This post describes how in the last few days I've had to think hard about my own prejudices, both old and new. It's left me realising that I'm full of inconsistent attitudes, which is not good. But at the same time, I've clearly travelled a huge distance from where I used to be, which is very, very pleasing. I have hopes, therefore, that eventually I will become a thoroughly accepting and unjudgemental person. And to be like that is surely one of the best ambitions anyone could have.
So what's all this about? And why have I titled the post 'Transgender Women'?
It all began mundanely enough earlier in the week, after a friend mentioned that she had been able to find someone to give her electrolysis in the rather remote North Cornish town of Bude. I was a little surprised. Towns far from anywhere do tend to have better shops and services than you might suppose, simply because of the cost of travelling to the nearest city, and the fact that they must serve as the centre for a wide area. So most ordinary needs get catered for. But you wouldn't expect a specialised service such as electrolysis to be available. But it was.
Then I thought, well, surely there can be no trans scene at Bude to speak of? That would be found only in Exeter or Plymouth, right? It was the work of a moment to do a Google search using the words 'bude trans women'. I got an unexpected result. Top of the list was a blog written by a gay man called Enlightened Male2000, and I had hit on his archive of occasional posts on Transgendered Women. Clearly Google reckoned I'd meant 'nude trans women'!
The thing was, it didn't seem to be yet another website devoted to self-indulgent pornography, and otherwise devoid of content. I thought the chap who wrote on it came across very much as the Thinking Gay Man - or should I say the Thinking Bisexual Man? He was most definitely Bi-curious, even if he made it perfectly plain that he appreciated the physical attributes of regular gay men. And of more exotic creatures - the Transgender Women he had penned several articles on. Here they are:
29 March 2010: Born in the Wrong Body
16 August 2011: Some of Us are Born in the Wrong Body
17 October 2011: Accommodating Women
21 November 2011: Transgender Women...Are there Enough of Them
2 January 2012: Life's Trials as a Transgender Female
6 June 2012: Dating a Transgender Woman
29 July 2012: Pure Female Except For...
I'm not urging anyone to read these posts, but by all means have a look. A warning: you will (naturally) see a series of photos of pretty girls with male genitals. That is what this man means by 'Transgender Women'. Impolitely, you might dismiss them all as Shemales. Personally I am not impolite. These girls' points of view are quoted, as are those of the gay men who find them attractive. I think the posts are well worth reading for the insights they give into why these girls have transformed themselves - becoming more attractive than I could ever have hoped to be - and yet have stopped short of surgery to acquire female parts. And I don't think, looked at fairly, that this is a dirty or irrelevant story at all.
I realised that I had not thought about non-op women very much before, and had in fact (during the last four years or so) absorbed an entirely fresh prejudice - which was that these women were definitely not like us, the transsexual women, because they had rejected genital surgery. They weren't going the whole hog. The urge, the necessity, to look totally female and embrace the standard female life in its entirety obviously wasn't there. They still wanted some male capability. They were therefore lesser women; or even not women at all, but just gay men who fancied looking very girly. They deserved a sneer. That was shock number one, that I had adopted that notion. I thought that I had shed all of my prejudices, especially any that made me look down on someone. But now I saw that I was perfectly capable of embracing a harmful and hurtful new prejudice that I most certainly didn't have before I transitioned. (I didn't have it because I had no idea that non-op women existed, so that I had no view on them)
I considered the posts mentioned above. Was I seeing pure pornography, or just pretty girls with a key physical feature that the camera had presented to very good advantage? A feature that the site owner found fascinating. He seemed to be on these girls' side, empathising with them. And if so, why shouldn't I empathise as well? Rather than just be mildly rude? After all, each of these girls was a human being, entitled to free choice where their own body was concerned. (Ouch...hadn't this been what we, the transsexual women, said about ourselves?)
Shock number two was the realisation that I could ponder the concept of non-op women, and the men who liked them so much, without recoil or embarrassment. I was never as prim and proper and uptight as some people I could name, but I used to be full of bad attitudes that I hadn't questioned for decades. No, I wasn't racist or sectarian, or blindly against abortion, or anything so extreme. But I could take an elitist point of view, the sort that a person used to a safe and secure background can take, the sort that a person used to having authority at work can take, the sort that a person who believes they are free of prejudice can take. Transition showed me that I was in fact extremely vulnerable, that I could be misunderstood, pulled down and reviled. It made me bin a lot of useless mental baggage. I learned about so many new kinds of people. I saw that they all had a point of view, a role to play, a right to exist. Just as I had. Nobody was superior to anyone else.
And so that's why idly searching for the non-existent Bude trans scene has taken me down a sideroad and altered my thinking a bit.
One final thought. An entirely new idea, at least for me. And not one that I'm personally going to pursue. But I will state it. Could a non-op woman be the ideal partner for a post-op trans woman? If, that is, the trans woman in question hates her partner having a 'male look' and wants to see and embrace female beauty - but at the same time desires the kind of sex only a man can provide? It's a thought. But I suppose it would never be, if it's true that all non-op women are exclusively interested in gay male partners. Still, how liberating it is to find that one can imagine the possibility.
I feel less stuck in the mires of Upbringing and Social Class than I did a week ago. There's hope.