Connect With Us

FacebookTwitterRSSYoutube

Identity- I Do Not Consider Myself To Be A Transwoman or Transsexual

05/14/10-by Bridgette P. LaVictoire
Does one have to be transsexual in order to need to have sex reassignment? I know that sounds like one really loaded question, and it probably is. The problem is that I have never considered myself transsexual. In fact, I loathe thinking of myself in that way. Many of my friends and family insist that they’re all but positive that I am, somehow, intersexed at some level but I cannot afford to find out just yet and the doctors do not always too a good job of listening to those suggestions.

Growing up, I had no male identity, and was never pushed to form one. It was as if everything around me was inverted. I was a girl being treated as a boy. I wore boys clothing, but never dropped any of the female body language. It was as if I was living in a mirror. Somehow, I was Alice and I had jumped through the Looking Glass.

I often feel as if I am suppose to embrace my “fellow transpeople”, and yet, I often do not find myself comfortable doing so. Part of that comes from the fact that I have rarely gotten along with any of them. I tend to hold views which are stridently feminist and many transpeople seem more offended by my views than welcoming. It does not help that I have a strong dislike of men and anything to do with them sexually. “Strong dislike” is, of course, rather an understatement of how I feel. Several people have noted a fairly strong anti-male flavor to my writing without ever wanting to come out and actually state outright that I hate men. Unfortunately, so many transwomen I have known tend to push the idea that I should be open to sex with men, either now or after the surgeries, and that I may end up liking men once all is said and done without respecting me when I say ‘that is what I’ve heard and I doubt it will happen to me at all’. I still get pushed in that direction. It is always worse when I get pushed to have sex as a man. Both ideas are repulsive to say the least, yet have no doubt that someone, somewhere will type out a comment about it possibly happening. No matter how well meaning your intentions are- don’t. Right now, I am restraining my language I doubt I will in a comment.

This, unfortunately, leave me in a bind. I feel compelled to apologize to every woman I know for the fact that I was born in a male body and, at the same time, call myself a transsexual even though I do not and have never felt as if I was one. Doing so always makes me feel worse about my self identity. I end up feeling as if I have to apologize for not being born in what feels to me a state of perfection while I am also having to apologize to all those people who call themselves transsexuals and transpeople because I am not part of their group either and that I may not be as open to writing about their issues as a transperson might be.

I am not sure that I will be continuing these columns. I have been told I should keep them going, but I feel so lost when it comes to trans-issues. I understand what it means to be a lesbian. I know what it means to be a woman. I do not understand what it means to be transsexual. I am not sure what to do at this point, or how to really put it all into words. This is a start, obviously, but it is not the end of this.

For a long time, I have used the labels transsexual and transwoman to browbeat people who complain about our coverage of transgender issues. After all, how can you claim that someone who is ‘transsexual’ doesn’t know anything about this. For that I do apologize. I will not be doing that any more, I believe.

That is where I am. I do not know what to do. All I want at this point is to stop having use the labels transsexual and transwoman and just consider myself a woman from this point on.

I hope everyone understand that I feel as if I have been placed in this identity and that it does not fit how I feel or how I see myself.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Comments

comments

Share This Post

43 Responses to Identity- I Do Not Consider Myself To Be A Transwoman or Transsexual

  1. Ed

    August 10, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    Hello, I see this article is from early may and I am very late to the party. After reading the post and the comments however I feel like poking my head in. How are you doing, Bridgette, with your identity now? I am a trans man, and though I, unlike you you, do love the terms trans and transgendered, I do also sympathize with your dislike of the word transsexual, I do not identify as that even though I technically am. For me though, living in Portland, OR, the gender variant community here is so accepting of different identities and rejection of certain terms. I feel sad for you that you have experienced negative feedback from trans communities. I think it is very okay for you to simply identify as a woman, and a lesbian, and I do not think that means you reject the trans community. As long as you can get furiously angry at people who oppress us (like the the Michigan ‘womyn born womyn only’ festival) than I am happy to call you a lesbian woman who has insight into gender variance.

    • Bridgette P. LaVictoire

      August 10, 2010 at 2:10 pm

      Thank you Ed. I am doing better. I am still struggling a bit, but I am still working on solidifying my identity. I wanted to let you know that those who are excluding transpeople, male or female, do make me angry. I do not think that they should be excluding them at all. I am sorry that I cannot write more. I am at my college’s one week residency, so I am a little busy. Take care.

  2. Bridgette P. LaVictoire

    May 19, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    I would like to thank everyone who commented on this post. I will be relaunching this column in the next few weeks in order to begin dealing with the broader issues of gender and gender identity and expression. These will not be limited to transgender issues in the least. I will, of course, ask for forgiveness that those issues are not always well known to me, and I may even ask for discussions about gender to broaden my understanding.

    Now, to make something clear. My experiences with the trans community have been largely negative. Most of my dealings tore my identity down rather than building it up. Because of that, I have been very angry with the trans community. I am finding that, as I now know that I do not have to consider myself trans, that anger will fade. I know that other people have had good experiences, but mine were not good.

    Thank you all again,
    Bridgette P. LaVictoire
    Associate Editor, Lez Get Real.

  3. AnnaRose

    May 18, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    Well I certainly am no professional, but from what little I have heard it sounds like to me you are simply a woman. If you have an issue with your “male parts”, then it sounds like to me those are the issues which needs be addressed. In your case, what other people say or think is, in my mind, secondary to what YOU think or know or feel. It sounds like you have given this some thought, so I guess my question to you is,” OK, So Now what?” What will YOU do?

