June is Pride Month, and it is very often the case that members of both the LGBTQ community and its allies reflect on how far homosexuals and society have come in acknowledging and achieving basic human liberties and individual autonomy the heterosexual society so deeply takes for granted. It is a month to reflect on our struggle, our progress thus far, and our goals for recognition, liberty, and autonomy in the future – locally, nationally, and globally.
As I reflect on how much being what being gay means to me (and I love being gay), and my obligation, in terms of advocacy, to the LGBTQ community, I wonder whether or not certain transsexuals hold an obligation to the LGBTQ community as well. More specifically, do post-operative heterosexual transsexuals hold certain social moral obligations toward the LGBTQ community?
Transsexuals are “people who were identified at birth as one sex, but who identify themselves differently. They may seek or undergo one or more medical treatments to align their bodies with their internally felt identity, through such methods as hormone therapy, sex-reassignment surgery or other procedures.” Transsexuals are not to be confused with those who identify as transgender. These are two separate social identity categories. Individuals who identify as transgender are those “whose life experience includes existing in more than one gender. This may include people who identify as transsexual (pre-operatively), and people who describe themselves as being on a “gender spectrum” or as living out the categories of “man” or “woman” – which are terms that are socially constructed and the behaviours associated with those terms are learned through everyday social interactions. The last definition to consider is “trans”. Trans is “an umbrella term used to describe individuals who, to varying degrees, do not conform to what society usually defines as a man or woman.” For the purpose of this article, I will define transgender as pre-operative transsexual, and refer to a transsexual as post-operative transsexual.
A pre-operative transsexual could self-identify as “trans” through the roles in which they are portraying onto ‘his’ or ‘her’ current “pre” status. Take, for example, a male-to-female pre-operative trans individual. This is an individual whom is presently in the anatomical body of a male (penis, testicles, testosterone are some characteristics that identify a biological male), but who gender-identifies with women. Thus, this individual goes about ‘her’ daily life by taking on the role of what is considered to be a stereotypical woman – through acquiring certain characteristics society deems feminine. This individual isn’t gay, bisexual, or lesbian. This individual is heterosexual. However, in my opinion, this individual is body-displaced. What I mean by this is that, pre-operatively, this gender-identified woman, but anatomically-sexed male, is “trapped” in a male’s body – the mind (gendered woman) is incompatible with the anatomical body (sexed male) that ‘she’ was given at birth. Post-operatively, when the anatomical male body becomes transformed to that of a female body, the gender identity (that relating to a woman) has already been acquired. Now, this post-operative male-to-female transsexual is both sexed and gendered appropriately – female and woman, respectively. This self-identified heterosexual female is now able to pursue an “appropriate” heterosexual male partner. Thus, once a post-operative transsexual self-identifies as heterosexual, does this individual possess a social moral obligation to the LGBTQ community?
An obligation is a course of action that someone is required to take, whether legal or moral. In the case of the self-identified heterosexual, post-operative transsexual previously mentioned, I will refer to his or her obligation as a social moral obligation. Do self-identified heterosexual post-operative transsexuals hold a social moral obligation as to remain committed to the ideologies of the LGBT community? Or, contrarily, as a result of their post-operative heterosexual status, do these specific transsexuals hold a social moral obligation to integrate, identity with, and assimilate into their ‘new’, but essentially natural, heterosexual community?
I am asking you because I, too, am deciding on whether or not there is an actual answer to such a question; I don’t mean for it to be rhetorical. Although the term “transsexual” is part of the acronym that identifies members of the LGBTQ community, a male-to-female transsexual is, inherently, a heterosexual. Heterosexuality is a social identity that is so obviously not part of the LGBTQ community. Thus, why should we categorize transsexuals as belonging to the LGBTQ community if they self-identify as heterosexual post-operatively? They’re straight. Correct me if I’m wrong (which I know some of you will feel obliged to do so), but isn’t the purpose of hormone therapy, of sexual reassignment surgery, for a pre-operative transsexual to “acquire” the sex of the gender he or she has always, initially, self-identified with? In the case of a male-to-female post-operative heterosexual transsexual, the sex acquired is that of female (vagina, breasts, estrogen are some of the characteristics that identify a biological female). After reconstructive surgery, a male-to-female post-operative heterosexual transsexual is, in my opinion, supposed to begin integrating (if integration has not already started) herself with the community in which she has always identified with: the heterosexual community. She isn’t gay, lesbian, or bisexual; she’s straight. Of course, this individual can always remain an ally to the LGBTQ community, but I don’t think she must remain obligated to “abide by” any LGBTQ ideologies anymore. This raises another question: Have any pre-operative transsexuals ever felt obliged to recognize and follow any ideologies the LGBTQ community claims?
Until this point, I have only focused on the heterosexual post-operative transsexual. This raises a potential problem with regards to non-heterosexual post-operative transsexuals. For example, there could be a case (and there are) in which a post-operative male-to-female transsexual acquires the identity (through reconstructive surgery) of an anatomically-sexed female and gendered-woman who, then, further self-identifies as lesbian. Furthermore, there could be a case (and there are) in which a post-operative female-to-male transsexual acquires the identity (through reconstructive surgery) of an anatomically-sexed male and gendered-mam who, then, further self-identifies as gay. I would contend that, in these specific cases, they, as self-identified lesbian and gay individuals, have a social moral obligation to the LGBTQ community. After all, they are the ‘L’ and ‘G’ in LGBTQ.
I pose some questions for you to reflect on:
1. Why, if any reason, should transsexuals be categorized or claimed to belong as members of the LGBTQ community?
2. Once post-operative, do heterosexual transsexuals hold any social moral obligation to remain members of the LGBTQ community? Furthermore, should LGBTQ Pride celebrate and include self-identified heterosexual transsexuals (male-to female; female-to-male)?
My point is to contend that:
1. Any post-operative heterosexual transsexual is not socially morally obligated to abide by any LGBTQ ideologies – although remaining an ally in and supporting the LGBTQ community is always welcomed and encouraged.
2. Heterosexual transsexuals should not be celebrated during Pride because they are not gay, lesbian, or bisexual; they are straight – although they are free to participate in such an event.
*Disclaimer: The views presented in this article are solely those of the author and do not represent Homorazzi.com in its entirety.