In this post I review the rhetoric employed by transsexuals who have refused to use “transgender” to describe their experience while claiming that Virginia Prince coined the term to only refer to people like herself: heterosexual crossdressers who live full-time as female but do not wish to undergo any genital reconstructive surgery.
This is part two of a 2-part series reviewing the ubiquity of this myth as it relates to trans discourse.
Part 2: Colonization, Enslavement and Forced Assimilation: Narratives Built Upon the Virginia Prince Fountainhead Myth
- Sources which have propagated the Virginia Prince Fountainhead Narrative.
- Why it’s bad to assign authorship status to one single source for the identity terms the trans community uses in discourse.
- Tracking transgender: The development of identity memes within the trans community
- Transgender Timeline: A quick reference tracking the usage of trans+gender lexical compounds through the mid-1960s to the early 1990s.
What follows are quotes from various sources, at various points in time, which reject “transgender,” citing the Virginia Prince Fountainhead Myth:
“Was Janice Raymond Right?” 2007,
“This is when the term “transgendered” suddenly went from it’s former specific meaning to including anyone remotely gender non-conforming. Coined by rabidly transsexual phobic Charles “Virginia” Prince who published many of those crossdresser fantasy magazines of earlier days and who founded Tri-Ess, a rabidly homophobic and transsexual phobic network of support groups for crossdressers, “transgender” and “transgendered” suddenly were sold as shorthand for transsexual. The reason for this was actually quite simple. Transvestism is sexually driven, transsexuality isn’t and anything other than plain vanilla heterosexual sex is both verboten and shameful in our society, at least as far as the public face of people is concerned. “
I know that the roots of the “Transgender Community” are in the heterosexual transvestite communities, that Virginia Prince coined Transgender. (The quibble point about Prince coining Transgenderist not Transgender is BS. Transgenderist is to transgender what feminist is to feminism.)
Next week, August 26, is National Women’s Equality Day! August 26th is the anniversary that women won the right to vote. Also, late transitioning transgender males and white heterosexual cross dressing males are not the only ones who have the right to vote on issues pertaining to transsexual, transgender and intersex (TTI) equality, however, they have colonized the transsexual community. The results of this colonization has been devastating to the progress of transsexual (TS) and intersex (IS) Americans. Look at the history, and the law books- it’s all there. Ever since cross dressing men and transvestites co-opted the transsexual movement, TS folks have actually LOST already pre-existing rights. And ever since Gay Inc co-signed the transgender fascista’s co-opting of the transsexual birth challenge, many in society have been miseducated about the transsexual birth challenge, and it has been gay appropriated in a very oppressive way….
When you know the REAL history of this issue, its really upsetting. It was actually transsexual women who gained all the initial rights for the TTI communities in the early 1900′s. Then after Stonewall, some quack cross dressing heterosexual male named Virginia Prince (who was an open misogynist,voiced public disdain for the transsexual communities, and was homophobic against gay and lesbian people) decided to rally the other white heterosexual cross dressing males to usurp the transsexual community against their will. And since the patriarchy supported the sexualizing and silencing of TS women, it was easy for CD males to hijack the TS movement. Everything started to go downhill after that for women and men born with transsexualism.
There are a lot of things I think of when I hear the term transgender. Mostly negative. I do not like the misogyny directed towards post-transsexual women. Nor the colonization and erasure of our difference from transgender people.
Too often I think of the “Transgender Borg Collective” when I hear the term, a cult like group of people who all echo the same talking point endlessly and abusively towards post-transsexual women who do not want to be considered part of their “community”.
Transgender was coined by Virginia Prince, a homophobic heterosexual (sic) and misogynist who hated transsexual women. Prince’s words are the same word directed at those of us who had sex change operations and want nothing to do with the cult.
Transgender as umbrella is dead…
Feel free to use it strictly for people who live full time or for cross dressers but count me and others out
Finally let’s consider that “transgender” was based on terminology that was extremely transsexual-phobic (the transsexual hating Charlie Prince) in the first place and “gender” being malleable is based on the single John Money John-Joan case exposed as a total fraud but still seems to inform those who promote this mistaken idea.