    • Bridgette P. LaVictoire

      May 18, 2010 at 3:53 pm

      Well, right now, I am hoping to have surgical castration this summer. While the reasoning is that I am in a lot of pain since I started HRT and some scarring in my testicles started tearing when they swelled up with the medication, it is still happening, so I am happy about it. I will continue to write about gender and sexuality issues. I still have a lot I want to learn, and these posts are always helpful since so many people are helpful in letting me know their experiences.

      I doubt that I will ever consider myself transsexual. All of my friends see me as just another woman. What I have to do now is build my confidence in being a woman and as a lesbian.

      I will continue to support rights for transpeople, even if i do not consider myself one. I am an advocate at heart, and I do believe in there being more than two genders.

      I will have the full surgeries as soon as I can afford them, and get all the testing I can to see if I am intersexed at all.

      My first step in all of this is getting my Progress Review finished and work towards getting my Masters.

      Thank you Annarose.

  4. Bridgette P. LaVictoire

    May 17, 2010 at 9:12 pm

    AnnaRose,

    Again, thank you. I am sorry that I have not answered before now. I have been rather busy getting my school work finished. I am not sure how i got to this point. Part of the problem I have is that I hate having been born male so much that I find it difficult, if not impossible, to have an identity that includes anything that acknowledges that fact. i feel so much shame and guilt for being born male, as well as so much hatred of my body, that I just want to obliterate everything that ties me to any sort of masculine identity. While I have bent to some of my family’s wishes (such as keeping my middle name as a form of my old first name), i find it increasingly difficult to cope with anything else that acknowledges that old male identity.

    While I do understand that others have no issues with their identity being transgender, I just do. Between my sexuality and my resistance to seeing myself as transgender, I have had a lot of issues with the transgender community over the last decade.

  5. AnnaRose

    May 17, 2010 at 7:48 pm

    On Sexual Orientation.

    In the above referenced link, Freud makes a critical distinction between sexual aim (one’s preferred sexual behavior) and sexual object (the entity with which one engages sexually), while a the same time ignoring the matter of sexual identity. You will notice that no where in the early studies on trans-sexuality is the issue of gender, (or gender identity or gender role) mentioned. “Gender” is a modern concept and seems to me to be just a semantic exercise to assuage the genteel sensibilities of the “Enlightened Aristocracy”.

    Bottom line, what we are talking about is our SEXUALITY. That’s right SEX. You know that HOT sweaty, messy, really FUN and pleasurable activity we enjoy by ourselves or with others. Or let me put it another way. What I am going to address here is about SEX and/or sexual roles, interactions and behavior. I will, with your kind indulgence, leave the discussion of gender, gender roles, and/or presentation to others and another post.

    So.back to the fun part, SEX! OK, let me start with sexual behavior. In most mammals, including humans and primates sexual behavior involves some form of “mounting, or being mounted”, “copulation” and/or some other form of “pleasuring”, usually preceded by some form of “courting” or “foreplay”. For purposes of this discussion, I could further describe this behavior as being either primarily “dominate/male” or “passive/female”….top or bottom. Now given that this is arguably a gross oversimplification, I would ask that you bear with me and try to follow where I am trying to go with this. This is what I would call one’s sexual role, understanding that these roles are not necessarily “hard-wired” or immutable. Personally, well…..we’ll get to that , later.

    OK……..so now we come to “the entity” with which one engages WITH sexually. That entity could be same sexed or other sexed. It could be animate or inanimate. It could even be of another species, (YUCK!) Sorry. I will try to leave personal preferences until later. But in general, that object or person to which/whom we are attracted to could be called or identified as the “OBJECT” of our sexual orientation. Thus arises what are currently described in the jargon as ‘paraphilias’ or sexual target errors. Are we beginning to notice the introduction of a value system, a “this is good or this is bad” kind of a change in the language? Well, I HOPE SO, because herein lies the basis of most disagreements in human interactions. It is these conflicting value systems that begin to shape the arguments and definitions, and THEREIN lies OUR problem. Both as a society and as individuals, we are constantly called upon to reconcile OUR needs, OUR desires and values with those of the society in which we live.

    See, what is going on in this forum is the same discussion that goes on everywhere between and amoung people of every culture on the planet. :What is GOOD for the culture vs what is GOOD for the individual. Can a transsexual be gay, or lesbian, or Bi or straight? SURE. Why not? The only reason this question even arises is that “SOMEBODY” says this way or that way is the right way.

    What I say is that if if feels good, DO IT!….Now don’t go out and do something stupid or illegal, or what the heck……….go ahead if it feels good. Just be prepared for the consequences. And REMEMBER!!!! I said, “DON”T DO IT!!!”

  6. AnnaRose

    May 17, 2010 at 6:01 pm

    I have to respect every one’s position here as valid. I should also point that like all individuals, we are all different. We have each walked our own individual paths. Given that we are all different and have arrived at where we each are as individuals, it would follow that we would each have differing individual perspectives.

    I think that some of the difficulties that always seem to come up in discussions such as this is that each one of us tends to see our own personal perspective as the “Most Valid”. We reach out to others who have walked similar paths or experienced similar circumstances for affirmation of our beliefs. I think that this can be fraught with danger in that while someone else’s experience might be similar to our own, IT IS NOT THE SAME.

