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Monday, January 24, 2011

Point / Counterpoint

There have been many blog posts in the past few months relating to the term, "transsexual".  Who is one, how the term is used, etc.  Seems that there is no lack of polarized feelings on the subject in the transgender world.

Within nine minutes of each other, Ariel and Teri did posts on their blogs which were pretty much 180 degrees off from each other.  Both were well written and both deserve to be read.

How do you feel about the subject?  Leave a comment and let our readers know.  I'll hold short of commenting right now but I will reserve the right to share my own thoughts on my little place in the blogosphere.

Go here for Teri's Non-Op Transsexuals post on her Common Teri's Commentary blog.

Go here for Ariel's Socially Transitioned post on her A Naturalized Citizen blog.


  1. We of the "Gender Variant" community are doing ourselves no good with these "discussions".

    True Transexuals deserve no more consideration and public accomodation than others suffering from medical maladies, and they won't get it.

    Do the blind demand special consideration over the highly mypopic? Does a psychotic person deserve special consideration over the merely neurotic?

    Is a quadraplegic somehow more special than a mere paraplegic?

    Both WPATH and that US State Department have spoken, and genital surgery is not required to change your sex. In Britain a gender recognition certificate doesn't require SRS.

    The argument that one must desire SRS whether that is practicable or not in order to be deemed transexual is bizarre, convoluted and circular.

    Transsexualism is not a badge of honor or special award. It is an admission that you are profoundly maladjusted and require heroic measures to adjust your body because your mind can not be made to conform to your body.

  2. @ Anonymous

    I agree with you 100% Being transsexual is not a title to be won or fought after yet a term that describes a woman "born into the worng body" so to speak. In my opinion it is no more or a noun than an adjective as it doesn't define the woman that I am as much as describe the type of circumstances I have had to deal with.

  3. @Anonymous: I can't speak for the gender-variant community, because I'm not part of it. But I see no problem with trying to achieve clarity so that when we use a word we all know what it means. That's how language works.

    About your examples: there is a dividing line between legally blind and not, and the legally blind (whether mostly or entirely impaired) do get special consideration, such as braile on bank machines.

    No, the US State Department has not spoken. They allow pre-op transsexuals to change the sex designation on their passport to reflect their presentation. It's a limited validity passport. And it's for those who will have surgery before they renew.

    "The argument that one must desire SRS whether that is practicable or not in order to be deemed transexual is bizarre, convoluted and circular."

    This is an assertion without anything to support it.

    No, transsexualism is no badge of honour. I can't think of anyone who has ever said it was, so I wonder why that comes up at all.

  4. I see validity in both points of view, and I enjoyed reading both articles. I enjoyed less the war of words in the blog comments the followed. It's ashame there seems to be such bitter .. almost rivalry .. as they come close to being complementary - two sides of the same coin so to speak (the points of view, not necessarily the people). However, I find both unnecessarily defensive to varying degrees, and I find some claims in one to be factually problematic. To paraphrase, saying that "everyone considers a transsexual woman to have a vagina" is something I find shocking. While I would say that everyone correctly defined as transsexual (in my own personal opinion and based on a very simple parsing of the actual word itself) has altered their sex or at very least plans/desires to, outside of our "artificial bubble" - outside of trans communities - when most gender-conforming people use the term "transsexual", it's most commonly prefaced with "pre-op" or "pre-operative" - as in, "so and so [insert red-faced celebrity name here] was seen soliciting the services of a pre-operative transsexual." That fact is not really compatible with the previous assertion that everyone expects transsexual women to [already] have a vagina. Being more all-inclusive, the fact is that the vast majority of our FTM trans brothers will never have their "bottom" surgeries due to the extremely prohibitive cost and the frequently poor quality of results. Are none of them permitted to think of or speak of themselves as transsexual? I don't know.. I'm still an egg, too - still learning and finding my way.

    Speaking of vernacular, most people who aren't "one of us" or don't "know one of us" (or at least, don't know they do!) do not seem to see a difference between the more general term "transgender" and the more specific "transsexual". That's not to say we shouldn't attempt to clarify things and educate the willing, but honestly, how many of them really care? Our issues are so foreign and abstract to most people, most of the words will just fly past them and simply not "stick" anyway. Imagine my surprise when, upon coming out to my wife, a woman with far more formal education than I, I had to define the term "gender dysphoria" for her - one of the oldest terms around for what most of us here have experienced or are experiencing presently!

    For me, the bottom line is this:
    1. We all have our own journeys to take, some more divergent than others. We share a common bond, but we are all unique and face unique sets of challenges regardless of everything else.
    2. There's enough divisiveness and ill will against us collectively already without our adding to it with unnecessary "in-fighting" amongst ourselves. Surely you've heard the term "divide and conquer"? Let's not HELP those would do us in by doing just that within our own ranks. Come on, ladies - play nicely, now!

