Transgender, Transtrender, Identity and Validity

Ecce Homo

If there is one thing that transgender people enjoy more than fighting with feminists, it’s fighting with each other. Aside from the ‘out group’ that comprises those of us who are secure enough to be able to publicly acknowledge that ‘trans women’ are male (or if that’s not enough apostasy for you, to openly acknowledge that ‘trans women’ are men) there is another group who are reviled, known as the ‘transtrender’. 

Transgender/transtrender is a false distinction that this has been artificially created within transgenderism to result in an in/out group position that exists in order for one group to claim validity. Individuals who are nominally claimed to be allies to transgender people are being instrumentalised in reinforcing this distinction. I have significant concerns over the negative impact of this strategy. 

The transtrender is defined at the Urban Dictionary as:

a person who identifies as male or female but does not experience any gender dysphoria. It can also mean someone who identifies as male or female because they think it’s trendy/cool.

Note my emphasis, of the terms that are used to differentiate the ‘transtrender’ from ‘transgender’, effectively creating a claim to the validity of one over the other. Other definitions volunteered on the same page seek to emphasise this claimed difference, for example:

Theoretically, they should be easy to criticise because what they do trivialises the struggles of people who are actually transgender.

and this:

Transtrenders are incredibly disrespectful to real transgender people, making a mockery of what transgender people experience, invalidating the problems and hurt that real transgender people face, and turning these people’s identity into a fashion trend.

and this, which appears to have been written without any sense of irony whatsoever, given that the battle by men to claim ‘woman’ has now widened to ‘female’:

A person who adopts or appropriates the transgender label or identity, for political reasons.

The latter statements, which use the terms ‘trivialises’, ‘mockery’ and ‘appropriates’,  tread that fine line that sometimes exists between utterly fucking hilarious and outright offensive; these little jewels are are indicative of the irony-free way that transgender people criticise those they perceive as ‘trenders in order to create a hierarchy of validity.

They do this seemingly oblivious to how hypocritical this makes them as members of a cultural movement that tells women, who have had a lifetime of the experience of being women, that their experiences as women are equal to those of men who have spent years reaping the privileges of being a man in a man’s world yet have now decided to become their ‘true self’.

Your eyes are not deceiving you.

Of course, this essay is not about the Urban Dictionary; these examples are here because they reflect what happens in the real world, ‘transtrenders’ are the whipping boys of the transgender community, a community whose umbrella is drawn so wide it is probably easier to work out who isn’t under the umbrella rather than who is. The inclusion of intersex hopelessly conflates the material reality of those conditions with the human made cultural construct of gender. Including Hijra, drag and eunuchs completely rewrites any cultural basis for the existence of these categories and is just another case of (mainly white, male) transgender culture musceling in on and opportunistically claiming any cultural practices that suit its purpose.

To suggest any feminine man or masculine woman is transgender really is an ambitious reach and doesn’t itself give anyone very far to deviate in behaviour or preferences without becoming ‘part of the club’: if we are going to ‘trans’ anyone who contravenes any aspect of societiety’s expectations of what it is to be a woman or a man, to paraphrase an immortal line: we are gonna need a bigger umbrella. And this is exactly what the transgender community have done in its need to be inclusive and celebrate the diversity of everything (except, of course, diversity of opinion) they have gone and shot themselves in the foot: in its need to acquire more and more political power, transgender activists have done to ‘transgender’ exactly what they do with every other word they attempt to seize control of, they have completely emptied this word of any meaning.

YouTuber Magdalen Berns makes some excellent points about this false distinction in this video, which itself distinguishes between transsexuals and transgender individuals, noting that transsexual involves dysphoria, drug therapy and, ultimately surgery: there is a real, material component to (post surgical) transsexualism. 

As Berns observes the transgender umbrella is being used to subsume ‘transsexual’ as a useful description. This is, itself, potentially against the interests of transsexuals: it negates the established meaning behind what we are and replace it with an identity-based ‘opt-in’, and our surgeries and efforts to transition and assimilate are made meaningless. 

