Thursday, September 8, 2011

A “Transsexual Versus Transgender” Intervention*

Over the last year or so, I have read a number of blog entries and Facebook rants about the so-called “transsexual versus transgender” issue. For those who are unaware of this debate, it stems from a subset of transsexuals who feel that the transsexual community is not served well by being included under the transgender umbrella (some even go so far as to insist that there is a mutually-exclusive dichotomy between transsexual and transgender people). Along similar lines, these transsexuals also argue that inclusion under the LGBT umbrella does a disservice to the transsexual community, as it conflates two very different issues (i.e., sexual orientation and gender identity), and emboldens many cissexual LGB folks to appropriate trans identities and experiences, and to claim to speak on our behalf.

I have purposefully tried to avoid entering into this debate, primarily because many (albeit certainly not all) of the umbrella critiques that I have read invoke horrible stereotypes, and sometimes even hate speech, to help bolster their case. I have seen blatantly homophobic and biphobic remarks made by some anti-umbrella advocates. One post I saw described bisexuals as sexual predators who fetishize and prey upon transsexuals - this comment draws on a long history of monosexist stereotypes of bisexuals as “sex crazed” and desiring “anything that moves,” and it deeply offended me as a bisexual trans woman.

Along the same lines, anti-umbrella advocates often self-describe themselves as “real transsexuals” and dismiss those who support the transgender and LGBT umbrellas as being posers and mere fetishists. Some even cite Ray Blanchard’s sexualizing and scientifically incorrect theory of autogynephilia to make their point. It is one thing to disagree with another person’s views about whether or not transsexuals should seek inclusion under the transgender and LGBT umbrellas. But when people stoop to the level of sexualizing those they disagree with, or dismissing them as “fakes,” then they are engaging in name calling rather than intellectual debate, and I want absolutely no part of it.

So like I said, I have mostly avoided this debate because of the name calling, disparaging stereotypes and nonconsensual sexualization that are sometimes associated with it. But recently, I read a post where someone referred to me as being firmly in the “transsexual” (rather than “transgender”) camp. This was the second time that I had seen such a claim, and frankly, it surprised me. Granted, in my book Whipping Girl, I argued that the transsexual experience is different from other transgender trajectories, and I also decried the manner in which some cissexual gays and lesbians appropriate transsexual identities. But I never once advocated that transsexuals should completely split off from the transgender or LGBT communities. Rather, my intention was constructive criticism - I hoped to make those alliances more aware and respectful of transsexual voices and perspectives.

So, for the record, I am in the pro-umbrella camp, even though I acknowledge that sometimes umbrella politics are messy and less than equitable. In other words, I believe that the pros of umbrella politics outweigh the cons. But, of course, that is my opinion, and others may disagree. If we are going to have a serious discussion about this issue (i.e., one that does not sink into the abyss of sexualization, stereotypes and name calling), then it seems to me that there are at least three major issues that need to be addressed, but which have been largely absent from the debate thus far.

1) Activism requires alliances.

Anyone who has ever been an activist for any social justice issue can tell you that minority groups, on their own, are never able to fully achieve the positive change they seek in the world without first forming alliances with those who do not share their experience. This becomes even more crucial when the minority group in question is especially small. Even the most liberal of estimates suggest that transsexuals make up about 0.2% of the population; more conservative estimates suggest that we are far rarer than that. Therefore, it is simply not possible for us to challenge deeply entrenched and institutionalized societal cissexism/transphobia without enlisting cissexual allies.

One of the most constructive ways to build alliances is through umbrella groups, where several marginalized groups that share similar concerns band together to work on their shared issues. After all, there is strength in numbers. Transgender activism came about as a way bring together transsexuals with other gender-variant groups (e.g., crossdressers, intersex people, two-spirit people, genderqueers, butch women, femme men, etc.), not because we are “all the same,” but in order to fight together against a mutual problem we share: The way in which our society marginalizes all people who do not conform to gender norms. While not perfect, that coalition has positively impacted most of our lives. One could even make the case that none of us would even be here openly having this debate in a public forum if it were not for the last two decades of transgender activism.

Many transsexuals also feel that the LGBT umbrella is another useful alliance. After all, it is the common assumption that a person’s sex, gender and sexuality should all nicely and neatly align that lies at the root of the oppression that all of us face. Transsexuals who want to secede from the LGBT umbrella keep citing the fact that sexual orientation has nothing to do with gender identity. This may be true, but this point has nothing to do with the rationale behind why trans people were initially included in the umbrella - specifically, because LGBT individuals are all discriminated against for similar reasons (i.e., because, in one way or another, we challenge the assumption that sex, gender and sexuality should all be perfectly aligned). This is evident in the way that gays, lesbians and bisexuals are often targeted for discrimination for their gender nonconformity, and in the way that transsexuals are often targeted for discrimination because people fear that sleeping with us might “make them gay.” In other words, while sexual orientation and gender identity may be different things, homophobia and transphobia are very much intertwined.

That is the argument for transsexual inclusion under the transgender and LGBT umbrellas. Those transsexuals who oppose those umbrellas must answer this: If we secede from those alliances, then who should we ally with? What new umbrella groups should we form in order to collectively fight the marginalization we face?

To date, I have only ever seen one opponent of the transgender and LGBT umbrellas suggest an alternative alliance that transsexuals should work toward. That person is Vivianne Namaste, an amazing Canadian trans activist, writer and theorist who is sadly underappreciated here in the States. In her book Sex Change, Social Change: Reflections on Identity, Institutions and Imperialism, she claims that transsexuals have not been well served by the transgender and LGBT alliances, and she argues that transsexuals should instead forge “alliances with advocates for the homeless, activists working for the decriminalization of prostitution, and those who work on prison reform and/or abolition.”

While I find her argument to be very reasonable, I have a sneaking suspicion that most anti-umbrella advocates posting on the web these days would not embrace such an alliance. Indeed, an underlying sentiment in a lot of their posts seems to be that in order for transsexuals to be considered “normal” or “desirable,” we must dissociate ourselves from the undesirable sexual deviants and fetishists that supposedly reside within the transgender and LGBT umbrellas. So it is hard for me to envision these same anti-umbrella advocates whose posts I have read suddenly deciding to join forces with sex worker, prison reform and homeless activists.

