“Sometimes, We Just Have to Pay Full Price.”

(Crossposted to Transadvocate.com) 

My partner is a nut about sales.  If it isn’t on sale, it doesn’t get purchased.  So sometimes, when we run out of a breakfast staple and such, I have to remind her of that basic fact of life:  “sometimes, we just have to pay full price.”

And then, the phrase comes back to haunt me.  This usually happens around the evenings, these days.  She’s been talking about returning to work in a capacity which would take her out to job sites with contractors and crew, some of whom could know from her previous 20 years of work in that trade that she is trans.  And I’ve been having troubling dreams about both that and my own job, where I’ve been back for several months with no trouble beyond the occasional rude exchange, and now all of a sudden I’m dreaming repetitively about getting shot in the head.  The latter is not something I’m actually afraid of during the light of day, so I’m wondering what is bringing this all on.  Am I sensing something nasty coming, or am I just reading the trans-related news way too much?  And that’s when that dirty little voice says to me, “sometimes, we just have to pay full price.”

And that’s when I start thinking about how far we’ve come… or haven’t as the case may be.  The first GRS surgeries were performed in the 1940s, and with the rise of Nazi Germany and its pogroms, the invention of “stealth” soon followed.  We’ve been in hiding ever since.  Don’t get me wrong — I’m on record as defending a woman’s and man’s right to go stealth if they feel it’s best for them.  We earn that.  But the wholesale movement toward stealth — the lack of barely anybody to stay behind and educate the masses — has meant that we’ve only made small strides during that time.  The first known piece of trans-inclusive legislation didn’t happen until 1993, and most of those strides have been since then.  And without adult transfolk there to lay that groundwork, a crisis has developed.  Because now it is children on the front lines.

 I apologize for wandering, but I think this is what has been bringing me to tears, the fact that the battles that transfolk largely hid from are now being fought by Lawrence King and the girl in Denver who has fortunately as yet not been outed by the media.  Maybe this is what’s been causing the dreams — guilt for not taking the bullet, in hopes that in some way, they might not have to.

Of course, there’s no guarantee that would work.  There’s no reason to believe that any awareness generated from a transwoman’s death in Calgary, Alberta would change the mind of the people who helped load Brandon McInerney’s bigotry gun in Oxnard, California.  It’s the unfairness of the situation that bothers me.

And I am not misplacing my anger.  I’m still outraged at the shooter, at the climate that made King’s murder possible, at the religious right which is doing everything it can to make things treacherous for the student in Denver and others, at the lack of protections for kids and transfolk, at the lack of parents who’ll teach their kids that shooting someone for no good reason is a bad idea.  And the whole concept of hate-killing itself is indefensible — the risk of peril, violence and death should not be the “price” for anything.  But it is 2008, the Jerry Springer Show was cancelled how many years ago, and we still haven’t given the world a more realistic face?  People can jump up and down and border on co-opting King’s death all they want, but sooner or later, someone will have to realize that our community shares some of the blame. 

And I don’t mean to paint all the community with the same brush — there are definitely soldiers out there with hearts on their sleeves… usually fighting alone, or close to it.  And as a baby activist myself, I’m still learning how easy it is to become painted as “fringe,” be alienated for a myriad of reasons, and be hamstrung by lack of funding and support.  Often by our own.

Many medical professionals and even many parents have come to understanding the transgender experience enough that kids no longer have to hide until they’re forty, before starting to living their lives.  There will be more youth and children transitioning in the face of society.

Like the middle-class families looking at the national debt and thinking, “let the next generation take care of it,” many of the community would rather just let the conflicts fall to someone else. 

“Sometimes, we just have to pay full price.”  But paying it should never have fallen to the kids.

  1. Once more, with feeling….

    I get so tired of people trying to claim that the reason people are stealth is fear, or shame, or something along tnose lines. Most of us, who are stealth to any degree, do so because we simply did not go through all of this to be seen as “former men.” If that is what you really want, hey, as you say, you earned that right. But a strong desire for being “out, loud, and proud” should raise some warning flags for anyone who claims to want to “really be a woman.” Of course, for those who are FTM, please just substitute the appropriate terms.

