A new perspective on an old topic

372 views
Skip to first unread message

Michelle Steiner

unread,
Apr 7, 1996, 4:00:00 AM4/7/96
to
One of the long-standing discussions among transsexuals is the matter of
how "out" one should be as a TS. Until today, this has not been an issue
with me because I had not been in any situation where most people knew
Michelle, but did not know Mike.

This evening, Sharon and I went to a women-only Passover celebration; I
refrain from calling it a Seder because it was not conducted on the first
or second night of Passover, but in all other respects, it was a seder.

In addition to it being different from traditional seders in that it used
the feminine verbs, nouns, and pronouns for God, and having other women's
orientations to it, we paused three times during the evening to have
discussions at each table. Our table chose "spirituality" as our topic.

I found myself constrained in the discussions because much of what I would
have said about myself would not have made sense to people unless they
knew that I had lived most of my life as a man. Yet, I was reluctant to
tell anyone that I had been born male and had lived as a man--I wanted to
be accepted as a woman, not as a transsexual woman. I feel fairly
confident that I would have been accepted as a TS woman, because the
people at the table had no adverse reaction to Sharon's and my being
lesbians.

Other than not going, what would you have done in my place?

--Michelle

--------------------------------------------------------------------------
| Michelle Steiner | ...and then the day came when the risk |
| ste...@best.com | to remain tight in a bud was more |
| http://www.best.com/~steiner |painful than the risk it took to blossom.|
| | --Anais Nin |
--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Kristin Rachael Hayward

unread,
Apr 8, 1996, 3:00:00 AM4/8/96
to
Michelle Steiner asked:

>Other than not going, what would you have done in my place?

I think you did the right thing by going.

Events such as you described seem to have a heightened sense of single
sex identity. I doubt the nature of the Seder was such that the
complexity of being a TS could have been discussed. In situations like
that, I try to take away from the experience a deeper (and typically)
unique understanding of the event and realize that, in time, my
opportunity will come to be known as and accepted for being who I am.

Kristin
--
Kristin Rachael Hayward, PhD
Director of Administrative Information Systems and Business Services
University of Maine
http://www.umeais.maine.edu/~hayward

MarlaB 01

unread,
Apr 8, 1996, 3:00:00 AM4/8/96
to
In article <steiner-0704...@steiner.vip.best.com>,
ste...@best.com (Michelle Steiner) writes:

>Other than not going, what would you have done in my place?

Michelle,

You do ask loaded questions don't you? <BG>. And although you might
guess my answer, let me ask a couple of questions before I attempt to
answer...

>> I wanted to be accepted as a woman, not as a transsexual woman.

With this statement, are you feeling that a transseuxal woman is somehow
not a woman or is less than other types of women?

Or are you meaning 'born female woman' when you say woman?

If we are talking yea about the former, I would suggest you are just as
much a woman as any other woman there. You are fairly unique but that
does not make you any less of a woman. You may face some rejection, but
again, that does not make you any less of a woman.

If it is yea to the latter, a deeper question comes about. Do you want to
be accepted for what you are not? And is it worth the cost, to you, to
others?

-----

But answering the question for myself. This is really a question I faces
and answered for myself a long time ago. I decided that I wish to be
accepted for who I am, not who I am not. Where the discussion led to an
area that my person and my biology would be important, I would have openly
discussed it. In a situation like you describe, I would have thought it
to be doubly important for both the honesty in the situation was
important, and the unique view I could bring to the table would also be
important.

And 'not going' would have only been an option if I felt I was forcing
myself where I was not wanted. But I don't think that would have
happened.

Big Hugs, Marla

Anja Zoe Christen

unread,
Apr 8, 1996, 3:00:00 AM4/8/96
to
Michelle Steiner wrote:

Yet, I was reluctant to

> tell anyone that I had been born male and had lived as a man--I wanted to
> be accepted as a woman, not as a transsexual woman.[...]


> Other than not going, what would you have done in my place?

Hard to say; most of my friends know that I am TS (it is hard to disguise
sometimes (voice etc.)). If someone 'new' asks me something like "You
aren't a normal woman, right?" I tend to answer something like "No,
certainly not normal" and chicken out with a smile.

However, I'm not afraid to 'confess' to be a TS. It is better to be
honest than to pretend. IMHO of course.

Hugs,
--
// Anja Zoe Christen Munich, Germany
\\// Anja.C...@munich.netsurf.de ==> z...@euromail.com <==
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
If wild my breast and sore my pride, I bask in dreams of suicide;
If cool my heart and high my head, I think "How lucky are the dead".
(Dorothy Parker)

Michelle Steiner

unread,
Apr 8, 1996, 3:00:00 AM4/8/96
to
In article <DpJvp...@midway.uchicago.edu>, hay...@cs.uchicago.edu
(Kristin Rachael Hayward) wrote:

>Michelle Steiner asked:


>
>>Other than not going, what would you have done in my place?
>

>I think you did the right thing by going.
>
>Events such as you described seem to have a heightened sense of single
>sex identity. I doubt the nature of the Seder was such that the
>complexity of being a TS could have been discussed. In situations like
>that, I try to take away from the experience a deeper (and typically)
>unique understanding of the event and realize that, in time, my
>opportunity will come to be known as and accepted for being who I am.

In fact, one of the discussion topics at our table was "Who have your
experiences of spirituality and ritual been different in a women-only
space?"

Before going, Sharon and I agreed that if my presence there were
challenged, we would leave without making a scene. I was not there to be
an activist or to fight for trans-inclusiveness; I was there to 1)
celebrate the Passover, and 2) experience a seder in a women-only space.

Interestingly enough, afterwards, Sharon told me that she felt the
orientation of the seder was too one sided and that the male aspect of God
was completely absent and ignored. (But then again, what would one expect
from a West-coast Gardnerian? When she said that to me, told her that
she's obviously not Dianic, and she said "Of course, I'm not.")

