gender

The “Shit Cis People Say” Alphabet: F is for “fake genders”

Welcome to another episode of the Shit Cis People Say Alphabet! Today:

F is for “fake genders”

Cis people sometimes like to refer to trans people’s genders -and particularly non-binary genders – as being ‘fake’ or ‘made-up’. As if their own genders are somehow natural, and not simply the accumulation of generations of social conceptions of what gender is and means, right?

Like, I wish I didn’t need to say that most of the trappings of gender are socially constructed and context-dependent, and that there is nothing natural about the ideas of what the categories ‘man’ and ‘woman’ mean. These categories are made up, too, and they’ve evolved and changed and been made to hold multiple meanings, in various cultures around the world (and, it should be noted, alongside a great many other genders that have been and are recognized in various cultures and at various times).

I honestly barely know what it means to claim that someone is ‘faking’ their gender. Or rather, I definitely have no idea why anyone ever thinks they are somehow a better authority on someone’s gender than that person is themself. Just trust people when they tell you their gender, already.

To be honest, it doesn’t matter if someone coined their own new word to name their gender – that doesn’t make it fake. That’s not how words work. There is literally no such thing a fake word – we as humans put mostly arbitrary sounds together in different ways to indicate different things, and while some words are better at conveying their intended meaning to other people (it is generally more effective to use words people are familiar with where possible, or to invent new ones based on existing conventions  – this is where ‘cisgender’ comes from, for the record; ‘cis’ as a prefix is an established complement to ‘trans’ in the English language) but words can’t be ‘fake’, not really.

My gender isn’t fake, just because I use new(ish) words to describe it. And neither is anyone else’s.


Check out the rest of the “Shit Cis People Say” alphabet!

The “Shit Cis People Say” Alphabet: B is for ‘Born a man’/’Born a woman’

Welcome to another episode of the “Shit Cis People Say” Alphabet. Today:

B is for ‘Born a Man’/’Born a woman’

Sometimes, when cisgender people are talking about a trans person, they will try to explain their trans-ness in simple terms, by explaining that a trans woman is a woman who was ‘born a man’, (or that a trans man is a man who was ‘born a woman’). I would like this wording to die in a fire, to be perfectly honest.

I cannot stress this enough: no one in the history of the entire world – cis, trans, or otherwise – was ‘born’ either man or a woman. We are all born as babies, and in most cases adults then make a guess at what our gender is and generally call us either a girl or a boy.

For some people, it may very well be true to say they were ‘born a girl’ or ‘born a boy’ (other people – trans, cis, and otherwise – don’t really see their gender as something they were born with, but rather as something that developed after they were born). The thing about that, though, is that trans men are just as likely to have been born boys as cis men are – trans men who are born boys are just much more likely to have the adults in their mistakenly think that they were born girls, is all.

Certainly there are trans men out there who feel that it is accurate to describe them as having been born girls, and trans women who see themselves as having been born boys, people who feel their gender has shifted over the course of their life, starting in one place and winding up elsewhere. But that is far and away not the only, or even the most common trans experience.

So, cis people, just stop it already with talking about people of any kind being born as men or women. We aren’t, any of us. And, more importantly, stop saying trans people were born in a gender other than the one they tell you they are – most of us weren’t.


Check out the rest of “Shit Cis People Say” alphabet!

Gender Perspectives Vol. 18

download[In the Gender Perspectives series, I aim to highlight diverse kinds of personal narratives and reflections on gender, gender presentation, and identity, to broaden the gender conversation and boost a variety of voices. Check out the rest of the series.]

 

 

A Gender Mind-Fuck, A.K.A. My Life Now | Diagnosemylife

I look back on my past and wonder why I was so comfortable being feminine all the time then, but not now. What changed? First of all, back in high school I had no idea that there were genders besides man and woman. So that solves that issue—but what about college, after I was educated about gender fluidity? Why didn’t it click that I was genderqueer the moment it was explained to me?… Read more

Being Binary | Androgendernaut

When I came out a little more than a year ago, people were surprised, but very supportive… I passed, but I still looked a little bit like a hybrid. A quite feminine, shy boy with a cute face.

When I started T, I feel like this has faded away quite quickly. I look the way I feel – a random white guy. A little bit boring maybe, even. Very normal in comparison to the extravagant clothing I used to wear, from my tye-dye seventies pants to the row of steel earrings and piercings in my ears. People read me like Average Guy, and I like it… Read more

In Between Being and Becoming | Gender: Awesome

When I think about being nonbinary and transgender, when I think about transition, I think of myself constantly in the narrow space between being and becoming; all the ways in which I am forever in movement, forever on the edge of something; all the moments in which I am perceived or not perceived as who I am by other people and even myself. Sometimes I am both seen and not seen at the same time: seen as queer but not as trans, seen as trans but not as human, seen as human but not as queer or trans… Read more

How do I know I am trans? | transphilosopher

To this day my own gender is not obvious to me. I have proclaimed before that I am gender agnostic: I claim no certain knowledge about my own gender. Am I a special type of man or a special type of woman? I do not know. It does not seem important to me. What matters more is self-knowledge concerning my desires to continue transition. I desire to keep using female pronouns, shopping in the women’s section, taking HRT, using the name “Rachel”, etc… Read more

Gender Perspectives, Vol. 17

download[In the Gender Perspectives series, I aim to highlight diverse kinds of personal narratives and reflections on gender, gender presentation, and identity, to broaden the gender conversation and boost a variety of voices. Check out the rest of the series.]

