The TS paradigm
I periodically talk about the TS paradigm, and as far as I can tell I'm the one that came up with the concept to begin with. When I do presentations to classes I explain the transgender spectrum as transgender being the umbrella term that takes in the whole transgender community, and that is subdivided into cross-dresser, transgenderist, no-op, pre-op, and post-op transsexual. There are other identifications that people use but these seem to be fairly generic and nobody in the community objects too much. I give explanation that cross-dressers and transgenderist’s are dual or bi gendered both male and female and that the individual identification may oscillate with in a range. I then go on to explain that transsexuals are mono gender the opposite of birth sex. How some one identifies is subjective and individual, and what I am stating here is the individual’s perception of who they are.
Why did I come up with the concept of the TS paradigm?
Within the gay community many do not believe that you can be bisexual, some have said that the individual is trying to claim heterosexual privilege. More importantly however their identity is so important that they had difficulty with understanding that someone can be other than straight or gay.
There is a long running joke, "what is the difference between a cross-dresser and a transsexual, two years". I cannot tell you how many times I have heard from someone that identifies as TS, so when are you going to have your surgery. You also occasionally hear, (you're only a CD). What this indicates is a total lack of being able to understand an identification that is other than transsexual.
There is also the perception that the experience for a CD is less intense or less of a need to be congruent with who they are than it is for a TS. There is a difference but I am convinced no less a genuine need, as persistent, and as deep as it is for a TS. The outcome of coming to congruence is likely to be psychological for the CD and may include physical alteration to the body in the form of HRT (hormone replacement therapy) and possibly surgical as well as psychological for the TS.
What are the consequences?
One of the problems experienced in our dealing with the predominant culture is that virtually all of the current attention focuses on those that identify as TS with a number of recent programs that were positive in nature. In the current literature most of the attention is on those that identify as TS.
There are a number of factors involved.
· By nature a transitioning TS’s are likely to be out publicly and that tends to gain attention, yet they are the minority in the community.
· It is optional to be out for those that identify as other than TS and the majority are invisible because of an actual or perceived need for security.
· Attention in the literature is give to those that present to a therapist with a problem or a need to transition. I have often said “being transgender is a problem, only if it is a problem”.
· Cultural understanding, there are understandings that have an origin in the TS culture i.e. born in the wrong body is often herd in this culture, that powerfully shapes thinking. This is not expressed in this way in other cultures i.e. the Hegira in India think of them selves as a third gender. The First Nations peoples from what I can remember did not see them selves in this light, they felt the need to express their difference and assume a variant role or identity and that identity spanned the expressions of sexuality and gender.
· TS cultural push, the “transition or die”, or you are not really transgendered unless you want to transition. SRS is a very recent possibility. Again language shapes concepts and the path for conceptualizing and understanding. Language can also resonate with an individual, the “that is the way I feel revelation”. The danger is that it can create a dichotomous, bi-polar conceptualization, male or female that creates a drive that may exceed the needs of the individual. Language shapes how we think.
· Therapists who may only, or mostly see, or are themselves TS who are the minority in the community push some one with an identity other than TS. They may assume that the rest of us are TS but hiding/repressing/… I have heard horror stories of therapists pushing hormones on CD’s.