Responce To Questioning Transgender…

This is a response to  http://www.lagusta.com/rants/trans2008.html. Obviously by her, and not me. The blue in [] are mine. I would like to add that I no longer feel quite so ‘angry’, that I respect Lagusta’s opinion and that I am grateful for her response. Thank you.

Four years later: rethinking “Questioning Transgender Politics” in 2008 In 2004 I wrote an essay called “Questioning Transgender Politics” in which I did just that. I’ve done a lot of thinking and reading about the trans question since then, and would like to do some self-critiquing of my original essay. As evidenced by the ugly political season we are currently suffering through, one of the huge problems with American society right now is our inability to see any shade of grey or admit that our positions on issues might change over time. In the spirit of doing a tiny bit to change this, instead of editing and rewriting the original essay I am going to add comments about it then repost it, unchanged, below so it will be a record of how my thoughts on the issue have evolved. The primary problem with the essay is that I was treating an entire group of people as a theoretical “postmodern project,” which seems pretty cruel. [that’s true] Gender dysphoria happens to real people, and even though I addressed this issue a bit in the original essay, I didn’t at the time adequately understand the position of privilege I was speaking from as a person who is comfortable in her own skin.

The original purpose of the essay was to argue that instead of changing ourselves through surgery and large doses of toxic mainstream drugs, we should work for a society in which binary gender oppositions aren’t given so much weight and the meaning of the words “woman” and “man” are more fluid and free. [this may help people, a genderless society, but that won’t stop them from feeling like their bodies are wrong] I said that instead of working for a trans revolution, we should work for a feminist one because “feminism, good old school 1970s feminism, is what truly expands the boundaries of gender, because it says that men can cuddle and women can fuck and everything is fine, because men and women aren’t predetermined to be a certain way.”

What a lovely idea, but let’s face it: we aren’t going to live in that society for a very, very long time. And when you’re insides and outsides don’t match up and you’re aware of that disconnect every second of every day, it must have sounded rather insensitive to have someone tell you that everything Western society believes about gender must be changed from the ground up before you can live a comfortable happy life.

I still have large problems with the trans world [we don‘t all share the same ideas and world you know], and I still believe in the essay below which attempts to explain them . But I understand that it is the right choice for some people. [I’m glad you’ve learned some since writing the original essay. Although I disagree with you in many ways (in this introduction and the essay) its great to see some progress. I hope you don’t mind my using this. If you do, please tell me and I’ll remove it. I come across as a bit hostile, but I mean it towards people who cannot see past themselves, which you have proved that you can (rather small insight by me, I apologize for that). I want to post this because yours are the (valid) concerns of many people who do not know a great deal about transgenderism or simply disagree with it on principle. You can contact me at my Word Press account.

January 2008 PS: The friend I mention below had this to say about this essay in a birthday email in 2007: “If ideas were surprises, and surprises were people, I’d pop out of your birthday cake and tell you that I can finally hear what you were saying during that eventful ride where a chasm was born between a “brilliant lawyer-to-be” and a “hot-vegan-chef-activist-political lesbian.” I must say that I think that things have really changed over the past couple of years, especially in a negative and not a positive direction, as epitomized by the “San Francisco scene.” And I also feel more grounded about the issue. Like elephants on a bicycle. Birds in a canoe. Frogs riding motorcycles. (Exactly).” Aww, she’s so cute! And how nice that both of us have grown a little and can now meet a bit more in the middle.

The original essay from 2004: This is a hard essay to write. I very much consider myself an ally of lesbians and gay men, and I should say very first that I am not anti-trans. But I sometimes disagree with how the transgender movement is practiced, and I think it is doing some damage to the feminist movement. I have written about how dangerous I think postmodernism is (here and here), so I guess it’s only natural that, since the trans movement has come out of the “postmodern project” [trans movement? Can you be more specific? Because the idea of transgenderism has been around for centuries.] (postmoderninists love to depoliticize, so they don’t call their movement a movement, they call it a “project,” which always makes it seem to me like it’s a pencil holder made of popsicle sticks or something), I have issues with it. First a note. This essay is primarily concerned with female-to-male transgendered people. Maybe it’s because I just don’t care about men as much as I do women, maybe I just haven’t gotten around to it, but right now my opinions apply mostly to ftms, because the ftm stance seems more connected to feminism [ftms are men. Mtfs are women.]