Although I’m not going to argue that transsexual is more valid than transgender, we cannot after all really change sex and I cannot support surgical castration and inversion of the genitals just to claim a label, there is a meaning to ‘transsexual’ which is lost when replaced by ‘transgender’, simply because of the broadness with which the latter is both used and defined.

As Berns explains, the various definitions of ‘transgender’ lack any real meaning, but this doesn’t stop lobbying groups using this to further their own interests through the widening of the group they represent: we can thus make a reasoned argument that the claim to validity of transgender over transtrender is null because, as Berns concludes, by the definitions offered, whatever is a transgender person is can be taken to mean ‘any useful idiot’

In the quest for validity and the drawing of this false distinction, we have a situation that is exactly the same as in Monty Python’s ‘The Life of Brian’ (so many scenes from this film can be compared to the transgender zeitgeist): this really is ‘The People’s Front of Judea’ versus ‘The Judean People’s Front’.

The disdain, lateral violence even, that has been directed at those branded ‘transtrenders’, has spilled over to individuals and communities who aren’t even tangentially related to the transgender movement. These new recruits feel able to decry select targets as ‘fake’. See, for example, attacks on Riley J Dennis and Milo Stewart. In ‘Riley J Dennis is INSANE and hurts actual trans people‘, YouTuber MrRedsGaming lambasts Dennis using anti-feminist and homophobic rhetoric such as:

Most of the people who describe themselves as feminists these days are more anti-man than pro-equality… you don’t seem like you have gender dysphoria… it just seems like you are a kind of transtrender… you sound like a retard… people like Justin Riley Dennis lesbian fag-bag here actually do damage the trans community… find Riley and all these faggots online… I don’t feel bad for shitting on all these special snowflake faggots.

There’s plenty about Riley J Dennis to disagree with politically, but the response to political disagreement is political criticism, not homophobic rhetoric. There are many people who have disagreed with Dennis’s public statements about sexuality, gender and in particular whether dating preferences are discriminatory or genital preferences are transphobic and these criticisms can be constructively and intelligently argued

Dialog like this is in itself important, because much of what Dennis argues for is exactly what lesbians and gay men have been fighting against since forever, that homosexuality is not a choice. Dennis’s pleading is a kinder, gentler more nuanced encouragement to bend one’s sexual orientation that is ultimately comparable to the objectives of conversion therapy, something else LGBT and other human rights groups have been fighting against for decades

But, we don’t fight Dennis’s homophobia with more homophobia, and those who step in to do this are not doing LGBT people a favour. 

The application of sexually coercive or openly sexist rhetoric merits strong criticism, here follows an actual quote from the ‘Suit Yourself’ video collaboration with the transgender YouTuber known as Persephone Sixty Six entitled ‘Do I need hormone replacement therapy‘ in which ‘SuitYourself’ speaks to Stewart (a female):

Of course, Milo, we can stop for a moment and appreciate how cute you look, because you look so fuckable sometimes, even though you’re trying to be a man, but you’re not; you’re a girl. And I’d bend you over, and make you scream like a girl. That’s for sure. Especially now you’re of age. And you should probably try that. Get yourself a real man. Get a real man in you. Become the woman. Hear you roar.

It should ring alarm bells that the ‘in group’ is leveraging support from outsiders in order to claim hierarchy over the ‘out group’. The nature of and way this support is expressed in homophobic or predatory sexist terms by rights should have the transgender community up in arms, except it won’t because, of course, significantly most transgender individuals are heterosexual males who likely have very limited experience of being on the receiving end of homophobia or sexism, and so cannot identify this language as being the language of the oppressor. This is a characteristic inherent to transgender individuals because of the etiology of their transgender identities

The transgender movement has benefitted immensely from the widening of the meaning of ‘transgender’ (and consequentially the ‘T’ in LGBT) and this has opened up a contradiction that lies at the heart of the transgender movement because, at the same time within broader transgender culture, we see some individuals being considered a threat to the validity of the ‘transgender’ status as claimed, individuals who in reality have as much claim to ‘transgender’ as anyone else. Those individuals experience not just lateral violence directed from the in-group to the out-group, but also from individuals the transgender cause is recruiting and instrumentalising from outside their group, individuals who use sexist and homophobic rhetoric and demonstrate no empathy for or understanding of what either transgender or transsexual may be, or the challenges we face. 