It is never in the interest of the powers-that-be to simply give some minority group equal rights or to treat them as fully legitimate individuals. Anyone who has spent any time doing front-line activism can tell you that, in order to create positive change for transsexuals in this world, we need to band together with other disadvantaged groups to fight for our mutual interests. If anti-umbrella advocates want to be taken seriously, then they must move beyond simply decrying the transgender and LGBT alliances, and instead propose serious alternative alliances that are both realistic and which will help us achieve our collective goals. Other than Namaste (who, as far as I can tell, has not been involved in the recent umbrella debates on the web), I have yet to see any such alternative offered from anti-umbrella advocates.

2) Transsexual is an umbrella too

Most of the critiques that I have read arguing that transsexuals should abandon the transgender and LGBT umbrellas seem not to take into account the fact that transsexual is an umbrella too! We are a disparate group of individuals who share one thing in common: We all identify and live as members of the sex other than the one we were assigned at birth. Other than that, we differ in almost every way. Some of us are conservative while others of us are liberal. Some of us are middle- or upper-class while others of us are poor. Some of us are white while others of us are people of color. Some of us are straight while others of us are queer. Some of us are vanilla while others of us are kinky. Some of us are out as transsexual while others of us are stealth. Some of us are able to “pass” or “blend in” as cissexual while others of us are not. Some of us are very feminine, or very masculine, while others of us are less conventional in our gender expression. Like the population as a whole, transsexuals are highly diverse, and we should respect that diversity within our own community.

Some of the anti-umbrella posts that I have read presume that transsexuals are one monolithic group, and that we *all* want out of the transgender and LGBT umbrellas, when this is clearly not the case. A lot of us prefer to work toward making these umbrellas function better for transsexuals, rather than abandoning them entirely.

Without a doubt, the most disturbing aspect of this debate is that some anti-umbrella advocates try to erase this diversity in perspectives and experiences in our community by arrogantly claiming that they are “real” transsexuals, and that those who take a pro-umbrella position must be “fake” transsexuals. As I alluded to in the beginning of this post, this “real”/”fake” distinction is often policed via homophobic remarks and blatant sexualization, although it is often times policed in other ways.

The most devious way in which this “real”/”fake” distinction is enforced is through a redefining of the word “transgender.” Anti-umbrella advocates often use the term transgender, not as an umbrella term that includes transsexuals and other gender-variant people (i.e., the traditional definition of transgender over the last two decades), but rather as a pejorative to describe people who are merely “gender benders,” “drag queens,” “crossdressed men,” “fetishists” and/or “queers.” In other words, this use of the word transgender implies that transgender-identified transsexuals are “fakes” - people who pretend to be transsexual, but who are actually something else entirely. This wordplay allows anti-umbrella advocates to outright dismiss any pro-umbrella sentiments on the grounds that the person voicing that opinion is merely “a transgender” rather than a “real transsexual.”

About two years ago, on a trans-related email list, I was having an argument with another trans woman about some unrelated issue. And suddenly, out of the blue, she suggested that I was not a “real transsexual” because I still had a penis (she mentioned being on my website, so I presume that she figured this out from viewing the video of me performing my spoken word piece “Cocky”). Even though I have pretty thick skin, the accusation that I must not be a “real transsexual” really got to me. It stung bad. Like most of us, I have had to deal with so much shit in my life, first as an isolated trans child, then later as an outspoken transsexual adult. And to have someone, in one swift comment, try to take that all away from me, to invalidate my identity and life experiences, felt like a violation. In writing my response to her, I found myself wanting to mention that, after many years of not being able to afford it, I was finally scheduled to have SRS later that year. But I quickly decided against it for three reasons: 1) it is nobody’s fucking business what I do with my body!, 2) it would simply reinforce the fucked up notion that one has to live up to other people’s stupid criteria - whether it be surgery, or a diagnosis from a psychiatrist, or “passability,” or heterosexuality, or conventional femininity - in order to be deemed a “real transsexual,” and 3) it really wouldn’t have mattered what I said. She was trying to discredit me, to make the argument we were having about me, rather than the subject we were initially arguing about. She would not be satisfied with merely voicing her side of the argument - she also wanted to delegitimize me because I disagreed with her.

People who wish to discredit those they disagree with, rather than engage in honest and serious debate with them, always seem to play the “real” card. This is why right-wing conservatives claim that Obama is not a “real American,” or that liberals are not “real patriots.” It is why people will claim that hip-hop, or rock-and-roll, or any other music they do not like, is not “real music.” And it is why any person who does not conform to conventional assumptions about sex, gender and sexuality - whether they be transsexual, transgender, LGB or feminist - will inevitably be accused of not being a “real” woman or man.

Transsexuals are people. And like people more generally, we differ with regard to our sexualities, our gender expressions, and our perspectives and opinions. Therefore, we must stop referring to this debate about umbrellas as the “transsexual versus transgender” debate, as that is a misnomer. This is a debate between transsexuals who support transsexual inclusion within the transgender and LGBT umbrellas and those who do not. And anyone who attempts to play the “real transsexual” card should be summarily dismissed, as they are merely engaging in name calling rather than serious debate.

3) What this debate is really about

When I hear anti-umbrella advocates claim that transsexuals don’t want anything to do with the LGB community, it always strikes me as odd given the fact that so many transsexuals are LGB- and/or queer-identified.

Most modern studies examining the prevalence of LGB orientation claim that less that 5% of the (predominantly cissexual) population identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual. The numbers can get higher—up to 15% of the population—when same-sex attraction or experiences (rather than identity) are measured. In contrast, in virtually every survey and research study I have seen (and I’ve seen quite a few), the percentage of LGB-identified transsexuals is somewhere between 30% to 60%. About ten years ago, I was on a large email list that focused on MTF transitioning, and in a survey there, about one-third of the transsexual women identified as heterosexual, one-third as bisexual, and one-third as lesbian.

There are always problems with measuring the prevalence of sexual orientation, so I would not claim to know exactly how many transsexuals are LGBQ-identified. But I think it’s safe to say that the percentage is way higher among transsexuals than for the greater cissexual population, and that it may even approach or surpass the 50% mark.

On top of this, there are many heterosexually-oriented transsexuals who identify as queer, often because they spent their formative pre-transition years within the lesbian/gay/queer communities. For instance, many trans men who are exclusively attracted to women (and therefore heterosexual in orientation) nevertheless identify as queer and continue to participate in queer communities, usually because they were a part of those communities pre-transition and/or because they are partnered to, or have a preference for, queer-identified women. There are also some heterosexually-oriented trans women who spent their pre-transition years in the gay male community, although this admittedly seems to occur far less often than trans men who spend their pre-transition years in lesbian/dyke communities.