Violence

Nonviolence is the fundamental basis of all my political convictions, so I think it’s the best way for me to begin the discussion. It seems to me that some (not all, maybe not even most. But perhaps enough to have a discussion about it) women who want to become men, who feel and have always felt that they are men living in a female body, have institutionalized misogyny (hatred of women) to a horrifying extent [yeah, because we‘re all attracted to males, we all HATE feminists and women too. Sarcasm there if you didn‘t catch it]. There, I said it. It feels cruel and mean, but I truly believe this. Sorry to let everybody down, but I don’t believe violence against women is OK — even and especially self-inflicted violence, which is undeniably what’s happening when women take huge doses of drugs and undergo surgery to rearrange their body parts. I would like to start a conversation about why so many young women suddenly seem to have the need to become men. [that’s not at all what is going on. How does hating women relate to hating your body? A female who hates hir body does not automatically mean zie is a misogynist. That’s jumping to an absurd conclusion]

I think that trans people and their allies are so alluring to most liberal, feministy people because they seem to be so inclusive, open, and liberal. They seem to be only widening the circle of radical politics to include all different kinds of people, and what’s wrong with that?

What’s wrong is that I think that in some ways the transgender philosophy [what do you mean by this? Do all trans people think the same to you? That’s what you’re implying.] has the effect of re-inscribing and upholding, rather than truly deconstructing and destroying, gender roles. [what about androgynes, genderqueers, feminine ftms, masculine mtfs,ect]

Feminism and postmodernism

My definition of feminism is: a philosophy that says that women should be granted the same rights as men. Feminism is a philosophy that recognizes that women breathe in patriarchy and breathe out misogyny and attempts to correct this through breaking down the walls of self-hatred we are encouraged to construct. Basically, the kind of feminism I believe in says that 1) being a woman is a wonderful thing and 2) all people deserve basic human rights. Ecofeminism is my core philosophy — that feminism is connected to every other movement for justice, because there can be no peace when others suffer. It’s an anti-violence philosophy, and that’s why I like it.

But postmodernism gets into those words and changes them around. It worms its slimy way into the very core of words like “woman” and holds them up to a strange academic fluorescent light and says: “what is a woman?” and thus, with a single stroke of the postmodern pen, academics everywhere put down their “I’m pro choice and I vote” bumper stickers (heretofore to be dismissed as “passe”) and Discuss [what’s wrong with accepting more diversity among women (this is about mtfs)? Why must everyone conform to a feminist standard, or a patriarchical standard?] . While the Discussion is taking place, roe v. wade is being stripped from us, Bush is passing laws that require women to wear chastity belts and burkas, and Ted Nugent has just been elected mayor of New York City [sure, because everything is always ‘The Trans” fault.] . But no one cares (except those pomo ladies who find the chastity belts sexy – see below[yay sterotypes]) — they are too busy writing whole forests worth of discourses with titles like “Incredulity Toward Metanarrative: Negotiating Postmodernism and Feminism.” In the postmodern world, no one can say anything with any authority, because absolutely everything is negotiable [transgenderism is not automatically linked with post-modernism. Its not usually a political statement. Its more often someone just trying to become comfortable with themselves]. From a Karla Mantilla article in Off Our Backs:

One intern, assigned to cover an anti-choice event, became confused about how “You can’t say that anti-choicers are wrong–they have a viewpoint too. You really can’t say any viewpoint is wrong.” She actually became confused about her stand on abortion after hearing the fervent beliefs of anti-choicers. Not that she was convinced by the merits of their arguments–that would have been at least an honest mistake. It was her inability to hold any argument as being more valid than another, so that as long as there are competing positions on any topic, she seemed unable to take a stand on it. This, as I see it, is the cumulative effect of postmodern academic teachings on students of women’s studies these days. They are rendered unable to take even the most obvious of stands with any conviction. OY! [still irrelevant]

So, everyone is discussing that a woman really isn’t anything, really, because the term “woman” is just a sign, and, as Jacques Lacan so accurately pointed out, signs don’t and cannot, because of the metaphorical and therefore restrictive nature of language itself, ever actually “be” what they signify — the actual printed word “woman” will never be someone with a vagina — so therefore that person cannot be said to actually “exist” in any real, quantifiable way, except as a collection of our own latent fears and Freudian desires (and don’t computers make it all ever so much more interesting, because now this typed word cannot even be held in your hand, it is a sign that itself doesn’t exist, living in cyberspace — which doesn’t exist).

