Thursday 27 December 2012

Spark interview

A while ago, I was interviewed by Fiona McClymont from The Spark, Bristol's 'alternative' magazine and one that we in Bristol are very fortunate to get free, four times a year. Fiona was most concerned that we should get it right, and I am very happy with the finished article. Thanks, Fiona! The interview appears as one of their 'Changemakers' pieces. You can read it here, hopefully. I'm on P 47

...I do feel ambivalent about doing this sort of thing,  because there is an inherent contradiction in appearing in a magazine precisely because I have a trans history, and the central message of the piece which is that 'there's more to me, and more to life, than being trans, so let's get on with it'. Still, as long as trans people are exoticised and treated as caricatures, then it remains a message that needs telling, and the only way of telling it is to be 'out'.

I have had quite a bit of positive response to the article. I also just found this message to me, which, as it represents a point of view very much at variance with my own, I add here.

 Hi Dru

Yesterday I had the unfortunate and unwanted task of dealing with your irresponsible article. In fact I've only just finished crying. By your and others necessity to continue to label themselves as "trans" has made my life more difficult and its only when I explain to people that I don't associate with the Trans term and that I'm a women do I get treated as a women. So thank you for that.

a place for everyone who identifies as transgendered, in whatever way

I'm in the last few months of supported Wpath NHS transition which is a wholly medical process known to those that dish it out as Transsexualism. I am a women, always was and will be. The idea that people with gender dysphoria and gender identity issues are labelled Transgender is all well and good, but I don't suffer from gender dysphoria or gender identity issues so this umbrella term no longer applies. Your use of trans as a pronoun or adjective is most unfortunate as all you are saying is that you are an "illustrator that used to have a penis". This off course is totally open for all to make unwanted associations; as you allude to. Which is why I'm upset and baffled as to why you want to continue to label yourself as such. My understanding is that you are a women, but how you want to call yourself is up to you off course, but if any body calls or labels me "a trans person" then I'm disgusted and angry as any woman would be. How dare you suggest that I'm ugly or look like a man. Unfortunately a whole swath of people that have entered the GICs in this country are now throwing the Trans word around as though they own it or define it. Those people are pushing and hurting those like myself that remain quietly going about our business. For me and many others there is no third gender. All we ever wanted was to appear as how we felt. Now even that is being spoilt by articles such as yours.

Basically you're trying to make people associate me with being a tranny, a cross-dresser, a transvestite, a drag queen or gender queer; which usually comes with a gay man somewhere in there. This is the most saddest and most destructive and dangerous part of my life. I have to avoid the associations that articles, such as yours, and practices, such as those I've -already mentioned, that can put me directly into a frightening, unwanted and dangerous situations. I am a normal women that doesn't have any interest in cross-dressing, transvestites or any such stuff. You've just put that straight into peoples head. Thanks again.

Any hows, I've had to cut out and delete most of what I originally wrote as it probably was too upsetting or strong. But really thanks for putting yet another downer on the whole affair.


  1. Well, I make no secret of my trans origin on my own 'Lucy Melford' blog, and I would, if asked, also write a serious article, and so I imagine that this person would direct a similar complaint at me too.

    It's necessary in this world to state your credentials if you want to be heard and exert whatever influence you may have. So yes, some of us who can communicate need to stand up and declare ourselves. And that will label us in the eyes of the world, and undoubtedly prejudice our reception in some quarters. The lady who wrote to you has feelings that are perfectly comprehensible, but surely the need to explain what 'trans women' are about to as many people as possible should override any individual's problems, yours and mine included?

    I don't think that, even now, the general population of this country knows much about trans matters, nor has an informed grasp of what we are and what we do with our lives. So long as ignorance persists, it would seem best policy to discuss transness openly and all the issues that surround it.


  2. I liked the write up Dru but although I'm Trans it's not a badge I'd wave about. I'm still in transition and have 6 months to my surgery, after the surgery I will be a woman with a 'Trans' past.

    I can certainly see how some people will feel quite sensitive about the use of the T word but while it's not something I'd advertise I'm very open and will not hide my past.

    Overall, a good write up and there needs to be more of this in the press, we are not freak's, we are just normal people with a problem to overcome and the sooner we can overcome it the sooner we can get back to our lives.

