"The unexamined life is not worth living" Socrates

- - scatterings of ideas sent to my younger self, a sensitive girl who was fooled into believing she was a boy because of anatomy - -

Saturday 2 October 2010

Halle Can Be Pretty Naïve at Times

Am I the only one who is confused about transgender folk being left out of the gay rights movement? If so, let me think this through out loud, and get some feedback so I can get my head around this.

Although I am a genetic male who is hetero, I strongly relate to the world as a woman, and if I could work some magic, would become a woman in order to have some congruence between what goes on between my ears and what is located in and on other parts of my being. Even so, I relate sexually to women, not men. This puts me with the majority of MTF’s; with me so far?

If I was successful at this magic gender switch act, and remained (as I assume I would) attracted to women (one very special woman in my situation) wouldn’t that make me (and my spouse too) lesbian?

Now for the clincher. If I want to be seen as a woman who is deeply in love with another woman, then doesn’t that mean that I want to be seen as a lesbian, and would do what I can to support gay rights, since it is in my best interest, and I have some understanding of how gay people feel?

O.K. I haven’t walked the walk. I don’t intend to do it any time soon. I do still support the people whose lifestyle I would emulate and they should be able to see that too. However, as far as I can tell( and this may be where I am mistaken, I hope so) gays hesitate to associate themselves with trans individuals, which in light of the above seems counterproductive to their cause.

There is no question in my mind that I will soon be reminded how incredibly naïve I am, however, I truly would like to know where my thought process is flawed, so please don't hold back. It won't be the first time I have been either wrong or naïve. If it goes well, maybe some strategy might present itself for improving the understanding of our issues by all concerned.

Either way, nothing ventured... etc.


  1. Your thinking is not flawed, it is based in reality. Just check out Donna Rose's blog (particularly on ENDA (Employment Non-Discrimination Act - U.S. Congressional Bill). The Human Rights Campaign (the biggest Gay Rights Organization out there) tried to leave Transgender people out of the bill and just have it protect gay, lesbians and bisexuals. Barney Frank (D-MA) who is the chief sponsor of the bill and is gay tried to throw us under the bus first, but surrendered much later on.

    Most recently, DADT was voted down in Congress. Why? Because Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader put in a poison pill illegal immigration amendment that he knew would get voted down by the Republicans and Democrats nervous about re-election.

    IMHO, the "T" community will have to achieve much of what is needed on its own. That is why things like teh filmmaker Kimberly Reed and Dr. Christine McGinn going on Oprah and having the shows be "good" (P.R.-wise, information-wise, classy, not trashy-wise). I don't really know much about Canada TG community except from all the blogs, but I'm hoping it is better than what I see in the U.S. politically-speaking. The folks who seem to be the TG leaders here are mostly from the same worldview (left-wing) and do not seem to be at all interested in working with or accepting those on the right. That can be hard if one is rigid and one-issue oriented.

    It is hard to say whether this will change. I know that my status as being in the closet, except to my wife, limits my ability to help. But worse than that, my place in the TG caste system (in some folks minds - I'm not tranny enough as I'm not out), takes away any real chance of me helping even in a cheerleader role. YAY, TEAM!

    Sorry for the venting, but I think about this situation often and am worried we'll be left at the station. And as someone without a ticket to the party, I'm pretty stuck. : |

  2. Sorry to have to find a flaw so early in your argument, but I don't think a majority of women born transsexual (i.e. male-to-female) are attracted to other women. At one time, if you said you were, the gatekeepers turned you away. That's no longer so, and I don't know what the actual numbers are, but I'd guess that the majority of WBTs are attracted to men, and a minority to women or to both men and women.

    So transness is not in itself queerness, at least not necessarily.

    LGBT, however, does make sense from a political point of view. Those who discriminate against us are not, shall we say, very discriminating. They don't like any of us. They don't like men who are attracted to men, nor women who are attracted to women, nor -- and this is important -- anyone who violates gender norms. The bigots assume that gender norm violators are gay. Or they consider us all perverted in similar ways.

    There's another reason we should stick together politically. Some of those gender norm violators are gay. And if they are fired or discriminated against in hiring, it's because of what the bigots see. The bigots don't see how they have sex. They just see how they dress, behave, and comport themselves. So discrimination against gay and lesbian people is often the same as discrimination against trans people.