Why would anyone care about anything as silly as the fact that women’s studies professors get paid half as much as physics professors when we can mull over these questions all day? Well, some women (or whatever) got to thinking: if the category “woman” doesn’t exist, and postmodernism has freed us to “explore the boundaries of gender” and I’ve never felt like a “woman” anyway because I don’t like lipstick, why don’t I bind my breasts with an ace bandage, take a bunch of carcinogenic pills and call myself a man? [its more than that. Most ftms feel this is a deep part of their identity. Its about their body, soul, and mind. Its not just; Oh, I hate lipstick, I must be a boy! Once again, there are other genders, and some ftms are quite feminine.]

Do you see the funny logic there? Without even delving into postmodernism’s parlor-game-gone-bad, rich-white-person’s-luxury mind games, if postmodernism really did free us from the shackles of gender, wouldn’t we be more free, not less, to be comfortable in the body we’re in? If there’s no such thing as a woman, what’s the rush to escape? [The majority of transpeople [likes stay with ftms and mtfs here} are not saying there is no such thing as a woman. Pomo and transgenderism {the ‘transgender theory’ as you put it} are very different.]

Ain’t I A Woman?

Well…let’s think about it. Women who want to become men argue that they have never felt at home in a female body, and, in a truly open society, they should be allowed to “expand the boundaries of gender” and become men. My main problem with this is the classic postmodern question: what is a woman? Sidestepping all that crap about language, let’s just ask this: when someone says they feel uncomfortable as a woman, what does that mean? You don’t want to wear pantyhose? You don’t want to be on the bottom during sex [some transmen like being bottoms]? You don’t want to shave your legs [guys can shave too], talk in a high voice, nurture men and children [men can do that too], prepare meals [only female can be chefs?], be a secretary, accept less money for more work? Is this what you dislike about “being a woman”? [While gender roles can be annoying, that’s not {usually} what transmen/ transwomen are trying to escape. Its a body that doesn’t fit. Even no op no ho transpeople do not generally transition to escape roles. Its about mind, body, and soul.]

If so, I have to be a little rude, because you, who pretend to be so open and radical, are obviously extremely stupid. Many women have somehow managed to travel the slippery slope of affirming themselves as women while not doing any of these things [we are aware of that. But we are NOT WOMEN. It doesn’t matter how ’butch’ we are allowed to be, its not going to fit is you’re a man.]

A little thing called feminism made it possible for women to be able to do many different things, act many different ways, have really good sex, and, until today, it never seemed necessary to undergo massive surgery and change the pronoun with which you refer to yourself in order to do these things. Feminism, good old school 1970s feminism, is what truly expands the boundaries of gender, because it says that men can cuddle and women can fuck and everything is fine, because men and women aren’t predetermined to be a certain way.

It seems to me that the transgender world reaffirms gender stereotypes, not only in its inability to imagine anything beyond Barbie womanhood [there are butch mtfs, you realize, and feminist mtfs, and androgynous mtfs, and…], but because a significant percentage of the women who do become men become horrible frat boy men that real feminists spend their lives actively loathing. The NPR radio program This American Life once had an extremely jarring segment on this exact phenomenon, in which a ftm transman discusses his sudden and dramatic transformation into a frat boy almost immediately upon beginning a regimen of testosterone.

