Teen & Transgender: A Comparative Study
June 6, 2009 7:13 PM   Subscribe

Growing into Womanhood -- In the images in White’s series, both figures are blossoming into womanhood, though each along a different path. [via]
posted by empath (79 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Good find...thanks for posting this.
posted by availablelight at 7:46 PM on June 6, 2009


Wait... what??
posted by BobFrapples at 8:12 PM on June 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


The vernacular wisdom is that if you're trying to spot a transvestite/transexual you should look at the person's larynx. This strongly suggests that you should double-check by looking at their scapulae as well (if it gets to that point).
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:17 PM on June 6, 2009


The vernacular wisdom is that if you're trying to spot a transvestite/transexual you should look at the person's larynx.

No good, if someone can afford chondrolaryngoplasty.

For what it's worth, if I can't absolutely tell by facial bone structure, I can usually spot the difference in the legs/thighs....many transgendered women don't have the cellulite that most natural-born women (thin or not) have by age 25 or so.
posted by availablelight at 8:21 PM on June 6, 2009


I think I mean clavicles. Either way, next time I ain't playing the crying game.
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:21 PM on June 6, 2009


Back to the actual FPP though: these were sensitive, remarkable pairings. I'm less impressed by the editorial text by Womack:


In the images in White’s series, both figures are blossoming into womanhood, though each along a different path. As observers, however, we have been taught to view the subjects in much the same way: with sheer terror.


What do you mean "we", Mr. Male Gaze?
posted by availablelight at 8:24 PM on June 6, 2009 [16 favorites]


Lovely and thoughtful - I wish there were more.
posted by Space Kitty at 8:25 PM on June 6, 2009


What do you mean "we", Mr. Male Gaze?

He means every single person in the world, ever. Especially you.
posted by wayofthedodo at 8:31 PM on June 6, 2009 [8 favorites]


Look at the hands. Always a dead giveaway.

Facial feminization surgery can round the chin, raise the eyebrows, make the nose more delicate and such, but surgery has yet to catch up with the hands. Well, that and the width of the sternum, but by the time you've gone that far ...
posted by adipocere at 8:35 PM on June 6, 2009


Back to the actual FPP though: these were sensitive, remarkable pairings. I'm less impressed by the editorial text by Womack.


Yeah, that was pretty much gibberish.
posted by not that girl at 8:43 PM on June 6, 2009


Not so sure about the hands. I've met a few transwomen who have very delicate hands. It all depends on how soon they start hormone therapy.

This is very interesting - thanks for the post.
posted by Jilder at 8:45 PM on June 6, 2009


That's pretty damn cool. I suppose it's a similar/same process, except the second puberty is at 20+ or 30+ years old, and you don't have the benefit of peers going through the same.

Also, it's funny that most of the transmen I've known, when they're starting out, it's like, 'you look like a teenage boy'. Maybe there should be a matching male set to this one?
posted by Sova at 8:48 PM on June 6, 2009


Disliked these because of the invitation to coldly stare at complete strangers while comparing and contrasting them like geometric diagrams. Do adult male to female transsexuals really think of themselves of pubescent girls?

And speaking as a parent, you probably should be terrified of your kid becoming a teenager. Those hormone changes are incredible.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:51 PM on June 6, 2009


Well, then let's stare at strangers who make their living from being stared at, like so.
posted by adipocere at 8:55 PM on June 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Do adult male to female transsexuals really think of themselves of pubescent girls?

No. You're reading a literal into an analogical. Pensioners don't really think of themselves as children in their 'second childhood' either.

(I'm taking this question at face value, though word knows you've packed it full of undertones.)
posted by Sova at 9:05 PM on June 6, 2009


No, it was at face value, as the comparison between a young girl and male to female transsexual seemed odd.

Neat link adipocere, thanks.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:09 PM on June 6, 2009


as the comparison between a young girl and male to female transsexual seemed odd.

I thought it captured/suggested that both subjects were in an awkward, vulnerable, hopeful, jumping-off place, in terms of assuming adult gender identity.
posted by availablelight at 9:21 PM on June 6, 2009


I like to think that the adult subjects of these photos can use their younger partners to construct a happy alternate fantasy of their youth.

surgery has yet to catch up with the hands

Eh, I have girl wrists. My partner (who is definitely a bonafide XXer) has man hands. This whole "you can always spot 'em through feature X" is a bit distasteful, really. Do you win some kind of prize when you've collected 10 verified sightings?
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 9:23 PM on June 6, 2009 [9 favorites]


i_am_joe's_spleen: Do you win some kind of prize when you've collected 10 verified sightings?

