Monday, April 2, 2012

getting personal, in the hopes of reaching TS lost in the TG bog

Why is the TG umbrella or spectrum such a nasty nasty idea?

i upset a young TS today. she got really miffed when i challenged her assertion that TS is part of the TG umbrella. She really didn't get it.

it made me think. why is it so obviously wrong to me, and not to others?

i only have my life experience to go on. i've not done any surveys or held any talks to find out more. What i did do is commit suicide, get brought back from the dead (unexpectedly) then decide to rebuild my life, starting by deconstructing my own belief systems. and this is what i learnt….

The TG agenda - that there is a 'spectrum' of "trans-ness' is an insidious thing. I was TOLD i was transgendered by the Charing Cross Gender Identity Clinic, back in the 90's. i just accepted it. it was a bit of an uncomfortable fit, as i'd figured out i was TS before going to see them, to gain access to surgery. 

unknowingly i'd also accepted a whole lot of baggage.

i used to dread going to the clinic. there would always be some sad looking guy in a dress in the waiting area, or leaving. I tried to be kind. i thought they were like me (i'd been told they were) - i believed therefore that i was like them. I'd bought the idea that TG and TS were part of the same syndrome.

it was scary. it led to a lot of self doubt. Did i really look like that to others? I could not discount the idea that i did. I don't like delusion, so need to gain external feedback for verification. but who would tell me if i looked like a crossdresser with no self esteem and no dress sense?. People were really supportive, but what if they were just being kind? i've seen kindness in action, its called lying. people tell other people what they want to hear, as opposed to the truth. Where the hell was i going to get a trustworthy answer? the seed of doubt was sown. Because - i was told that me, and those guys in dresses were the same.

that's the TG agenda in a nutshell. the destruction of the distinction of being a woman born TS against being a male with gender identity issues.
the confusion of a surgically correctible birth defect and a identity issue treatable with counseling and clothes.
and it starts when you first accept the label your medical professional gives you.

so what did this do to me? well. i thought i was ugly. I gained a secret fear that i was a sexually deviant male crossdresser. I subconsciously equated myself with men in drag.

one redeeming moment in this whole mess was an interaction with one of the psychs at charing cross. Dr Green. he was a wanker, literally. he wanted me to fit into his misogynist picture of how a poor TS girl must feel, how miserable i must be etc etc etc. i hated him and his expectations, and so decided to let loose, and tell him what i thought of his ideas. So he signed off on my surgery, calling me a most unpleasant woman. Why was this so important? it meant that i'd received an affirmation from someone who had no reason to lie about me being female. how pathetic is that? that someone so horrid could make me feel good about myself? 

i went ahead and got surgery. even though i actually looked fabulous, sexy and attractive, i carried around in my head this kernel of self doubt. Instead of gloriously claiming my identity, now my body was fixed, i shrank a little. yes! i'm me! (but, perhaps i'm wrong).

so, my every social activity was tainted. instead of allowing myself to respond to a lover's touch without reserve, that little doubt would creep in: "what if they discover i'm really a man?" so i held back, and so i generated a social/physical dynamic that re-enforced my doubts. my lovers felt my reserve, and barriers were formed.

so, i killed myself. very successfully. i was dead. as it happened, i was also dead in the arms of a boat load of lifesavers who happened to be passing (and apologies if you've heard this death/rebirth tale before). I had been granted a second chance at life, like it or not.

i deposited my body in a small town, and worked my way back into life. and watched. Foolishly, because i had no self-worth, because i was still believing the TG idea that a TS is an extreme male crossdresser, i told people i was TS. this was to pre-empt them finding out (as if they would have without me telling them? Actually, i doubt it. i was hot. very hot. sexy, skinny and 30, with a trim body and nice curves, i made a fantastic boyish girl. people asked me "are you a boy or a girl?" because they couldn't tell. i could have said "a girl" and it would have been believed, but i did not have the self belief to do so, because i STILL believed the TG bullshit.).

So, inevitably, i got shit. the young boys in town, undeniably attracted to me, were fighting with their own "am i gay?" issues. in response i could have said, had i been as i am now, confident in my womanhood, "of course not, you've got good taste". instead, i took on their projected issues and added them to my own. As i feared that i was, after all, a man in surgical drag, i began to behave less fem, began to wear less fem clothing so that, IF it was true, i'd not be trying to be something i was not. Instead of embracing being a sexy, intelligent, female, i hid from attention, in case people saw through to the fears i hid. Absolute NONSENSE, and due purely to the TG agenda bullshit i was unaware i believed.

