Gender Gift Horse

Posted by – March 18, 2006

A recent comment to a not-so-recent blog post required a thoughtful response. The subject was my dislike of the term “gender gifted” and while Michele pointed out some excellent reasons to prefer the term, I’m not an easy mind to change.

So let me explain a little moreso why I think the term is inappropriate, if not inexact.

I suppose there are a few reasons I think the way I do about the term “gender gifted.” One of them is that I think positivity-phrasing can often delude people in terms of the difficulty involved, and I don’t think that’s good for a few reasons: 1) the general public shouldn’t think it’s easy/a choice to be trans; 2) trans people should be aware of what they’re getting into when they open that Pandora’s Box; and 3) trans people need to be aware of what their partners, family, & friends may go through as a result of their transness.

I want to stress that I don’t believe it needs to be as simple as “it’s either a blessing or a curse.” Fire is both. Anger is both. Lust is both. Parents, even, are both. I can’t choose, and won’t.

But mostly I think what we’re coming up against is a sensibility difference: I find it easier to get through the world by knowing when my glass is half-empty, so I can start figuring out how I’m going to fill it. Others prefer to see it half-full until it’s empty. You can call me a worrywart (which I am), or the “pulls no punches” type, but either way I think that’s the real difference between what’s being said.

I think it’s been too long that people have considered transpeople crazy, reckless, or just out of touch with reality. And most people – if faced with any decision that might require the loss of job, partner, and home; a change of every piece of ID; tens of thousands of dollars of surgery and/or hormone maintenance – would say, that’s a f*** of a lot to go through for anything, much less a gift. So the whole idea of calling it “gifted” rings false for anyone who isn’t trans; remember, we’re not inside your heads and can’t (and probably won’t) ever understand any anything that would motivate a person to go through so much. And you do go through that much, whether you transition or not. – I assume that’s one part we can’t disagree on, yes?

To me, using the term “gender gifted” is much like being the kind of person who stands in a doorway when it’s raining and is thankful that the flowers are getting a good long drink. They may be honest, they may be sweet, they may love flowers. But the other people in that doorway who have been kept from getting to work, or home, or wherever they’re supposed to be, will think that person is just a little too out of touch, and a little well – touched, as well.

It doesn’t mean they’re wrong; it just means that their perspective may be perceived as a little left of center – which is okay on its own. I have no doubt that transfolks need upbeat types around to get through a day (or a life). I don’t think a unified message is necessary; I think the trans community needs its many voices, and many perspectives, in order to get everyone what they need.

30 Comments on Gender Gift Horse

  1. Beauty says:

    Hi Helen,

    I’ve never liked that term.

    The way you described all the things we have to face losing and the money we need to spend was perfect. It’s not a gift it’s a lot in life.

    Gracie

  2. Phoebe says:

    I’m a firm believer that there are no unmixed blessings and no unalloyed curses. So “gender gifted” does strike me as way too one-sided for most discussions. And I especially agree with your point about the danger of making to light of the condition of being trans to people who are unfamiliar with it. (But by the same token, if you look at it as an effort to relieve the unrelenting gloom and doom that transness is often portrayed as, well, I guess I can understand that.)

    While I would never call it a “gift,” I do believe that I have derived some benefit from being trans. My interpersonal skills seem to hit a very helpful “neutral” note. Women have commented to me many times that they feel unusually comfortable talking to me. It’s to the point that it had become an in-joke. I’m not talking just about personal interactions (which include my wife and I getting together) but also at work, where this has helped me greatly as a manager. Is this trait necessarily related to being trans? No, but to me it seems clear that it is in my case.

  3. Diane Frank says:

    The people I have seen talking about being gender gifted have always struck me as having one foot in the twilight zone. Nothing about their lives has suggested that they are doing anymore than expressing fantasy…as opposed to the reality of lives on the other side of the street.
    Yes, the fangendered strike again.

    Diane

  4. Diane Frank says:

    Oh, my….I just looked at Michelle Angelicque’s site. Words cannot express the dismay I feel when I see such nonsense. Make that all the way into the twilight zone.

  5. Thank you Helen,

    You are correct in the assumption that I am an eternal optimist. It’s not that I’m naive, stupid or as Diane seems to think, in the twilight zone. I just choose to live with a “glass half full” perspective. We could have been born with no arms or legs, but instead we were born with a broader internal perspective of gender, which at the moment, doesn’t happen to fit society’s definition of “normal”.

    I’ll state again, it is society which has a disease, not my transgendered sisters. I see no point in wallowing in self-pity. How can anyone expect to be highly regarded by others, if they have no regard for themself?

