“… let me remind you: bigotry against minority groups based on sexual orientation or gender identity, such as the trans community, is a way fascism takes root.”
~ by Robert Reich, The Guardian 4/30/23
Hirschfeld would have been delighted by the progress
As a pioneer in Weimar Berlin, Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld explored the limits of what he then referred to as transsexuality. His work documented substantial progress in the identification of diversity of behaviors among Trans people. His efforts to enhance Trans’ social acceptability were commendable and well-accepted. His Institut fuer Sexual Wissenschaft (Institute for Sexual Research) succeeded in initiating viable sex-change strategies and offered a range of comprehensive educational and therapeutic services to their patients. This enlightened approach to a taboo topic made historic progress in 1920s Berlin. Nazi exclusionary edicts abruptly terminated it, with tragic conclusion.
The Transgender reality, a century later, would have astonished and pleased Hirschfeld. Trans surgery techniques have vastly improved the lives of both male-to-female and female-to-male patients. Candidates can now count on safe transitions, offered by qualified hospitals with typically comprehensive insurance coverage. TransHealthCare.com reports that ” there are now at least 30 medical centers in the U.S. that have a transgender surgery program”.
As of 2021, 77 transgender people had been elected to public office in the U.S., quintupling the number elected in 2018. Various high-profile personalities have transitioned in recent years, including Jennifer Pritzker, the world’s first transgender billionaire; corporate energy CEO Christine Hallquist, a former Democratic candidate for Vermont governor; and the former Olympic champion, Kaitlyn Jenner. It’s no accident that these folks transitioned in their 60’s, as I did. It was only then that social values relaxed sufficiently to allow general acceptance of the phenomenon.
Rep. Zooey Zephyr talks with the media after a House of Representatives session at the Montana State Capitol in Helena, Mont., on Wednesday, April 26, 2023. Republicans in Montana’s House of Representatives voted to ban Rep. Zephyr from the chamber, following her support for protesters who disrupted the body’s proceedings earlier in the week. (AP Photo/Tommy Martino) Huffpost VIA ASSOCIATED PRESS
Counseling and therapeutic protocols for minors with transgender issues have acquired similar currency in our medical system. Thousands of youths have chosen this pathway as a welcome and professionally approved solution to their gender dysphoria. Pre-teen and teen trans patients are now seen by the medical community as legitimate stakeholders. Acknowledgement of a gender identity crisis among youth has resulted in thousands of cases, met by treatment with counseling, emotional support, and puberty-delaying drugs as needed to postpone critical decisions. These kids are the beneficiaries of the secret struggles of us senior Transgenders. A life that can be lived well and unfettered by social stigma, long denied to my generation, is now offered routinely to them.
The Pew Research Center discloses about 5% of the population under 30 is transgender. The percentage declines in older segments of the population. This may well reveal the gradual erosion of cultural bias against gender fluidity. Younger generations typically express little or no bias against Trans people. Generational change will ultimately remedy the Trans rights crisis.
An American Tradition Renewed, and disrupted
The legitimacy of Trans experience is uniquely at home in America to the extent that it evokes the “Two-Spirit” status of transgender people in many Native American tribes. Two-spirit people were often honored as tribal healers and shamans. Cultural suppression, perpetrated by missionaries and their allies, resulted in Two-Spirit people retreating to underground anonymity. It can be said that the pre-European population of America was populated by Trans-friendly inhabitants. (In modern times, there’s been a trend to apply the Two-Spirit designations to indigenous LGBTQ people in general.)
The Fall and Rise of American Fascists
The Trans contingent of the LGBTQ cohort would be well on its way to public recognition and national embrace were it not for a resurgence of far-right activism informed by Nazi ideology. Legal obstacles in at least fourteen states combine to restrict trans access to bathrooms, trans medical care, parental rights of trans minors to rule on health-care options, access to school sports, and drag shows.
It’s notable here that Drag shows are typically performed by gay men. Their exaggerated parody of femininity is presented as campy entertainment. The phenomenon is only tangentially related to the Transgender cohort. Suppression of Drag culture is a free speech issue, unlike the Trans experience, which faces core human rights challenges. Conflating Drag with Trans reflects the imbecilic mentality of Anti-Trans advocates.
As of April 23, 2023, forty-five states have proposed anti-trans bills. Analysis of the anti-trans movement features a stunning invention of public restroom myths, exaggeration of the trivial Trans influence on school sports, a total disregard for the authoritative expertise of medical professionals, and contempt for constitutional rights of parents. The goal of these initiatives, if not explicitly stated, is to eradicate Trans people from participation in public life, if not to exclude them from life itself, per the Nazi formula.