This last point may shed some light onto the proverbial “elephant in the room” in this whole umbrella debate: It is almost exclusively a trans woman phenomenon. Now, I am not saying that there aren’t any trans men out there who want to secede from the LGBT umbrella, but frankly, every single anti-umbrella post that I have read has been penned by a trans woman. Now, there may be a number of factors that contribute to this disparity, but I suspect that a major reason is the fact that, in both gay male communities and lesbian/dyke communities, masculinity is celebrated and femininity is dismissed. This generally leads to greater acceptance of transsexual men (who express themselves and/or are perceived as masculine), whereas transsexual women (who express themselves and/or are perceived as feminine) are often ignored or shunned.**

Many transsexual women I have talked to who explored dating in gay male circles during their pre-transition days have told me that they received very little interest from gay men because they were seen as too feminine. In contrast, pre-transition transsexual men do not typically have such a problem dating within lesbian/dyke communities, where butch and trans masculine gender expression are often celebrated.

Here is a thought experiment: Imagine gay men en masse warmly welcoming and celebrating heterosexually-oriented post-transition transsexual women into their communities. Sounds quite farcical, doesn’t it? And yet, heterosexually-oriented post-transition transsexual men are very much welcomed and celebrated in many contemporary queer women’s communities.

Given all this, I think that it might be useful to reframe this debate. Arguing that LGBT folks are inherently anti-transsexual (and therefore, transsexuals should secede from that umbrella) is patently untrue. While some LGBT individuals may express anti-transsexual sentiments, other LGBT folks downright embrace certain transsexuals. Instead, a more accurate description is as follows: Negative attitudes toward trans female and trans feminine individuals runs rampant throughout much of the cissexual queer community. As a result, many heterosexually-oriented trans women never feel welcome in, nor do they ever associate themselves with, the queer community (whereas heterosexually-oriented trans men often do). And queer-identified trans women typically have to work hard to be seen as legitimate members of the queer community (whereas queer-identified trans men are often celebrated within those same queer circles).

This leads to one final point: As a trans woman who has had to fight tooth and nail to try to get the greater cis queer women’s community to acknowledge and embrace their trans sisters, the idea of removing transsexuals from the LGBT umbrella greatly concerns me. If it were to happen, I believe that it would severely undermine the modest gains that queer-identified trans women have made thus far. So we are left with a dilemma: Heterosexual trans women don’t feel like they are a part of the queer community, and so they understandably want to remove transsexuality from the LGBT umbrella. Yet, if such a move were to occur, it would have a strong negative impact on queer-identified trans women who still to this day struggle to be acknowledged, accepted and appreciated within LGBT circles.

Reconciling this debate

Unfortunately, these umbrella debates have created rifts (or exacerbated previously existing rifts) between heterosexual and queer-identified trans women, and between transsexual women and non-transsexual transgender people on the trans female/feminine spectrum. I think that there are a few things we can do to reconcile these debates and heal the rifts that currently exist within our communities.

First, we should respect the diversity of identities, sexualities and life histories that exist among those of us on the trans female/feminine spectrums. We should recognize that many transsexual women have been, or currently are, crossdressers, drag performers, androgynous, butch, or genderqueer-identified—such life experiences do not make a person any less transsexual. Furthermore, cissexual women vary in their sexualities and identities, so we should expect transsexual women to vary in these respects too. Heterosexual transsexuals should stop trying to convince the world that all transsexuals are straight and want out of the LGBT umbrella. Similarly, queer-identified transsexuals sometimes play up the idea that transsexuality is inherently subversive and super-duper-queer in order to gain acceptance within queer circles (I should know, as did quite a bit of that during the first two years after my transition)—this erases the life experiences of our straight-identified trans sisters.

Second, rather than pitting trans female/feminine communities against one another, we should all stand together to challenge our shared problem: trans-misogyny within the greater cissexual LGBT community.

Finally, we should recognize that umbrellas exist, not because all of its members share the same identity, but rather because its members are marginalized in similar/related ways by society, and have formed an alliance to challenge the mutual problems they face. I believe that transgender and LGBT are useful alliances in this regard, but they need not be the only ones. I am a big proponent of creating alliances between cis and trans women to challenge the traditional sexism/misogyny we mutually face. Many people (including myself) think that transsexuals should ally ourselves with intersex activists, disability activists, and fat activists to challenge the cultural belief that certain bodies are “better,” more “natural,” or more valid than others. And Namaste’s suggestion that transsexuals should ally with other groups who have been criminalized by society (e.g., sex worker, prison reform and homeless activists) is another potentially productive one.

If the goal is forwarding transsexual and/or trans women’s rights and perspectives, then we should focus our energies on creating more and stronger alliances, rather than tearing down existing ones.

-julia

*note: I called this piece an “intervention” as a shout-out to Vivianne Namaste, who often uses that phrase to describe her own writings and activism.

**to be clear, I am not claiming that all trans women are feminine, or all trans men are masculine. But people do tend to perceive trans women as being feminine, or attempting to be feminine (even when we are not), and vice versa for trans men.

35 comments:

  1. Yours is a very rational statement and one I tend to agree with. I also have seen the mindset of the separatist crowd and they have adopted a very right wing way of confronting a problem, which is simply to marginalize the opposition. Sadly, those that often confront them end up employing similar tactics, leaving the entire lot immune to very rational statements such as yours. Our current political environment abhors compromises and we end up with very little play for the shades of grey necessary for a diverse umbrella to work as it needs to for some.

    But here's the thing that should drive us forward, but mostly is ignored. The majority quietly desires compromise, but is too often drowned out by the fringes. If the vocal virulence can be marginalized, we would be left with a much larger (comparitively) population of positive actors.

    Thank you for your post.

    xoxo

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  2. A few thoughts:

    First, I don't think the idea of allying trans communities with those of the homeless/prostitutes is unique to Vivianne Namaste. It definitely seems to me that in the fights over who the gay neighborhood of Chicago belongs to, trans youth are acknowledged to be the bulk of the homeless population that the adult gay and lesbian residents object to.
    Somewhat similar thoughts seem to be expressed on the other side in That's Revolting, ed by Matt aka Mattilda Sycamore Bernstein.

    Next: I think a lot of trans men who don't identify with the queer community are less vocal simply because it is so much easier for trans men to be invisible, and because of how many of us transition really young.
    If, like myself, a guy has been living as a guy since middle school, and he lives stealth in his day to day life, then if he doesn't like the queer or trans communities... he just leaves them alone. That is, I myself do identify as trans, but I know a few intersexed or transitioned folks who don't see themselves as trans or queer and just aren't vocal about it.
    And I myself recently had "Am I trans enough?" moment about a week ago. I was talking to a trans woman in a language I'm not fluent in, having met her in a trans space where I was the only person conversant in her language. And after we'd been talking a while, she asked me, "You used to be a woman?" which is what FtM means to a lot of people, after all, and I floundered, because I have no lived experience as a woman- to the extent that I was ever a woman, I still am one.