I think the idea is that some people don't want to inadvertently date/pick up one.
posted by Mitrovarr at 9:34 PM on June 6, 2009


interesting idea, but I found the open-mouthed empty-headed facial expressions off-putting. Half of them look like they're about to drool, and it seems to sap them of personality. anyone else see this?
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 9:48 PM on June 6, 2009


you should double-check by looking at their scapulae as well

their shoulder blades?
posted by jfrancis at 9:57 PM on June 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


You win the cessation of a circle of your gay friends trying to set you up with a really nice "girl" so they can have a giggle at your expense. Great bunch of guys, really. I was hoping to get a blender out of it, too, but I guess you learn to like what you get.

I think the lack of facial expression was designed to minimize the personality "distorting" the face, so that would remove one more difference and keep the comparison clearer.

I'd like to see this done with more ethnic types and in reverse, as well.
posted by adipocere at 9:59 PM on June 6, 2009


i_am_joe's_spleen: Do you win some kind of prize when you've collected 10 verified sightings?

I think the idea is that some people don't want to inadvertently date/pick up one.
posted by Mitrovarr at 12:34 AM on June 7



You are like....kidding, right?
posted by lazaruslong at 10:23 PM on June 6, 2009


What do you mean "we", Mr. Male Gaze?

There's a fair bit of transphobia out there among women, as well - read about "OMG, I don't want MEN in my bathroom!" reactions to transpeople using the bathroom of their chosen gender, for instance. It's not a universal phobia of either gender, nor is it restricted to either gender.
posted by spaceman_spiff at 10:38 PM on June 6, 2009


lazaruslong: i_am_joe's_spleen: Do you win some kind of prize when you've collected 10 verified sightings?

I think the idea is that some people don't want to inadvertently date/pick up one.
posted by Mitrovarr at 12:34 AM on June 7


You are like....kidding, right?


I"m going to go ahead and guess "no" on that one. Call it a hunch.
posted by Captain Cardanthian! at 10:43 PM on June 6, 2009


their shoulder blades?

I corrected myself. Despite being some random dude on the Internet, I don't claim to be a doctor. But I am YOUR doctor. And I'm pretty sure you have chlamydia.
posted by Mayor Curley at 10:58 PM on June 6, 2009 [12 favorites]


My experience is that few if any transsexuals are anxious to spring a surprise on a suitor. Why would you? Life is hard enough without the recriminations that might otherwise follow.

For example, one night I was on the piss in some seedy bar in Cuba St, waiting to see a mate's band play, and as I was propping up the bar on my own I started talking to someone wearing a strappy dress that exposed smooth cocoa shoulders which anyone of any persuasion should have been glad to be invited to stroke. Unfortunately, the owner of said shoulders was handicapped by being a stocky 6'2" Maori with a definite hint of post-midnight stubble. I can still recall the touching sotto voce tone in which she eventually confided "you know, I'm not really a woman". I can't remember what my answer was, only my worry that it wouldn't puncture my interlocutor's dignity.

Later I went home with a skinny anxious woman with whom I had very unsatisfactory drunken intercourse, and in retrospect, I probably would have had a lot more fun if I had taken option A.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 11:17 PM on June 6, 2009 [7 favorites]


i_am_joe's_spleen: My experience is that few if any transsexuals are anxious to spring a surprise on a suitor. Why would you?

It certainly feels like they deserve to know, don't you think?
posted by Mitrovarr at 11:29 PM on June 6, 2009


Mitrovar, i_am_joe's_spleen is arguing that transsexuals generally make a concerted effort to inform people of their status before entering into a relationship or nightly nookie, because, yes their partners would have a right to know.
posted by device55 at 11:31 PM on June 6, 2009


Ah, I misunderstood him. I thought he was saying they didn't.
posted by Mitrovarr at 11:33 PM on June 6, 2009


Sorry Mitrovarr: device55 is right, but I could have put that less ambiguously.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 11:39 PM on June 6, 2009


I love the portrayal of trans teen to trans adult as a natural progression, just like everyone else has. And I like that it shows that it's not a wild hare someone got when they were in college or something.

