Sometimes, when I hear the umbrella term "Transgender" and "Transgender Spectrum" as opposed to"transgender" as in a shorthand way of referring to themself, I start hearing Michael Jackson and the All Stars sing "We are the worllllld, We are the childrennnnnn" I can't help it. My mind just works that way. Oops, too much information........
Though irreverent, it is not meant to be disrespectful of those who are invested in the transgender spectrum concept. Many people I know well and respect both professionally and as friends are heavily invested in this model. Based on the state of the knowlege base, I'm not ready to agree that everyone under the Transgender spectrum concept have a milder or more severe version of my identit as distinctly female. On the other hand while I make my assertion that I believe transsexuals, preop, post op or no op have a fundamentally unique identity and lies within the gender binary,I have enough of a biomedical background that I can generally keep up with the arguements and research findings. I do, as a researcher myself, have an open mind that I could be wrong and am willing to listen and redecide if necessary. It's not an ego thing for me.
Lets take a moment and define what we are talking about. If I use these terms without placing them into the context I use them I would not be communicating very clearly. When I use the term Transgender Spectrum, I am defining this as a set of people who diverse in gender identity. This list includes but may not be all inclusive of:
Gender Queers: "People who identify as genderqueer may think of themselves as one or more of the following: both man and woman (bigender, pangender); neither man nor woman (genderless, agender);
- moving between genders (genderfluid);
- third gender or other-gendered; includes those who do not place a name to their gender;
- having an overlap of, or blurred lines between, gender identity and sexual orientation"
Crossdressers may or may not be the same as transvestites depending who you speak with. There are individuals who identify as Sissies. There are people who identify as fetishists. There are drag kings and drag queens. Intersexed people are included also. This is an area of controversy for people who are intersexed as much as it is for transsexuals, They often contend they are not part of a transgender continuum.
One purpose the transgender continuum serves is to promote a unified theory of etiology from a biopsychosocial perspective. Essentially the concept is that the same thing causes it and it lies on a continuum of relative severity. I use this term because one end of a continuum has to be the most mild in existence and the other end of the continuum has to be the most extreme example of the phemonenon varience in gender identity.
The gender spectrum concept is used also as a sociopolitical mechanism to bring diverse groups of people together for political power. This group has been subsumed in the acronym of GLBTIQ. I have seen proposals to add HIV+ and illegal immigrants to this acrocnym over the past year. This is for the purpose of political gain for each member group by bringing together groups that have not much if anything in common. They are able to exert more political power in this manner, which can be a positive thing, but the social reality is that identities become blurred at the same time. This happens in collectivist movements. This where we begin to lose our diversity again.
It seems to me that a lot of people in the Transgender Continuum camp become upset if you are skeptical of the continum model. They do not agree that transsexuals such as myself and many I know, both male to female and female to male, do not buy into the continuum model of identity. People such as I clearly identify a clear gender identity that has not varied over most or nearly all of their lifetime. Their physical body is incongruent with their sense of being a man or a woman. I have always known I was a girl and then a woman. I have never felt that gender was something that I played with. I never thought of myself as partly male or partly female with alternating unified sense of identities. Some people do. I don't believe that they are the same as a transsexuals. I have never felt that I was genderless. There is nothing wrong with having an alternating identity, or being a cd or a tv or a dq/ dk, being genderless or any permutation of what we refer to as gender.
The existing science sometimes suggests that there is some evidence to support the continuum theory. However there is not enough to prove it and there seems to be evidence to the contrary as well.
Politically, I don't wish to be placed in a collective of people with little in common and in some instances nothing in common, depending on how many letters you want to throw in to your acronym. They may not represent my political views accurately and they may not be the same. It makes it even more difficult for the culture to understand us. The concept that we are all equal under the law is the very basis of the U.S. Constitution. We must recognize that the lack of mention of categories of people means that there can be no denying we all have the same rights in this country. The guarantee in real life is still something that remains to be realized. It is expedient politically to have this collective, but expedient decisions come with a price tag too. Consider this hypothetical conversation:
"So you are a transsexual. Uh, when did you know you were a sissy? Did you figure out you were
gay first or did you crossdress first?"
"Um actually, I'm not a sissy. I'm not gay either....."
"But you're GLBTIQ"....., and we're off to the races!
My issue is about my gender identity. It is not about my sexuality. I haven't the experience of conflict over my sexuality and I don't feel oppressed for my sexual orientation. I do not feel I have common ground with sissies, drag kings or queens, fetishists, and I do not feel that I am part of the gay community. It is true that all of these groups have been and are being deprived of our rights, but being included in this heterogenious group blurs my identity into things it is not.
Like minded transsexuals and intersexed people see each other as distinctly different but we respect that difference and it does not impose a heirarchy at one or the other's expense. Neither should the separateness of transsexual people from others who do support the continuum model. Transsexuals are not better or lower than any of these other identities, we are different. And that is ok. Everyone is entitled to their own identity.
One reason I do not think there are parellels between some identities and that of a male to female transsexual can be illustrated in the sissy identity. I am not a sissy. I am not less than (fill in the blank). I do not feel I need to be humiliated or forced to be who I am. One cannot rape the willing, so to speak. I do not see how they are on the same continuum as I am. I've met several over the years at conferences. Very nice people. I was glad that they were able to be who they are.
In my experience, most CD's and TV's enjoy the experience of spending some time in the opposite gender identity for the experience for a variety of reasons, but they still retain a strong sense of the gender of birth.
These examples are not the experience of a person who never has identified with the gender assignment of birth, whose true desire is to live the life of their internal gender identity outwardly as well as inwardly. Whether it is feasible or not and whether they are able to make any progress in becoming congruent with their internal gender identity, they all have that internal sense of being the opposite gender of their body.
The problem that creates rifts in the gender community is that the transsexual experience is considered unique to transsexuals while, other identitied groups are threatened by the unwillingness of transsexuals to agree they are variants of the non transsexual members' "spectrum".
I do not attempt to say which is right or which is wrong. I merely wish to point out the disparities in identities and identity politics. Each must decide for themself.