Orchiectomy II

I met H at long intervals, because I did not go to Edinburgh much; and during her affair she told me with great excitement that she was lesbian. Not bisexual, despite being married with children, but lesbian. She was still living with her husband, only out of convenience. Then she went back to him, and I have not seen her again, but heard her embarrassment: she had told me that, and after our friendship would be different. At another occasion H got out her quaich, and the whole group drank together; and she was delighted when I told her she had made me feel more Scots than I had for a long time.

My friend’s wise husband, who wishes me well, observed that when I would say something important I would digress into some long story. Oh, dive in. This led to that, and there, and there, and your projected academic study of Transsexualism will take a similar line if you ever write it, and it is you I want to convince, and I know I cannot, because you too see the oppression of human females and loathe it.

I am freed to be myself by my transition. It is so much better. And you would tell me that is a partial liberation at a terrible cost, overseen administered enforced by patriarchy, which contributes to the patriarchal system of lies, and so the oppression of others. The case for that: One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman. No biological, psychological, or economic fate determines the figure that the human female presents in society; it is civilization as a whole that produces this creature, intermediate between male and eunuch, which is described as feminine. So said Simone de Beauvoir.

It is not true that women think emotionally, men rationally. Women may think rationally. Women are forced by cultural conditioning into being submissive, dependent, emotional, receptive, intuitive, timid, passive, sensitive- bonsai comes to mind- when if allowed to develop and mature without such conditioning they might be rational, etc. The conditioning is not as severe as it was, in some areas: The amount of women [under 40] who had good careers in traditional male fields – aeronautics, accountancy, engineering, civil eng, architecture, for example, was amazing. It is still noticed, not normal enough to be unremarkable; but it is happening.

Part of the pain I am feeling right now is that I think emotionally, and I really need that to be valued. It is beautiful! It is!

Insight of LS, 1987

Continue reading

Unnatural

It is ridiculous to call homosexuality or transsexualism “unnatural”- these things are just what people do. What would I call “unnatural”?

Honour killings. What overrides the “natural” love for relatives? The perpetrators will be even considered as a hero within the community because he is the one defending the family and community’s honour and reputation. Social pressures and beliefs about right and wrong override what I would like to hope was “natural”.

After nine years in England, a Polish woman did not know the word “and”. In an English speaking part of Wales, I picked up the Welsh word “a” quite quickly. She has managed to get by living mostly in the Polish community here. S seemed to disapprove- she has Polish roots and made her career among English speakers. F was “not making an effort”. I can see that being able to speak English is necessary to get a better job, here, but people choose their own priorities. Fiona Campbell, with Ukrainian roots, told me indignantly that her family had always spoken English over dinner. We were discussing the widespread use of Urdu, Bangla and Gujerati.

While the social pressure on trans people is strongly to present in the assigned gender, for those of us who cannot bear it there is an escape route: transition. It is not highly regarded: Colin/Fiona, my transvestite friend, told me of his acquaintance, a chartered accountant, who had transitioned and gone to college to retrain as a hairdresser. S/he had reverted after nine months. Colin saw my desire to transition as ridiculous, taking a transvestite fantasy too seriously.

Yet I understood the concept of transsexuality. Some people said clearly that transvestites were perverts, but transsexuals (we were happy, then, with the word as a noun) had a medical condition. We were protected against discrimination under the Sex Discrimination Act, as interpreted by courts and tribunals, and were soon to gain the Gender Recognition Act.

After more than a year transitioned, I was pretty sure I would not want to revert, and began to plan the operation.

Of course it is possible that I had the operation because of social pressures. I might have felt the need to prove myself more intensely because Graeme McGrath wrote to my GP, “Mr Languish is not transsexual”.

I could express myself as this feminine, and be accepted in society, if I was transsexual. I needed to be accepted in society in order to survive, and I needed to express myself as this feminine: the masculine mask was crushing me.

I saw that person on the bus again. Man’s shoes, woman’s woolly hat, presenting as a very feminine male. I am pretty sure they has testicles, though I have not asked. If I had that bravery…

We subvert gender, and reinforce it. We go along with the lie that being this feminine means being a woman; yet we anger the conservatives, by not even trying to be Real Men. Most of us have tried, but given up. Note that I do not assert, plainly that I am a woman as so many of us do: how could I know? This does not mean that the others are wrong.

I am clear that loss of genitals is a price worth paying. I needed that escape route from the cultural concept of Manhood. As other escape routes become available, perhaps the one I took will be less necessary; and only then will we learn if we are castrated because of social pressure: because the taboo against castration is very strong.

Blake, the great red dragon and the woman clothed in the Sun

Woman trapped in a man’s body

Snakes 1Tweet from Ricky Gervais: RG: Some transexuals think they were a woman trapped in a man’s body. KP: But what next? “Doctor, I think I’m a gerbil?” “Well you’re not!” 2 January 2013 at 10.03 am.

There are lots of answers to that “woman trapped in a man’s body” line. Here is my favourite. That blog site has not posted since 2007, which is a great shame: here is another beauty: rather than arguing sterilely about the meaning of privilege, We could try reminders that we’re not abstract constructs. In that vein, I thought–if it’s not too personal–we could talk about, well, each other. Go and have a look, you do not have to hunt far here for treasure.