    Further I see the real problem in the efforts of those who would “cure” us or “understand” us, or worse yet, DEFINE US. You see, the very definition of someone, or something, implies DISTINCTION from something/one else. While an apple and an orange are both fruit, they each have distinguishing characteristics. Men and women are both human, yet they differ in many aspects, while at the same time sharing and overlapping in others.

    Then in addition to the problems inherent in trying to define and distinguish, comes the USE OF THE LANGUAGE involved. I will use as an example the statement made by “Maggie”, above……”It seems to me that the definition of transsexual is the issue here. It used to be, decades ago, that a transwoman had to have sexual desires for men to be considered transsexual but that is no longer true.In fact, initially, they also had to illicit a sexual response from their male therapists to be considered for surgery.” -Maggie

    What we have in this statement alone are at least one conflation of terms, (transsexual=transwoman) AND a statement of generalized fact , or generic “truth”, based solely on the personal experience of the author. While I am not disputing that this may or may not have been the case in Maggie’s experience, the fact that this was the case, does not make that a fact for general application.

    Although somewhat dated, I found the LGBT Mental Health Syllabus reasonably informative.

    http://www.aglp.org/gap/6_transgender/

    CONCLUSION:
    Much work remains to be done to characterize the phenomenology of gender and the biological and developmental basis of transgenderism. The appropriate treatment of transsexualism has been well established thanks to the HBIGDA Standards of Care. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that there is a much broader range of trangender conditions; therefore, treatment must be tailor-made through a careful and empathic exploration of an individual patient’s gender and sexuality conceptualizations, ideals, and goals.

    Copyright © 2007 Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry

    While the debate regarding the distinctions rages, the simple facts remain clear. The are in fact DIFFERENCES and differences must be recognized in order to develop appropriate and effective methods of care. While therapy, HRT, and GRS might be effective and appropriate in some cases, it can have tragic and even catastrophic results if misapplied.

    So in conclusion, my PERSONAL OPINION is this. I see my self as quite different from everyone here. I am not totally clear on how Brigette feels or how she “got there”, BUT I DO understand how she feels about being labeled “transsexual” or “transgender”. I can easily understand her estrangement from the “trans-community” or movement, as well. It seems clear to me that Brigette sees herself simply as a lesbian, plain and simple. I can also see the validity in Kate’s position as well. While I may have little doubt we have differing views on the gender binary, I see nothing objectionable about her stance as “out and proud”. Obviously this position would not work for me, but then I am sure there are lots of issues on which I could/would/might disagree with everyone here. And then again, I bet there are lots of things we COULD agree upon.

  7. Maggie

    May 16, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    It seems to me that the definition of transsexual is the issue here. It used to be, decades ago, that a transwoman had to have sexual desires for men to be considered transsexual but that is no longer true.In fact, initially, they also had to illicit a sexual response from their male therapists to be considered for surgery. This made it impossible for many who were not physically attractive to transition. Being attracted to women was a guarantee to be disqualified.

    Today being transsexual only means that the person has a gender identity contrary to the birth physical genitalia. I am in my fifties and transitioned two years ago and saw four gender therapists. None of them ever mentioned much less encouraged me to have sex with a man. They told me that mostly who I was attracted to before would not change. That has been the case. So that makes me a lesbian. None of my trans friends has urged me to try sex with men. I do find some men to be more attractive now but none really will make my heart race like another woman.

    I don’t see any contradiction in identifying as an MTF transsexual and being a lesbian. Perhaps where you live the gender therapists are behind the times and adhere to decades old practices.

    As for the trans community, clearly the one that you have been in is not the one that I know. Forum’s like Susans don’t have the biases you mentioned. I wish you the best in your search for definition. It is a very difficult place to be.

    • Bridgette P. LaVictoire

      May 16, 2010 at 7:18 pm

      Maggie,

      I just do not think of myself as being transsexual largely because I really do feel like that degrades how I see myself as female. I have trouble with thinking of it as an identity instead of just a medical condition.

  8. big kate

    May 16, 2010 at 2:59 pm

    I wrote a reply that became a blog post here http://x-mass.livejournal.com/320725.html

    but here is the text

    Almost every transexual I have met, has at some time during the process of transition from one gender to another feels the need to give up the label of being transexual. For some it marks the completion of that transition. Something that helped you define who you were, feels like a millstone around your neck, holding you back from who you consider yourself now to be. To be transexual, is to be in transition, to be a pariah, neither man nor woman. They want to be accepted as who they are. They are aware that as long as they are open about being TS it will mark them and leave them open to be targeted, labelled, and opinionated about. Their partners will find it difficult because other people will still see them as being ‘really’ the other gender. Their partners will be see them as “really bisexual”, a group that is still looked down on from both the heterosexual and homosexual cultures. This ‘reality’ has been true for many years, it has been advised by our psychiatrists: that people with broken histories should seek assimilation. It has even been a criteria for surgery. In the eighties the term stealth was coined to describe this process. Of giving up the identity of transexual and cutting ties with ones past. There are lots and lots of good reasons to go stealth and if your transexual you probably will or have.

    Just like the many good reasons that persuade lesbians, gay men and bisexuals to hide who they are, to prefer the safety of the closet. To assimilate, to act straight. To pass, just as many black people passed as white if their skins were ‘clear’ enough. However, some 40 years ago having fought for womens and black rights: some lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people, started to fight for their own ‘gay rights’. That fight has been on going ever since to come out of the closet, to be open about who they were about a key aspect of their lives and their histories.

