Gender Perspectives Vol. 21

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.]

My gender | Aut of Spoons

I don’t know what gender IS.

How can I know what my gender is, if I don’t know what gender is?

On Coming Out Day this year, I said that I was “less cis than originally advertised.” I don’t know what that means. Perhaps gender is the collection of attributes that are most important to you; your defining characteristics. Your core identity. Why have a word for it, if not your name? Gender Olivia?

Transition, trans becoming | The dancing trans

The process of transition is defined and controlled by cis people in a way that denies transness to many, many trans people. However, we are all still slowly becoming our genders and that, for us trans folks, is our transition, cis-sanctioned or not.

Carve Me Like a Pumpkin | The Junkie Comsonaut

I am preparing my body for surgery, and it is almost there. My brain needs some more time. Anticipating the damage and the aftermath still makes me queasy, but I’ll cope. I want this. I want what it will get me.

Gender Perspectives, Vol. 19

Hi all, it’s been a while, but I’m going to see if I can’t start pounding out those regular posts once again! The Shit Cis People Say Alphabet will be returning to its regular Friday slot, and I’m going to ease myself into posting other stuff with today’s new eidtion of Gender Perspectives!

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.]



On being trans and out past and present selves | Life Writ Large
Germaine de Larch discusses their relatoinship to their previously inhabited gender/identity

…as my friend I’d want you to integrate my previous self and my ‘new’ self. They’re the same person. Read more…

Fluid Mom | Holding Patterns and High Tea
Caroline Frechette brings us a reflection of genderfluidity and motherhood, in web comic form.

I’ve always struggled with my gender. I dressed like a boy from an early age, and I enjoy it when people all me sir. Read more…

Hyper-vigilance in the Gender Machine: What It’s Like to Be a Trans Woman Who Doesn’t Pass 100% | transphilosopher
Rachel digs into the joys and pains of being a trans woman who is only sometimes seena as a woman by others.

Life as a non-passing trans woman for me means constant vigilance within the gender machine. Professional pronoun detector should be written on my business card. Constant awareness of all things gender defines my worldview. Read more…

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

Are you taking any steps to physically transition? 30-Week Genderqueer Challenge part 10

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

Today’s prompt: Are you taking any steps to physically transition?

The short answer here is just “no”, though that’s not the whole story.

I have vaguely intended to work on building more muscle for a while now, but I haven’t really done much about it. Because I don’t care that much, and also because habit formation is not my strong suit. I started flossing regularly this year, and that is enough new things thank you very much!

In terms of medically assisted transition, I am not terribly motivated right now. I have considered both testosterone treatments and chest surgery on and off for a few years, but for now even if I was 100% certain these were things I want, they aren’t priorities or things I would want to do right now, for various reasons. It seems likely that unless anything drastically changes in how I feel about my body, what ever desire I have for these things will be outweighed by the sheer amount of work that would likely be involved in getting them. The cost/benefit just doesn’t work out for me.

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

Gender Perspectives, Vol. 13

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.]

Left out | Queering the World
Invisible Clothing | Queering the World
The author of Queering the World shares some vulnerable thoughts on how it felt for them to delay gender transition, and some of the ways they try to keep a handle on dysphoria while living as a gender they are not.

My initial enthusiasm for transition was tempered by the reality of my situation, and the realization that I was not (am still not) willing to give up everything I have to transition. That hurt – a lot. I spent several months picturing myself standing on a pier, watching all my trans brothers and sisters get on a boat, headed for the great shore of transition, embarking on the journey to realize their true selves.

It still hurts that I never saw myself get on the boat with them.

When Your Transition Starts to Stop | Jensgender
Jens discusses navigating the strange feelings that come with realizing that “transition” may be a stage that is largely behind him.

…this gender thing, a “journey” as so many people have called it (it’s basically a trope tbh), feels like it’s slowing down a lot. Things aren’t as exciting. The honeymoon phase of stepping into manhood is totally over.

It’s just such an interesting place to be.

Be Yourself! But not Like That! | yetanotherlefty
Liam talks about the strange tension of potentially-well-meaning people using progressive attitudes toward gender to invalidate trans people’s identities and experiences.

