Saturday, August 8, 2009

Fighting over who should be the Stereotype

Another comment elsewhere that works well on it's own. It's from this long discussion in Bilerico where once again the Nomenclature stuff derails another discussion between GLB and TG. The comment goes as follows:

Curious isn't it that when TG-advocates do acknowledge the human right of the seperatists to self-define as not Transgender it goes unremarked, uncelebrated and actually totally unrecognised by the seperatists?

Interesting that isn't it. The CDs here, Lena and myself, have actually acknowledged the seperatists self-defining as not transgender... and the response is silence.
But I've seen this phenomena before... amongst some crossdresser groups and organisations. Exactly the same phenomena.

Their beef is being included under the term 'Gay'. They state it leads everyone to assume drag queens are the norm, that all CDs dress to attract men, that the public image of CDs are excessive over-the-top exaggerated drag and that this causes problems for themselves and for their wives.

So they say "Crossdressers are not Gay" and when it's pointed out "Sure you may not be and many CDs are not but actually some are" they respond "Crossdressers are NOT Gay!" and a common response is "Look, we can't get totally accurate data on proportions but clearly a lot and maybe the majority of MtF CDs are women-atrracted but theres a whole lot of Bi and Male-attracted CDs on this very forum in this discussion too, and what about the FtMs who consider themselves Gay? So isn't it important we acknowledge them too?" their response is "CROSSDRESSERS ARE NOT GAY AND GAY PEOPLE ARE THE REASON WE ARE HATED AND NO-ONE ACCEPTS US. BEING THOUGHT OF AS GAY RUINS OUR LIVES..." Blah blah Blah.

See the problem there is a societal stereotype, not the existence of or acknowledgement of male-attracted MtF CDs. Acknowledging the existence of male-attracted CDs does not really harm female-atracted CDs, the existence of the stereotype is all that does that. The fact is that despite claims of being a small minority the 'gay' CDs and Drag Queens are often the ones with the courage and conviction to be out and also to not be stealth/passing so they are the ones most in the public eye, if more of the complaining CDs were out they would get more recognition in public perception.

Basicly there are other Ethical ways of attacking the stereotype rather than the utterly unethical act of attacking the people who more closely fit the stereotype and trying to invalidate them.
But what do organisations like Tri-Ess and many CD Support Groups do? They marginalise those that transition, ban discussion of hormones and SRS and marginalise Bis and Gays/Lesbians. Some chapters/groups are better than others of course but many are utterly shocking. The reason they give? That having such topics discussed, that allowing transitioning and GLB members to be prominant in any way would scare off spouses and have them turn on their CD husbands.

Surprised about the company seperatists? Your very much alike it seems in that your using the same arguments for what seems to be the exact same reasons. The same piece of algebra but with X being 'classic' rather than 'straight' Y being 'TS' rather than 'CD' and Z being 'TG' rather than 'Gay'.

Attacking one another trying to fight the symptom not the cause, attacking people to try and effect public perception of both, and it seems that it's really fighting over which group gets to BE the stereotype rather than attacking there being a stereotype which could be accomplished by showing, and educating about, the diversity.

See our acknowledging a diversity or difference from a stereotype harms the stereotype, it doesn't acknowledge their claim that they should be the stereotype, and I say this about both 'Straight' crossdresserd and 'classic' transexuals equally. So as its not very useful in the battle to BE the template of the stereotype it seems that acknowledgement of the diversity is not acknowledged. That would reduce the power of the 'see they hate us, they claim we are just like them and hurt us'.

It's not just about the desperate phobic desire to 'not be associated with' 'icky' folk... a homophobia from the 'straight' crossdressers and a non-binary-transphobia from the 'classic' transsexuals, though that seems a big part of it. So maybe it's really a desire to fight to claim to be what the stereotype should be? An all or nothing desire to replace one narrow stereotype in the publics eye with another narrow stereotype and to hell with everyone who strays too far from either stereotype who gets trampled in the way.

There is another way though. One thats issues-based not identity-based. That acknowledges not just ideological justification of needs but a basic right to choose irrespective. One where all the needs of all people can be considered as equally valid and can be fought for not just by those stake-holders effected by it but by anyone capable of reason.
Human Rights Principles.

Self-Identification, Health-Care, Hormone and Surgery-access, Access to Hormone-Blockers for teens, Protection from IS Infant surgery and brutal reparative treatments, protection from discrimination and violence, protection of gender expression, Equal access to all Services from employment to business to bathrooms to marriage to disability to insurance etc... theres overlap between the groups that need these in GLBTIQ, S&GD, Disability, Neuro-atypical and many many more and yet all these are actually covered by the same set of reasons in favour of them ALL.