  3. Quite agreed, Lucy! And hello again!

    It's not a badge I wave about either, FS -it's just that there are times when it is something that needs talking about. I'm concerned by two aspects of the correspondent's message: one, that she believes there is a fundamental difference between her as a 'classic' transsexual and others on the trans* spectrum- this is something I don't agree with; I think it's holding on to an outmoded and simplistic model. And there's her own internalised transphobia- "if any body calls or labels me "a trans person" then I'm disgusted and angry as any woman would be. How dare you suggest that I'm ugly or look like a man." There you go, in a nutshell.

  4. I am born female but mistaken as a transgender by the idiots in life. I was distressed by this when younger but now know that feminity has nothing to do with your sex. I put your blog into my reader because I liked your pictures and humour.

  5. You hit the nail on the head there Dru, internalized transphobia!!!

  6. Not entirely sure what a 'normal' woman is?

  7. What I find sad about this is that she's effectively saying that, by living your life the way that is best for you, you are oppressing her. No matter how different people at various positions on the trans spectrum might think they are, it does none of us any good to try to police the behaviour of others.

  8. The response seems to reveal more about the prejudice of the writer. About the labels and perceptions that she has created or clings to with regard to the term transgender. Particularly
    "Basically you're trying to make people associate me with being a tranny, a cross-dresser, a transvestite, a drag queen or gender queer; which usually comes with a gay man somewhere in there." If I was feeling cynical I could think that she doesn't think much of people she considers fall into that list. But it is probably about her own difficulties in having the world accept her as woman.
    Labels are such a stupid thing. She is dyslexic, he is an artist, she is a woman, he is [only] a child. A real complication of things going on. Some culturally created others diminishing a person to an activity or trait. Yet those very labels can help - are certain sorts of people being treated fairly, given opportunities, equal wages etc.
    Our gender as it is perceived by others does affect how we are treated. Well so do other labels - how many times has someone found it confusing to see an artist reading the New Scientist magazine? They have a store of attributes associated with "artist".
    Glad to hear you are happy with the article. It seems very quiet and matter of fact. You have experienced living with different labels.
    Sometimes in online discussions it has been assumed that I am a male [often discussions around science & religion!]- usually I can tell when that is happening. I notice on flickr that unless it is obvious I don't think of my contacts by gender but by their work.
    A friend is preganant and didn't want to know if a boy or girl, because she didn;t want to start gendering! She now knows it is a boy. Her partner told a friend, who rushed away saying she was glad she knew now as it was important to people and she needed some blue wool... he felt helpless in the face of cultural forces at play.
    We all need to root out our prejudices, our labellings of ourselves and others. Your words "exoticised and treated as caricatures" need to be considered in wider areas of looking at "the other". Does "the other" really exist?

  9. Dru, the interview in The Spark reads like a distressing but ultimately successsful personal life story with some important embedded messages, such as the importance of standing your ground, and I can't see how it could do other than inform and inspire. It also demonstrates that one can be 'out' and 'public' and still be respected. I personally never thought that total stealth was ever feasible: it would mean the life of a secret agent, a life with a past to desperately conceal, a life constantly fearing discovery. That's not living.

    As you say, it's much better to just get on with it - and enjoy what comes.

    Are you still making that damson vodka?


  10. "I personally never thought that total stealth was ever feasible: it would mean the life of a secret agent, a life with a past to desperately conceal, a life constantly fearing discovery. That's not living."

    That is the life pre transition so why would we wish to live a second version of that. Live as honestly and openly as you can, to wake and not be playing a part to suit others preconceptions is such a joy.

    It has taken three generations since the first nationally publicised transition of Christine Jorgensen and still the media feel free to treat our condition as a sort of joke, who else can they abuse since race and colour are now off limits! Some of us will still have to live openly and keep spreading the word for a while yet before those like your un named commentator can sleep easily in their beds...

  11. A salutary reminder of the problems the stealth / classic transsexual models put on their users.
    Only had the one interview about the trans aspect of my life but generally mention it in others. Found it rather more difficult in terms of trying to say things of what seem like importance to me rather than waffling away as the normal ones go. Wondering if you have a set of 'most important' things you want to say re trans aspects of life. Was this a successful one in that respect ?

  12. Why do so many people go on and on and on about gender. Just tell others what you are and end of. If they've got problems then those are their problems, not mine.

    To me this argument or discussion seems about as productive and constructive as a conclave of bishops rabbiting on about female bishops. Who cares?

