Thursday, 31 August 2006 20:00
Last Updated on Sunday, 17 September 2006 08:25
Lisa Jain Thompson
Springfield, Virginia, USA.
Scenario: A woman’s music festival held in some obscure forested location with the purpose of presenting “women’s music” in a women’s only environment. A thousands strong Chris Williamson Estrogen Brigade, so to speak, situated in an unnamed location whose name cannot even be spoken in the presence of men.
Posit: A large muscular, balding male, reeking of testosterone, wearing a scruffy tee shirt and jeans and in need of a shave. His arms are covered with dark thick hair, more hair sneaks out the top of his tee. He says he is a woman trapped in a man’s body but a full throbbing erection is clearly visible in his pants as he demands entrance to the festival.
I think we can all agree that this person, transgendered though he may be in his mind, is still a man, recognizably male, and probably should be excluded from the festival.
Posit: A small, petite female, full of estrogen, wearing a thin tee that shows her ample breasts and nipples. Her voice is soft and high, her waist thin widening to her hips. She does not announce whether she is a man or a woman and asks for entrance to the festival.
I think we can all agree that this person is a woman and should be freely admitted to the festival.
Coming to agreement on the identity of both stereotypes is relatively easy (we will leave to discussion of the festival entrance requirements to others).
More difficult is addressing criteria for those who are transsexual and those who are merely transgendered (leaving the definition of transgendered to those who argue about such things).
Posit: A flat chested person somewhere between five six and five eight, deep voiced and moderately muscled with a slightly receding hairline, who looks and acts male. Cute. Sexy. He says he has a vagina, although his ovaries, uterus, and breasts have been removed as he transitions from female to male.
What have we here? A woman? A man? Does he enter the festival or not?
Think about this: He is a man, for despite his genitals, he was born male, growing up with the certain knowledge he was in the wrong body. The current shape and location of his genitals is immaterial.
His brain is male, has always been male. Hormone replacement therapy (testosterone) has changed his body to agree with his natural gender identity. Science and medicine will eventually change his genitals to agree with the rest of him.
He doesn’t get in.
Posit: A tallish, small breasted person, husky voiced but having a woman’s presence and sensibility, who moves with an athlete’s grace and confidence. Good looking, even pretty. Sexy. She has a vagina but no ovaries or uterus. In the shower, she keeps to herself as she washes her pussy with soap and water. After she has been at the festival for several days, she confides to her girlfriend in bed that she is a post-op male to female transsexual.
What do we have here? A man? A woman? Does she get thrown out of the festival or not?
Think about this: She is a woman, albeit one who has not menstruated (but there are other women who do not bleed). She was born female, growing up with the certain knowledge that she was in the wrong body. Her brain is female, has always been female. Hormone replace therapy (estrogen) has changed her body to agree with her natural gender identity. Science and medicine have changed her genitals and secondary sexual characteristics to agree with her brain.
People who have transitioned physically and socially are a no-brainer unless the festival gate keepers impose some litmus purity test that weeds out anyone who does not exactly meet their standards of culture, upbringing, ethnic background, and socio-political belief.
But then there are always the racial purists among us, the ones who run the cliques and the oh so exclusive country clubs.
Once we move past the post-ops, what is left?
Posit: A tall, well bosomed person, round of hip but thickly muscled. Their face is carefully made-up, their clothes meticulously chosen. In conversation their voice dominates discussion; in movement their body demands a certain physical space. As they enter the shower, they announce they are transgendered, and drop their robe to reveal penis, scrotum, and gonads.
What do we have here? A man? Woman? Do they get thrown out of the festival or not?
Think about this: This person has chosen to present themselves to the world as a woman but retains a working penis. They were born male, have always been male. If any estrogen is taken, so has additional testosterone to maintain performance. Their womanhood is all surface flash and presentation, a theatrical interpretation of a societal role. If costume and artifice is removed, they can slip away into the male population and disappear.
They should not get in the festival. If in, they should be thrown out.
Posit: A person with Gender Identity Disorder with therapist letter in hand (a pre-op transsexual as they say), early in transition before hormones and surgeries have changed much of anything, the proverbial duck out of water, neither entirely fish nor entirely fowl.
What do we do with the ones between, the changelings who in the process of shifting their bodies to agree with who they know they are?
We could determine that each one seems to be a special case, each needing their own separate determination to see if they should stay or should they go. Take them at their word until proven otherwise.
I would err on the side of science and medicine: they who they are at birth, genitalia notwithstanding, if all things are equal – but they aren’t. Not all therapists are perfectly competent, they make mistakes, misguided non-transsexuals slip through the system. Some people play a good game, wedge themselves into the transsexual designation (we will avoid pop-psych ruminations), and intend to remain permanently “non-op” with minimal hormones (if any) and unchanged and still working genitalia.
The year long “Real Life Experience” that is intended to weed out the delusional and the fakers is not always successful. Problematic men and women wander through the year and make it out the other side without actually finishing transition. Some never completely transition.
When I was in transition, I avoided awkward social situations that would make other women uneasy – that is a part of transition. Yes the pre-op transsexual in transition is a woman, but not entirely, not yet.
That a pre-op transsexual would assume they should intrude unwanted into woman space indicates that transition is incomplete or a failure. They are not yet women.
That a pre-op transsexual and the transgendered would demand entrance to a woman’s space is not what a woman would do in a similar situation. Unilateral demands are not a woman’s process nor is forcing oneself into a group of women who obviously are uneasy and feel threatened by your presence. That is not how a woman lives her life or interrelates with other women.
To assume societal privileges is a male prerogative, not a woman’s. Until proven otherwise, for the safety and security of women as a whole, pre-op transsexuals should not be admitted to a woman’s festival until after their operation.
Pre-op MTF transsexuals should not impose themselves on woman’s space other than for that bathroom thing for reasons of safety. Transition is a process, not a demand to go where you want when you want. If you fit it, you fit in; if not, be introspective enough to discover what you might be doing wrong, find out why women are uneasy in your presence. Process.