  3. @Veronica:

    I don't disagree that sticking together is a good thing - it is. But, many LGB folks are not our allies just because they and us are different from what general society sees as "normal." They are allies because either they are just nice, intelligent people or they believe in "strength in numbers." I have heard derogatory comments about TG people from gay people before (some think that TG is "perverted" for example).

    And our numbers aren't as many as the L&G because so many of us cannot come out and then transition because of financial, familial or career reasons. I know in my case, all of the above apply. I guess what I am saying is that we "T" people shouldn't rely solely on the LGB community to get us to the finish line. While we certainly should ally with them, I don't think that they will bring us to the promised land. That will have to be done by ourselves. How we do that, I don't know. But, I am hoping to figure that out someday and be part of the solution.

    BTW, thank you for your blog. It has been very helpful to me in getting my head around what I am going through. I will be a mid-life transitioner in a few years (hopefully).



  4. @Karin: I agree that there are too many gay and lesbian people who don't like trans people and aren't supportive. My argument was more for them than us -- that they should embrace protection from discrimination based on gender identity and expression, because they suffer from such discrimination as well.

    But you're right. We can't rely on others. We need to support ourselves -- with LGB, but not expecting them to carry us.

    Thanks for your kind words about my blog!

  5. Interesting point about bigots seeing us as the same as gay people. My impression is that a lot of gay people fail to fully make the discinction too, not through bigotry but through simple ignorance. Quite simply they think of us(MtFs anyway) in the same light as drag queens.

    I had this point brought home to me when I came out to a lesbian friend, to her the difficulty of being trans was equivalent to the difficulty involved with coming out of the closet as gay. I hope I left her with a greater understanding of just how much of a PITA GD is.

  6. Halle, I have had the same thoughts and questions for a long time myself.

    Personally, I don't think the animus you describe between gays and trans people is as strong as we sometimes perceive. I think part of the perception is as a result of the gains gays have made in national acceptance. They have been very political, very vocal, and very persistent in pushing their agenda. I wonder if many of them feel they are "carrying the water" for trans people...that we have not paid the same dues, made the same amount of noise, and sacrificed our lifestyle just to be "out there", fighting alongside them.

    Very few gays have the same type of family life we do. Anatomy denies them the opportunity to have children together and raise a contemporary family. Even now, only a few have adopted children in search of that "normal" human activity.

    Are we perceived as wanting the best of both worlds? If so, it's easy to see why they might want to keep us from their fold. Perhaps we are considered too wishy-washy to be part of the movement. I know I certainly have no desire to out myself to the world, possibly cause severe damage to my marriage, family, and job situations.

    I'm not worried about whether ENDA passes or not. I feel that, unless you win the hearts and minds of people, no law will amount to a hill of beans. You can't MAKE someone love you. In many ways I feel the law would provide work and related opportunities to many more Tgs, etc., but will also cause GREATER animosity between us and those whose freedom of association is being denied. But that's a whole 'nuther ball of wax to fight about...lol. Is discrimination always wrong? If you say yes, then gays have no right to exclude us from their acronym. The only reason they would want to do that is if they perceive us to be straight.

    And the debate goes on...

  7. I think one of the problems that the GL community has with us is that for many, once they transition, they go stealth and leave the active community. We can effective shed our "T" and just become like straight folk. I've known a number of transwomen who get to a certain point and just want to live their lives quietly without our community. I understand this, but I also think that being a transwoman is different than being a woman and we have a responsibility in some respects to move our cause forward for those that follow us.

    I am also a lesbian and so even if I stopped working to advance the trans cause (which I wont), I am still a part of the GLBT community. Whether I am accepted by other lesbians or not doesn't concern me because it's just another bigoted person denying me my true identity. It's my job to educate them if I can.

  8. Great post, inspired commentary, and so big, too big an issue for me to boil down in a comment. Fool that I am though:

    The L, G, and B parts of the LGBT "community" identify primarily by orientation. The "T", not so much. One of these things is not like the other, as our Sesame Street friends might remind us.

    I think that we gather under the bigger umbrella, a little crushed and uncomfortable at moments though because we have marginalization in common. With that in common, there is a possibility of solidarity, but it falls apart under stress.

