Bilerico has a new trans* blogger that I can only imagine was brought on board to add a fresh voice to a very stale subject. If you look at the comments there, they get the most volume when some fight breaks out about trans crap. Although there is a much more interesting development in the conversation about gay/lesbian politics overall in recent threads where that subject comes up it’s all to infrequent.
The new blogger laments that when she dates as a trans* person her partners tend to focus on her transness rather than her as a person. She says there are a million more things about her than just being trans, but nobody seems to notice when they date. There is more but that is the gist of it.
Welcome to the real world. The fact is that if you put yourself out there as a trans* person, that’s all you’ll ever be. No amout of political activism is going to change the fact that people will see the most salient aspect of you first and foremost. That’s just human nature. If you advertise your transness, that’s all they’ll see because its such a huge deal that nothing else can ever eclipse it. No amount of public education or exposure will normalize trans* in the way that activists think it will. All it does is give unneeded exposure to a medical condition that debases it further in the public mind.
Some of the comments are also rather odd. GinaSF, who is one of the more reasonable supporters of the TG paradigm, has this to say:
It’s my belief trans women and straight/cis men are, in fact, the most transgressive combination… more so that many self-ID’d queer peeps because they challenge the very notion of heterosexuality in a way queer people don’t.
It always amazes me that people who spend all their time thinking about this stuff don’t get it. But maybe that’s the reason, a sort of forest-for-the-trees effect. It just doesn’t register with the trans* supporters that we aren’t trans*. Does not compute. They can’t see any way that we aren’t part of their group except that we must be delusional, or whatever explanation they come up with that denies who we really are.
Yet the answer is very simple. It’s right there in front of them but they’ll never see it. You are who you are. If you are not part of the trans* world, then that’s the way it is. If you are a man you are a man, if you are a woman you are a woman. There is no shoving the ‘truth’ down some dark hole for us as I suppose they imagine we do. (We being standard transsexual and post-transsexual people) It just is. And that’s probably why it’s so hard to communicate that fact to those who can’t comprehend how we aren’t trans* or transgender, or whatever word they want to use.
This state of being is at the very heart of what true transsexualism is. It’s something that even the most doubtful of the psychoanalysts noticed in their studies, people like Person and Ovesey. Though they viewed transsexual as some kind of extreme parental-related disturbance, they couldn’t help but notice a clear difference between “transsexuals” and those whom they would otherwise consider simply gay or engaged in fetish crossdressing. It’s the same thing Harry Benjamin noticed, though he didn’t have the biological tools available to put reason to it. It’s something that doctors who treat lots of trans* patients notice. There is a vast gulf between transsexual and those who aren’t- no matter what kinds of treatments people are seeking. It’s as clear as day when you meet someone who is transsexual even before they transition- and set them next to the patently non-transsexual people who merely think they are. The context brings out the contrast quite clearly, and the lack of context is what allows the blurring.
This isn’t something that is defined by a choice to have surgery. It’s not something you can acquire later in life by following the standard narrative. That’s just putting the cart before the horse, confusing the symptoms with the cause. The greatest damage done to people with this birth condition was when it was redefined, first by therapists and then by the GLBT into some kind of performance art. Today, even the best descriptions of the condition are woefully lacking, simply because anyone who gets surgery is transsexual by the ersatz definition. Still, that’s a lot better than redefining transsexual to include things that don’t even involve surgery at all. I still marvel at that bit of chutzpah. Even under the most pedantic of definitions, how can you have transsexual without surgery?
That’s going over some old territory, so let’s talk about things going on now. The chief danger I see is not to young transsexual men and women. Their path is clear. The problem is that there are far too many people out there who think you can have a successful transition to the “opposite sex” simply by being gay or lesbian and having a desire to play with gender roles. They think transsexual simply means transgender. This is a disaster waiting to happen. You can’t elevate yourself on some imagined GLBT scale from genderqueer to transsexual by dint of “full time living”. And that’s really where this argument is going next.
If there are lots of younger people in the gay and lesbian community who see trans* as simply one of the many lifestyle choices available to them the GLBT community is headed for some serious trouble. If you think the latest suicides are tragic, wait until you see the results of people who transition only to find it doesn’t work for them. I think that’s the dirty secret of the Trans suicide statistics. There are a lot of people who transitioned and found they had made a big mistake. That’s why I say that non-transsexuals shouldn’t transition. It’s not because I want to be mean, it’s because I know it’s bad for them. Anyone who has seen support groups in action, or what passes for a trans* community knows what I am talking about. The problem is that interested parties take one look at that sad, dysfunctional crowd and assume that’s what life is like for post-ops in general. Nothing could be further from the truth!
Really, I think the trend for young gays and lesbians to transition is on the decline. As the shame of being gay or lesbian wanes, it will become a less popular choice for those who dislike society’s gender boundaries. Yet there are still a number of people who insist its all the same, and that transition, or degree of transition, is akin to a fashion choice. I hope that as time goes on the truth will become much more clear to those considering it. One mistake here is too many.
The writer of the blog post makes the following observation about herself.
“My life revolves just as much around countless other things as it does being trans.”
No it doesn’t. As long as you are trans*, that’s all you’ll ever be. Regardless whether someone is born transsexual or not, if you choose to be something other than a man or woman that’s all you’ll ever get to be. It will consume your life and define you forever. You make some choices, and society responds by making others for you. That’s the real world, and recognition of this is how adults face the consequences of their decisions. The world does not bend to our whim and that’s something we are supposed to learn when we grow up.
It’s time some people acknowledged that reality and stopped trying to have it all.