This is laterally and downward vertically directed and a dangerous hypocrisy of the very highest order. I published a piece last week that looked at Alex Drummond and Pippa Bunce, who respectively are the ‘trans woman who kept her beard’ and someone who likes ‘to be Phil one day and Pippa another, using different forms of dress and make-up to do so’; how can these individuals, who have institutional power in LGBT organisations, be ‘genuinely transgender’ (whatever that may mean) if Stewart and Dennis are not? What are the real differences here? This hierarchy of course, is a very risky strategy, because when the backlash against transgender materialises, which it will, guaranteed the outsiders will not stick around to fight the corner for whatever remains of the transgender rights movement. 

When you examine those external to the movement who are, for now, on their side, and will in turn likely form the muscle of this backlash, it is apparent from their rhetoric that their sex and gender politics are far from progressive. This should be no surprise, because transgenderism is itself the antithesis of social progression. I am worried for what this means for women, homosexuals and especially younger people who are now identifying themselves as transgender. Decades of social progress and acceptance are in danger of being unravelled and replaced with old-fashioned sexism and homophobia. This is a huge leap backwards, and for the  consequences of this, we as members of LGBT should, all of us, be afraid; be very afraid.

12 Responses to “Transgender, Transtrender, Identity and Validity”

  • Jill

    Good grief, it’s all gone completely batshit. I seem to be hitting #peaktrans on a bloody daily basis. It’s sad because I’m a haggard old bag who has been respecting pronouns and sharing bathrooms perfectly happily with trans biological males* since the early 80s.

    I suppose we just have to hope the whole thing collapses into its own black hole of cognitive dissonance before the idiot politicians get around to legislating. And the black hole can disappear up its own (socially constructed) fundament, never to be seen again. Then we can all get back to where we were and build on ACTUAL, MATERIAL improvements for the lives of ACTUAL, REAL marginalised people. We can but hope.

    *In LGB spaces, which is a very different proposition to sharing bathrooms in places frequented by straight men (or these newfangled trans types), I suppose.

  • Whatevs

    Well, this gave me a laugh (while also making me slightly frustrated, but hey). First of all, I’m not trans, but I’m

    fairly familiar with it given how their presence is pervasive it is in some places, and I’ve done research; curiosity

    and all that.

    Now, let’s get to it. You might want to differentiate where “battle by men to claim ‘woman’ has now widened to

    ‘female’:” this comes from. Here’s one idea: It’s not from those that are truscum. And no, it’s not just men; but

    women as well. It’s a rather bad tendency to ‘leave out’ women, when one is writing about something that’s perceived

    as bad. TERF, for example, tend to blame men for everything – especially given they are feminists – and talk about

    how evil men are, but more often than not you’ll see the double standard; such as some on Twitter calling/suggesting

    lobotomy for trans people. But women being bad? Nah. Not that you need to go beyond feminism to see that, given how

    much feminism harms not just men, but pretty much everyone, on daily basis as well.

    One such example is children; others would be ‘affirmative action’ that has harmed and continues to harm countless

    men by denying them jobs in favour of women; or, in some cases, in favour of black people (asians tend to get

    discriminated against even more). It’s a push for ‘diversity’, you can find it in tech as well, colleges, and you

    don’t need to look far to see where such beliefs come from.

    Moving on; as such, your following paraghraps not only lose its validity, but completely fall apart. Even if that was

    the case – which isn’t – it would make sense, given that most such trans people have often had touches with feminism,

    and/or participated been one (or at other times, a social justice person). Such words are not just common – but quite

    pervasive – among feminists, to the point that they tend to equate quite a lot of stuff, even words, to violence.

