THE GENDERED and TRANS/GENDERED SELF: PERSONAL, POLITICAL, and PSYCHOLOGICAL NARRATIVES of TRANS REPUDIATION, TRAUMA, and HEALING By CHRISTOPHER ACTON SHELLEY B.A. (hons.), York University, 1992 M.A., Adler School of Professional Psychology, 1995 M.Phil., King's College, London University, 2004 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Women's Studies and Gender Relations) THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA April 2006 © Christopher Acton Shelley, 2006 11 Abstract The Gendered and Trans/gendered Self: Personal, Political, and Psychological Narratives of Trans Repudiation, Trauma, and Healing Transpeople are among the most marginalised and subjugated of social groups. Any attempt to improve this situation demands understanding (a hermeneutic task) and concrete change (which activism can incite). This study turns to feminist theory and psychoanalysis/depth psychology, in an attempt to understand the everyday/night repudiations that transpeople experience. Examples of such experiences are taken from twenty in-depth interviews conducted in BC, and considered in relation to existing comprehensions of gender (injustice. Trans repudiation is perpetrated from across the political spectrum (from the right, centre, and left) and paradoxically configures transpeople simultaneously as exotic Others (a seductive spectacle), and dangerous transgressors (stirring fear/enmity). Transpeople present a challenge to both modernist and postmodern theories of sex/gender in relation to subjectivity and the body. In particular, they epitomise problems in longstanding debates around the integrity of the "self" and the divided status of the "subject". Transsexuals illustrate the difficulties of changing sex in order to become "whole", while the trans-gendered experience obstacles to their desire to remain both (m/f) or in-between (/). All those interviewed have experienced an array of prejudiced reactions based on their status as 'trans'. Repudiation occurs at the intersections of interiority and exteriority: exteriority in the form of barriers encountered in the social world, and interiority as demonstrated in interpersonal dynamics that engage the perpetrators' unconscious motivations (repression/projection/abjection) and transpeople's internalised (emotional/mental) conflicts. The interviews allow identification of institutional sites where trans repudiation is most "problematic, while the theoretical framework points to the deeper changes that need to occur in people's consciousness in order to eliminate this repudiation. i i i Table of Contents Abstract ii Table of Contents iii List of Tables vi Abbreviations vii Acknowledgements viii Dedication ix Part I: F O R E G R O U N D I N G HORIZONS: N A R R A T I V E R E S E A R C H W I T H T R A N S P E O P L E Chapter 1 Introduction: Ethical and Field Issues in the Study of Transpeople's Narratives 2 Ethical Issues in Research on 'Trans' Subjects 2 Subjugation and 'Cure ': Transpeople as "Phobogenic Objects" 2 The Importance of Ethical Agency 7 Researching Trans Repudiation: Narrative 'Method' and Study Participants 9 The Research Project 12 Issues in the Field of Trans(Gender/Sexual)Studies 18 Queer Theory 19 Two-Spirit People 24 Interiority and Exteriority ...27 Trans-scribing Theory and Interviews: The Structure of the Dissertation 31 Chapter 2 The Interviews 33 1. Health Care. 34 2. Lavatories / Change Rooms 42 3. Intimate Others 47 4. Public Institutions: Employment, Education, and Other Public Services 52 Employment 52 Education 56 5. Types of Repudiation 60 Threat / Intimidation 60 Physical Assault 64 Law Enforcement 65 Relations with (Other) Lesbians and Gays 66 Reactions from Radical Cultural Feminists 71 IV Chapter 3 Fusing Horizons: Situating Theoretical Assumptions 74 Hermeneutics 74 Foregrounding Horizons 78 Situating the Research 83 Critical Psychology and Depth Psychology. 87 Part II 'TRANS/PHOBIA' AND T H E POLITICS O F REPUDIATION Chapter 4 Repudiation and Transphobia: Concepts, Theory, and Experience 98 Repudiation 98 Problematising trans/phobia 101 Narratives of Trans Repudiation and Transphobia 107 Trans Repudiation and Intersectionality 116 The Problem of Trauma 118 Chapter 5 The Political Repudiations of Trans Subjectivity 121 The Conservative Repudiation 121 The Ambivalent/Contradictory Politics of Liberalism 126 Liberal Feminisms and the Gender Binary 128 The Radical Cultural Feminist Repudiation of Trans and Queer 132 Re-asserting the Power of the Binary 136 Chapter 6 Talking Back: Historicizing the Repudiation of Transsexualism 144 Talking Back to Liberalism and Conservatism 144 Film, Television, and the Internet: The Contradictory Influences of Media 148 Talking Back to Radical Cultural Feminism 154 Case Vignette: Kimberly Nixon and Vancouver Rape Relief. 158 The Double-Edged Scalpel: Psychiatric and Psychoanalytic Repudiations 164 Diagnostic Repudiations in DSM-IV-Tr 166 Conservative Psychoanalysis 169 i Part III P S Y C H O L O G I C A L REPUDIATION: R E T U R N I N G T H E G A Z E O F D E P T H P S Y C H O L O G Y Chapter 7 Psychoanalytic Theory and Depth Psychology 178 Feminism, Depth Psychology, and Gender: The Forces of Irrationality and the Unknown .179 The Relevance of Psychoanalytic Concepts to the Repudiation of Transpeople 182 Anna Freud and Melanie Klein 189 Object Relations 192 Trans Women and Mothering 194 Jacques Lacan and French Psychoanalysis 199 Beyond Lacan: Feminist Re-Readings 203 The Felt Body: Beyond Language and Sight 205 Jungian and Post-Jungian Psychology 206 Chapter 8 Adlerian Theory 213 Adler's Break with Psychoanalysis 214 Adler and the Guiding Fiction: Consciousness as a Mise-en-abime 218 Adler and the Contested Realm of the Ego 222 Masculine Protest 224 Community Feeling: The Problem of Be/longing 234 A Repudiating Gaze: Homosexuality and Gender Identity Disorders 230 Adler and Poststructuralism: Disputations of the Self and the Ego 233 Chapter 9 Conclusion: The Gendered and Trans/gendered Self 237 The Gendered Subject 237 The Gendered Self. 241 Trans Integrity / Trans Selfhood 246 The Holistic Self: Problems in Holism 247 Internalising the Gaze of Repudiation: 'Self-Oppression' 252 Conclusion: The Enigma of Self-Estrangement 257 References 261 Appendix A: Consent Form 281 Appendix B: Interview Questions 282 vi List of Tables Table 1. List of Participants 15 Table 2 . Interiority / Exteriority 28 Table 3. Various Lavatory Symbols 202 Abbreviations APA American Psychiatric Association DSM-IV-TR Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition, Text Revision (American Psychiatric Association) GID Gender Identity Disorder (DSM-IV-TR Category #576) IS Intersex FtM Female-to-Male LGBTTQI Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Trans-Two Spirit-Queer-Intersex MtF Male-to-Female SRS Sexual Reassignment Surgery1 TG Transgendered Trans Used tentatively in this study as an umbrella term to denote Transsexual or Transgendered. TS Transsexual ' (I) MtF: vaginoplasty with or without labiaplasty and with or without orchiectomy [with orchiectomy: (I) removal of testes; (2) without orchiectomy: relocation of testes up and into the abdominal wall]; Optional: breast implants, facial reconstruction (FFS), voice box surgery, Adam's apple reduction/shave, hair transplant. (2) FtM: usually any one, or combination of, hysterectomy; oopherectomy [removal of ovaries], mastectomy, metoidioplasty [release of the suspensory ligament of the clitoris so that it resembles, according to Lawrence (2000) "a micro penis"]; vaginectomy [removal of the vagina]; scrotoplasty [creation of prosthetic testicles]; phalloplasty [abdominal flap, radical forearm flap, or fibular flap]. Acknowledgements Numerous individuals, some in small ways - others in greater ways than they may know - were crucial to the construction of this study. I wish to offer deep thanks and appreciation to all of the following: my supervisors, Prof. Valerie Raoul (French/Women's Studies), Dr. Becki Ross (Women's Studies/Sociology), and Prof. Dawn Currie (Sociology), whose guidance as feminist scholars and shared belief in the principles and praxis of solidarity, have aided me enormously in producing this work; Tina Arsenault and Caroline Magnier of Nelson, BC, who provided valuable assistance with the interview transcripts and related equipment; my colleagues at the Centre for Research in Women's Studies and Gender Relations (UBC) who have provided me, a male-bodied person, a welcoming environment and an uncommon opportunity to contribute to feminist research (with special thanks to Prof. Sneja Gunew, Dr. Dorothy Seaton, Dr. Tineke Ffellwig, Dr. Wendy Frisby, and fellow Ph.D. candidates Bianca Rus and Kim Snowden); Caroline White of the department of Women's Studies at Langara College, Vancouver, for her scholarship, trans allied activism, and assistance with critical feedback on earlier drafts of this study; Dr. Rachael St. Claire, of Boulder, Colorado, USA, for permission to cite from her sagacious, unpublished paper on Jungian psychology and transpeople; Dr. Derek Hook of the department of Social Psychology at the London School of Economics and Political Science, London, England, for permission to cite from his unpublished manuscript on postcolonial psychoanalysis; Prof. Irmingard Staeuble of the department of Psychology at the Free University of Berlin, Germany, for permission to cite from her unpublished manuscript on psychology and colonisation; Susan Cosco of Toronto for her tremendous personal support; the key informants who participated in this study, for their enormous help in aiding me to meet with a sufficient number of interviewees; and most especially: all of the transpeople who participated in the study, for educating me, sharing their narratives, and for immeasurably enriching my life. I X Dedication This dissertation is dedicated to Ms. Kimberly Nixon, a trailblazer in the struggle for transpeople's social emancipation and a feminist of fortitude, wisdom, and compassion. Part i F O R E G R O U N D I N G HORIZONS: N A R R A T I V E R E S E A R C H W I T H T R A N S P E O P L E 2 C H A P T E R 1: INTRODUCTION: E T H I C A L AND F I E L D ISSUES IN T H E STUDY O F T R A N S P E O P L E ' S N A R R A T I V E S Ethical Issues in Research on 'Trans' Subjects Subjugation and 'Cure ': Transpeople as "Phobogenic Objects " Transpeople are among the most subjugated and marginalised of social groups. In the West, they experience a daunting array of institutional barriers and (inter)personal repudiations, either in addressing a mis-sexed body (transsexuals: TS), or in seeking the freedom to live partially or fully outside of the sex/gender binary (transgender: TG). This study engages with trans narratives and relevant theories, in an attempt to understand the barriers transpeople face in the external social world and the internalised world of the subject / self. Attempting to understand how the two intersect in the complexities of trans lives entails traversing multiple discourses and bringing them together. The result is a hybrid research project that is trans-disciplinary. Transdisciplinarity follows and extends (through hybridity) a long tradition of interdisciplinary research on the lives of transpeople (Denny, 1998). Disciplinary discourses as divergent as hermeneutics, critical realism, feminism, postmodernism, poststructuralism, and depth psychology, as well as the personal accounts of people interviewed for this project, will be drawn on to aid in 'understanding' what I will call trans repudiation. The overall approach is hermeneutic, since the aim is understanding through the interpretation of theoretical master-narratives and how these pertain to the personal narratives of individuals. In this study, transpeople are assumed to be the primary experts on their own lives. For too long, academics and clinicians have adopted an Archimedean standpoint, perpetuating politically loaded notions of neutrality and inscribing their own authority over the lived experience of transpeople. Such inscriptions often radically diverge from the points of view that transpeople 3 voice, so much so that 'expert' inscriptions often represent in themselves a radical repudiation of trans subjectivity, a subjectivity that I believe ought to be seen as meaningful and valuable on its own terms. Scientific claims to expertise over trans lives, purporting to be the products of clinical experience and research, have in fact added fuel to overtly political rejections of transpeople's assertions to being either fully (TS) or partly (TG) mis-sexed/gendered. One of the most surprising aspects of rejection or condemnation of trans-ness is that it comes from all points of the political spectrum: from religious conservatives, liberal humanists, radical feminists, and lesbians and gays. Repudiation of trans subjectivity also lies at the heart of sectors of the 'helping' professions that seek to 'assist' transpeople, usually with the aim of making them disappear into 'normativity'. The specific helping professionals most relevant to transpeople are psychiatrists and psychologists. They are responsible for the initial authorisation and referral for sex reassignment surgery (SRS) and hormonal treatments. In this study, I intend to critically appraise the general theoretical premises that psychology and psychiatry assume in describing and clinically managing "gender disorders", with an understanding, based on my own experience as a psychologist, that these disciplines are, in practice, especially conflictual for transpeople. The clinical discourses of psychiatry/psychology are in many ways the worst (but not the only) offenders in producing authoritative inscriptions over and about the lives of transpeople. Hence, these intertwined disciplines are a good place to substantiate the necessity of elaborating and following suggestions for better procedures generated by transpeople themselves. Psychology and psychiatry both include clinicians who are trans advocates, but they simultaneously harbour others whose aim is to produce conformity to 'acceptable norms'. Those upholding the aims of normative adjustment for those with "gender disorders" range across the following positions: (1) outright denial of the authenticity of all claims to be mis-sexed and an associated rejection of sexual reassignment surgery (SRS); (patients must be adjusted to conform to their 'sex of origin'); (2) denial of the authenticity of the claim to be mis-sexed but a willingness to accede to the idea that SRS is the only solution for those with persistent "delusions"; (3) a parsimonious acceptance that a small number of subjects are genuinely mis-sexed, with authorisation of SRS contingent on the patient's agreement to cross into stereotypical sex/gender conformity; or, (4) acceptance of the legitimacy of TS claims to being mis-sexed, accompanied by rejection of TG requests for partial surgeries or hormone treatment alone, 4 eliminating acceptance of border crossing and in-between-ness as legitimate. These positions coalesce around the notion that persistent trans-based distress points to a serious form of psychopathology that requires clinical management which may or may not include hormone therapy and SRS. There are philosophical traditions inherent within these disciplines that, when critically examined, can explain the tendency of some psychiatrists and psychologists to consider trans-ness as a form of madness, one that requires a normative prescriptiveness (although they often disagree on how this can be achieved). For example, historians of psychology have traced the ways in which the discourse of psychology as a discipline is rooted in "Eurocentric and Orientalist patterns of thought" which broadly reflect the coloniser's view of the world. This view operates through a "civilising mission" based on "European modernity as subject and the colonised world as object" (Staeuble, 2005, p. 2). Defined as a category of psychopathology, transpeople are often subjugated, as I will demonstrate in this study, by the gaze of some ('sane/civilised') clinicians whose intent ('mission') is to cure ('insane/uncivilised') "sex and gender deviants". Hence, psychiatry and psychology name/categorise and then control the means of addressing trans-embodied distress under the diagnostic rubric of "gender dysphoria" (APA, 2000). Through these clinical discourses, transpeople have become an object of fascination, similar to the postcolonial conception of the "phobogenic object (Fanon, 1967, p. 151). Hook (2005), in critiquing the concept of 'race' as it pertained to Apartheid policy in South Africa, analyses the psychodynamics of the 'white' gaze upon 'black' skin/bodies; the latter become a "phobogenic object", which produces a "volatile polarity of affect... criss-crossed with relations not only of dread, disgust and fear, but also with relations of attraction, fascination, exoticism and desire" (p. 2). A parallel example pertaining to transpeople can be seen in the work of the evolutionary psychologist Michael Bailey (2003), a contemporary and controversial figure in sexology. At times Bailey is sympathetic to transpeople, attracted to them as an 'object' of study and opposed to social discrimination against them. Elsewhere, however, he endorses a view that transsexual subjects embody a disorder and maladaptiveness which must ultimately be resolved (controlled) through genetic prevention. In essence, he views transpeople as unfortunate, wayward mistakes of nature, which science might one day be able to fully correct 5 (civilise). In the interim, granting sex changes where warranted must suffice; but the overall aim is to prevent the necessity for such surgical interventions, for science to preclude these spoiled products of nature. Evolutionary psychologists like Bailey yearn to decipher the genetic codes said to produce the mis-sexed body, to more fully control transsexual and transgendered embodiment and prevent it from occurring in the first place. Such evolutionary/eugenic views ultimately aim to preserve the sanctity of the sexed binary, which is deemed undoubtedly desirable. Whether or not transpeople agree, most are forced into dealing with psychologists and psychiatrists, some of whom hold evolutionary points of view, if or when they seek medical assistance. The scientific status of psychological/psychiatric studies suggests, by a 'halo effect', that their conclusions on transpeople are authoritative and impartial. This clinical gaze Others trans-embodied people as exotic oddities who cannot be healed through the talking cure. Failing to cure transpeople of their psychic distress, psychiatry / psychology maintains the role of gatekeeper to other medical interventions such as endocrinology, involving hormone therapy, and various plastic surgeries. This gate-keeping function usually, but not always, dissuades those who might come to regret a sex change, and indeed a persistent, though very small1 minority of people do vehemently regret transitioning (Pfafflin, 1992; Batty, 2004). These exceptions are frequently cited as evidence that sex 'change' is not a solution, and/or that the originally assigned gender must be the 'true' one. The existence of people who regret transitioning points to the need for gate-keeping, as problematic as this function often is. Nonetheless, the health sciences are consistently met with legitimate medical demands made by people who claim, in autobiographical accounts, to have been mis-sexed since their early childhood. That medical technologies are capable of helping most of these people to live lives that are liveable is not the issue. The issue is that such technologies are embedded within a broader culture of almost universal rejection of transpeople. As psychiatry and psychology demonstrate, this repudiation is found even within the very disciplines that purport to assist those with mis-sexed bodies. The health sciences express an uneasy ambivalence towards tampering with the embodied sexed binary, that remains sacrosanct in Western culture. This ambivalence is replete with paradoxical 1 Pfafflin's review of follow-up literature spanning 30 years found that 1 - 1.5% of MtFs regret transitioning while the incidence/incidents of FtM regret is less than 1%. 6 contradictions that continue to render issues related to transsexuality/transgenderism controversial. All Western sexed and gendered selves are interpellated subjects of a culture (language and social structure) that cannot readily accommodate infringement of the sexual binary. Surgery is usually willingly applied to genitals only in a limited number of "extreme" cases, such as intersex (IS) subjects, born with both, or some of both, female and male organs/anatomy (Preves, 2001). In IS subjects, surgical transgression of the binary does not actually take place, rather, the binary is clarified and imposed, etched onto a body that cannot be allowed to continue to represent 'sexed ambiguity'. The quest for conformity, however, is not infallible and surgery can produce gross, even inhumane errors. Chase (2000) draws attention to the physical and psychological management of some intersex (IS) babies/children. This management prescribes and enforces the sexed binary, as sexologists such as John Money (1986) have long instructed, inscribing sex and gender in ways that frequently amount to mutilation. In the case of IS babies, these medical decisions do not respect or reflect any future agency or control on the part of the patient2. Later, as adolescents and adults, many IS people are outraged at the extreme intrusion of unwanted and unnecessary surgeries3 (e.g. removal of a 'small' penis or a 'large' clitoris4). This is so when the surgical decisions do not concur with the gender identity adopted, or when some IS people would prefer to have retained bodies that reflect their natal 'ambiguity', to adopt third or other sexed and gendered identities, similar to the aims of other TG people. In contrast, transsexuals, some of whom recognise only later in life that they have been assigned to the wrong category, have to go through a taxing and burdensome appeal to medical authorities to achieve the opportunity to live in a re-sexed body through sex change technologies. The right for TS subjects to be granted sex change was a hard won battle. Historically, some medical specialists eventually acquiesced to the wishes of TS people, performing operations justified by a 2 Critics of sex assignment surgery for intersex babies acknowledge the requirement to proceed with operations when serious health risks are posed for the infant/child. These instances are, however, rare (Preves, 2002). 1 The majority of IS babies are surgically assigned/sexed to conform to the female genital form (Preves, 2002). 4 Preves (2002) notes that Western medical standards codify acceptable clitoral size as between 0-0.9 centimetres. Any "phalloclit" larger than 0.9cm "is considered ... unacceptable by Western clitoral standards" requiring surgery to "recede" or "trim [it] back"(p. 530). Normative codification for an acceptable penis requires a minimum measurement of 2.5 centimetres. 7 humanitarianism that dictates the surgical treatment of a purportedly deep and chronic 'psychopathological syndrome'. Surgery is granted as a last resort, in response to the persistence of the request in otherwise 'sane' persons and in light of the failure of psychiatric treatments to extinguish the request. Psychology and psychiatry are charged with giving/denying consent for accessing these procedures. The end effect is that psychiatry and psychology as discourses and clinical practices entail a fundamental contradiction and conundrum for transpeople (including some IS people): they mis/serve these subjects. The discussion so far already reveals a basic paradox or tension that is at the heart of studies related to trans-sexuality and trans-gender. Those who wish to 'change sex' (TS) frequently subscribe to the dominant view that two sexes (and only two) are both inevitable and desirable. They wish to belong socially (in the eyes of others) to the sex to which they feel (mentally/emotionally) that they belong, and want their body to conform to the expectations for that sex. Subsequent problems are often related to issues of 'passing'. Such individuals are not anxious to change dominant gender expectations, but to conform to them. Many transgender (TG) people (some of whom also undergo SRS), on the other hand, would prefer to be able to retain ambivalence, either in body or in comportment. They suffer because society does not accept a third sex or indeterminacy. However, as we shall see, TS and TG in reality face similar issues of discrimination and repudiation. The Importance of Ethical Agency In researching this area of sex/gender conformity and its transgressions, it is essential that the 'subjects' themselves exert their own agency. Trans academics like Jacob Hale (2004) have posited necessary principles for researching transpeople or communities without compromising their integrity, voice, and intrinsic worth. It is significant that it took an academic transman like Hale to articulate such a proposal, in response to the way that ordinary transpeople have been largely ignored by the authorities on their lives. In adopting a hermeneutic approach for this study I recognise that dialogue with transpeople is a compulsory component to researching trans lives in the social sciences. In undertaking a trans-disciplinary project involving both qualitative research (interviews), political perspectives, and a review of depth psychology in relation to 8 trans-ness, I will be attempting to bring together approaches that might appear irreconcilable. Nevertheless, together they show why transpeople's position is fraught with inner and outer tensions. Hale asks non-transpeople like myself to "approach your topic with a sense of humility" (p. 1). Transphobia, regardless of speculations on its cause or even semantic arguments over the appropriateness of the term itself, conveys an arrogance intrinsic to its expression, one that compromises principles of equity; if you, for example, are trans and I am afraid of you or disturbed by your transgressiveness, what right have 1 to bar you from proper health care, an education, a job, a public lavatory, a restaurant, to make a spectacle of your body, and so on? Worse, what right have I to unleash my unconscious rage at your body, to threaten you, to harass you, or to physically assault you? I have no such right. And yet, as this study reveals, these arrogant assumptions and disgraceful acts are very common, the source of unwelcome experiences in transpeople's everyday/night worlds. Perpetrators may not know or understand their reasons for subjugating the lives of others. They may very well be expressing an unconscious sense of feeling threatened by an otherness that is deeply disturbing to those whose own sense of security is bound up in sex/gender distinctness. Placing myself as researcher in the Socratic stance, beginning with "I know that I do not know", has allowed the possibility for transpeople to take a pedagogic role in this study, to educate me and my readers as 'knowing subjects' in their own right rather than be seen as deviant objects, exotic Others, or colonised victims waiting to be rescued by their very colonisers. In pursuing this study, I have attempted to be critically self-reflexive, to become aware of my own gaze, discomfort, and so on. This gaze can be reflected back to researchers from transpeople themselves, who usually know when they are being repudiated. Dialogue based on the "hermeneutic circle" (Gadamer, 1960) returns speech to the subjects for reconsideration, for the production of self-knowledge. Hence, Hale asks researchers if they can travel in transpeople's worlds. If the answer is no, then the researcher probably will not understand what transpeople are talking about. I have travelled in transpeople's worlds and hope to continue to do so. These are not easy journeys to take and challenge non-trans embodied people profoundly. To be a trans ally requires such fellow-travelling and if trans people agree to guide you it is a gift to be cherished. 9 Researching Trans Repudiation: Narrative 'Method' and Study Participants In approaching the topic of transpeople's lives and the repudiations they experience, I have taken transcribed interview material and considered these dialogues in relation to a range of theories, in order to better understand the myriad problems that transpeople face. This is, I believe, a hermeneutic exercise. Gadamer (1960), in reviving the term "hermeneutics", did so to critique the Romantic hermeneutics that had preceded him. Those hermeneutics claimed that a meta-Truth was inherent in texts such as the Christian Bible and that if one were to read such texts correctly, Truth would objectively emerge. The title of Gadamer's treatise, Truth and Method, does not evoke a means to achieve Truth, but rather a critique of method as a means of uncovering Truth. Gadamer's hermeneutics is not a complete rejection of methodical work. It is a rejection of complete understanding as an achievable goal, of totalised grand vision, and of any particular method as the one and only means to uncover absolute Truths. For Gadamer (1960), "the hermeneutical problem... is clearly distinct from 'Pure' knowledge detached from any particular kind of being" [italics original] (p. 314). There is no 'pure' knowledge, rather, as Gallagher (1992) comments, "knowledge is always imperfect knowledge" (p. 341), or as Haraway (2004) puts it, "rational knowledge is always interpretative, critical, and partial" (p. 93). The interpretative, critical, and partial assumptions that Haraway speaks of parallel Gadamer's insistence that dialogue gradually comes to produce only partial understandings that in turn require an ongoing interpretation. Furthermore, these assumptions also parallel the central tenets of the depth psychologies, discourses which suggest that a ubiquitous unconscious dynamic operates in human subjectivity and relatedness, that our knowledge of self and others is only partial. My approach utilises a hermeneutic and dialogic engagement with transpeople as 'knowing subjects'. This approach emerges thus: (1) between myself and the interviewees (qualitative research which gives authority to personal experience, foregrounds the power of narrative in the form of reflections and stories, and offers concrete examples as voiced by the subjects themselves); and (2) between this material, gathered from transpeople, and theories about sex and gender: both socio-political and psychological (especially depth psychology). The analysis 10 of the depth psychologies, and related issues pertaining to contestations between the self and the subject, emerges following reflection on the interviews as a whole, by extending the sociological conception of discrimination into the intra/interpersonal phenomenon of repudiation. This theoretical explication and analysis frames what I have 'understood', what Gadamer (1960) terms foregrounding. In this study, it is hermeneutic/narrative exchanges that produce theoretical foregrounding. My ultimate aim is to return this analysis to transpeople and their allies as part of an ongoing conversation, which, I shall argue, is also relevant to feminists and other scholars in the field of sex/gender studies. My approach to narrative is consistent with its use as a distinct category in qualitative psychology, one that has gained strength in recent years (White and Epston, 1990; Josselson, Lieblich, and McAdams, 2002; Parker, 2004). Narrative research is construed as a means to insert the importance of storied lives, of retaining voice, of providing a counterbalance to an over-emphasis on quantitative methods, as evidenced particularly in mainstream psychology (Rennie, et. al., 2002). Narrative is about deeply listening to human experience, emphasising the framing of research questions with which to generate dialogue. Combining this approach with hermeneutics foregrounds the striving for understanding as a result of listening to narrative accounts. What I have tentatively 'understood' from consulting transpeople is that their everyday/night lives are troubled by pervasive repudiations. These reflections have produced three clusters that inform my tentative 'conclusions'. These research questions are generated and presented as analytic frames, as an outcome of hermeneutic dialogue, and focus on three tensions: 1. The Internal/External distinction as evidenced by a split between psychology and sociology: to what extent does this dyad function as a complex interrelationship evident in trans discrimination, repudiation, and consequent subjugation? 2. Paradox: What are the paradoxical dynamics that surround the phenomenon of trans repudiation and transphobia? 11 3. Contradiction: To what extent are there splits within the unified referent 'trans'? How do current social/political conditions produce contradictions that transpeople are forced to navigate? In considering these three clusters, it becomes clear that transpeople embody in a most striking way postmodern issues and debates regarding the self/subjectivity. These issues point to nostalgia for a lost wholeness/home, as expressed by TS people, and a resistance/refusal of the sex/gender binary as expressed by TG people. Externally, TS people are often frustrated in their attempts to recover/live in this lost home, while TG people find that a third space is an unavailable social position. I believe that materialist feminism holds the potential for explicating the gendered oppression that transpeople face as they navigate the external social world, and can provide pragmatic suggestions for its eradication. In explicating the internal, or what I call inferiority, I consider that the depth psychologies are theoretically more capable of plumbing the depths, paradoxes, and contradictions that the complex dynamics of repudiation and transphobia pose for both trans subjects and perpetrators. I do not hope to reach firm conclusions, but rather to prompt further dialogue and conversations. I have nevertheless taken the risk of temporarily stepping out of the hermeneutic circle, to call for solidarity with trans struggle. This is an outcome of the power of the personal narratives excerpted in this study, which compel attention and demand action to combat the seriousness of the problem. The originality of this study therefore lies in bringing together the psychological (internal) and social (external) aspects of trans experiences, as concrete, lived incidents are framed in a tentative quest to interpret and understand these experiences. This dual focus (external/internal) entails discussion of a wide range of relevant theories, from divergent perspectives. The theorising further reflects trans-ness as itself challenging theory (whether modernist or postmodern). It both valorises and questions 'wholeness' or 'integrity' as a goal (belonging to the right sex), implying a degree of essentialism and certainty. It also valorises and questions border-crossing, in-betweeness or indeterminacy as an attractive, transgressive alternative. Both positions have Utopian aspects in theory, but prove to be uncomfortable, even infernal, in the real lives of transpeople. 