It’s no wonder that transgendered individuals have it hard after they transition. Many are pushed out by the very communities they once called “home” and the rest of society views them as freaks. Or worse. Last night we got into a discussion about the concept that many view transgendered/transsexual individuals, particularly those in the FTM category, to be nothing more than a “passing fad”. That those that do transition do it on a whim and a prayer and have no idea of the consequences that face them. I dunno. I have a hard time believing that all the transguys and other masculine fluid individuals I know did this on a whim just for the sake of.. well, what is it for?
Some would assume it’s for the idea of male privilege and the ability to garner more money from jobs. But based on the Time article about gender and the work place, I have doubts. The increase in salary is only, at best, about 2% (as an average). I have no doubt that many face risks by transitioning. The idea that I do this because it’s a fad or will garner me some privilege is insulting. It’s never been about that. It has been about something that is rather self-serving: my own sanity. Now, don’t get me wrong. I do appreciate where some of this comes from.
The largest voice I’ve heard is the butch/femme community which feels that many (all?) young butches are giving up their female bodies to become men. And many femmes won’t date men. But I think there are a few misconceptions out there about this (I’ll use the term transguy for a masculine-bodied person that transitions with or without medical assistance for ease of description; keep in mind that this spectrum is hugely varied):
- Not all transguys are into femmes or women. Many are gay (into cisgendered guys or other transguys) or into butches. Or pansexual (into everyone, gender be damned) and are proud of that. For me personally, I prefer femme women — particularly if they are queer. The reason is that I believe, rightly or wrongly, that they’d be more appreciative of who I am, my own history and where I’m going. A heterosexual straight woman may or may not be ok with me.
- Some were never comfortable in the “lesbian” community, being shunned quite often for being too masculine. Even if they found a butch/femme community and it appealed to them, their own self-existence and their own identity wasn’t defined enough by the binary of butch and femme. Even the concept of stone butch was too limiting to where they wanted to be and how they presented to others. For them, being in the lesbian community wasn’t a goal or a desire. Their heroes weren’t necessarily from there, especially with the development of the trans-community on it’s own (to a degree).
- It really isn’t about the lesbian community or butch/femme community or any other community. It is about the individual and how they perceive themselves. It may be enough to pass as they are without assistance and that gender confusion is enough for them to be happy with. But for some, it’s not enough to pass sometimes and be viewed one way sometimes but not the way they see themselves all the time — 24/7.
- The idea to do a transition, particularly medically assisted transition, isn’t a choice done overnight. For an outsider, it may appear to be overnight but I can bet that for the transguy, he’s thought about it for a while; he’s likely done his research, asked questions of others and contemplated the choices, the risks and the benefits. You don’t spend thousands of dollars on surgery, enjoy getting regular shots (which will continue for the rest of your life) or risk one’s health on a “whim”.
- The idea that the transition, for FTMs in particular, is done to gain male privilege is silly. If anything, I do it because of feminism. Oh yes, you heard me. The reality is that I wouldn’t be able to have this choice if it were up to men and male privilege. But because I have that option open to me, I can choose to live as a butch or live as my mind and soul have seen myself. It’s not for privilege but for sanity and I feel lucky enough that I can go to a doctor, make an educated decision and move my external to match what my internal is.
I, of course, see this through my own eyes, as someone who has been viewed as a female for about 37-odd years (odd being an operative word for me). Once I began to look at transitioning as an option rather than as something others did, I began to see little clicks for points and concepts in my life. It made sense and began to feel more comfortable and life less insane. My time in the butch/femme community has made me appreciative of a portion of the lesbian community that often goes unappreciated and often sneered at, another thing I don’t understand.
But the idea of being a traitor, of giving up on the identity of butch, is — to me — insulting to who my true person is and my gender is. And to those that follow, it is insulting to them to demean them and suggest that their decision is a “fad” and nothing more than a “whim”. It is something that the trans community, particularly the transguys, need to take ownership of. Our path is one that actually is made up of many varying paths with many varying backgrounds and one goal in mind: to find a way to present ourselves as ourselves and defined by ourselves.
No one, not even the lesbian community, can do that for us.
As I write this tonight, it did occur to me that the transgender/transsexual communities are truly the bridge between the gay and lesbian communities and the rest of society. While each represents the sexual orientation of society, we represent the basic core and recognize something that scientists have recently discovered: there is more than just two genders out there.
There’s a rainbow of them.