    I personally get about a 50/50 response in environments that cater to either the Lesbian or Gay male set. Some people of either gender with different orientations than me are delighted to socialize with me. Others take an approach that feels like "this is my place, our place, and you do not fit."

    Well, there are many "straight" environments where 50/50 would be a real gain for a table of homosexuals. I might be pretty territorial about my hard won gains too. Turnaround may be fair play, right?

    I don't see this as a movement response. I think the response comes from a place of personality and disposition with a whole lotta human nature thrown in.

    There is a very strong instinct amongst communities that have suffered from being excluded. The first thing such a community does after forming is find somebody that they themselves can exclude. The T is a pretty natural candidate for that exclusion with the LGBT universe.

    And so with all of the surface logic in favor of "solidarity", our very real differences and human nature conspire to drive a wedge.

    I think, in the long run, the T issues will stand on their own merits. They will have to. I hope they can be separated from orientation politics. To my thinking, they are different things.

    But we have a long way to go baby, and it don't come easy. Whatever "it" winds up being, it won't be earned by drafting behind somebody elses progress.

    Many thanks all... clever people here, really, it warms the heart.

  9. I hope Petra won't mind my agreeing with her....

    "I think, in the long run, the T issues will stand on their own merits. They will have to. I hope they can be separated from orientation politics. To my thinking, they are different things."

    Karin also seems to agree with the above and then adds this VERY astute observation...
    "The folks who seem to be the TG leaders here are mostly from the same worldview (left-wing) and do not seem to be at all interested in working with or accepting those on the right."

    In addition Veronique makes a couple of good points as well, with which I also agree, one of which is the major fallicy in Halle's assumptions that "most MTF TS's are attracted to sex partners of the same sex.

    I think part of that comes from the tunnel vision of the individual's perspective. "This is what works for me, ergo this is the way it is".

    So why is there so much animus, not only WITHIN the "T" community , but also BETWEEN the "T"'s and the G-L community and the "straight" community? And this is not EVEN getting into that HUGE can of worms with the "I" and "B" communities.

    My guess is simple ethonocentrism, or the attitude that one's own group is superior. Beyond that though, is that at least for me, I find it to be the height of arrogance and insensitivity for someone who has not "walked the walk" to "talk the talk".

    To me this is like a cat telling a dog how to bark. Specifically, I find it highly objectionable for a transgender, or someone who crosses the gender lines to refer to themselves as a transsexual, (or a "woman"), while keeping their sex intact and continuing to engage in 'normal' heterosexual,(m/f), relations with the existing spouse. THEN caling it a 'lesbian' relationship.

    If a guy, feels better wearing womens' lingerie or sleepware while having sex, then fine. Where is the beef? If they happen to have feelings of guilt or shame associated with that behavior then theapy or counseling is in order to help them work through those negative feelings. I am not saying that the behavior is inherently bad, but the mental gymnastics to avoid those associated feelings should NOT included the invalidation of the actual accompishments of others. Those TG's who have not CHANGED their acual PHYSICAL SEXUAL morphology in either blood or treasure to merit the use of that term or description.

    To me this is tantamount to buying or acquiring a Congressional Medal of Honor and then claiming to having received it for meritorious service above and beyond.

    IMO for the "trans" community to have ANY credibility with either the gay or straight community it has to be straight with itself on who it is and who it represents.

    It cannot continue to blur the lines between conditions and situations which are clearly different,and then demonize those that object.

    I see NO problem with TG, TS, IS, GQ and gay people working together as a COALITION of distinct and seperate groups, just as black and white folks worked together in past generations.

    HOWEVER, IMHO, for this to happen there will have to be a clear understanding of the differences and the different needs of the different groups.

  10. "Beyond that though, is that at least for me, I find it to be the height of arrogance and insensitivity for someone who has not "walked the walk" to "talk the talk""

    As always a passionate and well-written argument. I find myself with you most of the way, especially over the "lesbian" bit as I have always found the "male lesbian" argument to be little more than a dismal attempt at a thermonuclear chat-up line.

    However I feel you are in danger of crossing the line into arrogance and insensitivity yourself with that statement by passing comment on something of which you have no experience. We all walk our own walks through this mess and there is no "right" way to do it.

