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Transsexualism And Its Discontents Sheila Mengert

Transsexualism And Its Discontents

Sheila Mengert

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57 pages
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 About the Book 

Extract from the introduction: The literature on transsexualism currently consists primarily of two types, studies by psychologists and first person accounts in the form of autobiographies of transsexuals. The first are clinical and formal andMoreExtract from the introduction: The literature on transsexualism currently consists primarily of two types, studies by psychologists and first person accounts in the form of autobiographies of transsexuals. The first are clinical and formal and approach the subject as a unique and puzzling mental disorder, the second are informal and personal and generally follow a path from confusion to successful adaptation and happiness achieved in the new gender role. There is also a minority literature that I call the literature of abuse written by various people with a preexisting axe to grind. In the literature of abuse transsexuals are portrayed as strange subversive figures with an alien agenda. That agenda may be to fracture (the already broken) family structure or to reinstate and reinforce patriarchy by infiltrating or worse penetrating “female space” by taking on the female body (even if it is one’s own body). The religious diatribes see transsexuals as cultural revenants, symbols that have assumed dreadful form and embodiment, literally constructed examples of the deconstruction of sex, and the enemies of a natural order that in the fashion of Leibniz is directly willed by God as though God was some sort of gatekeeper pointing to either the male or the female side of the human stadium one with a pink door and one with a blue. Even at times in the male gay community transsexuals were disparaged as retrograde sexual essentialists in denial or their homosexuality and seeking to legitimate it by sporting a female anatomy. The one thing common to many of these discourses has been that transsexuals are mistrusted, despised, or seen as a threat to some established group. When transsexuals are not feared they are merely ridiculed. If the transsexual did not pass she was grotesque, a circus freak. If she passed perfectly she was a sex icon to be used at will as in the she-male and transsexual porn industries. What all of these attitudes share is that they take a group of people whose very sense of self has been a source of personal and constant anguish from their earliest memories, who have often been bashed, exiled, and/or isolated in their families, at school, and in their churches and making them a handy target and minimizing their lives through diminished employment prospects and social exclusion. What this book will attempt is to blend informal essays drawn from my own life as a transsexual person with more formal essays designed to create a “unified-field theory” of Transsexualism. Transsexuality appears on its face to mirror homosexuality implying that what is involved is a sexual activity rather than a status and that the activity in question is precisely the act of transition from one sexual and gender status to another. This very idea tends to imply that what is viewed as self-realization and completion by the transsexual is seen from the outside as an abandonment of the old and the establishment of a new gender by an act of will and hormonal and surgical intervention. A corollary of this approach is that without intervention and technology, transsexuals as transsexuals would not exist. The term “Transsexualism” acknowledges the validity of a complex set of feelings and behaviors that predate and provide the basis for any sort of therapeutic intervention to make the lives of transsexuals more balanced, productive, and free from unnecessary pain. I begin with the idea that gender serves a function analogous to a passport. When a border is under assault without a valid passport, violence and oppression are used to shore-up the border and to prevent entry, exit, or free migration. Is it any wonder then that many transsexuals feel profound inner conflict as they address the issues presented by their conflicted gender feelings? By exploring these topics in the case of my own autobiography I hope that I may fill in gaps that currently exist in the literature on Transsexualism.