Thursday, June 28, 2012

Transition Versus Transgression

I have been working on this post for a while.  During that time I have learned that, as some would say, "Great minds think alike.  There was a post at TS-SI that says almost the exact same thing I do in this post.  Scary in a first reaction was, "How did they know what I was saying?"  Of course, it is just coincidence, but still, it gives one pause.

Then, there was this response to a post by "Autumn" Sandeen at LGBT Weekly:
Living in the real world instead of some sub culture where what is freaky is normal, I have never seen any of the issues transgenders have seen.If only they would ether stay in the closet or have SRS and become real legal women instead of living some life that is a legal fiction all would be good.
There are lots of less than perfect looking women in the world, so Autumn and the rest, why don’t you live your life as legitimate females instead of some other.
And there was this rather frightening response to a question posed by same person making the above comment:
“why force your way into female spaces while still being male bodied?”
for the same reason you choose to attempt to ‘change’ who we are… BECAUSE WE CAN!
I would not want to encounter that person in ladies room.

There have been a lot of words devoted to the battle over "transgender" versus "transsexual."  On one side, you have those I refer to as "gender fascists" who demand that transsexuals accept the label "transgender."  On the other side, you have those that the gender fascists like to label as "transsexual separatists" in their attempts to force transsexuals back into line.  But the real question is, what is it that really divides these two groups?  That can be summed up in two words...."transition" and "transgression."

For me, and other true transsexuals, it is all about simply being who, and what, we really are.    After spending a portion of our lives in the wrong body, dealing with the public perception of how we should be, and struggling with all the problems this leads to, we finally take the steps necessary to correct things, and get on with a normal life.  We see ourselves as simply women, or in the case of FTMs, simply men.  We simply want to live the life we feel we have been cheated out of.

On the other hand, you have people who seem more interested in transgressing gender norms.  They have no desire to simply live their lives as normal men or women, but instead identify as "trans people."  At the far extreme, they go out of their way to insure that they do not even come close t fitting within gender norms.  Others seem to have no concept of how normal men and women act.  They may not go out of their way to completely transgress gender norms, but they often appear more as caricatures than anything else.

Those who are of the transgressive variety are usually very "out" about their past.  They not only have no desire to simply live as members of their "target" gender, they feel a strong need to be extremely open our being transgender.  And, they generally insist that others have an obligation to also be "out, loud, and proud."  They attack those who do not share their desire to be in other's faces as being ashamed, scared, closeted, etc.  They cannot grasp the simple concept that some might simply wish to live normal lives.l

Anyone who disagrees with the "transgender" paradigm, especially those who wish no part of the transgender label are viciously attacked.  We are accused of hatred, bigotry, and trying to tell others how to live their lives.  Actually, none of this is true.  The charge that we try to tell others how to live their lives is particularly absurd.  I would never insist that someone must, or even should, have sex reassignment surgery.  In fact, quite the opposite is true.  I would say that those who are adamantly "non-op" are making absolutely the correct decision for their selves.  I would have serious disagreements with those extremists who try to insist that everyone should forego surgery and simply accept living in their "chosen gender role" without surgery, but no, I would never insist that anyone "must" have surgery.

Now, I do not believe that those who are "non-op" are transsexuals.  I consider the term "non-op transsexual" to be an oxymoron.  If you do not have the absolute desire to change your sex, you are not a transsexual, and under no circumstances should you ever consider having irreversible surgery.  The results would be unsatisfactory, and possibly, even probably tragic.  Unfortunately, there really is a "transgender" hierarchy, and many see "transsexual" as the apex.  This is why some, such as "Autumn" Sandeen, insist on demanding the label "transsexual" even though hey have no desire to change sex.  They believe that calling themselves "transsexuals" increases their credibility, even though just the opposite is actually true.

I cannot relate to the desire of some for transgression.  I have no desire to be seen as anything other than simply a woman.  I take no pleasure in being identified as anything else. I do realize that people are driven by any variety of desires and motives, but that does not mean I accept them as proper.  Some people enjoy variant sexual practices, but I have no interest in them, and I find some highly disturbing.  The drive towards gender transgression often seems linked to this same behavior.  Many males who are drawn to "transgender" seem to have desires that are related to masochism.  They delight in the idea of forced feminization, and they often show belief in the idea of women being lower in status than men.  Some might choose to call me judgmental, but I find such attitudes to be distasteful.  I have actually seen some take delight in being treated poorly by chauvinistic males, claim such as affirmation of their femaleness.  Personally, I think it simply affirms their inherent misogyny., 

Of course, it is this misogyny that has led the radical feminists to attack the transgender movement.  And while I have serious disagreements with much of radical feminism, I can understand some of their views on this issue.  It is also what has brought vicious attacks from conservatives and the religious right.  Claiming that these attacks are rooted in "transphobia," hatred, and bigotry is a bit disingenuous. Much of it is simply an all too natural reaction to what is, quite frankly, often outrageous behavior.  I realize that is, to many who identify as transgender, or even transsexual, outright heresy.  But when you choose to go against societal norms, you have to take responsibility for the reactions, even if you disagree.

Of course, the great irony here is that the transgender extremists actually engage in pretty much the same behavior as those who so vehemently oppose them.  They have a world view, and they expect others to conform to that view.  Part of their problem, however, is that their view is very much a minority view, so they are not going to find the sympathy that they demand.  And when they don't get what they want, they react in anger and often resort to insults and attacks.

I have been taken to task by several transgender extremists, including Suzan Cooke, for refusing to conform to to the demanded "courtesy" of referring to anyone who claims to be a woman with female pronouns.  I hated to break it Cooke, but if I ever had the misfortune to meet "Autumn" Sandeen or "Monica" Roberts in person, I would still refuse to refer to them using female pronouns.  At best, if the situation required it, I would avoid using pronouns, but no, under no circumstances would I refer to either of these fellows as females, as they are not, and I am not going to lie just to make them feel better.  Cooke can toss out as many vulgar insults as she wants, but to be quite honest, I long ago realize that Cooke was basically a bad joke clinging to a conflated past that makes her think she is still way more important than she ever was in reality.

Sadly, while Cooke claims to oppose the use of "transgender" as an umbrella term, Cooke takes an unacceptable middle position, suggesting that "trans" be used instead.  Personally, I don't want to be identified as "transgender," "trans," or any other such term.  I am a woman, period.  Not a trans-woman.

Sadly, some simply cannot comprehend the idea that it is this concept of being "other" that we reject.  We do not identify with transgressive behavior, and we do not view ourselves as "transgressing" anything.  We have simply corrected our bodies, or in the case of pre-op "true transsexuals" in the process of doing so.  We are not seeking to become something we are not.  Quite the opposite in fact.  This is what makes is so absurd when a kook like "Cristan" Williams expends so much bandwidth trying to prove some silliness like his claims that, at some obscure point in time, some obscure person decided that "transsexual" was an umbrella term to be used like "transgender" is now, or that they decided to use "transgender" instead of "transsexual." So what?  At one point in time, someone who was a homosexual male described himself, and other homosexual men, as "women trapped in men's bodies."  Now, I seriously doubt that one could find very many, if any, gay men who would remotely identify that way now.

Sadly, the process of transition often brings us into contact with those who are motivated by desires born of transgression, and even more sadly, some have trouble shaking off that association.  And some, for whatever reason, find themselves drawn to it, embracing it as part of their personality. They don't realize that it actually divides them from the community of women that they worked so hard to be a part of.

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