Why are Trassexuals so mean to each other? Here is one possible answer based on my personal experience as transgendered and as a psychology graduate student.
Dear Madeline, Thank you so much for your insights and comments. They are truly appreciated. My holidays were very enjoyable. ... I've not posted to this list ( TRANSGEN ) because it really seems like all they really do is bicker with one another? ... Sort of sad to see this here and elsewhere on the web. I guess I'm a little naive and idealistic. Aren't we supposed to give each other the benefit of the doubt and look for the good in each other's words and actions instead of jumping on each other for every perceived miscue. I can be about as thin skinned as anyone I know but the last thing I'm going to do is attack. Well, I could' resist responding this morning when I saw your email but I have to get back to my job Thanks again and I'll be patiently waiting ... I know it will be worth the wait. ~ Gail
... That's really disappointing to hear Transgen is still a lot of bickering. I heard they were trying to make it better. It's so sad, but I know you're going to hear a lot of mean-spirited things if you spend much time in 'trans-world.' What happens is, I guess, something like this.
All of us (i.e. anybody who's gender questioning) have a lot of mental health issues like low self-esteem. It's really hard to feel good about yourself if you can't see how you fit in and it's especially bad for MtF transsexuals b/c society has an especially negative view of boys who act girlish. It gives all of us a lot of anxiety. No matter how certain a transsexual might seem about his/her gender, he/she still doesn't 'know' because it's just so convulted. (Then again, maybe some do. I just know it was not something so obvious for me.) Think about it, if you transition you're going against things you've been told since probably the day you were born. I really mean it! I do research with infants (like 5 months old) and when a baby "John" retrieves a toy I (as the experimenter) say "good job John!" but his parent inevitably says "good boy!"
Anyway, since we're going against everything society tells us, most of us really need 'external validation' of our gender identities. That's a way too academic way of saying that we need other people to tell us we're okay so we know inside that we're okay. We really need to know that we're "real transsexuals" (whatever on earth that means). But all of us (men, women, & anybody else) has boyish and girlish aspects of their personality and behavior. And we see other transsexual 'mess up' by getting read or acting girlish when they're a FtM transsexual or whatever. Really this isn't messing up; it's just being a person. But it can really affect us because inside each of us is this deep fear that we're not "real boys", "real girls", or "real transsexuals." When we see somebody else 'mess up', wouldn't it be wonderful if we could console our friends when they need us? But often we can't because *we* really need to assure *ourselves* that, "I'm certainly not like that." And so a lot of us feel this need to put others down in order to feel better about ourselves. And many of us are hypersensitive to 'criticism' so we can often misread an innocuous remark as though it was saying something invalidating about us personally.
But that's only the *first* layer!!!!! Some gender questioning people transition and some really need to assure themselves that they did the right thing. And many of them get ideas that how they transitioned is the 'right' way to transition (whatever that means). And sometimes when they talk it comes across to the listener as a little too much like a personal judgement about what's 'right' to do instead of as advice. The speaker often needs to say things forcefully to make sure he/she really believes it himself/herself. And the listener often is very sensitive to that force so it sounds more judgemental than maybe it was really intended. This all comes out of our personal fears and our needs for external validation.
BTW, I don't mean to exempt myself from this which it might sound like because I talking about my 'observations' rather than about my 'experiences'. I've certainly experienced this too. It's *really* hard to avoid doing any of this!!! I guess the best way to try and avoid this is to remember that everybody else is just a person, like you and me, and no matter how mean-spirited they act, they're just trying to get through life and survive a critical society as best they can with whatever coping skills they have developed. Please try to be gentle in your thoughts about those you meet. Even when they act mean it's often their insecurities more than themselves speaking.
I hope I'm not leaving you with a sense of hopelessness about us and the way we can all easily slip into being mean-spirited. Many many transsexuals get pass things like this (having been more or less mean-spirited along the way). I no longer care so much about getting external validation of my gender identity. Though I sometimes need it and it's still nice!! :-) What's changed is I just know *inside* that I'm happy. I'm no longer neurotic (at least not as much) and I can just be myself whether boyish or girlish or whatever and I know I can really relate to other people without following any scripts like 'okay boy behavior'. It's like if anybody really bothered to challenge if I'm a "real girl" or a "real transsexual", I would just go "whatever" and think they really need to get a grip and not waste so much of their time deciding what I 'really' am.
Lots of transsexuals reach this happy point too. But most transsexuals abandon the transgender/transsexual community by then because they can't stand the bickering anymore. I can't deal with it either which is why I'm no longer on any transsexual/transgender mailing lists like TRANSGEN or Trans-Theory. But these groups really can be helpful while you're trying to sort things out. We just need to try an be gentle with others. But maybe what's most important is that we try to be gentle with ourselves. Remember you're a good person! :-)