June 23, 2011

"You are not one of us!" said the separatist transsexual

The separatists  transwomen intensify their attacks on crossdressers and "transgender", immensely fearful of contamination by association.

White Pride

Separatist ideologue and HBS International general, Rose White, has now declared war on the presence of drag queens in Pride Parades in Calder-dale, Britain. The argument:

“Drag queens – homosexuals dressed as women – and drag kings, women dressed as men, performing as stereotypical crossdressers promote, foster and reinforce the belief among the audience that any bloke in a frock must be a homosexual.” she says. “If these people are allowed to perform in the town in the Pride, they must have a prominent sign stating ‘We are homosexual men – not transexuals’."

In other words: "You are not one of us!"

This is the same woman who in a recent book called grouped everyone she did not like into the following toxic salad:

"The enemies are Fouratist homos, the public, the press, bigots and fools, ignorant medics, penny pinching political manipulators, BRSS dykes, religious pedophiles, closed homos and unfortunately the unaccepting homos a.k.a. Manginas who themselves try to become HBS [Harry Benjamin Syndrome] in the vain hope that masquerading as a woman will help them refuse to confess that they are just homos and not HBS."

The "closet homos" also include crossdressers and crossdreamers.  We are all disgusting gay men in her view.

Rose is definitely at the extreme end of the separatist scale, but the fact is that there are quite a few that share  similar conspiracy theories of there being a Transgender Borg Collective of men masquerading as women.

The Borg

Suzan, who writes one of my favorite blogs on transsexual topics, dislikes Rose White intensely. She nevertheless falls into the same trap of turning all non-transsexual transgender people into a conspiracy: 

"The Transgender Borg collective are the real problem. They are like a cult demanding every one use the exact same language to describe their personal experiencing of what it means to have been born with transsexualism.



"They insist post transsexual women describe themselves as 'transgender' and 'identify as transgender' while claiming to be non-op transsexuals, which means they will never ever let a surgeon's knife any place close to their male genitals.

"To call them on this is to open oneself to all sorts of abuse including charges of elitism, separatism and essentialism."

I wonder why!

Anyone who has followed the discussions at this blog and over at Crossdream Life will know that there is no cult, but a wide variety of ideas and beliefs about what crossdressing, crossdreaming and other transgender conditions are about. 
An autogynephiliac who does not know how to hold his handbag

I have friends who believe in psychological explanations, fetishistic explanations, and cultural explanations. Then there are those, like me, who believe crossdreaming is  gender dysphoria, based in biology. 

Yes, there are those who believe that all transgender conditions are social constructs with no biological basis. But theirs is only one of many approaches.

I am sure there are also those who try to force transwomen into  pigeon holes that do not fit them. God knows there are enough people out there that think that their own life experience should be used as a measuring rod for us all. But that does not mean that there is a monolithic bloc of of non-transsexual transsgender.

As for the argument of whether a woman should be defined by what she has between her legs... No, I won't even go there! 

There is no Borg, only suffering people trying desperately to make sense out of their lives.

Redefining words to win the argument

Ashley Love, transsexual activist and role model, has also joined the ranks of transwomen who try avoiding the touch of us untouchables:

"For you see, transgender is a sociopolitical term which is reserved for people who do not conform to gender, such as drag queens/kings, cross dressing and transvestite males, gender queer activists or gender non-conforming people who identify with their physical sex."

It is not. It is the separatists that define the word this way, and Ashley Love knows this. The term "transgender" is as an umbrella term uniting both transsexuals and the groups Love mentions in the paragraph above. 

Yes, I know that "transgender" sounds similar to the word "transgenderist", which was coined by Virginia Prince, the famous crossdresser guru. The choice of the word "transgender" as a top category was therefore an unfortunate one. Prince had already included her concept into a bigoted and offensive theory about transsexuals, a theory I definitely do not share.

That does not change the fact that the term, as it was defined by  Leslie Feinberg and Holly Boswell, was meant as an umbrella term. People may feel free to disagree with the term, or refuse to use it, but they have no right to turn it into its opposite.

It is personal

I must admit all of this is starting to get to me, because this way of redefining the word "transgender" so clearly an attempt to change the political and social reality, not by arguments,  but  by changing the meaning of language. It smells of 1984 to me.  Something positive is turned into something negative, and all of this because some people are embarrassed by being associated with people like me. 

