On the receiving end of horizontal violenceTrans Progressive Thursday, September 1st, 2011
Commentary: Trans Progressive
Back in 1999, the Rt. Rev. Barbara C. Harris stated the following in a sermon commemorating the 25th anniversary of the ordination of women in the Episcopal Church: “Let there be peace among us, and let us not be instruments of our own oppression.”
Well, the trans community has a habit of eating its own to the point of becoming instruments of our own oppression. We engage in horizontal violence of the spirit without second thought.
To quote Martin Luther King Jr.: “Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him.”
We trans people apparently haven’t as yet fully embraced nonviolence.
I’m currently on the receiving end of biting, personal commentary that feels a lot like hate. And, it’s because I had a bilateral orchiectomy instead of a vaginoplasty. It seems to be a doctrine of faith among a number of transsexual women that identify themselves by such names as “women-born-transsexual,” “women of transsexual history” and “true transsexuals,” that unless a transsexual has a vaginoplasty then that transsexual isn’t a woman.
One comment from a woman who identifies herself as a woman of transsexual history stated “… we are faced with penis packing perpetual transvestites like Autumn ‘I’m too insane to remember to dilate besides I like my low maintenance dick’ Sandeen.” The “too insane” portion of the quote is reference to how I have cyclothymia – a bipolar disorder. The writer of that comment, back in 2008, also called me a “house tranny.”
Another from a woman who identifies herself as a woman of transsexual history stated, “No, Autumn Sandeen, you are not a woman. You are still just a rather sick penis packing no balls whatever in a dress but thankfully not wearing those silly berets any longer. Transsexual women or women-born-transsexual do not willingly keep their penis and claim their insanity makes taking care of a penis easier than taking care of a new vagina.” Within the same essay the author also misgendered me as “hir,” and called me a “eunuch.”
And yet another stated, “Note to Autumn: In case you didn’t know men have penises. Women have vaginas. You are neither.” She elsewhere called me “That Penis Packing Princess of the Tee-Gees.”
And still yet another stated, “Autumn Sandeen has announced that he is having ‘genital reconstruction surgery.’ Except, well, he isn’t. Not even close. He is lying, at the very least to himself, and really to anyone foolish enough to believe his bizarre fantasy. You see, what Mr. Sandeen is having is, not ‘genital reconstruction surgery’ but instead, is simply an orchiectomy. He is not becoming a complete female. He is becoming a eunuch, a castrated male.”
It seems in just about every identity community, there are litmus tests. How many times have we heard that someone isn’t black enough, or is too black? How many times have we heard “gold star” lesbians comment negatively about those who aren’t? How many times have we heard gay men comment negatively about bisexual men as just having not admitted that they’re really just gay? Who is black enough? Who is lesbian enough? Who is gay enough – and, of course, who is transsexual enough?
Apparently, to those who identify as women-born-transsexual, women of transsexual history or as true transsexuals, I’m not transsexual enough. Since I socio-politically identify as transgender, and have had an orchiectomy, I’m not deemed to be a “true transsexual.”
And, it’s personal, but not personal – I’m far from the only one so deemed as not transsexual enough due to surgical status; I’m far from the only one who’s experienced horizontal violence because of surgical status.
People have to work with others, in and out of their self-defined communities, if people are to accomplish legislative goals. For many transsexual people – in and out of the transgender community – the goals include being able to change identity documents (such as driver’s licenses and birth certificates) to match one’s gender identity. But instead of looking for commonalities and working with others, a number of my peers, ones who at some point in their lives identified with the word transsexual, seem only interested in deriding people who they decide aren’t transsexual enough, or not woman enough, for their definitions of what is acceptably “normal.”
Horizontal violence serves no one here, but still horizontal violence continues unabated. And in the process, for those of us who identify as trans, transgender, transsexual or who have ever identified with any or all of those terms, we don’t find peace, and we become the instruments of our own oppression.
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