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.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Absolute Silliness

Early in my transition, I came up with the phrase "I will not accept responsibility for other people's bigotry."  By that, I meant that I would not beat myself up because certain people had an issue with my transition.  I had a brother-in-law, for example, who was a bit of a celebrity in certain religious circles who rather stubbornly refused to use my proper name.  He offered the compromise that he would refer to me as "J" which I declined, because "Jay" is a boy's name, and besides, my name is Jennifer, not an initial.  I actually found it kind of amusing watching him stumble over language trying to avoid using either a name, or pronouns to refer to me.  And this was after he had to admit that he could not actually show, from Scripture, that I was doing something wrong.  It was clear that his concern about his image trumped any decency he might have shown me.

I simply refused to compromise my life for his, or anyone else's convenience.  I realized that he, and some others, did not recognize my transition as legitimate.  I simply considered the source and got on with my life.  Why should I let their ignorance, or prejudice, define who, or what I really am?

Well, of late, the transgender blogs have been going crazy over the "radfem's," i.e. radical feminists, mostly lesbian separatists, alleged bigotry against transgender people.  You would think the "radfems" were advocating murder the way the extremists are carrying.  And, in the expected return swing of the pendulum, Suzan Cooke has added her voice to the chorus.  Cooke, in her usual shrill hysteria, had compared the "radfems" to the Religious Right who Cooke hates with a passion.  Cooke, who recently seemed to have returned to a position in opposition to the silliness of the transgender extremists now sounds, again, like a clone of "Autumn" Sandeen and "Cristan" Williams.    

Now, personally, there is a lot that I would disagree with radical feminists over.  But, I can see some of their points specifically concerning "transgender" issues.  I mean, look at the transgender extremists who are now claiming that a man can become a woman simply by saying he is a woman.  Many are the radical feminists are far more comfortable with those who have undergone sex-reassignment surgery than those who simply change their wardrobe and then claim that also changes their sex.  I also can see some of their views concerning men who grew up enjoying male privilege who now claim to be fully women.  Those who most often identify as transgender, and those who tend to be the most radical proponents of that movement, are men who were rather late in life when they showed any inclination towards claiming to be a woman.  Prior to that, they were often transvestites, but they showed no real issues with their gender identity.  In fact, as crossdressers, they often identified as a man who was wearing women's clothes.  

I had gender issues from early on.  I did not have words to express what I felt, because I went through much of it during a time when such issues were well known.  I certainly never enjoyed male privilege, basically being seen as something of a "defective male."  People sensed that I was "different," and I was often accused of being a sissy.  I fought to avoid such a label at times, always unsuccessfully, simply because such a label generally led to being bullied.  But it was hard to hide the real me, and so I suffered.

But then there are those like "Autumn" Sandeen, who served for twenty years in the U.S. Navy, as a male, in a male-only position.  He had no problems, which, had he been transsexual, would have been impossible.  He likes to claim that in his last years he was harassed because he was perceived as "gay."  It is obvious that as his retirement approached, he was beginning to think of becoming a full-time crossdresser, rather than the part-time one he had been to that point.  And I am sure he began acting a bit effeminate.

I can certainly understand why the radical feminists would not want someone like Sandeen at their meetings.  He seems to fluctuate between acting very male and acting like a bad parody of a woman.  Likewise, other transgender extremists often come off as more male than anything else.  For example, check out "Cristan" Williams recent post where he puff himself up like a strutting peacock and postures in a very male manner about how he has "rewritten transgender history" in a year.  But that's a topic for another post.

No, I may not agree with the radical feminists, but I do understand at least some of where they are coming from.  They don't want men invading their space.  And their definition of men is a bit broad, including not only the men in dresses like Sandeen, but also post-op transsexual women.  Of course, I imagine more than a few post-op women might be among them without them knowing.  True transsexuals rarely have trouble assimilating in such situations.  They don't come across as men in dresses, and unless they choose to be open about their past, no one would know.