12 The Research Project This study began as a qualitative research project, based on twenty in-depth interviews with transpeople living in the Greater Vancouver district (Lower Mainland) of British Columbia. Without any prior contrivance to achieve an equal ratio of FtM or MtF participants, narratives were produced that reflect upon and reveal aspects of the lived experiences of ten MtFs and ten FtMs. The categorisation of MtF or FtM was based at minimum on full-time pronoun use (excepting those instances where a person's safety is compromised) contrary to the sex/gender assignment at birth. My trepidatious use of MtF/FtM categories reflects the fact that many of the interviewees do not themselves use the MtF/FtM designation yet do acknowledge its tentative validity for representation in this study. Difficulty in ascertaining the appropriateness of MtF/FtM labels points to the lack of consensus about the binary in trans communities, since, as mentioned above, some transpeople see the binary in essentialist terms and are loathe to leave it, while others view it as a major impediment to achieving their desired identity and an object for overthrow. At the time of the interviews, nineteen of the twenty interviewees were taking hormones; five were pre-operative; thirteen were post-operative; and two were 'no-ops' (no surgery intended at the time of interview). In terms of the last category, one was taking hormones, the other was unable to at the time due to health reasons. Both 'no-op' interviewees hold relatively stable identities as TG and offer interesting perspectives on trans repudiation from a TG standpoint. It must be said, however, that a TG standpoint more broadly may also include those who have had SRS, and should not be construed as synonymous with 'no-op' intentions. In contrast, TS identity is synonymous with those who have, or expect to have, sex reassignment surgery. The interviews focused on these people's experiences as trans. My initial working assumptions, which I revisited after the completion of the interviews, included the use of the term 'transphobia' in the interviews, as it is well known among transpeople. Upon reflecting on the transcripts after all interviews were completed, I noticed that what was being termed 'transphobia' was often actually a range of types of repudiation, which might include phobia. 13 Listening between the lines, I heard: "phobia, yes, but more than just phobia". Hence, my initial assumptions were eventually revised, including the appropriateness of the use of the term 'transphobia' in the interviews themselves. My initial assumptions included the following: • transphobia affects all transpeople; • transphobia is a 'fact' regardless of one's race, class, or sexual orientation. Race, class, and sexual orientation as intersectional issues were not addressed directly but certainly welcomed when they emerged, usually spontaneously, in the interviews. Those who did draw attention to racial/ethnic/cultural identities wanted them noted: one is Jewish; four First Nations and one Metis. Two First Nations identify in the tradition of Two^Spirit, however they also make use of the TS/TG identifications and inscriptions when they deem it necessary (for example, at a medical office); • Transpeople are not suffering from a mental illness but rather live lives that, in and of themselves, have intrinsic worth and are not compromised by psychopathology on the basis of trans-ness alone. The twelve questions that formed the basis of the interviews are listed in Appendix B. Since the majority of the interviewees are TS identified many of the questions pertain to them. I did modify the questions slightly for those who are non-operative and TG identified. Questions 1-5 refer to where the interviewees are/were situated in terms of the evolution of their identity. Questions 6-10 focus on experiences and perceptions of transphobia (discrimination / repudiation), while question 11 specifically relates to being a trans ally ("What can trans allies do to assist trans folk in dealing with transphobia?"). The narrative material gathered from questions 10 ("Do you feel that the kinds of transphobia trans men and trans women experience differ? If so, how?") and 11 certainly assisted me in reflecting on the interviews as a whole, however, I intend to make use of this specific material in future rather than include analysis of it in this present study. The open-ended utility of question 12 ("Is there anything else you would like to say about the issues/barriers transpeople face that we might have missed?") proved extremely useful, especially in producing a central category of analysis, that of public lavatory and change room use. Upon completion of the interviews I noticed that the range of issues that transpeople 14 evoke is vast and one of the challenges I faced in constructing this study was how to limit the material and yet reflect the many issues raised. In keeping with the hermeneutic tradition of focussing on openness and dialogue, I purposely kept the number of questions to a minimum. Hence, space could be made to generate some spontaneous dialogue without succumbing to a completely open-ended format or being overly directive. I was aware that the University of British Columbia disapproves of completely open-ended interviews and hence usually denies Certificates of Ethical Approval to conduct research when such proposals are made. As the interviews proceeded, I was satisfied with the dozen questions proposed and now feel that my task to yield adequate 'data', in the form of narratives, was surpassed. The relatively small number of questions contrasts with one of the most detailed sociological studies ever conducted with transpeople (on FtMs), by Devor (1997), which used 102 questions in two-part interviews. Devor's method was highly structured and yielded excellent data in the sociological sense. What was more important to me, however, was to keep the questions loose enough to open up the narrative without overly controlling it, since my main task, in using a hermeneutic approach, is to seek to generate dialogue, including further questions, as one of the study's outcomes. I was very much concerned with the quality of the relationship I developed with the participants during the interviews. I needed to establish rapport quickly and to recognise that, in discussing transphobia, painful life events would probably be invoked. Certainly my years of experience as an Adlerian counselling psychologist, and having previously worked as a therapist with transpeople, helped me. I was able to use empathy, to attend to any distress when it emerged, and to express a general compassion in relation to the ordeals concerned, to let the interviewee know that I am an ally and wish very much for the end of transphobia. Hence, I used my clinical interviewing and counselling skills, combined with orthodox qualitative interviewing methods, to generate the narratives used in this study. All interviewees were given the option to use a pseudonym, indeed encouraged to do so. However some adamantly refused, insisting that their actual names be used. Justifications were offered, such as "I am already known through media attention", "I don't care", "I am not 15 interested in masquerades", and "I wish to retain ownership over my own life story". I am charged, however, with protecting the privacy of those who chose not to reveal their true identities. As a compromise, I will not indicate whose name is, or is not, an assumed one. Moreover, for privacy reasons I regret being unable to introduce each of the twenty participants in more detail. Had I done so, the participants might have inadvertently identified each other. Many of the interviewees are acquainted with each other, in some cases through activism. Also, transpeople as a group appear to be small in numbers despite their strong local networking. Hence, the disclosure of general profiles (e.g. TS: x to x + sexual orientation + ethnicity + years since surgery) could give strong clues to the other participants that could potentially compromise confidentiality. The participants are listed in Table 1: Table 1: List of Participants FtM MtF TS Dean TS Aiyanna Frank Jamie-Lee Hank Jenny Jeb Kimberly John Patricia Keenan Robin Trevor Roz Yossi Sabrina* Tami Wynn TG Alex Nick* * Denotes coexistence of Two-Spirit identity All participants signed a consent form (see Appendix A) and were informed, verbally as well as in writing, that publication of the research results would be sought following completion of the study. Interviewees were also told that the work was being conducted to fulfil the requirements 16 of a Ph.D. degree. Following the signing of a letter, their names and pseudonyms (if any), contact details, age, and status (e.g. MtF pre-op, FtM no-op) were recorded. Study participants were originally to be recruited through an advertisement in Xtra West, Vancouver's Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual newspaper, a fortnightly publication. However, this was not necessary since I have had the good fortune to get to know many transpeople over the years, as an ally and an activist for social justice amongst marginalised groups, including transpeople. All the study participants were referred to me through key informants. The interviews were carried out over the period from November 2003 to April 2004. Most took place in the interviewees' homes (at their request), some at their place of work, and some at my East Vancouver home. One interview occurred at a coffee shop at the interviewee's request, which I discovered is inadvisable, as the espresso machine makes quite a racket, others' conversations intrude, and confidentiality can be compromised. Since that interview was nevertheless excellent and the interviewee was satisfied with the transcript, a repeat interview was not required. I kept a journal of my reflections on each interview: general impressions, anything I needed to consider in more detail, and so on. For example, I noted that it was a great privilege to be invited into transpeople's homes. In reviewing my journal, I also noticed that I had much to say on the theme of pets, since I am allergic to cats and am afraid of dogs. One interview began with an African Grey parrot that flew onto my head, which startled me, before being whisked into its cage for the duration of the interview. I wondered if my attitude to animals affected my interviewing style on several occasions. Upon completion of the interviews and transcripts, to ensure that the transpeople would retain as much control over the research as possible, the transcripts were returned to the interviewees to review. I invited them to delete anything that they did not want from the document and to clarify or change anything that they saw fit. Only a few chose to do so, mostly making minor corrections (spelling in some cases) with only one interviewee removing or requesting substantial changes to entries that might inadvertently identify them (cities, names, etc.). Only 17 one interviewee failed to return the transcript. After repeated attempts to retrieve it, I assumed that no changes were wanted. Upon analysing the finished transcripts I noted institutional sites and specific issues where transphobia and trans repudiation was relayed, proceeding to a thematic analysis familiar to qualitative researchers. I then coded each transcript to mark the institutional sites and other issues identified. Five analytic categories emerged, pointing to the ways in which the interviewees' lives were/are challenged and affected: 1. Health care: This category relates to aspects of physical care (diagnosing/treating) and institutional (hospitals, clinics) interactions. The emphasis is on relations with professionals in medicine and psychiatry/psychology. 2. Lavatories / change rooms: in public, trans subjects are forced to choose gendered geographic spaces, with a notable lack of a third space. This category often pertains to issues of passing, evoking fear on the part of others who cannot deal with ambiguity and on the part of those unable to pass. 3. Intimate others: this category includes family, friends, and dating. Personal relations imply issues of being (or not) the same person as before, and dealing with the sense of loss and the need for adjustment on the part of others. Psychodynamic issues raised include defensive reluctance or refusal by others to accept the subject's 'new' sex/gender position, commonly evoking a range of affective issues: mourning, desire, trust, rejection and repudiation. 4. Public institutions: these include those related to employment, education, the judiciary, police, prisons, trade and commerce (banks, shopping), and other public services. 5. Types of repudiation: the degree of overt and negative reactions towards trans subjects ranges from verbal threat to physical assault. The sources of repudiation can be religious conservatives, mainstream liberals, gays/lesbians, and some feminists. Trans repudiation can also be found in transpeople themselves especially in the form of self-oppression. 18 The interviews became only one element or dimension of this transdisciplinary study. They provide a good deal of information on the interplay between external circumstances and internal reflections/experiences, and on the reaction of others to those perceived as shifting gender boundaries. The internalised conflicts disclosed in the stories of these transpeople also prompted me to rethink feminist, queer theory and depth psychology theories about identity formation and the sex/gender relationship. Specifically, the analysis I provide both confirms and adds to the sociological material collected by Devor (1997) and Namaste (2000, 2005), and also the trans theorising provided by Elliot and Roen (1998), Prosser (1998) and Hird (2000, 2003). More broadly, I noticed that transpeople un/wittingly serve as a lightning rod, challenging the assumptions and prejudice of those who believe themselves enlightened on sex/gender oppression (such as some gays/lesbians and feminists). In sum, transpeople challenge us inasmuch as they embody the postmodern condition - illustrating both nostalgia for a lost/desired w/zo/e/integrity, and the desire for indeterminacy, not to have to choose, to become something that does not yet exist. What emerges is a fundamental split or tension within the category of 'trans' itself, that is always present but not always acknowledged in the growing field of trans studies. Issues in the Field of Trans(GendeiVSexual) Studies It is difficult to speak of a 'field' in a unified sense when referring to trans studies. 'Trans', as White (2002) points out, is a problematic term, an inadequate umbrella for transgenderists (TG), transsexuals (TS), transvestites (TV), cross-dressers, some Two-Spirit, some queer, and some intersex (IS) people (all of whom may interchange trans with other identities). Transgender, moreover, is sometimes used to refer to all of these various categories of identity and embodiment, as in the quest for 'transgender rights' and associated protections against discrimination sought through "gender identity" provisions. However, trans scholars such as Namaste (2005) reject the term, citing unthought imperialist motives such as Anglophone generated scholarship over Francophone contexts. She contends that the French language does not have an equivalent term for 'transgender', and in contexts such as Francophone Quebec many transsexuals find the word meaningless. Outside of Quebec, the Canadian trans activist 19 Mihra-Soleil Ross, in an interview with Namaste (ibid.), argues that "the concept of 'transgender' still makes little sense. It constantly has to be 'explained' to the average TS/TV person - especially to prostitutes and show girls - by the 'leaders' " (p. 102). It is more important, argues Namaste, to focus on the location of transsexuals in the social world and to clarify subjugation based on class rather than Anglo, middle-class, academic arguments that supposedly digress into identity politics5. I have tenuously maintained the trans umbrella (e.g. in referring to "trans-people"), not to elide these categorical splits but to try and comprehend a common theme expressed by TS and TG people: their experiences of repudiation, including transphobia. The acrimony over the legitimacy of the term 'transgender' requires that I abandon it as an umbrella category in favour of'trans'. However, I disagree with those theorists and activists who disavow transgender altogether. What this study argues is that transpeople, regardless of their status as TS, TG and so on, grapple with the problem of repudiation. Social location and identity are equally important in this analysis. To better understand the significance of these splits within trans studies, it is imperative that I discuss the contested status of queer theory in relation to transpeople's lives. Queer Theory It is important to consider the fairly recent rise of queer theory in relation to trans lives not only for its celebration of transpeople as transgressive, but also because many (but certainly not all) transpeople also identify as queer. Briefly, queer theory takes issue with a number of common-sense postulates regarding sex/gender/sexuality, especially the seemingly unproblematic, historically constructed naturalism that flows from the traditional binary of an elevated 'normal/natural heterosexuality' versus a debased and 'deviant/unnatural homosexuality'. Queer theory analyses the hegemony that this asymmetrical relationship between the poles of this binary imposes. Judith Butler (1993) refers to the regulating norm of the heterosexual imperative. The concept echoes Adrienne Rich's (1980) earlier introduction of 5 Namaste (2005) overlooks the significant influence that French poststructuralist theory has had on 'Anglo' uses of "transgender" within queer theory. Without the underlying influence of several French theorists, philosophers, and psychoanalysts, it is doubtful that an Anglophone writer such as Judith Butler (1990, 1993) could have produced her celebrated analyses. 20 the notion of compulsory heterosexuality, which continues to constitute the normative expectation of sexual identity and behaviour in most societies, in the West and elsewhere. Homosexual relations between men, for example, are in fact still punishable by death in seven nations, with the beheading of convicted homosexuals as one form of execution inflicted upon the condemned (Hari, 2004). In the West, through discursive and historical analyses, queer theory tells of the creation of homosexuality as an identity and practice that were pathologised only in the later part of the nineteenth century, as part of a regulative ideal of sex/gender difference (Butler, 1993). The medicalisation of homosexuality accompanied sexological and psychiatric discourses that classified as deviant those with persistent same-sex desire. Yet legal and moral statutes, that tended to focus on male same-sex behaviour and its prohibition, were already implemented under the earlier, pre-medicalised view that considered such behaviours as sinful or immoral, rather than the result of a medical condition. These laws echoed mid-seventeenth-century attitudes which saw the temptation to "debauchery" as widespread and something to which anyone might succumb (Jagose, 1996, p. 11). Following the gay and lesbian liberation movements, launched in the late 1960s in America with ripple effects elsewhere, slow but continued change has occurred, such as the decriminalisation of sodomy laws and the de-listing of homosexual behaviours as mental illnesses in many countries. In some jurisdictions, common-law and marriage rights have been extended to same-sex couples, giving homosexuality broader social recognition, though this issue is currently being vigorously contested in Canada and elsewhere, especially by social conservatives and many religious groups. Attention has also been drawn to the dangers of derogatory language, as "hate speech", while gays and lesbians have reclaimed pejorative terms such as queer to designate an analytic category for theorising. For some gays and lesbians, queer emerges as a new identity that replaces the previous categories of gay, lesbian, and bisexual. "Queer", however, resists an exact definition. Jagose (1996), for example, points to the plasticity and indeterminacy of this term which connotes its roots in constructivism, poststructuralism, and postmodernism. It resists essentialising the allegedly natural relationship between chromosomal sex, sexual behaviour, 21 identity, and desire. The term disrupts the stability of identity (including gay and lesbian identities) and posits fluidity rather than innateness or crystallisation. It is through the queer angle that I find myself pursuing a middle ground, or a fusion of horizons, between discursive and materialist formulations. Several aspects associated with these discourses are relevant in attempting to understand the problematics of trans repudiation: (1) the theoretical power of difference, and the techniques developed by deconstruction to uncover difference and show how grand narratives previously glossed over contingent variances; (2) the acknowledgement that consensus does not actually exist and umbrella terms such as 'trans' tend not to hold; (3) an attitude of incredulity towards metanarrative (as conveyed by Lyotard), that challenges the doctrinaire and dogmatic qualities arising from grand narratives such as authoritarian Marxism or orthodox psychoanalysis as well as religion; and (4) recognition that plurality might very well be the force that breaks apart stubborn dualisms such as good/evil, sane/insane, and male/female. Queer theory suggests pursuing an understanding of gendered subjectivity that includes the complexities and instabilities of desire which dualisms such as straight/gay overshadow. This study occupies an unstable middle ground between postmodernism and the critical realist discourses of feminist standpoint epistemology, in attempting not to overlook the materiality of lived lives as they are located in the concrete social world, nor the power of discourse to produce the realm of the material itself. The material importance of embodiment is especially relevant to all issues of gender, and here specifically in drawing distinctions between transsexuals and trangenderists. In relation to queer theory, these divisions circulate contentiously in discussions of identity and material embodiment (Prosser, 1998; Elliot, 2004a). Butler (1990; 1993) writes about gender as a fiction based on an inscribed performativity, a repetition of a stylisation of constructed codes that materializes over time, approximating 'the natural', so that gender appears innate, essential. She builds on Foucault's (1978) analysis, that uncovered the discursive construction of sexuality as part of the power/knowledge axis and challenged essentialist understandings. Butler (1990) asks, "How does language itself produce the Active construction of 'sex' that supports ... various regimes of power?" (p. ix.). Other queer 22 theorists such as Halberstam (1994), Noble (2004a; 2004b), Pratt (1995), and Stryker (1998) emphasise the ways in which queer theory undoes the binary by creating a third space for gender transgression. Stryker defines queer as follows: "(1) the sense of a Utopian, all-encompassing point of resistance to heteronormativity and (2) a 'posthomosexual' reconfiguration of communities of people marginalised by sexuality, embodiment, and gender" (p. 151). This definition reflects the rise of transgender activism in the 1990s which at times militantly rejected conformity to the sex/gender binary (Califia, 2003). However, not all transpeople are satisfied with total rejection of the sex/gender binary. Prosser (1998) argues that Butler overemphasised performativity and language in her 1990 book Gender Trouble. He suggests that she has failed to account sufficiently for embodiment in both Gender Trouble and Bodies that Matter (1993). In challenging the postmodern 'third space' assumptions that emanate from Butler's and other queer theorists' positions, Prosser wonders what happened to the 'first' and 'second' spaces that he believes still matter in ways that go beyond the poststructural thesis on the productive nature of power: Constructing trans into the very "fin" of the millennium, postmodernism has challenged the key binaries of modernist identity grand narratives by idealizing the middle ground -the "/" or transition itself.. .this promotion of trans comes at a price.. .it leaves unattended differences that continue to matter on either side of the slash. (p. 201) Queer rejection of the possibility of being entirely or definitely a man or a woman does not automatically equate with the embodied experiences of transsexuals. Their experience of embodied incongruity differs from the experience of a congruently embodied female or male subject who is queer identified. While transgender activists privilege the crossing and fluidity of queer, many transsexuals disagree. Firstly, TS people express a variety of sexual orientations, and while some might change these, others retain a stable sexual orientation over the course of their lives (e.g. always feeling like a straight man). TS people may be queer identified, but certainly not all of them are. Many FtMs, for example, are heterosexual in their orientation following transition, a transition that lends social and physical embodiment to their sense of having been heterosexual males in female bodies prior to transition (Devor, 1997). Such heterosexual persons might, but also might not, resonate with the identity 'queer'. 23 To return to the problem that White (2002) noted, 'trans', as an umbrella term, supposes a sense of unity amongst TG, TS, IS, gender liminal, Two-Spirit, some bisexuals, cross-dressers (transvestites, drag Kings/Queens), gender benders and queer identified people, a sense of unity that often does not exist. There might be issues that produce strategic solidarity (e.g. eradication of transphobia) yet even here one cannot assume that all trans people will come forward to support such a campaign. There are transsexual people who, upon transition, disappear into the world to live straight lives and may not want to be reminded of the past or to be activists in any way (Prosser, 1998). They may be more motivated to maintain the gender binary than to blur it. Some TS people insist that their ontology is medically rooted, seeing themselves as having a sexed brain that is in contradiction with their mis-sexed body. For those who accept these causal attributions, an essentialist physiology is at the root of the mis-sexed body, not culture, language, environmental factors, psychodynamic factors, or other aspects raised by queer theory. The 'trans' discourse, for such persons, is not an accurate one. They do not wish to move from one sex to another, they have always been of one sex, with medical issues that require correction. Hence, queer theory is of little or no relevance to such subjects. As Prosser (1998) writes: ... the current [TG] campaign to remove gender identity disorder entirely from the DSM does not consider that, for some transsexuals, gender identity disorder may be experienced precisely as a disorder, a physically embodied dis-ease or dysphoria that dis-locates the self from bodily home and to which sex reassignment does make all the difference. (p. 203) Prosser argues that some transsexuals adamantly disagree with those TG activists who wish to remove the clinical status of gender dysphoria from the DSM psychiatric nomenclature of mental disorders. Burnham (1999) concurs that there is a lack of unity between TS and TG people. Namaste (2000) also challenges the umbrella definition, arguing that it "may erase the specificity of all different transgendered and especially transsexual individuals" (p. 267). Moreover, she decries the way that queer theory neglects the everyday lives of TG and TS people in terms of their location in the institutionalised social world. She charges that queer theory, including the imposition of queerness on all trans subjects, constitutes "a remarkable insensitivity" that overlooks the "lives, bodies and experiences" of transpeople (p. 23). 24 For TG people, resistance to the binary is imperative. Noble (2004b) argues that he refuses to be a man and emphasises "the need to think paradox: I'm a guy who is half lesbian" (p. 26). This paradoxical hybridity is typical of TG identity, entailing multiplicity and related configurations. While such identity conclusions are important to TG people, they are not necessarily the same conclusions that TS people arrive at. Meyerowitz (2002) emphasises the historical development of the TG movement. She notes that it arose after well known figures such as Harry Benjamin and Christine Jorgensen died, and cites the relevance of the Internet as an element in postmodern culture, something that also came about after the demise of Jorgensen. The Internet, moreover, facilitates transnational crossing through non-embodied means, nodes with no centre (such as chat rooms), and opportunities for organising global communication and protests. Internet interactions allow cyberspace crossings and cyber identities in performative, language-based modalities (Rothblatt, 1996). This might be a valuable aspect for TG activists, or those who wish to play with gender distinctions, yet such technological sophistications elide the embodied incongruity that TS people live with in their concrete everyday/night worlds. Leading TG activists, such as Feinberg (1993), nevertheless call for the revolutionary overthrow of the binary, a militant rejection of a fixed sex/gender identity, of passing, of duality, in favour of reconfiguring oneself as s/he. Prosser (1998) rejects this universal call, emphasising that in point of fact, TG crossings, fluidity, and indeterminacy are about gender and not sex. TS is not so much about the fluidity of gender crossing as it is about "substantive transition: a correlated set of corporeal, psychic, and social changes" (p. 4): hence, Prosser's project to "wrest the transsexual from the queer inscription of transgender" (p. 56). Further problems with the trans umbrella emerge when one looks more closely at Indigenous expressions of gender and whether they do or do not belong within the constructed category of trans. Two-Spirit People In North American Indigenous cultures and traditions, prior to colonisation, there was no such thing as a sex/gender binary. The binary appeared in First Nations people's worldview following colonisation, when Western religious traditions intruded, often violently, as in the history of the Residential Schools in Canada and the USA where Indigenous children were 25 forcibly removed, cut off from their families in order that they might be 'c ivi l ised ' . This process involved inculcating and indoctrinating these children in Christian traditions, of which the gender binary forms a major aspect. Historically, in New France, French colonists noted the phenomenon of gender and sex variance among Indigenous people using the pejorative inscription berdache. Brown (1997) traces this term to Arabic, from which it migrated into Italian, Spanish and French. Its root meaning is sodomite. In English, berdache was used as a standard term for the gender liminality perceived among First Nations, especially by anthropologists who thought the term innocuous. However, during the Third Native American / First Nations Gay and Lesbian conference held in Winnipeg , 'berdache' was denounced for its colonial and insulting connotations (Jacobs, Thomas, and Lang, 1997). The more appropriate Two-Spirit was coined and adopted at that conference. Two-Spirit captures the spiritual aspects of Indigenous gender liminality that the pejorative 'berdache' misses, spirituality being of central resonance in the phenomenon (Hall , 1997). The newer term is not without its own problems. Although widely adopted and recognised, for example in gay and lesbian studies, Two-Spirit poses some translation problems in certain Indigenous languages. Jacobs et. al. (1997) cite its literal translation into Navajo or Apache as signifying a person with two spirits, one living and one dead. In Shoshone, the translation means "ghost" (p. 3), implying a person of whom one should feel frightened. In denouncing the term 'berdache', First Nations scholars noted the ways in which English and French anthropologists focused on bending the phenomenon to fit their more limited focus on sexual 'deviance', seeing the berdache as simply a male homosexual (Herdt, 1997). The traditional anthropological reading tended to elide or downplay the special cultural, spiritual and gender roles of Two-Spirit persons. Prior to colonisation, First Nations children who exhibited gender difference were identified, usually by a grandmother, as Two-Spirited, as having the spirits of both male and female simultaneously. In adolescence such people were given a unique initiation ceremony that affirmed their special significance to the tribe. Two-Spirit people were (and are, in terms of reclamation) said to be gifted, endowed with unusual spiritual powers that warranted special status within their communities. Attributions of clairvoyance, prophecy, healing abilities, and so on, were common (Brown, 1997). Two-Spirit people were called upon to offer counsel to other tribe members experiencing marital problems or to assist with 26 matchmaking prospective marriage couples. They were