Transgender people confront a puzzle of identity in a veil of secrecy

19 08 2008

By Valryn Warren

Staff Writer – Dayton Daily News

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Transgender people have existed for at least as long as there is written history, but the term “transgender” is relatively new, coined in the 1990s.

It broadly encompasses a number of ways a person’s biological sex can differ from their gender identity — the sense of who they are, the things they’re drawn to and the way they prefer to appear.

But many people are still uncertain exactly what it means to be transgender — and that sometimes even includes those who are.

“Dayton is still very deeply closeted,” said Jenny Caden, a transsexual who recently started living full-time as a woman. “A lot of transgender people are simply too scared to go out, for fear of losing their job or their families, or of being ridiculed. Progress is being made, but it’s painfully slow. I wonder sometimes how much I’ll see in my lifetime.”

“Gender identity” and “transgender” are terms largely puzzling to the general public, partly because of the secrecy surrounding transgender expression.

Transgender is often spoken in the same breath as gay, lesbian and bisexual, adding to the confusion — since those are terms related to sexual orientation. A person can be transgender and of any sexual orientation, although the largest group within the transgender community — cross-dressers — are primarily heterosexual men.

“Sexual orientation is who you are attracted to, gender identity is who you are in your head,” said Bo Shuff, director of education and public policy at Equality Ohio, a statewide educational and political action coalition advocating equality for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.

A transgender person’s gender identity fluctuates, conflicts with, or varies from expected norms for their biological sex, or in some rare cases, the one they were assigned at birth.

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2 responses

20 08 2008
Hazumu Osaragi

I hang around a transgender support site. We compare notes on where the best and worst places to live are, worst being the least tolerant and least accepting.

The state of Ohio is debated as being one of the worst — if not THE worst — states for a transgender person to live in. The intolerance is so thick you can cut it with a knife. And I’m sure that there are many residents of Ohio who will be proud to learn this.

Here is a ‘canned’ piece I like to post at sites where trans-bashers are congregating. As I’m the first post here, consider it ‘testing the waters’, if you will. Please, indulge me…

May I interject a real life situation. I’d like to hear your guidance on this.

My mother was given a drug to take to lessen the chance of miscarriage and promote healthy babies — that’s what the doctor told her. The drug is Diethylstilbestrol, or DES. In male fetuses, it feminizes the brains of one in five of us ‘DES sons’.

I finally came to terms with this, and realized my choice was transition or die. So, I’m now a male-to-female transsexual who’s had ‘the operation.’ I’ve changed all my legal paperwork and although I still have a male body with XY chromosomes, it has been retrofitted to approximate female anatomy, which is good because if I ever end up in an accident, there will be no ’surprise’ for the first responders.

I ‘pass’ very well, thank you. Only rarely do strangers figure out I was not born this way. Most people have to be told, by me, or, more often, by someone else who just has to ‘drop the bomb.’

So my question to you is — knowing what you know now about me, and assuming for the moment you get absolute power to label me and make determinations on where I can and can’t go —

-Which restroom and changing facility do you feel I, a male-to-female transsexual, should use when in public spaces?

-Am I immoral?

-Am I a paedophile?

-Am I tearing down western society in support of a deviant agenda?

-Am I selfish?

I eagerly await your responses;

Hazumu Osaragi

21 08 2008
sarahlovesamy

Ok, I don’t often get some person asking things – and bringing up information so well.

I am living on the west coast – in Kitsap County. There are three major military bases here. In fact, my home is in a place they term as “Ground Zero” – during the cold war, it was thought that the best place to detonate a nuclear weapon was a mile above our hamlet, the center of three bases.

I digressed. You have spurred me to write more in the opening page. Amy has been unhappy with her contribution – it was written mostly because she was struggling with motherhood, children and life – that passed.

I am from Canada, currently living in the US – and you now peaked my interest in Diethylstilbestrol. I was adopted and my Bio mum died three years ago. It was, however, a medicine that was often prescribed to women in Canada, particularly in the rural areas. I have three sons as well. It has got me thinking. But, honestly, I have pretty much shelved the “why’s” and just do what is right for me without hurting others.

As far as myself – well, I will write about it more in the blog – but I pass. I don’t try to pass, but I pass. I am a WEMT and there will likely be no surprises for an emergency response personal – no matter how you were or are equipped. EMT surprises take a different view (and I could share stories here as well).

Interesting questions – I guess you are trying to ‘feel me out’?

Well, here are my responses.

-Which restroom and changing facility do you feel I, a male-to-female transsexual, should use when in public spaces?
Female – was this a trick question? Here is my question back.
Knowing that I can pass, without ‘dressing the part’ (M2F), my DL says M; which washroom should I use?
I use M but I get some interesting looks (and can’t be arrested)

-Am I immoral?
You mean, immoral in the theological sense? No. You have not broken any of the 10 Commandments; you have not committed a mortal sin or venial sin with being M2F. I am a practicing Catholic – and I was the lead alter boy at the Cathedral (largest church) in a large city (that is a different story). No, M2F is not immoral.

-Am I a pedophile?
Are you? Not for being a M2F. Gender has NOTHING to do with sexual behavior – other than an inny and an outy

-Am I tearing down western society in support of a deviant agenda?
What? I won’t even touch that one – sounds like American stuff…

-Am I selfish?
About what? What would make you think that you are selfish?

Ok, I have a question – you can answer it as a comment, but I won’t post. What were your pre and post dosages? That will confirm your honesty.

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