    “Gifted” is defined by Oxford Dictionary as “having great natural ability”. Transgendered people have great natural ability to empathize, and even embody, the opposite gender. In the case of male-to-female, this is often coupled by a great natural ability to relate on the higher emotional frequency of a female. Since ordinary men seem to be lacking in this ability, those who have this natural ability are gifted.

    By the way, Diane, GenderEvolve is not “my” site, it belongs to some 30 of us, all very well spoken, well educated, thoughtful women. It is unfortunate that you feel the need to disparage us for expressing views that are different from your own. If you noticed, Helen did not take the same condescending tone as you, which is evidence of her more tolerant nature.

    I appreciate you taking the time, Helen, to clarify your position. Your response garners all the more respect for you as a person.

    With kind regards,
    Michele Angelique
    http://www.genderevolve.com

  6. grvsmth says:

    It seems that the difference here is one of belief and faith, and not something that people can be convinced one way or another if they believe strongly.

    I personally don’t feel like it’s a gift, but anyone else is certainly welcome to.

  7. Diane Frank says:

    Michelle,

    I’ve already replied privately to you on several points since you’ve chosen to address me outside of these forums. But for the public let say simply that I regard the claims of

    [I]In the case of male-to-female, this is often coupled by a great natural ability to relate on the higher emotional frequency of a female. Since ordinary men seem to be lacking in this ability, those who have this natural ability are gifted.[/I]

    as inflated if not outright lies. So much for gifted.

    One thing I’ve noticed is that people who are exposed too much to segments of the “transgendered” communities tend to lose their perspective and come to see bizarre claims, rhetoric and behavior as “normal” and lose the ability to distinguish these behaviors from everyday behavior of the woman on the street.

    I feel the need to disparage you and your views for the simple reason that there are a lot of women who get caught in the backwash of this sort of muddled thinking and rhetoric. Your glass may be half full. But what it is full of is another question. It may be a poisoned cup that others are forced to drink.

  8. Diane,

    I do not wish to engage in a flame war on Helen’s board. I do not understand why you feel the need to taunt me with inflammatory comments, however I’m not taking your bait. I’ve too much respect for the proprietor of this website.

    I will say, however, that your expressions convey the very social ill we are fighting against… namely intolerance. Who are you to judge what of “normal behavior for everyday women on the street” should consist of? It is such judgementalism which gives rise to the inacceptance of transgendered people within society.

    Furthermore, given free will and power of choice, there is not one person who is “forced” to drink of my cup, be it poison or otherwise. For some, my uplifting perspective is quite refreshing next to the archaic darkness of intolerance you have presented here. I do not need your approval to continue shining my light.

    Helen, I mean no disrespect to you in this dialogue. Thank you again for your diplomatic and thoughtful response to my original article.

    With kind regards,
    Michele

  9. ~Sweet~ says:

    Diane,
    Everyone is allowed their own opinion. Just because your views differ from someone else’s does not make theirs poisoness. I among many others will enjoy drinking out of Michèle’s half full cup for many years to come.

  10. adarabeth says:

    Fascinating discussion on this point … viewing the term of ‘gifted’ as uplifting as it is to me, yet as a threat to some of you …
    Personally, having lived as transgendered for nearly all of my life and now in transition and still working in a 99% male dominated work world, I am far more inclined to agree with Michele’s point of view than Dianes. Helen does a wonderful job of defending her position, and my respect for her has never waivered. But I do wonder Diane, what has soured you to take such a stand against a term that simply puts a positive spin on something that, yes, is quite challenging, but no, does not fit your definition of ‘normal’. Hardly is Michele’s cup of optimism … poisoned. Perhaps your own outlook is.
    In a community as fractured as the trans one is, why seeking to disarm a point of view that is positive is beyond me. When I was first introduced to the term at hand … I have to admit I was hesitant to embrace it. I have faced a great deal of obstacles in accepting and now celebrating my TS self and the idea of being ‘gifted’ was not one that justified the hurts I experienced to get to this point. But after spending the vast majority of my life in the presence of males, and studying and aspiring to be female, I fully concur with Michele that a great many of them lack the ability to relate on higher emotional frequencies.
    A lie Diane? Inflated? … no, in my observations a good general summary to describe my brothers, father and hundreds of men I deal with daily. Does it cover them all. No. Are all woman capable of relating on a higher emotional frequency. No. Are all transwoman. No. But I believe Michele was speaking generally. And I also believe the term of gifted is applicable. Especially because out of the two hundred and eighty or so transwoman I know … very few of them are like the men I know.
    They are gifted.
    And their insights are because of the obstacles.
    I like the term, and I think Michele is the best addition I have yet to see in the community because of her half full perspective.
    And by the way Diane, the reality of lives on the other side of the street IS part of the fantasy – I make more of a difference BECAUSE of my ‘gifted’ insights fraught by transgressions against me due to my TS status. And both the genetic woman in my life and the transwoman in my life note it. I can only pray that ths is the same for you.
    Thank you Helen for allowing the collection of perspectives here – including my own. I agree with you that the community needs as many voices to suit the needs.
    From my heart,
    Adarabeth

  11. Diane Frank says:

    Michele,

    I’d be happy to engage you in a discussion, although I’m not sure you can deal with anyone who strongly disagrees with you. Why don’t you join the discussion forums and meet me over in the Ivory Tower?

