DELINEATIONS OF TRANS, OR: NON-COMEDIC VARIETIES OF IMPERSONATION
December 2, 2014
ReBlogged without permission from here: http://miriamafloat.wordpress.com/
On this blog I’ve written two posts (here and here) attempting to delineate different types of autogynephilia (AGP). Given that I am an autogynephile, and since being doxxed am one of two known “out” AGPs that I am aware of (the other being Anne Lawrence), I feel I have a right to talk about my unique experiences. Yet, I am also a transsexual, I experience sex dysphoria, and am still transitioning.
Which means I will also speak bluntly on issues related to being a transsexual, as well.
Those who have read this blog know that I view AGP as more of a continuum of experience rather than a singular identity, which in addition to my criticisms of the strict typology of AGP/homosexual-transsexual, is something I am not alone in proposing. Specifically, I view it as one of many potential motivations for transition. Interestingly enough, based upon the typology set forth by Blanchard and expounded upon by Lawrence, almost every single male trans I’ve met would fit within the AGP category. There are maybe two trans I’ve either met personally or just seen from a distance online who don’t fit within the category of AGP as outlined by Blanchard.
My error in attempting to delineate AGP was talking about it as an independent group of individuals, rather than truly viewing it as one possible motivation among many, which, even though I have toyed with this idea previously, I did not allow to inform my categorization of trans. The term “AGP” doesn’t describe all of us, obviously. The common way people use it doesn’t apply to me at all, either (in terms of transvestic fetishism). Also, I have always found it interesting that a man without dysphoria who wears clothes identified by society as “women’s” clothing is termed a cross-dresser, while a man who claims dysphoria (no way to prove it, eh?) and takes hormones who wears socially-prescribed “women’s” clothing is suddenly not a cross-dresser. Never sat right with me – in truth, I’ve always viewed any biological male who wears clothing associated with the socially-prescribed female gender expression to be a cross-dresser. It’s a behavior. What’s the difference, really?
The sense of “wrongness” this assertion seems to bring up in any transgender and/or transsexual circle is of note. Personally, I think strong emotions displayed by many people about a specific concept is worthy of consideration, as there may by a logical reason behind their displeasure that simply has not been evaluated precisely because of the strength of the emotion. Maybe what these individuals are attempting to get at is the unspoken motivation behind the behavior – assuming, of course, that the motivation of a cross-dresser is significantly different from your average transgender/transsexual.
The animosity I’ve seen consistently between cross-dressers and transsexuals, transgenders and transsexuals is something I’ve viewed with a sort of amused disgust. To me, it always seemed that such animosity follows a rejection of truth, especially a painful one. In every instance where this occurs, it results from the insistence that one’s ‘group’ is, by nature or essence or wish, altogether different from the other – whatever that other happens to be.
Therefore, I would first like to start at the beginning – at the point which all of us, whether CD, TV, TS, AGP, or whatevah-the-fuck-acronym-ya-dig, start to differentiate.
We are all female impersonators.
This is a neat little phrase that accurately describes the behavior of all of us – whether cross-dresser or drag queen, transgender or transsexual, so-called autogynephile or the mythical true-trans homosexual transsexual. Adopting the culture and trappings of femininity, of female oppression, is impersonating what we as men associate with female and identify as female (because as men and oppressors, we define the terms and conditions of the subjugated caste of female). Even those who do not partake of the oppressive gender category of women, who only undergo limited physical transition, are still impersonating females – quite literally, in fact: attempting to alter your hormonal levels with estradiol or simply obtaining an orchiectomy/SRS is an obviously male-centered attempt to ‘become a woman,’ whether we actually believe it will make us a woman or not.
In terms of behavior, we are all under one roof. Yet when motivation is considered, divisions start to appear – yet not along the strict lines that might be expected or desired. Here is a list of motivations (by no means exhaustive but which I believe comprise most) I’ve identified so far:
1) Rejection of toxic masculinity – includes all forms of dysphoria, including sex/body dysphoria.
2) Internalized homophobia.
3) Autogynephilia – transvestic fetishism or behavioral fetishism.
4) Autogynephilia – anatomic/physiologic/biologic.
5) Extension of male privilege.
7) Sexual abuse.
8) Political – includes peer pressure, attention-seeking behavior, monetary motivations.
9) Sexual predation.
To answer any confusion concerning why #1 includes all forms of dysphoria, I view toxic masculinity as the causation of social and sex/body dysphoria. Social conditioning can and does profoundly alter human biological systems in unpredictable ways. That sex dysphoria is supposedly parallel to body dysmorphic disorder strikes me as a bit of an odd comparison. If sex dysphoria (among males) was simply about one’s physical rejection of their sexed organs, why is it always paired with a rejection of assigned sex role? This is why sex dysphoria is not like body dysmorphic disorder – those with BDD don’t try to cut out their gall bladders or limbs because those organs/limbs indicate to them that they aren’t a rat (which don’t have gallbladders) or a snake (which is without limbs).
