Monday, November 12, 2007

Fault Lines

Recently I've crystallized some thoughts that I had been knocking about for a while concerning the sometimes less than cordial relationships between the transsexual, transgendered and ambigendered (OK, use crossdresser or another term if you prefer) segments of our community. It seems we ought to be able to get along pretty well given that we share the common bond of a desire to express a gender identity contrary to our biological sex—and society's general rejection of the same. Yet there is often tension between these various groups. Why?
I think the real dividing line in our community is the desire to transition. The transsexual and the transgendered (in the original sense of the word, those who desire to live as the opposite gender) are on one side and the "part-timers" (CDs, TVs, fetishists, etc.—we're not as clearly defined and labeled) on the other. And while we are often allies, we exist in a tenuous relationship with one another. My view of the tension is that is springs from the fact that those on both sides of the line have a need—and it is legitimate and understandable- -to distinquish themselves from those on the other. The M2F transsexual needs to prove that she really is a woman with an unfortunate physical birth defect and the transitioning transgendered M2F is similar in desiring to prove a compelling need to express her feminine identity full-time. These individuals genuinely feel they must prove that they aren't "just" some part-time crossdresser who is dabbling at this. The problem is that this distinction is perhaps most easily expressed by blatantly insulting the "part-timers" with in a condescending "trannier than thou" sort of attitude.
This is not to say that my tribe, the ambigendered, CDs, and other parttimers are blameless. We have the need to prove to ourselves and others (particularly significant others and spouses) that while we may cross over to the other side of the gender barrier, we are only doing so temporarily (hence my preference for the term ambigendered) . We find it necessary to establish our identity as distinct from the transsexual or the permanently transitioning transgendered individual as not seeking permanent transitioning. The simplest way to do that is often crude and offensive to those on the other side of the fault line.
There is a delicate balance between the legitimate needs of the transitioner and polite respect for those who aren't transitioning. And frankly, introspection, tact, finesse, diplomacy and literary nimbleness are uncommon traits both in our community and the human race at large. While there isn't an easy way to address the legitimate needs of every individual in our community as regards explanation of personal gender status, there is a simple rule that might help us lay the foundation for mutual respect and cooperation. It involves behaving towards one another with toleration and compassion. That shouldn't be so hard, since that seems to be what we all crave from the rest of society. Toleration, like charity, begins at home; if you can't give it, you shouldn't expect to receive it.


Alexis Rene said...

The difference though is that we as a community cannot allow ourselves the luxury of falling into that fault line and must collectively uplift those who are trying to pull us down that gap. Understand, respect and love the person within and not the particular genre they may or may not belong to. Laying a blanket summary crossing these realms identifying negatives doesn't accomplish anything more than segregating each of them.

There will always be clique's of people that relate to one another while congregating in their own circle with more prevalence than they do elsewhere, as is evident in every locale drilling down from workplaces, schools and most extra curricular social gatherings.(This very web group is still accused of that actually.) I understand that the transgender community differs in the respect that it is not simple just to run down to local gathering spot and socialize with just anyone, particularly at the beginning of ones journey. Though one would think that in this era with everything that has occurred in history with regards to race, creed, color, gender equality, civil rights cases & issues over the past fifty years alone would show us, the transgender community that this path could be lit ever so differently.

The purpose of any advocacy group within the LGBT world should be one of unity and not segregating them. I know the recent ENDA debate has strained relations amongst, but it is up to each of us to take the step forward and look beyond an issue to see a persons glow. We expect people to take us for the people we are inside, though I am finding it more difficult to find the reciprocation from our collective community.

R & L,~A~

Isis Win said...

Yes, there is a split that at times, becomes quite marked within the differences of people that fall under the TG umbrella.

Interesting, that the TG term was coined to avoid such split. After all, we all deal with crossing the boundaries of gender and that! is something that not only is not accepted, but as well, looked as a perverse/dubious intent. One of the reasons the term TG failed to deliver it's intent, is because, such has been included as a part of the rainbow of minorities and one that denotes sexual preference as well and the other is exclusive of gender to most TGs: LGBT. Huh?

Well, that's not the only/real problem. Stereotyping is another segment of the problem. To several transitioning XGs (cross-genders) what is evident to their eye is the undeniable majority of public CDs that are or panty-wearers, fetish oriented people or sexually aimed people. Yes, the largest visible number in the net. Many don't even make the effort to achieve a quality presence as a XG and fall under the category of "men in a dress". The stereotyping starts when ALL CDs become a part of such group, in the eye of the beholder. It is hard to accept being one, when the vast majority present such an undesirable presence. Clearly it is stereotyping. The case goes in the other direction as well. To CDs, the rest, are people that can deal with their born body regardles of any history involved.

Then we can go into the "judge in within". That core part of splitting layers, stereotyping, etc. Such judge not only will assess and categorize what is and not, but since it is a core part of the psyche of the beholder, every time the beholder struggles with emotional personal issues, he/she would dump the blame to others. Therefore, they "become" what they find acceptable and the rest of the community are undesirable/unacceptable. An inner feeling that simply put "they can't deal with". Where does it come from? Huh!

Weather we enjoy challenging the mainstream by crossing the boundaries, or were born with a genetic message that tell us to be the opposite gender, or go in that direction as a result of psychological/social/cultural issues, it makes no sense to judge where the starting point and legitimacy of what we do starts. After all, we all belong to the XG realm and deal with the same issues. Differently perhaps, but after all, we all suffer from the same syndromes.

In a very simplistic way, we can look at such division as an idiotic/non sense reaction towards others & ourselves. Yet, is not so idiotic. There are psychological projections involved and depending of the level of investment we provide to our own selves, the more we can introspect and deal with our inner self. The better we get equipped to deal with the related issues and we start to understand others who don't fall into our own category. Whether there is a sexual identity or not as well.

Bottom line, any and all XGs have a strong preference to identify with the opposite gender. From there, that person can delve into the depths that his/her investment can provide and make peace accordingly. We M2F XGs feel more resonant with the female realm, therefore we treasure such as the most intimate part of our inner self. Regardless of how challenged it is by the boxed mainstream perception. So... why to split? Come on, have some common sense here!

Our own/personal split already has been a tremendous source of pain, confusion, lack of self acceptance, etc. Therefore providing understanding and support to all, regardless of labels is of utmost importance. If not for the benefit of others, for our own benefit. Just some food for thought.