OK, so maybe you understand that all people who identify as women don’t have to lust after a 24-inch waist, that there is more to womanhood than nail polish and poppin’ out babies. What if you just always felt, from the day you were born, that you were a man? You’re just tired of dealing with close-minded people who can’t accept the fluidity of gender, and you would just be happier as a man. For a long time, my analysis of this issue stopped here, and I agreed that if someone feels this way, they should be free to take steps to bring their inner and outer worlds into alignment and we should embrace that person. But two examples, pointed out by helpful friends, changed my mind. What if you were black in 1944 (or 1844, or 2004), and you were just really tired of being discriminated against. Would the best course of action be to paint your face white every day so you could “pass”? Or would it be to do the horribly hard work of working for more open-mindedness? [see my post on the race/gender comparison. race and gender are completely different.] Or what if you had small breasts and you always, from your 11th birthday on, felt that you were really, really, meant to have really, really huge breasts? [this is useless. Its about having a body that fits your gender, not having big knockers (for mtfs). Its not ONE body part, its a whole self (for binary transitioners)] Do you think society should embrace your mature decision to have a boob job, or do you think thinking people would think you were maybe just a bit brainwashed [actually, tons of women get those now. Society doesn’t care. If anything, it encourages women to look ‘sexier’ which can be annoying at best]?

The “third wave” problem

Perhaps one reason so many otherwise awesome women are so eager to disassociate themselves with feminism is because of the so-called “third wave” feminists. “Third-wave” feminism is a lot more stylish and often more fun (better music, too) than older schools of feminism (I think somewhere else on lagusta.com I discuss the ridiculousness of terms like “third wave,” so I will not go into it here and will use it in quotes to point out the problems I have with it). “Third wave” feminists, who are usually in their 20s and 30s, (full disclosure: I’m 27) have claimed a kind of feminism that often seems suspiciously like anti-feminism. It started with lipstick: we can be feminists and wear lipstick! Well, yay for you, I thought. I’m fine with the hemp balm, as it’s not made of horses or whatever and tastes of tangerine and not plastic. Then it was: we can be feminists and marry and stay at home and have baby after baby. OK, I thought, as long as someone’s raising thoughtful feminist kids and it’s not me, who’s to judge? Now it’s: we can be feminists and enjoy stripping for the pleasure of men. I’m not kidding — it’s called neoburlesque, and it’s the new hobby (second only to knitting, strangely) of indie “feminist” young women all across NYC and other major cities. At first, I tried to be supportive. After all, so many of these new strippers are anything but perfectly skinny, which is refreshing (as I found out when I went to an indie band show and the middle act was a lovely zaftig lady stripping down to pasties and painted-on underwear).

But this is just dumb. I’m happy you’ve found feminism and it’s allowing you to do what you want to do and feel comfortable about it, but have you ever stopped to think about why you feel comfortable doing those particular things? Maybe it’s because you’re brainwashed and now you’re sullying the good name of my favorite f-word in the name of following your heart? Oops, there I go, accusing people of false consciousness. So what does a good feminist do when she realizes that the way the feminist “project” is currently being carried out isn’t for her? Instead of reading some Andrea Dworkin or Katherine MacKinnon and realizing that the word “feminist” wasn’t always about pasties and thongs, it seems to me that lots of young women have run other way and ended up with a bottle of pills promising to lower one’s voice and raise one’s libido [this is so out of place i don‘t even have a comment]. Finally, an encounter with a friend of mine. She is an intensely brilliant woman who is studying to become a civil rights lawyer. I love discussing politics with her. But recently we got into the issue of trans politics, and I don’t know how it felt to her, but to me it felt like suddenly we were talking to each other from opposite sides of a deep chasm. The differences between us magnified to such an extent that I could hardly see her. We were basically having the same argument that I outlined above. I was rambling on and on about how the whole problem with the transgendered world is that we should really be working for a society in which everyone is valued — girlymen and boy-girls all the wonderful fuckedupness that is possible — and no one has to hate themselves and take drugs and have surgery because of institutionalized misogyny [a “genderless world” won‘t make this stop. Gender identity and gender expression are not the same. A butch ‘woman‘ may still feel zirself to be a man, or a genderqueer, or whatever, regardless of how accepted hir expression is.]. She was, very kindly, with utmost politeness, accusing me of accusing transgendered people of a false consciousness and, basically, saying — how dare you presume to know how someone else feels about their body?[your friend makes sense. You DON’T know how we’re thinking, so why should you tell us what we can and can’t of should/shouldn’t do to OUR bodies?] “But feminism!,” I kept saying. “Wouldn’t you agree that a huge part of feminism is helping women to get past the self-loathing our patriarchal society heaps upon us and understanding that being living in the world as a woman — making money as women, wearing whatever clothes we want to wear as women, sleeping with whomever we want to sleep with as women — is a great, not just an acceptable, way to live? [well sure, that’s great-for you. If you’re not a woman, but you’re expected to be one, its not great to live ‘as a woman.’] At its root, isn’t feminism all about simply saying: I am a woman, I am a person, I am allowed to live, I have rights?” (I didn’t really say all this, but it’s what I would have said if I had been more articulate). “Honestly,” she said, “I don’t really find the term ‘woman’ or ‘lesbian’ useful for me anymore. That’s why I identify as ‘queer.'”