I know a lot of trans folks, but I'll admit that I, too, sat there and picked apart the adult pics for signs that she hadn't been born a girl. One shouldn't automatically feel guilty for that - in this case it's what the photos were really set up for, so you're sorta screwed from the get-go. It's a good opportunity to note it and move on.

I think I'll skip the photographer comments, though.
posted by smartyboots at 11:54 PM on June 6, 2009


smartyboots: The teens aren't trans, just the adult women. It's about them both transforming into women in different ways, either through natural puberty or transitioning later in life.
posted by Captain Cardanthian! at 12:43 AM on June 7, 2009


I feel kind of bad for the girls. How well could a 16ish year old take someone saying, "Hey, you look just like this transgendered woman I know, can I take your picture together?" That said, the pair in "study number 4" look like they could be related. Maybe an older brother.
posted by stavrogin at 1:45 AM on June 7, 2009


Another pile of raging transphobia. Dammit.
posted by jiawen at 2:35 AM on June 7, 2009


Another pile of raging transphobia. Dammit.

Um. Where?
posted by Justinian at 3:20 AM on June 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


I thought it captured/suggested that both subjects were in an awkward, vulnerable, hopeful, jumping-off place, in terms of assuming adult gender identity.

Sure, it's trying to do that, but that doesn't work for me, especially with the graphing paper background and the police line up feel to the photos. Glad you liked it though.

The reason I asked about how male to female transexuals describe their change was because I didn't know and the choice of teenage girls seemed odd in the sense that teenagers (girl or not) often don't know who they are, whereas transsexuals seem like they've finally figured out who they are and going to extraordinary steps to be that person. Is there a common metaphor used by people making this change, other than the obvious "I'm becoming the me I see myself as" ?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:49 AM on June 7, 2009


Um. Where?

This whole thread. I can't start to explain because I'm upset enough to cry. Really I should know better than to click on these threads... "don't what to inadvertently pick up one"? Substitute in a black person whose skin color is so light that they look white and tan - shouldn't they tell people they are black? Don't people chatting such a person up in a bar "deserve to know?"
It is too hard to realize that a whole group of people in this world cannot even hope for a normal life, and that people who posted in this thread don't think they deserve one....
posted by Shusha at 6:49 AM on June 7, 2009 [10 favorites]


Oh, thanks a lot, adipocere. I used to hate Leonardo di Caprio. Now I want to fuck him. Great.
posted by orme at 7:17 AM on June 7, 2009


Another pile of raging transphobia. Dammit.

I think plenty of people here seem to respect transgendered folks. I certainly do.

There are a few ignorant comments in here, but I think it falls short of a raging pile.
posted by orme at 7:35 AM on June 7, 2009


Orme, note how much Keanu, once transformed, looks like Molly Ringwald. Could make for an entirely different Sixteen Candles.
posted by adipocere at 7:46 AM on June 7, 2009


It says something that I completely missed who I was supposed to be scared of. I was thinking -teenage girls? Who's scared of teenage girls? [/clueless]
posted by Phalene at 7:57 AM on June 7, 2009


Who's scared of teenage girls teenagers?

Parents.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:18 AM on June 7, 2009


"don't what to inadvertently pick up one"? Substitute in a black person whose skin color is so light that they look white and tan - shouldn't they tell people they are black? Don't people chatting such a person up in a bar "deserve to know?"
It is too hard to realize that a whole group of people in this world cannot even hope for a normal life, and that people who posted in this thread don't think they deserve one....
posted by Shusha at 9:49 AM on June 7 [1 favorite +] [!] No other comments.


Whoa. I'm sorry, but I think this is way off base. Many people have a preference for a particular gender. That's why we have terms like "homosexual" and "heterosexual" and "bisexual." People who are heterosexual and homosexual are sexually attracted to one gender, and there's nothing discriminatory about that! Do you think a woman who only wants to date a man is being discriminatory against women? Yes, there's a lot of great working being done today to help transgendered folks live their lives as the gender they feel they were born to be. That doesn't mean that people they date don't deserve to know what their bio-gender was. Many people living transgendered lives haven't completed genital reconstruction. You really think a straight man who picks up a transgendered woman with a penis shouldn't know about it before they get to the bedroom? I firmly support the transgendered community, and I think it's great that there are options out there to help them be the person that they are. I don't think having a sexual preference for one gender and wanting to know that you're picking up a person who is biologically one gender but passing for the other means that discrimination is happening.
posted by theantikitty at 8:27 AM on June 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


Male-to-female transition, especially once hormone replacement therapy has begun, is EXACTLY like having a second puberty.

