stitching the cracks

It is definitely easier to get on with some groups than others. And while it is never a good idea to be unkind, i have just been reminded (by Alex in respect of my last post) that that is easier philosophy to profess than practice sometimes.

I’ve apologised for any hurt given and Alex’s point is taken. Though, still, it leaves me with questions to ask.

This umbrella thing, for instance. I mean its there over all of “My transsexual summer”. Except it doesn’t totally make sense to me.

I set a lot of store by empathy. So I am very aware when there are people and groups I find easy to empathise with – and when I have difficulty.

MTS features both trans men and trans women. Does it make sense to place them in the same house? As though we are defined more by our transness than our gender?

What do I have in common with a trans man? That’s an interesting question, given that I began last week in conversation with a trans woman who was a lot less than happy with what she took as some serious misogyny directed towards her by a trans man…and ended with a delightful chat to two trans guys at a party on Saturday night.

Helpful. Very.

Then there’s the whole tv scene that I freely admit to.”not getting”…though even as I write that I’m not entirely sure I know what I mean…

I’m not arguing AGAINST anyone or anything. Have no probs with individuals as individuals.

Actually, i’m possibly just thrashing around here, as the end to this post will make clear. Thus, i have no probs with individual men…though if you were to hand me a free invite to a rugby club social for this weekend, i’d probably turn it down. There is something that doesn’t, for me, click about such gatherings…just as there is probably much about some of my favourite spaces that men would run a mile from.

Its a bit the same with some t-girl spaces: nothing against individuals – but in general, those spaces are not for me. except, from the outside, there is sometimes presumption that because of that t-word thing (“trans”), there should be some commonality.

So-o…i guess this post is first off a toe in the water on my own part trying to understand these things better. There are political consequences to the idea of a trans umbrella….but what do we all have in common?

And more to the point, what are the dividing lines? No doubt my own reaction here neatly fits some view of how trans women respond on this issue – though i hope i’ll never express the levels of hostility that i have seen on some forums where ts/tv clash?

What’s the overlap? What’s the difference? What do trans men want from trans women – and vice-versa? What, too, of the tv community? How much cross-over is there? How far are we really at odds?

Questions, questions…but mostly born of the realisation that in this area, at ,least, my thinking is far more rudimentary than it is elsewhere, and if anyone wishes to chip in with some thoughts of their own, i’d be more than happy to listen.



7 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Shirley Anne said,

    I think the only thing we have in common is the fact that we are human. Even those we recognise as being the same as ourselves insomuch as they may be transsexual or transvestite for those who are transvestite, differ from ourselves in so many other ways. We may understand people who are different or we may not, it’s the same with anything about any other people. Before my transition I spent a lot of time in the company of all sorts of people that the mainstream of society would consider ‘different’ and ‘odd’, tvs, ts, gay, lesbian, bi….you name them but to me they were just other people. I couldn’t understand why many of them were as they were and I still don’t but I accept them. I simply do not have anything in common with the trans community as perhaps I once had. I am not ashamed of my history and I have nothing against the trans community (if there really is one) but I do not socialise with groups of trans folk in the same way that I don’t socialise with groups of football supporters or go to WI meetings, it isn’t a personal issue it’s just one of conflicting interests. I do know people of many persuasions and get along with all of them as individuals.

    Shirley Anne xxx

  2. 2

    mizknowitall said,

    Never one to mince words.

    You really want the answer to this?


    Let me cut right to the chase then. The binary is very very real! The human creature is sexually dimorphic! Period! There is no third sex! There is no “other category” as the community loves to prattle on about, and we humans, each and every one a breeding animal in our own right are evolutionarly wet wired to make an critical either/or assessment about our fellow humans sex and to do it involuntarily within a fraction of a second… even newborns make this judgement call! That we do it is immutable! There are millions of years of evolution driving this and one can rail against it till the cows come home but it ain’t gonna change it one iota ~

    The reason that is at all relevant here is that there is one and ONLY one reason there is an umbrella. That’s because it appears to the causal observer that even with an immutable binary that the transsexual does the impossible! They “transition” from one sex to the other! That we never were correctly wired to be the same as our birth genitals and that we only corrected our genitals to configure with the internal meme and by so doing PROVE the binary, is utterly and totally lost, and it is lost with purpose!

    Because if and when you take transsexual out of the picture. (which is exactly why the term transgender, now shortened to trans was created) The reality of the binary comes crashing in on the rest of “the community” like a fully loaded lorry into the side of a tin house! Without the Transsexual who goes on to live fully as a member of the opposite sex as the public face of this spectrum, community, continuum, those left instantly become either men who are acting/dressing feminine but still men, or women who are acting/dressing masculine but still women, and that’s it! Game over! End of story! Lights out! Draw the curtain…

    This is not meant to be unkind or mean or bigoted or hateful… it simply is…

  3. 3

    Politically, we (I am a transwoman, though I also sometimes identify as trans* (androgynous) have a lot in common with transmen. The issues we have with acceptance by wider society and some of the trauma we have suffered are similar. But some people are just unpleasant, and sharing this random characteristic does not affect that. Politically, we have conformed to the 1960s medical model: transition life long, have surgery- so revolt Genderqueers if for them it is all about transcending gender roles rather than reinforcing them. And TVs are just blokes having fun, though I think if someone wants to identify as TV but feels a need to dress female in public a great deal may be TS in denial and inching towards committing to transition. I blog about lots of things, but am on this atm.

