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Does Gender Transition Devalue The Concept of Womanhood?

gender-equalityGay marriage devalues heterosexual marriage and transgender women devalue the womanhood of cisgender women. Wow, I don’t think I’ve ever started a post on such an inflammatory note! OK, before you get the pitchforks and torches out, I have not gone over to the dark side and still firmly planted on this side of the rainbow. The Oz side, not the dreary black and white Kansas one. We have all heard those types of statement before though, haven’t we? Let’s talk about that for a minute.

The reason I’m writing this is that I just read a CNN article (apparently I spend way too much time there) where someone wrote an opinion piece about the shift of focus on gay marriage opposition. Back in the Victorianesque 1990’s when DOMA and DADT were being championed (oh Bill, how we loved you, but you miserably failed us), the big argument from the right was that homosexuality was a morally and sexually perverse swatch of evil cut from the seat of the devils own britches. It was assumed that the rampant promiscuity and public fornication endemic to the lifestyle chosen by homosexuals would be tarnation and ruination and therefore legal defense was needed for the angelically innocent straights to continue dutifully, but not enjoyably, keeping up the population base.

Cut to now when gay couples simply want to raise two parent families and ensure their spouses have legal right to the Vitamix they bought together, and the story changes. While the notion that homosexuals run around attempting to deviously recruit once stalwart husbands and seduce pubescent boys tends to linger, the right still needs to promote the notion that US law should mirror biblical law, line for line. The new strategy is to claim that gay marriage somehow devalues straight marriage. Seriously. We in the trans community are a little familiar with this. While the vast majority tend to be trans inclusive, or at worst, trans neutral, there remain pockets who feel strongly that the existence of trans women intrinsically devalues the womanhood that is rightfully theirs and theirs alone by birthright. It took me a while to really understand what they were even trying to say because the notion seems so, well, petty.

From strictly my point of view, it seems I have to put several magnitudes greater an effort into achieving even an approximation of what most women have through a good fortune of birth. The idea though that my painful corrective actions in any way diminishes what is really an unquantifiable value for someone else is ludicrous. I think the root of this kind of thinking is pure and simple exclusivity and the level of personal standing people feel they have by attaining this. If Carol has Vitamix and now Nancy down the street also went and got herself a Vitamix, I guess Carol no longer feels like such hot shit because she is the only one who can liquefy an eggplant in 14 seconds. She can still do this, and actually has the professional model which Nancy couldn’t afford, but still, she’d have felt a lot better if there was some kind of law that kept Carol in her place. Yes, by the way, I did actually just buy a Vitamix and excited about it. I assure you though, if every one of you goes and buys a better one tomorrow, I’ll be happy for you and not one bit less satisfied with mine.

That is the real conundrum of this for me. On the marriage side of things, one would think that heterosexual couples would be pretty gratified by the gay push for rights. “Yay! We were doing the most desirable thing all along! How totally validating!” I would think the same of anti-trans RadFems. “Yay! Less men, more super zealous feminists!” They just can’t though, and this goes down in my book of weird counterproductive shit people insist on doing, like hiking 30 feet from the unmarked border of Iran or mixing cement in their beautiful new red Vitamix. Really, go get one; I’d love to share the joy with you.

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About michellelianna

I'm a transgender woman now in the maintenance stages of transition having all the electrolysis and surgery one can reasonably be expected to undertake. While busy exploring my new world, I took to blogging about it with dubiously popular results. I don't have quite as much to say as I used to, but I'm not quite done yet either.

4 responses »

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  2. nobody you know

    “From strictly my point of view, it seems I have to put several magnitudes greater an effort into achieving even an approximation of what most women have through a good fortune of birth. The idea though that my painful corrective actions in any way diminishes what is really an unquantifiable value for someone else is ludicrous. I think the root of this kind of thinking is pure and simple exclusivity and the level of personal standing people feel they have by attaining this. ”

    You just summed up the fundamental issue that entered into the discussion way back when. You are trying to imitate what you believe our experience to have been. In doing so, you (the collective trans* demographic) engages in a perpetuation of stereotypes. For some inane reason, trans* seems to believe that they have to do stereotypical female impressions, and that harms those who have dealt with those same societal demands seemingly from birth and who are doing our damndest to shake those demands.

    Making it worse is that you then essentially posit that the feelings of females in this regard don’t matter. And you really wonder why there isn’t more support for you and yours? Sorry, but that is about as typically male as it gets when it comes to understanding the female of the species. You can ingest all the drugs you want and have all the surgery you want, but it does not unwind your brain nor does it give you the faintest clue what females have dealt with throughout life.