  13. When I started to transition about 3 years ago I sought out some UK transgender online communities for support and to answer some of the many questions I had.

    Sadly I found all to be mired by those who just wanted to place labels on themselves and others and then explain why those with a certain label are better or more 'authentic' than others with different labels. I very quickly stopped visiting and haven't returned since.

    It's human nature to label other people, it helps the mind to process information and make decisions....what we need to guard against is allowing those labels to cloud our judgement and/or to treat someone unfairly.

    My own experience over the last few years has been overwhelmingly positive, everyone who knows me treat me as who I am, a woman, some knew me before I transitioned, some didn't know me before but do know that I've transitioned and some don't know at all. What's important is that I now live a much happier life than ever before.

    Two simple rules to live by - 'Live and let live' and 'do unto others as you'd like done unto you'



  14. I saw this a while back when I was manning the pop up gallery. I was chuffed to see you tucked away at the back. Brilliant - hope you had a good Christmas.

  15. gosh, lots of responses! -As you say, Maura, othering is something that so many people experience for so many different reasons- I remember meeting a couple who'd become social pariahs because they'd gone bankrupt, and their former 'friends' blanked them....

    ..I understand the desirability of the label of 'normal woman', even if it's illusory, to someone who's rejected the label previously assigned to them. So I can see where this correspondent is coming from, even if I find her opinions rather offensive.
    Sophie, I think we managed to cover the main points and get the central message out there. Fiona had read "Becoming..." and lifted a couple of quotes from it, so the line about the ear defenders infecting my newly-pierced ears was imported, and in hindsight it could have dwelt less upon physical aspects of transition like that, because it's Not About The Clothes! But hey.

    Who cares, Beverley? I guess you care, otherwise you wouldn't have troubled yourself to post. I quite agree that if people have a problem with you, you should do everything in your power to stop it becoming your problem. Sometimes that isn't possible. So you have to try to change things. If you've been untroubled, then lucky you.

    My experience of online communities has not been as unhappy as your, Tanya- I have made some very good friends through one of them. Though yes; there are some extremely annoying people there; I suspect it goes with the territory, and would like to think that they grow out of it as they evolve. Hmm, maybe over-optimistic!

    Yes, Lucy- just decanted this year's damson vodka for solstice. V nice it is too. If you should be passing....

    Had a v quiet Christmas, Bella; just painted a picture and lunched on coleslaw and pickled fish. A nice evening with House Teenager though. I hope yours was good too!

  16. Hmm... Interesting topic.

    I think that, first, thank you for both doing and posting the article. I wonder how many people were, like me, going "yes, yes, yes!" at the first paragraph.

    When I first told people 3 or so years ago, and when I transitioned 12 months ago I was asked why I never said anything when I was young. Your words could have been taken from the life story I gave to my therapist. I just assumed that all boys and men felt like that and I was strange for thinking anything of it.

    And so you continue until you can't any longer. The third panic attack did it for me in December 2009, I had a choice of another debilitating attack or I could come out with it, and see what the cost was.

    I'm sorry that the rest has come at such a cost though. I've been very lucky with family and friends.

    The other point that I wanted to make was about the mail you received.

    Oddly enough I think that she makes a good point, but doesn't realise it and worded it very badly!

    The fact is that when I told people the image in their head was an over the top drag artist in 8" heels and a skirt that doesn't cover my modesty. In the UK I think that is how people who have no idea see it. And, yes, it's distressing to think that people see me like that - I know that I am a laughing stock back in my home town to a number of people; not that I care too much of them, that's their issue and they have nothing to do with my life now. But...

    But hiding is not the answer, and should not be the answer. Better education such as your article are the answer. Documentaries they do not go for the completely salacious sensationalistic angle are part of the answer. People meeting transsexuals is the answer.

    When I thanked people for the support I got from them in the office since transitioning 12 months ago I confused the new people who had joined during the year. They had no idea. They do now, and that can only be a good thing - they assumed I was a 'normal' (awful word, sorry) natal woman, and now they know that transsexuals are just 'normal' women.

    Do I wear it on my sleeve and yell it from the rooftops. No. I've never been someone who could do that, and for that I apologise.

    But at the same time if someone needs to know, or finds out, it's fine. It is something that I am no longer ashamed of.

    Again, thanks for the article.


