Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Transgender Trouble

Like a lot of people who identify as having Harry Benjamin Syndrome, I object to the use of the label "transgender" to refer to me. While this is objectionable to those of us with HBS, it is also harmful to others who are included under the imagined "transgender umbrella."

One aspect of the so-called "transgender" paradigm seems to be that all people considered to be under the transgender umbrella are basically the same, with the only differences being a matter of degree. That is, the only "real" difference between a cross-dresser and a "transsexual" is the degree to which they feel their "gender discomfort." This of course is not remotely accurate.

Another aspect of the transgender paradigm is the belief in a sort of "transgender hierarchy." This view seems to hold that there is a ranking to the various types of transgender person. The most common such scencario holds that crossdressers are on the lowest rung, followed upward by transgenderists (people who live full time, but who do not desire surgery), then pre-op "transsexuals", with post-op "transsexuals" at the top of the heap. Other versions may include a broader group of catergories, such as differentiating between crossdressers, and "transvestites," which are defined as those who only have a fetishistic desire to crossdress, or drag queens.

All of this is silly enough, but it leads to view that is actually dangerous, the idea that one can "advance" up this hierarchy. Now, it is entirely possible that someone might misindentify as a crossdresser and actually be a "transsexual," just as it is possible that someone might identify as a "transsexual," but actually be a crossdresser. But this quickly become obvious. A person who is truly HBS is not going to remain comfortable with the concepts associated with crossdressing. If, for example, such a person joins a group like Tri Ess, they will quickly discover that they have nothing in common with others who identify as crossdressers. If they research the subject, they will soon discover that they do not relate to the ideas often expressed by crossdressers.

But, in other cases, a person who really is a crossdresser will decide, for various reasons, that they wish to pursue SRS. The problem with this, is that a crossdresser derives his desire to crossdress, and his pleasure, from the idea of being a male dressed as a woman. If he ceases to be a male, then he loses that. He may try to replace that with the idea that he used to be a man, and for some that works, at least for a while. But for many, as the truth sinks in, they become depressed.

The simple bottom line is, those who are happy as crossdressers should stay crossdressers. If they feel the urge to advance they should fight it at all costs. They will never be happy as women, no matter how much they may try to convince themselves otherwise.