To The FemmeMobile! Away!











{December 26, 2011}   Trans and Gender

I’ve been watching my trans friends and acquaintances lately (it strikes me that I know FAR more trans folk than femmes, and I can’t decide if this is annoying or hilarious), and noticing something else: some of them seem to be men. Some of them seem to be trans.

Did that make sense? Every time I see my acquaintance S, I’m surprised to remember he was born female. To my knowledge, he’s entirely pre-op, but everything about him screams, “MAN.” (“Dick,” also, but that’s because I know what he did to my friend. >.>) It’s the way he moves and the way he talks… right until he says something that throws me for a loop. Usually some great excitement and he’s suddenly not-man for an instant, only I don’t think of him as feminine because it doesn’t quite seem feminine, either, I think of him as trans. (This is happening less and less over the last six months. Of course, I haven’t been talking to him much over the last six months, but… I can still hear him laugh when we’re in a group, and even that sounds more masculine.) Anyway; in my head, he’s a guy.

Then there’s the friends who are just starting their own trans process, and they have moments where they seem very masculine, and moments where they seem very… trans. Does that make sense? I think it might be insulting, and I’m extremely sorry if that’s the case. I think it’s probably one of those, “They say they are men, ergo they are men,” moments. Which I completely agree with. And at the same time, in my head their gender is transman.

Sometimes I feel a little crazy. It always makes me feel a little bad.

But then there are the transmen who seem to glory in being transmen, and have no interest in being men. They refer to themselves as transmen and they’re in that in between gender state; neither man nor woman, but something else entirely. That’s what I think of as trans.

I don’t know. It makes my head hurt. It kinda makes my heart hurt, too, because I suspect it’s disrespectful in some way, shape, or form, even if I don’t quite understand it. But I can’t understand it if I never talk or ask about it, can I? Cripes, this is like asking people to shoot me down… BUT… talk to me, folks. Is this normal? Can trans people out there tell me what’s up in my head in regards to gender and transman vs man? Or are there more genders being created that I don’t know about? Or is it just a learning curve? Because I definitely don’t know.

On a much funnier note, Q had shoulder surgery (it’s all good now!), and we got come on her sling. *snickers* It’s a black sling. Hilariously, it says “hand wash only,” and given whoever wearing it apparently has only one working hand… I think it’s a cruel joke!

J

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Nezu says:

Complicated topic is complicated, chica. *hugs*

First, I love you. You’re not crazy.

I also think you’re right that there is something not quite okay about looking at a person and thinking, “oh, you’re not a real man (or woman), you’re a trans man (or woman).” But I do it, too. In fact, I’d say that as a trans person, I have developed a kind of trans radar. I encountered it in Tennessee recently, when at my aunt and uncle’s church I looked across the room at this quite tall, very femme woman, and she at me, and we both did that little double-take of “Oh! I recognize you! You’re like me!” (And then we bonded about how I celebrate every new whisker I get to shave, and she celebrates every whisker she has electrolysized away forever. :D)

Still, the issue of identifying someone as “trans” seems to be getting at the whole “passing” issue, which implies that for a trans person to be read as something other than just male or female, they have “failed”.

(I suspect it comes from the fact that we spend the vast majority of our formative years with the idea that there are two and only two genders, so even when we grow up and expand that idea intellectually, we’re still operating on a deeply ingrained way of ordering the world and identifying the people we know as either A or B. Think about it with respect to pets and babies — creatures that don’t have a way to make their internel perceptions of their gender known to us. We assign gender to them based on their genitalia, and don’t rethink it unless something radical forces us to (like the baby growing up enough to express a gender identity that doesn’t match the one we assigned at birth.))

I wonder if you’re having an easier time seeing trans guys you know less well as more fully male, since you have less experience of them as having ever been female in your head. I also wonder if stage of transition is a factor, for those trans guys that are physically transitioning. For guys that have been on T for a few years (as opposed to not at all or only a few months), the physical cues are much more subtle that they were born with no Y chromosome. I also wonder if you’re tripping over the issue when you look at your FTM friends and compare them to your inner standard for “heteronormative guy.” I know for myself I feel much more comfortable in my own skin when I give myself permission to identify as a FABULOUSLY QUEER guy, and don’t try to conform to “all-American straight guy” as a standard.

I think bottom line, there are definitely more genders than just two, and it’s good to make room in your head for them. Some people who transition identify as trans, some simply as male or female, some as genderqueer, some as non-gendered, and I’m sure there are many other flavors I don’t even have names for.



JB says:

You hit on a lot of good points here. And now I’m going to blog about them. 😉 Thanks, Nezu! *hugs*

J



Gabe says:

I tend to differentiate too, and I was feeling incredibly guilty until I figured out why I do it. I don’t tend to think of people as specifically trans, but I do mark them out as not hetero-cis-etc in my little mental subgroup – but I don’t include all people I know were born with conflicting sex and gender. Some of them, in my simplistic little mental categories, go under hetero-cis-etc, and it’s not because they pass and the former don’t, it’s because they’re the ones who want to be read that way and the former are the ones who accept ‘trans’ as part of their identity. It makes no difference as to whether I consider them a ‘real’ (wo)man or not, because I don’t really think of anyone that way, but what it does make a difference to is whether I consider them part of my ‘queer’ subgroup. And seeing as someone who intended to present as hetero-cis-etc would probably be offended if I considered them as queer, they’re the ones I think of as cis.

It’s like what Nezu said about ‘you’re like me’ – I don’t think ‘trans’ or ‘gay’ or anything, just a little ping saying ‘ooooh lookie, it’s one of my lot’. Admittedly I tend to stray towards assuming they’re not, just to be on the safe side – I’m visible enough that if they want to associate with me because of that, they’ll almost definitely recognise the queer vibes and come over of their own accord. So. I don’t know if it’s quite the same thing you were talking about, and it’s probably not a very good mindset to have even with the best of intentions because it’s still differentiating between cis and trans people, but… that’s my two cents, I guess.



JB says:

This makes a lot of sense, too! I think I always feel like I’m identifying people as they’re probably intending, but of course I can’t actually know that. Anyway, it gives me something to think about. Thanks, Gabe! Now I’ll go blog about it some more. ;-D

J



[…] been thinking about that last trans post I made, and the comments (which I thought about a great deal, and started a hugely long post on, […]



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