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Michelle Begs to Differ: Trans Female Competative Advantage

DisagreeWhile most of the commentary has been very agreeable so far, we do have one amongst us who tends to take the dissenting opinion. This is good because fairly few discussions really need to any new thought when everyone just sits around agreeing with each other all day. I mean what fun is that? Based on the content provided by this person, who remains nameless and allegedly no one I know, my guess is that they fall in line with the RadFem philosophy. As this person, to date, is the only one of that bent who has chosen to comment and presumably read my posts, I thought it would be fair to address a few of their recent points found here. By the way, my guess is that this person is female, but without knowing for sure, I’m keeping it gender neutral.

In my post about Fallon Fox, they made a statement about transgender being a “self-diagnosed disorder” that I thought would be a good place to start. The tone suggested that this is synonymous with “contrived bullshit”. First, this is not exactly true. Transsexuals (I’m leaving cross-dressers out of this for the moment) generally experience a variety of symptoms leading them to seek professional care usually in the psychiatric, psychological, or medical arenas, if not all three. Under the World Professional Standards of Transgender Health (WPATH), the symptoms are evaluated, alternative causes are explored, systematically ruled out if appropriate, and a diagnosis or professional opinion is given. Treatment is recommended, including pharmacological care (hormones), and most patients respond positively.

For the sake of comparison, there are many conditions for which fluid or culture testing, various scans, genetic tests, or exploratory surgery cannot detect and rely on diagnosis by a professional asking the right questions. An excellent example is fibromyalgia. The point is that lack of a current litmus test in no way renders a condition non-existent. Sufficient evidence exists that the WPATH treatment of transsexuals is so successful in alleviating the negative symptoms that many insurance companies are starting to cover this. For-profit entities are hardly known for funneling any money away from shareholder returns without a solid basis of evidence.

Furthermore, I would add that the treatment is sufficiently difficult, if not heinous at times, and hard to obtain that the willingness of individuals to undergo the full regimen must still be less than the debilitating nature of the symptoms. Even the most motivated psychotic or fetishist (both alternative conditions that must be ruled out to proceed) would be hard pressed to complete all stages. All in all, the statement of ‘self-diagnosed’ as ‘bullshit’ simply doesn’t fly in this case.

I also found the statement “trying to beat the hell out of someone who was born female” to be over reactionary. I don’t really understand the motivation of fighting professionals, but it is very clear that anyone who gets in one of these rings does so with an expectation of either beating someone or being beaten. I understood the statement as a condemnation of men employing physical violence against women. The natural reaction, when framing it this way, is “how horribly wrong!”. I think we all agree that violence against women is a real and persistent problem worldwide. This, however, isn’t it. This is not a domestic or other criminally violent situation, but a contest between two athletes, so the only question is whether one has an unfair competitive advantage over the other.

Speaking of which, the statement “Fox has an advantage over most women who were born female” doesn’t have much basis to back it up. Her height (5’6”) and weight (135) are well within the female norm. Her skeletal form contains no inherent advantage and is subject to the same bone density issues experienced by other women her age. The issue of unfair competitive advantage has been thoroughly studied by the medical community and the vast majority of evidence is indicative of there not being one.

Reading through the details, my overall impression is that this person philosophically disagrees with the concept of a non-segregable gender binary. One should be once and forever categorized as only male or only female at birth and that transitional forms of either are fabrications. Here is the thing though; this model, perpetuated in so many societies to essentially make things simple and easy from a religious or bureaucratic point of view, has consistently failed to establish conformity. The model is flawed, and no matter what reasoning, logical or emotional that is used to shore it up, a portion of the population does not reflect the gender marker on their original birth certificate. We exist. We understand many organizations and individuals disagree that this ought to be, but it changes nothing.  We will not cease to be, go away, change our minds, or ever stop in our relentless pursuit of equality.

