Response to the Dallas Voice.
28 May 2011
I feel the need to clear up a few misconceptions here.
There is no “vagueness” in the legislation that has been passed in this country the guarantees the equal protection of the rights of gender variant people. The general form that such anti-discrimination legislation has taken is to prevent discrimination on the basis of a PERCEIVED gender identity/expression/appearance/behavior. whether or not traditionally associated with that of the sex a person was assigned at birth.
No where in any of this legislation is there a mandate that any self-determined gendered characteristics be legally defined as a person’s legal sex or gender.
There is a divide within the trans community, created by certain trans people who wish to distance themselves from those they regard as “deviant”, “perverted”, or not “truly” transsexual, a distinction which is regards by many others in this community as being highly counter-productive and indeed, damaging, to the cause of ensuring the equal protection of the rights of all people, regardless of sex, gender, or status as a trans person or cis person.
Michi’s insistence that the only “proper” path for a trans person to follow is to submit to that sector of the medical establishment which subscribes to the methods that have been historically utilized for the purposes of transition related healthcare (such as following the WPATH guidelines) are outdated, were developed without any significant input from trans people themselves, and impose a diagnosis of “disorder” that is entirely at odds with current research into sex and gender. A consensus has grown within the medical community that is dedicated to the compassionate and humane provision of healthcare to the LGBT community that it is long past time for society to stop viewing gender variance as a medical and/or psychiatric pathology.
The leading thinkers in the medical and psychiatric communities are increasingly moving toward an informed-consent basis for the provision of transition-related healthcare, and are calling for the complete depathologization of gender variance and the removal of GID (or whatever it comes to be called in the future) from the psychiatric diagnostic manuals of each country (France has led the way here), and a consequential re-classification of transition-related healthcare as a medical, rather than psychiatric, problem within the WHO’s ICD diagnostic manual so that people who require such treatment may continue to access healthcare financing. Even the American Medical Association has officially called for the healthcare industry to remove the barriers to care access for gender variant people.
If you go looking for people who believe that there is no difference between a cross-dresser and a transsexual, you will not find any such person, despite the fact that the separatists within our community so stridently assert that this is the dominant view the community has accepted. We all agree that there are significant differences between the categories that fall underneath the modern “transgender” umbrella, but when it comes to legal battles, the correct path has already been determined in 14 (is it 15 now, with Nevada?) states and over 100 municipalities around this country over the past 36 years since the first such legislation was passed in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The legal tide is turning is this country, and despite the efforts of the “women born transsexual”, “Harry Benjamin Syndrome”, “true transsexual” contingent, as they are various identified, to sabotage the effort to secure equality for all, the writing is on the wall.
In my own State of New Jersey, I enjoy the protections of some of the most comprehensive anti-discrimination statutes in this world, and have legally and properly changed the gender marker on that most important of identity documents, my New Jersey Driver’s License. As a Citizen of the United States of America, I am now protected by anti-hate crime legislation on the federal level and can obtain a Passport which reflects my true gender without having first obtained reassignment surgery. As a native born daughter of New York City, should Joann Prinzivalli’s lawsuit win the day in court, I will even be able to change my birth certificate. The fight is on to extend the guarantee of our rights into more federal agencies (HUD, Medicare, and SSA are being worked on right now), and hopefully we will soon see progress on a truly trans-inclusive ENDA. The debacle over HB235 in Maryland ought, in a decent and just world, to serve as evidence that throwing trans people under the bus is a poor strategy.
Yet, unlike what the separatists in the trans community would have you believe, none of this takes place by me walking into the DMV, the Passport agency, or the Bureau of Vital Statistics and simply demanding that they make the changes I desire. In order to access these rights, I have submitted to a legally binding process that is corroborated by a medical professional of the veracity of my claim of my gender identity, and that my gender identity can be reasonably expected to continue as such for the foreseeable future. I am so thankful that we have at our disposal legal thinkers who have structured the legislation in a manner which displays such uncommon foresight. There is, and there cannot be, any fraud involved, as those who advantage themselves of similar legal processes are legally bound to the truth.
I have never been to see a psychiatric professional for reasons relating to my gender identity. I have never been diagnosed with “Gender Identity Disorder”. I have never been required to have such a diagnosis in order to obtain a prescription from a qualified practitioner for the transition-related hormone therapy with which I am currently being treated. I have paid for all my transition-related expenses out of pocket. I will, at some future point, hopefully be able to afford to pay for Sexual Reassignment Surgery, but that day may never come unless I am first able to obtain economic security, and I may never live to see that day if I continue to live in such danger of discrimination due to the mistaken perceptions of others.
I am a woman. I was born a female, of a woman, and like every other woman in History, I have had to learn to be a woman, myself. I am also a trans woman. I was born into a body which has the outward and inward appearance that society has traditionally associated with the designation “male”. Because I was unable to understand both my need and my ability to transition until a later stage in my life, it is likely that I will never, as they say, “pass”, and because of this, I require much the same protection that we ought to be offering to those people who are comfortable with their assigned sex and gender, but simply wish to occasionally dress in clothing that society has traditionally associated with another sex and/or gender.
In no way, despite whatever prayers any of us may offer to whatever powers to which we may adhere, will Reality ever suddenly cease to operate in the usual manner and make any of us cissexual or cisgender people. Any person who has ever grokked “teh trans” will always and ever be trans, no matter how much medical, psychiatric, or surgical treatment they receive, despite what some might like to believe. This is sometimes a burden to bear, but who among us, since the time of Siddartha Gautama, can claim to be free of all burdens?
Make no mistake, all of these issues hinge upon the idea that those forces opposed to Freedom and Liberty in this country and elsewhere will use as a bludgeon against trans people, the idea that we are deviant, disordered, dangerous predators who are out to rape women and girls at our leisure, and deceive the righteous into our beds, and their favorite illustration of this is the “penises in women’s showers” issue. The solution to this issue is not to police the bodies and behavior of women, but to provide secure facilities for those persons who desire or require privacy in their hygienic functions. Not, you understand, special facilities for trans people, but separate facilities for all those who cannot live in Peace with and Respect for their fellow human beings. The precedence for such has already been set in the Americans With Disabilities Act.
I will leave you with this final point:
Assault and other criminal behavior has always been a crime in this country, and no amount of accommodation of the needs of gender variant people is ever going to change that fact. In over 35 years of the history of utterly unambiguous legislation guaranteeing the right of gender variant people to be free from discrimination, never has a single incident of improper behavior on the part of a trans woman such as is feared ever surface. Not once.
Gemma Catherine Seymour
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