One's Gender Identity Isn't Societal Perception Of It; Marriage Equality Isn't Just A GLB Issue
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Once again, I hear transgender people all over speaking for me. Here is Autumn once again telling me what’s good for me and to add insult to injury…whether I like it or not:
“That’s why trans people’s marriages are part of the concept of marriage equality, whether some transsexuals like that idea or not.”
Now that’s a lot of nerve…an unmarried, admittedly asexual, bisexual GLB and homosexual T activist telling me, a heterosexual, married female…what is best for me…and, to boot…whether I like that idea or not. Autumn has appropriated my place in life and told me absolutely why she knows better than I do…about my life.
And, make absolutely no mistake, Autumn and other GLB type are not – repeat NOT – going to cease telling women of operative history what is right for us whether we like it or not. As far as the GLB and homosexual T activists/rank and file are concerned, heterosexual women of operative history are 1) in same-sex marriages…whether we like it or not…reducing us to something less than-other than simply female, 2) are in the marriage equality movement which is simply another way of telling us we are in the same-sex marriage movement…whether we like it or not, and 3) will continue appropriating our positions…whether we like it or not, telling us that they know better than us what is best in our marriage and association…whether we like it or not.
Sometimes, the misunderstanding regarding the difference between self-identification and external perceptions of identity — well, these find me sighing and shaking my head in some frustration. In my own experience I see the religious right, as well as what I would call the online, transsexual separatist community, conflate the connection of self-identity to the external perceptions of others — external perceptions that can result in harassment and discrimination.
So going to specifics, in the paragraphs I quoted above from the Enough Non-Sense piece — where SA-ET quoted my August 4th This & That diary — she drew a conclusion based on hers and her peers’ self-identification as women of operative history being a separate identity from transgender identity. Certainly I see a difference — a separation — between the two identities.
SA-ET incorrectly indicated that I was telling her and her peer women of operative history that their self-identification isn’t valid; that I was telling them they are transgender, like it or not; that I was telling them that they must embrace the concept of the transgender umbrella for themselves, like it or not.
And too, it was indicated that I was using same-sex marriage as a tool to force them to become members of what they call “Homosexual T”. This concept of the “Homosexual T” is from Dr. Harry Benjamin’s The Transsexual Phenomenon (Copyright, 1967) in the segment entitled Relationship To Homosexuality:
There are homosexuals who get an emotional satisfaction from cross-dressing. It would be a matter of semantics to consider them “homosexual transvestites” or “transvestitic homosexuals.” They simply desire, for their sexual gratification, both cross-dressing and a partner of the same sex.
SA-ET apparently perceives me to be a “Homosexual T” . But just as SA-ET doesn’t identify as transgender, I don’t identify as “Homosexual T” .
For the record, I identify as a transsexual. If one uses Harry Benjamin’s Gender Disorientation Scale (related his book The Transsexual Phenomenon), I fairly closely align with Type Five: True Transsexual (Moderate Intensity):
Gender Feeling: Feminine (trapped in male body)
Dressing Habits and Social Life: Lives and works as woman if possible. Insufficient relief from dressing.
Sex Object Choice and Sex Life: Libido low. Asexual auto-erotic, or passive homosexual activity. May have been married and have children.
Kinsey Scale: 4-6
Conversion Operation: Requested and usually indicated.
Estrogen Medication: Needed as substitute for or preliminary to operation.
Psychotherapy: Rejected. Useless as to cure. Permissive psychological guidance.
Remarks: Operation hoped for and worked for. Often attained.
If only I didn’t sociopolitically identify as transgender, transsexual separatists might — per the relevant, historic documentation — consider me a “true transsexual.” But, of course, only after I had genital reconstruction surgery (the kind of surgery Dr. Benjamin referred to as the “conversion operation”); but, of course, I do identify as transgender.
But I digress.
I was mentioning this conflation on this past Monday when I had lunch with my friend Cecilia Chung. She helped clarify for me something that I already knew intuitively, but hadn’t recently articulated as a cogent thought. And that thought is this: being discriminated against because one is perceived to be a member of a minority group isn’t the same as identifying as a member of that minority group.
So, there are three components I’m discussing here: 1.) how one self-identifies; 2.) what others perceive one’s identity is, as well as those others’ preconceived ideas about how those others perceive one’s identity, and 3.) the perceptions of those who harass and discriminate against those whom they believe emulate or embrace behavior associated with a particular identity.
So let’s use the difference between the concepts of points 1.) and 2.) to show that others on the religious right — and some feminists — don’t see genital reconstruction surgery as doing anything for the those who identify with Harry Benjamin Syndrome, or who identify as true transsexuals, classic transsexuals, women of operative history, etc.:
[Below the fold: Comments by second wave feminists and conservative "Christians" regarding genital reconstruction surgery, as well as statements by conservative "Christians" and courts as to why marriage equality even applies to those who have had genital reconstruction surgery.]