Comment Responses to “I Hate ‘Transsexual'”

Holy potatoes! I had intended to dedicate today’s post to how the GSA is AOK in my book, but my last post on the word “transsexual” managed to bring out some *strong* feelings in the people who read it. It just wouldn’t be right in my book not to address this, so I’m going to attempt to discuss some of the commentary received on my main blog Michellelianna, my reposting on PinkEssense, personal messages, and of course Facebook. It would appear I jangled a nerve or two. If I miss anyone’s salient point, mea culpa, I’m doing this from memory.

I’m going to start with the easy stuff first. A few respondents became very indignant about being lumped into a generalized category with cross-dressers, female impersonators and such. I was disappointed to see the term “pervert” being thrown about. I absolutely do not agree with this thinking. Yes, I got annoyed when several people asked me if I could “just do this on the weekends”. My irritation was their misunderstanding of my existence, and assuredly not that people for whom this would be an acceptable solution are in any way less than. We are not all the same under the transgender umbrella, but we are equal. As a class so frequently misunderstood, feared, and attacked, I think the very least we can do is show a kindness of spirit, understanding, and inclusion. I’m willing to be proven wrong on most issues, but not this.

On to a topic even easier… I know I used the term “transgendered” and that is doesn’t officially exist anymore than “gayed”. I’ll confess right now. I make words up. All the time actually. Incredibly, I am hardly ever called on it. Here is my thinking: if I make up a word, it fits the flow of what I’m typing out, and people understand what I’m attempting to communicate, it is then a word, “official” or not. I know this irritates the hell out of purists, but chances are I’m not going to stop. I do have a degree in English and I do understand this makes my little habit nearly unforgivable, I also feel all rules are made up and therefore changeable, breakable, and somewhat illusory to boot.

One of the more prevalent types of comment can be boiled down to, “why are we so focused on labels anyway?” That one is more difficult. I do have a lot of thoughts on the matter I’m going to address in a future post regarding why it is so difficult to get anything done (which to summarize, is that I think the trans community is trying to address way, way too many things at once, and currently the notion of “trans community” is an ill defined collection of individuals). For the record, I also don’t think a lot of time should be focused on labels. The intent of the post was to present a slightly humorous look at my personal peccadilloes regarding language. Should I ever have the opportunity to address Congress or even appear on ‘AM Buffalo’ for some reason, I’ll come armed with much more relevant subject matter.

Someone wrote up a long medical sounding description wherein she and I were referred to as “fian Females”. I immediately agreed as my last name is  and I identify as female, so this made perfect sense. Then she totally lost me with a description of nephritic tube formation and I wasn’t so sure. On about the fifth reading I think I understand and agree and concede that fian Female sounds a lot nicer to me than transsexual, which I still find a bit naary.

I received lots of pros and cons regarding the word transsexual itself. The main takeaway was that the ‘sex’ in ‘transsexual’ is not meant to convey libidinous preference, and also that cisgender people often take it that way anyway, making us all uncomfortable. I’ll clarify. My discomfort is not with the word, but with the way people say it that it comes out very lascivious sounding, especially when uttered by Tim Curry or Stewie from Family Guy. I understand a certain segment of the population tends to fetishize our condition, and that is one thing. I just don’t want to give the impression that I do.

I got a very clever reference to the Transgender Borg indicating the eventual assimilation of individualized pockets of trans around the planet that will one day speak with one voice, and hopefully shoot lasers at our detractors. It is certainly an interesting idea, but at the moment it resembles a bunch of cats duct taped together. If it does happen, I call dibs on being Seven of Nine, figuring I have ample time to get my buns in shape.

All in all, it seems like a pretty divisive issue. Some don’t care, some care a whole lot. Some like the standard terminology, and some make my dislike border on apathy. Others offer alternatives that while likable, will probably never go into vogue. I still don’t care for it, but on the same magnitude that I don’t care for orange clothing; it doesn’t enrage me, I’ll never buy it, but I suppose I’ll put it on if there is nothing else to wear and find a way to live with it. Until the Transgender Borg catches me unaware in her hideous pumpkin colored pants suit.

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