The state of transsexualism, 2011
The start of a new year is an auspicious time for turning over a new leaf. The last 2 years have seen a great shift in the area formerly known as trans. Identity politics is on the decline and with it the force that held the fragile trans model together politically. No longer is it necessary to toe the line of transtalk when discussing this issue, though it can still require fortitude to overcome the conditioned aversion that has been laid over us all. The idea that being TS is “hate” is still prevalent, and this must change. This will happen because the bullies have given back the ground they took and are still in retreat.
My hope for the near future is that men and women in transition may speak their mind completely free from the control scheme and bullying that fettered the area before. This is possible because internally within the trans world, there are clear lines being redrawn even now between crossdressers, people who transition due to sexual orientation, and people born with the transsexual birth defect. They are doing it themselves, out of what they believe to be political necessity. It is too little, too late.
This is in no small part due to the dogged determination of a dedicated few who persisted in the face of the absolute onslaught sent their way during the last several years. And along with that, some of the more outrageous behavior of the trans-people had the leading figures shaking their heads and reconsidering the wisdom of trying to represent the interests of lifestyle artists and intersex in the same breath. This is a paradigm shift in the trans world.
It is time for the transsexual area to evolve. In the past we had been clasped into chains by people who want to establish hierarchy and raise themselves up at the expense of everyone else. As TG increasingly took ownership of the word transsexual, they brought with them this notion that there are degrees of transsexualism and that some transsexuals are better than others. The flurry of so-called narratives became diagnostic of what “type” of TS you were. This must change.
There are no legitimate hierarchies here. You either are or you aren’t. You do, or you don’t. That’s all there is to it. All the different narratives are simply expressions of the things we experience as we go through life- they are not indicative of being TS in and of themselves. This is a result of the psychiatric ownership of this issue to this date, where we are judged based on who we have sex with and what our mothers may or may not have done properly in our upbringing. Completely left out of the equation was the primary problem that led to all the others; the eventual absolute alienation from your own body that every TS person arrives at. Everything flows from that, and if you don’t put the cart before the horse as the sexologists and TG do, every TS “narrative” will make perfect sense in light of circumstance. This would make it easy to account for such things as societal attitudes growing up, family background, feelings about sexual stereotypes, or any of the other things that currently confuse many when trying to understand this condition.
If there is a measure of degree at all here, it is the speed with which one arrives at this point of no return, not the nature of what is reached. I suppose some of the anger that arises, a lot probably, is the equivalence drawn between people who are obviously enjoying their “journey” and TS people who have known nothing but misery before transition.
To be transsexual is to grow up watching your body become twisted into a form so grotesque you can’t bear your image in the mirror. You are so deformed that other people can’t even see who you really are, and you lose the ability to interact socially as a result. To be transsexual is to walk the earth as a ghost, seeing everything but touching nothing.
Some people reflect on these kinds of things and think “I don’t hate my body so much. You know, like hate it, hate it…”, and think there is something amiss somewhere. This is often a matter of time, perspective, and personality. It’s difficult to quantify something like the loathing of ones sexual characteristics. It is such an odd state of being with no comparison for people to make judgments that it can be very confusing to “diagnose” oneself. How can you know what the difference between being comfortable with your body and not, if you have nothing to compare it to? Indifference can either be a perception of congruence with your body… or it could be what we tell ourselves when we don’t actually “like” it, one of the coping mechanisms TS people use to get through life before transition. This is what led to the confusion with TG in the first place. Also, there are many other defense mechanisms in place that cloud memories and confuse issues after the fact. Many people face more than just the TS problem in their lives and the longer you go without fixing it, the more mixed up the world will seem as everything conflates.
There are other cosmetic differences to consider as well. If you manage to figure out on a conscious level the nature of the problem you face (more common now than in the past), your perception of the issue will be very different than someone who reached the final point of collapse and burns in agony at their very existence. I believe this is the main source of the confusion for psych practitioners about so-called “primary” and “secondary” transsexuals. They have constructed a spectrum solution to the problem that doesn’t see the actual spectrum they try to describe. They put all transsexual experience at one end into a single point and dismiss anything that does not conform, even while they construct what they believe to be a sliding scale of “gender behavior”.
If there were degrees to transsexualism, they still would not correspond to degrees of stereotyped sex-role behavior as they believe. As a result of this “expert help”, people who are TS go through life increasingly miserable thinking that because they do not fit the crazy stories that psychs tell they must not be TS. And people who have no business taking hormones and getting surgery are called “transsexual” by iatrogenic artifact. This must change, and is changing even now.
It is time for a blanket amnesty for all of us. We must stop using the words of our enemies to describe each other. No more accusing people of being autogynephiles, or judging each other by the difficulties or blessings we have been born into. No more acceptance of bigotry toward sexual orientation. We must stop playing into the hands of people who divide and conquer, and stop trying to qualify each others birth defects based on the false criteria of the past. We must dismiss “narrative” from our lexicon, and dismiss sexology from our lives entirely.
