and why you should never open one in a gender specific bathroom. This is something I feel causes a lot of confusion and none of that confusion ends up well for transsexual people. I’ve written before about the difference between the two kinds of people who refer to themselves as “trans” – now I’m going to discuss why the latter half, the non-dysphoric “trans” people, also use the label. Here’s the transgender umbrella, hope you enjoy. I sure don’t.
The transgender umbrella, as you may have already worked out, is just a short way of saying “transgender is an umbrella term”. Within this umbrella term, there are lots of different things that are considered transgender, despite being wildly different. From transvestites to crossdressers, to drag queens, to butch lesbians – essentially anyone who doesn’t conform to gender norms is transgender. Yes, this label also includes the medical condition ‘transsexual’ too. This term is why non-transsexual non-dysphoric people feel they are entitled to use the trans label for themselves.
This informs the majority of the problems surrounding “trans rights” – because often this term refers to any rights regarding anyone in the above umbrella term as transgender rights. Sacrificing a lot of specificity and nuance between all of the kinds of people who are grouped into it.
Which is a problem, because a lot more people have an issue with the rights of say Eddie Izzard (British transvestite) to pee in the ladies bathroom than they would for the rights of Blaire White (transsexual) and rightly so. However when the bathroom rights are dubbed “transgender rights” and websites like Pink News refer to people like Izzard as transgender – it creates an awful lot of confusion and backlash. Because yeah no, Izzard shouldn’t pee in the ladies room – he is not a lady.
The way the bathroom argument is framed implies all transgender people, even those like Izzard, should be allowed to pee in the ladies room if they want; an idea which obviously people were vehemently against. This ends up causing problems for transsexuals as in an attempt to stop transgender people like Izzard using the ladies room, the suggestion that you can only use the bathroom that matches your chromosomes was introduced.
In retaliation some transsexual people started taking pictures of themselves in the bathroom that matched their chromosomes, to make fun of the bill’s suggestion, but even this link here specifies this man is “transgender”. This puts him on the same level as other “transgender” people, it implies he’s as ‘trans’ as Izzard. Which if you know anything about Izzard, you know he’s a man who just liked to wear girl clothes. Not a woman – this is totally different to transsexual people.
If you need a clearer case here’s a transsexual woman to compare to the transvestite Izzard. Often transgender people will use these examples to say “look at how ridiculous it is to make transgender people pee in the bathroom of their sex!” when in actuality, these people are transsexual, and proving that transsexual people alone look ridiculous peeing in the bathroom of their sex. Not the transgender umbrella as a whole. Its this kind of co-opting of our label and rights that is detrimental to us. Transgender is like a parasite feeding on transsexual’s medically recognised and supported rights campaign. Giving nothing back, just taking from us constantly.
I get the want for an all encompassing term, but its unnecessary and only serves to conflate the issues that all people in this label face. What I need as a transsexual person is medical support for my transition – this is not the same as what a drag queen needs, which is not the same as what a cross-dresser needs, which is not the same as what an intersex person needs etc, so this label is essentially meaningless.
We need to drop it, go back to the old way where we can be specific and respect the nuance between people. With more specificity we can better target our support to where its needed, not to mention the amount of public confusion that could be cut through. Rather than this attempt at blanketing the whole of gender non-conformity as the same thing requiring the same rules for all, when this quite objectively causes more problems than it solves.
(Ps Eddie if you read this not that you’re likely to at all, I’m sorry I used you as an example here, it just really got my dander up that Pink News called you transgender and it was the perfect example to show how that label can cause problems for transsexual people like me.
I’m a big fan)