May 092013
Jenna Talackova

“Where is it written that someone who has transitioned MUST help the (transgender) community?” asks reader Karyn Maynard in response to someone else on the comments board of a GLAAD post about Dawn Ennis.

Karyn makes a good point, and the fact of the matter is, most people who transition move on from trans issues. They don’t actually see themselves as transgender people, even if they embraced the cause of “transgenderism” at some point in their journey. But they don’t live between the gender binary as so many transgender people happily do: the transitioned MtF person IS a female, and the FtM person IS a male. The point of transitioning was to fully live life as a female (or male in the case of FtMs). Hence, many just ride off into the sunset, or go “stealth,” as some like to say.

When I was going through therapy, my psychologist lamented the fact that there is very little medical/psychological follow-up on people who have fully transitioned. Of course, she understands why (see above paragraph). I know several people — friends and former readers — who have transitioned and are no longer interested in transgender issues. Even this blog, which will be 5 years old on May 16, has mostly moved on from transgender issues, though I still point to the bigger news stories about trans people. (This is a newspaper, after all.)

Over the years, I have received complaints from some transgender readers who don’t accept that many transitioned people drop the “transgender” label and just see themselves as women (or men). They don’t understand it. “You are denying your heritage,” they say. They also seem to be saying that transitioned women and men are something less than “real” women and men.

The media also reflects that misconception when they insist upon using the “transgender” adjective at every opportunity when talking about people who have fully transitioned. Sadly, even GLAAD is guilty of that. And so, too, are some transitioned people who do call themselves “transgender women” and hang around to carry the torch and help the transgender community. Yes, they are doing a lot of good. But they are also reinforcing incorrect stereotypes — which, I can tell you, annoys some transitioned people who just want to be recognized as everyday women and men.

When the media does it, they are essentially qualifying the womanhood or manhood of transitioned individuals, saying basically that they are something less than women or men. The “transgender” word is essentially an asterisk . But I can tell you that there is no asterisk beside the “female” designation on my birth certificate, driver’s licence, medicare card etc.

The media uses the word gratutiously because it draws readers. Make no mistake about it. The “transgender” word and its variations are hot these days. To many readers, it is almost exotic and erotic; it’s sexy. That’s why headlines about Jenna Talackova, for example, are always preceded by the word “transgender,” even if her courageous battle to compete with born-women in the Miss Canada pageant was all about her bid to be recognized as just one of the girls, with no asterisk beside her female designation. Do you remember the much-publicized picture of her driver’s licence she proudly held up for the media to see in California, pointing out that the gender designation on it is “female”? But the media still ran with the “transgender” label — and it still does.

Little wonder that so many transitioned women and men disappear into the woodwork.




Jillian Page

Why Most Transitioned People Don’t Carry the Transgender Torch | Montreal Gazette