Internalized Transphobia & “Passing”

Posted: September 8, 2009 in Troll Wars

I talk about the culture of stealth and passing that I have encountered among transwomen.

The article about transwomen heirarchies of passing can be found here. I read a longer version in a new book (Trans/Form Feminsim?).

also see Monica’s critique of passing in Feministe » Stealth Was A Mistake. I think Monica is taking a courageous stand against the politics of Stealth and passing. She correctly links the Harry Benjamin Syndrome (HBS) and Women Born Transsexual (WBT) preoccupation with being “real women” with the self hatred of racial “passing”.

Predictably Monica has gotten a lot of pushback using the discourse of Victim Transfeminism
For instance jayinchicago states:

“Stealth” trans people didn’t create cissexism, and they/we shouldn’t be blamed for it.

Basically this line of attack immunizes Stealth and Passing from critique, because of the victim status of people going stealth. This is the victim feminism idea that victims have no agency or accountability. in this line of thinking collective action is impossible.

Those of us who are Behaviorally Female (ie brain sex) and Somatically Male need to come out of our closets, come out into the daylight and shout
We are here! We are queer! Get used to it!

keywords: stealth, passing, transwomen, transgender, mtf, transsexual, feminism, bodyhate, genderdysphoria, transitioning, queer, sanfrancisco, castes, Hierarchies of Passing, internalized,transphobia, selfhate

  1. […] straight from the horse’s mouth…THIS is what a trans woman looks like.  Meet Jasper, a transgender sister who is not bashful in giving us a perfect lesson in what a trans woman really […]

  2. Laura R. says:

    Transsexualism is a serious life threatening medical condition. Transsexualism causes great suffering to those who are affected. There is no joy, fulfillment, or satisfaction in transsexualism. It is a terrible thing to be afflicted with. There is no one who is happy about being a transsexual. Transsexualism is not a choice and is not a lifestyle. A person is born with it, and it is a curse. It can be cured with proper hormonal treatment and surgery. Transsexualism is a temporary condition.

    What do transsexuals need? They need early treatment in childhood and recognition of their true sexual status, and to be allowed to go to school and live as their true sex. They need medication to block their indigenous hormones, and hormone treatment to induce the proper puberty. They need SRS to complete the process. They need the proper documentation to live a normal life. They need to have their privacy respected so they can live as normal men and women in society.

    I fear most transgendered people do not understand transsexuals or their needs, and assume that they and transsexuals are similar. Some transgendered people even claim to be transsexuals. If you see a person claiming to be a transsexual who seems happy about it, you can be assured they are not transsexual. I have even heard of some transgendered people criticizing transsexuals for their need for surgery and merging into society. I have heard of transsexuals being “outed” by transgendered people. This signifies a complete inability to understand transsexuals. I suppose it is true that you can’t really understand someone until you have walked a mile in their shoes.

  3. […] pontifications on TransGriot’s post (Stealth was a mistake) at […]

  4. Purple Girl says:

    Passing and stealth is that ALL true-TSs by definition want, and giving them what they want is not harmful. True-TSs are not a part of the transgender movement. True-TSism is a birth defect, most transgenderism is a choice.

    Yes Passing and stealth are bad for crossdressers, TGs, and other modified men who merely pretend to be women. The best way to keep TGs and TSs from working against each other is to admit they are separate.

    Most transgenders hate themselves and are afraid to admit that they are a type of MEN. TGs are mostly just feminized men, and what is wrong with admitting that is what you are? Why not call yourselves transgenders or TGs, not TSs, and admit that you are a man who has a feminine side and likes to wear some feminine clothes? Why must you claim to be women and step on those of us who have a genetic and neurological claim that makes them equal to women born with vaginas? Why must you rob us, rape us, and steal our identity from us? Why can’t you admit that TSs are a type of mainstream woman, and TG males are a type of man?

    A TS has to have hormones and surgery. When a TG gets hormones and surgery he is degrading and mutilating himself.

    You are not my sister. On the cosmic sense, you are my brother. Listening to your video showed the same arrogance and power of most men, the traits no TS wants in themselves.

    BTW, TSs do have the brain wiring of females, and it shows on EEGs, CT Scans, etc. TGs have the same wiring as their birth gender. A “transwoman” or MtF transgender has the exact same brain wiring as men. MtF TSs have the same brain wiring as women.

    Stop trying to lump women with MY birth defect in with people who CHOOSE to practice your disgusting lifestyle. I will stop opposing TGs as soon as TGs admit that I am not like them, that I am not welcome in their community, and when they stop telling lies on me and claiming to represent me.

  5. Megan says:

    Wow! And I mean WOW!

    The body of scientific evidence supporting a biological cause for classic transsexualism is increasing exponentially. Not only are their chromosomal abnormalities which originate at conception but there are pre-natal developmental abnormalities which generally occur between the 12th and 14th week of gestation. Conversely, there is no body of evidence of which I’m aware that even remotely suggests there is a biological cause for transvestism (or crossdressing, or transgenderism for those who prefer the more politically correct terminology).

    In short, you can take a classic transsexual before any medical treatments and plop them down into the Taliban’s Afghanistan and they will still be essentially more female than male (though not necessarily qualitatively so). Similarly, you can take a male and make him 100% passable as a female but he will always be male. (I’m reminded of the number of intersexed babies for whom the wrong choice was made when performing “corrective” surgery).

