Friday, January 27, 2012

what is wrong with this picture: the 'transgender spectrum'

we've heard of the autistic spectrum. it goes from extreme autism through to high functioning aspergers, and denotes a range of social and functional deficits, spanning unknown but believed to be common biological causes.

we also have the 'transgender spectrum'. it goes from crossdressing male through gender variant to true TS. (i'm ignoring the FtM for now)

i find this incredibly offensive. like, utterly. it says, explicitly, that the only difference between a sexual fetish male and a TS is one of degree. it whitewashes over the totally different experience of the two groups, and binds us together without consent. it unfairly links sexual fetish and gender identity. it is fundamentally wrong.

i think that the confusion has arisen because most TS go through a stage of crossdressing, as they are coming to terms with themselves. However, a TS 'crossdressing' is a very different experience to a sexual fetishist's crossdressing. The ones i know have no doubt as to their gender identity. they are men. they crossdress because it turns them on in some way, and they have sex with males or females as men.

where is the similarity with TS there? we crossdress because we are trying to fit into society in the way we feel we should. We should not even call it corssdressing, it is gender conformal dressing, for us. we just hadn't got around to fixing our gender.

things are made worse by the genderqueer trans* activist groups. It serves them to 'prove' that the CD and genderqueer groups have the same underlying causes as the TS group, since it allows them to hitch a ride on our legal fight for recognition. they'll insist on blurring the line between sexual fetish and gender identity, and when challenged will pull out all sorts of exploratory brain studies to try and prove their point.

We are not the same. the only similarity that i can see between myself and the genderqueer / CD groups is that we like to wear dresses. however, when i put on a pair of work boots and pant, i'm a woman in work clothes, not a guy.

i think this concept of a spectrum is intensely damaging to our public fight for recognition. we are women. first and formost. we have had to deal with being born in the wrong bodies, but that is all. Most of us recognise the gender binary, and believe in it so much that we had to change which side of it we were on. This is profoundly congruent with the beliefs of wider society. we are not asking that they throw away a firmly rooted concept, we are simply asking to be accepted once we've changed.

why should we mix this simple message with the vastly different one pushed by the genderqueer and CD groups? Why should society accept that a guy who wears a dress, sometimes, who is capable of rape (i was raped by a CD, for example) should be allowed access to safe female spaces? why should we not be able to challenge their presentation?

it is true that whilst transitioning, TS may appear like CDs. that does not make them the same, and it is OK to have different legal rights for the two groups. One is a female, committed to fixing a birth defect. the other is a male, committed to sexual fetish. Superficially similar, but worlds apart.

i have no comment about the legal situation for the genderqueer, who play at being different genders as it suits them. I do not understand it.

the situation is so messy. Too messy. Dangerously messy. It is time TS is taken off the 'transgender spectrum' and treated as a totally separate grouping. It is time we stood up for our rights, independently.

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