There’s been a recent thread on the message boards about the relative usefulness & accuracy of the “transgender umbrella” & quite frankly, I’m stumped by people who have a problem with the idea. I don’t see that it’s a complicated idea: that people who “trans” gender in some way – change, permanently or temporarily, their gender, or question the binary, etc. – have something in common. It doesn’t mean you’re all alike. It doesn’t mean you share all causes or issues or complaints. It doesn’t mean anything except that at some point, you question(ed) the assignment of an F or an M on your birth certificate as an accurate description of your gender at all times.
What I expect underlays the complications is an expectation of harmony, or unity, under that umbrella. That’s not going to happen, simply because different types of people under the umbrella have different experiences, identities, and definitely different complications with expressing that identity in the world. The post-op young transitioner who is happily married to a man may pass seamlessly as a woman, but only stealth keeps it that way. The crossdresser needs places to change, & community that isn’t heterocentric or homophobic. The genderqueer person wants to be acknowledge that they do not have a single gender, or any gender, or a consistent gender, or a binary-driven gender, depending on how they express being genderqueer.
There’s a lovely amount of variety.
What I think happens is that some forms of transness are considered “less than.” I can understand why a trans woman might feel her femininity mocked, or made questionable, by a crossdresser’s evocations of feminity. I’ve felt the same way when faced with some crossdressers’ interpretation of feminine. But I can’t imagine disliking crossdressers as a group because of that. After all, as many partners & feminists have experienced, transness in general tends to blow up a cissexual’s notions of gender in the first place, with its emphasis on nature & not nurture. We don’t dislike trans people as a result (well, some people do, of course, but I’m assuming most people reading this think that’s kind of dumb, if not outright prejudice.)
It’s not as if I’m not horrified by the behavior of some white folks, or other women, or writers, or Brooklynites, but I can’t deny I have something in common with them, either.