    The idea of hiding in the closet is an intrinsically transgender idea, since much of ‘gay’ identity was associated with transgender behaviour, butch women in men’s clothes, men in women’s drag, hiding in the closet too frightened to come out. Hence the idea of being public of walking the streets with pride, showing your ‘gay’ identity free of the closet. In time as gay people became more open and accepted more of their straight acting brethren, butch women and femme men became an anathema. It became seen as playing out heterosexual identities, that being transgender was unacceptable.

    As the movement gained strength and publicity outside forces tried to claim that with re-education, camp ‘gays’ could be taught to be heterosexual. As a result what started as movement that said that anybody could be gay ended up with people proclaiming that they were born gay and no other possibility existed. In time their have been winners and losers. Gay men and lesbians have gained the most since they offered the simplest least complex solution to the heterosexual world. That they were other, that one is either heterosexual or homosexual, male or female, man or woman. Other groups are still looked down upon as not ‘real’ or frauds, be they bisexual or transgender. So now there are many places and spaces where its OK to be a Gay Man or a Lesbian, To be Out (of the closet) and proud.

    I’ve found that most transexuals, are open about their sexual choices, proud of being gay, lesbian or bisexual (or straight). But, also choose to be stealth about being transexual. They see passing, social acceptance and assimilation as the ultimate goal. Yes, they may tell a few friends, they tell their partners, they may not describe themselves as stealth instead see themselves as being subtle, or woodworking or any number of labels for not being open. There is however another choice, one that has been taken many numerous groups of people of the years, and who have suffered as a result: to be Open. Some people describe this as being out, but since OUT generally means open about ones sexuality, another word to describe the opposite of stealth would be useful, so that people can be OUT and stealth, or closeted and stealth or even OUT and LOUD!

    I’m OUT LOUD and PROUD and I hope this movement gains ground in due course.

    • Bridgette P. LaVictoire

      May 16, 2010 at 3:16 pm

      Big Kate,

      I’m sorry, but I really do not see it that way. It is hard to explain. Let me be blunt. Everywhere I turn I hear people talking about transitioning from one ‘gender’ to the other. I am not transitioning from one gender to the other. If I was, I would be going from female to male. I have no concept of what it means to be ‘male’. I never have. How I can I consider myself transgender or transsexual if this does not make sense to me. I hate even using the rider of ‘a woman with a birth defect’. Everywhere I have turned over the years, everyone talked about living life as a man before figuring out that they had to change. I have lived as a woman until I figured out that my body was not female. It may sound crazy. I know it does. I somehow was able to subsume my understanding of the world to the point where everything was mirrored. I am a woman who must surgically become one. At this point, I do not know of any other way to describe it. I certainly do not see myself as anything other than a woman.

      I will continue to battle for those who see this differently because I believe in equality.

  9. AnnaRose

    May 15, 2010 at 6:43 pm

    So now the question becomes, am I a feminist. Now THAT is a really interesting question. The bottom line is, “I don’t Know”. I do not know enough about feminism or second wave feminism or post radical feminism. I really don’t know what all that means. What I DO know is that having grown up as a girl in a boys’s body gives one an interesting perspective. For one thing, I learned all about cars and things mechanical. I Iearned tha falling out of trees or getting all muddy was survivable and could be fun. I also learned that being a woman was a graet deal more than wearing pretty clothes or having long hair.

    I learned that it was OK to be who I am and not try to fit into someone else’s definition of what it meant to be “male” or “female”. Because I “transitioned” at a relatively early age, (22/23) I was able to “pass” relatively easily. Less than one year post SRS I was living with a man who was framing houses for a living despite holding an MBA from Brigam Young University. Besides being my best freind and lover, this man taught me how to build houses from the ground up. He taught he how to read plans, pound nails, and “sweat copper”. He also taught me to how be unafraid and how to love. Over the course of my 40+ years as a woman, I have known and loved a significant number of men. I have also “known” a few extraordinary women. Do I “identify” as bi-sexual? No. I think of myself as a relatively normal highly intelligent, open minded, strong and independent woman. So, am I a feminist? I don’t know. Am I? You tell me.

    • Bridgette P. LaVictoire

      May 15, 2010 at 6:48 pm

      I am starting to really believe that the only labels that matter are the ones that we apply to ourselves if they fit.

      Again, thank you.

    • Eliza

      May 16, 2010 at 5:59 am

      Feminism is about gender equality. Nothing more, nothing less.

  10. AnnaRose

    May 15, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    Bridgette,

    I will preface my comments that you might understand my perspective. I was born in 1947 with the body of a boy. Unfortunately, (or fortunately), my psyche was female. Rather than go into all the science, (and psuedo-science), regarding that little issue, let me just cut to the chase by saying that I discovered this amazing discrepancy when I started kindergarten when I was told to stand with the boys. Needless to say I was horribly confused but quickly learned that the only way to “get along”, was to “go along” with the “program”. Understand that from that day foward I KNEW that something was seriously wrong. When I tried asking for help or an explanation, there simply was none available. Remember this was the early 50′s. Christine Jorgenson was just an unmentionable scandal. My only option was to play the “role” of a boy. It was frustrating but up until puperty was really not all that hard. After all, rough and tumble and climbing trees was kind of fun. Puberty, however, was another story altogether. Suddenly, this “thing” between my legs started acting and feeling wonderfully, strangely wonderful. Hmmmmmm…….Curiouser and curiouser. Now at least I could articulate how I felt which was simply that I was a girl, but still….this just would not fit in to the normal understanding of what people “UNDERSTOOD” in the early 60′s. The shrinks of the day were really still just trying to get a handle on it themselves and so, as before, I was left to my own devises. The GOOD news was that I was pretty smart and had access to the Library of Congress through the Library at the University of California. The very first tthing did was get to that library and look up sex change. This was where I first learned of the term “transsexual” and finally got the full story on Ms. Jorgenson. There was only one other reference to a “sex-change” in Denmark circa 1931. Not a lot to go on, but enough. All through college I toyed with this idea of changing sexes……was it really possible? How was it done? Coud this REALLY be? It just seemed too fantastic to be true. I just kept hoping and praying that I could “just be normal”. Well “Normal” is what I am now. A year or two after graduation from college, after thouroughly exhausting every other possible avenue of survival I came to the incontrovertable conclusion that I would have too change my body to fit/match who I REALLY and TRULY was. Who I AM.

