While I know full well just by reading this article that the world has come a long way in thinking about transgender issues, I cringed so often throughout this article. There are obvious things that are bothersome, like the stereotypical trans* narrative of Earl, the automatically assumed homosexuality justified as pseudo-heterosexuality because Earl is a psychological male but his “true sex” is biologically female, and the idea that being transgendered is a disease. However, I was really struck by how Cauldwell’s language frames “the psychological condition [that] is in reality the disease,” which includes non-normative gender and sexuality identifications. Cauldwell constantly reassures his audience that Earl is not a bad person, he’s just psychologically stunted. He (or as he kept reinforcing: she) would never seduce a woman to homosexual ways except for the fact that he is under the unfortunate misconception that he is a male. Silly woman, thinking that you’re a boy just because your parents dressed you up as one when you were little then proceeded to emotionally scar you into believing delusions. (In case it wasn’t obvious: that was sarcasm. Blatant, dripping sarcasm.)
So let’s offhandedly blame the parents, creating a victim, then proceed to treat that perceived victim as if they don’t know what’s best for themselves. Also, they’re inconsiderate (because they can’t realize that a doctor preforming surgery to “mutilate a pair of healthy breasts” should be considered an innocent party) and irresponsible (they’re a parasitic seductress and narcissist), but there’s still hope! “Progress is being made. Within a quarter of a century social education may serve as a preventive in all but a few cases and social organizations may be able to rehabilitate the few who fall by the wayside.” So, a child in a dysfunctional home doesn’t suffer significant damage just because they’re in an education system with children who are ‘normal.’
Not only will socialization with other children eradicate ‘transsexuals,’ but it will, by proxy eradicate homosexuality. With ‘girls’ like Earl, “She believed that she had a perfect right to go out just as any young male and court a female and, just as young males sometimes seduce young females, she thought that it was within her right to do the same thing.” With some care and early socialization with ‘normal’ peers, there might be a chance that the disease called ‘transsexualism’ might yet be eradicated.
Cauldwell feels it necessary to justify what he calls Earl’s “homosexual” activities with the claim that, in his mind, he was acting heterosexually, because he perceived himself to be male. The goal of this is to make Earl seem like a more credible source, but it is only the most offensive way to make a person credible. Maybe it’s my bias as a queer (in gender and sexuality) person, but first he says that having gender issues indicates a mental disease, then he uses that ‘disease’ to excuse away the legitimate feelings that Earl has for the women he comes in contact with. This approach takes Earl’s gender and sexual identities and marginalizes them, making them hetero- and cisnormative where they do not necessarily claim to be.
I have never felt more invalidated than when I read this article. It’s like Cauldwell took my life and slapped me across the face with it…. I really hope to change this mindset that non-normative people are problems. It just hurts everyone.
speaking of non-normative: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mmGy373qnFI
But, to be a little more serious, here’s a girl that I found on my search for information on transgender individuals via youtube (I know, not the best resources, but I had no clue why I was even interested at the time, so it was one of my only resources). She’s gotten a lot of coverage for her transtition, but not nearly enough for her songs, so here’s one. She’s not amazing, but that wasn’t what was important to me when I found the video. It just made me excited to see someone be happy and feel comfortable in their skin, even though they had to work to get there. In contrast to the article, she has been widely accepted in a lot of places, just as herself.
Kim Petras: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_ghNx4JAFo