[In the Gender Perspectives series, I hope to curate writing by people with a wide variety of gender identities and experiences, talking about their gender, what it means to them personally, and what it means for the ways in which they move through and interact with the world. Basically, this is where I point out that I’m not the only person in the world who has complex thoughts about gender, and that there as many ways to be Trans* and/or genderqueer as there are to be cisgender.]
- Dana Taylor discusses the problem with the concept of “passing” as a part of the Trans* narrative.
…there are some trans* women who have physical male characteristics that will never allow them to meet the passing criteria. I am one of those women. If I had listened to a lot of advice from trans* women on being a woman, I am not sure where I would be today. It is difficult enough to come out and try to be who you are than to have all these other requirements put on you.
A woman is a woman who makes her own choices on how she wants to look, dress, smell or anything else that has to do with her own body.
- The writer of FistFelt talks about coming to identify as epicene, and just the general struggle to find language that adequately reflects non-traditional relationships with the gender system.
Even agender feels too political and too aggressive for me now. My identity is inertness; not a vacuum, but dead air. Elemental gold.
Both, neither, whatever, who cares?
I don’t aim to satisfy anything right now, other than my own whims and fancy. No identity, no politic, no stereotype, no gender expression.
- Jade Sylvan talks about having a very fluid relationship to gender.
One of the biggest fears when you’re sexually fluid or gender fluid is that people are not going to believe you. That people think that the fact that your desires and/or image of yourself is protean means that you, your passion, and even your love are insincere.
I have always experienced these parts of me as mutable things that I had some degree of choice in expressing. I do not feel that my having a choice in these matters should mean my gender and sexual expressions are less “real.” And it definitely does not mean that my love is not real.
- Glosswitch digs deep into the ways in which being cisgender doesn’t actually someone is comfortable in the gender binary, or even that they truly “match” the gender that was assigned at birth.
Breasts and bloodstains were an intrusion on my personhood. I felt diminished. I knew people – men in particular – looked at me differently. Without breasts, I could be pure thought; with them, I felt reduced to the passive bearer of womanhood and all the repressive values associated with it.
Some people see gender as a galaxy of possibilities. I experience it as a trap, a network of prejudices rooted in conservative notions of complementarity and evolutionary purpose. I don’t believe my gender identity is female. I inhabit a female body, as opposed to a male or intersex one, and it does many of the things a female body is expected to do. My self – my identity – is something else. I possess some attributes considered typically female, others considered typically male. This does not make me special or unusual. I construct a reality in relation to my body – and the gender-based prejudices that come with having this body – as best I can. Isn’t that all any of us can do?
- The Goldfish responds directly to Glosswitch’s article, discussing her own relationship with her gender, and the category of cis womanhood.
Being cis gender means I am not transgender. It certainly doesn’t mean that I, as a woman, am everything that a woman is supposed to be within my culture – or even any of those things. It doesn’t say very much about the clothes I wear, the way I think, my hobbies and interests or my sexuality. This doesn’t even attempt to say anything about my genes, genitals or reproductive potential (Most cis women, most of the time, cannot get pregnant. A significant minority of cis women can never get pregnant.)
All my being cis means is that (a) the word woman is the best way I have of describing my gender and (b) this coincides with the way that other people always have described me.