Last night I was hit by a sudden inspiration for a blog post. I have, of course, forgotten all the poignant and meaningful things I was going to say, but fortuitously I scribbled a few notes in my notebook so I remember the gist of it.
The thought that came into my head was triggered by my own gender identity. I haven’t spoken about it much here – in fact, I only ‘came out’ on my private Facebook and Twitter accounts around the time of the New Year. Long story short, I’m non-binary. I don’t identify as either male or female. My preferred/correct pronoun is ‘they’/'them’/'their’. This will be surprising to some and old news to others, but it’s time I was public about it. It’s not up for discussion or analysis, it’s who I am and I can’t see that changing any time soon.
So what’s this got to do with anything? Well, I was thinking last night about where I fit. I know for certain that I’m not cisgender. But I feel like it would be appropriative of me to claim the identity of ‘trans’. Like I’m not truly transgender, and ‘real’ trans people would look down on me for using that label to identify myself.
Which got me thinking about the fact that cis/trans is a binary in itself. To explain what ‘cisgender’ means, we say “if you are not trans, then you are cis”. But what if that’s not really true? What if there are people who don’t fit into either category – I know I’m not the only person who thinks of themself as ‘sort-of trans’ for fear of offending trans people who have gone through a hell of a lot more in their gender journeys than I have.
Some of these people feel they’re not really trans because, for example, they are happy with their bodily configuration as it is. I am in no way saying that these people are not transgender, just speaking of my personal experience. I would eventually like top surgery (i.e. a double mastectomy) because I feel, at most, total ambivalence about my breasts, and the way I see my body in my mind doesn’t include lumps of mammary fat on my chest. I’d like to be done popping out kids (and therefore breastfeeding) first, and it’s likely that as a genderqueer person who doesn’t really identify as male, I’d be denied my wish. But I have no problem with my genital configuration, and that is another thing that makes me feel ‘not really trans’. I know there are others who feel the same way.
And then this got me to thinking about the traditional ‘radfem’ (I am a radical feminist but hopefully not the viciously transphobic kind) view on trans people ‘upholding the gender binary’. If that’s true, how do the radfems explain the existence of people like me – people who could be defined as transgender, but who do not identify as either male or female? How do they explain the existence of nonbinary trans people?
I guess that, more than anything, this is an egotist’s post – it’s about me figuring out where I sit on the gender scale. It’s about whether I’m ‘allowed’ to claim a trans identity as a nonbinary/genderqueer person who is happy with some parts of their gender presentation (genitals etc) but not others (breasts, voice etc). It’s about a personal struggle between being defined as ‘she’, which jars me, and demanding people refer to me as ‘they’ when what they see is a woman. I don’t really know how to end this post except to thank you for reading, and hopefully giving me your thoughts on this whole mess.