Please Don’t Validate Me
Four Ways to Talk About Changing Sex
“Transsexual” as a Noun
What I Am
I switched in 1981. Ideas evolve through trans people over time, particularly if not invested in promoting the latest trans social movement. Longer-term can mean less denial and so may be in contrast to newer people in transition.
Please Don’t Validate Me
I don’t make binary claims, and I don’t seek validation from others. I don’t even try to validate myself. I need to be, but I don’t claim I am.
Even people who know me for years are surprised to realize that I do not generally refer to myself as a “woman” or “female.” If I do it, it sounds pretentious; when someone else does it, it feels patronizing. This is sometimes a characteristic of someone like me who has been in role for several decades. I believe I am female legally, socially, in genital form and function; but my goal was always to be biologically female, and that’s not yet possible. It’s that as-yet impossibility of actualizing my need that gives me pause. Please don’t hurt me with this.
Regardless, it is hurtful for anyone to refer to me as man or male. It reminds me I cannot be what I need to be. Ever.
Most people feel that socializing pleasantly with me is tacit validation of my life or of my role as the other sex or gender. The result is that people, who might otherwise be a friend, keep their distance, a loss for all.
But I do not interpret socialization that way. If curious, please ask. I will tell you I don’t claim to be “woman” or female, and I don’t even like you to claim it.
I had someone who said she was a friend, another flight instructor (CFI), who used to introduce me to others (who knew well I was transsexual) as “…my girlfriend.” I’m long-term semi-stealth. I studied what people don’t like in trans people so I could avoid it, when able. To that end as it relates here, people don’t like validations to be asserted. They tend to highlight what I am not.
I cringed every time she said that, and she never noticed. I knew she wouldn’t take it well, but eventually I had to try to let her know that that assertion was ineffective and embarrassing, that what would be better is just to mention me as a friend. I finally shared this with her after about a year, and she disappeared. I think she was trying to convince herself she was accepting, but only of her thesis, without wanting to know the truth. Many people do things like that, wanting to validate their beliefs, not wanting to learn what’s really happening.
Four Ways to Talk About Changing Sex
- Legally: I am not a lawyer, but it appears to me people can change legal sex if the law in their jurisdiction says so. Sometimes this is in conflict with other areas of government that disagree.
- Socially: If people in groups/society accept you as the other sex.
- Anatomically: Genital form and function.
- Biologically: Biologic sex cannot yet be changed. I wish it could.
At times I reference myself from another’s point of view as, “Maybe he doesn’t think women are veterans…” or “He doesn’t think women can fly?” If I have to choose on a form, such as medial or governmental, I’ll check “female,” usually a reference to something legal, social, or anatomic.
“Transsexual” as a Noun
“Trans[variation]” has been used a few million times in degradation, and I realize a lot of trans people, hurt with that, assert passionately that “transsexual,” “transgender,” or similar should not be used as a noun but an adjective: “I am transsexual,” not “I am a transsexual.”
Putting us down is transphobic, and cooperating with that is also transphobic.
I have lived too long being put down by others to help them do it, to accept that a reference to me is actually derogatory. “Transsexual” is a fact. It is not “pervert,” “faggot,” “freak,” or “weirdo.” It is simply the truth, not a bad thing—same for all T variations.
If I can be a scholar, a pilot, an instructor, a Jew, a wife, a widow, a veteran, a human, I can also be a transsexual. I’m as worthy of the same recognition as my husband, in my opinion one of the greatest people who has ever lived and a Christian, a genius, a pilot, an engineer, a humanitarian, an Elder in the church, a philanthropist, a husband, and a conservative icon—
—all nouns. Am I less?
For what it’s worth, Janet Mock has used these terms as nouns, also, and I’m glad she has.
