Read More: Transgender
I am amazed that so many people in the queer community do not have any understanding of transsexualism. My transition from male to female doesn’t feel like something I did, but like something that happened to me. I understand myself as female, and I understand my transition as inevitable. Like every other woman, I transformed from a preadolescent girl into a woman. For me, being transsexual isn’t an identity so much as it is a medical condition. The obvious thing about being MTF transsexual that most people do not realize is: I was always female. I didn’t decide to change my sex. I decided to mature into womanhood. Too many transsexuals either hide their transsexualism or remain separate from the larger queer community. In order to be accepted and understood, transwomen need to have a less isolated presence within the LGBT world.
Oddly enough, it is almost easier to be out as a transsexual woman within the “straight” community than within the “queer” community. I have “passing privilege.” I am perceived as feminine. I make sense as a woman. In the straight world my gender identity, genitals and sexuality are never questioned. They aren’t looking and I’m never read. Outing myself doesn’t change their perceptions of me as it sometimes does in the gay world. The straight community has little experience with drag, and gender non-conformity. They never compare me to a drag queen or cross-dresser. Many transsexual women live completely in the straight world. Transsexuals are the only people who can be both “queer” and “straight.” In the straight world I don’t experience internal conflict between my gender identity and how I am perceived. In the straight world, being transgendered means I am simply a woman with an interesting history.
In Richmond’s larger queer community, it seems that transsexual women have isolated themselves. I am often the only transsexual woman my gay and lesbian friends have ever gotten to know. Drag queens, however, tend to be well-known and not isolated. The queer world is familiar with very feminine-appearing and acting men. As an open transsexual I might not be compared to a drag queen, but in the queer world the comparison is only natural, whereas the straight perception of a drag queen is too masculine to include people like me. Being out as a transsexual woman is uniquely challenging within the queer community. It seems to take longer to be accepted as a woman within the queer community than it does within the straight community. Queer people have a harder time of taking gender at face value. This served me well early on in my transition when I appeared more masculine, but not so well now. Putting the obvious physical difference aside, I remain a “lesbian with an asterisk”, more so in the queer world than in the straight world.
As a transsexual lesbian I have a unique relationship with the queer community. I am a part of two queer categories. In many ways it is easier for me to be both openly transsexual and openly lesbian within the straight community than it is in Richmond’s LGBT community. As a unique phenomenon in the straight world, transsexuals are free to define themselves. As one type of transgender person in the queer world, transsexual women must become more active in the larger LGBT community if we expect to be able to define ourselves.
While we are all different, there are parts of our identities, our shared experiences, that make us all the same.September 21, 2016
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