    My biggest objection to umbrella-ing people under transgender is actually putting the intersex category there because I think transfolk tend to appropriate that label, especially those trans people who label all intersex folk as trans. Plenty of intersex folk do not want to be labeled trans.

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  3. Hi Natasha and Jonah, thanks for the thoughtful comments.

    Jonah, two quick responses to what you said. First, I was not implying that Namaste invented that idea about banning together with sex workers/homeless/prison reform folks (and she makes the same points about many trans youth being homeless & sex workers that you so). I mentioned her solely because she is the only trans activist I know who has argued for transsexuals to pull back from LGBT alliances and to also offer an alternative alliance.

    Also, I appreciate what you said about many intersex people not wanting to be a part of the transgender umbrella because too many non-intersex transgender-identified people appropriate their experiences. This is a legitimate concern, and I feel that it stems mostly from people confusing identities with umbrellas.

    People who understand umbrellas realize that they are in an alliance with other marginalized groups, but that they have no right to speak on behalf of those groups.

    I know several intersex folks who also identify as transgender. But I do not assume that I can speak on their behalf simply because I also identify as transgender. Just because you identify a particular way, or are included in the same umbrella as someone else, does not give you the right to speak on their behalf.

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  4. I agree to some extent that the anti-umbrella wing is acting in a way I would think of as reactionary. But when it comes down to it, I'm not exactly sure I can fault them for the position that they take. Maybe it's because I really see the anti-umbrella wing as very influenced by how the queer community treats trans women. I feel like it is obvious that there is no such thing as a 'fake' trans person (it kind of has that "No True Scotsman" feel to it), and the notion that somehow 'true transsexuals' are more moral than transgender people is a bit strange.

    While I might disagree that transsexual men are accepted by larger queer men's community (I've heard quite a bit of disappointment about most gay men's reactions to trans men), I do agree with you that most trans women don't have much of a community in the LGBT movement. I can definitely identify, since many times I feel like the person described in the bit you wrote about being seen as too feminine for the gay community. Whereas being gender divergent for a female assigned person is seen as extremely wanted and great in the queer community, gender divergence in male assigned people is tolerated (or sometimes, not!)

    Now, we could labor over why this state of affairs exists (men's orientations being much more rigid in our society, etc.) but the fact of the matter is that no one celebrates gender divergent male assigned people (including transsexual women). Except the straight male chasers.

    But even that isn't really what makes me empathize with the anti-umbrella group. I think that the LGBT community not only appropriates them for their purposes, but also consciously pushes them away as much (if not more, and in larger numbers) as the anti-umbrella people push away from the LGBT community.

    Like, the trans men using the term 'tranny', or the use of trans women's (in particular poor trans WOC) stories as their own. When trans women get mad about this, when they are allowed to speak, they are lectured.

    I mean, for every anti-umbrella person I hear, I hear another LGB person say that trans women are males, or 'what does my marriage have to do with a dude in a dress?'. Then, to add insult to the exclusion and marginalization, LGB cis people get angry when trans women have problems trusting them about being allies. Like somehow all LGB cis people, by virtue of being queer, are inherently less transmisogynistic than cis straight people. In fact, sometimes it feels like the opposite.

    So I guess the question is 'are anti-umbrella people dissolving an alliance or ending an exploitative relationship?"

    -Joel Layton

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  5. hi Joel,

    so I agree that there are many cis LGB folks who are trans-ignorant or downright anti-transsexual. I think it is important for us to call them out for it (which I often do in my own writings). But at the same time, in my experience, a lot more cis LGB folks are truly trans positive than cis hetero folks. At least where I live in the Bay Area.

    Granted, there is a significant amount of anti-transsexual sentiment in LGB circles. But not more so than in hetero circles. So LGBT is an alliance in progress. We need to press it. There is resistance, but I believe resistance to transexuals is less intense in LGB communities than it is in the cis straight mainstream.

    you said this important thing:

    "Like, the trans men using the term 'tranny', or the use of trans women's (in particular poor trans WOC) stories as their own. When trans women get mad about this, when they are allowed to speak, they are lectured."

    yes, this is a problem. But it's not about anti-transsexualism. it is about cis white middle-class masculine folks asserting their privilege and taking claim to the experiences of others. People who espouse appropriation need to be challenged.

    I am not saying that this is easy or no big deal. but it is easier than starting from scratch and building completely new alliances...

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  6. Thanks for your usual words of wisdom, Julia. The problem we all need to recognise surely is the way cisgenderism (and heteronormatvity) manifests as a prejudicial ideology ... as opposed to a valid personal experience among others. This is something which LGB & T people seem frequently to collude in. We see ourselves as 'the problem to be solved' rather than just being able to accept 'how we are'. We cherry-pick particular parts of the heteronormative equation evident in our own person, which we can then emphasise as indicating we are a lesser or more acceptable problem. I understand why, given the intimidating 'shit' dumped on us by our prescriptive society, but trying to combat one such prejudicial ideology with another equally prejudicial ideology only seems to me to tighten our bonds.
    This is brilliantly touched on by Y. Gavriel Ansara and Peter Hegarty in their paper: Cisgenderism in psychology: pathologising and misgendering children, which can be found here http://ansaraonline.com/publications

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  7. The one reason why I am not willing to accept that someone call me transgender is that "transgender" is a word that comes from Virginia Prince who firstly talked about "real" and "fake" transsexuals in her essay "Transsexuals and Pseudotranssexuals" (Archives of Sexual BEhaviour, Vol.7, 1978). Since that time there's the big lie, that being "transsexual" means "sex-changed". This is some of the bullshit people who wanted to split up transsexual people, argued in the 60ies and 70ies. "Transsexual" doesn't mean "being sex-changed" in origin. "Transsexual" was invented 1923 from Magnus Hirschfeld and what he meant was, that there are sexual variations in nature... and one of this variacions is "Transsexualism".

    So "Transsexuality" is not some kind of "gender-variance". It is a "sexual variation"... and transsexual people aren't people who are interested in fulfilling gender-stereotypes (as Virigina Prince who praised living in gender-stereotypes), their are part of nature.

