At some point in their journey, many transgender people who transition come to the conclusion that their true gender identity has been complete and unwavering since birth, even if it has taken them a considerable time to realise it. This is the context in which some transitioned trangender people view surgery as a liberation from a biological mistake.
After their liberation, it is only natural for these people to assert that their gender identity is as valid as anyone else’s, and insist on being treated exactly as any other man or woman would be treated. Indeed, instead of demanding society’s tolerance of difference, some demand society’s agreement that there is no difference. They want society's traditional definitions of male and female to be redefined, from a determination based in chromosomal biology to one based in gender identity. This has led to some transitioned people moving away from LGBT, with its ethos of tolerance of difference, and even away from being Trans, re-entering the mainstream as men or women with a transgender history, often undeclared.
We transvestites applaud these pioneers for their determination to be themselves. We understand the enormity of what they are attempting to do and their courage in taking on a life on the frontline of humanity’s huge tendency to bully perceived difference.
In showing them respect however, we would ask that they also show respect for us. Those who come to see themselves as having a single, true gender identity also come to view transgenderness through a particular prism. That prism may lead some to view all transgender people who have not transitioned as simply needing encouragement to “be themselves”, to see the light and to make the leap to happiness that they have made. Furthermore, the idea that transgenderness can be dual-role (or Two-Spirit as native Americans called it) or variable in any other way can appear to contradict the new narrative and can sometimes be treated as anathema.
Not only is this disrespectful to transvestites, but such a position risks drawing people who are unsure of who they are towards a more radical life change than may be necessary for them to express their transgenderness.
Transvestites are firmly part of LGBT. We acknowledge that we are males who need to express a feminine side and we acknowledge that this is contrary to society’s traditional expectations of gender behaviour, but we believe it is a mark of a civilised society to tolerate, embrace and even celebrate such difference. We claim our own little arc of colour on the rainbow and we acknowledge everyone else’s right to be part of the rainbow. Such inclusivity and solidarity are the essence of LGBT.
We would ask any trans people who are leaving the LGBT house to please leave their Transgender badges on the hall table before they go out the door. Transgender is immutably part of LGBT and we need it as an identity.
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