This actually hurts -- a lot. I try to use my intellectual "male" side to cope with all this, deconstructing texts and ideologies in a "male" manner. But my inner woman  gets sick of the fact that women can spend so much time on attacking people like me.

Unfortunately, women -- who according to the stereotypes  are supposed to be nurturing and supportive  -- often end up ripping each others throats out. It reminds me of the girl cliques in the school yard:

"You are not one of us!!!"

It's a wonderful world!

Mind you, it is only women like Rose White who display their disgust in direct terms. Others have a tendency of coloring their rebuttal in sympathetic phrases like "I don't have anything against crossdressers, you know. If they are willing to leave me alone, I will leave them alone."

This  reminds me of the kind of people who desperately tried to save the price of their property by stopping black people from moving  into their neighborhood:

"Well, I have nothing against Negroes! Not at all! But they will be so much happier among their own!"

There is one phrase in Randy Newman's satirical song "Short People". In between the prejudiced ramblings about the ugliness of short people, comes the politically correct counterpoint:

Short people are just the same
As you and I
(A fool such as I)
All men are brothers
Until the day they die
(It's a wonderful world)



Scandinavian Danes and the like

The transgender/transsexual debate reminds me of the use of the word "Scandinavian" in my part of the world. Scandinavia is defined as the area of Norway, Sweden and Denmark. This means that a Dane is  Scandinavian, but she is not  Norwegian. Pretty simple really.

Is a Finn a Scandinavian? Formally no, but Finland is one of the Nordic countries, which consists of the Scandinavian countries plus Finland and Iceland.

Are Finns and Icelanders offended if you call them Scandinavians? I mean, would you like to be associated with the arrogant Swedes, the crazy Norwegians and the lazy Danes?

The Finns don't mind, it seems. They brush the topic a side and invite you into their sauna. Polite people, the Finns.

However, you should never call a person from the Faroe Islands a Dane! The islands may be part of the Kingdom of Denmark, but they are a separate territory with their own flag and their own language.

They do identify as Scandinavians, though. They love the Scandinavian Borg.

A transwoman is not a crossdresser

In other words: A transwoman is a woman. She is not a crossdresser, she is not gender queer, she is not something in between.  She is a woman.

I am a non-crossdressing crossdreamer living as a man.  I do  not call myself a woman, trans or otherwise. Although whether I am a woman or not is not for Rose White to decide.

I do definitely have something in common with all these transwomen: a deep sense of gender dysphoria. My outer identity does not fit my inner personality. I feel like a woman on the inside, and find it very hard to adapt to the expected manly manners and beliefs.

Like  transwomen I have been forced to reconsider the truths of what society tells me about sex and gender, in particular the idea that all male bodied persons have to feel like and behave like the stereotypical male. 

Hence it makes perfect sense for me to have a cross-cutting category called transgender. It points to the fact that in some people the body they are born with is not aligned with the person they  are on the inside.

Some may get around this problem by learning how to express their personality in spite of the culturally defined gender roles. For others it is  a matter of realigning a male body with a female mind or a female body with a male mind. And some will just have to live with the pain.

We are not Scandinavians!

Fighting for the Non-Scandinavian way.
The problem is, of course, that the classic transsexuals, the HBS crowd and the rest of the separatist do not think of themselves as "Scandinavians".

They are more like -- I don't know -- pure bred Americans -- with not a drop of Scandinavian blood in their veins. (Minnesota remains that embarrassing uncle you do not talk about at family dinners.)

Their argument is that my gender dysphoria has nothing in common with theirs. Mine is caused by a sexual perversion or --maybe -- free choice; theirs is caused by biologically based female sex identity.

Or, as is the case with Suzan and Cloudy, my condition may be innate, but then we are talking about is  different kinds of biological inheritance.

Well, the followers of this blog know that I believe transwomen when they say they are born like this. I think there is a biological core to their sex identity (which is not the same as gender identity, by the way). But cannot see how it is possible  to argue that transsexuals have nothing in common with many of the "transgender".

