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I've always felt ambivalent about mentioning the sexism I've often seen in transgendered people. Uncomprehending and hostile voices abound aplenty.
There's a paradox in transsexuality. Stepping out of your genetic gender is about as radical act as I can imagine. But it could be called the most sexist act imagine: what can say more strongly that gender matters? The monetary cost, the shocking medical strain of surgery and drugs. Or it can be seem as a heroic sacrifice, becoming who you feel you really are, must be.
A kind of whorish look with thigh boots is a popular look among crossdressers. Playing up the feminine as wanton, helplessly in heat, needing a man. Or the naughty school girlboy. (I'd be lying if I didn't confess that I find both fetching.) Honestly in this you can see the male image of woman as an object to be used for pleasure. "Take me like the slut I really am!"
There are the elaborate gowns beloved of drag queens. This is so alien to my own sexual sensibility* that I can't decode anything from it. All I see is bourgeois conventionality. That is a quality of the homebound transvestites who often dress like suburban realtors. But not of the men who appear on stage in dresses.
This was prompted by thinking about the old idealization of the feminine. Womanhood on a pedestal, embodying delicacy and purity. I find it hard to believe this different, tender sexism is dead. It didn't die with my father.
I'll own that some of it lives in me. Back in my shameful adolescence I read a collection of Celtic love stories. They were filled with impossible golden fairy princesses. Their hearts were as immaculate as they were beautiful and as their every action noble. Little Richard all but swooned. (I hope the book never hits the shop, I'd probably shoot myself (It would be even worse than listening to the Associations sing "Cherish" again.))
The sense of femininity as sacred has much to do with my idealization of the feminine guy. Gender transcendence is there too but the na´ve childhood image of the divinity of the feminine still lurks somewhere deep in the neurons.
So, tell me, why have I never seen an image of a Pre-Raphaelite transvestite? (Of course any biological female with that look would make me cross the street to avoid her, why else did I leave San Francisco.)
*I swore I wouldn't use 'sensibility' anymore. As a teenager I read Susan Sontag's Against Interpretation, specifically "One Culture and the New Sensibility." While it seems a good word for capturing the scattered nuances of feeling in the subsequent decades it has been beaten to death, hasn't it.