1. Your skin changes. This includes acne for a while. Acne as an adult is, in fact, worse than when you were in high school.

2. Your morning ritual changes. When a teenage boy gets facial hair, he's suddenly got to add a bunch of time to his daily ritual. For M2F adults, makeup is like that too... but you still shave. (The hormones do not stop the hair growth.)

3. Other people's impressions of you change forever.

4. You are certain to make social mistakes. When you're a teenager, many of them are overlooked. When you are an adult, not so much.

5. You will overreact to innocent / thoughtless comments. For the teenager, it is comments about being young. For the transperson, it is pronoun-related.

6. You will be told by some to "stay away from my child." Though, as a teenager, it isn't that they think you're a sexual deviant. (Wait, maybe it is!)

Etc. etc. I could go on, but I'm going to write a book someday and don't want to spoil it all. =) The point is this: there is much in common between M2F folk and teenagers: our old ways of existing no longer apply.
posted by andreaazure at 8:28 AM on June 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


andreaazure - I'm very sorry to hear that M2F women have to shave their faces still. Would this be so if they could start hormone therapy before puberty, perhaps after a puberty delaying treatment? Because it sounds like that's a very good reason to make hormone therapy available to transexuals at a younger age, so that they do not have to deal with that sort of thing.

on a completely other topic: there was a M2F woman I met in university, whom I didn't know well. But at the time, I really wished that I could think of a polite way to get to know her better so that I could help her with her transition, as she was having trouble wearing women's clothing. I'm a rather tomboyish woman, but she clearly wasn't, as she wore very old-fashioned, almost June-Cleaverish dresses and pearls. But she hadn't been beaten over the head with all the ways one sits in a skirt, etc, that those born female are from a young age. Maybe this sort of help is the duty of the mothers and sisters and female friends of M2F women.
posted by jb at 10:22 AM on June 7, 2009


I'm very sorry to hear that M2F women have to shave their faces still.

not necessarily. a m2f friend of mine plucks her face, in between regular waxing. gotta be tough.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:42 AM on June 7, 2009


# “I don't think having a sexual preference for one gender and wanting to know that you're picking up a person who is biologically one gender but passing for the other means that discrimination is happening.”

Uh, yeah I think that is discrimination. Here’s the thing though: we all have the right to discriminate based on whatever criteria we prefer when choosing a romantic or sexual partner. Shusha should come down off the cross; there’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to know about and discriminating based upon these sorts of personal matters before taking someone home.

Back on the rail, I saw these photos a few days ago and they are fascinating. I wish there were more.
posted by ijoshua at 11:05 AM on June 7, 2009


"Inadvertently date one"? "Deserve to know"?

That is rather the sort of language used when justifying tracking sex offenders. There is a chance, however small, that there isn't an undercover army of transwomen trying to steal your hetero mojo. I would guess that nobody here actually thinks that, and I would also guess that most people are smart enough to see why it would really bug other site members to joke about it.

In other news tonight, gay men not recruiting, miscegenation legalised.
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 11:08 AM on June 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


There is a chance, however small, that there isn't an undercover army of transwomen trying to steal your hetero mojo.

As noted above, no one is actually saying this. Thanks for the straw man.
posted by AdamCSnider at 11:38 AM on June 7, 2009


That doesn't mean that people they date don't deserve to know what their bio-gender was. Many people living transgendered lives haven't completed genital reconstruction. You really think a straight man who picks up a transgendered woman with a penis shouldn't know about it before they get to the bedroom?

Certainly, but the big problem is that trans women generally know that they are at an extremely high risk of assault, sexual assault, and murder, and are therefore pretty careful about sussing out these risks and outing themselves to potential partners before hitting the sheets. This has not stopped defendants from using a trans panic defense when on trial. However, a jury recently rejected Andrade's use of that defense for the brutal murder of Angie Zapata given ample evidence that Zapta was out of the closet and Andrade had multiple opportunities to learn her status. (Slapping and pushing someone away? Panic. Walking across the room to get a fire extinguisher to finish battering a person because she's still moving? Cold.)

But the deception myth is still pretty ugly and a source of much discrimination.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:38 AM on June 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


As noted above, no one is actually saying this. Thanks for the straw man.

No, that makes it an exaggeration of what is being said in this thread, that men need to have a keen eye for possible indicators of transness if they want to avoid being deceived by a trans woman.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:43 AM on June 7, 2009


I'm very sorry to hear that M2F women have to shave their faces still.

