Where is the L-O-V-E ?

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......


Alex said…
Where is the love?
Yes indeed hunni, there is a sad lack of real love within the vast sliding scale of the transgendered world. God only knows I've tried over the years to get my views across, and at the same time try and bring everyone together. I've given up on that now, and instead just post how it is for me in life, and leave it for others to gain from my words what they will.
I'm on a continual journey of discovery, so fully intend on living my new life to the full, and keeping well clear of TG politics.
It has been a long time sinse we last chatted hunni, and I hope all is well with you?
Luv, Alex. xxx
Anonymous said…
Hey Jenna, really good thoughts, I feel your piece does deserve some real attention! I agree with you…

I will tell from my own feelings, allow me to be candid,

I do find it distasteful when some Myspace me with pictures of stocking feet with no face. I have other desires to inflame, so I hold nothing against such ones that find wearing stockings a turn on…I just don’t want to be compared to such a person that presents first and foremost as one that wears stockings because it is a fetish! (Laughing) It can happen and does!

For many people it is the most visible part of the perceived transgender lifestyle because the stocking wearers cant seem to get enough attention plastering themselves all over the internet, and let me tell you ladies, speaks very little of us that have a face. My fear is that fetish will always be perceived as a legitimate aspect of what it means to be transgender, so people like me just trying to live a normal life are forced to get up from our quiet abode to yell from the mountain tops, “Hey! That’s not what we are!”

I have felt twinges of embarrassment and even offence at times because of the behavior of some transgender people from across its spectrum, yes transsexuals especially, because I have taken their presentations and actions as a poor reflection on my own gender. I sometimes worry if people associate me with what I feel to be unbecoming, and I do my best to distance myself from what I feel does not speak well of me according to my own values that someone else may or may not agree with.

Why do I care? I realize most people in society are still pretty ignorant to who we are and don’t have any real grasp for classifying us. People still tend to lump us all together, and that is where I may end up finding myself having to defend or explain what I am, hell there’s even people out there that just think I’m gay! I don’t even like the label of transsexual anymore because I feel in a mainstream way it has evolved to mean “chic with a dick” and all of the low things it details.

As you mentioned, my reason is practical. I do live “full time”, I don’t have a face to hide, and being that I am not in the porn industry yet (laughing), but have ambitions that require me to care about how I am perceived in all areas of my life, from love to career, I will draw a line of distinction when required. Am I selling out, you may wonder, caring to much about what people think? Not at all, for me it is a matter of being realistic and a matter of my own sensibilities and a matter of what I want. I give what is mine to give, and keep what is mine to keep.

I prefer to be called “intersex” now clinically speaking. However, perhaps there is one intersexed person out there, not liking my association to them because of their perceived view of women like me. Is that right or wrong? I don’t know, but I do not call myself intersexed lightly because, I know there are people out there that suffer for that label. Well, I have suffered and I have a damn good theory…I better have.

So, I believe the potential for friction between those of us that do cross gender lines no matter our classification within or outside of our subgroups, will always exist so long as there are those of us that have reason to care how the world perceives us, how we perceive ourselves, and pertaining to what it is we wish for out of life, which may just so happen to involve the society at large…all this aside from the petty reasons that may divide us that I will not consider.

I feel Jenna, that it is legitimate and logical that we don’t necessary come together under the transgender umbrella, because dressing up like women is only a means to an end. We do it for different reasons as you say. Embracing the difference does one great affirming thing for me…it proves that we are who we are, based on what is inside us and not the other way around. That’s a very important thing for me to know, and has nothing to do with judging other people.

So my conclusion is, crossing gender lines does not give us a fundamental commonality, we will never be able to come together as a group because we dress a certain way, and that’s where some people make the mistake by thinking we really are under the same umbrella. It’s a cause for false expectation, false representation, and one which can lead to resentment.

We, that is cd’s, tg’s, ts’s, tv’s, etc., will however, be able to come together as a group for the education and evolution of society by making a cause for celebrating our differences under whatever title we give ourselves. That’s a very supportive and liberating umbrella that we can all fit under…and it is enough for me.

Good one girl and thanks for being so real!


Anonymous said…
I am more trans than you are, I am more trans than you are, I am more trans than you are,
Come on sing it, in the same tone as "ring around the rosey"... Come on ya know ya want to...
I am more trans than you are, I am more trans than you are, I am more trans than you are...
Ha ha, you will now have that ingrained in your brain for the rest of the day! :)

The "Where's the Love" article conveyed to me three key issues in full spectrum the trans world has abundance of(or lacking thereof pending your outlook). Communication competition and compassion. I believe the vocabulary lesson noted was originally intended for a wider audience than our eyes alone, so if one has never known or dealt with anything transgender this gives them a pretty decent rationale, versus throwing everything into one lot. As well while it is not intended to be an all encompassing definite notation to our personal identidy, there are certain characteristics we can all relate to simply enough.

Communication gaps lay within the realization that the different groups defined want to be identified separately, however all are thrown into one group and the rub has exalted this silence in a matter that some feel a barrier has been broken on the opposite side of the fence from their personal outlook(s). Though am thinking this fence better be quaternary in design as the typical separation wouldn't be enough of a platform where all feel welcome. Many of the issues that face any single person in these groups are universally different in aspect & approach, but it still falls under the same umbrella. With that said, at some point we are going to have to come together to help promote those who are trying to help with societal issues such as the current & controversial bill ENDA, & we all know what the current status of that is!( i.e. we are going to have to learn to communicate universally if the changes we seek are truly going to happen!)

Competition is the fun topic as there is so much of it running around that it presents the very stereotypes of human nature that are less than desirable. I have never been able to identify another person as better or worse than another for any reason and particularly not because they have had surgeries, medz or anything else. Personal character and charm should speak louder and be the voice heard instead of status in the genre's stable. However there are those who feel the need or want to be the "who's who" of the transgender world and all it does is turn most who can think on their own away. For what purpose does it serve to turn another sister or brother away simply because another has an ego issue? As well, there are so very many hurdles in life already in place, why do we need to exaggerate more bad characteristics when they are the very same we try to separate ourselves from in seeking acceptance in the real world?

Compassion is self explanatory and a matter of interpretation so I will leave it at that, but I think it ties in very closely with the above. There is a line from a track that I heard for the first time last week and it is .... "I 'll take you for who you are... if you accept me for everything..." With that nature one can throw away the complex and confusing natures noted above and elsewhere and we truly can move forward and maybe even find the L-O-V-E too!. :)

R & L, Alexis

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