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LGBT Stories: 'Heterosexual Transgender Lesbian' Talks Transition



Guestblogger Nathan Manske and Marquise Lee just finished a 4 month, 50 state tour of the United States collecting stories for theirI'm From Driftwood site. We'll be sharing some of the stories they collected along with some of the insight into what they saw. They're still encouraging people to submit their written stories via IFD.

Driftwood We met Amanda in upstate New York at the SAGE offices. SAGE stands for Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders, and I was glad to get some stories from folks who were a bit older than most others on IFD. At first Amanda was hesitant to share a story but once she started talking, there was no stopping her. In fact, she shared a few stories with us. She wants to offer hope to young people in her situation.

Watch and listen to her story, AFTER THE JUMP...

Previously in this series...
Houston Mayor Annise Parker Shares Personal Story of Young Love [tr]
T.C., Living with HIV, Recalls the Early Days of AIDS [tr]
A Gay City Councilman Moves His Family to Higher Ground [tr]
Deaf, Gay, Bullied, and Fighting Back [tr]
A Survivor's Account of an Unbelievable Hell Called Home [tr]

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  1. Why are there quotes around 'Heterosexual Lesbian Transgender'? I've looked at the previous entries in this series on your site and didn't find that other desriptors were put into quotes. I think by adding quotes to those words or even putting them as a headline sensationalizes the content.

    What's wrong with 'Transwoman shares her unique experience'?

    Just some food for thought about how the experiences trans men and women are portrayed by media...

    Posted by: Pierre | Feb 17, 2011 1:23:52 PM

  2. @Pierre: It's in quotes because it's a term she invented to describe herself. "Transwoman" is a more popular term, but it's not what she calls herself. The term she invented for herself would probably not mean anything to anyone else unless she explains what she means.
    Likewise, if John Howard Griffin had said, "I'm a black Caucasian," I would have had no clue what he meant if I hadn't read his book or heard him clarify.
    Transgendered terms can be especially confusing because I'm not sure that we have consensus even among transgendered people on whether a person in a similar situation is considered "she," "he," "gay," straight," "a woman in a man's body," "a man with a woman's mind," etc., etc.

    Posted by: GregV | Feb 17, 2011 2:33:22 PM

  3. ...come to think of it, maybe if we are to refer to people as "F2M" or "M2F," the sexual orientation could be clarified by using "S2G" (straight to gay) or "G2S" (though I've never seen such terms used.)

    Posted by: GregV | Feb 17, 2011 2:39:03 PM

  4. Folks, your sexual orientation does not change when you transition. It is just defined differently.

    A person who is attracted to men is still attracted men after transition. A person who is attracted to women is still attracted to women after transition. A person who is attracted to both or to neither is still attracted to both or to neither.

    In addition, a transwoman has always been a lesbian if she is attracted to other women; it just so happens that prior to her transition she was mislabeled as male.

    I point this out because this confusion leads to transphobia within the LGB community, as some view transpeople as closeted LGB's trying to "become straight" through transition.

    Posted by: Stephanie Silberstein | Feb 17, 2011 2:54:40 PM

  5. Terms like "heterosexual", "homosexual" and "bisexual" are not appropriate for Transpeople. They transcend common understandings of human sexuality! For example, if you say a Transwoman is a Lesbian(or, absurdly, that she's "become a Lesbian" after transition), you are basically negating her blended gender status(which surgery cannot change)! It's like me, a Gay male, trying to say I'm identical to a heterosexual/binary gender man. Not so!

    As unpopular as it may be to say so, a woman-loving Transwoman is not the same as a female-born Lesbian. I believe her intimate relationships are transsexual, just as she is. Similarly, my intimate relationships are homosexual, just as I am. Too many Transfolk try to shoehorn themselves into categories that just don't fit them. Too many LGBT folk in general try to do that!

    Posted by: Stuffed Animal | Feb 17, 2011 3:04:50 PM

  6. @Gregv - the fact that you say in your response "I'm not sure that we have consensus even among transgendered people on whether a person in a similar situation is considered "she," "he," "gay," straight," "a woman in a man's body," "a man with a woman's mind,""...

