At the outset, I believe you run the risk (as have many with similar opinions in this forum) of comparing apples and oranges. Simply put, transfolk are different from the other letters of our famous acronym. It’s obvious: L, G and B are sexual preferences… T is nothing of the kind, although intersectionalities do naturally exist. Does being an L, G or B automatically give a person more insight into what it’s like being T over a “normal”, cisgender, heterosexual person? No way.
I hatched in early 80’s in the West End of Vancouver (Canada), famous for its LGBT population, and was very involved part of that community for approximately 5 years. I lived with a gay couple for a while and knew all kinds of lesbians… whatever. My point is that upon getting my bottom surgery, I disappeared completely from that scene. I believed that separating myself from the LGBT community at that time was essential for my well-being. That mindset, in itself, marks a huge difference between us transfolk and the rest of the acronym members. In all fairness, I would not put up much resistance if the L’s, G’s, and B’s decided to kick us out of the community altogether. We ARE different from you, and with what is happening lately, that difference is becoming more and more evident.
To specific points in your narrative:
You state the murder of 27 transwomen is “small potatoes” — I believe the murder of ANYONE is significant, and do not take lightly or am flippant of ANY murder.
You making rather light of the transgender experience by hypothesizing that you could just as easily state you are a “TransHumvee” does not help your credibility at all, and actually gives the reader a more accurate estimation of the depth of your ignorance regarding the matter. Sorry.
Even toward the end of your piece, you are still asking “What is gender”? In direct correlation you are asking what is gender non-conformity? The stated Human Rights Campaign definition of gender as “stereotypes” is outdated and thereby wrong. You are indeed correct in questioning that assumption.
However, to people like you, who do not suffer from gender dysphoria or any disparity between your sex and gender and cannot even imagine such a disparity, it is highly likely and understandable (at least in my mind) that, in your ignorance, you will naturally scoff and ridicule such an idea. I actually don’t blame you. I mean, to a “normal” person, how could someone be in the wrong body or have a body that does not match their soul? It must be made up. They must be sick.
At one point your readers (myself included) feel as though we are waiting for you to wrap your head around a subject that you clearly have no understanding of, and are making glib comments towards those of us who actually DO have, not only an understanding, but first-hand experience. Your labouring to understand (albeit rather half-heartedly) is clearly analogous to a blind person debating the concept of colours with a seeing person. You cannot see it, so it’s not there. So many others are guilty of this.
To help with some of your misunderstanding as per your claim “If I want to be a woman, all I need to do is identify as a woman”… transwomen, like me, have known since a very young age, even before we actually knew what the difference between the sexes was, that we were female. Simple as that. We don’t actually “want” to be female… we simply are. Very much like… ok, exactly like you knowing inately that you are female. However, YOUR body matches what your gender is telling you so everything is hunky-dory (I’m so happy for you), and some of you are able to write about and complain how everyone should feel like you, and to feel any other way about oneself is evidence of mental illness or worse. Not everyone is like you, dear.
Modern science is providing us a glimpse into the biological roots of being trans. Links are provided at the end of my discourse herein. These studies have been only fairly recent so I will not read anything into the fact that you have chosen to not include any in your writing. However, some other readers may note that these recent scientific findings appear to run contrary to your central tenet: that people could just as easily declare they are “TransHumvees” as “transgender”. No. We were born this way. There was no choice in the matter. It’s biological. Get it? Much like lesbians and gays, we are this way from birth. However, and here we move to what I believe is the crux of one of your dilemmas: lesbians and gays do not NEED any medical assistance in order to be L or G. As a sexual preference, they simply DO. That, more than anything, appears to rub you raw; the fact that our particular group requires more MONEY than yours. Please tell me and your readers that yours is not simply a case of envy in that regard. MONEY, MONEY, MONEY. We cannot help what we are born with and require medical assistance in order to alleviate our birth defect. Simple as that. Much like a kid with a leaky heart. You fix it and move on.