Electrolysis is generally the one tried and true permanent solution to this. (Laser can be effective for some.) But electro can easily run into 100+ hours of rather unpleasant sessions over an extended period of time. At ~$50-75+ an hour. Needless to say, a lot of trans women can't afford this (especially on top of other transitioning expenses), or need to spread it out over multiple years.

Would this be so if they could start hormone therapy before puberty, perhaps after a puberty delaying treatment? Because it sounds like that's a very good reason to make hormone therapy available to transexuals at a younger age, so that they do not have to deal with that sort of thing.

Early hormone therapy would indeed allow someone to avoid going through this, not to mention all the other physical changes, i.e. bone structure development, voice, etc. For a trans man, it'd be similarly beneficial.
posted by Pryde at 12:18 PM on June 7, 2009


As observers, however, we have been taught to view the subjects in much the same way: with sheer terror.

Am I the only person here whose response was to feel turned on?
posted by stinkycheese at 12:27 PM on June 7, 2009


This whole thread. I can't start to explain because I'm upset enough to cry. Really I should know better than to click on these threads...

I'm very sorry this thread has upset you, but I tend to agree with others in this thread despite the rather gruff way some of them have put it: I don't think there is anything discriminatory (in a bad way, I mean) in wanting to date people born a certain sex. That doesn't mean someone is a bad person or is being mean or rude to people they don't want to date. Am I discriminating against men because I only wish to date women? Sure, in the denotative sense of the world. But not in the connotative negative sense: men generally aren't offended that I don't want to date them. Similarly, I wouldn't think transwoman should be offended if someone doesn't want to date them either.
posted by Justinian at 1:49 PM on June 7, 2009


Jesus H. Christ, people. If someone explains that they are saddened and isolated by comments made in a thread, the appropriate response isn't to explain why they shouldn't be offended. Shusha seems to be asking for a little empathy and understanding for the position of transgender folks in our society, not a fucking lecture on your sexual preferences.
posted by muddgirl at 2:08 PM on June 7, 2009 [8 favorites]


Similarly, I wouldn't think transwoman should be offended if someone doesn't want to date them either.

That doesn't mean that people they date don't deserve to know what their bio-gender was.


Pro-tip! Transwomen are women. The do not owe anyone an explanation for why they are women.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 2:12 PM on June 7, 2009 [5 favorites]


Justinian: I think there are two factors that really need to be considered here. First of all, this whole conversation is based on the assumption that trans women are not really women. Secondly, propagating the whole deceptive trans woman myth mere months after it was unsuccessfully used as part of a murder defense. During the Andrade trial, many people felt free enough to comment that Andrade was entirely justified in beating a deceptive transsexual who challenged his orientation.

And the deceptive trans woman trope was recently and rather dishonestly used in New Hampshire to stop a bill that would extend anti-discrimination law to cover gender identity. So we are not talking about some neutral statement of personal preference, we are talking about a myth that's widely disseminated by people who seek to justify discrimination against transsexual people, not just on the basis of private sexual relationships, but housing, employment, education, and criminal justice as well.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:12 PM on June 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Pro-tip! Transwomen are women. The do not owe anyone an explanation for why they are women.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 5:12 PM on June 7 [+] [!] No other comments.


I'm not 100% convinced that this is as black and white as you're making it. I totally get the concept that gender is a socially constructed identity and that people who are born physically male or female can, virtually from birth, identify with the opposite gender than the one society typically assigns to their physical body. In this sense, I agree with you; these people are male and female. The problem with this, though, is that many heterosexual and homosexual people are attracted not just to a gender but to a biological male or female body as well. There are lots of people out there that don't feel this way, and that's A-OK with me. Personally, though, I think there's often more to sexuality than simply being attracted to one type of gendered identity.

Jesus H. Christ, people. If someone explains that they are saddened and isolated by comments made in a thread, the appropriate response isn't to explain why they shouldn't be offended. Shusha seems to be asking for a little empathy and understanding for the position of transgender folks in our society, not a fucking lecture on your sexual preferences.
posted by muddgirl at 5:08 PM on June 7 [+] [!] No other comments.


