Re: SRS: Not a Panacea?

Subject: Re: SRS: Not a Panacea?
Date: Sat 07 Feb 1998 - 15:14:27 GMT

In a message dated 98-02-07 04:53:26 EST, writes:

>She by far is not the only long-term post-op my gf and me have run into who
>shared the experience that after a few years they began developing a more
>critical attitude (which does not mean that they necessarily were
>regretters and wanted to transition back) which led to serious conflicts
>between them and the mainstream TG community :( As if acknowledging that
>for some people surgery is not too beneficial implied that it wasn't for
>others, too.

I think that the dream of surgery as a magic bullet, as a cure-all solution,
is so well defended by so many for so many reasons, but the reality is that
changing the body is a detail, not the heart of change. The dream is for a
new presence, a new relationship with the world, and a new genital
configuration sure doesn't guarantee happiness.

I am always struck by the constant plaint of humans: "If only I was _______,
my life would be perfect." We persist in these imaginings even when we know
people who are ______ (rich, female, white, married, managers, whatever) and
know that their life is not perfect. I think it's part of the consumer
mentality, that somehow if we just get something else, aquire something, we
can be happy.

For people who think, as Kate Bornstein says, "because I am not a boy, I must
be a girl," somehow being female seems to be an answer to all the problems.
This is the rationalization they hold, and that the convoluted rituals
described by the Benjamin Standards Of Care seem to reinforce, that if we just
run the course, once we cross the finish line with a neo-vagina, life will be

Of course, that's not true. If we knocked some male on the head and performed
SRS on them, they would not be a woman. Many, if not most, transsexuals have
found that the gender change, the learning a new role, the developing a
relationship with the world as a woman, is much more important than what is in
their panties.

Yet, these rationalizations are zealously defended by many people who have had
the dream of being female for years, and want to believe that SRS will cause
an end to the pain of being isolated, liminal and closeted that they have felt
all their lives. While people are often calm in the face of threats to take
away things that they know cannot be removed, people kill to defend their
rationalizations, because they know how fragile they are, that their
rationalizations can be taken away from them and they will be forced to gaze
on a painful truth once again. This is how many transgender males feel about
the promise of SRS: "Nobody is going to tell me that this alone won't ease all
my pain!"

Even after surgery, it's very hard to find people who want to talk about the
reality of the expreience. I recieved a mail from someone who read my post on
a newsgroup, saying "I am three years post-op and there are still issues. But
everytime I raise them I am shouted down by people who want to keep the
illusion alive. Keep talking about the challenges, because I really need
space to talk about how to build my life."

>And indeed large portions of her writings are devoted to the
>topic that there isn't a "one size fits all" solution to so many other
>aspects of life, too. I think her feelings have to be taken seriously and
>she deserves support instead of belittlement. At least this is my
>idiosyncratic understanding of what a community should be in the ideal world.

I have real issues with the word "community" and what it means.

To me, community is about a group of people with shared goals and interests.
What the interests are is rather clear when we all live in one geographic
area, and want a safe, clean and healthy place to live, although even then
there are conflicts about goals.

The interests that tie the "transgender community" together are rather less
clear. For many, they want a safe space to pursue their dream of changing
sex, and people who speak up and say that changing anatomical sex is not the
solution, even if it is a fine option, are not vaulable in that goal. For
others, they want a safe space to open their wounds, celebrate their pain,
talk about what they desrve, and people who speak of individual responsibility
for creating our own lives, even in the face of social stigma, are not
valuable in that goal.

I know many people who are transgendered, but I'm still not sure I have seen a



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