this went on for 7 years. 7 years of trying to hide in gender non-specific clothing, 7 years of trying to embrace a "trans" identity, a bit of male, a bit of female because some TG propaganda had seeded in my mind and i hadn't found it yet.
7 years of accepting less than respectful sex, less than respectful relationships, because i didn't have respect for myself. Of course, i could not embrace the trans identity properly, because IT WAS NOT ME. of course i felt depressed, suicidal (still) because I was NOT being myself.

the turning point was seeing old photos (yes, telling the same old story again). instead of looking at a man in drag, i saw a stunningly beautiful woman. but… but… that was me? all i could remember of those times was the fear and doubt that i was carrying. and here was the proof that i was mistaken. that moment revealed to me the grain of TG 'spectrum' belief sitting quietly destroying my self-image, and i could pick it out and excise it for good. It was as if a massive weight had been removed from my shoulders, a veil lifted from my mind. i was FREE of the borg.

I could say, without doubt. "I am a woman". it does not matter what anyone else says. fuck them. I will happily argue with anyone, if they enjoy it as much as me. there is no doubt left in me, because i've removed the seed of doubt. the Erroneous (false) belief that a TS woman is anything other than a TS woman. 

looking back, it is ridiculous. I've read the stories of CD males. i know how they identify. NONE of them talk about a lifelong and abiding desire to remove their penis. I've read the stories of the genderqueer / TG. NONE of them would rather die than have to live with a penis any longer. that is because THEY ARE NOT WOMEN.  (i'm talking soley m2f here, reverse for f2m). they are NOT TS, and TS are not they.

there is no thing in common. Who cares about the brain studies trotted out? I'm a published neuroscientist. I programmed MRI machines and worked in the world's leading psychiatric research university in the functional brain imaging department. I know how to analyze a study, and none of the studies add up yet, they are all flawed, which is why none of them are in Nature magazine yet (the holy grail of science papers). as a recent study showed, taking hormones ALTERS brain structure. We do not have enough data to say anything. So, don't get drawn into beatdowns backed by brain studies, they are nothing but hot air.

look at the fundamentals. How you feel, how you felt, what you want.

I was always uncomfortable with my body. it never went away, a constant issue my entire conscious life (until surgery) it was always an alien thing.

i played the male gender role well. Of course i did, i like being good at what i do. so what? this is one of the things by which the TG borg (perhaps i should shorten that to TG bog, since it sucks you in and kills you) grabs your subconscious. "But if you are REALLY a woman, how come you were so good at <insert male gender role here>?" 

fortunately, the Bog itself comes to the rescue. Societal Gender Based Roles are unfounded in anything concrete (beyond the procreation roles). So, a woman can be as good at as many male gender roles she likes (and so can a TS woman, prior to coming out and surgery and beyond). just because i did some male stuff well, didn't make me a male.

i used to rock climb. it was fun. i got to turn my alien body into this comically efficient muscle machine. i used to giggle when i made the individual muscles in my arm stand up. For me, it was a relief, i'd found a way to turn something i hated (being male) into something that gave me satisfaction (those cool muscles and hanging off 100m cliffs by my fingertips). that didn't make me not a TS woman. it didn't make me TG. that was simply something i was doing.

i was good in bed (or so i'm told). since my penis was an alien thing strapped to my body, i had no problems with learning how to control it through breathing, how to make it pulse, shrink, widen. I wasn't really into the feelings it gave me, so i had more time to spend reading my partners (female, since they were attracted to me, and because i didn't want to go there with guys because i had the wrong bits) so i learnt to play them, make them scream. That did not make me less of a TS woman, nor did it make me TG. it was just something i was doing. If you'd asked me, i'd have said i was a girl stuck in a man's body. 

why am i saying all this? this is getting really personal! It is because i'm hoping to reach other TS women who are lost in the TG bog. I hope that by sharing some of the stuff i did, some of the ways i felt, that perhaps there will be a shared experience, a shared feeling, and that can be used as a lifeline for them to pull themselves out.

From what i read, the essential difference, pre-op, pre decision to have op, between my sexual experiences and those of a male or genderqueer TG are how i felt. I was not fully identified with my penis. it was an alien thing. even during the most physical and passionate sexual encounters, i shied from my body's responses, hated the role i had to play. It will be hard for any of my ex partners to read this, so i hope they don't, but if they do: I loved you. deeply. i tried really hard to make you happy. I'm truly sorry that it was impossible for us to completely connect, and i'm sorry if i deceived you. i really enjoyed the way you enjoyed, it made me feel good.

