Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Addendum: "Out" is third-sex
With increasing visibility of people born transsexual (as well as gender-variant people) in the media, people probably think they know who and what people born transsexual are. In fact, they don't. Or rather, they know only about those born transsexual who are willing to "out" themselves, to be public, and to discuss their lives.
People, we live among you, and you don't even know it.
One of the fundamental divisions is not between those born transsexual and those who characterize themselves as transgender or some variant of that label, but rather between those who are "in" and those who are "out." Never shall the twain see eye to eye. And never shall the general public know any more about people born transsexual than they can learn from the "out" segment of the population.
I don't know if those who are "out" are a minority or a majority. I suspect the former, but how can anyone tell when the rest of us are virtually invisible, except for a few blogs written under pseudonyms? Those blogs, read by few and unlikely to be read by the general public, are the only way we can show what our lives are like, lives in which we simply live as the women and men we are. There is no "trans" in our lives. We do not go on television to tell people our former name, to show old pictures, and to discuss what our transition was like. Our stories are never told in articles in the Huffington Post. The only stories that are told are of people who are "out." And that means the picture is fundamentally skewed, or at least incomplete.
Take a look at that section in HuffPo, which falls under "Gay Voices" (a red flag right there). If it seems fine to you, then you have no idea who and what we are.
And yet most of us will not compromise our privacy. Because as soon as someone knows you were born transsexual, even the most enlightened person will see you just a little bit differently. They will, in fact, see you as different in that particular way, even if it really has nothing to do with your current life. They will always know that you were assigned a different sex at birth and brought up as a child of that sex. Even most of those who are reasonably enlightened have no idea that we have had to deal with a congenital disorder.
As for the unenlightened, the majority of people, forget it. They will show no mercy. Most of the comments about Miss Universe Canada contestant Jenna Talackova, a strikingly beautiful young woman, were disgusting and ignorant. And those are only the ones that the online sites allowed to be published.
People born transsexual who are public about their birth defect seem to think that being visible helps understanding. So far, that seems not to be true. I imagine it might change a few minds, but for the most part, anyone who is public is seen as a freak. The beautiful ones are called fake. The not-so-beautiful are "men in dresses." People born transsexual who are "out" might have correct sex markers on all their documentation, but by being open, they basically "third sex" themselves. Any understanding this engenders is fundamentally flawed.
That means that the people who watch documentaries and interviews and read articles will never know what the lives of most (I think it's most) people born transsexual are like. They know only about the "third sex" types. I'm guessing most people would be surprised to know how normal our lives are. We wouldn't make good TV or compelling reading. We're just not that unusual.