    "Transgender" is a reduction of something that has more factors than "gender". And so a small "umbrella" for a huge phenomenon doesn't really makes sense.

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  8. I see that we are accused of name calling but don't see you call out the transgender community for their own violations. I have been called the following, numerous times. Nazi, Transsexual Taliban, Brownshirt, √úbermensch, bigot, hater, separatist, and many more. Transgender members attack viciously and aggressively and have even tried to ruin people's lives. There is more testosterone in the TeeGee community than there is estrogen and it shows. TeeGee rights is more about men's rights than women's. Why on earth would any woman want to be under an umbrella where men who mock women (cross-dressers, sissy maids). It is oppressive. Society, as a whole, can't swallow "transgender" but the most certainly accepted transsexual and treatment for transsexualims before TeeGee came along and ruined it.

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  9. Aside from the psycho-babble, political Kool-Aid, and phony assumption that all are being served fairly under this Transgender and LGBt umbrella, there are serious problems not addressed. The medical issues and needs are not homogeneous and often in contention with the very concept of Transgender. The social aspects as well are often a matter of tauromachy, as many Transsexuals are not into the DRAG, gay, sex, immoral behavior, or LGBt sub-culture, i.e. the Kool-Aid! If you are going to talk about Trans-inclusiveness, then all Trans-issues and dilemma needs vetting. The resolution for one group, in fact, is dissolution for others!

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  10. Julia,

    I am so grateful that you are taking the time to express your opinions on this topic. I respect your opinion greatly. Here is what I struggle to reconcile...

    First is that the needs of transsexual's are basic ones with great consequences such as loss of children in court hearings, bathroom violence, refusal of medical service, murders and loss of family, etc. The issues of the trans umbrella pale in comparison.

    How do we bring these issues to the forefront of an transgender umbrella when the goal seems to be either all of us or none of us. I think the Maryland bill was a great example of that. Meanwhile transsexual women have to wait when their needs are so much greater. It doesn't seem fair.

    I agree with not breaking away from the umbrella. I take the ambassador's approach that we should make as many bridges as we can without burning any of them.

    A lot of "separatists" I think have just experienced the harsh realities of prejudice and get frustrated with the lack of response. I know my ex was successful in getting a court to take my children away for eight weeks. It took the ACLU to get them back. I have several friends who are not as fortunate.

    When I think of the 'issues' that the rest of the umbrella has it doesn't compare. How do we address this frustration?

    I love your work, please no matter how many criticism's there may be, don't leave us on this issue. I think the transsexual world could use your guidance here. Thanks again!

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  11. I appreciate this: "...every single anti-umbrella post that I have read has been penned by a trans woman." This is a fundamental point that some can't be buggered to acknowledge, it seems; but then, it's not uncommon for FTMs to *not* be included by some transwomen who *say* "trans community" (when it's clear they're only talking about transwomen.)
    I found your analysis of the "whys" of this debate insightful, & I'll be pondering it further. But also. it seems to me that there's also something else at work here. I believe that some transwomen bring a heap of unexamined male privilege w/them thru their transition, & this causes them to think they have the "right" to define "trans-ness" for everyone. Thus their intolerance for those of us who may have gone in a different direction (and who frankly don't care what *they* think.) And with such a binary, right/wrong world-view, there can be no interpretation of "transgender" other than "it's wrong."
    Thaniel
    @hardcorps80204

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  12. A minor digression, but hoping not to derail: I think it is also important to remember that, for the most part, trans folks of all types were considered by the general public and by themselves to be "gay" as recently as the 1970s. It is not that these umbrella groupings that we think of today were founded by pulling disparate groups together as much as these groupings are the remnants of a common social structure that has subdivided as our progress has allowed us to indulge in more specific conceptions of ourselves and our needs as well as indulging in the more specific identity politics that come along with those sorts of growth.

    When there were great big fights over the adding of the B and T to the LGBT acronym, it was not a question of alliance but a question of naming people who were already marching under the banner.

    I have more than once heard young trans folks wondering "how did we get lumped in with the LGB?". The answer is that we lived together because we faced the same oppression and because there was actually a time when understanding ourselves as separate was barely conceivable.

    The situation reminds me of one of my favorite Mexican American expressions: "We didn't cross the border. The border crossed us".

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  13. Julia,

    You bring up a good point, and I suppose one could see just as much of the same problem with white upperclass transsexual women using sex workers, et al.'s experience.

    However, I guess the point that I was trying to get at is that being descriptively queer/LGB is not necessarily the same thing as politically (to take an idea from Mia Mingus). My personal experience is that people who are otherwise radical/liberal/progressive are a lot more likely to respect my gender identity than one's average LGB queer person (I'm originally from Kansas, just transplanted to Berkeley), but it's those LGB people who are offended when I say that I don't assume LGB people are my allies just by virtue of the fact that they are queer.

    I'm definitely not saying 'get rid of the alliance'. Like many have said here, it's not just coincidence that we're together. Whether it's through shared history or overlapping identities, we are pretty linked together. I can just see why some people would kind of give up.

    And to Dana-

    That sucks that people called you things like that.

    However, there's something about saying that someone has more testosterone than someone else (in a negative way) that seems upsetting to me. Wouldn't there be testosterone from the Trans men, at least? Or do they, like hardcorps said, not really count?

    I've met a lot of women with the requisite amount of estrogen who are also mean spirited and not very fun to be around. So reducing it all to hormones doesn't seem very appropriate to me.

    It also seems a little strange to be so judgmental of other people's life decisions that don't hurt other people. I mean, is arguing sexual/gender morality really helpful? If that were the case, then we should all just save ourselves for marriage and never transition, because conservative Christians will beat us at imposing morality every time.

    In regards to erleclaire, it just seems unintuitive to me to be arguing for an end to 'sexual immorality' when transsexual people are often condemned by the Churches (who are our countries largest moral institutions) for sexual immorality by transitioning. Christians of that stripe won't except transsexuals because 'man and woman he created them' (Genesis 1:27).

    -Joel Layton

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  14. Julia,

    You bring up a good point, and I suppose one could see just as much of the same problem with white upperclass transsexual women using sex workers, et al.'s experience.

    However, I guess the point that I was trying to get at is that being descriptively queer/LGB is not necessarily the same thing as politically (to take an idea from Mia Mingus). My personal experience is that people who are otherwise radical/liberal/progressive are a lot more likely to respect my gender identity than one's average LGB queer person (I'm originally from Kansas, just transplanted to Berkeley), but it's those LGB people who are offended when I say that I don't assume LGB people are my allies just by virtue of the fact that they are queer.

