Gentle Reminder to Cis People before #TDOV

It is transphobic to say about a transwoman: “wow, she has better legs/makeup/hair/etc than me”.

Why is this a compliment? You would not say that about cis women. Angelina Jolie has better legs than you? Of course she does. Laverne Cox has better legs than you? Suddenly surprising. The implied second half of “she’s prettier than me!” is “…and I’m a real woman”. The implied premise is “all cis people are prettier than all transpeople”, and so you assume that transpeople will be happy to hear that you find them an exception.

Femininity and womanhood do NOT belong to cis women. Trans women and gender non-conforming femmes are not “trying to become women,” we are women and femmes.

Cis people are not the arbiters of gender. Transpeople do not aspire to meet your cissexist standards, and do not need your backhanded validation. Stop being surprised that a transperson might have X attributes that are more attractive to you than you, a random cis person, who is not (gasp) a standard that everyone aspires towards.

(This post is an expansion on the small block-quoted idea of the many in this post by Alok Vaid-Menon on transmisogyny.)


Gentle Reminder to Cis People before #TDOV

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

Androgynous Benefits

You know what really pisses off cis “”allies””? Trans people who are happy and/or *gasp* proud of being trans.

I once got into an argument with some dude who thought I was taking advantage of “the system” by using whichever bathroom was convenient. Wow being able to pee. So advantage. Very benefit. But to be honest, so what if there are benefits? It’s not like people are being trans for the benefits. Some people are only okay with trans people as long as it doesn’t seem like we are getting anything out of it, and have enough proof of Suffering.

That is also the unfortunate thinking behind people only convinced by the “born this way” argument: we only support the queers because they’re born that way and can’t help it, poor dears. Obviously nobody would choose to be queer if they could be cishet, the clearly superior option.

“I’m really sorry you are afflicted with this condition, and I will respect your pronouns out of my amazing magnanimity and kindness. I may withdraw this support as and when I see fit, if at some point I decide you are not Real Trans enough by my standards. God bless my tolerant heart :3”

The fact that some people are proud to be trans disrupts the idea that granting people basic dignity is an amazing act of charity performed for the poor and downtrodden as proof of being a good person.

I do not like that so much of trans activism even by trans people centers the trans experience on suffering. “being trans is really hard and we wouldn’t do this for fun” is convincing but not true for every transperson: literally the only requirement for being trans is to not identify solely as your gender assigned at birth, suffering 100% optional. Yes, depression and suicide rates are staggeringly high among transpeople, but do you really need to wait until somebody is about to kill themselves before you believe they are what they claim to be?

This idea hurts transpeople who may feel like their identities and genders are invalid if they are not suffering for them. But I started this post with the express purpose of pissing off cis people, so here is a short list of Benefits that I shamelessly enjoy, some by passing myself off as whichever binary gender is convenient, because it’s not my fault that most people don’t know that my gender exists:

  • I get to use whichever toilet has the shorter queue
  • Ladies’ nights. *shrug*
  • Being able to compliment strangers on the train without coming across as threatening
  • Platonic physical contact with friends of all genders without coming across as weird
  • I get to pick and choose social norms to adhere to, especially re: dress codes, makeup, and dance parts
  • Actually I just get to escape a lot of gender policing because people don’t know which set of rules to apply to me
  • I can potentially date people of any gender and orientation
  • 300% of opportunities for gendered jokes
  • Trans community
  • A great filler conversation in awkward situations
    • *awkward silence*
    • “so did you hear? I’m trans :)”
  • Androgynous strangers don’t bother me the way they seem to bother some cis people
  • There seem to be quite a number of androgynous models right now. So many benefits! No need to employ two separate people to model your male and female lines! See also: acting. I will play any gender, someone employ me pls…
  • Sports. I’ve been thinking about this, and decided it makes the most sense for me to participate in the same category as other predominantly estrogen-driven people.
  • Just by leaving my house and living my life I confuse and inconvenience the cisheteropatriarchy. My existence and happiness are revolutionary.


Additional reading on being “born this way”:

Androgynous Benefits

Doctors: Allies/Gatekeepers

So it turns out that parts of the trans healthcare landscape in Singapore, and in particular my therapist, are much more excellent than I had thought.

I am hypothetically maybe possibly perhaps thinking about going on T, but not soon: a post for another time. Meanwhile though, I have been researching my options and thinking about things. One thing I have been wondering about is: do I, a nonbinary person, have to lie about being a binary transman in order to get prescribed T? Continue reading “Doctors: Allies/Gatekeepers”

Doctors: Allies/Gatekeepers

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

Non-Binary Bisexuality

Today I had to explain that no, being bisexual doesn’t mean I think there are only two genders. Which is a perfectly fair question that even lots of queer people have, but… I don’t think any cishet has ever had to explain being cishet, and that right there is cishet privilege and I feel a little bit tired.

Now I will explain, for the record, why I, a non-binary person, sometimes describe myself as bisexual. I will do so with a bunch of exclamation marks because why participate in discourse if you aren’t doing it angrily! I kid. You should probably read this slightly friendlier explanation of pretty much the same thing instead. Continue reading “Non-Binary Bisexuality”

Non-Binary Bisexuality