I would be rich if I had a quid for every time someone tried to convince me that I should be able to live as a cis woman instead of as a trans man.
People told me (as if I somehow didn’t know) that women can dress in men’s clothes, that women can do and be anything men can, that it’s okay to be a lesbian, that it’s okay to be butch, that women can be androgynous and still be women… And I don’t disagree with any of these things! They just aren’t reasons why I should be someone I’m not.

My old self vs my new self and why I’ll never “go back” | Queer Reflections
Logan Soeder talks about his relationship to his past – pre-transition – self, and the person he is now.

I am so comfortable in my own skin now that I can’t imagine going “back” to the way I thought. Of course I can still dress the way I used to but it’ll be MY desire to. I am not sorry to those who are disappointed by this.

Thoughts on being birth-named

First: updates on where I’m at with changing my name! I actually sent in the application for legal name change back when I was dealing with my work being a giant asshole about calling me by my chosen name. I got the application returned to me about six weeks later (in mid-late July) because I had somehow managed to get my own birthday wrong (oops…)

They were super good about it and sent me blank copies oft he pages I needed to redo (the one with the incorrect info, and a new sheet to get certified at town hall, plus a pre-addressed envelope so I could send it back when it was fixed.

It’s… still sitting waiting for me to get it done and sent back. I no longer feel such a rush to get it done, since I won my battle with work over the name, and there are now no major areas in my life where I am called anything but my chosen name. Things are fine, I am being respected, and I haven’t quite managed to work up the motivation to get myself to city hall.


I was thinking today about what it’s like for me to be called by my birthname (I don’t call it a deadname, possibly because it’s not quite dead yet, but also because I am retaining my old first name as my new last name, so to some extent it still is and always will be my name) at this point.

It’s complicated. I was mostly fine with being called by my birthname at work up until I went ahead and spoke up about it. Once it stopped being a thing that I had chosen, and the folks at work tried to wrest control of something as viscerally personal as my name, it immediately became a major problem. The weeks between me making my original request and finally managing to get the accommodation were extremely tough. I felt at best mildly nauseous when I was at work, and I wanted to be anywhere but there.

I have put an awful lot of work into reshaping my identity and my sense of self, and while changing my name was not a strictly necessary thing for me (in the sense that my birthname never, in and of itself, caused me distress, discomfort or dysphoria), it is one of the things I have chosen to do as a part of navigating my transition. And so, it is inextricably linked now to my sense of myself, who I am, and how I want to be perceived. And this vitally important. So, yes, as I further eliminate the remnants of my old name from my life, it becomes increasingly important to my emotional stability that people respect that effort, and call me by my new name.

Even though I have no bad associations with my birthname, it can still be upsetting to have it turn up unexpectedly.

It is upsetting to be called by my birthname simply because it is a reminder of work that I still have left to do. It is upsetting because I am not tireless, and sometimes I just want everything to be the way I need them to be, and they aren’t, and they might never be.

It is important, even though I don’t fit the standard trans narrative of hating my name and the gender it represents, even though I do not have gender dysphoria related to it. It is important as a symbol of the much larger process I am involved in. It is important because I have expended a lot of energy on it, and I don’t want to feel that was in vain – I don’t have that much energy to spare, after all.

It is important because I say it is. It upsets me because I say it does. It’s not up to others to understand, it is only up to them to respect that.

What constitutes “transitioning” as a trans person?

I had a weird conversation a few months ago. I was actually so floored by it that I don’t even know what I said in response when it actually happened, but it’s stuck with me enough that I want to write about it.

I was hanging out with a friend of mine who mentioned that he had recently heard my spouse-person referring to me as “trans”. Which, I mean, yeah. This friend knows this about me, for the record.

Or at least I thought he did? He knows that I am genderqueer. He knows that I use gender neutral pronouns, that I’ve changed my name, that my gender expression has shifted considerably over the years. I think he knows that I write about it all the time, too, even.

But apparently all of these things didn’t signify trans to him. And his next question clarified why.

“Does that mean you are planning to transition?” he asked.

As I say, I was floored. I didn’t know what to say, and I honestly can’t remember what I did say. I have made, and continue to make, so many transitions with respect to my gender over the past three years that I wouldn’t even know where to begin.

