Denigrating Sexy Feminine Transsexual/Transgender Women

Not all transsexual/transgender women are ultra feminine.

Indeed, in what is almost a mirror of cradle women’s patterns, only a minority of women born trans fall into that category.

Often they are the models, the pageant contestants and women who gain  notoriety.

While attacking cradle women for being “too feminine” is considered to be taboo according to feminist principles, that taboo does not protect women born trans who are deemed too feminine.

It isn’t the gate keepers who demand this.

One of my late friends was an ultra femme sister from the American South, exaggeratedly feminine in every way imaginable and then some.  She floated down the street like a cloud of lavender perfume, she was an other worldly sort of feminine.

Yet she was genuine in that femininity even in a world where that doesn’t get you very far and where it brings constant disappointment.

She was a character out of a Tennessee William’s play or a Truman Capote novella.

Dr. Laub asked me for my evaluation of her when Stanford was deciding whether or not to do her SRS. She was one of two sisters, both of whom were very dear friends of mine he  asked me about.

He was used to the sexualized manipulative femininity many transsexuals, myself included, used as part of our collection of survival tools.

But her ethereal femininity was novel.

I explained that part of it was cultural, the southern belle aspect,which would lead to my describing my friend in later years as the faded flower of the Confederacy. But that she was also a genuine hopeless romantic.

She wasn’t putting anyone on.  Her behavior could just as easily be annoying as charming.  It was just who she was and to deny her surgery because her femininity didn’t match up with the more worldly sexy femininity of some of us who came off as “California Girls” (even though I was from up state New York) would be wrong.

She got her surgery and lived much of her life in melancholia, as the real world could never match her romantic fantasies.

I was the cute casual sort of femme. Even in a black leather jacket.

I was described by my sisters as a natural beauty wonder, curvy naturally feminine body and cute without a whole lot of make-up. I aroused jealousy among my sisters.

In lesbian bars and at events I was femme without trying.

I also came off as ‘real’, something that is called into question these days in TS/TG circles as being a disreputable social construct.

I honestly don’t give a shit about what Germaine Greer, Sheila Jefferys or any other self appointed radical feminist says about transsexual and transgender people.  Thinking they have something valid to say is like thinking the Christo-Nazis are right about LGBT/T people.

I’ll go one step further.  Nothing they have to say is relevant.

Denigrating Sexy Feminine transsexual/transgender women is just another form of slut bashing that denies women the right to be feminine or for that matter trashy and slutty.

I won’t go into how TS/TG sisters who looked just like all the other Birkenstock, jeans and t-shirts dykes were trashed for deceiving real lesbians into going to bed with them.

Never mind TS/TG women can’t please certain factions of radical feminists with anything we do, short of suicide.

As another late friend of my who was an example of the surgically enhanced form of sexually manipulative femininity put it, “Every procedure except my sex change operation was developed for and is used on women from breast implants to facial sculpting.”

She was right.  Transsexual and transgender women didn’t develop the form of femininity they are being chided for following.  Why are they criticized for it when cradle women are not?

Unless we are seen as fake women and by extension fake humans we are entitled to the same presumption of naturalness as normborns.

We are after all your sisters and brothers.  John Rechy said something to the effect that queers are the only minority that is born into the families of the oppressors. Well, TS/TG people were born into the same sets of gender indoctrination that non-trans folks were.  We are just as much family as you are.

Are we supposed to be immune to the corporate brain washing/indoctrination of gender?

What it it isn’t about is pleasing gate keepers? (See Natalie Reed’s “Mandated Femininity”)

What if our femininity, including those who seem to buy into every Vogue advertiser’s version, of it is driven by the exact same insecurities.  It might not be the world’s greatest thing for women, be they trans or non-trans to be so insecure that they would have hot wax poured on their pubes and then have them ripped out but there are people with advanced degrees in the art of psychologically manipulating people into buying that service.

It is bullshit to condemn the TS/TG woman for succumbing to that manipulation when you give non-trans women a pass.

There is a presumption regarding TS/TG women that since we had boy parts at birth we were socialized the same way men were.  This is a variation on the exoticizing that attributes special insight into what really sexually pleases men because after all “you were a man.”  Or the even more bizarre version “you were born a man.”

Well no… I was born transsexual, I grew up transsexual and when I finally came out it was a matter of just admitting something I had been abused my entire life for being.