    By the way, have you actually read “My Husband Betty”?

    Diane

  12. stacie ku says:

    What does one do with a gift one does not want? I have it and I can’t get rid of it. Tried giving it away, but couldn’t find any takers.

    Don’t get me wrong here. I’m one of those gender gifted individuals. I love make-up, getting dressed, going out and everything being feminine entails, yet there are times I wonder how my life would have turned out if I were not gender gifted. But wonder is all I do.

    Transgenderism is not a choice. There is no free will here. So if I am what I am and have no choice in it, then I’d rather see the glass as half full and try to fill it with more positive ‘stuff’ than look at it like it was a glass of poison. I’m not interested in drinking hemlock. A positive altitude simply makes for a more serene life.

    I cannot change what I am. If it was possible to change, to stop dressing, how many of us would have done it? Who in their right mind would want to live such a schizophrenic life? “For most of us, fitting into society, means leading dual lives – being male at work/in public, and female at home/in private. We are the square peg in the round hole because we don’t fit in with the norm. Now imagine how different our lives would be if society were not so hung up on gender and sexuality?

    It is the way society treats those who are different that causes us to behave the way we do. So, since I can not change what I am, then I must learn to accept myself, cause if I don’t, I may be looking for that glass of poison!

    I can not stop being transgendered just like I can not stop being Chinese American. All I can do is work towards changing society’s altitudes towards sexual minorities. Discriminatory laws and altitudes can be changed. It will take time and it may not happen in my/our life time. Afterall, the United States is still struggling with racism after 250 years. It’s only been 40 years since the first time transgender women and gay street hustlers fought back against routine police harrassment during the Riot at Gene Compton’s Cafeteria in the Tenderloin in San Francisco. Then three years later we had the Stonewall Riots in New York. Our struggle has only just begun.

  13. Zoe Vars says:

    I think Andrea is on the right track here, but I’ll go one further. Yes, you could say it is a matter ones faith, belief, way of thinking – optomism vs. pesimism, but I don’t think it can be a blanket term.
    There are people whom I would consider Gender Gifted. These are people who really do seem to be able to connect well with both genders and relate to them almost equally. I am ppretty sure that most people would agree that not every trans person would fit this description. I will also say that I know a few non-trans people who fit it as well. I will even go so far as to say that out of all the trans people I know, very few would qualify for the label of gifted when it comes to their understanding of either, let alone both genders. This is not even limited to just the casual CD or the yet to be TV. I have met a few transsexuals in various stages of transition who still don’t seem understand either the gender they are leaving or the one they headed for.
    You may be surprised to hear that I have nbo problem with the term ‘Gender Gifted’. I just think that it’s use should be limited to those that are gifted and not just every guy who puts on a dress no matter how often. Clearly I don’t know Michele or her web-site friends so I can’t speak for them. Some of them may be gifted, some may not be.

  14. Diane Frank says:

    My goodness, people are turning out to defend their “gender giftedness.”

    “Sweetness”…. Yes, I’m sure if you’re some sort of t-person, you’ll enjoy drinking from that cup. But the people around you? The cup you serve them? Ah, that’s another question. Self-indulgent of you not to think of them you know.

    Adarabeth, The poisoned cup is the one transpeople pass out to people around them, made only worse by the artificial sweetening of terms such as “gender gifted”, and packaged in a glossy cup called “tolerance”.

    You seem to miss the point: I think the claims of being more sensitive by transpeople are a lie by and large. I think you’ve got rose-colored glass on about the transpeople you know. As I pointed out to Michele, if you hang out in the trans ghetto, there is a normalization process that goes on. This isn’t unique to the T* subcultures, as Wysocki noted in her thesis, but it is what is going on.

    Have you seen Transamerica? What did you think about the support group scene? Did it strike you as “normal” or “strange”? I’ve been to lots of these myself, and I’ve never lost my sense of having having taken a step through the looking glass.

    Of course the transwomen you know aren’t like men. But that doesn’t mean that they’re like women either. That’s one of the big problems, the “If I’m not a man, I must be a woman” idea. Most T* people I know fit better into “other” or “none of the above”. That includes MtFs, FtMs…the works.

    Stacy: I don’t know what you mean by transgenderism, but while I agree with you that what ever it is you feel isn’t something you chose, what you do about it is something you can exercise choice on. The question is what else comes along with the package. Does Stacy make sense to people? If you are closeted, as you imply…why?