  17. Hi Dru

    Happy Christmas and New Year.

    Thanks for replying. I appreciate it. And apologies if I came across all personal; I tend to use "you" instead of "one" which confuses some people.

    Any-hows now I know what I'm called, a Separa...... woman. Seriously though, I have another label? Sounds fearful.

    The point is, I suppose, is that when I first put feelings into words and realised that feelings don't always reflect what you are (i.e.. about at six years old) , I didn't sign up to be labelled by others as anything other than women. I didn't crave "transness", or wistfully dream of being a "tranny". The third gender agenda does nothing if not harm to those that wish this to be understood by the wider community. My point about being taken as a man or ugly is because the third gender allows, empowers people, to make incorrect assumptions about those they are judging. So instead of quietly getting on with life, a barrage of questions ensues bringing with it the unhappiness from which one has just escaped.

    Off course those like yourself, the main stream (perhaps), enjoy such appendages as "trans". But maybe we should clarify the words origin as I have to confess that without going through the "Trans..." words I have no idea to what it alludes. This is, off course, stupid on my part to engage in conversation without truly understanding the roots. In the search, maybe herein lies the problem. Because to me it's supposed to reflect a transition, thus trans. However I haven't transitioned I have shed years of enforced cross dressing, gender behavioural enforcement, etc. So it doesn't reflect my journey. Transgender? Well maybe I was from other peoples point of view. I suffered severely from gender dysphoria and that maybe is the reason that someone might pre label me as "trans", but that was years ago, I am no longer a woman inside and a man out, so I'm no longer transgender. I am in the medical process of transsexuallism but that is a medical definition for the unfortunate conundrum that I share with my GP and others in the medical profession that has led to me being all women. "The transsexual process" is not for others to shorten and then title me with. So what is the word and why?

  18. In LGBT, all the others, LGB, have differing sexual preference. T has no inclination or assumed preference, could as easily be LGB'B', LGB'L', LGB'G' or LGB'H'. The reason why I point this out is because maybe "trans" can mean what I want it to and I can take it or leave it, but wait the T is in LGBT. I have looked for support from LGBT groups and found that if I don't mind talking about men dressed in drag, drag queens, men wanting to have their penises cut off and various other personal preferential behaviour I'm ok. I actually joined the group to help with having changed sexual preference from Heterosexual to Lesbian. Not one person in the group, around 15, asked anything to do with my sexual preference. Somehow Trans had become my sexual preference. Strange because I never mentioned being a medical transsexual. They all felt quite at home assuming this and assuming that. I was referred to as "Trans" in a facebook comment and haven't returned to the group since. Not very supportive, not very enlightened, not very open, very unfortunate but not surprising as the "Main Stream" seem to want this title, want this attention, want this debate.
    It could be seen as a similar debate to that on Ms, Miss, and Mrs. Because socially we accept and require these titles it has become a custom to select one of the above titles to describe the sexual activity of a women. I don't prescribe to this labelling and would suggest that every women should confuse the authorities and men by using the perceived incorrect title. It should be that legally we need only use one, as men do. Why should my partnership status be of any one else assumptative knowledge. Especially today when sexual behaviour doesn't revolve around men's desires and enforced control of women. Some might say its custom, some might say it's a preventative, allot haven't even thought about it. The one point about this is, though, a woman can choose. She makes a choice as to the title she has. I as a person want that choice too. But normalising behaviour such as putting into print and publishing "Trans Illustrator" has just allowed everybody to put a title on me which I don't want and don't have to legally live with but some "Main Streamers" feel they can add just because they can. (I can imagine a legal case coming out of the fact that I'll be treated differently because somebody wants to put a label on me that they are not socially or legally entitled to put. A little like using the "Niger" word, ok for some but not others. The "some" being black, the "others" being anybody else including black people that don't wish to be called "Niger" by anybody either. So, maybe, the word shouldn't be used at all.)

    Being treated differently is what this is all about and you made reference to this. If being treated differently in my life means being treated as the gender I present in and I am, then none of this would be of any issue, BUT I am not, you are not and others are not. Why because the ammunition, the empowerment has been given over to the wider public that has no and will never have any understanding except what is badly portrayed by TV, media and publishers about "Trans" that fits into cross dressing, transvestite and transgender. It seems that it's the responsibility of those that get to explain or show their story, to be more than careful about including those associated by life into their gang; especially when its about people changing their outward gender, i.e. just men and women.