    Of course, it didn’t take long to see some of your viewpoints are exactly that – coming from feminism. Why I’m not

    surprised? Pepered with, naturally, “male”, “white”, which is also quite popular among feminists and SJWs as a way to

    discredit opinions of people. What usually follows is “racist”, “sexist”, and “supremacist” – of course, only if they

    don’t abide, listen, and do what they are told.

    But back onto the point. Intersex is a biological condition/birth defect. It doesn’t change reality in the least;

    most intersex people aren’t even able to reproduce, often need medical help (at times, just to stay alive), etc. If

    anything, it reinforces the two sexes. Gender roles are a human construct; gender isn’t, though. There’s plenty of

    proof for exactly that, from brain scans of those identifying as trans, to innate preferances of certain things,

    behaviour, etc, all you need to do is research. Men and women are different for a reason. You can look at IQ as well,

    but hey.

    Then you continue on about feminine men and masculine women, which is funny, because I agree with you, but maybe,

    again, you should do the research where such things come from? Kind of like theatre has been taken over, like they

    are trying to take over games, open software, and various other things – that’s the same way transgeders have been

    taken over. Kind of like feminists infiltrated atheism; even just recently, feminists are doing that in Australia.

    Looking up “Transsexual” definition – although a slightly broader one, but accurate nonetheless – should explain

    plenty.

    > lateral violence even

    Of course. Color me… unsurpised.

    > anti-feminist

    How dare he! At least you didn’t call him a homophobe straight out?

    Also, it’s inaccurate (as of late), given Riley’s come out and said she’s taking hormones.

    I agree to a point with you though, but I feel like you’re taking it too seriously; and I have a feeling why.

    > It should ring alarm bells that the ‘in group’ is leveraging support from outsiders in order to claim hierarchy

    over the ‘out group’.

    And here we go. Yes, one example shows that. Yes, conversation with ‘non-trans people’ shows that.

    > homophobia or sexism

    It exist. No, we shouldn’t throw a shit because of people’s opinions, unless those opinions actually harm people.

    Some YT rando saying stupid, asshole-ish shit (and by the way, you could have picked a bunch of others YTers; it

    makes me wonder how many you went through before you found what you were looking for) really doesn’t. It just makes

    him an asshole, and probably causes him to lose a few subs.

    > as being the language of the oppressor

    Ahhh, there we go, back to feminism 101. Btw, you used ‘male’, ‘white’, and ‘anti-feminist’ (the last in the same

    sentence as ‘homophobic’, where you’re obviously aiming to show it as a bad thing), who’s using the language of

    oppressor here again? You might want to speak to SJWs as well; but you don’t really seem to even be aware of them

    (Nazi, sexism, racism, Islamophobia – galore of words trying to silence people opposing them).

    > being considered a threat to the validity of the ‘transgender’ status as claimed

    There’s a reason for that. It’s growingly trendy to be trans. Because kids want to be special. It’s not a particularly novel notion, and it has happened before; remember when being ’emo’ was a thing? Hell, self-harm can start as that; the need to feel special, different. You don’t need to look past Tumblr to see that. And it’s SJWs that push for lowering the age when cross-sex hormone treatment is available; in UK they want to lower it to 12 (currently 16), and some private clinics already accept 12 year olds. Naturally, the ‘violence narrative’, ever so popular amongst feminists, is present here as well. Even if that was the case, though it isn’t, it would prove nothing; especially given how weak your argument is.

    > demonstrate no empathy

    Mind reader.

    > because when the backlash against transgender materialises

    What do I say here, without sounding like an asshole? I guess nothing at all.

    > is apparent from their rhetoric that their sex and gender politics are far from progressive

    Obvious narrative is obvious. Using homophobic or sexist words doesn’t make one homophobic or sexist. The same way, creating sexist characters, racist, etc, doesn’t make the creator either of those things.

    > we as members of LGBT should, all of us, be afraid; be very afraid.

