Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Spirit of the Decleration

[to all my non-trans friends, this is regarding a sort of in-house debate within the community and may be of little interest to you, though your comments are not unwelcome]

Three times now, among my friends, I've seen a link to a note posted by another friend which is styled a "deceleration of Independence" for transsexuals. I want to be clear that I share a great deal of the sentiment of this note, which you may read in its entirety here, I was troubled however by the length and complexity of the document, and the potential that it might fail to be as winsome as it might otherwise be because of that nature. Rather than complain without having exerted any effort myself, I took it upon myself to try to do better. Not to disrespect my friend's effort but just the opposite - to be willing to put in an equal amount of effort rather than just sit and be a critic in the peanut gallery. What I found, though, was that Teresa's document while through in detail, did not read like the original Deceleration of Independence for which I, naturally, have a predisposition to fondness.

So I decided that rather than try to squeeze her lengthy argument into that document, I would divide my exercise in two. What I submit for your consideration below is heavily dependent on the theme and structure of Jefferson's original document. I freely confess that large portions of it are borrowed or only slightly modified. This is specifically because i sought to emulate the appeal of his petition and, after all, there is arrogance indeed in trying to do it better than he, right?

What I had intended was to then try to construct a more accessible take on Teresa's actual message. However, I've decided that what she wrote is, less so than a deceleration, a description of an ideological viewpoint, one I agree with on most but not all points, and it is not my place to reword such a statement.

This then, is inspired by her work but seeks not to replace it but to take a different road to the same destination.


A Deceleration of Transsexual Ideological Independence

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political associations which have connected them with another, and to assume among the voices in the political sphere, the separate and equal station to which natural rights and logical consideration entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of those affected requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all persons are created equal, that they are endowed therefore with certain equal unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights, our government recognizes the sovereign human right to petition for redress of grievances; and that to that end, citizens freely form political and ideological associations. Having the just intent to amplify their voices to call for equality before the law, these associations are, and of a right must be, freely chosen and not manipulated by any ulterior motive or purpose apart from those of the person so associated. Whenever ones voice is abused to support an action or idea unwillingly, both the cause and the citizen are wronged.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that such associations long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience has shown that persons are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute subjugation, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such association, and to provide new guards for their voice in the public arena and their equal rights.

Such has been the patient endurance of transsexuals in their relationship to the community of individuals referred to as transgender or, of late, “gender variant” and the larger human rights community which is active in behalf of those who's rights are infringed based upon their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former public associations.

The history of the present political and ideological movement with which transsexuals are commonly and often unwillingly associated is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the goal of usurping our voice for the political advantage of a cause to which we do not willingly subscribe. These are too numerous and complex to detail herein, but we assert that the specific nature of our lives demonstrates conclusively our right to our own independent voice.

To prove this, let these facts be considered by a candid audience.

The conditions, primarily medical and secondarily psychological, which is present in the transsexual person is demonstrably not the same as, or similar to, those who identify themselves as having a variant gender expression.

The course of treatment require to resolve this condition in the transsexual person according to accepted medical practices places burdens upon the lives of transsexuals which are not a necessary requirement of a variant gender expression. These burdens are essential to rectify our birth condition to a degree that they are part and parcel of the natural right to pursuit of happiness. This is manifestly not the case for the individual who freely chooses a variant gender expression to whatever degree.

As a result of the inborn nature of the transsexual condition, they have a natural right to pursue a course of treatment appropriate to alleviate the distress of said condition in exactly the same manner as persons afflicted with any other condition for which science has provided remedy. This is a specific right which has no application to variant gender expression or, for comparison, to sexual orientation.

While gender variant expressions seeks, perhaps with meritorious reason, to diminish or erase the societal standards which are common to the gender binary customs in the pursuit of freedom of expression, the transsexual seeks to conform to and assimilate into those very customs. Without casting negative aspersions upon the goals of the gender variant, those goals are not only not the goals of the transsexual, but can be counter-productive to the outcome we seek.

It is a self evident reality that the society at large is struggling to reach that place of enlightenment at which all people of all sexual orientations, gender expressions, or gender identities enjoy full and equal rights before the law. It is further self evident that progress in this evolution is often inconsistent and frankly irrational. In light of this reality, it is reasonable that those persons who believe their goals are not always the goals of their political and idealogical allies to seek a separate and independent voice in the arena of ideas.