    Hi Zoe, I like your perspective, as you might expect I would. Yes, there are some people for whom the term gender gifted applies. But the wholesale application of the term to all and sundry is just another example of narrative theft by people who are seeking cover from stories that they think are less welcomed.

    Diane

  15. Aly says:

    Diane, I think that much of your perception is a reaction to the initial stages of the transitional process. The dilemma seems clear to me…one cannot percieve the totality of the journey through the experience of the initial transitional reaction and it’s immediate consequences.

    Although I agree withyour summation of the many hurdles and obstacle placed before us before, during and immediately after the initial stages of our transition, as well as the too often skewed perception others adopt regarding the severity of our decision to proceed with such a lifechanging transformation, in the long run, with obvious exception, there is a point where the acceptance, personal and otherwise, begins to plateau, and life can proceed with some sense of mundanaity.

    In fact, while there is much difficulty when presented with the decision to follow through with transition, in time, everything evens out and life becomes more of wonderment and discovery than of pain. At this point, to linger on the past and it’s tragedies only serves to keep the spirit in the ghetto, not allowing it to transcend these circumstances…as any human being should be allowed to do after any form of trauma.

    And speaking of “ghettos”…if you percieve life in such a condition as being representative of the whole of humanity then it’s no wonder such a bleak perspective is your forte. Truly, there are many ts persons who integrate into the less seedy demographics of humanity with only the desire to continue living their lives, raising their children, building their businesses, etc, and are accepted by family, friends, clients, neighbors without contention. These same persons do not look to create chaos within the framework of their existence, and, in many ways, are more stable than the mundanes with which they coexist…

    I, too, have spent (way more than enough!) time around the various lifeforms who are often percieved as representative of a typical transgendered lifestyle. Yes, I concede that there is a problematic condition within the ranks of those aspects of the “community”, which makes it all the more important for a place such as Genderevolve to exists. Why not make a concerted effort to emphasize the lives of the more intelligent, thoughtful, aware and enlightened of those who identify themselves within the transgendered spectrum, those who have a desire to amplify their voice above the stereotypical street dross and effect public perception toward a more positive ideal?

    Aly

  16. Diane Frank says:

    Aly,

    “Gender gifted” is used by a variety of people, many of whom don’t transition. Gender gifted is used by TriEss sorts for example. As Helen has noted Peggy Rudd has used the term. There’s transcentric thinking, which is one thing, and then there’s transsexual-centric thinking which is another.

    Be that as it may, I know many long term post op and post transition people. While I see much of value in them, I can’t help notice the co-morbid factors and plain dysfunctionality. What is amazing is to see that the self-indulgence and self-obsession do not disappear after all that time. I ran into another example last night…and I’m torn between trying to provide the desired friendship and support, to help alleviate the stated loneliness and the fact that I prefer to spend my time with women in the general community: transwomen aren’t who I flock to.

    What I’m a bit baffled by is this tangent of yours: “And speaking of “ghettos”…if you perceive life in such a condition as being representative of the whole of humanity then it’s no wonder such a bleak perspective is your forte. ” My bleak perspective of the trans-ghetto and its inhabitants has nothing to do with how I view the rest of humanity.

    What I think you and those who think like you are missing is how much a minority the sane, articulate and non-self-obsessed are in all this. From my perspective, getting together in a self-congratulatory web location only leads to group think and a tendency to defend terms such as “gender gifted” by what you’ve done…limit the term to a limited group of transsexuals. I think forums such as Helen has set up where a multitude of voices can be heard are far more useful. Why not join and get a broader perspective?