thought to have special insight into male/female relationships since they were (are) seen to embody both sexes and their wisdom was therefore highly valued. Prior to colonisation, Two-Spirit people were not subject to repudiation. On the contrary they were honoured with special status. Western anthropologists tended to dismiss the Two-Spirit claim, usually identifying and focusing on male-bodied 'berdaches' and the fact that they often took a male-bodied husband. While the anthropologists classify Two-Spirit people negatively as homosexual, the tribe itself did not view their marital and sexual relations with men as homosexual. Across tribes, in fact, the only consistent restriction placed upon Two-Spirits is that they could not marry or engage in sexual relations with other Two-Spirits. The Western view of Two-Spirit persons, which focussed on the assumed debauchery of supposed male homosexuality, as evidence of uncivilised behaviour, tended to overlook the multiplicity of the phenomenon. It seems that female-bodied persons could also be identified as Two-Spirit. Some First Nations scholars, however, dispute this assertion. Blackwood (1997), for example, argues that the "manly-hearted women and warrior women of the Plains nations were alternative roles for women, not two-spirit genders" (p. 290). The tendency to clear-cut classification is not necessarily - in the case of gender - an Indigenous tradition. Kehoe (1997) argues that many non-Western cultures "value dynamic shifting, transformations, and existence in more than two dimensions" (p. 266). Colonisation has, however, meddled with Two-Spirit traditions. The imposition of Western religious morals and values on First Nations put the special status of Two-Spirit people into disrepute amongst most North American Indigenous peoples. Having mostly lost their traditional roles, Lang (1997) notes that many First Nations people, who would have been initiated and socialised into Two-Spirit roles, instead found themselves rejected by their families and communities. Those who remained on their reservations often had to closet themselves and those who could not do so usually left for urban centres, assimilating into gay and lesbian subcultures. Western gay activists who forged the LGBT identity configuration have recently broadened it to be more inclusive of Two-Spirit people: LGBTTQI6. In any case, the attempted eradication of Two-Spirit people by Western colonial traditions was not absolute in effect. Lang (1997) tells us that some of the 27 grandmothers still remember the traditions of gender liminality and try to ensure that a Two-Spirit child is afforded the chance to claim the role within the community. Moreover, in Indigenous cultures that were not subject to colonisation, as in parts of Polynesia, gender liminality retains its cultural significance (Roen, 2001). Two-Spirit people in postcolonial society may or may not seek SRS. They may also hold an ambivalent position in regard to queer theory and the trans umbrella. In queer theory, the emphasis on sexuality and gender liberation tends to obscure the primacy of race and culture that many Two-Spirit people espouse. Lang (1997) argues that for most Two-Spirit people, their identities as First Nations people are usually the primary element of self-understanding. Recent reclamation of the status of Two-Spirit, damaged as a result of Western imperial adventures and coercive colonisation, privileges ethnicity and cultural heritage. This cultural heritage is sufficient to allow for gender liminality in ways that do not require Western queer theory or a trans umbrella. That some First Nations Two-Spirit and gay and lesbian people are in agreement with queer theory and seek solidarity under a trans umbrella is not to be overlooked under postcolonial conditions. That racial oppression can erase gender liminality and force its limited reclamation under newer Western discourses, such as queer theory, points to the tangled ways in which intersectionality manifests itself. Whether through queer theory or the undoing of racist oppression of traditional Native ways, the challenge for trans studies and TG activists is how to make space for addressing racial subjugation, abandoning their hitherto singular critical focus on the Western sex/gender binary. Interiority / Exteriority The current situation of Two-Spirit people illustrates the impact of social/cultural change in a particular context, in conjunction with a personal identity that does not conform to the sex/gender binary. This brings us back to the discussion of the tensions between exteriority and interiority. Exteriority pertains to the social world, its navigation by transpeople and the barriers they encounter. Interiority refers to the phenomenology of the subject and sedimented psychodynamics. The latter include identity configurations and intersections, trauma, fictional 6 Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Trans-Two Spirit-Queer-Questioning-Intersex 28 goals, and so on. There has been a tendency among academics to focus on one or the other: psychoanalysis has focused on interiority to the exclusion of exteriority, while sociology has often focussed on exteriority to the exclusion of interiority, as Elliot (2004a) notes. For transpeople the body, in its flesh and blood corporeality, becomes the crux of these two dimensions. This is especially so for transsexuals, most of whom at one point or another must broach the issue of 'passing'. The body, as matter, matters, as Fuss (1989) wryly notes and Butler (1993) theorises in responding to earlier misperceptions of her theory of performativity. How the body is socially read and how one feels about one's own body meet at the primary intersection between interiority and exteriority, where gender is concerned. This division between interiority and exteriority points to a broad paradox that TS and TG people tend to face, as exemplified in Table 2. Table 2: Interiority/Exteriority Interiority Exteriority TS T G wants to conform to binary does not want to conform to binary TS T G not always allowed to conform is often forced to conform Interiority pertains to the subjectivity of the gendered and transgendered self, the dimension psychoanalytic and other depth psychology discourses are concerned with. Exteriority refers to the location of gendered and transgendered subjects in the social world, their sociological and legal status, and so on. The issue of passing as male or female or the refusal to do so lies at the crux of this paradox. TS subjects generally want to pass (conform) in the social world in ways 29 that are congruent with their gendered subjectivity, and yet are often refused and repudiated (read as non-conformist or aberrant). TG subjects often do not want to pass (preferring to be non-conformist) and yet are frequently forced to conform to the sex/gender binary (as when having to choose a lavatory or to tick a male / female box on a government form). The paradoxes between interiority/exteriority have produced some acrimonious debates within trans communities. While TG activists have called for an end to transsexual passing (the striving to be socially read as male or female) many TS people have rejected the call. Prosser (1998) suggests that TS desires to pass are predicated on matching "corporeal interiority (internal bodily sensations)" (p. 43) with external perceptions. Prosser argues that TS passing relieves the trauma of having been mis-sexed, it becomes "a step towards home" (p. 184). SRS and exogenous hormone treatments are not really far removed from general social passing, as they help to align the felt and visual body. Social passing (dress, gesture, gait, accoutrement, and so on) aligns with external expectations. That passing might, as TG activists charge, be detrimental in the long run to a project of rejecting sex roles is not the issue. The issue is that TS people seem to be targeted for hyper-performing a gender by stereotypical presentations; pejorative accounts such as Greer's (1999) dismiss MtFs as "pantomime dames". Such criticisms place an unfair burden on TS people, who need to undo the trauma of psychological homelessness by going home to a body that feels right, to be/long, to be in the right sex. Conformity to sex and gender norms may be necessary for TS people to heal from the trauma of having been mis-sexed, but their performance of the role may still appear as acting rather than being (in the performative sense of bringing something to pass). Namaste (2000) defines passing thus: "Passing is about presenting yourself as a 'real' woman or a 'real' man - that is, as an individual whose 'original' sex is never suspected. Passing means hiding the fact that you are transsexual and/or transgendered" (p. 144). In a society rife with transphobia and trans repudiation, and in subjects already traumatised by having been mis-sexed, the desire to struggle for home and to not be detected (passing) seems reasonable, even if attempts at passing rely on prevailing stereotypes of how males and females should ideally look and act. 30 Some feminist theorists, such as Lorber (1994), call for a society in which men and women, as currently understood, would no longer exist. Many of us would like to see this happen. If such a change were to occur, perhaps then TS people might feel more comfortable with SRS/hormones alone, with no further need to 'pass'. Why are TS people singled out and condemned for their passing, when natal males and females with a wide range of physical and behavioural characteristics pass in the world all the time, usually without any such criticism? The extent to which transpeople carry social stigma is an important consideration for the field of trans studies. Stigma is a term that goes back to ancient Greece, where criminals, slaves or traitors were marked in the flesh, branded in such a way as to carry a tarnished and immediately identifiable status that was always visible, so that they might be avoided (St. Claire, 1999). The trans subject, like those maimed Greek outcasts, often carries a visible social stigma. Transpeople remain branded, marked as identifiable, yet they are also curiously erased from the social world (e.g. denied legal documents), as Namaste's (2000) ethnographic study of transpeople in Quebec reveals. In this instance they do not fit into any categories, and remain persona non grata. Transpeople have historically been denied their selfhood. Faced with stigma, social barriers, and a widespread lack of understanding, many have turned to writing as a way of articulating their embodiment and associated struggles7. Prosser (1998) analysed fifty autobiographies written by transpeople from 1954 to 1996. He asks, "Why do so many transsexuals write autobiographies?" (p. 103). The contested site of the body is a major factor. Prosser notes that in these autobiographies "being trapped in the wrong body" becomes a transsexual's motivation for writing the self, the "wrong body" theme becomes their "most famous rhetorical trope" (p. 104). Those TS subjects who do not write their life story must nevertheless become master narrators of their own mis-sexed stories. The inevitable requirement to narrate the trauma of being mis-sexed from childhood onwards, in order to gain authorisation from psychologists/psychiatrists, enforces a need for self-narration. Narrating the body becomes a necessary skill, and self-narration is a key element in persuading the authorities to permit SRS. The interiority of memory, and the need to ex/press trauma in a cohesive storied form intersects with negotiating the exterior social world and its institutions. The self as an integrating story is re/called in pursuit of healing or repairing 7 Notable examples include works by Christine Jorgenson (1967), Mario Martino (1977), Rene Richards (1983), Jan Morris (1986), Leslie Feinberg (1993), and Erica Rutherford (1993). 31 the mis-sexed body, in appealing to the authorities for aid, for medical help in hope of achieving congruity. Success depends on the ability to convey "who they are", in order to remain or become what they want to be. This was evident in the stories shared in the interviews conducted for this study. Trans-scribing Theory and Interviews: The Structure of the Dissertation This trans-disciplinary study is structured in three parts. Part I, of which this Introduction is the first chapter, proceeds in Chapter 2 to reflect on the thematic topics that emerged from my interviews with transpeople. Excerpts from the interviews are concentrated in Chapter 2, however, they also appear throughout the study when appropriate or when relevant, so as to ensure that transpeople themselves are substantially heard as they narrate the social and internalised barriers they experience. Chapter 3 goes on to situate the theoretical framework used to analyse the problem of transphobia/repudiation raised in the interviews, including further analysis of the concept of "foregrounding horizons" in trans-disciplinary research. Part II opens with a discussion in Chapter 4 of the terms repudiation and trans/phobia. Transphobia assumes/insinuates that phobia is the sole motivation for social discrimination against transpeople. While acknowledging the colloquial importance of 'transphobia' in trans communities, and pragmatically making use of the term in the interviews, I point to the less universalistic and less causal implications of repudiation as a process that intersects the interior (intrapersonal) with the exterior (interpersonal/institutional). Repudiation often includes a phobic reaction, yet might also include ideological forms of rejection/negation of both identity and trans subjectivity of a non-phobic cast. Hence, repudiation complements the more common usage of transphobia and is not intended to replace the term. Examples of political repudiation and prevailing contradictions follow in Chapter 5, which provides a socio-political and clinical context to the myriad issues raised in the interviews. Chapter 6 replies to these varied political/clinical rejections of transpeople's embodied claims by means of "talking back", to refute the arguments of those who mis-comprehend trans subjectivity. 32 Finally, Part III pursues a more sustained analysis of the depth psychologies in order to "return the gaze" of the perpetrators of trans repudiation. These discourses are shown to be central to an understanding of the dynamics of unconscious repudiation. The notions of trauma, distress, conflict, defense, compensations, ideal strivings, unconscious fictions, and subjectivity in its (un)conscious aspects, are all part of trans experience. The challenges transpeople pose to the psychic sedimentation of the sex/gender binary in non-trans subjects requires a reconsideration of depth psychology for an adequate theorising of the complexity of trans repudiation. A return of the clinical gaze onto the discourses/narratives of the depth psychologies provides a means of reclaiming them to account for trans repudiation, without maintaining the conservative analyses of psychopathology that have commonly appeared in these discourses. Chapter 7 considers Freudian and Jungian concepts relevant to the issues that transpeople raise regarding transphobia and repudiation, while Chapter 8 looks at Adlerian theory and its usefulness to these debates. The study concludes in Chapter 9 by considering the subject/self debate. For transsexuals especially, the concept of self, implying integrity and cohesion, may be an effective healing fiction for those with mis-sexed bodies. In contrast, the perpetually fractured subject (as favoured by poststructuralism), which emphasises fluidity and multiplicity, is often more relevant to those TGs who are seeking to escape from the sexual binary. Repudiation denies both subjectivity and selfhood to transpeople, pointing to the need for profound change on both the social and psychological levels so that transpeople might be considered subjects/selves in their own right. In keeping with the feminist thrust of this work, I call for solidarity with trans struggle, for their emancipation from sex/gender oppression. This oppression might seem uniquely targeted towards them but it may, in fact, be part of something broader, something that affects all of us in differing and perhaps unthought ways. 33 CHAPTER 2: THE INTERVIEWS In representing salient points and storied fragments from my interviews with twenty transpeople, I begin with Dorothy Smith's (1987; 1999) feminist contention that subjects are located in their everyday/night worlds as embodied beings under ruling relations. Her sociological contention is confirmed and illustrated by the narrative evidence I cite which reveals that navigating one's life in the social world can be, and often is, traumatic for transpeople. The rules enforced are not just textual and institutional, they are also embodied, expressed in flesh and blood gestures and the dynamics of interpersonal relations. The gaze of repudiation directed at transpeople, which often leads to overt, punishing acts, is consonant with Foucault's (1984) concept of panopticism: The panopticon consists of a large courtyard, with a tower in the centre, surrounded by a series of buildings divided into levels and cells. In each cell there are two windows: one brings in light and the other faces the tower, where large observatory windows allow for the surveillance of the cells. (p. 19) There are few places in the world where transpeople, especially those who do not 'pass', can escape the panoptic gaze associated with surveillance and condemnation. In their narratives, the interviewees often evoked painful events that point to the dangers of potential and actual violence. Namaste's (2000) definition of violence, as it pertains to transpeople's lived experience, is one that is corroborated by the experiences shared in these interviews: I use the term "violence" to refer to a variety of acts, mannerisms, and attitudes. It can range from verbal insults (e.g., calling someone a "fag"), to an invasion of personal space (e.g., throwing a bottle at a lesbian as she walks by), to intimidation and the threat of physical assault. "Violence" also includes the act of attacking someone's body - whether through sexual assault (rape), beating, or with weapons like baseball bats, knives, or guns. (p. 139) 34 There are a myriad possible motivations behind transphobia and other forms of trans repudiation. These range from sudden, irrational rage (reflecting serious unconscious conflicts) to more stable and conscious forms of enmity, such as those related to the defense of political ideologies that view transpeople as a threat to a cherished sex/gender binary. That transpeople often un/willingly stir-up and rouse defensive reactions, because of the (un)'certainty' of perpetrators' own tenuous positions as sexed/gendered subjects, points to the phenomenon of projection, which causes stigmatised transpeople to be (unfortunate) targets. As will be discussed in Part III of this study, these defensive reactions may surface due to the triggering of unresolved Oedipal conflicts, unconscious misogyny, abjection, a sense of threat to a subject's unconscious gendered fictions, or because the "freak" unwittingly throws light onto a perpetrator's own shadow - surprising and disturbing what is disowned in the self. In many cases, what is roused is an unacknowledged sense of threat to the perpetrator's own tenuous gender order (the 'common sense' sex/gender binary), which is circularly thrown back onto those who are 'seen' to disrupt or potentially annihilate it. The gender 'order' is, I suggest, sedimented in the perpetrator's unconscious yet does not originate there. The problem is ultimately generated in the socio/political fabric of the culture, since the symbolic order within (interiority) reflects something that is internalised from outside (exteriority). That acts of threat and intimidation are not limited to individual perpetrators, but often extend to groups (e.g. swarmings), suggests that the unconscious defences stirred-up in one individual can quickly spread to others, igniting a collective response that seeks to defend the 'normal' binary against a supposed threat. Ironically, such perpetrators do not recognise that it is the transperson who is vulnerable and actually threatened with real violence. The following brief yet potent stories point to incidents that express the seriousness of the problem of repudiation and transphobia, the dangers that transpeople face. 1. Health Care Darke and Cope (2002) write that, "perhaps nowhere is the brutality of institutionalised transphobia so apparent as in the treatment of transpeople by the health care system" (p. 37). 35 The narratives that transpeople shared with me further corroborate their observation. Yet Lawrence (2000) reports, in a review of extensive, multiple longitudinal studies of post-operative transsexuals, that SRS and hormonal treatments are an effective way to alleviate the embodied distress that transsexuals experience. Indeed, it is often disastrous for transpeople, should their somatic incongruency not be addressed by the health care system. In short, many transpeople desperately require the services of competent health care professionals to facilitate transitioning (if so desired) or to attend to unrelated health concerns or crises. While I have listened to narrative accounts of good health service rendered, where transpeople have been treated without apparent repudiation or discrimination, there remain far too many instances of traumatic encounters with health care service providers. The health care system mis/serves this population. As "phobogenic objects" transpeople often elicit fascination, desire/disgust, and repudiation. For example, Yossi (FtM) lives with multiple disabilities and often requires medical assistance. He finds that health care professionals often get "hung up" on his transness, regardless of his reason for consulting them. Yossi: I've been to emergency rooms a lot and as soon as they open my chart and see that I'm trans, or if they ask me something and I reveal that I'm trans, they no longer treat what I've actually come in for ~ they get all caught up in asking questions about my genitals: 'Have you had genital surgery yet, or do you plan to?' And you know when you've been hit by a car that's not really the kind of questions you want to go through. So there's been a number of incidents like that where my health has been pretty profoundly affected by discriminatory care. (entry# 36) Yossi's disclosure resonates a little too closely with a tragedy in the United States that Califia (2003) recounts: .. .on August 7, 1995, Tyra Hunter was badly hurt in a hit-and-run automobile accident. An Emergency Medical Service (EMS) technician is reported to have jumped back from her body when he cut off her pants, to enable him to treat one of her injuries, and saw her penis... "That ain't no bitch!" Treatment of Hunter's injuries came to a halt while other technicians gawked at and ridiculed her... She died in a local hospital after being transported there. Over 2000 people attended her funeral on August 12th. (p. 233) Yossi has also been denied essential and emergency medical services: 36 Yossi: My most recent experience was definitely after transition, I'd already had chest surgery. And had meningitis which wasn't related to [another] disability at all but I had acute meningitis and went in for treatment and the doctor just refused to see me and said, "I don't work on people like you, you'll have to go see your GP." And I didn't know at that time that I had meningitis, I just had really severe neurological symptoms. So I went to see my GP and he kind of said, "Oh my god." You know? "We need to get you some care right away." And you know, that was quite a bit after transitioning. (entry# 38) Even when health care service is not denied it can be accompanied by undue intrusiveness. In John's (FtM) case, this is akin to what postcolonial theorists describe in their accounts of reactions to the 'fascinating', Oriental Other, the "phobogenic object" something of curiosity (Fanon, 1967, Hook, 2005, Staeuble, 2005). When asked if he had ever been made to feel uncomfortable as a result of his trans status, John replied: John: Yes, mostly in the medical world. Certain doctors have made me feel a little uncomfortable... I think that it's mainly due to ignorance. When I go to a doctor, I don't necessarily want to answer irrelevant questions about my transsexuality. One doctor wanted to know if I took the 'male position in sex'. I didn't know what he was talking about; what did he mean by 'the male position?' It was an awkward, irrelevant question and I didn't know how to respond to it (entries# 63-66)... I was just there to get my shot because my regular doctor was away, and he was asking me these odd questions... I didn't quite know how to respond. It was awkward and I was irritated and annoyed. (entries# 70-72) As authority figures, medical doctors can be intimidating to transpeople who, considering the complexities of sex reassignment surgery, need to feel comfortable in discussing future treatments. Like many TS people, Frank (FtM) has acquired considerable expertise on various SRS procedures, having spent years looking into his options. This amateur knowledge often exceeds the physician's own professional knowledge, a common feature of TS people seeking surgery, as Namaste (2000) points out. Frank wishes to take an active and collaborative role in discussing the transitioning of his body with physicians, and was dismayed at the response he received: Frank: Suddenly he's an expert after just telling me he doesn't know very much about [FtM surgery], and he just wants to go in there and cut this and cut that... when I hesitated he said "We don't have time for this", and then flat-out: "Forget it, I won't help you. You don't trust me so this won't work." I've known him for what, ten minutes?... yet still he refused to listen to any research or input I had for him. Now I don't know if 37 that's just doctor arrogance or if it was because I was trans. I wouldn't have allowed him to touch me after that, no way he's coming anywhere near me with a sharp instrument, but yes, he refused me because I questioned the need for the surgery he wanted to perform. Jeez, if his privates were on the chopping block, I bet he'd have some questions! He was so appallingly unprofessional in his tone towards me, apart from his defensiveness and lack of preparation. He had no info on me at all, even though it had been sent weeks before by two separate doctors, so there was more time needed to make sure he knew my radiation history, which ties in nicely with the triple-booking he had going on... No wonder he wasn't thrilled to meet me, time-consuming and complicated and uncommon. That's why he was so bugged about me taking more than my allotted 15 minutes, literally telling me three times that I had to think of the other patients [waiting outside]. (entries# 88-90) Some interviewees expressed their frustration at the seeming impossibility of accessing necessary health services. Sabrina (MtF) told me about her difficulty in finding a gynaecologist: Sabrina: I'm trying to find a gynaecologist, preferably female, and most of the ones I've approached have been women and they're just like, "No, we don't want you as a patient". My partner's experienced the same thing... they're just like, "We don't want you as a patient, we're not accepting new patients." ... I eventually found a male gynaecologist [whom I did not initially disclose my trans status to]. When he examined me, he was totally fine, it was just a surprise when he didn't find any uterus. You know, he said, "I'd never have known." (entries# 119-122) John has also experienced difficulty with a gynaecologist who dismissed his gendered subjectivity: John: I needed to see a gynecologist one time very early on in my transition. The visit was fine, but during the follow-up with my GP, I saw the letter she wrote to him about me. I was referred to as "she, she, she, young woman, female". I felt very angry about that. (entry# 74) Even when transpeople can access the specialist that they need, they may very well be subject to repudiation. The reluctance to see Sabrina or the refusal to use John's correct pronoun may suggest that these medical practitioners doubt the authenticity of the trans status claimed. When Tami (MtF) was asked what barriers she faced before transitioning, she replied that the most difficult was "having the health care providers believe me" (entry# 80). 38 Jenny (MtF) speaks of her frustration in finding a surgeon willing to perform an orchiectomy (removal of the testes), and in finding a psychologist: Jenny: It's that anyone could do it. I'm sure even a dentist could do it, it's just so silly... women can get hysterectomies easier than I can get an orchiectomy. And hysterectomy's a dangerous operation... they can't find anyone. They're emailing all the hospitals to see if they can get anyone to do it. I just keep bothering them every month or two... And, finding a psychologist too, trying to find a psychologist to write your [authorisation] letters. There's only one in BC [who will]. (entries# 104, 106, 108, and 110) Jeb (FtM) has also experienced problems finding a psychologist/psychiatrist (either of which may write letters of consent to pursue SRS and hormone treatments). He begins by telling me about his initial frustrations with his GP: Jeb: ... there was absolutely zero knowledge when I went to my GP, and after six months I still couldn't get any info out of her. I know now that the information isn't so hard to find but she wouldn't do it. My other gripe would be the lack of options, like to get on testosterone you need to go to a psychiatrist, and you need to go to an endocrinologist who will okay you for that, right? And there was one psychiatrist that I could go to [in another city] ... which is hard when you're unemployed or low-income, and it was awful and he and I had stylistic differences (laughter) and I had no other options. That's the guy I had to see even if I couldn't stand him... I was supposed to go back again and I flat out refused. (entries# 98, 100, and 102) Jeb's narrative is consistent with Namaste's (2000) study which shows the considerable dissatisfaction that transsexuals often express towards psychological/psychiatric service providers. She also found, citing a separate study, that physicians (such as GPs) are often woefully under-prepared and under-trained to deal with the complex health needs of transsexuals. Some of those interviewed had a better impression, like Kimberly (MtF), who evokes her positive experience at a Gender Clinic: "For me it was a very good experience and I can't say enough about the people I encountered there, the doctors [including the psychiatrists]" (entry# 39 Permissiveness, or immediate affirmative acceptance for referral to SRS from gatekeepers (contrary to Harry Benjamin International Standards8), is not necessarily the answer to all transpeople's embodied distress. While delays and diagnostic probing may very well be an irritant to those seeking SRS, the diagnostic process tries to attend to those who may presently want SRS but might come to regret transition later in life. In Britain, Batty (2004) interviewed some of those among the minority of SRS recipients who regret their transition. These people blame psychiatry and inadequate medical diagnostic procedures for recommending SRS too quickly or even inappropriately, often with devastating consequences. Narratives of regret include examples of returning to living in the natal sex or feeling stuck between sexes in a way that leads to distress. While longitudinal studies consistently demonstrate that SRS leads to alleviation for most with a GID diagnosis (Pfafflin, 1992), conflicting data report that between 1 and 18% of recipients later regret transitioning (Batty, 2004). It is not clear if there are those within this group who may have ignored the advice of physicians not to pursue SRS, for example, by going abroad for surgeries to jurisdictions where authorisation requirements are less stringent. Giving transpeople the green light, amber light, or red light is an expression of social power that requires further research. Yet what happens when health care professionals push transgendered people to go into full transitional directions, to press for a 'green light' for SRS or hormones, when this is not necessarily the person's present desire, and an 'amber light' approach might be more appropriate? Alex's (FtM) narrative deals with this controversial issue: Alex: I did go to the clinic, yeah. And I worked with one person there, and I talked to her, which did not work for me. I went in saying "I'm not sure what's up, I've got gender issues going on, I want some help and support in figuring things out, I don't know whether I want to go on hormones or not, I don't want surgery at this point in time, and whatever path I choose, I want to do things very slowly". At our third or fourth meeting, she said I was clearly transsexual and suggested that she put me on the list to see the endocrinologist, since it took 'a long time' to get in to see them - about 3 or 4 months. I told her that I wasn't interested in going that route right then, and she again suggested that I go on the waitlist, but I was so not ready to even consider hormones - that wasn't a pressing issue at all at the time -1 just wanted some support in trying to sort things out and figure out what my options were and discuss my other concerns related to being trans, to become comfortable with myself and OK about myself. Having her 'diagnose' The Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association (HBIGDA) first drafted standards of care and protocol for the administration of hormones and SRS in 1979. These standards are widely applied at Gender Clinics and recommend the controversial real life test, requiring applicants for SRS to live in their desired sex full time for 1-2 years (depending on jurisdiction) (see: Israel and Tarver, 1997, for a comprehensive discussion). 