My heart dropped to the floor.

In college, I was on the queer bandwagon, too, sleeping as I did (and do) with a man yet feeling generally women-identified in all other ways and, plus, no one understood when I called myself a “political lesbian.” But in time I came to believe that “queer,” while still an attractive term to me in some ways, has generally come to mean yet another group of people led by men. So, they weren’t men who looked at me as a rape fantasy [all heterosexual men do that? And if its only gay men excluded here, what about the bi-guys?], yay for that, but deep down I really am a political lesbian in that one of the fundamental tenants of radical lesbian feminism — basically that I don’t care to be around many men – applies to me in every way except for the comparatively small fact that I’m madly in love with a man. So for my friend to say that she doesn’t find the word woman “useful” to her anymore — it was profoundly sad to me.

We were driving to the March for Women’s Lives in Washington, D.C. The darkness settled around us as we pulled into a friend’s house. I felt a heaviness in my heart and knew if we kept on talking about it I would start crying. Is it just that I can’t stand a diversity of opinions, that I want everyone to think the way I do? I asked myself later that night, as I walked the streets, unable to sleep, trying to calm down. I hope not. The next day we gathered our Planned Parenthood and Ms. Magazine signs, our buttons and temporary tattoos, and marched with a panoply of women from around the country and the world. I felt so quiet. I looked at everyone thinking: what do you believe? Are we in this together? Who are you? Are you going to change on me? [Its sad that you would see others as apart from because of their stance of this topic. If they change, its their choice]. June 2004

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  1. #1 by lagusta on March 12, 2009 - 03:44

    Hello!

    Thanks for your thoughts. Here are a few comments:

    “right now my opinions apply mostly to ftms, because the ftm stance seems more connected to feminism
    You said: [ftms are men. Mtfs are women.]”

    I know! It concerns me that women are becoming men. That’s connected to feminism.

    **

    “I don’t believe violence against women is OK — even and especially self-inflicted violence, which is undeniably what’s happening when women take huge doses of drugs and undergo surgery to rearrange their body parts. I would like to start a conversation about why so many young women suddenly seem to have the need to become men.
    [that’s not at all what is going on. How does hating women relate to hating your body? A female who hates hir body does not automatically mean zie is a misogynist. That’s jumping to an absurd conclusion]”

    Um….prove it to me! Surgery and huge doses of drugs are what’s going on. Violence inflicted by the medical establishment. Maybe it’s for a good cause, but it worries me. One of my good friends is trans, and he will be taking giant does of testosterone forever. This worries me. I’m not calling people misogynists, I said that in SOME cases, they might have “institutionalized misogyny.” There’s a difference.

    **

    “What’s wrong is that I think that in some ways the transgender philosophy [what do you mean by this? Do all trans people think the same to you? That’s what you’re implying.]”

    Oh god. Come on! I am really trying to learn and grow here, and throwing the “do you think we all think alike” card out isn’t appropriate. What I mean is using the medical establishment to determine who we are.

    “has the effect of re-inscribing and upholding, rather than truly deconstructing and destroying, gender roles. [what about androgynes, genderqueers, feminine ftms, masculine mtfs,ect]”
    Yep, um, that’s all wonderful. Did I ever say it wasn’t? Does that undermine my point? No.

