What I Want

No, I don’t want strangers to read me as a man. I’m not a man, why would I want strangers to think I’m a man? Would you (hypothetical non-male participant in this conversation) want people to read you as a man?

“oh, but I thought…”

I want people to read me as genderqueer. I want them to look at me and decide, hm, genderqueer. Isn’t that also what YOU (hypothetical binarily gendered participant in this conversation) want, or even expect? You expect people to read you as your actual gender, not something “close enough” that isn’t actually even close, don’t you?

“but realistically… people are only going to pick from male/female. Don’t you prefer one over the other?”

Say you have green hair. Would you prefer people think you have blue or red hair? Would you, (hypothetically) a binary cis woman, prefer people think you are genderfluid or genderqueer?

Why do I have to choose? I want people to read me as my gender, is that too much to ask? Apparently it is if I’m not a binary gender. But you asked what I want. I want to live in a world where my gender is an option on lists, and I want people to select that option for me. I want my gender to be affirmed every day in the thousand little ways that binary genders are affirmed, in bathrooms and honorifics and pronouns and “welcome, how may I help you, SIR”. I want to experience the relief and joy and affirmation my binary trans friends experience when they begin to transition and the world starts to read them correctly at last. Confusion is not good enough. Avoiding referring to me is not good enough. Being read half the time one way and half the time the other, and wrong all the time, is not good enough.

So, no. I don’t want to be called sir by random people. It’s not “close enough”. It’s NOWHERE near close to what I want, and you asked what I want.

What I Want

Gendered Spaces II

Some gendered spaces and how I interact with them

1. Bathrooms, obviously. I have to use one or the other. I have heard that transmasculine people should not use the women’s room because they have male privilege and may make women uncomfortable. Which is BS; people should use whatever they feel comfortable with, and everyone else can deal with it. I also hate choosing in front of people who I suspect are trying to fit me into the binary and will conclude that I am “really” whatever gender I choose, because obviously a REAL NB will go in both simultaneously, by quantum superposition. I use whichever feels easier, which has recently usually been the women’s, for a bunch of reasons that I just go with and don’t overthink anymore (I’m still on break from overanalysing my gender feelings).

2. Sports. I used to do judo competitively, and have not in several years. I’ve been wanting to go back, but the septum ring is inconvenient, and also the gender thing. It makes sense for me to compete with other estrogen-based people, but I did not think I could do that and still expect my gender to be respected. Reading about Harrison Browne, an openly transgender man competing in women’s hockey, was very encouraging and made me realise I don’t necessarily have to choose between competing and my gender. (I know people who would say “you can’t have it both ways”, but fuck that trans-erasure noise.) The other good news is that sports at non-competitive levels is much less gendered. I am looking into joining an MMA gym casually, most of which seem to be mixed-gender. I also rock climb casually.

3. Affirmative action (?). Improv tends to be male-dominated. Some improvisers in my city decided to start an all female team in order to combat that, which was annoying. Like… there are other gender minorities whose voices also need amplification? I mean, if you want to have an all female team, sure, but then you don’t get to market it as “combating male domination” imo. Their branding has indeed shifted away from that over time though, so it is less problematic now. People who don’t even consider nonbinary people when discussing gender diversity really annoy me though. I also occasionally get invited to “women in engineering” events and to apply for Google’s women’s scholarships, neither of which are things I feel comfortable doing. idk.

4. Single gender schools. I actually went to a girls’ school a few years before even realising I might not be a girl. Being away from boys who were constantly assumed to be better at certain things did wonders for my confidence and gave me space to excel in those things. Other than a bit of gender policing and compulsory femininity (“we’re teaching you to be cultured young ladies”), it was great. This is why I am hesitant when people suggest that we should get rid of gender segregation altogether. I think what we actually need is better categories, more permeable borders, and to let people choose and move between categories.

Gendered Spaces II

Gender Break

In which I take a break from taking a break from thinking about gender to bring you: Week One Update.

I have identified as trans for at least half a year, but never quite settled completely into it. A shakeup is due. For a while now I’ve been feeling a building amount of angst about my labels. I started on the daily blogging series #31daysoftransvisibility to find out if that would help me feel more secure in my trans identity, but it did not. Eventually, last weekend, I had a minor gender crisis (actually a rather regular occurrence), jettisoned all my gender words, abruptly left my trans support group which I talked to A LOT, etc. So I have been on gender break.

