We Need to Be Honest

4년 전

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Once upon a time, transgender was not an umbrella term which covered anyone who deviated from society's rigid unrealistic sex-role expectations. To put it simply, transgender used to mean pre-op, transsexual used to mean post-op, and the rest of Harry Benjamin's scale defined men who dressed or behaved in ways that were traditionally associated with the (subservient) roles of women, including a vast majority identified as sexual fetishes. Since the 1990s, these definitions have changed, and this shift raises several questions which most of politically-correct society refuses to address. But they're important questions, because the answers might be that we're mistreating and mis-diagnosing people, potentially putting lives at risk.

Are we born this way, and thus it’s not something we can change? Or is it for sale, meaning one can go back and forth whenever the mood and finances permit? Modern feminism in particular claims that toys and clothes and hairstyles should not be sex-typed, but in the very next breath sex-types clothes, toys, and hairstyles in the name of “tolerance” and “acceptance”. This strikes me as hypocritical, and especially problematic when we’re basically pushing small children into “the other” rigid sexualized gender-role expectations based on what may very well be temporary fantasies. Is anyone asking why or how that child makes such distinctions? That kid might want to be a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle six months from now, but are we letting them explore and learn and grow, or are we so afraid of the PC-police that we’re limiting their ability to do so? My children can be whatever they want, but it is ultimately my job to be their parent, not their friend, if it comes down to it. If they’ve consistently expressed a certain self-awareness for the vast majority of their life, I’ll believe it as their truth. But I’m gonna call it child abuse any time I see someone hyper-sexualizing children based on someone else’s insane definitions of “masculine” and “feminine”.

What makes us men and women? Is is biology? Is it choice? Is it the fulfillment of certain social roles? Can I simply claim to “identify as” a right-handed penguin, then sue for discrimination when nobody believes me? I’m not exaggerating by much, because I’m now forced to accept that transvestite as a “non-op transgender woman" and I’m guilty of some great sin if I dare to have reservations about him sharing a locker room shower with me. I don’t care what you do in your bedroom, or even in public, as long as you aren’t hurting anyone else. I’m a libertarian and firmly believe in the Non-Aggression Principle. But I am also not naïve enough to believe the world is a safe place, especially for women. I personally and strongly believe that this inclusion is demeaning to women and their several hundred thousand years of sexual servitude. If it is true that emotional memories are passed down through mitochondrial DNA, then that is a sad sorority into which no biological male, no matter how well they “pass” (an unrealistic and imaginary beauty assessment) can purchase entry. It can only be earned. I’m flattered and honored when women hold the restroom door for me, but I’m an asshole to expect them to do so. I’m a respectful guest, but I totally get why I won’t be invited to the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival.

Which brings me to Caitlyn Jenner, and other “celebrity” transgender people, but Jenner is the current cliché stereotype of the “man who became a woman”. Name one single example in the media of any transgender person who doesn’t fit that insulting role. Name one time the news hasn’t shown “before and after” pics, or one time they’ve told the story of a transgender or intersex person who has lived their entire life as such, beside those who write eloquent-enough suicide notes. Carmen Carrera? Drag queen. Miriam Rivera? Porn model. Yasmine Petty? Has an ad on Eros. Janet Mock? Just another unknown journalist if it's not constantly publicized that she's transgender. More to the point, name one you’ve heard of who achieved success despite being transgender or intersex, NOT BECAUSE OF IT. Jazz Jennings? Progress, in some sense, but nevertheless a sensational tabloid story of a little boy who became a little girl. Would she have a TV show and a skin-care contract if she was just another teenage girl? Not to mention what they claimed was proof of that “dysphoria” - meaning a state of confusion, and thus a mental health diagnosis, and thus highly insulting to those of us who know exactly who and “what” we are. Jenner is thrust upon us as a representative of transgender women, despite living for decades completely at ease in locker rooms full of naked male jocks, being very publicly the manliest of men, and fathering several children. He wins an award for courage because he puts on a dress in his 60s so he can prance around on the path of freedom paved very literally with the blood of people like me. Every woman in America deserves an ESPY, if that’s the case, and even more so because they don’t have a choice to wait ‘til they have enough fame and fortune to insulate themselves and avoid “public appearances” whenever it isn’t in the interest of TV ratings for their unreality show. I feel like the whole Jenner story is a publicity stunt to make a washed-up “celebrity” relevant again. I feel like I’m being forced to keep up with the Kardashians. The only way it could be more obvious is if he spelled it “Kaitlyn”. When Jenner has spent at least half his life terrified that the length of his skirt or how tipsy he gets at a bar might get him raped, I’ll respect him as a woman. When he “transitions” (another highly insulting term) in the 1980s when it’s not almost fashionable, when he’s at the height of fame, I’ll personally hand him an award for courage. I care far more about the murder and suicide rates, the unemployment rate, and the sexual abuse rate among transgender people than I ever will about some “celebrity” the media shoves in my face over and over again like a circus side-show, whether I want to care about them or not.