I know what he was actually asking; he wanted to know if I intend to pursue gender-related medical interventions, like surgeries, or hormone therapies. But the entire framing of the question made it clear that he really had just somehow completely failed the register the enormous amount of personal work I have been doing with respect to my gender identity and the expression thereof.

It’s exhausting to realize that even people who support me don’t recognize that I am trans, somehow. It’s also exhausting to be reminded that the entire trans experience is still reduced in most people’s minds to a list of medical procedures.

And so I guess I just want to take a moment to ad my voice to the litany, and repeat what so many trans people have been saying for so long:

There is no correct way to be trans. There is no definitive “transition” action that can be taken. Some trans people seek out medical interventions. Some do not. Some of us change our names. Some do not. Most of us change our pronouns, but some do not. Some come out to the world at large, some only ever share their reality with the people closest to them.

Every. Single. Thing. Any trans person does to affirm their own sense of self and to make others see them as they want to be seen is a form of their transition. It doesn’t matter what form it takes, it is valid, and it is real.

If you were born into a culture that functions on a binary gender system1, and your gender is not the one you are assigned at birth, you are trans. Whether or not you choose to do anything about it, ever. Regardless of what form your expression does or does not take.




1. Some people with non-binary identities that are recognized within their cultures (including Two-Spirit, Hijra, and other non-Western genders) do not identify as trans, as the social and political construction of trans identities is not relevant to the cultural context of their gender. The application of trans theory and narratives to these identities is inherently colonialist, and I do my best not to participate in the appropriation of these identities by (usually white) trans people and communities.

Read more about this:
Transgender Identities in an Age of Globalization and Colonialism
Anagnori’s glossary of transgender, non-binary and genderqueer words directly addresses colonialism (and its relationship with binarism), and provides links to information on some non-Western genders.

Gender Perspectives, Vol. 6

download[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 (and yes, there are many different ways to be cisgender). Check out the rest of the series.]

Today, I bring you a mixed bag:

  • Thoughts on what it means to “transition” as a non-binary person

    It used to stress me out, thinking about having to prove to people that I am transgender and that I am transitioning. But I’m starting to realize and truly internalize that I don’t need to do anything to prove that I am trans, especially if it’s for the benefit of other people and not myself

    I feel like transitioning isn’t quite the right word for what I do. I reify my gender through these actions and in my actions every day. It isn’t showy, its components change daily, and it will never be finished.

  • Angi Becker Stevens examines her life growing up as a tomboy, and the internalized misogyny that was a part of her experiences.

    …to view all girlhood acts of gender non-conformity as necessarily positive strikes me, now, as an oversimplification.

    All these years later, when I look back on my adolescence, it seems that rather than being progressive, it was actually quite anti-feminist.

    After all, it wasn’t as if I had liberated myself from caring what the boys thought of me.

    On the contrary, my entire life centered on proving myself and gaining their approval.

  • Rimonim discusses the “Man Enough Trap” from his perspective as a transgender man.

    Sometimes I get sick with the fear and shame of not being man enough. Is my dick too small? Is my body too weird? Are my gestures effeminate? My line of work unmanly? What really sticks in my craw is the sneaking sense that as a transsexual, I am somehow permanently inadequate, a poor imitation.

    Yet this sinking feeling and shame and fear lie at the very heart of what it is to be a man in my society.

  • Jens talks about beginning to pass as male, and the complicated experience of being complimented on seeming like “real” boy.

    Of course, I AM a boy, and yes sometimes I’m more intentional about my behavior and appearance to appear more masculine, but I also am a boy even if I put on a dress. Just because I’m medically transitioning into manhood does NOT mean that I wasn’t a boy before, or that pre-t photos of me are not photos of a young man.

    To “suspect” I might not be a cisgender boy is to question my identity and expression. It lowers the validity someone is giving me. To think to yourself “Oh, [he’s not a boy] he’s trans!” is sad for me. Yes, I’m trans. But I’m also a boy. I can be both, and I am both very earnestly.

Gender Perspectives, Vol. 5

download[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 (and yes, there are many different ways to be cisgender). Check out the rest of the series.]