    Speaking personally on descriptions I only describe myself as a transsexual in the context of my psychiatrist, because that's how he describes me.

  11. Thank you for your feed back Jenny. I whole heartedly agree with you that we each as individuals seek and find our own individual way through this life. We have no choice but to play the cards that we have been dealt.

    IMO, it is our individual decisions on how we play those cards that determines the outcome, the consequences and or rewards of our actions.

    How we describe ourselves really is of little consequence UNLESS that description is less than truthful. Without getting into a monster discussion of what constitute 'truth', let me just offer an example of someone who says they are, or self identifies as a physician.

    Did they go to medical school? Did they graduate? DO THEY HAVE A LICENSE? OR...as Veronique points out...Am I a 'writer' because I write, or a 'musician' because I read and/or play music? Hence. Am I a woman because I "femulate"?

    I choose to speak plainly because ..."Anna es asi"

  12. Anne:

    I appreciate your comments in your post and your perspective on Left/Right Leadership - but I have to tell you that if you are transsexual (and I don't know if you are or aren't), then you sound like you may be a believer in a transgender caste system. Otherwise known as the "Trannier Than Thou" system.

    Are you saying that unless we have already go through the whole deal and had our "3-piece suite" removed, we should not be able to speak on TG issues?

    Your comments on whether a MTF with a female to female sexual orientation pre- and post-op is an actual lesbian remind me of the bigoted comments from MANY of the 60s/70s generation of angry lesbians (the women are Womyn types). These gals did their best in academia and popular society to deligitimize the existence of transsexuals. And they did quite a number on many of us as they fed into the widespread bigotry already existing towards the TG community.

    I hope I am wrong on this. And I hope that you are not the Anne who has upset many TGs and their spouses on other blogs. Intelligent discussion is hard to find and we need more of it.

    Best to all,


  13. Absolutely, and I am very glad that you do so.

    I'd have posted this on your blog had I seen you'd crossposted it, so sorry Halle for stealing your space here.

    Now, to the point. Anne, I am sure I need hardly remind you that it's not difficult to find people who'd deny you the right to call yourself a woman. The uninformed, the bigoted and sometimes those who describe themselves as "womyn". To them, you're still a bloke. (You were a bloke, before transition, right? You didn't have a moment back when you were all gender dysphoric in which you said to the world "I'm a woman, really!"?)

    My concern is that in your scramble to assert yourself as part of the club you have in part become like the womyn, you're crouching behind the same barrier, except in your case you have moved it in your direction. You are attempting to assert your own identity by excluding others, which I'm afraid to say doesn't come across very well.

    Yet again speaking personally I don't take the "I'm a woman" line that some others in a similar position to me take. A tag cloud frequency analysis of my blog revealed "Bloke" as one of the most frequent words. So this isn't about defending my own position, it's simply suggesting you look at yours as others see it, because an onlooker could be forgiven for seeing it in an unfavourable light.

  14. One thing no one has mentioned yet...

    The reason the GLB and the T make for natural allies is because the type of discrimination we suffer is the same. Homophobia and transphobia are rooted in the same kind of thinking: That genders have certain approved behaviors and crossing those boundaries is verbotten. Men are supposed to have sex with women...gay men have sex with other men...they transgress the rules of gender, hence there is something innately "wrong" about them. And I don't think I have to elaborate on the ways in which the mainstream believes that we transgress gender boundaries.

    FWIW, this is also deeply rooted in sexism, and explains why lesbians and trans men - though certainly regarded as "others" and certainly are discriminated against - suffer somewhat less prejudice than gay men and trans women. No, you're not supposed to cross gender boundaries, but because men are valued more than women, those who transgress towards masculine behaviors are given some leeway...it makes sense to the rule-makers, who are largely male.

    As for the "walk the walk" argument, I think most everyone knows where I stand. I don't presume to know anything about anyone except what they tell. My identity isn't threatened by anyone else's assertions and I don't understand why we spend so much time trying to exclude people.

  15. OK...let's all take a deep breath, count to ten and try to understand that WE ARE ALL DIFFERENT!!!> Not just a little bit different, but WAY, WAY DIFFERENT. And that is OK. In fact it is great, because that is what makes life interesting and not boring.