    Thankfully all went well. It was not easy. It was most certainly NOT free of trauma and/or pain, but it was frankly the only thing I could do and was, is the very best decision I have EVER made in my life.

    Am I a transsexual. No. I am just a woman with a long forgotten past.

    • Bridgette P. LaVictoire

      May 15, 2010 at 6:44 pm

      AnnaRose,

      Thank you. I know that I still have a lot to go on my journey. In 1988, my mother told me about Ms Jorgenson. Unfortunately, even then, there was not much to go on and for someone like me with a strong attraction to women, the idea of having a sex change in order to be with women was just not really known. I feel as if my identity as a woman is so big that it does not allow for anything else at this point.

      I am grateful that you took the time to tell your story. Thank you.

  11. femme

    May 15, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    NIKKI SAID “I agree that sexual orientation and gender identity are 2 separate issues. No one can tell you what or who you should or should not be sexually attracted to. That is absurd. Most Trans women and Crosdressers that I know identify as lesbian ”

    So I agree with the first part, who you are and who you are attracted to are two complete separate things. Sadly so may people make that same mistake thinking that a person , woman, dealing with transexual medical issues must also be looking to sleep with men. Past CICs once only allowed for those who “acted” straight.
    But the line including crossdressers Nikki, is wrong.Most cross dressers are male, heterosexual, who like to dress in female clothing. To suggest they then are lesbian because while going about their typical male life it’s also with the attraction of women there by makes them lesbian when wearing woman’s clothing is absurd.
    A crossdresser, unless you are speaking about a female cross dresser, can not be lesbian.
    Bridgette if your family some how think you carry intersex traits, then see the correct medical expert and get the correct testing done. Far too often people with in the community of people with transexuality co opt the lives of people who are intersex because they would rather believe their life can be explained that way, through chromosomes. Please don’t be one of those people.
    Until there is a new term created for what you have described, I’m afraid you’re stuck with the term transexuality for now, unless proven that you do have an intersex condition. Or even at such a time transexuality is consdered one of the intersex conditions.
    That won’t make you any less of a women then it does another woman born with medical complications leading them to need vaginal creation and will never be able to conceive. That doesn’t mean you need to thin less of yourself, or others like you. Nor does it mean you must for some reason hang out with people you don’t want to. Cancer survivors all don’t group together and only have each other as friends. I’d have to say that’s typical of many people out here with different conditions.
    That you have feminist leanings, just means you and other women have those same views/thoughts. But not all.
    Personally I think you need to get on with your life and stop worrying about what others say, which clearly you do.

    • Bridgette P. LaVictoire

      May 15, 2010 at 2:28 pm

      Femme,

      A lot of this is about coming to grips with my identity, which is something I am trying to come to grips with. In a lot of ways, I’m asking ‘who am I as a woman’. Thank you for what you wrote.

      As for the testing, I have had a hard time convincing my doctors to do the testing because there is nothing that they are able to see that is obviously wrong with me. Usually, it is because the symptoms I have had so far seem easily explainable as something else. Part of this is, though, that I am having a hard time finding my voice enough to push the issue. I am, however, planning on finding out if I can get some of the testing off the books- that is without involving my insurance which won’t pay for it unless there is a clear diagnosis- and pay for it myself. I just won’t have the money to do any of it until August.

      As for the term transsexual, I’m not sure that it does not change how I feel. It often feels as if it does, somehow, mean putting my identity as a woman down a level. I am still working on articulating how I feel about this.

      Thank you.

  12. Evan

    May 15, 2010 at 9:09 am

    I hope you don’t mind my male-identified presence here – I’m going through what sounds like the mirror image of your experience. I’m a gay man, but my body is female. I resisted identifying as trans for a decade and a half after I first found the word as a preteen, because of the heavy pressure to be straight and present a certain form of masculinity. My experience growing up was that I simply was a boy, and in fact many of the people around me picked up on that and treated me as a boy, regardless of my body, and it didn’t matter that I liked some “girl things” or that when I reached puberty I was attracted to boys.

    As a feminist, the stereotypes rampant among trans people really irk me. I know that masculinity isn’t owned by men and femininity isn’t exclusive to women. I know that gender and sexuality aren’t necessarily linked, and that being straight isn’t somehow “more male” or “more female” than being gay or lesbian. But there are a lot of people out there who believe that nonsense.

    It took me a long time to be willing to use the word, and I certainly don’t feel like part of some greater “trans community” – I just know that there are other people out there whose bodies don’t match. And if they have misconceptions about gender and sexuality, I’ll probably have more luck changing that if I accept what we do have in common and advocate from that perspective.