  19. I would like to say that, off course, none of my comments are meant to be personal I get very passionate but that is because I get the consequence of others choices ( it never ends). I would also like to add that all things to me are open to debate and I'm not right. Definitely not right, but I do have an opinion and a heart. I would be open to joining a debate and would be happy to see the debate broaden among people from Bristol ( I am forum phobic though). I appreciate diversity and I recognise that I have the right to withdraw from the main stream and just hang with women ( and maybe a separatists if I can find them ;) )


    Kind Regards


  20. Whoops, I wasn't expecting my post to be put up quite yet as I was wanting to explore the issues in a more private manner with Dru, but here it is in all its raw "transphobic" colour. I have a reply to Dru sitting in my drafts, which I was going to send to her today, to continue my learning of how other men and women experience the "Trans" experience".

    I apologise first off to those I have offended but, for me, the point remains the same. I suppose I'm being semantic but I have met up with those that are called "Trans" but prefer Gender Queer, I have also met people that believe that "Trans" is Gender Queer or "Trans" is a derivative of ones sexual preference. I'm delighted that people have found comfort and acceptance in the wider community and that that comes from an understanding that derives from education. I also recognise that the stories that take us from what we are not, to what we are, are an important part of that education. The point is the label.

    Yes that's what we are, differentiating machines and without the language to define we wouldn't be able to communicate. I don't believe, and its my opinion, that the "Trans" label appended to say illustrator functions in any way to broaden or deepen peoples understanding. I believe that it has the danger of becoming a broader accepted way of speech, and for me, personally, it's unwanted.

    Anyway, as I think I've said, my response to Dru's article was because of an unpleasant necessity to explain. Maybe I should just be proud and tag it onto every sentence I write or say.

    That said above is my unsent reply to Dru again filled with uncertainty, alittle confusion and a big dollop of fear for having spoken out.

    Kind Regards


  21. Hi Gabbie- it's ironic that you are so keen to reject labels for yourself (other than the one that you are so emphatic belongs to you) and yet are insistent upon telling me what I am. The heading 'transgender illustrator' was not chosen by me, and is not the way I primarily identify; it flagged up a crucial element of the purpose of the article, which was to talk about my transition. So I do not reject the heading. But that was just that article. (I also suggest, in that article, that change is an important element of lots of people's lives, not just trans people; I hope that was made reasonably clear.) I don't wave the flag for the third gender. I most certainly do not recognise myself in your claim that "of course those like yourself, the main stream (perhaps), enjoy such appendages as "trans".

    As Deborah said, above, "I'm not entirely sure what a 'normal' woman is". Every one of us is different, and we each of us arrived at the place we are now via a unique route. I am accepted as who I am by those who I know and count as friends, just as I accept them as who they are. I identify as a woman with a trans history. I don't hide that history; actually, I don't think that hiding that history would be possible even if I wanted to.

    As for your belief that my telling my story damages you- at one time I had no voice in the world, and was at the mercy of the press when my story was broken (during the P&O case). I was *extremely* annoyed to find that my story had been distorted to fit the Standard Tranny Narrative, and added to the weight of stories that help to perpetuate prejudice. That was a powerful incentive to find my own voice. I did that through the book I worked on with Richard Beard, through my blog, and through things like the Spark article. Other trans writers have found voices in mainstream publications; the Guardian in particular has been a terrific platform. I recall 10 years ago, Julie Bindel (for instance) could publish repulsively anti-trans articles in the Guardian as a matter of course. Things are changing. As a group, we now expect to be involved in things that concern us, rather than being people who are simply talked about, or who are there to be joked about. I think that we are now at the stage where we can be (and are) ‘out’ as people-with-trans-history, and just get on with things.

    So I do object to what you have said. In fact, I was annoyed and hurt by it. If you don’t agree with my opinions, then you should speak out with your own. That’s what I did, after all. Silencing is not an option.

  22. Stace! -you're the first person to tell me that you identify with that 'I thought everyone felt that way' thing. Anyone else out there? :-)

  23. Dru - I totally agree with you about having to advance our tolerance and acceptance in our culture. I've come to England from Ireland to escape a deep prejudice still found there. I was placed in a mental hospital in Wexford when I told my GP in Ireland that I was gender dysphoric. It was the title of your article that sparked my need for debate and now that you have clarified your position on it I can see clearly that we have more in common than perhaps you realise.