    Aaaand back to fear mongering. I see you’ve took a page right out of feminism. It might fly in some circles, but not in all of them; I don’t appreciate (nor respect people) that push dishonest narratives, and yours is dishonest (and quite confusing, by the way) from the start. I fully expect this comment not to be approved, but maybe you’ll read it? Heh.

  • Whatevs

    As expected, deleted 🙂

    But seriously. Do some research. At the very least, you might be able – if you stop being dishonest for a moment – to tell apart where some things come from. It’s obvious you are uneasy that trans (and gay people) people are waking up and trying to be individuals, rather than just a group that believes in the same things. Perhaps the first step could be “Diversity is not a virtue” by Mark Helprin? He goes on about diversity quite a bit, and how collectivism is used to fuck over people’s individual rights. Pretty interesting read, if I may say so. Not that I particularly expect you will take my suggestions, given how much of your rhetoric comes from feminism. But hey, who knows?

    Cheers, and have a nice life 🙂

  • Rod Fleming

    Hm. What might be happening is the reaction to 5 decades of self-serving lies from so-called ‘progressives’. Fact: gender is innate. It is one of a whole range of trait characteristics that differentiate men and women.

    Fact: homosexual men have a female sexuality. Hence the comments about Milo. In an extreme form, this gives us HomoSexual Transsexualism, or HSTS, one of the two types of MtF trans.

    HSTS are observably more like women physically– small, light, neotenous, dainty, etc — in addition to having a female orientation towards big hairy masculine male bodies and a 6-litre V8 for a libido engine. To call them sexually driven would be the understatement of the week.

    Fact: women and men are measurably different on a wide range of physical characteristics, and this is what gives rise to gender. One is not better than the other; they are complementary. But still different.

    Re the terminology, ‘transsexual’ is a scientific term denoting a person who wishes to live in the gender opposite to the one conforming to his or her birth sex. Some people restrict it to those who seek or have had GRS. I don’t. Transgender is a political term that has become a catch-all umbrella for any form of gender non-conformity, like, I dunno, boys dying their hair pink. Essentially, it has become meaningless.

    The real problem is that so many transgender activists are so steeped in the bunk pseudo-philosophy of Post-modernism that they have lost sight of reality.

    • Moogli

      A homosexual man cannot have a female sexuality, as he is not female.
      Gender does not come from physical differences between men and women, as the literal definition of gender is: the differences between men and women, usually refering to behavioural ones, that are socially constructed. Any dictionary will give you asimilar definition.
      Aaaaaand another “men and women are complementary” comment. I guess many people find this idea to be very poetic; scientifically, though, the only complementarity that has been proven to exist between men and women is the one between their gametes, when it comes to reproduction.
      Yes, the author already explained that the transgender label had become meaningless.

  • Kay Brown

    As I nearly always do, I see things from three perspectives at once. One is historical, in that the term “transgender” was coined by Virginia Prince decades ago as NOT being a “catch-all” term, but specifically to designate autogynephilic cross-dressing males who live a great deal or all of the time “en-femme”, as opposed to “transvestite” who did so only occasionally. S/he deliberately defined the term to EXCLUDE homosexual transsexuals (but unclear on autogynephilic ones… since transgenderists often went on to HRT and SRS, which Prince felt was a bad idea for heterosexual transgender folks to pursue), transmen, and drag queens. But, starting in the ’90s, the term “transsexual” became less used and “transgender” became more common, first subsuming “transsexuals” (which after-all, was also being used for autogynephiles who transitioned, used HRT, and sought SRS since the ’70 when Dr. Fisk coined the term “gender dysphoria” as a means of combining “primary” and “secondary” transsexuals into the same diagnoses) then “transvestites” / “cross-dressers”, later subsuming more and more people who just a few years previous would never have been lumped together (e.g. drag artists)

    Some of us are “old school” and used the term “trangender” ONLY for autogynephiles… thus my need to bite back my angry retort when a kindly physician refered to me as “transgender” in ’96, “I am NOT transgender!” (For Goddess sake… he knew that I had transitioned as a teenager and was exclusively androphilic!)