So, a term that began as an insulting separation to those who now reject it that has no scientific reality (gender identity is fixed at almost the same moment of pre-natal development as sexual orientation) is the preferred term?
As Agent K said in Men in Black II “This is a clear case of go home and do it over again”.
While there may be no conspiracy pursy, historically TG when put into the common lexicon by Charles “Virginia” Prince, was done quite purposely with one and only one goal.
Tie TG and TS into being “the same.”
For this I need to point to any documentation. This information was gathered directly from the horse’s mouth as it were. I attended one of the IFGE early functions many years’ back and “Virginia” seeing something in me. What I do not know, decided to make me a pet project. For four days and three nights, I was regailed (hammered would be more accurate) with the history of Transvestites in America from the 30′s onward. All recounted in excruciating detail as was TS, As I might add ,seen by Prince. who for the record, denounced it as total fraud… ( this sour grapes response of his came aobut followed Dr Benjamin’s refusal to recommend Virginia for surgery. Again this from his mouth to my ears)
I will have to give Virginia this. He was a dedicated man and when he set his sights on a goal he accomplished it. That and he was also very good at making vital connections with like minded persons. Virginia, having decided on a very personal and moral level that there was no difference between TS and TV, and not wanting anything to do with TV as the perversion it was perceived of in the early years. (Which btw did resulted in his being arrested and sentenced to five years on a felony charge of sending obscene content through the mail) Set his sights on glomming onto the slim legal and social acceptance TS had gathered at the time. Legitimacy created by TS being seen, not as a psychiatric issue but as correctable medical issue and no threat to the binary.
May 12th, 2011 at 12:25 pm Comment on In Community, Genitalia & Socialization Essentialism Has Been Around For Awhile, Thursday May 12, 2011 5:00 am
These trans people who can never forgive Daly, apologize all over the place for the single most transsexual phobic person to ever roam the earth, Virgina Prince, who coined the term transgender which is now applied to those Prince most hated as part of a forced umbrella inclusion that essentially denies the womanhood of those female bodied, fully woman identified women with transsexed or intersexed histories.
NPR, Listener: Don’t Call Me Transgender, April 1, 2011
“After that conversation, somebody posted this to our online forum: As a transsexual-identified woman, I find the use of the words transgender, transgenderism, gender nonconforming and gender variance highly offensive when applied to me. These are LGBT community buzzwords that should only be applied to their community – not to transsexuals that live outside of it, or that aren’t trying to break gender norms. The LGBT community efforts to push this word to include all transsexuals is shameful. She blogs under the name Transsexual People Aren’t Transgendered.”
Gay Histories and Cultures: An Encyclopedia, (2000) Volume 2, pp 888 – 890
Transgender… The term is said to derive from transgenderist, coined in the 1960s be male-to-female cross-dresser and early transgender researcher Virginia Prince as an alternative to the stigmatizing and objectifying medical category of “transvestite…”
Bolin, Bornstein, Feinberg, and other clearly view transgender as both the cause and the effect of a renewed fender and sexual revolution. Not everyone shared their view, however. Some transsexuals are proud of having changed sexes, rather that confounding them, and reject the transgender identity for erasing their own, “Every application of the term transgender to me is an attempt to mask what I’ve done and as such co-opts my life, denies my experience, violates my very soul. I changed my sex… and provide that anatomy is not destiny,” Margaret Deidre O’Hartigan has emphatically asserted.”
