Good evening, all.
A few words, s'il vous plais, about solidarity.
An easy concept, right? Easy to read, easy to encompass and easy to accept. Well, of course we all want to present a united front to the 'straight' world, an image that shows we're all on the same page and if this were a camping trip, we'd all be toasting s'mores and singing 'Kumbaya'.
The transgendered world--if I may refer to it as such--covers everything from the hairy mechanic who wears his wife's panties under his greasy coverall to those who work in the sex industry and are--rather deprecatingly--referred to as 'she-males'. That's a mighty big spectrum, isn't it? And it might be argued that neither end of that spectrum has much to do with the other.
In fact, it has been argued. Over and over. Relentlessly. To tiresome effect, I might add. I've lost count of the times I've heard transgendered folk say--with not a little disgust: "I'm not like them!"
The basic tenet of transgenderism is that gender has nothing to do with sex. Gender is what you are, sex is what you do. Simple, basic stuff that most of us learn, almost from the first time any of us slipped on a pair of high heels and a dress and looked at our reflection in the mirror. Some of us sighed with regret and decided it wasn't such a great idea, others among us nodded and said: "Yeah!"
But most of us fell somewhere in the middle: needs work, yup.
And I think that's where the trouble begins.
If you're a male who wants to present as a female, even if it's just in the privacy of your own place, you have a need, a desire, a compulsion. It can be pretty low-key, like that hairy mechanic underneath your car or it can be an all-consuming drive that triggers darn near every gland in your body, shuts off your frontal lobes and causes you to empty out your bank account in the effort to make that feminine image you see in the mirror a real thing; actualized and part of the outside world.
It's the same thing for all of us, just to different degrees. Yes, it's a spectrum but the same thing drives all of us.
The same thing. All of us. Whether we want to believe it or not.
To date, medical researchers have yet to pinpoint any one particular cause for transgenderism. The usual suspects are in the lineup: prenatal hormones; neurological wiring; environment; oh, there's a long list and none of them can be noted as the primary cause of why some of us just don't feel comfortable with being born as one particular gender.
(And that doesn't even begin to explain those born intersexed; undeveloped genitalia or obviously mixed gender markers.)
Ain't diversity wunnerful?
Apparently not, at least for some folks among us.
This is a pretty touchy subject for a great many people, many of whom I note are those who refer to themselves as crossdressers. I have also noted that there is a great preponderance among those crossdressers to disassociate themselves as much as possible from both the hairy mechanics and the she-males. ("I'm not like them! I'm not! I only do this for a hobby/on the weekend/just for relaxation!")
Methinks thou doth protest too much.
I like to quote Robert Heinlein a lot. He was a pretty sharp observer of the human condition and one of his comments was wickedly keen: "Everybody lies about sex. Everybody."
Substitute gender for sex and I think we might be getting close to the central idea.
Our society has almost inextricably associated sex with gender. It's that bipolarity thing; if you're female, you should be with a man, if you're male, you should be with a woman. Homosexuality? Oh, well. It's the same thing, only inverted, right?
Uh, no. Not exactly. In fact; not at all. But the central idea is this man/woman/family thing which the Religious Right proudly points to with claims that it's the thing that makes our Great Society so great. ("My pastor says that's what God says.")
(The unalterable fact that traditional marriages rarely last past the second decade and often result in messy divorces, abuse, alcoholism, insanity and violence in and outside the family is something they conveniently forget. But I digress...)
It's all about shame, folks. Guilt. Or, as I like to put it: gender panic. "What'll I do if someone finds out? Augh!"
Well, what if they do?
Divorce, abuse, alcoholism, insanity, violence. Hmm, that sounds so familiar...
It's not about the gender issue, it's about what other people might think. And for those among us who have high-paying jobs, big families, high social status, it's a death knell for all of the above to even admit that we might be transgendered.
So: some of us lie. To others, but more importantly, to ourselves. We lie to protect our status, our perks and benefits, our jobs and our families. We don't want to lose those goodies and the big thing we don't want to lose is:
(Notice how I capitalized that? You did? Say, you're quick. Bet you're dangerous at mumbletypeg.)
