Gender variant? Not me GLAAD, even if you say so

30 Dec

GLAAD has long been considered the go-to resource for discussing what is and is not politically correct as well as what terms are and are not politically correct. As far as most of the GLBT is concerned, they do a good job. Not all of the “T” is in agreement with this notion however because GLAAD apparently has no idea what they are talking about in regards to the “T’ community – particularly in regard to transsexuals. Let’s begin with their own guide.

The GLAAD guide defines “Transgender”  explicitly as an “umbrella term” encompassing people with differing identities. It is not however   an identity on its own. If we then follow the guide to the letter, transgender is not an identity – it is a group of identities.

They then define the scope of  “Transgender” with three categories of identity:

  1. Transsexuals
  2. Cross-dressers
  3. Other gender variant people

Let’s look at this a little closer to get a better understanding. A transsexual person has a defined medical condition. They go through a process called “transition” at the end of which they usually have SRS (Sexual Reassignment Surgery). In some cases there are transsexuals who never get SRS because of major medical complications or severe financial constraints. The group that does not pursue SRS is by and far a minority. A large portion of post-operative transsexuals lead a heterosexual life – but certainly not all – myself included. For the most part, transsexuals want nothing more than to assimilate to their new life and live in a binary gender system. Transsexuals, in fact, go out of their way to live within the norms of their gender. harry Benjamin himself even noted that in all the cases of true transsexuals he encountered, none felt as though they were complete until they fully lived in their proper gender – which included SRS.

Transvestites, which is a term GLAAD poo-poos, are people that dress in the clothing of the gender opposite their physical sex. Transvestitism is defined as a fetish. The reasons people do this vary from wanting to push the boundaries, claims of stress relief, heightened sexual experiences or no reason at all – just because they can. it can be a weekly, daily or annually. It can be as often or little as they choose because it is a choice. Being a transvestite is a choice. Being a transsexual is not. Notice the difference. Transvestites cross dress for kicks basically.

Gender variance is actually undefined. Basically put, it is a person that chooses to present them self in a manner which is inconsistent with the cultural expectations expected of a person of their sex. Call them gender rebels or whatever you want, but this is again something that is a choice. These are people who for whatever reason, want to stand out. They want to be identified as different.

These are clearly very distinct groups of people. transsexuals have nothing in common with transvestites or gender queers in the day to day workings of the world or even medically. GLAAD however is invested in changing this since they define transgender as ““people whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from the sex they were assigned at birth.” In essence, GLAAD does not accept what medicine or the law does which is that upon the completion of a full transition, SRS inclusive, a person is the sex which they have physically and legally attained. To them, being a man or woman is a state of mind. To GLAAD, just saying you are something is enough to be something – at least where sex is concerned.

To further drive home this fallacy, GLAAD states that transgender people may or may not choose to use hormones and/or surgery to alter their body. This is incorrect in that they insist on calling and categorizing transsexuals as transgenders. Transgenders enjoy that choice – transsexuals do not. It is as absurd as saying some gay men choose to be sexually attracted to other men. GLAAD would never say that, but when it comes to transsexuals, suddenly there is a lot of choice in how they medically treat them self.

It is because of this that so many of us have had to fall back on terms like HBS (Harry Benjamin Syndrome), of operative experience, of transsexual experience, of history, or Born transsexual to describe ourselves in a manner which does not fall under transgender. We don’t want to be called transgender because we a re not. As transsexuals, we go through hell and back just to be called male or female. Not transgender, gender non-conforming or gender queer.

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2 Responses to “Gender variant? Not me GLAAD, even if you say so”

  1. Clare Flourish December 30, 2011 at 9:38 am #

    You may be wrong about gender variant or gender queer people expressing a “choice”. I think some people feel oppressed by gender norms in society (Yes, that opens up the question of how much of gender is cultural, how much innate) and feel an androgynous presentation is more truly them: and that “feeling” may have a similar physical/ brain state basis to the transsexual “feeling” that s/he is not of the sex assigned at birth. Do a search for “Neutrois”.

    • mandyf January 7, 2012 at 5:04 am #

      You very well may be correct. I can only work from personal experience, either my own or those I know with varying identifications. I do realize that it is impossible to say all fit neatly into categories, and that we may never fully understand what causes gender identity variance in all categories. My feeling however is that the GLAAD classifications are not well written, nor are they accurate in regard to the manner they portray all gender variance in a seemingly equal way.Sadly, the best way to tell is an examination of the hypothalmus and BSTC region of the brain so far as determining what gender the brain developed as on a chemical level – which is only possible post-mortem at this time. Thank you for your comment and causing me to look at things from another perspective.

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