29 November 2005

Transgender community lets me down. Again.

In a post just over a month ago, I described a newfound transgender community I had found - one gathered by Helen Boyd, the wife of a crossdresser, and an author. I lurked for a few days, and seeing that it looked somewhat civilized, became a registered member.

But as it turns out, it turned out to be no better than all the previous transgender communities I had joined and left. The members, mostly of the older, "secondary" types, still have their male socializations and mentalities. I could smell the patriarchy, judgment, intolerance, and conservatism right in the virtual air.

When I first joined, I was lectured by a long-standing member of the community about why my nickname was inappropriate for the forum, dismissing me as someone looking for cheap sexual thrills and nothing more. Never mind that it was a comprehensive community with room for such individuals, even if I was one of them. Fortunately, a few sympathetic members came to my defense. However, when I recently joined a discussion and rightfully stated that the Christian patriarchy is the source of problems for the trans community at large, the Christians revolted, with their victim mentality in full swing. Somehow they managed to "ban" me by having all my posts now forced to go to moderators, and now even innocent posts are not getting through, period.

I was already sick of the "man enough to be a woman" game played in my previous transgender communities, as well as the older secondaries' "you are too young to be serious" attitudes. And I've been especially dumbfounded and disgusted by the conservatism in the transwomen communities; I learned some of the most hideous right-wing ideas ever conceived, such as the notion that healthcare is NOT a right, and the call for a 23% national sales tax to replace the income tax system, from transgender "women." Speaking of the "real women" mentality, women in general just don't play games like this - men do.

I'm leaving the community, and will not join any online (or real life) transgender support groups ever again. I am getting adequate support from the lesbian and straight world now.

What does this mean for Sarah? People have already noticed that I made Sarah stay away from the transgender communities, and made Martha, the first girlfriend who dies on 9/11, pretty much Sarah's only link to them. They have already noticed that Sarah is not familiar with the terminology of the transgender community ("tranny," "transition," etc.) for some reason; they wonder what keeps her away. (And of course, there is Sarah's repulsion when she sees Martha's male bits.) Now I need to come up with a very early event in Sarah's transition into womanhood which leaves her with a negative image of the transgender community for good, combined with a welcoming environment elsewhere - at work, at the Unitarian church, with lesbians, with straights. And Sarah's frustrations, such as calling a Christian conservative transwoman from Bakersfield a "faggot," would make more sense now. After all, I would do the same thing.

I have made Sarah despise the transgender community, based on my past experiences. And my current experiences have only confirmed my direction. Sarah will find her joy and support from lesbians and straights; she will fall in love with, and make love to, Kirsten, and build strong friendships both at her flight attendant position and at later jobs.


PennyCentury said...

Your experience echoes mine, going back ...um quite a long period. I found my first therapist by recommendation of a TriEss leader, went on to an endocrinologist, and transitioned to fulltime. I have never attended a TriEss meeting -- they were more concerned with keeping their meeting location a dark secret (a local Church basement) than making a true community accessible to those who might benefit from it. Maybe afraid of passers-by throwing rotten tomatoes at "them crossdressers" as they scurry into the basement?

I attended a therapist-mandated TS support group sporadically until I realized that I can't help those who are "stuck" and it wasn't helping me to be in their presence. I view TS as a *process* and not my identity. I am with a female partner (started relationship and legally married *after* going fulltime). We lead a boringly conventional (and very satisfying) life.

You are right to remove yourself from all that gender bullshit. Now that I have transitioned, I *don't* have to think about gender all the time.

Don't automatically discount the "late transitioners"; after all they do have lots of life experience. Whether they are *ready* to let go of Male Privilege, however, is a different story. Some will never be capable of that, even post SRS. They have the cruelest lesson of all to learn. I have learned to understand that at times I will be treated as a child, or as generally incompetent by sales clerks and technical people who do not know me. I do my best to firmly correct the situation.

Rachel said...

Hello again pennycentury!

Thank you for sharing your own experiences. I've considered TriEss a group catering to heterosexual crossdressers, and of little help to those on the fulltime transition path. And many of us - whether on the crossdresser track or the fulltime track - are in such need of serious help that it is difficult to give others support at all. That's the worst thing I've found about transgender support groups.

And thank you for your bit on the secondaries, and on letting go of the male privilege. Sometimes it can come in a nice way - like complete strangers offering to change the flat on my car. But more likely, I will be dismissed as someone less than competent. As you may have seen from this blog, I was in South Korea recently to pursue IT opportunities, and I expect my identity - as a woman, and as a transwoman - to someday work against me, even if not right away, in that traditional, patriarchal society.

I have also received your email address, so I will be in touch with you by email as well. Thanks for your interest!