    However, I must admit that being a minority of one can be a bit challenging and I guess that that is OK too. Rather than complain and whine about being excluded from your really cool TG club, I will just say that I am OK with that. I really do not want to be a member anyway and it is obvious from our differences that we are in fact OMG, different. But like I said earlier, that is really great, because that is what makes life interesting.

    Now, at the extreme risk of sounding a bit condescending here, let me say a few words about the the "angry lesbian" (feminists) of the 60's and 70's since some of you were obviously not there, and I was. Those women hated everybody! Gay men, straight men, and especially straight attractive looking women because we represented everything that they were not AND, were unavailable to them. So they hated us. God forbid you were some poor deluded 'guy' wanting to become that which they hated because they could not have.

    But yes, you are correct. They did in fact construct a very exclusionary "hate/devalidation" system within the archane academia of that era which persists today.

    As for the "trannier than thou" syndrome, or chaste system as you call it, that is your hang-up, not mine. I am NOT a subscriber.

    Let me give you a bit of back ground on my personal journey. I do this that you might better understand where I am coming from, not as some "Golden Standard". It simply is and was just MY way. Nothing more or less.

    I "changed sex" without the "benefit" of "gender therapy" at just about the same time as the nascient acceptance of the ORIGINAL Standards of Care. The term 'transitioned'had not been invented yet for this application. I was poor but very smart and made my own faith based decision to trust in myself and my GOD and just "did what needed doing".

    More to follow...

  16. Terms like "gender identity" or "transgender" had not been invented then. Things were alot simpler then. Unless you were willing to live your life as a male cross-dresser, or possibly a drag queen, your options were severely limited. You could spend years letting others, "professionals" and wanna be "experts" "help you understand and deal with" your gender dysphoria, OR you could just pay your money and take your chances.

    That is what I did. I bet my life that,
    A.) I would survive the surgery. B.) I would have reasonably good results, (defined in my book at that time as being able to have vaginal sex as a woman with a man and ENJOY IT...no guarantee). And C.) that I would be able to live happily ever after, as the woman I knew that I was.

    You will notice that there was no option of living as a "transwoman" or "t-girl". Oh yes, I almost forgot, There was always the 'final option' of that short terminal dive off the Golden Gate Bridge.

    As fortune would have it I, not only survived, but prospered. I have known and loved more than one great men and have been rewarded by their love and being cherished.
    I retired young and well from my own successful enterprise, succeeding as a woman in an industry dominated by men. Did I break or bend the "gender rules"? YOU BET I DID, but always as a woman.

    Now. As for speaking to TG issues, I will leave that to the ruling majority here, since they/you(?) are the experts and have the experience which I obviously do not.

    I can speak to most female issues short of pregnancy and menstrual issues although I did experience my fair share of bleeding and pain.
    I can also speak to issues of jealousy and envy, as I have had a fair share of that hurled my way as well.

    Nevertheless, if you truly are a woman then I am sure that you will eventually find you way. If you are transgender then you are among friends and I wish you well in your campaign for freedom and equality.

    In closing, let me remind you that I bear no one any ill will and will continue to speak forthrightly to the extent of my experience in the hope that some, not all, of you, might be able to find something of value in my words.

    My best to all of you and thank you for giving my words some thought.


  17. I guess I'm confused... Anne, are saying that a MTF TS isn't really a woman unless they've had genital surgery of some sort, and therefore cannot self-identify as lesbian? And / or that a MTF TS is either a woman or a transsexual (based on what criteria?) But cannot be both (ie: transsexual woman.)

    My experience in this life is that I've felt like a female for as long as I can remember... but sadly was born into a male body. My sexual attraction has always been toward females. I literally feel like a lesbian trapped in a male body.

    It wasn't until roughly the past 6 to 8 years that I learned that these feelings were valid and authentic... I was raised believing these feelings were the work of the devil in an attempt to drag me away from the gospel of god. I no longer hold that belief and am finally planning a course that will bring my social interaction in society and hopefully my physiology into congruance with my internal identity.

    At this point in my life, I see my sex organ as a terribly misshapen female organ, and plan to surgically have it "corrected" somewhere along the pathway of my plan, though we all know that there are plenty of potential obstacles to such a plan... but to me that doesn't make me any less a woman than a natal born woman.

