So, I’ve been reading a lot of Trans* blogs as I’m doing research for a book. I know that I’ve always heard that there is infighting in the QUILTBAG community, but I have to admit that, from the outside looking in, I’d really mostly seen supportive, politically correct statements.
Well, I take that back. The amount of misogyny in the QUILTBAG community is pretty staggering and depressing at times, and the application of all that gynophobia and internalized homophobia to effeminate gay men is pretty damn disheartening to see at times. I had to stop interacting with a fellow author once because of all of his nasty comments about women and effeminate gay men. (And, no, I’m not naming names, but I also promise that it’s probably no one you know, because he’s only got one book out and it isn’t in the romance genre.)
But, for the most part, the men and women I interact with are incredibly supportive of diversity, various expressions of gender and sexuality across the entire spectrum, and mainly invested in each person’s happiness and right to express themselves as they feel and see themselves to be, regardless of what parts they do or don’t have, or what society says is okay.
So, I was pretty surprised to find that there is a pretty big rift in the Trans* community about, well, penises of all things. I stumbled on a blog–that I’m not going to link here because I don’t really want to stir up any drama or excessive trouble–in which the author, a post-operative MtF woman, ranted and railed against people who represent themselves as trans*women but say they want to keep their penis. Why is that?
As long as you have that thing hanging between your legs you will never be a woman you always will be a Tee-Gee nothing more.
They will never be women, and never be real. It’s a lifestyle for them, Transvestite Extreme.
Wow! Okay, then. Gosh.
Let’s be nasty about it, why don’t we?
From what I understand, the anger comes from a conflict between the transsexual community and the transgender community. The offense seems to be the use of the term Trans* as an all-inclusive, catch-all for transsexual, transgendered, transvestite. The transsexual community position is, and has always been, that once the operation is performed, they are now the correct gender, and are a woman or man, depending on the direction of the transition. Post-op, they are no longer trans.
There seems to be some conflict with the transgender community on this front, because they have a “trans forever” rallying call in which they embrace the way they straddle genders, or flow between them, or live in one and then another, or perhaps fully embrace the entire process of transitioning but still want to identify as someone who had once been another sex biologically.
The concern seems to be that this will affect laws for post-operative transsexuals, reducing the likelihood that they will be able to change their sex legally in various areas, and reducing their acceptance in the world as “real women” (or “real men”, I guess).
Thus, the don’t want to be lumped in with those calling themselves Trans*.
By the way, this is what I’ve gleaned from reading, so if you have additional insight or information, feel free to share it in comments! I’m definitely interested.
Anyway, things have gotten nasty, obviously. What strikes me as kind of sad, though, is the outright dismissal by some transsexuals of the existence of transgendered people, claiming that they are nothing more than Transvestites Extreme–i.e. just people who get their rocks off by really hard-core performances of the other gender. The implication that these people are just playing pretend in order to be cool, get attention, or get off is disappointing, alienating, and, in my humble opinion, incorrect. Gender is fluid and the dysphoria attached to Trans* can be of infinitely many degrees.
There was also a comment about how real women don’t want a penis and how only a man would want a penis. It went on to imply that in order to be a real woman the idea of having a penis must be an awful one, and anyone who wanted to keep their penis wasn’t a real woman at all.
Real woman. Wow. What an idea. Interestingly, women who are born biologically female have struggled forever with what it means to be a ‘real woman’. Are you real if you’re slim enough? Have big enough breasts? Are you real if you’re fertile? Or are you only real if you’re attractive to biologically born males? What makes a woman a real woman? Having a baby? Having a penis inserted into her vagina?
When is a woman real?
I don’t think that a vagina–born or made–is the definition of woman. I think the concept of woman exists in a multitude of forms and I definitely think some of those forms can involve possessing a penis.
As for whether or not a real woman would want to have a penis? Well, as a biologically born female and a mentally/emotionally identified woman, I can say that I wouldn’t necessarily want a full-time penis. But I’m down with a penis I could have, say, two days a week. I can think of all sorts of things I’d do with it. There are several women and many men I’d be happy to apply it to! And, no, I don’t want a strap-on. That won’t do. I want a flesh and blood penis, a set of balls, and a prostate, complete with all the nerve endings. And I’ll take it two days a week, please? Thank you. Where can I pick that up?
But, seriously, women want all kinds of things in life, and who am I to say, “Oh, you have a penis, you’re not a real woman.” What on earth is that about? I mean, that’s like, “Oh, you’re only a real woman if you have a uterus and can carry a child.” Well, then, I guess I’m not a real woman since I had that thing cut out a few years back.
Vaginas don’t a woman make, for what it’s worth.
And, uh, I’m done rambling now. Feel free to throw in your .02 on what makes a woman, what makes a man, and what makes a person REAL.