40 me as transsexual was a clear sign to me that she wasn't paying much attention to who I was and what I needed to look at. I certainly didn't think of myself as TS - and still don't -1 identify as TG. This pressure really turned me off the clinic and wasn't at all useful for me. So then I sort of ran away from the clinic for a few months and then, when more crises came up and I needed some support, I heard from some pals that there was a new psychiatrist there and she seemed to be really good, so I called her up to see if I could switch... and saw her and that worked out really well for me. (entry# 8) This example reveals a paradox in trans healthcare: of refusing service to those who desire SRS (e.g. those TS applicants who are also sex trade workers) while pushing others towards an undesired place of fixed-ness, such as Alex's experience of being wrongly classified as TS, as 'solely male in a female body'. Eventually, Alex did start taking what he describes as "low dose hormones", but with hesitations: Alex: When I went on low-dose T, I went on the transdermal patches, and I was only the second person at the clinic to use the patches, so you also have to be OK to an extent with not knowing what to expect, or with being a bit of a guinea pig. There's a lot less known about the health risks of doing low-dose hormones, or hormones for long periods of time without removing gonads. (entry# 78) Cromwell (1997) cites the medical establishment's repudiation of TG indeterminacy, a "refusal to acknowledge individuals who maintain an intermediate status" (p. 133). This refusal extends to class discrimination, as Namaste (2000) points out. She found that refugees who do not have access to Canada's health care system, sex trade workers, and intravenous drug users often encounter discrimination by the health care system, that tends to "erase" these transpeople. This frequently forces them to obtain hormones from the street. Namaste points out the dangers in unsupervised hormone use: Hormones can have serious side effects, including nausea, vomiting, headaches, mood swings, blood clots, liver damage, heart and lung complications, and problems with blood circulation and veins (phlebitis). For these reasons, it is important that individuals who take hormones be monitored regularly by a physician. (p. 160) Another problem with the health care system is its inaccessibility to low income people. In BC, the context in which these interviews were conducted, there is no longer a Gender Clinic, since austerity cuts levied by provincial government cutbacks have closed down the one that did exist. 41 There are places where transpeople can go for advocacy or referrals, yet there is ambiguity on which surgical procedures will be covered by the public health insurance program. This is often the cause of anxiety. De-listing SRS as a procedure that can be funded is a policy issue with concrete impacts on transpeople's every day/night worlds and embodied lives. The neo-liberal favouring of private, consumer models of health care exacerbates class divisions that privilege those with the economic ability to pay for private services. In Ontario, the election of a neo-liberal government in 1995 led to a fairly swift de-listing of SRS as a publicly funded procedure (Namaste, 2000). The closing of gender clinics in the USA, such as the Johns Hopkins Clinic, led to privatisation, and the development of consumer niche markets for private plastic surgeons (Meyerowitz, 2002). For wealthy American transsexuals, Meyerowitz reports that it "opened the gates" (p. 273), making it easier for those with economic means to obtain SRS in places such as Trinidad, Colorado, where many Americans (and those Canadians wishing to by-pass the public system) travel to obtain SRS. Burnham (1999) found, in her research on MtFs, that electrolysis was viewed as slightly more important than SRS and that income was cited by respondents as a principal barrier in accessing electrolysis. She also found, in discussions with FtMs, that the cost of phalloplasty and metoidioplasty was generally beyond reach since in 'liberal' BC 9 these procedures are not covered under the public health insurance program. Moreover, while (limited) mammoplasty is listed as a publicly insurable health service in BC (depending on the determination of 'inadequate breast size' of those MtFs having taken sufficient hormone therapy), chest contouring surgery or second stage mastectomy for FtMs are not covered. Burnham concludes that a holistic approach to health care, one that comprehensively accommodates transpeople's health needs, should be implemented. It strikes me as unreasonable that some MtFs can access publicly funded breast enhancement surgery while FtMs are denied essential chest contouring surgery. Simply recognising insufficiencies in trans health care begs a number of questions. How many transpeople have been coerced into the sex or pornography trades to finance the treatments they 42 require to heal the mis-sexed body? How many transpeople have contracted HIV/AIDS as a result of systematic repudiations? Namaste (2000) reports that levels of HIV seroprevalence, especially among transwomen, are "astronomical" (p. 237). Trans repudiation in the health care system leaves lingering and often traumatic effects on transpeople. Yossi's comments summarise the outcome of this category of repudiation: Yossi: When you experience [transphobia] over and over again it makes you very reluctant to seek care, because you feel like you're crazy and then you're worried that they're writing in your chart that you're just malingering or making it up or that you're cracked basically... I don't go for medical care unless I'm on my death bed. (entry# 47) Public gender clinics may be useful for introducing and referring patients to trans positive physicians. However, the public gender clinic model, while addressing class issues of accessibility, is not a panacea. Namaste (2000) found that many loathed their experiences at the gender clinics, experiencing systematic sexism in the diagnostic process, based on heteronormative expectations and sexist stereotyping. Moreover, the requirement of many gender clinics, that participants complete a 'real life test' of performing as the desired gender for up to two years prior to being prescribed hormones, places transpeople in jeopardy of physical and verbal abuse owing to their prolonged incongruous status. 2. Lavatories / Change Rooms The topic of lavatory use frequently emerged as questions arose spontaneously in dialogue. Especially for TG people and TS people in the midst of transition, lavatories often represent aspects of the sex/gender binary that foreclose in-between possibilities. Public toilets labelled 'men' or 'women' force people into a choice, and for transpeople into a situation where they may be seen as making the wrong choice. This appears either as ridiculous (embarrassing/funny to observers) or a threat (and therefore dangerous). For most gender 9 In neighbouring, conservative Alberta, phalloplasty is publicly insurable as a medical procedure to qualifying, resident FtMs. British Columbians who travel to Alberta for these procedures must, however, pay the full cost for the procedure themselves (between $40 - 50,000). 43 congruent people, visiting a public toilet is an unproblematic exercise but for transpeople, especially those who do not easily pass according to standard stereotypes, public lavatory use can be irksome, problematic, or even a nightmare. Kimberly (MtF): I once remember going window shopping years ago. They close the mall about six o'clock in the evening but they keep the mall itself open so you could walk around ... I remember going out wandering around and looking in the shops and then I had to go to the washroom. So, I went to the (women's) washroom and I didn't think there was really anyone in there. I went into the cubicle, then I heard some voices and a group of women came in, so I was sort of scared and thought I would wait until they left so that no one notices me. I thought they had left, I heard the door close and the voices stop, so I left the cubicle but there was still one woman putting lipstick on in the mirror. I looked at her and got kind of scared so I turned around and went back in the cubicle. I thought, "I'll wait 'til she goes", so she did, and I thought I'd give it a couple more minutes. My heart was pounding, and I thought, "I've got to get out of here"... suddenly I hear all of these voices and walkie-talkies, I thought, "Oh my god, my life is over." So they come banging on the cubicle door... [pause]... it was a real tough decision to open that latch because I knew that as soon as I opened the latch it was game over. So I can remember sliding that latch and the door opening... and they grabbed me. There must have been eleven security guards surrounding me and grabbing me. Then they tried to put me in handcuffs, so they put my hands behind my back and I wouldn't let them, so they started threatening me. They basically grabbed and dragged me to this room where I was questioned for about two hours. They ultimately decided that I wasn't doing anything wrong. I remember my shoes had come off, and, I had a really nice expensive gold chain and that was lost in the struggle. (entry# 60) Nick (TG - 'FtM') recalls the problem of ambiguity around lavatories from childhood: Nick: Yeah, my mom used to say that I was a tomboy all the time and for some reason she didn't seem to mind it and my brother was a guy kind of a boy, and my sister was femmy. People would mistakenly buzz me into the boy's bathrooms in public malls and that kind of thing. (entry# 12) When asked if he has experienced any problems over this more recently, Nick responded: Nick: Yes, in women's washrooms. I usually go in the men's washrooms and sometimes that's hard too, because then I really get hit on by gay men... I have a certain look and energy in my face that is often mistook as cruising, but what it is, is I'm checking out the scene, there's a security concern for me because I'm trans. I have to be aware of where everything is, so I just cruise the joint quickly and often .. .(laughter)... I could get lucky so much with men! ... Often they're there outside the door and I know how everything works and I just smile and keep going; and then in the women's washroom I get all kinds 44 of looks like, 'are you in the right washroom?' They always look at the door again to make sure they're going into the right room. Sometimes I just take my jacket off and again try to show whatever female parts I have, but for years now I just go in and let them deal with it, sometimes they even say something, [often] they'll just look... they're uncomfortable. They think I'm a guy and they feel uncomfortable and if I was [them] maybe I would too... you don't know, this guy might be a creep. (entry# 49) Public washrooms do not allow people like Nick to maintain ambivalence regarding their gender, there is no third space, other than the disability facility that may or may not be available. Nick mentioned that he often uses the disability washroom when it is available. It is ironic, as will be discussed later, that many transpeople are shunted into the disabled (i.e. "abnormal") category, when they are striving for a semblance of 'normality'. A transitioning FtM transsexual relays his difficulty in this arena: Jeb: I've looked this way [in-between] for years and I've had lots of stuff happen, especially around washrooms... all the time. You walk into the women's room and they tell you, "you're in the wrong one". But I generally go into women's rooms because I don't feel as threatened by women as by men. Chris: What happens when you go in the men's washroom? Jeb: There's only been one time when I've been 'caught' and the guy just gave me a look and I turned around and walked right out, but every other time I usually wait until I think it's pretty dead in there and I go in and out as fast as I can... In the women's room people will actually stop and tell you, "Get out." They'll say, "You're in the wrong room"; and then everybody stops to look you over. Stuff like that has happened more times than I can count. I've had people hold up a hand as I go in and I'll usually just ignore them, or else I've had people tell me I'm in the wrong room, and I say, "No, I'm not" and just keep doing my thing. (entries# 64-66) Jeb also resorts to using the disability washroom, even if it is far away, and suggests that an unlabelled single occupancy facility should always be available. Jeb: .. .some people really need to have a women's room and a men's room for their comfort and that's fine with me, but I think there needs to be some that are gender-neutral. (entry# 72) Yossi believes that washrooms are a bigger issue for MtFs : 45 Yossi: I experienced the same things with a lot of trans people around bathrooms, getting people staring at you in the bathroom, getting really nervous that you're in the bathroom. I think FtMs often have an easier time of it than trans women, because men often really don't care, quite frankly. They're not as attentive to other people and don't really pay attention to other people the same way women do, so like many trans men I had an easier time than trans women who I knew were going through the process at the same time as me. (entry# 24) Wynn (MtF) tries to avoid using lavatories outside of home altogether, if she can manage: Wynn: Oh yeah, I've been using both washrooms. I've always been really uncomfortable in guys' washrooms, it used to really drive me mental having to use them. I've been able to kind of avoid it... I'll try and find one of those handicapped ones, or you end up going in the alley a lot... I avoid going to the bathroom a lot. Like at work I didn't even know there's a non-gendered staff washroom right by my office that I'm working at, so that was a huge relief... I was like not going to the bathroom, and it's been really bad because one of the meds I'm on is a severe diuretic so that means you have to go to the bathroom all the time. I had to pee every twenty minutes, (laughter) for the first two weeks I was just getting used to it, so I was just staying at home. (entries# 114, 120, and 122) Although fully transitioned, Patricia (MtF) still admits to hesitancy around using public lavatories: Patricia: The odd time if it's a really busy washroom I still get a little nervous because of my voice, and wonder what people are going to say, but I just do it anyway. For the longest time, when I first started transitioning, I would always find a bench outside the washroom and wait until I knew there was nobody in there and then go in and use the bathroom... the one good thing about women's washrooms, everyone has their own stall, it's not like a men's washroom where you're standing at a urinal. (entries# 142 and 144) Alex (TG/FfM) recounts using a women's washroom while dressed like a man: Alex: There've been lots of times that washrooms have been a challenge even before I started identifying as trans, much less when I was on T [testosterone]. One time I was in the [department store] downtown - this was before I'd started on hormones -1 was wearing men's clothes all the time, and I'm 5' 10, so people often read me as a guy at first glance. At the [store], the women's washroom on the fifth floor is down at the end of a long corridor. Usually that washroom isn't that busy, so it tended to be one that I headed for when I was downtown. One time as I was going in, this woman was coming out and she physically blocked my path -1 moved from one side to the other, and she stepped right in front of me each time, until I said "excuse me" and as I wasn't on T, the voice matched the washroom, and then she apologized and got all flustered. But this kind of 46 thing happened fairly regularly, that people would think or tell me that I was in the wrong washroom. (entries# 85-86) Keenan (FtM) assumed that he would be safer using the lavatory in a lesbian bar: Keenan: When I used the men's washroom I was targeted and harassed by men. One time some male skinheads looked over the washroom stall while I was in there and they demanded to know 'what I was'. I was also harassed by lesbians when I used the women's washroom, 'cuz I was still in the two-year real life test and washrooms are such a hard space to negotiate. I thought at that time it would be easier to just go into the women's. After that, if I was out and had to use the washroom, I just avoided it altogether, it was easier to just go out and relieve myself in the alley. (entry# 14) On another occasion, Keenan was assaulted while using a lavatory in a queer bar: Keenan: 1 was at a bar and I got sick so I went to the woman's washroom and vomited. A woman came into the bathroom and started yelling at me and she kicked me. She went and got the manager and had me thrown out of the bar for one night. (entry# 16) Keenan's experience is not unique. In the case of Sheridan v. Sanctuary Investments Ltd.  a transwoman in the process of transition was barred entry to a gay and lesbian night club due to previous complaints about her use of that club's women's washroom. The British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal found in her favour: ... the woman had been discriminated against on the basis of sex and disability and that the owner of the club had failed in his duty to accommodate her needs... the discomfort, or preference, of other patrons is not a defense for discrimination." (as cited in Darke and Cope, 2002, p. 58) The potential violence that transpeople face in using lavatories was dramatised in the film Better than Chocolate (Wheeler and McGowan, 1999). The film portrays a trans woman who is brutally assaulted for using a lavatory in a lesbian bar. In the midst of the assault, two other lesbians intervene, stop the assault and vigorously defend the injured trans woman's right to use the women's washroom. That transpeople are not necessarily safe in Lesbian and Gay spaces will be discussed in more detail later. These stories of problems arising from lavatory use pinpoint the 47 paradox/tension at the heart of TS/TG repudiation. Most of the time, transpeople cannot escape the binary: they have to choose. This situation extends to similar contexts, like changing rooms: Frank: I was in the gym one day with my buddy who was a power lifter since before he transitioned, he had been at that gym years ago but he hadn't been back since he transitioned... I don't think he was even on hormones yet, but he certainly looked like a man, was a completely huge power lifter, and lived as a man but he had no beard or anything. We were in the gym, or in the locker room, just finishing up and some guy that was bigger than both of us came in and confronted him. I was safe because I had the beard but I hadn't had any of the surgeries, but I had all my clothes on. This guy came in and confronted my friend and said, "What the ' f are you doing in here?" And my friend looked at him and said, "You don't know what you're talking about." He didn't escalate the situation but we were both on the spot. I mean we were both looking up at this giant and he's angry. And he says, "You're not supposed to be in here, you go to the other one." And my friend said, "No, you don't know what you're talking about." Anyway my friend left the changing room and I finished putting my shoes on and the guy said to me, "That guy's a chick." And I said, "I think you got the wrong person." Then the guy went yelling up the stairs to the proprietors of the gym: "See that guy over there, he's not a guy, he's a chick, I know him from before." I stayed quiet. I talked to my buddy later and he said he would have done the same thing. But it was really rattling, he never went back to that gym. (entry# 92) Ultimately, it is about being perceived as the wrong person, with no right location, because trans-ness poses problems of re-cognition. 3 . Intimate Others According to both sociology and psychology, the family (whether the Western nuclear family or other forms of collectivist family) undoubtedly has a powerful influence on identity formation and one's developing sense of self. Nuttbrock (2002) speaks of the role that parents play in affirming gender identity as "critically important" (p. 5). In fact, in a society governed under the law of the binary, parents and siblings are usually the first of the many gender police to which we are generally subjected. Hence, it is unsurprising that transpeople often, though not universally, carry memories of unfortunate experiences with their families. In Chapter 7,1 outline the psychodynamics of parent/child relations in reference to Freudian theory, suggesting that the foundations of infancy and childhood create developmental features that are sedimented in the psyche. These dynamics are generally unconscious, with concepts such as repression being 48 central in understanding some aspects of many transpeople's lives. Indeed, for some transpeople, the inter/intrapersonal bonds of loyalty that they may hold with their families are among the initial sources of repressing their transness, as Trevor (FtM) explains: Trevor: My mother passed away and that was a gatekeeper kind of relationship, so when she was gone it was kinda safe to proceed. I had lived out my promise to myself that I had made in my 20s, that I'm not going to hurt my parents by being who I am, and I realised that really that promise was to my mother, though I didn't really keep that promise to my father. Two weeks after her memorial service I went to my GP and got my referral to the gender clinic. So it all happened very quickly. (entry# 16) For families, there may be a sense of loss when their daughter or son, sister or brother, is no more the person they thought they were, that person is gone. Trevor explains his father's reactions, complicated by his deepening dementia: Trevor: My father was actually in the early stages of Alzheimer's but didn't know it. And he's always somebody who never paid attention anyway. So I had no subtle messages with my father, I said, "Dad I have something to tell you and I want you to pay attention". So I told him out straight: "I'm changing my sex, I'm going to be a man, this is my new name". He wasn't too sure, it was a different Welsh name than what he had chosen - so ya that was fine. He was already slipping into dementia, so he would grasp any external cues to keep what he could together, he was talking to a man, so then I was a man. But on another level he would sometimes ask where I was by my old name. Because he hadn't seen her for a while, where was she and why didn't she come to see him. And I would say, well I'm the person who comes now, and she really loves you and misses you, but she won't be able to come and visit, I'm the person who comes now. Yet on another level he knew exactly who I was because he used my childhood nickname right up until the end. He went quite deeply into dementia and right up until the latest point would use my nickname, until he couldn't speak anymore. So I knew on some deep level he knew who I was and that he grasped it.10 (entries# 25-26) Many of the transpeople that I interviewed disclosed the difficulties their families had with their transness: Jamie-Lee: .. .my father... he really had his heart set that I was a male, right? And my sister too, she had difficulties because she'd always thought she'd had this brother, you know, so it was difficult I think for everyone. (entry# 38) This example seems to be consistent with Adler's (1956) contention that the unconscious is present in the conscious which can aid, for a time, even those with serious degenerative diseases of the brain (see Chapter 9). 49 Persistent coercion to be the gender assigned at birth was often recalled by the interviewees: Roz (MtF): I was always most comfortable at school playing with the girls and doing all of that stuff, you know I watched all of that rough and tumble and I wasn't [into] the guns and the cowboys and Indians and all of that. I was more into playing house and shop with the girls, and again at some point, age seven maybe, was strongly discouraged from that. So I think there were all the indicators and triggers there, from my folks, that they suspected that I was a gay man. And so I found that my life was a series of, "Oh well we're sending you away to the Y camp." Or, "We're sending you here, we've enrolled you in Cub Scouts. We've registered you in this." And all of these things to make a man out of me, kind of thing, you know? (entry# 12) Roz remembers her father's homophobic remarks: Roz: And of course my dad was always making these comments, my father has a history in policing and he was always saying, "We got a call last night where somebody rolled another queer, those damn fags." You know, so all these derogatory remarks about the LGBT community. (entry# 14) Roz recognised the impossibility of being who she was while living in her father's house. Her solution was to repress and sublimate her trans feelings into other activities: Roz: It was just [because of] the tone and the language that he used that I thought, "This is something he's not going to get, and my life will be a living hell if I ever try to do this now, so I'm just going to bottle it, push it away and deal with it later". Then I found out years later that at that particular time [a person with] gender dysphoria was still classified as someone that would have to be committed to a mental institute and be treated with electroshock aversion therapy. So it was not the sort of thing I wanted to do as a sixteen-year-old, and I found my freedom at that time in swimming and water polo, (entry# 36) For some transpeople, adolescence is recalled as a particularly awful time. Some were no longer able to bear living with their families. Others found the whole experience, family, school and so on, alienating. They did not see themselves or the pain of incongruency reflected in the world around them. While Frank did not disparage his family experiences, he nevertheless could not bear to be located in a milieu that consistently refused to confirm, mirror, or assist him in validating his pain. He left home at a very early age: 50 Frank: Again, there wasn't any language for it but the other kids could tell I was 'different', and I ended up just leaving school, I couldn't see myself in anyone else around me. Leaving my education and leaving my family, they weren't a bad family, there was just... I was so buried in the shame. If nobody tells a child otherwise, I think it's very typical of the child to figure that it's all about them. That there really is something to be ashamed of, to be frightened of, and I started to act out in small ways, in very irritating ways, and I began to feel that I was more trouble than I was worth, so I just left. It was the sixties and I just left. I stuck my thumb out and I was gone for years and years and years. It's not like, as a twelve-year-old, I wanted to leave the security and the safety and the warmth of my family, but the angst inside was too great. If I had known, if anyone had known, that there could be something like gender dysphoria that may be going on... I mean when I first saw that shrink's office [at the gender clinic] -there was a corner devoted to children's toys, he works with kids that have got gender issues, to explore and observe and let the child express. Um, you know I can't help but believe that if something like that had been available to me that it would've given me a whole other life, and it certainly would have spared my parents a whole lot of agony. (entry# 33) Tami also left home, unable to bear the constant violence that she was subject to: "I was abused a lot - [pause] - beat up by my brothers" (entry# 54). Families are often highly conflictual spaces where interiority and exteriority intersect. Conflictual feelings of loyalty, love, rage and anger mixed together create a potent turmoil in subjectivity. In some cases, the family situation can be so traumatic that severance is the only way to survive. In other cases there simply is no family connection any more of which to speak. Family relations may also become fragmented as a result of the decision to transition. In John's case, the fundamentalist Christian background celebrated by his family is not easy to reconcile with his transsexualism. He describes his current relationship with his parents: John: It's better now. I don't think they'll ever pronounce blessing on it, but they have come to a kind of acceptance. We have all moved to a different place with this, and I think it continues to evolve. We can talk and visit on holidays. Sometimes they even use my correct name, if not my correct pronoun. My mother is much more able to put things aside and relate as one human to another. She can express love and affection; she can hug me and we can talk. But my father and I are still a little bit uncomfortable. I think we're still working out our relationship. We're still in process. (entry# 38) 51 John's comment resonates with Kristeva's (1982) idea of the subject in process/on trial (see Chapter 7). In this case, other family members are also on trial, and processing a new situation. The panoptic judgmental gaze is one that John and his family continue to negotiate and work on, their relationship is in process. That he is able to navigate the complex religious issues that shade the dynamics of his family relations remains a testament of hope. Transpeople are not always subject to permanent condemnation for having the courage to create their selves, to heal/repair their mis-sexed bodies. Adler's (1998/1938) comment that "everything can be something else as well" (p. 18) suggests that even the most difficult tensions can, in some cases, be transcended. Transpeople also challenge the identities of family members, affecting their self-definition as parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and siblings. "I am a father to a daughter" transitions to: "I am (now) a father to a son", and so on. A deeper challenge is posed by TG people since present language seems inadequate to the task. Family members may wonder if they are to blame by not detecting that their child was mis-sexed and trying to prevent or solve it in some way. Transpeople may also lose friends and social groups as a result of their coming out and transitioning. For some, especially those estranged or living far away from their families, losing social groups increases the probability of loneliness, alienation, or ostracization that can adversely affect mental health. Some will be able to make new friends, others may be too shy, or afraid of further rejection. I asked Trevor what happened to him after he came out as trans: Trevor: It was very sad and there was grieving over it. And for quite a while it didn't sink in, I couldn't believe it. And there were one or two lesbian friends, one said very clearly to me, "You're not the way you used to be, I can't talk to you anymore", and that was a loss. I really enjoyed her, we used to have really good talks. (entries# 85-86) More research is needed into the extent of transpeople's loss of family, friends, and social groups, and the effects that these losses have on their lived experience and mental health. 