25 March 2013

Homophobia And The Lost Generation Of Transgenders

Parent: "So, are you going to date men or women?"

Adult child: "Men."

Parent:  (Expression of relief.) "At least you're not a lesbian."

If I ever do stand-up comedy (which is about as likely as my becoming the Pope), I will include that in my repertoire.

Now, I didn't have an exchange like that with my own parents.  But it wouldn't surprise me to learn that something like it was part of some other male-to-female transsexual's "coming out" to her parents.  

The principle espoused by the parent in that conversation--a paradoxical mixture of homophobia and a willingness to accept a trans child--actually governs an entire nation.  

The nation to which I'm referring is second only to Thailand in the number of gender-reassignment surgeries performed within its borders every year.  Yet, in that same country, same-sex relationships, and even cross-dressing, are punishable (at least in theory) by death.

That country is not governed by transgender equivalents of Janice Raymond and Mary Daly.  Rather, it's ruled by a man whom various groups tried to bar from speaking at Columbia and other American universities and who has done about as much for women's rights in his country as Raymond and Daly have done for transgender equality.

I am talking about Iran.  Not only do its doctors perform more gender-reassignment surgeries than their counterparts in the US; its government pays for up to half the cost of the surgery for those who can't pay for it themselves.  Moreover, male-to-female transgenders are allowed to live as women until they have their surgeries.  After surgery, their birth certificates and other documents are re-issued with their "new" gender and they are allowed to marry men.  

Did you notice that I've referred only to male-to-female transsexuals?  I did so, not only because I am one, but also because I couldn't find information about female-to-male transsexuals in Iran.   Also, I found, in my research, that when one is approved for surgery, one must begin to undergo treatments (hormones, psychotherapy, and such) immediately.  Anyone who doesn't undergo those treatments is considered to be of the gender assigned to him at birth.  That means that if he were to have sexual relationships with men, "cross-dress" or live as what we might call "genderqueer", he is subject to the same penalties as gay men can incur.

In other words, Iran's encouragement of GRS and related treatments is really, at least to some degree, a way of negating homosexuality.   I can't help but to wonder whether something similar happened here in the US during the 1960's and 1970's.  While those times were not easy for us, they were still better than the era of the Lost Generation of Transgenders, which spanned the decade-and-a-half (or so) following the rise of Second-Wave Feminism.  I have to wonder whether some people, in the time of Renee Richards, simply found trans women who dated and married men more palatable than men who dated other men.  

If that is the case, it certainly didn't help trans people.  If anything, it may have had something to do with the Lost Generation of Transgenders I've mentioned in earlier posts. 

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