TransGriot Note: Guest post from Dainna Cicotello. She’s an author, lecturer and one of our trans community builders and leaders in Colorado and nationally who mentored me and many of my generation of trans leaders.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, I was personally involved in many
discussions that created the modern definition of the word
“transgender”. I know exactly why twenty or so of us at one particular
conference, specifically chose and agreed on that word, and those
definitions, why that word and those definitions were carried back to
individual cities and states all across America by trans-activists, why
that word and those definitions were written into corporate policy and
laws at every level, and why that word and the now historical
definitions still have vital importance today and into the future.
Many cities in that era still had anti-cross-dressing laws. You could
be put into jail simply for being out in public wearing clothing not
associated with your apparent birth sex. You could be denied employment,
housing, bank services, even access to public bathrooms, simply for not
wearing clothing associated with your apparent birth sex. You would be
fired because someone saw you dressed in clothing not appropriate based
on apparent birth sex. You would be openly refused a job… You would be
arrested, jailed, turned over to a mental institution, subjected to
electroshock “therapy”, etc., all because someone saw you in public, in a
gender role different from that based on assumptions about your
apparent birth sex.
It is crucial to understand that TG/TS is the ONLY human condition which is self defined. A person is transsexual ONLY because they say they are. What a person
chooses to do with that self definition, is then controlled by the
individual’s personal life circumstances.
The social, legal,
judicial, and psychological systems has no way to understand, nor to
care about nor to care for, all of these nuances about people who chose
to appear in public in a gender role which varied from expectations; and
therefore no way to respond to gender variant people. Social, legal,
judicial and mental health systems cannot function in a world of nuance
and variation. Everything must have a precise definition.
so twenty of us gathered in a room, over a period of several nights, to
create a precise enough definition that we could work with to change
the social, legal/judicial, psychological and workplace environment, to
make the world safe enough for ourselves and others like us, that people
like us could explore and confirm what life role, what gender role, was
best for each of us to function within.
To the transsexual
separatists – the transgender community as a whole, has worked very long
and very hard to make the world safe for you today. Many of us have
given everything, all of our time, all of our efforts, lost our families
and friends, spent almost all of our money, to doing this work over the
past two decades. You leave this safety net we have created for you at
your own peril.
Those who choose to run away from the umbrella term of Transgender, cannot ever complain when the world rains on their parade.