Skip to main content

an argument against sub-categorisation

I mentioned here the other day I don't much care for the term "crossdresser" and I could pick on other terms but this one will do to illustrate my point.

When I was younger there was much more internet material dealing with curing crosdressing desires than we see today. This is because it was treated, even by many of us, like a mental addiction instead of as a way of honoring a transgender identity. Many people suffered under the notion that they were depraved or mentally ill and I was certainly one of them.

I have come to do a complete about face which is why I don’t like the use of too many blanket terms as they are far too general and cannot adequately describe what constitutes an entire person.

You are who you are and part of the time (or even all of it) may be spent wearing the clothes traditionally associated with the opposite gender. This does not mandate that you label yourself in any way. You may do this for fun or because it is helpful in treating your dysphoric feelings. Your reason need only be relevant to you.

People who advocate “healing from crossdressing” imply that it is somehow inherently wrong and, if it causes you mental distress, then perhaps it is best to stop. Conversely if it makes you happy and brings you balance why would you choose to do so?

Very few millennials use the term “crossdresser” but there are a few odd exceptions here and there. Baby boomers are far more likely to have fallen prey to this moniker perhaps as a way to ensure no one confused them with transsexuals and because this was part of our language at the time so they stuck with it. But please remember that these terms are born in the 20th century and every era and culture has had a different terminology for transgender people over the span of human history.

The preference today for an umbrella term like transgender ensures we capture all forms of gender non-conformity related to identity which includes people who choose to transition and live as the opposite gender; many transitioned women today proudly call themselves transgender. What I like about this is that it helps avoid overuse of definitions which confuse the public and only serve to open rifts within a community that has enough problems with the general population as it is.

Transgender people have existed for millennia, are never going to disappear and, for the vast majority of human history, transitions were only a pipe dream. Hence, the less the amount of terms we use, the better will be the self-acceptance for those of us who form part of this small but not insignificant segment of the population.

Besides, people who identified as one thing for a time sometimes found out that they had been wrong all along. All the more reason to avoid sub-categorisation.

Here is one such example where a baby boomer is accustomed to self-identifying as a crossdresser and who I think is much closer to a Benjamin type IV transsexual who is living full time. Labels can mean what you want them to I suppose.


Comments

  1. Good point and attitude. Yes, language about us has evolved over time. In recently re-perfoming "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," Laverne Cox questioned whether to continue using lyrics with the word "transvestite" in them because that term has fallen out of favor. (She kept it to honor the intent of the original production.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Laverne Cox of all people would be sensitive to transgender terminology and to make sure she is being respectful. But you can't revise a bit of camp for political correctness.

      Delete
  2. Agreed, Joanna. "Transgender" itself has several definitions in professional and public usage although I prefer it as an umbrella term.

    I also don't care for crossdresser. It's marginally better than transvestite but both terms are used negatively to my ear.

    I've also not felt comfortable with Harry Benjamin's classifications although I acknowledge how helpful he was for all of us. His classifications are like Schroedinger's Equation: as you look closer to see where you are you find you're not fitting in neatly as the scale suggests you should.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I completely agree regarding the scale but it made sense during his time to make sense of the variation he was seeing with his patients. Today we would just call that intensity of dysphoria

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Excellent point, I never thought of using that scale to measure dysphoria intensity but it makes sense.

      Delete
  4. Not sue I agree that self acceptance is inversely proportionate to the number of terms we employ. Words are one of the best tools lie species has at its disposal to understand the world, communicate that understanding, and prevent violence.

    To me, labels are like clothes. Try them on. If they don't fit, don't wear them. Or have them tailored. The mistake, to my mind, is in believing they are fixed, and to be imposed from on high, and used to box you in.

    First and foremost I am me, whatever that means, and it need not fit anyone's preconceptions. But distilling and communicating "me" for others to understand is facilitated by my mastery of language.

    In sum, I don't shun subcategorization, personally, as long as I am on the team writing the dictionary.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

One transgender woman's take on AGP

This entry from the transhealth website dates back to 2001 and it offers a very nice dissection of the now mostly debunked but still controversial AGP theory and how this transgender woman could care two cents about it. People who have been trying to marginalize the experience of gynephilic transwomen have pushed for the stigmatizing idea that they are actually perverted men. Well this soul, who couldn't give a hoot either way, isn't buying any of it and her frankness at times had me chuckling to myself as I read her posting. If we ever met I would give her a hug for seeing through the BS but mostly for being herself: "About a year ago I was reading on Dr. Anne Lawrence’s site about a new theory of the origin of trans called “autogynephilia.” This theory asserts that many trans women—and transsexual women in particular—desire reassignment surgery because they are eroticizing the feminization of their bodies. The first thing that struck me about it, of course, was t

my last post

This will be my last blog post. When I wrote recently that this blog had another seven years of life in it I was trying to convince myself that it was true. It was in fact a little bit of self delusion. With almost 3,000 posts to date I have accomplished what I set out to do which was to heal myself and in the process share some of the struggle I had been through with others on the chance they might find some value in my words. After seven years of writing, my life still isn't perfect; no one's is. But I have discovered a path forward completely free of the trappings which society would have had me adopt so I could fit in. Over the last 25 years of my life I have turned over every stone I could find while exploring this topic and in the process realized that we haven't even begun to scratch the surface of this deeply complex subject. What I have ultimately learned is that my instincts have more value than what someone who isn't gender dysphoric writes about me. We

Never Say Never....

 I was certain that I would never post here again and yet, here I am. It’s been several years, and life has changed me yet again. I have burrowed further into my psyche to discover more internal truths about myself all in the silence of a life lived with more periods of reflective solitude than ever before. After attempting for many years to be a problem solver for others, I needed to dig deeply to discover who I was, which should be a necessity for all people and an absolute imperative for those of us who dare rub against the grain of conventional society. The most important thing we can do for ourselves is honor the internal voice which has driven us since childhood. That whisper which we were compelled to ignore through our initial indoctrination must be listened to again for guidance. I knew I had spent too long heeding messaging that wasn’t working for me as a trans person, and it was time to stop. For the world gleefully basks in a level ignorance and hypocrisy we are not abl