Many transwomen start out as crossdressers

Here are the facts:

A large number of crossdreamers and crossdressers suffer from intense gender dysphoria. Yes, some of them manage to include their feminine side in their lives as men, but others do so only by suppressing their dreams, their hopes and their very being.

I have several crossdreamer friends who have considered suicide, but who have struggled on anyway, out of duty to their friends and love for their families. The fact that Blanchard and White thinks of them as self-centered narcissists is therefore offensive beyond words. So let's cut the crap, shall we? These crossdressers and crossdreamers are transwomen. There is no doubt about it. But they are still "Not one of us!"

Note that the majority of transwomen transition relatively late. This especially applies to the gynephilic ones, who, for various reasons try -- for a while -- to adapt to a male existence.

My guess is that one important motivation is their love for women. If you want to find a woman to love, you will try to play the role that you think women will find attractive. And the dominating narrative says that women love manly men.

So they try to be one. They get married. They get kids. And they are still miserable. They are still not in line with their true selves.

I think it is a reasonable guess that a significant number of these late transitioners have a history of crossdressing. That is: While they still had their male bodies they dressed up as women to explore that gender role and to get some relief from all the pretending.

It certainly looks like Rose White  did. As Zagria has documented, White has publicly admitted that she once was a crossdresser. That does not mean that she was not a woman then, or that she is a man now. She is a woman.

What it means is that the world is not so easily divided into "us" and "them", as White believes.

Dreaming of sex as a woman

And yes, given that we are all sexual beings, I would also guess that at least some transwomen,  while still living in their male bodies, got some sexual relief out of imagining themselves having sex as women.   What else could they do? Dream about having sex as men? I think not!

But does getting aroused by the idea of being a woman having sex make them "male fetishists" or "perverted autogynephiles"?

Yes, according to many of the separatists. It does.

This means that the separatists like White, by insisting that they have nothing in common with crossdressers and crossdreamers, stigmatize the large number of transwomen who have had  a crossdresser or crossdreamer past, in reality reducing them to perverted men.

I wonder how that must feel for these women. After years of painful self scrutiny they have finally come to terms with who they are, and then they are told -- by other transwomen -- that they are no good. 

It doesn't matter if their crossdreaming fantasies subside as they are able to express themselves fully as women. It does not matter if they now dress as women, live as women, breathe as women: They are still crossdressers in the eyes of the insiders.

In the words of Rose White:

"I know one person like this who was the effeminate little boy and is now a unhappy unconvincing homosexual post-op who sits legs gaping and has zero femaleness -- not even a handbag! Others I have had short contact with dress as male as possible and hate women's shops!"
Oh, dear!

I would like to end this post with another song:  Peter Gabriel's masterpiece on exclusion and suppression, "Not one of us". Unlike Randy Newman's song, this is not a piece of satire. But it hits you even harder.



It's only water
In a stranger's tear
Looks are deceptive
But distinctions are clear
A foreign body
And a foreign mind
Never welcome
In the land of the blind
You may look like we do
Talk like we do
But you know how it is

You're not one of us
Not one of us
No you're not one of us
Not one of us
Not one of us
No you're not one of us

There's safety in numbers
When you learn to divide
How can we be in
If there is no outside
All shades of opinion
Feed an open mind
But your values are twisted
Let us help you unwind
You may look like we do
Talk like we do
But you know how it is

You're not one of us
Not one of us

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

Why we do not want to be seen as being in any way connected with perverts who crossdress -> http://ts-is-liberation.org/Men+in+womens+restrooms

Follow the links, especially those on the lower part of the page. Very enlightening. Facts are facts, and if you wack off in women's clothes, you are NOT one of us.

Quay Summer said...

I have to ask the question, have the HBS folks actually read The Transsexual Phenomenon??? I have a copy sitting right here and on page 22 Benjamin has a chart he calls "Sex and Gender Role Disorientation" and he lists six degrees of disorientation. Type 1 he calls transvestite and type 6 he calls true transsexual. This chart makes very clear that Benjamin thought that thought that cross dressers and transsexuals all have "gender role disorientation" just to very different degrees. The HBS folks say that true transsexuals in no way have anything in common with cross dressers, clearly Benjamin thinks they do.

Anonymous said...