    **
    [what’s wrong with accepting more diversity among women (this is about mtfs)? Why must everyone conform to a feminist standard, or a patriarchical standard?] .

    To answer this would be to go down a long and winding road, one that would invoke Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival bathroom discussions, and instead of beginning it I will merely refer you to that discussion. You are on one side of it, I am on the other. I’m OK with that, I hope you are too.

    I have great big problems with the medical establishment, that’s my thing. I worry about medicalizing gender.

    **
    [sure, because everything is always ‘The Trans” fault.]
    Um, no. Not at all. Sorry if it came across that way.
    **
    [transgenderism is not automatically linked with post-modernism. Its not usually a political statement. Its more often someone just trying to become comfortable with themselves].
    Of course. I’m talking about when it is.
    **
    [its more than that. Most ftms feel this is a deep part of their identity. Its about their body, soul, and mind. Its not just; Oh, I hate lipstick, I must be a boy! Once again, there are other genders, and some ftms are quite feminine.]
    Yeah–I could have written that part a little better, for sure.
    **
    [The majority of transpeople [likes stay with ftms and mtfs here} are not saying there is no such thing as a woman. Pomo and transgenderism {the ‘transgender theory’ as you put it} are very different.]
    And thus the problem! In some ways I’d be happier if people were saying that, on some levels at least. I never said postmodern feminists and transpeople were the exact same, of course I don’t believe that. Right now I’m talking about the overlaps.
    **
    ” You don’t want to be on the bottom during sex [some transmen like being bottoms]? You don’t want to shave your legs [guys can shave too], talk in a high voice, nurture men and children [men can do that too], prepare meals [only female can be chefs?],”

    Um, these were examples, and I was pointing out their absurdity!! Jeez!
    **
    Sigh. We just are coming from slightly different places. It’s OK. I understand your central point: it’s not about being a woman or not being a woman, it’s about being comfortable in your body. Here’s my central point:
    Why are women not comfortable in their bodies?
    That’s really all I can say.
    Again, thanks so much for your comments.

  2. #2 by trannyboi22 on March 12, 2009 - 10:06

    Thank you for commenting here. I’m always glad to hear other people opinions, even if they are at conflict with mine. I wrote this a while before it was actually uploaded, and more or less for a trans-audience, so its not exactly up to my normal standards.

    See, I don’t see it as women becoming men, but as men becoming men, or women becoming women. Then again, as a trans person, I have a bias.

    Hmmm. I see what you mean. I should probably clarify. I know that many cases ARE centered on internalized misogyny, and I agree that it is important to be sure that this is not the deciding factor for a transition.

    I didn’t mean to imply that genderqueers and trans people directly undermined you points, I just like to add them whenever I can because they are often left out of the ‘trans umbrella.’

    I realize that you speak of specific situations, and some of these situations I generalized. I apologize.

    As for the example, I know what you were doing, I just like to be sure everyone is aware that not every trans person’s identity is based on stereotypes. Obviously you know that :), but I added it anyways.

    I guess you’re right. We ARE on different sides, and I’m okay with that too. I like that there is debate, because debate is healthy. It lets us know that we need to rethink on some things and keep our stances on others. Best, it helps us question the hard things.

    I cannot tell you how pleased I am that this actually recieved a reply. While I respect that every issue has many sides, I think dialogue is the best way for us all to see other perspectives. Thank you for explaining yours to me, I feel very enlightened (no sarcasm intended, sorry if it sounded so). Once again, thank you very much. Have a nice day.

  3. #3 by Valerie Keefe on October 2, 2009 - 15:04

    Oh lagusta… hmm… how to politely and gently put down the whole reifying gender arguement? I guess, first of all, I do that just by existing as a generally makeup-hating trans lesbian. And yes, it would be totally awesome if I could have ever found a way to express myself as a femme boy… but having tried that, it doesn’t work. It doesn’t attract the kind of people who make me feel valid. Being some form of male spectrum, woman-oriented genderqueer just doesn’t cut it, doesn’t strike me personally as any less condescending as a mom giggling when her son gets into her girl clothes at age 6, grinning and telling him to put them away before the mother next door comes over with her son, because when that son’s 13, well, now it’s time to grow up and be a man. And that’s not the patriarchy talking. That’s Peggy Drexler.