    Diane

  17. Bri says:

    TY to all who have spoken up on this event horizon…
    My thoughts are such that indeed, some theoretical women have issues which go alot deeper than accepting themselves and celebrating their gifts. I believe that there are some very fraught psycholoigical issues with these individuals that are still a battleground in their mindswith regards to the inclusiveness of their true selves…seemes to me that the testosterone levels still rule their judgements, and color their voices when they speak such drivel. It disgusts me that some who have the position of being influential to others carry on such a negative outlook, and are willing to publicly administer that to a faction of society who need to be uplifted and supported in any way possible. It’s hard enough for many coming to terms with the nature of duality, & the idea that anything is possible, if you believe it is so. These are the viewpoints which hold back the possibility of societal acceptance. I was having a matter of fact discussion in a club last evening with a couple of Str8’s, and the level of both interest & acceptance was surprising. Not to me, but to them. This is what we need to do as a people. Get out & educate. We can go round robin all we want here in cyber, that’s all good but becomes quite redundant in the long run…we need to be out & establish ourselves in society. see & be seen, hourly, daily, if ever we are to achieve a new plateau of acceptance. I would implore all to take a stand of leadership for our rights as the third sex. We have been around for a long time, and we’re not going to be driven underground anymore. My views are obviously colored by my willingness to actively participate in such a life that challenges the senses and society to come to terms with coming into the future of the planet’s survival. I believe as I discuseed last evening that TG’s are the NECESSARY bridge that in some ways is the answer to keeping the balence between men & women intact, and is advanced enough to be shamen, council to both sexes as we are both, and ARE special by that very rite of divine GIFT of our duality. Noone will change my mind on this point. Noone. We stand together, or not at all. We need to be good to each other, every one of us. There are thoudands of girls who are afraid to come out, accept themselves, and be proud of themselves. As has been said, there is no absolute gender. We all are the amalgum of both. Let’s spend our lives celebrating this. Only in this way will we as a species come to the next level of our evolution. The place is here, the time is now, and the ball is in our court. Let’s be the ones who will be remembered as catylists for change. Be strong, be proud, and stand tall. Hear your voice & make it heard to those who will listen. We can make a difference. You are here at this time of human progress for a reason. Be all you can be.
    Ok, I’ll get off the soapbox now…lol but I think you understand where I’m coming from. Thank you all for voicing your opinions. I’m working on something new for the books, and TY for this discussion, it fits directly into where I’ve been in the paper chase… ;))

  18. Diane,

    You are making some erroneous assumptions about who we are. We are not “a limited group of transsexuals”, we are a diversified group of transgendered and genetic women. Our group ranges from occasional CD to full-time TS to genetic woman, and every point in-between. Furthermore, none of the people who have responded to this article are “closeted”, although some in our group are.

    Sweet and I are both young, vibrant, forward thinking genetic women who consider trans to be a gift… surprise surprise!! We *do* exist.

    Diane, your condescending tone is insufferable. In the year I have been in the trans community, I have never had one single transwoman speak “down” to me as you have in this dialogue and in the private messages you sent me. As such, I can only assume you are a genetic woman, which saddens me greatly. Among us, your biological gender gains you no automatic statis nor the right to look down your nose at us. We’re all equal human beings here.

    If you have such a “bleak perspective of the trans-getto and its inhabitants”, what on earth are you doing here? Why are you so bent on spreading poison to dear hearted people whose only desire is to *be*? You remind me of a playground bully who seeks out the weakest, smallest kid to beat on.

    Shame on you.

  19. Diane Frank says:

    Michele,

    If I were to write in a condescending tone, as opposed to what I’ve been writing in, what I’d say would be very different. I’m not speaking down to you, that’s your baggage. I’m speaking against you.

    You are continuing to make very erroneous assumptions about me, (the MHB regulars will get a quite a chuckle out of this last missive of yours). Since you found the website I manage, why not dig into it a bit a read some more, or look up my posts on the MHB boards?

    You are right though, I misread Stacie to be referring to herself in a “most of us statement.” So, Stacie goes out. My apologies. I was however referring specifically to Aly’s restriction of the term gender gifted to people who transition. I’m quite aware that you have a mixed group. I know at least one person on your list of contributors from the MHB boards.

    You and Sweet are perhaps a little limited in your perceptions, being young and vibrant. I’m not being condescending saying this. You haven’t been the recipient of email messages from wives dazed, confused, hurt, bleeding from the discovery of their husbands crossdressing, the secrets and lies and betrayals over 20 or more years of marriage have you? I get them on a regular basis. Helen gets them. And that’s where the poisoned cup comes in.

    Those husbands turn to sites like gender-evolve to find stories to apply to themselves and what is often simply sexual fantasy, or perhaps a mid-life crisis.

    As for why in your year of treatment by transwomen you haven’t heard what I have to say from any other transwoman… Heavens if you knew me in person, I’d never say such to you. In person I don’t let people know what a heretic I am. I suspect that the others who look at this mess with similar eyes do similar things. But somewhere people need to understand that the claim of transness isn’t a blank check to being bounders and cads. Claims of being gender gifted and calls for tolerance may stun some people into silence. Not me. Who else can call t* people on bluffs, deceptions and lies but others in the communities? And that’s why I stay, when I could and do in fact find my bliss in my life in my local general community without any reference to transness. I feel a responsibility to the partners, and a void where people stay silent about gender euphoria, gender giftedness etc., leading people along a slippery slope to damaged lives.

    We have opposite views of poison I’m afraid. You spread an intoxicating justification for gender euphoria and all the sequalia. I’m hoping for quarantines, looking for vaccines and medicines. Knowledge of the damage and the false claims is a start.

    Diane

  20. Diane Frank says:

    Bri,

    I have no problem with you celebrating a third sex. But please remember what this was about a long time ago wasn’t a third sex, but people born one sex claiming that they properly belonged in the opposite gender. Not somewhere inbetween. Personally, I have no interest in being perceived as a third gender.

