Common ground among the gender-variant communities

10 August, 2008 (20:23) | Political

Publishing the argument for one of the New Zealand Human Rights Commission’s recommendations yesterday had me thinking that that was the first time I had written anything overtly political of any substance. But after thinking about it I did remember a piece I wrote for the “trans-theory” Yahoo! group forum in May 2007 trying to promote a realisation of the common issues faced by persons along the spectrum of gender variance (especially between transsexuals and cross-dressers), and how these are similar to those faced by other oppressed groups in the wider community.

Seeing as I am still in a somewhat political mood I would like to reproduce what I wrote here:
Although I can see why a person with a transsexual history who now
completely fits in with their adopted gender role can feel that they have
nothing to do with a male cross-dresser who only “dresses” twice a year in a
motel room. However, I believe both these groups benefit from a society
where variations in gender expression are tolerated, or even celebrated. The
transsexual will not face the violence and bigotry in their life prior to
fitting in to their adopted gender role. The cross-dresser will not have the
pain and isolation of not being able to be honest with loved ones. I would
like to quote Leslie Feinberg, Trans-Liberation, p. 26 to further illustrate
my point:

“I can barely allow myself to imagine the loneliness of a male who can only
see her feminine reflection in a motel mirror in a strange town twice a
year. The pain of a husband who thinks to herself everyday – my wife thinks
she loves me, but she doesn’t really know the real me. Would she still love
me if she knew? Would she stay?”

Although this person may not receive the same amount of overt oppression as
transsexuals do, they are still oppressed living in the gender-conforming
societies in which we live. We have come a long way. I believe the best way
of achieving further change is to work together.

I believe society’s acceptance of gender-variance is also important for the
bisexual, lesbian, gay rights movement. A lot of the discrimination and
abuse they receive is the result of their gendered behaviour as opposed to
their sexual behaviour. Given the amount of oppression that women have
received from rigid gender-roles in the past I have reason to believe that
the women’s rights movement would also benefit from such tolerance.

Comments

Comment from Racheal McGonigal
Date: August 16, 2008, 11:20 am

I totally understand this and agree. I spent years dressing in secret in motel rooms and at home when i was sure no one was about. It had nothing to do with sexual satisfaction as is the common opinion but was to do with my being me. It was a time when I was comfortable and relaxed within myself.
And yes I spent many hours thinking about loved ones who said they loved me but they never bothered to really know me. They loved what they saw and wanted to see but it was impossible to express my real self as even I didnt understand myself.
I grew up in a farming community, inland of Napier. Born 1955, forget the first 5 yrs of my life. From 5-15 (1960-69) I never heard the word crossdresser or Transsexual; I can remember my interest in crossdressing aged 7. 15 -25 (1970-79) Yes I heard the word Transsexual on occassions. In the Truth (dirty paper) mainly. With references to the dirty druggie sick girls on K Road or King Cross. Why would I ever think I was anything like them?
After that I continued leading the life society said I should. Bought a farm, got married had two kids so know time to question and find answers so I just continued taking the time to dress when I could.
Back then in a rural community no one knew anything about transsexuals and so they werent discussed.
Now even though I have been lucky enough to go and have my GRS and am now full female, I still recognise that I was a cross dresser for a long time. Many current cross dressers will go on to becoming transsexuals preop and postop. So I want to see the whole trans community working together and not divided. Because I speak up and out on things effecting postop and because in the past there have been few postop to speak up, I am sometimes labelled as ‘eletiest’ or anti CD or preop. That is totally wrong and offends to be honest.
Back in Feb, I attended a HRC meeting and while commending the HRC report I also said it now required the trans community to get behind it. To unite the groups and forget past differances and stupid tranny spats. To work for the greater good.
I later broached the need to form an umbrella group above all the groups but comprising equal representation from all groups to help unite the groups. I am now on the Agender national Committee and working with Transgender.co.nz.
Due to efforts of others with similar thoughts, we now have good links between what I see as the 3 major trans groups and I hope in time others will come on board.
While yes I oppose the changing of the wording of the Births, Deaths and Marriages Act 1995 (discussed elsewhere in here) I have also written to the current Minister of Health asking questions of why there was no funding of GRS operations during the time there was no surgeon offering such in NZ; Why the Ministry of Health uses a below standard Tech brief that shows there is no benefit to transsexuals having GRS.
I question how many other individuals or groups have done anything to do with this. I have had my GRS so there is no benefit to me. I do it for those who follow.
I suspect I am alone as others are chasing the changing of the wording which will help one sector of our community but takes no regard of a smaller minority and how it will effect them. I question who is elietiest?
We are all part of the trans community and all need to consider and work towards helping all not just ones own sector.
To me the word ‘Transgender’ means to cross permanently from one gender to the other. A PhD at Victoria who specialises in Gender language agrees. It is the word that best defines postop MtF and FtM. Yet because a bigger sector who didnt like the ‘sexual’ conitations of the word Transsexual have taken it over to now cover CD, Transvestities, preop, Intersex and more, it no longer defines postop alone.
I raise this merely as an example of how the majority in the past has done things without considering the impact on the minority. They have done what they want. I am a member of the trans community but am not transgendered any longer. We all need to work together and consider all within our community.

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