But, even some post-ops are going ballistic over the issue.  As I said, Suzan Cooke is in a complete snit over the issue.  Which is sort of surprising, but Cooke cannot seem to make up her mind which side she is on.  She has even apparently joined the chorus of transgender extremists who think that CeCe MacDonald should be placed in a women's prison, even those said person is physically a male.  In short, Cooke would negate the rights of every woman in a state prison in favor of a male criminal, simply because said person claims a female gender identity.  That surprises me.

The CeCe MacDonald case is a perfect example of why radical feminists would take such a dim view of "transgender."  Here is a person who committed a crime, and plead guilty.  Yes, it is argued that it was self-defense, but I have to wonder.  The case occurred in Minnesota, which is not exactly an anti-transgender stronghold, being the first state to pass a state-wide rights bill that included gender identity.  But, like pretty much anywhere else, those rights are tempered by common sense.  You don't put a man in a women's prison.  If you have a penis, you are male for certain purposes, no matter how you dress, what your ID says, or even if you live in a state that is insane enough to change your birth certificate like Sandeen has take advantage of.

The transgender extremists are trying to claim not only that MacDonald should get a pass on killing someone because of being black and transgender, but should also be allowed to be in a women's prison.  What a load of crap.  This represents an attack on women, not support for them.

Likewise, when transgender people attack radical feminists for wanting to maintain their vision of "women's space," I think it represents the inherent misogynistic tendencies of many in the transgender extremist movement.  And the same is true when radical feminists are attacked as viciously as they have been recently.  I don't agree with them, but I respect their right to hold views that are not the same as my own.

But then, transgender has never really been about has always been about a bunch of men wanting their way at the expense of women.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Misusing MLK...again.

It is no secret that "Autumn" Sandeen believes himself to be the transgender extremist version of Martin Luther King, Jr., an affectation that is both false, and insulting to the legacy of King.  But in his latest bit of silliness, he not only abuses what King actually meant, he pretty exposes  the real nature of transgender extremism, and again affirms why real transsexuals both disavow Sandeen, and want no part of his silliness.

When King said that the Civil Rights movement did not make "the white man feel comfortable" he was talking about people's conscience, their sense of right and wrong.  I grew up in Birmingham, AL, and I remember well the Civil Rights movement.  It worked because it was about doing the right thing.  People were mistreated simply because of the color of their skin.  If you were black, or as it was termed then, "colored," you had to use separate restrooms, separate water fountains, had to sit in the back of the bus, and in many cases, were not allowed to enter many restaurants.  People who challenged these laws were subjected to violence in the form of vicious dogs and fire hoses.  King himself was jailed simply for non-violent civil disobedience.  And the laws changed, and because people were effectively confronted with their bigotry, they changed as well.

What made people uncomfortable was their own behavior, their own prejudices that had no basis in anything real, but were simply born of what some would call human depravity.  King, who was a Christian minister, confronted this as, quite literally, the sinful behavior that it was.

But, when Sandeen talks about making people uncomfortable, he is talking about being the one doing things that are wrong.  He is talking about men such as himself, forcing themselves into women's spaces where he does not belong.  He is talking about forcing society to change the very rules that have guided humanity to this point.  He is not seeking to right a wrong, but instead is trying to force society to accept lies such as that women have penises, and that simply saying one is a female makes it so.

King's goal was not to make society uncomfortable, he was seeking to improve society for the benefit of all.  Sandeen is seeking to force society to accept things that are simply wrong.  People like Sandeen are not trying to persuade society to stop being bigoted against human beings for absurd reasons, but are trying to force society to accept behavior that is, quite frankly, unacceptable.  They are not seeking rights, but instead are seeking license to misbehave.

No, the transgender extremists derive their identity, and their pleasure, from making people uncomfortable.  That is their reason for existing.  Not to make society better, but to simply make society accept their own misbehavior.