Michelle Steiner

unread,
Apr 8, 1996, 3:00:00 AM4/8/96
to
In article <4kbdc7$s...@newsbf02.news.aol.com>, marl...@aol.com (MarlaB
01) wrote:

>In article <steiner-0704...@steiner.vip.best.com>,
>ste...@best.com (Michelle Steiner) writes:
>

>>Other than not going, what would you have done in my place?
>

>Michelle,
>
>You do ask loaded questions don't you? <BG>.

Moi? Nah.

>And although you might
>guess my answer, let me ask a couple of questions before I attempt to
>answer...
>

>>> I wanted to be accepted as a woman, not as a transsexual woman.
>

>With this statement, are you feeling that a transseuxal woman is somehow
>not a woman or is less than other types of women?

No.

>Or are you meaning 'born female woman' when you say woman?

No.

>If we are talking yea about the former, I would suggest you are just as
>much a woman as any other woman there. You are fairly unique but that
>does not make you any less of a woman. You may face some rejection, but
>again, that does not make you any less of a woman.
>
>If it is yea to the latter, a deeper question comes about. Do you want to
>be accepted for what you are not? And is it worth the cost, to you, to
>others?

Well, it's a matter of fitting in; to use an example that I'm famliliar
with, in Judaism, the "official line" is that a convert is no different
from a "born Jew" and the act of conversion makes the person the same as a
born Jew. However, a convert normally does not have the same life
experiences as a born Jew, and when people find out that s/he is a
convert, there are subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) changes in the way
that other Jews interact with her/him. I would expect this to be the same
with a woman who is known to have been born a man--a "convert" if you will
(from the standpoint of the other people, that is)--especially in a
women-only space. I also did not want to become the focal point of
attention at our table, which could have happened if they knew that I was
TS--the same way that an astronaut or a politician at the table would have
become a focal point of attention.

Along similar lines, I was afraid (and I think that word is apt) that if
they knew I was a TS, they would relegate my life experience to a lesser
level than their own, because my experience was not the same as born
women's experiences. I've already born the brunt of this attitude
elsewhere.

>-----
>
>But answering the question for myself. This is really a question I faces
>and answered for myself a long time ago. I decided that I wish to be
>accepted for who I am, not who I am not. Where the discussion led to an
>area that my person and my biology would be important, I would have openly
>discussed it. In a situation like you describe, I would have thought it
>to be doubly important for both the honesty in the situation was
>important, and the unique view I could bring to the table would also be
>important.

That, too, crossed my mind. It all boils down to the never-ending
question of whether stealth TSs (pre-op, post-op, non-op) and TGs are
"living a lie" or not. I used to think that it was not living a lie,
while at the same time not planning to go stealth. Now, I'm beginning to
think that it may be living a lie, and wishing that I could go stealth.

One of these days, I'll work it out for myself, I guess.

>And 'not going' would have only been an option if I felt I was forcing
>myself where I was not wanted. But I don't think that would have
>happened.

As I said, if I were read and asked not to attend, I would not left
without trying to argue my way in. Sharon might have tried to argue, but
we had talked about it and I persuaded her that if the situation should
occur, we'd not make a scene. She's rarely confrontational, and usually
tries to avoid confrontations, but sometimes, she gets very protective of
me.

>Big Hugs, Marla

Hugs bakatcha,

--Michelle

Carl Buijs

unread,
Apr 9, 1996, 3:00:00 AM4/9/96
to
Michelle Steiner (ste...@best.com) wrote:

: I found myself constrained in the discussions because much of what I would


: have said about myself would not have made sense to people unless they

: knew that I had lived most of my life as a man. Yet, I was reluctant to
: tell anyone that I had been born male and had lived as a man--I wanted to
: be accepted as a woman, not as a transsexual woman. I feel fairly


: confident that I would have been accepted as a TS woman, because the
: people at the table had no adverse reaction to Sharon's and my being
: lesbians.

: Other than not going, what would you have done in my place?

As usual with different people, our situations are different, but hey, you
asked for it! 9:-)
The difference I refer to is the fact that I don't care whether I'm accepted
as a man or as a TS man. I guess what I would've done depends a bit on the
event. I only explain my TSism when I have the opportunity to elaborate on
it. With TSism so often portrayed in the media, people can have the
strangest images about it, and therefore I only tell them about it if I can
also explain what it means _for me_. From what you've said about that event,
I take it you either didn't have time to go into any detail, or would've
drawn the entire discussion towards you, which was not the purpose of the
gathering.

Greets,

Carl

MarlaB 01

unread,
Apr 9, 1996, 3:00:00 AM4/9/96
to
In article <steiner-0804...@steiner.vip.best.com>,
ste...@best.com (Michelle Steiner) writes:

>Along similar lines, I was afraid (and I think that word is apt) that if
>they knew I was a TS, they would relegate my life experience to a lesser
>level than their own, because my experience was not the same as born
>women's experiences.

There is truth in this. And in my heart I understand the emotion
strongly.

It's not in the you or I feeling that we are any less women, it is in
others who might through misunderstanding.

But one thing I ask myself is, "Is it fair to presume the reactions of
others, and therefore manipulate their reactions through withholding
information?"

A very subtle and personal question. Again, in my own case and under the
circumstances described, I believe I would have spoken. Or at least I
have in similar situations. And yes, this would effect the outlook of
others on you, the effect for some would have been as you describe. And
it does hurt. But I still feel I cannot do otherwise, and sometimes,
coming out of stealth can find real joys and loving as well.