Sorry, muddgirl, but I don't think that's what happened in Shusha's comment at all. I'm 100% fine with her expressing her feelings of sadness and isolation, and I'm sorry she feels that way. However, looking at the comment, I feel pretty strongly that she came here to criticize certain facets of the conversation based on analogies that weren't totally accurate. The racism analogy, personally, I felt was off base, and I explained why in my comment. And this, for example: "It is too hard to realize that a whole group of people in this world cannot even hope for a normal life, and that people who posted in this thread don't think they deserve one...." I think that was completely misconstruing the conversation. I don't see a request for empathy in that comment. I see a mischaracterization of some of the viewpoints expressed and anger as a result of it. That's what I was responding to.
posted by theantikitty at 3:00 PM on June 7, 2009


The problem with this, though, is that many heterosexual and homosexual people are attracted not just to a gender but to a biological male or female body as well. There are lots of people out there that don't feel this way, and that's A-OK with me. Personally, though, I think there's often more to sexuality than simply being attracted to one type of gendered identity.

Fair enough. But let's say you have a preference for, say, guys who are circumcised - you think it looks better, or it's cleaner, or it just appeals to you more. (I'm not assuming you're straight, this was just the first thing that came to mind.) If you meet a guy, and bring him back to your place, and then discover that he's not circumcised, I think you'd be more than justified in saying, "hey, dude, I thought you were hot, but that dick's a dealkiller for me. Let's be friends?" What you wouldn't be justified in doing is saying, "Ew! Get the fuck away from me! Why the hell didn't you mention this before I kissed you?"

Substitute in "genital piercings" or "big ass-wart" or whatever if you prefer; those'll even make it gender-neutral. Whatever it is that makes you a little uncomfortable, but other people like or at least feel neutrally about.
posted by spaceman_spiff at 3:21 PM on June 7, 2009


I think you're totally right about the reaction, spaceman, though I would argue that an entire body (and the bodies of men and women are substantially different in my mind) is a bit more extreme than simply circumcised or uncircumcised. Whether you're circumcised or uncircumcised, you still have a penis. If you're bringing home a man and you think you're with a woman...well, they're not necessarily going to have all the parts you were expecting. And, like it or not, we still associate gender with specific parts of human anatomy. If you're living as a woman and you have a penis, I do think it's not unreasonable that your partner is assuming that you do not have one. Frankly, I can see why this would be upsetting to discover for some people.

At core, though, I think that when people have extreme reactions to discovering that they were attracted to a transgendered person it has everything to do with them and almost nothing to do with their transgendered love interest. Underlying this for a lot of people is the fear that if they were attracted to someone with genitals of the same sex that it says something about their own sexuality. Clearly, this fear has nothing to do with the transgendered person, and I agree that it's totally unfair to react as though there is something wrong with their body.
posted by theantikitty at 3:44 PM on June 7, 2009


But she hadn't been beaten over the head with all the ways one sits in a skirt, etc, that those born female are from a young age. Maybe this sort of help is the duty of the mothers and sisters and female friends of M2F women.

Hmmm.

What if she'd had a crash course in all the ways one sits in a skirt and at the end of the day decided in favor of wearing the skirt, but against all the ways one sits in it? I don't think there'd be anything wrong with that, do you?

I wish to register my support for a world in which a person can opt out of being beaten over the head with the ways they are supposed to wear their clothes. It's not always so helpful or fun, the being beaten over the head.
posted by clavicle at 3:48 PM on June 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Pro-tip! Transwomen are women. The do not owe anyone an explanation for why they are women.

Pro-tip! Which gender someone identifies with doesn't necessarily matter in terms of sexual attraction. I'm 100% on board with gender being a construction, but that doesn't mean that people can't legitimately not be sexually attracted to someone whose gender and biology aren't the same.
posted by Justinian at 3:58 PM on June 7, 2009


KirkJobSluder: First of all, this whole conversation is based on the assumption that trans women are not really women.

I don't think that's accurate, at least in the sense that there are multiple conversations going on at once. In any case, as others have said there is a difference between gender and sexuality. I'm completely on board with trans woman being woman in terms of gender, but that doesn't mean that people can't legitimately avoid dating people because of their biology rather than their gender.

Secondly, propagating the whole deceptive trans woman myth mere months after it was unsuccessfully used as part of a murder defense.

Well, sure, but I'm not responsible for what other people in the thread do. Propagating a dangerous myth is assholish. I would never claim anything of the sort.

