Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Passing Priviledge & The "Gold Star" Transsexual

The "classic" or "gold star" transsexual camp is becoming increasingly vocal about their desire to not be included in the transgender rubric. I have read their comments on blogs, Facebook, and other places and one of the common themes I see is the concept of "men in dresses".

Many of us (CD, TG, & TS folks included) feel excluded from lesbian communities for example. Not so for the Gold Star:

And I will add, when I transitioned I was welcomed with open arms into the the local bi and lesbian communities. My experiences run absolutely contrary to the meme that lesbians have problems with women of history, most don't but most do have problems with men in dresses, to put it bluntly.


That last excerpt was a comment to Ashley Love's Facebook post -- "What are your thoughts on the "T" in LGBT Pride Month in June? Please let me know for my research, thanks."

Ashley Love herself has been very vocal on the issue of men in dresses. Her thoughts are worth quoting at length:

Humans have a instinct about them, a sixth sense, they internally register what someone’s gender essence is when they meet them. I will not blame the slow advancement of transsexual women on the men who like to dress up for what ever reason (but will blame it partly on the refusal of some trans gatekeeper’s refusal to initiate internal conversations about this controversial topic in our community that many TS women want to talk about!), and then say they are transsexual, which may confuse society’s education of the entire trans community, which includes transvestites. They can express themselves however they want, and people should just let them do what ever pleases them. But I do believe in DIFFERENT, BUT EQUAL.


A sixth sense, really? I don't believe humans work that way. I think humans are really really good at recognizing patterns spotting things that don't fit a given pattern; such as the gender of another human. Ashley Love is quite beautiful, young and passable; she fits the pattern for "female", there is no "uncanny valley" with her.

Now, it is well known older transitioners, on average, have a tougher time passing than younger transitioners and by virtue of that are far more likely to be labeled as "men in dresses" than those who transitioned young.

So I have to wonder who are the "gold star" transsexuals (incl. Ashley Love) talking about when they speak of "men in dresses". Are they really talking about CDs and TVs OR are they including by fiat older transitioners as well? I believe it's the latter because one other common theme in the "gold star" community; the belief that older transitioners have radically different motivations than those who transition young:

and we all began to discuss about the “older transsexuals” and how odd they seemed to be. It was the much more world-wise Marcella who explained it all, 'They are all TVs that need a bigger fix!'


I've observed that the "gold star" camp seems to be full of "transitioned while young" TS women and I think their thoughts about TGs, CDs, & late-transitioners can be summarized as: 1) CDs are men in dresses 2) TVs are men in dresses, and 3) late-transitioners are really just CDs or TVs that have conditioned themselves past the point of no return.

This is a clear example of prejudice within our own community regarding "not-passable" people. The "gold stars" are out there giving their own testimonies before legislatures across the land and not only does it undermine the message of trans women like Jenny Boylan, but it also reifies the concept of the "wacky" transgender in the minds of lawmakers and the public.

I'm not sure what can be done about any of this, but we really need to start paying attention to these separatists and what they are saying, lest the public starts listening to them instead of us.