperate and lonely things were sometimes and one feels an obligation to help where one can….xo

    • Suzan Says:

      I have a blog where I write and post things I think might help. I did more than my share 3D wise years ago.

  3. tinagrrl Says:

    I think just about everyone who was involved, in any way, with the TG/Drag Queen communities has thought they would hang around to provide support. I’ve seen it in people on line, and I felt somewhat that way myself.

    After a while it becomes almost impossible. Among other things, I found folks who would tell me that MY EXPERIENCE was NOT VALID. Here were folks who said what I went through, what I felt, how SRS changed me, how it appeared to me, was “incorrect”, “invalid”, “not true”, “MEANINGLESS”!

    Interesting — no?

    Here I was attempting to provide support — and getting ABSOLUTELY NONE in return.

    Mind you, these were usually conversations that I DID NOT initiate — folks asked, I answered — then they told me I was wrong, because “mere” SRS could NOT be that important/meaningful.

    Some of those folks went on to surgery — many said, “though not that important (facesaving), it was more profound than I expected.”

    Can’t stay with folks like that.

  4. saphirenz Says:

    …Makes perfect sense to me Suzan


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