    Just goes to show that *you're* the one not getting it.

    Posted by: Pierre | Feb 17, 2011 4:19:43 PM

  7. It is becoming increasingly obvious that entering into this complicated morass of issues and labels that define transexualism has been a huge mistake for the gay movement.

    Posted by: fred | Feb 17, 2011 4:53:15 PM

  8. @Pierre: I'm just talking from my own (admittedly limited) experience talking to transgendered people and noticing the way they refer to themselves.

    In my experience, that has not been consistent. You want to call this transgendered person a term that fits your own definitions (transwoman), but it appears that is not the way she defines herself.

    I generally refer to transgendered people using the gender in which they present themselves (and when an individual presents him/herself as "in-between," I don't assume he/she has (or does not have) a preference for "he" or "she."

    Just last week I had an experience that made me realize that I cannot assume that someone wants me to refer to him/her in such a predictable way. When someone who purposely self-presents as completely androgenous says things like "a boy like me deserves to treat herself once in a while," I'm clearly not in the presence of someone who expects to be referred to as one gender or the other.

    You may be right that I don't "get it," at least not automatically, but it's not for lack of trying or an inability to understand on my part; it's just that people are unique and I can only see each one as an individual and try to respect what each prefers.

    Posted by: GregV | Feb 17, 2011 5:11:33 PM

  9. Hey, gregv, just last week I was eatin' this sandwich (I don't remember if I liked it or not, but I'll be sure to let you know when I got that sorted! And shall be), and I thought about how racist and bigoted many sammich names are, only with sammiches, we can't go by how they like to be called, because, well, they're sammiches...yah? yah? Amirite? Think about it.


    Posted by: TANK | Feb 17, 2011 5:18:46 PM

  10. A lesbian is a person with a female body who is sexually attracted to other females. To put it bluntly, we like p*ssy. The Vajayjay. That's what makes one a lesbian. We are not sexually attracted to male bodied individuals, even those who display the trappings of what typically LOOKS female in our society. Why not? Because we like p*ssy. Not penis or surgi-holes that have nothing in common with the organ known as a vagina. Therefore this individual should stop calling themselves one of us.

    Posted by: Sadie | Feb 17, 2011 6:14:36 PM

  11. " just so happens that prior to her transition she was mislabeled as male." writes Silberstein

    Wait... "mislabeled"?

    I don't think being born with a penis is being mislabeled since penis = male, vagina = female... to most of those working in obstetrics, anyway. Like an infant can sit up and say "Wait, I know I LOOK like a boy, but, really, inside I'm all girl." I think the label comes with your junk, at least for a while.

    Posted by: johnny | Feb 17, 2011 10:57:44 PM

  12. @ Saide, don't assume you speak for all lesbians. In fact you don't. I know a couple of lesbians involved with trans women.

    And stuffed animal, while many trans people might consider themselves a "third gender", many do not. Trans people do not "transcend gender" like special little snowflakes or as a third gender. I someone identifies as man and loves other men, he's a gay man, period. None of your ad-hoc gender theory trumps that.

    Posted by: leschick | Feb 17, 2011 11:18:39 PM

  13. @ Leschick- a woman who loves people regardless of their genitals is called bisexual, not lesbian. There is no such thing as a lesbian partnership without two females. That's what the word means.

    Posted by: Sadie | Feb 18, 2011 1:13:34 AM

  14. "@ Leschick- a woman who loves people regardless of their genitals is called bisexual, not lesbian. There is no such thing as a lesbian partnership without two females. That's what the word means."

    Your gender essnetialism is ridiculous and regressive. For all that you've known you've might have made out with a couple of girls with dicks, get it over it. On the chance that you have, would that make you bisexual? No.

    Posted by: leschick | Feb 18, 2011 1:41:12 PM

  15. @Leschick- Your assertion that homosexuals (those that are attracted to a specific physical sex) are "ridiculous" and "regressive" is the sort of homophobia one would expect to hear from the religious right, not from a purported ally on a gay blog. Very bigoted and offensive!

    Posted by: Sadie | Feb 18, 2011 10:16:19 PM

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