When Silence Isn’t Golden

The recent Bilerico post by TG poster girl Monica Helms was followed by the usual round of comments. Tobi Hill-Meyer is a rather nice person who goes by the genderqueer label, and I’ve never seen her engaging in the kind of attacks that the hardcore TG types do on a regular basis. So my post is not aimed at her, and I am not trying to target her in any way. I would like, however, to point something out to her and other people that associate with the hardcore transgender.

The problem with the “umbrella” model is that when it consists of many people shoved together against their will, leaders that arise (self-appointed usually) do not represent the interests of all the people. They represent only their own wishes. You can ignore the situation only so long as the self-appointed “leaders” do nothing too objectionable. As we know, the TG have long since passed that point with transsexual-born people and now are moving to take a more active role in other areas, such as Intersex issues.

This follows the pattern they used when taking over the term transsexual. First claim association, then claim equivalency, and finally achieve supremacy, replacing the group they have targetted.

Tobi says:

Second of all, it shouldn’t matter. If you think Monica is attacking you, you’re not going to deem her a representative of all African Americans and announce that African Americans are attacking you, right? You’re not going to say she represents all lesbians and announce that lesbians are attacking you, right? So why is it appropriate to deem her a representative of all non-ops and announce that non-ops are attacking you?

That’s prejudice 101. When a person from another group wrongs you, it doesn’t mean all people from that group will act similarly.

Where are all the non-ops and genderqueers? Some of them are defending you, right here, even before you arrived. But most of them aren’t reading Bilerico, living their lives, and could care less about what someone on the internet said.

I think this is a misunderstanding. What I was trying to communicate to her is that when a group remains silent, people WILL speak for you. Whether it is whites for silent oppressed African-Americans though the complete domination of the culture and country, or transgenders speaking for people with birth defects.

The point being missed is that when the leadership of a group speaks, it is the voice of the group itself. It doesn’t matter that not every single TG out there may not agree. What matters is that the dominant voices speak, and the silence of the rest is taken as tacit agreement by the public.

When you remain silent in this situation, the words of the TG “leaders” are your words. They go on television to speak for you while you are off the internet, living your lives. They write on mainstream blogs, and in newspapers to “educate” the public about you. They show up in court to litigate cases that affect your rights. They speak to doctors and psychiatrists and tell them who you are. This isn’t the harmless internet exercise that you seem to think.

There is no genderqueer to the public. You are TG to them, the same as all the full-time fetishists and weekend crossdressing het males who show up on talk shows with their wives. TG has swallowed your identity, and you have no voice.

Despite what Tobi believes to be defense of me and my position, as gays, lesbians, and genderqueer, she and they can’t possibly know what my position is without asking me or other transsexual-born people. To think otherwise is appropriation. Defending the right to “stealth” is an insult. Why do all these people, interlopers really, feel they get to have an opinion in the first place?

This is why transsexual-born people must speak for ourselves, with no “help” from outsiders like the TG. Talking about “stealth” as if it is a real concept is not something a friend would do. And nobody there will ever admit that we are different by birth.

The GLBT needs to understand that we are not obligated to them. We are simply women who were born with a birth defect. That does not give their TG component the right to speak for us. And it certainly doesn’t give them the right to tell us who we are, or how to live our lives.

Bilerico has a habit of placing self-declared non-women in the role of speaking for women. And when women protest, their comments are edited out as “insulting”. This is a startling display of misogyny, but it is commonplace for this gay-centered blog. Is this the brave, new Glbt?

To Tobi and all the others who identify as genderqueer, I am saying this only as a bit of advice from experience, not as a criticism or attack. If you don’t want the TG “leaders” speaking for you, you’d better speak for yourselves. Loudly and often.


11 Responses to When Silence Isn’t Golden

  1. Interesting…and I suppose you made the diagnosis? That certainly does not seem to be how Tobi self-identifies:

    “Tobi Hill-Meyer is just about your average multiracial, pansexual, transracially inseminated queerspawn, genderqueer, transdyke, colonized mestiza, pornographer, activist, writer.”

  2. The only thing it is revelatory of is that I understand that for the transgender crowd it is all about “identity.” That is all they ever talk about. They have no concept of actually being a woman, or of even being a transsexual. That is why Jasper Gregory is the perfect example of transgender.

  3. anoldfriend says:

    Helms thinks “she” is some authority on postcorrection life. Funny thing Helms has never experienced life after correction so how would Helms know?

    Helms is also the same person who last year made the statement that all postcorrection women were man and always would remain as such. It should come as no surprise that Bil backed Helms up.

    Helms and Jasper are cut from the very same cloth.

  4. Maybe because Tobi grew up in a completely loving and supporting environment?

    It seems like she didn’t develop the negative neurotic pressures like myself and others, and is as much indifferent to labels as anything. Therefore she embraces them all.

    Though still much more rare than ‘transgenders’ (however you want to apply that term), there are going to be more and more transsexual women appearing in the future who actually were allowed to express themselves and live correctly as they feel it from the start. And that may make them different in a lot of ways.

    i have no idea if someone i’ve never met is or isn’t transsexual. Including Tobi. i only respond against those who attempt to exert control over me and others.

    Though i’ve had little contact with her, i like her. She seems reasonable and kind, and has done no harm to me.

