Traditionally, boys who play with dolls were scolded, stripped of their dolls and handed some trucks, their parents terrified of their son showing signs of femininity. Now, as transgender identities become more visible, select parents respond to their sons playing with dolls in a different way, assuming that their child’s interest in traditionally feminine toys makes them transgender or qualifies them as a girl trapped in a boy’s body. So-called progressive individuals are jumping on the “transgender bandwagon,” without realizing that their tolerance (and even support) of what they perceive as “transgender” might actually be a destructive reinforcement of an arbitrary gender binary.
[Image: eight piece background composed of alternating purple/green triangles. A yellow seahorse with its tail wrapped around a piece of red coral is in the center, and two more pieces of coral are behind it. Top text reads “Feeling male”. Bottom text reads “period starts”]
this really, really sucks when it happens.
yes, I’m genderqueer. no, I’m not trans.
I know that people outside the binary fall under the trans* umbrella, but it’s still not something I feel comfortable identifying as.
The fact of the matter is that transgender individuals, especially those who were male-assigned at birth, have it a hell of a lot harder than I do as a FAAB genderfluid person. I’m four-foot-ten. There’s no chance that I’ll be taken as anything other than a young teenage guy or a woman, and in either case I’m not perceived as a threat or, in general, at risk of assault due to my gender identity. It’s of course annoying when I’m feeling and trying to present as male, but that isn’t even my whole life. I get breaks from being dysphoric, so to speak.
The second thing that consistently bugs me about the trans* umbrella is that there are people who would never identify as anything other than cisgendered but are nonetheless gender-non-conforming. And I feel like these people, though they don’t fall under this umbrella, share experiences with me just as much as a transgender person might. It’s more annoying, less life-threatening; still soul-sapping in a lot of cases where expressing oneself is damn near impossible. Further, saying “My gender changes” sounds as absurd to the average ear as “I’m a straight guy but I love <stereotypically very feminine thing here>”. Which is a mixed bag; it means that as long as we live in the roles we’ve been assigned we’re safer than those who can’t, but it also means that we’re less likely to be taken seriously (which is, again, a good thing where being taken seriously means being beaten up).
Much of the discomfort I have with identifying as trans* is that, honestly, in everyday life, I’m not just stealth but mostly okay with being read as female. My general weirdness is more my identity than my genderfluidity in particular is. Gender really isn’t that big a factor at all for me. (I’m pondering whether I’m more agender than anything else - but the fact remains that some days I’m dysphoric and some days I’m not.)
But if I’m honest with myself, there’s some selfish, irrational fears to it as well. As a child I was suspected to be trans, being as vocally masculine as I was. In hindsight, lots of the things I did would have been rather alarming to those around me when they were just me being me - a powerpuff-girl-loving child who wanted to be a dad one day. And that led to much bullying and ostracisation - as it later did to the six months of prolonged abuse which have colored so much of my adult life. That’s why recognizing that I had dysphoria was so hard: because I never wanted to go through that again.
I’m not trans. I have distinct cis privilege despite being genderfluid, and that’s why I don’t identify as such. I’d feel like I was appropriating an identity which came with hardship I don’t face. But I am always an advocate for and identify with those who are gender-non-conforming in any way, and that encompasses the trans* umbrella and more.
Why men need feminism….
Reblogging for a particular reader of this blog, who will know who they are. Feminism - that is, the brand that most of the feminists I know actually subscribe to, not the one caricatured in the media - is about tearing down gender roles. And by nature if you level the playing field, it’ll be level for both teams. We don’t want women to rule the world. We don’t hate men (a lot of us date men! and since I don’t feel gender is a binary, that’s a false dichotomy anyway!). We don’t ignore struggles against racism or transphobia or homophobia or other forms of erasure and bigotry. Because if the goal is a level playing field, we have to make it as level as we can foreveryone.
I went to a queer group yesterday. We talked politics for two hours - beginning with the marriage equality bill currently awaiting a vote in New Zealand, but not stopping there. And it was utterly refreshing to discuss the gender binary and intersex issues and the legal ramifications of choosing to transition to genderqueer and the intersection of racial minority and being queer (minorities squared, we called them; the feminist theory - and one I suggest you read about - is called intersectionality) with people who either knew what I was talking about or were willing to listen. And somewhere along the lines one of the people there noted that as a gay cis male, he didn’t have much knowledge of gender issues, but that he felt that he had to learn to understand and be sensitive to the needs of the other groups in the community. And it’s a general mission statement: speak out not only because you are “othered” by society: speak out for those more or differently isolated than you are.
I got so hopeful seeing that first “no”, after about eight or nine where people just went “lol derp yes”… Stranger 2, what the fuck?
[for screenreaders: A screenshot of an anonymous conversation on omegle.com between two strangers. The question they have been posed is “Are there only two genders?” The transcript is as follows:
Stranger 2: No
Stranger 1: I don’t really know
Stranger 2: There is male, female, trans
Stranger 1: ^ yeah
Stranger 1: and FTM
Stranger 2: We can say black people are different gender
Stranger 2 disconnects after this.]
Loving that Google now allows “other” as an option for gender! It’s much appreciated. Only just noticed it, so I’m assuming it’s part of the G+ upgrade! Thanks for being progressive, Google!
(C’mon, Facebook, we’re waiting. Plenty of Fa’afafine etc who aren’t represented by your options.)
Flickr’s done it since I signed up last year too!