  5. I do not have a uterus. I do not have ovaries. My pelvis is nothing like a typical female's pelvis. As far as I know, my sex-chromosomes are XY. Not for one minute do I consider myself to be anatomically female nothwithstanding the fact that I live as a woman and that almost 9 years ago I had surgery to remove my testes and have an artificial vagina constructed. And I am the happiest I have ever been in my life - not because of the surgery but because I am able to be myself.

    Did I have a compulsion to remove my penis? No. You see, when I was 4 years old and realised I was a girl I didn't know what sex organs were and I didn't know that boys and girls had different sex organs. My penis was for urinating and I assumed everyone had one. My identity as a girl had nothing to do with what was between my legs.

    I really cannot understand why some trans women are obsessed with differentiating pre, post and non-op trans women. I have no difficulty accepting that some women have a penis. Sure it blurs the lines between trans women and other sex and gender diverse folk, but that does not threaten me. And as a woman born with a male body (ie a transsexual - yes it's a horrible term), I am a member of the sex and gender diverse community notwithstanding my surgery.

    I was lucky enough (dare I say privileged enough) to have the good health and financial means to have surgery when I felt that the time was right for me. Others are not so privileged. And it's not just good health and finances that are required. I did not act for many years because of my responsibility to my children. I felt the obligation to ensure their childhood was safe, secure and happy. My life was miserable and at times I felt suicidal, but I went on for the sake of my children - putting their needs ahead of my own ( a common trait among women). When my children were independent, I was able to do something about my transsexuality. I am a transsexual because I am a girl/woman who was born with a male body. No subsequent action (or lack of action) changes that fact.

  6. Where is the []Like button for Stacey Adam's comment? Nicely said!

  7. @Stacey:

    My apology for not having been clear in the original posting. I did clarify in a subsequent comment. I have always considered those who are pre-op, that is anyone who is either proceeding toward SRS or really wants it, to be transsexual. And I rarely write about FTM issues because I just have no experience there. It's a whole 'nother ball of wax.

    It really all started because someone commented that we make too big a deal out of SRS. Was that a controversial statement? Was that divisive? I then responded that SRS is a big deal. Those who have or want to have SRS have a condition that compels them to do that. Those who do not want SRS don't have that condition. Maybe they have something related, or something to a different degree.

    Is it divisive to offer such an opinion?

  8. Hi Ariel,

    I'm sorry - I apparently did miss your subsequent comment about considering pre-ops as transsexuals. Of course, if I missed it, someone else probably did, too; so, I (hopefully) haven't done a disservice, regardless of that fact. But thank you for clarifying your feeling about this - and I think our positions are more similar than not on that. :-)

    For the record, I *want* and feel I *need* SRS myself. Will I get it? I dunno. It's been and will continue to be a long road for me, there's a lot to do, and a lot of off-ramps along the way before I get to where I intend to go. Time will tell. But, it surely feels like the right path for me. So, I think we are on the same page there as well. As for whether I'm suggesting your sharing of your opinion was divisive, no I didn't find those comments of yours divisive. When I said that, I was speaking more of the follow-up banter that was not yours specifically but just the combined commentary that followed. The comments back-n-forth I would say started off more aggressive on the other side, but quickly became (IMHO) very defensive in tone on both sides. Having said that, I know a lot of times written words SEEM to convey emotions that are actually NOT really there. Lord knows I've have people misconstrue what I've said by attaching emotions that were not present at all when I wrote them. So, it could be a case of that. And if so, please accept my apologies - both of you!

    I'm relatively new here. I don't have any illusions that somehow I'm going to be friends with everyone who is/was/likes/considers him/herself trans-anything. But, that doesn't mean I don't want to try - I've got a lot to learn about all of this, and even about myself. The support I've found online with friends I've met from these blogs, and Twitter, and Facebook - it's been incredible, and it has helped me hold on in one of the more tumultuous times in my life. My hope is that others who come along here long after me - long after all of us - can continue to feel embraced and comforted by this community. That's all. The rest will take care of itself, I've got faith.

  9. Ariel:

    U.S. State Department does not require genital surgery to change sex on passport and it's not a temporary passport:

  10. And on that note (re: U.S. State Department's new policy of no longer requiring proof of SRS to correct one's gender designation on a passport), now I'm in desperate need of a [LIKE!] button - how awesome! Perhaps one that will be extended to other official forms of identification...!

  11. @Stacey:

    Yes, I probably should have corrected the missing pre-ops in the text itself--or got it right in the first place!

    You're right about the difficulty of conveying tone in writing. It's easy to "hear" a tone that's not there, so it's always a good idea to be cautious and give people the benefit of the doubt.

    I'm glad you're here. You write clearly and express yourself well. Don't get scared away!

