I see that some people in the trans community as well as outside it try to put up a fixed boundary between crossdressers and “real” transgender people. That is unfortunate, writes Jack Molay.
I agree. Some people who later identify as trans women, or who transition, start off identifying as cross-dressers. I am one. I thought I was a “transvestite”- not an objectionable word, then- as I slowly grew towards wanting to transition, deciding to transition, transitioning. As he says, “cross-dressing is an act, not a condition”. However, people show who we are by what we do, and someone who cross-dresses occasionally but has never seen a doctor about it has not shown to anyone that socially she is a trans woman. What we are entitled to depends on what we show we are, rather than what we claim we are, and fear and prejudice distort this.
Everyone is entitled to respect. Someone who cross-dresses occasionally is not respected, and this is a shame. My neighbour refused to speak to me after he saw me leaving home during the week for work dressed male but in the evenings and weekends for fun dressed female. He began speaking to me again after I transitioned. The cross-dresser may be disrespected by the cis person who thinks that is a man, a pervert, and it is unseemly for a man to do that, or by the trans woman who thinks that is a man and his flaunting may decrease respect for trans women.
Loos have cubicles. A cross-dresser using a woman’s loo for masturbation is disgusting, but then I disapprove of men using any public places for masturbation. That includes watching porn on the train. A cross-dresser using a woman’s loo to urinate does no harm at all, whether or not s/he wants to transition. Someone who cross-dresses occasionally (me again, twenty years ago) might want to use a woman’s loo as part of checking out whether transition was possible for her, before seeing a doctor or confessing she was considering transition to anyone else.
Trans women might object to any cross-dresser using a woman’s loo because they fear the cross-dresser makes it difficult for them, such as by increasing the fear of cis people. Some androphile trans women try to delegitimise gynephile or late-transitioning trans women, sometimes by conflating the two groups, or calling them ugly. That comes from misplaced fear, of being excluded and disrespected in turn. “I’m not like them, I’m a real transsexual” they wail. If you’re doing your best to appear to be a woman I don’t object to you.
What about going to work? I feel anyone should be able to wear what they like to work, if it is sufficiently formal. There are non-binary people, who go to work sometimes presenting female, sometimes presenting male. The more that happens, the more normal it becomes, the more unnecessary taboos are worn away.
Prisons and hospitals, though, women’s spaces are for trans women but not cross-dressers. That means having commenced transition. In prisons, you should need a diagnosis, because prisoners are dishonest, and may pretend to be trans for wicked purposes.
Trans women are mostly harmless. Judge us for what we do as individuals, not as a group for all wrong done by all trans women ever. Fear of trans women comes from irrational prejudice. Trans women seeking to exclude cross-dressers can come from fear of being a victim of that prejudice.