If you can’t buy it, then men cannot become women or vice versa - there are surely transgender people in this case, but they did not start out as cross-dressers (a claim I hear disturbingly often). If you can, the distinctions between men and women are meaningless, and thus the whole transgender phenomenon and “transition” and hormones and surgery and all of it are redundant and possibly gross criminal medical negligence.

From the minute some doctor who probably didn’t even know your parents declared, “It’s a boy!” or “It’s a girl!” everyone in that maternity ward had your whole life planned out for you. And it only starts there. It’s no better for boys, though they are taught to assume dominant aggressive roles, particularly in relation to the females who are taught to submit to males from day one. Without these social roles being rammed down our throats, the phenomenon we define as transgender would not exist. Why is a boy who wears a dress or plays with Barbie dolls not a boy? Why is a girl who likes monster trucks or MMA not a girl? That kid MIGHT be transgender, but it is certainly not these outside social definitions which make them so. Why is the rate of transgender-ism so much higher among biological males than it is among biological females? I think I know why, but I want the reader to consider the possible answers on their own, because I could be totally wrong about all of this, and the answers are extremely important.

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I think you're a bit cynical about Kaitlin Jenner, but I won't deny that the media has used the celebrities you mentioned for its own purposes.

And crossing stereotypes most certainly doesn't suddenly make you transgender. Though perhaps when dealing specifically with clothes, at one point perhaps it makes you a "cross-dresser", which used to be used to refer to women as well, or "drag queen". Wanting to play with Barbie dolls or even dress up like a girl doesn't make you transgender though, any more than it makes you gay.

The reason why so many more males are transgender though might have to do with the greater pressure they have to conform to stereotypes that they may find impossible to conform to though.

Sadly, some of these people may transition, and still feel like they are not themselves, because frankly, society is abusive, and they have basically been gas lit.

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I hope you're right, or at least more right than my admittedly cynical conclusions.

Gender expression and gender identity are not necessarily the same thing and I feel like there's a confusion in this about that. For example I am male, I used to enjoy typically feminine things growing up and I still do. I love the colour pink and wearing glitter, I speak and act in a flamboyant way. I'm still a man. Liking gendered things and doing things that are typical of certain genders doesn't change how you feel mentally. I know plenty of other trans guys who love feminine things but they're still 100% male. I also feel like this is a topic that trans people have to talk about and answer for much more than cis people. If a cis girl likes masculine things then it's normal and fine but if a trans girl does it then suddenly her whole gender identity is called into question.

Your statement about trans women not being women without fear of sexual violence is inflammatory and ignorant of the extremely high rates of sexual violence against transgender women. It also assumes that a fundamental part of being a woman is based around a fear of male violence.

Dysphoria isn't confusion it's a feeling of discomfort, of dissonance. For me it's the feeling I get when I look at my body and don't see what I should be seeing and the intense feelings of nausea that come along with it. Dysphoria is medical as well as psychological and has profound physical and mental side effects.

Also the "locker room" conversation. I was AFAB and so my body looks female, but the rest of me doesn't. I know a lot of trans men who "pass" as male, but with this conversation no one mentions how as a by-product these actual men would be forced into women's spaces. Your fear of transgender women is consequentially pushing men into women's bathrooms and changing areas.

Finally on the note that there are more transgender women than transgender men, this again isn't necessarily true. We hear more about trans women and they are seen more in tv or movies etc as well as in the media. However I know far more trans men than women, they just tend to "pass" better and go "stealth" at a much higher rate and tend to be less dramatised and focused on, making it appear like there aren't as many. In reality the difference in numbers is much smaller than appears.

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"Gender expression and gender identity are not necessarily the same thing and I feel like there's a confusion in this about that."

Exactly. Say it loud for the people in the back.

"I also feel like this is a topic that trans people have to talk about and answer for much more than cis people."

I'm addressing the media portrayals more than anything, but I agree wholeheartedly that these are questions we as a community must answer, not as some rite of passage or validation, but privately within ourselves.

"Dysphoria isn't confusion it's a feeling of discomfort, of dissonance. For me it's the feeling I get when I look at my body and don't see what I should be seeing and the intense feelings of nausea that come along with it. Dysphoria is medical as well as psychological and has profound physical and mental side effects."

My point here is that it is either a mental health problem or it isn't. We can't have it both ways. If it is, then we have to ask if HRT and/or surgeries are really the best treatment options. If it isn't, then it's either a medical problem that isn't mental health or it's not a medical problem and thus insurance shouldn't cover the costs of treatment. I'm not saying there aren't mental health implications, just that most of them result from society's perception and treatment of transgender people.

"Your statement about trans women not being women without fear of sexual violence is inflammatory and ignorant of the extremely high rates of sexual violence against transgender women. It also assumes that a fundamental part of being a woman is based around a fear of male violence."

My context wasn't dismissal of the extremely high rates of sexual violence against transgender women. It was actually reinforcing it as comparable to that of other women, and to observe the difference that people like Caitlyn Jenner do not have to live with it whether they want to or not. I believe it is a life experience, not something that can be bought or chosen. In western cultures, part of being a woman is, sadly, based around fear of male violence.