    @Anonymous (oh how I wish people would identify themselves)

    I stand correct on new US passport regulations. However, that's a change of sex designation on a travel document. It's considered a matter of personal safety. The federal government will still not consider a person female for the purposes of, say, marriage, unless they have legally changed sex.

  12. Nice topic. are amazing and your comment hit me right in the heart!!!!

    Watching the DVR'd State of the Union. Now that is worth debating!!!!!!

  13. @ Ariel:

    "I stand correct on new US passport regulations. However, that's a change of sex designation on a travel document. It's considered a matter of personal safety. The federal government will still not consider a person female for the purposes of, say, marriage, unless they have legally changed sex."

    Federal regulations trump state regulations by law, custom and precedent.

    The passport is the ultimate identity document. In my state it is equal to or better than a birth certificate. A passport, proof of social security number (SS card, 1099 or W-2) and proof of Residence (utility bill, bank statement etc)are all that is required for a driver's license.

    A passport and driver's license together are unassailable.

    The state of Washington makes it even simpler:

    It takes a statement from one doctor:

    Include a signed original statement from the attending medical physician (internist, endocrinologist, gynecologist, urologist or psychiatrist) on office letterhead stating that you have had appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition to the newgender. This statement must include:
    • physician’s full name
    • medical license or certificate
    • issuing state or other jurisdiction of medical license/certificate
    • Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) registration number assigned to the physician
    • address and telephone number of the physician
    • language stating that he/she is the attending physician for the applicant and that he/she has a doctor/patient relationship with the applicant
    • language stating the applicant has undergone appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition to the new gender(male or female)

  14. @ Ariel

    Re: The federal government will still not consider a person female for the purposes of, say, marriage, unless they have legally changed sex.

    Well, if that isn't a legitimate excuse for supporting the LGBT movement, then I don't know what is. Why is is it so hard for so many to understand that?

    Melissa XX

  15. @ Ariel....
    I have been reflecting on your stated position and the more I think about it I see this. You want to use the term transsexual to mean woman (or at least close). That leaves transgender equal to "not woman" (which could be man or other). I have no problem with that but I think the rub comes in within a broader context. Gender identity seems to operate on at least 3 different levels. There is an individual's GI, the GI perceived by other people (let's call this GIS - gender identity socially) and there is GI as determined in various laws and regulations (let's call this GIL - gender identity legally).

    A person's GI may or may not line up with GIS. We can not control how other people perceive anyone. Some cross dressers with a male GI are female in GIS when they go out for an evening on the town. Some people with a female GI seldom have a female GIS.

    How each person handles GIS is truly up to them. Personalities play a huge role in how that goes.

    Where the stink really gets bad is when all of these pieces get codified into laws and regulations. GIL is and always will be controlled by the majority political forces in any society and those forces are overwhelmingly neither transsexual nor transgender. GIL is where the emotions over "bathroom issues" and "who is allowed to teach our children" cause major heartburn.

    I really do not care what anyone's personal GI is. When I interact with someone GIS is also no problem because however I perceive others is whatever it is. GIL concerns me because I would rather see no laws than bad law. I'm really not sure how laws which govern businesses and societal functioning can draw any functional differences between various individual GI's. Businesses want to avoid lawsuits and therefore want something easy to understand and implement when dealing with employees as well as customers. Many major corporations have successfully navigated these treacherous waters but few mom and pop or even medium sized firms have done so.

    Civil rights law already includes protection for sex. Perhaps it is best left that way. I know this is a rather long post and I hope it wasn't too boring.

  16. I'm sorry for my part in some of the harsh words, anger, and hurt that have come out of these discussions. My main intent was to show people who may see themselves as transsexual that one can live a comfortable life as a woman without SRS.

    Let me add that I consider Ariel a friend. We have occasional disagreements as friends sometimes do. I still hope that one day we can get together and rock it a bit.

    If people prefer to consider me a transgender, or trans woman that's fine by me. Though I see myself in mostly transsexual terms I'm fine with not being called one.

    My post was made because of the pressure I feel put upon me that the only way I can be legitimized as a woman is to have SRS. Maybe others suffer with low self esteem issues too. And maybe others deal with shame issues because they have a penis too.

    When I first started living as a woman I was proud of being a unique woman who fought for her right to exist. I was proud of being transgender. Proud of having the opportunity to experience both sides of gender. No one could hurt my pride in being this incredibly unique and special person.
    I saw it as a blessing. One that few people ever get to experience.

    I held my head high. Worked at a friends gallery seeing myself as much of a work or art as what we sold. I saw myself as a beautiful person.

    In all honesty that pride started slipping the more I saw myself as a transsexual and as a woman with a deformity. I became ashamed and started dreading people learning I was not a "real woman". That is the thing I wanted all my life and as time wore on I started hating who I was all over again.

    I don't want to hate myself folks. I don't want you to either. I wish I could hug you all and say it's OK to be different. You are unique and special and you should take pride in that.