52 4. Public Institutions: Employment, Education, and other Public Services Employment Darke and Cope (2002) reported that 40% of 152 transpeople sampled were unemployed in Canada, despite 71% having at least two years of post-secondary education. They also note that over 70% had "low" income as measured by standard Canadian indexes. Perhaps as a consequence, Goldberg (2002) points out that a significant number of transpeople (mostly, but not exclusively MtFs) work full or part-time in the sex trade. Many transpeople find their employment prospects curtailed by trans repudiation with few career/work options available. One study Goldberg cites, for example, shows that 36% of transpeople in Ontario were at one point employed in the sex trade. This can be a dangerous profession that places transpeople at (further) risk. Thus, in her account of having been a sex trade worker over a twenty year period in Canada, trans woman Alexandra Highcrest (1997) argues for the legalisation of prostitution (a trade that helped pay her way through university). Other transpeople have had little or no work experience, which can be attributed to trans repudiation in the workplace (a factor that limits their ability to endure a job), or the refusal of employers to hire transpeople in the first place. Several narratives drawn from my interviews confirm the persistence of this problem and its concrete social and psychic effects. Dean (FtM) describes his former job and how it came to an end: Dean: I worked at a drug and alcohol counselling centre for women, and my boss at the time was supposedly a really good friend of mine, and I told her that I wanted to get into the gender clinic to see if I could get on hormones, at which point she strongly encouraged me to leave my job. This was even before taking hormones ... [I didn't want to] make a big stink about it... so I just left... That's discrimination, I don't care what you call it. (entry# 64) Roz also had a difficult time as a police officer but managed to retain her job while she transitioned. Our dialogue draws attention to the struggles she endured: 53 Roz: ...the officer in charge called me into his office and said, "Thanks for all the great work you've done and while you're here, there's this weird rumour going around the building." At that point I just said, "Well the rumour is true, I'm transsexual, I'm waiting , for a placement with the gender clinic." ... Immediately there were a couple of police officers who said, "I refuse to work with the freak"... [some] officers phoned me at home privately to offer their support but said, "We cannot be seen publicly to be supporting you, we don't have a union and it would cost us a promotion or our jobs." One officer even suggested that I should be relieved of my weapon and that I might be a danger to myself or to others, so I was ordered to go and have a psychiatric evaluation and I went and saw one of the police department psychiatrists and after about forty minutes she said, "I'm going to send a report to the department letting them know that you're stable, you're fine, that there's nothing wrong with you here, that you're handling this well." ... and yet there was one police officer who came to me and said, "Why don't you retire, why don't you resign, why don't you go and get a job in another part of the city somewhere because you're making people here really uncomfortable." ... [then] somebody leaked this to the press. People would see me, I would be on the elevator and they would be waiting to get on the elevator and see me and refuse to get on ("Oh I forgot something, or I forgot this or I forgot that") ... Or, if I got on the elevator they would get off, or if I was walking down the hallway they would be walking towards me and all of a sudden detour into a room or whatever. I mean I just knew, once it was so obvious, a guy walked into a broom closet, saw an open door and walked into a broom closet... there was ongoing stuff where I felt uncomfortable, I felt alienated, I felt isolated. Clearly there were an awful lot of people that did support, you know there were the women at the credit union, I walked in there one day and they said, "Well this is very brave what you are doing and we support it one hundred percent and if there's anything we can do to support you we will." A lot of the female staff in the Communications Centre, the same thing. So there was a lot of support that was there. (entries# 65-69) Roz's experience contrasts with that of a Toronto police officer who spent 26 years on the force. In a Human Rights complaint to the Province of Ontario, Bonnie Henderson (who went public with her complaint) alleges she experienced taunts and bigotry, and in one case was stalked by another member of the force. Unable to bear the generally transphobic culture of policing, she opted for early retirement and subsequently filed a complaint of discrimination (Demara, 2004). Roz also endured an ostracism that, considering the nature of policing, potentially threatened her safety: Roz: There were times where I was going to work or walking down to the parking lot with somebody... people, other officers, would talk to whoever I was with, yet I was treated as if I wasn't there. So I just got to a place where I felt unsafe and concerned that in a jam there were certain people who wouldn't show up, or they would respond slowly to that complaint, and so I transferred out and worked instead at our Diversity Relations unit. (entry# 79) 54 Roz began facilitating diversity trainings with other police officers. She recalls how difficult the work could be: Roz: One of the members wanted to know if it was work place harassment, if he could be charged under the discipline code for refusing to work with me or work around me because he found the whole thing disgusting and against God. So there have been situations like that. (entry# 79) Wynn also describes the difficulties she experienced while transitioning on one of her jobs (which she left shortly afterwards): Wynn: .. .the boss guys that would refuse to use my new name and go out of their way to use masculine pronouns but do it in a way, like they were trying to be friendly, like they were trying to get me to be a guy or something. I think more than anything they were uncomfortable with it. (entry# 28) Like Wynn, Jeb finds it difficult working while in the midst of transitioning. The ambiguity of gender presentation in this in-between state, and the difficulty coming-out as trans to co-workers, prompted him to quit his job at a supermarket: Jeb: My co-workers were really homophobic and really racist, and there were a lot of awful things that happened in there. I dealt with a lot of stuff just being queer in there... I reported a lot of things. But there were a lot of things that happened that I couldn't really report, and I just couldn't handle coming out there. They knew I was queer but not trans. They barely handled my being a lesbian, there really was not a lot of understanding and not a lot of education and just the thought of having to go through it all over again as trans tired me out and I ended up leaving mostly because of that. There were too many people that I would have had to come out to and it would have been ongoing and never ending; so I just got out of there. We had three or four trans customers that came in and I'd heard some pretty awful things employees said. A trans woman came in and asked for something and someone turned around and said, "That's a man in a dress!" I tried to explain to them afterwards why that wasn't okay, and they didn't care. So I explained it all to management... [then] a bunch of co-workers were going to have to go to diversity awareness training and they were mad about it. Everybody knew it was me that had complained about homophobia so that ostracised me further, it was ugly. (entries# 38-42) 55 The repression of the gendered self to suit work environments is also illustrated in Nick's job searches. He laments what his barriers have been as a TG (wo)man: "Well, every time I'd go for a job interview I'd have to feminize myself as much as possible, for years" (entry# 34). Kimberly had accumulated many years of experience as an airline pilot. After she transitioned, however, she was unable to find work in her field: Kimberly: So I tried for many, many years and I would get calls, interviews instantly because of my experience and qualifications... But because my history in flying had been under a male name, when I had to give a reference the new employer would always find out. Or I would tell them in advance, but usually they would find out by contacting the references. I remember I had an incident with a corporate charter company in [town], they actually hired me and then they asked for my references to follow up the resume... I got my envelope and resume torn up in, it must have been a hundred pieces, and then they stuffed it in another envelope and mailed it all back to me... I've tried for eighteen years to get back into the field and the profession that I'm good at and should be doing... Most recently... after eighteen years, last spring I finally got a job at the airport and it was in a pilot supplies store. So I thought maybe now times are better, times are different. I worked there for about four or five months, and then when the case that I'm sort of in the middle of went to a judicial appeal to the Supreme Court of BC, the publicity around that and the media attention, my co-workers became aware that I was transsexual and then they never had me back again. (entry# 28) The prejudice towards transpeople is not limited to what are, perhaps, perceived to be chauvinistic or masculinist professions (e.g. policing, airline piloting). Aiyanna works as an artist: Aiyanna: I'm one of the only, globally, transsexual artists who has been working professionally, who has been able to successfully continue her career. It's a horrifying statistic, and I'm hardly proud of it, I'm ashamed of this on so many different levels. (entry#110) Patricia also has a hard time finding work, and speculates on some of the reasons: Patricia: Yeah, I think some of the people I had interviews with would seriously consider hiring me but they're not sure how everyone else would react. They take the safe route. Instead of taking the chance of losing customers and clients, they would rather have someone who isn't trans. (entry# 68) 56 Education In 2001, the New York based organisation Human Rights Watch issued a report on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth attending public (state) schools in the USA. The report notes that many students are wrongly perceived as transgender, yet such persons are similarly subject to persecution. Repudiation of any gender transgression is a systematic problem in schooling. The report states: If gay and lesbian people have received some modicum of acceptance in the United States over the past several decades, transgender people remain misunderstood at best and vilified at worst. ...Youth who identify or are perceived to be transgender face relentless harassment and live with overwhelming isolation. (p. 1) Human Rights Watch notes that harassment of transpeople in schools is not limited to repudiations by fellow students, but also extends to repudiations from teachers, who often act to police gendered behaviours. The Report concludes that "peers enforce the rules through harassment, ostracism, and violence. School officials condone this cruel dynamic through inaction or in some cases because they, too, judge gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender youth to be undeserving of respect" (p. 1 - concluding section). The interviews that I conducted retrospectively narrate serious problems with primary, secondary and post-secondary education. While these incidents may have occurred years ago, there is little persuasive evidence that much has changed or improved. Education as an institution is in need of being educated about transpeople. For example, Devor (1997) comments on the paucity of educational materials available to teens and teachers regarding trans issues in secondary schools. This is unfortunate considering that "puberty is an especially horrendous time for many transsexuals" (Califia, 2003, p. xxxvi). One of the interviewees, Alex, who identifies as TG, recalls how he coped with the gender policing in his school. His reflections are evidence of the creative ways in which some transpeople manage to cope with the compulsory gender binary enshrined within schooling: 57 Alex: When I was in high school I went to a girls' school where we had to wear uniforms which were kilts, and in the winter we got to wear ties. So I spent a lot of high school saying to myself, "in Scotland, this is men's clothing, in Scotland, this is men's clothing." (entry# 20) Alex also recalls that his 'all-girl' school at times made an unusual (and perhaps unthought) allowance for him to be cast as a male figure in school plays: Alex: I think something about my gender identity probably came through to others, because in every single school play that I was in, I was cast as a male character - the one and only exception was the play that was all female characters. (entry# 24) At both primary and secondary school levels, transpeople often face constant harassment. Robin recalls being taunted as a "faggot and a queer" (entry# 22). Such taunting figured in some transpeople's decisions to drop out, as Jamie-Lee (MtF) recalls: Jamie-Lee: [school] was difficult because that's where I was finding I was different, I was teased because I was a very slight, effeminate boy. You know, there was the name calling and that kind of stuff, so I escaped into my little world... I dropped out in grade ten [and it was]... definitely due to the gender issues. (entries# 2, 13, and 15) Frank recalls that puberty at school was a particularly difficult time: Frank: Back then I didn't know I was a transperson... I was in grade school in the early sixties and there wasn't any language for what was going on... Nobody knew this existed, so looking back I remember how horrified I was in the changing rooms. I remember how things were mostly all right and then I started to menstruate and it's something that none of the other kids talked about so I didn't know that I was the only girl that was horrified. It wasn't just 'Oooo, what's this?' I was absolutely mortified. I hid it from everyone for a good two years, as best as a child could hide it. But the changing rooms were horrifying too because it's the same kids that you're in school with, and I had no idea what I was so ashamed about, what I was so frightened about; here were all these other kids so excited about all the changes with their bodies, comparing things, and I'm terrified I'm going to 'get caught', totally terrified even to be in there with them like I'm not supposed to be in there, in the girls' changing room... the other kids could tell I was 'different', and I ended up just leaving school, I couldn't see myself in anyone else around me. (entries# 32-33) 58 Those who remained in school were frequently targeted for verbal abuse. Dean confirms that it can be a long ordeal. I asked him if he had ever been beaten-up at school: "Oh yeah, tons". Chris: "And that was all through your high school period?" Dean: "Yeah" (entries# 35-40). Social isolation and ostracism is also a problem for many transpeople in school: Roz: And I remember feeling uncomfortable at school, like the kids knew I was different. Because I wanted to play with the girls, but they didn't want me to play with them because I was a boy. And I didn't want to play with the boys ... so I was bullied, I was harassed and spent most of that life on my own. (Roz, entry# 12) As Roz moved into secondary school she continued to encounter systematic bullying: Roz: In grade eight my locker was down on the ground floor of the junior high school and homeroom in the morning was up on the second floor. Everyday that I climbed up those stairs with my books and papers under my arms, somebody in that stampede to go to classes would pull the binder from under my arms and it would scatter down the stairs and everybody would kick the books all over the place and kick the papers everywhere. I was repeatedly targeted for really an extended period of time. (entries# 18-20) Jeb also recounts his experience of being targeted at school: Jeb: [at school] I wasn't openly trans but I was definitely targeted because of the way I walked and dressed, and it was all for very gender-related things even though I was not out... I had quite a few incidents where I was kind of mobbed, where I would be surrounded by people. (entries# 16 and 18) In many cases, trans-ness (or an overlapping 'queer'-ness) is detectable by peers even though a conscious acceptance of one's future trans status has not yet necessarily formed as the examples of Frank, Roz, Jeb, and Wynn demonstrate. A sense of difference is, however, already evident. Wynn was able to find a group of friends in secondary school, and yet she was still targeted for abuse: Wynn: Yeah, me and, there was a little group of us people that didn't fit in so we kind of had each other and I guess watched out for each other. And this one good friend of mine was this kind of effeminate guy and we always hung out and everyone just assumed we were gay or whatever, so we got lots of shit for being that way, and we dressed funny and so we got lots of comments and threats - "fags" etc., and plus I was always really tall and 59 so a lot of the jock types would want to fight me and I got jumped on my second week at my high school, knocked over and punched a bunch. (entry# 18) Aiyanna (MtF) recalls how her gender issues at school were tied-up with racism: Aiyanna: When I started in school it was when the U.S. and Canada changed the law that allowed us [First Nations] to go to public school. We weren't allowed in public school prior to 1952 ... this is when I first found out that one: I was not a girl, I was quickly slapped with a reality that I was a boy and not just a boy but an ugly little Indian boy. And gone from this cute little child, tousled hair and dimpled cheek, "What a cute little child", to being this "ugly little Indian boy". And very quickly my neighbours who I had played with, this little girl would no longer play with me once I started school... now that T was a boy'. (entry# 48) Problems continue at the post-secondary level of education. Robin tells her story of trying to become a nurse, and how she eventually was forced to leave the program. In her statement, she summarises the intersectional dynamics of trans repudiation that often result in living a life of poverty: Robin: [crying] I'll tell you what hurts, is that instead of making 50 to 60,000 dollars a year, I'm making nine or ten on welfare. That's what hurts. That's what I'm crying about, the money. And a place in the world, perhaps, but the money... Marginalization. We all face it, all transpeople. (entries# 97 and 99) Jamie-Lee also tried training to become a nurse and found similar trans repudiation. She filed a lawsuit against her school and won. However, that was not the end of the ordeal: Jamie-Lee: So I went to [a Solicitor] and he sued the college and I won, but I remember this one instructor who didn't like me, she said to me, once I'd won, I think my first day back, she said, "You may have won the battle but you won't win the war" ... it started happening again and I just thought "No." you know, how can I study... with this happening to me, right? So I dropped out. (entires# 64 and 66) In her research, Burnham (1999) found that pre-operative transsexuals were, on occasion, instructed by post-secondary teachers and/or school career counsellors to return to school only after their transitions were complete so as not to 'disturb or distract' other students. Some transpeople encounter barriers that prevent them from paying tuition fees. Namaste (2000) 60 details how they may be denied student loans for post-secondary education, citing institutional problems (in Quebec) that relate to barriers in having one's sex status changed on legal texts, certificates, and so on. This makes it impossible for banks to process student loan applications, which prevents some transpeople from obtaining a post-secondary education. Article 26 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights (United Nations, 1948) affirms that everyone has the right to an education. That many transpeople face persecution within the education system is both alarming and socially untenable. Clearly, there is a need for a cultural shift in schools and other institutional sites, so that gender-based discrimination can become a thing of the past. 5. Types of Repudiation Threat / Intimidation The interviewees' stories confirm that transpeople are frequently exposed to threats and intimidation from others in their everyday/night worlds. These acts represent an intersubjective aspect to the force of subjugation in transpeople's lives. Verbal threat/intimidation can in itself be traumatic and often escalates into physical assault. As will be examined later, 50% of interviewees reported having been physically assaulted. Hank (FtM) tells of his experience walking down the street: Hank: I've never been beaten up, but I've had people do things that are threatening physically, sort of like surround me while I'm walking down the street. Where there's eight young straight men around me, walking down [X street] trying to bother me, usually throwing often transphobic, but also homophobic slurs. Getting in my space. (entry# 84) A perception of gender transgression is often the precursor to threat and intimidation. The interpellation of the gaze of repudiation is a constant risk, especially for those who are pre-transition or in the initial stages. Hank describes one incident: 61 Hank: When I was in [a city] I went on a date to a bar wearing a suit and these guys decided they were more of a man than I was and wanted to go outside and fight me. We went outside but their girlfriends pulled them off before they could hit me, they were like, "You're not a man, we're going to show you you're not a man." Stuff like that. That was a few years ago. (entry# 88) Perceptually, the sometimes narrow boundaries between queer and trans may perpetuate the superimposition of these two distinct categories under the gaze of a general homophobic/heterosexist repudiation. This problem is exemplified in Alex's experience: Alex: One time when I was 20 and had shaved my head but wasn't shaving my legs, I was wearing a hippie skirt and walking down a street in a small city in Ontario and a carload of guys drove by and yelled "faggot" at me. I'm not sure if they honestly thought I was a guy or if they didn't know the word "dyke". Sometimes transphobia and homophobia can be pretty difficult to sort out. (entry# 56) For some transpeople, threat and harassment have been lived in the everyday/night world as a persistent ordeal, ever-present. Yossi tells of his experience of having beer bottles thrown at him from passing car windows: Yossi: .. .that happened a lot, I mean that was just a daily kind of thing. I just stopped going outside in that point of my transition where I was very visibly female bodied but had facial hair, so that was a daily occurrence. People would yell, "What are ya, a man or a woman? You fucking freak." Blah, blah, blah. That happened all the time to me for a little while. (entries# 64-65) Sometimes these daily ordeals escalate in frightening ways. Roz shares her harrowing story: Roz: I'd gone out one morning for my run [in a park], and as I was finishing up and having my little cool down walk when three teenaged boys went by me on bicycles. As they rode past me one of them called out, "Fucking faggot." And I laughed for a couple of reasons thinking, "Boy have you ever got it wrong." ... So they came back and circled me and threatened to hurt me and I just stayed there and stood my ground and looked at one of them that I considered to be the leader of the group and said, "Okay which one of you wants to die first? I won't get all three of you but I will get one and when the police arrive they'll know which one it is because I'm going to rip your nuts off." And we stood there in a stand-off stance for a few moments, then the leader of the group said, "It's not worth it." They rode away, my heart was pounding. (entry# 77) 62 The matter of threat is more complicated for Roz, however, when it comes from her own colleagues. She tells of the threats she received when she invited some trans friends to police headquarters, a gesture of thanks for assisting with her diversity training workshops. For doing this a colleague "quietly pulled me aside and said, 'If you ever do that again, if you ever bring those people into our club again, there will be consequences and you won't like them' " (entry# Intimidation as a dynamic can be subtler but nevertheless convey the message of repudiation. Jenny tells of her experience on a city bus: Jenny: .. .when getting on the bus and the kids move to the back of the bus because they don't want to sit near you... once I overheard some girls start commenting, "Oh you can never tell with those kind of people if they're guys or girls." I think she couldn't tell if I was a guy or a girl... She was in the seat behind me with one of her friends so I heard every word. (entries# 164, 166, and 168) Wynn has had "lots" of experiences of threat and intimidation that were not at all subtle. She recounts a particularly frightening one: Wynn: I was staying in [district] with my friend and we were walking home. It was about one in the morning and a bunch of young men pulled up in a car and started screaming, "Fucking faggot." And screeched the car right up to me and a couple of them started getting out, so I basically took off, me and my friend ran to her apartment and got inside... I was really scared with that one. I've had lots of times where people yelled from their cars or slowed down and said they're going to beat me up, but that one was really scary... they were completely willing to attack me. (entries# 68 and 74) Jeb has also had numerous experiences of threat and intimidation: Jeb: Growing up there were tons of things that happened. I used to walk to a coffee shop every night and almost every night there was someone, usually they were pretty wimpy about it, they'd wait until they were in their cars and then yell something. I've had cigarettes thrown at me, I've had full McDonald's pops thrown at me, I've had beer cans and beer bottles (they missed, thank God), I've had pennies, and they'll yell "Queer!" out the window as they do it. I've been spat on by someone driving by. This one kid and his friends, I would run into them everywhere and they would always say stuff like, "What, you think you're a man or something?" That started when I was twelve, that one kid was in one of my classes and everyday he would lean into me and say, "You've got a moustache, are you trying to be a man?" He would say stuff like 63 that, and, "What are you?", to try to intimidate me, that happened a lot. Since I've been in the city it's been pretty tame though. I've had a couple of comments... one guy, what did he call me? "Faggot girl"? or something, like he didn't know what I was, so he said, "What are you, a faggot or a girl?" and he followed me after we got off the bus. But that was the only sort of scary thing that happened in the city. I'm pretty careful what I do too, I'm pretty nervous and anxious, especially around younger people. I avoid them, I'll go over across the street or I'll wait 'til they're gone or something. (entry# 74) Jeb's statement, of feeling nervous and anxious towards younger people especially, may point to teenagers' conformist 'need' to solidify their gender identities (in accordance with the law of the binary). Teenagers may express less tolerance/restraint towards those who appear to transgress gender/sex boundaries, partly in fear that their stated defense of gender transgressors may lead to group expulsion or suspicions that they themselves might be, to use the British term, "bent". Those who are intoxicated may also have less capacity for restraint in regard to censoring unconscious impulses, and express their fear of Others with violence. Patricia, like Roz, has learned to use assertiveness in order to defuse potentially violent situations: Patricia: I was walking home on [X Street] and this, I'll call him a gentlemen, was drunk and he just goes, "Get out of my way, you faggot." He tried to push me and I just turned around and I had my umbrella in my hand and I said, "Come any closer and I'll smack you in the face with my umbrella." But he didn't, he just kept on walking. (entry# 78) Nick, who lives with disabilities that entail chronic pain, needs to diffuse any potentially violent situation quickly. Any physical assault to his/her body could have dire consequences. His/her TG status allows for fluidly, shifting when required in creative ways, to use the ambiguity of her/his body in order to avoid conflict: Nick: I sometimes feel like that's where I use some of my socialized female stuff to help resolve some of the situations I've been in and that's how I avoid a fight. I see it coming and prepare in physical ways, raise my voice, any breasts I can show, any female stuff I can show before it gets bad. Occasionally I've got, "Are you a guy or are you a girl?" and I go, "Why?" or, "That's kind of a weird question." And keep walking. I do street outreach, so it would always sort of be a quick response. (entry# 46) Nick exemplifies some of the advantages of a TG position by being able to draw on and exploit both ends of the binary when necessary, in finding ways to survive repudiations. Indeed, many of the excerpts presented above point to transpeople as objects for a potentially misplaced 64 homophobia/heterosexism which perpetrators themselves struggle with, as reflected in statements such as "what are you?" Perpetrators respond to perceptions of binary transgressions yet seem unable to nuance the differences that these transgressions entail. Being a butch dyke, a feminine gay man, a cross-dresser, or a drag King is quite different from transitioning into a liveable body as a result of having been mis-sexed. A poverty of language and lack of perceptual appreciation (understanding) of those who cross boundaries is unfortunately too common, whether the crossing is a temporary playful/parodic performance, or, as in the case of TS people, involves serious and permanent changes to the body. Physical Assault Among the most painful stories to emerge from this study were those where the interviewee had been physically and sexually assaulted. Goldberg (2002) points out that transpeople are vulnerable to an array of physical abuse from families, partners, Johns (sex trade clients), and unknown assailants. These acts often constitute hate crimes and yet are generally not acknowledged as such specifically on the basis of trans status, by subsuming attacks under sexual orientation clauses. Darke and Cope (2002) note that violence against transpeople is seriously underreported. Goldberg (ibid.) also draws attention to the reluctance of transpeople to report violent incidents to police, due to prior negative experiences with law enforcement officials, a point which echoes the conclusions of Namaste's (2000, 2004) research. Indeed, in one of my interviews, a trans woman narrated a shocking account of sexual abuse that she claims she endured at the hands of a police officer who had, temporarily, forcibly confined her. I have decided not to reproduce specific examples of narratives of physical abuse in this section since I find it too upsetting to select or to recount the many traumatic events of violence inflicted on transpeople. We live in a violent society. Images of war, terrorism, murder, gratuitous violence in the media, and so on, occur with stunning frequency. There is an ongoing danger that we will become collectively desensitised and dissociate ourselves from this frenetic array of violent images. I will assume that the reader can imagine the horror of these stories, and recognise the need to include transpeople among those to whom violence must be stopped. 65 Law Enforcement A related matter surfaces in response to the problem of assault. This has to do with law enforcement. Like anyone, transpeople can be questioned, detained, and arrested by law enforcement agencies. Transpeople may also themselves be in need of the services of the police, especially when they have been assaulted. How police interact with them, considering their authority and weaponry, is a matter of concern. For example, transpeople working in the sex trade are frequently targeted by police. In her study, Namaste (2000) found that all of the trans sex trade workers that she interviewed were harassed by the police. This harassment was not just related, or limited, to the legal quagmires surrounding prostitution in Canada. The harassment, rather, frequently takes aim at the worker's trans embodiment. For example, Namaste points to the police asking MtFs for their former, masculine birth names, which they would then use instead of their correct names. Male terms would also be facetiously and insultingly used by police (to their patrol partner or the accosted transwoman), such as " 'sir', 'boy', 'guy'", or they would objectify and depersonalise transwomen by referring to them as "it" (p. 170). Namaste further notes that verbal harassment sometimes escalated into physical beatings by police. These incidents of ridicule, humiliation, harassment, and physical violence led some trans women to refrain from accessing law enforcement services in other instances, such as following a beating from a pimp or lover. Harassment of transwomen by police may be systemic. Meyerowitz (2002) outlines a persuasive case in her historical sketch of policing in San Francisco's Tenderloin district beginning in the early 1960s. She reports that police regularly beat trans people with batons or "demanded free sexual services" (p. 229). In my interviews, a similar example was relayed concerning an incident with the police in Vancouver. Identifying a suspect in policing requires the establishment of the person's physical parameters (sex, race, weight, height, and so on). Sex, like race, is a primary signifier of profiling that police use to categorise people. In recent years, there have been multiple reports of 'racial profiling' of 'suspects' by police in Canada, a controversial practice that points to the problem of racism in our society. I contend that police are also at times guilty of trans repudiation, which points in a similar manner to the ubiquity of the panopticon, the judgmental gaze. The trans repudiation from her fellow police officers recounted earlier by Roz exemplifies the kinds of transphobia that 66 exist within the institution of policing. While not all officers of the law are transphobic, many clearly are. Establishing the extent of the problem requires that more research be conducted on interactions between police and transpeople. Customs and immigration agents, too, can be concerned over a person's gender presentations. Califia (2003) raises the matter when he echoes Wilchin's concept of gender profiling, something that seems to be increasing as a part of 'the war against terrorism' in these post 9-11 days. To what extent are transpeople unduly scrutinised at border crossings? More research is needed to ascertain the extent of the problem. Here is Jeb's brief account of one such experience: Jeb: [border agents] they've been generally decent to me but there have been times where they take a look at my ID and they're like, "What's that about?" One night we got pulled aside and they searched the entire car, and they called me "sir", then they saw the F on my ID their attitudes changed. They got more grumpy about the whole thing, like I'd purposefully tricked them. (entry# 78) Finally, to what extent are private security guards trained in gender issues and to what extent do transpeople have difficulties in dealing with them? Since public policing is rife with trans repudiation, it is probably also rampant in private security, perhaps worse. Relations with (Other) Lesbians and Gays Heterosexual transpeople can be mistaken as homosexual in their sexual orientation. Hence, like gay, lesbian, and bisexual transpeople, they too can experience homophobia and heterosexism in their everyday/night worlds. For transpeople, the LGBT alliance does not always vibrate the symbolic 'rainbow' that is supposed to signify inclusiveness. For example, Califia (2003) documents the fact that "Some of the most hateful journalism about transgendered people during the last five years has been written by gay men and lesbians" (p. xxxiii). This trend follows a long history of trans repudiation within Gay and Lesbian media, as Meyerowitz (2002) also notes in her social history of American transsexualism. While some transpeople identify as queer and feel a sense of community among lesbians, gays, and bisexuals, heterosexual transpeople may also associate themselves with the LGB(T) community, as they believe that they will find greater tolerance here than elsewhere (Califia, 2003). 