    • Bridgette P. LaVictoire

      May 15, 2010 at 9:38 am

      Evan,

      The more voices the better. We- that is the LGBT Community and the greater community as a whole- do not discuss gender and gender identity with any regularity.

      I am not sure that i will ever be comfortable with the terminology of being “transsexual,” and this is what I am discussing on my end.

  13. Bridgette P. LaVictoire

    May 14, 2010 at 10:00 pm

    i wanted to thank everyone who commented again. I do believe that Eliza is right and that i should not give up writing about these subjects. I think that what I will do is rechristen this column and continue to write about gender and sexuality from my perspective not only as i go through this process, but as I come to understand myself and who ‘I’ am.

    • Eliza

      May 14, 2010 at 11:13 pm

      Would you ever write specifically about your experience as a feminist? Sounds like you have a good idea how you’ve been treated differently as a “man” and a woman. Do you ever have problems reconciling gender identity with your feminism? When I conceived of myself an androgyne, I thought I might be subconsciously saying something negative about women’s intelligence. What set me apart was a condemnation of femininity, since I like math and science and military history and get as excited over giant squid documentaries as my roommate does for Amelie on the IFC. Even though I know just as many guys who don’t give a shit about any of this. Was I saying I couldn’t be a woman and be myself? That a woman can’t be these things? Do you question what’s learned behavior that isn’t typically “female”? You mentioned this briefly about your doll and how your parents raised you. What does “female body language” mean to you? I hope my constant replies and longwinded paragraphs aren’t annoying or offending you.

    • Bridgette P. LaVictoire

      May 14, 2010 at 11:22 pm

      I am going to include my experiences as a feminist as well. I have been reading Mary Daly’s Gyn/Ecology, something that I have no doubt will get me into trouble with some people who feel that she is very transphobic. Of course, she IS transphobic, but there is a lot to be taken away from what she writes. One thing that I dislike is that being female means having to slavishly follow what is considered feminine. In my own writings, I tend to use feminine to mean the gender construct we are all told to follow and female to indicate the gender of a person. I love history, though mostly Women’s History. I still wear my old men’s shirts because, well, they last longer and are comfortable. i don’t think it really changes that I see myself as a woman. After all, my mother and aunt both wear men’s clothing, especially around the house to do chores.

      I also do want to write about how different my life was as a ‘man’ and how it has been as a woman. I am still working all of this out, but I now feel like I am making progress.

      Thank you :)

      And, no, don’t worry about writing long paragraphs and you aren’t offending me in the least :D

  14. Pingback: I Do Not Consider Myself To Be A Transwoman or Transsexual at Big Gay Closet

  15. Eliza

    May 14, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    I really like your articles and for obvious reasons it’s important to put out a different perspective, especially from the feminist angle of gender reassignment lost in the media portrayal. As I’ve said to you previously, those advising you to try sex “as a male” are the same who tell lesbians and bisexual women to try sex with a man because we’re suppose to like it, and men are still the standard to aspire to. Like gender equality isn’t framed as the equality of individuals but women to men. Any deliberate exclusion of men is incomprehensible and immediately derided as a lesser experience. (WNBA, anyone?) Renouncing male privilege is the same as abdicating the throne. Most are too insecure to regard their penis as anything beneath a scepter.

    Same with the dynamic among bisexuals – bi men are always assumed gay, but bi women are viewed as straight even by other lesbians, that our relationships and sexuality are second to catching the attention of a man through another woman. The man’s worth and/or influence is at least twice the woman’s. What are your thoughts on the expansion of the gender binary? Plenty of societies, notably indigenous and Slavic, recognized categories beyond male and female, particularly those crudely expressed as “both” or “neither.” Or even homosexuals as the third gender in early psychology. I struggled with my gender identity during my school years and found comfort in these theories. I never felt like a man. Just that I lacked femininity. It’s infuriating that the lesbian community now publicly embraces “femme” and “lipstick” labels again to show how relateable and attractive to the male gaze we are, silly! Please don’t lose your voice here.

    • Bridgette P. LaVictoire

      May 14, 2010 at 5:55 pm

      Eliza, thank you. In a lot of ways, all of this is starting to make me understand what I am going through. In a way, I grew up female, but when I fell in love with the first woman I dared to tell, and this was at the age of 22, I was rejected. It was not until that moment that I understood that I was, to everyone else, male. I never understood that. Somehow, thanks to my parents, I was able to just ignore that I was not female. To me, I was a woman with funny bits of skin between her legs rather than a man like everyone saw me. I was given so much privilege as a ‘man’ too, but I had always thought that other women got that privilege too. In fact, I thought that, because of how I was treated, all the other girls were treated just as nicely. I grew up with an understanding of life which said that women were better than men because I was treated with a such privilege. Now I realize I was a fool. I now see what a mess this patriarchal system has created and I feel so infuriated that I often times have to restrain my language. I really am starting to understand that I grew up in a world which was backwards, and now I have to relearn how to deal with a world where an Amazon like me is subject and not equal.

      I have read up on the theories of other genders. I have never felt comfortable calling myself any of them, but I am fascinated by them. I am also not sure that I won’t keep writing about these issues. I just have a feeling I may change the name of the column.

      Thank you again.

  16. Bridgette P. LaVictoire

    May 14, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    I want to thank both of you for the kind words. I am still working through this, and it is so often that I end up trying not to feel sick and depressed about all of this.