    I do have a question for you though. Do you regularly and routinely talk about this stuff with “sr8ts?” What part of your life is just to “be” as Michele put it?

    As for the rest…you know I really don’t agree. I don’t think the desire to wear a skirt makes a guy any more perceptive or a bridge between the sexes than a guy who doesn’t have that desire. I think people’s qualities transcend this sort of stuff. Males and females of all backgrounds and classes experience these desires. Some are good and extraordinary people. Most are just average joes and janes, like everyone else. What they have to offer is what they have to offer, transness doesn’t figure into it at all.

    Diane

  21. helenboyd says:

    I’m not sure we’re getting anywhere anymore, folks. Assumptions about who people are & where they’re ‘coming from’ have been wrong more often than right, and trying to clarify the positions and opinions are getting muddy.

    I’m not stopping anyone – just trying to point out that the discourse is going to be decreasingly less productive from here on in.

  22. stacie ku says:

    This has been a very interesting thread, to say the least. We are all looking at a gift horse in the month and seeing different things and to continue with the horse thingy (LOL). I don’t know if I’m beating a dead horse here, but here is another take on this gift of ours.

    We are all born with the ability to run. Some of us have natural abilities, e.g., higher lung capacity, or endurance so we can run better. Some chose only to walk, and some, perhaps because of health issues or physical limitations, have no choice but to walk.

    Some people take up running and look for the best coaches/training they can get. Some just run for fun, and again, some never do.

    But the walkers will never know what it takes to be a good runner. They can read about, think about, watch people running, but they will never experience what it takes to be a good runner.

    People who just jog for excerise or pleasure might know a little bit about running, but may never have experienced the pain and agony one experiences when one pushes him/herself to their limits and then some; never felt like their arms and shoulders were burning and about to fall off from pumping them to maintain their pace; never ran until they vomited and then keep going to finish the race; never collapsed from cramps and exhaustion after running 3 or 4 miles, 5 or 10k at full speed. Not necessarily to win the race against the other runners, but to push yourself to your own limits.

    Well, the same analogy can be applied to those of us who are gender gifted. Some will surpress their desires and never dress. (Walkers and people with limited mobility) Some stop dressing because of the relationship they are in. (Stopped running for whatever reason) Some, no matter what they do, will never pass in public. (Poor runner) Some pass even they are not trying. (Natural runner) Some just run on evenings or weekends. But some run all the way to SRS. So from walkers to occasional joggers, to serious runners, we encompass the whole spectrum. Some of us are aware of our gift, learn about it, use it; others ignore it. Some have the ability, but never use it. Some have the desire but no ability.

    Our gift is what we make of it. Just because we have it, doesn’t mean we use it. Me,

  23. stacie ku says:

    (fat fingers hit the wrong key)

    I want to finish by saying – Me, I like to run.

  24. Diane Frank says:

    Stacie,

    Please, by all means run. But there is a huge difference between making use of an attribute and making good use of it. A good runner can just as easily use the ability to snatch purses as win races. You personally I know from no one, and I make no judgement or assumption about your life. I simply know plenty of people who are hurt by people simply trying to “be”. I know of stories about “gender giftedness” that are clearly nonsensical, lies or self-deception. The self-deception part is the worst, and as I’ve often said on the MHB boards, I discovered a year ago that a key part of my narrative was a misinterpretation of what was happening. That it has become true on it’s own is very nice, but it doesn’t remove my certain knowledge of how easy it is to fool oneself in this stuff.

    When we talk about gifted children, we are talking about something that is a clear good, and we have gifted and talented classes for the as a way for society to capture this good, nurture it and improve the lives of the kids. We assume collectively with sound reason that this set of abilities that cause us to label some kids as gifted will result in good.

    I don’t think we can say that the desire to perform the behaviors of another gender is either the same as the ability to do it, or that it generally results in something good. Saying “gender gifted” is putting the cart before the horse. It is a way of claiming privilege without actually earning it. A gifted child is tested for abilities outside the norm. It isn’t about the child’s desire, but about the child’s abilities. Indeed, in many cases children are unaware of their abilities until testing reveals them. We also are dismayed when gifted children neglect, abuse or misuse their gifts.

    Gender variance does sometimes display as ability, the little boy who performs girls roles well. But most of the time, isn’t it about desire…not performance?

    Whether it is passing or creating a good life, our desire itself isn’t what brings acceptance from others, and maybe not ourselves. It IS what we do with it, where we run, how we run, not just that we chose to run.

    Diane

  25. stacie ku says:

    Diane;

    As you said about me – “You personally I know from no one, and I make no judgement or assumption about your life.” So my comments are simply restricted to my reactions to your postings here.