67 In their report on human rights abuses in American schools towards gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth, Human Rights Watch (2001) states: During the course of our investigation, we had the opportunity to observe interactions between gay boys and transgender youth. In several cases, the gay boys behaved in ways that appeared to be sexually harassing. (p. 3) Tami has experienced direct repudiations from gay men, especially at work: Tami: Well, shocking news flash: gay men and lesbian women have a hard time wrapping their heads around physically changing your body from one gender to the other or anywhere in between... I worked at [organisationX] primarily with gay men and it became very cliquish.. .There was a complete lack of camaraderie, in fact [they were] almost blatantly rude... you know, a conversation is going on and I would try to enter it and everybody would just walk away, exclude me, regularly. Not just a couple of times and it wasn't just my imagination, I said, "we're all trying to provide a service, you know?" I didn't want to make waves and make the service less comfortable for everybody else. So I thought I'd just let it go, but I still think it was the biggest beef I had in my transition. I've practically wanted to lodge a formal complaint and say to them, you know, "You guys had better clean up your act in terms of how you're treating transsexual people." (entries# 72, 94, and 96) Hank, who likes to socialise at one of the queer night clubs in the city, relates some salient experiences: Hank: Well, I was out on Thursday night at the [night club X]. I walked in and went up to the bar past a table of men. And they were like, "Is that a man or a woman?" really loudly, the jukebox was loud and I could hear them. The whole line-up could hear them and they were discussing and evaluating my body, trying to figure out which one I was. When people are seen as being Other, people seem to forget that you can hear. They'll have a very loud conversation about you and don't seem to understand I can hear what they're saying. (entry# 80) He particularly laments the difficulties he has had with gays and lesbians: Hank: I've had quite a bit of harassment and intense interactions with queer folk. And I think it's just like the rest of the world, they're not really educated on trans issues. Especially with FtM, MtFs have been in the community a lot longer. So people are more 68 used to it, not that they necessarily like it. I've had a lot of people, when I tell them I'm a trannie, think that I am MtF, that I'm a trans woman. .. .whereas a lot of straight people, especially in small towns, will be like "oh yeah, whatever", because they don't have so much weight on it. They don't really care, they're just like, "Oh yeah", moving on. They don't really want to talk about the differences, they don't have any language to process that through, so they're just like, "Oh yeah." Whereas queer people, especially queer women, want to talk about the whole ramifications of it: Their lives, the community, the world, the struggle, all these sorts of things. So it becomes much more contentious, I think. (entry# 82) For Hank, interactions with other gay men have been, at times, difficult and upsetting: Hank: I also had a waiter at [a gay restaurant] almost pick me up off my feet by the collar of my jacket into his face because he was not happy with me and not liking me. So I was right in his face and he was trying to tell me off while he was holding onto me... we were there having drinks and there was a drag show going on, and someone who worked there, not him, like I was passing pretty well, wanted to talk to me or something. The waiter was passing a message that some boy there thought I was hot or whatever, and the waiter kept kind of, like knew I wasn't a bio male but also kept sort of flirting with me. He would touch my hand while he was talking to me, kind of flirtatiously bitchy. And then by the end of the evening he was like, "Well, I don't understand you people, and I don't understand drag queens either." And just started going off and I blocked out most of it, but then he pulled me up really close to his face so he could talk to me. And I was like, "You need to put me down, you need to stop touching me, I'm going to get really angry if you don't stop touching me." He said "I don't care about you people, I don't understand." And I was like "Well, read a fucking book. If you don't understand it's not my problem, I'm just trying to leave. Maybe you need to do some learning for yourself." He definitely scared me a bit, he was kind of jokingly being rude. It was kind of playful but he was holding me really tightly. He wasn't screaming in my face, but it was kind of where the joke is not funny anymore. But he let go of me and I walked out. (entries# 84-86) In his first commentary, Hank points out a disturbing dynamic of depersonalisation in his comment: "people seem to forget that you can hear". This behaviour is part of a repudiation of transpeople that denies them self/personhood, something deeper than just a denial of subjectivity. In the second instance, he relates how some gay men make aggressive jokes about transpeople: "I don't understand you people". Both comments point to lack of understanding and resulting repudiation as a problem in the queer 'community', and to splits in be/longing, of fractures in the supposed 'LGBT' alliance. 69 On the morning of 28 June, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn in New York City, a riot erupted that galvanised queer and transpeople to fight for their liberation. Transpeople were central to that event, yet too often it is mythologised as the "gay liberation" moment. This both erases and repudiates transpeople and further marginalises them. In the same way that feminists have been rewriting women back into the history (herstory) that men have erased them from, so too are transpeople such as Califia (2003) reinscribing trans back into their histories, their trans-stories. Aiyanna expresses her negative reaction to the erasure of transpeople from historically relevant events: Aiyanna: In terms of trans, certainly trans people were instrumental, integral in instigating Stonewall and we have been erased from the movement from the very beginning. There have been numerous activists and numerous transsexual people since that time that have overtly or covertly continued to demand for inclusion.. .White gay men still have a horrific time trying to accept the notion, because of what a penis means to a white gay man, gay men in general. For them to accept the notion that anyone with a penis would cut it off, or turn it inside out more appropriately, is horrifying to them, intellectually, emotionally, on so many levels. For gay men to accept the notion of transsexuals is just too, too hard. Too threatening, I'm certainly not saying all, it's a broad brush. (entries# 110 and 128) Yossi is a gay man but has experienced trans repudiation from other gay men: Yossi: And you know being a fag, a lot of the discomfort I get is from gay men. Once at a forum I facilitated around 'Coming Out' for gay and bi men - you know, people knew I was trans, but it wasn't a big whoop - at the break a drag queen came up to me and said, "Oh it's really, you're so brave for facilitating this forum and I just want to say thank you and also to let you know that I would never have sex with you." (laughs). You know it's like I get that a lot from gay men actually, that you know, in theory they think it's very brave or heroic but, dear god, no flirting, no sexual anything. And you know it's that tension, right, within communities where they might want to pay lip service to being inclusive but they're so dis-, they're just so uncomfortable with you, you can [tell], it's sometimes very obvious. (entry# 57) Trevor has also, at times, found some gays and lesbians to be very unsupportive of transpeople: Trevor: I had been active in a queer group in the Church and [that was] the group that was least supportive, people I had loved, cared about, stood shoulder-to-shoulder in activism, worship, spiritual pursuits. That group of people were the least welcoming, the least supportive. I still hold my breath, not very often 'cause I've long ago left the 70 Church, but I will still occasionally go back and join in an activity with that group of people. Last time I went there were still two or three people who didn't get the pronoun right, who still used my old name, who outed me to people who didn't know in the group. Hello! I mean these are people themselves who are struggling to be perceived as they are in a very conservative institution - the Church - and at the same time cannot see their own actions in terms of how they are treating somebody they see as Other... some lesbian friends struggled but got it and they were able to come back a year - a year and a half -later and I really left the door open to anybody. If they want to talk, let's talk, I'm happy, wherever you want to go with this. And there were a couple of lesbian friends who sat down and engaged and said, "I don't like this because... it disgusts me because... it frightens me because...". We could really talk and engage with it. And they were able to shift but it took them time. (entries# 84 and 88) Jamie-Lee relates memories of her conflictual history with the gay community. It was a place that gave her refuge and at times employment, yet also sent her mixed messages: Jamie-Lee: I first noticed it when some of my gay guy friends were going to [a gay club] and they wouldn't let me in looking like a girl. And so they just wanted this male club, gay club, so I noticed stereotypes like that... I was disturbed by it, I was troubled by it because here I was already doing shows in the gay community; I was part of this community, that's where I found acceptance. But on the other hand I also found this barrier, it was confusing. (entries# 39 and 42) Dean demarcates sub communities and suggests that there is a greater level of acceptance of transpeople in one group in particular: Dean: ...the way I see it is there's three communities. There's the gay community and the old school guys: 'You're not a real guy until you have a dick', and then there's the lesbian community: 'You're now becoming a traitor because you're becoming a male', and then there's the queer community, and the queer community I find is more accepting, more open. (entry# 87) In addition to conflicts with gay men and lesbians, transpeople also speak of tensions with radical cultural feminists, another equity seeking group that represents the interests of the marginalised yet is often implicated in repudiating transpeople. 71 Reactions from Radical Cultural Feminists Most feminists are, I believe, tremendously supportive of transpeople and trans struggle. Historically, the former Danish Justice, Helga Pedersen, helped to arrange the permission required for Christine Jorgensen to receive her famous SRS in 1950s Denmark. However, many of those faithful to the doctrines of radical cultural feminism have steadfastly preserved a negative attitude towards transpeople. This issue surfaced in the majority of the interviews that I conducted for this study. Robin identifies as a radical feminist and supports many of the political analyses and projects of local radical cultural feminists. However, as a trans woman, the latter have negatively targeted her, for example, by heckling her speech at a feminist event: Robin: It all ended up being broadcast on the air [radio], ... when I spoke at 'Take Back the Night', another show called 'WomenVisions', which is aligned with Rape Relief, re-broadcast it and referred to me a number of times throughout their show as a transgendered man. Here you are at the one place you might expect to find some radical solidarity, which is the left, and the collective which is Co-op radio, and you find that your worst enemies are deeply entrenched within that particular community too... Segregation of trans women from feminist organizations mirrors patriarchal privilege and oppression against women, and reinforces the old idea that there are right women and wrong women, that there are right feminists and wrong feminists, and we need to be a lot more creative. (entries# 154 and 155) Dean lost friends and a job due to radical cultural feminist rejection of his transitioning, and laments what one friend told him: Dean: Oh yeah, like I've had friends - had - [pause] [who] let you know how that worked out: "Men are rapists, if you become a man you will become a rapist. I don't have rapists in my life"... and if it's about me as a person, I wasn't a rapist before, so I think it's pretty safe to assume I'm not going to become a rapist after testosterone, do you know what I mean? So that kind of thinking is not about a person, it's a stereotype. (entries# 73 and 75) Wynn also speaks of losing feminist friends as a result of transitioning: Wynn: I just want to say there's a woman in the feminist movement that I've known for a long time and that I used to be pretty close with, [who] now won't speak to me. It's like I'm not a person anymore... She won't say "hi" to me, like I've tried to talk to her and she'll just walk the other way... I asked around to some that know her and a couple of 72 people said that she has a real problem especially with MtFs, and she describes it as, when men dress as women it's like when white people are wearing black face. (entry# 124) Frank, as a former radical cultural feminist, offers a personal perspective: Frank: [radical cultural] feminists are entitled to their opinion but it wears real thin real quick to have someone pontificating on what my reasons are for doing what I have to do. For me it was life and death, once I found out this avenue was available, I couldn't stay in that other cage any longer. And to have someone passing judgement... like insisting on using the wrong pronouns -1 mean, who the hell do they think they are? I think maybe I'll use the wrong pronouns with them from now on, see how they like it, see if maybe they can get even a dim emotional glimmer of how offensive that can be. (entry#51) Jamie-Lee, a well-known trans activist and sex trade worker advocate, recalls meeting feminist sociologist Dr. Becki Ross at a public forum: Jamie-Lee: I remember attending a Vancouver Lesbian Connection forum and Becki Ross was on the panel. She had met me previously, so she had mentioned my name, and I'm sitting in the audience, right? About how much of a pleasure for her to meet me and the work I was doing. And this one lesbian woman was so angry at that, she got up and she yelled up to Becki - at least she used the correct pronoun - she said: "She's no lady! That's a man!" It wasn't surprising and I remember [X], who was sort of the head of the Lesbian Centre then, and [X] came up to me and sat beside me and said, "I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry." And I said, "Well you know, you've taken this position too... now you see how hurtful it is." (entry# 122) Kimberly has devoted many years of her life to challenging the discriminatory practices of some radical cultural feminists in human rights tribunals and the law courts. As a feminist, she is moved by a core principle of feminist praxis: Kimberly: Feminism means working for all women, and that includes women of colour, lesbians, bisexual women, large, small women; it's addressing the systemic barriers together that all women face. (entry# 84) The vulnerability that many trans women experience, being targets for abuse, harassment, sexual assault, and in some cases severe violence leading to death, underscores the problem of trans repudiation and transphobia, as a very harmful and dangerous force. For this reason, many 73 feminists and social justice activists support Kimberly Nixon in her on-going legal conflict with Vancouver Rape Relief. The issue of ending violence against women, as a central rallying point for the women's movement, is especially important for very marginalised women such as transwomen. However, not all feminists wish to include transwomen in the movement, disputing transwomen's status as 'real' women. Many of the spaces that transpeople must navigate including meetings involving those who might be expected to be allies constitute potential sites for conflict, often of a serious nature. This chapter has considered an array of locations and issues that transpeople contend with, issues that intersect interiority with exteriority. Dorothy Smith's sociological insistence that subjects are located in the social world as embodied beings is useful for considering the ways in which ruling relations pose institutionalised barriers for transpeople. However, the material or physical consequences of confronting barriers in the social world must be balanced with the potential for emotional trauma at the interiorised level of the psyche. Intersecting interiority with exteriority offers a more comprehensive account of the consequences of trans repudiation. The stories presented here remind us that transpeople are the experts on their own lives, and their narrative accounts clearly do not split the inner from the outer effects of trans repudiation. The expected solidarity from other marginalised groups such as gays and lesbians and some feminists is sometimes surprisingly lacking. This lack of solidarity also reiterates dominant ruling relations in ironic and paradoxical ways. Perhaps it is, once again, something that is parallel to Fanon's (1967) phobogenic object; could it be that non-trans people's reactions are based on their own defensive fictions, which lead them to interpret transpeople as exotic, dangerous Others through an irrational binary? This binary may conceive transpeople as 'oversexed' or 'de-sexed': oversexed as the forbidden erotic, hyper-sexualised as expressed in transsexual pornography; or de-sexed, as in neutered eunuchs, or sex mutilating freaks. A host of questions surround the central issue of why transpeople are so widely repudiated. 74 C H A P T E R 3 : FUSING HORIZONS: SITUATING T H E O R E T I C A L ASSUMPTIONS Trans-embodied lives are clearly of interdisciplinary interest. Traditional knowledge territories - disciplines - such as psychology, psychiatry, medicine, neurology, law, anthropology, the Humanities, sociology, social work, philosophy, and so on, have all expressed interest in the embodiment, social position and lived subjectivity of transpeople. Locating this research in Women's Studies, where gender definition is an issue, opens the doors to an inter-and transdisciplinary take on the relevance of trans lives to any theory of sexual difference, and draws attention to the need to press for social change that will advantage this subjugated group. Women's Studies have foregrounded the significance of interdisciplinarity as crucial to the clustered problems that categories such as gender entail (Klein, 1996). This interdisciplinarity and a striving towards transdisciplinarity (transcending disciplines) concurs with a general current focus in the academy on hybridity in all its forms. This study traverses narratives of interiority and exteriority, and challenges the compartmentalisation of knowledge between sociology and psychology. This is consistent with Sloan's (1996) comment on the necessity of theorising "that relatively unthought space between sociality and individuality, between self and society" (p. 13). Hermeneutics In addressing issues related to trans narratives, from those situated within and outside the shifting category of 'trans', I rely on hermeneutics as a framing discourse. Hermeneutics, in conjunction with feminism and depth psychology, grounds my focus on the intersections of perspectives that may produce conflicting stories. This trans-theoretical approach justifies my decision not to use a conventional qualitative method (such as ethnography or grounded theory) 75 in pursuing this inquiry into trans lives in relation to a range of theories. I share Gadamer's (1960) central philosophical assumptions, including his mistrust of any method as a means to produce 'Truth', as laid out in his treatise on hermeneutics, Wahrheit undMethode [Truth and Method] (1960). One of the first German philosophers of his generation to critique dominant modernist discourses, like French poststructuralists Gadamer reasoned that any claims whatsoever to knowledge require recourse to language as a means with which to communicate or mediate such claims. It is language and its circular exchange that produces narrative. As Smits (1997) elaborates: ... hermeneutics begins from the premise that human reality - that is the way we think about, discuss, represent, and convey possibilities - is embedded in language, both written and spoken. This is not to say that extra-linguistic realities and forms of expression are impossible or non-existent. But it does mean that the only access we have to meaning is through language, and language is what marks our particular being, or ontology, that is, what we understand to be particularly human in quality. (p. 287) Gadamer's hermeneutics differs from French deconstructionism since he does make some limited claims to universality, maintaining that truths might exist, although they cannot be fully grasped, let alone represented: hence, the necessary and ongoing hermeneutic task of interpreting 'data', such as the 'findings' that social science research yields. Such data are unfinished, shrouded, and require a linguistically based mediation through dialogue to arrive at a tenuous sense of sufficiency, a meaning that can be provisionally ascribed. McCarthy (1991), writing from a Habermasian standpoint, echoes Gadamer in stating that "there are no privileged positions outside of or above history from which to view human life. And there is no such thing as the correct interpretation" (p. 128). Language itself is historically and socially situated. Perhaps this is why Namaste (2000), in her sociological study of transsexuality, avoids asking "what or why questions" (p. 56) about transsexuals and instead focuses on how they are located in the social world. Like the deconstructionists, Gadamer does not accept that our perception of the surface of objects, as immediately sensed, is complete, absolute, and undistorted. Gallagher (1992) points out that "all interpretation is linguistic, but, critical theorists would maintain, also more than linguistic" (p. 242). This remark resonates with Hartsock's (2004) observation that "material life 76 (class position in Marxist theory) not only structures but sets limits on the understanding of social relations" (p. 37). The term hermeneutic is etymologically traced to the Greek hermeneutika (message analysis) conveying the need for interpretation. The term is also related in root to the Greek god Hermes, "the messenger", patron of interpreters, travellers, and thieves/robbers. It is noteworthy in the context of this study that Hermes, the 'father' of hermeneutics, was also the father of the mythical child who challenged the sex and gender binary. Hermes' and Aphrodite's child, Hermaphroditus, is a figure that cannot be constituted as singularly male or female, giving rise to the term hermaphrodite, an embodiment that is now reconfigured as intersex". Now, as before, the figure that is both male and female (and therefore neither) represents the unspeakable (there is no appropriate pronoun) and demands explanation and interpretation. The meaning assigned to such a figure is shifting and debatable, and the stress of indeterminacy may lead to forced conformity to inappropriate physical, social or psychological expectations. The transgender movement that emerged in the 1990s has demonstrated that there are also people who do not necessarily have an intersex 'condition', yet cannot identify as being either male or female. Hermaphrodite, experiencing the life of both sexes at once imparts wisdom, but present day intersex and other transpeople are not usually recognised as having extra knowledge or status. They represent, rather, an enigma. Hermeneutics is still often associated with the interpretation of enigmatic religious texts, and the search for God as Truth12. While God in the Judeo-Christian location is above and beyond " The term hermaphrodite is controversial. Devor (1997) occasionally uses it (in a non-derogatory manner) to describe the FtM body that is without phalloplasty. Chase (2002), however, points out that "hermaphrodite, with its strong mythological associations, reinforces the notion that hermaphroditism is a fantasy, not your neighbour, not your friend, not your teacher, and especially not your baby. And because it falsely implies that one individual possesses two sets of genitals, it allows my clitoris to be labelled as a penis, and the clitorectomy performed on me to be justified as "reconstructive surgery". For these reasons I prefer the term intersexuaF' [Italics original] (p. 205). 1 2 The 'objective' hermeneutics of Schleiermacher and Dilthey that were so familiar in the nineteenth century have all but disappeared. The exception is in the metaphysical hermeneutics of the three great monotheisms (Judaism, Christianity and Islam), religious discourses that retain their traditional hermeneutic tasks (e.g. the Rabbinical commentary of Midrash). In Christian hermeneutics, consciousness is clouded by sin, by carnality and licentiousness. The necessity of interpretation is exemplified in Paul's epistle to the Corinthians (13:12): "For now we see through a glass, darkly; But then face to face - Now I know in part, but then shall I know even as I am known." Christian fundamentalists maintain that only salvation unclouds the dark glass, allowing a 'pure life' undistracted by 'carnalities', and knowledge of self emerges only by surrendering to the Absolute. Desexualisation / disincarnation remove issues of sex/gender from the ideal of self and of knowledge. 77 sexuality, he is nevertheless gendered as male (Father/Son). Gadamer abandoned metaphysical hermeneutics, recognising that tradition13 places limits on perception and consciousness. Recourse to a range of traditions can, however, bring out new understandings through what Gadamer terms a fusion of horizons. As Heidegger's leading successor, Gadamer not only rejects metaphysics but also follows in the tradition Nietzsche invoked in his critique of positivism. Citing Nietzsche, Macey (2000) draws attention to ... the adage in fragment 181 of Nietzsche's The Will to Power , where the 'positivism which halts at phenomena' is refuted in the proclamation: 'No, facts is precisely what there is not, only interpretations'. (p. 181) Gadamer disputes the surface empiricism that assumes the authority of 'facts', or unfettered access to the 'real', by drawing attention to the mediating effects of tradition, However, translators point out a problem in regard to Gadamer's concept of "tradition" [Gr. Uberlieferung] (Weinsheimer and Marshall, as cited in Gadamer, 1960), which Gadamer saw as an "ongoing conversation" (p. xvi). Human subjects/selves are born into a world that pre-exists them. This world is dynamic, in motion. For Gadamer, the 'ontological' task is to become more conscious of what one is born into. He suggests that this is achieved through the process of producing understanding, as one wholly consumes all aspects of a culture and its tradition both consciously and unconsciously. As will be discussed in Chapter 7, in psychoanalysis the process on the unconscious level is referred to as introjection, akin to the automatic taking-in of breast milk, without question or reason. It is what is fed to us. The human, as infant and young child, is a compulsory consumer, ingesting the prevailing language, customs, symbols, ideologies, and so on. 1 3 The English term "tradition" as used in Gadamer's philosophy is somewhat inadequate. His English translators note: "English has no corresponding verb, nor any adjective that maintains the active verbal implication, nor any noun for what is carried down in "tradition" [Gr. Uberlieferung]... We are likely to think of "tradition" as what lies nearly behind us or is what we take over more or less automatically" (Weinsheimer and Marshall as cited in Gadamer, 1960, p. xvi). 78 Gadamer argues that the medium of hermeneutic experience is constituted through language / speech - Sprache - which brings one into the "horizon of a hermeneutic ontology" (Silverman, 1991, p. 1). In order for understanding to take place one must interpret, and language is essential to understanding. In contrast to Derrida's emphasis on writing over speech, for Gadamer "language gains its authentic life only in conversation" (ibid., p. 4). Conversation can occur among whole groups and be overarching, as in the public conversation that occurs in the media, classrooms, or specialised communities through scholarly journals. Or it can occur in intimate styles and venues, as in inter/intrapersonal exchanges between self and others, self and internalised others, or self with self, as expressed in journaling, diaries, internal self-talk and dreams (Raoul, 1994). Foregrounding Horizons Foregrounding as a hermeneutic task suggests that all knowledge is firstly self-knowledge. Producing knowledge is a project of critical self-awareness. Gadamer (1960) states that "to understand a text means to apply it to ourselves" (p. 359). Foregrounding asks that one strive to consciously reveal existing biases and recognise them as flowing from prevailing traditions. Such biases can, Gadamer contends, be revealed through dialogue. Consciousness is never pure and never wholly free. His point resonates with Adler's (1956) contention that the unconscious is present in the conscious (see Chapter 8). Autobiography, or personal disclosure, is not necessarily the requirement in foregrounding, but awareness of how one's personal or private issues may be relevant to the task at hand is essential. A researcher looking into the lives of transpeople, for example, must reflexively interrogate his or her own biases in regard to the subject at hand - connecting what is revealed to the prevailing traditions internalised, and using self-knowledge to press for glimmers of truth to emerge through a fusion of horizons. Gadamer imports the significance of meaning as contextual and the related ongoing striving for self-consciousness into the project of knowledge production. Zimmerman (1981) elaborates from an existential perspective: 79 The real "subject", then, is not the wordless and abstract ego which lives outside of time and change, but the concrete, historically situated, living human being who is always engaged in trying to give meaning to his [sic] own life. No final understanding of self or culture is possible because individuals and their cultures are constantly, if slowly, changing. (p. 10) Foregrounding is related to the Socratic position of doubt, questioning what one purports to know in the ongoing struggle for glimmers of truth. In her fusion of horizons with Jungian psychology, Claudette Kulkarni (1997) suggests that the foregrounding task is akin to Jung's view that human subjects supposedly spend their entire lives becoming more and more conscious, with the goal of individuation, of becoming 'whole' (see Chapter 7). Awareness, as foregrounding suggests, is not finite. One can never become fully aware of all of one's prejudices. As Gadamer (1960) elaborates: ... there is undoubtedly no understanding that is free of all prejudices, however much the will of our knowledge must be directed towards escaping their thrall. Throughout our investigation it has emerged that the certainty achieved by using scientific methods does not suffice to guarantee truth. This especially applies to the human sciences, but it does not mean that they are less scientific; on the contrary, it justifies the claim to special humane significance that they have always made. (pp. 490-491) Some of the traditions one absorbs will undoubtedly not have been freely chosen, but, indoctrinated. Kulkarni (1997) concludes that subjects are irremediably bound to many of their traditions and cannot be dissociated from them. Hence, the liberal notion of 'choice' is itself an aspect of a tradition to which the liberal subject is bound. Yet it may actually not be choice at all since agency might be severely limited; but consciousness of its limits holds the possibility of generating new, if limited, understandings. As Kulkarni (ibid.) explains: Foregrounding, as I see it, is a very conscious decision, akin to but distinctly different from the idea of the epoche or "bracketing" used in phenomenology. Bracketing is an attempt to set aside our presuppositions in order to keep them from interfering with understanding, thus assuming that such a thing is even possible. Foregrounding by contrast assumes that "neutrality" is impossible and that "the extinction of one's self is inadvisable. (p. 25) 80 In relation to quantitative research methods in the social sciences, King (1996) suggests that the extinguishment of the self in the research process is not only inadvisable but impossible, a myth, that implies a self able to stand wholly aside as a hermetically sealed and isolated entity. Gadamer, in contrast, suggests that foregrounding is one way to move into the requisite dialectics necessary for understanding, to enter what he calls the hermeneutic circle, the cumulative learning process in motion. Gadamer suggests that this takes place within the metaphor of the "play" of speech, that is the exchange of questions and answers with the goal of developing new questions. When new questions emerge, a fusion of horizons surfaces, and new understandings become possible (Silverman, 1991). For Gadamer (as cited in Kulkarni, 1997) "[a horizon is a] range of vision that includes everything that can be seen from a particular vantage point" (p. 24). Kulkarni elaborates by suggesting that a horizon "is not a limitation; it is beyond whatever is closest to us so that we can actually see something 'better', that is, we can see it within a larger whole and in truer proportion" (p. 24). Foregrounding, then, is a means to unmask prevailing distortions, it "allows something to become visible which might otherwise be hidden from view" (ibid. p. 26). When we foreground the horizons of our contingent traditions our task is to transcend them and to un-mask the distortions, to become aware of our standpoint. This is akin to what Jaggar (2004) defines a standpoint to be: "a position in society from which certain features of reality come into prominence and from which others are obscured" (p. 60). Gadamer's philosophy is grounded in the dialectic. He takes his cue from Plato but ascertains that "whoever wants to learn from the Greeks always has to learn from Hegel first" (p. 460). Gadamer's use of a dialectically-based understanding of one's tradition clearly resonates with Marx's (as cited in Buss, 1979) position, that: Men make their own history, but do not make it just as they please; they do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves, but under circumstances directly encountered, given and transmitted from the past. (p. 54) A hermeneutic understanding of trans experience does not seek to unravel a finished, finalised trans Truth, but rather the glimmers of'truth' that trans 'being'-in-the-world will reveal. I 81 contend that researchers who seek to reveal a finished truth about or within trans embodiment, as Bailey (2003) tries to do, are misguided, since the aim of knowledge production is to produce more questions: "Discourse that is intended to reveal something requires that the thing be broken open by the question" (Gadamer, 1960, p. 363). The production of questions is a fundamental aspect of the dialectic. Buss (1979) also views dialogue as a process, .. .where "truth" is increasingly approximated through a clash of opinions, and conflict is resolved at higher levels of analysis. An essential property of a dialogue is its critical function, where the questioning and testing of ideas are part of its very nature. (p. 76) While many modernists, committed to Enlightenment ideals of reason, have been great exponents of the dialectic, the dialectic is not limited to that genre or Zeitgeist. Through her postmodern and feminist standpoint, Lather (1991) applies the dialectic to critique orthodox Marxism, revealing problematic and irredeemable structuralist assumptions. Lather, however, sees her postmodern standpoint as an implicit dialogue with Marx, acknowledging the value of Marxist thought in spite of its grand/master narrative assumptions. In challenging that grand narrative of progress rooted in streams of Enlightenment thought that espouse unified or holistic notions of a reasoned consciousness, Lather reveals an androcentric consciousness that erases the voice and perspective of women. Yet she also points out that it is "feminist discourse that has raised the most questions about the fractured, fragmented subject postulated by poststructural discourse" (ibid., p. 28). Poststructuralist theorists dismiss the hermeneutic quest for understanding, for unified knowledge, positing instead a fractured or sundered subject that is never whole. As we shall see, this universally fractured subject may be problematic when addressing the striving to overcome, to repair the mis-sexed body, as in TS pursuits for a healed self. Nevertheless, Foucault (1984) scoffed at hermeneutics: "knowledge is not made for understanding; it is made for cutting" (p. 88), for discursive dismantling. His distrust is revealed in an insistence that "the instinct for knowledge is malicious" (p. 95). Decrying the attempt to attain conscious 'glimmers of truth', he counters that "the problem is not changing people's consciousness - or what is in their heads - but the political, economic, institutional regime of the production of truth" (p. 74). Knowledge, for Foucault, is an injustice that rests on the erroneous claim that truth can be found in being: "truth or being does not lie at the root of what we know and what we are" (p. 81). 