Moreover, many in the transsexual community feel that our distinctive voices, identities, and concerns have been subjugated to a political agenda which they may or may not support but which does not reflect in a significant way the outcome they hope to achieve. It is right and proper that those who find this to be true would sue for separation from the collective movement under which they have been subsumed.

It is further self evident that in the face of a slowly evolving public opinion, the cause and concerns of transsexual persons may in fact receive less than fair consideration because of a reluctance to extend legal privilege to the extent that the gender variant community would petition. It is not a de-legitimizing of the standing that the gender variant community seeks, to recognize the incremental nature of civil rights progress. Nor is it incumbent upon the transsexual to give up progress which might be obtained in order to make common cause with those who have a further agenda.

The larger community generally referred to as “LGBT” has potentially and perhaps inadvertently hindered the progression of legal equality for transsexual persons by merging our legitimate concerns within a conglomeration of other rights for which they petition before governments at all levels It is right and proper that transsexuals then protest that their concerns have not been given consideration on their own merits.

While people of good will can and do disagree on the legitimacy of any specific petition for expansion of the recognition of rights, it is not a logical necessity that the transsexual community disavow the petitions of the gender variant persons. Some will find the petitions lacking, some will make common cause. But fair minded people should agree that this support, or lack thereof, must be granted voluntarily and volitionally and not assumed as a result of their status or condition.

Candid observation may readily determine that, beyond the problematic nature of merging the concerns of the transsexual and the gender variant, both have been ill-served by being the significantly lesser voice in the larger LGBT agenda. It bears repeating that one need not disrespect any other agenda to note that your own is being neglected, either willfully or inadvertently.

The right of the person who wishes to remedy their birth condition with the end result of merging into the gender customs of the general society ultimately must take precedent over any obligation assumed upon them by others to give up that goal for the pursuit of any political or ideological agenda, however worthy.

For some fair and reasonable length of time, the transsexual community has been slow to give voice to these concerns and then, when so voiced they have been characterized in unflattering terms, and subject to undeserved and oppressive pressure to co-operate to the detriment of our own self-identified interests. Whatever the previous dissatisfaction, the former offense has been far exceeded by the hostility and ill-will with which our petition has been received. We assert the right to self determination, and the choice to be a willingly ally in your struggle, or to resign from the arena as our own conscience dictates.

The application of harassment, emotional manipulation, and open hostility in pursuit of that which is falsely called unity, but is in fact nothing less than subjugation, is by itself and apart from all other concerns, a worthy cause for separation.

While it is indeed true that many transsexuals wish to engage in no political agenda at all, but only to assume their place in the gender identity in which they find peace and happiness - which is their natural right - the deceleration of separation between transsexuals and other gender variant peoples, commonly referred to as transgender, is not of necessity a forsaking of the claims either of transgender people or of homosexual people. Rather, it is a recognition of the clear reality that while allies may work together to great effect, it is not necessary to merge there various concerns into one homogeneous agenda in order to achieve that effect. We seek to reclaim a distinct identity, a distinct right to define our own agenda, and the respect that should be accorded one who is a political ally rather than a political pawn.

We do not believe that transsexuals can receive a fair hearing before the general public, and their elected representatives, so long as misconceptions and falsehoods about the nature of our condition and concerns is perpetuated by the unwise and unwilling association between our condition and the gender expression behaviors of the gender variant community. We demand our own identity in the public consciousness and conversation and it is only insomuch as we achieve that that our rights will be recognized. We call upon all organizations which work for human rights at any level to recognize that there are at least three distinct communities who stand in need: homosexual persons, as defined by their sexual orientation, transsexual persons, as defined by their gender identity, and transgender (or gender variant) persons who are defined by their gender expression. We insist that identity and expression are not synonymous and each has it's own concerns and agenda. These may and hopefully will bye willing allies, but none may fairly be subject to any other.

We, therefore, the representatives of the transsexual population of the United States of America, speaking independently, and collectively only where willing assent is voluntarily given, appealing to the natural rights of all humans of the world as recognized by all major faith systems and free governments, do, each individually and according to the dictates of their own conscience, publish and declare our separation from and independence of the designation “transgender” and free of any obligation to activism on behalf of an ideology which is not our own.

We offer the friendly hand of alliance in the cause of anyone who's natural rights are oppressed by force of law, but we reserve the right to self-determine where and whether such a violation has occurred, and further reserve the right to stand aside from conflict which we cannot in good conscience partake in. This is the essence of the freedom which we claim with this act. May fair minded people of good will recognize the rights that we herein assert.