The question must be asked: Why is the fascist element in America focused so energetically on the Trans phenomenon? After all, Trans people reflect an infinitesimal fraction of the population. The answer is embedded in the question. It is precisely because the Trans population is so small that it has been made a prime neo-Nazi target. It is vulnerable in numbers. It’s also vulnerable in its lack of familiarity to the general public. It lacks legal protections that would specify safeguards (though the Constitution would suffice for reasonable people). It is a sitting duck for legal repression and physical violence.
American fascist culture warriors have been losing battles for decades. The gay population is robust and thriving despite massive efforts to neutralize them. Threats to gay marriage have largely subsided as legitimacy nears universal acceptance in the U.S.A. Cancellation of legalized-abortion law has provoked a reaction that reversed election outcomes and promises to manifest restoration of Roe v. Wade going forward. Contemporary Nazis perceive the Trans “issue” as a pretext to galvanize right-wing support in the name of child protection.
It’s no coincidence that the Nazi-inspired right wing has recently concentrated its efforts on book-banning in public libraries throughout the nation. In Nazi history, book burning is linked to Trans eradication. Berlin’s Institute for Sexual Research was hit by both, simultaneously. The governors of red states that have plunged their citizens into the black hole of ignorance cannot be forgiven for their own malicious ignorance. They capriciously seek to inflict punishment on emerging generations who simply seek the opportunity to nurture their dreams. Without interference by oppressive neighbors, those dreams can come true.
Obscurity accompanies ignorance
The most compelling component of anti-Trans strategy for neo-fascists is its obscurity. The Trans reality is not well understood or even familiar to the “woke” public, let alone the general public. The distinction between an authentic gender-based definition and one erroneously based on sexuality is lost in public conversation on the topic. Trans people are routinely sexualized, especially by anti-Trans males who view them as a source of subconscious titillation and describe them as a challenge to conventional sexuality that must be destroyed. Note the recent fascistic freakout of bad boy Kid Rock, shooting cases of beer to illustrate his rejection of Ms. Dylan Mulvaney’s successful promotion of Bud Light. Psychoanalyst colleagues of Freud in Germany’s Weimar era would have taken note.
Dylan Mulvaney boasts 1.8 million Instagram followers and 10.8 million TikTok followers (Día Dipasupil/Getty Images for PFLAG)
The diversity of Trans experience has suffered obscurity. Conventional boundaries of race, age, class, geography, and education have no decisive weight in evaluating the Trans experience. Trans people are demographic outliers among outliers. A seldom acknowledged fact of Trans reality is that the factors that influence and result in “transness” remain unknown, even a century after Hirschfeld. That Trans people are mysterious contributes to a to a toxic mystique promoted by moronic fascists. The medieval witch hunt is revived with baseless and renewed allegation.
Attorneys General in some southern states have been trying to gather personal information on Transpeople using driver’s license data. One is reminded of the Nazi mob that looted the administrative offices of Institute for Sexual Science and gathered the contact information that led to arrest, deportation, and extermination of thousands of “sexual deviants”.
Maga Republicans feature their Nazi heritage
That Nazi ideology has emerged in America as an aspirational vehicle of right-wing ideology challenges the assumptions of my youth. Pre-WWII Nazi rallies were, after all, just another chapter in the total defeat of the “thousand year Reich”. Growing up in the 50s and 60s evidenced a seamless triumph of democracy. That glow began to fade and by the early 2000’s reports of antisemitic terror began to emerge. It emerged as a topic in an exercise that demonized gay people, disqualified women, revised the pro-slavery narrative, and elevated anti-immigrant attitudes among other repugnancies. But it wasn’t until Trump’s election and his explicit embrace of fascist white youth in Charlottesville that contemporary fascism began to take shape.
My male-to-female transition, started in 2019 has gone rather well. In the California cocoon, where I reside, I’ve been welcomed, respected, praised, and accepted. I’ve been awakened by the new Nazis around the country. If they complain about wokeness please notify them that, it is they who woke me. In the weeks since I began writing this article the actions of Nazis in America vis-a-vis Transpeople has infested the nation at a breathtaking rate. Children have been put at risk; human rights have been routinely violated. The cocoon of complacency has been atomized. It demands our activism.
Transgender rights activists gather during an International Women’s Day abortion rights demonstration at the Texas State Capitol in Austin, Texas, on March 08, 2023. Brandon Bell—Getty Images
In memory of Trans Berlin.
We honor your sacrifice, we embrace you.
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One thought on “Reliving Transgender History Part II – by Rafaela Amrita Crevoshay”
My favorite line: “Conflating Drag with Trans reflects the imbecilic mentality of Anti-Trans advocates.”