Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A guest post

                                                                     The Truth Hurts

When I posted essays on my blog Cassandraspeaks I was very keen to present the truth as I saw it and not to “pretty things up”. It didn’t make my blog a popular read for most TG’s and I am sure made a lot of self identified TS’s feel uncomfortable. An obvious fact about life changing transitioning is that whatever the out come the effects are permanent and are indelible on and within a person’s life as well as upon those whose lives we touch and affect. Of course that is stating the obvious. I don’t believe for a second that anyone begins such an action without first giving at least a modicum of consideration to the effects their actions will have on family and friends alike. That effect will always reflect back at the transitioner both emotionally and practically. The most damaging aspect though are the actions, thoughts and words spoken that a transitioner does not hear, either because they do not want to hear or because they are said out of their earshot and presence.

One of the things that I experience, living as I do in total anonymity, is the private reactions of people, friends, acquaintances etc. as well as my own husband, to the occasional news story or documentary involving transsexual, or transgender for that matter. In the course of my work I have encountered three transsexuals (that I know of) in the last 15 years. There may have been others of course and I have not known but isn’t that the point? I mean, if as so many claim and this was certainly true in my case while growing up, that we are indeed female, why would we look or behave any different to other women or appear distinct from other women. All I/We ever sought or asked for was to be treated in the same way all other girls were treated. I certainly experienced the same desires as other girls in that I longed for the boys I liked to take my hand when we walked together and steal the occasional kiss and even kiss me farewell when we parted. I yearned and dreamed of the courtship, a wedding, a marriage and yes, sex. When the issue of transsexuals come up in conversations today or in a documentary or news story or even a chance encounter with a transsexual, I get to witness the unedited, uninhibited and honest reaction and usually “politically incorrect” views of my friends and acquaintances. I always stay out of the ensuing discussion since I am neither courageous nor stupid.

There is a striking dichotomy that people around the blogs will almost certainly find uncomfortable but dichotomy there is; it is undeniable and you can be certain it exists. It exists, despite, what is it now, more than 30 years of transgenderist activist’s attempts to “educate Joe Public” Joe Public remains stoically of the opinion that they don’t “get” transgender at all. Yet 40/50 years ago they did indeed “get” Christine Jorgensen, April Ashley, Caroline Cossey, Adele Anderson and more recently Kim Petras. The list goes on but I think you get the picture. The actions and behaviour of what might be termed “marginal transsexuals” has in no way benefitted transsexuals who experience transsexuality in its most intense form. In a manner very typical of male attitude towards women we are expected to “put up or shut up” for the greater good of the more masculine and less intense transsexual. I have to ask is that fair and reasonable? I think not. On the other hand I don’t believe less intense transsexuals should “put up or shut up” either but their actions and behaviour have made things worse not better. One only has to look at the history to see that things have indeed become worse not better. In Britain, up until the Corbett v Corbett case birth certificates were quietly changed and our marriages legal. Not that April Ashley was in any way a marginal transsexual but taking the issue public changed the law and it was not for the better good. This is just one instance in what amounts to a litany.

So what is going on here and what exactly is the dichotomy that I witness? My friends were unkind about Stephanie Anne Lloyd (in UK) they were extremely unkind about the Aussie retiree who loved to sail Australia’s West coast and it has to be said, in some amazing outfits. They speak their mind to me and once the subject of the conversation approaches, they immediately adopt a “politically correct” stance. I am sure a great many of you will deny that this happens to you and that everyone accepts you as you are. Yes, sure they do; to your face but once your back is turned and you are out of earshot the numbers of your detractors escalates. I hate to tell you this guys but I have witnessed it. This happens; believe me although I cannot tell you it makes me happy. Interestingly the likes of Kim and Holly (the young girl who was the subject of a documentary recently) they “get” they understand. Even Niki Araguz up until the revelation of Niki’s criminal past and behaviour they understood that she could well be, a woman born with some medical issues. Were it not for the fact Nikki was pre op when she tried to marry, people would have supported her.

What people don’t understand and will probably never understand or “get’ is someone who after 30 years plus of marriage and fathering multiple children suddenly claim they are women and have always been women. “Undercover woman” is a phrase that had me rolling on the floor laughing when I first heard it. Credit where credit is due transvestites can come up with some doozies when it comes to excuses for late transition. They can also get extremely aggressive when challenged on the validity of their claims to the transsexual condition.

