A cisgender Facialbook friend, Megan Reph (hi Megan!) asked me the following: "Since you're open to answering questions, and I don't personally know anyone who is trans (but would love the opportunity to learn more about the trans community) What do you believe is the biggest misconception about yourself or other transgender people? Is there anything that you would like to clarify about your transition or share about your decision to proceed with it?"
I thought about it. I think the biggest misconception is that being Trans is a CHOICE.
Why would anybody choose a life of rejection, prejudice, and being hated just for being who you are? No one. I fought it all my life: being angry, drinking too much, fighting... until finally accepting it in 2008. I have lost my marriage, most of my friends, my career... Almost everything. And for what? Simple: to be who and what I truly am. That's all trans people want- to be allowed to live our lives. However so many people (mostly males) see us as a threat. To what I don't know, maybe to their own masculinity? I think I'll address this in a future blog entry.
I asked the same question on my FB page and to my Vanity Club sisters, I received some wonderful observations. The following are reprinted with the authors' kind permission and roughly in order. (Note: no transmen replied, so these opinions are all from trans women. I don't know many trans men, I guess.) There are slight edits to obscure identity when the author requested it.
Don't see anything 'great' about that question, but if I felt in anyway disposed to answer
with regard any 'misconception', mine would be that we're conceived as being different
from anyone else.
For the rest, I'd tell the person to mind their own business. Why on earth would you have
a need to 'clarify' or 'share' personal decisions ?
There are two questions here. If had been asked I would have challenged the assumption on which the second one is based: I do not wish to transition and never have. This idea that ALL so called transgender people (By most people on the street observed as men in dresses because women in chinos are accepted) ultimately want to become women might apply to many of us and I respect that 100%, but it does not apply to me.
With love and respect,
One of the largest misconceptions in my mind is being trans does not mean you are gay. Sexuality and gender are two different topics.
I get questions asked daily all the time now since I am transitioning. I am not offended unless I know the questions are leading or coming from a bad place. And if the question is inappropriate like, "are you going to remove it, you know down there", then I just say how do you not know I have not and since you will likely never see it the relevance of it is unimportant.
My thought exactly Ava. I would try to get it out there a little more that there are some people who are "under the umbrella", but not on a path to transition. I think the concept of "dual gender" or "ambi gender" could use a little more enlightening of the general public.
As far as the biggest misconception goes, I would have to say it's the idea that there is a single definition to the word, "transgender." The term has, unfortunately, become shorthand for the entire spectrum of gender identity-related situations, from the transsexual who endeavors to physically, socially and permanently change gender identity, to the "casual" crossdresser who dresses occasionally for social or recreational purposes, to the fetish dresser who only wears a few specific articles of clothing in private solely for sexual gratification.
To those who don't walk a mile in our wedges, we're all transgender.
The problem with this is - while we may all wear clothing of the gender opposite our physicality, we do so for fundamentally different reasons and to serve completely different ends. And to lump us all under the single term, I feel, sews disaffection among the various groups and demeans us as individuals.
Most of the transsexuals I've encountered don't really like casual crossdressers or fetish dressers and hate being associated with them. They see them as unserious and cheapening the importance of their transition to their lives.
As a casual crossdresser, I dislike being connected with the fetish dressers because, while crossdressing is a part-time practice for me, it's no less meaningful to me than it is to the transitioning transsexual. Gina is a real facet of my personality, a vital avenue of self-expression, and without the opportunity to do this, my life would be significantly less rewarding. It's not just a desire to wear less itchy underwear once in a while.
Thank you Cindy but actually, I lean towards challenging the "gender" concept because I struggle with understanding it personally.
Biological sex can be understood. The overwhelming majority of humans are born the one or the other, and - after costly victories won by people I pay my deepest respect - many countries offer reassignment for individuals who need it to be the ones they were always meant to be. This is a development I hope will continue, and there is still quite a distance to go.
Gender, on the contrary, is very diffuse to me. It seems the content of this word is constantly changing. It is dual, ambi, fluid, bi, and probably more sub-variations will appear.
In my humble opinion, the gender concept has questionable value because it seems mainly to be used for bundling up various personality traits, interests, expressions etc, unfortunately on the basis of traditional male/female stereotypes and - even more regrettably - with emphasis on the immediately observable ones.
I cannot see this concept adding any long lasting understanding or widening our acceptance of human nature. I know women who hunt for moose without their "gender" being challenged. I know men who are passionate florists, but they also ride a Harley and steer clear as well. These are blunt examples but still: Millions of us have interests and passions not fully compatible with the binary man/woman image further polarized by popular culture, despite the liberalization we cherish in our time.
So, when do our deviations become "gender issues"? I don´t know but to me, the gender concept seems nourished by society´s need for yet another label to stick onto people who are not “normal”. It would not be needed if we could all find true acceptance of Humanity´s diversity and richness, and limit our concerns to the act of distinguishing between phenomena either harmless or harmful to people and society.