    I'm definitely not saying 'get rid of the alliance'. Like many have said here, it's not just coincidence that we're together. Whether it's through shared history or overlapping identities, we are pretty linked together. I can just see why some people would kind of give up.

    And to Dana-

    That sucks that people called you things like that.

    However, there's something about saying that someone has more testosterone than someone else (in a negative way) that seems upsetting to me. Wouldn't there be testosterone from the Trans men, at least? Or do they, like hardcorps said, not really count?

    I've met a lot of women with the requisite amount of estrogen who are also mean spirited and not very fun to be around. So reducing it all to hormones doesn't seem very appropriate to me.

    It also seems a little strange to be so judgmental of other people's life decisions that don't hurt other people. I mean, is arguing sexual/gender morality really helpful? If that were the case, then we should all just save ourselves for marriage and never transition, because conservative Christians will beat us at imposing morality every time.

    In regards to erleclaire, it just seems unintuitive to me to be arguing for an end to 'sexual immorality' when transsexual people are often condemned by the Churches (who are our countries largest moral institutions) for sexual immorality by transitioning. Christians of that stripe won't except transsexuals because 'man and woman he created them' (Genesis 1:27).

    -Joel Layton

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  15. A thorough treateseon the commonality of sub grouping of groups ...but arent we all groups of one essentially? All marginalized peoples should with varying degrees help one another...being identified in any group lessens our unique individuality.

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  16. Julia,

    Another very well written piece. In particular I liked your pointing out the greater acceptance of masculinity vs femininity in LGBT circles which I think is a refection of society as a whole. I also think part of the issue is power and acceptance of society and some people who want to leave the LGBT umbrella, whether hetero trans or LG or another subgroup feel that they are making headway (all the gay character on TV and even some trans "stars" like Chaz Bono) and if we include those "other" trans folks like cross dressers that are still ridiculed by society as a whole then we are going to loose the headway we have made (gay marriage as such). I believe this is a reaction of fear and while an understandable emotion is not the way to move forward as you so eloquently pointed out in your essay. We all need to stick together because we are all fighting the same underlying prejudices that permeate this world.

    To Laura Bennett, I have to respectfully disagree with your assertion that the issues and needs of the trans umbrella pale in comparison to that of transsexuals. Perhaps I do not not understand who you are including under the trans umbrella or missed the point you are trying to make. Each person's story is different but I would say there are still plenty of trans folks of all kinds (and gays and lesbians) out there who face the loss of custody of their children (or the inability to adopt), violence and even death, not to mention loss of employment or inability to be employed (certain religions for example) due to their sexual orientation or gender expression. Most if not all of the issues you raise are not unique to transsexuals, they are issues the whole LGBT community faces.

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  17. To all, yes I agree

    I work in the Louisiana trans community and to be frank there are elements within our community that are very disruptive because of different reasons, but especially because of a militancy that alienates rather than unites. I wish there was not so much of this as we transgender are seen now as squabblers, unable to even get along with ourselves. The gay support groups and Gay PACs especially, point to this problem and say that is why they frequently have to leave us out of their lobbying efforts, although they gladly accept our money and support for the so called LGBT efforts.

    It hurts, But we 'T' are just so small in numbers, we cannot let this happen. So I say that we first need to get our rights protected, and do this by allying with the older, stronger, more populous GLB people, THEN worry about the peculiarities within the transgender community. This is exactly what the gay community has done, presenting a united front.

    One lobbyist gave me an example of some fifteen or twenty definitions of transgender. He asked me how he could reconcile that to the general populace. I gave him back a listing of over forty stereotypes of gays and asked him about that. His answer? He said all identify as gay.

    He has a point. We all must take the 'transgender' label to be expedient. That is the ONLY way for the general population to know how to label us, and realize we exist.

    I hate labels, but call me what you want, and then give me my basic rights. Help me be protected from hate crimes, help me not get fired by a bigoted employer, help me not get raped in Jails. Call me what you want until I get some basic human rights guaranteed again, so I am seen as a human being. Afterwards... maybe then I will make an effort to explain the difference between the various types of transgender. Wake up people and stop bickering, that's what I want to scream out!

    Lizzy

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  18. The key to remember in any debate about alliances is this... The Westernized Culture of politically orchestrated dogma is waging war about your genitals while we worry about who labels us and what they label us with. Labels suck when used wrongly, and rock when they are the bridge word to explain to the ignorant about who you are. I am transgender, transsexual, GLBT and queer identified because I am... Words are adjectives not identities, because I am myself.

    Remember the fundamental basis of the discrimination we face. No one, without foreknowledge, can tell the status of anyone's genitals, sex hormones, or sex chromosomes, though some can make an "educated guess". This means the discrimination isn't because of who, or what you are. Transphobia is discrimination against how you look; transgender, transsexual, intersexed transitioning, gender-queer, or androgynous alike. Transsexual separatism is like cutting off your nose to spite your face. Discrimination is discrimination regardless of what or whose hat is wearing.

    The social construct of gender binaries, and sexism are responsible for the dissent we see. Oppression is a powerful foe, and many even internalize it. I'd argue that there are "queer-rejecting" trans-folk who follow the social constructs in transition out of fear rather than genuinely feeling affiliation. It is important to point the blame where the blame lives, not at the transgender for having different needs, or the transsexual or GLB community for internalizing decades of gender stereotypical oppression. We are all oppressed because of our genders (directly and indirectly), GLB, Transgender, Transsexual, and Queer alike. If not for our gender alignment in concordance with our other attributes, we might not face that discrimination. Men are not questioned for being attracted to women, but women are. It is about gender.

    It's caused by false dichotomies and inflexible ideologies, and it permeates all aspects of sociological interactions within our culture. It makes no difference what you are, what group you're in, who you are, who you think you are, or who others think you are. I care that you feel as I do, that the fact that the world cares more about what is in, or what used to be on your body (genital centric culture) and what you cover it with, bothers you. That in this state, you recognize the need to stand up, protect your bodily sovereignty and say "It is mine, it is not yours, and I have the right to it's form and function. Protecting the right to the sanctity of my body is a basic human right".

    No one other than yourself has the right to take away or add to your person that which is not your will to do so. It is of the utmost importance that the world realizes that the freedom to our forms, expressions, personages including protection of our individual rights should not be subject to a majority vote. This is the most basic human right, and in America is quite constitutional founded. Worry not about the proclivities of others, so long as they abide in the laws and do not use any status, right or protection to victimize others.

