November 12, 1991
It was with a great deal of interest that I read Virginia Prince’s letter and your response in the November issue of GE. As a self-taught writer and a cross-dresser, two of my favorite forms of expression were stimulated.
While I agree with your assertion that male and female are indeed properly used (in the current context of the language as defined by dictionaries) as both nouns and adjectives (sorry Godmother), I believe Virginia’s point is still valid to a degree. The degree being the distinction, as you referenced in your concurrence, between biological sex and cultural gender. Part of our Godmother’s crusade is to sever the assumed connection between sex (as a biological noun) from gender (a cultural noun). Further, she is the pioneer in severing the assumed connection that if you cross a gender classification, that determines your sexual orientation (e.g., a guy in a dress is a fag). Her point is that using male and female as nouns simply denotes a biological sex classification—that a human being is birthed.. and classified male does not i can that person cannot be a girl or a woman, but it does mean that they cannot be a female (there is no surgery for DNA code). Gender is what we all learn about becoming a boy or a girl, a woman or a man, (nouns) feminine or masculine, manlike or ladylike (adjectives). Our culture has given us a choice of binary sets (it’s a set-up), whereas the cosmic universe we live in doesn’t care much about rigidity. In order to change the rigidity of our culture, and therefore be in closer harmony with the universe, those of us who can be more flexible should assist in the work of defining biology from culture (it is indeed possible, and natural, to become a man even if born a female).
The synonyms you referenced are indeed listed in our literary language manuals albeit with specific connotations; in other words, they can’t be indiscriminately used without a change in meaning (e.g., “mannish” usually indicates affectation of masculine traits or style by women). Out Godmother is literally correct when she states that clothing, names and behavior cannot be properly called female—feminine is the proper adjective. The continued usage of these terms as synonymous will only continue to perpetuate the mainstream belief that if you are born in one sex, you must exhibit the culturally imposed gender attributes of that sex classification, and the corresponding sexual orientation—or suffer the consequences.
Secondly, you have co-opted Virginia’s term “Transgenderist.” In your commentary you stated: “…it is etymologically correct.” Wrong. Etymology is the study of the origin and historical development of a linguistic form as shown by determining its basic elements, earliest known use, and changes in form and meaning. Etymological pertains to the principles of etymology. You merely provided a rationalization for “swiping” the term before admitting same in your etymological concession: “We do however recognize the term “transgenderist” as specifically coined and to be applied in the vernacular of our community as referring to one.who is cross-living full time…” Well, darlings, check this out: there is no literary definition for this term, and for that matter, virtually no literary definitions for most of the terms frequently used in this “community” (such as crossdresser, androgyne, paraculture, etc.), so they are all vernacular (native tongue as opposed to literary language).
Said another way, .you trashed grannie! You stole her linguistic contribution to the community from the community and ran off down the road laughing. Lordy, lordy, lordy, you incorrigible Texans. Shame, shame, shame.
I support the usage of the term “transgenderist” to mean a person living full time in a cultural gender role opposite their biological sex classification, without having altered their anatomy through SRS; “transgendered” to mean having crossed a cultural gender role perhaps permanently without SRS; and other forms of the term to be consistent with those meanings.
I suggest you seek another linguistic term such as Polygenderous (the prefix poly meaning more than one; more than usual—okay, so I coined it, you can still use it) for persons who present more than one gender role. Or, Bigendered (leaving Androgyne to those who are comfortable expressing either gender role or a blend). I would support that, and I believe our Godmother would too—(ya know, we walked down the aisle together in Provincetown [I was in girl-face and boy-body and clothes], she introduced me as her husband and then said she was gonna divorce me because I was a sissy cross-dresser! Can you imagine! And here I am trying to help her out—I must be a Fool!)
And just to prove what a fool I am, I invite anyone who has the strength, courage and patience to join the Dictionary Project. This Project will be an immensely dull undertaking to consensually add the “vernacular of our community” to our culture’s literary language manuals through the Usage Panels of all publishers of dictionaries. The starting point of this Project will be the definitions as compiled by the IFGE and the Human Achievement and Outreach Institute. Step two will be to send said definitions to all major gender-related groups for comment and response. Step three will probably be a bunch of arguments, debates and non-response. Persons interested in participating should contact the address below.
Billie Jean Jones, Publisher TV Guise
3430 Balmoral Drive, #10 Sacramento, CA 95821
Ed: Thanks for writing Billie Jean! Obviously you didn’t think we Texas gals would let you off the hook without a word or two of rejoinder (we are after all rather independent and obstinate down here).
Comment 1: We still don’t believe that our usage of male and female was significantly out of line with common usage and it was contextually clear what was intended. In the treatise (the offending document) we did make the distinction between sex and gender, and gender role/identity preference and sexual preference.
Comment 2: We really can’t take the blame for “trashing grannie”. We only used the terms “transgender” and “transgendered” as then are most commonly used (yup, they really are etymologically correct) today, despite the reservation and acknowledgment of the term “transgenderist” to coinage by Virginia. You will find those terms used in the same manner as we used them in dust about all the publications in our community. It’s those publications that should be used as a basis of usage to arrive at the definitions for your dictionary effort; after all, dictionaries are only written based on common usage of terms. By the way, your “definition” of “transgender” (quite literally) is just about “e way we used it and the “community” uses it with one exception, it is inclusive of those opting for SRS—”transgender” meaning anyone who crosses “cultural” gender roles in any manner or form. So we don’t need to confuse the issue with all manner of labels—we’ve got far more than we need already.
Comment 3: This is an observation I’ve made over the years and simply pose it in the nature of a “what if.” What if we were to spend as much time and effort in our community on outreach as we seem to on internal semantics debate? Hmmm, suppose we might really achieve something worthwhile? — TF
1.) It is asserted:
Secondly, you have co-opted Virginia’s term “Transgenderist.” In your commentary you stated: “…it is etymologically correct.” Wrong. Etymology is the study of the origin and historical development of a linguistic form as shown by determining its basic elements, earliest known use, and changes in form and meaning. Etymological pertains to the principles of etymology.
This is factually wrong. Prince first used the term in print in 1978 (Prince later claims to have coined the term in 1988). Phyllis Frye was using the term prior to Prince and in early 1975, FI News went into a detailed explanation of what the trans community means when we use the term “transgenderist”.