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Understanding Middle Path Transgenderism – Part 1 April 11, 2008

Posted by Tina Simmons in transgender, transsexual.
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What does it mean to be a “middle path” trans person? This is the first of several postings on this subject. It’s an important one to me because it relates to how I am trying to resolve my own gender identity.

Recently on the My Husband Betty community forum a person started a thread to get a roll call of people who considered themselves middle path transgendered people (BTW if you are interested in really thought-provoking discussion of transgender issues I really recommend this forum). There were people with all sorts of transgender leanings and backgrounds who said that they were – people who occasionally cross dress, gender-queer people, and even some post-operative trans women. This lead to to a really good discussion of what being middle path means and how to determine how one should be classified as middle path.

Anytime you start to debate labels and categorizing people you end up in this sort of back and forth discussion. To the credit of the people on the MHB boards, the discussion has been very good and, interestingly, both very academic and very personal (to me that’s what makes this one of the best discussion boards on the net for transgender issues – that and also the spouse-friendly atmosphere there). I think it’s really important to ponder some of the questions that have been raised here:

  • Does calling it “middle path” imply that there is a destination? Or is it, one one writer said, a path in the sense of the motion of an electron in the orbit of an atom, where we cannot determine any location or destination?
  • How much of this identification is internal and personal, and how much of this is externally driven? For instance, I call myself middle path, but I am closeted right now out of circumstance so all I end up doing is dressing at home (my wife wishes that I don’t go out and right now I’m respecting those wishes).
  • How much of what others perceive of me actually an accurate description of my identity? Do I get to chose who input I consider, or are there people whose input I have to accept no matter what? Or does what anybody says factor in?
  • Is the path the slippery slope that you can slide down if you take any step? For instance, does getting laser hair removal or electrolysis lead to taking hormones or transitioning? Or are there intermediate landing points down the slippery slope? Is the notion of a slippery slope accurate, or is it just another comfortable metaphor that doesn’t reflect reality?
  • Is there such a thing as a “middle path” or “middle place” anyway?   Or is this just a way of avoiding figuring out what your really are?

All of this feeds into the question of how important is the labeling and classifying of trans-people anyway (or people in general). A point was raised as the benefit of classifying trans-people is that it does help the non-trans community to understand us, but what is needed besides the description that we’re gender-confused? Is just saying someone is trans enough, or do we need to educate in all the different ways that trans-people feel, cope and live their lives? And do these different labels cause us trans-people to segregate ourselves (“I’m on the transsexual team! You’re on the CD team over there!”)?

In future postings I hope to discuss some possible answers to these and other questions, and I will also use this to discuss how I might classify myself (which I’m sure you can guess based on the importance I’m giving this topic)