  5. Susan says:

    Tobi is generally not as insideous as some, generally bordering on nice and reasonable, but make no mistake she is definitely not in favor of removing of any of the TG shackles from classic transsexuality. She may approach things a bit more civilly than some but she will misconstrue one’s position with the best of them and will go to the wall in her defense of the GLBT construct. Doubts you say? Check out her responses to my comments on the referenced thread.

  6. i didn’t say i doubted you, Susan.

    It was one of several things i’ve wanted to talk to you about. Over email.

  7. ariablue says:

    I suppose it’s already happened, I just didn’t want to jump the gun. But it’s true, Genderqueer is really just a way to softpedal the TG position to people who aren’t transvestites.

  8. anoldfriend says:


    It doesn’t matter how you got there, the fact is you did get to that place. Many of us saw this coming almost a decade ago when the Queers were gaining headway in the gay scene.

    They took what was known as Gender-Fuck (Think Jasper out in public) and called it Gender-Queer. As it became more of a domesticated term the TGs started adopting it.
    Now you have a certain New Media Journalist who uses that term as part of a self description.

    A lot of Tee-Gees who can’t or have never held a job (like the one mentioned above) have adopted that term, meanwhile the other half of the Tee-Gee community (the socially functional ones) manages to get along just fine in the world. They go to work, they have friends, they don’t blog (except for a few) and they live their lives.

    The only ones that are an exception to this rule don’t live full time, I could name them but most people know where to find these so called activists.

  9. Jessica says:

    I was once concerned that speaking out, as the woman with the history I have, was not considered appropriate by others of similar history–that the only appropriate path was to simply become as normborn (who says that?) as I can and be silent.

    Not that I could EVER do that.

    I always had felt this something of a contradiction in my life, as I become better–or so I hope–at being nothing other than a woman, I become more and more committed to speaking out as a woman of transsexual history.

    Maybe it isn’t such a contradiction after all.

    PS–Thank you! for the “nice people” designation.

  10. ariablue says:

    Oh yeah, and on the point about silence…

    I think it’s something that people have been approaching as all-or-nothing and unchangeable. There is a time in transition and after when we feel a certain way, and we forget that life can be different.

    There is no rule that says you can’t be real if you talk about these things- that is a backlash against all the non-transsexual people speaking for us and its something that needs to be rethought carefully. The condition is not process-driven, i.e. to be a real (insert brand name) you can’t do X.

    There is also no rule that says you can’t feel one way about something, work it out, and then move on to silence afterwards. It should be obvious to any of us we need to be careful about what we say and to whom. But that doesn’t mean you can’t disappear into a non-public life with respect to the transsexual issue at some point in the future if that’s what you want.

    There is a different attitude emerging among people who transition today. Out of necessity, most of us have the feeling of “I mind my own business, and if people find out, so be it”.

    I think a lot of us are also willing to relocate and change our lives around quite a bit to arrive at a comfortable place for ourselves, so no injury to our status as a woman is permanent. From what I’ve seen the atmosphere had been pretty much all-or-nothing and no second chances in the past. Things change.

    And people who currently transition with this mindset don’t provide fertile ground for the fearmongering that goes on in transgender politics. I think that is part of the reason it is falling by the wayside.

  11. Jessica says:

    You talk about a change in, well, consciousness, among women of history–there seem to be no men in these discussions, unfortunately; they have different histories and often politics (though I’ve worked with a number over the years).

    So, I’m assuming you’re young–certainly younger than I am in number of years. Though my proximity to transition and surgery, both in the past decade, in some ways makes me kinda young–I used to say, I’m as young as my breasts. This makes me about 20 in some ways. 🙂

    There used to be a routine protocol imposed upon transsexual women that, after transition, they would leave–often had to leave before they could get permission FOR transition/hormones–their wives, families, where they lived.

    This was sold as good for us.

    That it was in OUR best interest to give up EVERYTHING and start absolutely new, in a new place, new job–should we be so lucky–no/new friends, no/new supports.

    Completely new and ALONE in the world.


    I have exchanged comments with those who still believe this. If this is their personal project, then I support them in it and wish them well in doing so.

    But this is something I have no interest in doing–nor do I believe it is in my best interest to do this for the possibility of friends/lovers or for a CAREER.

    Yes, I believe I have a CAREER–even at my mature age. 🙂

    There is a newer argument, not yet a protocol, for where we live after transition and how we live our lives.

    It recasts the old protocol: it is NOT in OUR interest to give up everything and disappear into silence.

    No, it is in the interests of SOCIETY, that we be alone and not find those like us, that we be silent, certainly that we do not organize or struggle for what we know is RIGHT–like EVERY OTHER OPPRESSED MINORITY.

    From the moment I heard this argument, it resonated.

    Certainly not for everybody, but it isn’t forbidden for those who feel the resonance.

    Long before I transitioned–long before surgery–I had a somewhat mediocre career in social activism/justice/political and arts organizing. Generally for others and their issues/needs–though as a poet, the workshops, readings and coffeehouses were also for me.

    I now struggle for US.

    This seems to mesh with the argument throughout your blog and comments elsewhere–and why we seem to find common interest.

    Not that I would change my path were this not so–I have been pretty much on my own path for so long–but its something I’d always hoped for: a change in thinking among women of history and, as I move through my own life, needs, interests, struggles and strengths, it opens a place in a larger struggle.