I’m going to call it: the TS Separatist movement – as it has existed over the past 5 years – is dead. The foundational falsehoods upon which TS Separatism was built have been exposed and thus, destroyed. Furthermore, in an ironic twist, it’s been shown that the guy HBSers (a subset of the TS Separatist group) named themselves after didn’t actually think one could transition from one sex to another. Practically all Separatist opinion leaders have moved on to (hopefully) do better things with their time and energy… and I wish them well! The only ones left seem to be the young earth creationists of the trans world:
The Separatists who are left seem to represent the JustJennifer/RadFem/Nick Chaleunphone/Ashley Love contingent. They are the remaining vanguard of a movement which now finds itself without a coherent narrative. Here’s a quick review of the Separatist mythical fact claims which have been objectively busted:
The above memes were the narrative engine driving the Separatist movement. As it turns out, that engine was clearly running on nothing but BS. So where do the TS Separatists go from here? I predict that if they choose to carry on, they will fall into 1 of 2 broad narrative factions:
All that’s left for TS Separatists to do is become the trans equivalent of fringe conspiracy folks (like birthers) or the young earth creationists who believe what they believe because their belief tells them to believe. I think folks will want to cling to having faith in TS Separatists dogma because I think the phony victim narrative will be too irresistible for some. I suspect that for some, the victim narrative has become part of their self-identity by now. Take away the victim narrative and who are they as a person who’s trans? What does it mean to be trans when a significant portion of what they knew about being trans turned out to be wrong?
In any event, I expect the “I’m offended by transgender” meme to continue in some form. Never mind that they have nothing to base their preference on but preference alone; they’ll become like those white Irish-American people who claim offense if they’re referred to as caucasian instead of “Irish” or worse, “Celtic” (BTW – my father was Irish).
For years now, TS Separatists have told transsexuals that they’ve somehow been wronged, that somehow their identity has been forcibly taken from them. They’ve asserted (without evidence) that as long as “transgender” exists, the lives of transsexuals wouldn’t get better. In this way – at least on an emotional level – rejecting “transgender” felt as if we transsexuals we doing something to make things right… something empowering. When faced with two choices…
1.) Try to gain empowerment by rejecting a term: Become normal by contrasting transsexuals against what you assert to not be normal. Your plight isn’t your fault; crossdressers are to blame. In the 1950s and 60s, life was great for transsexuals until the crossdressers came along and colonized your identity. You’re a victim. You should feel victimized and you should tell others that you’ve been victimized. You should feel angry. All you need do to set everything right and become radical – special – is to repeat these memes to others from behind a computer screen.
2.) Try to gain empowerment through blood, sweat and tears: Work with people you might not like and constantly out yourself to political and social systems in your effort to promote equality. Commit to, at times, being the most unpopular person in a room full of uncomfortable people in your effort to promote real equality. Invest hours, days and weeks into organizing successful social justice campaigns. Meet your representatives and become involved in the political process… and for your efforts, become a possible target for anti-trans hyperbole while being branded a drone working for a TG Borg conspiracy; an effigy to be openly mocked by transsexuals who chose Choice #1.
… which choice seemed more attractive? Which offered a special status and immediate gratification? If all I have to do to feel empowered – to feel that I’m special and/or the vessel of some special awareness or knowledge – is to claim to be offended when I read term; well, that’s an easy choice to make. Of course, Choice #1 produced no tangible positive results by itself, but hey… like all mental masturbation, at least it felt good.
Regardless of how good delusional thinking might feel, the fact is that TS Separatists are no longer in possession of an unassailable reality that confers upon them a special status as both victim and freedom fighter. Now they’re just regular trans folk like the rest of us… not any better or more special and they are certainly no longer part of an elite battalion of a chosen few fueled by the fires of self-righteous hubris.
And, the Eulogy
Well, the time is at hand to admit that, by itself, the outcome of the hysterical rejection of “transgender” has only been drama, resentment and an elitist divisiveness. However, this is not to say that the past 5 years has been devoid of any positive growth. The assertions of fact made by TS Separatists have inspired – as a reaction to their hyperbole – a renascence of sorts within the trans community. The ad nauseam hyperbole spewed forth from TS Separatists have…
For the beneficial reactions within the trans community, I want to THANK the TS Separatists. Even though their mean-spirited, obdurate and fanatical behavior visited untold suffering upon the lives of those they targeted and even though they worked around the clock to spread a fear-based ignorance far and wide, they were, nonetheless, the irritant which leads to the trans community rediscovering and reclaiming our rich trans history. If it hadn’t been for their misinformation campaign, there would have been no need to respond to it and therefore I wouldn’t have found myself fact-checking their truth claims and everyone would still believe that “transgender” came from the 1990s and had evolved from a term which meant crossdresser. Additionally, these past 5 years have proven the trans community to be just that: a community; because any “community” that doesn’t have space for dissent and rational introspection isn’t a community at all.
