As aggressively vitriolic and hurtful as radical feminist criticism of transexuals often is, I believe that transexuals do themselves a grave disservice by dismissing that criticism as entirely rooted in blind transphobia. There is certainly a very strong element of transphobia in certain quarters of the feminist movement, but even a broken clock is right two times a day. It is hardly surprising that the majority of transexuals are heteronormative in terms of their chosen gender presentation and behavior, but this becomes exceedingly problematic due to the extremely loud and highly active minority of transexuals who are militantly heteronormative.

Due to the disparity in visibility between different types of transexual, there is a very unfortunate illusion that female-to-male transexuals don't exist at all and that male-to-female transexuals are mostly overcompensating super-macho males transitioning into oversexed, hyperfeminine females who insist on absolute conformity to patriarchical norms and the "Madonna-Whore Complex". Given that perception, it's no wonder that radical feminists tend to brand transexualism as nothing more than a particularly crazed attempt to invade and subvert the women's rights movement. This ugly misunderstanding is exacerbated by the small but extremely vocal minority of transexuals who condemn nontraditional gender expression as "perverting" or "diminishing" the meaning of gender itself. While the vast majority of transexuals do not agree with this militiant conformist position, many of them also do not speak out against it because they are personally comfortable with traditional gender roles and often fear the lack of structure involved in a gender deconstructionist world.

It is important to point out that those who are not familiar with the psychological treatment protocols for transexuals often fail to realize that a lot of the gender policing in the trans community originates from behavioral requirements imposed on transexuals by the medical gatekeepers who control our access to treatment. The Standards of Care for Gender Identity Disorders mandate that transexuals go through a "real life test" to demonstrate their gender identity prior to recieving hormone replacement therapy and sexual reassignment surgery, and the majority of psychologists use this requirement to demand and enforce gender policed behavior throughout the transition period.

Those who have completed the gender transition process are largely free of the mandates of psychologists, but the intense social and legal discrimination against them often pushes them into continued gender policing as a defense mechanism. The safety provided by "stealth" status is in many ways only an illusion, but its very fragility tends to make "passable" transexuals extremely reactionary towards anything which has the slightest possibility of outing them. Exercising passing privilege is a double-edged sword in that living in stealth is living in constant terror of discovery, and that terror may cause transexuals to betray everything they should believe in. This is why stealth transpersons often hypocritically adhere to social conservativism or the transphobic flavor of radical feminism; in their persecution-induced paranoia, they decide that no one would suspect an outspokenly transphobic man or woman of being a transexual.

The fearful silence of the "stealth majority" has given the militiant conformists a disproportionate voice within the American transexual community, and this has produced an distinct tendency towards both internal and external gender policing behavior. Relatively few step forward to challenge the conformists' dogmatic assertions that that anyone who exhibits gender variant behavior is "not really transexual", that only transexuals merit treatment because they are "normal", and that transexuals who cannot pass should "be realistic" and not transition because it would trigger witch hunts against those who do pass. To be perfectly blunt, the militant conformists have chosen to sell out to the very society which oppresses them, spurning the deconstruction of rigid gender roles which would set them free, and instead embracing a traitor's thirty pieces of silver in the form of passing privilege.

Most transexuals are distinctly uncomfortable with the extremism of the gender conformists, but they also seem to be unwilling to completely distance themselves from it. This is probably because the clear lines and standards drawn by the conformists are reaffirming to those who are themselves comfortable with gender normativity in the first place; they may not necessarily agree with excluding others, but they still feel reassured of their own "belonging". This is extremely unfortunate because as long as moderates do not clearly distinguish themselves from extremists, they will inevitably be smeared with guilt by association. As long as the bulk of the transexuals who make themselves visible to outsiders are the militiant conformists and those conformists have (or are perceived to have) tacit support from the majority, it is going to be nearly impossible to refute the assumption that all or most transexuals are the same way.

The long term solution to these issues is for the current generation of transexuals to reject the vicious orthoxody of conformist gender policing and to embrace in its place the freedom of gender deconstruction. This does not mean that all of us must reject traditional gender expression or stealth concealement as personal decisions, only that need to cease imposing them on others as moral imperatives. Just as a feminist may choose to be a housewife while fighting society's attempts to force all women to be housewives, so also can a transexual chose to be gender normative while fighting misguided attempts to force all transexuals to be gender normative. The bottom line is that there is no one "correct" form of gender expression which all males or all females should be required to adhere to; gender expression is a choice, and no form of it is more valid than another.

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