Let us consider the case of Lily McBeth.*
In 2006, after her transition, she beat back protests and bigotry to keep her job as a substitute teacher in New Jersey. It was widely and rightfully hailed as an important victory for tolerance.
That, of course, was then.
Recently she announced that she was retiring, frustrated at not getting many assignments. There is the appearance of transphobia, although the article cites other possible explanations. Explanations that make perfect sense.
The thing is, they always do. There's always some excuse when a disprivileged person tries to call people out on their privilege.
There was a nice column about the situation by Joseph Wardy that concludes with this uplifting paragraph:
What is the reason for the opposition of transsexuals in the workplace or in society? A person born black has no choice. Neither is a transsexual who was also born that way. The range of bias from rejection to physical violence is punishing these people for their condition and not their behavior. A transsexual is a person equal to the rest of society who happened through no fault of their own to be born in the wrong body. What don't we get about this reality?Of course, the comments are something else entirely.
I have to tell you, in my 60 plus years, I have never heard a transsexual being bashed. It just never happened in my presence. Is this really a serious societal issue or a one in 100 million type problem? I feel sorry for anyone that is born so far out of the mainstream that it requires surgery, but there is a fix apparently, so why can't we leave it at that?So far, your garden-variety hate. But then there's this:
This stuff makes me want to puke. Transgender is a made up word about nothing. You are a man or a woman. You either have a penis or a vagina. There is NO other option. If you have a penis, then you are a man. If you have a vagina, then you are a women. THAT'S IT. This I am a man, but feel like a women crap is disgusting. What the eff is wrong with these people. My kids are not going anywhere near these perverts. Forget having them be my kid's teacher.
Cutting off your wang voluntarily is just wrong. And no, I don't want that freak teaching my children.
You have done a great job of differentiating between homosexuality and transsexuality, so now would be a great opportunity to differentiate between classic transsexuality and trangenderism; there is a huge, huge difference.
Most transsexuals abhor the term transgender...
Well, now, whoa there. Most? Is there a survey on that? I personally know a bunch of transsexual women who gladly use the name transgendered.
Which, you know, can be quite a bit: that's why there's such things as feminism, the civil rights movement, gay pride...
..When Mara Keisling says:
"A survey her group helped to conduct this year of 6,500 transgendered Americans found 91 percent had faced bias at work."
I don't doubt it, but most transgendered are crossdressers, transvestites, gender queer, and every other conceivable form of gender variance on the planet...transsexuals are simply female, nothing more or less. The vast majority of that group transition, have their surgery, and then blend into the mainstream leading exceedingly normal lives, suffering no more discrimination than the next person.
The truth of the matter is that though there have been some attacks on gender variant people under the scenario you allude to, history has revealed that is an extremely small percentage of them. A review of the Transgender Day of Remembrance stie, which tracks deaths of anyone transgendered, (you can Google it if interested) shows that most of the attacks are on sex workers and others who put themselves at extreme risk. Most are not transsexual, but transgender. There is no excuse for murder or violence in society, regardless of who it is, where they are, or what the circumstances...nonetheless, it is prudent that one takes responsibility for their own safety and not put themselves in situations in which puts that safety at risk...many on the DOR site didn't heed that warning."You see your honor, the bitch was asking for it!"
Now that's a feminist defense! No privilege showing there, nope!
Of course, many people on the DOR website did identify as transsexual, or would have. If they'd only had time. (It's tragic to see so many young faces there.)
I've run into this kind of transsexual separatism around the Net, and it always seems to be about division: I'm not like them, those awful crossdressers/transgenders/folks who don't pass/whatever--I was born differently, I'm intersexed, I'm a classic transsexual, I have Harry Benjamin Syndrome. It's a kind of sandcastling, building yourself up at the cost of others who are more or less like yourself: of stressing division instead of unity, of accomplishing the tasks of the kyriarchy, not resisting it.
Maybe it's because I spent so much time as a crossdresser, but I just don't get it; I've talked to a lot of different trans people in my life, and most of them were gender dysphoric, whether or not they were transsexual. And I'm not really convinced how pushing some people under the bus is going to help anyone--HRC did that to trans people in general (yeah, including you classic transsexuals) last year in the ENDA debacle, and look how well that worked out.
Plus it seems to me that the transsexual separatists seem perfectly content to let the umbrella-definition (i.e., transgender includes transsexuals, crossdressers, genderqueers, people who transition socially but not surgically, etc.) trangender people go out and do a lot of the activism, win rights for trans people (almost invariably favoring transsexuals, at least at first) without doing much activism of their own. (There are some exceptions.) And I think that's ultimately what I don't get about them: it's this need to retrench privilege, rather than letting it go, to come through the crucible of transition and only want to build kyriachies-in-miniature.
But there's one thing I know: separating yourself from people on the basis of accidents of birth has never really done a damn thing to help make people free.
*Here at TSA we will not mention the birth name of a trans person unless it is of vital interest to the story