    I'll apologise again for not honing my words and removing the emotion that has caused you upset. I am sorry. Maybe there are better ways for me to tackle this debate. I am speaking because you spoke. Silencing is not an option.

    Kind Regards Gabbie

  24. I was quite sure that we did have a lot in common, Gabbie; it's just that we model our experience and identity differently, I suspect.

    As you may have worked out by now, I think that trans identities are part of a spectrum, rather than a simple woman-brain-in-man-body problem that can be definitively fixed by a bit of surgery. Like gender identity in general; unless, rather than a spectrum, all identities occupy discrete positions all of their own, like stars in a galaxy.

    Who knows? I don't have any great defining answers, but I prefer to reject answers that don't seem right. Maybe we are female by nature (sometimes aided by hormonal and surgical intervention) and women by performance.

    When you said "if any body calls or labels me "a trans person" then I'm disgusted and angry as any woman would be", I think you went a bit far; I'm not sure that you can really speak for all women on that. As some of the commentators here have suggested, the concept of normality and labels can be illusory and limiting, although it can be tempting to cling to them.

    I understand that you've had a difficult time. I hope things go well for you.

  25. I kinda kept quiet when Dru published this, I felt my contribution might be divisive.

    But reading the comments, there is one thing that always concerns me in such discussions: the idea that somehow a person who has transitioned from m to f was never a bloke in the first place and was really a woman all along.

    I've known I've had something female about me since I was about 3, but to say I or anyone else like me was never a bloke is simply delusional. Assume whatever label you like, but try that with a member of the general public and see how far you get. Not a good move if being taken seriously is your aim.

  26. Hi Jenny
    I have for 4 years "tried" it with every one I've met and been taken very seriously. I have been delusional all my life trying to live like a "bloke". The point is I've taken and accepted my label. Its others that do the labelling.

    Through out the whole blog debate not one person has reflected on the etymology of the words used to label and that was what I wished to debate. I know I was personal and rude about Drus article and I've apologised but the discussion is still open and unanswered.

    I withdraw from the "you should this", "you should that", "I've done this", etc etc. I am quite aware that we all have wonderful, magical journeys and that we are all proud of them but this was an idealogical debate brought about by how I was treated due to a published article. That was all.

    Thanks though for all your comments. I have definitely learnt a little more.


  27. "When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less."
    "The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."
    "The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master - that's all."

    I'm not sure that reflecting on etymology is particulalry helpful; I think all of us here know perfectly well the source of the words in question. What's important is how they are used and understood. And that is not set in stone. Unfortunately, lots of trans people cling desperately to definitions to validate themselves; "*I* have always been a woman: *you* are a tranny: *they* are really a gay man". It seems so bogus. It seems that the initial description of the condition of transsexuality was clung to by those to whom it approximated, and gave them a vocabulary that allowed them to explain themselves to themselves and to mould their own experience to fit that definition, both unconsciously and consciously - we all know the stories that you must dress and behave in a particular way to get treatment at GICs.... and so we end up with a monolithic Standard Trans Narrative, complete with its tropes- "I was a woman trapped in a man's body", "I always was and always will be a woman". I am always suspicious when I hear that sort of stuff.

    What do you mean by 'how I was treated due to a published article' though, Gabbie? Do you not mean 'how I responded to a published article'?

  28. As I said I don't hide my history if it needs to come out, or comes out for whatever reason.

    But another paradox for you. I was never male in my head - I didn't have something of the female about me, I knew I should have been a girl, and wished so desperately every night to wake up a girl in the morning when I was single digits young.

    The result of the MRI scans from the research I took part in this year backed that up apparently. I have a female brain in construction and function - before any hormones were given to me.

    But, you are right, I lived as a boy and man for 35 years. But I don't think that it made me a man. I was just living the role. Very badly judging by the comments of those who thought I was gay, or those who asked if I was really a woman before they knew anything of my struggles.

    If I was ever male then I would not be in the position I am in now, as it would not be required to go down this route.

    I know that it sounds like a cop out, but the question is what is more important. What is in someone's head (where we know the personality lives) or what is between someone's legs? Or seeing as I am on the waiting list for the operation where do I classify now?