  4. 4

    Carolyn Ann said,

    As I said before: it’s a rhetorical convenience. It’s like the umbrella “all Americans” or “all Britons” – there’s a general, superficial applicability, but that’s about it. “All Britons”, for instance, can be broken down further: all Scots, all Welsh, all English and so on. Heck, you can combine brollies: The set of All English people that are Women and Wiccan. Or listen to the Republican lineup: “Americans want this or that”; they don’t know that for a fact, but their ideologically questionable umbrella serves their purpose.

    It’s a convenient label, a way of grouping a population that share one characteristic. In this context, that’s all an “umbrella” is. What do transgendered people and transsexual folk have in common? How about the prefix “trans”, attached to the subject of gender and/or sexuality – it’s a very fluid concept, so precision isn’t required. (Perhaps it’s undesirable, except to those who seek to fence in themselves and everyone else with their own constrained, poorly conceived, ideas and inane rants?)

    You can forever dance around a gloomy maypole trying to define the people under some brolly’s by the brolly; sometimes you can do that, sometimes you can’t. You can define some umbrellas with clarity, but that means there are some that defy clear definition. The “trans” umbrella is such a whimsy; it’s not a device to eradicate identities or redefine them. It’s a rhetorical convenience, often enough a whimsy, that can be challenged. It can’t be redefined, because it has no definition.

    There are intersections of interest between the transgender and transsexual communities (I use the term as a convenience); like all things to do with folk, these intersections change with time and situation. Only the uninformed or a fool would argue that there is no difference between the transsexual woman and the transgendered person; only the uninformed and arrogant would argue that there are no similarities or commonalities. (The fact that “you” can’t identify them is neither here nor there.) But such things don’t make up an umbrella; a commonality of experience can do so, as can a similarity of circumstance or situation. Perhaps the “transumbrella” can be as simple as the prefix “trans”, or as complex as a shared experience – no matter how superficial that shared experience might seem. And perhaps it’s all of those things, or none of them, depending on the writer’s whim? 🙂

  5. 5

    Carolyn Ann said,

    The short version: unless it’s keeping the rain off you, the umbrella is metaphorical. 🙂

  6. 6

    Shirley Anne said,

    I just love mizknowitall’s reply, matter of fact and completely true at base level. The umbrella only covers the variations but it doesn’t imply that all these variations are intermediate genders or variations on a theme of two. I have always maintained that there are but two genders and even those who claim that they are mixed or andro must be one or the other or perhaps, maybe just perhaps, no gender at all?

    Shirley Anne xxx

  7. 7

    Carolyn Ann said,

    Oh, I agree. There are other examples, too. For instance: there are only tall people or short ones. People are either fat or thin. Car lovers or car haters. Stylish folk or frumps. People are either drop-dead gorgeous or hideously ugly. Big footed or small footed. Guys can be either macho men or effeminate pansies. John Wayne or Quentin Crisp. Men are gay or not. Women are lesbians or straight. Women are, by default, wilting flowers who need the protection of a macho man. Or a woman could be a strong woman, capable and independent. She must be a feminine flower or butch.

    There are, clearly all sorts of things where people are mere switches!

    Gently pointing out the failings of such claims aside, I don’t think anyone can assert that there are only two specific genders (oh, what about the intersexed?). We can say there are generally two genders and most folk fit into one or the other gender – and are happy about it. But to assert that you’re either a exclusively a man or exclusively a woman is a bit like claiming that people are either tall or short. Besides which – such a limited claim is imposing *your* concept of someone’s identity upon another. Why assume you can arbitrarily question, or even denounce, how someone else identifies? You’re not living their life, having their emotions, feelings, experiences. And yet it’s okay to closely define everyone into one of two choices: you’re a man, or a woman. What of your own lives?

    MKIA, you proclaim that I am a man – by your own definition. I am, physically. But mentally? My identity? It’s not for you to proclaim upon what I feel or how I feel it. I don’t tell you how you should feel about yourself, but you seem to be more than eager to tell me, and others, your opinion of how I should feel. How is your assertion fair? You demand fairness and consideration and refuse to provide it – because it doesn’t suit your limited, insecure thinking about gender and sexual identity.

    People are not switches. Why should gender be a switch, a binary proposition? Why can’t it be a continuum? Because you don’t believe it is? That’s belief, not fact. And the simple fact is no one knows how gender is constructed; some of the more mechanical aspects are known, but as no one knows what goes into a person’s “soul”, it’s a tad preposterous to claim that something that could easily be a continuum is most assuredly a switch. Expanding your thinking beyond the binary helps you realize that you don’t need to understand other people, you just have to accept that they exist in all their wonder and plentitude. Actually, you have no choice on that – because all sorts of people do exist and some of them will, inevitably, object to your limited characterization of them.

    In short, if you don’t want to be put in a specific bin, don’t put others in bins of your own design. 🙂

Comment RSS · TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: