Wednesday, August 26, 2009

So What?

In a recent post, Suzan Cooke, who has increasingly moved towards the transgender view, rejects the idea of Harry Benjamin Syndrome. I suppose that is supposed to be a slam against those who support that term, but actually as I have said before I would just as soon that Cooke not try to subvert the HBS movement. I am more than happy to not have her endorsement, as are many other people I know.

Of course, Cooke is never content to just reject something. She has to tell us how important she is. Of course, she doesn't always have her facts straight:

When the proposal was first floated by some one from Spain it was put forth as Benjamin Syndrome. Given my working class earthiness and anarcha-feminist streak I responded, “Bullshit!”. They went huh. I then pointed out that Benjamin Syndrome produced the acronym BS which in common American slang meant bulls**t. (expletive deleted)

Now the con artist floating this one pled that in Spanish it was Sindrome Benjamin. But I still wasn’t buying.

It then morphed in to Harry Benjamin Syndrome or HBS and I remained stoically unimpressed.

She sort
of has her facts half-way correct. When the term was first discussed, Benjamin Sydrome was considered. And yes, some jokes have been made about the acronym, but the actual facts are that Benjamin Syndrome is already a medical term. It was changed, not because Cooke pointed out what the abbreviation was, but because the term is already taken.

Now, I find it interesting that Cooke will say something like:

I honestly never saw transsexualism as a contest. Although class differences mean that those with the money have access to more and better surgeries. Sometime when I listen to the list of all the surgeries I have to wonder about the quest for the Mercedes Benz of pussies styled and shaped as though with Photoshop. Now I know that women born female get these customized pussy jobs too but still it seems a tad obsessive even considering I too had a labiaplasty way back when.

The whole game of I am more woman than you is pretty tiresome and evolving in a direction that has started sounding actually disturbed.

And then Cooke makes statements like:
I mean he said all the right things that I would get used to doctors saying, “Like you are one of the most perfect cases of transsexualism I have ever seen. and I’m sure that with you there is something physical.

I looked like a girl before I ever started hormones so I may well have not processed testosterone very well but I don’t feel a need to obsess on all sorts of different forms of intersex conditions to stake my claim on realness because realness is a way of life and not a genetic condition.
Funny, for someone who claims to not see transsexualism as a competition, Cooke is awfully persistent in letting us know how she looked like a girl even before hormones, and how Harry Benjamin told her how perfect she was.

Now, I have observed many times that the whole "more woman than you" concept is very male. I mean, how does one quantify womanhood? What is the base unit? It is really silly. Either you are a woman, or you are not. And if you feel the need to qualify your womandhood, with terms like "trans woman," "Woman Born Transsexual," or even "Woman Born Woman," then it really raises some questions. As one commenter said in response to Cooke:

Good. You stick with transsexualism or whatever it is you’re calling yourself today and I’ll use HBS. Better still, I’ll just stick to calling myself a woman, because that’s what I am and how I see myself, no dashes required.

HBS refers to a medical condition that I have that was treated. It is not an identity, like transgender, or WBT. I also have diabetes, but I don't identify as a Woman With Diabetes. It is just something I have, that requires treatment, and which would result in unpleasant consequences if I ignore it...just like HBS.

Now, if there is any question about what is going on in some people's minds, just consider the comment made by Cooke's partner, Tina, who is also a transsexual:

In its own way, HBS merely describes a syndrome to be treated. It does not in any way describe the person treated.

Someone treated for HBS can personally describe themselves as TG, TS, etc.

WBT on the other hand describes a WOMAN who was BORN transsexual. It speaks to the very antithesis of TG.

WBT cannot BE transgender. At the same time, WBT does not have to denigrate others. It is not a zero sum game.

Her first two sentences are quite accurate. Her second two are not. Cooke is, as has been observed several times, transgender in all but name. Tina is pretty much the same. So, her claim that WBT cannot be transgender is simply false. WBT, like transgender, is an identity game. It is a an artificial construct. It is not something objective, i.e. it does not "merely describe a syndrome to be treated." Instead, it is something one calls oneself...a sort of club one joins. Yes, a person with HBS might choose to join the TG club, or the WBT club, or even both. But as many have observed, you need both Cooke's and Tina's permission to be a "Woman Born Transsexual."

And no, HBS is not about denigrating anyone. Contrary to the mythology of the transgender types, disagreeing with then is not denigrating. Pointing out the silliness of their claims is not denigrating. And not wishing to embrace the concept of identity politics is also not denigration,

Oh, and I have noticed, while some transgender types are coming to embrace WBT, it does seem to drive the TG crowd into fits of panic and anger.


lisalee18wheeler said...

I must have struck a chord to have Tina respond.

anoldfriend said...

That was an interesting exchange Lisalee.

I was wondering how long it would take for this
Cooke's attack on classic TS to hit her blog.

I knew that was going to come after she got called out for what she is over at PHB.