Sunday, May 07, 2006

The Crossdressers' Manifesto

The Crossdressers' Manifesto

(Last Winter I spent days answering a TG "nomination questionnaire" which among other things wanted to know “what message do you have for the TG community?” After discussing my answer with her, Shari Williams pointed out that if I have a message, I also have a vehicle to proclaim it. So here is my answer, expanded. It's been blogged on my 360 site, but somehow I knew it was destined for GenderEvolve most of all.)

In my half-century of lifetime, I have seen a significant amount of progress in the conceptualization and perception of gender-diverse issues in the public eye. From my view at least, I’ve seen acceptance become relatively real for most of the Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual parts of the gender spectrum. We sit here in 2006 with an incredibly popular movie with a strong gay theme, television shows that directly deal with lesbianism, and popular personalities comfortable with admitting, even proclaiming, their homo/bisexuality. This is not the 1960’s anymore, to be sure! Even the transsexual aspects of the T-community are in the first throws of acceptance, and let's hope the well-deserved Oscar nomination for Felicity Huffman’s incredible performance in “Transamerica” will provide a significant boost to mass appreciation of the TS issues. But sadly, the heterosexual crossdresser community has almost no positive movement or insight. When the best that we (and I’m in this group) can point to is the brother on “The Drew Carey Show”, we haven’t gotten much traction. Oh well, I guess I’ll grow into my old age simply regretting that some Hollywood script writer thought gay cowboys worked better than cowboys dressed as women. Maybe it’ll happen someday, but alas, I will have missed it.

Bunk.

I firmly believe that the crossdressing community is blessed with an incredible wealth of talent, energy, and resources. Those I’ve come to know continually impress me with the gifts they have to give. What we have is the power to change our fate, but apparently not the focus of how to do it. And while I humbly submit that I am no Karl Marx, I will offer a first draft of a manifesto – a proposal of how we can bring our awesome selves to change the hearts and minds of society. This is my opinion today, but as all of you contribute ideas and energy to it, we can build this into something we can get to happen.

The way I see it, we need to work as a group to make progress on three rather broad fronts, each calling for those with an appropriate gift to take up the cause.

(1) We need Ambassadors. We need sisters who can present both a positive physical image and a mature life example to be our spokeswomen - in the media to be sure, but also in the malls and hallways of our communities. People need to see that we’re not “sickos” or “freaks” but normal people, just with a gender enhancement. If you’re thinking you want to go out and fool the world that you’re a girl, I understand the desire to match yourself to a challenge. But most of us can’t do that. If you CAN go out, we need you to go out into the world and interface with it. Talk to people – in whatever voice you have. Let them ask their questions: “So, you’re NOT gay?” “Why do you want to do this?” “You have wives, families, and jobs?” The answers we give aren’t as critical as the fact that we’re willing to try and answer them. They don’t understand any of this life we have. And yes, there are parts of it we don’t understand either – but if we don’t start sharing information about ourselves, the rest of the world will just sweep us under the carpet.

(2) We need Educators. We need verbally gifted sisters to write about our gender condition. And we need them to direct their writing in two directions. First, we need sisters willing to write of our own condition so that those inside the community can perhaps better understand themselves. I know that while we may all be crossdressers, but we are each unique in our motives, weaknesses, fears and joys. So it will take many voices to fill the need – but our sisterhood has some sharing to do, and blogs, columns, and e-mails can make each of feel closer to the group. Second, we need folks to write so that the outside world can better appreciate our feelings, our actions, and our attributes. Conventional communication forms can be useful here – why not an op-ed piece on crossdressing? But the upcoming generations take their information electronically, and we can reach them and teach them in spades. Let’s open our world to them, and (here’s the key) make them welcome. Let’s write blogs for them, not just for ourselves!

(3) We need Counselors. We need to actively provide assistance for new girls who find our community and arrive with a lifetime of burdens, guilt, and questions. This is a task every last one of us has a responsibility to do. If you’re reading this, then you discovered the online community somehow. You remember learning that there were others out there. You likely wandered around to find someone to help you – and maybe you found help quickly, maybe not. Every day new sisters find us – and we need to stop fussing about our own looks or vistas, and help them. Compose, cajole, comfort, characterize – make them welcome. We who are here have a collective wisdom, and we cannot let it go to waste! Whether online, in support groups, or in a “big sister” model, we need to find ways to make those who join us feel accepted, supported, and appreciated. Every sister we embrace, we empower. The more we act like a caring community, the more our acts will change lives. When all of us can embrace and carry our gender expressions without internal baggage, then we will be best prepared for developing acceptance from the world at large.

