Tuesday, September 22, 2015

A rose by any other name still smells as sweet

Dear Parents of Trans kids,

In recent weeks, I've been schooled, as it were, on terminology.  If you're wondering, "Is it transgender or transgendered? Or transsexual?" Or if you're wondering if differentiating is even important...consider clicking on the link below to read an intellectual discourse on the topic.  

Like all important issues, there will always be dissension among the ranks regarding how to best define the issue, or describe the individuals who comprise a given group.  It turns out that there are many layers to this issue but the author, Julia, makes a valid point about not getting too mired up in the terminology. Her perspective is refreshingly objective and illuminating. Give it a read...
 
http://juliaserano.blogspot.com.au/2015/08/regarding-trans-and-transgenderism.html#more

The Author

11 comments:

  1. I read your response to Julia, and ya know, it really matters not what terminology you use in reaching out, because as long as there are no gard definitions, the language of "trans" is going to be in a state of flux for a long long time. The important part here is the outreach rather than the particular words.

    For instance, I got the strait dope on transgender directly from its author, Virginia Prince... and yes, it was meant as a conflating and confusing term from the get go... and knowing it's author and the misogyny and homophobia behind it? My skin crawls ever time the term is applied to me... That said, how many others have this same knowledgeable? I'd dare say not many, and besides, Virginia Prince has been dead now for over a decade and the term has taken on a life of it's own well past its authors intent. It's meaning, changing and growing with time.
    So if a kid is labled trans, or gender variant, or transgender, or whatever... any discussion about the terminology can come later, after the crisis has passed...

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  2. I read your response to Julia, and ya know, it really matters not what terminology you use in reaching out, because as long as there are no gard definitions, the language of "trans" is going to be in a state of flux for a long long time. The important part here is the outreach rather than the particular words.

    For instance, I got the strait dope on transgender directly from its author, Virginia Prince... and yes, it was meant as a conflating and confusing term from the get go... and knowing it's author and the misogyny and homophobia behind it? My skin crawls ever time the term is applied to me... That said, how many others have this same knowledgeable? I'd dare say not many, and besides, Virginia Prince has been dead now for over a decade and the term has taken on a life of it's own well past its authors intent. It's meaning, changing and growing with time.
    So if a kid is labled trans, or gender variant, or transgender, or whatever... any discussion about the terminology can come later, after the crisis has passed...

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  3. Miz-as always, your points are spot on. I was glad to come upon this out of worry that I had inadvertently misinformed readers whose kids are coming out. Between your voice and Julia's, I think parents will be well informed. Thanks- The Author

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  4. My rejection of transgender stems from feeling that my gender identity has never actually changed. It's been solidly feminine my whole life. I transitioned before "transgender" really became a thing. People who transitioned were transsexual. When transgender started being used, I didn't feel very comfortable, as it was like people were telling me "well, you're really male, but we'll allow you to be a feminine male", and that's just not how I've ever felt. I've always seen transgender as a cis view of transsexual people, and subtly invalidating as a result.

    My gender is female. Has been ever since I was a toddler and developed a gender identity. I've never transed my gender. I have, however, transed my sexual characteristics, through hormones and surgery, so I'll cop to being transsexual.

    Of course there are many people who don't feel as I do. There are many people who feel that their gender has changed, and that's perfectly valid for them. Similarly there are plenty of people who haven't really thought hard about the whole thing and just go along with the labels that are pushed onto them by others. That's fine too, but education is good.

    It's problematic though when people do force labels on others when the people reject the label, and that happens quite a lot in the whole tag/ts thing.

    Anyway, lovely to meet you. I wish you and DJ every success.

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    1. Natasha, you make some points that frankly, I just didn't "get" until recently regarding the terminology. Like you, DJ's gender was always female too and your description of why the TS moniker makes more sense than the TG moniker really made sense to me. Her gender didn't change, but her secondary sexual characteristics (a term used in healthcare the world over) did...so yeah, the TS terminology makes eminently more sense to me now. I'm learning how the TS term came to be morphed to the TG term and it's a bit unsettling. However, let it be known that when parents are attempting to help their kids, TG is the term that is so commonly employed as the "umbrella" term that cis parents of TS kids often end up utilizing the TG term because that is what is is inherent in the sources currently available. NOW I know how the TG term came to be used to disenfranchise true TS people, but I'm five years into learning. That being said, and in light of your last paragraph, hopefully people who comprise the TS community can understand that among the parents of TS children, much of the cis use of TG is due to pure ignorance, of the most innocent kind. And ignorance actually IS an excuse for them-their hands are full trying to help their kids. But I'll certainly do my part to educate in my tiny obscure sphere of influence. Thanks so much for sharing your perspective-it really made the concept click for me. Thanks-The Author

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  5. Hi PJ,
    The terminology used can become a very convoluted issue. "Transsexual" is a term has been badly bastardised by many different groups, (Most detrimentally by the pornography industry), to the point where those whom it was introduced to represent now have no control over it and really no way of reclaiming it.