We need a diversity of voices coming together as one. Straight and gay, poor and rich. People from all walks of life with the same message: We are men and women, without qualification.
Men and women. Always and forever.
In a recent December letter, Anne Lawrence bemoans the DSM-5 Gender “Incongruence” sub-committee’s recommendations. As some have noted, the new proposed standards include an exit clause for anyone who feels they are transitioned enough, which bothers Lawrence probably because it doesn’t allow her to continue to be “transsexual” since she is supposed to be treated. And it’s just not stigmatizing enough- it frees people too quickly.
But what’s more important, and less remarked, is that they propose doing away with describing different types of TS. This is an amazing development, and very encouraging. The two type nonsense is dead, the unitary phenomenon view is on the rise.
Despite the population of the “GID” committee with people who are completely hostile to the notion of biological TS, there are enough other people out there who know better and are willing to speak out. This may suggest a consideration that the increasing biological evidence presents an insurmountable problem for talk therapists. It is only strange that it took this long for such a recognition given that the basis of TS treatment was that it was not amenable to any kind of cure; talk, electroshock, drugs, imprisonment, or otherwise. The worm is indeed turning.
In the United States our situation is very different than in countries where they have government run health care. In those countries, medical authority is wielded with all the force of the government, and if patients want treatment for something considered new or unproved they often face the uphill battle of trying to prosecute a case against an intractable bureaucracy. And even if successful, what is given can easily be taken away. You must petition the government for special rights and privileges in many of these places, and you end up with things like that UK Gender Act of 2004, which creates a special status rather than simply switching you from one column to the other. While imperfect, it’s at least a path to change that allows unchallenged marriages for some.
Here in the States, it’s a wide open field. We don’t need to go begging the psych establishment hat in hand for the ability to transition. The legal structure that allows this has already been in place for decades and we have made small gains despite the TG interference. These gains are trumpeted as wins for the TG paradigm, but that is simple rebranding and propaganda. A couple states have liberalized legal sex change requirements, but you must still find a doctor to certify that you have completed clinical treatment. This will be more difficult to get with the coming changes, something that is not good for anyone. In fact, a few states have actually become more restrictive in granting these changes, but this isn’t something that affects post ops very much. It’s more of a pain, but you can usually gather the material with a little more effort. This, in fact, is what the TG have accomplished, shooting us all in the foot. And nothing more.
The good news is that anyone who wants to can transition and have almost universal access to change the few things you need to address with the government- and without the psychs. In 47 of 50 states, you can change your birth certificate. In all 50 states you can change your driver’s license. And upon presentation of a surgery letter to the Social Security administration, you can change your “federal sex” for almost all purposes, without a birth certificate. Taxation, marriage, other things of that sort. Some states completely observe our marriages and even in those where it is dodgy at best, such as Texas, there are opportunities for positive outcomes. Things are still very, very good for us. But they can be better.
We are very close to being able to cement our rights in terms of legal sex designation. The only thing that should concern men and women of TS background is whether or not our paperwork carries the same weight as everyone else’s. That’s all we need. This solves our marriage issue without reference to same-sex marriage and completely extricates us from the gay world. This, along with the new escape clause from the psychs that is probably forthcoming removes the institutional stigma that has dogged us all these years. It rescues us from the realm of the TG and the process of repairing the public perception of this birth defect will begin in earnest.
The best part about this is that it is all for the individual to choose, we are all free to do whatever we wish. We define ourselves by our actions: Those who are TS will cure and move on. Those who aren’t will remain where they are by choice, and have no one to blame but themselves. There is no judgment but what we deem of ourselves. And also no one to blame for living in the ghetto.
It also has the merit of not feeding into a creation of a forced 3rd sex category, as all the TG efforts have to date. Their agenda has been completely detrimental to our rights and needs. Their gains would have been our losses. It is sad that was the path that was chosen, and it will be a blessing to be separated from people whose goal is to radically alter society. Whether or not you agree with that goal, it should be for the individual to choose. It is not right to conscript a minority of people, who have a birth defect, as a battering ram at society’s gate to enforce your views and social agenda on the vast majority of he public. And it was an effort doomed to failure in any case.
It is sad that those who would be transgender chose to attack and destroy us rather than recognize our differences and embrace acceptance of one another. It does not make me happy to see so many people drowning in misery, regardless of the animosity that has characterized this area and the wars that have been waged against us in the media by these people. It is with nothing but relief that I recount this sea change, this closing of the transgender chapter. It is a great weight lifted from our shoulders.
Along with the new leaf we are turning over regarding authenticity, we must also establish a new paradigm for presenting the transsexual syndrome in the years to come. Freed from the fetters of gender theory, a herculean task remains; construct our own. While the legal victories in the years to come will no doubt provide the individual with everything they need to complete transition, the establishment of a truthful paradigm for transsexualism will prevent problems from arising in the future. The concept is already deeply rooted in the public mind; it requires only the water and sunlight it has been starved of all these years in order to blossom.
This is my challenge to all of you who would write the future.