“Their regular response was to show me their patients. Men (and until recently they were all men) with whom I spoke before their surgery would tell me that their bodies and sexual identities were at variance. Those I met after surgery would tell me that the surgery and hormone treatments that had made them “women” had also made them happy and contented. None of these encounters were persuasive, however. The post-surgical subjects struck me as caricatures of women. They wore high heels, copious makeup, and flamboyant clothing; they spoke about how they found themselves able to give vent to their natural inclinations for peace, domesticity, and gentleness – but their large hands, prominent Adam’s apples, and thick facial features were incongruous (and would become more so as they aged). Women psychiatrists whom I sent to talk with them would intuitively see through the disguise and the exaggerated postures. ‘Gals know gals,’ one said to me, ‘and that’s a guy.’
“The subjects before the surgery struck me as even more strange, as they struggled to convince anyone who might influence the decision for their surgery. First, they spent an unusual amount of time thinking and talking about sex and their sexual experiences; their sexual hungers and adventures seemed to preoccupy them. Second, discussion of babies or children provoked little interest from them; indeed, they seemed indifferent to children. But third, and most remarkable, many of these men-who-claimed-to-be-women reported that they found women sexually attractive and that they saw themselves as “lesbians.” When I noted to their champions that their psychological leanings seemed more like those of men than of women, I would get various replies, mostly to the effect that in making such judgments I was drawing on sexual stereotypes.
…”We saw the results as demonstrating that just as these men enjoyed cross-dressing as women before the operation so they enjoyed cross-living after it. But they were no better in their psychological integration or any easier to live with. With these facts in hand I concluded that Hopkins was fundamentally cooperating with a mental illness. We psychiatrists, I thought, would do better to concentrate on trying to fix their minds and not their genitalia.”
~Paul McHugh‘s Surgical Sex
For someone born with male kit, the decision to ditch it is long, painful and often very expensive. Powerful female hormones will help you sprout pubescent breasts, have a waspish waist, and add a few inches to your hips, but they won’t alter the pitch of your voice or dispense with the need to buy Bics. Only hours of electrolysis will remove your beard and years of speech therapy lessons teach you how to talk like a lady. Massive surgery is essential. The penis is cut off, a cavity is created and, with skin taken from the redundant dick and testicles, a vagina and “natural looking labia” are constructed. Surgeons claim that they can create a fully functioning clitoris, and orgasm is possible – although not at all probable.
It’s important that these details are spelt out. Because gender reassignment is not simply about men in frocks; it’s about removing bits of a fully functioning body to be replaced by parts which, however they may approximate to the real thing, simply do not work. In any other case, this would be considered as nothing other than genital mutilation.
~Dea Birkett for The Guardian, via Press For Change
“Thanks to feminism and gay liberation, that situation has altered radically. What a disgrace, therefore, that our legacy amounts to this: if you are unhappy with the constraints of your gender, don’t challenge them. If you are tired of being stared at for snogging your same-sex partner in the street, have a sex change. Where are those who go berserk about the ethics of genetic engineering yet seem not to worry about major, irreversible surgery on healthy bodies? Also, those who “transition” seem to become stereotypical in their appearance – fuck-me shoes and birds’-nest hair for the boys; beards, muscles and tattoos for the girls. Think about a world inhabited just by transsexuals. It would look like the set of Grease.
…I don’t have a problem with men disposing of their genitals, but it does not make them women, in the same way that shoving a bit of vacuum hose down your 501s does not make you a man.”
~Julie Bindel for The Guardian
“There’s a gulf of difference between what Obama and liberals in Congress, and the American people deem ‘medically appropriate;’ especially when it’s ‘we the people’ footing the bill. To force Americans, against their conscience, to fund abortion on demand and to facilitate gender confusion by subsidizing the elective practice of genital ‘sex-change’ mutilation is unconscionable.””
And of course, marriages of people who have had genital reconstruction surgery are already considered same-sex marriages by conservative “Christians.” For example, Matt Barber in American Family Associations “news” arm of OneNewsNow, in the article Irish plan promotes same-sex ‘marriage’:
Ireland’s government is planning to permit transsexuals to marry partners of the same gender.
Ireland’s minister for social protection has confirmed that the government is committed to providing “legal recognition of the acquired gender of transsexuals.” Matt Barber of Liberty Counsel tells OneNewsNow that means a man who has been surgically altered to become a female could marry a man.
“It’s a shame that Ireland, a nation with such a rich [history of] family values…would be engaging in essentially legalizing the oxymoronic notion of same-sex ‘marriage,’ and that’s exactly what this is,” Barber laments.