    I'll be honest it is something that I never put much thought into, but also being honest it's a paragraph that really bites me. No one except for me gets to make that generalisation about my life, the same as no one but you gets to make it about your own.

    Sorry if that seems harsh, but like I said that paragraph really bit me.


  29. Is it just the words getting in the way, Stace? Could you not be at one and the same time female and a man? -the latter being the performative aspect of the identity. -I felt the same way as you describe, feeling wrong and dreaming of changing; but I still lived and was perceived as a man. No-one looks too deeply into other people's internal dialogue, generally...

  30. They could very well be, Dru...

    I like your description very much :)


    Again, sorry if it came over as overly harsh...

  31. To explain, I was put into a highly embarrassing and upsetting experience in a café where several people took to calling me "trans" and "tranny" at leisure. The "Trans" person over there etc. I tried to explain and a short discussion ensued in which the people in question thought it correct to address me as such because, and they quoted it, the article that Dru had written. They had assumed that it would be ok to address me in this way and when I said that I ( yes I ) preferred not to be addressed as such they were confused and more debate ensued in which I'm sure those involved continued to believe that their mode of address was correct. The power of the printed word and all that.

    I would like to clarify as some people seem to think that I'm in denial of my past. I'm not, I never said I was. I know the truth as its laid out on my birth cert and in my mind and have no worries discussing mine or others issues in relation to the transgender and transsexual parts of my life. Also this has nothing to do with my feelings and how I describe my life. i.e." I was a girl in a boys body" etc. It is only about how I have to live within the wider community. So I'm not trying to define others feelings and approach to their gender conundrum.

    I still think that the etymology of the words used are important. Quoting Alice in Wonderland does nothing to address this issue. I'm a scientist by education and if words have many meanings then they are useless in their descriptive capacity. Words can take on different meanings in different contexts. My issue is that the wider community create their own context and then use the word "trans". It is, as I see it, such a broad description that its not surprising that some, maybe many, are not so willing to use the word. I can see that you are unwilling to step into this debate and that is fair enough. We are all free to think as we wish unless it causes harm to others and this is were the debate lies, as far as I'm concerned.

    Sorry Dru but I don't wish to bog down your Blog further but if anybody wishes to contact me they can at I'm totally open to debate and usually totally wrong.

  32. Etymology is interesting, certainly, but meanings are not set in stone, other than in specialised areas like law or science. Look at how the meaning of 'gender' has evolved since this 1926 definition:

    gender, n., is a grammatical term only. To talk of persons or creatures of the masculine or feminine g., meaning of the male or female sex, is either a jocularity (permissible or not according to context) or a blunder.

    These people you encountered remind me of the sort of cis person who uses the word 'tranny' and says 'I've got permission to use it because I have a friend who's a tranny'. Wrong on so many levels; if you don't own the words you don't get to use them. And I certainly don't identify as 'tranny'. They seem to have missed out the Big Message which I had hoped to get across, that there's more to me than being trans and that people shouldn't 'other' people. Maybe you could blame them for their stupidity (and possibly intention to offend) rather than blame me for your encounter. What caff was this, by the way? I'm curious now.

  33. I have something of a professional interest in the world of etymology and the definition of words, so I've had this discussion with others in this sphere in the past.

    Language is an entity defined by the mass of those who use it. Words acquire and change meaning by a ruthless form of democracy as the public at large use them that way. Consider "gay" for example: 50 years ago it meant "happy", 20 years ago it meant "homosexual", now it's acquiring a sense of "naff". My mother's generation don't like the loss of "happy" and gay people hate the "naff" sense, but since language is not defined by minorities its meaning is beyond their control.

    And so it is with our community. It doesn't matter how we'd like to be described, the world at large uses "transgender" or "trans" to describe us and we can't do much about it. Fortunately those two words happen to be a lot nicer than many of their predecessors so our community is largely happy with them.

    "transgender" has shifted meaning since its coinage, while we're on etymology. It was originally a separatist word for non-transsexuals,but as the word "transsexual" has gathered some negative connotations it has broadened its meaning to include a wider spectrum of our community. I know there are people who don't like this, but a straightforward piece of statistical analysis of a corpus of current English will demonstrate the truth behind it.

    As an aside, on "tranny" I know enough people on the TV side of our community who happily use it to describe themselves that I would prefer to reappropriate it than proscribe it. Proscribed words are a gift to hate language.