If i'd been TG, going on what i've read from CD and TG writers? I'd have been correctly identified with my physical sexual role and gained great pleasure directly from it.

and consequently, i'd never had had Sexual Reassignment Surgery.

and then i'd never have found out just exactly how fucking amazing it is to have sex the way that fits you. i've not tried with a girl and a strap on yet (the first time i tried wearing one post op was too much of a mind-fuck and turned the mood from sexy to hilarious). perhaps that would be amazing too. i've certainly not stopped finding girls sexy, but some element of body chemistry is missing and i don't get hit upon by women anymore.

If i had been TG, then i'd have been happy looking fem. perhaps i could have taken hormones to accentuate the femness, got some breasts, got some curves. i could have zapped my facial hair and manicured my nails. I could have lived my whole life presenting as female, but kept my penis. i would have been enjoying sex with my female partners. Certainly a spot of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy would have helped me come to terms with my gender role issues. I may have wished to get a "F" on my ID, so save embarrassment, although a "T" might have been better. i'd not be seeking entrance to women only spaces unless there was no choice between the M and F loos (The disabled loos were always a good bet pre-op). A bit of societal acceptance and perhaps i could have used the boys loos (although they are generally disgusting and manly men are pretty intimidating). I could have fathered children and been a TG parent.

unfortunately i was not TG. i was and am TS. its a different ball game, so to speak.

CBT didn't work. that disconnect between body and self had been there since i was 4. the penis attached to me was alien, if trainable, and i needed it gone. i hated it. T blockers and hormones helped, but surgery was inevitable.

i'm TS. not TG.

Still. it took a long time to break free of the illusion that men can become women. I was always a woman. in a man's body. from what i hear of 99% of my post-op TS friends, they were always aware they had the wrong body. none of us 'decided' to become TS. none of us really felt we were male, no matter how well we played the gender role games. We were NEVER TG. not for a moment. we were not cross dressers (although it may have appeared so from outside) we were never gender queer (again, although it may have appeared so). we were women born with male bodies. women.

Are you hearing me, TS women who've bought the TG line? you are women. not men. you never were male, you just may have acted it well (or badly, or extraordinarily well, whatever). If you've always had a desire to change that anatomy, would have always passed the 'magic machine' test, then you are TS. not TG.

When I was first dealing with this, i hunted down the information. I rejected all the non TS stuff i found because it was not me. even so, i allowed my self-identification as TS to be overruled. I allowed those in positions of authority to re-label my SRS as GRS. why? i placed my faith in the wrong people.

when we first come out, and start to express who we really are, we are in a position of incongruity with the society around us. TS is not fully accepted everywhere. Our peers, their and our parents will find it hard, most likely.

in situations like these, people often cling to the labels given to them (or self-chosen) and instead of allowing themselves to feel small instead wear them proudly, wave that label in other people's faces as a challenge, to get people to back off. there's probably some cool sociological term for this, but i hope what i'm saying is understandable without.

Its one of the reasons, i think, that so many TS hold the TG label dear. we are told we are TG. we are told what it means. it doesn't fit right, but we need it, so we construct defenses to prevent ourselves looking to hard at the faulty definition. we bury the problem so we don't have to deal with it, but instead can use the term to support ourselves. we proclaim "i am TG", and don't look too hard, because what it implies actually frightens us. What we do is set ourselves up for years and years of self doubt and weak self image. We set ourselves up with cognitive dissonance.

one of the things about cognitive dissonance is that it causes internal conflict. incoming data that threatens the faulty belief state cannot be given consideration, because the person knows, deep down, that the belief is faulty. Rational discussion cannot be entered into, because the outcome is already known. the only option is a rejection of all discussion. a refusal to consider other points of view. An easy out is to become personal, to attack when a discussion gets too close to the bone. it is easy to see this occurring in nearly all TS / TG bog discussions. As soon as any thread of inquiry or discussion gets too threatening, the subject is changed and or the person bringing it up is personally attacked.

learn to recognize the signs in your self. if any subject causes a heightening of stress, causes uncomfortable physical responses and leads to you attacking someone (with words, or perhaps physically) then you are probably suffering from a delusional belief. take a deep breath and have a look at it.

there's lots of work to be done to further TG acceptance in society, and lots of it is really hard. these are deep issues. the whole female safe space access thing is fraught, as TG males, presenting as female, need them too. at the same time, an active penis is a threat. There's not many women i've met who have NOT been raped by one. how can a person with a penis use a female toilet?

many TS have been through this. Post coming out, pre-op, we have male apparatus. for a while, before hormones kick in, it may even work.
so we feel for TG people. we may even identify with them. their situation is different, though, so don't take it on board too much. They are male (or genderqueer), we are female. get it straight and clear in your own mind. Just because we may look similar, and have similar issues, it does not mean we are the same. think about it.