There's a CD I know of. She's a respected elder in her church, a pillar of her community, she works at a high-paying job, she has kids and she has a wife of many years whom she adores.
She also hates what she calls 'bad trannies'.
Who are these bad trannies? Well, they're the ones who act up and act out. They cheat on their wives. (With other trannies and men, presumably.) They behave abominably in the ladies room. They post lurid accounts of risky and rather horrifying sexual exploits on web groups like Yahoo. They dress like hookers and sluts and they give all of us 'good trannies' a bad name.
I've never met or seen any of those 'bad trannies'. Yet, she swears they're out there, by the hundreds, nay: thousands, and they're spreading disease, destroying marriages and ruining reputations by the score. She's made it her life's work to confront these 'bad trannies' and tell them a thing or two; clean up your act or else!
(or else what?)
Has she met any personally? Uh, no. Just on-line. Through those Yahoo Groups and myspace sites and such.
Seen any while she was out? Uh, no. She doesn't go to those places where they hang out. Wouldn't be caught dead there, doncha know.
Remember Heinlein's comment? Everybody lies. Including the 'bad trannies'.
See here, I don't expect that everyone who posts crap on a Yahoo Group or a myspace site or whatever is just fantasizing. Nor do I expect that every 'bad tranny' is a homewrecker, a cheat nor an HIV carrier.
And neither should you. Or you. Or, yes; even you.
But, at the same time, neither do I expect that any of us should be held to account for the actions of a deranged few. Nevertheless, to reassure her wife and to retain that MALE PRIVILEGE, this CD I know wants to do just that; nail any of us who show even the least little deviation from what she considers moral and ethical behavior.
And, oh my. What a division these deviations produce. She's not like that, not her!
Nope. And neither are 99.999% of the rest of us.
And that's the problem. We're all alike but none of us want to admit it. The CD's are pointing fingers at the 'bad trannies', the pre-ops are pointing fingers at the CD's and the 'bad trannies' and the post-ops are gving us all the middle finger and walking away in disgust.
(Those post-ops who are stealth would much prefer to pretend that none of us even exist.)
And everybody marginalizes the she-males. They're all hookers anyway, so who cares about them?
(I do, actually.)
Shame. Guilt. (sigh)
Isn't it awful that two of the worst emotions that a human being can feel can also produce such divisions in people who are basically the same kind of folk? Isn't it a shame that guilt and shame can make some of us lie through our teeth, deceive ourselves and each other and make us want to throw our own kind to the wolves? Isn't it disgraceful that social status and MALE PRIVILEGE makes us jump through all kinds of tortuous mental hoops to prove to all and sundry that we're not like that, no, not me!
I have to say that Virginia Prince and Tri-Ess notwithstanding, no amount of sophistry and semantic bullshit is going to prove that the fellow who wears his wife's panties is any different from that incredibly foxy Brazilian she-male whose pictures he has stored in his computer in some innocuously labeled file.
It's just a matter of degree. That, and lots of money, of course, but it's a capitalistic world, isn't it?
I'd like to conduct a nationwide survey with completely anonymous responses: if you were given a million dollars, would you transition to a partially or fully female state? This survey has been performed but not anonymously and not on a nationwide basis and the results were pretty predictable: one-third said yes, one third said no way! and the other third was undecided.
I wouldn't accept results without a statistical universe of over one hundred thousand responses. And even then, I'd be pretty suspicious of some of the respondents.
Everybody lies. It's human nature.
I know I sure did when I first started my own journey. Looking back, I realize that it was the only defense mechanism I had, that; and stuffing it down as far as I could.
I almost went mad. In fact, I know I did.
But I got better.
So can all of us if we just learn how to tell the truth; to ourselves, to each other and to the world at large.
And then maybe we can toast some s'mores and sing 'Kumbaya'. Even though I personally loathe that song.
Good night and good luck.