Not being in the support group group-chat has given me much needed space and time away from constant trans Discourse. (The group has grown in recent months, and slowly moved in that direction, with very clear lines between “us” and “the cis”.) I also took down this blog for a few days. Both of these things removed the regular reminder/pressure that I’m “supposed” to be trans, and that a significant part of my identity and social life has grown around that. I have also put myself on a mental gender break, during which I will not scrutinise, attempt to label, or put pressure on my gender feelings, I will use my brainspace for other things, and I will focus on the non-gender related aspects of my identity.

My gender is <comfortable silence> . I have been much gentler with myself and things are a lot quieter in my head, which is a huge relief. Today out of the comfortable silence words (nonbinary girl) tentatively emerged for how I feel, but I’m still not putting pressure on them yet. Am I trans? <shrug, more comfortable silence>. I feel strongly that people can claim the label “trans” if they want, and that nonbinary people are “by definition” trans. And so I had claimed the label, and had always been political about it, because lots of people would deny us that right. But hey, maybe it just doesn’t fit right now? That is perfectly fine, and we are all good, and it is going to be okay.

(This blog is pretty much now a gender blog, which was not the original intention when I started it… I might decide to write about other things here, in view of the gender break. Apologies to everyone who only follows me for Gender Talk :P)

Gender Break

Canned Gender Worms

Lately I have been thinking about worms and cans.

I came across this post about being cis-by-default, and that is definitely how I used to feel about my gender. I, and a proportion of cis people, happily identif(y/ied) as the gender we were assigned at birth because that’s what we were told, and we never had much reason to think about it.

If we define “having a gender identity that matches assigned gender” as being “true cis”, a significant amount of cis people are not truly cis in that sense, and are only cis-by-default. (The corollary is that defining cis that way, as most transpeople do, erases the experiences of and alienates cis people who do not experience being cis that way, and a better definition may be “not actively disidentifying with assigned gender”, an oft-conflated but non-equivalent alternative.)

Some survey results:

I only identify with my birth gender by default: 681, 45.3%
I strongly identify with my birth gender: 586, 39.0%

As for me, being female never bothered me until I started reading about gender theory and trying to put my finger on my gender identity, a thing I was told I should have. Since beginning to experiment with gender, I have discovered that I do have an internal sense of gender; it just hadn’t been announcing its presence too loudly, and I had to tune in to it with experimentation. In the process I also became gender-adjacent, and gender started taking up a lot of brain space and being very difficult to deal with.

My suspicion is that if many, or maybe even most, cis-by-default people spent a few months thinking about it intensely they might identify as something else. The flipside is that had I had less free time on my hands and been less motivated in trying to find accurate labels, I would still be identifying as cis. Would I go back to being cis? Had I never learned or tried out the word nonbinary, would I be happier, with less dysphoria, more accompanying cis-privileges and more mental capacity to think about other things? (And also, does this make me Fake Trans?)

Someone left a comment on my #31daysoftransvisibility series about ignoring their feelings about gender until “you find yourself married and realizing that you should have taken care of this before”. Then it hit me that unopened cans of worms are still there.

Lots, in fact the vast majority, of cis-by-default people live their entire lives being happily cis. But also some of them/us realise at some point that we are not, in fact cis, and adjust accordingly.

Canned Gender Worms

On Standing Up

Every time I hear someone correct someone else on my pronouns, usually after I had decided to let it slide, I learn that my gender and comfort is important enough to interrupt people’s sentences about, and I deserve to be gendered correctly, and correcting people every single time and bringing it up again and again is not being overly pushy or unreasonable aggressive, and feel braver about correcting people myself. Continue reading “On Standing Up”

On Standing Up

I am a Transfreak

My mother wanted to know why I can’t “look like a normal person”, aka the gender-presentation/trans equivalent of “I’m okay with gay people but do they have to rub it in our faces?”, aka “I’m okay with queer people as long as I never have to see them”.

The short answer is that the “normal person” is missing out by not looking like me, tbh. The long answer is this: Continue reading “I am a Transfreak”

I am a Transfreak