Human Rights Principles.

Seriously EVERYONE take a look at this
Our rights are NOT mutually exclusive. We DO share these rights, these issues, just on occassion they work in different directions. The right to not be permanantly surgically altered as a child so when old enough to give consent the child can make a choice is the exact same right of a child to not be forced to undergo puberty they do not wish to endure and instead be given hormone blockers till they are old enough to legally give consent to their own choice. The same right solves both a Intersex issue and a transsexual one.

THAT is the way forward, not one ideology winning over another, not one stereotype defeating another, not one group of peoples rights being trampled on in favour of another. That will be a battle that would continue for all human existence. Instead basic universal human rights applied properly solves everyones issues. And Everyone can fight for Everyone Elses Equal Rights!


Gaeilge said...

hope i'm not bugging you,lol, but THIS is why you should be a columnist at tbp....

Jessica said...

It really isn't up to you or me to recognize the difference/diversity of crossdresser from gay or transsexual from transgender.

This simply is.

Unfortunately, the prism through which all of us are seen is gay.

The only model ever presented in the world to date, certainly in our corner of it, is a single policed identity. This is something I have long argued in the comments I have posted on my blog--which you haven't read--and what I have worked for in my own advocacy--which is also something you haven't cared to inform yourself on.

Though you take it on yourself to admonish me to educate myself on crossdressers and others.

I have had the opportunity to work with transgender people--who were not happy about using either the words trans or transsexual.

Until the independence of both transgender and transsexual people, both from each other and gay people, is a simple given--which it is not yet--none of our goals, common and not, will be achieved.

And yes, we might well be natural allies--but then I thought that about the gay people and their organizations that I worked with.

timberwraith said...

The funny thing about human beings is that whenever you create a series of categories to divvy up the human race, inevitably the boundaries of those categories run across people's bodies and lives. There's always a subset of people who live on the cusp between one category and the next who wind up getting ignored by everyone. With billions of human beings populating the planet, there are more variations of being than can be conveniently shoved into categories.

Generally speaking, transsexuals and non-transsexual trans people have somewhat differing life issues, but cis people hate us both for the same exact reason: we live outside the socially endorsed rules of sex and gender. As the old saying goes, your enemy is my enemy, so that makes us allies. Consequently, I'm more than happy to work in coalition with the other group. I think it makes good political sense: especially when you consider that there are a hell of a lot more cis people than there are transsexual/transgender people.

Consequently, I will never be one of those people waving the separatist's banner. I find this approach to be incredibly short sighted. The powerful maintain their stranglehold on society by sowing strife and division between those who might be natural allies. Separatism plays right into their hands.

For the record: I'm a post-op transsexual who has absolutely no problems living under the umbrella term transgender.

Jessica said...

Good fences make good neighbours

Battybattybats said...

If good fences make good neighbours then why do i get on with my neighbours with just thin walls between us? Nope friendliness makes good neighbours. Letting her use my phone and internet when she needs to and she gives me lovely jams and vegetables from the garden on her side of the house.

Friendliness and cooperation make good neighbours. Big fences encourage isolation and loneliness.

And how is being labelled Gay harming us when Gays have been winning their civil rights battles?

The poll where 85% of Australians support federal antidiscrimination legislation based on gender identity? A poll paid for by Equal Love, the Australian Gay Marriage Advocacy group.

Oh-oh! Being part of Gay there HELPS us!

So EXACTLY which human rights issues are harmed by our association with the MORE accepted Gay label/community?

The problem of transphobes in the gay community exists, but then there are homophobes in TG and both in the CIS/HET population. So attacking the homophobia and transphobia, like racism and sexism, is EVERYONE's responsibility.

Example: When a man in a group of men with no women around tells a mate to not talk about women that way it can have a far greater impact on a bigoted mind.

And where is this monolithic policing of TG as Gay? The TGs in the Gay community have more guts than the Het-CDs. The het-CDs are said to vastly outnumber them, but they stay closeted and so have no visibility to mainstream society.

Thats starting to change, and with TG being perhaps 10% of the population (remember the MtF numbers alone of the Tiwi islands is 4% of the population!) visibility will just keep increasing.

Now, as the 'classic' TSs are vastly outnumbered theres a strategic choice that must be made. Take advantage of the political power of a possibly election-swinging chunk of the population by forming alliances and helping ensure that TS issues like SRS are promoted and part of the mainly-crossdresser populations agendas (and rmember there always be some bigots amongst every group whos views will need to be marginalised and defused) or call for seperatism and watch in horror as the increasing visibility of crossdressers wipes the memory of TS from the masses as the stereotype of TG as being a straight conservative CD takes over by sheer weight of visible numbers!