82 In contrast to Foucault's historical approach, I remain in favour of Gadamer's quest for relative and contextual understanding. Despite his claims to the contrary, I believe that Foucault's answers tend to cut in such a way as to destroy the production of questions. If knowledge is only for cutting, then so are the "unjust" questions with which one attempts to construct knowledge. Gadamer notes that, "contrary to the general opinion, it is more difficult to ask questions than to answer them" (p. 362-363). Herein lies his hope and his central insufficiency. The basis for my fusion of horizons with the critical realism espoused by socialist and materialist feminism rests on the contention that matters of social justice cannot take the generation of questions as an adequate conclusion. The questions posed must yield answers that are sufficient to prompt action. Concrete, lived lives, subjugated by complex relations of ruling, do not necessarily have the philosopher's luxury of posing questions for the sake of it. This point was also made by Habermas, as Gallagher (1992) summarises: Habermas ... charges that Gadamer's position remains politically naive to the extent that Gadamer fails to recognize the elements of distortion and deformation of interpretation imposed by force, compulsion, and coercion, that is, by extrahermeneutical factors. An adequate frame of reference for the interpretation of meaning must include not only language and its corresponding hermeneutic but also economic facts of labor and class and political factors of domination. (p. 17) There is good reason to fuse the horizons of Gadamer's hermeneutics with other discourses that have the capacity to address the concrete, political forces that Gadamer overlooks. In excluding "extrahermeneutical factors", Gadamer's hermeneutics alone remains "inadequate to its task" (ibid., p. 18). One of the other horizons relevant to my topic is feminist standpoint theory, which I see as complementary to Gadamer's hermeneutic approach. As discussed previously in explaining my hermeneutic approach, understanding is foregrounded in this project as an epistemological problem. This resonates with a trans friend who commented to me, "maybe we don't want to be understood". This remark echoes Gadamer's (1960) contention that understanding as an objective, finished, final and absolute state remains not only an impossibility but not necessarily desirable. There can be no direct access to an a priori Truth, only the constant, never-ending work of interpretation towards more comprehensive understandings, from a range of perspectives. Indeed, it is noteworthy that transpeople themselves do not all share the same understanding of their situation and the reasons for it. 83 Situating the Research 'Transphobia' is colloquially understood in trans communities as a constellation of feelings, behaviour, attitudes, and pernicious ideas that points to one of the most challenging social barriers of our times. A s the interviews conducted for this study confirm, the systemic repudiation of transpeople's subjectivity is reflected in coercive social barriers as well as interior, psychic consequences. The general lack of acknowledgement of trans repudiation is evident in the absence of concerted efforts to eradicate the problem. The specific issues that transpeople raise as crucial are relegated to the margins in the struggle for broader social justice. Like many of those who are non-trans and 'discover' the extent of trans repudiation, I came away from my inquiry with a sense of shock at the ubiquity of the problem. The dynamics that surround the lived experience of transpeople are difficult to understand and to interpret, for them and for others. When I first became aware of the extent of trans repudiation, I did not have a language to comprehend the issue. Rather, I was compelled to draw from my existing understandings of prejudice, discrimination, and stigmatisation in order to account for what I had encountered. In trying to make sense of transphobia over time, I have also been compelled to confront the many assumptions about transpeople that I too carried, assumptions that were generally faulty. B y engaging with transpeople afresh as my neighbours, comrades, allies and fellow community members, I have come to know an extraordinary group of people, to whom I have submitted myself as their pedagogical subject. That is, transpeople made themselves available to dialogue with me, to teach me about their struggles and barriers and also the enrichment that exists in their lives. Transpeople are citizens, members of my local community. Yet, there have been unfortunate occasions where I have witnessed appalling treatment that specific transpeople have endured at the hands of other people, events that have both disturbed and angered me. Reflexively, I realise that they angered and embarrassed me also by inconveniently reminding me of my own history of unthinkingly repudiating trans subjectivity. In the past, I too did not always accept the 84 genuineness of the claim to be mis-sexed. Through coming to know many transpeople over the years, I have been able to change my convictions and to acknowledge my non-innocent voice. This change in attitude was facilitated through feminism, the first place that I turned to as a queer but 'gender-embodied-congruent male', to begin a journey towards a better understanding of trans subjectivity. Feminism has a long history of being intertwined with other social justice movements, beyond a project of achieving women's emancipation alone. In representing the voices of the diverse transpeople I have interviewed, I do so with a vision of liberation in mind. This vision is aided by having listened to both non-trans feminists and transpeople alike: sexed and gendered embodied selves freely moving through the world, pursuing their personal fulfilment unfettered by the unnecessary constraints, prejudices, threats and violence of those who perpetrate sex/gender oppression. Such a vision is hard to sustain, given the continuing force of our present social traditions which pose a double bind for transpeople: we permit sex-change to occur in a context where transpeople often face pervasive sets of repudiation. When I decided to pursue the topic of trans repudiation (initially limited to the more restricted term transphobia), the first thing I made clear to myself was that a missionary motivation would not be a factor. I am not out to save transpeople (nor could I anyway). Rather, I desire understanding, to be an ally, a friend, to use my ears, to articulate where possible the concrete concerns that emerge and relate these to a theoretical and social context. In refusing the 'saviour attitude', which assumes that a rescuing party can have adequate knowledge of subjugation, I have adopted the premise that transpeople are the first experts on their own lives. This premise is, regrettably, something that my background discipline of psychology has repeatedly failed to acknowledge, preferring to view transpeople as victims of a serious psychological disorder. In this sense, I am deeply grateful for the uncommon opportunity, as a male embodied person, to locate this research project within a feminist space14 and under the guidance of feminist scholars who understand the dynamics of repudiation to which I draw attention. As a 'male-embodied-congruent' person, I do not see from the multiple nodes of subjugation from which many transpeople are forced to view their circumstances and the world at large. Feminist standpoint 85 epistemology argues that seeing from the periphery can be an advantage, and a subaltern position grants possibilities to see something more clearly. As Sandra Harding (2004b) comments: ... thinkers with "center" identities have also argued that marginalized lives are better places from which to start asking causal and critical questions about the social order. After all, Hegel was not a slave, though he argued that the master/slave relationship could be better understood from the perspective of slaves' activities. (p. 130) My own queer position is marginal, but not as marginal as that of transpeople. In agreeing with the general premises of standpoint feminist philosophy, I believe it essential to consult with transpeople directly in attempting to understand aspects of their experiences of repudiation. Moreover, as a non-trans writer, I also contend that this does not prevent me from making a contribution to trans studies. Harding (2004b) broaches a similar theme of the question of whether or not men can contribute to feminist thought, suggesting that ... it cannot be that women are the unique generators of feminist knowledge. Women cannot claim this ability to be uniquely theirs, and men must not be permitted to claim that because they are not women, they are not obligated to produce fully feminist analyses. Men, too, must contribute distinctive forms of specifically feminist knowledge from their particular social situation. (p. 135) Donna Haraway (2004) appears to implicitly concur with Harding's position, suggesting that, "feminist embodiment, then, is not about fixed location in a reified body, female or otherwise, but about nodes in fields, inflections in orientations, and responsibility for difference in material-semiotic fields of meaning" (p. 92). These arguments are posed in relation to women and feminism, yet Harding also suggests (2004a) that "race, ethnicity-based, anti-imperial, and queer social justice movements [also] routinely produce standpoint themes" (p. 3). Dick Pels (2004), in a partial criticism of standpoint theory, suggests that one need not in principle have oneself experienced oppression to understand the lives of those subjugated. Drawing on Harding's traitorous analyses, he argues that one can educate oneself and adopt a "traitorous location" which produces a "traitorous agenda" (p. 284). For those who consciously oppose transpeople's embodied claims and subjectivity (such as some psychologists/psychiatrists, gays, lesbians, and 1 4 The Centre for Research in Women's Studies and Gender Relations, UBC, Vancouver. 86 feminists), my avowed solidarity with trans struggle is in part a "traitorous agenda", with this present study - a rationale for solidarity with trans struggle - constituting a "traitorous analysis". Socialist feminists, some of whom are prominent standpoint theorists15, argue that women's oppression is an outcome of both class and patriarchal oppression. The principles of solidarity are invoked as a means to achieve the ideal of women's liberation. Their conception of solidarity is one that includes men's direct participation, believing that they have a role in the struggle for concrete change relating to women's emancipation, and that they have a role to play in producing feminist knowledge. This latter point has made for some very strong disagreements between socialist feminists and radical-cultural feminists, the latter opposing men's direct participation in women's struggles. For example, Becki Ross (1995) outlines the historic and often vexed divisiveness between radical-cultural feminists and socialist feminists in Toronto's local history. Socialist feminists strive for unity as a strategic necessity, for solidarity as a tactical act of inter-connection. These tactics have classically produced results such as the eight-hour workday, workplace safety provisions, maternity leave, holiday pay and other benefits won through struggle, through union solidarity. Transpeople, as an extremely marginalised group, could well benefit from the solidarity of others so that the external barriers they face might one day be eliminated. As a feminist, Dorothy Smith (1999, 2004/1974) takes the standpoint16 of women's lived experience under "ruling relations... the complex of objectified social relations that organise and regulate our lives in contemporary society" (p. 74). The patriarchal composition of ruling relations, which Smith asserts to be both institutional and materialist in character, take effect in many sub-sets of rule with their power to subjugate multiform categories of other-ness. Yet ruling has a gendered aspect to it, one that Smith ascertains as evident in the ordinary 1 5 For Hirschmann (2004) standpoint theory is in accord with its Marxist roots by situating itself as epistemologically dialectical. This dialectical engagement is construed as an ongoing project, one that is not finished. Standpoint theories have not reached final answers and there is no final consensus among adherents. 1 6 It bears mention that there are significant differences between standpoint theorists. Donna Haraway argues that one's location places limits on what one can know (hence knowledge becomes situated/partial); Sandra Harding tends to argue that certain locations lend an epistemic advantage by providing a "better view"; while Dorothy Smith disagrees with both Haraway and Harding. For Smith, if one begins research inquiries outside of locations that authorise knowledge, new problematics and questions will surface that aid understanding in how women's lives are orchestrated by globalising processes of ruling / governing (Dawn Currie, personal communication, 2006). 87 experiences of women's everyday/night worlds. Her perspective is clearly feminist in analysing how women are ruled through institutions and structures that contain, among other things, the "visible predominance of men" (Smith, 1987, p. 4). In analysing gender relations in the social world, Smith (1999) further states that she has "started with a sense of problem, of something going on, some disquiet, and of something there that could be explicated" (p. 9). Similarly, I have started from a similar premise in addressing the lived everyday/night worlds of transpeople. Standpoint feminism, and in particular the materialist feminist sociology of Dorothy Smith, provide important analytical insights into how ruling relations subjugate gendered subjects in their everyday/night worlds. This is clearly evident in the work of Viviane Namaste (2000, 2004) whose institutional analyses of transpeople's social position closely follows Smith's sociological conceptions. However, as disciplinary analyses, both Smith's andNamaste's explications overlook the interiority of the psyche and the complexities of identity that discourses such as depth psychology deal with. In continuing my foregrounding, attention now turns to what they leave out. Critical Psychology and Depth Psychology In contrast to most representations of transpeople in psychological and psychiatric literature, I have taken a non-pathological stance towards understanding trans lives. This is not to suggest that all transpeople do not or have not suffered from their trans status. Nor is it to suggest that all transpeople do not need psychological or psychiatric services. Rather, it is to go against mainstream clinical representations that diagnose sex/gender identity deviance as an outcome of pathological processes that ultimately invalidate the mis-sexed claim, yet recognise that in many cases SRS is the only viable treatment. For the most part, I do not locate my position as a psychologist within psychology's mainstream epistemology and methods. The philosophical grounding of most psychological research in Anglo-American contexts favours the Humean empirical tradition, positivism, and associated experimental methods that largely produce quantitative findings (Danziger, 1990). Using the PsycINFO data base, Rennie, Monteiro, and Watson (2002), in a meta-analysis of empirical 88 publications in psychology, found that 0.45% (or 9% of the whole) were devoted to projects that used qualitative analysis and that most of these qualitative studies in psychology have been published in the last two decades. More than 90% of research published in psychology is quantitative. As a critical psychologist, clearly I do not locate my research project in psychology's methodological mainstream. Nor is it located in its qualitative margins, rather it is at the peripheries of the qualitative margins since a hermeneutic approach to trans narrative rejects method itself as a means of establishing fixed truth claims. I am not concerned with this radical location, recalling feminist standpoint theory's suggestion that a peripheral location might give one a better vantage point from which to view the processes that surround social subjugation. I do not believe that methods from within mainstream psychology are able to capture the repudiations to which transpeople are subjected in their everyday/night lives, since psychology and psychiatry as empirical disciplines are unable to move beyond the moral positions which 'neutral' empiricism denies holding. Critical psychologists are "generally quite cautious about defining their area" (Kitzinger, 1999, p. 52). However, there are some common themes that most of them acknowledge. Unlike mainstream psychology, which is avowedly disciplinary, Parker (1999) suggests that critical psychology ... stretches across the boundary marking the inside and outside of the discipline. It is not only 'interdisciplinary', in the sense that it must draw upon arguments across the academic and professional landscape, but 'transdisciplinary' in the sense that it both questions the ways in which the borders [of psychology] were set up and policed... from the further most edges of the psy-complex to the centres of psychology. (p. 10) Prilleltensky (1999) reviews the main tenets of critical psychology, noting that these discourses are as concerned with psychology as they are with society. He suggests that critical psychologists should reject the persona of the neutral, ahistorical scientist, and instead foreground the inseparable position of being both psychologists and critical citizens. Like most critical psychologists, Prilleltensky argues that psychology should take a new moral position (which would entail acknowledging and then rejecting its present one), that "strives to work for, and not 89 against the oppressed" (p. 100). For example, Kitzinger (1999) notes that, historically, psychology has used its methods to reinforce heterosexism in presenting 'evidence' to validate the thesis that homosexuality is a psychopathological disorder. In America, 'Gay and Lesbian psychology' has, in recent years, made use of the same positivist methods to counter these claims. Yet this has often been pursued in ways that point to essentialist universals ('the gay gene') or problematic explanations that similarly reproduce "psychology's power to label people as 'sick'", as in diagnosing someone as suffering from "homophobia" (p. 58). Kitzinger acknowledges that gay and lesbian psychologists have been successful in using positivism to bring about changes, like the 1973 decision of the American Psychiatric Association to remove homosexuality as a mental disorder from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual and the 1993 removal of homosexuality from the World Health Organisation's International Classification of Diseases. However, ultimately the use of positivist psychological methods maintains psychology's individualising tendencies that obscure social, historical, and political dynamics. Prilleltensky (1999) argues that critical psychologists should acknowledge the values that underpin the work of those psychologists who work for social justice: "Values should be grounded in the context of the daily living realities and subjectivity of the people with whom we wish to establish bonds of solidarity" (p. 101). As a critical psychologist who strives to establish bonds of solidarity with transpeople, an extremely oppressed group, I note the fact that the psy-complex (psychology, psychiatry and their practices) continues to generate research, discourses, and therapeutic practices that largely pathologise transpeople. In considering multiple schools of depth psychology (Freudian, Jungian, and Adlerian) as a critical 'foundation' for returning the gaze of trans repudiation, a noteworthy paradox is apparent. Depth psychology itself has often produced sometimes extreme repudiations of those considered to be sex/gender deviants. I contend that this is due to the tendency of these discourses to wax and wane into psychology's centre and out to its peripheries. Freudian psychoanalysis especially, when it moves towards the centre, tends towards political conservatism, as will be argued in Chapter 6. When it does so, it loses its radical theoretical capacities. Nevertheless, the concept of a dynamic unconscious replete with defense mechanisms poses challenges to psychology's mainstream, surface empiricism. These discourses, moreover, 90 in acknowledging and utilising the force of irrationality in human subjectivity, are capable of accounting for the sometimes extreme reactions of 'gender congruent' people that transpeople encounter. The tension between surface empiricism (psychology's centre) and discourses that make use of the concept of depth (which also encompasses what is pushed to the margins) are very much rooted in the formalization of psychology as a discipline in the late nineteenth-century. A historical sketch is warranted in justifying my preference for locating myself as a critical depth psychologist, alongside my use of hermeneutics and feminist discourses for understanding trans repudiation. Critical psychology, as opposed to mainstream empirical/clinical psychology, begins with the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche [1844 -1900]. That Nietzsche is popularly considered first and foremost to be a philosopher obscures his self-declared position as a psychologist, "Ich bin ein Psychologe" (as cited in Golomb, 1999, p. 1). In his later period, Nietzsche repeatedly emphasises his status as a psychologist, remarkably defining himself as one "without peer or precedent... unlike those clumsy [empirical] 'English psychologists' " (Conway, 1999, p. 51). His position was at times provocative, as when he claims that "there was no psychology at all before me" (ibid., p. 51). Unsurprisingly, Anglo-American psychology rejects Nietzsche's claim, as evidenced in texts tracing the historical development of the discipline that generally elide all references to Nietzsche. Indeed, Nietzsche was certainly not a psychologist as conventionally understood, not an experimentalist, a clinician, a pedagogic scientist, a lover of measurement, or a statistical analyst. However, his influence on psychodynamic depth psychology, in contrast to empirical psychology, was profound. It was Nietzsche who first posited a "depth psychology", a precursor to the development of the later psychodynamic psychologies of Freud, Adler, and Jung, who were all familiar with his writings. For Nietzsche, human subjects cannot be known in the empirical sense, rather the human subject is "a thing dark and veiled" (as cited in Golomb, 1999, p. 2). His version of psychology is not concerned with describing who and what we are, rather how it is that we are moved to do what we do. In searching for motives, Nietzsche, like Freud, challenged the autonomy of the free will and insisted on the material foundations of consciousness. His "art of knowing other people, of understanding [motivation]..." renders him "an instinctive and accurate 'reader of the souls' of 91 other human beings", illustrating a much older form of psychology than the one that developed as a 'science' (Holub, 1999, pp. 154-155). This instinctive knowledge counts reliance on 'method' as naive, an illusion deployed as a means to produce psychological 'knowledge'. Rather, Nietzsche follows the introspective position of philosophy, which modernist psychology classically disdains (Danziger, 1990). In this sense, Nietzsche's theory of psychology can be seen as opposed to proving or "capturing" absolute 'truths'. Rather, his psychology is said to be like a "scaffolding", a theory that is provisional, to be removed once it has met its contextual aims (Golomb, 1999, p. 11). This is a paradoxical position, as Nietzsche's deterministic aspects reveal (such as his continuing references to "instinct"). In Beyond Good and Evil, Nietzsche (1972/1886, aphorism 1, part 3) describes psychology as "the great hunt". Its hunting grounds are the terrain of the human mind and the body it purports to control. Empirical psychology contends that the mind is knowable, it can be subject to capture. This type of psychology is committed to sensing and then displaying by means of description what it claims to have captured. It often succumbs to unthought-out moral polarities, especially the binary of true/false (Cadello, 1999). Nietzsche points out that this binary has repeatedly entrapped metaphysicians. In contrast, he argues for a psychology that engages "dangerous maybes" (ibid., p. 28). Psychology's faith in moral oppositions (good/evil, true/false, sane/insane, normal/abnormal) constitutes a prejudice that produces "the shipwreck of psychology" (Nietzsche, as cited ibid., p. 28), a hunt steered naively in the direction of "crusades for... truths" (ibid., p. 34). Such a psychology buries "much of the full range of human inner experience in silence" (ibid., p. 29). Although I disagree with Nietzsche's determinism, I endorse his problematisation of the pervasive binaries that mainstream psychology tends to reproduce. I also contend that psychology has failed to sufficiently consider the "dangerous maybes" that transpeople, for example, pose. My approach owes a great deal to the body of scholarly writing that has emerged over the past decade to consolidate critical voices in psychology. The issues clustered under the umbrella of critical psychology include the following categories: 92 Philosophical/ theoretical: Critiquing psychology's dominant epistemological assumptions (which are defensive of disciplinary, and aligned closely with the status quo), which lead to 'findings' that claim to be ahistorical and 'neutral/objective', but tend to produce pervasive reifications. These are evidenced in essentialist attempts to justify overt or assumed superiority claims on the basis of race, class, sex, sexual orientation, ability, and so on. Methodological: Critiquing psychology's privileging of positivistic methods based on models and research sites that lack ecological validity (e.g. the university laboratory). Anglo-American psychology generally eschews alternative methods, such as qualitative or action research. In privileging positivist methods, psychology emphasises the empirical over the theoretical, and the usual (normativity) over exceptions. Clinical: Critiquing individualist aetiological formulations and the focus on adjusting an individual's symptomatic distress to accommodate the status quo. Political: Critiquing psychology's confluence with (neo)liberalism, as in industrial psychology's emphasis on managerial techniques, psychometric psychology's production of corporate standardised testing for use in educational settings, or cognitive psychology's research refining the manipulative capacity of media advertising, propaganda, and other influencing techniques. At the birth of psychology as a discipline two foundational figures, the American William James [1842-1910] and the German Wilhelm Wundt [1832-1920], were opposed to a wholly empirical project of psychology. Aspects of their work have either been elided or repudiated by a predominantly modernist stance, the still dominant force in Anglo-American psychology. Only those aspects of James's and Wundt's work that support psychology's present aims are historically commemorated and resolutely followed. James's (1955/1890) tripartite volumes, Principles of Psychology, laid out much of psychology's disciplinary terrain and most of the problems that twentieth-century psychology pursued. He did so, however, in a pre-disciplinary or perhaps interdisciplinary manner. On the other hand, Wundt, who provided psychology with the celebrated model of the experimental laboratory, was selectively imported into Anglo-American contexts. Wundt's Volkerpsychologie17 - which provided a non-experimental counterbalance to laboratory research - was almost completely ignored in Anglo-American contexts. This is surely 93 due to the fact that Wundt's school, the first Leipzig school, and the second school of Leipzig that followed him (the Ganzheitspsychologie]&, which emphasised holism) contradicted the increasing territorial development of psychology into a discrete, objectivist discipline. The first and second Leipzig schools holistically emphasised the significance of subjective experience and the force of values on human subjects. This emphasis compromises Anglo-American emphases on retaining mind-body dualism and its commitment to a Humean based, British empiricism. Anglo-American psychology misappropriated Wundt's ideas and subsequently entrenched the view that 'objective' claims were the only kinds worthy of scholarly merit. Psychology solidified around positivism, which 'provided' psychologists with the authority to make 'hard Truth' claims, circularly enhancing the esteem of the emerging discipline (Danziger, 1990; E . Sullivan, 1990; Tolman, 1991, 1994, 1996). Psychology set up structures to self-police the discipline so as to largely exclude phenomenological, subjectivistic, narrative, and qualitative accounts. These frowned-upon epistemologies and methods managed to emerge only in other academic departments, such as education, where counselling psychology could flourish without disrupting the scientific gaze of mainstream psychology. Psychoanalysis was a forerunner to contemporary critical psychology. In its orthodox form, it was opposed to a singular, common-sense, empirical epistemology. It also challenged the idea of disciplinarity that psychology relished in its pursuit of fortified territorial boundaries. Post-Freudians, such as Lacan and the post-Lacanians, also expound a variety of critical psychology that has commanded attention in interdisciplinary fields such as Women's Studies. Other critiques have emerged from the New School for Social Research (formerly the Frankfurt School), whose interdisciplinary associations include psychoanalysis, social psychology, sociology, and philosophy. The school's concept of critical theory was one of the notable precursors to the critical psychology movement. The Authoritarian Personality, one of the more famous studies to come from this school (Adorno, Frenkel-Brunswik, Levinson, and 1 7 Diriwachter (2004) points out that the term roughly translates to mean psychology of a people or "folk". 1 8 The Ganzsheitspsychologie, consonant with German idealism, emphasises an overarching whole. This whole posits the individual within community, society and, more spiritually, the "cosmos" (Diriwachter, 2003). It is an approach that is largely forgotten, aspects of which were exploited and subsequently tainted by the Nazis, who distorted the theory to support nationalism and fascism. 