In a city nearby there exists a group of females who, having changed sex through surgery, still consider themselves transsexual. They want to hold a celebration, called "Trans Pride" with attendance restricted to others like themselves. Very interesting!
In discussing 'trans' issues with others I find that 'trans' seems to mean different things to different people. Even within our small group I find it difficult to focus on issues because the term is so widely interpreted. Contrary to correct English usage of the prefix, it seems that we, each, want to make our own definition. As a result, we sound like the biblical Tower of Babel, each speaking in a different tongue.
So, just for a moment, I would like to focus on the prefix 'trans'. I use the term ‘prefix’ because, despite our common use of the term as a noun, 'trans' is not a word. It is, according to The Concise Oxford Dictionary, "a verbal element placed at the beginning of a word to qualify meaning." Further, 'trans' is used to connote, "across, beyond, on or to the other side, through, or into a different state or place." In other words, the prefix connotes a state of transition, not one which is fixed. Be that as it may, English is a living language, and 'trans' is fast becoming a word through common usage.
Gosh, I even used 'trans' as a word in the second paragraph of this article! Obviously, if there is no such thing as a 'trans' issue, what I should have said is something like, "In discussing issues concerning transsexuals and transgender people…"
My how we twist verbiage to suit our needs when we do not possess even the basics of the language we profess to speak! If one was to be semantically correct, there is no such thing as 'trans' Pride! Is it any wonder that we are not able to get across to society at large just what it is that we are saying? If we, ourselves, use the prefix as a word, and then assign a myriad of meanings to it — if we, ourselves, cannot make ourselves understood within our own community, — how can we expect society at large to understand us? Just what is 'trans'?
Let’s say that you are travelling from Halifax to Vancouver by air. By definition you are said to be in a state of transition. Once you arrive in Vancouver you are no longer in the air. You are in Vancouver. You are no longer in that state of transition between the two places. Am I getting to something here? You bet!
Using the same analogy if one is in the process of changing physical sex, one is in a state of transition between being anatomically male and anatomically female. Once the transition has been completed one has "arrived". The state of anatomical transition is over. In that sense, a transsexual person is one who is "in between". Once the physical change has been made they are either male or female in the eyes of society. We have a problem with that.
It has been said that it takes more than being female to be a woman. And, of course, the corollary is also true. It takes more than being male to be a man. We in the 'trans' world know that all too well. Society at large seems not to accept us when they find out that we are 'trans' people.
"You may look like a woman and think like a woman, but you are NOT one of us, so don’t think you can invade our space and take over."
"You think you are a man? You haven't got the balls! Ha ha ha!"
So gender enters the picture!
Yes Ma'am! Yes, Sir! Now we're talking 'gender', a whole new 'ball of wax'.
Whereas sex is a physical thing, gender is of the mind, a societal construct. It is without a basis in fact! Yet, recent studies indicate that this ‘mind state’ is, in all probability, hard-wired from before birth, unchangeable, and not necessarily related to the sexual organs with which you first appeared on this planet.
What, then, is a transgender person? Well, by the above definition he, or she, has a gender identity which lies somewhere between man and woman.
The problem with this definition is one which has been laid upon us by the society in which we were raised and in which we now live. Our present day society is based upon the two polar extremes of male and female; a binary construct. Either you are totally male, (whatever that is), or you are totally female, (whatever that is). But those extremes have never been defined. As people generally see it there is no reason to define them. You are either male or female, no need to even make up your mind. Just have a gander at what lies between your legs, silly. What you think you are is totally irrelevant. Indeed, if you think otherwise you are sick!
And that is wherein the societal problem lies. (But that must remain to be explored at another time and place.)
It is quite understandable, therefore, that those who have fully changed from one sex to the other want to blend in with the rest of society’s way of thinking. That way, if fully hidden within society, they are left alone to live out their lives in relative safety. They have conformed to present day society’s rules. They have bought into the bipolar structure. They are perpetuating the very thing that caused them so much turmoil in the first place. But then, they are no longer trapped in the wrong body, are they? They are free to take up a new life, one diametrically opposite to the gender to which they were assigned at birth.
Having reached their goal, are they transgender, really? Well, they could be. But if they considered themselves neither man, nor woman, in the first place I would question the need for a sex change. Put another way, why would one whose gender is somewhere between pure man and pure woman, (whatever those states are defined as), mutilate their body so?
It is my guess that those who undergo a physical change of anatomy, and who still consider themselves as somewhere between man and woman, are those who are in trouble. They are the ones who make statement such as, "You are only a cross dresser. At the end of the day you can change back to being a man. I cannot. How can you understand where I am coming from?"
Logically, if one is a woman, and has changed physical sex to reflect the female, why on earth would they even consider "changing back to being a man" at the end of the day? It is beyond comprehension. And why call attention to one’s self if you want to blend in with the rest of society?
Yes, there are those who still consider themselves transsexual after having undergone a change of sex. Why? My guess is that they are still transgender but do not realize it.
In discussing this issue with one who claims to be transsexual, one who feels that she could not continue in this life without a full transition, she says:
"Many of us proudly identify as TS, and we see power and strength in that identification, for many reasons. My reality is that I am a transsexual woman. That is what I identify as, and what I identify as...who I identify as...are my own concerns and my own concerns only. To suggest that identification as a transsexual woman is somehow inappropriate or selling myself short is missing the real point. It is a powerful, pride-filled identification. I am not "simply" a woman. No woman is. Some women proudly define as feminist women. Others as women of colour. I am a feminist woman and a *transsexual* woman. Unless you identify as one yourself, I can understand how it might be difficult to appreciate the power and comfort and pride in that self-identification as TS."
So now, finally, to the original issue of "pride", "Trans Pride", and in particular "Trans Pride" the way the women mentioned at the start of this article seem to be meaning it. We need to ask, "Just what is it that they are trying to say to society at large? What is it they are saying that they are proud of?" Are they saying that they are proud to be "truly" men or "truly" women? Are they saying that they are proud that they have snuck in through the back door of the other sex? Oops! Did I say "sex"? Did I not mean "gender"? Hmm… I'll leave that for you to figure out.
Is it not time to really examine who we are, as a community, with all its diversity? Is it not time to challenge society with its binary construct? Is it not time to correct the injustices perpetrated upon our community by a society that tries to force us into its bipolar mould? And, what sort of "front" do we need to present in doing so? Is the approach being taken by those so called transsexual women mentioned in the introduction to this article, in particular, the way to go?
Is "pride" in having modified one’s body to represent the sex opposite to that with which they were born the answer? You decide.
You can email me your thoughts about [Trans Pride].