    Denise, my sister and I discussed a solution for me regarding children. When i find the right woman and we are ready for children, I am more than welcome to ‘borrow’ a couple of eggs. I’ve known that I was suppose to be female since I was so young it is hard to even remember. I actually had a wonderful little doll growing up. My parents were very progressive and believed that their ‘son’ should also be raised to be a good father. I loved having the doll. Of course, playing with action figures was alright, but I always felt so out of place. I still do to a certain extent.

    And thank you Rig Daddy. I know I will be able to get through this. The worst is behind me, in a way. This is the hard part, though. I have to get my idea of Self back to where it feels whole again.

  17. Denise

    May 14, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    I see no date so must assume this is current. I am a woman, I was physically a man. Iwas told by my mother tat she knew when I was 3, I knew by the time I was 4. Since I am over sixty it must be understood that in the fiftys little was known, especially in my home area of Great Britain. I figured out my situation and was left with 2 choices. Stay mae and marry a woman and have children or change gender and have no children. Children were so important to me that I decided to marry. 3 moths into the marriage I explained my derision to my spouse. She surprised me by stating that if I waited till after the kids were born , I could change gender.
    A long story but here I am female and with two daughters(21 and 31 as well as a son who died last year in avehicular acident.) and I enjoy my life at last.

    Good luck with everything.
    Denise Holliday
    denisesined@ns.sympatico.ca

    May you find peace and joy in your life.

  18. Rig Daddy

    May 14, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    Dear Bridgette,

    I feel for you. Your body has put you into a very difficult place. To answer your first question, “Does one have to be transsexual in order to need to have sex reassignment?” I’d have to say no since I know a woman who had gender correction surgery and has never ID’s as a transexual or trasngender.

    Most cisgender people have no idea even how to address or even be social with non-cisgender folk. I can easily imagine people saying to you “just get the surgery than you’ll like men”. I want to ask them on what grounds or evidence do they make that statement.

    You have a difficult road ahead regardless of the choices you make. Be strong and true to YOURSELF not to the fools who think they somehow have a clue what you should want. You know who YOU are. Be yourself.

    I for one would like to see you continue this column. It has a fresh point of view and is a wonderful example to the rest of the world, straight, queer, trans, or cisgender that WE ARE ALL DIFFERENT and that is OK!

    Hugs,
    Rig Daddy
    (Back ground. I’m a queer, cisgender male part of a large pansexual tribe with people of all genders and orientations. Most people in my life are not cisgender.)

    • Nikki H

      May 15, 2010 at 9:27 am

      I agree that sexual orientation and gender identity are 2 separate issues. No one can tell you what or who you should or should not be sexually attracted to. That is absurd. Most Trans women and Crosdressers that I know identify as lesbian (attracted to other women or female identified Transsexuals). I think many tend to explore and experiment with sexuality especially after GRS. If you find out that you now prefer men, I assume you’ve had these tendencies for a long time but never acted on them. You just don’t suddenly change your sexuality…lol. I find that even though many or most Trans people experiment with their sexuality, generally they come back to what is familiar and comfortable for them.

    • Bridgette P. LaVictoire

      May 15, 2010 at 9:42 am

      Well, Nikki H, the last time I talked to anyone within the trans-community I was told that I should have sex before I had genital reconstruction because “you never know, you might find that you like it”. It’s a good thing I was not feeling more powerful or i probably would have hauled off and decked her. I have been pushed- from therapists, members of the trans community and others- to be ‘open’ to finding myself attracted to men, and that I should have sex with men before I discount it.

      I would rather die than do that.

    • Nikki H

      May 15, 2010 at 9:46 am

      Just curious. How do you know if the limitations put on you were due to being regarded as a woman or from being Trans? Personally, I find that an attractive woman has more advantages in society than a man. I think that fear and ignorance regarding GLBT people, especially conservative religious people, certainly affect their treatment of us including outright discrimination. That has more to do with my being Trans than being seen as a woman.

    • Bridgette P. LaVictoire

      May 15, 2010 at 9:51 am

      Nikki H-

      Let me see, this advice has largely come from either my gender therapists who specialize in transsexuality or from members of the transgender community. I certainly do not think that it is coming at me because I am a woman.

      I have never found that being a woman- pretty or not- gave anyone any real advantages in the world no matter what people may think.

      I wrote about this on 3 March: http://lezgetreal.com/?p=32754

  19. JT

    May 14, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    I think I understand what you mean (but please correct me if I’m wrong). I have a biologically-female ex who told me that she feels like a man on the inside who doesn’t want to identify with the trans community. (She would prefer that I refer to her using the female pronouns until she actually goes through with her transition). I hadn’t known about this for the longest time, so because I was wrought with guilt for rejecting her when she first came out to me that I would share with her every thing I learned and read about transgendered or transsexual people in trying to show support. While I thought I was expressing support, she thought I was pathologizing her, grouping her together with the trans community even though she had never identify with them. I was only trying to be supportive but I didn’t know how to be. Now I’ve come to the realization that she mostly identify as a straight man. She doesn’t feel comfortable in the queer community, lesbians or not.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is, I’m sorry that we cisgendered people and some people in the transgendered community try to put labels onto others like yourself and my ex. I hadn’t realize in the past that it was in a sense, a pathologizing action.

    Thank you for sharing.

    • Bridgette P. LaVictoire

      May 14, 2010 at 3:51 pm

      thank you JT. I think that is a lot of it. I feel like I’ve got a physical condition rather than an identity. I have always identified myself as a lesbian woman and not a translesbian or a lesbian transwoman. I am glad that you shared this with me since it does help to know that i am not alone in the world with regards to this.