    Should this suggest someone like me is somehow superior or entitled to membership in a higher caste than someone for whom the “transexperience” is not biologically based? Absolutely not. If anything it suggests that someone like me holds very little value, if any, value for the species from an evolutionary perspective.

    I have seen this hierarchy you discuss but only within the TG/TS community. There is sense that the younger, prettier, and more fashionable regardless of the expense, the number of cosmetic/plastic procedures, the amount of silicone injected involved the “better” one is. It’s not unlike “ride pimpers” whose life revolves around having the hottest car. When it does involve a car that sort of obsession is kind of funny. When it involves one’s body it becomes frightening and dangerous. That’s why I tend to avoid the TG/TS community like the plague.

    Within my network of people also afflicted with classical transsexualism those pressures do not exist. “Passing” occurs naturally as transition progresses and one becomes more comfortable in their own skin. It is a matter of confidence, not a matter of body modification. That is what we tend to encourage.

    “Stealth” is a serious issue. The vast majority of us do not live in Hollywood, San Francisco, NYC, Boston, Chicago or any of the other TGLB meccas. We live in middle America leading mostly middle American lives. In many cases “stealth” is not so much an option as it is a matter of survival. My own view on the issue is both curious and confusion. On the one hand I refuse to live my life in fear of being “clocked” or “outted”. That was hell enough when I tried to deal with this as a child. On the other hand, I see no reason to walk around with a flashing neon sign over my head that reads “TRANNY”. There is a huge middle-ground between “stealth” and “broadcasting” where I can fit comfortably.

    I’m sure you are familiar with the concept of “gaydar”. Well, that sort of thing isn’t limited to just GLB people. Many of us also have it towards us. When we meet of chat with someone we can generally tell whether they share our condition or not; regardless of whether they appear “trans” or not. It’s kind of weird and creepy sometimes. What I have found to be true more often than not is when that instinctual recognition of sameness is triggered, whomever is the cause, we are almost always prepared to help them help themselves.

    Now the problems you may have had with apparent transsexuals in the past have probably been addressed in my ramblings. Either the transsexual in question is subject to that body-mod snobbery within the TG/TS community or you have met someone dealing with classic transsexualism and not triggered that sense of sameness. Of course, there is also the possibility that the people just don’t want to deal with you, regardless of “trans” anything. That happens to everyone everyday.

    There is one thing about your blog I’m having problems wrapping my head around and that is how you can self-identify as a “Cross-Dresser” and an “Authentic Woman” at the same time. I mean, a cross-dresser is, by definition, someone who wears the clothes generally associated with the opposite gender. It must take some serious mental jiu-jitsu to make that work.

    The one thing I am learning the more time progresses is how inappropriate the term “transsexual” has become to describe what I have tried to deal with for my entire life. After all, I am not transsexual because of what I do. Perhaps “intersexed” might be a better word. Maybe we who are dealing with classic transsexualism would be best off by abandoning the adjective which has mutated into a noun to the people for who appearing to me as much of woman as possible, rather than trying to better fit into mainstream society.

  6. Jasper Gregory says:

    Thanks for your thoughtful reply. I am glad that my video post affected you. Just a quick comment on the chromosomal basis for Transsexuality. I am pretty up to date on the empirical data. I have been convinced of brain sex. I just interpret the data differently. I think that many of us have an innate femininity and a somatically male body. I think this category includes MTF’s, Trangender transwomen, genderqueers, femme queens, and someone like me, a non transitioning transwoman. The problem is that scientists like Swaab have only studied MTFs. Since they have never tried to compare an MTF brain with a femme queen, genderqueer or no-hormone transgender, we have no data. That means we are usually lumped in with default males. I find it very likely that when our hypothalmuses are examined they will show the same structure as the transsexuals that have been studied.

    As for my identity as authentic woman and crossdresser, i can say this. I have always had an innate femininity which has caused a great deal of social conflict for me. A year ago I transitioned social role from man to woman, and expressed this though crossdressing fulltime. I considered hormones and even started electrolysis, but in the end I decided that I would be happiest expressing my womanness in a non-traditional, non passing way. I ended up choosing to tune my crossdressing to the environment I am in I test taboos rather that breaking them. I just did not want the constant harassment. At the same time I am out to everyone who knows me.
    Basically I think the group of innately feminine males is much larger than we know, and crossdressing is a way that many males find of expressing their womanness without facing the consequences of being out as innately femme.

  7. Molly says:

    Bless you, Jasper Gregory, for your comments on innately feminine males and that our crossdressing is how we cope in a world that refuses to recognize the continuum of gender expression. I don’t have your courage. You, and brave souls like you, risk job dismissal, social expulsion, beatings and death from the “sane” world. And the DSM-IV TR still labels me
    as the one with the mental problem.

  8. Jasper Gregory says:

    Bless you too Molly for showing that there are more of us gender outlaws than anyone knows. My courage comes from being stubborn and from growing up in the Mormon Theocracy of Utah. That said my trajectory of public expression began in ubersafe settings like Burning Man and Gay drag clubs. I had training wheels.
    I would love it if you added your voice to the commenters on this thread. That thread is really getting a diversity of Gender Experiences.

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