When all that “socialization” stuff was going on I was wondering why they were trying to force the male version onto me.  It felt like abuse.

I had to hide and be ashamed of and learn the socialization that felt right for me in secret.

When I was caught learning femininity I was verbally punished, threatened with commitment to a mental institution or being thrown out.  Stuff that actually happened to friends of mine.

When I came out, a transsexual sister and a transgender sister were the people who gave me permission to be as girly girl as I wanted to be.  To cut myself free from the shame. I was 22 at the time and that wasn’t too old to enjoy being like a teenage girl.

I went through my hot sexy babe phase, my groupie phase.

I don’t like puritans.  Mostly they tend to be Stalinistic assholes, always ready to judge others as not meeting some sort of imaginary standard.

Emma Goldman supposedly never said the “If I can’t dance at the revolution, then it is not my revolution.” But among other things she was an advocate of free love.

What good is freedom, if it is only freedom to obey some form of puritanical standards laid down by the new dictator.

The who sang, “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.”

A lot of the extra feminine phase that many TS/TG women go through is due to their having the same insecurities as women raised from the cradle to have those insecurities.  Some of it is probably hormonal.  Both male to female and female to male transsexuals and transgender people get smacked into a second puberty when they go on hormones.

Cut them a little slack.  Try to remember how you acted during your puberty.

Give them the benefit of the doubt they’ve lived their lives in shame and doubt prior to coming out.  If they aren’t sure what is right it is because they are learning.  They don’t need people emotionally beating up on them.

Before you judge some one look at their culture.  Not just their ethnic or racial culture but the subcultures they are a part of.  If they look like a hiphop artist and they are part of that culture then they shouldn’t be measured by upper class white suburban standards when it comes to deciding what is over the top.  The same goes for Goth or Punk cultures.  Just as my late friend who grew up in the south was shaped by her culture.

We are all individuals including TS/TG people.  Everyone has the right to be their own person, even when being their own person means being ultra feminine.

Or for that matter when creating themselves becomes performance art.

Try to remember there are real people being beaten up emotionally by the attacks on transsexual and transgender femininity.

7 Responses to “Denigrating Sexy Feminine Transsexual/Transgender Women”

  1. Flow In Says:

    there’s a lot of internal attacks too. the one i hear the most from TS and TG is being ‘privileged’, simply for looking good. its nasty and bitchy and mean. Some of us are naturally pretty, some of us stunning. some of us have good dress sense and an understanding of how to use makeup and hair and accessories. some of us don’t. should we all look average out of some kind of twisted solidarity?

    on top of that, the way we see ourselves may contrast heavily with the way we present. My self image was that i was really butch and masculine, but i’m told i’m really fem. who knows? who actually cares? Finding reasons to hate someone is easy, and lame. It is hard enough to be yourself in this world, without people bashing you for fitting in to society in a way that is ok for anyone else.

    But then, go down to the pub and take a look. Where i live, bogan non-fem is the normal look for women. We are talking black jeans etc. Maybe the younger girls are allowed to dress like tarts. If a middle aged woman walks in looking fem (good hair, makeup, dress, fem attitude) apart from looking like a brightly feather bird in a bunch of crows, she’ll get tons of negative attention. this bitching? its not a TS thing, its a woman thing… where fitting in is a social requirement, and if you are going to go outside the norms, you better be strong, and better be being true to yourself, otherwise you’ll get torn down.

    • Suzan Says:

      Interesting thought.

      I’ve long been bothered by the idea that privilege can be measured using only one metric and is absolute.

      Often time the sisters who are the prettiest and most passable were the very ones who had their childhoods destroyed by massive physical and emotional abuse.

      Where as those who have the hardest time after coming out are less likely to have had their lives destroyed by abuse and are more likely to have degrees and positions of privilege which they lose.

      I have a bunch of posts I’m mulling over.

      But I’m currently very busy working on a book.

  2. Karen Says:

    “the one i hear the most from TS and TG is being ‘privileged’, simply for looking good. its nasty and bitchy and mean.”

    It goes both ways really.

    Mostly that happens when those that look good and pass well look down on those who are not and do not and seem to think those are less ‘real’ or not really TS, or different from them in some basic way.

    Both tend not see the or understand the struggles of the others, or minimize them…

    That said, going through this and STILL not being really accepted as who you are by society in general for the rest of one’s life because you are easily readable sucks big time, even today.