(Now, thanks to T-spouse Sunny Fields, we expand the maifesto!)
(4) We need Supporters. This community needs the support of spouses, parents, siblings, children, psychologists, neighbors, friends, teachers, etc. These supporters can provide an open ear, a shoulder to cry on, a back-up plan, a different point of view, someone to venture into public spaces with, and a whack on the head when we get off the beam. We need them to support us. But we need them to support us out in the community and world, too. These supporters could and should be invited to share their views and talents and help the community get more exposure, understanding and respect. Imagine the day when one of our ambassadors appears in the media, a beautiful t-girl sitting next to her beautiful g-girl wife. They'll ask the wife how she deals with this, and she'll say, "I've very okay with this. I love the person and am totally loved in return. And I love being treated and honored by my spouse, love being treated kidly and gently, love having someone who can shop." That will be a powerful day, a day we will all celebrate!

Okay, I open this to you all. Chime in with ideas, then find a role for yourself and get going!

We can change the world. But it is going to take we.

6 comments:

Michele Angelique said...

RE: Crossdressers Manifesto, by KC Tyler
http://genderevolve.blogspot.com/2006/05/crossdressers-manifesto.html

~~~~~~~

Dearest KC,

Sister, you are right on the mark!! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. I agree wholeheartedly with everything you said, although I would expand the Manifesto to apply to all gender variant people at large... the t-community needs Ambassadors, Educators, Counselors, Supporters.

We need Ambassadors... transgender people willing to live outside of the closet, reflecting positively upon the t-community. Societal perception is largely based upon those who are visible, for better or worse. As a visible transgender person, you have the power to shape and mould the perceptions of every person you meet. If you're out and visible, people will be curious about you, so greet them politely with a smile. Respond to them from a position of balance and pride. The graceful demeanor of our Ambassadors can negate subtle illusions held by people, helping them to form new and improved perceptions of all transgender people.

We need Educators... people with insight about transgenderism, writing educational material for the benefit of others within the community, as well as informative material conveyed to groups outside the community. Of particular importance is to welcome the upcoming generations of transkids. Parents and educators of transkids will need the guidance of wise, balanced transgender adults in order to understand the inner workings of these gifted children. Without our Educators, these children and their parents may feel needlessly lost.

We need Counselors... people who are willing to volunteer time and energy to mentoring and empowering others. Transcending service-to-self in favor of service-to-others is not easy to accomplish... yet it is evolutionary. So many in the trans community are lonely, confused, depressed, or worse. Our Counselors' kind uplifting words, empathy, acceptance, wisdom, non-judgement, can make a world of difference in their lives.

We need Supporters... people of all genders, from all walks of life, worldwide, to more openly recognize and support transgender people as equal human beings. We need ordinary people who are strong enough to advocate and take a positive stand. Our Supporters can uplift the trans community's perception of itself, and also, can truly assist in furthering public realization that transpeople are equal members of society.

~~~~~~~

KC, thank you so much for contributing this Manifesto. You are a very wise person, and we are blessed to have you with us at GenderEvolve. Over the past 9 months, we've been chipping away at each of the four areas you mention, although without any real organization or structure. I think we have generated a lot of collective wisdom, and there may be ways to apply it more effectively within and outside of the community. Any ideas that you have in which we may be able to better utilize the materials we have pooled, to further the goals as stated, would be most welcome.

Lots of love,
Michele

Karen Reeves said...

KC,

This is a GREAT article that you have written but I must diverge in other directions. You mention the "heterosexual crossdresser" and that is fine. What about the "bi crossdresser" of the "gay crossdresser". ? Why not just mention the "crossdresser" ? Does the act of crossdressing need to be ALWAYS LINKED to sexual attraction ? Many members of society frown on crossdressing regardless of sexual attraction. Do we only advocate for one subgroup ? Yes, "heterosexual crossdressers" may have a spouse. Under laws in most American states bi or gay crossdressers do not have a spouse ! Is it fair to leave these people with NO MATE behind ? They are alone in the world.

Your article says, and rightly so, that we need:

"We need Ambassadors"
"We need Educators"
"We need Counselors"
"Thanks to spouses we need Supporters"

This is all completely true, absolutely ! But, again, what about the "non heterosexual crossdresser" ? They have no spouse !

