I continue to hear from a small group that the transsexual community fell victim and was assimilated into a “transgender Borg collective”. They claim that transsexuals never wanted to be allies in a diverse community of people of non-cisgender history, experience and/or expression. They claim that real transsexuals never want non-transsexual people to regard them as being anything but just another cisgender person. They frequently claim that non-transsexual people came up with the idea of carving out some third sex that would come to represent transsexual people:
A major faction of the transgender dictatorship seeks the deconstruction of the dichotomy of human sexuality and abolish the sex binary of male and female to suit a minute portion of the population and to create a legal classification of persons other than female or male that some call a third gender (sex)…
Recently I’ve felt it important to begin publishing what transsexuals had to say about engineering what would become known as the “gender community” in the 70s and early 80s and which became the “transgender community” in the late 1980s.
Here is what is purported to be our nation’s first national transsexual rights organizations had to say about building a community of people of non-cisgender history, experience and/or expression in order to fight for common purpose:
Looking Toward the Future
by Cynthia Platt
As TAO secretary I would like to discuss how a transexual should approach like – both before and after surgery. Firstly, the transexual must give some thought to the future, and what kind of a life the person wants to live. Most pre-operative and many transvestites want to have surgery, but being a “post-operative transexual” also isn’t all there is to it. It also means trying to find acceptance in society as a normal happening – a member of a true third sex. We must all work towards improving the legal aspects of our lives, and try to end the attitudes which will not permit us to be teachers or nurses. Someday we will have more access to the political structure and take part in it as candidates and seek elective offices.
In order to do all of this, we must co-operate with each other, and not turn against each other in our desperation. The TAO is one of many organizations helping all transexuals and transvestites, and is all of us can join together there goals will be accomplished sooner. We should also reach out to non-transexuals so that can understand us better.
The reason so many transexuals become drug addicts and suicidal is not only because the rejection be society but that government services are also often denied to us – help of any kind. There are government programs for addicts, alcoholics, mentally retarded, physically handicapped, but really none for us and some of us need the help. Transexuals and transvestites have a lot of talent which society has lost because society will not let us in political affairs, but prejudice denied me a complete education and the super-discrimination against us is far worse than that against people because of their race or religion It might seem impossible that we will ever overcome these prejudices. I hope that in the near future there will be many collective efforts for those who would like to achieve greater status in society and we can help build one to provide many services for our people.
As you read the above statement, think about what you’ve head from the transgender community over the past 20 years. TAO was our nation’s leading transsexual organization and eventually spread into several other countries. In fact, Stephen Whittle was very active with the British chapter of TAO.
Historical Document Disclaimer:
As I continue to publish historical documents relevant to the debates going on around the term transgender, I will include this disclaimer in hopes that it will cut down on having my position strawmaned to death.
The ideas found within the transgender community came from somewhere; they didn’t magically pop into existence on January 1, 1990. My intent in posting these historical documents is to dispel some historical inaccuracies some within the TS-not-TG group continue to popularize. I continuously find ideas that are purported to have originated within the so-called “transgender Borg”/“slave master” community sometime in the early 1990s and which was then supposedly thrust upon an unsuspecting transsexual community were in fact, championed by transsexuals leaders prior to 1990.
I find that I agree with practically everything those in the moderate TS-not-TG group claim with one exception. Many assert that the “transgender umbrella” idea doesn’t refer to a group of unique allies who find unity in a common cause; rather, many in the TS-not-TG group simply assert that the term “transgender” robs all transsexuals of their unique experience. In fact, most transsexuals do not feel that the we should be segregated away from all of our allies in our continued fight for equality and, as these historical documents continue to reveal, transsexual people of history do not see a need to rip the transsexual community away from other communities to go it alone.
For a view that very closely resembles my own views on this issue, check out The Death of the “Transgender Umbrella” by Mercedes Allen. My reservations about this article are summed up nicely within the comment section by Dr. Jillian Weiss:
Great article, but you can’t create a movement to “not be transgender.” Critique is valuable, but by itself, it can only alter an existing movement, not build one of its own. Movements have to be for something. If we could create a viable “transsexual movement,” I’m for it. But it is unlikely that such a movement can occur at this point in time. Very unlikely. Although I agree with the idea on a theoretical basis, I don’t think it will ever go beyond talk.
So, if you take Allen’s article and combine it with what Weiss had to add, you’d have an almost perfect representation of my views concerning the TS-not-TG debate.