|Countering Empty Gestures With Coffee & A Really Good Blueberry Scone|
|Opinion - Looking Glass|
|Thursday, 24 January 2008 19:00|
Fairfax, VA, USA. I avoid commercial pastries; they are bad for my waistline. However, I do love a really good blueberry scone.
Every so often when out doing my tasks in life I simply can’t resist and swing by a coffee shop and indulge in what passes in my life for a guilty pleasure.
One day, I stopped at a shop, ordered up a coffee and a scone — blueberry, my favorite — and settled in to eat my delight and read the Science section of the New York Times. Horrors! The scone was some sort of stale chocolate thing.
I went to the counter to complain and the young man told me that was the only kind of scone available (my choice was sold out). I pointed out that the sign in the case said blueberry. The clerk only half-jokingly said I should pretend. Really? What about my expectations? And what would happen if we all decided to mislabel things because we should just pretend? I told the clerk his employer had engaged in a deceptive business practice, but he merely shrugged and passed on to the next customer.
Play can be fun, especially with children or the dog. It doesn’t work so well if I vote for one candidate based on her or his policies, only to discover after the election that it was a coercive pretense to gain my support. I get about my life as the real me. It is not much to ask that others do the same. Or is it?
My goal in life is to simply get on with life before I miss it. I am immersed in daily life with my partner, family, friends, community, and educational activities. Everyone has their mix. As a female with a history of transsexualism, the goal of my transition was to have successful corrective surgery and get on with life. Well, here I am, just another ingredient in the blend that makes up my community.
I fully support any and all of the transsexual-born who make their separate and unique decisions on whether to disclose their past. Most of the transsexual-born do not have a public presence and cultivate little or no awareness of their past history. This is not much different from people generally. Sometimes, people with a painful (or outright forgettable) past just walk on and do not make much of a fuss about it. Sometimes, it is trauma (like an abusive childhood). Other times, it can be the boredom of a culturally deprived family life. And so forth.
If you are a person born transsexual, this approach is generally understood to be “stealth”, regardless of the reason. True: someone always knows — or knew — but the number of people actually involved can be quite small. The number of people who know can increase if the knowledge is an unavoidable byproduct of otherwise innocuous activity.
By that definition, most of my life is stealthy, but not all. I have dedicated myself to family, friends, and my civic responsibilities. The transsexual-born acknowledge a common starting point and a common destination. What happens between those two can vary a lot but I feel we are all on the same critical path. This website, TS-Si.org, elevates public knowledge of my transsexual history, but involves only a narrow slice of my social reality.
Others are more deeply invested with their history as transsexual males or females. Many are inclined toward more explicit public activism. From that transgender (TG) point of view, people in any degree of stealth have become wholly separatist and therefore an enemy of their pretend state. TGs apply a double standard for people born transsexual.
Critics view stealth as deceptive — or worse — cowardly. The critics require disclosure; many demand social activism. You know, “out and proud”? A large proportion of the better-known activists are pre-op. It remains to be seen whether they are truly transsexual-born. Only time, transition — and corrective surgery — will tell that tale.
It is a different matter when someone brings up the TG core: male crossdressers and transvestites. The presence of such TGs complicates any discussion of stealth. TG males are preoccupied with “passing”, the ability to pose as the social gender opposite to their sex. The TG public presence is all about manipulating an observer to believe that, even though male, their sex is female, as implied by their clothing and presentation. In that sense, transgenders are indeed stealthy — and deceptive.
For me personally, the conventional TG notion of stealth would be irrelevant if it didn’t result in such disinformation and a distorted public understanding of the transsexual medical condition.
Let us take it out of the transsexual context. I see people who feel rebellious or generally out-of-sorts and walk about with purple hair and pierced lips. Whatever I may feel about the personal welfare of that individual, at least one thing is for sure: their advertising got my attention. I may not buy what they sell, but I know who they are. That is just one example out of many (teenage fads, street gangs, and women's shoes with excessive points, whatever).
Unfortunately, a portion of our public life has become a series of mere gestures. Each gesture seems to convey "I am here!" or "You are there!" It can be “I am this!” or “You are that!” without any depth of explanation. Since no real communication takes place, the parties to such faux talk must fall back on preconceptions, including stereotypes.
I think it is because we all are navigating a period in our cultural history where many view "effort" as identical to "results". Settling for “close enough” has supplanted definitive closure. When obstacles appear in life, it is natural that we feel bad and even vent for a bit. But to give feeling bad and whining a long shelf life is a sure prescription for failure and an unhappy end.
If one has a movement based on a narrow personalized ideology, like TGism, much depends on conveying ones position through gesture. All of society does that to some extent (political slogans, "Snap, Crackle, Pop!", etc.). That can be fun at times: such gestures are important when I am out on a really good date.
There are times when the underlying ideology is profound. Our resistance to Hitler and the Japanese War Lords had deep roots in our personal and collective liberty. In that case, gestures really meant something.
Empty gestures become vapid and destructive when they trivialize important matters. If like TGism, the intellectual content is thin, and stale like an old doughnut, arguments become repetitive and virtually meaningless. Gestures and street theater become the main means of implying deep content when there is none to be had. Lifestyle anomalies take over to the point that one must stay inside that cocoon and diminish everyone else as invalid (in-group vs. out-group, demonize the other, etc.).
When TGs refer to our alleged transsexual "separatism", they really mean we have broken the spell (recovered from the TG Kool-Aid) and threatened the cohesion of their tribe. We know that but they are not so sure. Their analysis is faulty because they are still enthralled. And yet, where did we go? Better yet: where have we been all along? We never joined up in the first place, so how can we be separatists?
Where do we live?
Real life? We think so, but the TGs have already denigrated society in general as inadequate and repressive. In my view, if anyone is a separatist, it is the TGs, dodging as they do the responsibilities that come with full participation in society. Anyone who engages in the TG version of "stealth" is the biggest offender of all.
Lisa and I have some degree of public presence because of TS-Si. That was a hard, but well thought out choice, based on our desire to find a vaccine for the TG disinformation and reset the scientific baseline necessary for genuine action. Hopefully, that might benefit those who follow us. It isn't for everyone — we recognize that and respect other choices.
Lisa and I are in the position of spending full lives as women doing their thing. Our passage through transition brought finality to a crucial phase in our lives. But some of the personal static we receive has to do with actions that have nothing to do with our transsexual histories. Both of us have served our country in extremis. Lisa was at her post in the Pentagon when the aircraft literally plowed through her office. She barely escaped with her life. As for me — well, I have been around. Our choices may not be the same as others of you, but we are engaged in society.
Our past commitments are enough to alienate a lot of the activist TGs who equate Transgenderism with extreme social and political activities that consist mainly of empty gestures. It seems to me that the real TG objection has little to do with "separatism" or "stealth" per se. Rather, it seems to be revulsion at our engagement with mainstream society and the choices we make — our participation — in a system they despise.
Name the lifestyle, however valid, and I am sure someone will object. After all, that is what they do. Polemic is the only substitute when an individual has nothing substantive to say.
Sometimes, I need relief and head out for coffee and a really good blueberry scone. No horrors, just delight.
|Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 January 2013 14:17|