I’ve said this in the past but it will not hurt for me to say it again, I feel a great deal of sympathy for transvestites and the transgendered because it seems that there is no cure for them, while transsexuality is cured by a successful transition that includes SRS; transgendered or “super transvestites” to all intent and purpose get trapped in a “no man’s land” between the binary that is male and female. Many TG’s appear to do an imitation of the whirly twirly bird whose sole defence is to fly round and around in ever decreasing circles until it disappears with a slight POP and puff of blue smoke up it’s own rectal orifice from which safe abode it hurls abuse and excreta at it’s pursuers which in most cases is transsexuals who are protesting at the theft of their once valid and exclusive narrative.

Speaking personally now I emphatically do not hate any individual transvestite and neither do I hate the transvestite paradigm. I find it interesting however that as a collective multiple terns and so called identities have been created that are supposed to separate an individual from the term. “Crossdresser” “Gender Queer” the list seems endless and I have to ask why. What is it about transvestite that they find so objectionable or distasteful that a new term needs to be created, Not simply one term but an array of terms with apparently quite different aetiologies. 

I’ve stopped presenting parts of my life and past events as illustrations of points I wish to make for a reason and that reason relates to the accusation that I base my opinions on my own life and if others don’t conform I reject their validity if it does not parallel my own. The reality is that I’ve witnessed a lot of successful transitions and proud to say that a high percentage were successful as a result of my counsel. A successful transition has only one valid measurement and that is; is the individual happy and self perpetuating? Has the damage caused to the lives of others the transition affects been either minimised or reparations made good. Along with a caveat that transition is for the right reasons i.e. honest and the candidate is not making false claims I would not be critical. So often though, the holes in the claims made, are large enough to drive a double decked bus through. Those of us who experienced the symptoms of type VI or high intensity transsexuality can see the absence of truth from a distance of ten miles or more. I will not tell you why because your stories would all change each and every one of you. The anonymous internet I.D “She Said” has asked for documented proof of how original narratives have been co-opted by present day transitioning individuals. The examples are legion and it surprises me that academics have mistaken the repetitions and economies with fact, for consistent or common traits in a syndrome. How often do these academics either bother to check stories with relatives or their friends? Admittedly the task would be time consuming and not an easy task. There is neither money nor glamour in research on this subject.

Let us for a moment take a look at just one statement made in Jan Morris’s Book on her life “Conundrum” published in 1974 She states often that she is a “Woman trapped in a man’s body” and ever since that time the phrase has been trotted out each and every time you read about a transsexual. I have never used the phrase in reference to myself and when I first read the phrase in the book did not relate to it in any way. The reason is simple; until the age of six or seven I had no idea I was not a girl not because my Mother or Father treated me like their daughter in any way it just never occurred to me I was not a girl. When I did realise the physical aspects of sex difference I desperately wanted to be like other girls. This was what I explained to the very first psychiatrist I was able to consult. All the other women like myself I have ever encountered (there has not been that many it has to be said) have come at the issue from the same angle I did. We share other similarities in the way our attraction to boys and males affected development during puberty. My own puberty was virtually non existent. No growth spurt no voice change and certainly no development of muscle mass.

Time and again however we hear this Jan Morris conundrum phrase “Woman trapped in a man’s body” It’s the one the medical professionals seem to long to hear and yet I don’t place much significance to it as a diagnosis tool. Neither do I place much store by the policy that says the patient is transsexual if they say they are. I don’t believe in reparative therapy either. I am also aware that often transition and even surgery on some marginal patients will result in a person living useful and happy lives if they can find a tolerant niche in society. A tolerant niche in society is not what transsexuals who fit the Benjamin type VI mould seek however! Full acceptance as the women we are and no, 90% will not do even 95% feels inadequate. It is this factor that will often tell you which intensity you deal with. Intensity in whatever way you view or measure it is paramount in deciding where a person lays and what type they are.   