    It sure can look like it’s preferable to have a better present and future in that sense with very painful past than having different types of pain before and after more visible pain after.

    But I think the truth for many, no matter how they look or how well they pass or not, is that there is always some pain from being TS no matter what…

    – Karen

  3. Flow In Says:

    how did i know that was coming? why is it that someone pretty is instantly assumed to be ‘looking down’. that’s crap, and comes from people placing others on pedestals. it is a typical statement made by otherwise beautiful TG folk, who have issues with their own masculinity.

    for a natal female, being beautiful is a mixed blessing. it leads to social isolation, as people won’t come and talk to them or include them in their groups because they are shy. Guys are given the advice to ‘go up and talk’ to pretty girls, because they are ‘absurdly grateful’ (a consequence of their isolation).

    i’m speaking in generalities, to avoid exposing myself. I should get real.

    I’ve met TS women who are not pretty. Do you think i think i’m better than them simply because i was lucky with my genetics? Really? That’s insulting. Going through the process of being born TS, dealing with self-acceptance. Accessing hormones and Surgery. Dealing with family and friends, dealing with being just different enough to have to face outing. These life events don’t create nasty people. They create people with compassion and understanding.

    I’ve had to go through social stigmatisation. How many TS women do not? Even the really really ridiculously beautiful ones will have to deal with their own issues and it is NOT straightforward or easy. So of course when we meet other people born with the same issues, we’ll understand, have empathy (and i’m very low on that generally) and be far less judgemental than other people who do not share the same experiences. I am so over being painted with this slander of “looking down upon”, and i’m not even a head turner. it is HURTFUL. its like having a stranger look at you and tell you how horrible you are, for no good reason. it is BIGOTED and JUDGEMENTAL. STOP IT.

    yes. life is hard. yes, for some of us it is harder than others. All that any of have to do is be brutally honest – WITH OURSELVES – and deal with it, as best we can. the same is true for all natal women.

    • Suzan Says:

      When people fail to recognize the damage done to the pretty transkids who couldn’t pass as boys and compare it to having to deal with being treated poorly as adults they are failing to empathize with how many fewer defenses kids have. How children lack the defense mechanisms adults develop over the years.

      But my comment wasn’t about using narrow focus sets of metrics to base these things on.

      The entire oppression Olympics is sort of bullshit until you realize one can simultaneously be privileged in one area and completely lacking in privilege in another that is of similar importance.

      But attacking those who are pretty and pass easily after putting them on a pedestal is sort of bullshit.

      Consider this Karen that young pretty sister could have been abused to the point where she grew up to be a sex worker with a drug habit and could be just as easily looking at you think, “what a privileged bastard with her degree. who is she for thinking my being pretty and not pitying her makes me a bitch. she doesn’t have to have sex with strange men, she has alternatives.”

  4. Karen Says:

    “How did i know that was coming? why is it that someone pretty is instantly assumed to be ‘looking down’.”

    It does happen but I did not say all did it … Some do and some are very blatant about it… It happens enough that it’s worth commenting on. I’ve seen it both on-line and in person.

    I think it tracks back to insecurity or other emotional damage… something I think many of us from all backgrounds never completely heal from.

    Not talking about pity, but respecting who they are…

    I’m also talking about how much looks matter to many and affects people’s views … both of those with (or without) the looks and those that see/interact with them (which of course is a feedback loop). Going through this does not change human tendencies. Look at groups in high school (often based on looks) and how they treat/view those that that are not in their group…

    While it is wrong in either direction, even among TSes, the looks of a TS tends to grant (or detracts from) the perceived validity of identity. From what I’ve seen, that seems undeniable.

  5. tinagrrl Says:

    Errr — How’s this — being trans brings with it a cluster of abuses. We have all been abused, one way or another. We have all lived “The Life Of The Lie” (TM applied for) – one way or another.

    So, young, beautiful trans-women can seem almost “magical” to an old crone who is just (finally) coming out — while that young woman can look at the same old crone and envy her accomplishments, her education, her “normal” life (even if it never WAS “normal”).

    It’s very easy to talk over, against, at cross purposes, without even communicating TO each other.

    I found a lot of the young trans-women at The Edelweiss, a notorious “tranny-bar” in N.Y.C., to be very helpful — as soon as they realized I was not a trick or in opposition to them. It also helped to see them as HUMAN, ask THEIR advice, and be respectful – while asking for the same in return.

    It can be hard and lonely for ALL OF US!

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