Anon -

So we should declare all men who wear trench coats perverts because some men use them as part of a flashing behavior? You have to be very careful about not mistaking correlation and cause. We'll leave off chicken and egg discussions of which mental issues causes which... and where social discrimination plays into mental illness.

Jhuma said...

Why not also include feminine males into the matrix? Why start the zone of transgenderism only from crossdressers?
Feminine males represent the strating point of gender-variance. And they are the ones who will tell you what it is all about when it comes to the gender-variance issues.
Because, they are gender-variant and have many of the same childhood gender variance similar to the tgs yet they are cis-gendered!

Anonymous said...

Face it, any true transsexual would feel deeply insulted to be referred to in the same breath as you freaks.

Anonymous said...

And rational discussion parts ways as the true bigot enters on comment five. Nice. Nothing to say, and you say it so damn well.

Nice post Jack. My personal feelings on this "war?" SOME crossdressers/crossdreamers suffer from CONSTANT dysphoria vs others who are completely comfortable in their role of their birthright. Those who exhibit a constant and serious dysphoria are "trans."

Jack Molay said...

Mercedes has an interesting view on the conflict.

@Anonymous comment #5:

"Face it, any true transsexual would feel deeply insulted to be referred to in the same breath as you freaks."

A word of advice: If you want to win this struggle, you had better learn som communication skills. You must at least pretend to be a caring human being, if you want to take on the role of a woman oppressed by horrible transgender males. As it is now, you are just confirming what I say in my post. I guess that was not your point.

Elizabeth said...

Jack

A correction. I believe you imply Prince coined transgenderist and not transgender which is incorrect. Prince coined the term transgender and it was usurped and eventually stolen as an umbrella term.

The term separatist implies that transsexuals were in favor of being under the transgender umbrella and that is a misstatement and not a point of fact. Transsexuals were not part of the transgender community initially but were gathered under the umbrella unwillingly when those who are transgender realized transvestites, cross-dressers, et. al. had zero sympathy in the real world.

It was a political decision.

As to Quay Summer's comment on Benjamin let it be clear Benjamin said Disorientation and not dysphoria and in fact Benjamin considered the first 3 categories social disorders or social problems although he did have great sympathy for most if not all of them.

Type IV was not a true transsexual but a cross between TV and TS with the percentages wavering. Both Type V and Type VI were surgery bound in his opinion.

Again, disorientation is a far cry from gender identity issues which is what TVs and crossdressers have. Transsexuals have a sex identity disorder and if you bothered to read Harry's book you would understand that.

Only in the mind of the transgendered could someone that never wanted to be under your umbrella be accused of being a separatist.

Jack Molay said...

@Elisabeth
Susan Stryker has a good presentation of the birth of the term in her Transgender History. In the late sixties terms like transgenderal, transgenderist and transgenderism popped up, used by people like Virginia Prince and Ari Kane to define a category between transvestites and transsexuals.

A "transgenderist" (not "transgender") was, according to Prince, somebody who was born with a penis but lived like a woman. Prince did not like transsexuals at all.

Stryker: "Trans activist Holly Boswell made an important contribution towards the expansion of the term with her 1991 article 'The Transgender Alternative', ... which claimed 'transgender' is a word that 'encompasses the whole spectrum' of gender diversity... Leslie Feinberg gave this expansive sense of 'transgender' a political charge with hir influential 1992 pamphlet, Trangender Liberation: A Movement Whose Time Has Come."

Both Boswell and Feinberg refused to adhere to the traditional gender stereotypes of the day.

In this sense you are right: Transwomen who completely associate themselves with traditional gender stereotypes will probably find this philosophy frightening, partly because it reflects left wing politics and post-modernist feminism (Butler etc.), and partly because all this talk of a spectrum may lead you to believe there is no true inborn female sex identity.

The fact that Boswell felt SRS was unnecessary has probably contributed to the current separatist tactic of demanding SRS as proof of womanhood. If your enemy is for something, you must be against it.

Personally I have learned a lot from this kind of thinking, but I truly believe the tendency to ignore the biology underpinning sex (=/= gender) identity is a mistake.

That does not change the fact, though: The term was soon used by both "traditional" transsexuals as well as other transgender persons, exemplified by the 1991 Southern Comfort conference in Atlanta. Today it is definitely used as an umbrella term embracing both crossdresser, "gender variants" and transsexuals.