  • “I Do Not Know What My Gender Is”: James Warwood talks about transition, uncertainty, not fitting into the classic trans narrative, and acknowledging that everything from his early years as a girly-girl to becoming who he is today is a part of himself. And all of it is authentic.

    How does a child who was perfectly content as a girl grow up to be a man? Even those who are familiar with transgender people know that there is some amount of internal struggle that leads to transition. Some sort of sign that this had been there all along.

    On this one point, I agree with my stepmom. I had been a girly girl, and happily so. I can only assume that I could have continued on and maintained some level of contentment with my life. There isn’t an easy way to explain why I transitioned or to describe my gut feeling that it had to be done. I’ve only begun to come close to understanding my gender identity by expanding my understanding of gender: that is, by accepting that gender is not a binary.

  • “Do I Pass?”: Alex discusses the complexities of what it means to have passing privilege (particularly masculine passing privilege) as a genderqueer person who doesn’t want to pass as anything.

    I’m going to try to make this as clear as possible, right here, right now: I DO NOT WANT TO PASS AS ANYTHING.

    I am genderqueer. I am not a man, I am not a woman. I present one way or another at times because that’s what I feel like doing that day but I shouldn’t have to pass as anything.

    In a perfect world, I would never want to pass. I enjoy masculine-looking things at times but ideally I would be able to look androgynous at all times. It is seriously painful to me sometimes to look in the mirror and see a man. Assuming the fact that I can easily pass and access certain privileges because of it makes me any “less trans” or however you feel like spinning your position is nothing more than a cheap attempt to police my gender. At the end of the day, though, I often come off as cismale and I would be lying if I said I had never taken advantage of that before.

    So the real question to me becomes “do I pass as queer?”

  • “Moving into my gender”: CaptainGlitterToes delivers a really beautiful essay on the experience of self-exploration and discovery on the journey toward a gender identity and expression that fits.

    Hearing my right pronouns, or hearing someone call me by the right gendered words, is ice cream melting in my mouth. It is the feeling of hot chocolate pumping warmth through my veins. It is as if my whole gut was a rock warming in the sun, filling my body with solidity and lightness all at once. It is a fitting of that last puzzle piece. With the right words, I suddenly become more solid than I knew possible, and yet more ready to skip and twirl at the same time. My wholeness takes its rightful place, from my gut to my elbows. I am simultaneously as excited as a hummingbird and as unperturbed as a smooth lake.

  • “Me, My Gender, and Internalized Misogyny”: CloudNoodle writes about how overcoming internalized misogyny was an important come of coming into their own as a person comfortable with a genderqueer identity that made space for their feminine aspects.

    I was not like other girls and that was very important to me.

    That was all I had words for. I had no concepts of ‘transgender’, ‘gender identity’ or ‘genderqueer’. My native language uses the same word for sex and gender. I didn’t know of any people who weren’t straight and cisgender. I didn’t know that I could be something other than female since that was what everybody saw me as, that’s what they said when I was born. But thing is, I did feel somewhat female and perhaps it was the worst part. Because, quite unconsciously, while separating myself from everything to do with ‘other girls’, I also developed a sense that being a girl meant being worse or lesser – less serious, less able, less lovable, just less.

  • “Decoder Ring”: The writer of It Doesn’t Have To Be This Way describes the path of denial and resistance he went through before coming to recognize, accept, and embrace his male identity.

    After spending approximately 30 seconds considering the possibility that I was transgender, I roundly dismissed the idea. After all, wouldn’t I have already known that by now? (Hahahaha! Good one!) Besides, I had no desire to be a man. I resented most men in general for obliviously oppressing me as a woman. I was busy trying to open doors and expand the female gender box. I couldn’t be a man.

    I set about trying to squeeze myself into any other box. I tried on ‘butch’ as a label in my head. I thought maybe I could be genderqueer. I searched the internet for women who liked to bind their chests, but who were still women, to gather more evidence that it was possible. Anything but needing to change my name and pronouns, I pleaded with myself. Anything but that.

    I thought I could decide. I was trying to decide that I wasn’t male, that I wasn’t transgender. That didn’t work out so well.