      Very soon, I am hoping to have surgical castration, at that point, I have a feeling that I will start to really put this whole issue to rest.

      Thank you.

    • Nikki H

      May 15, 2010 at 9:21 am

      Identifying some as Trans if they fit the definition is not pathologizing them. I think your friend needs to get over her Transphobic and Homophobic cultural conditioning and accept that she is unique in her/his gender presentation. Again someone who needs gender therapy to learn to get over their self shame….

    • Bridgette P. LaVictoire

      May 15, 2010 at 9:36 am

      Nikki H.

      I’ve been through gender therapy. I did not help one iota in “getting over [my] self shame”. I have never felt comfortable thinking of myself as transsexual nor as a transwoman. If that means that I am filled with “self shame” and I am homophobic, so be it. The thing is, Nikki H, this is not about feeling self shame/loathing. It is about breaking that feeling in the end. I feel as if having to take on a label that does not seem to fit my identity- “transsexual”- only adds to the shame I feel rather than dissipating it.

      I do feel ashamed for having been born male. I always have.

    • JT

      May 17, 2010 at 10:34 am

      Nikki — Quite the contrary, my ex is not transphobic or homophobic, nor does she have self shame. She knows who she is, and she identifies as a straight man. Put it this way: When someone tells you that Person A is a man and Person B is a transman, what comes to mind? Most people will think Person A is a biological man whereas Person B is a person who used to be a woman. If my ex identifies as a straight man, it’s because my ex does not think of herself as a man who used to be a woman. My ex has never identified as a woman in the first place. The only reason why she prefer that I used the female pronouns to address her before she goes through any sort of transformation is probably because it’s easier than explaining all this to strangers over and over again. I hope you understand.

  20. Leann

    May 14, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    It sounds like you have a ways to go to come to grips with your life. I agree that you are a woman, feel like a woman, but have a feminist view point and also a lesbian. There are many other women just like you. So you’re only real problem is having a body that isn’t the standard XX female. Unfortuantely, even after every surgery you might need, the definition of ‘transexual’ would technically still apply to you. All “males” and “females” have stereotypes, but we’d all agree many people don’t fit them. The same holds true for transsexuals. There are certain stereotypes about them, and due to lack of education, most of them are negative and untrue. I wouldn’t want to identify as a transsexual either for that reason. Keeping with this reasoning, then some XX females out there, might not want to identify as female, because they do not act like them and feel perhaps they’re something more gender queer and prefer that. I guess what I’m saying is that at some level you have to cope with the definition of transsexual, but you don’t need to tell people you are anything other than female. Oh, and a feminist ;)

    • Bridgette P. LaVictoire

      May 14, 2010 at 2:24 pm

      Leann,

      Thank you. I have been at this for ten years, full time for six, on estrogen for two, anti-androgens now for just under a month. The thing is, i do not want to cope with the definition of transsexual at all. I just want it to go away. I feel sick every time I have to deal with this. I feel ashamed of having been born in a male body. I have tried every way of thinking about this to reconcile how I feel, and I just can’t.

    • Nikki H

      May 15, 2010 at 9:15 am

      I totally agree with the comment. I think you need to see a Gender Therapist to come to terms with who exactly you are and if you need GRS to make you feel more congruent. You also need to deal with you anger and abhorence of men. That is NOT normal. Figuring out my Gender Identity took me over 10 years with therapy and probably 40 years of living because I was really “bigender” with a more dominant feminine side. Remember that Gender is a spectrum. For those who do not fall at either extreme, it can be confusing to try and fit into a label or category. For a while, it worked being a gay man since I was sexually attracted to men
      (or at least I was until I started Estrogen and Testosterone blockers). Eventually, I realized that I fit into the Trans Community better than I fit into the Gay community. I had GRS almost 3 years ago and it was the best decision I’ve ever made. I wish I could have done it when I was 18 y.o. but Oh well. That’s life. I also have some problems relating to some Transgender people, especially drag queens and heterosexual crossdressers, because it is such a huge umbrella term. I’m more comfortable with post-op Trans women or men because we have similar issues but I realize everyone has their own unique journey and I respect that. Anyway, you need to accept that you are indeed Trans if you identify as a woman but were born with male genitalia and chromosones. I used to be ashamed of not passing well enough and the public seeing me as a Transsexual. I now feel that it’s OK if they “read” me. I am proud of who I am and what I’ve accomplished in my life. I’m proud of my courage and uniqueness. I”m proud to just be me. If others are uncomfortable with that then that is really their issue, not mine. Self acceptance is what is important and for some of us that takes a long time to achieve.
      My sister once gave me some great advice:” Why should you have to pass for anyone other than who you are?”. Those words often come to mind and I realize that being myself is just fine. I do my best to fit the female gender stereotype but I’ll always be a Trans woman. I try to get away from labels because I often feel they are restrictive and confining. I just try to be “me” and leave it at that.

    • Bridgette P. LaVictoire

      May 15, 2010 at 9:32 am

      Nikki H-

      (I am starting to think I had better start including a short bio with everything I write to avoid this conversation again)

      I came out to my family in 1999, I started gender therapy in 2002, moved in 2007, started gender therapy again in 2008, started estrogen therapy in 2008, started anti-androgens around a month ago. My problem is not accepting that I am female. I had thought that I made that clear in my response to Leann.

      My problem is accepting that I am “transsexual” as anything other than a medical condition. I have an antagonistic relationship with the trans community most of the time, and have always found a greater source of comfort within the lesbian community, over all.