Yet, attempts to explain the causation of sex dysphoria by virtue of a “female brain” (which is demonstrably misogynistic), or that one has the “brain map” of a female body (unproven and fantastical), or even simply a vague statement that one “feels like they should have” the body of a female, all fall flat. Those who realize the ludicrousness of the aforementioned arguments seem to prefer the tried-and-true method of simply saying “I don’t know.”
I don’t really know, either. But again, the consistent association between sex dysphoria among male trans and rejection of toxic masculinity is a fruitful connection – I think it indicates that the radical feminist theory of sex role stereotypes being the causation of transsexuality is accurate. It certainly provides more opportunity for discussion of treatment options than simply throwing one’s hands up and saying, “we may never know.”
Just because you “feel” something, just because it feels real and physical, doesn’t mean its original causation is a biological one – although its manifestation likely involves biological systems. Again, though, the notion of sex dysphoria is purely subjective and currently unprovable. As such, it is no more useful than any other feeling-based approach. Which brings us to something no less subjective but certainly with more chance of observation – motivation, which may be implied through behavior.
It doesn’t seem as if many people have attempted to delineate female impersonators based upon the criteria of motivation. However, this seems a good start for us in creating a division between those who transition with sexual predation in mind, those who are using it as an extension of their masculinity (as displayed by rampant misogyny and a lifetime of masculine success), and those who are rejecting toxic masculinity.
Personally, I am transitioning because of numbers 1,2, 4 and 7. What does that make me? I don’t really know. Does it need some specific name, or is the acknowledgement of my individual motivations enough? A considerable source of distress at the beginning of my transition came from my failed attempts to find a narrative which seemed to ‘match’ me. Really, I wanted a label – at first, I suffered a serious sense of discontinuity at the fact that ‘transgender’ and ‘transsexual’ were considered different concepts, yet the specific differences were never very clearly delineated. Just look at the wikipedia pages for both – it’s a hopeless mess.
Only when I started to consider motivations – in my case, the specific dysphoria surrounding my male features and my desire to change them – did it occur to me that the term ‘transsexual’ seemed to describe my experience better than ‘transgender,’ which was also used to describe individuals who did not engage in physical transition. “There we go,” I thought, “there is the difference between me and the others, this is the factor which best describes my experience!”
Of course, then I discovered that the little kingdom of ‘transsexuality’ had its own clan battles. The misunderstood concept of autogynephilia, the specious notions of Harry-Benjamin-Syndrome-ers, the pervasive aroma of elitism – my community maybe wasn’t as welcoming as I thought. And within the context of the knowledge that sex changes aren’t even possible – well, the term ‘transsexual’ sorta loses its meaning, now doesn’t it? If there isn’t such a thing as a sex change, what are we ‘transing’ towards? Exogenous hormones and surgical holes do not a woman make. In fact, I would say it takes one further from the concept of “female” than if one remained an unmodified man.
Although for those of us who are passing/assimilated, nobody else knows this. They just see another woman. Such individuals might be said to have succeeded very well at the act of female impersonation – yet that gives no indication of motivation, or expected behavior.
This approach towards classification/delineation might aid us in determining what to prioritize in future treatment, and how to tailor treatment to the individual (as well as preventing sexual predators and violent misogynists from accessing transition-related services). By focusing on our motivations to transition – honestly and without the ridiculous narratives that pervade the transreality (‘on the other side of reality,’ see what I did there?) – we might start helping ourselves become a bit more stable in our lives.
Ultimately, we may even start to address the sex role stereotypes of which transsexuality/transgenderism is merely a symptom. As long as we are ignoring gender itself as the causation, as long as we are chalking it up to brain sex or feminine essence or body dysphoria which just happens to coincide with personal reactions to sex role stereotypes (but isn’t, oh no, can’t possibly be caused by gender itself), or any other fanciful legend which serves only to enshrine ourselves upon the seat of our own suffering, then we as trans are part of the problem.
Focusing on motivations I think would inevitably lead the honest researcher back to the sex role stereotypes themselves as the origin of the problem. If such knowledge were to enter the public sphere from the medical sector, more people could become aware of the reality of gender and its harmful nature.
As male trans, we are all female impersonators. The current delineations – CD, TV, TG, TS, whatever – are worthless at keeping out sex predators while allowing those who benefit somewhat from transition to access medical intervention. There is way too much cross-over among all of the aforementioned labels to be useful as they currently are, and there is too much left unsaid about motivation and behavior if all of these so-called identities are simply unified into a convenient trans umbrella.
Therefore, we need to start delineating based on new criteria – motivation. Motivation can be implied by behavior. Behavior can be interpreted to indicate motivation. I say we should put more faith in observations of behavior as a way of divining motivation rather than any self-described label. In truth, it’s not like these labels mean much of anything anymore.
Maybe it’s time to go back to basics.