My comment replying to Autumn's piece today about a trans activist got so long-winded I decided I'll post it here as a diary, mostly because I believe I make some very valid points, however uncomfortable or unpopular they might be, and that they need to be said out loud. Also, for reasons I cannot begin to fathom, for some reason I began calling Ashley Amber in my comment, so I'm correcting that snafu here.
As either Ashley or Autumn are making it. When it comes to Crossdressers/transvestites, there's a very VERY fine line between those who as Autumn says should be under the “Umbrella”, and those who as Amber says wedged themselves into it wrongly.
I pay very scrutinous attention to how those identifying as CD/TV talk, act and describe themselves, because if you know what to look and listen for, you can, about 97% of the time, determine which of them are still-closeted trand women dressing to find themselves, and which are fetishist men doing it for a kinky thrill, but also which are in the much smaller niche category of men who simply like the clothes better than the gender traditional ones.
I go out of my way to discern this distinction because I freely admit I do NOT think fetishists are transgender just because they crossdress nor do the fetishists belong or deserve to be under the Umbrella. Allow me to elaborate on this.
When you crossdress because of a sexual fetish, but remain at heart a man, who is perfectly happy being a man and dresses not to actually feel like they ARE a woman but just to look the part to feed their fetish, the bottom line is, you ARE still a man. Crossing gender lines alone does NOT transgender make.
And yes, to each their own, whatever makes them happy, but they can stay the fuck OUT of the transgender umbrella because their wedging themselves in is a detriment to the rest of us fighting for basic equality and simple acceptance of self. Especially since the bulk of CD/TV's I know, including a LOT of snarky drag queens, all of us are just gay men in denial trying to be women so we can be “allowed” to fuck men.
(This is of course doubly insulting to those of us who identify as lesbians).
Go find an issue of Transformations magazine for an example. It claims to be an adult magazine catering to Transgender people, but the average issue contains little to no actual transgender content. The centrefold is usually visibly a pre-op MTF in appearance, but the bulk of the models are men in dresses who happily identify as such, the editor is a 60-some-odd year old drag queen with a notorious bias against actual trans women, and the “News” page generally consists mostly of stories involving accidental penis removal.
But you can't just lump all identified CD/TV's together either, because there are a good chunk who really aren't. Some CD/TV's only think they are that because for whatever reasons, either familial or societal, they believe there's something wrong with them, that they cannot really be women, and they dress to find a shred of comfort in their repression of self. Many of those eventually find the strength to defy societal convention, dress full time, and declare who they truly are. Some of them never do and stay trapped in their quasi-closeted misery. But THESE CD/TV's ARE trans, and they deserve protection and guidance to help them accept who and what they are and move towards a life of finding more comfort within themselves.
The third category I mentioned don't matter because men who crossdress not out of fetish nor buried identity but because they simply just like the clothes better are rarer than the other two and generally don't care or try to be wedged in.
The difference in behaviors between the first two groups is very distinct however, and while there are always variations on general behavior and each individual person is of course different, there are in fact some very distinct behavioral differences at the root of it that I have found 97% of the time successfully let me determine which side of the coin they fall on.
For this we'll call them Side A and Side B, A being CD/TV's and B being non-op/closeted Trans women.
Side A tends to be very group oriented. They find others of their persuasion, form groups, have parties. They rarely if ever go out in public for simple boring day to day stuff dressed up, because there's no fun in it. There are of course exceptions, such as those who believe themselves to make very attractive women and get a thrill from making strangers ogle them, but most keep their dressing either private or limited to groups or lovers.
Side A also tends to behave not like average actual women when dressed, but as slutty caricatures. They exaggerate their feminine behaviors to points most of us would gag watching sheerly from how cheesy the act is. And they tend to favor stereotypically Hollywood notions of what makes sexy womens fashion.
Side B in general tend to be shyer, more reserved. They often WILL go out in public fully dressed for boring day to day stuff, though rarely in their own neighborhood for fear of being recognized. They too tend to act like slight caricatures of women, but to the other extreme, and not near as exaggerated.
They tend to focus on behaving demurely, like the Hollywoodish ideal of what a “respectable lady” acts like. They also dress completely different, tending to favour a more conservative approach to dressing specifically so as to NOT stand out. And as dressing for them is about temporary peace of mind and not sex, they tend to go out of their way to not think or talk about sex at all while dressed and can become very visibly uncomfortable if the topic is brought up even mildly.
As I said, there are of course exceptions on both sides, and people who defy the mold so to speak, but in my near 40 years in my experience, the bulk of those on these two sides generally fall into the behavioral cues I've described here.
And while I know I'll get flak for saying so, I was taught to speak my mind, so I'll say it anyway.
I do everything in my power when meeting a side B to help them explore their identity and their feelings to find a way to make peace with it, and become who they were meant to be, whether that means living full-time non-op or going full transition, but as long as they find peace simply being a woman, I do my best to help them find out exactly what, for them, being a woman means.
But I do not want Side A wedging themselves under the “Umbrella” just because they cross gender lines when acting out their kink. They aren't trans in any way that, in my opinion, needs protecting or really for that matter even comes close to counting as gender variant in ANY way except how they dress. Their inclusion harms us. These fetishist men, acting out their bad slutty stereotypes even porn stars would quirk a brow at, making the whole trans thing solely about the sexuality and acting like the rest of us are really just like them and in denial, THOSE are the men that Fundie Wingnuts will point to and use as examples to vilify, pervert and dehumanize our lives to prevent us from achieving equality, protection under the law and getting simple basic respectful recognition of self. They have every right to exist and be kinky men in dresses but they need to stay away from co-opting our struggles to legitimize a harmless fetish at the expense of our hard-fought baby-steps towards acceptance.
And yes, once I'm sure someone I meet is firmly on Side A I will bluntly tell them so, as politely and civily but firmly as I can. Many of them actually listened, having previously never realized we weren't just like them but denying it. I've convinced a good chunk of Side A people that we ARE in fact genuine in our identities and NOT just in “denial of fetishry etc”.
Which brings us back to Autumn versus Ashley.
They're both right, and they're both wrong, and they need to meet in the middle. Ashley needs to stop lumping all CD's together as ONLY CD/TV, while Autumn needs to recognize that Side A doesn't deserve or need to be included under the umbrella, and Side B needs compassionate help to evolve away from just being quasi CD and into finding peace with who they are.
Ashley is hurting deeply closeted sisters already struggling in a place of self where they don't fully understand their feelings by lumping them in blindly with fetishist men. Autumn is misguided in er attempt to make our community inclusive by trying to defend the inclusion of men who don't even in the slightest want to actually BE women, and only wedge themselves into the community to legitimize their fetish, which doesn't need any legitimacy because it's an otherwise harmless fetish when kept in private where most fetishes should be.
But when Side A IS included, it harms the rest of us, from non-op to post-op to intersex, being identified by the general public with male fetishists hurts us all.
I will continue to help every Side B I meet, and continue to teach Side A's the difference between a fetish and an identity. And unless first attacked I'll always do so politely.
There sadly very much ARE distinct lines. Ashley and Autumn both need to realize that the category they're arguing about are not just on one side of that line or the other. They spread across it like every other group, each one different, and nothing is cut and dry about it.