Today we understand gender dysphoria to be a kind of continuum and don’t make the clear cut distinctions because we can’t. Part of the reason the hard line existed was because advocates like Virginia Prince who insisted that crossdressing was a heterosexual practice of men who had no intention of transitioning. Ironically, she pursued full time living later in life as did some other members of her entourage. Prince also liked to think that all crossdressers were heterosexual but clearly some were homosexual, bisexual or asexual and some were clearly transsexual.
Over the last third of the twentieth century, we began to develop a better understanding of how gender identity and sexual orientation varies in individuals and what resulted was less than a uniform portrait. This is how today’s concept of the transgender spectrum came about and why we don’t place people into categories. We just don’t know what they will end up doing.
For example, the current version of the DSM (which I referenced a few posts ago) now states that only when cross-dressing occurs for erotic purposes over a period of at least six months and it causes significant distress or impairment, is the behavior considered a mental disorder and the term "transvestic fetishism" is applied. This is a change that slowly took place as an understanding was developed which removed the assumed connection between abnormal sexual practice and gender variance. In other words, we began to separate gender identity from sexual identity.
This process took longer than the removal of homosexuality as a mental illness but eventually we got there.
The challenge now will be to have a public policy that defends the rights of people who exhibit gender variance and allows them to be who they are provided they don’t break the same laws that apply to the cis-gendered. However there are still people who see this as a lifestyle choice rather than as an inherent difference which is hard wired in an individual. Until that misconception is put to rest, there will still be pockets of resistance among the population at large.
Mike Huckabee was only one example of the kind of inconsiderate comments that can come from the mouth of the uneducated, misinformed or the ideologically driven. The problem is that he panders to a base that agrees with him and votes along those lines. For some people being gay or transgender is tantamount to being an abomination. Even if these people may not represent a majority but they are sizeable nonetheless and among this group there are more extreme fringes who might attack or murder young transgender women.
We can at least take solace in the fact that there’s never been a better time in history to be transgender.