Saturday, December 20, 2008

Open Forum: Transmen and Their Invisibility In The "T"

The "T" in LGBT is supposed to represent crossdressers, drag queens/kings, transvesites, transsexuals, and those who are genderqueer. Often you find that not only is the transgender component of LGBT non-existant or minimal, but amongst the transgender community there seems to be a lack of attention to issues faced by trans men.

As an outside observer it seems a lot of transgender advocacy and resources is designed for male-to-female transgender individuals, and that there is a lack of information for people who are female-to-male.

Do you find that there is some sort of discrepancy in the amount of effort placed on the f2m dynamic of the transgender movement? Is this transsexism, or are m2f's more privileged because they started off as males, and males are more privileged in our sexist, male dominated society?


Emily S said...

It always did surprise me that there were so few FTM groups in the US. Europe seems to be a little more balanced, especially France and Germany. I don't think it is due to transsexism, at least in the groups where I am present: There's quite a good mix of trans men there, too.

Unfortunately, I think that a lot of the sites created by trans women and the larger transgender groups created for M2F crossdressers and trans women take a hyper-feminine approach which simply doesn't meet trans men needs (nor quite a lot of trans women's needs, to be honest).

From my experience, I think that the larger amount of M2F sites in general is not because we started off as more privileged (a lot of us weren't that much more privileged due to the issues caused by transsexualism, anyway) but because we end up as a lot less privileged.

In addition, I think that a lot of trans men are already accepted in the lesbian communities as well as more generally accepted by society (again, in Europe at least), making the support aspect of the transition less of an issue.

Anonymous said...

Ehh, I don't know why there aren't more sites for transmen. It'd be helpful it there were more.

I don't understand why acceptance in lesbian communities would be good for transmen, though.

Anonymous said...

"I think that the larger amount of M2F sites in general is ... because we end up as a lot less privileged." -Emily S

I agree; I think transmen have an easier time "passing" as non-trans, so after transition they cut themselves off from the trans community and go stealth.

But that´s just a wild hypothesis, since I don´t know many transmen (even though I´m a transboy myself!).

Anonymous, I think acceptance in lesbian communities is important for many transmen who come from these communities and would like to remain inside them. But yeah, other transguys would be offended to be compared to lesbians. That depends on the man.

Queers United said...

Emily - I think there are pockets of acceptance for FTM's among the lesbian community, but there are other circles that are fiercely against their presence being that they are no longer women. But on the concept of privilege I understand what you mean, I don't think it as any easier for an MTF in this world, but I wonder if any study has ever been done to see if MTF's prior to transition made more money, etc due to general male privilege?

Anonymous - I think some lesbians look at transmen as butch, and while some transmen may find this offensive, because they aren't butch women, they are now males, some may capitalize on this if they are heterosexual and looking for a woman as a mate, whereas bio hetero women, may not be as open minded to dating a transman.

Francisco - I don't know if I would agree that there are more passable FTM's than MTF's I think, there are those on both sides who pass really well and others who don't as much. I think it has more to do with the age one started hormones, no?

Anonymous said...

Re: Queers United

I think a lot of the difference between transmen and transwomen is that, even if a woman doesn't pass particularly well, she'll be assumed to be an ugly man and that doesn't carry nearly as much stigma as being an ugly woman.

Also, passing poorly as a women often involves taboos such as hints of facial hair that women in general would be highly discriminated against for having.

Overall, I think that women in general have a harder time in society, and that is reflected by the harder time that transwomen face.

I may be horribly uninformed and have no idea what I'm talking about. Please tell me if I am.

Anonymous said...

I wish I could edit that. The moment I posted it I noticed several gender errors. Please forgive me.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if I agree that we as transmen are accepted in lesbian circles, but I do agree that because of the major effects of testosterone to our bodies, we easily become stealth in society, then "passing" isn't even a consideration anymore. For the large majority of us, there is no way of telling that we once were female-bodied.

Because of this, I think, is the reason that there is an imbalance between MtF sites and FtM sites. I think the general public, including *many* within the GLBT community, have no idea we exist. I can't tell you how many I've met that I've had to educated.

Because "transman" and "FtM" are not household words, the pre-transitioning male-identified people either aren't aware they CAN transition, or they don't know the terms to even search on the net.

It would certainly be more helpful if more of the MtF sites would spread the word by adding links to resources for transmen. But it's surprising how many of *them* aren't aware we exist. Sad, really.

planet trans said...

I am really a outsider to the transman experience as a transwoman, but I have had the privilege of learning a little from some friends. Connecting emotionally with some Transmen is understanding the unique balance many Transmen maintain. There may remain an emotional need for a transman to interact at times in a way that is mainly found among cisgender females and some transgender woman. There maybe a tug of war becuse of his male identity driving him away from said intimacy. It requires a developed understanding sadly lacking in this hetero dominated society and certainly unavailable online where public displays of emotional availability is equated with weakness. This is true in our world and the hetro world.
As Fransico pointed out he is unaware of his own culture even though he is a transman! Transwoman who are as susscesfull as a transman in obtaining "stealth" often reemerge after years becuse of the same need to reconnect.

Anonymous said...

I spent roughly 10 years working as a facilitator and a facilitator trainer for a group of LGBTQ youth. I started the trans group there. Most of the kids who came to the trans group identified as trans, mtf or gender queer and they weren't from the most privileged parts of society. As most kids, they were broke and just starting to find what they wanted from life.

From my personal experience the ftms had an easier time of dealing with it then the mtfs. Male privilege from the mtf perspective is an interesting argument and I have had more success (financially and otherwise) since I transitioned from ftm. (That makes sense.) Maybe it's in the beginning transitioning stages where the mtfs have access to better support than the ftms. Maybe after the beginning transition then the balance shifts. I don't know.

Maybe there is just not the need to have as much support. My 'support' is fine. I am a research analyst by trade so I used my researching skills to 'patch' the support that I needed. I am not sure what type of support that ftms need. I just know what worked for me. I'm a private person anyway so getting me to talk takes time.

I visited one trans support group a couple of times and the women just talked about passing and they cried a lot. I'm not unsympathetic but what do I do with a group of really depressed and sad women? (This is nothing knew, never knew how to handle it when women are upset.) I would rather have a discussion on 'this is my situation, how do I fix it or make it better'....then have a pity party about it. That's me.

I have met my fair share of ftms and one guy who is a bud shares a similar outlook on life.We mostly talk about women, football and what every stereotypical guy talks about. My conversations with bio guys are typically along the same track or there is a discussion of politics, current events or the newest technology.

I think I learned a lot from my bio guy friends. So maybe support doesn't always come with people who are dealing with the same thing that I am.

The people who gave me the toughest time were the lesbians. I got more grief from them then from anyone else. After my third 'conversation' with a lesbian stating that 'she couldn't be my friend' then I got the point: go seek support where people will support me. Interestingly enough, the best support has been from my hetero friends. They asked some questions and said, 'ok, fine. You're still our friend.'

Other ftm/mtms will appreciate this. Talk about a balance- the testosterone did wonders for me.



Anonymous said...

"For the large majority of us, there is no way of telling that we once were female-bodied."

Not to be rude, but most ftm end up looking like high school boys, not men. It's not hard to tell, at least to most hetero females.

Anonymous said...

"Not to be rude, but most ftm end up looking like high school boys, not men. It's not hard to tell, at least to most hetero females."

lulz someone has sand in their vagina

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