Sunday, 31 January 2010

Labels, labels, labels

Melissa (and Sophie in Mental Boonies) also said something about a current debate going on concerning what is a transsexual person.

My own take is that you know if you are, and there's little more to say. When I realised what I was back in 2008, it hit me like an express train. I had absolutely no doubt, and still haven't. And I instantly saw that something had to be done about it, and fairly urgently, because my life was running out. A close definition of what I was didn't seem to matter. In any case, I wasn't the analytical sort. I've had to become much better at self-examination, but it's not something I find fascinating, and frankly I'd rather get on with the practical things that need attending to.

I suppose I'm 'an older pre-op male-to-female transsexual with infant and adolescent self-perception problems but a discontinuous past history of cross-dressing'. So what? I'm also (and more meaningfully) a healthy retired outgoing single female person with ample means and education, ecologically and politically aware, and able to insist on my consumer rights. I hope I'm just as empathetic as anyone else, and sane and responsible to boot. I'm a keen motorist, caravanner and photographer, and a life member of the National Trust. I've also got blue eyes. There's no label to cover all that adequately. So I don't try. And even if there were a label for me that everyone could understand without error, I'd be developing all the time, and then the label wouldn't fit any more. So there's no point. And I'd hate to think that being 'older' or 'pre-op' might place me in a distinct group, so that I could never talk freely to 'young' or 'post-op' people. Labelling is divisive. It can lead to in-fighting and defensive attitudes, when really there are no differences.

And if I were obliged to stand up and be counted, and sign petitions, and lobby MPs, I think I'd be more inclined to do so as a 'senior citizen', and not specifically as a transgendered person. Despite their voting power, and in some cases economic clout, old people as a class are dismissed as an irrelevant nuisance in today's Western societies. Successive governments in the UK have treated older people in a most shabby fashion, eroding their social position, building insecurity in their minds, and making daily life complex and inconvenient. A few disabled parking spaces here and there, and an extra tenner at Christmas, are no substitute for vanished post offices, being forced to grapple with the Internet, and many other little humiliations. Some old folk cope easily; many do not. They've made their contribution, even if they simply paid their taxes. What about an adequate payback? David Cameron, Nick Clegg, David Miliband et al please take note.


  1. Labeling people as whatever tells you vey little about the person and in the worst case be used to dehumanize people. So I guess you have to be careful in any debate about labels.

  2. I'm sure too much labelling makes you lose the bigger picture. I'm continually amazed and reassured by how much my history and feelings are echoed in other people's stories. It's 'Check, check, yup - been there, oh, you too...' so often. Sure, there are individual differences - it's not called gender variance for nothing - but we hold so much in common. Infighting - some insane game of 'My difference is better than your difference' - is the last thing we need.

  3. I think Lucy that if you had to have a label in the future it will be Champion of peoples rights. I'm looking forward to hearing you on You and Yours.

    If we use too many labels we miss out on the people behind them

  4. @Anji:
    Can you get You and Yours where you are - west coast of France, isn't it? Is it on the World Service?

    Thanks for the accolade. But really I would hate becoming a public figure and lose my anonymity. Or have I lost it already with the blog? Oh dear. And yet something really must be done about the plight of the elderly in this country. We will all be old one day! Surely it's best to fix the deteriorating situation now, so that we can in due course enjoy the improvements? Talk about turning a blind eye to the future. Like ignoring Global Warming!


  5. I can get Radio 4 but during the winter eveings it isn't too easy to listen to. There is also the cricket on longwave which is so annoying. I could listen on the computer, but I have to concentrate while I'm working. The radio is in the kitchen.

    I come from Archers country so I always listen to that in the evenings if the reception is good.

    I think that elderly people in a lot of countries get a bad deal - I suppose they're considered 'past their sell by date' by the powers that be and of no more use.

  6. Labels are far from helpful and in the case of a transsexual label, I've learnt never to go near a debate on the subject as its like a volatile package likely to explode.
    Attitudes to older people can differ widely some eastern cultures are far more reverential compared to the comparatively youth obsessed west.

  7. sometimes labels are useful (in a medical environment for example they can get you to the correct place faster) but on the whole they are not helpful. as to pre-op / post-op. I admit I did used to think about it, but having met so many people 'on line' (where you could be a small green alien for all I know) I know realise it's all a bit pointless to consider - and i have never yet revealed *my* genitals to anyone as a form of greeting! so realy, who cares whats there except you and your 'significant other' :-)

  8. Thanks for the shout out Lucy, and for embracing the entire transgender rainbow with an open mind, and more importantly, an open heart! After all, we are all under the same umbrella, even though some who don't understand that one's attitude about gender identity is very subjective, want to bring the sides of that umbrella down a tad, to exclude some who don't measure up to their subjective standards.

    Melissa XX


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