    Your responses remind me of a mother who is constantly admonishing her kids to be careful. It bright and sunny out, but take your umbrella anyway, it might rain later. It’s warm, but bring your coat, it might get cold later.

    When the kids are young, they say ok and do it. But as they get older (teens especially) they might just start rolling their eyes and shake their heads, thinking – there goes Mom again; or even start to resent it and get rebellious.

    I think you do it out of love and concern, expecially for those girls/sisters who are just starting out on the path to femininity. You want them to know things are not always as easy or nice as they think it might be. The world is a tough place.

    Overall, I find your comments and responses insightful and thoughtful, but I’m concerned that your message may get lost in (my opinion) some of the negativity.

    If it’s just me, then don’t change, cause you can’t please everyone all the time. But if other readers feel the same way, then your response to my previous comment – “It is what we do with it, where we run, how we run, not just that we chose to run.” also applys. To paraphrase it somewhat – It’s not only what you say, but how you say it that affects the message.

    With respect,

    Stacie

  26. Diane Frank says:

    Stacie,

    Um. No. I am negative. I’m a scold and gadfly. Let’s not confuse things. I’ve simply seen too much hurt out there. The sun isn’t shining out. My concern is far more for the people caught in the backwash of this, the wives, children and families than people starting out. There is far too much cheerleading, far too much making excuses for bad, selfish behavior.

    That’s what I object to about gender gifted: Yes, some people truly are gender-gifted, in the sense that there are gifted children….but for hoards of other people it’s simply another excuse, another cover for bad behavior, for making nonsensical statements about women and women’s lives.

    Stacie, my message is negative. It has to be. If there is any community, any responsibility it has to recognize and deal with the broken parts of the whole business. There is this tendency to try to simplify things by saying that the guying wanking in panties isn’t our concern, or that the person in the closet isn’t our concern, or that the person cheating on his wife with another guy or CD or woman isn’t our concern, or that the people just out for sexual thrill aren’t part of it, or that the compulsive exhibitionist isn’t, or that the people who confuse male sexual fantasies with women’s lives aren’t part of it, and it goes on and on…denial after denial in order to create a safe and pure psychic space. I choose not to turn my back on the impure and unsafe, and instead say “some things are wrong, they should stop, and we shouldn’t provide fancy words that people can use to hide from their own mistakes and and the harm they cause.”

    Diane

  27. Diane,

    Realizing that you are not a genetic woman, but rather, a crossdresser yourself, puts everything you’ve said in a different light. Rather than indignation, I now feel only compassion for you. I hope that you discover and claim your own gender gift, dear one. Your rough demeanor and defensive undertone are a result of your own frustrations and first hand experiences. I can now see more clearly where you are coming from.

    You have made numerous excellent points Diane. I cannot disagree with much of what you’ve said here. As Stacie notes, it is your delivery which is misconceived, not your message. Your message is very legitimate, and I thank you for opening my eyes in some respects.

    Behind the scenes at GenderEvolve, we have discussed this thread further. You should know that some in our group have expressed support for you and your work. I think it is the “glass half full” perspective which has enabled several of us to see past your confrontational demeanor, and consider the merit of your underlying message.

    You are absolutely correct that many people use their transness as an excuse for bad behavior. Many transgendered people are self-absorbed, delusional, living in a fantasy world. Some within the community behave in ways that cast negativity upon everyone. We can even go so far as to say there are some outright perverts and sexual deviants who linger in the community, claiming to be trans. By some perceptions, in some arenas, it could be seen as the “trans ghetto” as you refer to.

    It is true that trans people, like anyone else, must consider the effects of their behavior on others. I make absolutely no excuse for anyone who acts selfishly or hurtfully toward others, and blames their transness as the cause.

    On the other hand, I think many spouses are all to quick to cry “woe is me” the moment they learn their husband is crossdressing. I do not support the notion that a man dressing en femme is hurtful toward anyone, even his wife. However, if he commits adultry while en femme, this is a separate issue. I think far too many marriages dissolve because of unsubstantiated fears resulting from misconceptions about transgenderism.

    Diane I know you believe you are standing up for, perhaps representing, all the spouses who feel hurt and afraid. However, consider this… your words feed their fears. Someone’s wife will read what you have written, and her fears will deepen as a result. Is this your intent?

    One thing this dialogue has illuminated for me… my initial position was overstated. Transgenderism is not necessarily a gift. Whether it is a gift or a curse depends squarely upon how the individual transperson regards it… whether transness is an obstacle or a stepping stone, is an individual choice.

    The only thing I know for sure is my GenderEvolve sisters are all gender gifted. Each of my sisters is a brilliant representation of gender-giftedness in her own right.

    Diane, you yourself are gender-gifted, although you’ve not yet realized your gift. I wish you all the best in discovering what is rightfully yours.