    So, we've learned that the only real way in which we can now make a difference to struggling parents and girls like DJ, is to do so quietly, and by means of private/personal correspondence.

    Even then it is very difficult for may reasons

    Firstly, most parents are very afraid for their child and where that child might end up, they don't know who (if anyone) to trust and it is (initially) beyond the parents wildest dreams that the child may stand some chance of a relatively normal well adjusted life as the sex opposite that of their birth. (if this ends up being what the child needs)

    Secondly, in order to gain some level of trust with the parent, we often must share very personal details about ourselves and our lives and also find a way to make those things (somehow) verifiable for the parent.

    These things can be very difficult for us, as there is often much personal trauma associated with them, and additionally, we can't really know that our lives and privacy (which we've suffered tremendously to have) will be kept in confidence.

    Add to that, that due to most (average) people’s ignorance (as you’ve observed) to our situation, it means that for the “privilege” of trying to help we get to suffer seemingly constant insult and indignities, there isn’t really any incentive.

    It takes patience and it's a VERY big risk for us, it’s much easier and safer for us to keep out of things and get on with our own life.

    Overall what that means is that whether we can actually help or not depends largely on the other person’s attitude.

    If we do try to make contact and help, then more often than not it is because we see something in the parent and/or child that reminds us of when we ourselves where young scared girls who desperately wanted someone to help us.

    I know that you must realise I still watch your blog, and I watch DJ from a far. Watching her succeed is my pay off.

    I do wonder what has brought on your reemergence from (blogging) obscurity, I could guess at a couple of motives but I won’t here, I really just wanted to say that if there’s anything you did want to discuss I’m still happy to listen, and that I think you’re worrying too much, the world has a way of putting the people we (each) need in front of us in the times when we need them the most.

    The words don’t matter as much as you might think, what matters more is that parents love their children, and seek out the very best that they can for them, be skeptical! don’t believe everything you’re told, even if it’s a supposed “expert” who’s telling you, question EVERYTHING listen to your child, trust yourself and your “gut”.

    Above all I wish us all “peace”

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    1. Anonymous-I love all that you shared here and I thank you for all of it. You are absolutely correct about what parents experience and your ability to describe your experience is of enormous value. I just wish more people knew about the dynamics you describe. As much as I'm able to, I understand the need for utmost privacy and am reviewing whether or not I've taken the appropriate steps to guard my personal privacy-primarily because one my identity is discovered, it would not be difficult to discover the identity of my beloved daughter.

      I've come to understand how many people "watch DJ from a far" and am grateful for it. Parents of TS children would benefit from knowing that there is a pool of people who do what they can to help, and help simply by their hoping for happy lives for the kids who face the challenges that they once, and in some ways, still do, face. For parents who read this blog-without intending to frighten you: but pay close attention to the last paragraph, in particular-it's chock full of sound advice and wisdom from a person who knows first hand.

      And yes, Anonymous, your wish for "peace" for us all is well taken and I wish the same, and for you personally. :) The Author

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    2. Some thing else (which I didn't really consider until now) that I think might be worth adding to the above comment (for the sake of parents/mothers who might be seeking "hope") is that it also gets more difficult for us to help as time passes in our own life.

      That is not because we don't want to or because we're not here, but rather, because (like most women) we soon end up with a boyfriend/husband, and for some of us even children, so like most women, the amount of time left free to invest in helping becomes limited.

      What I think (on a personal level) I would like very much, is to (someday) be able to help parents/mothers with a TS child as someone who could relate to them as a parenting "equal".

      Will that ever happen?

      Maybe.

      Many probably will look at me and think that I couldn't understand because I didn't birth the child myself.

      I guess again, (like most things in a TS's life) that it comes down to the attitude of the individual we're trying to interact with.

      I hope you're well PJ

      Rachel

      P.S

      She's magnificent.

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