Tuesday, September 18, 2007
As I geared up for my 4th SCC, I had the opportunity to reflect on my personal journey of the last 4 years.
By 2003, I had come to terms with the fact I was transgendered. Even though I could not quantify the cause, I accepted it as part of my nature. It had been since the tender age of 6. Years of guilt and shame had taken its toll and I was ready for a change. Many things had transpired in the preceding year. My last relationship(HST i.e. hostage taking situation....) had ended in miserable failure. I was finally on my own, and, as I found to be later, on my way. New job, new income status, and new freedom allowed me to express this identity in a safer environment.
As these planets all came into alignment I found less than a harmonic convergance. The more exposed I was to the multivalent construal known as transgenderism, the less shielded I was to its stark divisions. I knew I was transgendered, however which subset did I belong to?
Communication and language are tools mankind has developed to express a point of view as to allow another person to understand it. For the purpose of my assessment I choose to define three subsets as following; transsexual (both op and non-op), androgynous ( including gender queers and crossdressers who dress for gender identity expression), and transvestites ( to include any fetish based or emotionally driven cross gendered expression through attire/clothing). At the core to each of these BROAD subsets is HOW gender and its expression relates to THEM.
[Please note: A crossdresser is ANYONE who wears clothing of their opposite physical sex. Transgender is an umbrella term used to describe ANYONE with a gender identity or expression that is at odds with society's binary gender construct]
To the transsexual, its is an innate sense knowing they who they are gender wise, its the body which is incongruent to this defined sense of self.
To the androgynous, its a sense of two genders.Sometimes singularly expressed, and sometimes jointly expressed. Yet typically never just one gender identity as defined by society's binary constructs.
To the transvestite, its a sense of fulfillment to an aspect of their gender definitions through the wearing of garments typically associated to the opposite physical sex. The fullfillment can be sexual in nature and it can be emotional too.
And therein, as the Bard would tell us, lays the rub.
Some transsexuals feel detached or wish to detach themselves from other transgendered individuals because their sense of self is, at least at the point they affirmed their status as transsexual, innate, permanant and quite clear. They were born with the right mind, its just the body which lagged behind. Anyone with less than the same feeling or sense of self could possible cause society at large to demean their situation. (Like its stereotypical TG characters in such movies as Dressed to Kill or Silence of the Lambs) Not dressing within a binarily defined gender contruct ( gender queer/fuck, or androgynous) or dressing in a fetish way can be seen as destructive to them and they need to blend in and be accepted. For many the ultimate goal is to fit into mainstream society and allow themselves to finally just live.
Some androgynous people consider and classify themselves as transgendered because in society's collective vocabulary, they have no accurate word to define themselves. They feel more bi-gendered variant that transvestites and less inconguent in their gender -physicality relationship than transsexuals. They see fetish based crossdressing involving intimate appearal or the lack there of(exposed body parts) in online photo albums as a threat to their legitimacy.
And, some transvestites, content on living with their gender which is in sync with their physical sex, will think in terms of their sense of self and do not possess the capacity to reasonably empathize beyond that contrust. To no fault of their own. How can white Americans truly understand personal biasses afflected upon black Americans. They lack a certain perspective. They are no less ridiculed by society than any other transgendered person however.
I have found, at times, a deep and dark distain for each other by some of us within all of these three subsets. However it seems to be strongest between the two extremes, transsexuals and transvestites. Transgender has been called an umbrella term . Yet I see it more like a covered bus stop. We're all in it together, however none of us want to look at or communicate with each other.
So this beg's to ask the question.
Where is the Love?
At a national level, most of the activism is directed to provide acceptance for those actively living and expressing, on a full time basis, a gender expression inconguent to their natal physicality. This means transsexuals both op and non-op or those 24/7.
At the local level most of the support mechanisms are gears towards the transvestites and provide a social outlet in addition to any emotional support provided.
While both of those two extremes benefit in small part to the actions taken on behalf of the other, there seems to be no middle ground and I certainly fail to see all of us holding hands and singing KumBayah anytime soon.
Which leaves us with the androgynous. You know us, chameleons as we are, we partied with the jocks and the stoners......