94 Sanford, 1950), constitutes a remarkable critical contribution to psychology and the critical social sciences at large. Another important theorist often cited in contemporary critical psychology is Michel Foucault [1926-1984]. Foucault, who saw himself as a "specialist in the history of systems of thought" (Macey, 2000, p. 133), began his career as a psychologist and made a very important contribution to the critique of psychology/psychiatry through his volume Madness and Civilisation [Folie et Deraisori] (Foucault, 1967). Foucault received a license as a psychologist from the Sorbonne in Paris and further qualifications from the Institut de Psychologie de Paris , where he specialised in pathological psychology. He served as a psychologist at the Sainte-Anne mental hospital and was also employed at the prison hospital at Fresnes, moving on to lecture in psychology at the Ecole Normale Superieure. He also held other academic appointments as an instructor in psychology. His early publications included a lengthy introduction to a major text on the history of psychology between 1850 and 1950 which was published in 195319. Like Nietzsche, texts that trace the history of psychology over the twentieth century rarely mention Foucault as a psychologist, a professional title that, unlike Nietzsche, Foucault abandoned. Other alternatives to Anglo-American mainstream psychology also emerged in France, including the work of the Martinique-born psychiatrist and activist Frantz Fanon [1925-1961], a foundational figure in the development of postcolonial and anti-racist studies. Fanon (1967) made use of the ideas of Freud, Adler, and Lacan to critique the colonial heritage of psychiatry and the problems of internalised racism, demonstrating the social and political relevance of depth psychology. Finally, feminist psychologists such as Sue Wilkinson (1997) and Celia Kitzinger (1996) have made contributions to critical psychology that challenge representations of'objective data' that frequently mask patriarchal norms, including heteronormativity. Feminist critical psychology reads psychology's production of knowledge claims as political texts that are far from objective. 1 91 am grateful to Dr. M. Bendle, University of Queensland, Australia, for his assistance in summarising the genesis of Foucault the philosopher/interdisciplinarian from his roots as Foucault the psychologist. 95 In clinical psychology, representations of psychopathology, for example, point to moral polarities around sex/gender which tend to distort the effects of patriarchal prescriptions on the mental health of gendered subjects (Busfield, 1996). Contemporary critical psychology is an umbrella field that includes the interdisciplinary traditions of critical realism and materialist analyses, feminist re-readings, historical accounts, genealogical/archaeological analyses, and other postmodern / poststructural standpoints. As a psychologist who identifies with critical psychology, I view this new and innovative field as an academic tool with which to pursue social justice. Organisations such as the International Society for Theoretical Psychology and Critical Psychology International are opening up scholarly spaces for psychologists and other academics to pursue new questions excluded by traditional psychology. In favouring critical psychology, I concur with the Nietzschean position argued by Cadello (1999): The psychology of the great hunt does not attempt to sort out correctly or finally who we are or how we are constituted and composed psychologically; it gives up the quest for psychological identity, sacrificing the belief that there is a psychic world that can be made present, accessible, attainable, available, that can be exposed and decisively secured by the supposedly appropriate moral - metaphysical (set of) binarisms used to access it. (p. 34) The aim of this chapter was to foreground the epistemological positions I have taken in examining trans repudiation from a non-trans-embodied position. The fusion of horizons presented includes hermeneutics, feminist standpoint epistemology, socialist feminism, materialist sociology, depth psychology, and critical psychology. A fusion of horizons of these varied fields is appropriate for a hybrid project whose aim is to pursue an understanding of trans lives. Trans repudiation emerges as constituting a primary moral and pragmatic issue in the quest for social justice, in establishing bonds of solidarity with a subjugated and oppressed group. All these dimensions are relevant to an investigation of transphobia, or what can be better expressed as the widespread repudiation of transpeople and related trans issues, as illustrated in the interviews conducted. 96 In Part II, I consider political modes of repudiation, before embarking in Part III on an analysis of depth psychology in attempting to understand the almost ubiquitous repudiations transpeople face. This analysis begins in the next chapter by questioning the idea of trans/phobia itself: is it a sufficient term to explain the multiple layers of discrimination that produce trans subjugation? What do transpeople mean when they speak of transphobia? In answering these questions, I shall excerpt further stories from my interviews with transpeople, incorporating their perspectives into this dialogue between disciplines. Part II 'TRANS/PHOBIA' AND T H E POLITICS O F REPUDIATION 98 CHAPTER 4: REPUDIATION AND TRANSPHOBIA: CONCEPTS, THEORY, AND EXPERIENCE Repudiation This chapter considers the concepts of repudiation and transphobia. I have introduced the term repudiation into my analysis of the issues and barriers that transpeople face as an analytic category that goes beyond transphobia. In going beyond transphobia, I do not purport that there is no such 'thing', on the contrary, transphobia does appear to exist as a dynamic factor in transpeople's lives. However, I intend to critically appraise the concept and demonstrate its limitations. Favouring "repudiation" as a concept and a process will, I believe, strengthen the legitimacy of the experiences that transpeople disclose when they speak of 'transphobia'. To repudiate is to reject, refuse, condemn, repel, disown, renounce and back away from that which engenders repulsion. Repudiation entails dynamics of denial, and for psychoanalysis is primordially related to the early experiences of separating from the mother, for example, by rejecting her breast. In the moment when the infant rejects the mother's breast, s/he also repudiates it, making it ab/ject (refuse-d, thrown out). The etymology of repudiation is linked to the Latin repudiare and repudiatus, pointing to the foot (ped or pes), recoiling, backing away from something or kicking it away. Harper ( 2 0 0 1 ) also links the origins of the word to pudere, or that which causes shame. The word migrated into Old French by means of repeller from re or back, and peller meaning to strike at or to drive back the "repellant". It was linked to eighteenth-century medicines created to treat tumours, which had a rank flavour, a vile taste that was repelling. Butler (1993) suggests that repudiation is a crucial act involved in the formation of subjectivity: 99 ... the subject is constituted through the force of exclusion and abjection, one which produces a constitutive outside to the subject, an abjected outside, which is, after all, "inside" the subject as its own founding repudiation. (p. 3) Kristeva (1982) speaks of abjection as located "at the crossroads of phobia, obsession, and perversion... overtaxed by a 'bad object', [the subject] turns away from it, cleanses itself of it, and vomits it" (p. 45). She contends that repudiation is a form of negation, "negation and its modalities, transgression, denial, and repudiation" [Italics original] (p. 6). It can be witnessed in the repulsion that is expressed in food loathing or the urge to vomit on seeing something repulsive. Repudiation is complexly linked to desire, to being pulled to an object that one simultaneously loves and hates, "repudiation affects desire itself' (ibid., p. 7). It is also linked to the precariousness of self and identity, a response to a sense of threat. The prohibition against eating foods such as shellfish or pork in some cultures has little to do with the food items themselves, rather it becomes symbolic of identity and threats to identity, of engulfment or annihilation. The reasons for a specific repudiation, importantly, may have conscious or unconscious roots. Stephen Frosh (1994), in his psychoanalytic study of masculinity, notes the tendency to repudiation: "identifying and feeling at ease with men's 'own' sexuality seems to be something both necessary and hard to manage, at times producing violent repudiation of anything too threateningly 'other' " (p. 93). Jukes (1993) believes that the formation of male selves, traced to traumatic separation issues with the mother, is the source of "male misogyny" (p. xxvii). He contends that misogyny is a "potential" in all people, male or female, though more "debilitating" in males, who may remain unconscious of their enmity towards women. Jukes suggests that relational circumstances "call out" misogyny, where it may spill into rage or crystallize into a more conscious sense of hatred. The object of such enmity is viewed as a threat to the self and, in more extreme cases (such as the complex of phobia as in transphobia), fear and paranoia become so intense that they must be projected outwards onto an object. Loss of the self, so laboriously 'built', is threatening to the subject, hence s/he marks the boundaries of an "unstable identity by reifying and repudiating the other" (Frosh, 1994, p. 122). Whether this Other is a woman, queer person, or transperson may not matter, since for the most phobic they all may threaten the (male) self. 100 McAfee (2004) suggests that abjection, an early form of repudiation, is part of a tenuous self-formation in the process of separating from the mother, of drawing lines between "you", and "me", "the state of abjecting or rejecting what is other to oneself - and thereby creating borders of an always tenuous T " (p. 45). The phenomenon is saliently dramatised in the film The Crying Game (Jordan and Wooley, 1992). Fergus is dating Dil, an anatomical male assumed by Fergus to be a natal female, while Dil believes he knows she is trans embodied. When he discovers Dil's penis he assaults her, then violently vomits. He vomits out her penis, abjecting it. This is akin to Kristeva's (1982) observation that some cultures engage in purification rites and other religious practices that establish boundaries between certain groups (e.g. men and women) to prevent pollution or defilement. And yet the abject also exerts a fascination, similar to Fanon's (1967) phobogenic object. McAfee suggests that it is "both sickening yet irresistible" (p. 47). In our culture trans repudiation is rife, yet the success of films like The Crying Game, magazine articles, television spectacles, pornography, etc. that portray transpeople, is evidence of a fascination with transgressive gender/sex bodies. Since the term transphobia is used in trans communities, I make use of the term in my interviews, but in theorising subsequently on these interviews as a whole, I tend to use the term repudiation. In doing so, I see transphobia as an aspect of repudiation, but repudiation is more than just fear; it conveys an ongoing narcissistic need to preserve the 'purity' of the self, to draw borders between the self and others. Moreover, I am aware of sociopathic syndromes, such as those discussed in Duncan Cartwright's (2002) study of violent, imprisoned offenders, where dehumanization of objects occurred during sadistic acts (such as murder) and there is little or no evidence of emotionality (inclusive of fear). In some cases, tracing the childhood history of such offenders reveals physical and sexual abuse, where identification with the aggressor defensively protects against fears of annihilation. In this case, fear may have sedimented since that time, yet not all sadistic offenders have such histories (ibid.). Most sadistic, violent offenders are men and all of the participants in Cartwright's study were men in prison. In the West, men commit at least 90% of violent crimes (Campbell and Muncer, 1995), which may indicate that their male/masculine identity is experienced as in need of protection or assertion. 101 Repudiation is a term related to a number of concepts in depth psychology. For example, it shares aspects of Freud's concept of Verwerfung [from the verb: verwerfen, to throw away], often translated as "distortion". Freud used the concept to evoke differing meanings, as Laplanche and Pontalis (1972) summarise: (1) In a rather loose sense of a refusal, which can, for example, occur as repression; (2) ... a casting-out in the form of a conscious judgement of condemnation; (3) [in the Lacanian re-reading] ... the ego rejects (yerwirff) the incompatible representation... and behaves as if the representation had never occurred to the ego at all. (p. 187) Repudiation of trans subjectivity can be seen on a spectrum ranging from a conscious yet unexpressed distaste through to extreme forms of reaction that precipitate violence and destructiveness based on rage (sudden and explosive) or hatred (stable, integrated aspects of enmity towards an object). In Instincts and their Vicissitudes, Freud (1915) writes: Hate, as a relation to objects, is older than love. It derives from the narcissistic ego's primordial repudiation of the external world with its outpouring of stimuli. As an expression of the reaction of unpleasure evoked by objects, it always remains in an intimate relation with the self-preservation instincts. (p. 11) There is the potential to theorise the unconscious and defensive mechanisms of repudiation, especially concerning transpeople. Yet, to date, very little appears to have been done. A preliminary attempt to theorise trans repudiation, as described in the depth psychologies, will be made in Chapters 7 and 8, which will provide an overview of the relevance of the schools of depth psychology in relation to gender/sex, mechanisms of defence, and phobic reactions. While issues related to transpeople are rarely addressed in these discourses, several central concepts are useful in the attempt to understand their experiences. Problematising trans/phobia The term transphobia, while understood within trans and queer communities, generally remains unfamiliar everywhere else. A search in the randomly selected 2005 edition of the Oxford Canadian English dictionary does not reveal the word. The term transsexual is listed, and 102 transgender has been recently added to this reference tool (as recently as 1998, "transgender" was not in the Oxford dictionary). Trans and phobia are separately outlined in different categories, both of which provide clues as to the potential meaning of the term transphobia. Trans20 is defined as follows: T r a n s - / traenz, -ns / prefix 1 across, beyond (transcontinental; transgress), 2 on or to the other side of (transatlantic) (opp. cis-) 3 through (transcutaneous). 4 into another state or place (transform; transcribe). 5 surpassing, transcending (transfinite)... [from or after Latin trans across]. (p. 1540) Trans carries with it a sense of motion, movement, process, and so on. This connotation explains the term's appeal in critical fields such as feminist and postcolonial theory. These discourses have begun to consider the action-oriented and dis-locating power of trans through transdisciplinary inquiries into transnational and transcultural issues. Transgender is now sometimes included among these theoretical categories. Trans, in its conceptual and etymological complexity, is a term ripe for social, theoretical and praxis implementations. In the interviews with the twenty transpeople consulted for this study, none of the participants problematised the term transphobia; all agreed that it connotes an identifiable, menacing force that is often perceived as permanently present, or that may have traumatised them in the past. Regardless of the multiplicity of identity configurations that emerged in the study, participants identifying as Trans, transsexual, or transgender, all acknowledged the problem of transphobia. Indeed, it is one of the major points of consensus that has emerged from my research. That transpeople themselves have not necessarily problematised transphobia may have more to do with the urgency of the political issues that transphobia signifies, rather than academic debates surrounding its semantic interpretation. Transphobia ultimately suggests a causal explanation of the subjugation of trans lives, by positing that trans people incite fear. I have no doubt that an element of fear is dynamically manifest in many instances of trans discrimination, but it is not universally so. In fact, it is I have omitted the Oxford sub-definitions of trans numbers 6a and 6b as they relate specifically to trans as used in chemistry and physics. 103 transpeople who more often have reason to be afraid. There clearly are political ideologies, for example, that do not accept the legitimacy of trans lives. Subscription and faithfulness to a conscious or default political ideology do not necessarily point to the primacy of fear as the motivation for hostility. Hence, repudiation, a process of disavowal and negation that includes fear but also other dynamics, is a less limited explanatory position. Repudiation evokes conscious and unconscious dynamics that are inter/intrapersonal. It constellates other affective elements such as enmity, hatred, and repulsion which are aggressive qualities that may or may not be laced-in with fear/threat. While phobia is caused by fear of an object, repudiation is more of a dynamic quality, a process of relating. In this sense, I privilege process over cause in investigating transpeople's experiences of overt hostility, barriers, or negativity. Nevertheless, there are those in trans communities who have drawn attention to the desirability of alternate designations, perhaps because of the problems that a related term, homophobia, seems also to manifest. Kitzinger (1996) points out the insufficiencies of the concept of homophobia: Unlike terms such as sexism or heterosexism, which were developed within the Women's and Gay Liberation Movements and modelled on political concepts, the word homophobia derives from (and is used within) the academic discipline of psychology: phobia comes from the Greek for "fear".. .The notion that some people might have a phobia about gay men and lesbians first began to appear in psychological writing in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and homophobia was defined as 'an irrational persistent fear or dread of homosexuals'. (p. 8) Kitzinger argues that there are two critical dimensions to the concept of phobia. Firstly, as with other neuroses, psychology exercises its individualising power under prevailing social conditions in ascribing a personal diagnosis such as phobia. Rather than prioritising historical and cultural aspects to an aetiology, the mental distress is addressed solely as an individual problem in need of diagnosis and adjustment through individual treatment. Homosexuality, itself formerly considered a sexual neurosis, is an apposite exemplar of the problem. Historically, psychology conceptualised homosexuality as a sexual deviation or dysfunction, a fault within an individual, requiring individual treatment and adjustment towards an unproblematic, normative 104 heterosexuality. This view, Kitzinger argues, shifts the emphasis and responsibility from the oppressor to the oppressed. It is the homosexual who must change. Her second point is that there are legitimate reasons for the heterosexual establishment to fear, for example, lesbians (since she argues that lesbians hold revolutionary power). Yet 'homophobia' tells us, following affirmative models of therapy, that this is an irrational fear. One need not be afraid of lesbians according to the discourse of homophobia, suggesting that it is just an irrational phobia, that can be tended to like any other ailment. While there is no diagnosis of "homophobia" in the DSM-IV-Tr (APA, 2000), there are legal precedents of arguing for "homosexual panic" as a reason for mitigating hostility and violence, relating to the idea of homophobia (Steinberg, 2005). A phobia is an irrational fear that is out of proportion to the danger at hand, though some of these fears have a sound foundation in the historically lived experience of both humans and animals. Fears of snakes and spiders, for example, are legitimate, but only 'psychopathologically' significant if they rule a person's life beyond what is reasonable. Undoubtedly, there are people whose fear of lesbians, gay men, or others constituted as queer may cause them to experience palpitations, sweat, shortness of breath, alarm, and so on. Whereas one would be hard pressed to find a rational evolutionary or individualised reason to justify a fear of queer people, examples abound of institutionalised enmity of them in the social world. This is the root of the problem: 'homophobia' is not rational, rather it mirrors historical problems, related to the ruling of bodies, internalised by subjects through the social world. While it is a psychological problem, there is no homophobia that can be attributed simply to the psychologised individual. For this reason, like Kitzinger, I therefore prefer the term heterosexism over homophobia. I also acknowledge, however, that homophobia is useful as an everyday term and its entry into common parlance renders it a simple if inadequate referent. It is easy to surmise that this too is a rationale for why transpeople continue to use the concept transphobia: it approximates "homophobia" in ways that can readily borrow the latter's increased familiarity as a political issue commonly discussed in public discourse. Transphobia points to the "daunting array of obstacles" (Califia, 2003, p. 1) that transpeople face in the course of their everyday/night lives. And while homophobia and transphobia overlap, they are also quite distinct in some ways. For example, many transpeople are straight in their sexual 105 orientation and it is therefore erroneous to posit homophobia or heterosexism as the social force that explains their oppression. And yet the fearful antagonist who makes transphobic insults may very well be unaware of being transphobic. The matter is also complicated by the probability that perpetrators may either mis-read transpeople as queer or reject the heterosexual transperson's claimed orientation and impose homosexuality on them. As Califia (ibid.) argues, "straight culture reads much of the public expression of gay identity as gender transgression. To them, we're [trans] all part of the same garbage heap of sex - and - gender trash" (p. 256). The issue is that of gender transgression, of refusing to be what one 'is' or was ordered to be and inscribed as, of resisting the Law of the Father21, the binary. Wilchins (2002a) uses the term genderism rather than transphobia to describe the systemic oppression that queer and transpeople are subject to. On the model of 'racism', she describes genderism as provoking the "civil rights movement of our time" (p. 17). Wilchins (2002b) places herself as an activist in the transgender camp, arguing that the binary gender system is the object for overthrow: "binaries...They are not really about two things but only one, power" (p. 43). However, her analysis tends to overlook the conscious use and approval of the binary by some transpeople. It also overlooks the fact that many transpeople are not, will not, or cannot be TG activists. Others, such as Namaste (2005), oppose 'transgender rights', suggesting that a rights strategy often conceals imperialism22. She looks at early twentieth-century Canadian feminists such as Nellie McClung and Emily Murphy noting that many of these feminists were racist and entwined women's rights with the project of British imperialism and empire building. Furthermore, Wilchins comment on, "civil rights movement of our times" wrongly suggests that the racialised struggles of yesteryears have been resolved, or only belong to another time. It is important, I contend, that the struggle for trans liberation not be separated from other struggles, or placed above them, including the ongoing struggle to end racism. 2 1 Although the phrase "Law of the Father" has specificity in Lacanian discourse, my usage pertains to the general internalised conception of the superego as one that has patriarchal roots/implications in a feminist sense. 2 2 Namaste (2005) defines her use of imperialism: "Imperialism... (1) economic practices outside the United States that are destined to benefit the interests of American business... (2) to designate the imposition of a particular world view and conceptual framework across nations, languages, and cultures" (p. 103). 106 In a limited sense, transphobia as a dynamic concept certainly has some utility. Burnham (1999), in her study of the social barriers confronting transpeople, writes about the prominence of ... "transphobia; lack of support and understanding" and "fear of losing spouse, family, friends", "fear of an unpredictable future", "fear of losing job". These barriers are based on fear and ignorance and addressing them involves a monumental effort. If there is a solution it might be education. (p. 29) Burnham makes an important point, yet conceptually the use of the concept transphobia requires cautionary limits. For example, it cannot be the universal or ultimate explanation for all dynamics of trans repudiation. A totalising 'transphobia' erases 'race'/culture as analytic categories. Roen (2001), in her discussion of a Maaori trans woman, illustrates the complexity of intersecting identities and how the repudiation of Indigenous 'trans embodied' people has further ramifications, for example in view of ... the Maaori conception of identity as something which is never based in the individual alone but relates to the extended family (yvhaanau) and to genealogy (whakapapa). She argues that to deride her for being transsexual would be to denigrate her entire ancestral line: a far more risky and grave action than merely discriminating against an 'individual'. (p. 259) To repudiate a Maaori 'transperson' is to repudiate an entire extended family and a long lineage of ancestry, evoking a collective solidarity akin to the inclusive North American First Nations statement of salutation and honour, all my relations. Transphobia, as a Western concept, can mask the history of Western colonialism and imperialism if one assumes that it connotes merely a fear of transgressing the dominant Western sex/gender binary. Moreover, 'transphobia' conceals the Western denigration of Indigenous Others, including cultures and histories that often celebrate what the West views as gender transgression, as in Two-Spirit tribal roles and statuses. In this case, the repudiation is actually refusing a whole culture and not just an individual's sex/gender ambivalence. When it does occur, there is necessarily a relational quality to transphobia. As Dorothy Smith (1999) writes, "it is the relations that rule, and people rule and are ruled through them" (p. 82). Smith is specifically referring to ruling relations between men and women. What is needed is a 107 better understanding of how the same/other binary itself rules transpeople. This is a complex undertaking, as many transpeople themselves are enmeshed in the gender binary and do not wish to overthrow it, perceiving themselves simply as mis-assigned. Hence this study raises issues around belonging and being rejected simultaneously, of being on both sides at once. If someone is TS for example, living as a man or a woman legally and postsurgically, yet meets with consistent barriers that reject that person's embodied and phenomenological claims, can transphobia wholly account for such obstacles? Narratives of Trans Repudiation and Transphobia During the interviews I conducted, the issue of the sex/gender binary often arose in a more broadly centred discussion of transphobia. The complexity of the issues of barriers and passing, based on adherence to the binary or defiance of it, suggests that Wilchin's "genderism", while perhaps a solution for some transgendered people, is not a universal solution for all transpeople. In my interview with Trevor, for example, I asked how passing relates to transphobia: Trevor: I think there are two dimensions here. One is that passing is the avoidance of transphobia and the other is, where is your comfort level in terms of your own brain wiring? Like early on I had a lot to say about queering the binary, I don't have anything to say about that now. I realised as I moved along that I was in a box and that I wanted to be in another box. And I am aware of the limitations of that and it's also where I'm comfortable. For me that's what fits with where the brain got wired. And part of me groans as there are lots of issues that I can take with that but that's where I'm comfortable. And I'm a man and I'm quite happy to say this with all its limitations and all its problems, I'd rather be there than not there. I'm quite fine with being in that box. (entry# 60) For Trevor, one side of the binary is where his existential unfolding takes him. He is happy with the essentialism of "being a man" and feels most comfortable in that location. For him, the issue of passing is no longer an issue at all. As he explains, he had a greater sense of trying to "pass" when he was living as a woman: Trevor: For me it doesn't feel like passing. Before I was living in a pretend place, and now I am living. I would never call it passing, it's living. Passing is about putting out the 108 facade not about the reality that's there. I passed to the world for decades, now I'm not passing, I'm being... now I never think, am I being perceived as a man? I mean that was a moment-to-moment conversation when I was trying to live as a woman, I mean every interaction I had as a woman I had this internal dialogue, "Is this how a woman would respond? Would a woman say it this way? This person is seeing me as a woman so how would a woman respond?" Chris: So passing was an issue for you when you were trying to live as a woman? Trevor: Always, all the time. I mean I didn't even know that dialogue was there until it stopped. It was so deeply ingrained. And then I thought, "Oh my god I've been doing this all my life." (entries# 66-74) Another interviewee, Jenny, decries the requirement that many gender clinics have, that those requesting SRS live in their aspired gender role for one (or in some cases two) year(s) prior to surgery, a requirement construed as a test that one can pass: Jenny: I hate the word "passing" because not passing denotes failure, that's why it's just a lousy word. Almost by saying "passing" you're implying, if I'm not passing I'm failing. I think being able to look at yourself in the mirror after you start going full time and like the person that you see, and if you like that person it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks... It's like a test, you're going to pass or fail. Even the word 'real life test' is a bad one too, because it implies that it's not an actual experience. Like today I'll be a woman -tomorrow I won't, I did pretty good, 'A' . The life I came from was no life and there is no going back. It's always just going forward and I think for a lot of the girls that's what it is, the life was so miserable that this is the only choice. And to call it a test belittles it, let's see, let's test to see how much you like yourself, (laughter). (entries# 170 and 172) Passing is a complex and politically loaded issue in trans communities. Those who pass well generally move through society with little stigma unless they are out as trans, although the ability to pass does not make a person completely immune to trans repudiation. Nevertheless, Califia (2003) notes that an inability to pass risks making someone a constant target for harassment. On this basis he argues that transitioning earlier in one's life (assuming this allows one to pass better than a later transition) is to a trans person's benefit. He also notes that some transgender activists view passing as a privilege and disparage the practice as conformist. This point is echoed by Elliot and Roen (1998), who argue that "both crossing and passing unwittingly reify positions of sexual and/or gender identity" (p. 234). 109 For Hank, successful passing is a conundrum with benefits and its own set of problems: Hank: I think the day-to-day, when you're on the bus or just trying to get a cup of coffee, that that level of transphobia would die down the better you pass. But then the worry around disclosure, I think, would increase, because the better you are at passing then the more stake there is in that claim. Whereas when I'm not very successfully passing people aren't that surprised to find out I wasn't born male. (entry# 90) Roz also had some interesting advice to share on her experiences with passing: Roz: The minute I stopped worrying about trying to pass and trying to be that immaculate woman, my whole life brightened up. I just stopped trying to hide and got to this place saying, "Well I'm Roz and I'm outrageous and my life's outrageous. I have this journey and mission to tell my story and be who I am and it doesn't matter anymore, you know?" (entry# 89) Passing is often an issue in educating the public around trans issues, as in providing workshops. In those that she conducts, Roz plays on the stereotype that all transpeople are MtF by colluding with a 'passing' transman to make her educational points: Roz: Most of the time when I do my training I like to have a trans guy there as much as possible because most of the time people assume transsexuals are male to female. They seem to forget about female to male, so what I used to do in the early stages of my presentation is say, "I hope you don't mind but my friend so-and-so is here to hold my hand because I'm really nervous and he's here to support", and blah, blah, blah. And I'd go into my spiel and show a documentary, answer questions, and at some point in the question thing I'd say, "Oh by the way this is - who is - female to male", and everybody would go "Whoa!" and it was like they forgot about that part of the equation. (entry# 97) Passing tends to take on a different dynamic among TG and Two-Spirit people. Nick speaks of his experience of being a transgender and two-spirit man/woman: Nick: There's this weird kind of 'You're not trans enough' thin
UBC Theses and Dissertations
The gendered and trans/gendered self : personal, political, and psychological narratives of trans repudiation,… Shelley, Christopher Acton 2006
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