To all intent and purpose the ideological war that raged between transsexuals and transgender (transvestites) is over and most have accepted that transsexuality is indeed an independent and separate paradigm. However what we now are beginning to witness is very similar to what I saw in the UK during the mid 80’s and that was transvestites who have become so hooked on the narcotic that is transvestism they have begun to call themselves transsexual and not transgender. Those who would once have identified as transgender are now seeking to redefine transsexuality in order to make themselves fit. It will be done with the change of term here and the change of term there and the use of “political correctness” and censorship of genuine transsexuals or detractors. In fact if anyone cares to read T Central right now the nature of how the censorship will appear can be seen in all its glory. If someone claims they are transsexual and another person for whatever reason the detractor will be in effect deemed to be making a personal attack and will either be barred or the comment relegated to where it will not be seen. Neat isn’t it!  

So the TS v TG war is not in point of fact ended but has simply entered a new phase.  It isn’t a war in the strict sense of the word no one is firing missiles or shooting at each other unless you care to describe vitriol as missiles. I described the TS v TG war as a “War of Independence” It was a battle transsexuals won ideologically speaking. This new phase is essentially colonisation and migration in other words “theft” of the condition itself. I believe it will be no less a fight for all that.


Anonymous said...

GREAT POST! Telling it like it IS!

Thank You


Rhiannon said...

I feel slightly nervous in replying if I'm honest - I have seen the ill-feeling this issue has created and I don't know enough to be able to comment on it. Whilst I've felt like 'not a man' or a girl (I'm not altogether sure) my whole life, I was not brave / tortured / wise enough not to just pursue the 'normal' route of a 'normal' man. I wish with all my heart that I could turn the clock back and have stepped up and taken the route you took. Maybe I still wouldn't because it takes a lot to get me off my large butt.

But the person of integrity in me just wanted to say that I've been struggling to follow the arguments and to understand why people were getting so vexed. But this article was really helpful in putting the position across - it was very helpful in giving me an understanding of your viewpoint. Thank you!

Forgive me as I'm on journey to try to gain greater personal understanding and insight. Plus I'll probably get shot down here, but it made something occur to me.

I doubt whether I will ever be able to transition - life circumstances, ravages of time etc. But that in some ways our collective compassion needs to be extended and directed towards those of us who unable to be cured...and who "to all intent and purpose get trapped in a “no man’s land” between the binary that is male and female". What do you do in this trap - according to the blog society is just judging us and will never understand but the pressure is created by the fact that the more you dress (even if it's a narcotic) the more you want to and then the more you need to. I can really understand why someone after a long time of dressing and behaving like a woman would want to take it a step further. Whether their motive or condition is correct, I can still understand the desire. Sometimes when you are in limbo land that you just need to do something and that just because society talks behind your back, doesn't mean they are right.

The only thing that I really didn't understand from the blog was why the issue is important? The arguments explain the issues really well, but I still don't understand why it is so important to make the distinction? Is the point that it reflects badly on 'true' transexuals if 'transvestites' or 'transvestites who are convinced they are transexuals' go out and about pretending they are or actually thinking they are a woman? Or is it just a semantic point that people don't want to have the same labels when they feel differently? It would really help my thought process if you can explain why the argument is the important one to be having.

Sorry if I haven't used the right words, I'm am just trying to get my head around the issue.


Anonymous said...

@Rhiannon; if the article has helped your understanding in anyway I am glad. The ill feeling is caused largely by those who seek conflation. You ask a fair question and I'll do my best to answer.

First off on a personal level as things stand right now, how the rest of the world views transsexuals will not affect me in any way shape or form. As far as my whole day to day world is concerned I am a woman and a wife who did not have children. Should my history ever become public I would prefer it if the image that came to mind was one of women like me and not someone like, well to quote an extreme example, Dame Edna Everidge. OK the satirist Barry Humphries alter Ego is neither transvestite or transsexual but a "drag" charector but a large portion of the population do not see a difference because the image of others who claim the transsexual condition is not much different to Dame Edna. No offence is intended towards you by the way!

Another reason is the probability that incorrect treatment is prescribed by clinicians raising the probability that multiple lives are adversly affected for wrong reasons and may not have been necessary in the first place. Conflation affects transvestites as badly as it does transsexuals, if TV's did but know it. Consider the scenario of a transvestite who has no intention of transitioning ever (and there are a great many of those)who is "discovered" by his partner. If his wife believes the TG dogma she may never be convinced her marriage is not in danger.