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    • Thank you for commenting NYK, but I see a few flaws in your reasoning:

      You are trying to imitate what you believe our experience to have been. That is not at all what I am saying. Neither collective nor personal experience may be imitated. The concept doesnt even make sense. The effort Im speaking to that you quoted is strictly the attempt to attain physical characteristics that are both in alignment with what my mind is insisting they should be/ should have been, and that will allow me to move about society with the least amount of attention while still being recognized as characteristic of female instead of male. Not the same thing at all.

      In doing so, you (the collective trans* demographic) engages in a perpetuation of stereotypes. For some inane reason, trans* seems to believe that they have to do stereotypical female impressions, and that harms those who have dealt with those same societal demands seemingly from birth This is a prejudicial statement insofar as it extrapolates the traits or behaviors of some individuals across the entire demographic; a practice long discounted as erroneous. Individual behavior is individually accountable. Furthermore, the number of cisgender women who could be considered perpetuating the stereotype is far greater than the entire trans* population. Further yet, I find it highly doubtful that society in general is looking at trans women to shore up any negatively biased stereotypes they have of women in general. Unfortunately, some trans women model their integration into society by adopting ubiquitous stereotypes without an understanding that this may not be the best course of action. Doing so, however, simply perpetuates societal stereotypes about trans women and not women in general. Again, your statement doesnt wash.

      who are doing our damndest to shake those demands. Again, some cisgender women are, some are not. Even if transgender women were to disappear from the plant all together and leave no evidence they ever existed, the magnitude of effort required to shake stereotypical demands would not diminish in the slightest. These demands were conceived of, implemented, enforced, and reinforced by men wishing to retain a hegemony of political and religious power.

      Making it worse is that you then essentially posit that the feelings of females in this regard don’t matter. Nowhere in my post do I posit, essentially, metaphorically, or otherwise that the feeling of females… dont matter. What I am saying is that my position, further elaborated in refuting your other statements, is that trans women are neither the root nor perpetuators of long standing stereotypes. That being the case, the feeling of any given female (because no demographic is truly capable of genuine cohesive groupthink) regarding my transition efforts or any other trans woman is about her own biases and not the trans woman. In sum, what I do does not affect you, nor does it influence the opinion that society or individuals therein have of you. No one judges you or has expectations of you based on what I do.

      And you really wonder why there isn’t more support for you and yours? There has been considerable support for both me and mine, the majority of it coming from cisgender women. The two primary pockets of direct opposition comes from those religiously motivated to enforce a dogmatic view, and a highly specific fringe element of feminism. Oh, and some men who are made uncomfortable by the fact that they dont know whether they are supposed to want to fuck us or not.

      Sorry, but that is about as typically male as it gets when it comes to understanding the female of the species. Simple name calling.

      You can ingest all the drugs you want and have all the surgery you want, but it does not unwind your brain nor does it give you the faintest clue what females have dealt with throughout life. Correct, no one can go back in time and fully experience anyone elses personal challenges. That is universally true, including the fact that no cisgender female may go back and experience the exact same things as any other cisgender female. While some things may be distinctly more true of one demographic, it in no way imparts the particular experience to every member of that demographic. The same can be said for the trans demographic. I can say, you dont have the faintest clue what trans have dealt with throughout life, but that doesnt mean I have personally, nor can it be assumed to be true of any individual trans. In comparing demographic to demographic, however, I think it could be said that cisgender and transgender women have a much higher likelihood of having to deal with degrading, humiliating, abusive, and otherwise demoralizing and dehumanizing events than the cisgender male population as an example.

      To sum it all up, it appears that you are making the case that the existence of transgender women has a significant negative effect on the challenges that women in general face. Is that your stance? If so, Im not seeing the case being made here. In my previous iterations of this discussion with others (or perhaps you, unidentified commenter), from here the argument generally devolves into an attempt to invalidate the overall existence of the trans condition. If so, not to worry, the post Im putting up tomorrow addresses this directly based on some of your comments from the Fallon Fox post.

      All that said, Im sincere when I thank you for commenting. While these discussions may not convince anyone of anything, intelligent debate is a far better way of airing our differences than engaging in some barbaric war, and I greatly appreciate you taking the time to participate in this emotionally charged arena. Peace. ~Michelle

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  3. You could also mention the way that non-ops devalue the womanhood of post op HBSers and the like.

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