Don't call me transgender
- Published: 16 January 2010
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Academics and equal rights campaigners are stealing many people’s identities by using ‘transgender’ as an umbrella term for sex and gender diverse people, says Tracie O’Keefe.
Sex and/or gender diverse people come in many forms: intersex, transexed, transsexual, transgendered, crossdressers, androgynous and people who abdicate all forms of sex and/or gender identification (sinandrogen).
Each of these identities are genuine, have their own validity, physical, psychological, social and legal dynamics, and are quite different from each other.
It’s amazing however how many people confuse sex with gender – even doctors, academics, professors and equal rights campaigners, but the two are quite different.
Sex, gender and GOD
Your physical sex is made up of your primary and secondary physical characteristics such as ovaries, testicles, penis vagina, mammary glands and a plethora of physical attributes. Some people are largely male and some largely female but no one is absolutely either, just as no one is absolutely black or absolutely white, nature likes to give itself options.
The clown fish can change its sex from male to female and mate with its brother if they are low on females. Genetic Optional Diversity (GOD) ensures the development, evolution and proliferation of species and always wants options, not necessarily binary or prison like the concept of absolute male or female. GOD also produces the lesbian lizards that are self-fertilizing, have no males in the species, but requires the dance of the beast with two backs by two females to create offspring. Isn’t GOD clever?
Gender is the game of interpretation of the sexes or for some the absence of stereotypical sex characteristic behaviors. You can change your gender performance without changing any of your physical characteristics, it just a pantomime. These are basic sexological definitions that have been set down for many years. If you were a sexologist you would not be able to miss this even if you had your thumbs in your ears and fingers over your eyes.
‘Experts’ adopt ‘transgender’ in health association’s name change
This is why it was confusing and embarrassing to me and many others as a members of the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association (HBIGDA - which proclaimed to be experts on transsexualism) when it changed its name to the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH). Didn’t the board members take sexology 101?
The association asked for suggestions for a new name that did not have pathology in its title and it received many suggestions. Strangely enough though, the board decided to give only three options on the ballot papers, none of which as a member I voted for.
The intention may have been good but the execution was wholly undemocratic and left many members deeply unhappy with the board’s attempt to rule from the top down. It begs the question: How many board members authored books or wrote papers with the word ‘transgender’ in the title when they decided to make the vote Hobson’s choice?
Needless to say I did not change from being intersex, transexed or transsexual to become transgendered overnight. Nothing happened except the violation of my identity.
You may think I’m paranoid but in 2009 there was a discussion about this very issue on the WPATH discussion board and the moderator censored members’ points of view. Some members’ views, who did not tow the party line, were sanctioned from publishing.
I accused the board of pushing its own agenda without taking on members’ concerns and of censorship. I was informed that the notice board was only for posting events and then received further emails of discussion only about topics of which the moderator approved. The board did not put the full range of suggestions up for voting and one has to question why.
I know the board did not make this decision in ignorance because I gave a paper on this very matter to the then president so ignorance is no defence. It seems the transsexual mafia of HBIGDA has turned into the transgender fascista of WPATH, and some transgendered members are among them.
Many of us are not transgendered
From now on I shall use the phrase transexed instead of transsexual because many people assumed that being transsexual was about sexuality but for many it was about being a form of intersex, namely transexed.
I never changed my gender identity it was always female. I had my body altered at 15 to reflect my correct sex characteristics and my gender has never been ‘transed’. If you look at picture of me at 12, I’m practically wearing the same thing then that I am now. I don’t do fashion – I’m too busy.
I don’t wish to be described as transgendered because I am not. To try and describe me as transgendered is inaccurate, uneducated and steals my identity. I have no objection to people describing themselves as transgendered if that reflects their experience but mine is not the same.
In the 1990s I wrote books advocating hormones and civil rights for transgender people but I was never one of them. Since then I have published books and wrote papers advocating for the rights of all sex and gender diverse people. My sex is female and I have lived as female for 40 years, even though I was registered as male at birth. I don’t have a third sex or gender like transgendered.
Many of my transexed patients and friends have not become transgendered since the HBIGDA board members demonstrated their lack of respect. Nor did they become a third sex or gender that is other than male or female. They go about their business enjoying their identities as males or females for which they have often fought very hard to establish.
Not everyone is out and waving flags like me and those people are entitled to pass and enjoy their privacy no matter how unfashionable some campaigners may find that.