The main point concerns how so many of those who adhere to TG inclusive dogma is the way they seek to drag everyone towards a homosexual identified descriptive. Implying that transsexuals are simply a more extreme version of gay. Many TG's present arguments that surgery is unecessary when for a transsexual the cure that surgery represents is life saving it is that vital. We wish to put as much ideological distance between these concepts as possible.

I hope that answers your question.


Anonymous said...

I just realised I did not address your personal situation and dilema. I'll try to do that now.

Of course society talking behind someone's back does not mean it is the right thing to do however it will happen and there really isn't much anyone can do about it. The point I failed to make well enough in the article is the fact that while people are "politically correct" to your face behind your back and out of your sight and earshot they are as likely as not laughing like a drain!

For your personal feelings Riahannon I'll say this; if your need is such that you are absolutly compelled to begin transition (and it doesn't sound like you are;) See a psychiatrist and talk it over with them but first look to yourself and your feelings with brutal honesty. Maybe try a weekend away from time to time while testing the water do it as if transitioned. See how you feel about it. However if your attitude is one of "I doubt I'll ever get off my butt and do it" the chances are you are not going to make a full or successful transition. More importantly it isn't likely you are transsexual or that you would get from trnsition what it is you require. Talk these issues through with a current practising counsellor experienced in the field, I no longer practise and am no longer registered.


Rhiannon said...

Thank you so much for your replies - you explain it really clearly. And I agree that Dame Edna really doesn't do any of us any favours on any level. I can completely understand the distinction between wanting to take the next step because its a logical conclusion, 'feels right' or just is available and because actually having male genitals makes you repulsed or completely confused by your own body. The difference between need and want is a compelling argument for me.

My 'laziness' point was slightly tongue in cheek but is made with a specific thought in mind: if I had my time over again, I think I would do things differently? It is easy to say, 'of course' but knowing that I have never been brave enough to not worry about what others think about me, no matter how torn up inside I am, I'm not sure whether actually I would be brave enough. This, by your definition probably precludes me from needing to change anyway as I probably by my own admission haven't wanted it enough. Yours is a fair enough conclusion on that basis.

My dichotomy is that I have spent the last 30 years wishing every day that I hadn't been born male. Some days it completely consumes all of my waking moments. But it feels like I've missed the boat anyway - from my outsiders viewpoint I think transition is hard enough anyway when you can pass, let alone when you are resigning yourself to never fool anyway for your whole life. If you know that out of eye and earshot you are being ridiculed, you have to consider whether its worth putting up with, even if your situation makes you that unhappy. My feelings vary from day to day which is probably another reason not to transition.

Sorry, I'm rambling. I only meant to post a thank you. Ooops. I appreciate you are not counselling any more and I'm not asking for any, but I appreciate that your views have helped move my thinking forward.

Its not, but even if your blog was purely there is an exhortation to 'brutally' and honestly examine yourself and your motivation before taking that step, then its worth it.

Dawn1257 said...

I get what you're saying Cassandra. I really do. Yet, while I have some basic disagreements with your assumptions (only in my case); because of something that happened to me personally over the past weekend which really opened my eyes to not only how vulnerable women are, but also a transsexual women as a specified target; this has altered my position about the "openness" one should afford.

Not wanting to direct the focus of this at me, I wish to offer that if one is transsexual, when transition is made, going into a 'quiet' life is the safest and best route to take. And, not simply from the standpoint of the social binary.

Being open, or more accurately in my case, known, about your transsexual history and/or past can not only facilitate rhetoric of ridicule behind your back, if not in front of your face, it can also leave you exposed to actual physical harm. As a woman, you're already a potential victim for such at a much greater ratio than that of a man. Yet as an exposed transsexual person you've now taken on an even higher risk of something horrible occurring.

Just more food for thought.

Elizabeth said...


What happened to you Dawn?

Dawn1257 said...

An ex-employee who was showing interest in me right after I began transition, and whom I THOUGHT I had made clear I have no interest in him, started leaving messages on my business machine about what he was going to "do" with me. He also made comments about "removing" my wife from the picture so that he could have his way.