Hell, I live in West Hollywood. Some of my best friends ar... uh, yeah, that phraseology always works out well.
posted by Justinian at 4:04 PM on June 7, 2009


Just say that you own a few Diamanda Galas records.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:19 PM on June 7, 2009


Well, there is this process of getting to know another person, if you are really frightened by their chromosomes.
posted by psyche7 at 5:05 PM on June 7, 2009


theantikitty: The problem with this, though, is that many heterosexual and homosexual people are attracted not just to a gender but to a biological male or female body as well.

Justinian: I'm completely on board with trans woman being woman in terms of gender, but that doesn't mean that people can't legitimately avoid dating people because of their biology rather than their gender.

What is up with this use of the word "biological"? Trans women aren't some kind of robot. People are born trans all the time. Being trans does not make someone "unnatural". And, of course, lots and lots of trans people have bodies that are almost completely congruent with societal expectations for their gender. Not all trans women have penises, you know?

Do you mean deciding on partners because of their genitalia? Because that's a whole different issue from "biology". And if the goal is to choose partners based on their genitalia, then working up ridiculous, dehumanizing theories to guess people's genitalia is not the right way to do it.
posted by jiawen at 9:46 PM on June 7, 2009


People are born trans all the time.

That depends on what you mean by being born "trans". Are you talking about people born of indeterminate sex? Or about people being born XXY or whatever? Because that's not at all the same thing as being born "trans", where that often means you are born biologically of one sex and later take major medication (hormones, etc) and surgery to make your biological self fit your self-identified gender.

Being trans does not make someone "unnatural".

I didn't say it did and fuck you very much for implying otherwise.
posted by Justinian at 10:11 PM on June 7, 2009


What the hell is up with all the strawmen being set up? Is it possible to discuss this without, you know, implications of dehumanization and such? It's ridiculous.
posted by Justinian at 10:13 PM on June 7, 2009


What the hell is up with all the strawmen being set up? Is it possible to discuss this without, you know, implications of dehumanization and such? It's ridiculous.

Well, when you say something like "because of their biology rather than their gender," the notion that trans people are not biological and therefore unnatural is strongly implied. Furthermore the phrase has been used idiomatically to say that trans people are unnatural since the 70s.

And of course, the whole derail into straight men's anxiety that they might be sexed up by a trans woman didn't help much.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:19 AM on June 8, 2009


Sometimes people are just not attracted to the outie - they only like the innie. Or vice versa. It's not necessarily an uncomfortableness with transsexuality - post-op might be no problem. But for someone with a very specific sexual orientation, biology, or rather current plumbing, does matter a great deal. To deny this would be to deny the legitimacy of the feelings of those with strong sexual orientation.
posted by jb at 8:11 AM on June 8, 2009


"Well, when you say something like "because of their biology rather than their gender," the notion that trans people are not biological and therefore unnatural is strongly implied. "

Uh, no. I was using the term "biology" to talk about the disconnect between a trans person's physical, biological sex and their gender. This is, after all, pretty much the definition of transgender. A person is born biologically as one sex but mentally as another. I absolutely did not use it as a way of implying that transgender people are in any way unnatural. In fact, I think I was pretty clear about the fact that I completely support transgender people who transition physically to the opposite sex. I have no "it's unnatural!" anxieties.

And of course, the whole derail into straight men's anxiety that they might be sexed up by a trans woman didn't help much.

Didn't help what much? We were discussing inappropriate reactions to learning that someone one is interested in is transgender. To me, this angle seems eminently relevant to the point. Also, notice I did not say "straight men," and that I did not condone the reaction based on this irrational anxiety either.

I really feel like some people are coming into this thread looking for ways to descry the comments, even if the commenter explicitly states the exact opposite of what they want to criticize them for.
posted by theantikitty at 9:52 AM on June 8, 2009


theantikitty: I'm wondering why you are personally defensive over a quote that didn't directly mention or quote you. I don't know the basics of who you are, much less am qualified to talk about your anxieties. Which is why I've been trying to address the way that messages posted in this discussion are similar to the messages used in the larger world to justify discrimination and violence against trans persons. If you drop a loaded word like "biology" into a discussion about this, you really should be aware that it's a touchy subject with a ton of history.

If you really "support" the transgendered community, then you would know after the incredibly intense level of awareness and activism surrounding the Andrade trial, including hundreds of articles and blog posts published to GLBT, feminist and transgender blogs over a period of a few months, that the deception myth is pretty darn ugly and does not reflect the experiences of most transgendered people who seek relationships. Which for the record, you did focus on straight men when you said:

You really think a straight man who picks up a transgendered woman with a penis shouldn't know about it before they get to the bedroom?