1.) The earliest known use of “transgender” was in 1965 – years before Prince ever thought of using the word. In 1965, “transgender” referred to transsexuals who’ve had surgery. Keep in mind that in 1966, Harry Benjamin still used “transsexual” as an umbrella term inclusive of crossdressers. The idea that transsexuals have been “colonized” because the term transgender exists is a lie. The word “transgender” became used in the same way that “transsexual” was being used at the time: as an umbrella term. Transsexual only stopped being used as an umbrella term when HBIGDA/WPATH redefined the term in 1979 within the publication of their Standards of Care I.
2.) Throughout the 1970s, transgender only ever meant transsexual or an umbrella term. No 1970s use of transgender has been found to only mean crossdresser. Transgender and transgenderist existed side-by-side, transgenderist meaning one thing while transgender another. The earliest known use of “transgenderist” is from 1975 – a decade after “transgender” was being used.
3.) As it turns out, NO evidence exists which support the idea that Prince’s 1 obscure (and immediate abandonment of) “transgenderal” (December 1969) is where all trans terms come from. If 1 early, obscure and immediately abandoned usage of a term is the standard which should be used (without showing actual links between the terms), then we must now claim that all trans terms, including transsexual,transgenderal and transgender, somehow came from “trans-sexed” – a 1915 term which meant transgenderist… as standard which is absurd.
4.) Transgender predates Transgenderist. Transgenderist has been tracked to a magazine from 1975. Transgender is at least a decade older than transgenderist.
6.) It’s simple to track a robust, explicitly inclusive and unified community.
7.) From housing protections to Title VII protections, the proliferation of trans protections has exploded over the past 20 years.
8.) The arguments and bigotry that are used against trans folks today are the same ones they were making against trans folks in the 1970s:
9.) Not only was transsexual and umbrella term, inclusive terms have been a part of trans culture since the early 1900s:
10.) The term existed decades before the 90s:
“In fact, in at least one transgender center the history of a single episode of cross-dressing in association with sexual arousal is sufficient to exclude the diagnosis of transsexualism (Baker).” – (1974:487). Clinical sexuality: A Manual for the Physician and the Professions, J Oliven, [Link]
“The transvestite rarely seeks transgender surgery, since the core of his perversion is an attempt to realize the fantasy of a phallic woman.” – (1974: 176). A Practical Handbook of Psychiatry
“Some of the terminology used at the conference would take some twenty years to become widespread. As far as we are aware, the first use of the term trans.people (sic) was when Julia Tonner referred to “the two worlds of the trans.people” (ie transsexuals and transvestites). In addition, there was also talk of transsexuals seeking ‘gender alignment’ and of ‘trans-gender’ also used as an umbrella term.” – (2007) Gendys Journal, D King & R Elkins
“[R]aquel Welch (left), moviedom’s sex queen soon to be seen as the heroine/hero of Gore Vidal’s transgendered “Myra Breckinridge…” – (April 26, 1970). TV Guide, [Link]
11.) Look up Type 4 and Type 5 transsexual… those classifications have been widely known since 1966. Even a “True Transsexual” can be a non-op (Type 5 transsexual).
12.) Again, as it turns out NO evidence exists to support this assertion. The challenge was made to TS Separatists, RadFems (see below) and right wingers to produce jut 10 real-world examples where protections against discrimination based upon gender identity and expression allowed abusers to circumvent laws prohibiting rape, assault, stalking and/or public indecency/disturbance. None of them have been able to do so.
The only group to try to back up their hyperbole with something that appeared to be evidence was a right-wing anti-trans group:
Really? Four rapes you say? Well, lets see what law enforcement has to say about that testable assertion of fact:
Yup, they just lied. Again, there is NO evidence to support the bathroom meme they push.
Cross-posted from Ehipassiko
Since the publication of this article, as predicted, the TS Separatist movement is largely over. Many of the main organizing sites have ceased publication and/or reversed the long-term positions they once held – again, all within the last year:
And, as the article predicted, the only ones that seems to still assert the narratives debunked in this article are:
Just Jennifer: http://justjenniferblog.blogspot.com/
Ashley Love: http://transformingmedia.blogspot.com/