The Transgender Umbrella

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)







13 thoughts on “The Transgender Umbrella

  1. ramendik says:

    But, nuance. If you limit this to transsexual people and you want the limit to have any real meaning. you will make a diagnosis the test.

    But to get a diagnosis, you need to access a doctor. Often more than once.

    For my transsexual friend in the UK it took about four years from first entrance into the medical system to a diagnosis and hormone prescription. In the USA if insurance does not cover the diagnosis many people won’t get it at all. And then there are refugees, etc etc.

    What kind of a solution would you propose for people who are likely medically transsexual, but have not been diagnosed for reasons of access to diagnosis?

    Liked by 1 person

    • cursede says:

      I’d suggest a charity of some kind that helps them gain access. Rather than dropping the need for diagnosis altogether and giving them out on a whim.

      Wait times are really high because of transgender and its recent rise anyway. Numbers attending clinics have grown exponentially as a result of everyone and their cat thinking they’re trans all of a sudden. I’m not saying they shouldn’t be entitled to medical care – I’m just saying they shouldn’t be taking spaces of people in gender services who realistically need it more.


      • ramendik says:

        Most non-medical trans people don’t take up the space in gender clinics, they don’t feel they need the stuff the ckinics prescribe, anyway. The reason for the rise in numbers is because *medically* trans people are being less ashamed of going to the doctors, as the prevalent social narrative changes. (And I know this because I supported some medically trans people in going to the doctors – while not being medically trans myself. That happens.)

        Non-medical trans people have been instrumental in achieving this change, so I would see the two groups, while indeed different, as working in symbiosis on general issues even while differing on some particulars.

        Access based on written diagnosis also sounds quite TERFy – to the point of actually being the very same proposal that two notorious TERFs published a few years ago.

        With Trump at the helm, and millions in the States in danger of losing access to non-emergency medicine completely, the need for a written diagnosis will exclude tens of thousands of medical trans people. And there’s no way you can cobble together a charity to cover all of them, which was sort of the point of the ACA.

        In the ideal world, where a diagnosis is vailable with reasonable speed to anyone who needs it, this would work.

        Liked by 2 people

        • cursede says:

          That’s part of the reason. It’s not the whole of the reason. There has definitely been an increase in GNC people attending clinics they didn’t need to attend. That’s taking spaces from the actual trans people who need them.

          It may “sound terfy” but since that’s pure ad hominem it’s not really a good argument against.

          And i support informed consent etc. I just don’t think GNC people should be using services not meant for them is all. There’s overlap between our issues, the medical stuff is not overlap

          As for the trans unable to get care, we definitely need a system that supports them better than what we have now. I’m not saying GNC are totally the problem, but they are definitely having an impact.


  2. Anonymous says:

    Thing is, in the serialisation from his book on radio 4, Eddie Izzard repeatedly calls himself ‘transgender’, thus conflating in the general eye a cross-dressing male with a woman of transsexual history. No wonder bathroom use has become an issue when some men claim a right to use women’s loos.


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