    You know Dr. Drexler, right? Feminist author, wrote a book on parenting without men? She doesn’t think it’s okay for men to cry, to access their emotions with the same freedom and regularity that women do… so mayhaps feminism isn’t breaking down gender roles. Maybe, just maybe, the reification of masculine stereotypes has become more acceptable. This shouldn’t concern me, really, because I’m a woman, but when those same feminists look at feminine males as failed males, well we take the argument one step further, as Germaine Greer does, and say that trans women are just the ultimate failed male.

    Also the GIANT DOSES! referred to? Most binary-identified trans people just would like their endocrinology to be in the appropriate range for their gender. In terms of life expectancy trans women don’t close the death gap over trans men by more than a year, (life expectancy: 74, and that’s including the explicit violence done to us for rejecting our masculinity) and trans men live to 80 on average, so it’s a pretty specious argument, that transition is horrible body-damaging violence. Having a slightly elevated level of serum estrogen to make up for the last decade and a half of testosterone poisoning isn’t self-mutilation, it is triage. Ideally yes, I would have liked to have a smaller dosage earlier. I would have liked to stop my voice from cracking and from growing to be six-three. But, I don’t have a time machine, and I now need to counteract what my body’s done and what it’s continuing to do. At 26, I can hear the ticking of my biological clock of declining estrogen sensitivity like a tympani drumbeat.

    Also from Men in Ewes clothing, the title alone should have seemed incredibly problematic from a trans-acceptance point of view, but at any rate, let’s quote from the article you rave about:

    …That would be true, except it involves a very superficial understanding of socialization. Socialization, especially something as profound as gender socialization, cannot be totally overcome by a conscious or intellectual decision to be different. The idea that this could occur so easily comes in part from the extremes to which privileged people do not understand how deep oppression runs…

    That’s the fundamental argument regarding cis-privilege. Transmen were forced into a girlhood that was, with every bow, and barette, and indigo girls’ track, an onslaught of oppression, just like every tie, and shaving lesson, and bottle of brut aftershave, was an attack against my gender, and some of it gets through, and some of it is socialized. I remember being 13 and practicing looking at my fingernails ‘the boy way’ because I’d been laughed at that day. So yes, I know the damage done by socialization, the gendered messages I picked up, the internal wincing every time I saw a woman objectified. It’s very much a statement of privilege to assert that trans men didn’t learn male socialization or trans women didn’t get female socialization. We did. We also learned that good girls and boys don’t express those bits of socialization, and then we learn to hate ourselves for wanting something, feeling so natural as women and men instead of as men and women. It’s coming from an inherent place of privilege to deny me my gender because somehow I can’t escape having seen Tim Taylor grunting. It’s an original sin that is conveniently inescapable.

    Please miss, don’t mourn the women you lose to trans, they were never women to begin with. Celebrate the women you’re getting. A lot of us are very sweet, very insecure women who’ve been directly wounded by a forced boyhood, and we’d really love to have someone recognize us instead of mourning men and women who got rather tired of trying to be people they never were.

  4. #4 by Silver Ghosts on October 11, 2009 - 18:31

    Valerie, that was beautiful.

    • #5 by Silver Ghosts on October 11, 2009 - 18:56

      Also, to lagusta:

      I wrote the original post quite some time ago, and I realize it came across very rude and disrespectful. It was written at a time of anger (not directed at you) and I am very sorry. However I am glad we were able to have civilized discussion over it and I would further like to congratulate you on standing up for your beliefs. Even if we disagree, I find your conviction very admirable.

  5. #6 by Noah on November 30, 2009 - 15:26

    I thought you might like to know that Lagusta has just taken down the essay you’ve responded to here. I’m sure your post helped to bring about that positive change. I appreciate your taking the time to express your concerns with what she had written. I know it takes a lot of energy to try to explain transphobia to cissexual people.

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