January 6th, 2008 at 10:09 am, Commenting on The Unfortunate Statements of Susan Stanton, January 2, 2008
Definitions”You might define transgender that way, and not label yourself with it, which is fine. But will others define it differently irrespective of your interpretation?”The colonization of my life by transvestites angers me no end.I refuse to wear the label created by a viciously misogynistic transsexual hating full time transvestiteie Virginia Prince.I was around way back when transgender simply meant a person who lived full time as a member of the sex opposite their current genitals. fine that label worked for a number of my friend who fell into two camps homosexual & heterogender meaning keeping their penises while living as women and the other group heterosexual & homogendered meaning those keeping their penises while liking women. (several of my lovers). I got my SRS and then I moved on. Transgenders have zero right to demand that I work for their political cause. Nor should the men in dresses have a right to “define” me as transgender without my consent. Transgender is an identity politics label pure and simple and the more you try to label me with it the more I view y’all as the problem.I find the transgender community far more oppressive of me than the world at large. I am particularly bothered by your campaign against people who are working for issues I consi9der far more important to me than transgender protections ie same sex marriage.Further most of those pushing transgender as umbrella and dermanding L/G folks put their political goals front and center are heterosexual males who come out in middle age after years of male privilege.This very same group turns around and spurns the drag queen community of trannie sex workers who were my friends as not representing transgender when they are the real transgenders.
There’s even a petition to “Let My People Go” that appeals to the Virginia Prince Fountainhead Narrative:
This is from a capture of a 2009 wiki article which states that:
Some transsexuals also take issue with the term because Charles “Virginia” Prince, the founder of the cross dressing organization Tri-Ess and coiner of the term “transgender”, did so because she wished to distinguish herself from transsexual people.
The citation (23) leads to a website called, LGBTQ: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, bisexual, transgender, & queer culture. This site states:
Prince (henceforth referred to as “she”) was divorced from her second wife in 1964 and began living full-time as a woman. It appears that Prince was the first person to coin the term “transgender,” which she used to describe her desire to become a woman socially without having to modify her genitals.
The Wikipedia article was first edited to note that some transsexuals did not use transgender because Price supposedly coined the term on May 14, 2008. The original article read:
Transgender vs. Transsexual
As long as the term transgender has existed, there have been reasons to use it distinctly and separately from the term transsexual. In fact, Virginia Prince, who coined various forms of “transgender” and is generally given credit for coining the base form itself (see: http://www.glbtq.com/social-sciences/prince_vc.html), did so because she wished to distinguish herself from transsexual people she saw as both sick and different from herself. As an example, her statement from the essay, “Men Who Choose to Be Women” in an issue of Sexology magazine (as cited in “Gay Vs. Trans in America,” The Advocate, Dec. 18, 2007 now online at http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1589/is_999/ai_n24215671/pg_8) reads: “I, at least, know the difference between sex and gender and have simply elected to change the latter and not the former,”. While distinctions between sex and gender are often recognized, (see Gender, an Ethnomethodological Approach by Kessler and McKenna for a thorough discussion of the relationships and meanings of the two terms) this condescending attitude is rejected by a number of transsexual people who also note that if the term was created to distinguish folk who challenge gender from folk who challenge sex, subsuming transsexual people under the rubric of transgender would then be both incorrect on its sex vs. gender face as well as disrespectful (see: http://www.survivorproject.org/basic.html). Max Wolf Valerio in “Now That You’re a White Man,” from This Bridge We Call Home by Anzaldua and Keating elucidates this struggle well, with reasons that he notes including the fact that breaking with norms of sex creates distinct experiences and needs from breaking with norms of gender. Also, he finds a link between queer theory, academia, social class, and anti-transsexual perspectives that presume transsexual people to be gender oppressive. In fact, in many transgender perspectives and writings, Max notes, transsexual people are given more responsibility for gender oppression (including the gender binary and what is commonly referred to as sexism) than non-transsexual, non-transgender men who accrue the most benefit from the current hierarchy of power. Finally, he explains the tendency towards invisibilization of transsexual people is increased when non-transsexual people are seen as having authority to speak for transsexual people. This is perhaps a natural consequence as conflating transgender and transsexual is only possible by conflating gender and sex.
Versions of this Prince Fountainhead Narrative remained on wikipedia until June, 28, 2012 - just over four years.