Re: Meaning of transgender and all its forms

Subject: Re: Meaning of transgender and all its forms
From: TheCallan (
Date: Tue 31 Mar 1998 - 21:33:04 BST

In a message dated 98-03-31 12:02:23 EST, writes:

> I think it was on another list about a couple of weeks ago that
>there was a discussion of the origin of the word "transgender". I need
>to ask a question in respects to the meaning of the word transgender

>I believe that originally the term was used to identifying one
>who was living in the role of the gender of choice and that it designated
>that one was living as a member of the other sex without wishing to have
>SRS. Those who were seeking SRS were transsexuals.

This definition of "Transgenderist" has been promoted by Virginia Prince.
According to an SSS pamphlet, a transgenderist is someone who is living full
time as a woman but "is comfortable with his genitals and does not want them
changed." I presume that the word "his" is used to allow the person in
question to be seen as a heterosexual man and participate in the SSS structure
that denies entry to self disclosed transsexuals or homosexuals. The Prince
has remained active in SSS, and that means by definition he must be a
heterosexual man, because others are not accepted

The Prince has been very clear that the origin of the term "transgender" is
not from them, and they find it as "meaningless" as the words transvest or

>The tern
>"transgender" did not become popular until the adaption of the term in
>the early 1990s when it became to mean an inclusion in queer culture as
>to specify inclusion such as, gay/lesbian/bi/trans with trans meaning

I believe we saw that it was in resaonably wide use in the late 1980s, for
example in Rennisance in Philadelphia.

>The question that I have is the term transgender a
>philosophical identity rather than a classification identity?
>Just something I am pondering off the top of my head.

I think the issue of what kind of identitites there are is an interesting one.
What do you see the difference between a "philosphical identity" and a
"classificiation identity"?

Is a classification identity one that is assigned to you by others based on
their observation of you and a philosphical identity one based on how you see

To me, the notion of how much identity is relational is key. At the IFGE
conference in Toronto over the weekend, for example, it was asked "If somone
decides that their inner identity is of an eighty foot tall orange fire-
breathing monster, should we be fighting for the law to demand everyone else
see them as that?" Is being not man the same as being woman, or being not
woman the same as being man?

The question of how much identities are claimed by us and how much they are
seen by others observing us is a key question in the fight for legitimizing
transgender. Are we really fighting for the notion that anyone can be what
they claim they are, or is some sort of substantiation that allows others to
actually see them as what they claim they are required?

In any case, I would be interested to know what you see the difference between
classification and philosphical identities to be.




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