    The bottom line for me always comes down to: "Can't we all just get along?"


  18. I agree with almost all of what Sharon (except the Devil wasn't after me, I thought I was going crazy because I never felt like I "fit in" anywhere.

    That said, I want Anne to know that I want to read/listen to her opinions as I surely learn something from her life experience and going through everything as it was then, which is still much like it is now. I don' think what you have to say is irrelevant at all, nor do I think that you should STFU because I/we may disagree with you. It is through disagreement that we learn many things.

    I don't know anything about your life or background except what have shared here. As you feel comfortable, I think it could be very beneficial for many of us to hear how you "made it" for yourself and made a life. Too many sisters end up destitute, alone and without hope because they don't know about being an entrepreneur, that you can still make a living even if you are TS (if you can work for yourself or start and build a business). And certainly, many of us (me included) could learn much about determination and "stick to it-tiveness" as my Dad called it.

    Just so you know, I am TS, in the middle years of life, am married, have kids and identify as lesbian. I am intellectually curious as to where in your mind I and the many others like me fit in the TS/Woman paradigm.

    Please do respond if you can. Everyone. I have enjoyed this discussion a lot.

    Best to all,


  19. Hi Sharon. Just a quick note here as it is very late and I am exhausted from two days of nonstop travel. NEVERTHELESS, if you are confused you are certainly not alone and should feel quite at home in the present company.

    But in brief, I find it difficult to respond to this statement/question...."And / or that a MTF TS is either a woman or a transsexual (based on what criteria?) But cannot be both (ie: transsexual woman.)" -Sharon
    ...since I really cannot make sense out of it.

    But to try to clarify how I personally understand the meaning of the term transsexual, is as follows.

    A transsxual is someone who was born with some yet to be identified genetic anamoly, or experienced some inter-uterine, prenatal stresses, (PAIS?) which caused them to develope a physically male anatomy and a female brain structure, causing severe dysphoria initially manifesting in very early childhood and progressively getting worse until the resulting dysphoria either kills them or causes them to do what ever is necessary to change their morphologigal sex as completely as is humanly possible.

    In the case of a mtf, that would entail changing their "outie" into an "innie", "a pole into a hole".

    On the other hand a transgender is someone who manages to assuage their dysphoria by adopting the gender role in society of the opposite sex.

    A cross dresser or transvstite seems to be more focused on the clothes or physical appearance of the female sex and seems to have a more autogynophilic orientation.

    However...in most cases, transsexuality seems to be a temporary or TRANSITORY STATE during which and individual is 'crossing over'. IE 'trans-iting" from one morphological sex to the other.

    IMO, in the case of MtF, it is very rare to find a true, "classic" transsexual that does not transition as quickly, quietly and completely as possible. After all, that is who they ARE. They are not trans-this or that, or gender queer. They just want to be the women, plain and simple, that they truly are. Those that seem to remain in a perpetual state of transition, or manage to find some midway point, IMO are more accurately described as transgender.

    Now before you all get your designer panties in a twist, let me AGAIN reiterate, that I DO NOT SUBSCRIBE TO ANY TG IMPOSED, "trannier than thou' HIERARCHY. People are just different and that is more that OK. That is just the way it is.

    Your lesbian question has nothing to do with pre-op or post-op or non-op. or T this or T that.

    Lesbians are simply women who happen to prefer other women as sexual partners, that is all it is. That does not mean that we cannot all be friends.

    Halle. thank You for initiating a great thread. I will try to address your questions/concerns in greater depth and at length on my blog, but for the moment, I think that Petra summed it up nicely by stating that the issue revolves around ORIENTATION for the GLB, VS. non-conforming PRSENTATION for the T.

  20. Oh, is this my blog?? Hehe

    Blogger is interesting, like a conversation, with the advantage that the original question or idea is still available as are the transcripts of everything that was 'said' afterword.

    Thanks to everyone who participated here. I figured there might be lots of good ideas, and mostly, you kept it close to the original idea (thank you Anne for bringing us back this morning). It will take a while (if ever) for me to synthesize anything, even for myself, from such a weighty collection.