---

A point on 'fraud'. "Fraud" is not always bad, even though we are taught
that it is so. *Stealth* and the implied fraud is not necessarily bad or
wrong. It was not bad or wrong for the Jews to engage in stealth in
Europe in the 30s. It was necessary survival.

We each have to find our own balance on these issues. My personal values
lean toward anti-stealth, but that's partly based on my experiences and
assessment of 'society today'. 20 years ago, I probably would have
probably been pro-stealth bacause of the differences of society.

I do have a secondary motive for anti-stealth for me. I've seen too many
T*s hurt because of bigotry and misunderstanding by society. If I can
show one person by example that T*s can be 'good' people, and thus help
buy us a single small piece of understanding and acceptance, then it was
worth the potential pain of coming out of stealth.

Hugs, Marla

Michelle Steiner

unread,
Apr 9, 1996, 3:00:00 AM4/9/96
to
In article <4kdeqk$t...@da.bausch.nl>, ca...@crowley.bausch.nl (Carl Buijs) wrote:

>event. I only explain my TSism when I have the opportunity to elaborate on
>it. With TSism so often portrayed in the media, people can have the
>strangest images about it, and therefore I only tell them about it if I can
>also explain what it means _for me_. From what you've said about that event,
>I take it you either didn't have time to go into any detail, or would've
>drawn the entire discussion towards you, which was not the purpose of the
>gathering.

Your take on it is right on, Carl--in both of those observations. I'm
sort of living in two worlds; one in which my transsexuality is well
known, and one where it's not known at all. In some venues, like at work,
I'm in both worlds to a degree. Some of the people who have joined the
company in the past three to five months do not know that I'm TS, and
those who joined during the past 8 1/2 months (I can't believe that it's
been that long already!) never met the old me, even if they have heard
that I used to be a guy.

Michelle Steiner

unread,
Apr 9, 1996, 3:00:00 AM4/9/96
to
In article <4kdtgg$o...@newsbf02.news.aol.com>, marl...@aol.com (MarlaB
01) wrote:

>I do have a secondary motive for anti-stealth for me. I've seen too many
>T*s hurt because of bigotry and misunderstanding by society. If I can
>show one person by example that T*s can be 'good' people, and thus help
>buy us a single small piece of understanding and acceptance, then it was
>worth the potential pain of coming out of stealth.

That consideration also plays a part in my decisions, and is one reason
that I do out myself to some people that I would not otherwise have outed
myself to.

One thing, though, that we must all remember (and I hope that no one
disagrees with me on this), being out or closeted for a TS or TG is a
different experience and paradigm than being out for a gay man, lesbian,
or bisexual person.

Michelle Steiner

unread,
Apr 10, 1996, 3:00:00 AM4/10/96
to
In article <koyote-1004...@koyote.pr.mcs.net>, koy...@mcs.com
(Eliot K Daughtry) wrote:

>It has been a strange thing to figure; do I out myself to my classmates?
>If I did would they treat me differently; would they understand or
>appreciate what my telling them meant? Do I have the time to devote to
>being a poster boy for TS/TG public education?

Hi Eliot,

I'm in an improv-comedy workshop; I started there more than a year before
I transitioned, and kept up with the group during transition. I told the
head instructor almost a year before my transition that it would
eventually come, and gave him a copy of _The Transsexual Survival Guide
II_.

About half of my classmates and all the instructors knew me before
transition, and I would suspect that all the newer classmates have been
told, or have figured it out in close order.

Except for ocassional accidental slips of pronouns, and even rarer slips
of name, no one has said anything about it to me or in my presence.

Eliot K Daughtry

unread,
Apr 11, 1996, 3:00:00 AM4/11/96
to
In article <steiner-0904...@steiner.vip.best.com>,
ste...@best.com (Michelle Steiner) wrote:

> In article <4kdtgg$o...@newsbf02.news.aol.com>, marl...@aol.com (MarlaB


> 01) wrote:

>> If I can
> >show one person by example that T*s can be 'good' people, and thus help
> >buy us a single small piece of understanding and acceptance, then it was
> >worth the potential pain of coming out of stealth.
>
> That consideration also plays a part in my decisions, and is one reason
> that I do out myself to some people that I would not otherwise have outed
> myself to.
>
> One thing, though, that we must all remember (and I hope that no one
> disagrees with me on this), being out or closeted for a TS or TG is a
> different experience and paradigm than being out for a gay man, lesbian,
> or bisexual person.

To Marla, thank you for stating that so well.

To Michelle, thank you for starting one of the most interesting and
thought provoking posts I've seen in a while here. I agree with you that
TS/TG is a different paradigm than LesBiGay (whatever way you want to say
that). I wish I had a succinct way to express the differences between the
two; it would be a useful description to have on hand.

The questions you raised about women's only space are the same ones that I
had after a fashion--. After I started actively transitioning, I was still
invited and included at many "women's only" events. But unlike the
direction you are going in, this made me quite sad, since I knew that I
did not belong there; and even if they wanted me there, it was a violation
of the principal. Now I find myself at school in classes that are
completely male and for the first time, I am known as male to the entire
group. Some of my classmates met me when I was the butch dyke, but most of
them only know me as Eliot, that weird guy with the piercings. I'm being
picked on by some grad student that is also a professor in Naval science
for the ROTC program on campus. (Although he has shut up about what I look
like and my mojo bags since he has discovered that I am an asset on group
projects =:). ) I also work in an all male shop; but I have transitioned
on the job, so the guys all know where I have come from.

It has been a strange thing to figure; do I out myself to my classmates?
If I did would they treat me differently; would they understand or
appreciate what my telling them meant? Do I have the time to devote to
being a poster boy for TS/TG public education?

Anyway, keep up the talk. I like this one.

Eliot.