do you really want to believe that a TS woman is an extreme version of a crossdressing male, or a male that finds male gender roles uncomfortable?
does that fit with your experience?
if you do believe that, how can you believe that a TS woman has any right to call herself a woman? does that not mean that she will forever be a male, or trans, at least?

that's my challenge. Imagine seeing the two as separate states. having separate needs, separate ways of dealing. look beyond the superficialities to the conditions beneath. Do not refuse to consider the physical, just because the TG agenda says "the physical is unimportant". it IS important, and that is why TS women seek surgery. think about why that is. think about the real differences between men and women. Is it merely the (gender) roles we play? or is it something deeper, something that is only satisfied on a really physical level? for me, and for all the rest of the pre and post op TS women i know it is all about the physical, and very little about the role. and that is where the difference between TG and TS is most apparent. in the physical.

and that is why the TG 'spectrum' is a nonsense. there is no continuity. there is a clear divide.
the 'umbrella' is insulting, based on a superficiality - appearance. it denies our differences. it denies our womanhood.

6 comments:

  1. You really opened up thank you.
    I found it very interesting and I agree. So like alot of my own thoughts just different experiences.

    Look forward to reading more thought provoking stuff.

    xx

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  2. I have never wanted to hurt anyone or anything. I cried when I picked a flower as a child and it wilted the next day. I do not like to pick flowers. That is why it is difficult to draw lines between some of these concepts. I have met men who liked to cross dress and wanted in the most real way to be treated as women ..... but only some of the time. I don't want to hurt them. Whatever drives that need for temporary sex identity inversion is beyond my comprehension but I do not wish them harm.

    But, there is another facet to that crystal. I have learned over the years that the umbrella concept trotted out by drag queens, transvestites and other men who like to be part time women is a lethal weapon. It's tip is dipped in poison. When the umbrella is collapsed and used like a sword stabbing into the larger societal consciousness the refrain that we are all the same then it infects heterosexual men and women with a malignancy that is untreatable. We are not all the same.

    If you are reading this and your fervent wish since early childhood has been to simply correct your body and go on with your life then I urge you to ignore the mantra that "we are all the same" or "it is just a matter of degrees". When you encounter someone spouting that party line just be a lady and smile but then find better company.

    By the way Flow, hrt never altered my mind. I still do not pick flowers.

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  3. My Very Dear Flow,
    I have just finished reading "Getting Personal...." and I wipe away the tears provoked by the emotions it brought to the surface. I am deeply moved by the comparisons which may be drawn from our lives yet into which I will not delve here and now. Suffice it to say that I too was taken in by the duplicitous activists and proponents of the nebulous TG umbrella and my heart was all but broken. I also felt the world's weight lift from my shoulders. We are , united in the joy of deserved sisterhood and I embrace you. We are separated by a tiny strip of water which I sometimes think may as well be an ocean. I would like to think we will meet one day.

    Contrarily, I loved picking flowers and how my mother's face would soften and light up when I presented her with posies of bluebells or primroses, gathered during excursions to the Sussex countryside after the war.

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  4. I used to think the TG philosophy was misguided but harmless. No more. I have seen over and over again the harm it causes.

    There is so much TG BS on the web. There is so little reliable information for those born TS. Thank you for adding your voice (and thank you for the link to my blog in the other post). The more voices of sanity, the better. Every person born TS who escapes from the clutches of the "bog" (good one!) is one more person who has a chance at a real life.

    Now you can take that one more step and just be female. TS is in your past, not your present. :)

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  5. **long slow hard claps of applause**

    Thank you. I've been battling these feelings for a long time and the Bog mantra has been weighing heavier on my mind every day, even to the point of considering(if only for a moment) that maybe I was wrong?

    No. I wasn't. Doesn't mean I want to debate with them anymore to try to dig another TS out from the mire, either, sadly, it's something we all need to do for ourselves.

    I personally think we need a redefining of non-op. I think there are 'Can't-op' and 'Won't-op'. Making this simple redefinition will make things a lot easier in the long run. Can't-op means you're TS, won't-op... well, need more be said?

    This blog entry helped me when the whole umbrella thing just about had me walking away from everything and everyone.
    (mari)

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  6. What most people don't grasp is that TG is nothing more than a political grouping of Gender Diverse people. TS is a state of existance. In otherwords you are born TS, born with incongruent psychological vs physical gender identity, you choose, or as it has come to pass, forced, to be TG. It is like being forced into a union. The thing about being TS is that you won't be TS forever. Once Transition is accomplished you are no longer TS, you were TS, but you are now your true gender. TG people will be TG their whole life.

    I am not TG, I was TS, I am a woman.

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please be nice.