I don't want that latter either, but thats what will hapen if WE don't ensure that a diverse strong cooperative coalition remains.

Jessica said...

Who's making assumptions--without foundation--now?

If it is perfectly correct to say gay, lesbian, bisexual, why is it heresy to say transgender and transsexual?

And why not gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, transsexual?

Unless you believe your assumptions are more important than, say, mine.

And that is an assumption I do not share.

Nor do I share the assumption there are way more crossdressers--transgender--than transsexual people.

And why would it make any difference?

Is it your assumption those who are the minority must submit to the majority?

Battybattybats said...

What assumption? Check out what stats there are on CD population, compare to SRS stats and there you go.

The current Available Data says CDs outnumber TS, especially the 'classic' TS definition.

Now like all SCIENCE the conclusion is subject to change when more reliable/accurate data is available. Got any?

Jessica said...

That was only the first assumption I pointed at.

The second one remains:

Is it your assumption that the minority must submit to the majority?

I am not a scientist, though it seems you are.

I argue human rights, as I thought you did.

Numbers are not important, or so I have always heard--though what wasn't required for gay people with respect to straight people is required for transsexual and transgender people with respect to gay people.

And it now seems to be required for transsexual people with respect to transgender people.

This is just one aspect of a single policed identity: convenience and necessity; that is, it is easier, says the majority for the minority to be part of its identity and the only way to gain anything for the minority is to be part of this identity.

This is the single policed identity.

Battybattybats said...

"Is it your assumption that the minority must submit to the majority?"

No it's not. I argue that everyone has equal rights. A minority of one has no less or greater rights that a majority of everyone but one.

Thats why 'classics' can never take transsexual wholly out of the TG umbrella so long as one single TS claims to be under it. Conversely only one TS needs to say they are not for TS's who are not TG to also be true.

The point about numbers is the importance of the rest of TG especially CDs as allies on a strategic level and the consequence of ignoring the changes to come and how they will likely effect your cause.

"I am not a scientist, though it seems you are."

Nope. In fact my last formal finished qualification wasn't even the end of highschool, cause of my disability. I've studied lots of things from sciences to art to philosophy though.

"I argue human rights, as I thought you did."

I still do! Where do any of my arguments run contrary to Human Rights Philosophy? The Yogyakarta Princples? The International Covention on Civil and Political Rights etc?

"Numbers are not important, or so I have always heard--though what wasn't required for gay people with respect to straight people is required for transsexual and transgender people with respect to gay people."

Numbers are important in the political purposes and processes to protect human rights. Now who makes up that number neednt be the directly effected. It can be made up of allies as most human rights causes are won by the weight of concerned allies.

Dont mistake my mentioning the practical political reality with cnfusing them with the principles of human rights. But it is possible to act within those principles and yet deal with the practical political reality.

And when you talk of 'required' you miss the very foundation of human rights.

Reciprocal Ethics.

See the validity of ALL and ANY rights is the interdependance on them being equal for and accessible to and fair to all.

See that makes ALL of us responsible to ALL human rights issues and respecting EVERYONE.

No exceptions allowed at all ever or we invalidate our own claim to rights while that is so.

Disability issues, refugees, sexism, racism, learning variations, the elderly, GLBTIQ, prisoners, victims of crime, warcrimes, civil and political rights, indiginous rights, healthcare, religious freedom...

We are all obliged to them all. And they all spring from and are defined by the same simple principles.

That doesnt mean we must all wear the same mask and hairstyle and say we are all one with the borg. It doesn't mean you have to call yourself Transgender.

It means we must not just respect but also fight for the human rights of each other. Totally.

Step outside the tired cliche of competing identity politics ideology of the past for just a moment and look at where human rights come from. The philosophical foundations upon which they depend and look at what that means to this situation. Reciprocal Ethics.

I already respect your right to be not-transgender. You must (for your rights to be valid) conversely respect Timberwraith's right to be both transsexual and transgender and anything else.

Thats how human rights work!

See the cookie-cutter ideology arguments wont work. The flaws in them are pretty simple.

Its fine and easy for you to assert that those TSs who do not agree with the transgender terminology shouldn't have to be labelled it. It is your right to self-identify.

And though the S&GD term applies as a better umbrella, and the d for diversity removes the 'the label applies the wrong stereotype to me' argument from the equation. Though you have the right to also reject that and any and every label possible.

But you don't have the right to abuse Timberwraith and other TSs right to self-identify too!

Asserting your human rights does not require acting like a hate group or being hypocritical.

Battybattybats said...

Besides science suggests gay is also a from-birth neurological intersex condition! Doesn't that upset the apple cart!