“Woman trapped in a man’s body” is a line I hate, because it oversimplifies, and is wrong, and a line I love, because it explains. Here am I at 46 still finding aspects of myself I hardly dare call “feminine”, which I resent, so that the essential work of loving them is so difficult and time-consuming. I read the phrase, and think, well, that is OK, I am a woman- while parts of me still retort, no, I am a man, and wanting to dress female and use a female name is ridiculous.

And it oversimplifies. I am Me, I do not fit any pre-defined box.

P1000727So, for others.
I had my testicles removed.
That is disgusting and horrible and you are sick and OMFG and-
Well, I am a woman, and my man’s body did not fit me.

And if someone is seeking to understand, willing and able to see me as a person, the phrase might help them grope towards understanding and accepting something so weird I can barely understand it myself.

But if someone does not wish to understand, it becomes a way to reduce me. Rather than seeing this complex breathing human being before him, Gervais quotes the clichĂ© of a “woman trapped in a man’s body” which he then mocks.

I paid to be castrated. You can either do the difficult empathetic work of imagining what it might be like to want that, and do that, or you can ridicule.

Simply not understanding and accepting is difficult and painful, more difficult for the intelligent, who have so little practice in it. And the intelligent can produce an understanding which is wrong, but with their intelligence almost make it work.

It is not as simple as being a “woman trapped in a man’s body”, it is as complex as takes a hundred blog posts for me to explain to myself, leave alone anyone else. And- that phrase might be the key for a beginning of understanding.

At 11.39, Gervais tweeted, I love the fact that my tweets always annoy and please exactly the right people. Haha.  In other words, fuck you, I do not care what you think. Thank you, Ricky, it is always good to be reminded many people don’t.

Orchiectomy

Time to face this head on. “Being transsexual is a blessing”, I trill, “a wonder, a paradox, a unique perspective, a delight”. I have had my gonads removed. How is that not deeply harmful, a crippling?

I took my transition very slowly and carefully. I decided to work towards transitioning in November 2000, and started on oestrogen and a testosterone suppressant in Summer 2001, but until April 2002 I was still presenting male at work. I had my operation in February 2004, though I could have had it after a year expressing myself female: I believed there was a theoretical possibility that I might at some time want to revert. So after so long suppressing testosterone, I hardly think that the motivation to have the operation could have emerged from male sexuality. I got my gender recognition certificate, legally establishing that my sex is female, in February 2006. It just felt so right. Even now, it just feels right. Now, I find the idea of having any part of my body removed revolting, but that delighted me.

But that just moves the question one stage back. Is it not a deep sickness to want to have the gonads removed? It makes me like those people who want a healthy limb amputated. I notice that a comment on that blog suggests that such people should have psychological treatment, rather than an amputation, just as some Christians ignorantly say about transsexuals and gay people. I probably find BIID easier to understand than cis-sexuals do, though for those with BIID, of course, the amputation is the whole of the desire.

The only answer I have so far is that transsexuality as a whole is a blessing, and this is an inextricable part of it for me. That is, the removal of my gonads, taking away my ability to have children, is a bad thing but is more than compensated by all the other Good of the situation. I could not have had children anyway: I was too messed up in my 20s and 30s to be a good parent, and 45 is a bit late to start. I am more comfortable not producing testosterone. Orchiectomy goes with the territory, the desire is part of the phenomenon of Transsexuality.

In other words, you have to “take the rough with the smooth”. Um. There may be a better answer…

————————————————————————————————————–

I have not transitioned in order to anything. I have not transitioned in order to oppress radical feminists, or any woman chafing under cultural stereotypes of womanhood, with an ultragirly stereotype. Nor to fool straight men into my bed so that I can humiliate them.

There are strong arguments that transition was against my interests. I am attracted to women, and I have greatly reduced the pool of women who might be attracted to me. I have exposed myself to ignorant prejudice, and made it more difficult for me to find a job.

I have transitioned because I wanted to, just that, in and for itself. To achieve only itself. That is what we mean when we call this a gender identity issue, because my presenting male was an act, a lie, and I could not bear it even though transitioning terrified me and I only transitioned when I could not bear to fight it any longer. This is who I am. So autogynephilia feels as if it cannot be a cause of my condition, though it may coexist with it. Many women with ovaries find their own bodies sensual and erotic.

And while I may have reduced the number of women who might be attracted to me, I have greatly increased my ability to relate to them. I could no longer pretend to be a man.

————————————————————————————————————–

Added: the reference from Transabled.org has led a number of people, I presume some with BIID, to this page. Welcome. If I deny the hierarchy of oppression- intersex people do not do themselves any favours by distancing themselves from trans people- then, Welcome, brothers and sisters.

I want you to be happy, and a number of people will tell you how you should be happy. That is their stuff, not yours. You have to find out for yourself what will fulfil you, and pursue it. If living in a wheelchair, or even having an operation, is that, then it just is.

My friend asked me before I started to live full time: if I could take a pill, like in The Matrix, and be a normal male, would I take it? No, I said, because I would not then be me, though this took some time to work out. If I could take a pill and be a normal woman? Her answer was still no, because the journey is worthwhile. I do not know on that one.

If you could take a pill and have a normal body image, be happy with functional limbs, would you take it?