For many trans people who do not pass as their desired sex and gender the transgender label has allowed them to be accepted as this special category that takes them out of the binary male or female system. Instead of being failed as males or females they now get respect as being transgendered, but it is ‘other’, no mistaking.
For the many the transgendered label has allowed them to have a mixed identity in a place where sex and gender is a game of fluency. I get it. I support it. I understand it. I think it is a great thing for them, but not for me or some of my patients who have a strong identification of being male or female.
Who are the people gaining from transgendering us all?
There are academics that make a cushy living by constructing transgender theory out of groups of people who are really very different and need to be identified as separate groups with separate needs. It is nothing less than profiteering from social construction theory that has little basis in crosscultural realities. It is not science but branding, merchandising and profiteering.
There is also a group of clinician/academics who are still trying to indentify many trans people as having a mental illness. They are blind to the natural occurrence of sex, gender and sexuality diversity. For them transgenderism is often just as pathological as transsexualism was and a chance to improve their kudos by extending their pathological range.
Coincidentally the American Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM V) has had its launch cancelled for a year because of arguments between psychiatrists about over-pathologising human behaviour.
Sadly there are also transgender civil rights campaigners who show profound lack of respect for sex and gender diverse people who do not identify as transgendered and insist on calling us all transgendered. If you resist, you are labeled a dissident, betrayer of the cause, maladjusted or not being intelligent enough to see the big picture.
Then there are clinicians with little knowledge in sex and gender diversity who wish to make their money from transgender clients without really understanding the different sex and gender diverse groups. By confusing transgender people with transexed people the clinicians are setting up many of those patients for suicide later in life when the patient fails to get the outcome they needed.
The violation of identity continues with the gay rights movement tagging T onto the end of its GLBT acronymn to bump up the numbers and get more funding. But if you ask them what the T is for and what the issues are that pertain to each particular T group, they go blank. ‘Transgender’ they say as if it’s a password, not really knowing what transgender actually means or how mislabelling people steals their civil rights and their rights to privacy.
When Pakistan declared a third category to include transgender people in 2009 it was a disaster for many transexed people who identified as solely male or female. They could now be denied their right to be soley identified as male or female after transition.
It is fantastic for those who identify a third gender but not for sex and/or gender diverse people who only indentify as male or female. Transexed people could misindentified as transgender people and forced into a third gender with which they have never identified.
Sex and gender diversity: The new black
Salvation is, however, on the horizon for both the transexed (transsexuals) and for sex and/or gender diverse people in general.
The Australian Human Rights Commission adopted a new approach in its 2009 review of the legal rights of people who are sex and/or gender diverse. Its then Commissioner was blind so he was a gifted listener when people spoke to him.
The Commission was very sensible and used the phrase Sex and Gender Diverse People as an umbrella term to include all the people who may not be the average John or Josephine including intersexed people.
It is what is linguistically called open language and allows each group of people to consider their own identity as they so wish both by group and by individualism. Transgender is closed language and when used as an umbrella description it suffers from linguistic generalisation, distortion and deletion. It does not work. It’s like calling all non-Caucasians black. It steals experience and it misdescribes.
The Organization Internationale des Intersexes (Oii) also now accepts transexed (transsexual) people as members and sees them as part of the sex diversity spectrum, not necessarily asking them to categorically state a pathologised classification. It sees transexed people as intersexed. This means their treatment should be funded under sexual health programs and not under psychiatry.
We are not all the same. Many of us who are sex and gender diverse are not transgendered. I’ve signed on for one more year with WPATH as a clinician. It has no legal standing in any country, it’s just a trade organisation for those involved in a specialist section of the field of sex and/or gender identity.
WPATH does not encourage criticism, but as I once heard physicist Stephen Hawking say: ‘There is no science without criticism.’ One more year to be censored? I don’t think so.
Maybe one day the transgender fascista will be ousted just as the transsexual mafia were and all sex and/or gender diverse people’s identities will be respected equally.
Dr Tracie O’Keefe DCH, ND is a naturopath, psychotherapist and sexologist, originally from London, UK, who has been based in Sydney, Australia since 2001, where she is the director of the Australian Health & Education Centre. Tracie is the author of the books Trans-X-U-All: The Naked Difference and Sex, Gender & Sexuality: 21st Century Transformations and the co-editor of Finding the Real Me: True Tales of Sex & Gender Diversity and Trans People in Love.