    With kind regards,
    Michele

  28. Diane Frank says:

    Michele,

    It has simply been my experience that kind words do not provoke thought or more importantly change. I have clearly suceeded with you, where Helen’s more conciliatory prose didn’t.

    I will be writing a piece in our next newsletter on the business of gender-giftedness. It ties together with a presentation a friend of mine did on “deportment” or “comportment”…whatever. I will be highlighting the difference between desire and ability. Having a desire is not the same as having an ability, and it is no indicator that ability exists. Lord knows if it did I’d be dancing with ABT.

    If you return to our website in a few weeks to see that article, you might want dig a little and see what else I’ve written about my life, and think again about your choice of words to close your note. Or join the MHB discussion forums and see what I’ve written there.

    You are concerned about the spouse, whose fears I may amplify. STDs do not discriminate. There is a long standing false claim in some parts of the TG communities that by intent aims to pacify a woman’s rightful concern about being infected with HIV/AIDS or other diseases. Every survey I’ve seen indicates a large incidence of extra-marital and/or homosexual conduct…larger by I think a factor of 2-5 than in the general male population. My intent is to help women protect themselves.
    I think crossdressing husband’s heterosexuality and fidelity should not be assumed as a matter of simple prudence. What constitutes acceptable proof, or what boundaries are redrawn in relationships I leave to the couples themselves.

    Helen brilliantly documents the strains that T* stuff adds to a relationship. It is not unsubstantiated fears or or misconceptions that Helen uncovers…it’s the not being present in the marriage, in the bedroom. Instead of football widows you get nailpolish widows (to borrow Amy Bloom’s anecdote). You have men whose desire isn’t for the woman in front of them, but trapped in some fantasy in their own heads. Helen speaks also to the business of status, and what t-ness costs women in that social game.

    Michele, I know you are offering an olive-branch…and to the extent I can I do accept it and return the offer.

    Diane

  29. Diane,

    Please do not miss my point. While you may have “succeeded” at sparking discussion among a great many people, it took a titanic amount of empathy on my part to get past your negativity and fear-mongering, in order to take the extra time needed to comprehend your message. You could have “succeeded” with me far more quickly if you’d not taken to base level insults on my intentions, efforts and character right from the get go.

    With such belligerence, most people would just pass you off as a b*tch, and never pay mind to what you are saying. In other words, people are in no way inspired to listen to you, much less change, as long as your attitude is so condescending. I think you have far greater potential to reach a wider audience and make a real difference with your message, if you’d only be a bit more equitable in your approach to people. Don’t jump to the worst possible conclusions about people based on blanket generalizations.

    Helen’s prose, on the other hand, was immediately well-received. Her message, framed diplomatically, was concise and relatively easy to digest. As you will note, by the end of it all, my conclusion reflected Helen’s perspective… transness, like fire, anger, lust and parents, can be a blessing or a curse, depending on the individual.

    Whatever Helen’s beliefs, whatever tribulations she speaks of in MHB, the underlying fact that I recognize above all else, is that she is openly supporting her transgendered spouse in a very public way. For this, I admire her, no matter whether we ever agree on any single point. I am perfectly comfortable with “agreeing to disagree”. As far as I’m concerned, we’re on the same side.

    While no one has “succeeded” in changing my views, everyone who participated in this discussion has helped me to refine them.

    Thank you all.

  30. Diane Frank says:

    Michele,

    I rather doubt we’re on the same side. I do assume the worst about people claiming tness, for good reason. Yes, guilty until proven innocent.

    But when you speak of Helen openly supporting Betty, you also have to recognize that this open support also deals in open concern, fear, worry and yes, negativity. Helen’s support and information isn’t by any means cheerleading. It is a huge barring of the soul that she has done. It is Helen’s fearlessness and honesty that compel far more than her support for Betty. “Gender-gifted” isn’t fearless, it isn’t honest and it doesn’t compel.

    As for the effectiveness of what I do, I confess I do use different voices for different circumstances. You will remember that someone was dismayed and regarded the notion of gender-giftedness as step into the twilight zone for a long, long time. I have no problem being regarded as b*tch.

    This is the letter I got today:

    I just learned of this side of my husband….married 25 years. I am freaked out. This not the only kinky thing he wants to do. I scared!!!

    What do you, at your age, with your experience have to say to this woman? Are you going to tell this woman to celebrate her husband’s “gender giftedness?”. Right now I have to tell this woman we don’t have a wife available for her to talk to. I’m steering her to places for support, and I’ll help her if she wants to talk to someone more or less (probably less) like her husband. The first thing I’ll tell her if she asks, is that she has a right to her feelings and her fear, and not to listen to anyone who tries to tell her what to think or feel. Beyond that, I don’t know.

    Diane

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