Tuesday, September 6, 2016


We speak of sunset and sunrise.  But these are perceptions we have viewing the sun from earth.  The sun, in reality, neither sets anywhere nor rises from anywhere.  The term transgender, which entered the general vocabulary sometime later in 1970s or 1980’s and has now become prevalent as a hot social topic, is a similarly reversed concept.  That is to say, as transgender people would no doubt attest, they believe that they were born in the wrong body and maintained their gender identify unchanged from their earliest childhood.  What changed is the societal perception. 

The term transgender, no doubt, was adapted from earlier terms like “transsexual” and “transvestite,” where the prefix “trans” is appropriate in so far as there is a crossing of boundaries, a surgical change in anatomy in the former and the adoption of the consciously mismatched clothing against the gender in the latter.  There is no crossing among transgender people except in the eye of the beholder in accordance with the imposed societal norm.  For the transgender people, they remained the same all along in their own sense of identity; only, for the time being, they were costumed in disguise as demanded by the society.  There is no crossing; there is no transitioning either.

Immigrants crossed national borders, even across an ocean.  They might be called “trans-citizens.”  But even of immigrants, we might say that it is their cultural environment rather than their individual identity that was transformed; their label, socially sanctioned, changed — old wine in a new bottle, or the same wine in a different carafe.  Transgender people didn’t change, from their viewpoint for sure; but, given a label, they were herded into a specified corral. At universities students from different lands are grouped and labeled as “international students”; what they share is only the status of being considered outsiders. 

Like any labeling, a label categorizes, and categorizing misrepresents the reality of the fluid spectrum that characterizes gender, running from feminine to masculine, no less than the pernicious racial labels, like white and black, and labels for sexual preference.  Labeled, a transgender person is spotlighted, as though on a stage, shouting “Here I am, look at me, I am special, unlike any of you,” and she or he becomes an outsider.  but I believe that transgender people should consider this trend unfortunate.  On the other hand, I recognize that there are always those who enjoy limelight shined on their special identify, whether racial, ethnic, sexual, or whatever.

So far as I am concerned, I can best describe that I assumed a male identify until I was 38, when I regained my rightful womanhood. 

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