I keep hearing "We need this". May I gently suggest that all CD's need to look within themselves also. Others can not do all the legwork for them. If a CD cowers within the confines of their home feeling guilty and doing nothing to advance the cause collectively then why should others do ALL the legwork for them exclusively ? Guilt only reinforces that each CD accepts societal prejudices as legitiamte. How do these hidden phantoms help advance the cause ? The cause of civil rights for Black Americans was not advanced by those blacks who sat at home ,in guilt, watching television.

There are vast legions of CD's all around. The fact that if these millions of people all started coming out of the closet these might be the greatest ambassadors of all ! People regard CD's as a tiny minority. Are they so tiny a minority ? Strength in numbers ! You can not have just the "public cream of the crop" out front. Not all CD's are model like in appearance.

It makes me rather nervous when I hear the term "heterosexual crossdresser" used exclusively. Are we nervous with the bisexual and gay among us ? Do we subdivided into warring factions?

I always hear thus, "I'm a crossdresser BUT I'M NOT GAY ! ! ! ! ! " Crossdressers can sometimes reveal their own prejudices mirroring society.

I know these are difficult issues for wives in a marriage to deal with. Many CD's do NOT have a mate. They are utterly alone.

I do not propose to leave anyone behind. I also do not propose to let others do all the work for me.

I try to help others but they must try to help themselves as well. There is no free lunch.

Thank you for a great article. Within it contains the seeds of advancement KC. Please know that I deepely appreciate the thoughts of a lady like you who is held with such high esteem by myself and so many others within the community !

Are you sure you are not related to Karl Marx ? *Smiles*

*With Deep Love & Affection*

~KAREN~

KC Tyler said...

Karen and Michele,

Just to explain, these views got their start when I was trying to fill out the questionaire for consideration by the Vanity Club. While my attempt to join the Club was rejected, the nugget remained and grew through discussions into this blog ("Manifesto" was mostly a title to grab the eye).

Now being a hetero CD, I felt I could confidently write for the needs of my own... I never intended to ignore nor bypass the rest of our TG sisters, far from it!! Like you Karen, I want to "leave no TG behind"!!! But there are forces working in coherent, effective ways for many of those other sisters. I just see nothing on the horizon for the hetero CD, yet there are hundreds, maybe thousands of them wandering through this cyber-community. My message, my call to action, was for them.

What you have both generously pointed out is that this plan for action can be effective for the larger community. Indeed, it was this passion that brought me to GE, and I hope we can all work together for progress on ALL the TG fronts.

So please, you only broaden my vision with your comments... this is what I'd hoped for. Let's put our thinking caps on and see if we can turn this plan into more action, okay?

Thanks to you and all the sisters who'll share their thoughts on this!!!

Hugs and love, KC

Stephanie Yates said...

I agree that this could well be expanded to include all sorts of groups beyond the "heterosexual crossdresser." But a significant part of KC's point here is that this very group is typically relegated--and to some extent has chosen to relegate themselves--to the back of the bus. The TG community, like all communities, is made of sub groups and each group faces its unique challenges, and that certainly applies to heterosexual crossdressers. And I agree that we need a clarion call to help us wake up, unite and mobilize--as other groups in the TG and allied communities have already done. I applaud KC for her effort to galvanize the neighborhood in our community to which both she and I proudly belong.
The points in the manifesto may well be useable by all, but the preamble is critical to target this to heterosexual crossdressers.
And if KC, is our Karl Marx, then I'm volunteering to be our Friedrich Engels (he had better hair anyway).
Stephanie Yates

genevieve said...

A fine article. Crossdressers, especially hetero CD's can catch some grief because society frowns on it. It's part of me though and I love it. This manifesto is for ALL crossdressers, regardless of sexul orientation. I will pass this info on to my friends.

Gennee

Dee Femina said...

Hi KC, excellent article.

I do off course agree with Michele and Karen that the manifesto can, does and should apply to the whole TG community.

However, I think that there is a very important focus on the hetero crossdressing group. From my wanderings around the internet and from friendships developed off responses to my website, I have formed the opinion that the Heterosexual CD makes up the biggest group within the trans-community and yet is the most hidden and silent...for very understandable reasons which I won't expand on now. I believe that we, as transgendered, will not fully achieve acceptance and rights within society until such time as the large heterosexual crossdressing group is mobilised to come out to and show society that we are normal.

At a personal level I fully subscribe to uyour manifesto and yet fail dismally in certain significant respects.
I am an ambassador, educator and counsellor and extensively so...and yet at the same time I haven't yet gained the courage and commitment to tell my wife about this very important aspect of who I am.

Regards and thanks for a great manifesto,
Dee