Carl Buijs

unread,
Apr 11, 1996, 3:00:00 AM4/11/96
to
MarlaB 01 (marl...@aol.com) wrote:

: I do have a secondary motive for anti-stealth for me. I've seen too many

: T*s hurt because of bigotry and misunderstanding by society. If I can


: show one person by example that T*s can be 'good' people, and thus help
: buy us a single small piece of understanding and acceptance, then it was
: worth the potential pain of coming out of stealth.

Right on, Marla! I was once asked by someone from the gender team I attend
to speak to 4 students who were doing some research for a paper they were
writing. They seemed to be rather tense at first, and it was very funny to
see that after talking for a while they found out that a TS guy is actually
just a person you can have a chat and a giggle with, just like they are!
Amazing, isn't it? 9:-) Anyway, that kind of feels nice, the fact that you
might have created understanding and compassion for another T* which you
don't even know, through 'educating' cisgendered people. If only one of
those 4 is going to meet one other T* that happens to need their
compassion, I think I've done a good job.

Greets,

Carl

Eliot K Daughtry

unread,
Apr 11, 1996, 3:00:00 AM4/11/96
to
In article <steiner-1004...@steiner.vip.best.com>,
ste...@best.com (Michelle Steiner) wrote:

> In article <koyote-1004...@koyote.pr.mcs.net>, koy...@mcs.com
> (Eliot K Daughtry) wrote:
>

> >It has been a strange thing to figure; do I out myself to my classmates?
> >If I did would they treat me differently; would they understand or
> >appreciate what my telling them meant? Do I have the time to devote to
> >being a poster boy for TS/TG public education?
>

> Hi Eliot,
>
> I'm in an improv-comedy workshop; I started there more than a year before
> I transitioned, and kept up with the group during transition. I told the
> head instructor almost a year before my transition that it would
> eventually come, and gave him a copy of _The Transsexual Survival Guide
> II_.
>
> About half of my classmates and all the instructors knew me before
> transition, and I would suspect that all the newer classmates have been
> told, or have figured it out in close order.
>
> Except for ocassional accidental slips of pronouns, and even rarer slips
> of name, no one has said anything about it to me or in my presence.

When I was accepted in the gender program that I'm in, before I started
hormone therapy I talked to a couple of the instructors and also took the
time to explain what I was doing to the 3 guys who started through the MT
program with me. (We are the first ones to do this particular degree, so
we get to break in all the instructors that are teaching classes in the
program for the first time.) Where I have had difficulty with school has
been more at the administrative level in trying to get my name changed on
their roll sheets. Fortunately, most of the instructors have to deal with
several students whose "use" names are different from their legal names.
This is common enough that no one has had issue with it at all (at least
to my face.)

It isn't so much the pronouns or even the name that make me ponder my
position here though. It is more of a concern over how I reflect the
culture. For example, in a group of men discussing women, as heterosexual
men do, when someone says something truly stupid and sexist that never
would have been said in my presence before transitioning; I find that I
cannot go after them with both barrels for their ignorance. I hold back,
worried that if I defend a feminist view that I will be forced into a
position of "outing" myself. On the other hand, I also see how differently
men talk about women when they are amongst themselves, and don't know
sometimes what is really just confusion that most seem to have about women
in general, and their way of expressing frustration over the culturally
enforced roles we all play to one degree or another.

I find myself at odds with my own background; I wasn't cultured male.
While no one that I have met since I started transitioning has had
pronoun or name difficulty with me, and I have been accepted as male for
over a year and a half now, I still feel I have a lot to learn. I guess I
would like to be at a point where I could share my observations that one
gains in transition without the concern that it will start that annoying
pronoun slippage phenomena.

Anyway, that's more of what I've been thinking of lately.

Thanx for the write back!

Eliot

Bella Kinney

unread,
Apr 11, 1996, 3:00:00 AM4/11/96
to
>As usual with different people, our situations are different, but hey, you
>asked for it! 9:-)
>The difference I refer to is the fact that I don't care whether I'm accepted
>as a man or as a TS man. I guess what I would've done depends a bit on the
>event. I only explain my TSism when I have the opportunity to elaborate on
>it. With TSism so often portrayed in the media, people can have the
>strangest images about it, and therefore I only tell them about it if I can
>also explain what it means _for me_.

The Out Or Not dilemma is always a problem. I made a personal decision to
be permanently out - which means I'm permanently the "educator" - but I
realize that that's not what everyone else necessarily wants. I think I
decided that I didn't want anyone else telling the world about me, and
it's the out folk who get to make the social definitions. (I'm a control
freak, so of courseI couldn't have that.)

I have two friends who are also a reverse couple, like my wife and
myself. The wife doesn't pass that well, being large and blunt-featured,
and she's resigned herself to being the "out educator". The husband
actually passed real well (we F2Ms usually do) and to his surprise, after
awhile he started to be not quite so thrilled about that fact. People
would ask his wife about transsexualism, and she'd start talking to them,
and he'd have this sudden urge to pop up and say, "And I'm one too!" It
eventually ended with his coming out of the closet.

Raven


MarlaB 01

unread,
Apr 11, 1996, 3:00:00 AM4/11/96
to
(Eliot K Daughtry) writes:

>It has been a strange thing to figure; do I out myself to my classmates?
>If I did would they treat me differently; would they understand or
>appreciate what my telling them meant? Do I have the time to devote to
>being a poster boy for TS/TG public education?

It's a hard question, with no good answers. We each have to reach a
conclusion on our own, and just as important should not try to force
another T* to reach the same conclusion.

To a sense I'm lucky. I'm in a little better position to 'out' myself
than many. I live in a large city (Denver) which is more accepting than
most. I have a neutral body, so that as a woman I look generally like a
woman, as a man I look generally like a man. I have an SO who loves Marla
just as much as Mark. I'm an independent and stubborn SOB who can let
social criticism slide off a little bit better than many. I work in an
industry of accepting people (like I said, I know of 4 transseuxals in my
industry) which helps too. Shoot, a couple of weeks ago, I went to our
international conference, and spent one eveing in the bar as Marla, so
that many of my friends in the industry could meet that part of me.

The point is that these factors that make it a little easier for me to be
'out' are considerations in the balance that I choose. But the pain I see
and a strong desire to ease the pain is also a consideration :-)

Hugs, Marla

Message has been deleted

Michelle Steiner

unread,
Apr 11, 1996, 3:00:00 AM4/11/96
to
In article <3+VbxoNb...@vaxxine.com>, lmas...@vaxxine.com (Laura
Masters) wrote:

>In soc.support.transgendered, ste...@best.com (Michelle Steiner) wrote:
>->One thing, though, that we must all remember (and I hope that no one
>->disagrees with me on this), being out or closeted for a TS or TG is a
>->different experience and paradigm than being out for a gay man, lesbian,
>->or bisexual person.
>
>Before I agree or disagree, Michelle, I would very much like you to explain
>exactly how you arrived at this conclusion.

How can I turn down such a politely worded request? <g>

For one thing, more people are generally more accepting, or at least
understanding, of GLB tha of T. Of course, not all people are accepting
or understanding, but there are many who will accept and/or understand
sexual orientation issues than gender identity issues. So, coming out as
a T is a bit more risky than coming out as a GLB.

Secondly, being GLB does not involve overt change; when someone comes out
as a lesbian, gay man, or bisexual person, there is no visible change
involved. When a T comes out, there is a definite change--I'm talking
about coming out during or preliminary to transition here. Further male
and female experiences are more dissimilar from one another, IMO, than
straight is different from gay, so even if a T outs his/her to someone who
did not know the T's old person, the perception change in the other person
is much greater than it is if a GLB outed him/herself.

Along with this, there is usually more need of an explanation and
education effort when a T transitions and outs her/himself than when a GLB
outs him/herself.

Clear as mud?

Michelle Steiner

unread,
Apr 11, 1996, 3:00:00 AM4/11/96
to
Julie Cox asked me to post this for her.

>In article <steiner-0904...@steiner.vip.best.com> you wrote:
>: One thing, though, that we must all remember (and I hope that no one
>: disagrees with me on this), being out or closeted for a TS or TG is a
>: different experience and paradigm than being out for a gay man, lesbian,
>: or bisexual person.
>
>Of course it's different -- primarily because society is even further
>behind, and further distanced, on/from their views of trans people and trans
>community. The gender we're assigned at birth based on genital
>appearance (or how medical establishments choose to "fix" ambiguity)
>is even more thoroughly ingrained than sexuality. Compulsory
>sex/gender matches (physical/mental-psychical) are mandatory -- even
>more so than compulsory heterosexuality.
>
>Maybe one day we'll come to a time when trans experience is not so
>foreign to the masses -- although there have been fairly positive
>representations of trans people in media (I think of the movie version
>of _The World According to Garp_) most are extremely negative (the _Silence
>of the Lambs_ killer). Currently the majority of mass media
>portrayals of gays & lesbians is moving toward acceptance (more
>positive roles) - with one recent movie having characters that are gay
>TG (_To Wong Foo..._)
>
>Mass media, I think, is more reflective of majority attitudes than a
>shaper of society although it can influence some people's views. And
>another thing we must consider, most people think that gays & lesbians
>want to be the opposite gender (TSism is assumed - TG experience seems
>to be completely unknown to "the masses", why else assume that *every*
>butch lesbian wants to be a man) -- so the liberation of gays & lesbians
>and the liberation of trans people become inextricably linked.
>
>And as you know Michelle, I speak as a non-TS lesbian.
>
>julie in Nebraska
>
>p.s. if you don't see this appear in soc.support.transgendered, could
>you please post it? my ungainly work system doesn't seem to allow for
>a response to a person & a newsgroup -- and it won't let me forward a
>copy to myself or the newsgroup (and my editor sucks too) :(
>
>anyone wanting corroboration of my post and it's authenticity may
>reach me at jc...@unlinfo.unl.edu ;)

Roberta Steel

unread,
Apr 12, 1996, 3:00:00 AM4/12/96
to

In a previous article, ca...@crowley.bausch.nl (Carl Buijs) says:

[ Snip ]

> Anyway, that kind of feels nice, the fact that you
>might have created understanding and compassion for another T* which you
>don't even know, through 'educating' cisgendered people.


Carl,

What is the origin and meaning of the word cisgendered?

From context, it's those unfortunates who aren't TGed, but where does the
word come from? Some time ago there was a discussion about what to call
non TG people. Maybe this is the right word.

Roberta


Beth Orens

unread,
Apr 12, 1996, 3:00:00 AM4/12/96
to

>[ Snip ]

>Carl,

As "trans" means "the other side", "cis" means "this side". For example, the
area to the east of the Jordan river was known as the Transjordan, while the
area to the west was known as the Cisjordan.

Beth

---------------------------------
"Wherever you go - there you are"
- B. Bonzai

Message has been deleted

Joan Tine

unread,
Apr 12, 1996, 3:00:00 AM4/12/96
to
Roberta Steel (ae...@yfn.ysu.edu) wrote:

> In a previous article, ca...@crowley.bausch.nl (Carl Buijs) says:

> [ Snip ]

> > Anyway, that kind of feels nice, the fact that you
> >might have created understanding and compassion for another T* which you
> >don't even know, through 'educating' cisgendered people.


> Carl,

> What is the origin and meaning of the word cisgendered?

It's rather a wonderful pun, actually. In biochemistry, there are
often different compounds which, although they have identical atoms in
their composition, they are arranged in different geometries, forming
distinct chemicals. (Over)simplified, if the molecule leans one way,
it's cis-whateverchemicaliam and the other way, it's
trans-whateverchemicaliam.

So it just stands to reason, the apposit (s[io]c) of Trans- is Cis-(!)
(Pass thet thar jug, Eugene, but pass it deosil, not widdershins.)

Carl has perpetrated a _lovely_ example of why we love the net so.

> From context, it's those unfortunates who aren't TGed, but where
> does the word come from? Some time ago there was a discussion about
> what to call non TG people. Maybe this is the right word.

Mebbe:).

Joan


--
=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=
the Right Disreputable, Lady Wombat
Priscilla Asagiri Aerobic Fashions in Fiberglass
The Anna Madrigal Endowment for Pathological Forensics, 1967

Rosalind Hengeveld

unread,
Apr 13, 1996, 3:00:00 AM4/13/96
to
Roberta Steel wrote:

> What is the origin and meaning of the word cisgendered?
>

> From context, it's those unfortunates who aren't TGed, but where does the
> word come from? Some time ago there was a discussion about what to call
> non TG people. Maybe this is the right word.

In Latin, "cis" is a preposition (coverning the accusative case) meaning "on this side of". As
such, it is the opposite of "trans", a preposition meaning "on the far side of", "beyond".

The ancient Romans spoke of "Gallia Cisalpina", meaning Northwestern Italy, i.e. on the near side
of the Alps from Rome, as opposed to "Gallia Transalpina", meaning France: beyond the Alps.

Hence, several people, presumably independently from each other, have proposed "cissexual" or
"cisgendered" as the opposites of the corresponding trans* words.

These cis* words are slow to catch on, probably because they denote concepts which are felt so
normal and obvious to the public that "cisgendered" means little else than "not transgendered"
(whereas, for example, "heterosexual" means "liking the opposite sex" rather than just "not
homosexual"; see the difference?).

Only the "cisvestite" is, to my knowledge, still to appear in print ... :-)

--
Rosalind Hengeveld

Angus Grieve-Smith

unread,
Apr 14, 1996, 3:00:00 AM4/14/96
to

First of all, I want to say I've been enjoying this thread a
lot so far. With that in mind, I do have a couple of points...


In article <steiner-1104...@steiner.vip.best.com> ste...@best.com (Michelle Steiner) writes:

Secondly, being GLB does not involve overt change; when someone comes out
as a lesbian, gay man, or bisexual person, there is no visible change
involved. When a T comes out, there is a definite change--I'm talking
about coming out during or preliminary to transition here.

This is one respect where I feel that we transvestites are
distinct from other "t*". I don't have any plans to transition at
this point; when I came out, it was partly in order to be able to
contribute a transvestite's point of view to various conversations,
and also, as someone else mentioned, to give people a person to help
debunk their stereotypes.

The way I came out at work was simply to mention it to one
person who is fairly gregarious, and make it clear that this was not a
secret. I carry a picture in my wallet of myself dressed. Every once
in a while since then, someone asks me, "Hey Angus, can you show
so-and-so your picture?" I confirm that the person does in fact want
to see the picture, and pull it out. The response is usually
positive: how many times have we heard a woman say, "You have better
legs than I do!"

The other day my boss asked to see "the picture" at happy
hour, and she told me that someone had spread a rumor that I was a
F-to-M post-op, which I found very funny.

--
-Angus B. Grieve-Smith
grv...@panix.com

All animals except man know that the principal business of
life is to enjoy it.

-Samuel Butler

Carl Buijs

unread,
Apr 16, 1996, 3:00:00 AM4/16/96
to
Roberta Steel (ae...@yfn.ysu.edu) wrote:

: Carl,

: What is the origin and meaning of the word cisgendered?

How impolite of me not to answer earlier. I see others have replied already
while I was away for a couple of days. Joan and Beth were right, cis is the
opposite of trans (want another example? The South African Ciskei and
Transkei). As for the origin; I just made it up. I just kept running into
the problem of what to call non-T*people in various discussions, and one day
it just hit me: non-trans = cis. Therefore, cisgendered.

: From context, it's those unfortunates who aren't TGed, but where does the
: word come from?

Yeah. You know, them boring people without much exciting experiences in
life.

: Some time ago there was a discussion about what to call


: non TG people. Maybe this is the right word.

I like it and I think I'll keep using it. Feel free to join me. 9:-)

Greets,

Carl

S.A.More

unread,
Apr 18, 1996, 3:00:00 AM4/18/96
to
also in favour of cis-gendered, ah so I did guess right, you've made it
up. Probably additional to "omnisexual": I proposed it to my ex, and she
immediately adopted it for her. (the one who was physical therapist)
"cis" sounds so chemistry related, thats the best thing about it.

Sam

Penni Ashe

unread,
Apr 19, 1996, 3:00:00 AM4/19/96
to
In article <316FCA...@inter.nl.net>,
r.hen...@inter.nl.net says...

>
>Roberta Steel wrote:
>
>> What is the origin and meaning of the word cisgendered?
>>
>> From context, it's those unfortunates who aren't TGed, but
where does the
>> word come from? Some time ago there was a discussion about
what to call
>> non TG people. Maybe this is the right word.
>
>In Latin, "cis" is a preposition (coverning the accusative
case) meaning "on this side of". As
>such, it is the opposite of "trans", a preposition meaning "on
the far side of", "beyond".

IMO, it would make more sense to use the word "unigendered,"
which is a term I have adopted. Where the prefix "trans" means
"1. Across; on the other side; beyond <transpolar> 2. Through
<transcutaneous> 3. Change; transfer <transliterate>", the
prefix "uni" means "Single; one". Since someone who is
unigendered believes they are of one gender (and not the other),
"unigendered" seems to make most sense.

Hugga,
Penni Ashe

--
>>>>>>>>>> pen...@fred45.ultranet.com
Vida: "You know, Pumpkins . . ."
Noxema and Chi-Chi: "What?"
Vida: "Sometimes it just takes a fairy."


Penni Ashe

unread,
Apr 19, 1996, 3:00:00 AM4/19/96
to
In article <4kvq1c$a...@da.bausch.nl>, ca...@crowley.bausch.nl
says...

>
>Roberta Steel (ae...@yfn.ysu.edu) wrote:
>
>: Carl,
>
>: What is the origin and meaning of the word cisgendered?

>: From context, it's those unfortunates who aren't TGed, but
where does the
>: word come from?
>
>Yeah. You know, them boring people without much exciting
experiences in
>life.

Yeah. Before I came out to myself, I thought that being
unigendered (the term I prefer -- see the post I just made
regarding its etiology) was pretty interesting.
Silly moi! ,-)

>: Some time ago there was a discussion about what to call


>: non TG people. Maybe this is the right word.
>

>I like it and I think I'll keep using it. Feel free to join me.
9:-)

If you don't mind, Carl, I'll continue to use "unigendered."
But I will agree that we need to settle on a term to refer to
those boring folks who cling to one gender like a warm blanket.
I'll just keep my ear to the ground, and follow (economist)
Brian Arthur's Law of Increasing Returns, which can be
paraphrased as, "Them that has, gets." (That is, once a term
seems to be gaining dominant market share, I'll not hesitate to
help it succeed.)

Karen Patrick

unread,
Apr 19, 1996, 3:00:00 AM4/19/96
to

May I suggest, that characterizing "unigendered" persons
as "boring" and "clinging to one gender like a warm blanket"
advances the same kind of disservice toward others as those
who identify as trans* wish others would stop treated them?

Does a transperson "clinging" to their own natural thoughts and
feelings make that person *more* interesting, or simply
who they are?

I take it, such comments, were not meant to be serious.

Karen Patrick

Carl Buijs

unread,
Apr 19, 1996, 3:00:00 AM4/19/96
to
Penni Ashe (pen...@fred45.ultranet.com) wrote:

: In article <4kvq1c$a...@da.bausch.nl>, ca...@crowley.bausch.nl
: says...

: >Yeah. You know, them boring people without much exciting
: experiences in
: >life.

: Yeah. Before I came out to myself, I thought that being
: unigendered (the term I prefer -- see the post I just made
: regarding its etiology) was pretty interesting.
: Silly moi! ,-)

*laugh* Interesting? Them? How misguided can one be!

: If you don't mind, Carl, I'll continue to use "unigendered."

No! You will conform to my... oh sorry. Just got carried away a bit.
*cackle* Sure I don't mind. And even if I would mind, you'd be a fool not to
use whichever word you prefer.

The problem I have with 'unigendered', is that I'm perfectly unigendered,
but definitely not cisgendered. As for my gender, I'm a man and nothing
else. That's just one gender. Yet, I am transgendered - my gender and sex
are not 'cis', on the same side, but 'trans'. But I understand what you mean
by unigendered, and I'm not afraid I'll misinterpret you when you use that
word. For me personally, it just doesn't fit the description "opposite of
transgendered", so I won't use it that way. Simple.

Waves!

Carl

Penni Ashe

unread,
Apr 20, 1996, 3:00:00 AM4/20/96
to
In article <4l7o64$v...@da.bausch.nl>, ca...@crowley.bausch.nl
says...

>
>The problem I have with 'unigendered', is that I'm perfectly
unigendered,
>but definitely not cisgendered. As for my gender, I'm a man and
nothing
>else. That's just one gender. Yet, I am transgendered - my
gender and sex
>are not 'cis', on the same side, but 'trans'. But I understand
what you mean
>by unigendered, and I'm not afraid I'll misinterpret you when
you use that
>word. For me personally, it just doesn't fit the description
"opposite of
>transgendered", so I won't use it that way. Simple.

Ah, I can see the differences in our ways.
Whereas OTOH, while I'm decidedly male (sex, genetics, etc.), I
experience myself as neither man nor woman. To me, gender is a
continuum, and I'm somewhere between "man" and "woman." So
unigendered fits the opposite of me more than cisgendered. I
think.

. . . based on the response in this thread, however, I think
I'm on the losing side of the equation . . .

Penni Ashe

unread,
Apr 20, 1996, 3:00:00 AM4/20/96
to
In article <4l7f3j$b...@freenet-news.carleton.ca>,
bz...@FreeNet.Carleton.CA says...

Reasonably correct, Karen. I would never accuse unigenderists
of clinging intentionally or even consciously. But IMO letting
go of the prevailing polarized dichotomy (male-or-female) and/or
the notion ofgender=sex calls for a liberal quantity of courage.
It's easier to say, simply, "I was born a guy, and a guy I'll
be always." (Or, "I was born a gal, and a gal I'll be
always.") It can be pretty scary to say to oneself, "I've got
this thing dangling between my legs, but I still feel more like
a woman than like a man." Especially when people all around
you are saying things like, "Penis=man; vagina=woman".

S Martin

unread,
Apr 21, 1996, 3:00:00 AM4/21/96
to

On 19 Apr 1996, Penni Ashe wrote:

> >Roberta Steel wrote:
> >
> >> What is the origin and meaning of the word cisgendered?
> >>

> >In Latin, "cis" is a preposition (coverning the accusative
> case) meaning "on this side of". As
> >such, it is the opposite of "trans", a preposition meaning "on
> the far side of", "beyond".
>
> IMO, it would make more sense to use the word "unigendered,"
> which is a term I have adopted. Where the prefix "trans" means
> "1. Across; on the other side; beyond <transpolar> 2. Through
> <transcutaneous> 3. Change; transfer <transliterate>", the
> prefix "uni" means "Single; one". Since someone who is
> unigendered believes they are of one gender (and not the other),
> "unigendered" seems to make most sense.
>
> Hugga,
> Penni Ashe
>

Hmmm... "cis" is a bit obscure, but it applies to those who have not
crossed over to the other gender in any way. unigendered to me implieds
something
like unisex ....
I think I'll throw in some Greek and call myself metagendered <grin> -
I'm between the male-female poles, and enjoy a variety of gender behavior
to satisfy different parts of my multi-facited personality. "meta" means
"through" and "between" as well as the obvious "beyond" in Greek.

Hugs,
Stephanie <bigendered? well... thats the *short* answer>


Roberta Steel

unread,
Apr 23, 1996, 3:00:00 AM4/23/96
to

In a previous article, pen...@fred45.ultranet.com (Penni Ashe) says:

>
>IMO, it would make more sense to use the word "unigendered,"
>which is a term I have adopted. Where the prefix "trans" means
> "1. Across; on the other side; beyond <transpolar> 2. Through
><transcutaneous> 3. Change; transfer <transliterate>", the
>prefix "uni" means "Single; one". Since someone who is
>unigendered believes they are of one gender (and not the other),
>"unigendered" seems to make most sense.
>

The problem with uni- is that a lot of TSs say they are unigendered,
it's just that their bodies don't match it.

This means that we'd have to add more labels: transunis or unitranses
for the above, and bitranses for those who came to TSity later in life.

Unitrans makes me think of the long, uninterrupted drag of hopper cars
(unit train) hauling coal to the local power plant. Transuni sounds
kind of electronic, like CD and TV. Bitrans could easily be confused
with bisexual TS.

So, I like cisgendered; it's simpler. Besides, think what fun it would
be for a bunch of us to get together and taunt teen-agers by calling
them cisgendered.

Roberta

Penni Ashe

unread,
Apr 24, 1996, 3:00:00 AM4/24/96
to

In article <4limpg$e...@news.ysu.edu>, ae...@yfn.ysu.edu says...

>
>
>In a previous article, pen...@fred45.ultranet.com (Penni Ashe)
says:
>
>>
>>IMO, it would make more sense to use the word "unigendered,"
>>which is a term I have adopted. Where the prefix "trans"
means
>> "1. Across; on the other side; beyond <transpolar> 2.
Through
>><transcutaneous> 3. Change; transfer <transliterate>", the
>>prefix "uni" means "Single; one". Since someone who is
>>unigendered believes they are of one gender (and not the
other),
>>"unigendered" seems to make most sense.
>>
>
>The problem with uni- is that a lot of TSs say they are
unigendered,
>it's just that their bodies don't match it.
>
> . . .

>
>So, I like cisgendered; it's simpler. Besides, think what fun
it would
>be for a bunch of us to get together and taunt teen-agers by
calling
>them cisgendered.

I've been feeling the inexplicable tug of a trend toward
concensus. And now that Roberta has "come out" [as it were
,-)] on the side of cisgendered, the tug is becoming almost
irresistible.

. . . but, since many TSs argue that they're not TG, wouldn't
they come under the category of cisgendered, as well?

<sigh>

MarlaB 01

unread,
Apr 27, 1996, 3:00:00 AM4/27/96
to

In article <4lk1l3$i...@decius.ultra.net>, pen...@fred45.ultranet.com
(Penni Ashe) writes:

> . . . but, since many TSs argue that they're not TG, wouldn't
>they come under the category of cisgendered, as well?

I haven't been watching this closely, (partly because Kymberleighs post do
not show up on my reader), but my impression was cisgendered was the same
as what I call monogendered. At least with monogendered, I would apply
the word to most 'straghts', most transseuxals and most transgenderist,
i.e. their gender identity closely coorespond with only one of the gender
poles. Would this not apply for the word cisgendered?

Hugs, Marla

Carl Buijs

unread,
Apr 29, 1996, 3:00:00 AM4/29/96
to

MarlaB 01 (marl...@aol.com) wrote:

: I haven't been watching this closely, (partly because Kymberleighs post do


: not show up on my reader), but my impression was cisgendered was the same
: as what I call monogendered. At least with monogendered, I would apply
: the word to most 'straghts', most transseuxals and most transgenderist,
: i.e. their gender identity closely coorespond with only one of the gender
: poles. Would this not apply for the word cisgendered?

No. Cisgendered is nothing more or less than the opposite of transgendered,
i.e. a nicer form (at least IMO) for the ugly "non-transgendered".
It's such a simple term, I wonder why it hasn't been coined ages ago.
Perhaps its obviousness makes it like the glasses you're searching for until
someone tells you that you're wearing them?

Hugs right back!

Carl

Carl Buijs

unread,
Apr 29, 1996, 3:00:00 AM4/29/96
to

Penni Ashe (pen...@fred45.ultranet.com) wrote:

: . . . but, since many TSs argue that they're not TG, wouldn't

: they come under the category of cisgendered, as well?

Yeah, but they're nit picking anyway. Don't listen to them. *cackle* If
you're using the term "transgendered" for T-Whatever, you can use
"cisgendered" for non-T-Whatever.

Greets!

Carl

MarlaB 01

unread,
Apr 29, 1996, 3:00:00 AM4/29/96
to

In article <4m20ir$h...@da.bausch.nl>, ca...@crowley.bausch.nl (Carl Buijs)
writes:

>No. Cisgendered is nothing more or less than the opposite of
transgendered,

Ah, where I use monogendered to be more or less the opposite of
bigendered. Defintely different meanings.

Hugs, Marla

Reply all
Reply to author
Forward
0 new messages