Which is the crux of this discussion. Rather than talk about whether the deception myth really reflects the sexuality of most trans women, with the potential medical concerns and high risks of violence that come with coming out to a partner. Rather than talk about the ways in which the deception myth is used to justify violence and block legal rights for transgendered people. Rather than talk about how it's the transsexual joke that even makes an appearance in upcoming animated children's movies. Instead, we are talking about whether straight men are justified in fearing a stereotypical myth of transexual deception. We might as well talk about whether white people shouldn't be mugged by black people on the street.

I'm not decrying the comments here because I'm picking a fight. I'm decrying the comments here because there is an obvious conflict of interest between saying that you "support" transgendered people while promulgating a myth that has come under harsh criticism in light of recent events.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:52 AM on June 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


Kirk: I'm sorry if I misinterpreted your comment. I felt that, because you directly addressed some issues I brought up in my previous comment, your criticism was directed at me. Also, I honestly don't mean to come across as personally defensive. I'm not transgender, and while I've known a few people who successfully transitioned from male to female/female to male, it's not an issue that affects me directly. I do feel pretty strongly about a lot of LGBT issues, though, mostly due to the fact that LGBT people were strong presences in my upbringing, and perhaps that's coloring my responses. In reading your clarification, I better understand where you were coming from and why you were qualifying some of the angles of the conversation. Even though it wasn't my intention to "promulgate a myth" about transgendered people, most especially in a way that reflected negatively on them, I understand now why you feel that's relevant to the comments I made.
posted by theantikitty at 11:16 AM on June 8, 2009


The much feared "Crying Game" scenario happens in real life pretty much never. Discussing it as though it does, even jokingly, creates a very damaging atmosphere and does a disservice to the whole community. And what's the benefit in arguing hypotheticals around a situation that doesn't actually come up except as a pop culture cliche?
posted by Pryde at 11:19 AM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


The reason I asked about how male to female transexuals describe their change was because I didn't know and the choice of teenage girls seemed odd in the sense that teenagers (girl or not) often don't know who they are, whereas transsexuals seem like they've finally figured out who they are and going to extraordinary steps to be that person. Is there a common metaphor used by people making this change, other than the obvious "I'm becoming the me I see myself as" ?

My transitioning friends have often described it as a second puberty. It's common language in the trans community. First, you're often dealing with self-consciousness over your appearance and feeling like people are staring (like a 13-year-old with a pimple). You want to nail your gender performance, and it's not an easy thing to do when you were socialized to be a different gender.

Then there are the hormones and the changes they are causing in your body. If you are transitioning female, you usually become a good bit more sensitive and emotional than you were before, and just like a young girl you have to learn to cope with mood swings and floods of emotion. If you are transitioning male, your emotional affect is generally blunted a bit, you may feel unfamiliar surges of aggression, and you get as horny as a teen boy.

There's also commonly acne, changes to facial structure and body shape, learning to dress yourself (both in the immediate tie-tying and bra-fastening and whatnot and in the shopping and buying clothes that fit well and look good in a sizing system that's completely different from what you're used to), grooming, new or thinning hair, and the big change in social expectations, which you don't have to go along with but it sure is nice to know what they are and make conscious choices regarding your participation. And, like most people going through puberty, you are typically very, very focused on yourself and the changes going on with your body and life, until you've had a couple of years to adjust.

Essentially, it is a second puberty.
posted by notashroom at 7:06 AM on June 9, 2009


theantikitty - I was primarily responding this part of your comment: I don't think having a sexual preference for one gender and wanting to know that you're picking up a person who is biologically one gender but passing for the other means that discrimination is happening.

This is 100% demeaning to transwomen and transmen. As far as I can see there is nothing biological about gender. It is presumptuous and dead wrong to look at a random person and judge their genitalia based on surface features like clothing and make-up or even breasts or Adam's Apples. If that's what you do in the regular course of a bar crawl then I recommend you get over it.
posted by muddgirl at 4:19 PM on June 9, 2009


Gah, I should have said that there's nothing biological about gender norms. Gender is such a diffuse term now that it's difficult to handle sometimes.
posted by muddgirl at 4:20 PM on June 9, 2009


This was a pretty neat post. Thanks.
posted by chairface at 9:45 AM on June 13, 2009


« Older Schott's Vocab Blog is doing a weekend competition...  |  The lunar orbital spacecraft S... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments