Trans politics is pretty messed up atm. Someone used the abbreviation HPW, which is hard to google- it did not mean, in context, High-Performance Working or the Highways and Public Works department of the Government of Yukon, but Hairy Panty Wearer. Someone referred to a hierarchy of trans from post-op at the top to HPWs at the bottom.
Googling eventually led me to this PhD thesis, by Sylvia Morgan: Constructing identities, reclaiming subjectivities, reconstructing selves: an interpretative study of transgender practices in Scotland. Someone identifying as a “cross-dresser” looked down on a HPW: A guy who has hairy arms, chest, legs and he slips on a pair of pants. Some of them really scare me…to me that’s kinky. And in my opinion, perversely sexual… the HPW is odder if you like than I am…I don’t pass judgment any longer. Really?
I wonder how a HPW would feel if he woke up in hospital. I don’t think anyone would identify as a HPW, which is why I don’t like the term. Possibly, underwear fetishist, or even bloke who wears frilly knickers. And, why ever not, if he wants to? And, unless he wants the rights of trans women without any desire to feminise his appearance in any way, what’s the problem?
That hierarchy, though- it could be either way up. HPW at the top- “I may wear panties but at least I don’t go out dressed female, that’s perverse”, “I may live full time female but at least I don’t want my balls cut off”- or post-op trans at the top, validated by the doctors, really a woman. Either way could be validated by how much the person wanted to fit in with normal society, either as a man or as a woman. If they are ordinary human desires, each group would be separate, and seen as better if they had managed to realise their wishes- so a HPW or post-op woman would be above a person who wanted to wear panties but never had the courage to acquire any, and someone who wanted to transition but hadn’t. If they are suspect human desires, you would be judged harshly if you had given them priority over acceptable wishes like family and career. It’s easy to find people to look down on, if you feel you must.
A twitter account called “Transsexual Voices Matter” said only people with a diagnosis of gender dysphoria who have had genital surgery are entitled to legal and societal protections, and transgender people are spoiling it for them. Or something like that. I went there to quote them verbatim, and find the account gone. Here’s a bit quoted somewhere else: GRA reform would only result in the increase in crime and litigation, make our society less safe for everyone and cause a tremendous damage to the hard won good social reputation of the decent transsexual women. We should try to fit in, that is. I suppose, up to a point…
Dr Morgan writes, many participants perceived themselves and their gender identities to be authentic, coherent and consistent over time, even while this was simultaneously being destabilized by the evident ambiguities within their narratives. Participants’ understanding of their identities mostly challenged the notion of the postmodern self as decentered, multiple, the subject fragmented.
That contradicts the post-structuralist view of “socially constructed and constrained subjectivities,” though a phenomenological viewpoint would treat people’s subjective experiences of their own identities with respect. I have just watched H’s video in which she identifies as post-structuralist, and it occurs to me that her repeated averral that “You know I see you as a man, don’t you” is an actual attempt to mould my conception of myself.
Though Tina says non-trans people don’t have to suffer others challenging their gender, saying “no you’re not”. They might say you’re not doing it right.
H talks of “performing” gender, with her long hair and her skirts (I don’t think I have seen her in trousers) but I think of it as “signalling” gender. That could be a matter of trust: she performs, so that men underestimate her and don’t know what’s hit them, I signal and imagine that they will respond in a correct co-operative fashion, that they will play with me in a way I find pleasant.
I need to come back to this thesis. Scrolling through looking for something else, I found There were several post-GRS participants who thought the GRS referral process was inadequate and haphazard, and four who thought their diagnosis and treatment had been wrong. Oh dear. That’s out of a sample of thirteen who have had GRS. Yet A reiterated criticism from participants was that in Scotland the GIC referral process for medical treatment can drag on frustratingly for several years, as experienced by many of the research participants; whereas only three participants said they felt pushed too speedily through the process. She recommends that Referrals for GRS should be made as soon as possible after the first GIC appointment. Does that mean 4/13 regretting surgery, or something else?