A Portrait of the Artist as a Queer Femme | Radically Queer

…my gender exists somewhere between squishy shy alien creature and calm, helpy robot. It’s not really something I can represent in physical space. I am drawn to things coded feminine and to queering them, so I experience delight in the color pink, in spoonie communities of care, in fannish frivolity. Many of the things I love can most easily be interpreted through a femme lens—except, I sometimes fear, for me.

One Year Out: Of course I was trans | Gender: Awesome

…when it comes to gender especially, I have found it very difficult to verbalize my feelings at all with anyone. I can WRITE about it for days, and I’ve done that: blogging, Facebook posts, published articles, spoken word poems – some people might see that as me being open about my transition, and sure, it totally is.

But writing, performing, and posting on social media are different from actually saying something to someone directly.

Femme, Adjective or Noun? | Femme Feminism

I’m a dyke who wears dresses and skirts 98% of the time, who almost never leaves the house without makeup, who has her shoe collection in a display case and her boot collection hanging from racks on her walls. But “femme” as an identity has always puzzled me. I don’t object to it, I totally support people who use it — it just doesn’t resonate with me. I’ve often said that I’m “femmey, but not a femme.” For me, femme is a description, not an identity; an adjective, not a noun. And part of the reason is that I don’t really grasp, intellectually or instinctively, what that identity means.

What My Body Means | themagicspaceship

(CN: discussion of body shape, and ~curves~)

Today I put on a dress and it made my boobs look good. It fit perfectly on my waist and hips, as if designed for my body shape. I had not internalised the fact that clothes are supposed to fit. The last time I tried a dress it did not fit and left me convinced of my failure as a woman. Today it fit, and I no longer cared about being a woman. In that moment, in the fitting room, trying, purely for fun, a dress I had no intention of buying, the dress wasn’t a performance of femininity. The dress had nothing to do with femininity. It was an ungendered piece of clothing that fit my body, and made no demands of it. My chest was an ungendered body part that for once, somehow, didn’t seem to stick out awkwardly. My curves were an ungendered body shape that is how MY body happens to be shaped. And it felt… nice.

Write a poem about being Genderqueer: 30-Week Genderqueer Challenge Part 27

This post is part of my participation in the 30-day genderqueer challenge, which I have modified to a weekly exercise.

Today’s prompt: Write a poem about being Genderqueer

Oh dear. I don’t know how I’m going to do with writing a poem on demand. I usually only do poetry at random when things spring into my brain. I will try anyway, but first, here’s some poems I have already written about being genderqueer:

Singularity

I am genderqueer

Singular they.
Singular them.
Singular their.

People are quick to tell me

They are trying
This is hard for them
They’re doing their best

Plural they.
Plural them.
Plural their.

And
I am also trying
This is hard for me, too
I’m doing my best

But I’m always out-numbered
So they always win
And ‘they’ never will


Catch the rest of my 30-week genderqueer challenge here!

New Job, New Bathroom Problems?

So, I’ve managed to finagle myself into a full-time position at my library! It’s at another branch, which is fine by me in general.

It’s interesting getting into a slightly different ‘office’ culture and getting to know the way things work – my new branch is a much larger library – (I went from a “community” library to a “resource” library), and we have probably about three times the staff of the old branch.

This is fine by me as well. There’s advantages and disadvantages I guess, but for the most part I am pretty unconcerned about the differences.

The only thing that threw me off on my first day was when I realized that the staff washrooms at my new place are gendered (as are the public ones, but that is less surprising).

I think long term, this will be fine? I will just get into a habit of which washroom I go to and probably stop thinking about it pretty quickly. Or at least I hope that’s what happens.

What was interesting to me as I tried to process my feelings about it was realizing how out of the ordinary this was for me. It’s been a very long time since I had to deal with gendered washrooms on more than a one-off occasional basis. In fact, the last time I dealt with gendered washrooms at work was a good three and a half years ago (I have had one library job in the meantime that had only gendered options, but it was so part-time that I pretty much never used the washrooms there).

Though I would obviously prefer not to have to deal with this, I do think it will be fine. And this library is due for renovations, too, so I may be able to be an agent of change and get single-occupant or otherwise all-gender washrooms installed.

We shall see.

Do you feel comfortable answering questions about your gender to friends? Acquaintances? Strangers? 30-Week Genderqueer Challenge part 23

This post is part of my participation in the 30-day genderqueer challenge, which I have modified to a weekly exercise.

Today’s prompt: Do you feel comfortable answering questions about your gender to friends? Acquaintances? Strangers?

This is sort of a tough one because, like, the answer really depends on what the question is? in general, though, I am ok with answering questions about my gender as long as I have reason to believe the person asking them is coming from a place of actual curiosity, and isn’t somehow trying to ‘trick’ me into admitting that I’m lying about my gender or something? Which means that, in general, I am more comfortable engaging with people I know at least somewhat than with total strangers – I am more comfortable talking generally about trans/non-binary identities and issues with strangers than my own personal gender.

I do find it hard to deal with questions in person, in the moment, though. I often feel at a total loss for words when put on the spot with these things. It’s weird, because I have spent a lot of time, and expended a lot of words, here and elsewhere, delineating my experience of gender, my identity, and everything else around that. But in person, in the moment, I find it hard to pull together the right words, and I tend to flounder a bit.

Writing is, by far, my preferred mode of communication for most things, though, so that’s not surprising.

Um, yeah,  I guess the answer to the is question is a kinda flaky: “Yes?…. Maybe. It depends.”


Catch the rest of my 30-week genderqueer challenge here!