What I Am
I think of myself as a primary, post-op, Phase 3 transsexual:
- Primary, meaning my reason for sex reassignment surgery (SRS) was from my need to be female, not for a secondary reason (sometimes such as validation in role, vaguely defined “authenticity,” bathroom rights, or from other issues such as denial). Contrast my life-or-death need with Caitlyn Jenner’s statements that SRS is not really important, doesn’t make her more of a woman. She says she’s transgender, usually talks about gender, not physical sex or genitalia, says she’s had an extra surgery… I’m going to take her at her word that she’s a transgender with an extra surgery, where I am transsexual. The difference is salient issue. If Cait is transsexual, it would help if she’d say so.
- Post-op with SRS; modification of primary sex characteristic, in my case genital form and function as female; by “post-op” I do not mean other body modification of secondary sex characteristics such as breast augmentation, facial feminization, body contouring liposuction, which are included in euphemisms such as GRS, GCS, GAS… and which confirm or connote gender (masculinity and femininity or gender role) and do not denote physical sex.
- Phase 3, see description, scroll down. The phases I see are marked by such things as gender swings and presence or absence of denial.
- Transsexual, with salient issue of needing to be the other physical sex, as opposed to transgender or other non-binary variations—the need and doing all possible to actually be the other biological sex. Other identifications such as non-binary, “enby,” transgender, agender, neutrois, fluid…are certainly valued; I’m just asserting my own phenomenon in self-description. One could be a primary transgender without being a primary transsexual.
Intersex organizations have distanced from trans people—like most others in society—by defining intersex as something that is not trans, with characteristics common to both sexes from birth or developed naturally. In some cases I agree with them, but not in all cases. If the brain is part of the body—and I think it is—intersex should not be defined to exclude conditions such as mine. CAIS, for example, was always intersex even when we could not detect chromosomes.
I wonder about diethylstilbestrol (“DES”), a female hormone given to mothers in pregnancy, 1938-1971, to help prevent miscarriage. I was born in 1957. I don’t know, and I cannot find out if my mother was ever given it, small town in Kansas. But something caused this phenomenon in me—and focusing on gender issues won’t get there, because regardless of that political view, this is primarily a sex-related issue: sex identity, genitalia, sexual response as female. It’s about needing to be biologically female, though as yet impossible.
When the brain is no longer part of the body, I’ll stop thinking I’m intersex.
I was not into cross-dressing, though it was integral at transition. I note it’s very important in prior living for most trans people from Jenny Boylan to Caitlyn Jenner, but it wasn’t me. To me, the clothing simply is not an area of interest. At transition, at the age of 23 and thereabouts, I was skinnier than I am now, and that helped. I found some dresses that looked okay. But as I aged, my body filled out in ways I don’t prefer, so I don’t wear them any more, except my arisaid, perhaps, at a Renaissance Faire. It is bulky and hides my figure. I miss—not being able to be genuine, real, authentic to myself, falling short of my need to be biologically female, but my heart does not pine for dressing.
When I met Joe in 1989, he amazed me. I’ve always enjoyed flight, was already a pilot, in the 99s, and Joe’s life absorbed me. It was about taking aircraft to air shows, boating, learning how to fix the water heater whether I liked it or not, trying to survive hate crimes, going to doctors as he aged…and the more feminine fineries were never enculturated. You can see that in my book. As a result, I tend to dress “down”, without intent that it be down, per se, just not masculine where I can help it: a blouse, jeans, nothing fancy. I nearly always wear sneakers with orthotic inserts and a brace, because of my Ehlers-Danlos, hypermobility, which, unhappily, also make me about 1/2 inch taller. The Ehlers-Danlos also complicates my appearance, as I have an “ape index” of 1.6:1—long arms—greater than Michael Phelps, the Olympic swimmer, at his ape index of 1.5 per Scientific American. (I am also an outstanding swimmer, though I’m no athlete.) However bad my appearance may be, I do my best to overcome this as well as other natal male features of stature.
FWIW, I think I’m missing something, not into fineries, but if I consider them I disregard them yet again because I don’t have the figure for it. As a result, I’m usually just in jeans and some blouse. This view may also relate to my decades in transition, since 1981, how issues evolve through us over time.