    People talk about how people need to be out to make it easier for those who come behind… Actually, while we do need laws to protect people if they do get outed, being stealth generally means you enjoy the benefits of being who you claim to be without the baggage of being trans.

    As I have said many times, you can be a woman, or you can be trans, but you REALLY can’t be both.

    • thoughtsandfeelingsabout
    • February 24th, 2008

    I have to agree with Just Jennifer. There are more ways to understand this than the way the trans movement sees it. I was a kid and went through what I went through early in life. I think because of the travesties of the trans movement, it’s actually much harder now than when I went through it.

    My own perspective is that I had something like a cleft palate repaired. The stealth model of the trans movement is shallow. It suggests that there’s something to hide. I’m a woman and I’m not interested in a movement for drag queeens, tranvestites and married men.

    “As I have said many times, you can be a woman, or you can be trans, but you REALLY can’t be both.”

    Exactly.

  2. The first GRS surgeries were performed in the 1940s, and with the rise of Nazi Germany and its pogroms, the invention of “stealth” soon followed.

    I sure do hope that this is not from some “EXPERT”.

    SRS/GRS surgeries go back thousands of years, Rome, Egypt, China all have had them. In our “MODERN AGE” 1929 and Lili Elbe come to mind. the SRS surgeries tried in Germany were stopped by Hitlers war on Jews and modern medicine. Hershfield had fled Germany in the early 30″s.

    A simple web search would take less than 5 minutes and make the writer seem intelligent.

    • dentedbluemercedes
    • February 25th, 2008

    By “GRS,” I’d meant vaginaplasties as we know them, rather than eunuching, and yes, I messed up on the decade. This was an emotional moment, and this sort of blunder can happen at those times.

    It’s amazing how my blog has turned solely into an opportunity for the HBS “you aren’t real, you don’t speak for us, shut the f— up” crowd to launch personal attacks.

    • gorgonqueen
    • February 25th, 2008

    > It’s amazing how my blog has turned solely into an opportunity for the HBS “you aren’t real, you don’t speak for us, shut the f— up” crowd to launch personal attacks.

    That’s because, being a gracious person, you haven’t banned them outright, nor offered them sufficient offense to evoke the inevitable flounce. Having nowhere else to go – having cut themselves out of the loop in so many ways – they are reduced to sniping and nattering on those few blogs that will put up with them.

    Personally, I don’t comment much simply because I like your words as they are.

  3. I’m sorry, I believe you went a bit too far. No, I do not identify as transgender, and therefore, the Gender Fascist crowd does not speak for me. But that does not mean that I would ever demand that anyone shut up. Unlike the Gender Fascists, I believe that people have the right to express their opinions. Of course, if someone is terrified of disagreement, I can understand their need to ban anyone who disagrees with them. And I can understand who they would see any disagreement as a personal attack.

    It is really sad that people feel that way, but I suppose, it is understandable.

    • gorgonqueen
    • February 25th, 2008

    I note that in a last-ditch effort to sustain some measure of viability in the local blogosphere, Jennifer has stopped referring to all transgender-identified transwomen with male pronouns. Having had her knuckles rapped a few too many times, she has evidently become a little more canny in her responses, which are understated where they used to be overt.

    Tactically appropriate, if no more honest.

  4. Nope, I only refer to the ones who act like men that way. Actually, there are more than a few “transgender-identified transwomen” (as Gorgo here insists) that I refer to with female pronouns. Of course, this one is not noted for being particularly truthful anyway. Quite frankly, I respond as I think appropriate. Unlike Gorgo, who always seems to come across like a raging bull, or at least a raging load thereof.

    • Michelle
    • February 26th, 2008

    “The first GRS surgeries were performed in the 1940s, and with the rise of Nazi Germany and its pogroms, the invention of “stealth” soon followed.”

    Do people with club feet live in “stealth” after having reparative surgery. My whole life I knew I would grow up to be a woman and I did. I am not “stealth” like other women I the woman I’d knew I would grow up to be. When people have their tonsils out is there a tonsil movement? So what is this “stealth” silliness? It seems to me that it’s just tranvestite culture.