    Precluding a right for all simply because a few could possibly abuse it is morally unconscionable. Checks and balances can better protect the exceptionable, and stand up against the objectionable than biased openly discriminatory "just in case" rejections. (I.E. Violations to the law in a protected spaces (bathrooms, courtrooms, doctors offices, et cetera) should be punished more severely than similar violations in other spaces as a deterrent against exploitation of said spaces.) I agree with Julia on this issue, and on her personal theories about where division comes from (sexism, cissexism, heterosexism).

    Rene

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  19. I'd be very interested, then, in your thoughts on this series of posts (you may have already seen them at The Bilerico Project or elsewhere):

    [okay, it's not letting me post the links. Follow my profile to my blog and it will be the first 3 links in the Featured Posts on the right]

    Unfortunately, they are long and did evolve a little as the series progressed. However, I do believe there are some intrinsic issues with umbrella-based activism, and sometimes we're so busy responding to the reactions that we're unable to see the causes. I also see this as a major cause of the ongoing conflicts that often take place between trans and LGB(t) communities.

    I'm pro-alliance and pro-respect, and write those from the POV of someone who (though operative) lived several years as decidedly non-op, and understands why someone would choose to do so. So I am not anti-group, but pro- clarity, visibility and empowerment.

    That said, you make the point that even "transsexual" is an umbrella. This is true. But the wider an umbrella is cast, the greater the erasure and the sense that any one narrative becomes misrepresentative.

    Anyway, I'd be interested in your thoughts.

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  20. Hi Julia,

    This is an absolutely wonderful post and I'm so glad that you wrote it. I wanted to comment on one thing.

    "For instance, many trans men who are exclusively attracted to women (and therefore heterosexual in orientation) nevertheless identify as queer and continue to participate in queer communities, usually because they were a part of those communities pre-transition and/or because they are partnered to, or have a preference for, queer-identified women."

    I think that this paragraph leaves out an important meaning of the word queer for myself and much of the trans community that I know. As a transman exclusively attracted to women, I identify as queer not only for the reasons you list - the years I spent in the lesbian community and my partner's identity as a queer woman - but mainly because I feel that "queer" is the only word that can accurately describes my sexuality as a trans person. For me, the term heterosexual denies the complexity of my gender identity and my body. I may identity as male, but I am not a man who loves a woman - I am transgender, and "heterosexual" does not leave space for this.

    Thank you again. You are fantastic.

    J

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  21. This discussion illustrates the limits and difficulties of identity politics. Leads right into a quagmire.

    Not to say that our identities aren't important. But as our lives unfold, as circumstances, opportunities and experiance change, as the world around us changes, our identities often also shift. I am not the same person I was thirty years ago. Nor do I see the world, my place in it or my "identity" the same way.

    I agree with the poster who pointed out that what LGBT(tqqi etc.) people have in common is our oppression. When a queer [or whatever label] person is harrassed or discriminated against does the bigot really care about that person's identity? Or do they just see someone they have been taught to hate?

    All oppressed people need all the allies we can get, wherever we can find them. We find allies not by judging how they fight for us, but by showing our willingness to fight with them, for all of us.

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  22. hello all,

    so I just finished a lengthy reply to many of the responses I've received here and elsewhere. It is called:

    Postscript for my “TS-vs-TG-Intervention” piece

    and it appears at this link: http://juliaserano.blogspot.com/2011/09/postscript-for-my-ts-vs-tg-intervention.html

    I tried to paste it here in the comments section of the original post, but blogspot wont let me. Perhaps it is too long? sorry about that...

    Best wishes, -julia

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  23. This is a wonderfully written article, but I still haven't heard an answer to what happens what reality and theory collide. I will give a real life example.

    Background: I am a MTF, who is not far away from Full Time (dotting the i's and crossing the t's with HR right now, scheduled for FFS, HRT for 2 years). I am still married to a woman who considered herself bi prior to us marrying.

    A few months ago, she was in a baby and childrens' consignment store, and saw this CD going through the kids size 12 stuff, wearing (as my wife described it "come-*expletive deleted*-me boots, a miniskirt, and a midriff baring tank top". I can only assume that this was a cross dresser, because the TS people I know are trying to blend and dress like soccer mom's, and CD's tend to dress that way. It's a stereotype, but you would have a hard time convincing me there's no truth to it.

    So, the question I ask is what good is it being allied with cross dressers, when the public image of the latter is someone dressed like a hooker pawing through childrens' clothes?

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  24. I think what you're missing here are the issues surrounding appropriation by crossdressers of a transgender narrative, as that, in my view, is at the center of the calls for separatism.

    As a transsexual woman, I've been told point blank by crossdressers that I am male, and that I should "stop being so foolish" in insisting that I'm female. This comes about because these people are projecting their experiences and identity on me - they dress as women but identify as male, so they assume that I'm the same.

    Incidentally, this sort of thing happens right after they've done the "oh my god, you're so beautiful" thing and hit on me, and I've rejected their advances.

    So take an attitude that says that transsexual women are really awesome full time crossdressers, add in better societal tolerance of transsexual women than of crossdressing men, throw in an umbrella term like transgender, and you've got your instant umbrella.

    I have nothing against people identifying as transgender, regardless of their sex of identity and assigned sex. Good for them. What does irk me is people who then strip me of my own identity by insisting that I'm exactly the same as they are. How is this so different from the actions of my parents, who kept insisting that I was male?

    In your book you introduce the terms cisgender and cissexual, which help immensely in understanding the differences between identity and presentation. The way I see it is that transsexual and transgender can be treated in a similar way, whereby transsexual people have a sex of identity that is opposed to their assigned sex, while transgender people have a gender presentation that is opposed to that of their presumed gender.

    That means then that there can be (and are) transsexual people who are cisgender. I read a piece on Helen Boyd's blog where she refered to "mow the lawn" transsexuals, who fit the binary very well and aren't interested in the whole trans thing. This is them.

    Similarly, transsexual people can also be transgender - nothing stops people who have transitioned from messing with the binary - and good for them.

    So in addition, cissexual people can be transgender too - your garden variety crossdresser or drag queen with cast-iron male identity is the perfect example.

    So the crux here is that transsexual and transgender are not the same thing - one can be transsexual without being transgender, and vice-versa. One simply isn't a subset of the other, and to insist that it is is doing a terrible disservice to many transsexual people.

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  25. Very well written article. I would like to propose that it would benefit us to ally with the groups proposed by Miss Namaste suggests, but, why should we leave one group to join another? Wouldn't it be better to have multiple alliances? Feminism also seems like a very good place for us to spend our efforts.