Now whether our concerns should, in your words “be the basis for a civil rights movement”… on a personal level, I don’t believe I need anyone in particular to march for my rights as a woman. I transitioned in the 80’s and ran with it by myself. I asked no one for help because at that time there was no funding or medical help of any kind. I paid for my bottom surgery myself and my HRT was in no way funded by any medical plan. That said, I also believe that our Prime Minister (I’m from Canada) was absolutely correct in presenting and making statute law of our Bill C-16, which is a human rights initiative and merely adds “gender identity” to the list of things (sexual preferences, race, religion, etc) one cannot persecute others for. It DOES NOT state you can go to jail for refusing to use accurate pronouns for people as some would have you think and believe (mainly to sell their goofy, life-instruction books for clueless men). In Canada, our rights are protected by statute.
However, and this is why I’ve come out only recently, the kids who may want to transition, not only may need help and advice, but in these volatile times, they may need protection from those who would wish them ill… And no, I don’t believe there is some hidden trans-agenda to turn kids away from being gay or lesbian. I mean, I would be aware of it and be part of it through my dealings with the Sexual Health Clinic. I would also refuse to be part of that if it did exist. Here in Canada there are professional psychologists who observe these kids (as do I) and are able to make recommendations to the parents (who have the last say, of course). Even the parents themselves cannot just walk in and demand their kid be sterilized or put on hormones or puberty blockers. I’m not sure where you are from, but in Canada there are very rigid procedures and regulations that are adhered to in order to prevent child abuse allegations. We have become so much better than our southern counterparts.
I actually get what you’re saying regarding trans’ authenticity and the potential harm behind self-identifying, and it’s twofold. Firstly, what’s to stop anyone from stating they are another gender when it suits them? For instance: a serial rapist all of a sudden decides he is a woman and gets to spend his sentence in a woman’s prison. That’s scary, I know. First off, all of the women there would beat the absolute bejesus out of him; probably kill him. No question. I would. I don’t think I would petition to stop it, and I don’t believe the guards would do anything either. He would live (if he survived) to regret that decision and beg to be let back in with the boys. But how can you stop that from happening in the first place? I have no idea really. In Canada lately there was one guy who recently changed his license to female in order to save on insurance costs (we are generally much safer drivers than men). Upon discovery, he is being charged with fraud, fined and will probably lose his license and may even go to jail. How do you stop that from happening in the first place? Again, no idea, but I DO know that the WRONG way is to trample the rights of others (actual transfolk) in order to protect against this type of thing. You don’t cut off your nose to prevent a cold.
Secondly, I hear you saying: what’s all this nonsense about kids describing themselves as non-binary, or demi-girl, demi-boy or asexual or pansexual, or the vast number of identities they’re coming up with? It sounds crazy, right?! They don’t even need to transition in order to achieve it either. They just self-identify and that’s it. They simply are. To you and I, that’s coming out of left field. I (and perhaps you) lived and grew up in a binary world where we were either men or women. However, in order to learn more about this, I’m involved with a group of young people who identify this way. I mentor and teach music to several students — they learn music and at the same time, I’m learning about them. I have not entirely made up my mind about their movement, but I am determined to keep an open mind.
How exactly are you learning about them or even learning about us transfolk, or have you already made up your mind about us? From what you say in your writing (way too many instances to quote), you appear to know our innermost thoughts and feelings and have us safely pigeon-holed between perverts and rapists. Do you actually know any of us? You follow the money and have discovered that big pharma (and other huge, money-making interests) is involved in making sure they are the ones selling us the HRT that we require. You’ve discovered that charities have jumped on our bandwagon and are involved in spurious and misleading operations supposedly in support of us but are in reality only concerned with their own agendas. Kudos. You’re up there with Woodward and Bernstein in my opinion. However, that’s just the money end of things. It’s all smoke and mirrors just as you suspected and unfortunately, what we have all come to expect out of our worldwide, corrupt system. That corruption, however, does not negate our needs. It does not address the ‘human’ part of the equation.
To be clear: I am not asking, nor have I ever asked, anyone’s permission to do what I’ve done with myself. I don’t ask for anyone to march for my cause. I don’t care if you describe me as a man in a dress or a chicken dinner. I’ve been called worse. Moreover, I will fight for your right to do so. I, as we all (transfolk) understand, acknowledged right from the get-go that we would be infertile. In order to be my “authentic self”, that was merely one human experience I was willing to forego.
