I try to be sympathetic to transgender people. I cannot imagine anyone puts themselves through the whole ordeal for shits and giggles. And the few transgender people I have interacted with have all been completely lovely and charming, at least to my face, which is how all humans are expected to behave. I have been on streams with Theryn Meyer, who is as reasonable and intelligent as she is beautiful. If you are interested in transgender experience from the point of view of a sane transgender person, I highly recommend Theryn.
When I was on the Doctors, one of the segments that was filmed during the same taping featured a transgender man who had to stop taking testosterone in order to have a breast reduction, and who became pregnant. The show examined their particular story and we met their darling little daughter.
I can see and appreciate transgender people as part of a human diaspora, while simultaneously understanding that 1) transgenderism is an illness and 2) men who become pregnant are not men, but women. I’m kind of mystified as to why some people find this difficult. We would never describe someone with serious vitiligo as transracial. The idea is absurd. A black person who is mostly white has a skin disorder, which we are happy to treat (normally by restoring blackness).
I’ll confess I am a bit confused as to why biological men who have female brains are not treated with hormones to make their brains match their bodies, but that’s essentially just a lack of real curiosity on my part. My brief investigation introduced me to a new word: chirurgy. It’s an archaic form of surgery and refers to treating any condition manually which could involve surgery, but also just other forms of manual treatment like stitching or bandaging. Apparently, chirurgy is easier than treating the condition as a psychological or hormonal one, and the archaic spelling is being reclaimed by transgender activists.
Okay. I will happily concede that the treatment available to transgender individuals should be determined by the individuals themselves and their medical team, while at the same time agreeing that there are only two genders and there is essentially nothing confusing about the differences to ordinary men and women.
This is why I find the complaints of transgender teens to be somewhat baffling. Have we deluded these youngsters into thinking their feelings override centuries of biological fact? Claire, who is really quite lovely, is nevertheless distraught that boys who respond positively to her ability to mimic a biological woman reject her when they find out she has the equipment she was born with: male bits. I suppose part ways with transgender anti-realists who say ‘she’s not mimicking being a woman, she is a woman’, because if she were, all of this would be a moot point.
Thinking through this issue leads me invariably to a curious asymmetry between men and women. If I discovered that the man I married was actually born a woman and his masculinity was a surgically and medically produced illusion close enough to reality to fool everyone, including me, it really wouldn’t bother me all that much. I would not like that such a huge secret had been hidden from me, to be certain. And of course, I am speculating wildly and reality could be much, much different, but as an academic exercise, there is no particular reason for female to male transgenderism to bother me because I can still get pregnant. Obviously, he won’t be producing the sperm, but if we both agree to look the other way, and I am okay with sleeping with some other guy, then there is no real issue.
Heart even made a song about it!
But it doesn’t work the other way. Even the most luscious, gorgeous, completely feminine transgender female isn’t going to be having any babies for her man. Infertility remains one of the reasons marriages can be annulled in the Catholic faith, and when it’s women who can’t have children, it’s a problem. It’s a lot harder for a man to bring home a baby he had with some random chick in a bar and convince his wife it’s really hers.
To my knowledge, there are no songs that speak to this problem.
Men are always going to have a problem with male to female transgender women, for deeply rooted, perfectly sane and logical biological reasons that have nothing to do with misogyny or transphobia or any other –ism in the current vernacular.
I feel tremendous sympathy for transgender women – they have a tough row to hoe, and God forbid they are ugly. That’s even more difficult. But perhaps some time spent in front of a mirror, with a biology textbook, could clear up a great deal of their confusion about how other men react to them.
A commitment to honesty is likely a transwoman’s best strategy for a happy life. There are biological men who can love transgender women, just as there are men who love other infertile women. Two of my own brothers have chosen not to have children, owing to our extremely abusive background growing up (they would rather have no children than risk abusing children in an unbroken pattern), and it’s really none of my business. I do feel a great deal of sadness for feminists who have been taught to believe that children ruin women’s lives or offer no fulfilment – often by mothers who have no emotional connection to anyone but their own children. Rebecca Walker has a few thoughts on her mother’s toxic representation of motherhood and how it almost destroyed her own happiness. Transgender women are a variety of infertile woman, and if you are incapable of having children, for whatever reason, you owe it to your partner to let him know.
Owe. There’s the bitchy heart of the matter. Transgender women, like many other women (and a growing percentage of men) don’t believe they owe anyone for anything. To owe is to suggest obligation. That hints at responsibility. And then accountability.
Can’t have that.
If transgender women prove one thing, it’s that they are women when it comes to behaving like adults.
It’s a radical notion to them, too.
Lots of love,