    My sincerest hope is that we can all learn to love ourselves and each other. Support each other with kind words and without pressuring each other to conform to some ideological image of what is "normal" or expected. Be you! Be unique and wonderful, because you are!

  17. @Anonymous: You win. It's a post-modernist world, or at least country (the rules aren't the same in Canada). But if we're sharing the same women's locker room, please don't strip naked, or at least warn me before you do.

    @Teri: Now I want to cry and give you a hug and play some music together. I hope we are still friends.

  18. I have refrained from commenting in order to try to get a clear perspctive on how people think about these highly personl and emotional issues.

    My first impression was of a very dictatorial proclamation by a highly suspect "Anonymous".

    This poorly disquised male schill for hardcore MALE GAY INC. has been tossing bombs on several blogs lately and has been highly successful in polarizing an already fractious commununity.

    The reaction to this mysogeny and male dominant oppression is "psuedo-feminine" accomodation.

    "Oh! Let us all act like "ladies" and "include" everyone's ideas, because after all we "love" and "accept" and "include" everybody. Even those that would divide and destroy what little cohesion exists.

    That is just another difference between REAL WOMEN....yes REAL WOMEN, not wanna be/part-time/psuedo women.

    Now let me be clear. This is not an "elitist" position. This is the position of a woman who has corrected physical incongruities to become the strong empowered woman that I am.

    I find the the whimsical re-assignment of gender designation or marker to be a VERY slippery slope. Just as there are money hungry doctors in California who will prescribe "medical marijuana" to ANYBODY with the $50 or $80 for a "consultation", there is exist unethical, unscrupuluos guys who bought or scammed a medical cert. who would certify Barrack Obama as "undergoing appropriate treatment for Gender Dysphoria".

    What is wrong with transgender? This is the 'all-inclusive' PC term being used to erase heterosexual cross-dressers, (TV's) and transsexuals alike, by te GREAT GLAAD Pureyor of TRUTH.

    Why must TS's and TV's be burdened with that unwanted ambiguously defined term, it is NOT GOOD ENOUGH for those TG's a TV' who INSIST, NO DEMAND that they are TS.

    Is this not the height of hypocracy?

  19. Tina & Elizabeth - you are both very kind. Thank you both, ladies.

    Teri - I really enjoyed your follow-up - it was a good read, and even better to see the obvious friendship there between you and Ariel in spite of differences between your opinions and objectives.

    Anne -
    Everytime someone claims to speak for or possess some special truth known only to "real women", it comes across to me as a form of psychological manipulation/control. It seems to be the equivalent of that person saying, "I know something you don't know, and something only 'real women' know." Taken a step further, this is actually a way of stating, "I am a real woman and you are not." :: Urrgh.. I think I just threw up a little in my mouth, sorry:: Aspiring to be inclusive and considerate is not some form of emulation of an unrealistic ideal feminine quality, at least not for me. It's a spiritual, karmic, human perspective, and ultimately a way of trying to take the things we don't like about our world and surroundings, and change them by making changes within ourselves.

    I need to educate myself more to learn about some of the other things to which you make reference such as GLAAD's true agenda, and whatever "Male Gay, Inc." is. Admittedly, I am sorely ignorant in these areas. If you have suggested reading to which you are willing to point everyone which more clearly illustrates your take on these, I would be most grateful to you. Thanks!

  20. Yes, there may be some men who wrongly claim to be non-op transsexual women. Does that mean that we must deny transsexual status to trans women who choose not to have surgery. I don't think so.

    Of course this muddies the waters and makes it harder to attain rights and protections under the law, but I will not deny a woman's identity just to make things easier for me.

  21. Hi Stacy, and welcome.

    Rather than detail or try to "justify" my claim to womanhood, let me just provide you with a link to a pertinent posting on my blog, regardng the control of the narrative by GLAAD and GAY INC....

    You can find a brief bio here...

  22. @Melissa FYI Marriage is not the purvue of the Fed. Gov't.

    The regulation of marriage is NOT specifically granted to the Federal Gov't. and is the responsibiity of the individual states to regulate.

    Interstingly being legally recognized as female by the Feds, I am privileged to collect my SS retirement early at 62 1/2. No need for LGBT to muddy the waters, Thank You Very Much :-)

  23. The best "label" I can receive is when, in almost every aspect of my life, others both male and female, see me and identify me as a woman. Not a tgirl, a tranny, a transvestite, Transgender, or transsexual, just "Lori," that silly tall Arizona girl doing her best to live life to the fullest.

    If we make "pre-op," "post-op," or "non-op" the biggest topic of our discussions, how the he'll can we expect the world NOT to focus on it?

  24. I'm still touched by Teri's magnificent comment, and not reading much else. Her words and humility are head& shoulders above everything else.


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