I am biologically a man. Besides my family and friends I also love carpentry, my guitar, electronics - and wearing makeup and heels. The latter seems to make me a gender case, the moose-hunting girl not so much. In this way I just feel the gender concept - with its new boxes being added all the time - to keep parochial thinking alive. It also keeps muddling up the public perception of what is personal and what is not.
I do not want to offend anyone, and I am grateful for any comments that might make me see things differently. As English is not my native tongue I kindly ask you to read these lines bona fide.
Love and respect,
I am totally a man with a crossdressing "hobby". From a gender perspective I am neutral, I think I could live as either sex but due to the obvious anatomical issue it is easier to be male. I LOVE Dressing and Makeup and Heels, I love being able to transform, and having said that I think the fun would go out of it if I was to transition. I have built a strong family and have a large group of friends and would hate to lose that or any of them.
Your overview of the sex/gender issue in terms of it being something of a morass is all too sadly true. We don't understand ourselves so it's no wonder Joe Q. Public doesn't either. Matters of sexuality and sexual preferences are more easily understood. With the relatively uncommon exceptions of hermaphrodites and intersexes, it is a binary matter determined by what's between the legs. Either "it's" there or it isn't. Male or female. No problem.
In contrast, gender identity resides between the ears, masculine or feminine, with an almost infinite number of variants between the two poles. And that's where the problem lies. The TG term covers all of those possibilities. As time goes on new words are coined in an attempt to draw lines where there are no lines. They add to the confusion rather than clarify it.
As for the original question regarding common misconceptions. It's already been answered. We are not all gay and we are not all on the road to GRS. Like you Ava (I think), I'm relatively happy in my male body. Actually, now that I think of it, if someone was to offer me a new, disease free body and it just happened to be female, young and gorgeous I'd jump on it. Or rather in it.
Gina and all participants in this thread....
It's complicated.How's that for an answer?I'm a fetishistic non-operative transexual.Did I mention that it's complicated?I started 'cross-dressing' when I was three. I'm pretty sure it had no fetishistic overviews. I knew enough, however, to hide it. When I was 12, I discovered, quite accidentally, the pleasure in my 'hobby'. So I guess, at that point, gender identity incorporated fetishism. At 40, I realized that I was still truly transgender and that I needed to fix it, chemically, surgically (just electrolysis), emotionally and spiritually. I, essentially, rediscovered and embraced my three-year-old.So I transitioned in 2000, but in being completely honest to myself, my partners and my integrity, I also re-embraced my fetishism. No, I did not go to work in 5 inch heels, seamed hose, tight skirts, etc. But I do still have my play-clothes, much like some genetic women that I know who like to be sexy in bed or certain closed-door events. We are a compilation of the events that made us, from childhood to today, and to suppress them or dismiss them is just as bad as those of us who occasionally 'purge' to somehow fix our obsession.It's not necessary.Dress for comfort. Dress for fun. Dress for safety.My pet peeve, however, is those of us who have two distinct personalities.... male and female. It doesn't make sense to me. We are the same person, now matter what the costume.Happy halloween, everyone!
You raise a fascinating point, [Anonymous]. How many of us have "two personalities" to suit our transitive gender situations? And if we do have more than one persona, how different are the two people who inhabit our underwear?
I'm not certain, but I don't think I really have two personalities for Gina and the chronic testosterone poisoning victim she lives with. "Their" interests are identical (fashion, clothes, shopping for clothes, makeup, hair, politics, current events, history, and cooking.) They unconsciously use the same gender references in their internal monologues (Regardless of what I'm wearing at the time, any time I reference myself in my interior thoughts, it is almost without exception as a woman.) They have the same weaknesses (a complete absence of mechanical prowess, absolutely no depth perception, a penchant for useless trivia, and the fine motor skills and physical coordination of poorly constructed, discount DIY furniture.) Oh, and they wear the same dress size.
I do know that I am more expressive as Gina than I am as my Y chromosomed self. But I don't think of that as nascent schizophrenia. (On the other hand, how would I really know?)
To me, my being more expressive as a woman is simply a by-product of being in a situation where I feel more like myself than at any other time. The outward illusion expresses an inner reality. I'm happier as Gina and I tend to show it more.
I want to correct a misconception that is out there. Those individuals who have went or who are
going down the surgical path, myself included, don't want to be women - we have always been women. For me in particular, my gender was declared at birth by a physician, by just a visual assessment, shortly after birth. It wasn't until 2013 that my endocrinologist requisitioned a karyotype which confirmed that I had a congenital abnormality. Fortunately for me, I had that finally corrected in June of this year.
As one can see, there are as many opinions out there as there are transpeople!
And they are correct- Gender is not a binary. It is a tapestry. Being Trans doesn't mean the same thing to everyone. There are so many "shades of grey" under the trans umbrella. That's what makes this confusing to some people.
While I agree with all that these wonderful Sisters wrote, I'm going to stick by my answer: that the most popular misconception is that being trans is a choice.
I wouldn't wish being trans on my worst enemy.
Thank you for asking, Megan! And thanks so much to my Sisters for allowing me to repost their replies!