I have no problem with transwomen (and transmen) who argue against the philopsophy of Boswell or Butler or anyone who believes the transsexual identity is a social construct. There are valid reasons for making such arguments. I have made them myself.

My problem is that the current separatist activists use arguments regarding beliefs to determine nature, that is: anyone who do not agree with their beliefs regarding the origin of gender dysphoria, are not transwomen by nature. You cannot do that.

cont...

Jack Molay said...

..cont.

If the separatists are right, it is very likely that a lot of people who identify as "gender queer" or "transgender" are truly transwomen, "misled" by leftist philosophies (I am not saying this is the case. I am just saying it follows logically from the separatist premise).

I know for sure that many of the hated crossdressers and crossdreamers are truly gender dysphoric, and therefore most likely tranwomen and transmen.

This exactly the point Benjamin made. (And yes, I have read his book!) Benjamin does not operate with a strict boundary between transvestites and transsexuals.

He said:

"Coming back to the differences between transvestism and transsexualism, another simpler and more unifying concept and a corresponding definition may have to be considered. That is, that transvestites with their more or less pronounced sex and gender indecision may actually all be transsexuals, but in varying degrees of intensity."

The main difference between his categories III ("transvestite"), IV ("transsexual") and V ("true transsexual") is not about gender identity, but about libido. To be a "true transsexual" you should preferably be asexual.

Needless to say, Benjamin here mirrors the gender stereotypes of the day. To be a true woman you have to be an asexual heterosexual!

But it fits well with the separatist agenda, because it makes it possible to say that M2F transpeople who get turned on by the idea of having sex as women, must be perverts. That was not Benjamin's point at all!

Nor did he say that a "coversion operation" can be used as a test for true transsexuality. He only observed that type III's were less likely to ask for one, even if it was "attractive".

The reason I uphold the term "transgender" is not because I believe it in whatever post-structuralist philosophy some consider the official policy of "the transgender borg". I believe the term is useful because it reflects an objective reality.

The borders between the categories are fluid, in intensity (as Benjamin pointed out) and in time (as in late transitioners). This means that transvestites and transwomen have common interests.

As it is now, some separatists are deliberately persecuting crossdressers and crossdreamers (see "freak" comment above).

But all of this does not mean that transwomen are not real women. They are!

Jack Molay said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jack Molay said...

Hm, what do you know!

It turns out we are all wrong about the word "transgender", including Stryker and me.

Ehipassiko has scanned several newsarticles from the 1970's and 80's and find that the word was used before 1990, partly as a synonym for transsexual and partly for describing deviations from gender-typical behavior.

In 1985 Christine Jorgensen identified as transgender!

Cristan sums it up:

"So, can we please stop with the whole 'crossdressers pushed that identity on us' stuff? The word was obviously used by clinicians in the 1970s, in the mass-media by transsexuals in the early 80s and then used to describe transsexuals by media in the late 1980s. Our culture was obviously using the term to talk about atypical expressions of gender, concepts of having gender neutrality, cross-gender expression and transsexuality since the 1970s.

All of the concepts covered in the above media pieces exist in the modern usage of the word transgender, so please lets stop pretending and/or claiming that our modern use has nothing to do with its use over the majority of the last 40 years. Our current use of the word evolved in the context of a culture that was using the word 'transgender' in a way more closely aligned to the word’s current context than what Virginia Prince had ever intended. Virginia Prince may have coined the term, but our American culture defined it."

SissyMistressMaddie said...

I just don't get it. Why can't people ever seem to be content to allow others to be themselves?

And I don't mean in the "as long as they're not anywhere near me" version of tolerance, I mean in the "hey neighbor born as a man living (possibly part-time) as a woman! Wanna come on over for some tea?" kinda way.

I don't understand why no one seems capable of treating others as if they are people rather than just broad archetypes.

There's plenty of perfectly decent trans-folks our there, whether full-time or part-time. There's plenty of perfectly decent homosexuals, bisexuals, queer folks (I love that term, we actually have a term now for people who are attracted to people rather than groups of people, wonderful!), crossdressers, drag-folks, and even erotic-crossdressers.

I've known good folks in all those categories.

I've also known some real bastards in all those categories.

