I’m really too busy with my master’s thesis at the moment, which is why I’m not posting a lot. I’ve been thinking about this post for a while though, and now I need to dump it here. I mean, I need something to separate the Caturday posts? right?
So here comes another trans related rant. It is a rant though, and quite a personal one at the end. So take it for what it is: a brain dump …
You’ve no doubt seen headlines or descriptions in the media going something like: “Growing up trapped in a man’s body”. Maybe with the wrong pronouns to accompany it, i.e. “he” instead of “she” or vice versa. It’s usually the male to female variety that makes the headlines though. Because why the fuck would a man want to be a woman, right? This is really news worthy material! Clear the headlines! Hold the press! (A sarcasm warning should be redundant, but you never know.)
So what does it mean then? To real trans people that is, not to the caricature trans person you usually see on TV, again usually a trans woman, because we’re reeeeealy funny, right? As with all the tropes and clichés in media about trans people, we discuss these things among ourselves online; and get pissed off about them – naturally. I don’t like this particular cliché much, not at all; but I know several people to whom it makes sense, so I’m not gonna go ahead and disown it entirely. I am however gonna explain why it doesn’t apply to everyone, and why it doesn’t apply to me. Which is why media should stop using it as a cheap headline every fucking time they talk about trans people.
But first things first. Back in dem olden days when the world consisted of only straight people that were either real men who killed stuff – or real women who cooked the stuff, and popped out babies in between meals, i.e. the 50s, before de Beauvoir and second-wave feminism tried to kill it with fire, sorry for the long sentence, there was very few trans people who were allowed medical treatment. This was way back when trans women were just really really feminine gay men (this was also before the gods created trans men). To get approved for hormone therapy and such marvels of modern medicine, you needed to act like a very feminine woman and only date men. Because somehow tomboys and lesbians were either not existing yet (can’t remember when the gods created them) or it just wasn’t acceptable to have even more of them around. I mean, they had a tendency to become feminists and shit! Can’t have that in civilised society. Uppity women!
But then, eventually, some of the fog on the glasses of these old, white, straight men who claimed they were experts on trans people, cleared a little – or maybe because trans people eventually kicked them in the groin and told them to listen up – and it became clear that not all trans people are like that. In fact most are not; and a hell of a lot of the ones that seemed to conform to the stereotype were actually faking it to fool these ‘experts’. Trans people actually come with all types of sexual orientations, and with all types of gender identities. Many are binary identified, i.e. exclusively male or female. A lot are gender fluid or bi-gender or any other non-binary label out there. Some people couldn’t care less about conforming to a gender role at all, while some people just want to blend in with the gender they feel more comfortable with. One person I know online like to completely switch gender role based on mood, and can apparently pull off both male, female and tomboy. Way to mess with normativity! Cool! Are they trapped in the wrong body? Don’t think so.
Am I? Not really …
I am trapped in the wrong role. Well, not trapped. Pushed into. I come from a conservative little place. You grow up, you’re either a man or a woman, and you marry the other type, and then you make babies. If you’re a guy who like other guys, you better get out of there or they’re gonna scare kids with spooky stories about you. (No joke.) I only date women, so not an issue for me, but still, shitty stuff for those it affects.
My gender identity is bi-gender. I’m like two parts girl and one part boy, shaken, not stirred. Give or take – it’s a little fuzzy because who the hell knows what’s actually you and what’s you just conforming to social pressure? Anyway, I was born with a dick, so they decided I had to be a man some day. They didn’t ask me though. I’ve always hated the idea later, but I tried nonetheless. I wasn’t really doing it well though. My body didn’t really like the idea either. It decided to make me small boobs in time for my 18th birthday. I had a very very late puberty, and a little weird one too – even more than usual.
I wasn’t really teased much as a kid. I was just looked down upon for not living up to boy-stuff like sports and being able to beat up other boys in fights. I also cried a lot. I really preferred being friends with girls, and I thought the hobbies they were allowed to have were much more fun. I was good with my hands though, and could pretty much do anything from sewing and knitting to making things from wood and fixing the radio – after I’d disassembled it of course (my brother, unfortunately, lacked the re-assemble part of that skill set).
Around the age of 15 I learned from a porn magazine – where a lot of teenagers get their ‘what the hell is that stuff between my legs for besides peeing’-education – what the word transgender means . So I knew who I was already then. But Jesus didn’t like that shit I thought, so I had better pretend like nothing was up. I did that for a long time. Like a decade.
I’m another decade older now, and decided about a year ago I wanted to talk to a therapist that was experienced with trans people. I thought, fuck, this being-man-stuff is really shitty. I really don’t like it. I can’t work out relationships with straight women at all. I’ve tried that route for 5 years. The idea that you can ‘cure’ yourself by starting a family is so common. It doesn’t work. It makes stuff even harder to deal with later in life. Luckily I couldn’t get it to work even from the start, so I figured I needed to sort this shit out in other ways. As I said, I never felt trapped in my body, just my assigned role, but my physical body wasn’t working with me either. After a few months of seeing the therapist, I was allowed to carefully start hormone therapy to see how that was working for me. It is working very well indeed.
Pre age 20 I didn’t really mind being a boy – except for the fact that I always looked a lot younger than I was. (I still do, but now it’s awesome.) I mostly just disliked not being allowed all the fun things girls had. My body didn’t bother me at all. Then I grew up. Which at first was awesome, because people didn’t look down on me for looking like a kid any more. Then the really male shit happened, like facial hair and body hair, and I started to hate it. I was no longer somewhat neutral. I lost the feeling of also being part girl. The divide between inside-me and outside-me got wider and wider. But this is where the ‘trapped’ metaphor doesn’t work for me. It wasn’t the body. It was the hormones that was changing me to something I didn’t like. That wasn’t me. Even though my brave body resisted, it seemed. It was really amazing when I started taking medication to flip that path from masculinisation to femininisation though. Even on small doses, my body seemed overjoyed and jumped at the chance to be feminine again. I really feel I am fixing a hormone malfunction here. Just like diabetics do. Do diabetics feel trapped in the wrong body? I’ve never really asked one, but somehow I doubt it.
So what about genitals? That’s none of your business! That’s between me and the person who gets to see me naked. Since when were people actually defined by their junk? Or their reproductive capabilities? Many seem to want to deny trans people their identity based on those two criteria. That’s fucked up. I’m incapable of both male and female reproduction, so what does that make me then? If it’s a unicorn, then ok, otherwise IT DOESN’T MATTER! Cissexist asshole …
What am I then? I’m a bi-gender transsexual woman. That’s what … and I date women. Exclusively. Well, unless David Tennant should call. Then I’ll reconsider. I’m also a feminist. Feminists kick ass! I generally love lesbians, gays and bisexual people too. Fuck heteronormativity. Actually, I like all people that aren’t bigoted assholes. There are some very cool straight white guys around too. Like PZ and Bill for instance.
So in conclusion, what is the lesson here then? o great princess of darkness?
I’ll tell you what the lesson is. When you meet a trans person, don’t assume. Don’t caricature. Don’t infer. Ask – but politely; and accept the definition they have of themselves. If you somehow feel you own the definition of man or woman or gay or lesbian or any other identity label, and take it upon yourself to decide who may or may not identify by them, then you’re an entitled, insensitive asshole. No one gave you that privilege. You assumed it. You appropriated it. You get to define your identity, I get to define mine. We’re all variations of mother nature. We’re all natural. We’re all human. What else could we be?
That’s all folks! Thank you for reading …
- “Trapped In A (Wo)Man’s Body” – Sincerely, Natalie Reed