The Traditional Values Coalition (TVC) wrote in Transgender Marriage Is Coming:
Somers and Gast are suffering from a serious mental problem called a Gender Identity Disorder (GID). However, instead of a counselor helping each of them to overcome their bizarre feelings of being members of the opposite sex, these men found a surgeon who was willing to mutilate their bodies so they can become fake women.
And quoting the Supreme Court Of The State Of Kansas, TVC wrote:
“The words ‘sex,’ ‘marriage,’ ‘male,’ and ‘female’ in everyday understanding do not encompass transsexuals.
…A postoperative male-to-female transsexual does not fit the common definition of a female.”
And, the Supreme Court Of The State Of Kansas added :
“[T]hrough surgery and hormones, a transsexual male can be made to look like a woman, including female genitalia and breasts. Transsexual medical treatment, however, does not create the internal sexual organs of a woman, except for the vaginal canal. There is no womb, cervix or ovaries in the post-operative transsexual female.
“[T]he male chromosomes do not change with either hormonal treatment or sex reassignment surgery. Biologically, a post-operative female transsexual is still a male…
…”There are some things we cannot will into being. They just are.”
The Supreme Court Of The State Of Kansas decision, was heavily rooted in the Judgment of the Texas Appeals Court in the Case of Littleton v. Prange, which stated:
Christie was created and born a male. Her original birth certificate, an official document of Texas, clearly so states. During the pendency of this suit, Christie amended the original birth certificate to change the sex and name. Under section 191.029 of the Texas Health and Safety Code she was entitled to seek such an amendment if the record was “incomplete or proved by satisfactory evidence to be inaccurate.” Tex. Health & Safety Code Ann. 191.029 (Vernon 1992). The trial court that granted the petition to amend the birth certificate necessarily construed the term “inaccurate” to relate to the present, and having been presented with the uncontroverted affidavit of an expert stating that Christie is a female, the trial court deemed this satisfactory to prove an inaccuracy. However, the trial courts role in considering the petition was a ministerial one. It involved no fact-finding or consideration of the deeper public policy concerns presented. No one claims the information contained in Christies original birth certificate was based on fraud or error. We believe the legislature intended the term “inaccurate” in section 191.028 to mean inaccurate as of the time the certificate was recorded; that is, at the time of birth. At the time of birth, Christie was a male, both anatomically and genetically. The facts contained in the original birth certificate were true and accurate, and the words contained in the amended certificate are not binding on this court. There are some things we cannot will into being. They just are.
We hold, as a matter of law, that Christie Littleton is a male. As a male, Christie cannot be married to another male. Her marriage to Jonathon was invalid, and she cannot bring a cause of action as his surviving spouse.
When I previously wrote that marriage equality is a trans issue, like it or not, I wasn’t saying that those who self-identify as women of operative history are transgender, like it or not. I didn’t say that those who self-identify as women of operative history who see themselves as simply women are in same-sex marriages if their partner is a non-transsexual male – like it or not.
What I’ve said — and clearly meant — is many in society (especially on the religious right) see marriages that include at least one partner that has had genital reconstruction surgery as being same-sex marriages. Like it or not, marriage equality is an issue for transgender people, transsexual people (which include those who identify as classic and true transsexuals), those who identify as both transgender and transsexual, those who identify as women of operative history, and those who identify with Harry Benjamin Syndrome. That’s because the religious right, some feminists, and some courts in some states have declared that people who have had genital reconstruction surgery can’t really change their sex — and that’s especially the case when it comes to determining who a person who has had genital reconstruction surgery has the freedom to marry.
We’re back to my points I mentioned above:
There are three components I’m discussing here: 1.) how one self-identifies; 2.) what others perceive one’s identity is, as well as those others’ preconceived ideas about how those others perceive one’s identity, and 3.) the perceptions of those who harass and discriminate against those whom they believe emulate or embrace behavior associated with a particular identity.
There are societal and legal consequences for women who’ve had genital reconstruction surgery being perceived by many as being mentally ill, gender confused gay men. Marriage inequalities for those women who have had genital reconstruction surgery is a reason why marriage equality matters — whether one likes or not that marriage equality should matter to, and definitely applies to, those who’ve had genital reconstruction surgery.
It’s not that women of operative history who are heterosexually married to men are in same-sex marriages, but it’s that many would seek to void heterosexual marriages of women of operative history because these these marriages are frequently perceived to be same-sex marriages.
Marriage equality is about the freedom to marry whomever you love; it’s not just about same-sex/same-gender marriages.
* TS-SI: Marriage Among the Forbidden Class
* First Things: Surgical Sex
* Harry Benjamin: The Transsexual Phenomenon
* Supreme Court Of The State Of Kansas: In The Matter Of The Estate Of Marshall G. Gardiner, Deceased
* Press For Change: Texas: Case of Littleton v. Prange (1999) (Text Of Appeals Court Decision)