Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The High Road?

--- The following was posted on a group I subscribe to:
> Recently, on a group that focuses on HRT for TS people a post from a
> classic transgender received a couple of interesting replies.
> The post was a stupid; "I want young boobies and a big butt. I'm age 49 and I also want
> erections too."
> The reply included; "It's people like you that cause people like us problems." That post was
> seconded by another member in her late 20s.
> There is a new generation of TS women who are not going to accept the TG agenda either.
> I am so proud!!
> There is hope indeed

I needed to respond to this on several levels, all of which I hope are respectful of everyone.

The use of the phrase "a classic transgender" is clearly meant as either a pejorative or an attempt to dehumanize the person who created the offensive post...or both. If we are offended by people referring to women or men of transsexual experience as "a sex-change" or "a post-op/pre-op" rather than as a person, then we should not do it to other people. The high road needs to start somewhere, it might as well start here.

Like many people, I found the statement offensive, misogynistic, fetishistic, inappropriate, sexist, self-obsessed, destructive and just plain silly. I say that having felt this way about such statements 30 years ago, 20 years ago, 10 years ago and still today.

There have ALWAYS been women of trans experience who disagree with that sort of auto-erotic, auto-gynephillic objectification of not just women in general, but transwomen specifically. And while there may now be more awareness on a gender politic level of the misogyny inherent in such statements, it is by no means "fresh" to the current younger generation of trans-identified women.

I must also share that MANY people who identify as transgender to some degree or as BOTH transgender and transsexual would agree that such statements are not only offensive to all women, but harmful to many of us when those expressions receive media exposure.

As someone who works primarily with children and youth who are gender non-conforming, I am particularly sensitive to the negative impact this can have not only on the children, but on how adults react to and treat these children. I spend far too much of my time working to overcome the "Jerry Springer-ization" of trans identity and expression.

All that being said...let's not take 'low road' lessons from the Moral Majority and Authoritarian Right by implying that there is some "Transgender Agenda". We do not want others defining for us what 'they' perceive to be a "Transsexual Agenda" or a "TransFeminist Agenda" or any other gross generalization or implication of how a diverse community thinks and acts.

I certainly would have (and frequently do) expressed my opinion to this person's post in a way that was similar to the young woman who responded. However, I would never for a moment assume that their personal ideas, clearly shared by other (predominantly) late-transitioning, misogyny-poisoned male-bodied people somehow reflect a vast, "transgender" agenda/conspiracy.

I am proud when those of us who have been victimized by cissexism, misogyny, misplaced or real homophobia, generalizations and violence rise above joining the voices of intolerance.

I am proud when we take the high road and attempt to shed light, rather than drive full-speed into the darkness.

Dividing NEVER conquers. It only divides.


Jenn Burleton
Portland, OR

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