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Social Nausea

| Dec 31, 2007
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Corinne ScottAn interesting thing happened on the way to my second social capital article. Namely, a little introspection.

You see, I had this whole thing plotted out. I could use the concept of social capital to prove the age-old argument that crossdressers and transsexuals really are different kinds of people. It’s not hard really. By reverse engineering the concept of social capital — that is, by looking at the kinds of capital claimed by our community and tracking it back to its owners — you can see clearly that there is an entire segment of our population that is engaging in woman-like dress and behavior for reasons other than gender identity dysphoria. They’ve been claiming this for years, but as if their word wasn’t good enough, a simple examination of value systems””as hinted at by the kinds of social capital they possess””validates it.

And therein lays the problem. No matter how I write that last sentence, I feel queasy. There’s a wedge in our community, and talk like that only drives it deeper.

A while back, a particularly mean-spirited person on a certain blog-heavy social networking platform took to calling me “just a crossdresser” when referring to me in the comments section of mutual friends’ blogs. It was a frustrating experience. Not so much because of the insult””I couldn’t care less what this person thought of me –but because of the suggestion that crossdressers are somehow inferior members of the trans-community, or perhaps not even rightful members of it at all! It was my first real brush with trans-elitism, and clearly it stuck with me.

Don’t get me wrong, every group — heck, every individual — wants to be understood on their own terms, as distinct and important. Our diversity is our strength, and for that reason alone it’s important for us to recognize our differences”¦ so that we may appreciate and benefit from them. But to take something like the pseudo-science of social capitalism and use it to “prove” that crossdressers and transsexuals are fundamentally different, especially when that is already so evident anyway”¦ well, that expenditure of energy seems like an act of exclusion rather than inclusion, and it’s not something I’m comfortable with.

Not that the whole social capital exercise was a waste. Quite the opposite, in fact. When I was belittled online and referred to as “just a crossdresser”, the implication was that crossdressers have nothing to offer a transsexual in terms of social capital (although back then I would have called what I was offering “advice” or maybe just “encouragement”). I suspected then, and I know for certain now, that was wrong. Because as I was conducting my little experiment and classifying certain kinds of social capital as “crossdresser capital” and other kinds as “transsexual capital”, I stumbled across many that couldn’t be tidily placed into a single box. Not insignificant bits and pieces either, but big items both groups value, like “learning how to pass”. The social capitalists even have a word for it”¦ they call it “bridging capital”, and it goes to show you that even these learned people, who sought to break us down and examine us in terms of all the small groups we belong to, never lost sight of the fact that every single one of us is part of a single, bigger group. We could learn something from that.

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Category: Transgender Opinion


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