I Just love the David Barton Like Approach to Transgender History That Operates on Virginia Prince Myth Rather Than the Lives of Actual Transsexual Women and Men

Recently Calpernia Addams and Andrea James have discovered what it feels like when the myth lovers of the Transgender Borg declare you obsolete.

It is sort of like a right of passage into post-transsexual status.

The Community of all knowing Newbies have pronounced, “That was then, this is Now.”

Then they proceed to whip out Virginia Prince generated stereotypes of what transsexuals were supposed to be like if they were actually women.

Thing is from Christine Jorgensen and Roberta Cowell forward damned few transsexual women and men fit the stereotypes that Virginia Prince and followers tried to foist upon us.

Further if you look in the early medical books regarding transsexualism you will find how big a role the Prince of many names played in the creation of this mythology.

When I read something like the piece in Huffington Post: Parker Molloy Does Not Hate RuPaul I am forced to speak out against the perpetuation of mythology worthy of the David Barton medal of historical lies and distortion.

Recently a public dispute erupted between the transgender old guard and the new wave of trans* advocates and journalists. This kind of thing is not new. When I was a young transgender woman coming to terms with my own gender identity, I recall vividly how many transsexuals found it offensive to be lumped in with crossdressers and gender queer individuals. I don’t think I quite understood the concept yet of “transsexual separatists,” but I often heard women speak about the differences between transsexuals and transgender people. Most of the transsexual women I knew had gone to Trinidad, Colo., in the 1970s and had received what was then called a “sex change operation.” These women were students of Dr. Harry Benjamin and had been convinced that once they had physically transitioned they must join “straight” society and then marry and live obscure lives in the suburbs.

I must be clear here when I tell you that Benjamin was a pioneer in recognizing that trans* people deserved the best medical care known to him at that time. From all accounts he was a doctor who understood that people presenting as gender-variant required a doctor to oversee their transition. On the other hand, Dr. Benjamin still did not understand that gender is not binary and in many instances, he pushed patients to learn to be attracted to members of the opposite sex. These were the very early days of gender confirmation in the United States.

Over the course of the following 50 to 60 years, much has been learned about the spectrum in which gender lies. The purpose of mentioning the early days of the transgender moment is that it directly connects to what our community is presently experiencing.

First bit of mythology and total bullshit (These women were students of Dr. Harry Benjamin)

I first came out to my parents in 1962, they had discovered a bunch of clippings from a tabloid featuring April Ashley’s life story including transition and sex change operation.  They asked me if that was what I wanted to be.  I said, “That’s what I am.”

When I came out in 1969 I was in the Bay Area and a number of sisters had laid the ground work, there were doctors at a public health clinic they had educated as to our needs.

There were a number of places we could get our sex change operations.

I was a left wing hippie radical in Berkeley at the time, aiding deserters and draft evaders.  I was afraid of the Tenderloin and never went there.  My friends were other left wing hippies.

Later I became involved with the National Transsexual Counseling Unit.  I taught doctors and others about transsexualism.  Oh Dr. Benjamin wrote my surgery recommendation.

I went through the Stanford Program, including the group sessions which were as diverse if not more so than similar sessions I visited in the 1990s.

It was 1972 and I met damn few sisters with stereotypical white picket fence dreams.  Indeed feminism was as popular with us as it was with non-trans women.  Maybe more so as most states wouldn’t change birth certificates and marriage legality was sketchy at best.  After all we knew what April Ashley had gone through.

Those of us who got our SRS in those early days included folks like Lynn Conway and others who helped make the tech industry a career of choice for so many of us.

A lot of us were dykes.  I came out after SRS and after breaking up with a boyfriend of three years.  Became a photographer, worked for the Lesbian Tide.

A few, a minority got married.

Then in 1980 Jon Meyers and Paul McHugh of Johns Hopkins came out with a study that pronounced Sex Reassignment Surgery a failure because so few of us conformed to the white picket fence stereotypes.

You see those stereotypes were more in the 1950s era imagination of Dr. Benjamin.  Contrary to popular thought his book wasn’t written in 1966 but was a compilation of articles written between 1950 and 1966.  It reflects the Feminine Mystique and little more.

I never called myself a Benjamin girl or Stanford girl, I was my own woman.  Most of us were.

Wrong statement. 2.:  (required a doctor to oversee their transition) Doctors were prescription writers, nothing more.  I saw more psychiatrists as a model client in an attempt to get the government to pay for SRS than I saw at Stanford as part of their pre-surgery screening process.  On doctor I went to when evaluating surgeons required only Dr. B’s letter and a letter from my prescribing physician.

All the requirements for psych professionals and doctors overseeing ones transition is a post 1980s era invention.

Fuck you and the “Transsexual Separatist” slur.  It is a tired piece of shit used to beat people up and keep them part of something long after they should have gotten on with their lives.

I had SRS over 40 years ago there are far more important things in my life than a bunch of whiny oh so sensitive trannie newbees demanding long time sisters and brothers hang around and wipe their noses.

Many of us lived lives on the edge and  face old age in poverty.  We aren’t all professional transgender care givers, paid to wipe noses.

Besides which there is more to life than just being trans*.

Most of us have lives and interests other than something we had an operation for many years ago.

Besides which the new generation knows everything there is to know and have rewritten history just like David Barton did to bolster their unwavering belief in a way of thinking that is pretty damned alien to those of us who went before.

I have my friends who are trans* but I am not part of “the Teans-Community.”  If I am a part of any communities they are defined by things like hippie or old, or swap meet folks.


2 Responses to “I Just love the David Barton Like Approach to Transgender History That Operates on Virginia Prince Myth Rather Than the Lives of Actual Transsexual Women and Men”

  1. Deena Says:

    Thank you.

  2. Edith Pilkington Says:

    Right on, Suzan. Still haven’t forgotten how to say that.

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