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  26. I'm a gay man and what follows I think is an example that shows how ridiculous people can become about being included in umbrella terms. I was with a group of GLBT people and we were talking about how Ellen had just come out on her show. Two lesbians were absolutely out raged that Ellen stepped up to the microphone and said "Susan, I'm gay" instead of saying "Susan, I'm a lesbian" they said that when people call homosexual females "gay" instead of "lesbian" then they are invalidating their experiences and lives because lesbians have a totally different life experience than gay men and that homosexual females should never be called gay. Gay is an umbrella term for people who are homosexual, that is and has been the way the word gay has been used for at least the last fifty years and I was really taken aback by these women refusing to be considered gay.

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  27. Could not have put the situation better myself Julia. many thanks for unpacking this so precisely .

    I would like your permission to repost your article to our networks ( with credits of course). I especialy agree that it is the nature of the opression that binds us not some shared orentation or identity likewise the internalised homophobia that underlies many who seek to put distance between themselves and LGBTIQ is perfectly put.
    I also think the current trend to sectarian splintering using more and more catagories defined in arcane and reframed language that is so tightly constrained inside of nearly inacesable concepts as to be nearly meaningless ,is becoming a weapon of choice amongst the seperatists.
    Those groups silence voices who exist within current well known definitions and invisiblise them. Sex and gender diverse is one such all inclusive term that completly vanishes Intersex and Trans of all kinds under an umbrella no one really understands.

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  28. I have often wondered about the perceived differences among the trans and LBG community (and if you want to consider a group that really dissassociates itself from the trans-umbrella, talk to -- or try talk to -- a drag queen). All the comments about being inclusive (or not) can be broken down and expressed in one sentence: "Let us celebrate our sameness and ignore our differences."

    Trish

    Julia -- I think anyone (especially those in the TG community) who has not read "Whipping Girl" are doing themselves a dis-service. To me it is one of the most important writings to-date -- THANX!

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  29. What a great read; you have written a strong and cogent argument.

    For what it's worth, I ended on settling on the term "trans" because like you I have no desire to get caught up in the labeling dramas. I like to think of it as a kind of verbal Rorschash test; listeners/readers tend to project their own preferred meaning onto the end of it. Ambiguity FTW =)

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  30. Julia, came across this a little late but wanted to say thanks for writing this. In the few years since I transitioned, I've run into this "transsexual" vs. "transgender" debate over and over again and generally find it totally exasperating. Not only do "separatists" often set bizarre standards of what constitutes a 'true' transsexual, but I've also at times noticed outright duplicity (like claiming to represent all trans identities generally, including transgender, then proceeding to trash the transgender identity for which one claims to be advocating). Generally I just sidestep these debates by identifying as trans, end of story.

    However, I do think there is one further point, which is to emphasize that there really are some who strictly adhere to transgender identities who have gone out of their way to trash trans women who pursue SRS. As an example, a trans woman who ran in recent elections for the Provincial parliament here in Ontario was quoted in the media as referring to SRS as "mutiliation." She claims this was taken out of context... but there's no way to put that kind of language in context, it's just completely inappropriate and serves to further stigmatize trans women generally, but particularly those who pursue surgery. So my point is just that there is bad blood in both sides, and this kind of incendiary language just needs to be called out in general.

    http://www.xtra.ca/public/Toronto/Trans_candidate_makes_Canadian_history_in_Ontario-10830.aspx

    To be clear, I'm saying this as a trans woman who has no interest in SRS.

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  31. I am post op. I am not "trans" anything. I am a woman. I was a woman when I had a penis, I was a woman before I ever took estrogen. I was born and will die a woman. The only time that I was transsexual was those years when I was forced to try and live my life as male by my parents and by society.

    Everyone's gender is in their brains. The only person who can know one's gender is that person themselves. Therefore, if you tell me you are a woman, I don't care what you look like, that's good enough for me, and all that I ask is you allow me the courtesy.

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  32. Thank you, Julia, for this very insightful piece on Balkanization of the trans communities in the face of so much common oppression. I'll add that horizontal minority scapegoating is the term I use to describe the collaboration of oppressed people with their oppressors, by deflecting prejudice and false stereotyping toward a more vulnerable subclass. Just speaking for me, I am proud to stand in solidarity with all whose gender identities or expression transcend the bounds of birth assignment.

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  33. When a storm comes, it's best to be under the biggest umbrella you can find. If you stand in the rain by yourself, your just a wet fool.

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  34. In my own Opinion I don't think there is a difference of the two. And I dont think if it matters because allI know this is a mere label a discription but what matters most is that neither you are a trannssexual or a transgender both is worthy to be accepted and respeected. I found this blog Ladyboy Org in CEBU PHILIPPINES Its a good news for asian TS who are fighting for there rights.

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  35. Julia,

    I can't believe I didn't read this a year ago when it came out. However, I wasn't out a year ago! Since then I have plunged into activism at a lot of levels, and hope I don't burn out too quickly.

    First, the "true transsexuals" already hate me. No secret there. But being an advocate for an equal number of trans men and trans women through OutServe has been instructive. For whatever reason, it's not trans men separatists ripping me to pieces, it's not them who go ballistic every time I post, it's not trans men questioning my transness because I don't have the money for SRS and my insurance company is evil.

    The other thing I have learned is that the anti-LGB paranoia of separatists is extremely counter productive. What little I have accomplished so far would not have been possible without LGB and some straight allies at OutServe, SLDN, the Advocate, Huffington Post, and HRC. Whatever plans we make for advancing trans related causes will rely on them. What's unfortunate is that if we fail, or it takes a long time, our work will be regarded as tainted, half-hearted, or failing because I didn't try to do our work through trans only organizations. What is left unsaid, however, is that the effort would never have gotten off the ground in the first place if it weren't for allies I work with.

    As for transgender and transsexual, I am a bit of an odd case, because I prefer transgender. I realize there is a difference, but I don't like the inference ins the word transsexual that my dysphoria was all about sex. To me, it lends credence to Blanchard's typology, and all the HBSers wo believe only male attracted transitioners are real. On top of that, the word transsexual brings to mind Rocky Horror Picture Show and Jerry Springer inspired caricatures in the minds of the public. But, that's my preference. I don't honestly care if you call yourself an Oscar Myer Weiner.

    I did campaign planning for the military. My instincts are to look at the goal (trans inclusion in the military, and then use whatever resources and strategy gets us there the quickest. Our allies seem to want to take that approach. Why shouldn't we?

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