    The second view is that of community politics in which we have a right to find our own affinity groups. Frankly, being force to accept, as this essay suggests, that any and everyone can become “transgender” (a term I still despise and will not identify with personally) means that we can’t. Further, it causes the term to lose all political meaning… it causes it to lose all cultural meaning, if every heterosexual gender typical teenaged girl can say “I’m transgender this week,” where does that leave transkids who really are gender atypical and dysphoric an affinity group to which they can turn to for solace and knowingness? No where! Further, if every such teenaged girl can claim to be “transgender” where does that leave transkids to find real support for their real needs at school, etc., given that “well… those other ‘transgender’ kids don’t need special accommodations… why should you?” No where!

    Finally, there is that which is very dear to my heart, the science. If a large percentage of gender typical heterosexual girls are claiming a “transgender” identity, how is the social scientist or sexologist to study actual… wait… we no longer have a label that can be used to legitimately describe the group that they (we, I’ll count myself) wish to study.

    Oh… you think that I’m making this problem up? First, how many “transgender” people are there? Without a means of creating a descriptive label that excludes those who merely wish to be fashionable this week, we see the mess we have seen with the talk of the ban on trans in the military. We see silly numbers ranging from the likely (old definition) “transsexual” population in the low hundreds, to the likely “transgender” (new definition = everyone including secretive heterosexual cross-dressing men) in the tens of thousands. In the general public (US stats) ranging from 90,000 post-transition to 1.4 million:

    Ref: My website: search “new math”

    And for social scientists trying to study the needs of actual transkids? They get lost in the crowd of several hundred teenagers falsely claiming a “transgender identity” to every actual transkid in some settings:

    Ref: My website, search “lost in the crowd”

    So, we can argue ourselves silly over the definition of “transgender”… or we can face up to the fact that we do have essential differences (just like the two type taxonomy is real) and use language in a meaningful way. Me, I will honor those real differences and will not abuse real HSTS transmen and transwomen by telling them that they have to humor and honor those who want to claim an affinity that they don’t deserve.

    • miranda

      Thank you for your contribution. Just to address your points:

      1. I note your comments on the historical use, this essay is more to do with how the word is being used now and the hierarchy/validity claimed by those who are identifying themselves as ‘transgender’ over those they describe as ‘transtrender’.

      2. I’m describing how ‘transgender’ is being used now, in that it’s drawn so wide for the purposes of gaining power that they have “completely emptied this word of any meaning.” Examples are in the companion essay here:

      http://mirandayardley.com/en/drop-the-t-and-the-great-lgbt-sell-out/

      3. Other areas of my website including pieces linked here and in the piece above, attempt to explain Blanchard’s two-type taxonomy of HSTS and non-HSTS/AGPTS, you’ll find my work and public statements always acknowledge these differences. Again though this essay is less about that and more about ‘transgender’.

      Also: as I mention above there is a companion piece, the original concept was also going to address a falsely claimed hierarchy of ‘transgender’ over ‘autogynephile’. I’m still to write that piece, the thesis of which is based upon how the existence of autogynephilia is subjected to denial for political or other aims. Again it would not address HSTS/AGPTS as two types as this is done elsewhere, rather I’m addressing the sleight of hand being used to mandate out of existence the open discussion or acknowledgement of AGP by transgender activists.

      • Michelle

        Thank you so much Miranda for putting up all this information, for educating everyone and speaking honestly on a subject that’s becoming almost impossible to openly discuss. I’m becoming much more clear on what is going on and why the brouhaha. I’m a not transexual nor transgendered and I am trying very hard to understand all these new terms and conditions and political configurations.

  • Al

    Hi, I’m a transsexual man (female to male). You are utterly mad, please stop writing! All you achieve is to ill inform people, as you are clearly ignorant yourself. Thanks in advance. Al

  • Well

    Given that biological brain sex is a fact, why do you leave that out of your thoughts? Reproductive sex is one thing, but people seem to think the brain is not part of the body.

  • Harry Grunsky

    i always thought “gender fuck” was an interesting art form but a failure when it comes to politics.

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