I was nothing before my transition. Immediately thereafter I took student loans to re-educate myself and have been working within my chosen career since 1988. I enjoy sex with men primarily, but love the company of other women and have had several pleasurable, sexual encounters therewith. Ergo, I’m Bi. I change in the women’s changeroom at my local pool with other women who think nothing of my presence (nor would you). I have gone from gender dysphoria to gender euphoria, and I have myself only to thank for this. I contribute to society, and have only “come out” again (since Oct 2017) because of all the strife, fear and bad feelings being leveled at the “trans” population. I want to be an example of what is good about us, and being fairly fearless, I’m willing to put myself at risk to do so.
I was beaten bloody by boys and men in my youth, my father being one of them. I’ve been subjected to male violence in ways that cisgender girls never experience, and I acknowledge that natal-born girls have had violence done to them that I will never experience. Granted. All that. We are not the same, nor is our oppression the same. However, our oppressors ARE the same. Men. God knows I love them, but they can be total A-holes. What alliance would be more natural or more frightening to the patriarchy? We are not without means and having transitioned, are usually fearless.
My advice to you (as if you need anything from me) is to get to know one or two of us. We are not scary freaks or sexual perverts in the slightest. Nor are we actively trying to erase lesbians. If merely being who we are is erasing lesbians (and I’m yet to be convinced of that), I apologize, truly and completely for any part I may have played in that regard. Please forgive me. One of my best friends is a lesbian feminist — the oldest in the city (so she proudly exclaims), who still rides a motorcycle at 82. She is a wonder and I love and admire her. She stands firmly behind the trans members in our little group of LGBT Elders, and is also actively involved in helping young, trans and non-binary kids in our community.
What exactly are you doing, may I ask? Your research is invaluable and we all thank you for sharing, but outside of finding fault with an admittedly corrupt system, what are you doing to help? What groups are you involved with that will continue your education into LGBT culture? These kids, you know, are going to be running the world some day. Can you honestly say that you really understand what’s going on with them?
I’m not finding fault. As stated, I value your research and appreciate the clarity of mind you must have in order to collate these facts into such a presentation. I do, however, think you still have things to learn about transfolk (and not primarily those poor souls mainstream media trot out in their “reality” tv shows), and are guilty of perhaps judging the entire basket over a few rotten apples, even those potentially rotten.
I will not add grist to your mill by calling you terf or transphobic or anything derogatory in the slightest. I believe you are highly intelligent (as with most of your readers), which is why I hope that I may change your mind in some regards concerning us. I hope you catch a break in order that everyone benefits: the “Nash” model as opposed to the “Adams”.
As I also hate to see or hear of you being “desperate” in order to make sense of the “entire transgender exercise”, a few recent scientific findings as to trans’ biological causes are as follows:
Transgender: Evidence on the biological nature of gender identity
Medical care of transgender patients, including surgical and hormonal treatment, has largely been met with resistance…
Is There Something Unique about the Transgender Brain?
Some children insist, from the moment they can speak, that they are not the gender indicated by their biological sex…
Between the (Gender) Lines: the Science of Transgender Identity - Science in the News
Gender identity haunts every aspect of our lives, dictating the outcomes of our conversations, our workplaces, our…
Here’s the crux:
If indeed these findings and future findings affirm that transwomen like me are actually women in heart and soul, then the radicals who happen to be feminists, the ones who attempt to assault and deny our very existence, are guilty of hurting the segment of humanity they are supposed to be protecting. Are you and those others willing to bet the well-being of other “potential” women just to prove a point? To alleviate a discomfort you may have over “penises in dresses”? Is there any give to your stance?
I would be truly disappointed (and a little surprised) if you got back stating that I’m a man, and will always be a man, and should get help ’cause I’m sick, and quit erasing women… etc etc… the kind of stuff I’m getting used to receiving from some of the less than stable feminist writers as a result of my attempting to elicit reasoned responses with pertinent questions. I don’t believe you to be one.
If I’ve offended, kindly forgive.