Trans As Rejection, Trans As Acceptance

Subject: Trans As Rejection, Trans As Acceptance
Date: Sun 02 Aug 1998 - 15:19:40 BST

Is transgender about working to embrace who we are inside, or is transgender
about rejecting the social role we feel limited by?

These two approaches seem to have very different outcomes.

If trans is acceptance of who we are inside, then we also accept the
obligations and responsibilities that come with being a member of society. We
accept our own pain and take responsibility for our own healing. We find our
own balances.

If, however, trans is a rejection of societies expectations of us, then we can
easily also reject all the obligations and responsbilities that come with
being a member of society. We can reject engaging our own pain and blame
others for our own unhappiness, demanding that they change. We reject
balances, staying away from mirrors that might reflect our own

I certainly don't think that every trans-person can be easily put into one
category or the other -- after all, rejection is often useful. As children we
accept everything we are told, as adolesecents we reject and question it, and
as adults, we have to mke critical decisions on acceptance and rejection.
It's the path of dependance, independance and then interdependance. If we
follow all the rules our parents taught us or if we break them all, we are
still controlled by those rules. It's coming to a place where we can make
concious and sensible decisions on our choices, no matter what society says,
that means we become mature.

However, I am concerned about the notion that somehow, overall, trans is a
rejection of social values and obligations, because if it is only that,
transgender will always be a mark of immaturity. We need to go beyond
figuring out that we are not men or not women and move to the much harder
challenge of figuring out what we are and what our calling, obligations and
responsibilities are, to ourselves and to our family/community/society.

C Julian Leonard tells the story of a cousin's daughter who acted trans in her
teens after sexual abuse. "she got over it cuz she got support for dealing
with the abuse, the abuser was a distant cousin and the parents condemned it
and didn't blame her. luckily no one gave her T at 15 and cut her tits and
uterus out. now she's 28 and has a 5 year old she adores and is perfectly
happy as female." This was someone who was rejecting their femalness and
their womanhood because it had made them vulnerble and caused them pain, but
who, with support and by embracing their own pain, found out who she is.

Maybe part of my concern is that so many people on the internet are in their
late teens and early twenties, still a time when one needs to claim
independance by rejection. Unfortunately though, possibly because of delayed
adolesence or the absence of venues for trannies to feel proud of their
contributions to society, many seem to continue trans as a form of rejection
into later years. Do people who refuse to be men or women refuse the
obligations of gender?

Cultures are funny things. They give us a lot, including the freedom to be
ourselves, but in return they demand obligations of us, demand we sacrifice
some freedoms. It's a trade that humans have made ever since they started
living as social animals, and one that has paid off hansomely for the human
race in general -- we have a very high standard of living for a mammal.
Gender is part of that culture, the division of expetations between the sexes,
part of the fundamental social structure. I have heard of many cultures
without binary gender, but never heard of one without gender at all.

So I wonder what the issues are around transgender as an attempt to find ways
to give our gifts, take on our responsibilities in culture in our own special
way as opposed to an attempt to reject society, reject everything our parent's
taught us. can we really build a positive image of transgender, and of
ourselves as transgendered people, until we make transgender a positive,
accepting, thing rather than a negative, rejecting one?



This archive was generated by hypermail 2a23 : Wed 21 Jul 1999 - 18:21:26 BST