Article resposted from www.laceyleigh.com.
The Change We Wish To See
By Lacey Leigh, June 3, 2004
One of the more common threads of conversation among crossdressers (CDs) centers around a quest for the reason behind crossdressing. Some speculate about hard science; prenatal "hormone wash" theories, hippocampus or corpus callosum brain structure, and XY-XXY-XX alphabet soup genetics. Others embrace soft science; childhood environmental factors, absent fathers, and withheld affection as the root cause. One individual has even suggested a nutritional precursor, citing infant consumption of cheddar cheese!
As amateur psychiatrists, geneticists, and behaviorists, CDs argue their pet theories with a certain emotional investment. They are seeking an explanation, a reason, or a cause for that which has so negatively impacted their lives. Some pursue a sort of cultural forgiveness; a way of proclaiming, "Don't blame me, it's not my fault. I was born (shaped, influenced) to be this way. I'm a victim! I'm ashamed of what I am but I'm helpless to change."
These folks aren't looking for an answer; they're seeking absolution. Plus, copping a plea to some warm, comfy, and loosely defined "disorder" only serves to further reinforce the notion that we belong in a box of granola - with all the other fruits, nuts, and flakes.
Honest introspection is always a good thing. However, staking one's happiness on stumbling into crossdressing's Prime Directive is a fatally flawed premise.Think about this: If everyone related to crossdressing in the same manner we regard left-handedness (ie: different but no big deal - unless you can put a 98 m.p.h. fast ball over the inside corner of the plate, about knee high) we wouldn't even begin to agonize over all of this.
The roots of our problems are not biological, psychological, nutritional, or behavioral. They are cultural. Period.
Although I'm reluctant to dignify these negative cultural attitudes with a term, the one that fits best is "transphobia" (an irrational fear of transgendered people). Transphobia is, literally, a social disease; a malady of the culture. Until our culture evolves, we can excuse, justify, or self-diagnose until there's ice on the river Styx and it won't make a whit of difference. The malady lingers on...Some activists favor a political attack: "We'll agitate & demonstrate, lobby & march, and huff & puff until we blow down the walls of prejudice. We'll badger legislatures, picket city councils, and pester county boards into passing more laws to make culture accept us!"
Yeah, that'll work.
The problem with any sort of attack is that quite often those who are targeted will reflexively respond with a defense. And who can fault those among the public for resisting, especially when something they yet don't understand "... is being shoved down their throats."?
While I admire the dedication, sacrifice, and vision of those who use politics to advance a transgender agenda, extrapolating their slow and painful progress thus far projects out to full transgender emancipation ... somewhere in the year 2073, give or take a decade or two.
One high-profile transgender lobbyist shared her frustration with me during a chat at last year's Southern Comfort Conference. "We just don't have the numbers yet," she confessed. "The transsexuals - a tiny percentage of the transgender population - get their surgery and dive 'into the woodwork' to disappear from sight, while the crossdressers - the largest and least outspoken group of TGs - won't come out of their closets!"
Setting aside the possibility that most crossdressers may not even consider themselves as transgendered, I suggested to her then and to you now, perhaps we are looking into the wrong end of the telescope.
Cultural change of the sort we're after is rarely a 'top down' process. It's almost always a grass-roots evolution growing from the bottom, up. Rather than waste breath on those hardened walls of social resistance (unresponsive bureaucracies, indifferent legislatures, and butt-covering-finger-in-the-wind politicians) perhaps we might consider another, parallel approach. One that offers enormous potential to accelerate that change.
In order to modify cultural attitudes, it is helpful to be visible within that culture. As long as we allow the public's first impressions to be made by drag movies, slasher flicks, and drive-by observations outside fetish clubs, we have no right to expect the culture to react any differently than now.
One great way to demonstrate to the public at large that crossdressers, transsexuals, and TGs are harmless is by providing more opportunities for the average citizen to interact with harmless open crossdressers, open transsexuals, and open TGs.
Show the public some confident, proud, and self accepting TGs who don't perpetuate the stereotype by whining about dysphoria and I'll show you a public that is beginning to understand.
Give the average citizen a few moments of conversation with a confident, poised TG who doesn't extend the cliché of man-as-bimbo-in-miniskirt and I'll give you another citizen who is beginning to 'get it'.
Such an approach first requires an act of faith on our part. We must be prepared to eschew the comfortable, easy, cop-out, dismissive, excusing, deflecting, and justifying theories, explanations, and diagnoses (that carry with them the corollary expectation of a 'cure' - or worse, the pronouncement of 'incurable'!).
We will be better served by refusing to concede that anything is 'wrong' in the first place! Of course that means unburdening ourselves of the accumulated shame, guilt, angst, and denial that our culture has so generously inculcated within us.
This purge not just desirable, it's critical.
Most individuals will be much more comfortable around an open crossdresser or a non-stealth transsexual who is pleasant, self assured, and levelheaded rather than one who appears to be justifying culturally shameful behavior with pseudoscience and psychobabble.
The simple truth is that others take their cues not so much from what we say but from the manner in which we are seen to regard ourselves. People will mirror our attitudes - whatever they may be. So it's in our best interest to settle our own internal conflicts first.
It's difficult to imagine how we can expect acceptance from others when we haven't yet found it within ourselves. And just in case you're from the "Fake it 'till you make it" school of thought, self acceptance can't be pretended - so don't bother. Inner esteem is built through multiple small successes over time. True self confidence starts to develop as we begin eradicating the residual, internal belief that there is anything in transgender expression about which we should be ashamed. It is helped along by refusing to consider convenient disempowering diagnoses or tempting theories that, if embraced, excuse us as helpless to change, compensate, or adjust.
Both change and charity begin at home.
The change we wish to see?
We must be the change we wish to see.
Monday, December 05, 2005
Article resposted from www.laceyleigh.com.
Posted by Michele Angelique at 4:25 PM
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