It's kinda a personal thing. You can't really go around saying everyone who does x is y and will always do and be z. It's too broad a statement that will never apply as fully as people would like.

I mean, really, it's bad enough to be viewed as society's outsider if you live even a shade outside the gender/sexual binary you were dealt (let's face it, your gender and sexuality are permanently linked in traditional society's view), do we really need to make further distinctions between eachother?

Do people who've been made outcasts by society really benefit from sub-outcasting?

Jack Molay said...

"I just don't get it. Why can't people ever seem to be content to allow others to be themselves?"

I think the main problem is that too many people have been brought up in atmosphere where love and recognition is dependent on complete adherence to the gender stereotypes.

This creates a terrible dilemma for some transwomen. They are clearly outside the norms of society, as they too easily will be branded as perverted men.

They then try to cope with this problem, not by allowing for diversity (which should have been the obvious choice, in my opinion), but by doing everything they can to fulfill expectations of what a "normal woman" is.

Some succeed, otheres believe they have succeeded. But at this point the other, less than perfect, transwomen, crossdressers and crossdreamers become a threat by association.

Their friends will, for instance, see shows about crossdressers and transsexual prostitutes on TV, and the militants now fear that they themselves will become contaminated. Maybe their friends will that all transsexuals are perverted prostitutes.

This is not logical, as it would mean that all women would be called whores because there are some female prostitutes, but this is not so much about logic, as our desperate need to be loved and respected.

At this point it probably makes sense for the separatists to sacrifice the crossdressers and "perverted" tranwomen on the altar of conformity.

Much of this is also mixed up with a deeply felt misandrogy -- or hatred of men -- it seems. It is understandable, but not a valid excuse for what they are doing.

Linsie said...

"Much of this is also mixed up with a deeply felt misandrogy -- or hatred of men -- it seems. It is understandable, but not a valid excuse for what they are doing."

It would be interesting to know if these "haters" consider themselves to be straight or lesbian.

James said...

Most transwomen (androphilic or not) have a greater inner thing for women than for men. This is obvious since they are women.

Jalaram said...

Sometimes I think transgenders of certain types are actually responsible for spreading transphobia in society. Yes, I am referring to perverted and obnoxious, loud, flamboyant and highly vulgar shemales and male lesbian prostitutes.
Why can't these trannies express their femininity in a decent well cultured way even if they indeed are very feminine?

Dewey Houck said...

I do not crossdress to harm others, and the fact that somebody who identifies themselves as a transexual finds my behavior offensive is very rediculous too me. I can't really take this person seriously because she obviously already takes herself seriously enough for everybody. The truth is, as she may have thought to herself many times before, is that we are ALL messed up in some way or another. Nobody is perfect. We are all human. To say somebody else is less than you because they are not the same as you, or that they harm you because they are different than you, shows a serious flaw in one's character. I agree that some people judge us based on our perceived similarities with others that they have seen, and that will always be true. I am afraid to go out dressed up and tell people what I do for the same reasons. However, I feel comfortable being me because I do not pass my judgments onto others, they stay in my head where they belong. My dressing up in public may offend you, but you telling me so offends me. Who has the greater right to peace of mind?

Liz said...

I have so many questions to ask you. But after I saw:

"my intellectual 'male' side"

I had to pick my jaw up off of the floor. I mean, are you saying this ironically or something? Because if you are serious, it's hard for me get past this patronizing and stereotyped language to even continue to read this page.

I guess I was using my "male side" when I got my PhD. SMH

Jack Molay said...

@Liz

"my intellectual 'male' side"

Note the quotation marks. I use the term ironically. The rest of the post clearly shows that I do not believe in stereotypes that says that men are predominantly intellectual and women are emotional.

When I use the terms in this way, however, it reflects that fact that I, as a male bodied persons, is expected to react in a disinterested analytical manner.

And what is truly astounding is that some of the HBS crowd is using this against me.

The very people who should know that this blue/pink dichotomy is false, are the one that argue that women are so different from men both intellectually and emotionally, that my male body alone disqualifies me from defending transsexual women in particular and understanding women in general.

This is why I used irony in this post.

I admit, though, that I probably shouldn't have. An internationally oriented blogger should avoid irony, as it is easily misunderstood.

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