It was quite graphic and disgusting. 22 separate phone messages in one day. And, I have good reason to believe he was watching me for most of that day. I kept the messages, called the police, they had a talk with the fellow, he admitted that he did in fact do this, and supposedly he is "not going to contact me again". Well, if he does, Colt and I have been practicing!

Kathryn Martin said...

I live in a society that is quite politically correct. It is mellow on social issues and cruelty towards others in the social realm is ostracized through social "behavior modification" if you will.

I keep my own counsel about people behind their backs. I have issues with how people dress, let themselves go, lack reflection etc. My opinions of people are often hurtful and outright cruel. I do not believe that I am a exception, but rather the rule. I have strong opinions about crossdressers, transvestites and transsexuals the majority of which I can spot with a glance or two, no matter how well adapted or passing they may be.

What I see differs significantly depending on whether they are transsexuals, or gender variant.

For me that issue with persons of transsexual history is always if there is something in their appearance that tends to distract from their life as a woman. Will they allow their appearance and conduct as a person distract from their purpose in the life they live.

Your article, Cassandra is great. I find of particular interest the passage of stolen narratives, because fundamentally, human beings are likely to lie "into their own pocket" as a German saying goes.

On December 6th, 2010, I wrote this as an introduction to a post about "Re-writing History or the art of being true to yourself":

"We all have an external and an internal narrative. They are not always the same in that the external narrative often will contain the rationalizations of our internal narrative. It also goes both ways. Sometimes, what is patently clear on the outside will be rationalized to be able to incorporate a coherent image of ourselves into out internal narrative. It is, most often the re-writing of history."

Clearly my narrative is so different from yours and any other person of transsexual history who transitioned early. Part of that difference is becoming a parent of my own biological children. In the end when all is said and done I will be a person of transsexual history. Surgery is scheduled.

I hope the length of my comment will not offend.

Anonymous said...

@ Rhiannon...."Brutally honest" is a good way to look at things especially when considering the effects of actions that entail such LIFE ALTERING CONSEQUENCES.

It seems to me that you have clearly made an honest assessment that "transition" is not for you. That seems to me to be a good step in the right direction of addressing your gender dysphoria.

So....what are your alternatives?


Rhiannon said...


It is a really good question. If you rule out taking that ultimate step, where do you go from there. I've spent a lot of time thinking about it and still haven't come up with a good enough answer to be honest.

I'm in a situation where my spouse is so against that the obvious answer is to completely deny it and stop. I'm finding increasingly that this is not realistic either. But the more the 'narcotic' effect of taking a female role, dressing as a woman - whatever the right way to put it is - heightens, its hard not to want to ever increasingly present in that way. Its a very slippery slope.

For years my transvestic (?) behaviour has been closeted and hidden away, but I don't want that to prevail either. So is it a choice between putting up with public comments (to my face or behind my back), hiding or going only to places set aside for my sort. Which frankly is slightly insulting and depressing.

This kind of unravels my own argument about caring whether people will comment or talk about me behind my back, but actually the people I really care about know about me and (spouse aside) are accepting. So is their affirmation enough to throw caution to the wind and just go for it anyway - I am who I am and my life is my life.

Still soul searching on whether I'm ready for that - and whilst the consequences are not body altering, they could still be life altering. My spouse has already said that our marriage is over if Rhiannon continues - just by dressing, let alone SRS - and my work environment is very male/macho. Whilst I am protected under law, that's no real protection.

So I do what I've always done: I drift without deciding, but I can't drift for ever - that makes me very unhappy too.

You really shouldn't ask me these kinds of questions! Sorry for my ramble, but thanks for listening.


Anonymous said...

OK..........No more questions.


Rhiannon said...


I really don't mind - your questions tend to provoke some interesting lines of thinking, so they are appreciated!


Anonymous said...

Look Rhi, I realize that you represent the "ME NOW!" generation and that the idea of personal responsibility might be foreign to you.

However in "real life", adults are compelled to make sacrifices, compromises and ACCOMODATIONS. EVERYBODY DOES. That is just the way REALITY is. "You can't always get what you want."

My suggestion is to figure out what "your REALTY" can "afford or accomodate" in terms of your WANTS as well as your NEEDS.

Best Wishes,