    I think it’s time to recognize that there is a group of annexing transvestites whose intention it is to impose their life experience on the lives of women. That’s what men do.

    • gorgonqueen
    • February 26th, 2008

    *Snicker*

    Only a tranny would posit an equivalance between genital reconstruction and having one’s tonsils removed.

    • gorgonqueen
    • February 26th, 2008

    Considering this thread in the light of a current fracas on Transadvocate, what really tickles me is that Michelle et al like to use the language of people with whom they desperately want to claim affinity – anti-trans feminists – but who would be quite happy to throw them on the same trash heap as every other kind of transperson.

    It’s as if the whole “lives of women” bit were just magic words… keep uttering the invocation against “transvestites” and your own transness vanishes and you will ascend into the firmament of True Feminist Acceptance.

    It’s so sad and infantile.

  5. Well, for a woman with HBS, having sex affirmation surgery is somewhat akin to having one’s tonsil’s removed. It is simply the removal of unwanted tissue, and the correction of what is left. Now, I suppose for someone like Gorgo, it is quite different. For them, it would represent the loss of that which defines their very being. Of course, I notice the use of the insulting word “tranny.” Typical.

    And I can’t speak for Michelle, but I have NO desire to claim affinity with radical feminists. Ironically, it is those like Gorgo who actually have the affinity with the radical feminists. Quite the contrary is true for myself. The radical feminists hold to the same deconstructionist position that Gorgo seems to favor…that gender is a social construct, and that physical sex is actually immutable. This is the position of the radical feminists.

    One does have to wonder why some are so obsessed with the fact that many of us are able to live stealth lives as simply normal women. Why does this bother some as much as it does?

    • Princess Velcro
    • February 28th, 2008

    Jennifer, why do you keep calling Val “Gorgo”?

  6. Sorry if I seem overbearing on some issues I really can be nice.

    I prefer to be semi stealth. I transitioned on a retail sales floor and increased my sales and income, not what the management expected.

    So many know me. Over the years I have remained active in the Trans comunity, and created a nice life as a woman as well.

    I don’t want to start over some where to be stealth or woodworked. I feel that those who made Minnesota before I understood my problems were owed some return on their investments.

    While I am disabled and can not endow a legacy of money I can leave a body of work for the future generations.

    I will be forgotten quickly, Ashley Rukes had the pride parade named for her on her death, I knew her as one hell of a woman with great spirit, I will never be in the same volumme of works as she. She never believed that stealth existed except in the mind of those who are. Only that women are women, who cares how.

    If they don’t know, why tell them, but don’t deny things that will come back to bite you on the a**.

    • Bobbi
    • March 12th, 2008

    Seems to me it should be simple. Decide for yourself what is best for you. Let others do the same. You have no right to use someone else’s life as part of your own personal agenda. They don’t have the right to use yours.

    If you were born male, transitioned, and had SRS, you’re now a woman in body, just has you’ve always been one in mind and spirit. Whether you broadcast to the world the road you took to get there or not doesn’t change who and what you are.

    Do you feel the need to be politically active and try to pave an easier road for those who come after you? That’s truly wonderful, and with all my heart I salute you for it. But some think they’ve gone through enough, and just want to try and live the rest of their lives as “ordinary” women, leading “ordinary” lives. They’ve had enough of being different, and have earned some peace if they want it.

    Some people don’t want to be on a crusade. They just want to be like everyone else… finally.

  7. First, I wanted to say that I enjoy this blog, even though I don’t comment very often. I’m sorry to see this rampage of attacks here.

    Someone said: “As I have said many times, you can be a woman, or you can be trans, but you REALLY can’t be both.” It makes me so angry when people continue to create new boxes. I’m FTM, pre-T, pre-op (maybe non-op) but even when I’ve transitioned, I will always consider myself trans. And yes, a man too. And yes, still with my “feminine” side, whatever that is. Yes, I’m one of those who does not adhere to a binary gender system. If others do, fine, but don’t you dare impose it on me.

    I can be more than one thing. Others can be too. It’s up to each person to be what they want to be. Anyone who has had to fight to be who they are or want to be should know that.

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